Setting Boundaries, Together
You will face many challenges as a single parent. Disciplining children as co-parents is one of them. You and your spouse may have different discipline styles. This may cause adjustment issues for your child. It can also pose you and your spouse against each other if your styles clash. To avoid confusing your child, make sure you are both on the same page when it comes to disciplining children as co-parents.
You can start with setting simple boundaries. Before you finalize your divorce, talk to your spouse about disciplining. You both have the right to discipline as you see fit, as long as you have your child’s best interests in mind. You can parent on your own terms while your child is in your custody as long as you do not violate the parenting plan. Though you have this right, synchronizing your disciplinary styles with your spouse can make your job easier. Try to develop a framework for the discipline you can both follow.
Children can benefit from having consistent discipline in both households. This will require some work on your part. It is OK to retain your individual disciplinary style as long as it won’t confuse your child. This is a crucial time period when your child may be behaving differently because of the divorce. Talking with your ex about discipline can help you both recognize unusual or problem behavior and react appropriately and as a united front.
Regardless of the framework you develop, try to refrain from picking fights with your ex over the small stuff. Also, make sure you don’t allow your child to compare you with your ex when disciplining him or her. Letting your child use this as leverage can quickly get out of hand. You may end up compromising your values and giving in to make sure you don’t look worse than your ex. This is dangerous territory and can be a breeding ground for other bad habits such as competitiveness and favoritism.
Disciplining children as co-parents doesn’t have to be hard. If you prepare well for it in the divorce, your jobs as co-parents can be more enjoyable down the road. Consider working with an experienced Massachusetts divorce mediator if you have concerns about developing a strong parenting plan. The extra effort you put into it now can save you time and stress in the future while you continue to raise your child.