When do I let my boyfriend discipline my kid?

by singlemomseeking on November 4, 2009

bbq_lettin_off_steam“I never got around to being a father,” I overheard the Lucky Guy saying to some friends recently at a BBQ at his house.

At that moment, I was coming around the corner with a big salad in my hands. Of course, I stopped mid-step to get the best possible chance at eavesdropping.

“So, now,” he added, “I get to experience a little bit of what parenthood might have been like.”

Whoa. Talk about wanting to just weep into that lettuce.

For the record, let me say that from day one, I made it clear to LG that I’m the parent. (Hopefully, it didn’t sound that harsh when I said it.) As you know, I’ve played the role of Mom and Dad very early on — even if wearing those Dad shoes doesn’t always come easy for me. Dating as a single mom for me has never been about searching for father figure for my kid. If she had been younger and I’d met my future life partner, this might have happened naturally. But today, expecting any guy to take on this role this would be sorely inappropriate.

That said, I’m honest about this: discipline has not been my strengths, and I work hard at setting boundaries. (I didn’t really grow up with many of them.) Sometimes, I’ll crack myself up wondering how it would feel to say something: “Wait ‘till your father gets home.” Ha. Just joking.

Still, nowadays, we’re all spending more quality time together — from sharing dinner to going on vacation — which means that LG is getting a real taste of parenting for sure. As you all know, kids are not puppets who follow the game plan all the time. So, while we all share many sweet experiences together, it’s not all maple syrup.

What I mean is: my daughter is feeling so comfortable with the boyfriend that she’s starting to push limits. Just this week, for instance:

I’d told her: “No more Halloween candy. You’ve already had enough.”

And what did she do? She went straight to LG and asked him if she could have a lollipop.

Until recently, this is what has worked in situations like the above:

LG says: “You asked your mother and she said ‘No.’ ”

But now that she’s older — and wiser — I see how my sassy kid is working. She might, say, wait until I’m  on the phone — and unavailable — to ask LG, so sweetly, “So, if I can’t have candy, then can I have some ice cream?”

Him: “Wait until your Mom gets off the phone. You can ask her then.”

Her: “Please, just a little?”

Him, shaking his head.

Her: “C’mon, just one tiny bit?”

You can see where there is all headed. So, I’m sure you have a lot to say on this one:

When is it appropriate for your boyfriend — or girlfriend — to discipline your kid(s)?

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

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Brock February 13, 2017 at 7:39 am

I’m the guy on the other end of this situation. I’ve been dating a single mom for almost 4 years now, and for the last almost year I’ve been taking a more active role. I pick the kids up from school, take them out off and on, spend evenings with them and their mother in a “family night” style setting, and more. I love it.

The issue comes when we get to talking about discipline. I’m a strong Type A personality that would prefer to take care of myself and such, but I also understand that the three children are hers. She gets to choose how they will be disciplined, raised, and such. Her decision was that when they are acting up I’m supposed to tell them to stop. Not yell or anything, just simply tell them to stop. If they refuse, my only recourse is to tell them, “I’m going to tell your mother”.

This wouldn’t be such a huge issue if when she returned that something would happen. But when she gets home she just tells them nicely that they need to listen and then it ends there. No matter how rotten they’ve been behaving. If they continue she threatens to spank them, but in the 4 years we’ve been together I’ve only seen that happen once. Currently she gives them about 20 warnings, tells them “you’re so done”, and when they continue she gets up to drag them to their room while they laugh at her and sometimes even hit her. And I’m left to sit there and watch it all because I’m not supposed to get involved.

The kids have figured out there is zero recourse for not listening to me because I will just tell their mom who will give them 20-30 more warnings before anything even happens.

I really want to take a more active roll because I do know this was not how I was raised. I had wonderful parents, but they also didn’t take my shit. Instead of ignoring 20-30 warnings, I got one. If I may not have heard I would be lucky to get one more. Then dad or mom’s ass whipping would commence. And if I ever raised a hand to my mother my dad would have tanned my ass so bad I wouldn’t have sat for a week.

