Delaware Relationship Counselor: How Parenting Styles Can Impact Your Marriage

Delaware Relationship Counselor: How Parenting Styles Can Impact Your MarriageWhen couples decide to have children, a lot of issues tend to come up. Is it the right time in your life and career for kids? Do you feel financially secure enough? And simply: are you ready?

These are all good questions to ask, but often people in long term relationships ignore a big one: how do each of you plan on raising your kids? This not only relates to the belief systems that you want to instill in them (religious or otherwise), but also the way you plan to interact with your children on a day-to-day basis. In other words, what will your parenting styles be?

Generally speaking, there are three main ones: hands-off, affirmative, and authoritarian.

If you were to create a visual chart of these three styles, hands-off parenting, where you avoid imposing structure on the kids and let them make their own decisions, is pretty much the polar opposite of authoritarian parenting, where your word is essentially law and the kids are expected to follow your rules or be punished. Affirmative parenting, in which kids are given choices and encouraged to think for themselves, but where the parents are still the ultimate authority, is somewhere in the middle.

Problems Caused by Different Parenting Styles

As you might imagine, if one of you takes an authoritarian approach while the other has a more hands-off style, it can be confusing and negatively impact your children’s relationship with both of you. But differing parenting styles can go beyond your relationship with your children to harm your marriage as well.

How so? Well, when parents have vastly different styles of interacting with their kids, they often end up feeling frustrated and even undermined by their spouse as their decisions are frequently called into question or even rescinded. Fights can happen more often, and it’s not uncommon to feel more of a distance from your partner.

The way to combat these issues is to talk about big picture issues so you can achieve a couple's answer. Naturally, this won’t solve every disagreement, but it can help with a lot of them. And for those times when you do find yourselves at odds, the best way to handle it is to step away together and come to an agreement in private so you can present a united front to your kids.

No one is saying that this is easy though, so if you find yourself in need of help, feel free to give the Delaware Relationship Counselor a call.

Walt Ciecko, Ph. D., BCB
605 Wynyard Rd
Wilmington, DE 19803