One of the main things we parents fight about is how to discipline our children. With the added anxiety of COVID-19, this conflict is likely to increase. But the good news is that if you and your co-parent are both doing your best, you don’t need to be critical or judgmental of each other’s parenting.
This realization has been life-changing for me. My husband and I were raised in seemingly opposite ways, so we parent very differently. He tends to be more strict and I tend to be more permissive. Because of this, it is very tempting for me to have a very critical eye of his parenting.
Sadly, whenever I criticize him, even without vocalizing it, it poisons not only our relationship but his relationship with our son. This is because they can both sense my disapproval. My husband feels judged, and my son sees my husband as the bad guy.
Why I changed my perspective
One day, I came across a research study that changed my view. A longitudinal study examining parenting styles, it was discovered that children fared well as teenagers whether they had directive (slightly more strict), authoritative (warmth+limits), or democratic (slightly more permissive) parents.
While it’s long been affirmed that authoritative parenting is best for kids, this study showed that you can be slightly more strict or slightly more permissive, as long as you remain authoritative-like.
After learning this, I stopped seeing my husband’s stricter parenting as something that was going to ruin my son’s life. I felt confident that our son would turn out just fine, so I didn’t feel the need to be critical of my husband’s more directive parenting style.
Because of this change, my husband and I have become less like parenting rivals, and more like a team. I support him in his parenting, though different than mine. And, our relationship is stronger, and his relationship with our son is healthier.
I’ve also noticed that we are both moving toward the middle to be more authoritative-like. I think this is because our family is more functional, so we are wasting less energy fighting or feeling mad at each other, and therefore have more energy to parent.
Parenting is really hard, and we all fail to live up to the perfect standard of authoritative parenting sometimes. So give your co-parent a break, and give yourself a break too. Your kids need you too!