7 Ways to Talk to Your Friends When Your Parenting Styles Conflict

We enter into an entirely new social atmosphere when we become parents– and the politics can get tough.

When it comes to parenting, we all tend to see ourselves in the middle: that family over there is super-lenient, where that couple? They are super-strict. But we always pretty much see ourselves in the middle when it comes to our own choices for our kids.

With the exception of maybe politics and religion, nowhere else do we get as judgy as other people’s parenting styles. And from the moment we have that first child, we start to form our friendships based on who has similar views on raising kids as we do.

Moreover, we can also know someone for years and once we all have children realize that our values systems are not at all alike. Friendships end because of differing views on vaccines or anti-bacterial. We are in new territory now, family territory where high fructose corn syrup can spark a heated debate. If you need more proof, just check out the comments section on some of those more hot-button mommy blogs.

What do you do if you don’t like the way your good friend is parenting? Do you ignore it? Do you call him or her out? It’s really hard to know how to weigh your friendship with your sense of right. Bear in mind the following golden rules when it comes to conflicting parenting perspectives:


  1. Listen. We often listen to the words people use and take them at face value, but if we see our friends consistently making confounding choices, we may not be peering under the surface the way the situation calls for. Is your friend going through a tough time? Rather than have a knee-jerk reaction to what this mom is doing, ask yourself what might be going on behind the scenes. Sometimes all we need is for someone to ask us, “Are you ok?” to see that we are having a problem that is affecting our parenting.


  1. Ask open-ended questions. “Why did you decide not to do allowance?” “Where do you source your information?” We all need to feel like our friends take our point of view seriously, and questions open things up, rather than shut-down statements: “That yogurt has a ton of chemicals in it.” “People with kids shouldn’t have pets.”


  1. Ask if your suggestions are helpful. Before you chime in with advice, first ask if that advice is welcome: “Do you want input on the potty training?” Sometimes when we are feeling obstructed, other people’s opinions only compound the situation, making us stressed and defensive.


  1. Roll with their rules in their house. Unless it’s something huge like your family is vegetarian and they are big barbeque people, let your kids play by their rules while you are a guest. Of course, any friend would show you the same respect when she is a guest in your home.


  1. Agree to disagree. Think of all the different philosophies and conditions that have reared children through the ages and acknowledge to yourself that your views are very much shaped by the time and place in which you live. Unless you think your friend is actually doing damage to themselves or to their child, be prepared to let the disagreements lie.


  1. Close the topic nicely. If a friend is badgering you about your choices, take a slow breath (not an exaggerated one) and simply say something to the effect of “Thanks for that, I’ll file it and think about it.” Put the subject down, think about it in a calm moment, and decide practically if you want to pick it back up again.


  1. Reaffirm the friendship. It’s okay to tell the people you care about that you don’t see eye-to-eye and that those differences shouldn’t eclipse a good friendship. Sometimes all it takes is carving out some time together independent of the parenting game and you rediscover what you appreciate about each other.


The choice you don’t want to make is the childish one where you back away without first giving the person and the situation a chance to resolve. We have to think of each other as neighbors, and neighbors don’t ghost each other.

We are all doing the best we can according to the information we have available and the only essential ingredient for raising a kid is love. We may be the grownups but we are all figuring it out as we go along. Parents often change their views and they support each other in a climate of informational overload knowing that there really are no absolutes. That acceptance and support is what adulthood and friendship are all about.  




About Susie Almaneih

Susie Almaneih spent several years during her young adulthood teaching children dance at her church group, as well as other cultural-based activities. Susie now spends as much time as she can giving back to the families in her community. Over the years, this love for community has evolved into a deeper love for delivering positive and creative content and awareness to families of all ages.

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