Being on The Same Page

By Sarah Fader

When you have two people telling you what to do all the time, as Ari does, life can be confusing. In addition to having different personalities, Wil and I also have different parenting styles.

I try to be consistent with discipline, particularly time-outs. Yesterday, Ari decided that he didn’t want to clean up his toy cars. I put him in time-out and he still did not want to do it. He was in time-out three times in a row before he actually did what I asked him to do.

It took every ounce of energy I had not to give up and clean the cars up myself.

Wil, on the other hand, does do time-outs with Ari, but he also gets frustrated and just cleans up Ari’s mess because a) he doesn’t want the house to be a wreck, which is fair enough and b) he is annoyed that Ari won’t do what he’s asking him to do.

I’m not always consistent either, sometimes, I’m too tired to deal with the screaming and the whining and I end up cleaning up after Ari out of sheer frustration.

However, I think it’s important for Wil and I to be on the same page with discipline. I want Ari to be able to have a predictable response when he acts up. But is this even possible? I remember as a child, if my dad said “no” to something, immediately, the next step was to ask my mom. I knew that I could divide them.

I’m afraid that Ari will learn to do the same.

How do you, as parents, stay on the same page?

Sarah Fader records anecdotes from her daily life at at Old School New School Mom. She also currently runs blog workshops for elementary school children in New York City and provides freelance transcription services for major television networks, in between running after a two year old.

15 Responses to Being on The Same Page
  1. Christie
    December 8, 2010 | 7:04 pm

    In terms of the bigger issues, my husband and I are on the same page; respect and kindness and hard work are high on both of our lists. But on the day-to-day issues that crop up along the way, there can be inconsistencies. We’re human and we’re different people and I think as kids grow older they become more able to grasp that — even for their own benefit sometimes! 🙂

    Ultimately, though, my husband and I respect each others’ decisions, even if they’re different from the way we might have handled the situation at hand. We back each other up when it involves the kids and they know that and I think that is where our consistency lies.

  2. edj
    December 8, 2010 | 9:03 pm

    We have an argreement. If I say no to something and the kid asks Donn and he says yes (or vice versa), and we catch them at it, the kid automatically gets in trouble and doesn’t get whatever it was. We are determined to present a unified front. Sure, sometimes we slip, but the kids know they can’t play us off each other.

  3. Shiree
    December 9, 2010 | 2:27 am

    Communication! Communication! Communication! My hubby and I don’t always agree on the same course of discipline but we have an agreement that we don’t correct each other in front of the kids. If I disagree with the way he handles something (or vice versa) we talk about by ourselves. And we make a point to talk about our parenting often. Being honest with each other and with our children is important. If I make a mistake and don’t back my husband up I apologize to him and the kids. I think in a way it gives our children a sense of security.

    But we all do make mistakes, forget, or just don’t want to deal with the noise. A wise friend (who has raised six children by herself for the last 15 years due to her husbands death) just told me that she doesn’t feel guilty for the choices she made as a parent. She knows that in everything she did she had her children’s best interest in mind. She knows she made mistakes, but it was the best she knew how to do at the time. How refreshing!

  4. melissa aka equidae
    December 9, 2010 | 3:03 am

    we too are not always on the same parenting styles but as the others said most of the time we back up each other. As for clean up, I found a more efective way than time outs- if he doesn’t pick them up and I have to do it or say he throws them around etc I pick them up but he can’t play with them for the rest of the week. Of course put them were he sees them and when he asks for them tell him sorry you can’t coz so and so happened on … cause and effect seem more reliable and now he doesnt do it so often

  5. Anitra
    December 9, 2010 | 8:35 am

    Yeah, it comes down to communication and consistency (if you always treat certain behavior the same way, your partner will know what to expect).

    As far as the toy clean-up, as long as you both discipline Ari in the same way about it, it’s probably not a big deal if one of you gives in and cleans up the toys yourselves.

    Also, as kids get older, you involve them in the process of consistency. ie. “What did your father say?” or “Let’s ask dad what he thinks.” That stops kids from going behind a parent’s back pretty quickly.

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