Have you heard the expression “opposites attract?” This may be a true statement when it comes to your partner. A little tension helps add spice and ignite passion in your relationship. But those differences show up in many ways and may become problematic when you need to deal with your child’s behavior.
Recognizing your differing parenting styles
Imagine this, you and your partner are sitting around the kitchen table reviewing your child’s report card. Much to your surprise the grades and feedback are not up to your standards. You launch into a lecture about having another term to get up to speed, you believe that they can do it with a little more focus and attention, you talk about the importance of studying, how they need to ask the teacher for extra support, etc. Once you are done, your child avoids looking at you, and nods with a very solemn face.
Your partner then says, “These grades are not good enough. If you bring home at least three As on your next report card, I will buy you that phone you have always wanted.” To this your child beams and says, “Okay, cool!”, while your look is more of pure astonishment. You had planned to take a different approach, and you doubt it will work. You fear this sends the wrong message and sets up your child for failure and huge disappointment.
What do you do? Do you say something in front of your child or wait until later when they are out of ear range? You don’t want to look like the “bad guy” (again!), but this goes against all your own parenting principles.
Coparenting in a collaborative way
Whether you and your partner have very extreme parenting styles or ones that are slightly apart, it is essential to learn how to co-parent in a collaborative manner. It is important to understand the possible repercussions of not co-parenting. There can be significant consequences when we are not aligned in our parenting styles. Some of these include:
- Confusing and mixed messages that our children do not understand
- Intensified behavior problems exhibited by your child
- Potential for poor academic performance
- Difficulty with social adjustment
- Relationship problems with your partner
- Children only going to one parent and not the other
- Stronger relationship formed with one caregiver
Identify your own parenting style
So how do you and your partner go about ensuring you are “on the same page” with your child-rearing? The first step is to identify which parenting style you tend to rely on the most. Literature shows that there are four different types: authoritarian, uninvolved, permissive and authoritative. Each of these styles can be characterized by certain traits and take a different approach to raising children.
An authoritarian style relies heavily on punishment versus discipline, with a focus on hostility. Authoritarian parents rely on a “You must do what I say” attitude with very little input from the child. An uninvolved or neglectful approach is more passive and distant where there maybe a sense of rejection. A permissive parent provides a lot of warmth and attention, however is very lenient and lax when discipling their child. Often, permissive parents are over indulgent and have very little control over their child’s behavior. The authoritative style is more flexible in its approach, with a focus on the child and a sense of support and democracy.
Take a parenting style quiz!
Check out this parenting style quizzes to help you determine your parenting approach.
These parenting style quizzes are for interest use only. It is not a diagnosis tool or meant to provide a diagnosis. If you require further assistance, contact your local professionals for consultation.
Work to present a united front to your children
A common trap that partners fall into is arguing about how that person is parenting in front of the child. Fighting in front of your child upsets and confuses them. It causes mixed messages and inappropriate modeling of how to manage problems which may further increase behavior problems in your own child. Children need to see you as a united front, so avoid any possible conflicts when your children are near. Set time aside when everyone is calm and discuss what worked, why you thought something didn’t work, and what could be done next time if that same situation occurs.
Keep in mind the aim of a collaborative co-parenting approach: raising healthy, well-adjusted children with the skills they will need later in life — while keeping your relationship in balance. When both partners agree on methods of discipline, parenting feels more supportive and collaborative. Work as a team instead of two individuals. Once you have identified your own personal parenting style, discuss with your partner what goals each of you need to make to reach an agreement over any parenting issues. For some households, you might even consider writing out the “rules” and consequences and posting them in a common area for all to see.
Review your collaborative parenting at various points
Don’t forget to take time to review how things are going and to ensure consistency is occurring. Some partners establish a “code word/phrase” (e.g., “I forgot to tell you that I need you to check my computer right now”) to signal that what is being said at that moment is not what was agreed upon. This code allows one parent to stop, take a break and allow for the other parent to continue to discipline.
As parents, you may constantly be faced with new challenges that you are unsure of managing. Look for further information and ideas on parenting. Whether you talk with your friends, professionals, read parenting books or keep coming back to Savvy Sassy Moms, planning ahead and becoming informed will bring you one step closer to parenting the same.
Successful coparenting creates an environment where kids thrive
Children need to grow up in a household where there is a balance of warmth, love and consistent positive discipline. When we co-parent we are not only learning to communicate better with one another, we are creating a positive environment for our children to thrive and be happy. Your relationship will be stronger and the lure of “opposites attract” will be evident where it matters the most.
Read more from Janet Arnold
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- Arnold, D.S., O’Leary, S.G., Wolff, L.S., & Acker, M.M. (1993). The Parenting Scale: A measure of Dysfunctional parenting in discipline situations. Psychological Assessment, 5, 137-144.
- Dadds, MR, & Powell, M.B. (1191). The relationship of interparental conflict and global marital adjustment to aggression anxiety, and immaturity in aggressive and nonclinic children. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 19, 533-567.
- Nowak, C. & Heinrichs, N. (2008). A comprehensive meta-analysis of Triple P – Positive Parenting Program using hierarchical linear modeling: Effectiveness and moderating variables. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 11, 114-144.