When you’ve got two parents coming from two different families and each family has different parenting styles, there’s bound to be conflict. Most people tend to parent how they were parented, and since they’ve never been parents before, they project all the feelings and values they grew up with onto their new family. However, you and your spouse can’t do that - you need to work as a team. Here’s how to blend your different parenting styles:
Communicate regularly and openly. It’s not that most people can’t communicate, it’s that they actively try not to. We avoid communication because we don’t want to be vulnerable or exposed. Yet, you must communicate openly. “Openly” doesn’t mean criticizing, blaming, or yelling. It means providing information - “I’m confused,” “I’m frustrated,” etc. Use the words. Don’t withhold or exaggerate.
Know your kid. All kids are different, which means that each child requires a little different parenting. What worked with one sibling may not work with another. Educate yourself and talk to other parents.
Don’t get so defensive. Just because your spouse is parenting in a way that seems foreign to you doesn’t mean that it’s bad or wrong. At the very least, don’t deal with it in the moment (unless your spouse is being dangerous or destructive). Wait until later to discuss it. Children need to see you as a united front. A house divided cannot stand. And when you do talk about it, the goal of the conversation should be, “How can we fix this?”, rather than who screwed up and who’s to blame. Come up with something that works for both of you that you can both feel good about.
Want more Dr. Laura? Join the Dr. Laura Free Family to listen to Dr. Laura's daily Call of the Day and receive her Daily Dose newsletter!