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When divorced parents don't see eye-to-eye on discipline

Divorced parents often struggle seeing eye-to-eye on a lot of issues, including that of disciplining the children. Since it is so important for kids to have consistency in this area, a lack of it -- or direct conflict between the parents -- can make it harder for either parent to make any progress. Let's break the issue down a bit so that you can see how and why it happens.

Different upbringings

Parents often come from very different upbringings, and they may expect things to be a certain way. For example, one parent may assume that they need to have a strict curfew and distinct punishments for breaking it. The other may think that they don't need a curfew at all as long as the child calls by a certain time to let them know where they are.

The problem is that there is no right or wrong answer here. It can cause an argument, but it's not really an argument anyone can win. Parents have to understand that different backgrounds make them see the world in different ways.

Talking it out

Parents often do not really feel like talking much after a divorce, but that's exactly what needs to happen in a situation like this. As noted, consistency is important. Parents need to discuss their options, explain their positions and try to see if they can find some common ground. Remember, the children's best interests need to come first.

Ultimately, though, parents are not obligated to do the same thing. Remember, as you and your ex talk it through, that you both get to choose your own parenting styles for when you have custody of the kids. Understand that you may have to make compromises to get what you want.

Lying about behavior

Another issue that parents often run into is that one person will exaggerate behavior or even lie about it just to seem superior to the other.

For instance, one parent may mention that the child always talks back. The other will say that it never happens to them, even though it does. They may do this out of spite, to make the other person feel like a bad parent.

The problem is that the fact that the child acts differently (or the same) with the parents can help shed light on disciplinary needs. Lying about it hides the need and hinders progress.

Trying to be the favorite

Perhaps even more common is a situation where one parent wants to be the "favorite" so badly that he or she simply doesn't discipline the child. The child has no rules and no ramifications. This can even lead to parental alienation when it is done to turn the child against the parent who has rules.

Working together

When conflicts arise after a divorce, you need to know your rights and how you and your ex can work together.

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