I am in need of some advice concerning my family.
Here's the jist of the situation: I have an 18 year old son who has made some really bad decisions, including binge drinking, smoking marijuana, etc. I've dealt with all of his issues with kind, but firm parenting. I've also tried to help him find a solution to the root of his problems, rather than react irrationally to what he's done. I make every effort to see him for the young man he is today, instead of dwelling on the mistakes he made in the past.
I also have a 15 year old daughter who is quite the opposite of her brother. She makes good decisions and stays out of trouble, except for the occasional dramatic saga regarding a situation with a friend, which we talk through and resolve together.
During all of these parenting moments where things get serious and my children need strong guidance and we need to have uncomfortable conversations, my wife is conspicuously absent. For example, when I caught my son smoking pot and sat him down to "discuss" it, my wife sat on the staircase, out of sight, and wouldn't even enter the room. I've spoken to her about this and asked for her help, but she won't do it.
Essentially, I'm doing the tough part of parenting all alone.
I didn't mind this too much, until Sunday evening. That's when, in the midst of a discussion with my daughter, I was informed that both she and my son don't think I'm doing a very good job of parenting. My daughter thinks I'm not tough enough on my son, and he thinks I favor my daughter.
I won't kid you, it was a crushing blow. During all of this, my wife was nowhere to be found.
I'm very unsure what I should do, now. I've resisted the urge to get stricter with them, as I'm trying to balance discipline with the teaching of good judgement and decision-making skills. Based on the feedback I've received, I guess I'm failing miserably.
Be careful posting stuff like this on this site as I have recently found that your discomfort and pain give others some great pleasure it seems.
...and just when you think you've found a place where other men might be supportive of your plight.
Amen. My new rule of thumb from now on is no personal stuff on the site. It's a shame as I don't have any close friends that I can talk to about family and relationships and my own family is not very close either physically or otherwise.
I'm sure you'll find support here. Sometimes it may not be what you want to hear, but there are lots of helpful guys here.
Supportive doesn't mean "coddle".
Complete opposite of what I've witnessed.
It's gone downhill somewhat. But no, it's not a supportive environment.
This is the kind of thing most fathers write off with a "you'll understand when you grow up."
Feedback from the kids is not necessarily the best measure of a good parent. Your kids are at that age where dad is an idiot and they are all-knowing. They're young, they're arrogant, they're stupid -- they don't know what they're talking about, and they don't even know enough to know how little they know. If you're doing your job right, they'll dislike you on occasion, they'll disagree with you often, and they'll always think they could do the job better. Its part of the job. You have exponentially more parenting experience than they do -- you're taking their layman's opinion way too seriously.
They'll grow out of it. Five or ten years from now, they'll suddenly realize that you got a whole lot smarter in the last few years.
You do need to sit down and talk with your wife, though. It doesn't much matter if she's got the cojones to be a mother. She is one, and she needs to step it up and help with the heavy lifting.
I don't have kids so take this with a grain of salt.
The lack of support from your wife is a big problem I think. How you got through 18 years of it not being on the same team I don't know but it needs to be fixed. Not sure how. Maybe some of the parents here could offer advise on that.
I can't fathom why your daughter would question your parenting skills. If I told my dad that back when i was a kid (first of all I'd have to speak slowly to articulate the words since to say that to his face i'd have to be drunk or something) I'd probably get the classic "he who makes the gold, makes the rules" or in other words, he's the dad, I'm the kid, deal with it. And here's the potentially insulting bit (but honestly, I'm not trying to be). I wonder if you are bit of a wimp with the kids? If they are questioning you to your face (meaning they are attempting to alter your course of action) then they lack respect for you. A father's rule, right or wrong, should appear to be unflappable to his kids. If they doubt your parenting, and question it to you, then they really don't have a clear idea as to who's in charge. When this happens in the work environment (and I bet the military too although I have never served) it is usually the weakness in the leader and not insubordination of those he leads that is to blame.
Point is, I think the things you need to fix (and I don't know how) are you and your wife, not your kids.
Once again, this sounds mean and insulting. Its not my intention. Just trying to give you a honest answer.
I don't have any kids, but as I will be entering that phase of my life soon, I would like to share what I would do.
I would speak with both kids separately and try to get to the root of their opinion, the event that made them feel the way they do. Try to get as close as possible to a fact, don't accept answers like "you always do X" or "you never do Y". Try to get specifics. I read somewhere that "all conflict stems from unmet expectations", if you identify what their expectation was, you'll have a better idea of how your actions are perceived by them.
This doesn't mean that you need to meet their expectations, but if you don't meet them you do need to provide a compelling argument explaining your actions. I don't believe in "I pay the bills, so there!" arguments, they might get you some peace and conformance on the short-term but once they get a job/turn 18/move out, everything will blow up again.
I highly, highly, highly recommend the book "Crucial Conversations". The series also has a book called "Crucial Confrontations" which I have not read yet but it's on my list.
Hope this helps.
You didn't need to preface that with "I don't have any kids".
If you're stuck sitting across from a teenager trying to provide a "compelling argument explaining your actions", you've already lost. You've put yourself on trial ... and the jury is a couple of teenagers. Good luck with that. If they're setting the expectations, and you're answering to them -- it sounds like they're parenting you.
I was just trying to fathom a situation where my parents would have thought they needed to justify anything they did or said to my sister or me. Maybe the world really is that much different now than back then.