How do you discipline your kids? At what age is what form of discipline correct to use? Spank them or give them time out? Positive re-enforcement or punishment? A mixture of both? Raising children without destroying them emotionally and mentally or turning them into little monsters is difficult, let us help you navigate these waters.
You’ve put in a 12 hour day after a 5 hour night. The whole office felt like it was trying to piss you off until you finally quit by pouring your coffee over the boss’s head. Traffic was a gridlock of every idiot that has ever or will ever walk the Earth. Now all you want is to come home to a clean house, the smell of a home cooked meal, your little angels playing quietly in the corner and your smiling wife greeting you with a newspaper and telling you to relax that dinner is almost done.
Your pull into the driveway to see the delivery man bringing you take out mush for dinner, your wife is in a stained shirt and mis-matched slippers with her hair in disarray and what appears to be a smear of mascara down her cheek. As you approach the door you the children run past you screaming like banshees covered in what you hope is mud, but smells very unlike mud to you. You get closer and the distinct smell of a very burnt home-made meal attacks your olfactory. Then the sprinklers kick on.
Your eyes nearly bug out of your skull. That’s it. You’re done. And it’s time that everyone knew it. You grab the kids by the scruffs of their necks and “usher” them back inside. You pass your wife and say “You need to learn to control these children” and walk inside without another word. There’s no yelling, only the load clap of your belt as you line the children up by size and sit down in the recliner. Time to restore order.
There’s only one problem here. You’ve done everything wrong. Let me start by saying that I’m not a psychologist or therapist. No one here has a degree in child development. We’re parents. Just like you. We’ve come home from the devils at work and found the imps running the house. We have experience and that’s what we’re speaking from.
So your wife burned dinner because little Johnny got into her nail polish and she forgot about the food while dealing with it. The children have been doing cocaine for the last hour judging by their screaming and endless running, climbing and jumping. You’ve had a long day at work and just want everyone to BE QUIET! Understandable. Here’s reality for you:
Your wife, more than likely, wanted to have a peaceful house and dinner waiting for you when you got home. But no matter how bad the office was it wasn’t a group of pre-school age children curious about EVERYTHING, and wanting to see how everything works.
Johnny was sitting down eating when Sally kicked the table and sent the food flying. Johnny was crying which set Billy crying and Sally took off running to destinations unknown.
Your wife was trying to keep the stains out of the carpet and keep the dog from stomping the scraps further into the floor while trying to grab a bite of this new treat. All the while Johnny and Billy are crying for her attention. Then Sally comes back like a whirlwind with the tote you keep the Legos in and dumps them on the floor just a little ways off from the food.
After several long minute Billy and Johnny calm down. your wife finishes cleaning the floor and stands up. That’s when Sally catches a block in the eye. Now she’s crying and Billy, the antagonist here starts crying because Sally threw a block back. Johnny starts throwing blocks and squealing with glee at this new game.
This was your wife’s day. Bob from the office telling you another story you don’t care about and that prick from middle management riding you about unimportant memos were nothing. Those are inconvenient. Your wife has been to war.
So let’s retell this story from the point of view of a man who knows what she’s gone through.
You pull into the drive. The pizza boy is there, but at least it’s your favorite pizza joint. Maybe she didn’t have time to run to the grocery for dinner. Your wife looks disheveled and worn out. She definitely didn’t have time to get groceries. You take a deep breath and get out of the car only to be passed by a group of children who smell like they’ve been rolling around in the dog’s latest excursion to the yard.
You call them “Hey kids. Let’s go inside and get cleaned up. We got pizza!”. To which you hear screams of joy and see a troupe of small children push past your poor wife to get after the food, nearly knocking the pizza guy down on the way. During the last few steps to your house you reach in your pocket and grab a couple extra dollars for the pizza guy and send him on his way before the sprinklers can get him. You lean in and kiss your wife on the cheek while she’s trying to explain why she burned dinner and apologizing.
“It’s alright babe, we’ll have it tomorrow. I’ll get kids, go clean yourself up then we’ll eat.” Turning back to the kids you say “Guys. Upstairs now. Go get cleaned up or you’re eating what mom made instead of pizza.” You chase your 3 small children upstairs and help get them clean.
Which one sounds better? A thankful wife, more relaxed wife that won’t nag on you all night because “you just don’t get it”, and children who respect you enough to listen, but don’t fear you too much to approach you? I know how your parents or grandparent did it. I’ve heard it over and over and over again. Spare the rod and spoil the child. But here’s my thinking: the rod is metaphorical and the punishment should fit the crime, not your current demeanor.
It’s hard in the heat of the moment not to explode, but sometimes – most times – its the worst thing you can do. Stick with us through this series and we’ll help you get a handle on how a man handles parenting while being a providing and loving husband and father. Sounds better than throwing a fit and hitting because you have no other weapons in your arsenal doesn’t it?