How to Build a Father, Step by Step (Part 3)
If this is the first time you are joining us for our How to Build a Father series, please be sure to check out Part 1 and Part 2 first, so you can catch up! We’ve been talking about Fatherhood and its challenges and how we, as wives, can help build up the best fathers that we can. Today I am answering questions from readers. We received a few really important questions, so let’s start right in. Let me remind you that these are only my opinions, and I am very old-fashioned. For anything that you consider a serious issue within your home, you should always seek professional assistance. Ok…here goes.
Question: How she I repair the damage I’ve done by venting to my children about their father behind his back?
Answer: I think that this answer starts with a question. How old are your children? If they are still very young, simply stop doing that immediately. Begin at once to stand as a united front and never belittle your husband again. Time will repair any damage you may have done.
If they are older, tweens or teens, you will need to do more damage control. I would start with making it a point to say things like “Your father is right when he says _______________.” Or “Your father made a great point when he told you that ________________.” Try to get at least one of these every day or every other day. Ideally say these things both in front of their father and when he isn’t around. This will begin to lay the new groundwork for rebuilding dad’s image.
The next thing I would do would come into play at the next opportunity where you would have normally done some of that behind the scenes venting. Except this time I would say something like this: “You know in the past I have questioned your father’s actions, but I was wrong to do that. He was doing the right thing all along, and I know that now. I agree with him on this issue too, so I’m sorry but (fill in the blank here with a reiteration of whatever dad said. If it’s a consequence, repeat it. If it’s a loss of privilege, repeat it.)” You may need to remind yourself that your number one roll right now is as wife and mom. You are not here to be your child’s best friend. You are setting a life example. Do it well.
Lastly, make it very clear to your children that you and their dad are a united front and neither of you will allow anyone to try to play one against the other. ALL decisions are discussed between the two of you from now on. Period. Then move on.
Question: What if I vehemently disagree with my husband’s decision and actions with our child on a certain issue?
Answer: First, a disclaimer. Are his actions abusive? If so, seek immediate professional help. Never stand for that. Ever.
If his actions are not abusive, I must then ask if you have previously discussed your parenting styles and come to an agreement on what will be the agreed upon methods and mannerisms for raising your children (forms of discipline included). If you have not, please stay tuned beginning next week for our Marriage Agreement series. I’ll be going over exactly how to come to an agreement on this and many other issues! Once you have worked out all the details this should never really be an issue again and that will take care of your problem.
If you have already had these discussions and you find yourself in a place where your husband is staying within the agreed upon guidelines and it’s just that you disagree with his conclusions and decisions about a particular issue, there are two possibilities. First, if this is a new issue and you have not had an opportunity to discuss the happenings with him, request that you have a little talk before he issues any consequences with your child. When the child is well out of earshot, present your view calmly. Explain your thinking, then put it back in his hands to make a decision. You must be prepared to live with whatever he decides, however.
If the punishment has already been doled out or this is a recurring or older issue, this is where you have to step up in your wife role. Bite your tongue. Turn the other way. Go for a walk. Do anything you have to, but under absolutely no circumstance do you allow your child to catch wind that you disagree with dad. If your husband knows your thoughts on this matter and is going against them anyway, the man must believe what he is doing is the best for his family. Why would he invite that kind of grief upon himself otherwise? So you must stand by him and present a united front!! No matter what. Even if it’s hard.
But remember, this too shall pass. It always does.
and lastly–Question: What if we can’t agree on what forms of discipline to use for raising our children? He believes in spanking, and I don’t. I want to use time out and loss of privileges. He thinks that’s not enough. We just can’t agree.
Answer: I think a deeper conversation is needed here. Why do each of you feel the way you feel? What is your background experience that brought you to feel that way? Take turns talking and really listening to each other. Discuss your childhood experiences. Discuss your experiences with your parents, siblings, and other authority figures. Discuss how you feel about other people’s parenting skills and methods. Get to the bottom of why you each feel how you feel. Then perhaps you can find a common ground.
Did he witness a disastrous result with a child who was only given time outs? Is he afraid that his children will end up like that? Did you witness corporal punishment or abuse and you are afraid that a “pat in a diapered backside” is or will escalate to abuse? Where are the feelings originating from? Is there a level of each that you can agree upon? Is there a compromise? Is there a “hard limit” that you can each agree to?
In our Marriage Agreement, I have agreed that ultimately if my husband and I can’t agree on any issue, he has final say. So, for me, that would be the final answer to this problem. If we had all these discussions and we still couldn’t agree, it would be whatever he says. Ideally that isn’t the best answer. I would talk and talk and talk some more to find a compromise that we could both live with, and I suggest you do the same.
That wraps up the questions from our readers. Of course, you are always welcome to send any questions over any time you’d like. We will do our best to answer each and every one.