Urban Therapy – Differences in Parenting Styles in a Relationship (Advice Column 4)

Time To Grow Up Or Move Out

Urban Therapy: Taking Life’s Questions and Giving Real Answers from the Heart, today’s topic: Differences in Parenting Styles in a Relationship

Question: My partner and I have been together for five years and are thinking about becoming engaged and ultimately married. While we both agree that we would like to have children, we seem to have extremely different ideas about parenting. Although we think we are closely matched, how can we determine if we have a chance at being successful co-parents?

Answer:  Congratulations to you for being forward-thinking and evaluating the potential differences in your parenting styles. Without a doubt, the worst time to determine the course for parenting is after you have had a child. I believe that practice prepares for you the unpredictability of parenting but understand you will never be ready.

So, how do you get practice? Offer to babysit nieces, nephews or your friends’ children. This allows you to spend time with children and get personal insight on the ins and outs of what happens with children. Even the best behaved children have crises and although you don’t wish for them, if one arises it provides you and your partner with an opportunity to problem solve and strategize together. Once an emergency has subsided, talk about both of your thoughts on the situation and how it was handled.

If you don’t know any children and want a more permanent method of practice, get a pet together. Speaking from experience, individually you will learn an immense amount about your ability to care for someone or something else and with a shared responsibility, you and your partner will both get practice with being pet parents. Pets, like children, need to be fed, need physical activity or playtime, need love and affection, need to be cared for if they are sick and require planning for their care if you are away. Pets are often the best practice because their needs are ongoing. Children will eventually grow up and care for themselves. Thousands of pets are given up each year; visit your local Humane Society or Animal Shelter and give a pet a good home.

Be thoughtful and responsible but don’t rush having children. Enjoy your partnership, your relationship, hopefully a happy marriage and do it when – and only when – you’re ready. Remember, you both are a team, don’t let the differences in parenting styles ruin your relationship.

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