Children are manipulative… How to Protect Your Relationship While Parenting
Children are manipulative… How to Protect Your Relationship While Parenting

Children are manipulative… How to Protect Your Relationship While Parenting

{13½min read}

How to Protect Your Relationship While Parenting pt.I

There are sooo many areas for children these days to be manipulative.

Ignoring phone locks (or hacking them),

Being in the wrong places at the wrong times,

Misspending the lunch money (read buying lollies on the way to school),

Having a field day with technology (usually on those sleep in days!)

So, what do we do?

What does all of this ever increasing pressure accomplish?

Division and disagreements.

If we are in a partnership we can naturally start to take that other person for granted.
I’ve done it, I still do it! And it’s disgusting.
We begin with a ‘little’ division between the adults, and soon that poison grows and seeps out.
From here, it isn’t long until everyone in the house is having problems… with each other.

How do we avoid this?

By protecting our relationships as parents.

Anyone who has been in a relationship where children are involved knows that it’s only a matter of time before someone feels ignored and disrespected (by either the child or the partner!)

Here are 5 ideas to get you free of the drama:







Let’s face it. If there is no real communication in a relationship, there is no relationship.

What we win for no communication is the prize of eventual resentment, after a time of feeling unheard and disrespected.
Feeling unheard can effect either partner.
Some times it’s the person not communicating, sometimes this is slowly drowning the partner…

So how do we communicate effectively, for both of us?

– Open

A great place to start is being open.

If multiple people raising children together are not on the same page, disaster is almost inevitable.

When I was working in residential care this was the biggest issue. Teams were not keeping the same standards across shifts. There are many reasons for this, such as the high staff turn over… but it was always the children who lost out in the end.

One house had a team that was completely stressed. The client had tried to escape multiple times, self harm, control issues, and had just been put on a car ban for trying to abscond.
And we’re talking forcing a car on the highway to stop and jumping out type deal…

Contrary to my understanding, no one on the team had informed the client of the new car rules. ‘Fortunately’ as we were about to leave I realised this and explained them all to her… and the idea of sitting in the back was setting this client OFF.

To cut it short and keep the point, because workers were literally lying to this client they didn’t trust anyone. And it seems to me that these behaviours were thrown into the “too hard” basket, causing workers to just kick the issues down the road (such as explaining the new car restrictions).

If these workers had been open with each other, or with the client, I believe these issues wouldn’t have escalated to the police and ambulance being called multiple times that night…

This is an extreme example, but how is it any different in the home?

Without being open in the parenting team, and if the team isn’t open with the child, then how does anybody know where they truly stand?

This is a recipe for stress & friction…

While communication is a part of being open, it is barely the start.

Communicating in a closed way almost always leads to actions that don’t match what is said.

This erodes trust. Quickly.

And on the positive, with open communication we are going to feel more ownership of our decisions and actions. We are left with no where to hide, and need to actually take action.

We have some ownership over our lives.

– Honest

If open communication is expressing thoughts, then HONEST communication is taking away doubts and shadows.

How many times do our children play semantics, trying to worm their way out of a punishment by misunderstanding words or clear directions? Why does it seem that a lot of us want to continue this into adulthood?


Sometimes we may hide the truth to save someone’s feelings (white lie).

Perhaps we wanted to look good in someone’s eyes (so we don’t mention the donut we had with lunch, just the salad).

Or worse yet, maybe we want to avoid a disagreement or ‘getting in trouble.’

… The problem is, how many times does someone need to use just these three excuses to kill some of your trust?

And where does that end?

It’s usually not one instance. Causing us to focus in on the issue, and in most cases only seeing the negative.

Maybe we are even expressing ourselves, but white lying to try and protect the other persons feelings. This game has it’s own prize. Harder later.

We always have the choice to lay out what we really think and feel, and to then figure out how to move forward together. If we only lay out a fraction of our truth we are leaving the other person with partial information. Which will either bring small or no changes in the relationship.
Over time this won’t work out well. It’s just a matter of time.

– Raw

I understand. Some people have problems expressing themselves. Some people are so trapped from their own thoughts (for their own survival).

These people need the space (read push) to just be raw, to even get the communication flowing… at all.

This could mean times of stress and bad attitudes while we learn.

Either person in this relationship may need to use raw communication.

If someone is having issues expressing themselves, this could mean allowing space for some tantrums.

For someone suffering and trying to communicate, this could be losing the filter before the frustration arrives. Expressing the dissatisfaction in a semi-respectful way with little or no strong emotions.

Some people need the time to write out what is in their minds, to discover themselves.

