Parents often disagree when it comes to disciplining their children.
One half of a couple might feel there is a clear way for children to learn a lesson, which the other half might find to be wholly ineffective.
Things become even more complicated when it comes to stepparents disciplining their stepchildren.
Some might have trouble scolding or punishing children who are not biologically theirs, fearing it might negatively affect their relationship.
Others might enjoy it a bit too much.
Redditor callmedisgruntled thought he and his second wife had an understanding when it came to disciplining his children from his first marriage.
But things took an unfortunate turn when he discovered the manner in which his wife punished his daughter, and he did not hide his displeasure from her.
After his outburst put a strain on their marriage, the original poster (OP) took to the subReddit “Am I The A**hole” (AITA), where he asked fellow Redditors:
“AITA For telling my wife she has no choice in the discipline of my children?”
The OP first shared even though his first marriage ended in divorce, he remained on good terms with his ex-wife and his children adjusted well to their new arrangement.
“My ex wife and I parted shortly after the birth of my 9 year old daughter.”
“We also have a 12 year old son together.”
“It wasn’t a messy breakup in the slightest, she just fell out of love, and we still maintain an incredible friendship today.”
“Co-parenting with her is easy.”
“We have 50/50 custody (no courts involved), they spend a week with me and then a week with her.”
“We live close by anyway anyway and they love the arrangement.”
“My ex wife and I both agreed on the way we would raise and punish our children should they misbehave, that way the structure stays consistent and we don’t have one parent favored over the other.”
Even during their courtship, it initially seemed the OP’s second wife followed the same methods when it came to discipline, until one recent episode.
“I’ve been dating a girl for around 7 years now and she’s always been amazing to my children.”
“Last December we got married and things were fine up until now.”
“Last week my daughter stole 2 pockets full of chocolate from a little corner store.”
“Where as my ex and I would have marched her into the store, return the chocolate to the owner and apologize, my new wife took my children home, sat my daughter at the table and forced her to eat the entire lot by herself, making her brother watch.”
“She continued to make my daughter eat even after she’d complained of a belly ache. “
“My son told me when I got home from work.”
The OP was less than thrilled to learn how his wife handled his daughter’s incident and told her so, which she did not appreciate.
“I immediately confronted my wife, telling her that my ex and I both had a system in which to discipline our kids and that she has absolutely no choice in that.”
“That if she’s to punish the children, she goes by our agreed upon methods.”
“It keeps everything consistent and I didn’t appreciate her making my daughter feel sick (she slept all night and skipped dinner because of her stomach).”
“My wife is extremely upset and says I can’t expect her to be married to me and not have a say in how they are raised.”
“I again repeated that how they are raised is up to me and my ex and she should respect and follow those methods.”
“I got the silent treatment for a few days before she said she just couldn’t handle the sight of me anymore and went to stay with her mother.”
“Of course her mother is now calling me an AH and saying that I’m treating her as an unequal parental figure in the house and that she should have a say in how the kids are raised as well considering she’s the stepmom.”
“I spoke to my ex about it and she agrees with my stance and thanked me for standing up for our choices and defending our agreement.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in on where they felt the OP fell in this particular situation by declaring:
- NTA – Not the A**hole
- YTA – You’re the A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everybody Sucks Here
Redditors firmly took the side of the OP, resoundingly agreeing that he was not the a**hole for calling out his wife’s behavior.
Just about everyone felt that beyond it differing from how he and his ex punished their children, the OP’s wife’s punishment to his daughter was inappropriate, bordering on abusive.
“The f*ck is wrong with your wife?”
“That’s sick and abusive.”
“That’s a great way to cause an unhealthy relationship with food.”
“FOOD SHOULD NEVER BE USED AS PUNISHMENT.”- Xixishell.
“Generally, a new wife should have some part is raising the children.”
“However what she did was not have ‘some part’.”
“She completely hijacked the system you and your ex-wife already had in place and took complete control of it without any consultation with you first.”
“It would have been one thing if she had had your daughter go to her room or taken away screen time over what she had done until you came home and y’all discussed what to do.”
“Instead, she decided unilaterally on a punishment that was flat out child abuse.”
“Also, when you called her on this, she gives you the silent treatment and then leaves your home – straight up emotional manipulation.”
“Essentially a temper tantrum.”
“A mature adult would have sat down and talked things over with you when the heat of the moment was over, not said they couldn’t handle the sight of you and then sent her mother to berate you.”
“It’s typical of the immature to try to win an argument through peer pressure.”
“I hate to say it, but based on her actions with your daughter her and how she reacted when you disagreed with them, I think you should not allow her to discipline your kids.”
“I don’t think she has the maturity to handle it correctly.”-bamf1701.
“NTA and your wife’s discipline methods are abusive as hell.”-mochi1990.
“Being pushed into eating food can lead to the development of negative food associations, and ultimately dislike and avoidance.”
“Can also lead to eating disorders.”
“I’m surprised your wife did this.”
“You’ve been together 7 years….did she think being married to you now gave her a sense of entitlement?”
“Either way what she did is verging on abusive behavior, and that’s 100% not ok.”-_SneakyDucky_.
“NTA- kudos to you for having a great coparenting dynamic with your ex.”
“Your wife was borderline abusive.”
“I honestly thought you were going to say she made her sit at the table and write ‘I will not steal chocolate’ 1000 times or something.”
“What she did was horrific.”
“This is the hill I would die on.”- Bellbell28.
“What she did made your daughter sick.”
“That’s abusive and it’s not ok that she’s pissed at you for setting boundaries.”- miyuki_m.
A number of people even went on to say that the OP shouldn’t leave his children alone with his wife ever again following this incident.
“For 7 years, your now wife understood how things worked and went along with it but now that she’s married she thinks she has a say in the discipline of your children?”
“It is super weird that she did that and her form of discipline is abusive and just appalling.”
“Because you live close to your ex and you now know that your wife cannot be trusted with your children alone, it might be better if the kids go to your ex until you get home during your weeks.”-AdministrationThis77.
“What your wife did was messed up.”
“I wouldn’t leave her in charge of your kids again.”
“I guarantee this wasn’t the first time she did something that f*cked up.”- CrystalQueen3000.
While others in similar situations agreed wholeheartedly that only the children’s parents, not their step-parents, should have a say when it comes to discipline.
“As a parent who coparents with my daughters father, I have made it very clear to my partner that he has no say in how I punish my kid.”
“He as my partner needs to have the best relationship as possible with my child, So I discipline her, not him.”
“She is my child, she already has a father who is on a similar page when it comes to how we discipline her.”
“Neither my partner nor her fathers partner are allowed to discipline our kid.”
“They can love on her and dote on her as much as they want.”
“They can voice an opinion but that’s it, and even then that opinion is spoken in private and away from my kid.”- Serenity_Usagi.
“Step mom here.”
“She IS an unequal parental figure.”
A few stressed how important it was for the OP to make it clear to his daughter that he disagreed wholeheartedly with how she was punished, and assure her nothing like that will ever happen again.
“NTA, but please talk to your daughter and tell her how you would have handled it/you’re sorry for the humiliating and painful punishment she got, and let her know you are on her side here.”- bricketty.
It’s one thing for the OP’s wife to feel she deserves a say in how her stepchildren are punished, but it was fairly shocking she didn’t seem to think there was anything wrong with the manner in which she punished her stepdaughter.
Hopefully her time away with her mother will give her plenty of time to stop and reflect.