If you’re struggling with your co-parent (or an ex) – arguing about whose style is more correct, or more effective – you’re not alone. Coming to an agreement can be very difficult. And when you’re talking about parenting, emotions can certainly run very high.
The good news is, you and your co-parent can find a way to work together, even if you have different ideas.
If you find that you and your partner often argue about key issues, take some time to discuss places you might agree.
Sounds easy enough, but how are you supposed to find places you agree when you argue about everything? The good news is, no matter how insurmountable it feels, there are a few things you might try, just to get started:
Create a specific time to come together and talk about your differences in parenting. This isn’t a time to argue, it’s a time to acknowledge that you have differences. It’s a time to talk about how you might manage those differences more effectively, for the sake of your child. As simplistic as it seems, openly acknowledging your differences, rather than staying in the tug of war between you, can help to shift things.
Once you’ve talked about your differences, affirm together that you’d like to find more common ground, in order to help your child learn and grow. Find one or two behaviors you’d both like your child to improve. Talk about ways you can clearly and effectively help your child take responsibility for improving these behaviors.
One last thing – try to stay focused on specific behaviors like reducing backtalk, or completing chores, rather than broad concepts like “respect” or “attitude.” Those tend to be gray areas in which parents – and adults in general – have lots of disagreements. If you find yourselves being drawn into another argument, step back, take a break, and refocus on one or two very specific behaviors.
Be sure to have these conversations in private, rather than in front of your child. Most importantly, agree to present a united front to your child. Let her know that she can’t get around the rules by appealing to one parent over another. For more help with how to address specific behaviors, check out our article archives HERE.
Except in cases of abuse, there are no clear cut right or wrong answers when it comes to parenting styles. Discussing different ways of reaching your shared family goals is a worthwhile endeavor. Just don’t let those arguments get in the way of your parenting. One step at a time – one shared goal at a time – you and your co-parent can make a fantastic team.
For more on parenting differences, you might check out: Differences in Parenting? How Your Child May Be Using it Against You, Two Parents, One Plan.
Good luck, and please keep in touch and let us know how it goes! We’d love to hear how you and your co-parent work together.
Marissa, Empowering Parents Coach
Marissa is a proud mom to two boys, age 10 and 5. She earned her degree in Sociology from Saint Joseph’s College of Maine and has been a 1-on-1 Coach since 2011. Prior to coming to Empowering Parents, Marissa gained experience working as the House Manager of a group home for teenage boys, as a Children’s Mental Health Case Manager, and also spent several years working on the Children’s Unit at a Psych. Hospital.