It’s Daddy’s Turn

I don’t make it any secret that Gus is not the most well behaved kid on the planet. If there was a competition for the best disciplined child, let’s just say he would not be bringing home any gold medals. Just when I think we are moving past the phase that I like to call “turning into the devil,” I find myself standing over him while he kicks and screams with yet another mind blowing tantrum. The most recent one happened to occur at the gym where my husband trains. As if this wasn’t bad enough already, he did the face plant right at the front desk in front of everyone. Needless to say, I was mortified.

I was talking to my best friend about it yesterday. And by talking, I mean saying things about my kid that I never thought would come out of my mouth. But, he can be so FRUSTRATING.  Anyway, she asked an interesting question.

“What does he do when Yancy disciplines him?”

For those of you who are just tuning in, Yancy is my husband. I thought about this for a minute and quickly realized that Yancy doesn’t really discipline Gus. Yancy works a lot and his schedule is not your typical 9 to 5. He’s a personal trainer so he keeps all kinds of odd hours. Whenever he gets a moment free, he spends it with Gus. But his free time with Gus is always fun time. He doesn’t get the quantity time with Gus so he makes sure it’s quality. When daddy arrives, their time is usually spent dressing up in Superhero costumes and chasing each other around the house.

Any free time on the weekends is family time which means we are doing something fun. Going to the zoo or listening to music in the park somewhere. Headed to the beach to play or see the latest kid movie to come out. So, basically all of Gus’s time around his dad is fun time. He’s playing or doing stuff he really wants to do. And in these cases, he’s perfectly well behaved. He’s always well behaved when he’s doing what he wants to do.

 I’m the one who has to make Gus do the things he doesn’t want to do. I manage day to day living with Gus and let’s face it, most of it isn’t fun. This means all his bad behavior is reserved just for me.  Subsequently, I’m the one who does all the disciplining and clearly, it’s not working so well.

So, here’s what I’ve been thinking about. What if Yancy took more of a disciplinary role with Gus? Would this change Gus’s behavior? Would he respond better to him than he does to me? And just how would we do this when there are days that Yancy doesn’t even see Gus except for a few minutes?

I’m interested in your thoughts. Anybody have similar issues? What did you do? Did it work? Do kids respond differently to a male disciplinarian?

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19 Responses to It’s Daddy’s Turn

  1. Meagan says:

    I doubt it will directly change Gus’s behaviour, but it could take some of the load off you, and if that lets you be calmer, it could impact Gus.

    One major plus side though is that “fun time” isnt REALLY quality time. Taking part in some of the uglier parts of parenting will ultimately give your husband a richer relationship with your son than running around in capes.

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks, Meagan. You brought up a key point. Namely, me being calmer which most of the time I fail at. I really appreciate your last statement.

  2. Rach says:

    I am the primary disciplinarian in our house because I’m the one who is home most with the girls. Additionally, Brien just rolls with whatever I say because I’m the mom and obviously *I* know best (his words not mine). He says that dads know nothing, *know* they know nothing and figure the moms know what they’re doing so go with what they say and do. ;)

    I HATE being the main bad guy. It exhausts me and I get the brunt of the craptacular behavior. If Brien’s home, he’ll back me up which is nice, but he’s not here with them as much as I am.

    When Brien takes the lead in discipline, the girls do seem to listen to him better–but, I think it’s because he takes the lead so rarely and they are shocked he’s done so.

    When it comes to super big stuff that needs to be dealt with, I’ll assign a room time-out and wait for Brien to get home so we can determine what to do as a unit. It helps to have someone to bounce ideas off of.

    All this rambling to say, it may throw Gus off his game a bit if Yancy were to step up to the plate discipline-wise. If nothing else, it’ll take part of the load off you which will be a relief.

    Good luck.

  3. Marisa says:

    I am home the most with my daughter which means I do most of the discipline. I think my daughter listens more to me than to her papa. He has a harder time following though, and things she should just do what he says, which leads to huge yelling matches. I try to step in and give consequences so I don’t have to hear the arguing. I remind my hubby to give consequences and to follow through, but then I am telling him what to do. Sigh.

