1. Avoids the “Divide and Conquer” Game
If you and your spouse disagree about a parenting decision in front of your children, you’re only setting up a dangerous dynamic that pits one parent against the other. When this happens, one parent comes off looking like the “good parent,” while the other appears to be the “bad guy.” This divides you and your spouse emotionally and teaches your children to be manipulative.
In order to avoid this scenario, you need to be committed to backing up one another in front of the children, even if you disagree. You need to say to your child, “Your dad and I need to talk about this before we can give you a decision.” Then take the time to discuss the matter with your spouse behind closed doors until you come to an agreement.
2. Provides Consistency and Avoids Confusion
Children thrive when there’s consistency, because there’s no confusion about what’s expected of them. When your child feels like she can determine what the outcome of her behavior will be, then she can make clearer choices and her trust level will improve with each consistent response you provide.
3. Gives Your Child a Sense of Security
With consistency comes a sense that mom and dad are in control and care about their child. Most children who are neglected tend to behave negatively to gain their parent’s attention. It may not be apparent on a conscious level, but children want their parents to intervene, because to intervene means that the parents care about them. On the other hand, if children see that their parents consistently care about them, then not only do they have a sense of security, but they also gain healthy and positive self-esteem.
4. Strengthens the Parent’s Authority
There’s strength in numbers. When children realize that both parents are together and aren’t going to back down, they will yield much more easily to the command or expectation. This certainly lessens the tension or stress that the parents feel when the confrontation occurs. And we could all use a little less stress!
5. Strengthens the Foundation of the Family—The Parent’s Marriage
Yes, as the parents, you are the foundation of your family. That means that you must nurture and protect your marriage. Your children need to see that you honor and respect your spouse—even if you don’t always agree with everything he or she does. They need to see this mutual respect because to neglect this undermines your own authority and respect with your child.
The way to ensure that this foundation is strong is to not only make your marriage the foundation, but also the priority—even over your children. You and your spouse need to have a strong and loving relationship before you can offer a strong and loving relationship to your child. It simply doesn’t work the other way around. If you put your kids before your spouse, I can almost guarantee you that you won’t simply be looking for parenting advice, but help for your marriage, as well.
*If you are divorced and the “love” is long gone, you still need to demonstrate respect for your ex-spouse at all times, especially in front of your children.