We often hear or read about how parents can develop good parenting skills as children need a solid parenting foundation. One critical aspect of that foundation involves parents uniting on the issue of how to raise their children. Even though parents may disagree on certain aspects of parenting, it is important for parents to still show a united front with their children, especially as to how they should be disciplined. As Matthew 12:25 states, a house divided against itself cannot stand, so parents who are divided on this issue will not be able to maintain a strong household.
In his online article The Importance of a United Front in Parenting – Especially When it Comes to Discipline, Dr. Laurence Steinberg discusses the issues of parents having a united front and supporting each other. For children 6 years old and younger, he states that they can get confused by one parent telling them one thing and the other parent telling them another. They see their worlds in black and white, and want clarity and precision. At those ages, the united front is imperative. Between the ages of 6 and 11, that need for clarity and precision diminishes in children, but he, nevertheless, recommends that parents continue to maintain a unified front.
For teenagers, he argues that a united front is no longer necessary but that parents must still support each other in whatever decisions are made. I believe these two points – a united front and supporting each other - go hand in hand and cannot be separated, so I disagree here with Dr. Steinberg but believe that what he has to say should still be considered. He argues that older children know that people disagree on issues and the important point is for parents to try to resolve differences. Parents can “agree to disagree” but still, there must be a further decision as to what is to be done. In that event, I suggest that parents decide on what they will do, support each other, and then present a united front.
Dr. Steinberg also gives a number of recommendations as to how parents can reconcile “hard-to-resolve disagreements”. These are worthy of reading and incorporating into your parenting styles.
As a judge, I saw the many negative results of parents not supporting each other and having a united front with their children. Too often, especially during divorces, one parent undermines the other with the children. The damage that results, sadly, is to the children, as they are the ones who suffer profoundly from feuding parents.
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