My husband is much more old school, he says children need strong guidance and firm discipline (Shutterstock)

Hi Chris,

My husband and I have begun to have some serious disagreements about how we bring up our children.

They’re still toddlers, so our disputes aren’t about anything too difficult as yet, but there’s no doubt that it’s already making me feel uncomfortable.

Basically, I believe that children are fundamentally good, and so long as they know that we love them, they’ll automatically grow up into happy human beings.

But my husband is much more old school, and already he’s talking about how children need strong guidance and firm discipline.

What do you think?

Love or Discipline?



Hi Love or Discipline?!

Sadly, love is not nearly enough!

Because children definitely need discipline. And sometimes you have to lean on them pretty hard, because they only ever want to do what’s easiest. So you’ll have to be a spoilsport quite a lot.

Forget the stories your children tell you about other parents who let their children do whatever they want! Give children an option and they’ll spend the whole day online. But watching videos won’t pay the bills when they grow up.

And asking them gently probably won’t stop them fighting, or get them to tidy their room, or stop them playing computer games.

So you’ll have to use your authority. Why? Because you know best. Children generally don’t understand why you want them to do the right things, so you have to insist.

And there’s aggression, cruelty and violence in everyone, which is why it’s so hard to teach children to behave well, and not fight over the toys.

You also need to be good role models, and show your children your values: like trustworthiness, honesty and kindness. Show them that you and your husband love one another.

Show them how successful adults control their impulses, work hard, believe in their own abilities, and are resilient and persistent.

Show them that you value education by taking an interest in their school work. Then they’ll study harder. Help them learn to make good choices, for example by encouraging them to do their homework before turning on the TV. Because when people learn to make good choices as children, they’re better able to make the really tough decisions that we all face later as adults.

Always do what you say you’re going to do, because that consistency teaches children to be responsible. Always be flexible but firm, have clear expectations for your children’s behaviour at an early age, and enforce them.

Be loving, warm and affectionate, but always retain your authority and stay in control. Do all that and your family will have a good life, together.

And so in their turn will your children! Well adjusted, socially skilled, resilient, achievement oriented, mature and responsible. And the next generation’s most successful adults.

All the best,