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or is DH re: disciplining our 4yr old DS??

(30 Posts)
limetictacs Tue 09-Apr-13 13:53:11

So my DH comes home from work at lunchtimes, by which point I've been dealing with our almost 4 yr old all morning. I am heavily pregnant and suffering badly with SPD so that's hard enough, but DS is going through a difficult stage at the moment and is being very difficult and whiny.

Today DH came home as usual and DS had been refusing to eat his lunch; DH immediately started acting exasperated (as if he'd been dealing with DS all day). He threatened DS with not being allowed to go round to his grandparents this afternoon if he didn't eat his lunch.
I'd already been saying to DS that he wouldn't been allowed a jelly if he didn't eat lunch but DH goes straight in there not considering that DS going to grandparents is the only rest I would have had and if he didn't eat his lunch (as he often doesn't anyway) I would end up having to carry through the threat. When I pointed this out DH got pissed off with me and says I'm always undermining him or words to that effect. However he often threatens with big things first (e.g. not going to grandparents) which tend to make life difficult whereas I will threaten something smaller (not getting a jelly) that has the same effect without making our lives difficult as well.

Anyway he's now gone back to work after making lunchtime very stressful and DS has not eaten his lunch as I knew would happen. AIBU here or is DH?? I do expect DH to come back from work and help me out, I also understand that DS is being especially difficult, but acting fed up immediately as if he's dealt with it all day pisses me off. Sorry for the long rant if you've managed to read this far.

Hopasholic Tue 09-Apr-13 20:35:01

The book 'toddler taming' was invaluable to me when mine were little. Get your DH to read it!

My DS was also a nightmare re food, at that age the reverse psychology approach worked a treat. 'I bet you can't eat that sandwich all up'

(I know you didn't ask for advice about your son and his eating habits! but I kinda used these techniques to teach my DH how to deal with DS without DH realising it grin)

CloudsAndTrees Tue 09-Apr-13 18:59:21

Maybe when you have your chat you could suggest that you let your DH know before be gets in, or as soon as he gets in, if there heave been any problems that day.

So if you have already got to the stage by lunchtime that you have had to threaten no jelly, then it is also your part of the deal to make sure that your DH knows that before he has time with ds. Then his part of the deal could be that he will always back you up on whatever you have said (even if he disagrees - that can be discussed later) so that you are providing a united front, which in turn helps your ds to feel more secure because he will know where he stands.

limetictacs Tue 09-Apr-13 17:28:31

SybilRamkin I'm not sure if you meant that to be helpful but you come across quite condescending and it seems you have leapt to a lot of conclusions. Perhaps it is just your style of writing which seems quite blunt and derisive, regardless, I do not undermine DH in front of DS.

We never discuss issues regarding DS in front of him, however I do believe children pick up on certain things. At the end of the day we are all human and there are occasions where a child will see their parents disagree (I would like to stress we do not raise our voices or swear) or experience negative emotions. Far from being a bad thing I think this is healthy and actually allows children to experience and understand relationships.

Unfortunately DH and I haven't been on the same page regarding this area however we generally agree on most things and fundamentally we agree on this issue re discipline however we need to discuss ways to implement it properly.

SybilRamkin Tue 09-Apr-13 17:15:29

"I do try not to say if I disagree with DH in front of DS as then he would play us off against each other but sometimes you can't help but let it be known you don't agree"

I'm not surprised this leads to arguments - surely anyone would be able to avoid showing a 4-year-old DS that they disagree with his father in front of him. Whether or not you agree with his parenting, or indeed he with yours, is a matter for you to discuss privately. One parent should never undermine the other in front of the child, and you need to have a serious discussion with your DH rather than passively-aggressively showing that you disagree with him in front of your DS. Don't let your marital arguments spill over to affect your DS.

limetictacs Tue 09-Apr-13 16:26:46

Thanks everyone. MissyMooandherBeaverofSteel yes I did have a moan when he got home and I know he was trying to help but it just didn't. DS has always been fairly fussy when it comes to food. I'm pretty lenient with him but I stick to no desserts until he's eaten the healthy stuff which is why he wasn't getting his jelly. I think DH thought I was getting annoyed that DS wasn't eating his lunch but the issue was that he had been moaning because he wanted a jelly first (hence why I threatened no jelly rather than no going to grandparents house-ugh!).
shewhowines might have to try your idea then we can avoid the specific threats, although DS doesn't know what consequence means yet so may have to explain that first.

