“It’s so unfair. Mom lets me do it when I’m at her house.” This is something many divorced parents hear from their kids. Whether it is true or not is a different matter.
Playing your parents off against each other is a valid tactic to get what you want when you are a kid. When your parents divorce, there may be even more opportunities to do so, especially if they do not communicate well with each other.
How do you avoid such issues as parents?
Parents who talk to each other could solve this quickly by picking up the phone and checking if it is true. They could then discuss how they want to address that particular situation and agree to a shared rule. For example, no matter what house their teen is in, they must be home by 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 9.30 p.m. on school nights.
Do rules need to be identical?
You do not necessarily need to keep the same rules. Sometimes there is a valid reason not to. For instance, you insist your child is home earlier when with you because it is a less safe neighborhood than where their other parent lives.
Most kids can understand different rules for different places. For example, they know that when they go to Grannies, eating pizza means sitting at the table with cutlery, but at yours, it is acceptable to eat it straight from the box while sitting on the couch. That does not mean they won’t whine or try to play you off against each other.
Communication, cooperation and a solid parenting plan are the keys to making co-parenting work. Getting help to get it right is therefore crucial.