Have you ever clashed with your spouse over conflicting parenting methods? Of course you have! (Or if not yet, you will!) Here are some things to do (and not to do!) when you and your spouse have very different parenting styles
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Have you ever clashed with your spouse over conflicting parenting styles? Unless you’re the crazy rare couple that’s always 100% in sync, I’m guessing you have.
I know I have!
My husband and I are about as polar opposite as two people can be, in almost every way. So you better believe that has shown up in different parenting styles!
We’ve navigated through quite a number of disagreements on how to handle certain issues, and they’ve ranged everywhere from the inconsequential to the significant.
To be honest, there were times I thought we’d never get on the same page. And I spent a LOT of time reading, praying, and seeking advice from wise counsel.
Slowly, but surely, over the past few years, our two ends of the spectrum have merged into a stronger, more unified front. And in this post, I’ll share what we’ve done to get there.
By no means have we arrived at a perfectly harmonious parenting partnership. We still clash sometimes and we still disagree. (I’m sure we always will!) But boy, we’ve come a looooong way.
And I want to share what I’ve learned.
Please Read This First!
**Important Note: Inevitably with a post like this, someone will say, “But what about XYZ?” or read it as perpetuating abuse, so let me be clear. This advice is for those in reasonably healthy marriages (although it could be applied in other co-parenting situations, as well) to work through normal, everyday parenting disagreements.
I am certainly NOT speaking of situations where any kind of abuse — physical, verbal, emotional, or otherwise — is involved. If that is your situation, I vehemently urge you to seek professional advice and counsel.
Now that we’re on the same page, let’s dive into what to do when your parenting style clashes with your spouse’s (and what NOT to do)!
What NOT to Do
Before we get into what TO do, perhaps we should talk about what NOT to do.
DON’T argue about parenting decisions in front of your kids.
They will pick up on that and pit you against each other faster than you can say “divided front.” Instead, say something like, “We’re going to talk about this and get back to you,” then come to an agreement in private.
DON’T undermine your spouse by going against a decision he/she has already verbalized.
Unless it’s harmful (which, as I mentioned above, is a whole different story), respect what has already been said and follow through. You can discuss how you feel about the decision with your spouse later for future situations.
If you strongly feel a different call needs to be made, make your case in private. Then, let your spouse be the one to tell your kids about the new change in plans (if there is one) — “Hey guys, after talking it over and giving it some more thought, we think XYZ is a better solution.”
DON’T badmouth your spouse to your friends/coworkers/siblings/parents/etc.
Unless you’re getting counseling from a wise, trusted source, complaining to other people will only fuel the fire of resentment and widen the division between you.
What TO Do When Your Different Parenting Styles Clash
Ok, now let’s talk about what you SHOULD do when your different parenting styles clash. (And I’ll remind you — I’m still practicing these myself!)
Take it to God
First and foremost, take it all to God. Share your concerns and your frustrations. Ask Him to open your eyes to where you might be wrong, and your spouse’s eyes to where he/she might be wrong. Pray for wisdom and unity.
It can be tempting to try to force, push, and pressure your own way. But that’s probably only going to cause further contention. So, be patient.
Do what you believe is right in your parenting, and give your spouse room to do the same. Pray about it, and then let the Holy Spirit do His work. (In both of you.)
Learn about a variety of parenting methods together
Parenting books and classes are great, but they’re written by fallible humans. No parenting method is ever 100% on point, especially since individual kids and families are wildly different.
So, don’t get too hung up on one particular method as the be all end all. Learn about a variety of different methods together, and discuss what you think works/doesn’t work about each one.
Be open and humble
I know you think your way is right and your spouse’s is wrong. (You may have even read this post to learn how to convince him/her, right??) But RARELY in life — and especially marriage! — is it the case that one person has it ALL right and the other has it ALL wrong.
So, be open to your spouse’s point of view and humble enough to adjust your position when necessary.
Respect each other’s differences and strengths
In the same vein, marriages are often made of very different people (opposites attract, right??), which means each parent has his/her own strengths.
Rather than fighting your differences and trying to force your spouse to parent the way you do, try to find the ways those differences complement each other. Look for the ways they highlight your unique strengths, and find ways to work with them.
Related Post: How Marriage is Like a Puzzle
Let the results do the talking
If there is an aspect of your parenting style that you strongly believe is true and right, my final piece of advice is to let the results do the talking.
If, after you’ve shared your reasons and your motivations and your convictions, he/she is still not on board, then it may be time to just be quiet and do what you’re being led to do without trying to convince, cajole, or persuade.
As long as you’re not undermining each other’s authority, there is room for different styles! Let your spouse be your spouse and then you be you.
Eventually, if it is Holy Spirit-led, I can almost guarantee your spouse will notice the results. Then, ideally, he/she will acknowledge and respect them.
And if not, well… at least you know you’re being obedient, and the Lord will honor that.
SHARE WITH US: What do you agree/disagree with on this list? What would you add? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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