Divorced Parents Disciplining Children

Question: My husband and I are divorced and my kid is 5-years old. My ex-husband and I aren’t on the same page in terms of disciplining our child. How should I manage that side of it myself when it’s so different from the way my husband does it?



MOM:  One of the basic understandings that takes a little while when people get divorced is is that you only have control over your own household. And that as much as you want to tell an ex-spouse what she or he ought to do with your children, you don’t really have a right to do that unless there’s something major or a horrible thing going on. It’s good to discuss with your former spouse what you’re doing, and that can be in the form of email or phone messages or direct contact, depending on which kind of communication works best. That’s something people will figure that out as you go along. Probably the worst way to do it is on the phone.

MOLLY: You mean you should do it in person – over coffee or go to lunch? Face to face?

MOM: No. You shouldn’t do it over the phone or in person. People hear tonal qualities in the other person and they begin to feel very defensive. And then they can’t really hear what the person is saying.

MOLLY: So how should you talk about these things with your ex?

MOM: You should do it by email or in some sort of written form because that takes all the tonal message out of it. Unless you have a minimum of conflict between the two of you than you can do it over the phone.

I would not advise doing it in person unless the two of you are good friends. The less direct the contact, the probably the better in the early stages. You can do whatever you want if you don’t have conflict, but the conflict is the major issue. And nothing's worse for children than conflict between their parents. That’s the main stress for children of divorced couples.

MOLLY: So, essentially, you want to write down how you feel about your discipline mantras or your rules?

Read the rest of this conversation and Dr. Susan Rutherford's expert advice at Conversations With My Mother.com


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