Remedial parenting 1: Effective discipline

If you’d like to know what we’ve learned about effective discipline in 15 years of parenting, it’s…well, it’s nothing. We’ve learned nothing.

When I made a decision last week to practice what I call Management by Walking Away, I neglected to inform my husband of my new stance. The natural result was that over the weekend, in response to the same behavior I was addressing, he decided to practice something I’ll call, for lack of a better term, Management by Arbitrary Pronouncement.

In other words, “I will mete out punishment for some unspecified behavior, without telling you how to correct it, and then leave town so your mother can enforce my strange, new rules.”

Do I sound a little disgruntled? I am. I’m guessing there is a significant amount of disgruntlement going around our castle.

My husband and I basically agree on the behavior we want, but we go about getting it in a completely different fashion. Because I’m the one who’s usually home my methods, effective or not, are at least familiar. His are like being deposited in a forest with only a book of matches and a tarp and being instructed to find your way home.

I can tell you how I react to this situation. I hack my way out. The kids sit down and fiddle with the tarp. And then ask me how to get home.

It’s going to make for a very long week. We can only hope that by the time our dear one returns from his trip, he will have forgotten what it was he was mad about. Based on past experience, I’m guessing that will occur about the time he arrives at the airport this morning.

15 thoughts on “Remedial parenting 1: Effective discipline

  1. My husband does this all the time. He’ll announce a rule or punishment and then leave for work, and I have to deal with the angry, disgruntled children or fight with them all day to do what their father required of them. Totally get it.

    Sending warm hugs your way.


  2. This may be why Mad Man became such a hit. Parents all over looked at Don’s and Betty’s educational “methods” with amazement (“Go out and play”, “Go and watch some television”, “Go to your room”).


  3. Oh my goodness they do! They do.

    And I so don’t want to make it a mum-rules-and-dad’s-a-doofus thing because that’s not it, it’s just about hours on the job. I love that he wants to be involved, but honestly, I like to use computers but I don’t turn up at his office and start taking over and ordering everyone around without at least acknowledging the current manager’s position.

    So I guess this is your way of saying it doesn’t stop, then?


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