When Different Parenting Styles Take A Toll On Your Marriage
The type of parent we become depends a lot on our upbringing – our culture and fundamental values play large roles in our parenting approach – some of it we want to keep and some we don’t.
Whatever style of parenting we assume, our spouses aren’t necessarily on the same page. Raising children in homes where each parent has the opposite approach of the other can create a great deal of tension and if not addressed, can put a toll on the marriage.
When husband and wife disagree on various aspects of their children’s upbringing, it’s important first to take a step back and try to understand why each spouse has their particular view.
For instance, friction between spouses often occurs when childhood experiences are vastly different. One may have had a loving and supportive upbringing, while the other may have grown up feeling lonely and disconnected from their own parents.
Growing up with a parent who angered easily may make you more sensitive to your children’s feelings, and cause you to argue with your spouse for becoming angry with them.
A stay-at-home mom who is more strict and consistent with discipline with the children may feel frustrated when Dad comes home after a long day at work and focuses his attention on playing with the kids rather than enforcing rules.
Once you take the time to learn and understand the perspective of your spouse it becomes easier to empathize and begin to have conversations about how to best parent your children in a way that suits you both.
Develop your own parenting strategy – together
Once you’ve taken some time to try to understand why your spouse has such a different parenting style, it’s time to focus on the big picture – what do you think are the main duties of parenthood and what values do you want to instill in your kids? Brainstorm together – your list could include things like:
1. Provide a peaceful and loving home environment
2. Provide a strong foundation of spiritual and moral knowledge
3. Live in such a way that your children grow up naturally connected with love, mercy and compassion
4. Instill a love of Allah swt and His messenger (pbuh)
5. Spend time doing things together to teach responsibility and humility.
6. Live in a way that advocates for social justice so your children step up when they need to.
These are just some examples of what your family mission statement can be. It can be helpful to have this in writing, or review your family goals together from time to time to help give you both some perspective.
Once you agree on these points, it becomes easier to deal with the minutea of daily parenting. To help make things a little easier, consider these points:
1. Lighten up – understand that your way is not the only way
2. Understand that different parenting styles may benefit your kids for instance playful versus calm
3. Being kind is more important than being right
4. Find middle ground – compromise is key.
5. Dads: understand that we know you are exhausted when you come home after a long day at work, but your family needs the best version of you – not your anger and frustration – for this is where your reward lies.
6. Moms: Don’t expect your husband to read your mind – explain, be patient and encourage him to communicate with the kids in his own way.
How do we move forward and what do we do when we disagree?
1. Talk it out – sharing your philosophies about discipline, bedtime, etc together can help create a strong foundation that you can refer back to and adjust as needed.
2.Create rules together, not unilaterally. To minimize miscommunication, misunderstandings, and arguments, agree on a set of specific rules together. It’s easier to enforce rules when everyone is aware of them and in agreement.
3. Decide on consequences together – here is where conflict can arise with different parenting styles. Be prepared to make compromises. Sometimes natural consequences work best, and other times it can be helpful to develop a small list of consequences for specific rules that are broken.
4. Back each other up – make it a rule that if one parent disciplines a child, the other parent must back it up, even if the other parent disagrees with the consequence. You and your spouse need to present yourselves as a unified team to your child or it will undermine your authority as parents.
5. Don’t disagree in front of the kids – try not to interfere when you disagree with your spouse’s parenting decision. Kids pick up on this and will almost always try to use this to their advantage. Put on a united front and have the conversation privately and calmly.
6. Don’t talk badly about your spouse in front of your kids if you don’t agree with their parenting decision – instead say something like “I know it’s hard for you when we won’t let you do xyz. I see it bothers you because you feel ().” This way you’re empathizing with your child but still maintaining a unified stance with your spouse.
7. Be flexible – as your children grow, you and your partner will need to revisit your parenting decisions as needed, taking into account each child’s personality and circumstances. A one-size-fits-all approach may not work for your family.
8. Give second chances – you’re going to make mistakes so try not to lose your temper, rather wait until you have a chance to discuss things alone and talk calmly about what happened. Be forgiving to your spouse and to yourself.
Listening to each other and compromising can really make a big difference in your relationship and sets a great example for your kids.