I’m the mom of two girls, 9 and 11. Since I end up spending more time with our daughters, I am often the one who doles out a consequence—often at the spur of the moment—without input from my husband. There have been times when my decision was too harsh, and my husband, who tends to be more lenient, thought I overreacted. When that happens, I go back to my daughter and work out a different consequence—one we all can feel good about. I think that sends a message that we parents aren’t infallible, and that coming up with a fair outcome sometimes takes time.
C.R., San Antonio, Texas
My husband leaves all the discipline to me (he’s much too soft-hearted), and usually doesn’t interfere with my decisions. One time, though, I was a bit harsh with a punishment with our 13-year-old daughter because I was angry. My husband approached me privately and told me so, and I agreed with him. Then I talked with my daughter alone (so she wouldn’t think her father had undermined me) and admitted to her that I had overreacted. We agreed on an adjusted punishment that was more appropriate, and she was none the wiser about her dad going to bat for her.
T.B., Cape Girardeau, Missouri
By Linda Ashford, Ph.D.
Imagine this scenario: Your daughter comes home 10 minutes past curfew. You want to ground her for the entire weekend, but that sounds too harsh to your spouse. What should you do? This is a dilemma many of us face as we navigate our daughter’s adolescence. What is a fair consequence, and what if you don’t agree? Try these ideas if you have differing discipline styles:
Present a united front. It’s normal for parents to have different natural tendencies; one is usually more lenient and the other more strict. Do talk with your daughter about your particular parenting style, but make sure she knows you are a team.
Plan ahead. Take time to discuss your parenting philosophies with your partner. Compare ideas about limits, consequences, and monitoring. Talk out hypothetical situations ahead of time so you won’t be caught unprepared. For example, what’s your rule about having boys over when you aren’t home?
Talk privately. If your partner imposes a punishment that seems too strict, work out a compromise privately rather than in front of your daughter.
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