Parenting decisions are often made in the heat of the moment. Kids are fighting, misbehaving, getting on your last nerve, or asking for something so often that you're ready to cave in to any demands short of buying her a sports car.
It's at these times that we have to stop, breathe, and consider our words. Otherwise, you might make a choice that undermines a parenting foundation created by you and your spouse. There's another common scenario — one parent chooses to punish a child for misbehaving but the other parent steps in and decides that the punishment is too severe and lets the child off the hook.
Both of these scenarios can drive a wedge between parents when it comes to disciplining your children and children will learn to exploit the situation to their advantage. For instance, when your son wants something he'll learn to ask the "easier" parent who often gives in.
Here are some ideas on ways to avoid undermining your spouse and providing a united front.
1. Keep your mouth shut.
If your spouse decides to punish your child for something, don't get in the middle. You should only speak up to support the other parent's decision.
2. Discuss before making a pronouncement.
If the situation is intense, take a step back and consult with your spouse about the best way to handle your child. If grounding them seems too extreme, maybe you need another plan of attack. As they say, two heads are better than one.
3. Talk ahead of time.
There are big choices to be made — can your child spend the night at a friend's house? Can he go to the movies with the new kid at school? You and your spouse should have an idea of where each other stands when these types of questions arise. If you don't, start opening the lines of communication.
4. Be firm.
If you and your spouse make a decision, don't back down. Your child might come to you later and try to unwind the decision with begging and tears, but be strong. You and your spouse made a choice. Stand by it.
5. Explain to your child.
If you and your spouse don't see eye to eye on how to handle the situation and your child is old enough, take the time to talk to her about the differing viewpoints. Explain to her how each of you feels and where you're coming from. A consensus might be reached through honest reflection and discussion.
6. Think before you speak.
A lot of times when things get heated and out of control, we lose our temper. That causes us to say things we later regret. In that moment, before you ground your child for the next six months, think. What punishment is appropriate for this transgression? What discipline will send the right message?
7. Consider your spouse's position.
You know your wife or husband. You've dealt with challenging situations before. If you're handling the situation by yourself think, What would they do if faced with this scenario? Try to put yourself in their shoes and it might give you guidance on how to proceed.
8. Review afterwards.
Once things have calmed, discuss with your spouse how the situation was handled. Be open and fair with each other and you might help you avoid undermining each other in the future.