It is important for parents to be "on the same page" when it comes to setting limits for children and making decisions that affect the family.
However, it is also important for parents to be themselves.
Every parent is an individual, with his or her own life experiences, expectations and personality. When two people become co-parents, they have to find a way to work together to create a stable environment where children feel loved and supported.
It is good for children to see that their parents are two separate people with different ways of doing things. However, the foundation needs to be secure. Children need to know that there are limits in place and that they are loved unconditionally, even if their two parents have different ways of enforcing rules and demonstrating love.
Don’t leave parenting to chance, especially if your parenting styles are quite different.
Start by setting rules and limits that both parents are comfortable with. When deciding on limits, less is often more. It can be confusing and frustrating to try to enforce a long list of do’s and don’ts.
Limits for very young children should revolve around safety, and as they grow, there will be a need for rules about acceptable behaviour and responsibilities.
In many families, one parent may tend to be more lenient while the other has a stricter style. Make a conscious effort not to slip into "nice parent/mean parent" roles.
It is unfair for one parent to be seen as the fun one, while the other parent is only the enforcer of rules. Even though children might love the idea that they can play one parent against the other to get what they want, this does not create a stable home life. It can be very confusing for children when the rules seem to change frequently.
When you don’t feel comfortable with way your partner has handled a particular situation, discuss it privately, not in front of the children.
Try not to be set in your ways to the point where you cannot change, or at least be flexible. As children grow, a parent’s role evolves and it is important for couples to be able to compromise in order to provide a steady and secure foundation.
Let parenting bring out the best in you. Some parents are naturally more nurturing and caring, and others shine at being good leaders and providers.
When a child is fortunate enough to have two parents who have varied traits and temperaments, he learns to appreciate them for the individuals they are.
Shawna Munro works at the Elspeth Reid Family Resource Centre, a facility of Child and Family Services of Western Manitoba that offers parenting information and support.
» 255 Ninth St., Brandon