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Disciplining Kids After a Divorce: Parents’ Styles May Differ

It’s often awkward when your ex-spouse gets a new partner. When this happens, it can introduce many complications into your child custody arrangement.

Take, for example, the issue of discipline. There is wide disagreement in our society regarding whether spanking is acceptable. If your ex-spouse’s boyfriend or girlfriend has different views on corporal punishment, particularly spanking, that is definitely a cause for concern.

Of course, it may be that the types of permissible discipline are spelled out in the custody arrangement. But it can be hard for even the most detailed plans to cover every contingency.

The age of the children is naturally a major factor in determining what types of discipline are appropriate. For toddlers, the main response that parents use to improper behavior may be timeouts. For teenager, parental responses could include curfews, restrictions on driving privileges, and limits on the use of electronic devices.

No matter what the age of the child, however, the addition of a new adult into the parenting mix can increase the risk of sending the child mixed messages on what is acceptable behavior and what is not.

There is also the question of the emotional impact it can have on kids when a parent gets a new partner. For obvious reasons, the feelings that children have about this can become more acute when a new boyfriend or girlfriend moves in with mom or dad.

Both parents should be prepared to recognize these emotions and address them respectfully. Life goes on, to be sure, but the changes need to be handled sensitively.

Source: “How To Handle Shared Custody When Your Ex Gets a Girlfriend,” Circle of Moms, Kim Westerman, 3-30-12