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When You Disagree About Discipline

Ground rule: Agree to hear each other out in front of the kids.

Much as you may believe that you're absolutely, positively right (and your spouse has lost all perspective), it's important that you both get to present your opinions fully. No interrupting with cries of "You are so wrong!" allowed.

Adhering to basic debate-club principles is how things work in the New Haven, Connecticut, home of Barrie Dolnick, mom of Elisabeth, 6  -- especially when it comes to television watching. "My husband, Gary, and I disagree strongly about it. I grew up watching it, and I think there's nothing wrong with it. But he's a neuroscientist and can't stand the idea of Elisabeth watching more than a drop of PBS," she says. So when Barrie rewards Elisabeth with TV, Gary inevitably steps up with his viewpoint: "Basically, I make the case that TV is garbage, and reading is so much better for you," he says. Barrie then states her side of the issue, and from there they work out how much Elisabeth can watch.

"We've agreed not to let the debate get heated, though," says Barrie. "And I actually like that we discuss this in front of her. It helps make her a critical thinker; she knows that people can have strongly opposing views and still get along. One day she told a friend: 'My dad doesn't want me to watch TV. He says books are better for the brain. How about yours?'"

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