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5 Reasons I Don’t Discipline My Kids (According to My Wife)

Photograph by Twenty20

Yes, it's true. My wife is the disciplinarian in our family and I'm not ashamed to admit it.

When our young kids misbehave, I retreat and my wife is the one who yells, takes away iPads, cancels long-awaited play dates, enforces time-outs, and then endures the slings and arrows of our two hysterical boys calling her mean and saying they don’t love her anymore.

When she's away and the kids act up, I either wait it out or, if it’s really bad, throw up my arms, utter that I can’t take this anymore and pretend to storm away, hoping that they’re finally old enough to feel sorry for me.

I'm not sure why I have such an aversion to discipline, but my wife thinks she has a better idea. Here are just five reasons why she thinks I can't discipline our kids:

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1. I’m a wimp

I prefer the term “softie.” And is it really fair to expect me, who as a child was regularly spanked, lashed with my father’s leather belt, locked in the downstairs bathroom, and given liquid Joy to the mouth, not to balk at administering discipline? Would you call Salman Rushdie a wimp for not wanting to take part in a fatwa, no matter how justified?

2. I don’t have the balls

This is just a sexist version of the first reason. I know that “traditionally” the dad handles discipline, but right now I do most of the cooking, and I don’t think my wife wants to take that on.

I'm under no illusion that I’ll ever be the fun parent.

3. There's something seriously wrong with me

Yes, but isn’t there something seriously wrong with everyone? I'm abnormally worried that all relationships are fragile and I’ll alienate the boys if I start disciplining them, but then my wife has an abnormal fear of spiders. When she starts stepping on juicy spiders, we can talk about my changing.

4. I want to be the fun parent

I'm under no illusion that I’ll ever be the fun parent. I more see myself as the big-hearted lenient one who makes the kids matzo ball soup. You know, the grandmother figure.

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5. I think discipline and love are incompatible

My father thinks they're vitally intertwined. When I was young, he would sound like Celine Dion pronouncing that he was doing it all for love as he removed his belt, looped it around and hit me. Even at the time, I knew that was bullshit. Discipline is obviously necessary and required to raise good, healthy, adjusted kids and I would do it myself if I had to (in a much gentler form than my father), because I care more about the boys than my issues, but thanks to my wife, I’m not in that predicament.

And at the end of the day, I’m not going to discipline my kids because I don’t want to.

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