This seems to be axiomatic in parenting discussions. You back your partner in front of the children, even if you disagree or consider they are wrong, and then you talk to them about it in private.

I can't help feeling there must be limits to this?

(Note, I've put the 'discipline' tag because it's the first one that comes to mind, but my question is not limited to discipline issues).

OK, an example which I recently heard, which wasn't actually parents, but two teachers. Teacher A had said something which Pupil C refuted. Teacher B had good reason to doubt that Teacher A was telling the truth, but through 'solidarity' backed up Teacher B in front of Pupil C.

For me, this is just teaching the child in question that adults are very selective about how they interpret 'truth' and 'justice', and that as such they aren't to be trusted to tell the truth, or to defend the innocent.

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    This seems like a very broad question. Is there any way you can narrow this down, maybe an example or something? – Erik Jan 3 '18 at 8:25
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    I agree with Eric that this needs to be narrowed down quite a bit. I would not support my partner belittling my children in their presence. The question is what's happening that has you asking this question? Thanks. – anongoodnurse Jan 3 '18 at 8:29

There is a limit and it is in your text.

You back your partner in front of the children, even if you disagree or consider they are wrong ...

But there are other ways to tell your partner in the situation that you are not OK, with how things are going. We arranged some code words e.g. black raven, whenever someone wants to object within the situation. This usually gives the opportunity to re evaluate the current behavior, and to either stop what you are doing right now, because your partner thinks its not helpful or worse or to retract yourself from the situation.

The most important part is to discuss the issues later on. And depending on the age of the kids, include them in a second round of discussions, when you and your partner have exchanged about the topic and know what your positions are. Adults are the best example for a kid to learn how to deal with arguments and conflicts. And its more then important to show them that there are conflicts among adults, and that they are able to talk about this and resolve such conflicts.

And of course, but i guess this is obvious, if there is immediate harm imminent, you take action! Do not to enter some screaming contest. Split up the involved factions and start explaining and discussing.


This is a very good question. In general, it's a good idea in matters of discipline and values to present a united front.

No, you can't watch television now. Mom said no. No means no.
I agree with Daddy. It's better to be honest than to be right. Let's talk about why.

However, whenever two people come together for any length of time, conflict is bound to follow. We also owe it to our kids to show them how to disagree respectfully and set healthy boundaries for ourselves. Matters of truth should take precedence over agreement. Matters of respect should as well. For the first,

No, Honey, I think (child) is right about that. Maybe you're thinking about (Y)? (X) was where (Z) occurred. We can look it up if you like.

The second is trickier. A personal example might be better.

My ex was very parsimonious even though we had plenty of money. At one point, he was doing all the cooking and shopping. (He was working half-time; I was working half-time, homeschooling full time, and the kids and I were doing all the other chores, including farm chores.)

Because shark meat was cheap, he would buy it all the time. The kids and I didn't like shark, and we told him that (politely) many times. But it was cheap, so he continued to buy it and serve it.

I taught my kids not to complain in general about services done for us, and to be gracious.

One evening, he called us to the table. "What's for supper?" asked one of the kids. "Shark," my ex answered. We were all silent. Finally I said, "I'm sorry, but I'm not eating it. You know we don't like shark." The table erupted. "If Mommy isn't eating it, neither am I!" the kids cried. This was treason!

The thing is, we had all told him many times how much we disliked shark, both in private and together. We didn't need to eat cheaply so often. He was putting his own desire to save money (for what? We had much more than enough money) before our desires. By speaking up and drawing a boundary, I was saying, "We are important, too. You need to respect our feelings, too. And you're not doing that when you buy shark." We had toast and scrambled eggs. He had shark.

He never bought shark again, without another negative word ever being said.

Respectfully disagreeing and healthy boundaries need to be taught and modeled for kids, or they will have a very erroneous belief of what marriage and life with other people really is.

I wouldn't want my kids to feel like their marriages were defective because they didn't agree on everything. Or that every authority figure was always correct.

Having said all that, I'll add, pick your battles wisely.

I want to add that we had weekly family meetings where anything could be discussed. This was helpful to us.


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