Sue Scheff: When Parents Don’t Agree Over Discipline

Kara Tamanini, and author and therapist, wrote an interesting Blog entry today. I am sure there are parents that will relate to this. Be sure to visit for more great information from Kara Tamanini. Follow her on Twitter @KidTherapist

When Parents Don’t Agree Over Discipline

What do you do as a parent when your child is resistant to discipline and your spouse will not stand behind you and enforce the rules. As a therapist, I see this all the time. One parent is the “good guy” and the other one who disciplines and enforces the rules is the “bad guy”. No two parents agree all the time about discipline/boundaries and will parent the same, however some parents just don’t want to discipline at all and want their children to be their “friend”. Children and parents are NOT friends, your child needs a parent, their friends are at school. This is a serious problem as it puts one parent against the other and of course the child will play one parent against the other in order to get their way. So what can you do if you are the parent that is the “bad guy” and your spouse will not help you with discipline.

First of all, as the “bad guy” you need to address this with your spouse. Most likely you are saying that you already have and it fell on deaf ears and your spouse did nothing about changing their way of disciplining. If your spouse will not change than from now on they need to be held responsible for the consequences of not enforcing discipline in the home. For example, if your spouse will not make your child clean up their room, then your spouse should have to clean up the child’s room.

You are not to go behind your child and go into their room and clean it up. If your child has been told to take out the trash and they have not, even after you told them, then your spouse is to take out the trash. Most likely, if the resistance of a spouse to change their behavior and discipline strategies is very severe, this is probably a marital issue and not a parenting issue. Marital counseling may be needed in order to address a “marriage issue.” Individuals understand consequences for behavior, whether it is an adult or a child. Make the parent who does not want to discipline or enforce appropriate boundaries reap the consequences for doing nothing.

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