ID-10065958-David Castillo Dominici

Co-Parenting Differences In Discipline

November 5th, 2013

In my professional and personal experience, I have never met two co-parents who agreed 100% on discipline.

It is very common for co-parents to disagree on discipline. One factor is the influence of each parent’s family of origin on their discipline style, how they were disciplined when they were a child. The second factor is gender difference.

Modeling is a powerful determinant for your natural parenting discipline style.  It takes a great deal of thought, self-examination and self-exploration to try to change the patterns of discipline that were laid down for us during our own childhood. If our parents yelled at us or spanked us, it is often difficult for us not to yell or spank.  And each parent brings a different set of their own mother’s and father’s discipline styles to the disciplining of their own child. When we are speaking about discipline situations in a family, very often it is not just the two co-parents that are involved: there may be six adults present in the discipline mix—the two co-parents and their own parents (and possibly more if stepparents or grandparents are included). It is no wonder that two parents rarely agree completely on how to discipline their child.

There can also be gender factors involved in discipline issues. Sometimes mothers tend to take the nurturing and compassionate approach to discipline and fathers tend to take the school of hard knocks approach to discipline. Sometimes the roles reverse, but these two stances are often present in co-parents and this difference can cause conflict. Having these co-parenting differences can be a positive in raising your child, as long as these differences don’t become polarized and more extreme. 

In raising my own children, I was the disciplinarian and I often felt like “The Wicked Witch of the West.” Their father, on the other hand, had the role of “Sugar Daddy.” (I had authoritarian parents and he had permissive parents.) This sometimes led to co-parenting conflicts that required much discussion (out of the children’s earshot).

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