There’s nothing that can completely prepare you to understand your spouse’s parenting style until your child is born. We went through marriage preparation, talked about how we were raised and even discussed our hopes about the types of parents we’d become. As our oldest son grew it was clear that our parenting styles differed from each other.
Immediately, we had to find mutual ground and appear on the same page for our child’s sake. It’s important to be a united front, but that’s very difficult when you can’t agree about discipline, showing affection or any other part of being a parent.
When Your Spouse’s Parenting Style Differs
Discovering Our Differences
When the baby stage started to fade away, we recognized that we had different opinions about discipline. We also had different ways of showing affection and approval, but the biggest difference was disciplinary action.
Traditionally speaking, I took on the maternal softer way of disciplining. He became much more vocal and stern about things. Each of us thought the other way of disciplining wasn’t wrong, but we knew we didn’t see eye-to-eye. We fell into this “Bad Cop, Good Cop” by accident.
Tips For Getting On The Same Page
As your child gets older, it’s even more important to get on the same page. Many couples argue over finances and parenting. For us, parenting differences is what tears us apart the most and causes us marital strain. It was crucial to find mutual ground and understand each other’s parenting preferences.
If you find yourself going through the same exhausting experiences with your spouse, I have a few tips that might help out:
- Don’t Hide Your Feelings: Once you notice that your spouse’s parenting style differs, you need to open communication about it. Hiding it only separates you even more as a couple. You can share notes about your feelings. For us, it’s important to talk about these things when we’re not around the kids.
- Try To See It From Their Perspective: It really helped me when I realized that my Husband’s discipling came from a personal place. He strives to be the dad he never had. He prides himself on being a strong father figure, where as I want to be their best friend.
- Talk About What Bothers You: It’s best to make it very clear what aspects of their parenting style bothers you. It bothers me when my husband compares our two kids. It bothers him when I undermine his authority as a dad. Letting your spouse know EXACTLY what issues you have, it can help them avoid it in the future.
- Acknowledge Outside Forces: My Husband and I both agree that when we’re tired, or having a bad day caused by work stress, we tend to take it out on our kids. It’s one of our worst habits as parents. Since we’ve acknowledged that this is an issue with our parenting, we can help each other out when we are starting to happen. I’ll let him de-stress after a long day at work and put the kids to bed. He helps me have a moment to myself, by watching the kids, when my stress levels rise. Self-care really does help you be a better parent!
- Nothing Changes Overnight: You can’t change somebody’s personality, but you can find mutual respect. Don’t expect their parenting to change overnight, but rather work on it over a period of time.
- Parenting Styles Change As Kids Grow: People joke your first child is “a trial” but really it is! Your parenting style changes as they age and new issues arise. Your sequential children feel easier to raise because you already know how you’ll respond to each stage as they grow up. So it’s a constant work-in-progress as parents. Your spouse’s parenting style differs with every stage and so does yours. So keep striving to work together. It’s constant effort – just like any great accomplishment.
Resources For Struggling Parents
I feel very fortunate that I can talk to my parents about our own parenting efforts. However, that won’t always be an option. You can seek parenting groups through churches or find a marriage counselor that can be a 3rd party to your discussions.
What happens behind closed doors can be a struggle that is worth talking about to someone else. It felt like a weight off of my shoulders when I discovered other couples were going through the same struggles we were.
In the end, parenting isn’t easy – but it’s definitely rewarding. No matter how many rough days you have as a family, count your blessings and hug each other. There’s always tomorrow to keep trying to work things out.