Undermining Your Spouse with the Kids

This is never a good idea. It not only sends the wrong message to your kids, but it also causes your spouse to feel a lack of respect and to become resentful. It is important to present a united front for your children, so they know that they cannot use one parent against the other. Children feel safer when they know where the boundaries are and when they know they cannot manipulate one or both of their parents.

A child should never be allowed to ask one parent, and then if he or she doesn’t like the answer, ask the other and go with the more satisfying decision. Always find out what your spouse said, before allowing your children to do something.

When one spouse shares secrets with a child, or allows the child to get away with things the other spouse is firmly against, this teaches the child that it’s okay not to listen to the other parent. The child will also learn to pit parents against each other, which will damage the marital relationship. It is very unhealthy for a child to have this kind of power.

The best way to solve parental disagreements is in private. Allow the child to state his or her case then move to the bedroom or another private area to discuss the situation. Many couples have a formula. If they cannot readily come to an agreement, the answer must wait until they do. If there is no compromise forthcoming, the answer is no.

You will find that supporting your spouse causes your children to have more respect for both of you. Your children will learn to listen to both parents and will stay within the boundaries better when they know that one won’t cave. Otherwise, they will constantly be looking for ways to manipulate the parent they see as “weaker.” And, if the favored parent dares say no, you can bet the kids will try to use your spouse against you. You’ll find that it doesn’t feel very good, and as importantly, it’s just not good for your kids.