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It Sucks Being the Only Parent Your Kids Listen To

Photograph by Twenty20

My husband is a fantastic father. He works hard to provide for us and is fully present when he’s at home. From the moment he walks in the door, the kids are elated to see him. They jump all over him and talk excitedly about their day. It’s clear that they have a deep love for him. And why wouldn’t they? As I said before, he’s a fantastic father. There’s just one itty bitty little flaw that irks me to no end: The kids don’t listen to him.

It frustrates me that our kids never seem to pay any attention to what their dad says. He could be asking them to sit down for dinner or brush their teeth before bed or quit teasing each other. They either ignore him completely or throw a fit, crocodile tears and all. It baffles me because I will give them “the look” and they will instantly straighten up.

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I’m not sure what the problem is. Maybe it’s because I’m a stay-at-home mom. They’re used to spending their days with me and we have worked out a rhythm to our life. I’ve made expectations clear and they've learned that I don’t tolerate bad behavior. This is not to say my kids are perfect angels around me, but for the most part we live out our days peacefully. When a conflict is encountered we deal with it with very little drama.

I didn’t want to always be the bad guy. So I’m trying to take a step back and let my husband deal with the attitude.

But the moment my husband comes home, all chaos breaks loose. I used to interfere and take over all disciplinary matters, but then I realized this was only contributing to the problem. If I always stepped in, my kids would never learn to respect their dad as an authority. Plus it sucks having to be “on” all the time. I didn’t want to always be the bad guy. So I’m trying to take a step back and let my husband deal with the attitude.

Sometimes, though, that’s even more annoying. I could be folding laundry in the other room or sitting down in front of the computer to get work done, when all of a sudden the familiar whine will assault my ears. I can feel my blood begin to boil as the whine turns into a cry and then a full-blown tantrum.

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In all honesty, it makes me mad at husband that he doesn’t know how to handle the children, and it makes me upset with my children that they don’t give their dad the respect he deserves. I mean, with all the deadbeat crappy dads in the world, my husband is a true gem. Hardworking, loving, thoughtful, fun, adventurous—my kids don’t know how good they have it!

I can’t say we’ve figured it all out. I have a feeling that undoing the damage that’s been done will take time. My husband will have to learn how to handle the kids’ tantrums and they'll have to learn to accept that he’s more than just a fun playmate. There will be good days and bad days and in-between days. I’m going to have to let it be and give them the time and space required to learn each other. But, hopefully, one day my children will see that I’m not the only parent they should listen to.

In the mean time, I think I’ll invest in some good noise-canceling ear plugs.

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