Parenting Together?


Two Approaches to Parenting?

Is it possible for two parents who have very different approaches to child-rearing to find a meeting of the minds? The answer is an unqualified “yes.” In my marriage we discovered that I tended to be the quiet, calm, “let’s talk about it” parent, while my wife Karolyn tended to be a “take action now” kind of parent. It took us a while to realize what was happening, analyze our patterns, and admit to each other our basic tendencies. When this was done, we began to concentrate on the question: “What is best for our children?”

Using Love, Words, & Actions

No pattern of teaching and training will be highly effective if the child does not feel loved by the parents. Love really does cover a multitude of sins.

The two wheels upon which the chariot of parenting rolls are teaching and training–using words and actions to communicate to the child. It is not uncommon that one parent will emphasize words and the other actions. One will want to talk the child into obedience, while the other will simply make the child obey. When taken to the extreme, this can lead to verbal abuse on the part of one and physical abuse on the part of the other.

The better approach is to bring words and actions together. Tell the child exactly what is expected and what the results will be if they disobey. Then if they do not obey, kindly but firmly apply the consequences. When you are consistent, your child will learn obedience. Of course, all of this works best when the child feels loved by both parents. Parenting is a team sport.

Agreeing on Principles of Discipline

Mature parents are always seeking to learn. Administering discipline is a point where many couples have disagreement. Talking about and agreeing upon some principles for discipline can be helpful. For example, how about agreeing that all discipline should be done in love, and the word love should always be used while administering the discipline. Love and consistent discipline, accompanied with information, is the road to responsible parenting and a growing marriage. You owe it to yourselves to be teammates in parenting.

I want to conclude our week with two principles of discipline. The first is that positive discipline must always seek to explain. Tongue lashing does not correct behavior.

The second principle is that we deal only with the matter at hand. Don’t bring up past failures. Make room for your child’s humanity. Agree on the principles and you can be teammates in parenting.