Momma Chel is a contributing writer to this community, as well as a mother raising several children in her expanded family. These are some of her thoughts regarding the subject.

Previous editions of this column can be found in the Monthly Columns Archives.


This topic for an article is a tough one. There are so many forms of discipline and so many styles that I will not try to say that one way is better than another or that there is that proven method that will work for you and yours. I can only share my experiences, trials, successes and failures in hopes that maybe there are those that can relate or those who can take away a new perspective!

Growing up, my mom was strict and my dad lenient. Being a child, there came a time when capitalizing on dad’s leniency came to a dramatic end when my mother put on her most menacing face and voice and explained that mommy and daddy were going to have a big fight if I didn’t stop trying to get out of things that she told me I had to do. I have no idea why this stuck with me but, as an adult I think it has actually helped me balance my own wants or needs from my kids as I am more structured and hubby can sometimes fluctuate from strict to lenient depending on the situation. I knew the kids would see straight through the holes in our disciplining regimes if we weren’t careful! Now when our extended family moved in, there was yet another discipline style to incorporate into our ever-growing list of quirks and pet peeves. As I’ve shared in my last article, I quickly became “The Momma” hovering over all the children and quickly became “Chief Enforcer” of discipline also. This is not to say that hubby and girlfriend had no involvement; but the kids found out very quickly who was going to stay consistent and who would give in. See, I forgot the part about the kids being able to see straight through the holes! J

Currently, we are facing ongoing behavior problems with our 10 y.o. son (girlfriend’s oldest). We are trying new methods of discipline/reward almost on a daily basis. The whole scenario has played out like this………Note was sent home from school. Mom read the note, shared it with other parents. Parents and child sit down for a discussion. Days or weeks go by until the next note. Mom reads the note, shares it with other parents. Parents decide that this is the second note and it’s time for a deeper discipline action. Child gets a set punishment. It’s decided that more communication is needed with the teacher so daily notes are being sent back and forth to try to ward off poor behavior or what we call “bad to worse” days. Behavior remains somewhat stable so the constant communication tapers off. Third note gets sent home concerning very bad behavior and inappropriate language and also within a week’s time, report card was sent home with failing grades and poor behavior report. Parents are outraged and a one week grounding period ensues with the option of phone use upon bringing home a good grade on homework or a positive behavior report. Parents further decide that if one more poor behavior report comes home, child will be grounded from a weekend away from home with bio. father. More communication with teacher (again) and one day before grounding period is up, another “bad to worse” day with a principal’s office visit, no recess, and poor behavior at daycare. Child is beside himself, parents are completely frustrated and a grounding period of one more week follows with child unable to go away with father. All punishment and reward were held consistent with me as the enforcer and the other parents as back up. Progress report comes home right before the grounded weekend with good grades; mom makes the decision to let child stay over at friend’s home without consulting other parents. I didn’t agree with this decision but mom based it solely on the fact of grades being brought up. In private, I expressed my concern that this was inconsistent because he was grounded for poor behavior not for the poor grades. Mom still feels the decision was valid. I still back up her decision even if it wasn’t quite what I had in my mind! See – we have to constantly sway from strict to lenient and all of the parents have become accustomed to this. The major point is that we expressed ourselves (in private!) and when or if another issue arises, we’ll stop and think a little more about all parental views.

For us, it is next to impossible to have a completely spelled out “book of discipline/rules” to apply to our vast situations. We have chosen to deal with rule breaking/poor behavior as a family if there is time to address it altogether, but more importantly each parent has to be able to stand on there own with the kids. Initially, the children were informed and also shown through our behaviors that each adult in our home was to be respected and listened to. Our girlfriend felt a little more intimidated about disciplining the oldest two kids than any of us felt about disciplining the younger ones. We just took it upon ourselves to reassure her that her decisions were valid when disciplining and likewise, if she questioned the way we disciplined, she would state it. We’ve since encountered minimal situations where we were upset and we’ve been together for four and a half years! Our conflicts always seem to revolve around our personal pet peeves being breeched or our patience level dropping too low. Each parent realizes that at different times the kids will just push our buttons and we try really hard to give each other space and also direction during these tough times.

The children ultimately just want to be directed and guided, lovingly and consistently. Of course, they are not always happy with the parental decisions, but they do learn to adapt and slowly, they are learning what each parent can do for them individually. The dad of the house is the math guru, momma chel is the motivator and momma T is the lenient one --- these are just a few of the attributes to each parent. Time and consistency has been a key for bringing our families together and allowing us to understand each other and also forgive each other for our inconsistencies. Our kids amaze me everyday and I can’t wait to see or hear what else they come up with, even when it means finding yet another strategy to discipline them along the way! The important thing is that we are all in it together and together we’ll find a way through it by communicating and sharing in our successes and failures.

Momma Chel is a contributing writer as well as a member of this online Community. She can be contacted here or through our message board Forums.

Momma Chel; February 17, 2006


folks have read this article.