Exaggerated? Certainly (at least I hope so).
Truth? Certainly (I know so).
Kids of any age, especially teenagers, will look for ways to get what they want. They will ask one parent and then ask the other if the answer they receive from the first is not the answer they wanted (read that sentence again). While every home experiences this common kid/student practice, homes that are blended, single-parent, separated, grandparent and/or adult guardian led can be particularly subject to being "worked" by the students in their care.
If you are reading this and are the parent/guardian who trumps the other parent/guardian with the "yes," this is a problem. You are not being cool, better and/or more understanding. You are causing damage to your student's future understanding of how the real world works and actually hurting your kid. Oh, and you are being "worked."
If you are reading this and are the parent/guardian who is being trumped by the other parent/guardian, you have a part in this "working" as well. Is there a reason you are being trumped? Are you allowing for dialogue with your other parent/guardian or does everything have to be done your way? This too causes damage and impacting your student's understanding of how the real world works.
So...how can parents/guardians prevent being successfully "worked" by their kids? Here are a few suggestions:
- Check with the other parent/guardian. It can be as easy as a phone call or text. When asked by your student to do, buy, go, etc. something, take a moment to check with the other parent/guardian. If there is disagreement, tell your student you will give them an answer later. It is okay for your kid to wait for an answer. You are the one in charge.
- Talk with the other parent/guardian before a question is given. What are your feelings on dress, parties, music, movies, friends, etc.? Talk about your values concerning each of these topics before your kid asks to do, buy, go, etc.
- Respect and support the opinion of the other parent/guardian. In other words, if a student says, "Can I go...?" and you ask, "What did your mother say?" Support your spouse/guardian. Be on the same page. This is a particularly difficult thing to do if you are in a divorced, separated or single parent situation. Still, it is important that both father and mother have a civil and productive conversation on what is best (yes, this can be subjective) for the student(s) you have a responsibility. If respect and support are difficult, find a counselor or trusted adult that can mediate a civil and productive conversation so that both parents/guardians can be on the same page.