Ask Toi: How do I Co-Parent with my wife and all she knows is spanking our kids?

Let me say that everyone has grown up differently and the idea of discipline varies.  For me my standard is always that abuse is never acceptable.  I needed to make that disclaimer upfront. Back in the day when I was growing up beating meant getting swatted with a belt.  To keep it real it may have included other things as well.  We don’t live in that same time frame now.

Now as a parent I find that I don’t always need to revert to that method of parenting but it doesn’t mean its a wrong way.  When all you know is beating it’s hard to see other forms of discipline as right or effective.  I would sit down with your wife and talk to her about her parenting styles.  My husband and I grew up differently and there are times when we find ourselves fighting against each other instead of working on the same team.  And before my readers think the worst, his wife hasn’t made any scars on their children.  On this question I actually did my duty to ask.  End of day there’s nothing I can do but offer advice and make sure to keep the children in mind.  When my husband and I find ourselves at odds on what form of punishment is fair, we take a break.  We do not fight or argue our points in front of the children.  In other words if you do your children will conquer and divide and I definitely don’t have time for that.

Come to your wife with other suggestions and then compromise.  Make sure the punishment fits the crime.  For me our children are under 10 so we make sure that they usually get a favorite toy or maybe some computer time taken away.  Trust me even as they get older if you take a distraction that your child loves it does wonders.  If you find that your child is out of control sit with your wife and see why.  It may be that the discipline isn’t working because your wife and you may be dealing with the child the same way as the other children.  Children are individuals so you can’t apply one way across the board.  For instance my oldest will break if you speak to her, but my son that won’t work.

One thing you don’t want to do is come in like you have all of the right answers with your wife.  If you know anything about women most will shut down if they feel like they are being talked down on.  I find it easier to talk about discipline when you’re not having to use it.  Its easier to have a game plan in mind than it is to wait in the thick of an issue to make a rightful decision.  Your wife is repeating what she knows and needs to see an alternative.  Your wife isn’t enemy.  I suggest all couples talk about discipline before they get married and definitely have follow up conversations when you began a new family.

Children are visual beings.  Maybe suggest a chart if you have young children so they can see how their behavior affects them.  For instance I have a 4 year old boy.  We had a star chart that we used.  Every time he loses a star he loses it.  Why? He can see what action he did that caused him a consequence.  For me to get to that point to use a chart it took patience from my husband and an open mind from me to implement it.  I came from a home where spankings were popular and therefore charts, time outs, etc wasn’t my first choice.  Also talk to other parents together they can offer support.  You also said your wife is home all the time with the kids.  A frustrated, overwhelmed or angry parent isn’t healthy.  Step it up to give your wife some time alone to collect her thoughts.  It’s no secret that I was a stay at home mom.  During that time I was so overwhelmed I was in survival mode.  Plan nights with your wife as a couple too.

Lastly I would suggest counseling or maybe take a parenting class together.  One, that’s out of the home time together as well as time to step away from the kids and gain a different perspective.  My last suggestion is to use goggle.  Used in a good way can offer really good suggestions as well.  There are many parenting or mommy and daddy blogs that may touch on what you and your wife is going through.  You aren’t alone.  At the end of the day, the children being safe, healthy and in a great environment is key.  Make sure you take all steps to ensure that for them.  You and your wife have the ability to come together and work together to make that happen.  Be her teammate and not against her and make sure when you talk I can’t stress this enough, have the conversations when the children aren’t in need of discipline.  It’s the wrong time.  The right time is when calmer heads can prevail.  I don’t know your wife so I can only go off the wonderful things you have said about her.  You need to make it better for the both of you and your family to come up with a plan that works.  One thing you both have to know as well is that you as parents don’t have to parent like either of your environments have taught you.  You can pull parts and make it happen.  I used to feel as a mom that if I wasn’t as strong as my mom I wasn’t good enough.  False. I didn’t have the same stress that my mom had either. Ensure your wife just how good of a wife and mother she is.  Sometimes that can open the door to hearing your point of view.  I wish you both well.

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