How to Stay Friends When Your Parenting Styles Differ

How to Stay Friends When Your Parenting Styles Differ

What can you do when your friends have drastically different ideas of how to parent?


By Betsy Voreacos

There’s nothing more precious to you than your children. You don’t enter into parenting lightly, nor do you make decisions lightly. You think hard about everything you do, the way you do it, and what the consequences may be. And you would never, ever do anything you didn’t feel was in the best interest of your child.

But what do you do when your friends have drastically different ideas on the right and wrong way to parent? It’s possible to bridge the gap and stay close if you make a conscious effort to be respectful. Here’s how.

  1. They do EVERYTHING with their kids, all the time, and don’t believe in babysitters. You totally get wanting to have quality family time together. But in your opinion, there are certain places where kids just don’t belong, including parties meant for grown-ups. If you’re throwing the shindig, make sure you address the kid issue right up front when you send the invitations. If your friends complain, don’t make a big deal of it. Just tell them you decided to have a grown-up party and you hope they’ll be able to recruit the grandparents to watch the kids. And if they can’t or won’t come, don’t press the issue.
  1. They deny that their precious child ever does anything wrong. We all think the sun rises and sets on our kids, but some parents take it a step too far. You know, the ones who refuse to believe that their little darling would ever, ever bite another child, throw a stick, or repeat a curse word – even when you’ve witnessed this behavior firsthand! While you can get over their kid’s actions, it’s your friends’ inability to own up to the misbehavior that’s harder to accept. Rather than attacking, try solidarity, and say something like, “It’s so frustrating when our kids act up, isn’t it? We just have to remember that no one’s judging our parenting.” Even if you are! (We won’t tell.)

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  1. They serve endless treats to your kids without asking you first if it’s okay. Youve decided you don’t want your kids eating too much junk food – maybe you don’t even keep it in your own house anymore. And you don’t appreciate your friend offering your daughter huge ice cream sundaes every time she goes over for a playdate. Tell your friend (again) that you’re doing your best to encourage healthy eating in your kids, and try to enlist her help. And use a relatable example for a frame of reference, too: “You know how important it is for Stella to be in bed every night by 7:30? That’s how I feel about the junk food. I’d love it if you can help maintain that consistency when my daughter comes over to play!”
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  1. They have a strict “no screen time” rule. You’re the first to admit you’ve fallen prey to the power of the TV. You let your kids watch movies and play video games and believe that it’s not going to turn them into horrible people. You take turns hosting play dates with a friend’s child who is not allowed to watch TV or use electronic devices at all. It may be your house, your rules, but in this case you’re going to have to give up the electronic babysitter. Even if your kid is begging to share his favorite computer game or TV show with his buddy, make a point to suggest other screen-free activities to pass the time.

How does your parenting style differ from your friends’?


Betsy lives with her family a stone’s throw from New York City. An overly involved mother of three children, Betsy has always been acutely aware of her shortcomings as a parent, not to mention those of her children. She documents her life in the brutally honest Old Minivans Die Hard.

Image ©iStock.com/digitalskillet


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