Different Parenting Styles? How to Work as a Team

Your four-year-old asks if he can have some juice before bedtime. You say no and leave the room. Moments later you return, and he’s sitting on the couch next to his daddy watching TV with a big cup of juice in his hand.

Sound familiar?

When you have kids, having a different parenting approach than your partner can be a relationship challenge. You both care deeply about the well-being of your children and want only the best for them, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re on the same page when it comes to raising them. After all, you are two individuals who were raised in different households with its own rules and value systems, so it’s natural to have a difference of opinion when it comes to snacks, bed times, disciplining, and extracurricular activities. You’re not always going to have the same parenting opinions as your partner, but there are ways to work around your differences.

Keep Disagreements Private – Don’t disagree in front of the kids. Keep your difference of opinions behind closed doors until you can reach a compromise. Kids are smart. If they hear that daddy thinks it’s OK for them to eat ice cream at night and mommy doesn’t agree, they’ll know whom to go to when they want that late night treat!

Compromise – Take turns sharing where you are coming from and negotiate strategies that you both can be satisfied with. Maybe you’re adamant about the kids cleaning up the playroom after they’re done, but your husband thinks picking up the toys himself is perfectly acceptable. Use this time to discuss why you each feel the way you do and come up with a compromising strategy that you’re both happy with, which might mean turning clean-up time into a fun game for the entire family!

Pick Your Areas – Sometimes it’s best to divide and conquer. If your husband primarily takes your son or daughter to hockey practice, let him be in charge of the early morning routine on practice days or be in charge of putting away their equipment when they get home. If you usually read the kids bedtime stories, maybe you’re the one who makes sure they brush their teeth. When it comes to disciplining if your husband handles temper tantrums well, let him be in charge of the timeouts or vice versa.

Call on a professional – Sometimes it helps to take the advice of a third party. If your kids won’t sleep and you can’t seem to get on the same page with how to handle it, you might want to consider hiring a certified sleep consultant. If you’re inconsistent with timeouts because one of you gives them and the other does not, you might want to sign up for a local parenting course.

Like many couples, you and your partner may have different ideas of the “right” way to parent. While you may have different parenting styles, you still share the common desire to want nothing but the best for your kids. By communicating, compromising and calling on third party assistance where needed, you’ll both be able to actively parent as a united front rather than separate entities.