Help Our Different Parenting Styles Are Causing A Rift In Our Marriage

Have you ever been in a situation where you think you should discipline your child one way, but your partner has a totally different opinion? Or maybe you think your teenager should have a curfew, but your partner disagrees. This may be a sign that you have different parenting styles; these can differ based on personality and upbringing, but neither is right or wrong.

What Are The Different Types Of Parenting Styles

There are four different parenting styles: authoritative, permissive, uninvolved, and authoritarian. 

Authoritative parents are described as parents who are “nurturing, responsive, and supportive, yet set firm limits for their children.”  These parents explain rules rather than make demands and act punitively. These parents will discuss and listen to their child’s perspective and take it into consideration when making a decision. 

Permissive parents can be described as “warm, but lax and inconsistent” with rules, discipline and boundaries such as bedtime or curfew. Sometimes the permissive parent is referred to as the “indulgent parent” because the demands and expectations are so low. 

Uninvolved, or neglectful, parents are “unresponsive, unavailable and rejecting.” This type of parent does not meet the child’s physical and emotional needs. In addition, these parents establish few demands on their children and have poor or little communication. 

Authoritarian parents expect their children to follow strict rules and be obedient, and if they are not, then they will be punished with no discussion or conversation. “They expect their children to behave exceptionally and not make errors, yet they provide very little direction about what their children should do or avoid in the future.” 

Many parents consciously or unconsciously follow in their parents’ footsteps and repeat how they were raised, whereas other parents will consciously decide to parent in the opposite direction of their parents. For example, if they felt like their parents were too strict and punitive, they would decide to be laid back and not provide structure or rules for their children. 

If you and your partner discussed which parenting style you believe is best, and your partner and you made an agreement in advance about how you will parent, then you will be able to be consistent with your children. In addition, your agreement creates a team approach to parenting and will protect your relationship. 

However, if you never discussed this issue or never came to an agreement on parenting styles, then you might eventually find yourselves in a difficult situation when you have to address issues such as discipline, bedtime, curfew, involvement in your child’s life, punishment and the list goes on.  

Are Different Parenting Styles Ruining Your Marriage?

Different parenting styles can cause issues that are hard for couples to navigate because creating a united front is so important.  The reason for this is simple: Fighting in front of your children about rules, chores, and discipline can create a lot of confusion, anxiety and stress for children.  

3 Signs Our Parenting Styles Are Causing A Rift In Our Marriage

  1. Do Your Children Ask One Parent?-If your partner is more lenient and permissive, then your children might go to your partner when they are asking to do something. Or if you tell your children they can’t watch a certain movie, and then your partner allows them to watch the movie, these differences will cause arguments. 
  2. Do Your Children Have To Pick One Parent?-Different parenting styles can also lead to a situation where your children feel like they have to pick one parent over the other parent.  This decision will cause a lot of distress and anxiety in children. 
  3. Are You Fighting Over How To Parent?-If you are fighting about how and what to say to your children, then your parenting styles are creating a lot of tension in your relationship. 

In these scenarios, your children may feel “in the middle” and feel a need to pick one parent’s side. 

Instead of allowing parenting styles to cause problems in your marriage, consider this approach:

You may disagree with your partner’s decision, but find a way to back each other up and not throw each other under the bus. 

Talk about the parenting issue when you are both calm. 

Listen to your partner’s point of view and perspective.

If your partner disciplined your child, support your partner in front of the child, and if you need to discuss the issue further, make sure your child cannot hear your discussion.

Look for ways to collaborate and work together with your spouse on your different parenting styles. If you are still having difficulty finding common ground, you may need to consult with a professional for more support and guidance. 

When you and your partner have different parenting styles, you can feel like you don’t understand each other and have very different opinions and perspectives. However, you can use this opportunity to recognize your differences and find a new way to work together with different parenting styles. 

Additional reading to support your relationship as you explore options for couples therapy and healing:

How To Discuss Relationship Problems Without Fighting

Why Do We Keep Having The Same Arguments?

How Long Is Too Long Without Sex In A Relationship?

Coping Skills You Need If Your ADHD Partner’s Inattentiveness, Distraction, Or Lack Of Focus Is Hurting Your Marriage

How Often Do Couples Fight And Should You Be Concerned?


Lisa Rabinowitz

Lisa Rabinowitz, LCPC is a certified Gottman therapist working with couples in the US and internationally. Lisa has worked for many years with couples who have both diagnosed and undiagnosed ADHD. Her certifications and experience uniquely qualify her to support couples with relationship challenges that often feel insurmountable. Please reach out for a free 20-minute consultation with Lisa today.

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