When You’re Always the “Bad Guy”


“I’m an air fryer, quick to heat up but quick to cool down. You are a slow, simmering crockpot. It takes you eight hours to cook, but when you get hot, it’s HOT.” 

“That’s the perfect analogy. It takes me a lot longer than you, but when I get to the hottest point, I can get hotter than the surface of the sun.” 

If you guessed these were sexual inuendos, you’d be very wrong. 

This is how my husband and I compared our discipline styles – by comparing them to kitchenware. It’s the most accurate way to describe ourselves as individual disciplinarians. As a stay-at-home, I am the air fryer, the enforcer of rules, who constantly threatens time-out. I’m quick to react in anger but quick to say I’m sorry for yelling. My husband is the crockpot, the fun parent, who plays back-up. It takes a lot to make him mad but when he gets mad, you know you’re in trouble. My husband and I are an “opposites attract” couple, different in almost every way. We are a good team, but we are still trying to figure out how to take our different approaches to discipline and become a unified front. And I’d really like to be the designated fun parent every now and then.

Lately, as I’m sure most families can relate to this year, we have been together… a lot. Our one-year-old daughter doesn’t have an issue with this, but our four-year-old son is another story. Two years ago, I wrote about disciplining our son during his terrible twos. Boy did I have it easy! He went to daycare full-time. Why did I think I had it hard then?! Now, he’s home with me full-time, four years old going on fourteen, and restlessly energetic. I began the year reading parenting books that gave great advice on discipline styles. But as time went on, my calm exterior left and my fuse got shorter, and now it can get very heated. My husband works remotely from a nearby room and often hears the bickering. I’m sure it’s comical from an outsider’s perspective to hear a 34-year-old woman arguing with someone 30 years younger than her. Andrea of two years ago would be embarrassed by how much I’ve let myself slip into the main disciplinarian role.

This is what my husband usually hears when trying to work:
Son: Mommy, I’m hungry for a snack.
Me: Okay, in just a minute buddy.
*Not even 10 seconds later…
Son: Mommy, I’m hungry.
Me: How do you ask nicely buddy?
Son: I want a snack.
Me: Can you show me your patience? And how do you ask nicely?
Son: …….
Me: HOW DO YOU ASK NICELY?! (while clapping)

Repeat this eight to ten times during any given day.

My husband can sense my tone, and if he can tell I’m about to get to a boiling point (it’s probably the angry clapping that gives it away), he will magically appear and either referee the fight or escalate the discipline if I pass the baton to him. This is always helpful at the moment, but never really solves the problem when it comes to my son taking me seriously as a disciplinarian. When I send our son to time-out, he usually whispers “please don’t tell daddy” and I have to remind him over and over that mommy and daddy are on the same team. Just once I’d like the roles to reverse and for me to be the fun parent and referee.

This year has created a shift in our parenting dynamic, one that I saw coming but still surprised me. I was always the main disciplinarian, but the percentage of good guy versus bad guy got way more skewed the longer we stayed at home. I am envious of my husband getting to engage in the fun part of parenting 90% of the time but is also taken seriously when he has to step in as the rule enforcer. I’ve begun to feel like Charlie Brown’s teacher with my threats of punishment going in one ear and out the other. I have to walk a tightrope between being the fun mom and the mom who lays down the hammer, but it’s like a toy hammer that squeaks. 

Does this sound familiar to you? How do you walk the tightrope of your discipline styles?

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Andrea is a SAHM and Project Manager for Indianapolis Moms. She lives in Noblesville with her husband Dan and their two kids, Jonathan and Sarah. They are involved at Congregation Beth-El Zedeck. You can usually see her with a cup of coffee in her hand and a smile on her face. Unless she doesn’t have said coffee. Then she is frowning and running towards her Keurig. Andrea is thrilled to be involved with IM as she goes through motherhood! She loves being able to bond with other parents. Other interests include reading, wine tasting, and working out on her spin bike to stay sane.