Once a couple becomes parents, one of the most common causes for marital conflicts is the difference in parenting styles.
A difference in opinion between a couple on one/many issues (parenting or otherwise) is probably very common. However, in many instances the differences in parenting styles escalate to serious levels, and these differences can affect the very foundation of matrimony.
From my personal experiences, I’ve observed that ones parenting style is usually governed and influenced by the following:
- Your own childhood and upbringing
- Your parents’ “parenting styles” – So either you end up exactly like them or you don’t want to be like them or mostly, end up somewhere in between
- Your views on the fundamental difference between right and wrong; and how strongly grounded these views are
- The value and respect you associate with “people” at large – whether in your inner network of friends and family; or outer network beyond that
- The hardships in life you faced; and your beliefs on why you faced those hardships and how they affected your life. Hence either you want your children to be ready for everything life has to offer and expose them to the “real world” sooner than later OR you want to protect them completely from the “BIG BAD world” as long as you can; and hence cocoon them in a make-believe world of safety, security and material comfort
- The value you associate with “money” – Its need and importance in life
- The importance you associate with “fitting in” a specific social group or community; and to what extent you are willing to go just to “fit in”
- Your definition of “success”; and how important success is to you
- You own personality. For e.g.: Are you easy going about life in general
- Your own personal habits. For e.g.: Having a planned daily routine/self-discipline is a way of life
The issues of marital conflicts arise and escalate if a couple has strong contrasting views (which falls on two ends of the spectrum) on any important parenting related subject and are unwilling to listen/consider an alternate point-of-view.
From my own personal experience as a parent and based on my interactions with other parents, I am listing below a few points which I’ve found useful in dealing with situations where the marital conflicts appear to be insurmountable due to the difference in parenting styles:
- There’s no ONE RIGHT style in parenting – Any parenting book/literature/research will highlight this point. And rightly so! Just acknowledging and accepting this fact goes a long way in dealing with different parenting situations. Yes! You may not agree with his/her parenting style always. But then he/she also may disagree with your way many times. So sometimes, ignore them – It’s OK. Sometimes, give in – It’s OK. Sometimes, just laugh it out – It’s OK. And when it’s not OK, then pick a battle. All “parenting related battles” are just NOT WORTH your time and effort! Choose them wisely! Personally, I think mothers are guiltier in this department (though I speak only from my experience). Most mothers honestly think and believe that the only and right parenting style is their way! Yes! Agreed that most mothers have a strong “maternal instinct”, but Daddy is a parent too; and some (or many) times he knows/does things better!
- Breathe and Listen – Sometimes the best way to diffuse a situation involving a difference of opinion on parenting styles is to listen to his/her point of view. Many times, simply by listening to each other you get answers/consensus as parents; and the situation is diffused. In the parenting journey, many times there is a crying need for a couple to sometimes just listen and acknowledge his/her point of view.
- Speak and Make your point – Many times, parents are guilty of assuming a zillion things, and not really sharing it with each other. So one assumption leads to another, and before you know you’re arguing and screaming about something really silly. If you have a strong view/opinion make sure you share it with your partner. Not just that, it is important to speak and update each other on issues regarding your children on a regular basis (unless you’d want it otherwise).
- Try to see where he/she is coming from – Many times, if a parent is stuck up on a specific something, there’s usually a strong reason to it (past personal experience, a strong belief system, etc.). And many of us don’t share the underlying rationale for what we are saying, but just say this is how it should be! If you’re in such a situation, try to find out why your partner is so adamant about an issue. More often than not, once you’ve heard him/her out – Things can easily be amicably resolved.
- Trust the “Parenting Gene” in him/her – You both are parents; have a little faith in his/her parenting style. After all, parenting is a lifelong journey – So you both learn every single day. And with each learning, you get experience and confidence in dealing with all kinds of parenting situations. Over time, you’ll hopefully become “experts” at this complex subject called parenting!
That’s my view. Would like to hear your thoughts on this sensitive subject. Leave a comment to let me know.
Nischala Murthy Kaushik is an IT & Marketing professional, an IIMB Alumni, a mother and a philosopher. She likes to believe that she is a Scholar & Guru of Life for Life and the Chief Happiness Officer of her life. She blogs @ Nischala’s Space Thoughts and Expressions & VERVE : The Quintessence of my Life. In addition, she is also as a guest blogger in several sites of global repute; and her blogs have been featured in several Best-Of lists on the web. She tweets @nimu9 and is listed among the 50 Indian Women to follow on Twitter.