  4. Sara says:

    I can’t offer much advice — just wanted to say that I’m in the same boat. I’m not a stay at home mom but am the only one doing all the grunt work with our 16 month old. So he thinks I am no fun. Daddy is ‘the clown’ and always throws him around and makes him laugh. I’m the one declaring nap time, bed time, dinner time, bath time, pick up your toys, etc etc. So our son is more apt to lose his mind around me than daddy. It’s frustrating. But I think the first commenter made a good point – if daddy disciplines him, maybe it would throw him off. So we’ll see if that works! Good luck.

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks, Sara. I will say that it made a difference in his behavior yesterday. I’m not sure if it was just because he was like, “hmm..wait a minute? What’s going on?” or if it will actually make a difference on his behavior. Stay tuned…

  5. I can’t really chime in on Yancy being stricter. I don’t know.

    I do know that in my life before having kids of my own, I was a daycare teacher with a Master’s in Early Childhood Education. And I was a *toddler* daycare teacher. This was one of the best things that could’ve happened to me because I learned this truth: every kid, bad or good, will have a tantrum at some point. And those parents who say their kid never has a tantrum are lying or in denial. ALL toddlers will all have a tantrum!

    I also noticed your picture with the rules (is it yours? or stock photo?) and am going to chime in that us daycare folks were taught to write rules in the positive–what they CAN do. So, rather than have a rule, “No screaming” we would put that “Use your inside voice”. Or “No hitting or kicking” would become something like “Arms are for hugging and helping” and “Legs are for running and jumping”. I know, I know, easier said than done, but when he kicks, you would then point out how that breaks the about legs being for running and jumping rule.

    I’ll shut up now!

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      No need to shut up. This is really helpful advice. The pic is my own. It’s one that I created with Gus. We did it together to review his rules. I copied down his answers. So “not screaming” became part of the list. We stuck them up in order to remind him as well as the consequences for what happens if he breaks one of the rules. You’re absolutely right, though, I should have phrased them in a more positive way. Thanks!

      • Although I like it that those were his rules! So good for him and for you for involving him. Whatever works, I say. I also want to say that I really believe every kid should hear “No”, at least sometimes.

  6. Hannah says:

    My husband and I share childcare between us but they do behave better for him generally. I think I am probably a bit of a soft touch and he is able to be more firm.

  7. Danielle says:

    Interesting question!

    We both discipline. We try to split the time we are with the kids evenly – I’m with them more on weekdays, he’s with them more on weekends – but still, there are sometimes long stretches of time I’m with them. And I get the opposite response – they are more likely to listen to their dad. It drives me nuts sometimes…

    In any case, having one parent always be the “fun” parent puts a lot of strain on the “mean” parent. My husband and I switch every now and then, and then our kids look confused and quit the bad behaviour :)

    Let us know how it goes!

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      It has made a huge difference! We have really worked hard over the last few weeks at switching this role and Gus’s behavior has dramatically improved. I’m gonna post an update about it soon so stay tuned…

  8. Pingback: Dad’s Taken Over Control and It’s Working! | The Mommy Psychologist

  9. Susie says:

    What does a wife do when her husband loves to spend time in Mexico with the family that raised him. He goes for days (not often) but doesn’t bothering calling his wife or children (in the states) to check up on them and tell him he loves them. He’s boasts in facebook about all the fun he having with all his friends and is partying partying and partying. when he said that he would be .callng his wife and children (3) at a certain time, but never did and never does. He cheated on his wife once before at a party with another woman from work and said that he was partying and drunk He’s 36 years old. This is so sad. I”m his wife mother.. xx

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks for commenting, Susie. I’m sorry to hear you are having such a hard time with your husband.

  10. David says:

    I am the father of a 4yr old girl (and a quite spirited and stubborn one…) My wife and I have a schedule for the “fostering role” so that it is always clear to us which one of us is responsible for packing the bag for our daughter, keeping track of her meals, changing diapers (although that period is over now), making her put on her clothes, go to bed, etc. – you know, all the “not just fun”-parts of parenting. The parent who is “off duty” at the moment can just relax and act more or less like a friend of the family paying us a visit. He/she can enjoy our daughter’s company and do fun things with her, but just let go of all rule-enforcement and conflict management.

    I can really recommend this system to everyone who embraces gender equality and wants to put it at work at home too. Even though I spend as much time as my wife at home, and consider myself a feminist, I find it far too easy to slip into obsolete roles where I don’t take my equal share in household and child responsibilities. So this system has been really helpful to us. We have several friends who have also tried it and they are all very happy with it.

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