“Wait til your Dad gets home!”
How many times have we uttered those words?
Whether we are at the end of our rope, frustrated that our kid did something that is unfathomable, or are hoping to get Johnny to do what we’ve asked threatening the wrath of Dad, most of us have let our kid know that we will get Dad involved if he chooses not to listen or obey.
But are we setting Dad up for failure in the process?
It was interesting talking with a group of moms a few weeks ago. All of us had been there–that super frustrating moment when our kids refuse to obey sends us over the edge and in the heat of the battle we pull out our trump card.
What we are really saying is “I’ll show you who is in charge here–I’ve got Dad on my side!”
In other words: “I will win this war because I have the big gun!”
Now let’s look at it from Dad’s perspective. Dad’s been at work all day. The last thing he wants is coming home to a frazzled wife. So Dad does what most men do–he fixes the problem. He sits Johnny down, let’s him know that his behavior was inappropriate, and typically dishes out some level of punishment. Now Johnny knows that if Dad gets involved, he’s in trouble.
While that scenario tends to work wonders while the kids are young because we get the result we want at the time, are we setting Dad up for healthy relationship as our kids move into the tween and teen years?
As we moms continued our dialogue, several chimed in, “When our kids move into the tween and teen years, my husband is tired of playing the bad guy. Now he wants me to do it because he wants to enjoy the kids now that they have some common interests.”
Good cop, bad cop?
The truth is we are not always going to be able to control our kids. We will not always win the war to get them to do things our way. So maybe we need to rethink our pattern. Do we really want to set Dad up for relationship failure with his kids?
If we use Dad to dish out punishment, maybe we haven’t fully moved to the coaching phase of parenting for this new stage of life. Maybe we haven’t established good boundaries for our kids. Have we set up guidelines for expected behavior? Are we enforcing them?
Dad may be conditioned to be the heavy, but as wives we can encourage a different relationship between Dad and his tweens and teens. If you are working together in your parenting, setting up boundaries and letting natural consequences fall into place, letting your kids know that you are helping them move toward maturity and freedom, neither parent will need to be the bad cop.
And when you decide to change a boundary because your kid is showing maturity–encourage Dad to deliver the good news! If you do, you’ll be encouraging positive interaction that strengthens the relationship.
We can be relationship architects in our home between our husband and kids if we take time to set him up for success.
She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.
Dare you to look at the relationship between your husband and tweens and teens. What can you do to set them up for success?
“Let go…and let God”,
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