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Handling divergent parenting styles

Sometimes couples don't realize how different their parenting styles are until they break up and spend considerable periods of time parenting their children alone. Maybe they never even considered their individual parenting styles because they always parented their kids as a team.

However, when couples are already dealing with their own anger, resentment and frustration with one another in the midst of divorce, a difference in parenting styles can lead to more conflict. This conflict can hurt the kids more than anyone.

So what do you do when your ex's parenting style clashes with your own?

First, it's best to focus on reaching an agreement on the big issues rather than sweat the smaller ones. Parents should be in agreement on their children's educational goals, medical care and acceptable behavior and be united in letting their kids know what their expectations of them are.

However, on issues like how much TV they can watch, bedtimes and how often they can have fast food, you may not agree -- and that's OK. It's more important that each parent is consistent with the rules in his or her own home. You also shouldn't criticize your co-parent's rules (or lack of them) in front of your kids.

Children are more flexible than many parents realize. They have to abide by different rules in school, at soccer practice, in church and at friends' houses. They can adjust to the fact that their parents now have somewhat different rules and expectations for them.

Some parents who have significant issues with each other's parenting style find it best to engage in "parallel parenting" for awhile. This means that they let their ex parent as he or she chooses and minimize direct contact with one another.

Some couples do this in the early stages of separation of divorce until they're able to find a balance between parenting styles and can co-parent in a positive way. The focus for both parents should be on helping their kids grow and thrive throughout and after the divorce.

If you believe that you need to change your parenting plan to try parallel parenting or that some family therapy might help the situation, your New York family law attorney can provide help and guidance.

Source: Our Family Wizard, "Finding a Balance When Parenting Styles Clash," accessed Aug. 01, 2017

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