When couples begin their family or create a blended family, discipline can be an area of conflict.
While it may seem to be an issue with the kids and their behavior, I can tell you that many times it is actually differences between the parents that can cause the chaos. Let’s take a deeper look into this idea. Discipline. How to do it well can be one of the biggest challenges for couples. While parents may take prenatal or infant care classes, they aren’t typically taking classes for building a strong discipline plan or parenting well together. It is assumed they will just figure it out as they go, which is not a strategy for success. Discipline becomes an issue when: 1) Parents are inconsistent in their messaging Parents who give mixed messages create kids who are confused about the rules so they can’t ever “hit the target. Inconsistent messaging may also result in kids who learn how to manipulate their parents and play one against the other. 2) Parents have differing expectations One of the hardest things for kids to do is figure out how to behave appropriately when there are mixed expectations for their behavior.
This clash in expectations may result from each parent’s own upbringing or their styles of parenting. For example: I recently worked with a stepcouple that had very different parenting styles. Dad was more strict and “to the letter” with his rules and expectations. Stepmom was raised in a home that was a little more flexible, so that was her nature with her stepkids.
When one of the teens missed curfew by 20 minutes (which was not typical for this child) Dad wanted to put consequences into place. Stepmom, on the other hand, was less about the discipline and set the suggested they give a reminder of expectations and a second chance to get things right.
“But, how will she learn if she doesn’t experience a consequence?” Dad wanted to know. Stepmom reminded him that being so strict may actually be pushing this child toward resentment and challenging Dad.
So, the question is: How can a couple get on the same page for discipline?
The most effective way to avoid creating confusion is to develop a shared family foundation. This foundation includes a clear and concise definition of the family vision, values, and goals.
When co-parents are working from the same family ideals, their messaging is consistent and their expectations are clear. One parent knows exactly how the other parent will handle a discipline issue and they are confident they will use the same (or very similar) consequences. Kids can’t play one parent against the other when they know both parents will give the same answer to a request or consequence for misbehavior.
The family foundation allows parents to lean on and refer to the list of family values when addressing discipline issues. The family foundation guides all parenting decisions. Additionally, parents are less stressed because they are being proactive instead of reactive to misbehavior.
Best of all, when parents are consistent kids are more confident about what is expected.
If you are ready to create your clear family foundation and improve your discipline plan of action, I’m here to help! Book a complimentary discovery call today to get started on your steps for parenting success.