When Parents Disagree on Discipline
Who hasn’t had this experience?
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You’re right in the middle of disciplining your child.Emotions are running hot. You give your child aconsequence for the misbehavior and your spousesteps in and disagrees with how you’re handling the situation. You feel criticized, unsupported and
upset. The whole thing goes downhill from there.
It would be impossible for two parents to agree 100% of the time on how to handle misbehavior, so let’s just agree that you’re going to disagree sometimes. You may have different parenting styles, different hot buttons and different expectations than your spouse. That’s understandable. You were raised by different parents and have absorbed certain values and discipline methods that helped shape who you are.
Yet, every day you’re called upon to make decisionsregarding your children. So how can the two of you show a united front when it’s necessary, give each other the support that you need and prevent your child from playing you against one another?
This will take a little work, but it’ll be worth the effort. Your children will be your children for many years to come, so taking the time to establish some guidelines now will result in better parenting, less frustration andclearer expectations for your child.
Here are eight tips to guide you.
Tip #1: Reach an agreement to support each other
publicly (or at least remain neutral).
You’ve heard about the importance of presenting a united front so your child can’t divide and conquer and it’s true. It’s confusing to your child when you argue about consequences in front of them. Children with a manipulative nature will use the situation to their advantage. Usually what happens is that you get embroiled in your own debate and the discipline action gets forgotten. It also undermines your spouse’s parental
authority in front of your child, which is something you don’t want to do.
Tip #2: Develop a signal.
Let’s say that you strongly disagree with the other parent’s choice of discipline. Agree ahead of time on a signal that you can give that means, “Take a break. Let’s talk about
this.” Perhaps making a T sign with your hands to signal a time out would be a good choice.
Tip #3: Talk privately about the child’s offense and how it should be handled.
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Except for personal safety, there are few discipline actions that can’t wait for a few minutes. Taking the time to leave the room and talk privately with your spouse about how to handle the situation is a respectful way of communicating to your spouse that there
may be other options to consider. Regardless, you are setting a much-needed boundary that this is an adult matter and that the two of you will handle it accordingly.
Tip #4: Check in with the other parent to see if they’ve already made a decision.