She says: I'm tired of being the disciplinarian
Jason travels a lot for work, which means I am often acting as a “single parent.” When he comes home, all the rules go out the window and it’s like a vacation for the kids. My son told me he likes his dad better than me because “Dad is more fun!” I need some changes.
He says: I want to be the fun parent
Sherry is making a mountain out of a molehill. My job is stressful and I’m away a lot. When I come home, I don’t want to spend my time disciplining the kids and enforcing bedtimes. I want to build happy memories with them – not having a version of my “wait ‘til your father gets home!” childhood.
It’s tough to be a parent who travels for work or is in the military. You can feel as if you’re missing a huge chunk of your children’s lives. It’s not surprising Jason wants to pack all the fun into his short time at home. But it’s also tough to be the parent who slogs through the daily grind of raising children, especially when you’re the sole disciplinarian.
Not surprisingly, the first step for Jason and Sherry is talking. They are a partnership – and it’s important that their kids see them as a unified front. Neither parent needs to be the “bad guy,” nor does only one get to be the “fun parent.” They should discuss rules they think are reasonable and beneficial for their children to follow, regardless of who is home.
Here is where technology is a blessing. Use Skype when Jason is on the road, so that he can talk with the children regularly. He can bring along a copy of a favorite book to read their bedtime stories, ask about their school days, and also engage in any necessary discipline. That way, Sherry is supported, and the kids know both parents are on the same team.
When Jason is home, plan some fun activities as a family – trips to the zoo, picnics, movies. Having everybody involved builds relationships and happy memories. Occasional relaxation of rules about bedtime or sweets can be a special treat, as long as both parents agree.
Remember, as parents, you are the first education of your children. (CCC 1653) One of the most important things you can teach them is the beauty of a happy marriage and strong family.