Have you ever been manipulated by a family member? Perhaps even one of your own children?
We have four beautiful girls. All of who are very intelligent and sweet. Yet over the years, my husband and I have been manipulated on several occasions by those same sweet girls. It started off innocently enough at first. One of girls would say something like, “Mom, can I have a cookie?” My response… “No, it’s too close to dinnertime.” Five minutes later…. “Why are you eating that cookie? Didn’t I tell you it was too close to dinnertime?” Daughter’s response… “Well… I asked Dad, and he said I could.”
This is just all too typical of how things usually go. If the kids ask me something and I say no, they immediately run to dad to see if he will say yes, and vice versa. During the early years in our marriage, this was a huge problem for us. I would get mad at hubby, thinking he should know better than to give one of our girl’s cookies before dinnertime and then he would get angry at me, since he really couldn’t see what all the fuss was about. Of course this is just one simple scenario; as the girls got older, saying yes to cookies was the least of our problems.
Years passed by and we still hadn’t figured out that by allowing our girls to manipulate us, we were creating some serious problems for our marriage. There would be times when the kids would make plans with me to do something, fully knowing that their dad wasn’t ok with it, and then I would get blamed for allowing them to do whatever it was their dad had already said no too. This scenario of course went both ways. This caused a lot of resentment to build up in our marriage. The girls eventually figured out which one of us was the most likely to give them the answer they wanted, and so then they would use that knowledge to their advantage.
Hubby and I made the mistake of letting this continue on for too many years. If we had been smart, we would have learned sooner to communicate better and make all of our decisions together as a family. Unfortunately, with the way our work schedules were back in those days, we really didn’t take the time to communicate with each other like we should have. Because of this, our relationship with each other and the relationships with our girls really did suffer.
Fortunately, we have since learned, if one of our girls asks us for something, we make sure that they haven’t already been told no; and any really important decisions, always get discussed together as a family. We have found that by sitting together at dinnertime, we now have the opportunity to discuss things which are currently going on. It’s the perfect time to make future plans for upcoming events and it helps keep everyone on the same page.
Do you struggle with this in your own family? And if so, what have you done to try and remedy the problem?
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