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Two Parenting Styles, One Mission

February 22, 2024
Co-Parenting, Tips
Two Parenting Styles One Mission

Your and your co-parent’s mission (“should you choose to accept it”) is to put your differences aside, compartmentalize any ill will, and raise healthy, well-adjusted children together.

That’s easier said than done after divorce. If you and your co-parent are like many other divorcees, you often find yourself at odds with one another. However, you two must communicate effectively to complete your mission.

No two people are alike. Those differences can result in misunderstandings, miscommunication, and missteps.

As aggravating as it can be, opposing parenting styles can be beneficial in raising fulfilled kids. Check out the following tips for de-escalating conflicts caused by differing parenting styles so you and your co-parent can effectively achieve your mission.

Strengthen Communication

Effective parenting begins with civil, productive communication. We suggest downloading and using parenting apps for divorced parents. Find one that keeps the tone of messages business-like, monitoring and suggesting changes for potentially harsh words. As a bonus, most apps keep unalterable records of you and your co-parent’s messages.

Keep your interactions focused on child-related necessities. Children need sleep, nutrition, health, education, and love. They also need parents who are unified in discipline and consequences.

Recognize when you or your co-parent start to veer off topic (perhaps about past grievances) and return conversations (spoken or written) to child-centered subjects. Develop a co-parenting plan together.

Include daily child-rearing duties, such as waking/eating/sleeping routines, TV and tech time, responsibilities, and child-related expenses in your co-parent plan. Divorced family apps can prompt you and help you organize your strategy.

Develop Positivity

Most parenting styles have their strengths. Practice finding the silver lining to your co-parent’s style. Write down the positive aspects. For example, “She instills a hard work ethic.” or “His sense of humor can break through my child’s bad mood.”

Take your list one step further by sharing it with your co-parent. This idea may initially sound absurd, but this “kiss the frog” exercise can turn a repulsive creature into charming royalty.

By being the first to extend the proverbial olive branch, you can help both of you be at peace with one another. Good-will deposits like this add up and contribute to a more comfortable and agreeable working relationship in less time.

Educate Yourself

Have you ever heard someone say something like, “Children don’t come with instruction manuals?” Well, they kind of do. There’s tons of psychology-backed literature on raising children– even as a divorced parent.

Women are more likely than their male counterparts to pursue child-raising education to boost their parenting efforts. Both mothers and fathers stand to gain so much from reading what psychologists and other researchers, educators, and experts have already figured out. Pick up a book or magazine or listen to a podcast about raising children.

Exercise Compromise

Both you and your co-parent need to rid yourselves of any “my way or the highway” thinking. No one is 100% right all the time because no one is perfect. To think you are would set yourself up for argumentative co-parenting.

“Right” is a spectrum of possibilities ranging from permissive to strict. As long as your kids’ needs are taken care of, give your co-parent the authority to parent according to their style. Children must be safe, nourished, and have developmentally appropriate supervision.

Everything else is permissible. However, you and your co-parent must instill a healthy dose of age-appropriate responsibility and consequences.

Unification and Continuity

You and your co-parent are a team. You have to work together as a team to develop and learn your plays (strategies).

If you bad mouth each other in front of your kids, your team has lost its power. Children need to know you support each other and keep in contact. Some kids will use an unstable relationship to their advantage, abusing the situation to get what they want.

Let your co-parent know your intentions to back them up and ask for the same in return. Compartmentalize your criticisms and complaints– save those for when you’re with your friends or a therapist and out of earshot of any child. Or journal your private thoughts and keep them away from prying eyes.

Be a Positive Role Model

Model healthy conflict resolution for your kids. It’s okay to openly disagree with your co-parent. In fact, your disputes can serve as a model for solving dilemmas. Children need to know that people don’t always agree with each other.

They can learn how to handle disagreements in their lives by your example. Remain respectful, calm down, brainstorm solutions, apologize, and forgive.

Model behavior isn’t just about resolving conflicts. Kids are always watching and imitating. Parents should practice integrity, honor, positive self-care, coping, and caring with everyone every day. Will you be perfect? No, but that’s when you communicate, apologize, and learn.

Co-parent Mindfully

Keep your eyes and ears open for ways to improve your co-parenting. Kids grow and change, requiring parents to grow and change, too.

What works for parents of a 7-year-old won’t necessarily work for a 17-year-old. You and your co-parent must remain open in your communication and ability to pivot as your children evolve. Extend grace towards yourself, your child, and your co-parent, understanding that life is all a lot of trial and error.

From Spouse to Co-parent

You and your co-parent can’t think of each other as spouses or former spouses. You must switch your thinking from “spouse-minded” to “parent-minded.” Parent-minded thinking is goal- and team-oriented.

As a team working towards the one mission– raising healthy, well-adjusted children– you two can work through your differences, especially differing parenting styles. You must continue to communicate, learn from each other and professionals, compromise, unify, set good examples, and mindfully work together for the good of your children.

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Two Parenting Styles, One Mission

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Your mission as co-parents is to put differences aside, raise healthy children, and embrace varied parenting styles for their benefit. Check out the infographic for tips on managing conflicts caused by differing parenting styles.

8 Smart Parenting Benefits Infographic

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