Laura MacCorkle Christian Blog and Commentary

Adventures in Discipline with Jon & Kate Plus Eight

“Eight times the laughs.  Eight times the love.  Eight times the fun.  How much can two parents possibly take?”

That’s the latest voiceover promoting one of my favorite television shows of the moment:  TLC’s Jon & Kate Plus Eight.

If you’ve not seen it, and you are someone who is easily amused by regular people just trying to do life (like the rest of us … well, sort of), then you should make some time to see this series.

Yes, it’s a reality show—but it’s not scripted.  Really, how could it be when it’s a family with four-year-old sextuplets (Aaden, Collin, Joel, Alexis, Hannah, Leah) and seven-year-old twins (Mady and Cara)?  You do the math.

In the most recent episode, parental unit Jon and Kate Gosselin discussed their modus operandi when it comes to the discipline of their brood.  As they remind the camera, “there is no instruction manual when it comes to parenting sextuplets and twins in one family,” they also admit they’re basically figuring it out as they go along.  And in my opinion, they couldn’t be doing this 24-hour-a-day job any better.

“We’re outnumbered,” says Kate.  “If we’re not careful, they will take over.”  Truer words were never spoken.  And after watching just one episode, you can see why Jon and Kate have become the masters of discipline.  Seriously.  In fact, I think they could write a book on the subject (maybe they will if they aren't already doing so).

But until that time, they have left us with some lessons learned in the latest “Discipline” adventure. …

1.  Stay a step ahead.  You have to watch for destructive patterns and nip them in the bud.  Toy taking leads to hitting.  Which leads to more toy taking.  And then more hitting. 

2.  Time out.  You have to be responsible for your actions.  There are consequences, and more often than not in the Gosselin household, they involve sitting in the corner.  Then, some tears and perhaps a season of loud wailing.  And then reconciliation via an “I’m sorry” and a kiss and a hug to the offended party.

3.  Work as a team.  “Stand with me or stand against me,” Kate says to Jon while discussing their discipline strategy in one scene in the family’s garage.  “We have to stick together or they will pull us apart.”  Also, a stern look works well, say both parents.  Each child knows what it means. 

4.  Schedule, schedule, schedule.  If you stick to a schedule, it will generally work and will pay you back.  Each day, the eight children know what to expect and there is no guesswork.  Boundaries and expectations are in place, and somehow there is order amidst the chaos.

5.  Hear them out.  Jon does well listening to the twins and hearing them out during long conversations.  Kate is better at seeing past the whining of the sextuplets and understanding what they really need.  Bottom line, they are taking time to hear their children and process their wants and needs.

6.  All you need is love.  “Positive words and reinforcement … it’s the best thing we could give them,” says Kate.  Jon hopes that in the future his parenting will involve less yelling and more hearing.  Both parents want to catch their children doing good instead of the bad.  “To parent in love instead of anger is hard,” Kate admits.  But, as Jon says, “If we didn’t discipline them, that would show that we don’t love them.”

The all-new season of
Jon & Kate Plus Eight airs on Monday nights at 9/8 c on TLC.