It was a cold Sunday afternoon and I lay on the bed sipping my tea. My son walked up to me and asked for some ice-cream. I gently explained to him that it would not be a good idea as he had just recovered from a cold and the weather was not appropriate to have an ice-cream. My son left the room without any argument.
After 20 minutes, when I went looking for my son, I realized that he was out with my father. Needless to say, I knew where he must have gone.
Does your child take advantage of your conflict with your spouse?
How many times as parents do we feel that our decisions, instructions, and rules get bent by not only one’s parents/in-laws but also by our spouse? It may make you feel furious – but it does not mean that they don’t respect you and your decisions.
Everyone in the house, especially your spouse has a compelling need to contribute to the child’s growth. Differences in views and beliefs make us the individuals we are, children may not know this – their only concern is to get what they want. And this may lead to a little bitterness between the two adults. Parenting is all about communication. Be it with the child or your spouse. It is important for both parents to respect and appreciate each other’s viewpoint.
Some parents have found it easier to deal with such situations by splitting their responsibilities. “If you are having problems with school, talk to mummy”. “If you want to go out with friends, then talk to daddy”
Here are also some tips that have worked for some parents.
Remember: there is no rule for parenting. What may work for others may not work for you.
The child needs to know that you and your spouse are on the same team.
- Praise and appreciate each other in front of the child
- If you agree with your spouse’s viewpoint, agree with it in front of the child.
- If the child has approached your spouse with a problem, let your spouse address it first.
- If you disagree with your spouse’s viewpoint, discuss the same in the absence of the child.
- You can also appreciate the efforts of your spouse, even in the absence of your spouse. This will help the child recognise the bond shared by you and your spouse.
- Disagree, argue or criticise the viewpoints of your spouse in the presence of the child.
Often, I have heard children stating the following:
“My mother is stupid.”
“My father does not know anything.”
“My father is really bad, he does not allow me to have ice-creams.
“My mother is the best”
Statements like these may hurt some parents and may even strain one’s relationships with their spouse.
Children usually don’t make these things up. They hear and observe, therefore it becomes very important for us as parents not to criticise our spouses or in fact anyone else in the family in front of our children.
When my father returned with my son, I asked him why he had gone out for ice-cream despite my refusal. My son and my father both denied having gone for ice-cream. In fact, my father assured me that they had gone out for a drive.
I could see a trace of white cream on the side of my son’s lips. I took a tissue paper, wiped my son’s mouth and smiled at him. He knew he was caught. He stole his glance, turned around and ran away. I then sat and had a chat with my dad on how he should not override my decisions as my child may stop taking me seriously.