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Dr. L
Dr. L, Psychologist
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 1168
Experience:  Licensed as psychologist and marriage and family therapist
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My girlfriend has two wonderful children ages four and six

Customer Question

My girlfriend has two wonderful children ages four and six but she is a pushover and her children lack discipline. They tell her "no" when she tells them to do something and she has to repeat herself multiple times before they obey her. It's frustrating to me because I want to be with her but I know that the lack of discipline will make me very weary of moving in together and really pursuing our relationship. I try to tell her my concerns but all she hears is me saying that she isn't a good parent. By no means am I saying that but being a good parent means disciplining your children as well. I'm very supportive and me and the children have a great relationship but it really gets under my skin to see how she lets them behave. I do not want to lose her but I know if things do not change it will not work out between us. Please help!!!
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Parenting
Expert:  Howard Wise replied 5 years ago.
Hi, this is Howard,

You are in a situation will probably be difficult to resolve.

Your girlfriend is misinterpreting your comments and concerns and she is getting defensive. For whatever reason, she is unable to provide adequate discipline and this will most likely not change. If we introduce you into the mix, by lyou iving with her and the family, this conflict in styles of child rearing will escalate and become a really big problem.

I appreciate your concern about losing your girlfriend. A possible solution is to continue living separately if that would be a satisfactory arrangement for you. If it isn't, then you would do better finding a partner who does not have children.
Expert:  professional_Alison replied 5 years ago.

Hello there, may I help you?


Your partner obviously needs a lot of support to be stronger disciplining the children, try not to criticize her methods of parenting, but back her and encourage the children to listen first time with a prompt from you as the firm but supportive partner. If you want to be with this lady you have to accept she comes with two children and accept your role within this situation.


Perhaps sit down with her and discuss a plan of action with regards to getting the children to listen to her and follow instructions. At four and six they are old enough to understand that if they don't follow instructions there will be consequences. If you work together on this it will improve your relationship as parents and your family unit can only get stronger. As for moving you will know when the time is right but you need to work through this difficult time first and put things right. Good luck. If I have answered your question please accept.



Expert:  Dr. L replied 5 years ago.


I have a different perspective from the other two experts who have attempted to help you.


First, I admire your honesty. You know that the kids are first and foremost in your girlfriend's life and that as a single parent it likely has not been easy raising two children. You also acknowledge the difficulties you will have if you cannot reconcile yourself to her parenting style.


When she bemoans your statements about how she disciplines and parents, the bottom line is that she is taking your words as an indictment. Every parent feels incompetent from time to time. So when you comment, she is naturally going to feel some amount of defensiveness and will protest as a way to point out that she is doing the best job she knows how to do.


So...the better way to address your concerns and help her be a stronger more confident parent (who is no longer a push-over) is to validate what she is doing well and offer to work together on those things that aren't going so well. So, for instance, "I really like the way you handled X when he wouldn't go to bed. That was terrific." Or "I wonder if it wouldn't be better to offer X this option for getting to bed on time. I would like to help you think through this option."


The important thing is to validate and support the good stuff. And...then to help her brainstorm or look at other parenting options for those things you think need change.


I also think it would be good for the two of you to look at different parenting books together as a way to find a style or program that you both feel comfortable with. The parenting book I routinely recommend is: Parenting with Love and Logic by Foster Cline and Jim Fay. This is an easy to use, tried and true parenting program. You can read more about it on their website.


I hope my perspective has answered your question.