Amy’s family was in trouble. She and her husband, Bill, argued constantly—mostly about how to raise their son, Ben, now 9. “I felt that Ben was playing off of my and Bill’s differing parent styles,” Amy recounts. “Whenever I said ‘no’ to Ben, he’d run to Bill, who would invariably say, ‘yes.’ We needed help, but given our tight budget, I didn’t know where to turn. Thank goodness for Parents Place, which stepped forward with a scholarship for counseling for us. Otherwise, I’m not sure the three of us would still be living under the same roof.”

“It’s surprising to many couples, like Amy and Bill, to find out that once they become parents, they are not as much on the same page about child-rearing practices as they thought they’d be,” says Claire Marie Beery, MA, a former Director of Parents Place. “After all, they fell in love because they thought they had common visions and values, and then, all of a sudden, it seems like they don’t agree about anything—what time to put the kids to bed, how much TV they can watch, how hands-on they should be about homework, even which breakfast cereals their kids should eat—frosted flakes versus whole grains.”

Amy and Bill discovered, after a few sessions at Parents Place, that many of their disagreements stemmed from their own experiences growing up with parents who had widely divergent child-rearing methods. “My mother was a free spirit, and her style was too loose and unstructured,” says Amy. “I vowed that I’d go in the opposite direction. Bill, on the other hand, came from a very traditional home, where he chafed under the rule of an authoritarian father. He rebelled against a more heavy-handed style.”

The more Amy and Bill talked about how their upbringings influenced their parenting styles, the more they developed a deeper understanding for each other. “Even after 16 years together,” Amy says, “I learned things about Bill I didn’t know—and they made me feel closer to him.”

And feeling closer as a couple allowed Amy and Bill to become more aligned as a parenting team. “We are no longer good cop and bad cop,” says Amy. “Ben can no longer run to Bill when I say ‘no’ and expect Bill to override me. It’s a better situation for everyone. Bill knows where I’m coming from, I know where he’s coming from, and Ben is getting a more consistent message from both of us about our values and expectations.”

No matter the issue at hand, Parents Place can help you and your spouse and partner enhance your parenting skills. Learn more about consulted, or call 415-359-2443.

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