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Coming to an agreement on different parenting styles


I have married a man who was raised in a very emotionally and physically abusive home. I have two children who are not his biologically, and I feel I have to constantly run interference between his verbal belittling and unnecessary physical discipline. How do I lovingly confront him about his parenting style? I do not want him to feel attacked.



This information is included in our Guide to Parenting for Today's Family. Click here to see the rest of the guide.

Most of us parent as we ourselves were parented. No couple has exactly the same parenting style. Sometimes the styles are so different that it becomes necessary to compromise on a parenting style that is new to both partners. Now is the time for you and your husband to talk about your differences in parenting styles. 

While ​there are numerous parenting programs available to you, you will want to settle on one that is research-based so you know that the techniques have been tried and successful. Boys Town has written just such a program. It involves the same model of teaching that is used in every level of care that Boys Town provides for children. It is called “Common Sense Parenting,” and it is available in most bookstores. You can also find it online at

You can present this to your husband in this way: Tell him that you would like to set the necessary groundwork for your family to have future success by agreeing on how to parent. Suggest that both of you could benefit from a program about which you’ve heard good things.  

Do not single him out by saying that he is the only one who needs to change. If he is not sold on the idea, try some of the techniques anyway so you can see the positive results. They are fast and obvious.

If you decide to follow the Boys Town method, be sure to read the chapter in the book that addresses how parents should use calming techniques on themselves before they tackle their children’s behavior. The most effective teaching tool is modeling. Children will do what we do. If we model calm responses and respectful interactions, our children will respond similarly.