Need help now?

Family dynamics

Discussion forum for parents in Australia


Family dynamics

I desperately need some advice... I am a mum to a 15 yr old and a 10 yr old.
I share care with their father 50/50 and remain on amicable terms with their dad.

My problem is making home life work for my partner, myself and my children. I love my partner dearly... he does so much for us and loves me fiercly. He contributes his share around the house, helps with all the chores despite the fact that my children are not his biologically and pays half the bills despite this also.

But we have very different ideas about parenting. For a bit of background my partner was abandoned by both his parents when he was 15 and had to quit school to get a job and fend for himself. He has done very well considering.

I am a chill and laid back lady. I have a lot of patience and I love my children. I want them to grow up knowing a loving home environment. And my partner seems to think I am setting them up for failure.. he has a sense of urgency to make them as independant as possible. He gets cross that I do so much for them and cross that I don't get them to do all of the chores around the house.

This is definately a two fold issue -

I am not great with discipline and consequence. My 10 yr old has definately gotten away with too much and argues/answers back and doesn't take direction well. I have tried hard for my partner to start doing time out and actually pulling him up when he's out of line. My son sees this as my partner is mean... as his father doesn't discipline him either so the only person here trying to create some order is my partner.

- when my partner pulls my kids up on things I automatically jump to their defence. Not even on purpose and it comes out of my mouth before I've even realised I'm doing it. My partner is upset and says even if I disagree I should support him at the time and discuss how I feel about it with him later. He says the kids see him as the bad guy because I essentially vilify him by doing this.

My problem here is that I DO feel defensive toward my kids. I feel his approach is overall too harsh and way too sharp. The momma bear in me jumps to protect them from this. And I am conflicted.. how do I support him with this if I actually disagree? Some examples of things I think are over the top -
He was telling my son off for rolling around on the living room floor in his school uniform top. He felt he should get changed first so that it stayed clean.

He gets upset if the bread bag is not tucked away properly or if there is any knife or spread left out if they've had a snack.

He gets upset if my son leaves a wet towel on the floor

He gets upset if the kids come in from school and don't give a formal hello, or if we're leaving and they don't say goodbye.

He gets upset that I drive them to school He thinks they should catch the bus every day to and from school to teach them independence and that I'm not their taxi.

Now I know that all of this reads that I need to pull my bratty kids into line.
The problem is that I don't agree with all of his opinions. Definately the chores need to be better and they need to be more polite... but his approach is that the world is a harsh place and we teach them to be independant and strong by also being harsh.

This all sounds very petty but it's got to the point where we had a huge argument yesterday and he was considering leaving. He said he feels like an outsider, not included in our family because I make it us against him. It breaks my heart that I've made him feel this way. He said he holds in his frustration every single day and holds back trying to 'help' with these kids because he knows it'll be another fight. And this frustration is leading to him becoming very unhappy.

I just don't know how to make this work so that we are both happy with how we parent.

I get scared of being harsh on my kids because I know they go back to their dad with stories. I know my own parents think we should spoil them always.. and when my kids make comments about us I feel like they think we are somehow abusive. I get scared that by asking more of my kids that I will lose my relationship with them.. because they only really know people that spoil them.

Does anyone have any suggestions to help us please? I adore this man and I really want to make it work. Everything else in our relationship is so good, clearly I need to fix this. It must be so hard to walk into a relationship with children that arnt yours... and try to make yourself fit as well as be happy with the dynamics.

Please help!

Prolific scribe

Re: Family dynamics

Message contains a hyperlink

Hi @Struggletown and welcome to our online community!


I'm sorry to hear that your in such a tough position with your partner right now, I can only imagine how stressful and overwhelming that must feel. It sounds like there is a lot going on and I can hear just how much you care about your children and want whats best for them. You mentioned that you get scared of losing your relationship with your kids, I was just wondering if you had spoken to your partner about this and shared these worries with him?


If you were interested in having a bit of a read, the Raising Children's Network has some great articles, including one on Raising children as a Team, that might be worth looking at.


As this is such a stressful situation, I'm wondering how you look after yourself. What nice things do you do for yourself when things get hard? I also want to mention that if you ever need someone to talk to, Parentline is a great resource and may even be able to help you identify what to do next.


We're all here for you.

Casual scribe

Re: Family dynamics


Hi @Struggletown 


That’s quite a situation you’ve got there.

The dilemma looks to be that you’re concerned that if you support your partner disciplining your children that it could affect your relationship with your two children (now and into the future).

You wrote “I am a chill and laid back lady. I have a lot of patience”, and so my question to you is: why do you need to change your discipline style at all?

There are many children out there who would love to have a mother who has a lot of patience.
And changing your discipline style now — when your children are 15 and 10 — might be too late in the day to implement.

Firstly, your children already know your style of discipline, and for you to change your style now will be too noticeable. If you side with someone whom they consider ‘mean’, then you by proxy also become ‘mean’. If you stop defending them, then they will begin to feel less protected and less supported in your house. Therefore, and by default, the only place where they would feel protected, and supported, would be at their father's house.

Secondly, if you were to change, then you will know within yourself (on an internal level) that you’re not being your genuine and authentic “chill and laid back” self. So not only are you causing conflict with your two children, but you’re additionally causing an internal rift within yourself — all in an attempt to appease someone else's abandonment issues (for which you aren’t responsible at all).


Kind regards,