What to Do When You Disagree on Parenting Issues

Unhappy Girl Watching Parents Arguing In Kitchen

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Everyone has a slightly different way of parenting, and many times you won't even realize that you disagree with your partner about certain issues until you're in the thick of it.

That said, it makes sense that people feel strongly about specific issues because most people had different styles of upbringings themselves. While you may never agree on every single topic, there are many things that you can address with your partner that will make these hurdles easier to face when they arise.

From working to better understand your parenting style (and maybe even agreeing on a specific style to aim for) to examining the common disagreements you face, talking these things out can make parenting disagreements much more manageable.

Below, we walk through the four parenting styles, some of the most common disagreements, and tips to tackle them when they arise.

The Four Parenting Styles

Clinical and developmental psychologist Diana Baumrind coined the four types of parenting styles. She found that they can determine how children develop future relationships with friends and romantic partners, and how they parent in the future. Research has also suggested they can impact a child's success in school, and even determine their likelihood of success. Here is a breakdown on the four different parenting styles.

Authoritative

Many researchers view authoritative parenting as the most healthy and effective method of parenting based on the outcome of children from these types of families.

These types of parents have high expectations for their kids, but they are consistent and understanding when enforcing these standards. They are also responsive to their kids without being too overbearing or involved in their lives or decisions. This results in kids who are more confident in their decision-making skills.

Authoritarian

The authoritarian parenting style is characterized by lots of demands and very little engagement. The parents aren't likely to listen to their kids, and they tend to dole out very little positive feedback.

One study found that these parents were more likely to punish their kids for their faults harshly and were even more susceptible to coercion. It also found that these kids were more likely to perform worse in school and experience more social problems.

Permissive

Permissive parents are super supportive but very low when it comes to demands and structure. These parents tend to be super lenient and let their kids skirt around boundaries and rules without repercussions. Children with these types of parents typically have a problem with authority and boundaries, and they rank lower in happiness and the ability to self-regulate.

Uninvolved

As the name denotes, these parents are generally not interested in their children's lives, even to the point of neglect or even rejecting their children. The uninvolved parenting style can also be referred to as indifferent or neglectful.

Children who had these types of parents tend to rank lower in terms of self-esteem. They also tend to lack self-control and are typically less competent than their peers. Multiple studies have even found that kids with these parenting backgrounds rank the lowest across all of life's domains.

Common Reasons Parents Disagree

One study found that if parents had differing parenting styles, the most common couples tended to lean into a relationship where one parent was the authoritative figure and one was more dismissive.

More specifically, the study found that fathers were more likely to say their spouses were more authoritative, permissive, and authoritarian than themselves. Moms on the other hand were more likely to see themselves as more authoritative.

Understanding your parenting styles can tell you a lot about your reactions to both your child and your partner, especially when you're facing adversity. While the exact details of parental disagreements will always differ, there are some overarching themes that pop up a lot.

  • When to intervene: An example would be if one parent thinks that a child should be given a warning (or multiple warnings), while the other parent thinks that the child should experience consequences immediately.
  • Severity of consequences: Consequences need to be agreed upon beforehand, if possible. That said, this is easiest when your child has done something again and again. It can be difficult to align your views with your partner if a situation is arising for the first time.
  • Differing parental temperaments: Since everyone is different, it's likely that one parent is prone to different reactions than the other. If one parent is always super calm while the other blows up immediately, this can create dissension not only between the parents, but it can also cause the child to act differently around each parent and even in their other relationships.

How to Avoid (or Manage) Common Disagreements

Disagreements are completely normal and even unavoidable. That said you and your partner's method of managing the disagreement can make them much easier to face. Learning to better manage your disagreements is not only healthier for you and your partner's relationship, but it's also better for your mental health and the mental health of your child.

  • Establish some ground rules: Make it a point to go over your deal-breakers in regard to your child's behavior with your partner ahead of time. You can continually build on your ground rules based on situations that have popped up in the past as well.
  • Present a united front for your children: When children see their parents fighting, it can skew their views of how disagreements are handled in other situations as well. That said, you and your partner should make sure to come to conclusions about consequences and rules ahead of time so that you are on the same page when they come up in front of your child. This will also lead to fewer opportunities to disagree in the moment.
  • Find common ground: While you may not agree on everything, search for the commonalities and build on them. If you think your child should be allowed two warnings before consequences take effect and your partner thinks punishment is in order immediately, perhaps you can agree on what it is that you both dislike about the child's behavior. Then, you can attempt to re-route it in a way that's better for both of you.
  • Be consistent: When it comes to rules, the most important factor is consistency when you're enforcing them. Make sure you and your partner are on the same page so the same message is communicated to your child.
  • Be open and honest: Being open and honest with your partner is always a good idea. In this case, if you have doubts or concerns about a parenting decision, voice them to your partner and listen to their response. This can help them better understand your perspective.

A Word From Verywell

Remember that most disagreements in regard to the different ways of parenting your child are born out of love. Keep that in the back of your mind as you work through these issues with your partner, and as you implement household rules.

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8 Sources
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