Southwestern Indiana's Catholic Community Newspaper

Tips For Parenting Together

By Donna Wolter, LCSW

Parenting is difficult enough. Parenting with your spouse can be even more challenging, particularly when you disagree on discipline methods.


We recommend that you sit down together and discuss discipline philosophy.


Discipline means “to teach,” and should not be looked upon as being punitive. Children are very smart; and if they see that one parent does not discipline the same as the other, they may try to manipulate both and cause conflicts. It is important that children receive the message that they cannot get their way by winning one or the other over. Working together as a team and communicating daily will help guard against confusion.

Here are a few suggestions to help couples work together in parenting:

  • Build consistency in discipline plans. Both need to agree on what behaviors are desirable and not desirable. Both need to agree on the parental response. What will the logical consequences be?  If possible include children in creating a behavior plan or family-contract plan. Make sure that your behavior plan is going to be age appropriate. Realistic expectations matter.  We want the children and the plan to succeed!

  • Demonstrate and practice expectations with children. If you ask them to pick up their toys, show them how to do that. It does not mean they hide them under the bed, but rather that they put them in their toy box or in a box in their closet. If they do not pick up they might lose their favorite toy for a day or more depending on their age(s).  This is an example of a logical consequence.

  • Use logical consequences whenever possible. On Wednesday they are asked to have their room clean by Friday night if they want to have a friend over or go to a friend’s house.  If they choose not to do that then they will not be able to get together with their friend. Be sure to reinforce children at every opportunity for making good choices. When they make mistakes, ensure that the consequences are logical.

Another strategy is to have children repeat back the request/command that you have made. To ensure better understanding of the directions say something like “What is it that I just asked you to do?” Calendar plans help with putting chores in better order and create better rhythm and routine in the home.

Helping children become responsible adults is our goal. They build self-worth by doing and learning that they are capable of accomplishing things on their own. Behavior plans also will teach them to pay attention, focus on the task at hand, remember the rules and consequences, communicate, and learn self-control.

Encourage better focus by playing games like “I Spy” or “Red Light, Green Light”.  Reading a story to a preschooler or nursery rhymes with repetition all create the moments of simple directions, and serve and volley interactions, that improve brain development and learning as they continue to grow. Positive interactions between parents and youth will help them grow into confident young people poised for success.

Wolter is Youth First Social Worker at St. Benedict Cathedral School and Holy Rosary School.