Disciplining with Co-Parent: Carry-Over Punishment

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“I didn’t even have to be grounded a whole week!  My Mom didn’t even know my Dad and Step-Mom grounded me!”

Disciplining your children is hard enough, but try disciplining your children in Co-Parenting.  We have a week on / week off schedule for our shared custody.  So, what if one of the kids get in trouble at my house, but then has to go to their dad’s for the next week.  What happens to the punishment?  Do you continue when they get back in a week?  Will they even remember why they are in trouble?

We have found through our experiences that if the kids get in trouble, especially towards the end of the week, and then have to go the other parent’s house, the punishment is rarely followed through. We would either have to continue it the week they got back, or it would just be forgotten.  This is very unhealthy in teaching children that there are consequences for their actions.

The Solution:  CARRY-OVER PUNISHMENT!  For example; if one child gets grounded for one week at my house on a Wednesday, that would follow through till the next week over at their dad’s house until Wednesday.  This takes cooperation from both parties, of course, and one parent cannot let the child off grounding early without the other’s permission.  This is very effective in showing a united front for both parents being involved in the disciplining of the child.  It also holds them accountable in both homes.  If you are able to effectively communicate with your co-parent, you may even want to involve them in deciding what the punishment should be.  We do this with more serious incidents.

If you do not get along with your ex, then establishing guidelines for discipline that you can both agree on first would be advise.  Find some middle ground that you can both agree on and work from there.  But no matter what, do not let the children see you disagree.  Discuss it behind closed doors.  After all, we don’t want them thinking they can play both sides. 🙂

This method may seem farfetched, but I know it works because of the changes I saw in the children when we started implementing Carry-Over Punishment.  They then realized that they were not going to be able to act different at one house than the other, or get away with fulfilling their punishment just because they have two homes.


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