Raising kids isn’t easy. It’s often a time when new parents look to their upbringing to guide their decisions. Much of our parenting tendencies come from our personal experiences and how we were raised as children. Unless you and your partner grew up in very similar environments, you are likely to have diverse ideas of how to parent. You both may need to discover your most influential parenting styles and work on getting yourselves on the same team.
Identify your parenting style
There are ultimately three parenting styles. Every parent has unique ways of raising and interacting with their children, some desirable, some not so desirable. Understand that you may not fit perfectly into one style, but it is useful to see if you have a greater tendency toward one or the other. Identify the parenting style you and your partner most closely resemble together.
- Authoritarian parents tend to exert a great deal of control over their children. Strict rules must be maintained at all times. Often children do not understand why the rules are in place. There is an inclination toward punishment instead of positive reinforcement to encourage a particular behavior. Authoritarian parenting is often effective short-term however children don’t tend to learn appropriate behavior for themselves.
- Permissive parents allow their children to maintain control most of the time. Often it is difficult or undesirable to set a routine, boundaries or expectations of behavior. Children may be allowed to make their own choices even when they aren’t always capable of making good, responsible decisions on their own. Permissive parents may feel at a loss on how to control their children and allow negative behaviors to continue even if it is harmful.
- Democratic parents often maintain a balance of the authoritarian and permissive parenting styles. Parents make sure their children follow through on what is expected of them in a loving way. The focus is on positive reinforcement for good behavior. Punishment is more of a teaching opportunity to allow the child to understand why their behavior was not desirable.
There is no right or wrong style for any one couple
What is important is what you decide to do as a team. Children need consistency and parents need to back each other up. Since your instincts regarding how you react to a situation may be different than your partner’s instincts, you need to talk together and develop a parenting style that you both can agree on.
Good communication with your partner is key to addressing any parenting concerns you may have. Create a list of all the positive things that make him/her a great dad or mom. Then come up with a list of parenting techniques that you and/or your partner have utilized but have found to be ineffective. If you both list the same ineffective strategy, it will be easier for you both to work on eliminating it, or replacing it with a new strategy in the future.
Keep in mind that your ultimate goal is to develop a parenting style that works for you as a couple. Children should learn from their parents how to make good choices and think about the consequences of their behavior. The parent/child relationship is one of our first and most informative relationships. How you approach this as a couple can set your child’s expectations for what a healthy relationship looks and feels like.
Effective parenting means that you are on the same team first and foremost. It is much easier for children to understand rules, consequences and rewards if they are presented in a consistent way, from the both of you. A loving bond between you and your parenting partner will generate a loving and supportive environment for your children to learn and grow.