Parents often try to discipline their kids as a unified team. But how should a parent handle things when they don’t agree with their spouse’s approach?
A person on Reddit found themself in this situation when they disagreed with how their husband was disciplining their daughter and the husband got angry about it. So they went to the AITA subReddit for perspective on how they handled things.
The Original Poster, who goes by birdCowLlama on the site, asked:
“AITA for contradicting my husband in front of our kids”
“We sat down to eat dinner last night and my husband Mike started telling our 10yo daughter Susie how she needed to make sure to let the dog out as soon as she gets home from school since she’s the first one home. This is not a new chore for her, but on that day she hadn’t done it yet when Mike got home 2 hours after her. He started to chew her out for it.”
“He told her not to start eating while he was talking to her so that she’d be sure to pay attention. Our 12yo daughter and I put our forks down, too. I chimed in a bit to make sure Susie understood that not letting the dog out is like being locked out of the bathroom for hours, so she’d understand it was a serious issue, and also so Mike would see that I agreed with his position on the issue.”
“I was more gentle about it than Mike, and the more Mike went on about it, the more Susie felt bad and hung her head.”
“Then Mike slammed his hand on the table and said, ‘Are you listening to me?!’ Susie was startled and looked scared and said that she was listening. I said to Mike, ‘just because we don’t say anything doesn’t mean we aren’t listening.’ I used the word ‘we’ instead of ‘she’ because I react the same way as Susie (I go silent when I feel bad) when Mike is talking to me about mistakes I make.”
“I felt like I needed to point this out in Susie’s defense. This set Mike off into full-blown anger, we argued, he left and went to his buddy’s house for most of the rest of the evening, and dinner was a disaster.”
“Mike came back after the kids were asleep and we finished the argument. His contention was that I undermined him in front of the kids, which is a marriage-breaker, and is a main reason his buddy’s marriage recently ended in divorce. When he put it that way, I saw that I might be the a-hole, and I apologized.”
“I later apologized to the kids for setting off the argument in the first place and explained how one parent undermining the other in front of the kids sends mixed messages about who they should listen to and I was wrong to put them in that position.”
Redditors were then asked to judge who was in the wrong here based on the following categories:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
- NAH – No A**holes Here
And for the most part, they were far more upset about the husband’s behavior than OP’s.
“It sounds like you’ve been gas lit. Mike was scaring your daughter, you tried to defend her politely, he made a scene, claimed he was undermined when in fact he was out of line, claims this this transgression is a marriage breaker (which is insane), then got you to apologize for all of it.”
“NTA, and this is a concerning episode.” –sebastiancalhoun
“Couldn’t agree more. Just reading this made me terrified for OP and her children. The fact that she thinks it’s normal for the whole family to stop eating and go silent to listen to a lecture about a minor mistake is deeply concerning.”
“And that OP turned around and apologized for it is just setting her kids up to find their own abusive husbands down the line.” –beckdawg19
“OP, who cares about dinner when the most important thing was that he was an AH towards you? And apparently this is a habit. He continually undermines your authority and your kids can see that.”
“Don’t apologize. Don’t give your kids a message that they should be submissive to their future partners, act like a doormat, and assume everything is their fault.”
“NTA. But this marriage needs to be evaluated.” –Treehorn8
“This. 110%. You are being gaslit into believing you’re irrational and in the wrong so he can continue to abuse you and your children. My ex used this exact thing on me constantly for 2 decades, saying I was undermining him and we needed to be a united front.”
“Even if I did it in private after the fact. He’s also hint at divorce if I wasn’t backing him up. I bet in your case, as in mine, this doesn’t go both ways and you need to support his decisions in regards to discipline completely whereas he can question you and make things more harsh if he wants to.”
“If this doesn’t seem bad enough, I found out he was abusive to the children in other ways, and they were so scared of him that they never told me. The oldest didn’t find the voice to let me know until she had been out of the house for 2 years.”
“Please give this all some deep reflection, and reach out to me if you want to talk to someone who’s been in what sounds like a similar situation.” –naughtyducklings
“NTA. Your husband sounds at the very least domineering, and very likely abusive. Protect your children.” –SleightOffHand
“NTA. How about instead of him teaching your kids the biggest bully wins, he learns how to deal with disagreements like a respectful human fu*king being?”
“If he is so threatened by you explaining things to your kids in a way that won’t cost them thousands in therapy in the future, perhaps he can get some therapy himself to learn how not to be a giant toddler. His buddy’s marriage collapsing is obviously causing him to doubt himself, but being a dick to your kids doesn’t enhance your image as a good father in any way. He owes all of you an apology.” –thegloracle
Hopefully OP and their husband can find a better way through this.