Friday, October 30, 2009

Maintaining Authority When Dad is Away - Part 2

Note: Continued from Maintaining Authority When Dad is Away - Part 1

When a mother and father discuss parenting, she might ask him if there are any specific things he wants her to address in teaching and disciplining the children while he is gone. Is there anything he sees when he is home that isn't being done or isn't being handled well? Also, she should bring to him anything wherein the children are refusing to obey her or bad character issues which are developing, and ask him to speak with the children directly about it. Some men just aren't aware of the importance of their participation in establishing the mother's authority in this regard.

Last of all, once Dad and Mom have mapped out the battle plan, it's time to bring it before the children. Arrange a family meeting for Dad to explain the new rule of order. (It should be apparent that Dad is the one who has established this order even if Mom adds her input to the discussion.) When Dad is gone, Mom is in charge. When he returns, Mom will be reporting to him how things are going. The children should be told that Mom will be reporting both good and bad behaviors. Commending them before their father can really add some *oompf* to their desire to please both parents. Nonetheless, it is important that Mom reports any insubordination on the part of the children to their father and have them directly accountable to Dad for it. This is very important. I cannot stress it enough.

Finally, Mother should discuss any discipline issues and commendations to Dad when he returns home. She must not do it the moment he gets in the door, of course, possibly not even the same day. Rather, she should wait until a relaxed moment when the issues may be addressed in a calm and orderly way. It is best to ask him if he's ready, anyway, before going at it with both barrels.

To keep the order in place, Mom and Dad should get together again at least once a month to re-evaluate where they are in their parenting, discussing each child in turn. Determine what is working and what is not. Try to discern the best method of dealing with different situations. Perhaps Mom could keep a journal of discipline and training with notes highlighted for specific discussion. In any case, communication is the key to mutual parenting success, but especially when Dad is not available.

Ironically, however, many women struggle more when Dad is home. Mom has been so engrossed with disciplining and teaching the children that when Dad is present, she feels as though she should be doing more and differences arise almost immediately regarding who is in charge. These feelings must also be addressed at the parent meeting.

Note: Continue to Maintaining Authority When Dad is Away - Part 3