I understand that kind of discipline is rare and hardly found anymore, but I really wish I knew what to do. She is so stressed with dealing with them all the time that I really want to help, and I do believe reasserting who is the parent and who is the child would be a good place to start.

Any advice would be appreciated, and please feel free to correct me if you think I’m wrong. I just want to be sure I get it right.


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Melinda May 10, 2011 at 9:59 am

I agree with Michele.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I really don’t think a boyfriend should discipline your child. That is your responsibility. As the parent, you should be the one to enforce rules and offer guidance.

It depends on the situation. Your boyfriend sounds like a nice person with good intentions, so it might work out for the better if you allow him to share in the responsibility of raising your daughter. But I personally wouldn’t allow it if it were my child. That would be my job, no one else’s.

I was once subjected to a lot of abusive treatment by my mother’s boyfriend-turned-husband, so perhaps I’m a bit biased. I love my mother but I still feel resentment because of the way she allowed him to treat me. He believed it was “discipline”. I call it abuse. I’m sure your boyfriend is a much better person than my stepfather will ever be.

As the mom, it is your job to parent your daughter to the best of your ability. This is something that only you can decide. If your boyfriend wants the responsibility and is capable of helping to discipline your child in a firm but loving way, then go for it.

I know what works in my home and what doesn’t. We all have different parenting styles. You need to make sure that his views of discipline are in line with yours. If not, that could be a problem.

Michele said that her boyfriend is a bit of a drill sergeant and that’s why she is uncomfortable with him trying to discipline her kids. I completely agree. I would not tolerate that either. I don’t allow my children to be disrespectful, but no one can come into my home and mistreat/abuse them in the name of “discipline”. I discipline my children the way I see fit. I am firm but loving. I don’t believe in hitting, yelling, or profanity. My stepfather did all of those things.

You want the best for your daughter so do what feels right to you. No one else can tell you what to do. I can only offer my input on why I believe it’s better for moms to provide discipline instead of having their boyfriend/new spouse do it.

I hope that whatever you decided to do, it has all worked out! Take care. 🙂


Rix April 23, 2010 at 5:49 pm

no problem with boyfriend who gives limitation with your child, it shows care and love BUT boyfriend should know their limits too..


NewSingleTweenMom March 24, 2010 at 10:57 am

Wow! This is my first visit to this blog and the comments have been unbelievably helpful to our current situation. I’m a divorced mom with 12 & 10 year old boys, I’ve been seeing L for over a year, and my ex just moved out of state (custody battle almost complete). My ex began manipulating our 12 yr old with lies and attempting to turn him against me 6 months before he left. Now I am left to clean up his mess-a disrespectful, deceitful 12 yr old. It has been an uphill battle since his Dad has been coaching him on how to slip things past me. It’s a frustrating situation for L to sit back and watch. We don’t live together, but are committed to staying in it for the long haul. Marriage just isn’t the best plan for us now with all the changes the boys have gone through recently.

Like I said, this info was a huge help as we have been discussing what exactly his role should be around here. He’s watches them occasionally and helps out with the household chores. After reading these comments, our plan of action will be for him to support me and back me up. (i.e. “Please don’t talk to your Mom like that.”) I think it would backfire for him to hand down any punishment right now, but he can certainly let his feelings be known. I think it will help build up the respect he deserves. Being not-the-dad and not-a-friend is a difficult place to be.


Lolita November 9, 2009 at 11:02 pm

I’m not in a serious relationship right now and have yet to introduce any men I’ve dated to my young sons.

BUT, I can say, that I can NOT stand that my ex-husband’s fiance disciplines my children based on HER rules. My ex-husband and I agreed to a method of parenting — and I would expect that anyone I decide to bring into my sons’ lives to back up that parenting style. By trying to enforce ‘new’ rules or methods of discipline, I think just confuses the children involved AND creates more of a headache for all.

So, yes, if I get into a relationship where my S.O. moves in with my sons and I, I would expect him to have a part in discipline when necessary. But I would make sure it’s in line with how I’ve been raising my kids and supportive of my methods. Otherwise, he wouldn’t be there to begin with.


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