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Disciplining Differently
Do you and your spouse have different views on disciplining your kids? Read this and get on the same page.


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Different parents often have different methods of disciplining.


Think back to your childhood and all those times you were “reprimanded.” You always had one parent who you didn't want to dish out the punishment because you knew the other would be more lenient? Well, now that you are a parent, you might wonder how you and your spouse get on the same page when it comes to disciplining your kids?

There are three main types of parents, says Jill Rigby, author of Raising Respectful Children in a Disrespectful World:
  1. Parent-centered parents are extremely demanding and push their children to excel in everything. These parents see their children as a direct reflection of themselves and their children will often rebel against their very structured upbringing.
  2. Child-centered parents are indulgent and give in to their children’s every whim. They’re raising "aristobrats," and essentially become servants to their children.
  3. Character-centered parents raise their children with the end in mind—making choices to help their children become the best people they can be.
Which parent are you? And which is your spouse? And are you parenting with the end in mind? If you aren’t but would like to start, Toni Schutta, national speaker, author and parenting coach (www.getparentinghelpnow.com) offers these simple steps to create a roadmap for disciplining success:
  1. Discuss three to four rules that are most important to you and your spouse. These can be things like "No hitting," "No name-calling," "Listen to what mom and dad say," or any other basic ground rule.
  2. Gather your kids together—this can work with kids as young as three years old—and ask what rules are most important to them. Also ask what consequences they think would be appropriate when rules are broken.
  3. Meet with your spouse to pick the rules and consequences and draw up a short written contract, then have the whole family sign it.
  4. Post the rules in your home.
  5. Enforce the consequences when rules are broken.
Schutta says, "By taking the time to sit down and make the rules clear, it takes the mystery out of what will happen when a rule is broken." With your kids participating in the establishment of the rules, they’ll be more agreeable when you enforce the consequences.

Even with a plan, you still might find one spouse becoming the regular enforcer. One reason for this may be that the two of you were raised differently. This can raise conflict between the two of you if you feel that your spouse’s parenting style is a threat to the values you grew up with. So how can you overcome this?

First, "Don’t blame anyone," says conflict-management expert Dr. Andrew Edelman. "Focus on the problem, not on each other." You have to leave your childhood baggage at the door and focus on what will be best for your children—not what your parents' thought was best for you. Use "I" statements, speak calmly and rationally, and try to keep any value judgments out of the conversation.

Then, you can discuss your negotiables and non-negotiables. Even if you and your spouse have different levels of leniency with your kids, as long as you support and respect each other—and your kids aren’t trying to take advantage of these differences—things should be okay. "There’s some benefit to having parents who parent in different ways," says Schutta. "Sometimes, children need someone who’s more flexible in certain areas."


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Over 1 million couples turn to Hitched for expert marital advice every year. Sign up now for our newsletter & get exclusive weekly content that will entertain, educate and inspire your marriage.



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