Depression & Parenting Styles: Living With a Partner Who Parents Differently than You

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“At the end of the day, the most overwhelming key to a child’s success is the positive involvement of parents.” (Jane D. Hull)

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What kind of parent are you? Do you wear your emotions on your sleeve— every little tantrum an epic battle, and every small joy an enormous victory? Are you more laidback, letting things roll off your back like water off a duck?

We all parent differently.  Parents are like snowflakes in that no two are alike.  Some are really strict, and some are super chill.

Me? I’m a little bit of both. There are times I get easily irritated. I can just feel my head spinning with frustration and anxiety. But there are other times I am pretty lax. I’m relatively lax about lots of things, actually.

Like I said, we’re all different. Bottom line: I love my kids with every fiber of my being. So does my husband. He’s an amazing dad. Are we different parents? Absolutely! Do we make it work? Yep!

Styles of parenting

Traditionally, there are 4 styles of parenting. They all affect children differently. In my mind, one is clearly the best of them all, but I think it is interesting to discuss them all, and how they might affect your child.

Living with a partner who parents differently

(Read more about parenting styles)

Authoritarian

This is your classic “My way or the highway” parent. In this dynamic, there is not a lot of communication. When kids are acting up (possibly out of anxiety or overwhelm or overstimulation), the parent punishes first and doesn’t really ask questions.

Obviously, this doesn’t sound too healthy. It sounds like a parent with control issues and a fear of losing that control.

Authoritative

This parent definitely has rules. They will employ some form of consequences when the child breaks them. However, there is a little more leeway. They listen to their child. They accept that they aren’t 100% in control, and sometimes their child’s behavior is a result of emotional distress.

This to me is the ideal situation. Yes, kids need boundaries. But they also deserve empathy and kindness when they are struggling.

Permissive

This parent’s motto is: Kids will be kids. They probably are the type of parent that desperately wants to be liked by their child, and for that reason, don’t have a lot of rules. To be completely honest, I fall into this trap from time to time. Wanting to be liked rather wanting to do what’s right.

At the end of the day, it’s not bad to want the love and respect of your child. We all want that to some degree. But just keep in mind, that’s not really what it’s about. Yes they’re only kids for so long, but our primary job is to keep them safe and guide them into adulthood.

Uninvolved

Not gonna lie, I’m over here judging this parent. Some parents have the luxury of staying home with their kids. (Yes, it is a luxury, from my perspective. But I am open to debate.) Some parents need to work three jobs to make ends meet.

Neither is wrong! As long as you are providing your child with love and safety and nutrition, then you are doing what you need to do. But these parents are flat out not doing what they need to do. So they get the side eye.

Depression and parenting

Parenting is the hardest job in the world. I don’t care if you’re a firefighter, a surgeon, or the President. Parenting beats it all. You are literally on call 24/7 for the rest of your life. No vacation days, or sick time. (Remember the last time you had the flu, moms? My guess is you also did laundry and dishes.)

That being said, parenting with depression so often feels impossible. It’s like trying to swim across the English Channel if the English Channel were made of that gross DIY slime kids are into now.

I am a parent who lives with depression, and it’s a topic I’m very passionate about. If you want to read more of my thoughts, I have written a few posts on the matter!

parenting with depression

parenting with depression

Living with a Partner Who Parents differently, living with a depressed partner

Check them out, share them with a friend or in your parenting groups, and leave your thoughts in the comments. I would love to hear your questions or experiences. I am really an open book!

Living with a partner who parents differently

What if you are a parent with depression who has a fundamentally different approach than your partner?

Sounds completely impossible, right?

Honestly, this is the case for my husband and I. He is laidback and fun and relaxed, but firm and logical. He’s not really one to let emotions guide him. Me? I’m the one who wears my heart on my sleeve, and gets impatient, but also strokes our kids’ hair when they cry.

We do things differently and that’s okay. We both adore our kids, and provide them with love, and food in their bellies, and try our best.

If you find that you struggle with this- that you and your partner’s differences are a problem for you- read these tips and put them to use!

Talk to them

This would be the first step I would take. I will be the first to admit: I suck at this. I am a pretty sensitive person, and while I do tend to wear my heart on my sleeve, I also feel so gross about confrontation. It makes me want to hide in a pillow fort with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s.

But if you’re struggling with your partner, you really should try to talk to them about it. I get that it’s hard. I get that sometimes it temporarily makes things worse before they get better. Try it though. It will help in the long run!

This sounds super corny, but if you really struggle with confrontation, try writing your partner a letter. You can have them read it in front of you, or in privacy. This gives you a chance to write and rewrite your thoughts if you have trouble getting them out.

Ask a friend in the same boat

You can always confide in a friend that has a similar situation. Maybe your best friend and her husband are polar opposites. (I wrote a blog post about being married to your total opposite too! Check it out and let me know what you think.)

You friend probably has some advice on things you can try, or things that did NOT work for them. If anything, they make a great sounding board for you. A trusted friend is the perfect person to help you come up with a game plan.

Read a book

There are tons of parenting books on the market today. Here are just a few that come highly recommended:



Go to counseling

I would say if none of that works, maybe it’s time to see a couple’s counselor. Note: this does not mean you have failed and that you have a bad relationships. Lots of couples with otherwise great relationships seek counseling.

Therapy is so much more than lying on a long black couch crying about your childhood. It is a way that you can find resources that will help you be better partners and better parents. It can provide you with coping strategies you might never have thought of.

Feel daunted by therapy? Check out this post about what to expect at your first therapy appointment.Living with a Partner Who Parents differently, therapy, therapy appointment

What should you do next?

I think if you follow one or more of the tips I talked about, you will see improvement in your situation. In the meantime, here are some really important things to keep in mind:

  • You love your kids
  • Your partner loves your kids (I hope)
  • Your relationship can survive these differences

So, take a deep breath, and remember: You are a good parent.

Parenting, partner, marriage, relationships, living with a partner who parents differently

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What is your parenting style? Is it different from that of your partner? What do you want to work on? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

PS- Make sure you share this post. You never know who it might help!

PPS- Looking for a safe space to discuss mental health and connect with others? I would love to have you join my private Facebook group. I post 2-3 times a day, so no spam! See you there: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1206005752776704/?ref=share

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