Welcome to KID-EASE, a caring advice column to help make your life easier as a coParent in dealing with the ups and downs of raising your child/ren in today’s family and world.
Dear KID-EASE: What does one do when the step-parent and the biological parent have very different parenting views on discipline? Like the step-parent “spanks” or “clips” the child? Or gets in their face and yells – literally bends down into their faces and yells? Breaks favorite toys as a form of punishment? And the step-parent and the biological parent have had numerous discussions about it, but it continues to happen?
KID-EASE: Hi and welcome to KID-EASE and thank you for writing to ask this critical question. For all children, whether in any variety of family structure, the rule of thumb for a child to be safe and secure is to have CONSISTENCY in most every aspect of parenting. This is not implying perfection and should allow for a unique personalities of the parents to be included within the consistent routines.
Specifically (since this is your situation) in coParenting families (as in intact families) the goal is ALWAYS to work together as a team of parents/step-parents to discuss and implement consistent discipline, routines (such as bedtimes), chores, safety, sibling issues and the like.
From what you have written, is seems as if you and the step-parent have divergent views on discipline. You have made strong efforts to achieve consistency by having numerous discussions between yourself and the step parent..sadly with no resolution.
The discipline methodology you mentioned such as: “spanking, yelling in the child’s face, breaking favorite toys” is counter to any appropriate means of a safe and protective environment that teaches the child to accept responsibility for his/her behavior and to give appropriate natural or logical consequence. The consequences given in this situation and neither natural, logical, instructive or safe. I am concerned for the welfare of the child/ren who may be frightened by inappropriate methods of helping a child to understand cause and effect. Spanking, yelling, breaking toys are unacceptable parenting behaviors.
Since you have attempted to have numerous discussions and they have not been productive in achieving consistency, I suggest that you meet together with a child therapist to work with you both on age appropriate/consistent limit setting and creating mutual consequences for limit breaking. All parents involved, including fathers, should be part of this therapeutic intervention.
I hope that my advice helped to guide you toward a positive resolution.
Dr. Judith Bin-Nun Ph.D, LMFT, LPCC
KID-EASE Column Contributor for coParenter
Judith Bin-Nun is delighted to share her expertise with coParents of pre-school and school age children; teens and families who have questions. You may e-mail questions to the writer, Dr. Judith Bin-Nun at firstname.lastname@example.org
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