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How to agree on discipline???

(20 Posts)
sdoherty1000 Tue 26-Mar-13 12:03:26

I grew up with very strict parents that had very little money. I grew up wearing my brothers clothes when he outgrew them etc. Being from a strict upbringing I realised the importance of discipline from parent to child. With that said, I like to think we give our teens the option of making their own mistakes and learning from them. Now, the reason I am here writing this... Me and the wife have a VERY different way of bringing up the teens and its causing alot of rows. Let me give you an example and I would like you to be as forthcoming as possible whether you agree with me or not.
1) My son got a part time job after doing his work experience as a pot washer in a local pub at £5 an hour. Because he was earning a decent wage for a 15 year old we took out a phone contract for him on the condition that he pays the £22 a month line rental. The pub has (since christmas) not given him any hours and therefore we are now paying for his phone- Bear in mind we paid for his previously contracts up to the value of £36 a month for 2 years. Now, I want to recycle his phone for £250 buy him a cheaper model and use the remainder of the money to pay for his line rental until he finds another job. I know its only £22 a month for us to pay but I see it this way, The other children dont get their mobiles paid for except the youngest because she isnt working so I see it as unfair to them. Not only that but how can I teach him about money saving if we bail him out all the time? This is causing a few rows because she is happy to keep paying for it as she sees it as we are "lending" him the money!!!!

There is many more examples where we dont agree on the discipline and its causing a great rift between us because she cant say no to them. I have sat her down and explained how i feel and nothing changes. He talks to her in a tone that is disrespectful and i wont allow it and again this ends up in a row. Everything he does she blames on his "hormones" yet the other children are great and there isnt a massive age difference between them.

So, do I need to chill out more and take her approach?

Teachercreature Tue 26-Mar-13 12:49:00

Tricky - if you do have different views middle ground can be hard, but I suppose what's needed here is some form of compromise. I do agree with you though that it's a good idea to teach the value of money, responsibility etc.

The first problem I can see is that the youngest isn't working but does have her phone paid for - this could lead to the assumption that since your son isn't either at the moment, he should have his paid for too. (Although I expect you're hoping to encourage him to look for another job and take responsibility since he is old enough to work.) How about you give him the choice of recycling phone or repaying the line rental once he is working again? Explain the contract was based on him paying in the first place. The key will also to be to apply the same rules to each child at same age so no unfairness is perceived.

Also, I personally had to work from 14 due to a shortage of money. When my DD grows up I will encourage her to work too, but 15 is still quite young given he will also have GCSEs and A Levels to contend with at the same time. Again give him a choice - he can work for the extras he wants (which I did) or he can do without. Might you be able to pay him to work for you in some capacity? Like advanced pocket money?!

The next thing is the situation between you and your wife - a united front is crucial with kids or they get a wedge in there! Unfortunately the disrespect issue seems to be something of a modern malaise I must say. Your son and your wife will be constantly exposed to other teens talking to their parents like this both in reality and on TV and so will see it as normal - my DD is only seven and I've had to sort the same with her! I think I'd suggest discussing with your wife what she hopes to achieve as a parent. How does she want her son to grow up? How does she think he will be as an adult? How does she hope to achieve this? After all this is the purpose of parenting.

Now I was a strongwilled and could-have-been difficult teen but my mum dealt very cleverly with me. The truth is a teen IS capable of disobeying in a way that youngsters aren't. They can run away, they can get cigarettes, all sorts. I'd say the key is to make them feel you are on their side against the hormones and their own bad behaviour. So you need a mixture of house rules (how about for example, we all talk respectfully to each other? These could even be agreed on together) and also negotiation with a teen. Explain your reasons for things - after all you are trying to teach him to think for himself, not just to obey a parent, since you can't always be there. Explain the reasons why some things are a very bad idea, but try not to ban them - banned things = rebellion and therefore tempting!

