Staying Friends Even Though You Have Insanely Different Parenting Styles

You’ve been a parent for all of about a week now and you and your significant other are already getting into the groove of being mom and dad. It’s coming naturally to you after all, you’ve waited so long for your baby and taking care of her is matter-of-course. Isn’t it just the coolest thing that after a few days of having your baby in your family you feel as though she was always a part of it? And the bonding, loving and skin to skin is going just perfectly?

I can only imagine, now that your precious bundle is home with you, thoughts (and concerns, by nature) about your parenting style are already running through your head.

Do have a list of things that you will never do as a parent, and even more important - things that you will always do, never fail as you raise your child to be happy and healthy? Of course, we all have goals and aims for parenting, and dreams for the child we have been blessed with.

And definitely, part of the fun is the fact that you have friends who are in the same stage of life as you. New parents, excited about this next life stage and thrilled with the miracle of having a baby. These friends have hopes and dreams just like you do and that is going to be the glue that keeps you together.

But what if, all of a sudden you begin to realize that your bestie for the last ten years has a parenting style insanely different from yours? You know, maybe you are free range and she is extremely helicopter? Read on and contemplate a look at some of the diverse parenting styles and how you can remain friends, and I mean good friends, even though child rearing differences are immense.

7 Have Confidence in Your Parenting Style

Before I even get into our discussion about parenting, similarities in beliefs, and better yet, surviving a friendship with different parenting styles than yours, I would be remiss if I did not stress that no matter what, you must have confidence in yourself as a parent. For one thing, it's all based on love, right? Have faith in yourself in the choices you have made when it comes to the style in which you choose to parent your kids.

My number one catch phrase when I was being bombarded, as a new mom, from all sides by other parents and extended family who had a little more experience than I did was, “do what is best for you and your family.” I loved that phrase, imparted on me by a friend of mine. 

She had three kids before I had even birthed my first, and even though she was considerably younger than me, I felt her parenting wisdom to be priceless. It got me through many a tough moment, such as inquiries by well meaning family members as to why my little girl was not yet wearing shoes all day long (you know, for certain, that was why she was not yet walking).

Everyone has their own way of being and parenting

In fact, I found the wisdom to be so helpful that I passed it on to other parents who were having doubts about decisions. I learned there was no reason for me to feel that I needed to measure up. The funny thing is, once I had this tiny little piece of wisdom I never again felt that I was not a terrific parent - and I hope as you read on that you will get this same sense of strength and self-possession.

6 Exploring Opposing Views Will Make You a Better Parent

Some moms and dads think there is only one way to raise kids, and that is their way. I really do get that, because you know, I think I raised my kids the right way. The right way for me, that is, and that is the key point we need to fix in our minds.

It’s a good idea to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes and then by all means, we will realize there are many ways to bring up our offspring. I believe if our children have a stable routine, a good night’s sleep and healthy meals to power the body throughout the day, those factors (along with consistent discipline) will empower them to be the super kids that we are aiming for.

A few guidelines for staying friends with your buddies who have opposing views are:

●don’t judge others (I understand it is easier said than done but let’s work on it together)

●don’t be imprisoned by the idea that you must be a perfect parent 24/7

●don’t let specific parenting situations (you know, when things don’t go quite as planned) stress you out

live and let live

●you never need to measure up to others.

5 Tackling Tricky Issues

Right off the top, tackling tricky issues, especially when dealing with friends is never easy. Because you know, emotions get involved and that can make things pretty sticky.

Every parent thinks they are making the best choices for their kids, otherwise they probably wouldn’t be making those decisions. We all have individual values, characters and upbringing that ultimately form us as people, who then become parents.

I have met people who are very good at arguing their point and always think they are right. It’s fascinating how some people have an answer for everything and will argue their views until they are blue in the face. But, before you get red in the face, be gracious and change the subject in order to save the friendship. If you want to save it, that is. 

Your friends personal beliefs about proper parenting aren't compatible with yours

I for one, am the type of person who will absorb my anger and not show my true feelings in order to keep the peace. To be honest, I am just not good at conflict.

If you have a friend who has totally different views than you such as whether to vaccinate your child or not, or whether to let your child cry it out at night, you will have to make the choice: will you keep a tight lip to keep the friendship intact, or will you choose to make excuses the next time your bestie wants to get together. 

4 Authoritarian Parenting

Some of us may find fault with this style of raising a child. The authoritarian method allows for no involvement on the child’s part in so far as solving challenges or having input about rules.

Moms and dads who use choose to parent this way, rule their little ones without any room for negotiation on the day to day activities of the normal childhood.

