I think my wife is too lax with our kids
When I read your letter, I’m forced to think this is about way more than a difference of opinion on whether or not manners are important. It seems as if you haven’t agreed on how you want to raise these children you share. I’m no marriage counsellor but I do know when a situation might benefit from some outside help.
A basic concept of parenting, is that you back each other up. You don’t have to always agree; in fact, you can say things to kids like, ‘‘I don’t feel so strongly, but I’m supporting your mother and you’ll do as she says…’’
I’m a bit dubious that any mother would relish bad manners in her children, so your wife’s behaviour makes me suspicious. Disagreeing with you publicly or laughing with the children at your expense is surely a power game.
You say, ‘‘It’s like the three of them are on one team and I’m on the other.’’ That doesn’t sound like an environment your children will feel secure in because children, especially as young as yours, thrive on consistency and boundaries. They’ll be looking for a weak spot in the fence and even if they appear to be delighted when they find it, the constant disagreeing between you both will unnerve them.
If children live in an environment where parents back each other up, they learn to support others and accept support for themselves. The consequences of your power struggles will be unsettled, naughty children.
So, I suggest the two of you get some help to sort some rules and guidelines for you as a couple and for your parenting. The fact that your wife lists all the things she does for the kids etc, makes me realise she’s feeling unhappy too. You need an environment where you can both be heard.
I want to raise polite, respectful kids but my wife doesn’t seem to care.