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Conflicts Over Parenting Styles? How to keep your differences from hurting your kids

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At some point, most couples are going to differ on how to approach parenting.

“I think in almost every family you’re going to find some disagreements,” says Dr. Alan Ravitz, a child and adolescent psychiatrist. “In my own family I know there were times when I thought my wife was too harsh and there were times when she thought I was too easy.” The important thing is to present a united front. “You shouldn’t disagree in front of the child,” he says. “You should disagree behind closed doors.”

This becomes especially challenging when parents develop extreme differences in their approaches to parenting-particularly when the child or children are struggling with a psychiatric diagnosis or a learning disability and treatment decisions need to be made. In these situations, the parents’ ability—or inability—to reach an agreement can mean the difference between successful treatment and an anxiety-provoking situation in which the child is left alone to sort out and interpret the confusing and often painful mixed signals he is getting from his parents.

Striking a balance

Maria and Alex consider themselves to be happily married, but when they fight it’s always about their children and it always goes the same way. “He’d say I don’t convey a message to our children that I care how they do in school or that I feel they have to work hard or that I care whether they get into a good college,” Maria says. “And I think he’s so hard on them that it leaves no room for me to be tough on them because I don’t think they can be getting that message over and over again.” READ MORE

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