When my husband and I first had children, we would disagree on disciplinary actions. I felt he was too hard on our son; therefore, I was too lenient because I needed to balance out my husband’s harshness. The problem was that we were both wrong.
One of the most pressing issues in marriage during the child rearing stage is the issue of disciplining children. When we have opposing views, there are bound to be areas of contention and arguments.
Over the years, my husband and I have learned to become better teammates in this vital area of our marriage. While there is much to be said about this topic, I want to give you my top five tips.
1. Remember, you and your spouse both were raised differently. Therefore, styles will be different. Some are raised in a lax environment and some are raised by abusive parents. Others are raised in a loving, healthy environment. When you understand how your spouse was raised, you can relate to your spouse better.
2. Don’t rely on what either of your parents did. They could both be wrong. Instead, find a style that you can both agree on. To help you, I recommend Kevin Leman’s book, “Have a New Kid by Friday.”
This book is an easy read consisting mostly of real time ways to handle behavior. Simply read the six chapters. The rest is a topical index dealing with everything from bedwetting to driving a car.
3. Balance and consistency are key. We don’t want to be too hard or too easy. With that being said, sometimes new discipline styles can take time to be effective. If, after a of couple weeks, there is no improvement in behavior, rethink your disciplinary measures.
4. Accidents should never be punished. Rebellion should always be punished. Do not punish your children for spilling the milk or genuinely forgetting something. You and I have accidentally spilled and forgotten things.
However, if you have specifically told your children not to go to someone’s house and they do, that is rebellion. Perhaps you have grounded them from video games but they play anyway. This is also rebellion.
5. Finally, do not disagree with your spouse’s discipline in front of your child. Rather, express your feelings behind closed doors and out of your child’s earshot. Remember you and your spouse are a team. Do not allow the children to play you against each other. For effective discipline, there must be unity. You both have the same goal of raising healthy and productive children into healthy and productive adults. When we remember our goals are the same, we will view ourself as one team.
Even with these five tips, there are still times of contention and unresolved issues. If you find yourself in such a predicament, I encourage you to seek a third party for assistance. There are several good resources in this area.
The one I’m most familiar with is Grace Christian Center in Killeen. They offer free classes on disciplining your children and guidance for marriage/family issues.
My husband, Jeff, has his master’s degree in Marriage and Family Counseling and can help you navigate the murky waters of child rearing.
You can be successful in this area of your marriage.
Until next time, think teamwork!
Kindra Warner is a marriage group facilitator at Grace Christian Center in Killeen and a Herald correspondent.