Different Parent, Different Style

January 11, 2018
Different Parent, Different Style

What if Both Parents Have Different Ideas About Parenting?

While it is ideal to discuss your ideas and expectations as a “team,” it is inevitable that certain parenting styles and rules will be different between even the most compatible people.

  1. Explain to your child that lots of people have different rules.

  2. Point out to your child all of the different rules they already follow in their life. They switch between school rules, the rules at family members’ houses, and the rules of being out in public. Your child might even follow different rules between siblings or caregivers. Ask your child if they can think of some examples.

  3. Explain the reasons behind your rules. Keep the explanations simple and clear. Letting a child know why there is a particular rule or expectation will make them more likely to understand it and internalize it.

  4. Be consistent with your rules and expectations and set your child up for success by being reliable. You want your child to be capable of following your rules and meeting your expectations, so make sure they know what they are and know they are consistent. Children can learn to do this with each parent even if they have a different set of expectations.

  5. Problem solve with your child to come up with strategies for dealing with the transition between different parent expectations. When you and your child engage in a problem-solving process together, you are helping support their autonomy.

  6. If your child is confused about having to follow different rules, ask them to try and help you understand what is most challenging for them and see if you can encourage them to come up with some solutions. In the meantime, talk with your co-parent about ways to lift the burden of the challenge by coming to an agreement on transitions that seem particularly confusing or stressful.

  7. Avoid judging or claiming that your rules are more “right” so that your child doesn’t feel they have to choose between the “better” parent. Use this as an opportunity to teach your child about the validity of different perspectives.


For more information and resources on managing conflicting parenting styles, check out this article from  The Child Mind Institute



Photo courtesy of smore.com – Parenting Through Transitions