Why Parents Need to Speak with One Voice

Posted October 7, 2010 by

One of the main differences, and problems, I see with parenting today versus when I was a kid is how parents can cross each other when it comes to parenting.  A mother I know very well is a perfect example — she had taken to literally screaming at her six year old daughter to get her to do what she needed her to do. It wasn’t until I was in the kitchen one day when Dad came home that I understood why. When Dad walked through the door, the girl ran up to him and immediately asked for something her mother had already said “no” to. Dad, without a second thought, immediately said “yes,” and then chided Mom for saying no in the first place. The daughter shot a triumphant look at Mom, and walked off victoriously. It then hit me that, since Dad isn’t backing her up, the only tool Mom feels she has left is the Scream.

This is an example of the damage that can be done when parents don’t speak with one voice. We, as parents, don’t often realize this, but it is one of the most important aspects of successful parenting. Children will constantly push and push to find the boundaries of what is acceptable behavior. If they sense a gap between parents on anything, they will work it for all it’s worth. If they are successful, then the parent-child relationship begins to break down and the parent’s authority is weakened.

Again, parents today don’t realize this is what’s happening, but these are the stakes. Keeping this rule in mind is difficult, particularly when parents are at odds with one another because of their relationship. In these cases, I’ve seen parents cross each other when it comes to the children out of spite for on another. Needless to say, disaster ensues. We need to realize that when we first took on the responsibility of being parents, this is one of the things we signed up for. Regardless of any other pressures and issues, parents always need to speak with one voice.


John McPherson is a leadership and management consultant in Salinas, CA. John and his wife Christina have two children, Fiona and Carson. Both John and Christina’s parents had a great influence in their upbringing, which helped them define how they would parent their children. Over the past ten years, John observed how many parenting practices have strayed from the principles he and Christina have found to be successful, and this led him to write a book on parenting, entitled "Ten Simple Rules for Being a Parent in a World Turned Upside Down".

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