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What Mom Can Do When Dad Won’t Discipline the Kids

It happens…probably more than we care to admit.

Johnnie does such and such while dad is at work. Mom attempts some discipline and utters the oft-used-in-humor “Just wait till your father gets home!” or some such thing. Dad gets home…and then…

Nothing. Nothing happens. {sigh}

Getting dads to help with discipline


Or you’re sitting in the living room one night talking, and he mentions that he sees a problem with one of your teens. Too much time online, perhaps, an increase in smart-alecky talk, repeated curfew breaks or something. You suggest he try the direct approach. You get no response, or at the very least, no action.

Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

Dad just is not engaging in the discipline process!

While there may be many reasons for this, and I am certainly not a qualified counselor, I can speak from a season or two of experience, and am qualified to share what I’ve learned from going through the process.

What CAN a Mom Do When Dad Won’t Discipline the Kids?

We’ve always told our kids “You can’t control anybody except yourself!” meaning starting any excuse for poor behavior with “Well, he…” or “She…” doesn’t’ fly. We can’t change or control anybody else’s behavior or responses, only our own.

This advice also applies to the grown-ups living at home.

This advice also applies to this situation.

“So how do I get my husband to change?” you might ask.

Well, for starters, while there are things you can do, that’s the wrong question to begin with. The things you can do all relate to yourself and how you’re going to handle the situation.

Here’s your action plan:

  1. Pray about the situation – Pray for your husband, pray for your errant child, pray for yourself. Ask for wisdom, patience, conviction, truth, repentance…for everyone involved! Become an intercessor in prayer.
  2. Present things as they come up – Pick one behavior or issue, and talk about it with your husband. Talk over coffee or an iced tea. Maybe go for a walk or a drive and talk then. Don’t do it when you’re angry or frustrated – either at your hubby or your child! And be open to wherever the discussion goes…
  3. Ask your husband for help in a particular situation – Don’t store things up until you’re ready to explode. (I may or may not be speaking from experience here.) And if you bring up lots of situations, you run the risk of overwhelming him, which, of course, will only reinforce the withdrawal behavior you’re already frustrated with!
  4. Have an open mind about his response – Note to self: Just because it may not be how you’d handle it doesn’t’ make it wrong. It’s just different.
  5. Do all you can to back him up when he DOES respond, or request your involvement – I know, I know, you may be thinking “But I already…” Well, this may be harsh, but “So what?” It may not be the ideal dream solution you were hoping for or expecting, but if he asks you to do something, and then you follow through, you’re showing him you DO trust him to handle things, and maybe next time he’ll be willing to move on his own solution.

As I mentioned earlier, there may be many, many underlying reasons for dad “checking out,”, and certainly there are times when couple or family counseling is called for.  But no matter what the reasons are, mom, it’s vital to remember this:

We can only control our own behavior, and our own response to what life ~ and others - throw at us! Click To Tweet

And whatever we do needs to be bathed in prayer…

Be encouraged today with this:

There is NO situation that God is not aware of. And if we let him, He will use the situation to help grow our character, and make us more like Him each day…


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Pat is a Yankee city-girl who has been adopted by the sleepy, sunny south. Married for 30 years and the mother of 5, she woke up one day recently to discover she reached the stage of life where she is the “older woman” described in Titus 2:3-5. A coffee lover, the purchase of a coffee shop a few years ago was her personal foray into the small, family-owned business arena.Today, PatAndCandy.com is her outlet for packaging up and sharing the nuggets of wisdom God and life experiences have taught her.
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12 Responses to What Mom Can Do When Dad Won’t Discipline the Kids

  1. Chantal Steele November 14, 2016 at 7:07 pm #

    Been there! Daddy seems to be the spoiler… it can be a bit stressful but most of the time I try to work with it. These are great tips!

