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What to Do When Spouses’ Parenting Styles Clash

parenting styles

How can parents resolve parenting issues when they are not on the same page? 

The longer you’re a parent, the more you realize that parenting brings out things in you as nothing else can, both the good and the bad. Sometimes parenting brings out feelings, emotions, and ideas that we didn’t even know we had. And when there are two parents trying to lead together as a team in the home, there are often natural conflicts about what is the right way and the wrong way to handle things when it comes to the kids.

Have you and your spouse ever come to different conclusions about how to deal with a situation with your children? Okay, that’s a rhetorical question 🙂. It’s nearly impossible for two people to always see eye to eye on everything, especially when it comes to parenting. Parents bring different assumptions, ideas, and their own unique upbringing into their home that affects the way they see things.

So whether it’s an issue of how to discipline, what time the kids should go to bed, or if certain children should have different expectations, what should you do as spouses when your parenting styles clash? How can parents resolve parenting issues when they are not on the same page? Here are a few ideas:

Agree on the essentials 

Remember that most of the time, there is more that you agree upon than disagree upon. So rather than focusing all of your attention on what you both cannot seem to see eye to eye about, intentionally take some time to focus on the parts of the situation that you actually do agree about. Because usually, spouses both have the same end goal in mind, just different perspectives of how to get there.

Acknowledging the fact that you both want the same final result (whether that’s well-behaved kids, a decent nights’ sleep, or kids who display responsibility, etc.) is a great first step. And reaffirming your commitment towards a solution is powerful.

Then, after finding some common ground as a starting point, start to branch out from there with the additional and sometimes conflicting ideas that need to be discussed. Make sure to hear your spouse’s opinions out, just as you expect them to hear out yours. Listen. Share your own heart. Show grace. Then come up with an agreement, or maybe a compromise.

Agree to disagree on the non-essentials 

Sometimes the things that spouses disagree about are far too petty to even give much if any, attention to. Spouses fight and argue over details that really don’t matter in the big picture, and it becomes all about winning an argument, rather than finding a solution. If you and your spouse are clashing over things that really don’t matter in the big picture, regardless of who’s ‘right’, just stop it and drop it. Because when one of you wins, both of you lose. All this requires is swallowing down a big glassful of pride, and choosing to be the bigger person for the sake of your home.

If the things you disagree about really do matter, then talk them out, and then… talk them out some more. Be willing to agree to disagree when necessary. And be willing to compromise when possible. But in the end, if a decision must be made in a standoff, as long as the husband’s opinion or preference does not contradict biblical principles, the wife should submit to her husband’s leadership in the home in areas of disagreement and be willing to support him regardless, as he will ultimately give an account to God for the family. (I know, it’s old-fashioned, but still true ;). However, it’s unlikely to come to this if steps 1 & 2 have been followed.)

Maintain a unified front for your children  

One of the rules we have personally tried to practice in our marriage over the years is that we do not fight in front of our kids. And to the best of our ability, we try hard not to disagree in front of our kids whenever possible, especially if the disagreement involves something concerning them. Children are masters at playing parents against each other if they know that you aren’t on the same page. This is why it is so important that Mom & Dad Have To Get On the Same Page.

There have been many times in our marriage when things have started heating up in front of the kids, and one of us have simply said, “Let’s finish this conversation later” because we knew that to finish it then and there would violate our commitment to maintaining a unified front for our kids. However, there are always some disagreements that are inevitable, so we use them as teachable opportunities to help our kids see what biblical conflict resolution looks like.

The practical parenting principle to strive to live by is this – Disagree in private; be unified in public. It’s not always an easy principle to live by, but it’s one that you won’t regret living by either because it will save both you and your kids a lot of grief. Remember, you and your spouse are a team, and successful teams strive for unity.

EXTRA: One of the best ways to get on the same page or at least come to a peaceful compromise as parents is to simply pray together about the disagreements at hand, then give it some time before you revisit the topic again and seek a solution. Prayer has a way of melting (or at least softening) disagreements with time, making them easier to resolve than in the heat of the moment.

This article originally appeared here.

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Andrew is a husband, the father of four awesome kids, and a children's pastor at a thriving church. He is passionate about intentional parenting and helping other parents and leaders effectively reach the next generation. He blogs about kids and family at https://godlyparent.com/, and provides proven resources for VBS and children's ministry at KidzBlast.com.