Monday, August 1, 2011

Marriage Minded Monday - Parenting Styles

One of the biggest disagreements between couples is parenting.
Spouse A thinks they should talk things out with Billy when he breaks the window. Spouse B thinks Billy needs a spanking.
Spouse A thinks that Suzie should be grounded because she talked back. Spouse B thinks it's not THAT big a deal.

Any of this sound familiar to you?

One thing that our children must ALWAYS understand is that we parents are going to back each other up 100%. Children have to feel that their parents are a unit - supportive of each other and on each other's side.
But what happens when parents don't always agree on discipline?

This is a problem in so many households. Chances are, if you have children, you and your spouse will disagree on how to parent them - at least somewhat.

So what's the solution?

Compromise and secrecy is key in situations like this.
Compromise between parents and secrecy from the kids, that is.

First off, there has to be a common ground on how to handle any given situation. Let's say you want to spank your child, but your spouse is a talker. A good compromise would be to have a "three strikes" kind of rule - the first two offenses (of the same kind) receive a good lecture and/or grounding with a warning that the third time will result in a spanking. The child will know what is coming ahead of time, so when that third offense inevitably comes, the corporal punishment occurs.

There also has to be some form of compromise on rules of the household. For example, one parent wants the children to only play video games on the weekends - when they don't have homework. Another parent thinks that kids playing during the week isn't a big deal. So the compromise - the child may only play video games during the week for one hour or less, and only after homework and chores have been confirmed done.

As for secrecy - let's face it, if children knew that parents didn't agree on discipline and punishment, they'd certainly use it to their benefit. Children can be quite manipulative, after all, and many love to put parent against parent in "the punishment war". This is why compromise and secrecy are so important.

The final key to the puzzle of parenting together is consistency. This is, of course, is a given even when there's not disagreement. Misbehavior increases in situations where consistency is a problem. Why? Because they feel that "I got away with it that one time - let's see if I can get away with it again!"

Now, this will not guarantee anything in the area of your children. (Children will test the waters to see how far they can push someone, and they are curious about their world. So occasional misbehavior is a given. If your child becomes a "behavior problem" you should certainly seek the help of a professional.) But if your marriage is constantly "on the rocks" because you and your spouse can't seem to get on the same page, you might try talking all of it over after the kids go to bed, and writing out behaviors and disciplines together. Parenting together is hard, but the results are so rewarding.

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