4 Ways to Align Different Parenting Styles
Here you are again…having the same fight or disagreement about how to parent the kids. You are not sure how to navigate through this reoccurring issue. The arguments are weighing heavy on your relationship and may even have started to impact your kids.
A lot of couples experience this struggle. I have experienced this struggle. You are not alone in this time. There are ways to help alleviate parenting conflict within your relationship.
Living a first responder or military lifestyle can be stressful. Parents are often either on busy, sometimes unpredictable schedules or are gone for extended periods. This can cause a lot of additional unforeseen tension trying to parent as a couple.
Consider trying out these four techniques to blend and align parenting styles and techniques in your family.
- Agree on the foundation and essential beliefs/values.
- Support your partner (resist undermining them).
- Discuss friction points without the kids present.
- Being flexible is important.
1. Agree on the foundation and essential beliefs/values.
The foundation of your parenting, made up of beliefs and values you want to teach your children, matters tremendously when parenting children.
Agreeing on these beliefs and values is truly imperative so you send your children the same message. Regardless of the parenting style, both parents enforce the same essential values/beliefs.
An example of this is my husband and I agree, enforce, and model open communication as a critical value with our children. However, open communication is far more important to me as a value/trait than to my husband.
It is okay to differ on beliefs or values in your relationship. But, what you choose to model to your kids needs to be aligned and enforced as a couple, regardless of parenting style. This ensures they get the same message from both of you.
Figuring out what the essential beliefs and values you want to teach and model in your family is a critical component of aligning and blending your parenting styles.
2. Support your partner (resist undermining them).
Supporting your partner in their interactions with your children is critical so they can build the relationships and skills they want as a parent. This is another technique to help reduce resentment and conflict that can occur.
This technique can be helpful when there is a preferred parent in the household. A preferred parent is the parent who the kids want more often or request to spend more time with.
An example of supporting your partner is when I allow my husband, who has already been playing with our young son, to calm him down when it is time for bed (my son hates bedtime). Even as my son is crying for mama.
I am 1,000% (yes, the extra 0 is intentional) guilty of sometimes undermining my husband (not intentionally), as I am the preferred parent in my military family. I come swooping in as mama, comfort my son, and save the day. But I didn’t really save the day.
What I did by swooping in was undermine my husband’s thoughts/feelings, and even possibly confidence, that he is perfectly capable of calming down our son (which he is). Often, I must remind myself my son is not in danger, even if he is upset. He is safe, and this is my husband’s opportunity to work on his relationship with our son.
For the first responder and military members who are parents, having your partner support you when you are parenting is sometimes an extremely uplifting and fulfilling experience. Especially since there can be guilt associated with being so busy in the helping profession you chose.
3. Discuss friction points without the kids present.
Discussing frictions points or conflict without the kids present is another important technique to help prevent conflict and better align parenting techniques.
Often parenting conflicts come up in the middle of when you are parenting, and it can be difficult to pause and talk about them without the kids around.
Agreeing on time later that day/week to talk about the concern, when it’s just you two, is one approach of reducing arguments about parenting in front of your kids.
Another approach is trying to plan a time weekly for you and your partner to connect and talk about any parenting concerns that come up.
One more tip might be to add a compliment or two for your partner on a positive interaction they had with the kids when you do talk about the conflict moments. This may help the conversation take on a neutral tone when talking about disagreements.
An example is letting your partner know how well they communicated with your child so you could have uninterrupted time to finish a project, cook a meal, or do a task that was important to you.
It is okay to disagree on ways you parent your children. What is vital is communicating about these disagreements without the kids present. Then work toward either an understanding or compromise/solution so they don’t continue to be a friction point.
4. Being flexible is important.
Like many things in life, being flexible is really important. Especially when parenting with different parenting styles.
Sometimes we get in the mindset of “my way is better” or “my way is more effective” as a parent. When we can start to be accepting and flexible with how our partner parents, as long as the children are safe, it can help reduce stress and conflict in your relationship.
Being flexible helps turn the mindset from an individual perspective of me versus you, to a team perspective of you and me versus the problem.
An example is maybe compromising and letting your partner handle discipline situations if you are always the one who disciplines. Or maybe accepting and supporting your partner who wants the kids to pick up their toys after they are done playing since your partner likes an organized house.
Whatever it is, as long as your children are safe, imagine how being flexible can reduce conflict with your partner, and can also be a great trait to model for your kids.
It is important to note that you can have traits of multiple parenting styles. Also, even if you and your partner have the SAME parenting style, you can experience conflict in parenting.
There are ways to work and reduce the conflict that arises when you and your partner have different parenting techniques and styles.
As you commit to change, and work through these windy seasons of parenting, you’ll not only grow stronger as a parent, but imagine how the roots of your relationship with your partner can grow even deeper.
Be well and take care!
Liz is an Associate Clinical Social Worker in California. She is one of our experienced counselors at Code 3 Counseling. Liz specializes in working with first responder and military trauma. You can contact her through our website.
If you find that this exercise or these conversations brought up some stuff you are struggling with, either individually or in your relationship, please do not hesitate to reach out to us for help. We are here to support you, and we understand that this can be a challenging issue to face.
Remember, it may be your battle, but you don’t have to fight it alone.