When one parent teams up with a child, it creates an unhealthy bond. This kind of environment breeds disrespect. A child who learns that parents are not on the same page sees the possibility of putting down a parent while throwing their opinions aside. Parent and child versus a parent is a recipe for dysfunction.
I once counseled a mother who spoke to me about the relationship her husband had with their eleven-year-old son. She felt that her husband was harsher with him than with their daughters. He expected more, demanded more and corrected him on the slightest mistakes. Somehow it felt as if the son and the husband were in competing with one another for her alliance. How did the mother deal with the situation?
She told her husband, “You’re being much too hard on him and you should just let things go. After all, you’re the father and you’re the one who needs to act like the adult.”
When asked if she expresses these words to her husband in front of the son she said, “Well, I try my best to whisper. But I guess I’m whispering loud and he hears everything.”
I am certain that the son heard everything and understood that there’s now a powerful wedge between his parents. And from then on, anytime he had an issue with his father, he assumed his mother was on his side. As a result, his relationship with his father suffered as he grew older.
When such scenarios take place, the relationship between a husband and wife becomes strained. There is a question of loyalty, trust and parenting on common ground. Parents who display favoritism for a child over a spouse can create resentment and anger in marriage. A father and mother must stand united and not the child and parent.
When children see parents behaving lovingly and respectfully with one another, they feel as if they are in a stable home that will endure. A firm foundation gives the children the sense of steadiness needed in a chaotic world. Children also learn to respect parents when parents display respect for one another, when they see a united front. Casting a spouse’s opinion aside thoughtlessly, disparaging a husband or wife and treating each other dishonorably is damaging.