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Q&A: Different Parenting Styles

Q: “How do my husband and I figure out which parenting method to use?  His is loud and authoritative, mine is soft, calm, some negotiating, setting down rules, asking for my daughters thoughts etc.  I know which method we should use, however our experiences are very different and this is causing problems in how we both are parenting, which is very different from each other. If you can help to answer this you’d definitely be a star in our house!”

A: Divergent parenting styles are a common occurrence in parenting. That’s because you’re both individuals who have different ways of handling situations, and people.

In parenting, as long as there is no physical or emotional harm, it’s okay to be different. You each have something special to bring to the table, and you each have something different to teach your child.

Since I have no information about how each of would handle the same situation; I am guessing that each of you thinks the other one is parenting in the wrong way. Instead of going round and round, I suggest you meet in the middle, as long as there is no physical or emotional harm being done.

Different Adults: Kids respond to different people in different ways. Kids do not respond to a grandparent the same way they do to a parent. They learn different things from a teacher than they learn from a parent. Kids are capable of gleaning and learning different skills from many different people, and different situations.

United Front: Having said all that, there is still the matter of not agreeing with how your partner handles things. This is where the discussion and negotiation begins. Do not argue, disagree or critique your partner in front of the kids. The most important thing is to maintain a united front for your child, that makes them feel safe. Set a non-kid time to have these discussions. The goal is to find balance within your differences.

Childhood: Talk about your childhood history and wounds, so you’ll both be on the same page. Discuss things like the rules you were raised with, and how your parents enforced those rules. Having this conversation should reveal why your husband believes being an authoritarian is how to handle things, and why you believe that being calm and negotiating is the way to go. This conversation will hopefully bring you to a same-page-mindset.

Results: Once you each understand the details of your partner’s background, it’s time to talk about the result you hope to achieve when you correct your child’s behavior. Talk about whether it’s more important to stop the behavior in its tracks, or more important to teach a child what to do instead, or whether you want to do both?
You can learn more about communication and discipline versus punishment by going to my blog.

Tone of Voice: Be honest about what you like, and don’t like about each other’s parenting style. For instance, you could say, I’m uncomfortable when you yell or use an authoritative tone of voice. Or he might say, I think being calm doesn’t send the message that I mean business. Then agree to hear the research about how yelling and negotiating, actually shuts down listening. Neither method actually causes a child to listen?
My most recent post on the blog, What Do You Replace Yelling With? explains a lot of these details. You can find it at: proactiveparenting.net/blog

Parenting is not meant to create an idyllic family life. Family life is designed to produce growth, which occurs from misbehavior, disagreement and the resulting reactions. Each parent and each child brings a unique set of skills so everyone in the family can learn. I hope this helps.
Now, go hug your kids!

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