November 22, 2018 posted by littlewhitecottage

‘Wait ’till your father gets home…’: A blog about threats and punishment.

A picture of Hubbie and I

‘Wait ’till your father gets home…’

This was often said to me as a child. It was a threat and a punishment all rolled into one shouted sentence. A threat of what was to come and a punishment of the anxiety it caused waiting for my father to get home.

I talked to my father once about this. He said that he also didn’t like being used the threat; that he didn’t like arriving home from work to have to then hear the crime we’d committed and tell us off.

Although I can see his point of view why didhe do it then? I thought as a parent myself years later.

Why did he carry on being something he didn’t want to be to his children?

‘Wait ’till your father gets home,’ isn’t something I say. I don’t want my children to be scared of their father and have the anxiety that I felt waiting for that recap of whatever mistake I’d made (we were petrified children so I can honestly say it wouldn’t have been that bad a mistake) to then have that telling off. I don’t want my children dreading their father coming home from work.

I also don’t want to use my husband as the ‘discipline king.’ We don’t have a ‘bad cop/good cop’ style of parenting. It’s not fair for either parent to be used in that way especially as they weren’t in the house at the time, weren’t in the same room so are only getting one side (biased in my mother’s case) of the story.

I sort out mistakes the children make when Hubbie isn’t at home. Today T broke his brother’s bed. Unfortunately this is the brother’s room that is away at school and that he shouldn’t have been in anyway. 2 mistakes that were in no way intentional but still needed to be talked about. T knows that we respect O’s room and we show this respect by not going in there and certainly not bouncing on the beds. I told him it’s about trust and that T had broken O’s trust.

T felt mortified and whilst I was tidying up the sitting room came and and said that he’d fixed O’s bed. I was a bit surprised but after going back to O’s room I could see that he had. He’d lifted the mattress (!), undid the screw (he showed me which one) put the slats back on and then retightened the screw. I said that was amazing and that I could see he was very sorry and he’s shown he was sorry by fixing what he’d broken.

He wasn’t scared of me.

He hadn’t spent 3 hours in total panic waiting for Hubbie to get home.

Hubbie won’t walk into a house with an atmosphere and a terrified child in the corner.

Hubbie won’t be the baddie.

‘Wait ’till your father gets home…’ is an awful threat for a child.

A better way to say a similar thing is this:

‘I need to speak to your father (or mother or other important adult) because this is a serious situation and I need their help and advice as to what to do. I don’t want you to worry, we still love you very much but Daddy and I need to talk this one through.’ I would then hug my child to make sure they understood that sometimes adults don’t always have the answer at the time they might need one.

The bed got fixed and T knows that he’s loved despite his mistakes…

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