Sept. 28, 2020

Ask Margaret - My Husband is a Bad Disciplinarian

Margaret answers a question from a listener frustrated that her husband has such a hard time disciplining their 5-year-old.

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Margaret answers this week's listener question:

"How do you handle it when one partner is not a good disciplinarian? My husband is a caring and involved parent, definitely not the type to do things badly so I'll just have to do everything. Problem is, he has a really difficult time keeping our five-year-old in line, which means that anything he's in charge of turns into a huge struggle that's frustrating for everyone involved.

For example, he's in charge of bedtime. She does all kinds of things to avoid going to sleep, which is understandable, but he doesn't seem able to handle it and actually get her to sleep. I don't know what to do in situations like this. If I step in he won't figure out how to do it himself, but he also doesn't seem to be learning how to handle her!"

The rule that governs this situation is "All conversations about parenting happen when no one is parenting." You should not correct your partner while he's is the middle of trying to get your child to sleep, but you can find a calmer moment to seek out solutions to make the bedtime routine less stressful for everyone.

It's also important to "watch your story" here. Help your partner discover resources to make himself a better disciplinarian (rules such as 'only saying things once' and 'putting a time limit on bedtime interactions'). Then, forget the story of "he's not good at this," and open up the story of "he's capable of this, with a little guidance".

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