I like it when parents get on the same team in parenting. Children and teens really respond better to it. Being on the same page really helps the parent's marriage as well. Nobody wants to play the bad cop all the time.
I taught Active Parenting classes for years, and still call on the program's clear description of the three most common parenting styles when I'm counseling parents and families.
The three parenting styles are:
Dictators: Set clear rules but enforce them by screaming, yelling, threats, spanking, punishment and taking things away. This style might work for a while, depending on your child or teen'stemperament, but at some point your child will shut you out and stop confiding in you. (Think about it- would you open up with a problem to a parent who yelled at you?)
Doormats: These parents either don't have rules or they only enforce them at times. Other times they let things slide, and their children and teens often get too much power by learning to manipulate these softies. Doormat parents are loving, but don't set limits effectively. The children of doormats may be delayed in developing skills for independent living in their future.
Active Parents: Have clear rules that are developed with the children and are consistently enforced. Active parents use natural and logical consequences, and offer choices. They try their best to stay calm and reasonable. Active parents care about being loving and approachable, but also raising children who can accept limits. They give children and teens expanding or contracting limits based on how responsible they are being.
Can you identify your parenting style here? How about the styles your own parents used?
Just imagine the challenges and resentment that develops when one parent is a dictator and the other parent can see how they are alienating their child. Equally bad is when one parent is a doormat parent and the remaining parent feels undermined because they are always the heavy in the parenting department. When both parents are doormats, children learn to manipulate to get their own way.
Whether parents are married, divorced or single, parenting from the active parenting style (where you are loving, but carry consequences, choices and clearly defined limits) is the way to go. We want to parent with the end game in mind: raising caring, loving, responsible and independent young adults who contribute to the world around them. Consider holding weekly family meetings with school age children to get the whole team working in the same direction on cooperation, chores, homework, the morning and evening routine. Children need a place to have a say about what is going on in the family, and how we can work together to improve it.
If you are overwhelmed as a parent, or find yourself yelling or frustrated with your children, consider taking a parenting class or meeting with a family therapist who can help you and your partner get on the same team and build a less stressful, better family. Even divorced parents are actually still on the same team in terms of the parenting until every child is successfully launched into adult life. Let's work together and keep that goal in mind.