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What should parents do if they have different parenting styles?

When parents disagree over how they parent and raise their children, it can create significant tension in the marriage.

These differences often become more pronounced after a divorce, when parents are no longer living in the same home. So, what are some tips for how parents can handle the differences in their parenting styles?

Remember: Children need stability

A parents’ divorce can bring a wave of change to a child’s life. That is why the primary goal of North Carolina’s child custody laws is to maintain stability and consistency in a child’s life as much as possible.

When there are extreme differences in parenting styles, children might not get the stability they need. However, parents cannot simply change their ex-spouse’s way of parenting. Trying to change each other might cause even more disagreements or disputes between ex-spouses.

Fortunately, there are steps that parents can take to find a balance between their parenting styles.

How can spouses make different parenting styles work?

Differences in parenting styles are not inherently a bad thing. Sometimes these differences can be beneficial for the child, as long as parents make sure they have common goals and find ways to maintain stability in the child’s life.

So, parents should:

  1. Communicate: It is no secret that communication is the key to successful co-parenting after a divorce. Parents should ensure they discuss parenting strategies and ensure that those strategies continue to meet their child’s needs and best interests.
  2. Keep Some Rules the Same: Even if parents have different parenting styles, they should ensure that they maintain some of the same rules and disciplinary measures. For example, young children should have the same bedtime at both parents’ households. When critical rules stay the same, children can rely on them. Parents should outline these specific rules in their custody agreement and parenting plan.
  3. Agree on the Big Things: Divorced parents must still make big decisions about their child’s life together. Small differences in day-to-day parenting styles might not have that large of an effect on the child’s life and likely do not need to be a point of contention.

Constantly clashing over parenting styles can put considerable strain on the whole family. However, if parents can find a way to balance their parenting styles positively, they can continue to provide their child with the stability and love they need after divorce.