If our country started out talking about being united as the United States of America and not the Divided States or the Independent, Solo, I'll Do It My Way States of America; the same is true in parenting. Parents you have to come together when it comes to this thing called parenting. I am talking about when parents think the punishment or the discipline that the child needs causes the parents to be opposed to each other; so what is the child to think? But when the parents are a united front, in agreement together before their child and they live this out infront of their child, well things just go better for everyone.
Severl years ago when our son was in High School he had this 'off the chain crazy hairstyle' not to be confused with ugly. His mother and I agreed on the hair style that it had to be clean and groomed and we were ok with that. He pushed us to get the tattoo and the ear ring. For us in our family this was not an option for him. We were in agreement over this issue. It turned out years later that the woman that he dated and married had a standard of not dating a guy with an ear ring or tattoo. LUCKY I guess.
Now listen I am not telling you how to do the same thing with your child, I am just sharing from our experiences. We said no. He understood where we were coming from and today, as an adult he still doesn't have the ear ring nor the tattoo. As an adult this is something for him to discuss with his spouse.
Parents this is not a time for you to be good cop/bad cop. One of you being the 'good parent' giving them whatever they want and the other parent being the 'bad parent' doing all the discipline. This will lead your child to failure. You have to learn to set limits and they have to learn to live within the limits. If they can't learn to live within limits then there is a real problem in adulthood.
So how can we help work through this when it comes to parenting?
- Agree that your teen comes first. Agree to work on your differences by doing what is in the best interest for your teen in the long run and not the short haul for the parent. You know, you are tired and you don't want to deal with it. That is a cop out and the child is the one that suffers from it.
- Pull from each other's strengths as parents. If one of you is a push over, and you know which one it is, then parents discuss the issue alone, without the teen there and come to a consensus. This way when you present your 'ruling' to the teen, you are a united front. Let's face it the divide and conquer thing has been going on for a long long time; remember when you did it?
- Two parents and not Three! Don't include the teen in every decision you determine to make about them. Sure they can 'plead their case' but if you allow the student to be the one that keeps making the call then you are in trouble. I mean whom is the parent here?
- Balance is the key. Many times you have a lenient parent and one that is more strict. Balance is good but let's face it you will not always agree with the terms of your spouse in disciplining of your teen. But know this, if you disagree and then undermine the 'ruling' or undermind your spouse not only will your teen suffer but your marriage will also. The last thing we need is for your teen to have conflict and then to watch mom and dad in the middle of a disentegrating marriage.
Parents you have to pull together. If you are the parent of a teen, or God help you more than one teen, look down the road to when they graduate. You will have an empty nest and if you mess this up now and side with your teen over your spouse, well what will you have then? Know that you are facing an empty nest as a natural progression and you must draw closer to your spouse. You have to learn the good ole American way of United We Stand Divided We Fall!