Sorry I have rambled on a bit but what I am trying to say is, I think you need a compromise that you all agree to. So some house rules which everyone follows, and some allowance for the ages of the children and their growing independence. And remember a teen is trying to find out who they really are, and go through all sorts of (often not very likable) stages as they work it out. The best news is they grow out of it! Hope some of this is of some help to you, and wish you the very best with it - sounds like you have great integrity and are trying to lead your son into being a really nice young man!

sdoherty1000 Tue 26-Mar-13 14:40:57

That is a great reply and I'll take inboard your comments. My problem is, I paid £36 a month for him for 2 years on his previous contact but I couldn't afford to give that to the other 3 as well. So in theory he had £864 more than the others which I see as "not fair" my middle child does a paper round to pay for his son only contact so why should the eldest be treated any different? For some reason, he expects the world owes him a favor. Don't get me wrong he is a really good lad, no criminal record and is mostly polite and abides by his curfew etc but it's the little niggles that I'm concerned about.
I will mention tonight his option to recycle his phone and see what reaction she has Thanks

Teachercreature Tue 26-Mar-13 15:01:40

No problem - I must admit I am wondering how I will weather the teen years myself! I plan to base it on my mum who was very clever at getting me to do things by making me see reason! And I sympathise re little niggles, they're often the thing which really grinds you down over time.

He sounds like a really nice boy though - just keep explaining your reasons to him, over this and anything else which crops up, since what you are saying re the money is perfectly fair and sensible. Expect him to act and think like a grown up and he will start to. My mum used to say to me, well we brought you up to think for yourself and to be sensible, so I am going to trust you to do just that.

Good luck!

sdoherty1000 Tue 26-Mar-13 15:19:34

We have 4 children in total, eldest is 16 now followed by 14, 13 and 11 and I have brought them up to desire less and save more which is a posh way of saying live within your means. Eldest is a nightmare and will spend every penny he has without saving for a "rainy day" were as my 13 year old only buys things when he had the money to do so. Next in line also has a paper round and doesn't like to spend his hard earned cash which is fantastic. The youngest was bought a BlackBerry on contract for Christmas which is why we are paying for hers and not the others but the boys were bought a tv and ps3 to make it equal.

Another example of how we disagreeis this. My 14 year old asked me if he could get his ear pierced and I was dead set against this but I compromised and said he could have it done as long as he keeps a plain stud in. The other day he comes in with a Diamond lookalike in his ear (claims he lost the other one and borrowed that one from a friend to stop it closing) so obviously he had gone behind my back and chanced it for what he wanted. I accept it will close so I told him he had to the end of the weekend to get it changed or it would come out permanently. The wife took him shopping on Sunday and guess what he still has in his ear? Every time she does this and takes the side of the children it slowly takes away my authority and belittles meand in turn we end up rowing about it. It's strange because we have always agreed on how to raise them until the last few years but she is getting worse with everyday things. If we can't agree and this carries on I can only see 1 way in which this will end.

Teachercreature Tue 26-Mar-13 15:51:17

You sound really down and frustrated sdoherty, and I do totally see what you mean. I have a very sweet mother-in-law who undermines me with my daughter and that's bad enough! Takes me a week to sort her back out afterwards...

Please don't take this as a criticism as I agree with your morals entirely, but do you think there is any way your wife is (without realising) over-compensating for you being the more disciplined one? You know, like good cop/bad cop? I guess it also depends on her own upbringing - what does she see as the "right" way to handle teens?

With your son, I'd guess he is smart/old enough to have spotted that he can work your wife round his little finger and is playing on that. (Re the non-saving - the saying springs to mind that you can lead a horse to water...! You're clearly doing a great job teaching them - it just may be a lesson he has to learn the hard way. My daughter for example didn't believe me that lights are hot and burned her finger testing that fact....!)

It sounds here like the key problem isn't actually your son, but the issues with your wife not agreeing/backing you up. Ordinarily I'd advise talking it over, but it sounds like you have tried that already and it is getting you nowhere. If you already feel that your wife can't seem to understand your point of view no matter what you say, then no wonder you are getting frustrated. Have you already tried asking her what her views are on it? Why does she say she's behaving like this? What does she hope for your children longer term?

