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When Parents Disagree on Discipline

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Remember the black and white TV shows that had dads who were disciplinarians and moms who sat by agreeing that he knew best? Life isn’t that black and white anymore. My husband and I usually agree but recently struggled to see eye-to-eye on one of our kids’ behavior. I wanted to take a gentle approach to handling the situation, which involved other kids and parents. My husband wanted to handle it firmly and immediately. When parents disagree on discipline, it makes a difficult situation worse. But we knew we needed to get on the same page first and be a united front.

If I argue about discipline with my spouse in front of my child, it feels like we are both losing authority. So how can you handle this kind of disagreement and still effectively teach your child in the process? Check out these 4 rules to live by.

1. Never disagree about discipline in front of the kids.

Make an agreement never to disagree about discipline when the child is present. This means you’re going to have to hold your tongue now and again. Once the disciplining is finished, talk to your husband alone. Explain why you disagree with his choice. Don’t let your emotions get the better of you, but discuss in a calm, respectful tone. And if one of you has to go back to your child and redo the discipline, that’s OK. Your children need to see a united front.

2. Listen to your husband’s reasoning.

Perhaps you’re coming into the scene at halftime. So you’re playing catch-up while your husband is doling out the discipline. Always allow him to explain his rationale for choosing that type of discipline. If you weren’t there to witness the incident, then you may be missing key information that validates the discipline given. Respect your spouse’s reasoning, even if you don’t agree with it. There are ways to disagree respectfully with your husband without starting World War III.

3. Be willing to compromise.

The thought of going back and redoing a discipline may seem counterproductive. But sometimes, we can be too hasty and our spouse’s perspective might be correct. It’s important to consider whether the other parent is right. If the answer is yes, be open to compromising your discipline tactic. And if it means you have to redo or modify a discipline, that’s OK, too. It teaches the kids that everyone makes mistakes and how to handle those mistakes in a mature, loving way.

4. Never let the discipline come between you and your husband.

When we disagree on discipline, we must refuse to let it come between us. Ask yourself if being the “winner” in the argument is more important than your marriage. Don’t be so stubborn in your need to win that you let your marriage be harmed. This can be incredibly difficult to think through when you’re in the middle of a disagreement, but keep the big picture in mind. Don’t forget— when it comes to discipline you and your husband are on the same team.

How do you handle discipline disagreements with your spouse?


When you disagree with someone, how should you handle it?

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