How to Build Teamwork When You And Your Partner Have Different Parenting Styles

How To Build Teamwork When You And Your Partner Have

Different Parenting Styles

Many of us have a variety of parenting partners: spouses, ex-spouses, teachers, day care workers, relatives, friends and neighbors. Each partner can have a parenting style that differs from ours.

When parenting styles clash, parents may overreact, interfere or try to change the partner. Parents may also try to compensate for the imbalances of the other by being more extreme. This damages parenting partnerships, confuses children and teaches them how to manipulate better.  Learning how to cope with different parenting styles is important for all parents,and especially when dealing with children and divorce.

Here are five general parenting styles, the long-term outcomes of each and suggestions for reaching a healthier balance.

Power Patrols want obedient children, so the parent maintains a position of power and control. The long-term effect is either blindly compliant children who are fearful of making mistakes and incapable of solving problems — or rebellious children who resist any type of control or rules. To balance this style, teach children self-control by setting bottom-line limits and allowing choices within them. Watch your tone of voice and body language. Be firm, not intimidating, so children behave out of respect, not fear.

Perfectionistic Supervisors often micro-manage their children’s lives and think their child’s behavior is a reflection of their parenting. The long-term consequences of this style are children with poor self-esteem who are afraid to make mistakes and feel that nothing they do is good enough. To balance this style, allow children to make decisions and find their own style of follow through. Avoid guilt trips and lectures. Encourage children to learn from their mistakes, instead of expecting perfection. This firsthand experience will help them develop the life skills they need to succeed in life.

Over-Indulgers want happy children, so they give too much and rescue children from conflict and disappointment. These good intentions rob children of opportunities to experience real life. They also result in children who are spoiled and expect to have life handed to them on a silver platter. To balance this style, keep the warmth, but set more limits. Teach children healthy coping skills and be supportive and loving, but don’t take over or bail them out. Children will actually be happier if they do not “have it all” and learn to earn their accomplishments.

Avoiders want parenting to be easy and conflict-free, so they withdraw or rescue the child to keep the peace. They often deny or avoid problems and seek the easiest solution — even if it’s not the most effective solution. These short-term short-cuts cause huge long-term problems. Children think their parents don’t care, think they can get away with anything or deny responsibility for their actions. To balance this style, invest your time, energy and skills early, by teaching children to be independent and responsible. In the long-run, parenting will be much easier!

Balanced Parents want to raise self-sufficient, self-disciplined adults, so they teach children values and skills. Seek win/win solutions by listening to children and involving them in problem solving. The long-term consequence is children who have the confidence and life skills to get along with others and succeed as adults. To become more balanced, become the kind of person you want your children to become.

To Improve Partner Teamwork:

  • Agree on a plan for preventing and responding to problems. Decide what each of you wants to accomplish and find a way to meet both partners’ concerns and needs.

If your differences persist or become a problem:

  • Back up your partner skillfully. Figure out what the partner is trying to accomplish and model effective skills. If it works, the partner feels supported and can see an approach that works.
  • Back off and don’t interfere if you disagree, but the partner’s style is not abusive or does not grossly violate the child’s rights.
  • Agree to disagree. If you disagree in front of the children, do so respectfully and model healthy problem solving.

Talk often and encourage your partner. Notice positive behavior and results, rather than pointing out mistakes. If you do discuss mistakes, focus on what you can each learn and brainstorm ideas for more effective responses, in case the situation arises again.

Action Tip: What is your parenting style? Take our parenting styles quiz to find out.

If you want more insights, information and practical tools and tips about Using the Universal Blueprint® Parenting Success Formula to improve your adult relationships and the consistency and teamwork with your parenting partners check out these resources mentioned in this article:

Get a summary of parenting styles research with more details of the studies briefly mentioned above.


Jody Johnston Pawel, LSW, CFLE is President of Parent’s Toolshop® Consulting, where she oversees an international network of Toolshop® trainers. For 30+ years, Jody has trained tens thousands of parents and family professionals worldwide through her dynamic workshops and hundreds of interviews with the media worldwide, including Parents and Working Mother magazines. She is the author of the award-winning book The Parent’s Toolshop®, and countless multimedia resources that support and educate parents from diverse backgrounds, plus other adults who live or work with children. You can find them at her award-winning website,
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2 thoughts on “How to Build Teamwork When You And Your Partner Have Different Parenting Styles”

  1. Cascia- I am glad you and your husband agree and are on the same page. These tips may be helpful to you when you are dealing with other parenting partners such as daycare providers, teachers, neighbors, grandparents or extended family members.

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