What if your spouse insists on using spanking as a discipline tool with your children and you disagree? And what if he or she refuses to put that tool aside, even though you have done everything in your power as the other parent and their partner, to convince them to stop? In offering the following advice, I am making the assumption that you feel confident your children’s safety is NOT at risk when the other parent spanks.
This is a question I’m asked frequently and the first thing I do is to support that parent for being so strong to know that spanking is NOT the solution. I encourage them to stay the course, no matter what. That means they must continue to use the methods they believe in, no matter what the other parent is doing.
Your spouse may have a completely different perspective on spanking and it could be connected to their childhood or their culture. If they are not willing to change their actions, you may need to start by changing their thoughts and beliefs. Counseling and parenting classes are a good place to begin, but that may not be enough to convince the other parent. So here are some things you can do:
Examine what “triggers” (the challenging behaviors the kids demonstrate) are initiating the other parent to want to spank. Work diligently with your children, using proactive parenting methods to lessen the instances of the challenging behaviors. And don’t be afraid to use these proactive measures in front of the other parent so they can witness your success.
If the other parent intervenes in a situation with the children, or undermines your authority in that moment, walk away (take a walk, go for a drive, etc.). Remaining there may not result in anything positive. Once again, I am making the assumption that your children will not be harmed. If so, you cannot walk away and leave them. You may have to take other measures to protect them.
Whenever you catch your spouse handling things well, encourage them and support them for doing something different. Praise the other parent and love them a little extra. If possible, share the following story with your spouse.
Imagine your child when she’s 16 and she tells you she’s going to her friend’s house (a trusted family) to study. But instead, she ends up at another home where a party is going on and there are no adults at home. In the middle of the party, she notices that all the boys and girls begin disappearing off into upstairs bedrooms, leaving her alone with one boy.”
Ask your spouse what they would hope that she would do in that instance? Your partner may reply with, “Call us to come pick her up, of course!” If that is your spouses response, ask them, “If you continue to spank her every time she makes a mistake or acts out over the next 10 years, do you really think that calling us to pick her up and admitting her mistake of going to the party instead of her friends house, will be the first thing she will think of?”