It’s important to understand that being a husband usually comes with a dual role of fatherhood. The close relative of the Alpha Male traits is being the Alpha Male of the Group (AMOG). In other words leadership of your wife has also got to be leadership of the children as well. If a kid is running the show you aren’t the AMOG, they are. Which is really really bad on so many levels.
So if the kids are running about uncontrolled you’re screwing up the whole thing and look increasingly Beta at best and Omega at worst. You’re responsible for the raising of the kids, more responsible for them than your wife is. As I’ve said before you’re the Captain and she’s the First Officer. Oh sure the mom can step up and kick ass and take names if need be, but for the really nasty stuff she feels like G.I. Jane when she’d probably rather be Barbie. Ideally a Barbie hooking up with a G.I. Joe. (I mean seriously, we all knew Ken was nervous about G.I. Joe right?)
Anyway… we just had an icky moment in the family where eldest daughter had to be disappointed on something she wanted to do due to us not feeling comfortable about it. Bear in mind that this is a very good kid who gives us minimal trouble if any. She’s saved up cash and dreamed about X coming around again ever since she did X last year. We were cool with X. X was approved. But last week Y was tacked onto X. And her friends were doing Y. Y was going to be very cool.
Ummm… I’m not sure I’d let Jennifer do Y lol.
So Y was not going to be approved.
But there may be a complete meltdown.
I get to be the bad guy.
So anyway, grab my calendar and we all sit down together and I pull the trigger on Y explaining why and move into problem solving to get her X together. Jennifer backing me up. By the time we’re done Y seems like more of a fantasy idea and we’ve maximized the X. Everything goes very very smoothly. Phew. Like I said she’s a great kid, but this is like “the thing” that she reaaaaaaaally wants.
Plus we also authorize eldest to use “over controlling parents” as an excuse to justify her lack of ability to Y. She looks a little relived to be given a way out of Y to be honest.
The important point in terms of husband-wife relationship though is this; if I hadn’t put a stop to it, Jennifer would have anyway. But she would have lost a little respect for me. After all if I can’t stand up to a 90lb 8th Grader, an actual adult female would mop the floor with me. That’s fail.
Discipline sounds like a harsh word, but often it really isn’t in practice… These are the limits, these are the consequences of the limits being broken. This is me not enabling you to break the limits. I can easily not drive you in the car all day long. You made a huge scene when we left there, so I’m not taking you back for a week. You are screaming at me like an asshole, so this conversation stops until you can express yourself appropriately. You are having a tantrum in public, so we are leaving public now. Yes I understand that we left a shopping cart full of food behind, we can make cheese sandwiches at home. Thank you for being good, let’s get ice cream. You were both well behaved then, thank you. Yada yada yada.
When you discipline one kid, you actually discipline them all. Daughter #2 isn’t getting to do Y either should Y come up and should it be offered to her she’ll just say “my parents won’t let me do that”. The kids are a social unit and they expect discipline to apply to all. (and you’re screwed if you don’t lol) Likewise when you discipline your kids, you’re actually disciplining your wife as well, and vice a versa. This is how we treat each other in this family.
Positive touch, kind words, humor, playfulness are likewise tools in the discipline tool chest as well. Playfully grabbing your wife and kissing her in front of the kids, or cuddling on the couch together, might make the kids groan in mock horror, but they do find it enormously comforting. Mom and Dad still love each other, which implies they still love me. Together you can set a tone for the whole family’s interactions together.
But mostly the person you’re disciplining is you.