Each week I meet up with friends for a ‘walk and talk’. We are all parents and our kids range from the aged six to sixteen. I cherish this catch-up; this is where I get all of my parenting information about what to do and what not to do! Over the years we have discussed everything from teething, tantrums and toddlers to sulky, sexting sixteen-year-olds.
On the last walk a friend confessed:
Her: Daniel dinted the wall with his scooter. Again.
Me: Oh God, you’ve just renovated. I bet your husband lost it with him?
Her: Actually, I told him that it had been there for ages and acted surprised he hadn’t noticed it before.
You see my friend had just admitted that she is a mother-buffer. She protects her child from her husband’s anger by pretending that either she hadn’t noticed the problem or even takes the blame herself.
When we discussed this, we laughed and coined this protective behaviour as ‘mother-buffing’. It dawned on me that I too have been guilty of this. It saves the drama. Is it merely the protective mothering instinct kicking in? I know that my kids have done the wrong thing, but I am happy to reprimand them myself, in the manner that I see fit and I have hidden their misdemeanors from my husband. Although I do remember one time when I pretended that I didn’t know about the permanent marker on the wall but realised I couldn’t mother-buff as my son had scribbled his own name repeatedly!
The days of ‘wait until your father gets home’ seem to be long gone in my social circle. In most cases the discipline seems to fall on the mother’s shoulders. Some of my friends suggest that if the discipline falls to their husband, the punishment is more severe than the one they would have issued. This then causes problems between the couple and arguments ensue. (Perhaps this is what the child was aiming for, but that is a whole other blog post!)
‘He seems to go from zero to 100 when he gets angry with my daughter. One snide comment from her has him banning her mobile and grounding her for a month. Which of course never eventuates and I am left smoothing things over between them.’ A friend confided. ‘I just seem to know the appropriate punishment for her.’
I am not suggesting that this is representative of all men, but just an observation from few friends. As I reflect upon the times that I have been guilty of mother-buffing I wonder if things would have been so bad ifI had included my husband a little more in the discipline. Perhaps he would have had a better perspective about the appropriate punishment and slowed down from 100 to about 10. Although it’s not so much the punishment that counts it’s being consistent and following through. I have given up mother-buffing and am now including my husband in the kid’s discipline. He works from home now and he’s happy to be involved and I’m happy to let go.
Have you even been guilty of being a mother-buffer?