Consistent Discipline Can be Difficult After Divorce

Young girl looking at playhouse
You can’t control how your ex disciplines your kids after divorce!

Divorced parents face a number of challenges. Co-parenting after divorce means that you’re still sharing the parenting duties with your children’s other parent. However, because you’re no longer in a relationship together, you don’t have any influence over how they parent your kids. For sure, that can be very frustrating, especially when you don’t agree with their parenting choices. Seriously, even when you were together, you sometimes disagreed with their parenting decisions. Now that the two of you have split, things get even tougher for the parents and for the kids.

Discipline is one of the biggest ‘sticking points’ for divorced parents.

This is particularly true when it comes to the issue of discipline. The term ‘discipline’ comes from the Latin word ‘discipulus’, which means to teach, or instruct. Interestingly, it’s the same root word we draw ‘disciple’ from, which means someone who learns, or is taught. In essence, to discipline a child means to teach them. And ideally, what you’re teaching them is how to make the right choice, or behave the right way, next time they’re in that situation.

There are many different ways to discipline a child, and not everyone agrees on which ones are the right ones. Every parent has to figure out what they believe is right for their child.

  • Spanking,
  • Taking away privileges,
  • Time out,
  • Grounding,
  • Additional chores (usually really gross ones),
  • Taking away beloved items (yes, including their cell phone and tablet)

Being on the same page with the other parent can be a major challenge!

How do you get your ex to agree with you on what’s correct and effective, and what’s abusive and cruel? The truth is, you can’t. If your ex is using punishments that you believe are truly abusive, or put your child’s health at risk, we recommend that you speak with them about your concerns. If you can’t reason with them, try parenting counseling. However, if there is danger to the child, promptly contact the relevant authorities to report that. However, be careful about making reports to the authorities. The police, CPS, lawyers and judges are used to parents that make frequent and/or needless reports. Do not involve the authorities unless there is a truly urgent situation.

In most cases, however, co-parents who disagree on discipline methods, tend to disagree on what they believe is most effective for the specific child in question. For example, grounding or taking away screen time is more effective for teenagers, while time outs and removing beloved items tends to work better on younger children. But divorced parents often struggle to agree on what works best, the severity of the punishment, and how consistently it’s applied.

If the situation is causing major disruption, get help!

If you and your ex can’t come to terms on what methods of discipline are best for your children, you may want to consider getting professional help. Talking to a counselor may provide insights into what’s most effective. Also, getting a third party involved can sometimes take the pressure off you. Many parents will take advice from professionals that they wouldn’t otherwise accept from peers. Recommending that your ex discuss their concerns with your child’s therapist may be more impactful than telling them what you think is best.

Also, how you share information can be more important than what you share! Try sharing your positive experiences with your ex in a neutral and non-accusatory way. Telling them that you’ve had great results with Johnny’s attitude by enforcing a no screen time policy after rudeness may help them realize there are effective alternatives to what they’re doing. In addition, by sharing it as your experience, and not as you telling them what to do, they may be more receptive to the information.

Parenting time concerns are best handled by a skilled family lawyer.

Our experienced family law attorneys at The Kronzek Firm have decades of experience helping parents with parenting time orders. Whether you’re trying to set up a first time custody and parenting time agreement, or modifying an existing visitation or custody order, we can help you. Come into our conveniently located Farmington Hills office and let’s talk about your custody issues. We’ll decide together if we’re a good fit to work together, and what your best options are. Call us today at (248) 479-6200. We can schedule after hours and weekend appointments when necessary.