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1/17/16blog post

2 things moms and dad MUST agree on

african american family A recent Pew Research Study on parenting confirmed what most kids already know. Moms and dads treat their kids differently.

Based on a survey of 1,807 parents, moms reported a higher frequency of being overprotective, giving in too quickly, and praising too much. Dads were more likely to give too much freedom, stick to their guns too often and criticize.

What was particularly interesting was the fact that 51 percent of moms rated themselves as doing a very good job as a parent, compared to only 39 percent of dads. This trend was more pronounced among millennial parents (ages 18-34). Fifty-seven percent of those moms felt good about how they were doing, compared to only 43 percent of millennial dads.

Does inconsistency between parents really matter? Most of the time, it does not. Learning how to deal with the different styles of moms and dads prepares kids for how to respond to the diversity of how others treat them.

However, in the following two areas, parents should strive for complete consistency.

  1. Moral foundation. Be clear and unwavering on the importance of honesty, respect, and authenticity. Never ask your child to keep something secret from the other parent. Inconsistency between parents on this issue reinforces the misconception that morality is more a matter of convenience or fashion, not an absolute. A disturbing trend I’ve noticed over the years is the number of kids who discover that their parents are involved in some type of internet affair. I typically advise those kids to speak directly with the parent. Unfortunately, the common response of that parent is to involve the child in a conspiracy of silence, and demand that they not disclose this information to the other parent. Encouraging such duplicity in your children will resonate throughout their lives.
  2. Changing problem behaviors. If you are working with your child to change some misbehavior, then consistency between parents is essential. Parents have to work together both on specific expectations and appropriate consequences. This is the source of much tension within families, and the cause of most of the behavior problems exhibited by kids. When expectations are either ambiguous or vary tremendously between parents, kids never know what rules will be enforced on any given day. It’s like a batter playing a baseball game without knowing what the strike zone will be on any pitch. When consequences are random or nonexistent, children don’t know if an expectation is a rule or a wish. Rules are enforced. Wishes are not.

Enjoy your kids and let them appreciate the fact that mom and dad treat them in different ways. Just don’t compromise on either ethics or on dealing with behavior problems.