Friday, November 16, 2012


Discipline is one of those topics every parent has to deal with. Its not an easy one either. Everyone has a different history with discipline, even among siblings. I am the youngest of six kids and was disciplined very differently than my older brothers and sisters. Even like-minded people will disagree on how to correct a child's misbehavior.

Parents usually come to a consensus, but often, the duty of exacting discipline falls to the fathers, especially if he is the one with the kids all day. Even for working dads, moms will often wait to discipline, or at least use their employed husbands to threaten, their kids. "When your father gets home we're going to have a little chat!" I've been in homes where, when the father gets home from work, the first thing out of mom;s mouth is something like, "YOUR daughter has been so naughty today. She did _____ and _____." It falls then upon the exhausted father to try and correct those behaviors that happened hours earlier. It is the humble opinion of this writer, that this is just unfair.

Its unfair to the child. To the kid, 6:00 is the scary time. Its when daddy gets home and who knows if mommy has a laundry list of mistakes they made throughout the day for which they will be punished. This makes for a confusing relationship between the child and they're father - a strange mixer of "Yay! Daddy's home!" and fear. Its also unfair to the Dad. It puts the burden of disciplining all on their shoulders and it fills the short time (from getting home from work, til bedtime) with unpleasantness when they'd rather be enjoying their family. Sounds like having an at-home dad is the solution! Well, not really. While we do tend to get more time with our kids, and can make immediate corrections so misbehaviors don't mount up, the burden of discipline still falls to us.

Like working dads, when moms get home, they too want a pleasant, happy time with their kids and are consequently often unwilling to correct their kids even if they're home. When my wife gets home I typically leave the kids and my wife up to their own devices. She's missed them all day and wants to spend time with them, and frankly, I'm happy to have a break and have a little me time. Now, not to brag or anything but I'm good. From the years of dealing with my kids I've got them figured out fairly well. I know just how to calm them down when they're having fits, cheer them up when they're sad, help them be reasonable when they're being unreasonable, etc.. I've put in the time. When my wife gets home though, I don't want to do those things anymore. I want her to take a turn. Often though, I'll hear my wife, trying to deal with an unruly child. I try my best to tune this out. "Give her a chance. She'll handle this", I say to myself. After a few minutes my wife, clearly annoyed, will call me from upstairs, "Brett, would you come up here and handle this." Then I resentfully have to go up there and deal with whichever kid is being bratty.

Now, I'm not disparaging my wife. She's an amazing mother that has a wonderful connection with our kids. I simply have had to deal with our kid's behavior more and thus its often easier for her to call on me rather than go through the same learning curve as me. Sometimes I'm just as much to blame. Rather than have my peace disturbed, I'll go fix whatever problem, when I should have just let her handle it in her own way. Luckily, as our kids are maturing, this is becoming less and less of an issue.

Now, there are some huge generalizations here. Sometimes, as with my parents, the mom is the disciplinarian, but it seems its always one or the other doesn't it. I don't really have any profound or sublime insight as to how to deal with this issue. And even if I did, people and families are so varied it probably wouldn't have worked for anyone else anyway. There probably isn't a solution, and maybe that's okay. Perhaps problems like these are there just to instill in us respect for our spouse's differences and the importance of communicating with each other.


-Brother Brett