Children determine from an early age which parent they should ask for permission in which circumstance. We can illustrate this by using our own family. If the request involved some degree of daring, risk, or danger, they always approached Dad, the one more likely to allow a bareback ride on the horse or a run down a black diamond ski slope.
When it came to social events they made the intelligent choice to come to Mom who was and is definitely more of a social butterfly than dear old dad. This division of labor in regard to granting permission is logical and isn’t harmful. The problems begin when a child asks one parent, is denied permission, and then asks the other parent, looking for an override of the first ruling – Divide and Conquer.
If this is allowed in your family, it will definitely be disruptive. When Divide and Conquer is successful Mom and Dad find themselves in conflict with one another and the child is free to disregard the first parent’s decision and follow the second response.
To combat the “Divide and Conquer” strategy, parents need to ask if the other parent has responded to the child’s request. If that’s the case, the first answer holds. It’s always best to have a united front or as we like to say, “To be singing off the same songsheet.”
Have you ever been the victim of a Divide and Conquer strategy?