    • Pat November 14, 2016 at 7:14 pm #

      Hope you find them helpful, Chantal! It’s always a work in progress… Being patient with all parties involved seems to help, but I do find myself counting to 10 much of the time. LOL
      Pat recently posted…Why and How to Take a Detox BathMy Profile

  2. Tonia February 4, 2016 at 2:09 pm #

    Excellent advice! I need to remember that just because my husband doesn’t do it the way I would doesn’t mean that he’s wrong. So much good in this post.

    Thanks for linking up at The Weekend Roundup!

    • Pat February 4, 2016 at 2:20 pm #

      Thank you, Tonia! That was SUCH a hard lesson for me to learn! I’m beginning to think that sometimes God allows us to work through challenges so that we can help others avoid them 😉

      Happy to have visited…”see you” next weekend!!
      Pat recently posted…Guiding Your Kids Through AdversityMy Profile

  3. Amanda B. January 26, 2016 at 6:24 am #

    Excellent advice. While my husband was the disciplinarian in our home, I can easily see how it challenging it is when parents don’t agree. We have counseled many couples with this complaint, and more often than not, Mom says she wants Dad to discipline, so he tries, but when doesn’t do it her way, she gets angry (he’s not strict enough, he’s too strict, or he corrects in a different way). He feels like he can’t win, so he gives up. It is so hard (like others have said) to step back and support your husband, but it is so necessary for your children that you present a united front. I hope everyone will take your gracious words to heart.

    • Pat January 26, 2016 at 8:25 am #

      Wow, Amanda…I think I used to be one of those ladies 😉 Ugh, seirously, when I think of how I used to thwart my hubby in this area…well,it just makes me cringe! Thanks for sharing your experience, and if you have any other advice…we’re all ears!
      Appreciate you stopping by and commenting…have a great week!

  4. Marilyn Lesniak January 20, 2016 at 4:36 pm #

    Thank you for the wonderful party! I hope you will visit #overthemoon and #thursdayfavoritethings.
    I love this question. It is long overdue.

    • Pat January 20, 2016 at 5:47 pm #

      Our pleasure, Marilyn…and I agree that it’s overdue! Something moms are sometimes afraid to talk about on a serious level…just trying to be part of the solution! 🙂 I know about #overthemoon, but gonna have to visit #thursdayfavoritethings – are you a host?
      Have a great week!!

  5. Danielle DeVane Wells January 15, 2016 at 9:11 am #

    This is so good! My Hubby didin’t come from a home where discipline was observed and I did. so we’ve had some conflict recently over our toddler and what to do about issues. Thankfully, he is open to reading parenting books and learning a healthy way to discipline. Right now we are reading “The Power of Positive Parenting” and it’s our goal to read 5 more this year. Do you have any suggestions for parenting books that helped you?

    • Pat January 18, 2016 at 3:06 pm #

      Oh, yes, Danielle! That is AWEsome that you’re reading them together…keeps you on the same page (pardon the pun!)…
      I’d encourage you to check out almost ANYthing from Focus on the Family…but there’s also Ted Tripp’s “Shepherding a Child’s Heart”, the “5 Love Languages” series (for children and teens), “Do You Know What I Like About You?” by Cynthia Tobias, “Boundaries With Teens” by John Townsend…
      Develop a good relationship with your child, and discipline and training will flow naturally…
      Praying for you on the journey!!!

  6. Rosilind January 15, 2016 at 7:42 am #

    This is excellent advice. I think it’s particularly hard when type A moms marry type B dads, but I certainly know that as I’ve stepped back and backed my husband up when he’s responded that it’s become more balanced, as it should be.

    • Pat January 15, 2016 at 8:25 am #

      Rosilind, GAH – isn’t stepping back so hard sometimes? I mean, worth it in the long run, but maybe it’s just me… 😉
      Plus, I think sometimes when you’re homeschooling, as we are, that makes it even harder, ’cause we’re ALways with the kiddos…
      Ah, but such is life! It would be so VERY boring if we didn’t have anything to work out together, right?!
      Thanks for stopping by…

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