Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

THE Number One Tip For Parents!

I've been a parent for nearly thirty-five years and have counseled hundreds, if not thousands, of parents over the years. I've also read books, attended seminars and listened to people who have far more expertise than me. My wife and I have done quite a few things right and certainly made our share of mistakes.

But I know this: there is one rule for parents that supercedes them all. If you aren't all in on this one any other methodology is doomed to numerous points of failure. You want to know what it is, right?

Here you go: MOM AND DAD MUST BE ON THE SAME PAGE!  Yes, you may have different personalities, tones of voice and personal styles but the principle is still true. You as a couple must BOTH hold to the values, parameters and practices set up in the home or your discipline is doomed. (And I'll give the single parent version of this in a minute, so read on.)

Nothing confuses a child and leads to their trying to ultimately play one parent against another more than one parents standards being different than the other. Kids subtly learn to go back and forth to find who's offering the best deal. Or they figure out that one parent is softer than the other so they always check with them last!  In addition the parent who is trying to hold to the predetermined rules feels disrespected and undermined when the other caves in.

Kids need to learn early on that mom and dad basically say the same thing when it comes to discipline.  Of course, sometimes you are apart. What do you do?  Try this.  When a child comes to you with a request that you know needs to be confirmed or run by your spouse who is not right there you say: You know, if you need an answer now, the answer is no.  If you can wait for twenty minutes (or whatever time you need), the answer is maybe.

This gives you time to check in with your spouse and agree upon the next step. Your kids will learn that this is how things are done. If you're both there but caught on the spot needing to make a quick decision, take a time out. Tell the kids dad and mom need to talk first and then you'll decide.  The operative phrase there is:  We'll decide. 

And no giving free passes or reduced expectations without conferring with your spouse. Trust me.  While you still will have your battles, they will be less dramatic and challenging when your kids know the two of you will agree.

And if you're a single parent?  Then your version of this principle is simple too: be consistent. You have to be on the same page with yourself. You can't hold one standard one day and then totally change it the next. Of course there can be an exception or grace now and then but consistency must be the norm.

If you've not been doing any of this, start now. It may take a little doing but the benefits will be well worth taking on the challenge.

Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

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