Do you and your partner disagree on parenting styles? Try these 8 tips from a psychotherapist that model respect and compromise despite your differences

Number six can help in many different ways

Parents with their two children smiling
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You and your partner might disagree on parenting styles, and that's totally OK. We share eight psychotherapist-backed tips that will help you model respect and compromise anyway - despite your differences.

Parenting styles are not only divisive within conversation about them in general, but can cause friction within relationships. One parent might want to take on authoritative parenting, while their partner believes gentle parenting is more suitable. This doesn't mean that one parent will 'win' and only one style will be used by both parties raising the children, because compromises are possible.

Child and adolescent psychotherapist Zara Kadir, asserts that it's completely fine when parents don't agree on parenting styles, and it doesn't mean all is lost. Instead, she advocates working together in a way that respects individual parenting methods, while still modelling respect and compromise to children. Sharing eight tips to her Instagram account, Kadir's tips will facilitate couples staying united, while remaining thoughtful about one another's difference of opinion.  

8 tips for working together when you disagree on parenting styles

  1. Maintain a united front. Kadir wrote "Don't disagree in front of your children, and don't undermine each other in public. If you're not happy with something then tell your children 'me and mum need to have a think about this one together.'"
  2. Make time to communicate.  We know this can be difficult when the busyness of life gets in the way, but it's important to finding the balance. Kadir says "If you let life happen and big events creep up on you, then you're more likely to find yourself arguing as issues arise. Pre-empting big things like sleep, eating, discipline and responsibilities ahead of developmental milestones, stops you being caught unprepared."
  3. Be a role model. Quite simply, "If your children divide and conquer, then you miss the opportunity to show them what healthy discussion and compromise looks like."
  4. Try to understand each other. If you're both set on a certain parenting style, you'll have to agree to disagree. Kadir says "Think about how you were raised and what you liked, versus what you want to do differently. Remember, conflict doesn't end when someone is right and someone is wrong, it can end with 'I disagree, but at least I understand you better.'"
  5. Don't get in each others way. It's OK for your kids to see that you disagree, but this can't stop you working as a team. "Children need to see that the world is made of different types of people," writes Kadir, adding "However, if you constantly ruin one parent's plans by being unboundaried or disorganised, then you're no longer parenting as a team. Think of it as your job, if a colleague came in and messed with your schedule and policies, you'd be pretty angry."
  6. Find the positives. This can be transferrable to many situations, and is always a good skill to have. Kadir says "Don't just criticise one another. What do you like about your partner's parenting style? What difference are you grateful for?"
  7. Be confident in your own parenting style. It might be different to your partner's, but that doesn't mean either of you have to be less confident in the path you've chosen. "If you have both made conscious decisions and can align yourself with a style, then your children will at least get consistency in your differing responses" suggests Kadir.
  8. Have a code word. This is also really important. Kadir suggests "If you've agreed that one of you is better at taking the lead in certain situations, then have a code word which means 'let me take this one.' Sometimes, a household job like 'have you done the washing?' is a good one." 

Of course, Kadir's suggestions are nuanced and open to interpretation, opening up discussion within the comments of the post. One person wrote "My mum would tell my dad he was being ridiculous in front of me, and I think that was actually really important as a child, as otherwise it would have been quite confusing. I think a united front is fine but if one parent is suggesting a ridiculous punishment then I think it’s only fair the other parent calls them out!"

Zara Kadir agreed with the comment, replying "I totally agree! It kind of shows you’re not on a persons side, you’re on reasons side! My husband did it yesterday and I 100% said 'that’s ridiculous, you’re not teaching him anything!'" Her tips can be moulded to fit your family life and situation, helping you work towards harmonious parenting, despite any differences in how to raise your kids you might have.

For more on parenting styles, we share the full lowdown on what's involved with permissive parenting, tiger parenting, and therapeutic parenting. Whatever your core values, there will be a parenting style to align with how you want to raise your kids - even if you end up combining methods.

Lucy Wigley
Parenting writer - contributing

Lucy is a mum-of-two, multi-award nominated writer and blogger with six years’ of experience writing about parenting, family life, and TV. Lucy has contributed content to PopSugar and In the last three years, she has transformed her passion for streaming countless hours of television into specialising in entertainment writing. There is now nothing she loves more than watching the best shows on television and sharing why you - and your kids - should watch them.