We often imagine that the person who’s right for us will have similar opinions on big stuff like this, so if they don’t it can feel like a bad sign. Ideas about parenting in particular can be a surprise as couples often only realise they’ve got different approaches after they have kids.
However, having different ideas on this topic doesn’t have to create big problems in your relationship. Reaching a compromise just requires a little effort, communication and cooperation.
Where do parenting styles come from?
Your approach to parenting may have come from how you were raised as a child. Many of us try to give our own children the upbringing we had – or, if we didn’t have a particularly happy one, the upbringing we wished we’d had.
Parents often end up digging in when it comes to parenting styles as neither one is willing to back down on ideas they began to learn when they were very young.
Fighting over parenting isn’t good for anyone. It can cause real tension between you and your partner – even if your relationship was really harmonious before you had kids.
And it can create an uneven dynamic for the children themselves. Children are very good at picking up on when their parents have different ideas. If they know they can’t get permission to do something from one parent, they might just go to the other.
Staying on the same page
If you find that having different parenting styles is causing problems in your relationship, you might find the following tips useful.
- Talk about it. And that means really talk about it. Listen to what each other has to say – instead of refusing to budge. Choose a time when you’re both already calm – not during another argument, for instance – and speak honestly and respectfully to each other. It might sound obvious, but don’t have this talk in front of the children. You might like to cover the topics that most commonly cause issues between parents: discipline, sleep, food and schoolwork. Identify any areas where you two aren’t on the same page and try to figure out why.
- Understand where your partner’s coming from. It can be really useful to get an idea of how your partner came to form the ideas on parenting that they did. Talk about they were brought up – and share the same for you. Knowing where your partner’s ideas come from can help you sympathise their perspective more easily.
- Try to give and take with your partner. Rather than ‘compromise’, which can end up with both parties feeling they didn’t get their way, try a ‘reciprocity negotiation’. This means finding one or two very specific changes you are willing to make. For example: ‘If you can bath our daughter every night and, in return, I will get her to sleep’. When you work together, you strengthen your parenting and feel great about working as a team.
- Check in regularly. It’s important that you keep talking about things so you can stay up to date with how each other is feeling and head off any new conflicts before they develop. It might sounds a little clinical, but you could even organise a monthly chat where you both touch base on how things are going and discuss anything that’s been causing tension. Staying connected to each other is going help you parent together much more effectively – and will help your relationship stay strong too.
If you’re struggling with your relationship Relate provides a safe space where you can talk about things openly.
- Book an appointment by calling 01908 310010