How did you and SO work through parenting differences?

Hey Berries!

So, this isn’t necessarily just for moms, but to anyone who has an SO and talked about having kids: how did you overcome differences in parenting styles?

One of the bigger disagreements I’ve had with my boyfriend is about spanking. I don’t think it’s appropriate, but he would use it as a last resort type of thing. Should we just hold off to discuss it in more detail? We’re very young, so it’s not particularly relevant as of right now.

Thanks y’all!


I’ve had this discussion with my SO and he feels the same as yours does, whereas I am strongly strongly against it. I’ve made it clear how I feel and that that is a dealbreaker for me. I’ve also shown him a lot of evidence of studies of how detrimental it can be to kid and their relationship with their parent, and also how it doesn’t actually stop the behavior they did but just make the child better at hiding it.

It is hard when it’s a cultural difference though, as in my SOs culture that’s just how it goes. It will take time for them to see but education is the best way imo

There are many things I am very willing to compromise about when it comes to parenting but this isn’t one of them, and it is important enough to me that I wouldn’t marry someone who planned to do this with our kids. Obviously it’s up to how strongly you feel about it. Also i’m not sure how young you and SO are but I would say it’s not a big deal until you are seriously considering marriage

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Going to get a bit personal, just a disclaimer!
[name_f]My[/name_f] parents got a divorce mostly because of parenting differences. Nothing nearly as extreme as hitting a child, just my dad’s more relaxed parenting in comparison to my mom’s more uptight parenting. I personally would not raise children with someone I disagreed with on something as major as spanking. It would only result in hurt and arguments between a couple.
I’m a psych student looking into becoming a child psychologist and I’d recommend just showing your boyfriend all the evidence against spanking as punishment. If you go on google scholar there are countless studies you can find.


From my own experience I’ve learned that parenting differences are often a sign of a different outlook on life in general. This doesn’t always have to be a huge problem, but for my ex-husband and me it was. So this is just my personal experience…

My ex-husband and I never planned on having children, and because of that we’d never really talked about parenting styles. So when we found out I was pregnant we had to start from zero. Obviously I knew he never liked the overly caring, almost suffocating parenting style of his own mother, and he knew I had a terrible experience with my stepfather.
[name_f]My[/name_f] ex-husband has a very laidback approach to life in general, and he was in the same in his parenting style, whereas I’m convinced a child needs more guidance. He believes a parent should also be a friend, while I think I’m supposed to be their mother, but I’m not a friend. Before our son was born we made a good team, despite our differences, but as parents we ended up fighting all the time over what was right for our son, the things he didn’t do enough or I did too much… We just couldn’t make it work.

When I met my current SO we talked about having children together pretty early on, and we discovered we have the same parenting style. We now have three children together, and it’s such a relief that we don’t have to argue anymore about how we want to raise our children. I can’t tell you how much more relaxed and confident that makes me feel.

My ex-husband isn’t a bad parent, not in any way. He’s a great father to our son and I never once feel anxious or uncomfortable about him spending half his time with his dad. Of course we still have a disagreement sometimes about how to deal with things concerning our son, but we’ve learned to give each other more space and be confident that it will work out just fine in the end. I sometimes wonder if it’s confusing for our son since the situation is so different here with us to the approach his dad has, but he seems to be doing fine and can switch easily between the two.

This probably isn’t helpful at all because de didn’t overcome our differences, and I’m definitely not trying to discourage you :wink: I’m sure plenty of people make it work even though they have different parenting styles. This is just my experience.


I think the most important thing is learning how to ‘fight fair’. How to have discussions and arguments calmly, or reasonably calmly, expressing your feelings and your reasons without any personal attacks. Also accepting a bit of win some, lose some, or compromise depending on how important the issue is to you.

My partner and I have had some big disagreements over the course of our relationship - e.g. marriage vs no marriage! As well as ideas about living more sustainably etc. And parenting has brought up lots of things such as him wanting to try timed patting and shushing leaving baby to cry in a crib vs me not wanting to sleep train or leave baby to cry at all, discussion about to home school or not, arguments about the division of labour around the house…

It helps that even if we have different views about how things should be done, we have the same core values and same ideas about the type of child we want to raise. We have similar political views, we both value gender equality, we both value each other and our friendship, we both want to raise children who are kind, secure, happy, independent, intelligent, critical thinkers. Those things are more important to us than a child being ‘obedient’, or playing a particular sport, etc. I think if our values and ideals were very different it would make parenting together really hard, but when you’ve got the same core ideals then it just comes down to careful discussion about the best way to get there, where our limits are, stuff like that.

E.g. with spanking it might be helpful to discuss what you’re hoping for when raising your children. Is it more important that they do what they’re told straight away as children, or that they can make responsible choices even without someone watching or telling them what to do? What message might spanking send - that it’s okay to hit/hurt people smaller or weaker than you to get them to do what you want? Are there other, more positive ways you could get children to behave? But yeh, like you said, you’re young and kids are a way off anyway, so I guess a lot could change.


I agreed with @kiriko. Core values need to be the same and you need to communicate as a couple what is most important to you when it comes to your children.

