“Are you more strategic than your offspring?”
“Mommy, can I have some ice cream?” “No sweetie, you have to wait until you eat dinner first.” “Daddy, can I have some ice cream?” “Sure son, go ahead, but don’t eat too much.” “We still have to eat dinner.” And just like that, a parent has made a vital mistake in raising their child. There must be one voice in the household when raising a child. If that kid knows that they can run to one parent and always get an ok over an objection, that smells problems for your relationship. This also means that knowing they can get away with some things around one parent and not the other. The structure need to be clear and spoken from one voice.
What I mean by one voice is that if your kid comes to you asking for something they must know that when you say yes or no it means that on both sides. If a kid know they can play both sides, that speaks to the lack of communication from the parents. We are currently seeing the divorce between Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie; where he seems to be more strict and she is more lax. This can be a recipe for disaster if both people are polar opposites. It’s fine to be a little bit different in the parenting styles, but too much difference results in long term problems; as seen with the Pitt-Jolie situation.
But since I am on the topic of divorce; what about communication here. It works so long as the parents are on the right page. But it’s hard to be on the right page with a child if parents are still bitter about their personal situation. Under these circumstances children really are in control. Because one parent might allow the kid to get away with more as a way to spite the other parent. For instance, daughter wants to have a boyfriend, but dad says no. Mom has sole custody, and is fine with daughter having a boyfriend. Daughter wants to date, so she is able to play her parents against each other because she knows they don’t get along.
This is an issue especially if the daughter finds herself in a serious situation and can’t find a way out. She will go to the parent that allowed her to break the rules to bail her out. Now mom has to bail her out because she went over dad’s head in the first place to prove a point. And if he finds out, it could make her look irresponsible. Or, on the other hand, mom might call dad and say guess what your daughter did, just to get a rise out of him. Daughter was using this divide in faction to her advantage. Now that she is in trouble, with the two of them bickering, she is unable to fix her situation. So the scheme that helped her is now backfiring.
In the end, children need to know they can’t play parents for fools. If they fell that one allows them to get away with more, they’ll run to that parent. Only problem is that when trouble arises, with both parents fighting the child suffers. So a child, even in the case of divorce, need to understand that both parents are on the same page. Even if both parents don’t get along, the child should not see that take place. Remember, you’re the adult; you’ve been on this planet longer than they have been. Don’t let them think they know life more than you. You should be the ultimate gamer.