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Disciplining boyfriend's children

(17 Posts)
Lelania Mon 27-Jul-15 14:44:55

This is a kind of AIBU but I don’t want to be yelled out of I have this wrong I am posting here – dating someone who has children can be hard when you don’t have them and MNetters can be very harsh if you get it wrong, especially on AIBU!

I don’t have children myself but my boyfriend has two little girls (4 and 6). I love them to pieces and am quite close to them and they like me a lot too.

My boyfriend has commented a few times that I am too soft on them and should be firmer and should tell them off if they are naughty. He says that I am soft to get them to like me, and there might be an element of that but I think that it’s not really my place to start laying down the law with them.

However, I disagree. Firstly, they are extremely well behaved. An example of “naughty” behaviour might be a reluctance to go to bed, wanting to eat more sweets when they have already had enough, not saying please or thank you or being over-excited so more boisterous than is appropriate. Perhaps because I am not a parent, these things don’t even register on my radar as naughtiness, I see it is children being children.

Secondly, I don’t live with my boyfriend and most of the time that I see them he is there (although I do take them out alone and babysit them on occasion - they always behave impeccably as far as I am concerned) and I think it would be massively inappropriate for me to start telling them off if he is there because he is their parent and I am not.

Obviously, if they were putting themselves in danger or fighting I would tell them to stop, very firmly if I needed to, but I don’t think I really should do anymore than that.

What do you think? Would you want a boyfriend / girlfriend to discipline you children?

Handywoman Mon 27-Jul-15 14:49:29

They sound like perfectly lovely girls and your instinct are right, you need to stay out of discipline if he's around.

Is he looking for a replacement mother in you, so he doesn't have to so it? If so, tell him he can look elsewhere!

goddessofsmallthings Mon 27-Jul-15 15:00:47

The behaviour you describe wouldn't register on my 'naughty' radar either.

The dc sound delightful but, sadly, your boyfriend doesn't and if you should be considering having dc of your own with him, I suggest you think very carefully about your conflicting attitudes to discipline because he sounds as if he's a Victorian throwback coming from the school of children, and little girls in particular, being seen and not heard.
'

wallaby73 Mon 27-Jul-15 15:01:36

It's not your job to be disciplining or parenting them, but it sounds like he is expecting you too......why?

FolkGirl Mon 27-Jul-15 15:04:32

It isn't your role to discipline them, but it is your role to support him and back him up.

Fwiw, good manners is something children need to learn and something the adults in their lives need to teach, model and remind them of.

Reluctance to go to bed needs to be managed or it becomes a nightmare.

Pestering for more sweets when they've had enough. Well of course you say no.

You're not their mum, but if you have sole care of them on occasion, you need to be on the same page.

Discipline isn't about shouting and telling off.

miffytherabbit3 Mon 27-Jul-15 15:04:39

I think you are doing things exactly right, the girls sound lovely and so do you.

Mutt Mon 27-Jul-15 15:07:00

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

pocketsaviour Mon 27-Jul-15 15:07:46

An example of “naughty” behaviour might be a reluctance to go to bed, wanting to eat more sweets when they have already had enough

OK, so what do you do when these scenarios occur? Do you let them stay up for a while longer, or let them have one extra sweet? If so I can understand your BF getting annoyed if his approach is more strict. If you are saying "No, it's bedtime now" or "No, that's enough sweets for today" then I don't really see what he's complaining about.

Handywoman Mon 27-Jul-15 15:11:39

Frankly if my boyf was in the room and the dc asked for more sweets I would tell them to ask their dad.

HPsauciness Mon 27-Jul-15 15:41:00

I think you are right, he is there, it's his job to sort them out and provide appropriate boundaries, I'm sure their mum appreciates your friendly but not parenting approach. Obviously if you are undermining him with one more sweet, stay up later, that's not ok either but I don't think you need to be strict with other people's children.

Are you ever on your own with them? If so, you may need to be slightly firmer or at least make your boundaries known. But no need for anything heavy handed.

bearleftmonkeyright Mon 27-Jul-15 19:08:23

You both need to be on the same page here. If they ask for another sweet and your DP is not happy then that is fair enough. So you say, sorry girls but your Dad thinks you have had enough. I do get it, I am a pretty lax parent. But I guess he could see that you are undermining him somewhat if you say let them eat extra sweets or stay up late when he has said no and has tried to set ground rules when he has his daughters over. I don't think this is a major issue for the two of you to sort out though and a pretty common situation. You just need to talk to him and take on board his feelings. Hope it goes ok.

OfficerVanHalen Mon 27-Jul-15 19:15:22

Your boyfriend sounds a bit lazy tbh. What is he doing when you're looking after his children? What is he like the rest of the time wrt domestic shitwork? Does he do his bit? Does he 'joke' about women's work etc? Can he iron, cook, all that?

Cabrinha Mon 27-Jul-15 20:30:57

Impossible to say from your OP, because you don't actually say what you do!
I agree with PP on the sweets situation - if you "oh go on then, one more won't hurt" then that's not good. If you're simply saying no but leaving it to him to discipline - e.g. actually tell them off for asking when they know they're not allowed - then that's fine.

Lelania Mon 27-Jul-15 23:47:15

Do you let them stay up for a while longer, or let them have one extra sweet? If so I can understand your BF getting annoyed if his approach is more strict. If you are saying "No, it's bedtime now" or "No, that's enough sweets for today" then I don't really see what he's complaining about

I don't normally say anything to be honest. I leave it up to him. I certainly don't give them sweets when he has said they can't have any or tell them not to go to bed if he has told them to.

Fwiw, good manners is something children need to learn and something the adults in their lives need to teach, model and remind them of.

I do see what you mean but they are polite - they just forget to say the right words sometimes.

Reluctance to go to bed needs to be managed or it becomes a nightmare.

I am still reluctant to go to bed at 33 :-)

What is he doing when you're looking after his children?

?? He spends as much time with them as possible so I don't look after his children on my own much. Generally if I do it's been because there has been some kind of emergency (for example, his exes sister was in a near fatal car accident and he was working 3 hours away so I offered to take the children or last time the silly man broke his e-cigarette and I could see he was suffering from nicotine withdrawal and obviously didn't want to take the children to a vaping shop so I took them for a picnic). He doesn't leave his children with me regularly.

What is he like the rest of the time wrt domestic shitwork? Does he do his bit?

We don't live together. We both hate domestic work. I have a cleaner. He does it himself begrudgingly so I think that makes me worse.

Can he iron, cook, all that?

He's pretty good at ironing, much better than I am. Not particularly confident cooking but can feed himself. Not entirely sure why this is relevant?

Hissy Tue 28-Jul-15 07:06:51

How long have you both been together?

Fwiw, I think you have about the right kind of approach with the dc

PeruvianFoodLover Tue 28-Jul-15 07:15:06

In what circumstances has he told you that you are "too soft"?

MakeItRain Tue 28-Jul-15 07:16:12

You come across as very thoughtful about your role in their life. Have you said all this to him? I wonder why his perception of you is too soft, when it sounds like you don't undermine him, just let him parent. What is he actually like with them? Do you think he's too hard (in his approach)? He sounds a bit stressed over nothing.

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