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Why should both parents be consistent when disciplining a teen?

Shawn Edgington
Pediatrics
All parents within the household must agree on and be actively involved in the disciplinary process. They must give each infraction the same amount of weight and assert the same consequences. There should be no difference if it's Mom or Dad who addresses a particular offense.

Too often one parent is more lenient than the other. This inconsistency can lead to arguments between parents, which is counterproductive. The goal is to correct and prevent further undesirable behavior on the part of your teenager. If your teenager is aware of this inconsistency (and believe me, they know which parent is the "softie"), he/she will most likely exploit it to his/her own advantage.

Most often it plays out something like the following example: A teen gets caught texting inappropriate messages to someone. The parent who identified the issue says that the teen will lose texting privileges for one week. The teen goes to the other parent in tears or some other heightened emotional state suitable to gaining the sympathy of the other parent and cries that the punishment is too severe. The second parent confronts the first parent, an argument ensues, and during the course of it both parents refocus on the issues with each other and the teen never actually receives the deserved discipline.

It's noted that in the case of separations, divorces, and blended families, it becomes much more difficult to achieve this consistency. However, it's necessary for the sake of the teen; parents in the same home must come to an agreement about discipline. Parents in separate homes should try to get as close to an agreement as possible.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.