A mom writes in asking for advice. Her 5-year-old son is having behavior issues after her boyfriend moved in. Her boyfriend spanked the son after a bout of “defiant” behavior, and she is highly uncomfortable with his actions. What should she do?
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A member of the community asks:
I have a 5-year-old son and a new live-in boyfriend. We are both in the army. My son has started demonstrating defiant behavior and saying mean things to my boyfriend along the lines of “I don’t have 2 dads and you aren’t mine,” and then when my boyfriend isn’t around he ask about him. He’s confusing.
My guy is trying to discipline him because he’s never had a father figure around. My guy popped my son on his bottom, and he was frustrated when he did it.
I got real defensive because that’s my baby. He felt he didn’t do anything wrong. My question is: How can I accept this new role and help my son transition? How can I make my guy see my issue with the situation? How can I deal with future discipline issues?’– Mamas Uncut Community Member
Work on a Discipline Plan/Big Picture Strategy
“You guys need to sit down and outline a clear method of discipline of when and how it’s appropriate. Also, you should sit down with your kid and talk about what is appropriate behavior and then hopefully, eventually, things will smooth over. I imagine its hard for him to transition into having a new “father figure” at home full time.”
“First, sit down with your boyfriend and talk about what is and is not ok with discipline and figure out a compromise. Your son is not going to just be accepting overnight. These things take time. Your boyfriend needs a lot of patience and understanding. Kids can not express themselves well and don’t know how to handle emotions well.”
“A new live-in boyfriend is a big change. The army life is tough on a kid to begin with. My husband is former army and there is a lot of constant change and fear. I think for now he should focus on bonding with your son and becoming a friend. He needs to build trust. Discipline should be your job. Also, have a talk with him, maybe take him for an outing and ask him how he feels about the boyfriend and if his answers are confusing, talk to him about it.”
Spanking Is Not Acceptable if You’re Not Okay With It
“He shouldn’t be spanking your son, and if he can’t accept it, leave him.”
“No way would he be disciplining my child if we weren’t married. I have had 9 stepdads, and not one of them treated me right. My worst childhood memories are from stepfathers’ abuse. You are all he has, mommy. Please be careful and put your son first. If you even have a weird feeling, trust that gut feeling.”
“It’s your right not to have anyone strike your son. My kids were never hit. How could I teach them hitting was wrong if I hit them? Today they’re grown, beautiful, and highly-educated women.”
Disciple Should Be Your Job
“He should not be spanking or disciplining your child. That’s your job.”
“Don’t put the responsibility of discipline on him. That’s not his son.”
“Your boyfriend should NOT be disciplining your child, nor ‘popping’ or spanking him. You’re his mother. The boyfriend needs to know his place. You’re not even married, and that’s not his parent, you are. Quit delegating your responsibility to someone that hasn’t even yet formed a bond with your son.”
A Different Perspective
“If your son is being disrespectful, then a smack on the bottom is needed. You can’t coddle the child then wonder why he’s acting out. It’s called discipline, and obviously, the first methods you tried aren’t working. You expect him to play daddy yet don’t want him being a daddy. He either is or isn’t. There isn’t a “be a daddy on my conditions only.” Figure out what you want first. Then if it isn’t what he wants, end it now. A father should have rights to discipline. And you stated the real one isn’t around so make up your mind now.”
Most commenters believe that the OP’s boyfriend was out of line spanking her son. We agree, especially because OP seems upset by this action.
A good first step would be to communicate with the boyfriend about what does and doesn’t fly discipline-wise. See if you can get on the same page. Lay ground rules down. Given that he is not the child’s father, it is up to the OP to take the lead, let her feelings and wishes be known, and make sure that things run smoothly. Or else: consequences.
We wish you the best of luck, mama!
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