Parenting with a partner can be hard. Hey, even two people on the same page aren't in complete agreement all the time... unless one of you is a specially programmed parenting robot. (PS: I call dibs on this idea,
Westworld and Black Mirror, so I'd better not see any morally complex and well-written explorations of this issue because that would make you idea thieves.) Dealing with a child pitching a fit can be particularly trying, so you can bet your you-know-what there are some completely infuriating things your partner will do when your kid has a tantrum.
Look, this doesn't mean your partner is a terrible human or anything. Everyone makes mistakes, and it's even easier to make mistakes when you're trying to deal with an
irrational and emotional kid. Good parenting is all about communicating and backing each other up as a cohesive and supportive parenting team... which can be tremendously hard to do when you can't hear yourself think over the wails of "I want candy!" or "I don't want to go to bed!" or " Why don't we live at Disneyland?!" or any of the bajillion and seven other things kids will go absolutely nuts about. It's easy to get lines of communication crossed when you're just doing your best to get your beloved little one to shut the hell up.
Of course, if your partner regularly does any of these things it's probably time for
some serious conversations. After all, parents have to be on the same team, even (hell, especially) during the most difficult demonstrates of kid-fury. But even when they do it once or from time to time, even if it's not a huge issue, it's still likely to leave you seeing varying shades of red for a while. Somehow Be Completely Unbothered By It
What sort of wizardry have they employed to be absolutely unfazed by all that hellish shrieking? Like... do they have earplugs in? Are they
in a deep meditative state where worldly chaos seems far below them? How are they just sitting there? It's maddening. Just Assume You'll Be The One To Deal With It
You know how it goes sometimes, right? Your kid starts freaking out while you and your partner are both in the room, so you look at them and wait for them to make eye contact to figure out who is going to take the lead on this one
and they will not meet your gaze. Or they'll just look up at you expectantly, as though you are the only one who could or should handle this situation. Their irritated frown and/or arched eyebrow seem to say, "When are you going to do something?"
And listen, I am
all about communication and avoiding passive aggressive power plays, but in a moment like that I fully support you nodding to them, saying, "Thank you for your service. I'll be in the other room if you need back up!" and just walking away. Because no one should be the default parent, and if your partner is mistaken on that front they should have a taste of their own medicine. Undermine You By Accident
It happens to the best of us.
Your child has a tantrum, you handle it, then they sneak off to their other parent who, not knowing of your previous struggle, gives the child what they want. You come into the room five minutes later to see your child happily eating a cookie or playing with the tablet or wearing the outfit you told them they couldn't wear while sitting on your partners lap, smiling at you smugly.
Your partner didn't know. It was an honest mistake, to be sure, but damned if it's not infuriating AF.
Undermine You On Purpose
hell no. You did not just hear me tell them no and then quietly tell them yes. Because I cannot possibly imagine what would make you do that. This is Game of Thrones level betrayal, friend. Do not be the Littlefinger to my Ned Stark, because, unlike on the show, you will get your comeuppance. Team Up With Your Kid
Tantruming Child: Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?!
Partner: Yeah, sweetie, I feel like it would be OK if...
You: *fire in eyes while mouthing* You're dead to me.
The same level of rage you feel for a full-out betrayal is appropriate here as well. In some ways it might actually be worse, because at least someone who is full-on contradicting you has the chutzpah to stand by their actions. A parenting who is taking your child's side
probably agrees with you, but wants to seem cool to the kid and is putting you in the position of being perceived as the bad guy. Like, "Hey, kid, I would let you do it but mommy is so mean." Coddle Your Child After You've Scolded Them
No. No, no, no, no, no. They've been in the throes of a demonic possession for the past hour and they were disciplined accordingly. I'm not saying we can never hug the children again or that we have to hold a grudge, but the time for hugging and cuddles is not immediately after I've scolded them. The hugging needs to come after the talking and reflection about what they've done wrong. If they feel bad right now it's because
they should feel a bit penitent.
I'm the one who scolded I should be the one to talk to and hug the kid once things have calmed down, otherwise it sets up a creepy "nice parent/mean parent" dichotomy. Make Light Of The Situation
OMG, OMG, OMG. Dude. I know you're trying to liven the mood but it is
not helping. Like, at all. I'm not joking around here and neither is the kid and if you try to make this situation out to be a big joke you're rewarding crappy behavior. Please, for the love of all things good, keep the funny stuff to yourself, because it honestly isn't funny at all. If you're uncomfortable with confrontation and discipline we can talk about that later, on our own, and come up with ways to deal with it that, but this is not OK. Use You As A Threat
Right. Because I don't feel like a mean old witch half the time anyway, but you need to threaten a crying child with my wrath? Cool.
no. You hop on your own damn broomstick and get comfortable as the wicked villain in this child's life from time to time. Trust me, they'll get over it and they'll love you again in, like, two minutes. Start Handling It Then Pass It Off On You To Be The Bad Guy
OK. I get it. This is hard and sometimes you feel like you just can't even. And hey, some days it's
really bad and you feel like you're on the edge of losing it. When that happens, it's totally OK to take a break, cool off, and then jump back into it. But bowing out just because it's hard? No. Follow through is ridiculously important to a child, both for their emotional wellbeing and for you to be able to assert a modicum of authority ever again. These little creatures can smell weakness and prey on fear. You can't back down. Reduce Your Punishment
It's a sneaky kind of undermining, because they didn't
completely undo your punishment, but they, like, granted parole without a full board hearing. You can't do that! What did we just talk about regarding follow through? Or earlier about having to be on the same team? Or not letting there be a good guy or a bad guy? Come on! We got this far where there was a punishment in the first place, was it really all that hard to see it to the end together? Question Or Contradict Your Discipline In Front Of Your Child
For real? There's a time and place, jeez! Or, hell, you can even quietly take me aside and discuss with me, but for goodness sake don't let the
kid know you're also questioning my authority. This is just a step below taking their side outright. Take You Aside & Calmly & Respectfully Point Out How You Might Be Making A Mistake
They've done nothing wrong. They haven't taken your child's side or started a fight, but have quietly and calmly pointed out that there is maybe a better way for you to handle this and they're correct... but damned if knowing you're wrong can't be infuriating sometimes, too.