If you've already tried that too then as someone whose marriage broke down a few years ago, after years of trying to talk, I shall pass on what I wish I had done myself: see if you can get a third party to mediate. I've heard fantastic things about this working wonders - people like Relate or similar, and they might be able to help you both find a workable compromise. After four lovely kids and so many years, it would be such a shame to give up without a fight!

Freddiemisagreatshag Tue 26-Mar-13 15:57:10

You sound quite dictatorial. Your way or the highway. And that's not conducive to a discussion.

InNeedOfBrandy Tue 26-Mar-13 16:06:05

I think your stuck in seeing all these little things and you need to let go a lot slightly.

sdoherty1000 Tue 26-Mar-13 23:05:07

Her upbringing was completely different in the way she could do what she wanted when she wanted. When she wasn't looking after her little sister she was out partying in the town. She came from a single parenting family and I'm not in any way saying anything wrong about this fact but she was un-disciplined and grew up with little boundaries. She turned out to be a fantastic mother and I can never take that away from her but part of being a parent means she has to tell the children when they are doing things w wrong "cruel to be kind" sort of thing. Yes I feel like I have to be more harsh as I'm doing her job for her in regards to the discipline but only because I want my kids to grow up with morals and stray away from the type of people you see on Jeremy Kyle. All my kids are great kids and maybe I haven't portrayed them in the best light but I'm more concerned how we get to the agreement of how we bring them up rather than the acts of the children. I am a firm believer that taking their phones away as punishment or groundING them helps to shape them onward in life. When he goes to party's he went with the condition thatonly a few drinks was acceptable which was fine for the first few times he went but then he came home blathered and unable to remember the night before... Now I wanted to punish him as not only did he break the law he broke the rules we set. I asked the wife to set punishment how she felt fit and he went unpunished. Yes I am head strong but you should be when dealing with teenagers.

Teachercreature Wed 27-Mar-13 00:11:24

I do 100% agree that children need morals and also sometimes you need to be cruel to be kind (including withholding privileges where necessary). However a teenager of 15 isn't really quite a child anymore, and other techniques can help too. It's not my area of expertise so I did a quick google, and found that the advice seems broadly the same - here's one example but I'm sure there are some good books out there too:

As you say though the chief problem seems to be between you and your wife agreeing, and I do get what you mean that you end up feeling you have to be harsh for both of you. I'd suggest sit down together at a time when you're not both upset and have a good talk over it all, perhaps showing her one of the guides as above (and perhaps also one which says you need a united front like this one: ). If that doesn't work then you can try a counsellor to help you find a middle ground, but the key is that for you two to find a way to agree there will need to be some compromise on both sides since neither of you seems likely to entirely change your minds to the other's point of view from what you're saying (if that makes sense).

So I guess the question is, are you willing to find a middle ground over the discipline issue? If not then sadly yes you may have reached the end of the road, as you will only continue to argue. I do feel for you as parenting is a very tricky and personal thing and a great many people argue over it - I wish you the very best of luck for the future both in your marriage and with your kids!

Teachercreature Wed 27-Mar-13 00:12:54

Oh just came across this article, which is really good too:

Hope it helps!

Freddiemisagreatshag Wed 27-Mar-13 06:51:10

You sound like a nightmare. Have you considered how over bearing you come a toss as?

Kiwiinkits Wed 27-Mar-13 07:22:14

I think you need to let go a little and allow your older children to make choices for themselves. You sound a bit like you can tell them what to do, Sargeant Major style. Teens push back hard against that sort of approach. Better perhaps to tell them what you expect from them, then basically say "I trust you to make the right decision. I know you'll do the right thing". Instead of punishing the boy for coming home drunk you could tell him that he's broken your trust and that you are disappointed that he didn't take your agreement seriously.

Excellent and thoughtful posts by teacher

sdoherty1000 Wed 27-Mar-13 13:09:15

Ok I'll take all all comments on board thank you

waterrat Wed 27-Mar-13 19:45:37

you don't sound overbearing - but you do sound a little as though you have come on here to look for ways to make your wife see that she is wrong - rather than actually work towards listening to her views/ taking them on board as well.

