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  • Paula Thompson
    Paula Thompson

    How can you effectively co-parent with a partner who has different disciplinary styles?

    Adolescence can be a challenging time for parents and teens alike, with differences in points of view, personality clashes, and a widening generation gap. But when one parent has a different approach to disciplining their children than the other, co-parenting through these volatile years can be even more difficult.

    When two parents have vastly different disciplinary styles, it can strain communication between them and cause tension between the children and the adults – not to mention confusion for the child or children caught in the middle. It takes thoughtful understanding, compromise and mutual respect between co-parents to make sure their children are well-adjusted and positive during a difficult phase of life.

    To deal with an alien disciplinary style from the other parent, first, step back and take time to understand that co-parent’s individual point of view. Remember that for them, it is an effort to do the best for their children, just as you are attempting. Listen to the other parent and ask questions so you can gain insight into the opinion and beliefs that shape their parenting methods. Then, if you can find some common ground, great - use it! If not, don’t worry, but ideally you look for something you both agree on, even if it’s something small.

    Second, talk with the other person directly and openly to try to collaborate on how to help your child/children in their development. While they may not agree with your approach, aim to find a further middle ground between the two of you. Discuss openly what strategies and boundaries could help the child(ren) most. Building a strong relationship of understanding between you and your partner’s parenting methods will help benefit everyone in the family, especially the kids.

    Once you feel like you’ve come to an understanding of how each parent looks at discipline, create a consistent set of house rules and structure. Write down expectations, logical consequences of breaking those rules and then have both parents review and sign them. These joint agreements will help reflect your consensus and reinforcing your unified front. Aim to have your together time in shared activities, such as movie nights, sports games, camping trips, or just plain old family dinners. When you are able to spend quality together time with your children and your ex-partner, this will only help increase obediences, inspire respect and set your children up for success adulting in their lives.

    Keep in mind that the adolescent years present lots of unique challenges, but if co-parents stay flexible, gracious, and emphatic during these times of change, there will be that much more butter in the toast of life. An open dialogue of understanding, patience and empathy can lead to harmonious and beneficial outcomes for everyone involved.

    Being an effective co-parent in a situation where two different disciplinary styles exist can be tricky, however it is vital and even possible to come together to create a unified parental front. Working together, providing support and understanding to one another’s point of view, and maintaining consistent rules with logical consequences are all essential steps that can help reach those symbiotic goals. After all, the main objectives should remain in line to build a stable, safe and encouraging environment for both parents and children.

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