Deborah Tillman, America’s Supernanny, says that to maintain harmony in the household, make sure — above all — not to undermine that other parent. Here’s how:

“If a child says, ‘Well Daddy let’s me do it,’ the mom should respond: ‘I know that it may be confusing when one parent allows you to do something and the other parent does not. When you are asking Daddy for something, then you must listen to Daddy and when you ask Mom something, you have to listen to Mom. Just like one teacher might say yes and the other teacher might say no. We are not all the same and therefore do not respond in the same manner all of the time.’

“Then say, ‘Mom and Dad won’t always have the same response, but this is why I said no’ and provide him or her with your reason. That way, you are not putting Daddy down or making the child feel like Daddy handles situations inappropriately. Later, have a private discussion with the child’s dad in order to understand what his reasoning was for allowing the child to do it and determine “what is the best policy” for the child together so that you both can be on the same page in the future.”

Here’s how 4 other parenting experts say to respond…


Erica Reischer
Give kids credit for trying to get what they want, says parent coach and psychologist Erica Reischer. But to keep the endless back-and-forth in check, follow this one guideline. Format: Video (1:37)

Richard Weissbourd
“Are you on the same highway with your partner?” asks The Parents We Mean to Be author Richard Weissbourd. If not, make sure you get there to avoid constant conflict. Format: Video (1:20)

Jane Nelsen
The bestselling author of Positive Discipline says that by keeping your response short and sweet, you’ll avoid unnecessary conflict. Format: Article

Adele Faber
The co-author of the seminal How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk offers an example of how to respond to this wily kid comment. Format: Article

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