Co-Parenting Challenge: Divorce and Discipline
Discipline has never been by strong point. When it comes to my son, dieting, finances—I have such good intentions and then well as they say, I fall of the wagon and revert to being a marshmallow mom, eating cupcakes, and using my credit card.
Parenting is a tough job, the hardest one I have ever had but making discipline a priority is definitely on my list of things I could do better.
To make matters even more difficult I am not the only one in the picture; my son’s father also wants to play a role in disciplinary actions. We don’t live in the same home, in fact my son only sees his dad for a few hours once a week.
How can I be the mom and the dad in the discipline department? Should his dad be more involved? These are questions I ask myself everyday and as my son approaches the age of nine my job becomes increasingly more difficult.
Here’s what I’ve learned:
Raising my voice is counterproductive. I have been told by my ex that I am a screamer; when my son is acting up, I yell. I attribute this to the fact that I spend more time caring for him than he does, and sometimes it's stressful and I lose my cool. To get him to stop whatever bad behavior he is exhibiting, I often threaten, "I’m going to call your dad." That is definitely not fair to him, but sometimes I just don’t know what else to do. I am working on using punishment instead of yelling and threatening; I dole out the punishment no TV, DS, or friends over and my ex has agreed to support the punishment at his house.
Stay out of it. Interfering in the other parents discipline leads to mixed messages. This includes sticking with the punishment. No TV, no video games, and no friends over must all be carried out to completion. I have been known to say, ok you can watch TV now; this totally defeats the discipline either my ex or I have doled out and my son knows he can get away with it, because the punishments don't really stick.
Admit defeat. This is hard for me to say but, "I am not always right." There I said it. I know that there are better ways to discipline my son and learning to do them has been difficult for me, but well worth it. My methods were obviously not working and stressing me, and my son out. So I have taken the first step by admitting I was wrong, and the second, by learning new ways to manage discipline.
Choose your battles. Does wiping your face on your shirt instead of a napkin (my son does this all the time) merit the same reaction and punishment, as say back talk? In my opinion no. There are certain things that rules definitely apply to, and others you can learn to overlook. My motto is, "If he is endangering himself, others, or being disrespectful, punishment is warranted. If he wants to wear a striped shirt with plaid pants, or eat lollipops before dinner, have at it." In the grand scheme of things does it really matter?
Communicate. Not always easy to do in the heat of a disciplinary moment; so try to establish your thoughts and opinions on the matter beforehand. Explain how you both feel about discipline and how you want it to be handled. Then when the time comes you can execute your plan and regain control.
We are not there yet when it comes to a structured discipline plan, but we are not ready to call Super Nanny for help, so I think we are doing ok.
Please share your co-parenting discipline stories and ideas in the comments. Keep in mind, if you can learn to discipline your kids, exercising discipline with your finances will be a piece of cake!