When Illinois parents share physical custody after they have divorced, the children will spend time in both homes and be affected by the rules, routines and parenting styles of each of them. In some cases, the parents’ parenting styles might be quite similar, allowing for easy transitions between the homes. In others, however, the styles might be different enough to create conflict between the parents and affect the children significantly.
The different parenting styles
There are a few main styles of parenting, and each type affects children’s long-term development differently. They include:
• The authoritarian parent, who is all about strict rules and punishment and who expects the children to never question them
• The authoritative parent, who sets rules but explains why they must be followed and is nurturing when the children make mistakes
• The permissive parent, who does not set many rules and is very lenient with the children, indulging them without setting up high expectations
• The uninvolved parent, who at best takes care of the children’s basic needs but is not emotionally involved with them and might even neglect them
Clashing parenting styles
When parents with shared physical custody do not agree on the rules, routines, boundaries and expectations for their children, conflicts will arise between them. Even more worrying, moving from the home of an authoritative parent where they feel nurtured and heard while understanding the rules and routines to that of a permissive or uninvolved parent, where there are few if any rules and where there might be no emotional support, can affect the children even into adulthood. Children might experience confusion, self-doubt, anger and fear as they attempt to maneuver both homes.
Successful shared parenting is a collaboration. Even if the parents have different styles, they should work together to set up the basic rules, routines and expectations that will be enforced in both homes.