Skip to content

How to parent smarter not harder.

View all articles

Thinking Parenting Blog

Parenting as a team (despite different parenting styles)

There is something about caring for children alongside someone else that really highlights your differences. Whether it’s friends, your mother-in-law or your partner, you never really know someone until you share the care of children. Sometimes it’s a good surprise, sometimes not. But we discover things we didn’t know (about others and ourselves) when we are parenting as a team.

It might be that you and your partner have radically different parenting styles. It might be that you are co-parenting across the divide of divorce or separation. Or you may be a single parent who relies on friends or family members for support. But understanding who is in your parenting team and finding ways to work with them is crucial.

It’s easy to see when other people are getting parenting ‘wrong’. Usually, this means that they are doing things differently from how you would do it. Or in a way that contradicts your personal values. But (extreme harm aside), there really is no single correct way to parent in any given parenting situation. Within that sweet zone of warmth + boundaries, there is a lot of wriggle room. And a lot of judgement calls to make.

Parenting as a team means stepping away from a right-or-wrong mindset and seeing the value that each team member brings. It means learning to have child-focused conversations that put aside your differences and focus on constructive solutions. And finding a way forward that meets everyone’s needs. No-one said it was easy!

Whether you are stuck in a Good Cop/Bad Cop parenting dynamic or struggling with the challenges of step-parenting (or, indeed, trying to manage difficult grandparents), all good parenting teams share certain characteristics. Good parenting teams:

Understand…

…that parenting is difficult and that no-one has a monopoly on the ‘right’ way to respond in any given situation.

Appreciate…

…each other’s efforts, strengths and needs.

Nurture and support…

…each other’s relationships with each child.

Talk without blaming…

…when there is a difference of opinion or approach.

Problem-solve…

…big issues constructively and agree strategies to try out.

Compromise…

…to find a way forward that meets everyone’s needs.

Value…

…different contributions to the parenting team (because having different strengths in a parenting team is not a bad thing).

Discuss…

..differences and problems away from the children.

Distribute…

…the load fairly.

And if your co-parent won’t do any of these things? Sometimes we have to lead the way by setting an example, walking the talk and creating our part of the team we want to be in.

No co-parenting team is ideal and parenting as a team will not always work out. We know that growing up in a high-conflict environment is not good for children. So if you find that differences over parenting are becoming toxic, reach out for support or mediation (Relate might be a good place to start).

parents holding hands

Share this article:

The Work/Parent Switch.

By Anita Cleare

Not sure where to start?

Practical tips on how to be the parent your child needs and create happy family dynamics (but still do your job!)

Comments are closed.

Related Articles

photo of two children outside to illustrate article on fun ideas for winter family time

10 fun ideas for winter family time

When the days are short and it’s cold outside, it can be hard to come up with creative ideas for fun family time. Then, before you know it, everyone has retreated to their personal screens and...

photo of happy family on a beach to illustrate parenting tips for a harmonious family holiday

Positive parenting tips for a harmonious family holiday

Family holidays are great. They are the stuff that memories are made of – full of relaxed time and laughter, the true essence and point of childhood. Well, that’s the theory, anyway! In...

photo pf a girl on a bike in the summer in article on positive parenting by parenting expert Anita Cleare

A positive parenting toolkit for the school holidays

The school holidays are upon us and I know how busy you are. So, I thought I’d help you save time on your holiday prep and bring together in one place all the positive parenting strategies...

photo of smiling teenager in article on how to get a teenager ut of their bedroom by parenting expert Anita Cleare

How to get a teenager out of their bedroom

A few years ago, I wrote a series of posts on family activities for teenagers. The emphasis was on exciting, physically active, low tech ideas – including suggestions for winter, spring and...