Handling Parenting Differences
How does a parent learn “to parent”? Many new parents are apprehensive when it’s time to bring a baby home. As most of us have learned, the parenting books or other helpful or friendly advice from relatives, friends and complete strangers at the grocery store are not always what our particular child (or children) need. The same is true for what we and our spouses think is the best for a child.
Parenting practices and styles often vary widely based on our own upbringing, education, culture, local societal norms, and expectations. Parenting styles also tend to change between generations. Parenting practices are specific behaviors that we utilize to parent our children. Parenting styles are the strategies that we use to communicate and build relationships with our children. These styles and strategies affect how we bond with our children, discipline them, and expect them to develop into maturity. An example of a parenting practice would be the decision to allow your child to play in the middle of a busy intersection. An example of parenting style is a parent’s practice of allowing his or her child to explore and learn without attempting to control or micro-manage learning experiences.
Types of Parenting Styles
• Authoritative parenting (children are given clear standards to follow. Behavior and limits are monitored and autonomy is developed);
• Instinctive parenting (personal style developed by parent based on upbringing);
• Indulgent/permissive parenting (child given few behavioral expectations);
• Helicopter parenting (frequent interaction and interference with child);
• Attachment/Gentle parenting (focus is on meeting child’s emotional needs and treating child with respect);
• Neglectful parenting (parent is detached from child, minimal responsiveness).
While parenting styles may vary between you and the other parent, this difference doesn’t have to be a constant tug of war. Parents can use different styles to arrive at the same goals. The key is to communicate with the other parent, talk about your hopes and dreams for your child, your child’s abilities, and shared goals. Sometimes understanding the other parent, asking questions and really listening to his or her answers is helpful to minimize differences in parenting styles.
More problematic is when parents’ behaviors are at odds concerning a child’s healthy development or safety. A divide between parents can grow when there are problems in the relationship or once there has been a break-up or divorce. Using the example above – most (but not all) parents would agree that it’s dangerous and unacceptable to let a child play in the middle of a crowded intersection.
If you are frustrated with the other parent’s parenting style, try some of the options suggested above to understand why the other parent is utilizing a particular style and what types of goals and outcomes the parent wants or hopes to produce. If, however, a parent’s actions are placing your child at risk, it may be time to consult with an attorney to determine whether your concerns stem from a parenting style or behavior that can be addressed legally to protect your child. Call a family law attorney if you have questions about a parent’s behavior and how to keep your child safe.
A great family law attorney will walk you through the changes in your life with skill and compassion. At Tario & Associates, P.S., we have been practicing family law since 1979 and have helped thousands of Bellingham families settle their legal needs. Please contact us today for a free consultation. We are here to help!