“I recently went back to school and my husband stepped into my afternoon roles. Although we had a good routine that my husband tries to follow, my kids are begging me to quit school because my husband threatens to spank them every day if they don’t follow suit. I’ve tried to talk to him about different approaches that work for our kids, and the possible consequences of spanking, but I get shut down. His response is always that he has a different style that works too. I can see it’s affecting my kids. I’ve recommended books, podcasts, videos, etc. How do I reach him? What should I do?”
Our community responded with a few common themes:
Communicate effectively and empathetically: “Ask him about what he wants out of his relationships with your children and discuss what discipline methods would best achieve those goals. Usually spanking wouldn’t be as effective or maintain as happy relationships.”
“It’s fine to have different parenting styles in terms of how to celebrate birthdays, how to clean the kitchen together, or how to express love to a child, etc. but using spanking as a regular form of discipline is an issue that both parents need to agree on. Help your husband think about how he wants his kids to feel about him and what he wants them to be motivated by: fear or respect? Work “games” with rewards and praise from parents are way better motivators than fear and spanking.”
“I think a common misconception is that more positive strategies are hard to execute and too soft. But in reality, they support firm boundaries and try to get kids to want to behave because they respect their parents. And the kids respect their parents because their parents show them respect.”
Include kids: “Talk with your kids to see why they’re no longer following the routine. Often my kids are more obedient with me because I’m around more, and they know that I have very clear expectations. But they will try to push their dad to see how much they can get away with.”
“Perhaps a way of getting through to him is having it come from the kids. In a moment not associated with a tense situation, like at bedtime, you can ask them to share with their dad their hurt feelings.” Have kids “talk to him and make a plan. That may not work, but it’s healthier for all if they solve the problem together.”
Acknowledge change can be hard: “It’s normal for the kids to want you back in the afternoon and for there to be growing pains with new family situations. That doesn’t mean his management style is all good, but I think some of what’s happening would probably happen anyway. You shouldn’t feel guilty or feel like you have to fix everything. I’m sure that he will learn a lot from on-the-job training.”
“Influence things by coming up with some fun activities for them to do that would be easy for them to not get in trouble and creating an earning chart or something for them to help with obedience.”
“Don’t give up on your dreams, but also remember there’s more than one way to do things. Just because it isn’t exactly how you would do it, doesn’t mean it’s wrong. It’s just different. Be open to other options. Kids need a healthy balance of strict and leniency.”
Navigating differences in discipline styles is a tricky topic that many parents face. People also have strong feelings regarding spanking because of their own personal experiences with it as children.
QUESTION: Do you have any additional suggestions? Please comment below.
Image from Pixabay; graphics by Anna Jenkins.