It May Work On TV, But This Disciplinary Approach Can Be Disastrous 

One of the most important factors in having a strong marriage is compromise, and this is especially important once children come along.

While it’s ideal to discuss how you will raise your children before marriage, many parents find that it’s tough to agree on handling discipline as the family grows.

And when parents have differing views on this, it can cause major problems down the road.

There’s one word we use over and over again when it comes to raising kids – consistency.

But when one parent is the firm disciplinarian and the other is less apt to step in, it creates conflict — not just between parents, but also within the child.

It’s kind of like the old detective shows, going into a situation where one parent is the “good cop” and the other is the “bad cop.”

Traditionally, the “bad cop” was Dad.  We all remember hearing, “You just wait until your father gets home!”  

But this lack of agreement in how to discipline creates a type of broken system – one that kids learn all-too-well how to navigate to their advantage as they get older.  

While it may have worked on TV, it sets families up for failure.

Sure, there are a lot of reasons we fall into these unhealthy parenting roles.  Each parent has a different personality and approach.  

One parent may be at home all day and, quite honestly, have no more energy for consistency in discipline as the day wears on.  

The parent who works outside the home may become weary of coming home to deal with the disciplinary action that’s left all to them.

“Good cop, bad cop” parenting confuses kids.  They’re not sure of the consequences because each parent disciplines differently.  It teaches kids they can’t count on a certain outcome for their behavior – it all goes back to consistency.

Parents must be viewed as a team.  The rules are the same, no matter which parent the kids are with at the time.  

The consequences are the same, as well.  Their views are united, whether both parents are present or not – and the kids know it.

Taking on these divided roles is also unhealthy for the marriage.  When one parent always has to play the “bad cop,” they may find their kids don’t have the same bond with them as the “good cop” parent.

They may even be fearful of the parent who is always put in the role of the firm disciplinarian, and this will almost certainly lead to resentment on the part of the parent who is the “bad cop.”

This creates tension between the couple, which can only lead to more confusion and anxiety for the kids.

In addition to consistency, providing a sense of security is one of the most important jobs we have as parents.  

Our kids need to know they can count on us for the same responses and outcomes in any situation – something that doesn’t happen when parents have widely varying disciplinary styles.

The bottom line is, both parents must present a strong and untied front in all things.  Ideally, these things should be discussed before kids come along – but that’s not often the case as the reality of parenting sets in.

Sit down and discuss your ideas about discipline together.  Discuss where you disagree and find a happy medium.  

Do this for each child, because each child will provide unique challenges for their unique personalities.

It may be easier said than done, but compromise is always important.

And, yes, things will change as the kids get older.  Your approach may have to change, especially during the teen years.

There may be very serious issues that you never thought you’d encounter (teenage drug or alcohol use, for example).  You may feel that you can never come to a united decision on how to handle those tough issues.

But by providing the same united, consistent front in all disciplinary decisions – no matter how large or small – you’re going to show your kids they can come to you with anything, and they’ll know what to expect.

Your kids, your marriage, and the entire family unit will be stronger for it.

How do you present a united front in regard to disciplining your children?  Leave us your tips!

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