Mom and Dad Approach Discipline Differently

How can my husband and I get on the same page when it comes to child discipline? The classic differences between the distinctively male and female styles of child discipline - i.e., the dad who stresses rules and the mom who tries to understand and make appropriate allowances - are all too evident in our family. This has caused problems for my husband and me. He says that my tendency to extend grace and take circumstances into account is just "sentimental." As he sees it, our kids won't be prepared for life in the "real world" if we don't take a "firm hand" with them. How can we work together and learn to see the benefits of each other's approach?

Many parents struggle with this issue. Most of us naturally see our way as the right way. Every husband and wife must realize that both the mom way of parenting and the dad way of parenting are God-given gifts. By working together, you can arrive at the healthy and proper balance your children need. This is how God wired the parenting partnership.

Mothers and fathers both need to recognize the need for balance. The goal is to temper each other. If you have trouble with this, it might be a good idea to get some advice from family members or friends who have faced the same dilemma. Just make sure that your input comes from couples whom both of you trust and respect. If you don’t, you may be tempted to “choose sides” and end up with an unnecessary conflict on your hands.

The fact of the matter is that kids need both a mother’s and a father’s input. Dad takes an objective approach and provides his children with much needed instruction in the area of moral absolutes and the consequences of right and wrong actions. Mom, on the other hand, emphasizes compassion, empathy, relationship and the importance of appreciating the uniqueness of every individual. It’s important for youngsters to grow up under both of these influences.

We should add that you and your husband need to resolve this conflict for your own sakes as well as for your children. When you have differences of opinion concerning discipline or about things your kids should or should not be allowed to do, take some time to discuss your concerns and give reasons for your respective convictions. Be open to the possibility that your mate may have something to teach you in this area. Your assignment is to respect one another and work in tandem to complement each other in the application of discipline and correction.

If you’d like to talk about these ideas at greater length with a member of our staff, feel free to call Focus on the Family’s Counseling department. They offer this service free of charge, and they’d be pleased to assist you in any way they can.


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