How to Deal With Different Parenting Styles

Research consistently indicates good parenting ensures the well-being of children across the board. Practice the best style for your children in concert with your partner.


  • Step 1: Communicate to the children how important they are. If a partner neglects to educate and encourage, correct that. But don't get lax, feel sorry for the kids, or excuse behavior as a reflex.
  • TIP: Parents, no matter their styles, must be united in decisions.
  • Step 2: Attend sessions with a therapist to understand how upbringing may affect each person's styles. Work out disagreements in a healthy way that benefits the children.
  • FACT: A 2010 report in the _ Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs_ found that teens whose parents were lax drank more.
  • Step 3: Strike an authoritative posture by imparting clear standards for conduct with natural consequences. Constant punishment only frustrates children. Instead, focus on finding solutions.
  • Step 4: Never force children to take sides during arguments and risk their trust. They shouldn't have to deal with adult issues. Agree to disagree and hash it out later, when the little ones are out of earshot.
  • Step 5: Clarify rules together for the sake of consistency. Let the children know that decisions emanate from your agreement as a team to stem their attempts to manipulate one parent or the other.
  • TIP: Appreciate your spouse's strengths. Remember, differences are not necessarily negative.
  • Step 6: Consider that authoritarians who believe in a rigid philosophy of "my way or the highway" still have to pick their battles. Give the kids a chance to learn from their failures and improve behavior, rather than just take orders.
  • TIP: Don't take it personally when other parents don't control their own children around yours. Your kids will have to adjust to many environments as they grow up.
  • Step 7: Counterbalance a permissive parent's failure to set limits by insisting on basic standards for respect in the family. It's OK to be different, but children need boundaries to feel safe.

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