My dad was the enforcer when I was a kid. If I broke a rule or disobeyed in some major way, my mother would march me to my room, put me inside and close the door. "Just wait until your father comes home," she would say, still angry about my misbehaviour. The waiting usually was worse than the punishment. It was quite effective. That's how it was in the 1950s and '60s - the bygone years when parents ruled the roost.
Each parent and child plays a role in the family. We are predictable to each other. We know the other's steps, what they will say and when - and their vulnerabilities. One role that should be shared equally with a spouse is that of disciplinarian. If one parent has to be the "mean" parent all the time, it could harm his or her relationship with the children, while the other parent gets the glory of being the "good," nice parent. Both parents should agree to present a united front in all discipline issues. Decisions should be delayed until the parents confer with one another.
DOING THE RIGHT THING
I admit to being a weak disciplinarian. As a result, my children started having problems. I'm better now at following through with consequences when my children break a rule. What has helped me more than anything is saying to myself over and over, "I know that I am doing the right thing," no matter how mad at me my children get, how loud they yell at me or how guilty I might feel after I discipline them. - L.M., San Diego
THE DO-GOOD JAR
After bringing home a newborn to a household of older kids, I decided that we needed a system to encourage household responsibility. I created the "Do-Good Jar." Anytime I caught the older children doing something without being asked or with an enthusiastic response, I would allow them to pick an item from the Do-Good Jar. The jar held coupons that could be redeemed for money, videos, a free meal out, free trips, a free movie or even Mom doing one or more of their weekend chores. The children loved it, and the household chores and other responsibilities got done without too much complaining. - Nola S., Roy, Utah
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