Discipline is essential in order to raise good children. If you and the other parent don't present a unified front, however, everyone loses.
- Step 1: Back each other up when it comes to disciplinary action. If one parent punishes the child, the other parent should avoid disagreeing with them and should never side with the child and undermine the parent's authority.
- Step 2: Disagree privately -- well out of earshot of the child. If one parent disagrees with the other, they should nonetheless present a united front to the child. If you work together and support each other, you'll be much more likely to raise emotionally stable, well-adjusted children.
- FACT: An estimated 90 percent of parents have spanked their children.
- Step 3: Compromise with your spouse when you can't come to an agreement about disciplinary action. Grounding the child for a month may seem like a fair response to one parent, while only a time-out seems fair to the other. Meet each other in the middle for a compromise that you both can live with.
- Step 4: Be flexible about broken rules. Often, when a child breaks a rule, there are extenuating circumstances. Rather than following the letter of the law, agree with the other parent to follow the spirit, and come up with a punishment that takes into account what led the child to break the rule.
- TIP: If only one of you subscribes to the "spoil the child if you spare the rod" school of thought, the other may be horrified at a spanking, causing serious rifts in the partnership.
- Step 5: Talk about punishment options with your spouse before taking action. Many parents disagree about what constitutes appropriate punishment. One parent might see an offense as much more severe than the other parent, so talk about punishment options and find one that you both can agree on.
- Step 6: Discuss your ideas about disciplining children with your spouse -- or your potential spouse -- before you have children. If you're thinking about raising children, have a frank and honest discussion about what each of you consider appropriate punishment.