Ask Dr. Ron: What about disciplining my children?

FullSizeRenderIMG_7570_1024Once you have kids, they introduce 18+ years worth of excitement and turbulence into your marriage. Kids spill stuff, break stuff and sometimes even steal stuff. The life of a parent can often feel like a constant struggle to get children to eat their vegetables, brush their teeth, wash their hair, and for crying out loud, put their clothes back on!

So what’s your parenting strategy going to be? Are you going to be the cool, fun mother or the “just-wait-until-your-father-gets-home” mom? Differences in parenting philosophies are one of the top 10 common marital problems that couples are facing today.

This is a blog, not a paper, so I am going to skinny it down to 3 ingredients that need to be included in every couple’s approach to parenting their children or stepchildren.

Ingredient #1 – Love

Both partners must be permeated with love for their children. 1 Corinthians 13:4 reads, “Love is patient, love is kind . . . .” Yet all of us who have been parents for any length of time have experienced how quickly we lose our patience and kindness towards little Johnny who has been an absolute terror. Of course the word for “love” in this passage is the word agape, which is the highest form of love filled with both sacrifice and selflessness. Pray and ask God daily to help you to agape your children.

Ingredient #2 – Unity

One of our Founding Fathers, John Dickinson said this about our nation, “United we stand, divided we fall.”  What holds true for a nation holds true for the home as well. In Mark 3:25 Jesus said, “And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.”

The children must see a united front or they will divide and conquer. I tell my counseling clients, “It is as if our children come with little antennae that are tuned to pick-up the vibes of disunity. As a result they will pit one parent against the other. Has this ever happened to you? It is critical that parents get on the same page and are so united that no child can sever that unity. Healthy communication will help parents develop a united front.

Ingredient #3 – Consistency

Remember those little antennae that your kids came with? Well, they not only pickup disunity, but inconsistency as well. As parents, we must get to a place of solid consistency in parenting our children. One of the best ways to arrive at a place of consistency is to sit down in private with your partner and talk out and then write out your action plan. This plan should include clearly defined expectations and positive consequences. Paul was writing to the church at Ephesus when he wrote in Ephesians 6:4, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” There is nothing that will provoke a child any more than when a parent is inconsistent in their parenting skills.

Adding the three ingredients of love, unity, and consistency to your approach in parenting may make an amazing difference in the outcome. Try it . . . what do you have to lose?