What To Do When You And Your Spouse Disagree On How To Punish Your Teenager

Parenting can be challenging enough without feeling that you and your spouse are not in agreement about how you handle issues with your teenager. Your approach might be to take a harder line when punishing your troubled teen. Your spouse might prefer taking a softer approach that doesn’t include much by way of punishment.

The tension can be very noticeable, with teens knowing just how to work the angles when they want something or want to get out of something. They will know which parent will blow a fuse and which parent is a pushover.

Not being on the same page as your spouse can lead to a host of arguments and further difficulties within the family. Something will need to change.

How can you approach these changes?

Your teenager needs consequences for bad behavior, but will your planned punishment align with how your partner is thinking?

There are some steps that you can take to move towards aligned punishments for your troubled teen.

The value of communication

In an ideal world, you and your spouse would have discussed your planned parenting strategies before your first child was born. In reality, most of us didn’t do this. The good news is that it’s not too late to have this chat now.

The main things you and your partner need to discuss and communicated include:

  • Discuss your individual parenting philosophies.
  • Talk about what your childhood looked like and how you were parented. Be sure to mention how you’d like to parent your own children differently.
  • Keep the tone of the conversation non-confrontational. Staying cool, calm, and rational will ensure things progress much easier for all.

Truthfully, you may not agree on every area that you cover. This does mean that compromises and further work will be needed.

Identify common ground with your spouse

This may seem like an impossible task to tackle. Sitting down with your other half to discuss your parenting styles is an integral part of reconnecting your family.

Jot down the parts of parenting your children and issuing punishments that you do agree on. It can be too easy to get caught up in the aspects of parenting that you disagree on. Focusing on the positives in any stressful situation can make a world of difference, even if there are more areas of disagreement.

Sometimes the easiest place to begin is with how much you appreciate how the other loves your children. A positive foundation can get the communication ball rolling.

Working out why you disagree

Whether you align with how your parents disciplined you or not, the parenting choices you make are likely influenced by how they raised you. Without fresh influences and parenting guidance, parents are often likely to repeat similar patterns exhibited by their parents. While it might be anecdotal, there is some truth beneath every man or woman uttering, “I sound just like my parents.”

Those who have experienced abusive or difficult disciplinary experiences may vow never to repeat these behaviors with their children. More often, those who agreed with how their parents disciplined them will repeat the same discipline techniques and language on their children.

In some parenting groups, you may hear some say, “My parents spanked me, and I turned out just fine!” This type of justification for making parenting decisions can be a slippery slope. This is because you are taking your experiences as an individual and applying it to others with different experiences and personalities.

You may also not be entirely fine. You could have your emotional trauma stemming from your childhood experiences that you are not consciously aware of at the moment.

To ensure that you can uncover common ground with your spouse, you must dig deep and figure out why you disagree on critical parenting decisions. If you find that you cannot settle disagreements with your spouse on this front, you may benefit from couples counseling to have someone mediate the conversation.

Begin with the manageable

There’s nothing saying that you need to make drastic changes overnight. Start with the manageable parenting decisions like the things related to keeping your teenager healthy and safe, as well as non-negotiable family and household rules.

This could look like some of the following:

  • Wearing a helmet while skateboarding or riding a bike.
  • Wearing a seatbelt while in the car.
  • Getting home before curfew.
  • Doing homework before going out or playing games.
  • Being respectful towards siblings and other members of the family.

These basics are a great place to start. Clearly communicate these rules to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Ensure that you and your partner follow through on consequences for not following the rules. The goal is to ensure your teen sees you as a unified team.

Stay the course

You’re sure to feel frustrated if things don’t seem to be progressing at a swift pace. However, it’s important to remember that parenting and relationships should not be seen as a sprint to be finished as soon as possible. Consider it as more of a long-term marathon, where you need to focus more on the long-term results.

What are your goals? For parenting your teens, and for your teen? Establish your goals in how you’d like to parent your teens and direct their behavior. The ultimate goal of parenting is to raise children who will be good members of their community and who will make the best possible decisions for themselves.

If you and your spouse have solid long-term goals of raising respectful, responsible, and compassionate young adults, you will have the basic framework for making decisions with your teen. These goals also help you while working on appropriate punishments for undesirable behavior.

When you and your partner have a long-term goal of raising responsible, compassionate, respectful children, you have a framework to make short-term decisions.

Don’t argue in front of your teenager

It’s perfectly acceptable and normal to disagree on some of the disciplinary concerns in your household. But it’s not a good idea to argue in front of your troubled teen. Consider establishing some ground rules for you and your parenting partner so that you can step back from an argument. Most concerns that arise are unlikely to be solved right away, so take a bit of a breather and work together to determine the best course of action.

Be sure that you also make a point not to play good cop, bad cop. It’s all too easy to slip into the habit of threatening your teen with punishment once their other parent gets home. This sends the wrong message to your teenager, and it also goes against the goal of being a united parenting team.

Solid communication is an essential part of parenting. It’s also important to recognize that sometimes it can be helpful to seek outside help. A therapeutic boarding school can provide your teen with the support and structure needed to establish a path that takes them away from their struggles.

Call Liahona Treatment Center to connect with mental wellness professionals who can offer the right treatment programs and solutions your teen needs.

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