Conflicting parenting ideas can be a huge struggle for many new families and can lead to resentment, separation or even divorce for some couples. Do you believe your partner is not engaged enough with your child? Or are they inconsistent, too strict, too soft or too laid back?
As you and your partner share the responsibilities of parenting and managing family life, problems can arise - especially due to many countries being in lockdown as a result of Covid-19. Here are some of our suggestions to help keep your family calm, in a good routine and relationships strong during these challenging times.
1. Don't Disagree In Front Of The Children
Let your children know that you and your partner are on the same page and that you respect one another. Talk about any incidents after your child’s bedtime or in private, when you’re certain you won’t be overheard.
2. Talk About Any Issues You May Have
Ideally, you explored your parenting plans with your partner long before you agreed to have kids together. But even if you didn't, it’s never too late.
Share the principles of parenting with one another. Speak about how you were parented, and what you would like to do as your own parents did, or differently. Tell your partner about subjects such as what punishment looks like to you, what an appropriate childhood bedtime looks like and whether children should receive an allowance etc.
Odds are, you won't agree on everything and will have to make some sacrifices. Parents need to learn all sorts of new management skills, including:
- Taking each other's feelings seriously
- Clarifying points of difference
- Generating alternative solutions together
Note; the way your family manages conflict is how your child learns to resolve their own conflicts throughout life.
3. Create Rules Together
You and your partner should decide on parenting rules together. This can include things like when your child should go to bed, if your child is allowed to go outside and play with friends without supervision, which homeworks needs to be done before using electronic devices and so on.
Involve your child in creating rules and boundaries, be open to their ideas and suggestions, and make modifications to your own ideas if necessary. Involving your child will inspire them to abide by the new rules - which they were a part of creating, rather than potentially causing your child to feel threatened and unstable with this sudden new change in routine.
4. Determine Consequences Together
You, your partner and child can discuss together the implications of breaking any of the new rules. If your parenting styles vary, this may be a conflict field. Many parents are cautious about discipline, preferring to simply discuss mishaps with children. Some parents are highly stern and feel the only way to keep a home on track is to punish their children.
If you are in complete disagreement with your parenting practises, you will need to compromise. One parent may need to understand that there will be repercussions for rule breaking, while the other parent may need to acknowledge that to be successful, the repercussions don't have to be harsh. Create a written list together of penalties for breaking any particular rules.
5. Back Each Other Up
It's important that you stick to the plan consistently once it’s in place and make sure you work as a team. When one of you follows the plan but the other doesn’t, failure is inevitable. It's tempting to let frustrated children off the hook or to change the rules if we’re busy or preoccupied, but then the message you’ll be sending out is that you and your partner can be broken down and won’t see the plan through. Children thrive on routine, and consistency will ensure that it will all fall into place in just a matter of days!
6. Be Flexible
How you discipline your children should be versatile enough to adjust as they age. You and your partner can reassess the framework of your parenting accordingly.
Take into account also, the individual child’s personality. Some children require more help and encouragement while others need less. Some parents have a more disciplinarian approach, while others are more easy going. Parenting style should be a good "fit" for the individual needs of the child. A one-size fits all plan won’t always work.
7. Give Second Chances
Parents make mistakes and you and your partner will both make poor decisions every now and then, or lose patience with the kids.
If one of you messes up, keep calm and wait until the kids are asleep before attempting to discuss it. Remember, this is your partner, not your enemy. Help and encourage one another and try to work as a team, have a review at the end of each day and be honest about where you both went wrong, remembering that it’s a work in progress and you all need time to adjust to the new routine.
There’s no need to let parenting style discrepancies destroy your relationship. Talk to each other, decide on what really matters and understand that you are working towards the same end goal.
Some children can be so demanding and disobedient that it’s easy to feel like they are ruling the roost, making us feel totally helpless and unable to keep things under control. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself, take it one day at a time, otherwise you’ll feel overwhelmed and may be tempted to give up on the new routine before you’ve even really started.
Just remember that you’re in charge and try to match your new outward calm and control with an equal amount of internal strength, wisdom and confidence - it doesn’t matter how we behave on the outside, our children have a sixth sense and their behaviour will reflect exactly what we’re feeling on the inside so the two must match. If things start to fall apart, ask yourself if what you’re feeling inwardly matches the message you’re giving your child outwardly. You’ve got this!