Not Wrong; Different


Satan wants you to think that different parenting styles means you and your spouse are engaged in a tug-of-war battle. He’s wrong.

I am squishy about the kids finishing their chores but keep an eagle eye on the clock when it comes to bedtime. My husband makes sure each child has his or her chores done, even if that means going to bed a little later. I use many words when asking the children to follow through. My retired-military husband is direct.

Our differences are not wrong; they are simply different. So are the differences in your parenting. The problem is: Satan hates families. He wants you to think that different parenting styles means you are on different sides of a tug-of-war battle. He’s wrong. In the thick of raising and disciplining children, realize you are on the same team and have the same goals for your kids: they should do their best, be respectful, finish their chores, and become responsible citizens who will someday get out of your house—but not too soon.

So how can tend-to-be-more-nurturing women and tend-to-be-task-oriented men work on the same team? (By the way, I’m not just talking to husbands and wives. These are as important for those who are no longer married to the other parent.)

1. Build each other up. Women: Kids are used to seeing TV dads as buffoons. Don’t let that happen in your house. Use your words to show respect for dads—or we make their job even harder. Men: Support the mom. Because she tends to be the nurturer, the kids are going to try to wear her down first with pleading and whining. An “I’m with Mom on this” shows the kids they can’t get between you two.

2. Change your attitude. If I catch myself thinking my husband may have just been too firm, I remind myself that kids need boundaries—and he is doing a better job at teaching them how to follow through with responsibility. When I stop thinking my way is always the right way, I see how our children benefit from both parenting styles.

3. Talk it out—in private. If you really do disagree on how the other parent just handled a situation, don’t let the kids know. Move to another room to share your concerns. Is one of the kiddo's behavior confounding you? Brainstorm about what’s been happening and how you can work to address it.

4. Be serious when you need to be. Laugh when you can. As we discipline our kids, we are simply teaching them how to function in this world, so model appropriate reactions and keep perspective on what is important for them to be contributing members of society. Didn’t almost all of us have a messy room at some point? No boss will be looking for piles of clothes in their closets, so maybe we can let that slide. Bullying? Address it immediately. No employer wants an employee who can’t treat others with respect.

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