When Your Child Tries to Divide and Conquer…Her Parents


When Your Child Tries to Divide and Conquer Her Parents

I’m sure most of you married you opposite, your other half; for my husband and I that’s exactly the case.

I’m city, he is country. I love being social he loves staying at home. He likes orderly and neat while I prefer more scattered and messy. We more or less compromised and balanced each other: I’m slightly neater (not my car), I stay in more, but the one place we seem to struggle compromising on is parenting.

We both want what’s best for our child and believe our way is the right way. I am more nurturing, forgiving and less structured. His method is based more on discipline and obedience. We tend to butt heads often in this department and our soon to be 7-year-old knows this and tries to divide and conquer us.

I know I am too soft and I empathize and excuse my child’s behavior; I know that’s not the parent I want to be. I don’t want to raise a spoiled brat, but I don’t want to shut my child down to the point where she doesn’t feel safe or comfortable expressing herself. I want her to know that just because she is a child, she’s not less of a person and unequal to an adult. But with that guidance she lacks respect. She sees adults as her equals, which can be good and bad.

So where is the balance? How do you raise a child that is strong-willed and incredibly verbal to also have manners and empathy?

I grew up as the oldest of three children. My parents adored us and still do. Family time and love were valued more than a tidy house and strict rules. I think I turned out ok; I did have some spoiled brat tendencies that I have mostly outgrown. My husband’s family was more structured with lots of chores and with three siblings, they were expected to help keep a clean home. His value system helped shape the hardworking man he is today. I don’t think either way is the right way or best way, but we want to give our daughter both of those value systems.

I guess I am the one that struggles with the compromise. The thought of my poor baby coming home after a hard day of first grade and doing chores breaks my heart; added with the guilt of being a working mom, I tend to over-give everything. So, I end up with a child that’s not grateful for anything.

We have started doing meditations and practicing gratitude daily. I ask her the three things she is most unhappy about and then we talk about how she can be grateful for those things. Today she was upset her throat was scratchy and we talked about how she can now be grateful for her health and that it’s just a scratchy throat and not something more severe. My husband and I have expressed that she should try and speak with intent and try to think about her tone when she speaks. I have tried to be open to hearing my husband’s suggestions and implementing them even when he is not around.

It’s a struggle though, a daily struggle.