Every individual has different thought and opinions hence arguments between parents regarding the parenting of their child(ren) are bound to happen. But that doesn't mean that there's not a way out.
Parenting is a huge responsibility. And conflicts between you and your spouse due to different parenting styles is bound to happen because you will not agree on everything 100% all the time. The important thing here is to resolve the conflict and look past it and take the steps which are best for your child(ren). You and your spouse need to be on the same page and not be rigid and think, “My way is right. Your way is wrong.”
A person’s parenting style is influenced by the way they were parented, their hopes, fears, and expectations from their child(ren), gender roles, cultural background, community, religion, politics, and socioeconomic status. Hence, it is a given fact that you and your spouse will have parenting style conflicts because you both were parented in a different way.
Parenting conflicts also leaves children clueless as to what is expected out of them and how they are supposed to behave.
Resolving the conflict:
Both the parents have different rules and expectations for their child’s discipline, their routine, and their choices. Mom might say that a child cannot watch TV until the homework is done but dad might be completely okay with that. Because of such conflicts and inconsistencies, one parent inevitably undermines the authority of the other. Children are smart to catch up on your inconsistencies and will begin to either manipulate either of the parents for their good or will have more behavioural problems in future. Resolving this problem requires you and your spouse to be completely honest with each other about what your rules and expectations are. Write them down, review them and be sure they are workable. In areas in which you differ, find a compromise that you both can live with - and stick by it.
Putting off the important discussions and decisions about matters like how much freedom is appropriate for the child, leaves the child puzzled and stressed as to what is expected of them. You and your spouse need to communicate about what is acceptable and what is not. You need to take the decisions and let your child(ren) know so that a child knows how to behave in the family.
It’s not only kids who feel that their parents love the other one more. Sometimes the tables turn, and there’s a rivalry between parents over their children’s attention and love. Children get stuck sometimes when the father wants to do something with the children (eg. go for fishing) and the mother wants them to do something else (eg. to tidy up the house). In such situations, children have to choose one over the other even if they don’t want to. To resolve this, parents need to find ways to be cooperative, not competitive, with each other. This doesn't mean that you have to agree or compromise on everything; but that you need to go with what’s the best for the child and the family as a whole. Sometimes the father can let go and the mother can do the same.
When parents have arguments over what’s right for their child(ren) and cannot come to a conclusion, one parent eventually gives in. This is not healthy as the parents at some later time are bound to have arguments over something else and this time, the arguments might heat up because of a previously unresolved issue. To resolve this, parents need to learn the skills of conflict resolution. These include:
Clarifying points of difference
Taking each other's feelings seriously
Generating alternative solutions together
Always present yourself as a team in front of your child(ren). Make it a rule that if one parent disciplines a child, the other parent must back it up, even if the other parent disagrees with the punishment. Later, when things are calm, you and your spouse can discuss alternate ways of handling things in private. If you don’t back each other up, your child will undermine your authority as parents. Every time you argue with your spouse over parenting, the focus shifts away from where it should be—your child’s behaviour.
When you and your spouse disagree on an issue and you can’t seem to find a compromise, then try to defer to the parent who feels more strongly about it. When one of the parent has a very strong positive/negative feeling about a child’s matter, the other parent should go along and trust the feelings of the other. For examples, you can say, “I feel so strongly about this. I’d like you to support me on this, even if you don’t see it the same way.”
If you don’t agree to what your spouse feels but nonetheless decide to ahead with their decision, never put down your spouse’s decision while siding with the child. For example, when your child wants to have a toy. You are ready but your spouse is not and at the end of the day you go ahead with not buying the toy for your child. This is what you can say to your child, “I know it’s hard for you when we won’t let you buy what you want. But be assured that we have the best interests for you at heart.” Tell your child that this is a joint decision even if behind closed doors, you and your spouse don’t completely agree.
Talk about parenting decisions when you are calm and can listen to one another’s perspective without being angry or sarcastic. Calm makes it is easier for you to discuss things with respect. When the argument heats up, take a time-out and discuss things later. Don’t be hostile while discussing things with your partner. Hostility isn’t just yelling and fighting. Hostility can include sarcasm, dismissive comments, put-downs, subtle threats, and other forms of damaging communication.
Everyone is parented and brought up in a different way. This also influences the way we parent children. When you and your spouse don’t agree on something, try and understand what was your spouse’s childhood like, how was your spouse parented. You can tell them about your parenting and childhood as well. This way you will be able to understand why the other way parents in a particular way. This will help you to decide what is the best for your child quickly and without any chaos.
Read parenting books and discuss them, or join a parenting support group. Select parenting experts you both trust.
Being stubborn and not accepting a mistake you have made and blaming your spouse can make your spouse angry. If you are wrong, be gracious enough to accept it.
If your spouse made a mistake, learn to forgive and forget. Once you have forgiven, don’t ever bring up the issue again. Never bring up past issues as they make things bitter.
If you feel like you’ve tried everything and are still not able to get on the same page with your spouse, you may need some professional help in the form of a therapist.
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