Are you tired of being the judge in your home?
Child: “Mom, Beth hit me and I’m hurt. Go tell her to stop hitting me.”
Parent: “Beth, why did you hit your sister?”
And off you go down the path of prosecutor and judge.
How did you get in this position, what do your kids expect you to do when they come complaining about a sibling, and how do you get out of this tangled web?
First question: How did you get into this position?
The parents I coach who get stuck in the prosecutor/judge role usually see themselves as a fixer of problems. Their kids have a conflict, they are asked for help, so of course, they delve into asking questions and finding the solution.
Second question: What do your kids expect you to do?
The child who is complaining expects (hopes) that you will take their side and the other sibling will get in trouble. They want you to be their ally and their sibling’s adversary. They have a win / lose agenda where they want you to make sure they win and their sibling loses.
How you respond determines whether this belief gets reinforced or not.
Third question: How do you get out of the prosecutor/judge tangled web?
First, ask why you want to get out of the situation where you look like you are taking sides. I have heard many stories of the “hitting sibling” feeling not heard, valued, or listened to by the parent. As a result. The “hitting sibling” accuses the parent of favoring the complainer, which leads to anger against the parent and the complainer which reinforces this negative cycle.
- The first main reason is the negative impact of unintentionally pitting your children against each other and against you.
- The second main reason is that you are weakening your children rather than strengthening them.
How am I weakening you ask?
In my book Ally Parenting, I talk about four ways that parents weaken children. One way is when you jump in and solve your children’s problems rather than teaching them how to solve them. This is called overprotecting/weakening them. You are missing a fantastic opportunity to strengthen them by teaching them valuable life skills of collaborating.
So, you get out of the prosecutor/judge role when you:
- Understand that it is not your problem to solve and tell them so.
- Learn how to guide a collaborative discussion.
- Proactively discuss the recurring conflicts with the siblings to find solutions beforehand.
- Have regular family meetings where collaborative discussions about a variety of topics are practiced regularly.
If you are excited about learning how to create a connected and collaborative environment in your home, write in the comment section, “I want to be a collaborator, not a judge.”
Author: Cynthia Klein, Parenting Expert, Coach and Author of Ally Parenting