Parenting: “My husband keeps giving the kids treats”

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In this week’s “Parenting” segment on the Moncrieff show, a listener asked for advice on how to stop her husband from continuing to give his kids candy behind his back:

Joanna Fortune, a psychotherapist specializing in child and adult psychotherapy, joined Moncrieff to answer this question and those of other listeners.

The question:

My husband regularly gave treats to our 10 and 12 year olds. But I’ve tried to encourage them to stick to healthy foods and minimize sweets, especially over the past couple of years because they can really overdo it with sugar.

“My husband, however, keeps bringing them home packets of candy and chocolate bars and makes them promise not to tell me. It’s now become like he’s slipping treats for them behind my back, which they adore and which he delights in.

“I feel like I’m on my own trying to keep us all on a healthy lifestyle and I’m sick of being the bad cop, but my husband just seems to find it hilarious.”

Parenting: “My husband keeps giving the kids treats”

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Joanna’s response

“I just think listening to you…you just need to say, ‘Dad, stop it,’ because the Good Cop Bad Cop split isn’t serving anyone well. And it may be fun now, but it can go in circles.

“Children need boundaries and boundaries because that really creates that inner state [where] they feel emotionally stable and secure in relationships where there are clear boundaries and boundaries. They won’t thank you for it, but it has a prosocial effect. This builds emotional security.

She continued:

“But more than all that, they need to know their parents are together – even if you are estranged parents by the way.

“Because otherwise they learn that they can part ways with you and that will always and repeatedly create tension and power struggles where they just don’t need to be and where they shouldn’t. to be.

“It also creates confusion and uncertainty for children, it can turn into things like anxiety and stress-related things. But it will definitely create resentment and tension between parents – as we see here.

“Children will always determine which parent to go to for different issues as they grow up. This is completely normal. They may know that their mom is more relaxed about the outfit they’re wearing or that their dad is going to take them somewhere they want to go or that one of you is going to write a note quicker to get them out of the EP or whatever. to be. They work that stuff.

“It’s good on all levels because it’s really the extremes, the polarization and if a parent feels, ‘I’m being made into a bad copy and healthy eating is a red line issue for me’… then it’s not one of those softer things because when we have trigger issues… whatever it is you have to find some key points that you can agree on because that helps you really developing your shared message for children.

“So I think it can be helpful to agree that when one of you does or says something that goes against the parenting structure you’ve agreed to beforehand, you’ll have a non-verbal cue that means that you will set aside time later to talk about it.Basically, you agree to have these disagreements in private and not in front of the children.

“But always find the areas that you are strongly aligned with.

“Perhaps you both agree that play is really important or that kids should do hobbies they enjoy or that kids should take their prescribed medications at home. prescribed time – things you’re both strongly on the same page about and then work to find a key in any areas you don’t quite agree on, you can say: “I don’t entirely agree with that, but on this point, yes.

“So, for example, on this one, they might say, ‘Listen, I don’t want them to eat so many sweet treats during the week, but you like to bring them home a treat that comes from you and you love the bounce you get from this. So let’s agree that Friday or Wednesday [we give them a treat].’ Pick one day a week when you’re comfortable with it and you’re okay with doing it that way… I think it has to be a trade-off, but if you give the kids the idea, “Don’t don’t tell your mom” or “don’t tell your dad,” which can escalate into awkward places.

“These kids are 10 and 12, they’re about to hit their teens, and they’re going to do their own version of cleavage without your teenage help. So I think I’d try to master this one for your own good.

Main image: A child about to eat candy.

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