Your child benefits from experiencing and witnessing you and your partner in a positive co-parenting relationship, whether you and your child’s other parent are married, dating, separated, or divorced.
Parenting should be a collaborative effort that involves both parents supporting each other’s decisions and working together to raise their child. A strong co-parenting relationship relieves stress and provides comfort and security to a child. Co-parenting also assists each parent in balancing the responsibilities of parenthood by providing another person on whom to rely and make decisions. As a result, it also reduces your stress. Parents are the first to show their children what a relationship is and how it should look. That is why, regardless of your relationship status with the other parent, it is critical that you demonstrate to your child a positive, productive, and respectful relationship. Your child is watching you both and learning from you. Display the type of relationship you want him to have in the future. Children whose parents co-parent poorly and have lives filled with conflict between their parents are significantly more likely to have mental health problems, delinquency, drug use, and even suicide, according to research.
They are also twice as likely to have bitter divorces later in life? But why is this so? Why is the coParenting relationship so influential on children? This question is answered by research.
Here are some suggestions for having a positive co-parenting relationship:
- Do not criticize the other parent in front of the child.
- Avoid arguing in front of your child and instead engage in calm, productive discussions.
- Set up regular check-ins with your co-parent to talk privately about your child, including any decisions that need to be discussed and made jointly.
- Discuss and reach an agreement on parenting strategies (discipline, bedtimes, expectations, and so on). It is also critical to be consistent.
- Children learn to actively create good lives rather than simply coping with bad ones.
- Children who witness their parents respecting and valuing one another develop greater self-esteem and social maturity.
- Seeing their parents communicate and cooperate respectfully teaches children valuable social skills that they will use for the rest of their lives.
- Both parents have much better relationships with the children.
- Keeping children “out of the middle” of disputes allows them to excel outside of the family.
- Parents who coParent well have less tension, less conflict, fewer problems, and more time to spend having fun with their children.
- Parents get to be more involved in their children’s lives, and both parents and children suffer less loss.
- Instead of stress, the family remains a place of safety and comfort for the children, allowing them to grow and explore the world with greater confidence.
- Everyone else in the child’s life, such as teachers, coaches, extended family, and friends, will benefit from coparenting.
- When children have two homes, they learn organizational skills that they can apply to other aspects of their lives and future.
- Children learn how to resolve conflicts in a courteous and effective manner, which will serve them well as adults.
- When two people believe they are “right,” but disagree, children learn what to do.
Of course, our approach to child rearing has evolved over time, and psychologists have expanded the style categories to include five distinct approaches (all of which are heavily based on Baumrind’s theories). Some parents identify strongly with one style and deliberately seek to operate within the parameters of that approach. Other parents will take elements of the styles that appeal to them and tailor them to their children’s upbringing.
When it comes to their expectations of their children, parents who follow this approach will set firm boundaries and guidelines. Authoritarian parents will define the rules to follow and expect their children to comply with an overall nurturing approach. Authoritarian parents maintain a distinct ‘parent-child’ relationship.
Instinctive Parenting is the most common of the parenting styles and the only one that does not have a set of rules. Instinctive parenting is defined by parents who raise their children instinctively, influenced heavily by their own childhoods and upbringing. For better or worse, these parents govern and guide based on instinct and may be on the Authoritarian parenting end of the spectrum.
Attachment Parenting focuses solely on the relationship between parent and child. These parents work hard to create an environment in which there is no discernible early separation of parent and child. It places a strong emphasis on the child’s emotional well-being and intuitive development well into their formative years.
Helicopter Parenting is a parenting style in which parents strictly and rigidly monitor all aspects of their children’s lives. These parents are the ultimate ‘micromanagers,’ dictating appropriate interests, heavily involving themselves in their children’s daily lives, and ‘hovering’ relentlessly, hence the term Helicopter parenting. Some may regard this as a subset of the Authoritarian Parenting style, and it appears to produce children who excel academically while suffering socially.
These parents are indulgent of their children, frequently with an equal relationship rather than a defined ‘parent’ and ‘child’ dynamic. Permissive parents do not place demands or expectations on their children. They will rarely use forms of discipline and consequence, preferring to communicate instead. A child who does not have a set bedtime is an example of permissive parenting. Instead, they are allowed to self-identify when they are tired and go to sleep whenever they want.
What is the best course of action when your co-parent has a parenting style that is diametrically opposed to yours? What if you have a permissive parenting style and your co-parent is a ‘helicopter’ parent? Maybe it’s the difference in your upbringing. Regardless, your collective goal is to raise emotionally healthy and resilient children. Children require support, warmth, love, appropriate discipline, structure, and guidance from adults they trust.
Here are some suggestions for dealing with opposing parenting styles:
Keep the children out of it
Asking children to choose sides or arguing in front of them is extremely harmful. Instead, agree to disagree for the time being and talk about it later, when the kids are out of earshot.
See a therapist
A professional therapist can assist both parents in understanding how their upbringing influences their parenting styles and how to handle disagreements in a healthy manner.