Differing Parenting Styles Led to “Brangelina’s” Divorce
As divorce lawyers, we have seen firsthand that differing parenting styles can result in a divorce. Although opposites often attract in dating, some of those differences can become less complementary when it comes to raising children. The qualities that led you to fall in love with someone as a person don’t always translate to harmonious co-parenting.
One parent may be more patient when it’s time for discipline, and the other may be the real enforcer, needing structure and imposing discipline. One parent may be more authoritarian, while the other is more permissive. When parenting styles differ, and there is a lack of respect for the other style, it can be frustrating and destructive, causing distance and dissonance between the parents, especially when they have extreme approaches to their parenting.
Recently, the Brangelina split was a headliner in the mainstream news. Actress Angeline Jolie filed for divorce from husband, Brad Pitt. Many were stunned and wondering what happened to this seemingly perfect celeb couple. The split between Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie was reportedly fueled by differences in parenting styles. How could something so trivial and minor shake the foundation of one of Hollywood’s most admired power couples?
This world-famous couple have acknowledged they have contrasting philosophies and personalities when it comes to raising their children. According to US Weekly, Pitt revealed that he is forced to play the bad cop at home with his sons. “I am [the disciplinarian] with the boys,” he told the publication. Jolie is known for not disciplining the children and doesn’t require rules. Jolie is all about freedom of expression and doesn’t believe in saying “no.” Brad, on the other hand, was raised with Midwestern values and standards and has always been stricter. He would become frustrated at the lack of structure within the household and would sometimes yell at the kids.
Jolie further remarked that although the opposition in their parenting styles initially worked to the couple’s favor, she told Us their contradictory methods ultimately led to some of their “biggest, most contentious fights.” It got so bad that Jolie decided to pull the plug on the twelve year relationship/two-year marriage with the parties’ six children.
Let’s face it. Becoming a parent adds a dose of stress to any marriage or relationship. More often than not, parents have different approaches on rules, discipline, consequences, and punishments for misbehavior. This can cause a great deal of strife between the parents, especially when one is left to be the “bad guy.” This isn’t just a difference in males and females styles of parenting, but is showing up in same sex couples as well.
The key to reducing the strife is the compromise, respect, and appreciation. Realize that a different style is just that – different, not necessarily right, and not necessarily wrong. Just because his/her style is not your style does not mean it is “abuse” or “domineering.” Try to avoid judgment or self-righteousness. According to mental health professionals, it’s okay to have different opinions and different styles, as long as couples can find a middle ground.
One important point is to resolve these issues out of the range of children’s ears as to not undermine each other once a decision is made. Learning how to work out disagreements in parenting style is a growing process that can strengthen a relationship instead of destroyed it.
Couples with children can benefit from taking parenting courses together. These courses may offer ways of bridging the gap between parenting styles, which will then reduce tension between the couple. For a couple to succeed, they must act as a cohesive unit. For the most part, parenting styles haven’t radically changed over the past five decades, there’s just a new intensity and focus to them.
In most situations, your kids really need both of you, even with all your quirks. Having two parents with different styles is actually a good thing for kids, and different parenting styles can be balanced when parents work together as a unit.
Remember, while there are different parenting “styles” there is no perfect approach to parenting. As a matter of fact, kids will likely benefit from having parents with different approaches. This way, they learn to adapt to different situations. For example, children must adapt to different teachers in school. No two teachers are exactly the same. Exposure to different parenting styles helps your child to learn to deal with different authority styles which will benefit them over the long term.
Each parent must respect the other. Even though you may disagree on whether to be strict or lenient, whether to horseplay before bedtime, or require children to do household chores, you must have respect for your spouse’s position and their ultimate love of the children. Without this, there will always be a crack in the foundation of the marriage and the risk of collapse of the family unit. Be willing to engage in an open, honest dialogue with your partner to see where and on which points you can join together. If necessary, talk to an experienced therapist or marriage counselor.
While disagreements about money, sex, and housework have long been edgy points in a marriage, clashes over how to raise the kids are enough to tip a shaky relationship over the brink. How many couples actually divorce because of differing parenting styles? Danny Guspie, founder of Fathers’ Resources International, says parenting disputes play a major role in about 20 per cent of divorces among the dads who meet at his support groups. He says, guys get the feeling that their style of parenting isn’t really valued. For men who have been highly involved in their kids’ lives, that’s a huge challenge.
If your spouse’s parenting style is severe enough that you think you should divorce, think again, because the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Our experience has shown that divorce does not end co-parenting – it is only the beginning. Differences in parenting styles can easily continue to be a source of friction after a divorce, because you can never control what is going on in the other parent’s house. Ever.
The best advice we can give, as divorce lawyers, is to work together on the small differences, appreciate that every parenting style has strengths and weaknesses (including yours!), acknowledge that each parenting style has some inherent benefit to your child, and seek professional advice to work out large differences.