Consistency

I think the key word in parenting is "consistency".  Especially when it comes to discipline, the boundary lines need to be made so clear.  There is nothing more confusing to our children than hearing two different takes on a given issue.  "No, you can't have any gum, it's bad for your teeth!"... "Oh alright! Get the gum!"  or "No, you can't go to a party at Amy's house if her parents aren't going to be home." Then "Well, maybe you can go if her older sister is there."  Or, "You got caught cheating on a test?  You are grounded!"  I mean, "Well, okay, you can go get a burger with your buddies, but don't ever pull that again!"  Huh?

Can you see how we go wrong?  It gets so wishy-washy.  And don't think our kids don't notice.  They will play the game right along with us and learn how to manipulate the situation to their advantage every time.  We've lived it.  We know how it goes!  "Divide and conquer" works on every battle field.  If we aren't a united front as parents on the way we will handle certain scenarios, our kids will go to the more lenient parent every time.  Putting it another way: if they know we aren't in agreement, they will speak to the parent who will give in and let them have their way.  "Dad's a push-over so we won't even ask Mom!"

It can get pretty dicey when our children play parents against each other.  Especially in a broken home situation.  That gets really tough, I'm sure.  If you don't both see eye-to-eye on how your children should be raised, they'll be living by the rules they like better.  It's as simple as that.  Furthermore, if you are handling the discipline as a single parent, God love you!  Caving in all the time, in the long run is detrimental, despite the fact that it's so much easier.  Our kids aren't dummies when it comes to boundaries.  When they are learning to spread their wings, they'll push the limits just to see what they can get away with and if we don't know where we stand on any given issue, and we don't stand firm, they'll push until we cave!

One of our boys brought a tee-shirt home for my husband once that said, "If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything!"  That's a fantastic phrase for life and for your faith.  But it's also a warning of sorts for parents.  We have to stand for what we believe is healthy discipline and good for our children...or there won't be any healthy boundaries over time and we ALL need healthy boundaries!