[name_f]My[/name_f] husband and I are currently dealing with the spanking issue. He was raised in a very good loving family, but they were spanked as children, and they survived and are very close so he doesn’t see a problem with it. Where as I wouldn’t say my parents were ‘anti spanking’ it’s just not who they are as people. And for me I don’t think spanking has any positive benefit, it just teaches kids to hit when they’re angry or be afraid of telling us when they’ve done Something wrong. So in the few instances this has come up, we’ve talked about it and I’ve expressed my concerns with hitting without placing blame on him or telling him he was wrong or a bad parent. And because he loves and respects me and my opinion, he’s always conceded that it’s probably not the best way to handle it, obviously it’s a hard thing to let go when that’s the way you’ve been raised but I trust him.(And it goes both ways, I’ve had to learn to listen to him when he corrects me and we do our best to talk about it without blaming)

However I also don’t feel this is an issue that’s going to destroy our marriage or relationship because we are both working toward the same goal, we have open communication and try our very best not to place blame or be negative about the others parenting style. And we do our best to choose our battles, my husband in general is definitely more laid back in his parenting style than I am, and I’ve had to learn to just let some things go and realize nobody is the “perfect” parent, we both make mistakes. So what if their schedule gets off (or he fed her [name_u]French[/name_u] fries for breakfast this morning :roll_eyes:) as long as it’s not going to harm her I try to let it slide even if it’s not the way I would’ve done it, if it’s something that’s going to be detrimental we talk about it as openly as possible and listen to each other’s point of view and concerns.

Edited to add I also think it’s been beneficial to both of us that we have different approaches to parenting. We’re learning to be parents together and from each other, there’s are things I do better and there are things my husband does better and in the end I know our daughter definitely benefits from having both of us, we balance each other.


My husband and Inwhen it comes to our individual personalities are pretty much night and day. His idea of vacation is going off the grid for hunting and fishing. I’m more of a take me to the Caribbean type person. But I will say where we mesh in sync is our parenting and our values- two things Insee mentioned above from other commenters so I completely agree

But even then that doesn’t mean our execution in our parenting philosophy always meshes. Also we grew up in two completely different households. So communication is clearly key.

I will say with the discipline issue maybe it’s be a good idea to get an idea of what you both envision and what you both envision the other is wanting. What exactly is “the last resort?”what boundaries would determine that it was the last resort? Example (no spanking out of anger or frustration; reserving spanking for safety issues.) [name_u]Or[/name_u] you see it as inappropriate what about it makes it not appropriate in your mind what do you see happening instead.

My husband and I were both spanked as kids. I also had timeouts which my husband never had so with our kids having that as an option is something he’s completely new to and had to learn the ins and outs of that. Also one thing we’re both working on that we didn’t have is teachi our children to identify their feelings and emotions and how to appropriately handle that. Other things we’re doing that we’re not used to are things like No TV, avoiding using strong negative words like hate around our kids so they don’t become desensitized to such language, not executing any discipline in anger or frustration- the two do not mix, not yelling- raising voices yes, yelling no.

There are things in your up bringing and his upbringing that you both need to examine and say which if this is right for my family and which of this isn’t. As children we didn’t have the behind the scenes of watching out parents hash this stuff out it just played out. I would say if kids are far off maybe don’t hone in on it but if things like marriage, and/ or a seriousness of having kids comes up then would be the time to make these conversations a priority. Maybe even look into counseling to help navigate these things with an unbiased third party.


You should 100% agree on that before you have a kid. Thats a big one.


I can just say talk, talk and more talk. Communication is key and parents have to be on the same team. Kids love boundaries and routine and if they don’t have that as a consistent parameter between both parents then they have something called ’ internal chaos’ so they either push the boundaries even more or become more attached to one parent or see one parent as a push over. I learnt this lesson recently as my partner is extremely laid back and I am the one setting clear boundaries ( no spanking but I am firm) and he always changes the boundaries up. And ironically the kids go to me for everything, rely on me for everything and feel more attached to me. We recently had a heart to heart and he has definitely upped his parenting game. He has met me in the middle and as a result our eldest is much more better behaved now. Obviously we can’t change our SO personalities especially if they are much more liberal but we can always try to find the common ground and compromise.
Your SO may feel completely different when you have a baby too. I think we can sometimes have an idealogy/view when it comes to raising children and when they get here you’ll find what works for you and what doesn’t.


I’m not yet a parent but just wanted to add my two cents:

I was hit as a child, by a troubled father who couldn’t control himself. [name_m]Even[/name_m] when the hitting stopped after my mother threatened to leave him, he still terrorized us in other ways - screaming, threats, etc. His screaming scared me so much that I actually remember peeing my pants out of fear.

I do not want to be anything like my father. I am desperate to be nothing like that. I want to be a calm, gentle parent. But I inherited his temper and struggle to control it. I do not trust that I can just promise to be different and it will work out. I know that I need professional help to overcome this and will be seeking out a new therapist in a couple months after we move.

I bring this up, because beyond just trying to come to an agreement on the issue (which I think for something like spanking is quite important), I think having a plan of action to learn or practice a new or unfamiliar parenting style can also be incredibly beneficial and give you an advantage when you eventually come across the real world situation. I’m not saying you can prepare for everything of course. But this is something I think about a lot because I know it will likely be a problem area for me and I want to set myself up for success as best as I can. If you or your parent have similar concerns of not being prepare to react the way you want to, I would encourage seeking out resources to help yourself.


I am 100% against spanking, I think it’s an absolute dealbreaker for me. There’s tons of evidence and studies and statistics you can find by a quick google search on why it’s bad.

I was married and pregnant at 21 to a man that I thought I loved. He became abusive towards me after the birth of my twins. I was scared and stayed with him, getting pregnant again three years into the marriage. The abuse just got worse and worse. Two years later I found out that he had started hitting/punching my children. That was it and I left him. I’d never really thought about spanking but knew I would never do it and my husband never did it either - until he started hitting them. I am very actively against it now, I believe it’s wrong because it’s still hurting children and after what happened it’s a dealbreaker. I could never let anyone hurt my girls. In fact I almost didn’t have children with my second husband because I was worried about my children getting hurt, but luckily he’s also 100% against spanking too. We have two more children together and are expecting another.

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