Parenting Wars: When Parenting Styles Collide

Do you often hear this in your home?
Parent 1: “Why did you allow Matt to go out with his friends when his homework is not yet finished?”
Parent 2: “He’ll finish it when he comes back. Why are you always so strict? Give the kid a break!”

Parent 1: “What were you thinking? Why did you give our child such as expensive gift?”
Parent 2: “Well, I want our child to enjoy the finer things in life.”

Parent 1: “Sharon broke a friend’s mobile phone. She’s grounded.”
Parent 2: “I think we should let Sharon earn the money to replace her friend’s phone.”

Different Strokes for Different Folks

More often than not, parents have different parenting styles and this difference creates conflict, not just between the two spouses, but in their children as well. We must remember that parenting styles are an extension of your personality and upbringing. And because we are each our own person with our distinct personalities, we also handle situations with our kids differently. When one is cool-headed and relaxed, the other may all too quickly fly off the handle. When one is more permissive (“enjoy yourself, do what you feel is fine”), the other parent may be more authoritarian (“Do it because I said so.”) When one yearns for structures and schedules, the other tends to go with the flow and be more laidback.

It is important for parents to remember that the overall goal is to be able to raise children to be strong, happy and responsible adults. Parenting, after all, is a partnership between the father and mother.  However, this is often not the case. When parents disagree about how the children will be raised, this can result to:
– Giving the children a weakness to exploit. Children, seeing the conflict between you, can pit you against each other. Did the mother say “no” with regards to a certain rule? Why not ask dad and see if he says “yes”?
– Confusing the children. If there are different parenting styles, children tend to end up confused with regards to rules and standards of behavior. How do we behave when mom thinks it’s okay but dad gets angry if we act a certain way?
– Forcing children to take sides. This is a responsibility that is too heavy for a child to bear. A child should not be made to take sides (and subsequently feel guilty) because of the parents’ conflicting parenting styles. Also, constant conflicts with parenting styles result in the child choosing one parent over the other, based on the parenting style they feel works in their best interest at the moment. Utilizing the “good cop/bad cop” routine in parenting only creates confusion and guilt in the child.
– Contributing to a child’s depression. A child may feel depressed and stressed out due to the child’s guilt feelings or confusion. The child may need to have family counseling in Provo to help him deal with these feelings of depression

Thus, it is important for two parents to come together and discuss how they will parent their child.
Here are some things that parents can do to help unify their parenting styles:
– Explore your own parenting style. It helps to be more self-aware about how we parent. Start by looking at these key areas:
o   How you express your love and affection. Do you do it using words? Or do you tend to lavish your kids with hugs and kisses? Or, do you say how you feel through extravagant gifts?
o   How you play your role as caretaker and nurturer. Are you uninvolved? Or are you too involved?
o   How you make decisions.
o   How you exercise discipline.

Being more aware of your parenting style will help you adjust this style when adjustments are warranted.
– Agree on strategies and core values. Discuss with your spouse the set of values you want your child to have. Ask yourself and your spouse:”What is my child’s best interest and what is the best parenting style to achieve that?”
– Recognize the best in each other. Each parent has his or her own areas of strength. And this area of strength can benefit your child. Recognizing what each parent can bring to the table can help create a spirit of cooperation between you and your spouse.
– Point out areas of conflict in parenting. Identify the areas in which your parenting styles clash and decide on what the best style and strategy would apply for that situation.
– Don’t undermine each other’s authority. Argue and discuss if you must, but do this out of child’s sight and out of earshot. Arguing in front of your child is costly, as your child ends up devaluing one parent over another. Also, avoid countermanding or going against your spouse’s decision. Rather than telling your child that you’re canceling your spouse’s decision to ground your child, you can discuss between yourselves and again come up with a unified decision you can apply when the same situation comes up. By presenting a united front for your child, you avoid confusing your child and make your standards of behavior clearer for your child.
– Ask for help. Sometimes it takes Utah counseling to help thresh things out between you and your spouse with regards to developing a unified parenting style. It is good to get seasoned Utah counselors, as their experience will help provide you with valuable insights.

Provo counselors will help provide you and your spouse with parenting and communicating tools that can help you establish your unified parenting style. Therapists in Provo can help you become more self-aware of your own parenting style and help you as a couple to draft your own strategies with regards to parenting styles.

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