All parents disagree with one another at least occasionally on how to best discipline their children. When parents are separated or divorced, those disagreements can be exacerbated by their negative feelings about each other as well as the fact that they’re each essentially single parents in separate households.
When divorced parents can’t agree on how to discipline their kids, those children can become confused and frustrated. They may take advantage of their parents’ disagreements to play one against the other to get what they want.
Divorced parents too often compete for their children’s affection by trying to be the “fun” parent or have the “fun” house. Even parents who only have custody of their kids on the weekend should have and enforce rules. They sometimes let their children get away with too much because they feel guilty about breaking up the family.
Let’s look at some other mistakes that divorced parents often make when it comes to discipline:
Not being honest with your co-parent about your discipline challenges: It doesn’t help your child to make your co-parent believe that they’re a perfect angel at your house and only misbehaving at your co-parent’s home. If there are behavioral issues, it’s best to work on them together.
Not having consistent rules: Even though the two of you may have different parenting styles, it’s important to have consistency across your household on rules and expectations – at least on the big things, like homework, not talking back to adults, practicing piano (or other extracurricular activity) and curfews.
The more closely you and your co-parent can work together to set and enforce rules for your kids, the more secure they’ll feel that their parents are putting aside their differences to continue to care for them. However, if you believe that you need to include some of these rules in your parenting plan to help ensure that your co-parent enforces them, talk with your attorney about how to go about doing that.