Have you ever sat down with her and asked her to talk about the thinking behind her own decisions? Perhaps you have, but as we all do you really were looking for the moment to jump in and explain why you are right! It's something all of us do - but if you really want to 'agree' as you say - it needs to be a process of coming together and understanding, not just persuading her that you are right and she is wrong.

You say she is a fantastic parent and that your kids are good kids - maybe you are worrying about this all too much! If she is a good mum then she will be putting just as much thought into this as you - and I'm sure if you listened, she could explain why she feels her thinking is based on strong beliefs.

Teachers comments above seem to back up the view that you are 'right' and your wife is 'wrong' - I think that is very dangerous ground ! You are both 'right' - you both are acting from the heart, and probably the combination of your values working together are what are providing a great home for your children. If you can relax a bit and accept that your wife is different and looks at the world in a way that benefits you as well, perhaps it will be easier.

Freddiemisagreatshag Wed 27-Mar-13 19:55:53

I'm sorry. I was harsh. I am leaving the thread and I won't post again but I wanted to apologise. I have reflected my experience with an ex who had the same attitude as you on to this thread and that wasn't fair.

Teachercreature Wed 27-Mar-13 20:36:19

Waterrat I very carefully did not use the phrase your wife is wrong, for a reason...For the record I actually do very much agree with some aspects of sdoherty's ideals, but if I thought he was "right" and she was "wrong" I wouldn't be advocating more negotiation with teenagers nor trying to find middle ground with his wife. I was trying to acknowledge how sdoherty feels right now while encouraging him to compromise. Over the years I've had to deal with a lot of people who feel very strongly over various things and have found that they do need their own position acknowledged first before you can start working for change. Sorry if that didn't come across very well (maybe it's easier in person!) - as it happens, I actually do agree with your suggestions on how things should be handled going forwards.

Teachercreature Wed 27-Mar-13 20:37:49

Oh and freddie if you do ever check back to this - so sorry to hear an ex made you feel bad sad and big respect to you for saying so.

cory Wed 27-Mar-13 21:27:50

I agree with pretty well all of your actual decisions, but am a little uncomfortable with the way you come across. You do very much sound as if you divide the world into "the right kind of people" and "the wrong kind of people" and that these divisions are very narrow.

If your wife perceives it this way, and isn't entirely sure which side of the boundary she and her family fall into, it will make her less open to your side of the story.

We have a similar set-up, in that dh's parents were very laid back, not interested in studying or careers and very given to partying, whereas mine are pretty well tee-totallers who live for learning and music and the "higher" things in life and find no sacrifice too great for the things that matter.

Dh and I have both had a lot of adapting to do, but it has helped that I have gradually come to realise that the learning isn't all one-sided: there are things I can learn from my IL's, too. On the whole, our parenting leans more towards my parents', but not entirely: there are also things I see in a different light.

Not sure what the solution is, though.

sdoherty1000 Thu 28-Mar-13 23:59:19

I'm not here to show my wife your comments and say look the whole world agrees with me, I was simply here to see if other people have had the same problem as me and offer some advice. Mainly, I came here to see if people thought I was to over bearing and if I should lighten up a little (which seems to be the general consensus) as me ams the misses don't seem to be on the same page any more. Growing up my mother always favoured my older brother and I know how awful it can make you feel so I try to treat all my kids in the same way. Yet the eldest is at a time in life where valuable lessons need to be learned so he can thrive in the real world. This year its something simple like a mobile phone contract, next year could be a car payment, the year after it could his mortgage payment etc.
Yes I don't like ear rings because people now a days are to quick to judge young people and so i compromised on a plain gold ear stud and that was the condition of him having it done.

I have decided to let her take the rains and let her make most of the decisions concerning what time they come in and what they are allowed to do. Not so I can turn round and say I told you so but to see if anything changes. If their attitudes change or they decide to see how far they can her I'll have a quiet word but if things change for the better all round I'll know it was me with the problem.

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