Disciplining kids can be one of the most difficult things for newly-separated or divorced parents to do. Children often don’t make it easy. They learn quickly how to play one parent against another. Parents often don’t make it easy on each other.
Let’s look at a few important tips for maintaining the discipline your kids need to grow in to mature, self-sufficient adults.
Don’t let guilt about the divorce get in the way of discipline
While it’s important to understand how the divorce is impacting your child, you can’t excuse bad behavior that becomes a habit. The same is true if you think your co-parent is being too strict. Being extra lenient in your home to make up for it will likely only make things worse.
Don’t try to be the favorite parent
Sure, you might win that award in the short term if you relax the rules for your child. However, you aren’t doing them any favors. In the long run, they’ll likely see that you were looking out for their best interests.
Don’t criticize the other parent’s rules (or lack of them) in front of your child
Simply remind them that in this house, they abide by your rules. Kids don’t need complete consistency of rules across households. As long as each parent is consistent within their own home, that’s what’s important.
Be honest with your co-parent about any behavioral issues
Often, a parent doesn’t want to admit to their ex that they’re having a problem (even if it’s one the other parent is having as well) because they want to seem like the “better” parent. However, by not dealing with the issue, you’re only harming your child.
It’s always best when parents can continue to work together as a team to raise their children. Don’t expect to have exactly the same parenting styles. You probably didn’t when you were together. It just wasn’t as obvious. Maybe one of you was the disciplinarian and the other was the pushover. Now that you’re single parents of a sort, you both will need to take on new parenting responsibilities.
If there are differences in your parenting that are causing behavioral issues for your children and you and your co-parent can’t work them out together, it may be wise to add some detail to your parenting plan. This way, both of you (and your child) have the same set of expectations. Your family law attorney can help you.