Disciplining Children From Afar

Do you tell your husband, who is hundreds or even thousands of miles away, when your kid gets a color change at school?

My husband is gone Monday through Friday each week, and he’s never more than a phone call away, but for the past 6 years, I have struggled daily with whether or not I should share every one of my kids’ infractions. He’s busy and often stressed, and I don’t want to burden him with the mundane mooOoom, BJ hit me, or the fibbing, or even color changes at school. But it always backfires on mewhen I don’t tell him about something that’s happened.

My husband wants to know about each and every infraction, and it’s something we’ve argued about more than I’d like to admit. The arguments usually happen like this: My son mentions the color change, my husband says to me why didn’t you tell me, and I say because I didn’t want to burden you so I handled it myself. And then it goes something like this: My husband says I want to know because I am his father, and I have a right to know when he’s getting in trouble at school. It is also my duty as a parent to discipline our children.


Yes, of course my husband has a right to discipline our children.

And even as I write this post, I am struggling with how I should put this into words. So let me try to explain my side, which I’m sure you will understand, even if he doesn’t!

I feel like my husband is telling me that I’m not capable of handling bad behavior and doling out discipline on my own. I also don’t want to add to his stress, or his guilt for not being here for the day-to-day things. My husband talks to my kids every night before they go to bed, and I want it to be a happy, positive conversation. If I tell him about each infraction, it ends up being a lecture, which makes my kids not want to talk to him on the phone, which leads to him either A.) getting his feelings hurt, or B.) getting even madder.

Catch 22, you see.

Tell me how you handle these things. Do you tell your husband about every wrong thing your kids do, or do you only share the major issues? Does he try to discipline the children from afar? How do you parent as a couple when the distance makes it so hard?


  1. This too is our biggest issue, really our only issue! We have 5 kids and he works 14 on/14 off! We don’t always get to talk daily & when we do it can be for just a few mins. I totally understand where you are coming from, I do not tell him every little thing and not because I don’t want to but because in those few mins I just want to tell him how much he is loved and missed by us! But of course later when he’s home and comes up in conversation, he isn’t happy. We do however have Skype/FaceTime and take every opportunities to talk over that! If its a bigger issue, like this weeks report cards, we sit all the kids down in front of the computer and discuss as a family! Seems to help even with him states away! Good luck!

  2. I’d like to challenge you. In addition to considering you’re husbands perspective, which you seem to do, and your own desire to make the Skype or phone calls positive and not add to his stress, I want to challenge you to think about a few other issues that are pertinent. 1. What do your children really need from their dad? Do they ONLY need him to be their cheerleader and play mate always avoiding his disapproval? I venture to say that your children need BOTH of their parents involved in molding their character and keeping them accountable to meet expectations. I made the mistake of protecting my husband from the conflicts thus enabling him to not have to do the tough stuff of parenting. The end result was that my sons formed the opinion that their dad was just this fun guy who brought them great presents each time he came home. As your children get older, you will NEED the strength of both of you to stay firm when your teens want to do really stupid things. I waited until this stage of life to insist on Jay’s help which he did, but my boys had not learned to respect him as their authority which made it so much harder. There were things they could fool me on that their dad would have seen through if I’d involved him.
    2. Some people, I am one of them and you may be as well, like to avoid conflict to the extent that they try to manipulate life and circumstances so that everyone stays happy. Families are not healthy when ALL of their dealings with each other are full of conflict and anger, however, neither are they healthy when one or both parents attempts to always keep things upbeat happy and positive by avoiding the painful process of addressing failures. That’s just not a realistic view of life. Instead, problems and conflicts should be handled in a healthy way, as much as possible. Your children need to see when there is a conflict or problem, such as their disobedience, you and your husband work as a team to face it, address it, deal out the consequences and then let it go once it is resolved. Your children also need to see their parents handle in a healthy manner when they have failed each other. Losing one’s temper, angry words, hurtful behavior are things EVERYONE who’s been married has fallen into. Your kids need to see both of you willing to be corrected by the other, giving grace and forgiveness when this happens and taking steps to mature out of those hurtful behaviors. If you’ve not developed this in your marriage and want to know who should go first, my answer is whoever is the most mature, set the example by going first in willingness to admit to failure and giving forgiveness.
    3. It is important to be honest with yourself about your perspective on “making your kids happy”. If they have disobeyed in some manner, big or small, you must be willing to weather out and not be sympathetic to their anger or self-pity once they are disciplined by either you or your husband. You must also be willing to support your husband if he is upset by their behavior. You should NOT enable him to indulge in vengeful words but it is normal to be frustrated when others let you down. you must also not resent the kids for disobeying and rocking the boat nor their dad for being the tough and hopefully fair leader that all children need at times.
    4. If your husband goes into long lectures, try to explore why he feels the need to do this? Do y’all have a set policy of consequences for disobedience? Do you do your best to follow through with the discipline procedures you’ve agreed upon? If you can say yes to those two questions, my suggestions would be as follows: 1. Respectfully, admit to your husband that you RESPECT (important to use that word) his desire and right to be just as important in the disciplining process as you are. 2. You will do your best to follow through with whatever discipline you agree upon. 3. Ask him to please make the discipline talks to the kids as short as possible while still respecting his need to not just address their disobedience but also teach and guide to better behavior. 4. Try to not get angry or emotional when you discuss this even if he does. Stand firm in your desire to meet his need to be respected as dad as well as your need for the 2 of you to doll out discipline in a way that is fair and doesn’t grieve your children unnecessarily. Yes, they should regret their behavior; No, they should not feel they’ve lost the love or emotional support of either parent because they’ve been human and erred.

    I will be praying for you in this vital family function. A great book that helps women understand what motivates a man and how to communicate in a way he understands is “Love and Respect” by Emerson Eggerich.

    I hope this helps clear up some the conflict for you!

  3. I kinda like what my husband and I have going on in this area. Obviously, because he is off working far away, I am the disciplinarian in our house, but when the kids start escalating in any way all I have to do is tell them I’m going to tell Dad and they usually shape up. The easy to handle stuff like not doing chores or giving me attitude doesn’t usually reach him. When “grounding” is in order I let him know then they tell him. He doesn’t give them long lectures but tells them they need to listen to me, correct their behavior or attitude, and he tells them how much he loves and misses them and hopes that they aren’t still grounded when he gets home so they can have fun together. It is working so far, but our kids are young yet. I hope that just the threat of telling dad will work for years to come because more than anything they respect him and don’t want to disappoint him.

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