October 23, 2002
Disciplining children can turn parent against parent, even in the best of marriages. Randie and Fenton disagree on how to punish their children, and argue about it so much that Randie often leaves to spend the night in a hotel. He believes in spanking, and she believes that their kids deserve a second chance when they’ve done something wrong.
Do you disagree with your spouse on how to punish your child? What can a couple do when they want to raise their children so differently?
Dr. Phil’s has advice for parents who argue about how to react when their children misbehave:
Recognize What Your Arguments Do to Your Children.
No child likes to see his or her parents fight. When you argue about what to do with your kids, you create a troubling environment for them, which could have serious long-tem effects. Fighting with your spouse shifts the focus away from your child — and how they can learn to stop misbehaving — and on to a “parent versus parent” situation.
Negotiate a Plan in Calm Waters.
Sit down with your spouse and try to agree on ways to discipline at a time when nothing is wrong. When you discuss things calmly, you’re more likely to come up with a plan you can both stick to. This will allow you to talk about what’s best for your child, and not “who’s right.”
Present a Unified Front.
Kids understand when their parents feel differently about disciplining, no matter what their age. Children will often get away with misbehaving simply by creating an argument between you and your spouse — and this not only lets them off the hook, it creates a problem between the parents. Make sure that your child sees both parents following the same guidelines, no matter what the scenario. Once your kids start receiving the same treatment from both parents, they'll stop using your disagreements as a way to avoid punishment.