Do you ever stop to think about your overall approach to parenting? How about your partner's? Understanding your parenting styles can be very helpful in figuring out how to understand each other-and in making positive changes. Here's what Doc Pop has to say on the subject:
Differences in parenting styles are a problem for both parents and children. At the least it invites kids to play one parent against the other in a smart attempt to get the answer that they want to hear. This is not the child's fault. After all he is just using good common sense. However, it does create a situation in which rules are not clear or consistently enforced, which is bad for the child as well as for the parent.
At its extreme, a polarization of styles can occur in which one parent compensates for the perceived weaknesses of the other. For example, if the father is too strict, the mother may overcompensate by becoming more lenient. That may prompt the father to become even stricter as he attempts to overcompensate for her leniency. The result can be a very confusing world for the child to navigate—one that makes it hard to make sense of reality and can set the stage for mental health problems in some children.
While parents do not have to be identical in parenting styles, they should agree to discuss matters between them and come to an agreement about what to tell the child. This may require compromise between the adults, before even beginning to involve the child.
To help parents find a successful middle ground, it is helpful for them both to take a parenting course, or to at least read and discuss the Parent's Guide. We have had many mothers take an Active Parenting course and then share what they have learned with their husbands. Often, the husband then wants to take the course for himself. The goal is not to parent identically, but to find the common ground and to learn to support each other with their children.
-Michael H. Popkin, Ph.D.
Author, Active Parenting Now