Can I get a Divorce Over Child Discipline Disagreements?

They say that opposites attract, but different parenting styles can definitely raise some issues. The characteristics and qualities that lead you to fall in love with a person don’t always translate well to harmonious co-parenting, particularly when it comes to how children should be disciplined, or what guardrails should be put on their behavior. So, how do child discipline disagreements factor into divorce and custody?


Disagreeing on Discipline


Even the best couples can’t agree on everything all the time, but what happens when you constantly disagree on disciplining your child? One parent may be more patient while the other is very strict with discipline and enforcing. One parent may be more laid back and permissive – even apathetic – while the other is downright authoritarian. Few probably would not recognize the cliché of “Ask your mother” or “Ask your father” approach to parenting decisions.


Nevertheless, when parenting styles begin to differ, it can be frustrating and, in some cases, even destructive. This is especially true when there is a lack of respect for the other parent’s style and the parents cannot present a unified front. This can cause distance and dissonance between the parents.


Combating Contrasting Styles

Can I get a Divorce Over Child Discipline Disagreements?


Becoming a parent can be stressful and parents have different approaches to rules, discipline, consequences, and punishment. This can cause a great deal of strife in the relationship, especially when one parent is consistently seen as the “bad guy.” So, what can be done?


First, you need to understand that the key to reducing strife is compromise, respect, and appreciation. Different parenting styles are just that: different. Within certain boundaries, those styles are not necessarily right or wrong. Think about the different teachers your children have had over the years: they probably all had varying teaching styles, but each one benefited your children in different ways. The same can be said for parenting styles. Exposure to different parenting styles can help your child learn to deal with different forms of authority and boundaries, which can have long-term benefits in adapting to the “real world” of education, employment, and social relationships.


Parents should try to avoid judgment and seek a middle ground, but if they can’t, then delineate the areas where each gets to make the final call. Learn how to work through disagreements. Parenting or co-parenting courses can help each parent develop the necessary tools to deal with this process.


Even when parents disagree, it is important that each still respects the other, or at least does not undermine the other. First, that can just lead to the children playing parents off of one other, which some children will absolutely do. Otherwise, failure to respect the other parent’s position and their love for the children can create cracks in the foundation of the marriage. As with other issues, open honest discussion between partners is crucial.


Can I get a Divorce Over Child Discipline Disagreements?


Disagreement with a parenting style is not a ground for divorce. Inability to co-parent can be a contributing factor to a decision to separate and divorce, but in and of itself, it may not be particularly compelling in dictating an outcome. Except in extreme situations, a divorce is not going to end the necessity that parties co-parent their children; in fact, it could even make co-parenting and respecting the other parent’s decisions on their own time more necessitous.


Differences in parenting styles can and will continue to be a source of friction after divorce because neither parent will ever be able to control what’s going on in the other parent’s house. Parents will need to work together to figure out their differences and acknowledge that each parenting style has its own strengths and weaknesses. Each one can offer some type of benefit to the children. Before considering a divorce solely due to discipline or co-parenting disagreements, parents should seek professional advice to work out the larger differences. Whether that is couples therapy, mediation, or parenting classes, parents owe it to their children to try.


If you truly cannot work out your differences and think that separation and divorce are the last option, our attorneys will be there to guide you through the process and help you understand every step of the way. Contact Cook, Criag, and Francuzenko today. Our attorneys have decades of experience helping people just like you.

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