Do You Always Need To Agree With Your Partner When It Comes To Telling Off Your Child?

And is collective punishment a valid form of behaviour management?

Do You Always Need To Agree With Your Partner When It Comes To Telling Off Your Child?

by Daisy Hall |
Updated on

It’s safe to say that the AITA (Am I The Asshole) Reddit thread is a place that is ripe for controversy. In that safe - as long as you don't mind offering yourself up to judgement that is - corner of the internet people can find out if they are in the wrong or whether they’re better than all of us and actually in the right.

Here, parenting comes up a lot – after all it isn’t something that we’re taught how to do - and sometimes the situation can be pretty nuanced. Other times the responses seem to firmly believe that the writer is in the wrong (YTA aka You’re the Asshole) or the right (NTA aka Not The Asshole).

And that was exactly the case with a recent post.

The backstory: ‘My mother babysits almost all of the grandkids three times a week in the summer… In total she watches about 7 kids, and one of those kids is my middle child son, Jamie.

‘Jamie is a lot sometimes. He is eight years old and compared to his younger sister he is less behaved. My mother has talked to my wife and I multiple times about him. She has done recommended time outs, but overall he doesn't behave much better after them. We have both talked to him about it too but no improvement.’

The situation: ‘My mom was going to take all the kids to the pool with my dad. Jamie would not stop goofing around. Running around, grabbing the other kids’ pool stuff and in general being loud/annoying. My mom told him if he didn't stop then no one would be going to the pool. He didn't stop and she hold true to her word. The rest of the day all of the kids were mad at him.

‘My mother told me that he needs to learn that his actions affect other people and I agree with her. I am 100 percent fine with her using social dynamics to get him to behave. It also seemed to work, she plans to take the kids to pool on Friday. However, I told my wife what happened and she is pissed that my mother did this. We had an argument and she thinks I am being a huge jerk for agreeing with my mom.’

Parents disagreeing

The question: ‘AITA for not siding with my wife and agreeing with my mother after she did a group punishment that made my middle child unliked by the other kids. I may be a jerk because what my mother could be seen as cruel, and I should stand up to her about it.’

According to the responses to this conundrum, a lot of people seem to think that grandma was completely in the right when it came to this situation and even went so far as the blame the writer and his wife for their son Jamie’s bad behaviour.

One commenter wrote, ‘It was a brilliant punishment, TBH. And you can't argue with results.

‘Peer pressure is a powerful tool. It keeps adults' behaviour in check as well. And part of every parent's task is to figure out how to motivate their children. Time-outs might work for some children, but they certainly don't work on your son. Now you know what DOES work.

‘You're not required to side with your wife simply because you're married to her - especially in a private argument.’

Another agreed saying, ‘I'm 60F and have two kids that are now 27/31. When my mum watched my kids for a week at her house, it was grandma's rules that mattered since it was her house and she was watching them. If she said "sit down" and they didn't, it was up to her to decide what to do, and we 100% supported her.

‘Jaime has learned that his not behaving had consequences to him and he behaved after that. Sounds like your mom taught him a great lesson! Your wife is wrong and you're NTA.’

Others used the term ESH (Everyone Sucks Here) to explain that they weren’t a fan of grandma’s use of collective punishment and felt that Jamie’s parents could have done more previously to prevent the situation from escalating like it did.

One commenter wrote, ‘ESH. I hate collective punishment. I was a well-behaved child who suffered because my sister was a monster. That bullshit is one of the reasons I have an only child.

‘Your mother should have left James at home with your dad and just took the rest of the kids to the pool. But neither you nor your wife get to criticize how someone else deals with a child you two failed.’

Another wrote, ‘ESH. Collective punishment is inherently unfair. None of the other children deserved to miss out just because Jamie was behaving like a little jerk.’

One commenter did present an alternative solution to the situation writing, ‘I would be more inclined to park Jamie at the side of the pool and let him watch his friends/siblings play and enjoy themselves while he has to sit still and not participate. That way the other kids don’t get punished and he still learns his lesson that his behaviour will not be condoned.’

There are two parts to this situation. Is the writer in the wrong for not agreeing with his wife? Was grandma’s use of collective punishment acceptable?

To the first part, the internet appears to have concluded that the writer isn’t the asshole. Yes, if his wife had been the one disciplining Jamie it would have been best to put on a united front and agree on the punishment given. The writer is well within his rights to not agree with his wife, especially if Jamie’s behaviour improved after grandma's method of telling him off.

When it comes to the use of collective punishment, however, there’s some debate. It does seem unfair that the other well-behaved kids were forced to miss out because of Jamie’s poor attitude, but if grandma feels that that was the best decision in the moment, who can say that it wasn’t.

Daisy Hall is a News and Entertainment writer on Grazia, specialising in TV and film meaning that you can count on Daisy for the latest (and best) recommendations.

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