Discipline is a necessary part of helping your child grow into a responsible adult, but discipline disagreements between you and your spouse can derail any lessons you try to impart on your child.
"I know it’s not good for our kids to go through that, but how do I let go of control and allow [my husband] to discipline without my two cents every time?" Damara H. asks the RoundUp community. "I have a very hard time allowing anyone to say anything out of the way to my kids, and I don’t know how to get past that, especially with my husband, poor man. We just don’t agree on discipline because I don’t know how to let go and trust him to do it."
Similarly, Myriah P. seeks advice to better manage differences with her husband: "What do you do if you don’t agree with the way your husband wants to discipline the kids?" she asks. "We argue about it all the time."
For coming to terms with discipline disagreements so that you and your partner can parent as team, Circle of Moms offer the following five tips.
1. Maintain Respect
It’s natural for parents to disagree on discipline styles from time to time. After all, Kristi L. reasons, parents often come from very different backgrounds. Yet, to make your lessons beneficial for your child, you will have to compromise. You need to talk with your spouse and discuss what you like and don’t like about the way the other person disciplines and see if you can accept a mutually better way, she notes.
To do that, when you and your spouse disagree on how to discipline, it’s important to maintain respect for your partner so you don’t create ill feelings toward your partner that interferes with the disciplining of your child, Katie C. says.
Of course, parents aren’t going to have the opportunity to discuss discipline for every behavior in advance, Wendy C. acknowledges. But, it’s important "not to undermine [your spouse] and get cross [when you disagree]. We're not perfect. If I get it wrong, I say sorry."
2. Communicate Calmly
Parents won’t work out their discipline differences unless they can communicate with each other calmly. So it’s important for parents to talk about the guidelines with each other and let their opinions be heard, Becky E. says. "It's important for both of you to be comfortable with how your children are disciplined."
Monica T. agrees, saying even when she thinks her husband’s punishments are too harsh, she and her husband wait and discuss after both parties are calm.
When you are both calm, then you’re more likely to agree on a set of guidelines and punishments.
"Parenting is a united thing — or it should be if both parents are involved in the child's upbringing. Sitting down and discussing how each of you perceives offenses is important, as is the consequence that should be dealt for the infraction. Explaining how each of you feels gives the other person better insight to why you are or are not reacting to certain behaviors in a similar manner," Dawn B. explains.
3. Set Guidelines
As you discuss how each of you feels, pre-establish guidelines both parents agree with, says Jessica L. "Discipline is a partnership, a team effort. So one person shouldn’t have to do everything," she says.
Plus, you don’t want to be disagreeing over the discipline while in the midst of trying to correct your child, Circle of Moms members say.
Bonnie H. has gone as far as writing the rules out on a dry erase board and posting them for everyone in the family to see. With children from previous marriages, posting the house rules lets everyone know what both parents have agreed upon together and the consequences for breaking the rules, Bonnie explains. "It keeps the perspective clear for us, as well as the kids on expectations and consequences. If a rule is broken, we go to the board, explain why that rule is important to the child, and carry out the discipline action for it."
Melissa says if she didn’t write out the house rules then keeping the order would, "go to hell in a hand basket" with five children.
Posting the rules in detail can take a good amount of time to line out, Bonnie admits. "However, having a game plan, and compromising for a common goal beforehand, reduces the chance for disagreements later on. It also eliminates either parent from being the good or bad guy all the time since both will be able to carry out consistent discipline."
Guidelines ensure both parents are on the same page, and are consistent in dealing out consequences for bad behavior. But even if you and your spouse haven’t had time to work out a decision on disciplining beforehand, concur with the adult in front of the children, Katie C. says. "You don’t want the child to play head games with you two as the game," she explains, noting it’s especially important when parents are separated. "It’s more of a respect thing between the parents," she adds.
4. Be Consistent
Consistency in disciplining is crucial; parents must be on the same page when it comes to parenting, several Circle of Moms members say. "If you’re not, then the child can play sides and that leaves an open door for your child to continue to test boundaries, when boundaries should already be set," Donde M. says.
"You have to be on the same page as your partner, especially on the big issues, or the children will pick up on it and both suffer because of it, and manipulate both of you," a member who calls herself "Very Bloggy Beth" reiterates. "It's not possible to talk before having kids about every single parenting issue that's going to come up, but you should talk about issues as they arise, and decide where both of you will stand united on each issue. It's imperative."
"[Inconsistency sets] yourselves up for failure down the track, as your kids will very quickly learn that they can play one of you off against the other, or get away with different things with each parent," she says.
5. Don’t Disagree in Front of the Kids
Above all, even when you disagree, don’t argue in front of the kids. "You and your husband need to settle [arguments] in private so that the children don't see you disagreeing. If they're old enough, they are smart enough to use that wedge to divide you," Lisa C. tells Circle of Moms members.
Disagreeing in front of the kids is dangerous: "It makes one parent look like the ‘bad guy,’" Dyan D. emphasizes. "If there is a problem let's say an unfamiliar problem where there was no rule, even if you disagree with the method, wait until the child is not within earshot and discuss why you disagreed with whatever the method was. It is always important to have a united front."
Remember: "As frustrating as parental disagreements can be, it is a good recipe for healthy parenting," adds Odunayo O. "I believe our differences makes us special and gives each marriage its flavor."
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.