Every mother and father will agree on one thing: that they want what is best for their children. But, what is best for the children? What is "best" is entirely up to an individual's interpretation. What happens when two parents have very different ideas about parenting styles? The result is conflict. Conflict surrounding parenting style is not unusual. How are parents meant to confront and reconcile their different philosophies about parenting style?
While it is not unusual for a mother and father to stand by very different parenting styles, it is unusual to acknowledge these different perspectives as a positive resource for the children. Some schools of parenting style will assert that varied styles of parenting are good for children. Adaptability, like cooperation, is an important and lifelong skill. Keeping in mind that each parent carries their own set of values to the table, one must always approach conflict with understanding. This is, at times, easier said than done. Each of us has varied experiences which lead us to our own set of philosophies and conclusions. When our philosophies are challenged we can easily become emotionally charged and defensive.
The next time you and your spouse cannot seem to agree on a parenting matter, remember the following points:
- Talk it out when the children are not around. Decide together what will work for everyone. If you and your spouse find yourselves confronted with a new issue you have not previously talked about, it is ok to say to your child(ren), "We are going to talk about this and we will let you know shortly what we have decided about (fill in the blank)."
- Appreciate your spouse's strengths. Remember, differences are not necessarily negative, but can be positive.
- Focus on a solution. Try to set emotions aside and communicate with a workable solution as the goal.
- Develop listening skills and creative ways to compromise.
- Decide how important the issue is to you.
- Remember to relax and know that your kids need you both.
In a healthy marriage, parents talk about parenting style and first try to understand their differences. The communication between parents aims to also resolve issues at hand. The ultimate goal is to combine viewpoints and remain united. The most important thing a couple can do for their children and for their marriage is to remain united when raising and disciplining their children. This does not mean that you agree on everything, it means you support one another as parents, and show yourselves as a unified front to your children. Once each parent acknowledges that their intentions are the same -- for their children to grow up and be happy and successful adults -- a workable solution for the family is within sight.