It's an extremely strict method which places a strong demand on the child to be perfect, putting too much pressure on the child and instilling a fear of failure that can stay with them for life. The problem here is, that the children will often withdraw socially and have low self esteem.

Watching your friend discipline their child makes you cringe

If you have a friend who you feel is too strict with their child, you may have a difficult, rocky friendship ahead. You may decide to approach your pal and suggest they lighten up, and by all means do so, but chances are your thoughts will fall on deaf ears. Your friend may argue that she is simply trying to present clear and firm boundaries to her child, not realizing that she is being extreme by not giving her child the chance to grow up without total limitations.

The best advice here may be to stay friends solely so you can be the support to a child who will, beyond any doubt, need it.

3 Uninvolved Parents

Almost the exact opposite of the authoritarian parent is the uninvolved one. Some people become parents, but do not really want to give up the lifestyle they had before. Being too involved in work or personal activities and gains can lead to neglectful parenting.

I don’t really get that - and you probably don’t either. We wait so long for our little ones to arrive and before we know it they are toddlers, and then off to school. I say, cherish every moment.

Uninvolved parents are basically unattached emotionally from their kids, providing the basic needs such as food and a bed to sleep in, but little else. There is no nurturing and thus, little demand on the kids. The sad part here is, your friend’s child could grow up very lonely and emotionally withdrawn. With no extra curricular activities offered, these kids don’t grow up with the joy of family bonding or the feeling of being loved.

As hard as it may be to see this happening, I think I would choose to remain friends and try to lead by example, and also shower attention and conversation on my friend’s child whenever we meet.

2 Free Range Versus Helicopter Parenting

Do you and your best friend parent in insanely different ways? There has, without question, been a change in culture from when many of us were kids. Let’s put it this way. I used to walk a long way to school, alone or with a friend - a distance that I would never let my school aged child walk unaccompanied. But it was honestly fine back then, and I enjoyed it and it instilled a love of walking that I maintain today.

But today, we see things just a little differently. And society is different too. We have a lot of fear, and rightly so, of the dangers that can befall our kids. But if one wants to quote statistical fact, the crime rate has indeed decreased from the days that I used to walk home from school. We just hear more about it today, due to the media.

Free range is just what it says. It is a hands off approach, but not to the extreme of uninvolved parenting. Free range is giving your child freedom and responsibility while preparing them for it. I like the idea of free range parenting, within reason. Making sure that the freedoms I give my child are age appropriate and safe, makes the most sense. Allowing them some freedom gives kids the chance to make mistakes and learn from them and also gives them the green light for exploration and learning.

Her constant need to know where her child is drives you crazy

Maybe your friend from elementary school, who you walked home with every day and who along with you, had permission to stop at the candy store on the way home on Friday’s, is now the helicopter parent to an insane degree?

I have heard of parents who won’t let their toddlers play in the park for fear they will eat dirt. Or moms and dads who don’t want to empower their kids with swimming lessons for fear they will drown.

Sadly, many kids today right from birth are thrown into strict schedules full of supervision, being coddled and driven from one event to the next, never out of their parent’s sight - for even a minute. As a result, helicoptered kids may grow up with less confidence and be wary of trying new experiences.

She thinks you're too relaxed at parenting and it freaks her out

This difference in parenting style between friends can cause tension, for certain. After all, it is awkward to have a playdate at the park when your friend hovers over their little one so much that conversation is impossible.

The solution here may be to get together on a grown up outing, leaving the kids home with dad so you and your bestie can catch up on life.

1 Small Differences May Add Up

Even the smallest of parenting conflicts can cause an estrangement between friends. There are many variances in how we bring up our babies in their journeys through infancy, toddlerhood and beyond.

It brings me back to my go to phrase, “do what is best for your and your family.” Keep this in mind as you navigate the waters of being a parent. You may find conflict with friends over some of these issues, and more:

Breastfeeding only versus bottle feeding - whether you choose breast milk only, formula only or a combination of both, friends may have comments about your choice.

●Only feeding organic foods - sometimes this may be a matter of finances so we all must be reasonable when it comes to this discussion.

●Sleeping arrangements - how we function day to day is an individual thing and some of us may need more sleep than others, hence the desire to co-sleep will be the choice for some.

●Bedtime - letting kids stay up until they are tired or having a set bedtime may be an item for conversation.

●Protecting your child from germ exposure - this is totally a personal thing and may depend on the child’s health history.

Circumcision or not - religion and personal beliefs must be respected.

●To vaccinate or not - we all know this is a very touchy subject.

The above points may become a matter of contention between friends. Is it best to take a back seat to argument and let parents decide as they may? Do we care too much about how others raise their kids?

More in Incredible