When Styles Collide

Welcome to free for all Friday.  Thanks to all who have sent parenting questions to me.  Today is your day so all questions can be placed in the comments box or through Facebook.

Today’s parenting question focuses on “How should parents handle kids when their parenting styles are different?”  The writer also asked me to address when one parent is more protective and the other less so.  Finally, the writer made it clear that the partner’s style was not inferior- only different.

My initial response to that is “welcome to most parents’ lives.”  I’ve very seldom seen two parents with the exact same style.  Understand you are not alone.  Many people have raised terrific kids although their styles weren’t the same and you can too.

When two people have a child, they have to give up a certain amount of control to their partner.  They are not going to like everything their partner does each day for 18 years with the child.  The same rules apply to me.  I have written a book on parenting and I am writing this blog.  Regardless, I have to give up a degree of control to my wife because she is an equal partner.  Sometimes it drives me nuts when I see Lauren doing something that goes against what I was taught during my professional experiences; but that’s the way it goes. I’m certain some of the things I do drive her nuts as well; but I digress. 

I hope we can agree on my control argument to advance the conversation.  Let’s deal with the “protective ” angle.  The hypothetical scenario I’ll give will be a kid who wants to extend his/her curfew from 9:00pm to 11:00pm.  This is a big jump and your partner is for it and you are against it.  Your partner may think the child has earned the privilege while you are not quite ready to let go that much.  The guideline for me is both parents better agree/compromise before a change is made.  If this doesn’t happen, we could be going from “philosophies of raising kids” to “marital conflict.”  This is not a marriage blog but if one partner tries to overrule the other without talking about it- look out! 

Differing parenting styles can usually be worked out through basic communication.  The ball can be dropped though because some parents tend to hold their feelings in while others may lash out at inappropriate times.     

While addressing the protective angle/parenting styles, I’d strongly encourage talking things out with your partner BEFORE a problem occurs with the kid.  Lauren and I have done this many times and it helps us know where the other is coming from with our opinions.  I hate to admit this but the way conversations are typically started stems from others misery.  Examples are discussing Dear Abby columns, watching the show Supernanny, or talking about a situation that happened at work.  Lauren and I are to the point that we know what the other will say over 90% of the time.  That high % took time, patience, and a lot of conversing.     

When I was at St. Joseph Children’s Home, many house parents had to work together.  I typically present the place as a great atmosphere to work because it usually was for me.  Nevertheless, there were problems among house parents.  We were taught by our management that problems are to be addressed away from the kids.  I agree with this philosophy and applied while teaching and in my home.  I want my kids to concentrate on being good people, strong students, and sports legends.  (OK I made the last one up)  On three separate occasions, I walked in on a house parent argument in a large walk in closet.  As quickly as I walked in, I walked out and the kids never knew.  It wasn’t a comfortable shift on those days but we did the best we could.    I applaud my coworkers for handling their problems professionally out of the earshot of children.   

Like minds can disagree and that’s OK.  To me, it comes down to stability and the way I want it presented to my kids.  If Cameron and Luke are focused on disagreements Lauren and I are having versus what I want them to concentrate on; that’s a problem.  In general, kids can get their cages rattled easily and if they see mom and dad are having problems; you can bet it will come out at a future time and place. I’ve seen this scenario in the classroom many times with students so I will avoid all the drama with my own children.   

I mentioned before that I have to give up a degree of control to my wife.  That doesn’t mean I completely bite my tongue.  Lauren always knows if I disagree with something she has done.  But one thing I will not do is call her out in front of the kids.  It would diminish her authority which is a huge mistake.  If I choose to diminish her authority in front of Cameron and Luke, odds are they will try to diminish her authority as well.  This is especially true as the boys get older and bigger.

I hope everyone has a fabulous weekend and Thanksgiving.  Cameron is off school next week so my goal is to have more fun with both boys than they can stand.  This means I will not be writing any parenting blogs next week.  My next parenting blog will focus on teaching Cameron circumference after eating our Thanksgiving meals.  (Ha Ha)

My next blog will be posted Monday November 29th.   

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