what to do when dad can't discipline

Marilyn - posted on 07/09/2012 ( 2 moms have responded )

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My husband loves me and the children, but he wants to be more of a pal than a father. He can't say no and often ignores or actually cannot perceive bad behavior. Our two boys--ten and thirteen--test the limits all the time and I'm the one to say no--it's small and big things: put on sunscreen before you go out, and he bargains and pleads while I insist they stand still and stop being impossible or their computer is gone for the day. And so on, resulting in "I hate you Mommy; I love you Daddy." Believe me my husband and I have run every conversation, from "I know this won't change but please don't undermine when I'm disciplining" to "Please support me." Sometimes I tell him to act like Hitler, since that would be impossible, i.e. if he tried very hard to act like Hitler he'd begin to approach a firm voice and "Because I say so." He's got no problem managing difficult colleagues but he can't set boundaries with our boys. We have a daughter--that's less a problem because it's not conflict-ridden for her to identify with me, her mother.

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Marilyn - posted on 07/11/2012

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Thanks, Cynthia. I wish there were a website for folks like us! Sometimes I philosophize--the very quality with which I fell in love--that lovely, peaceful, endearing desire to protect and provide--is just what makes like impossible with boys who need discipline. He wants to provide--I said "provide discipline!" and I know he can't--I see it every day. He wants the discipline to "come from within"--as if it ever could. I'm pretty sure his own parents were very strict and had extremely high expectations and that he lived through his childhood not wanting to disappoint them and now feels like he'd like to befriend himself as a child: that is, he reacts to our sons, especially the younger one, as if our son were himself at a younger age, and he's giving him what he would have liked to have had . . . . there I go, psychoanalyzing. But now what? Gals, please, read this and tell me what to DO. (That is, besides lecture myself on how I've got to accept this because otherwise I'll ruin my relationship with him.)

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