Do you and your partner have different parenting styles? If so, you’re in good company.
It comes up all the time and I mean all the time:
“How do my partner and I get onto the same parenting page?”
One parent is too kind and the other too firm, and they push each other, ever farther to extremes, by compensating for the other’s “weakness.”
I’ll share some Do’s and Don’ts below but I admit that the VERY best way to get closer to the same parenting page is to take a class together.
Some of you have done this . . . Congratulations! I bet you’ll say it was well worth the investment.
If you haven’t, consider enrolling together in Parenting with Positive Discipline class.
2nd Caregivers (partners, babysitters, grandparents, etc.) qualify for a wildly discounted rate. And I mean WILDLY discounted!
How do you increase the odds that your partner will accept the invitation to take a class? Here are a few ideas:
- Just ask. For example, “It would mean a lot to me if you’d consider attending a parenting class with me. Will you?” Remember that “no” is a valid answer to a request. It’s OK! You’ve done your part and you can feel good about that.
- Put a flyer on the toilet seat or their pillow ( ;
- Negotiate a compromise. For example, “If you’d do this for me, I’d be willing to do something meaningful for you. What would you like in exchange?”
- Remind your partner that they can attend from the comfort of their own home or office (if enrolled in the Virtual version of the class), and can watch the recordings if they miss a class.
Can’t take a class? Here are some tips to get closer to the same parenting page.
- Be the change you want to see in others. Model, as much as you can, the kind of parenting behavior you hope for (this is HUGELY powerful!)
- Take a class together or separately. Honestly this is the best suggestion I have because it comes from a more objective and informed source.
- Agree to disagree. Recognize that some differences in style are inevitable and perhaps even helpful (Read more about this here from Sproutable)
- Let the little stuff go. Not every difference in approach is worth addressing. Agree with your co-caregivers on what the “big issues” are, what the rules around them are, and let the rest go.
- Talk outside the time of conflict. Yes, do talk about how you disagree, but do your best to have these conversations when you’re both calm, not in the heat of the moment, and not in front of your children. I suggest a weekly parenting meeting so you can address past or predicted clashes privately. When you talk, be sure to listen fully to your partner’s perspective and validate their feelings.
- Have regular family meetings so you can pre-empt disagreements, give children practice in finding solutions, and avoid children pitting you against each other. Children are more likely to follow the rules when they’re clear and when they’ve helped to create them.
- Ask first before stepping in. Ask if your partner/other caregiver is open to suggestions before offering them. Ask if they’d be willing to read an article or chapter of a book and if so, share an audio recording or podcast that they can listen to while driving or exercising. In heated moments, ask if they’d like to pass the baton / take a break.
- Make agreements in advance about what you’ll do when you strongly disagree with your partner/caregiver’s approach and feel compelled to step in. For example, perhaps you can agree on a “code word” to use when one parent will willingly step back and let you take over.
- Undermine your parenting partner. When one caregiver is in charge, let them take the wheel, and address it privately later (unless you can skillfully intervene without the other person feeling undermined or your child’s safety is at risk.)
- Allow children pit you against each other. If they do this a lot, agree on a “2 Yeses” rule: they must get a yes from both parents before they can proceed.
- Preach to, lecture, or criticize your partner. Don’t quote the book / tell your partner about all the research you’ve read. Yeah, you get it.
- Try to resolve the problem when you’re angry. Do take time to calm down first.
What other Do’s and Don’ts would you add? I’d love to hear them – please leave a comment below!
Audio/Video Resources to share with your partner (or yourself)
Here are few terrific interviews that I’ve given recently. Great to listen to while driving or exercising!
THE MAMA TRUTH SHOW with Amy Ahlers – an interview where I share how Positive Discipline is so much more than “behavior management.”
POSITIVE DISCIPLINE BOOK STUDY with Kelly Pfeiffer – a Q&A where Kelly and I share answers to common parenting questions.
JOYFUL COURAGE PARENTING PODCAST with Casey O’Roarty — In episode 75, I’m interviewed about how modern research and neuroscience are backing up the principles behind Positive Discipline.
5 CRITERIA FOR POSITIVE DISCIPLINE – a free introductory Positive Discipline Teleclass I facilitated a few years ago.
I hope you enjoy these recordings! Please feel free to share with friends, too.
I’m on your side! (And your side, too!)
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