Social Question

JLeslie's avatar

Can you think of an example where it was a good thing your parents were not a united front?

Asked by JLeslie (60472points) March 16th, 2012

My example is when I was starting Jr. High I remember one day at the dining room table my dad telling me that if I ever tried some drugs or drank alcohol and I felt like something was very wrong, or felt unsafe that I could always call him to pick me up. My mom said as he finished his sentence, “I don’t know what you are talking about she doesn’t have to try anything I never did.” They obviously had not discussed the matter. I remember it clearly, because they became annoyed with each other, oractically fought over the different messages. I found some humor in it then, and even more now.

I think it wound up being brilliant. I never tried drugs or drinking in school, just like my mom (well, I sometimes had a little alcohol to go along, but mostly I lied and said I was already buzzed, and eventually avoided situations where there was peer pressure to drink or do drugs). Not only had she said what she said, but she had been an example of turning drinks down in my life.

If I ever had been drunk, worried about getting home, or felt like I was possibly having an emergency, I would have been able to call my dad.

We your parents married or divorced when your situation happened? Do you think they actually were on the same page, and purposely gave different messages? As a parent would you purposely not represent a united message to your children as a strategy in their upbringing?

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14 Answers

CaptainHarley's avatar

The only favor my mother ever did for me was to leave my father and never come back. I suppose that means they “were not a united front.” LOL!

sadconfusion's avatar

Well, my parents were together for my childhood. My dad was rarely there though. So my mom brought us up. I’ve turned out just fine. lol
Both commanded allot of respect. Both showed respect. They trusted us, and we can always count on them for anything. It wasn’t a bad way to be brought up.

woodcutter's avatar

My father was all about being stoned all the time and I think it worked out in my best interest my mom didn’t unite with him on that. Which is worse, not having a father to help you out early in life or having one who is there but a pain in the ass stoner? Or a drunk, or any other unsavory character disaster you can think of?

AshLeigh's avatar

When I used to cut myself. If they weren’t in the middle of a divorce someone would have noticed. I know that sounds like a bad thing, but I’m glad they don’t know.
It was something intensely personal to me, and I needed to stop on my own. If they had known they would have sent me to someone, and that’s not what I needed. Sometimes I just need to figure things out on my own.
Not sure if any of this makes sense..

captainsmooth's avatar

My ex and I rarely put up a united front (that isn’t why she is my ex), even after discussing how we wanted to stick together, and do and say the same things to our children about whatever.

It caused some problems for us as a couple, and I think for my kids as well. They learned pretty quickly that I was the one that was more consistent about setting limits, and the ex was a little more “flexible” (or easy to get over on).

We are now divorced, I am still consistent with my kids, and the ex is not. It continues to cause some issues between the oldest and the ex, to the point that my ex thinks my daughter needs to go to counseling. (Not the only reason why ex thinks oldest needs counseling but my daughter did go to counseling while we were getting divorced; the doctor said that she was doing very well despite the breakup of her family, and, her teachers for the past 2½ years have said the same.)

keobooks's avatar

My dad was 100% anti-Christmas and was always trying to get rid of it. My mom love Christmas and was always sneaking it in behind his back. I loved Christmas and I think I’ve posted in the past having panic attacks because the tree wasn’t up by Christmas eve and my mom would stay up at night, decorating the house so I’d have Christmas to see in the morning.

I have no idea why my father hates Christmas so much, but I am so grateful that my mom never went along with it. The first year they were separated, my mom waited until the day after Thanksgiving and she totally tarted up the house and played Christmas music nonstop.

wundayatta's avatar

Not once did my parents ever exhibit anything other than a united front. It was scary and, I think, somewhat destructive to my ideas about what a relationship is supposed to be.

JLeslie's avatar

@wundayatta Do you mean you grew up thinking a marriage meant both people had to agree on everything? Or, what exactly do you mean?

wundayatta's avatar

Yes. Parents agreed on everything. They never showed their differences.

When I started having relationships, it was something of a shock to find out this was not possible, and I don’t think it’s healthy to deny you are separate people. My wife and I try not to feel like we have to agree with each other in front of the kids all the time, although we do have the instinct to present a united front much of the time.

keobooks's avatar

@wundayatta I remember reading some interesting stuff about that in a parenting journal. I guess in the 1950’s – 60’s, there was a parenting expert (Spock? I can’t recall but he’s the only one I know from that era) who said it was dangerous to argue in front of your kids and you should never appear to have any disagreements in front of the children.

Then in the 90’s, experts figured out that this was a bad thing to do and many attributed people’s reluctance to get married and spike in the divorce rate to this. Many kids who grew up in a household where the adults never argued in front of the kids assumed that their parents were these superhuman freaks that were always in harmony. The kids thought it was normal and that something was wrong with their own relationships since they argued with their partner.

I have no idea if it holds water, but it’s something to think about.

JLeslie's avatar

@wundayatta Such a great point. I never had thought of that when I wrote the question or had told the story of parents not agreeing before.

CaptainHarley's avatar


My ex-brotherinlaw and his wife went to great lengths to hide all their arguments from their two children. Later, when their son started dating, he came to my ex-wife and me asking if there was something wrong with him because he and his girlfriend would periodically argue.

augustlan's avatar

I was raised by a single mom, who would not let my step-father have any say in raising me, so it didn’t come up in my childhood. My ex and I don’t always agree, and our kids have certainly seen us have disagreements and some outright arguments, too. We are very different people, and our children definitely know it. He and I do try to hash things out privately prior to making big decisions regarding the kids, though. We compromise on things, figure out the best course of action, and then talk to them.

I think both sides of the coin have some value for children. Seeing that parents can disagree and still work together to reach a consensus is good.

JLeslie's avatar

I once heard that arguing in small doses in front of children is not a bad thing, what is important is they see how their parents work through it and come to an agreement. Learning how to handle disagreement is what is important according to some experts.

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