Can Differing Parenting Styles End a Friendship?

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These days moms name their parenting styles the way women only used to name their political parties. And I get that. For the sake of discussion, you never know it you're a sitting Democrat walking into a room of Republicans. And you'd hate people to assume. It's nice to get it out in the open so there are no misconceptions. It also forces you move beyond these issues and find other kinds of commonalities.

But now that we let it all hang out — from where our child sleeps and what our child eats to whether or not we vaccinate and how we discipline — can it get in the way of friendships with other moms?

What do you think?

The moms in The CafeMom Newcomers Club are talking about parenting styles and friendship in the thread Do other mom's parenting styles affect your friendships?

Some women's friendships have been affected by differing parenting styles; however, many say, with the exception of abuse or kids allowed to exhibit extreme behavior problems, that they could care less how other moms parent.

Among my girlfriends, parenting styles really run the gamut.

I have mom friends who breastfeed and formula feed, spank and don't spank, work outside the home and stay home with their kids, use disposable diapers and use cloth diapers, practice attachment parenting, cry it out, and a few even consider themselves to be "recovering" attachment parents. I have friends who don't circumcise and wear their babies, ones who find television to be fine in moderation, and some who detest all plastic toys.

Does that mean there has never been the occasional awkward moment when our parenting styles collide? Not at all. Of course, it happens. However, I also find that when it comes to my close friends and their kids, I can pretty much live and let live — and even learn from their parenting experiences, successes, and shortfalls.

What has been your experience with your mom friends who practice different parenting styles?


Related posts:

Parenting Styles: Which Type of Parent Are You?

Moms and Kids as Equals -- New Parenting Approach

development & growth, discipline, sleep


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auror... aurorabunny

There are some things I could care less I cloth diaper, but if another mom doesn't..whatever.  But there are some things that I just don't know if I could bend on.  I don't think I could be friends with someone who was a big spanker.  I just couldn't stand to see it. 

apexm... apexmommy

It's really fabulous of people to say that they are open minded and expect everyone to accept their parenting ways.  I find that many times, these people are the ones that aren't interested in what is best for their child, but what is best for them.  This isn't a parenting style.  This is a core value.  I tend to spend time with people who have the same value set that I do.  There is a wide range of parenting styles within my values.  But I can't have respect for a woman that puts her very selfish needs ahead of her child, or who thinks that safety isn't really important (gun safety, playing in the street or unsupervised, car safety).  It's not intolerence.  I just actually care about my children, and can't wrap my mind around a mother who doesn't.  We have nothing in common.  When I hang out with a mom, and she spends her time telling me that I'm overprotective for not letting my 2 year old play unsupervised in our (UNfenced in backyard) or how her chlidren eat cookies for breakfast and are just fine, she comes across as defending herself.  I don't have time for that.  I can't be friends with a mom that I can't trust to care for my child.  I can't!  It's not judgemental.  It's caring about my child more than caring about your feelings.

auror... aurorabunny

Yeah I kind of agree with the entire above comment too.  Especially the part about being told that you're overprotective because you don't let your child do things that are downright foolish or unhealthy.  Quickest way to get me to never want to talk to you again is to do that.

RanaA... RanaAurora

apexmommy said it much better than I did.

Proud... ProudSingleMum

Awe....apexmommy....we can never be friends. I have, on occasion had cookies for breakfast with my son. Just out of sheer fun.

jessm... jessmikesophia

I agree. All my mommy friends and I do have some differing ideas about how to raise our children, but we get along in general. For example, one of my friends is crazy granola and I'm very Gerber and Pampers. I think she's nuts for being so  overzealous (making her own baby food and using cloth diapers), and she thinks I'm lazy for buying everything. Also, I didn't (couldn't) breastfeed. Some moms are like OH MY GOD I can't believe it. That is the most judgemental thing about many moms, that I am a terrible mom because I didn't BF. My daughter is just as smart as yours, bite me.

Sometimes my daughter won't eat eggs for breakfast, so she eats Little Crunchies and Next Step. I figure if she eats, it's better than nothing! Some moms think that's terrible. Hey, at least she's not in the plug sockets, bite me.

Yes, I have a bite me attitude. She's healthy, happy, SMART, and an amazing child. Don't judge my parenting style and I won't judge yours. If you child is healthy and happy, then you're cool in my book. Don't push your granola on me, sister.

apexm... apexmommy

Proudsinglemum, I bet you don't do it everyday.  Nor tell me I'm a bad mom if I DON'T do it.  That is the key.  Treats are to be expected, and are awesome.  For moms, too!

LifeA... LifeApprentice

I agree with a PP that said that the real issue was core values, not necessarily parenting styles.  It might be difficult for me to be friends with someone whose core values were completely opposite, kids or no kids.  That said, I have made mistakes in the past when I was a new mommy and was trying real hard to do everything "right".  I really upset one of my best friends by questioning the fact that she put her newborn on a feeding schedule.  I breastfed my children on demand, so it made me upset to see her baby crying out of hunger but not being fed because "it wasn't time".  I was pushing my views on her, I suppose, and offended her in the process.  Since then, I have really had to watch what I say around my friends.  My parenting "style" is completely different than ALL of my friends.  And their perception of my views (which I try to keep to myself unless asked now) is that I am saying they are a bad parent.  I think all of my friends, as well as myself, are wonderful mothers.  We are all doing the best we can with what we have.  But I do have to say if/when a friend questions something I am doing with my children, I have NEVER been offended.  I am comfortable with my parenting decisions, and just answer their questions honestly.  So I don't always understand why one mother friend can't discuss issues with another mother friend without someone getting their panties in a ruffle :)

tsatt01 tsatt01

There have been multiple times where i was friends with women with children and once there is one little confrontation they start to attack your parenting. It seems like anytime there is an issue with another person with kids they automatically attack your parenting, almost like they have nothing else to say so they hit you where they know it will hurt... Its extremely annoying at times.

tyrel... tyrelsmom

It depends on what it is.  It can definitely have an effect, because while I never attack another mom for a different parenting style, certain things make me cringe.  And seeing those things on a regular basis can put a real strain on the relationship for me.   It hasn't ever made me drop a friendship completely, but my closer friends are those whose parenting style is closer to mine.  It's just easier to talk with them, you're not constantly tiptoeing around contentious issues.

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