The Other Mom: Do Differing Parenting Styles Ruin Friendships?

   By drodriguez  Mar 03, 2012

We’re all probably guilty of it...judging another mom’s parenting style just because it happens to be a little different than ours. But do we let differing parenting styles come between what could otherwise be a good friendship?

A recent report by Kim Brown Reiner from Today Moms discusses how moms often find lasting friendship a difficult thing to muster when they disagree on how to raise kids.

Reiner writes about an experience she had at her son’s play date when the other mom was offended after Reiner offered cookies to the children. The other mom’s strict no sugar or TV rules seemed to stand in the way of a possible friendship between the two. Reiner explains, “And while I breastfed both of my children for months, I have to admit, when I later found out she was still nursing her 3-year-old I realized we weren’t destined to become best friends.”

The real problem can start when moms with different parenting styles offer each other unwanted advice or question certain choices. Though you may become enraged when another mom critiques your parenting style, it’s probably best to keep a cool head.

So exactly how should you handle criticism from another parent friend? Social psychologist, Susan Newman, Phd., advises women how to diffuse an argument when other moms critique their parenting skills. You can say things like, “I never thought of handling the situation that way” or “I’ll consider that.”

If you find that you really cherish a friendship but can’t get over the differing parenting styles than the simple solution may be to try and hang out without the kids.

Can you be friends with moms who have a different parenting style than yours?

How do you handle a situation when another mom doles out unwanted advice about your parenting style?

Make a Comment

adtirey by adtirey | FRANKLIN, IN
Apr 06, 2012

It's entirely possible to be friends with someone with a different parenting style. Saying otherwise is like saying democrats can't be friends with republicans, single people can't be friends with married people, women can't be friends with men. That's just dumb.

catclan by catclan | FAIR OAKS, CA
Mar 05, 2012


TaraBrown by TaraBrown | Cypress, TX
Mar 05, 2012

yes,, people are very protective,,how long have you been friends has alot to do with it. keep your words positive when you say something and point out your not trying to be mean then drop it for awhile and see what happens. a true friend will come around. good luck.

kratzy by kratzy | Durham, NC
Mar 05, 2012

I have a friend who is very relaxed with discipline and spoils her only child. Whenever I visit, it becomes obvious how focused the child is on mom just being there for him. We have had lunches in restaurants ruined as well as weekend trips because he son will demand something and not yield. The other kids (we usually are a group of 5 women doing things together with kids) feel disturbed by the constant crying and for the mothers like me it is a feeling of helplessness at having to watch one child ruining it for everyone. While we would not intentionally exclude my friend or cut her off as a friend, her parenting style and the effects of it on her son's behavior have put a strain on the rest of us wanting to spend time with her and her son. We have been careful not to make it too obvious, but we sometimes cannot help disciplining her son, but if he has a tantrum, it is just easier to discipline him than everyone ganging up on my friend with advice.

bidahune by bidahune | Copley, OH
Mar 05, 2012

I'd like to say no, parenting styles shouldn't get in the way of friendships, but in my case it was more the religious side of parenting style that caused a loss. My best friend of 10 years and I have let our friendship wane and it's one of the most heartbreaking things that I will long remember.

noelrocs by noelrocs | LANCASTER, SC
Mar 04, 2012

I either explain why I'm making the choice that I am making, or I will say something like, "Thanks for the advice" or "Cool. I'll remember that." I don't usually make a big deal out of things unless its a real personal attack on me or my child. I have good friends, so I usually don't have to deal with that problem. The worst criticism often comes from people in pubic who have no clue what they're witnessing, but feel entitled to judge or comment... sometimes, screaming children could be sick, have an ear infection, be sleepy, be hurting (headache), or they could have developmental delays such as Autism or ADD. Its important to think before you speak and to remember that you're not perfect, either. It's also very, very rude to stare... people need to be taught that at every age.

stephanmom by stephanmom | NORWICH, NY
Mar 03, 2012

There is NO reason why you can not be friends with someone just because their parenting styles are different from yours. I have many friends with children and we all have different ways of parenting and this does NOT stop us from having great friendships. Everyone is different in the first place so why should the way someone parents their children be a problem. Unless their children are doing something to hurt your child or ruin something in your home, and that parent not do anything about it. Then there could be a problem. But if you set up rules first for your household which includes any guests then it should be fine. But then again this is just my opinion. Have a great day.