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  • Jody B. Miller

Cohesive Positive Parenting

Updated: Nov 15, 2023

Time out, or no time out, that is the question.

No matter how similar you and your partner may be, couples always have some differences in opinion when it comes to parenting. What happens if one parent is all about positive parenting and the other the complete opposite?

K.C. Dreisbach, a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, has her own opinion on how you can get your partner “on board” with positive parenting.

Question: My husband doesn’t believe that positive parenting works. He believes that we are letting our toddler take the easy way out and therefore not facing the consequences of his actions. How can I get my partner on board with positive parenting?

Answer: I won’t lie to you… this is a toughie! I’m going to start by saying that parents have got to be on the same page when it comes to parenting their child. Kids are very smart, and can easily pick up when parents are in disagreement with one another. I also want to tell you that you are not the first parents to disagree on a parenting style or technique. There are many couples that struggle with this very thing, and they manage to get through it successfully. You have a few options available to you. Let’s go through them briefly:

  1. Get an Objective Opinion- Most folks I work with come to me for parenting help. One of the things I tackle is helping parents come to an agreement on how to handle difficult parenting tasks, like consequences for behaviors. An objective opinion can be really helpful! Don’t be afraid to seek out a Family Therapist or a Parenting Coach. These people can really help you guys see eye-to-eye and bring in a fresh view on a tired issue.

  2. Come Up with a Compromise- It’s ok if you mix and match a couple of different parenting techniques and styles! If you really like Positive Parenting approaches, but he just can’t buy into them, spend some time getting to know what approaches he would like to use/try. If we want our partners to be open to our parenting methods, we have to be equally open to theirs. Try picking your top 3 or 4 parenting techniques that you don’t want to give up, such as “I don’t want to use Time Outs,” or “No yelling at the kids,” etc. Let him know that these are non-negotiable items for you. Let him do the same. What is a non-negotiable item for him? Compare your answers. Hopefully, your non-negotiable items will be compatible. If not, this should lead to some meaningful discussions about your items. After that, be willing to try some new techniques! If you’re willing to try new things, he might be willing to too!

  3. Pick a Boss- Sometimes, no matter how much you try, you’re left in a situation where your partner won’t budge. His non-negotiable items are items you just can’t agree with. Perhaps you’ve asked about going to family therapy and he just about lost his mind at the mention of it. At this point, you’re stuck. The time has come to pick a boss. In therapy, I’ve had families where one parent refuses to come in and be a part of treatment. This is not ideal, and as a therapist, it says a lot to me about the underlying family issues that might be going on. When this happens, I present the family with an ultimatum: both parents participate, OR the parent who doesn’t want to participate turns over decision making to the parent coming to the family sessions. Surprisingly, when presented with this ultimatum, the non-participating parent has always been willing to hand over responsibility to the other parent. Unfortunately, this is not the solution I like to see, but for the sake of the kids having consistency in their parents, it can be helpful. If you find yourself in this situation, pick a boss. Whether it is you or your spouse, decide who will take on the responsibility of disciplining the kids and how that discipline will be implemented. Both parents can make household rules, but the boss is the enforcer.

So do Positive Parenting techniques really work with all children, or do some kids require something different? Every child is unique, and not every child responds to the same parenting style or technique.

K.C. Dreisbach has worked with families where each child within the same family needed completely different approaches. This is especially true for kids who have suffered trauma, have developmental delays, or a mental health issue, such as ADHD or Oppositional Defiant Disorder.

In this author's house, I have the gamut when it comes to my kidz.
Intellectual thinker.
Emotional thinker.
In the moment thinker.
So how to parent three completely different children? For me, regardless, it was always through positive parenting.

Children respond best to praise, yet when you need to set clear direction, which is also an integral part of positive parenting, you can wrap it in positive parenting too.

Some children need more motivation to behave well. Don’t feel bad if this is your child. This doesn’t make you a bad parent or your child a delinquent!

And if you need to rely on parenting techniques, such as Time Outs, removal of privileges, etc., it is OK! Your kids will grow up to be happy, healthy, and well-adjusted.

If you feel like this might be your child, I highly recommend you check out K.C. Dreisbach's book, “Trials of the Working Parent."

K.C. Dreisbach is a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Southern California. She has spent years in the field of mental health helping thousands of families achieve happy, healthy lives. Currently, she is a Clinical Supervisor for a non-profit agency working with troubled youth and their families. She is also the author of the book, “Trials of the Working Parent.”

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