Good parent, bad parent: Co-parenting and discipline

When your kids get in trouble, you have to realize the decisions your children make have nothing to do with how you handled your divorce. The important thing is making sure you and your co-parenting partner work together to build a strategy for consistency in disciplining children.

To build that strategy you will need to open a dialogue about methods of parenting, your unique styles and how they can work together. It might help to look at planning this discussion from a psychological standpoint. Here are a few tips to help you build a strategy with your ex:

A psychological approach to the conversation

According to Psychology Today, co-parents are best served by two problem-solving methods:

  • Strategic problem solving: This looks at leaving the emotional discussions behind in favor of handling the facts at hand in regards to discipline. Using a strategy like this when building a co-parenting plan is transactional, but effective in getting both of you on the same page at least on concrete actionable problems with your child.
  • Social-emotional problem solving: This focuses on the underlying issues of your interactions; you will discuss why you and your ex’s reactions to certain situations differ. It seeks to build an empathetic understanding. It’s a harder conversation to have, but it allows both sides to be able to anticipate the other’s needs in handling discipline.

Whichever strategy you go with you will want to have consistency in applying rules to your child. You don’t want to play the bad guy all the time and you don’t want to be the lax parent. Your relationship with your child will be stronger if you and your ex can be a united front in helping correct your child’s behavioral issues.

Your kids’ problems are not your fault

Kids have their own internal lives which, as a parent, can feel alienating, but keep in mind you are still responsible for them. Yes, they may not follow rules or have the same view of situations as you do, but you have to ensure that when they break the rules there are consequences. Do not blame yourself or your ex for your child’s mistakes. Do not let guilt keep you holding your children accountable.

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