I'm gonna sit down with DH tonight to discuss it but he has said he thinks I'm to lenient which I'm really not. If I say no I mean no and if I threaten something I follow it through which is why it's frustrating when DH threatens bigger things or things that will affect us as well. I also know, however, when to let little things slide for an easy life or when to be a bit softer on DS. I.e. last night DS wanted DH to carry him to the bathroom to get his teeth brushed. He'd been poorly for a couple of days and was running a slight temperature so on that occasion I would have just given in but DH didn't and it ended up with a massive tantrum that could've otherwise been avoided. I do try not to say if I disagree with DH in front of DS as then he would play us off against each other but sometimes you can't help but let it be known you don't agree. It's usually these times that cause arguments and DH thinks I'm undermining him.

Really I guess I just expect him to be a bit more patient considering he's been out of the house all day and also to think before he threatens something. He is not a bad dad and I don't mean to make him sound that way- it's just he's not quite on the same page as me regarding the discipline situation at the moment. Also I think he gets stressed seeing me getting stressed but at the end of the day that doesn't really help. sad Hopefully we'll sort something tonight. Thanks everyone.

MummytoMog Tue 09-Apr-13 16:21:56

Your OH is being unhelpful, but not unreasonable. Mine does the same thing, and the same 'exasperated' tone, which winds my three year old up no end.

You sound knackered. I wouldn't worry about DS not finishing lunch, just make sure he gets no jelly/snacks and if he's hungry, he'll eat his dinner. DD goes through non-eating days and I try not to worry about it, she just has a variable appetite. Often, I just make myself and DS something and then let her have some if she shows an interest.

FrenchJunebug Tue 09-Apr-13 16:14:40

does it matter that much if your DS doesn't eat his lunch? He might not be that hungry. I was one of those kids that was forced to finish their lunch and made to stay at the table for hours on end. Cue very difficult relationship with food.

and btw YANU!

Softlysoftly Tue 09-Apr-13 15:40:34

Yanbu dh is wonderful but does this all the time. "Get dressed or no Preschool softlydd1!"

Erm so that will be you explaining to preschool and missing your 2.5hr break then dh? No thought not hmm

sandyballs Tue 09-Apr-13 15:04:38

Sounds like my DH, he once told our DD that she wouldn't be coming on holiday with us! What he intended to actually do with her I don't know!

Second rule of team parenting
Don't make a grandiose threat without consulting your partner and then swan off leaving them to carry out the punishment.

If you want to set a punishment make sure you are the one who follows it through, don't make commitments on other peoples' behalf.

(Yes - my DH has done this and I said the above to him)

mumofweeboys Tue 09-Apr-13 14:59:19

Oh and I get told all the time that Im too soft and let them do as they like

mumofweeboys Tue 09-Apr-13 14:57:30

I think we have matching oh's. Mine home at weekends and does exactly the same with our whiney 4 yr old. He honestly doesnt think and threatens things that which make life harder.

We had to sit down and agree on punishments as oh gets exasperated very quickly as I save the bigger stuff for when he is really pushing.

YANBU but I wouldn't say he is being unreasonable either really, it sounds like a misguided attempt to help.

You say you expect him to come home and help you, that your ds is playing up a bit atm so I assume (if you are anything like me) then you will have a moan at your dh about it because you are stressed, and you also say you had already been saying to your ds that he wouldn't get a jelly if he didn't eat lunch.

