Help! My Husband And I Parent Differently—How Can We Get On The Same Page For Discipline?
You discipline one way and your husband disciplines another way which leads to chaos and confusion in your house. There seem to be two sets of rules. Punishments or timeouts are completely different between both of you. Your child knows exactly how to play both of you to get what they want or get away with acting up. Now your child is running the house and you want peace in your home again.
With both of you parenting differently, you argue constantly and just want to be on the same page—but who’s way is right? How do you get on the same page?
What Does It Do To Kids Whose Parents Don’t Discipline Similarly?
Your child is perceptive. As hard as you try to hide your disagreements or differences in parenting, your child can pick up on these invisible battle lines. Your child may begin to use these differences to their advantage—which is normal. However, your child won’t thrive being in power. Your child may begin to have intense fits, act out at school, not listen to adults, and may be turning violent or using hateful words. Long-term this may lead to intense teenage defiance where they refuse to listen to a single rule, sneak out of the house late at night, and other unhealthy and dangerous teenage behaviors.
Children who are in charge of the house are generally insecure and have more anxiety than those with consistent discipline.
But, how do you fix it?
1: Find A Calm Neutral Place And Have A Sit-Down
Find a calm, neutral place and a good time to have a sit-down with your partner. Have somebody else watch the kids while you two meet. You can start the meeting saying 3 things you love about your family and three things you want to change. Approach this meeting and your partner with curiosity, love, fondness and admiration because you are both in this together.
2: Decide On Family Values And Rules
Have yourself and your partner sit down and decide on family values. What does your family value and what do you want to enforce? Do you value having a child that plays the musical instrument even if they are unhappy or value physical exercise? How do you achieve more of your family values for a happier healthier family?
Craft a list of similar family values, and from there make 4-5 family rules. Family rules will keep mixed messages out of your parenting. Think about what rules you want to enforce for your family and what you are willing to ignore or let go. These rules need to be absolutes that will result in a consequence every time. So a rule like no running in the house wouldn’t be a great rule as what happens if it is Christmas or grandparents visit? Or no interrupting, but then what if there is a fire on the stove?
Good rules could be:
1: No Hurts (physical or verbal)
2: No Electronics After Bedtime
3: Explore How To Be A Team
How can you be a better team in discipline once it is time for consequences or timeouts? This is a place to explore when it is best for one parent to step in such as over a clean room, fighting with siblings, etc. Here you can explore when one parent may feel belittled when another parent steps in or that the other parent took away their power. What are the situations that your co-parent needs backup and what situations do they need to handle by themselves? What is a good way to step in and help? It may be helpful to develop codewords here such as “green” meaning I’ve got it, “yellow” meaning I may need backup soon, and “red” meaning I need a break ASAP. Whatever works best to get you both on the same page here where one parent isn’t always a bad cop, and both equally share power and discipline.
4: Figure Out Your Consequences And Rewards
What do consequences look like for your family? To work on getting appropriate discipline strategies that are consistent for kids under 7, check out our page for Parent Child Interaction Therapy or (PCIT). PCIT can help get you and your partner on the same page for discipline, and parenting by giving you coaching lessons and 50 years of researched parenting techniques. PCIT will help take your child out of control and put you back in charge, and parenting as a team.
For older kids, taking technology or a privilege can be appropriate as can giving extra technology time. Whatever rewards and consequences you decide should be consistent and thought out.
5: Hold Family Meetings
Hold routine and regular family meetings, usually once a week or every other week is good. This can be a good time to review rules, family values, see what is working in the family, what isn’t, and review any upcoming family events. Family meetings can be great to keep discipline on the same page and have children see parents as leaders.
Being on different pages for discipline can tear a marriage apart and wreak havoc on a child’s future. If you feel you are still struggling to get on the same page with your significant other, you may benefit from family therapy with a focus on co-parenting. For kids under 7, Parent Child Interaction Therapy or PCIT would be extremely beneficial to set you and your family up for a much happier, healthier future.
If you are looking for family therapy, Mary Willoughby Romm is a licensed professional counselor in the state of Virginia who provides online therapy for Willow Tree Healing Center. She enjoys transforming the lives ofwomen, college students, kids,tweens/teens, andfamilies through providing communication strategies, coping skills that work, allowing a safe space to be heard, and actively working towards helping you with your challenges. She is certified inParent-Child Interaction Therapy (ages 2-7) andTrauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy,counsels substance abuse in teens and adults, and practicesEye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy.