Husband thinks I’m too easy on 5 year old

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

My husband tells me I am too easy on our 5 year old and I allow him to manipulate us. I know that when he (the 5 year old) wants to do something he can be adamant about it but I feel like I pick my battles well, but yet I am still able to keep order in many areas. He is allowed minimal snacks. He asks for things from the refrigerator and the snack cupboard and never takes the liberty himself. He never asks for candy from the check-out line shelf at the supermarket, he doesn’t cry when he is told he can’t have a certian toy and rarely even asks for toys, etc. All and all, I believe he is a typical 5 years and even leans more to the side of being better behaved than most children his age.

Last week it was a hot evening and our 5 year old asked to go into the community pool. We (his dad and I) told him it was 7:00 p.m. and too close to bath time. I walked with my son to the pool to tell his little friend and his mother that he would not be going into the pool. The friends mother then pleaded my son’s case (summer almost over. very hot night. how fun it would be) then I caved and said ok. I always try not cave after saying no, especially when it is a serious and hard no, and I knew that I was wrong immediately after I did it but the fact of the matter is, I caved. We went back into the house and I told my spouse that I had caved. He then got mad at our son!

I told him that I was the one that caved and that the boy would have gone with whatever I told him. He insisted that our son was already told no and even went as far as telling him he was not happy with him and asked him not to talk to him. I pointed out again that I was the one who made the decision to allow our son to go and that I was wrong for doing that, but he asserted that the boy was wrong too because he was already told no. I explained again that the boy had no part of the conversation between me and the other mother and the decision was not based on any begging from our son’s part. He still continued to be upset and insisted that our son was to blame as well and frankly was far more angry at our son than at me.

I tried later to tell him that our son should not have been treated the way he treated him and if he felt wronged, he should have been upset with me and not him. He still believes he was justified and I really want to see if i am being pigheaded here and missing something. Should our son have been told he was at fault and do you think it was ok to berate a 5 year old in this case?

A: My goodness! Whatever happened to your husband that assigning blame is so important to him? Something is very, very wrong here. I’m as concerned about your husband as I am about your son. I’m also deeply worried about what is going to happen to the relationships in the family if this keeps up.

I once wrote an article about how destructive blame can be. See “The Perils of Blame” at www.parentadvisor.net. That article may give both you and your husband some things to think about as you decide how to raise your son.

But equally important is to help your husband get to the root of why his reaction is so extreme. My guess is that somebody or some incident hurt him terribly around issues of honesty and justice. I hope he will be open to talking about it and working it through so that he can have a better relationship with his son and so that you don’t feel torn between the two.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 20 Sep 2009

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2009). Husband thinks I’m too easy on 5 year old. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 22, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/09/20/husband-thinks-im-too-easy-on-5-year-old/

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