It is a universal truth that at some point in your parenting journey you will need to discipline your child. What form that discipline takes may vary from person to person. But in order for your child to learn and become a better person, they must be taught. The question is: how do you navigate discipline when you are divorced and co-parenting? Co-parenting is complicated enough but add discipline into the mix and it can become even more difficult. Remember that it is an adjustment for everyone involved, so there will naturally be a learning curve. Be patient with one another and with your child as you navigate through the changes.
Communicate is Key
You may be divorced, but that does not mean that you and your ex will never speak to each other ever again. If you have children, that line of communication needs to remain open at all times. You will have a much easier time if you and your ex talk early and often about behavioral concerns and how discipline will be handled. If you need to, use a mediator to help you come to an agreement on how to handle certain issues.
Anytime you or your spouse identify a behavioral issue, speak to each other about it and determine the best course of action for your child. You may want to schedule a regular discussion time to go over how the children are doing at home and at school. You may not always agree on how to handle various problems that arise, but the more you work together the better it will be for everyone.
Ideally, you and your ex would always handle each situation the same way. This is not always practical, but the goal is consistency. Early on in the divorce process, you should sit down with your spouse to set some ground rules that will apply in both of your households so as to avoid confusion or resentment on the part of your child. Some of those ground rules should pertain to:
- Screen Time
- Bed Time
Do your best to come to a consensus on as many issues as possible, include how to handle behavioral issues. If your child faces the same style of discipline and the same routines in both households, it will be easier in the long run both emotionally and mentally for everyone.
It is especially easy in the immediate aftermath of the divorce to let discipline fall to the wayside in favor of cutting your child some slack. Yes, your child will be learning to cope with all the changes and dealing with a lot emotionally. But this is no excuse to let all behavioral issues slide. You need to pick your battles and find a balance between giving grace and doling out discipline. In the long run, it will be better for everyone if you set clear boundaries and uphold certain expectations while understanding that your child will need some extra attention and compassion through the adjustment process.