“Dad, can I hang out at Megan’s house tomorrow?”
“Sure!”, Dad replied his daughter chirpily and promptly.
“No! Don’t you know her examinations are starting soon? Why did you still allow her to be out? You should know better!” Mum fumed at Dad.
Familiar scenario? Be it over minor or big issues, many of us parents do experience such parenting style clashes. And most of the time, these tussles may escalate from the child’s innocent request to a full-blown clash of who’s right or wrong.
Will Such Clashes Affect Marriages?
When couples have different approaches to parenting, confusion and conflicts may arise. Children may become confused with the different stances as they would not know what to expect from their parents, especially since most of these tussles take place in front of them. Some children may “learn” who to approach when they want something, question priorities, push boundaries since such boundaries are already unclear between the parents, etc.
Parenting may turn into a competition of whose ideas/rules should be imposed. With the increasing demands from the children as they grow older, the parents’ different parenting styles, if not resolved, can widen the rift between them when these issues turn personal.
Why Are There Different Parenting Styles?
To work toward avoiding such clashes, it helps to first gain insight into why different parenting styles exist.
One of the reasons is we tend to emulate the parenting styles of our parents. That’s why it’s only natural that we believe in and practice different set of family’s values and lifestyle since we are brought up in a different family environment from our spouse. For example, a person growing up in a small family of 3 may view family life differently from their spouse who grew up in a bustling family of 5 or more.
How Can Such Clashes Be Avoided?
Here are some tips that we have gathered from experts on alleviating the tension and elevating the harmony:
Give your spouse the benefit of doubt. The way they parent may not be intended as a direct challenge to how you parent. It would help to understand your spouse’s parenting style by observing their own family environment.
Agree to adopt a united stance in front of your children to create the boundaries, expectations and guidelines you wish to see in your family. Any disagreements can be thrashed out privately.
Discuss and lay out family “rules” together. One expert shared that she and her husband will ensure that all requests by the children be made after dinner time and at a specific timeslot. Any requests brought up other than the time stipulated will not be entertained.
Should a disagreement happen and there is a need to resolve it on the spot, try to focus on the issue instead of who’s right or wrong. Your children will also learn from the way you respectfully discuss and compromise with each other to decide on a win-win solution.
Of course, there may be more than one good way to resolve differences with each other. But ultimately, the both of you would have to discuss and agree on what will work best for you and your family.