How to cooperate as parents in the discipline of your children

Pray together privately and with your children in family prayer. Counsel together regularly. Love at home is always a necessity, so love each other and listen to each other, then cooperate in setting rules you can unitedly abide by in the discipline of the children.

  • Make guidelines for discipline. Standards must be set that will guide parental actions in all family situations.- Do not threaten actions that could be detrimental to a child or that would not be feasible to carry out, because it is necessary to keep your word. Never lie to a child.
  • Be consistent in the discipline of children. They know whether or not we will stick with the rules. Do not underestimate their perceptiveness.
  • Be united in the training of children. Otherwise confusion and rebellion can result, as well as insecurity.
  • Conduct yourselves as you would like your children to do in relation to obedience, sacrifice and responsibility. We need to remember that Jesus set the example. - Lois Dahlberg, Tacoma, Wash.

How we did it:

Be united

We have to communicate with each other and with our Heavenly Father as well, so we know the right things to do. We have to be united. A disobedient child can be a wedge in a marriage and can drive partners apart if the child plays one against the other.

We sit down together and discuss standards for discipline, and then stick together. Then we need to be consistent - both of us. If one of us wavers and the other is strong, then our discipline will fall and the child will receive mixed signals.

We have to maintain control of our emotions when we discipline. That's really hard. When we have to discipline, then we shouldn't yell or lay a guilt trip on the child. - Steve and Linda Barnard, Idaho Falls, Idaho

Establish rules

Parents and children together should establish both family rules and rules for each specific child. The rules should be based on ages and maturity. This agreement should include discipline if rules are not kept.

Both parents must agree on decisions for changing discipline if the need arises so neither parent is labeled as easily swayed. - Ralph and Lael Furgeson, Ridgeland, Miss.

Be supportive

We need to discuss what we will do for discipline and always be in agreement. However, sometimes we can't always discuss discipline if one of us is away. Therefore, when one of us has to administer discipline, the other should later support it. This is important so the children don't see us disagreeing.

In addition, we try to always follow through on the discipline. Once in a while, we need to change the discipline later, if necessary. We then explain to the child why we have changed the discipline.

Sometimes it's helpful to say to the other marriage partner, "You discipline this time." This helps if one partner is over-reacting or is stressed. - Mark and Marylynne Thayne, West Point, Utah

Mixed family

My husband and I have both been married before. For a mixed family, the opportunity for conflict can arise quite often. The following works for us:

  • Establish rules and expectations for your children that you can both agree on.
  • Be supportive of each other. If you do not agree, discuss it when not in the presence of the child.
  • Be open with your children. Discuss with them the discipline.
  • Pray together and read the scriptures that you might be one in spirit.
  • Listen to the promptings of the Holy Ghost. Remember that your children are Heavenly Father's children, and He knows them better than you do. - Sue Blake, Hudsonville, Mich.

No surprises

  • Communicate and work together to make a set of family rules and consequences, then follow through with them consistently. This avoids crisis disciplinary actions and gives everyone involved a familiar base from which to work. No surprises!
  • Be perceptive of one another's limits. If one parent is stressed, the other should step in and take over until the stressed parent has calmed down and has re-grouped. This helps children to see an example of cooperation.
  • Be flexible to adjusting family dynamics, recognizing that a particular parent might be more successful dealing with a child at a certain age or stage in his or her development. The other parent should then be supportive. - Paul and Mychele Barlow, Irvine, Calif.

Don't overreact

We suggest the following:

  • Communicate with each other. You need to agree in private and in advance on disciplinary measures. For example, "Do you agree with revoking TV?" "Do you agree with shortening a curfew?" "Do you ground?"

By communicating and agreeing in advance, you present a united front to your children. In addition, by communicating, you can keep a proper perspective about a child and not overreact. For us, it helps to have a phrase or a signal, such as a wink, that we give one another to remind not to overreact and to maintain control of emotions.

  • Set family standards. Make sure the children understand the rules and that these rules come from both of you.
  • Pray together often. You should pray about each child and to receive inspiration on your children's strengths.
  • Sustain one another in front of the children. Children need to understand that if they have received an answer from one parent, the other parent will agree with that decision. If you feel there's a compromise to be worked out, talk about it privately, then present it to the child together.
  • Be willing to apologize to your children and to each other when mistakes are made.
  • Remember D&C 121:43. "Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou has reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy." - Vicki Ebbert, Knoxville, Tenn.

How to checklist:

1 Pray together for inspiration in rearing your children.

2 Establish family rules and discipline; be consistent.

3 Be united in discipline; communicate with each other.

4 Help each other maintain perspective; don't overreact.


Feb. 4 "How to enhance relationships between brothers and sisters."

Feb. 11 "How to smoothly adjust to marriage."

Feb. 18 "How to overcome roadblocks to personal progress."

Feb. 25 "How to utilize Church publications for personal study and lesson preparation."

March 4 "How to cope when a loved one dies or is incapacitated as a result of alcohol or drug abuse."

March 11 "How to move upward from spiritual plateaus."

Had any good experiences or practical success in any of the above subjects? Share them with our readers in about 100-150 words. Write the "How-to" editor, Church News, P.O. Box 1257, Salt Lake City, Utah 84110, or send fax to (801) 237-2121. Please include a name and phone number. Contributions may be edited or excerpted and will not be returned. Due to limited space, some contributions may not be used; those used should not be regarded as official Church doctrine or policy. Material must be received at least 12 days before publication date.

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