Maybe he saw his heavily pregnant wife stressing out, he only had a limited time to 'fix' it and thought that would work? It is annoying for you though.

I also agree with Birds if your ds regularly doesn't eat lunch then maybe he just isn't a 'lunchy' person (thats the actual technical name grin) two of my children eat lunch just fine, two of them prefer to have a plate of fruit and breadsticks and snack on those for a couple of hours, they will not sit and eat lunch, maybe your ds is the same?.

tethersend Tue 09-Apr-13 14:39:52

Parenting's not a battle.

It's a war.

Lose battles, but win the war.

Think of some task you are sure DS will do to 'earn back' going to see the GPs, have a rest and very clearly state to your DP that both of you only deliver consequences to the kids which you will see through, ie don't leave to for the other one to carry out.

And have a kip on the sofa grin

Birdsgottafly Tue 09-Apr-13 14:19:07

Your DH handled it wrongly. But is your DS just bored? On top of the new baby coming? Is he in Nursery? And more importantly what happens if he doesn't eat his lunch? Are you picking your battles and if he isn't a good eater, leave out afters and let him graze, we don't all follow the same eating pattern.

shewhowines Tue 09-Apr-13 14:18:30

I always used to say there would be a consequence if they didn't do as they were told. As they didn't know what the consequence would be, they couldn't "choose" whether it was worth conforming or not.

I could also than, sometimes, use made up consequences such as " well we were going to the park but now we're not" - even if i never had any intention of going. Painless consequences for me but it did the trick. They would really think they had received a consequence.

mrsjay Tue 09-Apr-13 14:17:57

Parenting 101: never threaten a child with something which punishes you (or others) more than it punishes them.

^ ^ that I learned that when I grounded 1 of the DDs for a fortnight what was I thinking grin It was so long ago I can't remember what she did but i have memories of the moping and sighing because she couldnt go out OH AND IT WAS THE SUMMER HOLIDAYS eejit

Spero Tue 09-Apr-13 14:16:30

Agree with coppertop. You need to make him understand he can't bring out the big guns unless you are both on board. Otherwise you may not be able to follow through and the whole attempt at discipline is lost.

He is being unreasonable and unhelpful and needs to take a step back. But sympathy to you both as nothing pushes my buttons worse than a small child in a strop.

WestieMamma Tue 09-Apr-13 14:15:50


Parenting 101: never threaten a child with something which punishes you (or others) more than it punishes them.

likesnowflakesinanocean Tue 09-Apr-13 14:12:38

yanbu, ds is 5 and going through a whiny argumentative stage so I feel your pain. pm if you ever want a small child rant! dp is a lot like your dh, if they argue he will say right we were going such a place we are not now. I end up in a mood because being out is the only change of scenery I get. its v frustrating

mrsjay Tue 09-Apr-13 14:10:26

he sounds very over the top some parents are they like to discipline with huge gestures what punishment is not going to grandparents a 4yr old will forget in a second after lunch the little things are instant like no jelly or whatever , you dh is undermining you not the other way around, he is being U and really bossy tbh ,my DH used to try and do this when DDs were small he usually got a look they can't just swan in and take over with these imo daft punishments totally OTT

ENSMUM Tue 09-Apr-13 14:05:35

Sounds like it is him undermining you rather than the other way around! yANBU

coppertop Tue 09-Apr-13 14:04:45

The problem is that he isn't actually "disciplining" ds at all, is he? He's just swanning in, making big threats that he personally isn't going to be following through on, and then clearing off and leaving you to deal with the aftermath.

And then when you point this out to him you get the 'woe is me' act.

Helping you out means doing things that make your life a bit easier. Instead he's actually leaving you feeling even more stressed and with no way to resolve it without risking accusations of how you are supposedly undermining him.

firawla Tue 09-Apr-13 14:02:03

He is BU, you were already dealing with it. Very annoying behaviour from your dh

Booyhoo Tue 09-Apr-13 13:58:06

he is BU.

does he not cope well with your son? why does he go in with the big guns so early?

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