“Do as I say not as I do”… double standards in parenting can make your parenting journey very difficult. Kids are always watching and are like sponges absorbing what we teach them- intentionally and unintentionally. It’s important to pay attention to the example we set for them.

Here’s a double standards parenting story from our family:

Ten years ago, my son, who was 2 at the time, and my husband got a matching pair of foam swords for Christmas. Who knew that we would learn a valuable parenting lesson with them.

We all took turns playing “battle” and running around the house after each other with the swords. But we had some ground rules. They were: 1) you can’t hit someone who is not playing battle, 2) you can’t hit faces or heads, and 3) it’s never ok to hit the baby with a sword. If these rules were broken, the swords would go on top of the fridge in time out.

As I was leaving the house one day, they were playing battle and my husband flirtatiously hit me with the sword. My son quickly said, “Now your sword has to go on the fridge. Mommy wasn’t playing.” My husband and I looked at each other and agreed. He had caught my husband breaking the rules! So the sword was put up.

5 thoughts for parents to help you avoid double standards:

  • Remember you are responsible to follow the rules YOU set too. If you’re not consistent with following the rules, your kids will question why they have to follow them.
  • Parenting with double standards will bring confusion. If you are screaming, “Stop yelling!”, eating your dessert before you have eaten your vegetables, or are using bad language that they get in trouble for, your kids might end up confused about the rules.
  • It will create a culture of rebellion…after all you’re rebelling against your own rules too.
  • Don’t set rules you aren’t willing to follow yourself.
  • Ask yourself “Do I want my child to follow in my footsteps?” If the answer is no, it’s time to start making some changes.

Be careful of the double standards you’re teaching your kids without knowing it. If you aren’t being accountable to the house rules, why should they? If you notice your child is struggling following some household rules, you may need to assess what you are teaching them. Your actions might be saying “Breaking the rules is okay.”