Spouses Kristin and Michael asked for Dr. Drew's expert advice on how to handle their contrasting parenting styles.
"I'm a stay-at-home mom to a 2-year-old and a 5-year-old — two crazy little boys," Kristin says. "I am very emotional and loving, and I just want them to have fun and enjoy life and enjoy childhood while they have it."
"And I'm more of the rule follower, so I try and set rules," Kristin's husband Michael says.
Kristin tends to allow the boys to break rules set by Michael. She says they're good kids who don't have behavioral issues, so she doesn't see a problem with it. Her husband argues that they need to be consistent, or their kids will grow up thinking it's okay to break the rules.
According to the doc, the problem at hand is very common, but it can seriously affect kids down the line.
"When there is disagreement in the parenting, the kids have an opportunity to split you," he says.
When you and your partner have different rules for your kids, it encourages what Dr. Drew calls "splitting behaviors." Basically, in the event that one of you says no when your kids ask if they can do something, they go to the other parent.
That's why it's so important for parents to sit down and talk about setting rules until they've reached an agreement.
"And once you decide what the rules are, you must be a unified front," Dr. Drew says. "A unified front is a critical thing to good parenting."
He also explains that while kids don't quite understand temporality — if you tell them they can do something on Monday but not on Tuesday, for example, they'll think it's OK to do it all the time — they do understand spaces.
One suggestion he has for Kristin and Michael is to create certain spaces where the kids can be more free.
However you and your partner decide to handle discipline, the key is that it needs to come early in the behavior, the doc says. If you're starting to yell, it's too late. "At that point, let it go," he continues.
The takeaway here is that there's nothing more important than being unified as parents. Use simple strategies like compromise to set the rules together and make sure you're on the same page as much as possible when it comes to consequences and rewards for your kids.