Should You Let Your Boyfriend or Girlfriend Discipline Your Child?

a parent disciplining a child

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Single parents have an extremely hard job. They are full-time caregivers while also managing employment, bills, house maintenance, and those unexpected emergencies with no one else to lighten the load.

Should they ask their boyfriends or girlfriends to help out with the kids? How much is too much?

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Should You Let Your Boyfriend or Girlfriend Discipline Your Child?

Whether or not a boyfriend or girlfriend can discipline your children depends on factors such as the length of the relationship, the trustworthiness of the partner, and how close that person is to the child. Lastly, the pair needs to agree about the type of discipline and the behavior that warrants it.

Conversations With Actual Single Parents

I am very lucky. I have no firsthand knowledge of what it’s like to be a single parent. My husband is an amazing partner without whom I would be absolutely lost.

I admire every single parent out there because I see how hard it is to parent with someone at my side. I can only imagine how difficult it would be without him.

Before I met my husband, the last boyfriend I had was not someone I would trust to raise a cactus, much less discipline a child.

This is why he is my ex and not the father of my children. Because I have such little experience with this issue, I went to the experts: Single parents.

*Please note names have been changed for privacy reasons.

Staying on the Same Page

Lydia is a single mother who has some experience with this issue. She stated that she would be fine with a partner disciplining the child as long as the rules being enforced were agreed upon in advance.

In her words, “I would not be okay with someone imposing rules that differ from my own.”

Another single parent, Alex, added that this applies to punishment as well. They have a teenage child who, like Alex, is non-binary and uses they/them pronouns.

They have struggled with a partner who purposefully misgendered the child as a form of punishment. Alex feels this type of discipline could cause life-long emotional damage. They no longer allow romantic partners to discipline their children.

Incidents that require discipline and any subsequent punishments should always be the same if the partner acts on behalf of the parent. Any deviation should not be allowed.

The Issue With Blended Families

a blended family

Katie, a single mom with two daughters, has a separate issue. Her boyfriend, Chad, is also the sole caregiver of his two children. She had a great deal to say about letting a non-parent discipline a child.

“Absolutely not,” she said. “If he has an issue with my girls, he can tell me, and I will deal with it. The same goes for his kids. I will not discipline his kids. No way.”

Chad agreed. “My kids are my responsibility. Her kids are hers.”

They made it clear they didn’t make this decision because they don’t care about each others’ children. Conversely, they want the kids to have a feeling of consistency at all times.

They agreed they would revisit their current arrangement if they decided to get married or move in together. While they are living in separate homes, discipline will remain separate as well.

The Partner as a Babysitter

The final single parent I spoke with, Isabel, said she has no problem letting her boyfriend discipline her children. Her reasoning is that she would expect a babysitter or a teacher to have rules they enforce.

She believes her boyfriend should have just as much control as people who aren’t part of their personal lives.

She did make the important point the relationship with her boyfriend is a serious one. He is not someone she is casually dating.

In fact, she said she has never even introduced a man she is dating to her children until she was sure it would be a long-term relationship. She told me she feels as though he is trustworthy enough to enforce rules without going to her for permission.

It Can Work With Proper Discussion

It’s possible a boyfriend or girlfriend can act as a disciplinarian. This role requires significant cooperation and communication.

Do you think a non-spousal partner should discipline your children? Why or why not? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.

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1 year ago

My boyfriend has permission to discipline my 4yo daughter. I will give her a few swats as a last resort, if she comes out of time out for example. Last week she came out of timeout and I asked him to deal with her. He asked if he had permission to spank her with his hand and I said yes. The issue is he took off her sundress and underwear and spanked her naked. He didn’t spank her hard, and only 3 times. But it bothered me that he undressed her. He apologized and said it wouldn’t happen again, but didn’t think it was a big deal because that’s how he got spanked and she’s still so young she wouldn’t be embarrassed. Is this OK?

Reply to  Sharla
1 year ago

No it’s not ok. He might have told you he meant nothing by it but had other motives. Never trust any human being with your children.

Reply to  Sharla
1 year ago

No this is not ok. He never should have undressed her no matter her age. This is something that could possibly be a red flag so please pay extra attention to how he treats your daughter in all situations. We automatically want to trust someone we love, but the simple fact is that we have a responsibility to protect our children. Nobody else is going to protect them.

Reply to  Sharla
7 months ago

He should spank her the same way you do. In our house, we use a belt and the kids are spanked naked. Boy 7, girl 5.