Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Wifey Wednesday - The Discipline Game

Having kids is supposed to mean a lot of things. One main aspect of parent hood is having to discipline them. Now, we all know parents who fail MISERABLY in this arena. However, I'm talking to the vast majority of us out there that realize that by having children, we have a duty to discipline them. It's your JOB to parent them, NOT to be their buddy.

A blog that I adore greatly, To Love Honor and Vacuum has an entry on her blog featuring this very topic for her "Wifey Wednesday" feature and I felt compelled to share this nugget with you. Since it truly "takes a village..." I thought if we all weighed in with our thoughts and opinions, surely there's a nugget of gold for each of us out there that will work wonders in our own homes.

Her discussion today deals with maintaining a united front when disciplining children. She gives several examples. I can say that the times (which are few and far between) that we haven't agreed, we've definitely talked to one another in private about what we felt worked and didn't work regarding whatever discipline was dished out. Generally (ok, well always) it's been able to be talked through and worked out. Parenting is definitely an evolving, ever-changing process that we all must continually adapt to.

Some of the "rules of engagement" she lists for childhood discipline is to present a united front (check), never use your child as a sounding board for your disappointment in your spouse (not check), talk to your spouse about disagreements when the air is clear, and be open to bring in uninterested third parties if you need reinforcements for a disagreement

My "uncheck" from above isn't typically when Daddy is dishing out discipline, it's typically if he's in a bad mood. I will say something like, "He's not a morning person, you know." Because -- frankly -- he's not. And he gets really grumpy in the morning if something doesn't go his way. If someone gets their head bit off, I will try to make it better because I think that's not a great way to start off your day. I probably should find another way to handle it but... I will make an excuse for him...

Honestly, I don't find that we have a problem what so ever with maintaining a united front when it comes to discipline. Andy is an amazing father. Even when I seem to hold onto those grudge feelings of "how could you" when my children do something. He is quick to forgive, not that our children go undisciplined because of his forgiveness -- don't read it that way. He just has an amazing heart and our children truly "get" when they've crossed that proverbial line so that they bear the guilt of knowing they've hurt you when they've truly erred. I really have a lot to learn from him and this gift of parenting he possesses.

What I seem to have a problem with is not so much maintaining a united front, but the fact that my oldest seems to think that if something happens that he doesn't like, he's compelled to come tell me about it. I find this odd.

For instance, night before last at the dinner table, Andy had given a "time warning" because Josh tends to take quite a while to eat dinner. He is an EXTREMELY slow eater. He can be the first at the table... and still be the last up. It's not because he gets up or piddles, he just eats ridiculously slow. It was late. I'm talking 9pm late. Their bedtime is 8pm when we have no sports or anything going on. Drew had had a baseball game, however so they weren't home until around 8. Both boys needed baths, to eat, etc. It was a late night. Benjamin was tired and hungry. I took him to my room to nurse. Drew was getting bathed and I heard Andy tell Josh more than once that he needed to hurry. I pretty much tuned everything else out.

Minutes later Josh was coming in while I was changing a diaper to wish me good night. He stopped by the foot of the bed and said, "I'm still hungry." I asked if he finished his dinner (there was plenty on his plate that should have prevented any immediate hunger pangs). He said (in a somewhat whiny, tattle-tale voice), "I tried to but daddy took it away." I just said, "Oh, okay." I asked why he did that and he gave me some lame excuse. I asked if he'd come into the bedroom to tattle on Daddy. He said no, that he was there to tell me goodnight. I did not believe him at all. I mean, I KNOW he WAS there to say goodnight but... the fact that he was ALSO there to rat Andy out made me mad. Andy's not going to let him starve. I do like that Josh feels comfortable to come to me to talk to me about things but I don't want him putting ME in the middle of an issue he has with Andy. That is between Andy and Josh.

Honestly, when he does this, I have no idea what to say but he does it ANYTIME I'm not there to witness an exchange between them. It is so freakin annoying and I really want it to stop. I have no idea why he's compelled to try to be a tattle tail but it's beyond irritating. This is my discipline dilemma so I'd love to hear any pearls from other moms on how to deal with this!

:) The lines are open. Operators are standing by.


brandt! said...

what a cute story!! sorry ... i'm not taking it lightly... but I would think he wants to express himself to someone so that it can come out of him, rather than sit bottled up inside. If this is something he does frequently, I would tell your hubby that the next time your son does the 'tattle on dad' .. that you'll suggest to your son that "perhaps WE should talk to dad, because dad wouldn't intentionally want to do that to you. don't you agree?" I'm sure your son will realize soon enough that it's no fun to tattle because now he has to confront the issue ...
Just a thought!!

chksngr said...

I get this from Jay...he's always tattling on his Daddy.."Daddy made me got to time out" I usually ask, "What happened?" He tells the truth with the most pitiful voice he can muster(he doesn't actually think to give me any pitiful excuses yet, just the truth in a little sad voice)...and then I paraphrase in my no-nonsense voice..." took a toy away from Noah and wouldn't give it back?" Yes. "'re telling me you went to time out because you made a bad choice and had to have some consequences?" Yes...Awkward silence..."I think maybe you should apologize to Noah and Daddy and then move on." Boy turns around and goes quietly to apologize and then play...I don't know what it is about the paraphrasing, but it seems to work for me...I cannot guarantee the second child will respond the same way...gladly I don't have to find that out yet!

MaryC said...

Well Josh, I am sorry to hear that. I am sure the two of you will work it out somehow. Good nite.

That's it. You are telling him that you heard his complaint and that he and his dad have to deal with it. You are not ignoring him but you are letting him know that it isn't your issue, it's his.

Joey @ Big Teeth and Clouds said...

I don't really have that problem because it's rare that my daughter comes to me with a dispute between her and her daddy. If I were in that exact situation, I would tell him, "I heard daddy tell you that dinner time was almost up. You need to eat what you want in the amount of time we have. You can't stay up all night!"

I'd just ignore the ratting out aspect in favor of the all-knowing mom routine.