We all want to be great parents who help our kids grow into respectable, kind, self-sufficient adults. If only there were a guide to teach us how! I asked leading experts for some parenting advice, and they insist that it’s easier than many parents think. Here's the first step: present a united front in front of your children.
It is essential that both parents, or whoever the caregivers are, are on the same page when dealing with their children about consequences, rules, and expectations. “Kids are manipulative and they’ll take advantage,” says Marlene McDermott, Marriage and Family Therapist at Serenity Counseling in Palmyra.
For example, if one parent gives the child a month-long grounding, but the other parent cuts it to two weeks, the child recognizes that there is “wiggle room,” explains Marlene. “Clearly they’re not on the same page and the kid knows where the loophole is.”
This rule is important always....from the tiniest problems to the largest issues. If you tell your three year old that he cannot have candy at the grocery store, but then your husband buys him a treat, he will learn at a very young age how to manipulate one or the other of you. You must establish the ground rules together so that he doesn't figure out how to "work" the system.
While a disagreement over something as small as a piece of candy seems trivial, it's the pattern of showing a united front that ultimately matters. When he's 16 he sneaks his first beer, he can't think that one parent will let him off the hook while the other has made the rules against drinking clear.
McDermott urges parents to agree on general rules of the house and make every member aware of them. If you don’t agree, work out differences behind closed doors, away from the child and then return with an answer. “Never let the kid see that and always present as a united front,” she says.