Whatever your partner needs. It is then our responsibility to work hard to give them space, time, encouragement, love and understanding during their discovery. Best yet, if we are communicating we can help each other. We can express the feelings as they rise and mitigate the impact. We can make accommodations for each other and practice some empathy and understanding.

We can be the encourager, even when it is killing us inside. Because, we know that this person we care about is working through something heavy and world shaking.

From this outside perspective we can actually see more of the issues than the person dealing with their consequences. We can help pinpoint the areas that are causing grief, pain, struggle, all of it.
Once we notice something about our partner it is our duty to express these things. Now, this MUST be done in a loving, kind, caring way and then it’s our role to help our partner confront the darkness and fears that come with truly looking in to ourselves.
Again we need to share this in a real and raw way, not editing and playing “nice”
It isn’t “nice” to allow people to struggle when we can see the cause or the way out…

But what good is any of this if nothing changes?


The easiest way to drag some accountability into the relationship is by making lists.
Writing down all of the things that we need to be doing, so that there are no excuses for not addressing the issues, and a standard for how the home will be maintained.

Working together, sit down and create a list of all of the responsibilities and non negotiables.

Write times and get specific. What we are really doing is digging in to all of the expectation that we both have, and planning to make them no effort and no problem.

– Don’t Forget

If we have to feed the pets, write it down.

Now that dinner is going to be at 530 moving forward, write that down.

When there is tech to monitor, what time are those checks?

How do we parent, what are the themes we are working on with the Child?

Write it all down !

Having a list (or better yet, writing out a plan for the afternoons / mornings) frees us. Those bits don’t need to be in our mind anymore. Moving forward we just need to look at a piece of paper or a note in our phones. The energy wasted remembering what to do next can move straight into the effort needed to actually get things done, which is our next point!

– Accountability

By having lists, everyone is accountable.

There is no where to hide

No one to argue with.

You have written down what you will do, now you need to do it.

Putting things in writing feels a little bit dry and boring sometimes, so here’s the why.

Fun, enjoyment, less arguments, clarity, happiness and surprisingly … freedom.
When all of the hard things are fairly automated (happening consistently with minimal effort),
all of the fun and light things can have the effort and focus they deserve.
The stress and the life stuff isn’t going to be in the way as much. We can finally live life.

Making ourselves accountable to a piece of paper (truly our partner and ourselves, but a piece of paper ultimately) we lose the ability to argue. Laziness has to disappear. And everyone will see the changes and confidence you gain as you smash your goals, whatever they are.

The choice is gone, the decisions are made, and now our lives can improve.
We are fighting for freedom, one responsibility at a time.


Now, we get to the fun. Really doing.

We have communicated the things that matter to us, created a list of responsibilities, and are taking the parenting journey seriously. Now we have to put in the effort for our families.

– Expectations

Every person in the world has expectations.

Even someone lost in a remote part of the world is going to expect water when they hear water.

Our relationships are no different.

Earlier we talked about expressing ourselves openly, honestly and in a raw way. Doing this will begin to show us what our true expectations are. Expectations are just like the rest of life, everything we do is learned.
We watch tv, listen to music, hang around different people, work in certain environments. All of these things inform what we think, eventually believe, and ultimately do and expect.

It’s soul searching time.
Ask yourself what your expectations are. Literally. Out loud even.
And expect an answer.

I trust that you will have a list of expectations in no time.

Now here’s some magic, think about the expectations in your life. Really dive in to each one.
While you’re thinking about specific expectations ask yourself if this thinking still serves you.
Does it help you achieve your goals? Could it be adding extra pressure? Is it useful?

If the expectation is still helpful, move on. Explain it to your partner and keep the expectation.

If the expectation is not helpful, ditch it. You may need to work on habits and beliefs connected to that expectation, but if it isn’t helpful then stop it!
Share it with your partner as well, it could unlock some hurt we unintentionally inflicted!

This type of soul searching demands at least one thing from our relationships… Time.

– Time Horizons

“Rome wasn’t built in a day, but they were laying bricks every hour” – some genius

“We must use time as a tool, not as a crutch” – JFK

“Time heals all wounds”

“There is nothing permanent except change.” — Heraclitus

Obvious statement time: Things take time.

What does this mean for our relationships?

Are we able to expect things instantly?

Do we change instantly?

How long is too long?

How much can you handle?

What happens when things change too quickly for you?
Some people are freaks of nature and can handle change like it’s nothing (or at least outwardly appear have those skills), but most people seem to be resistant to change.

Homeostasis is any self-regulating process by which an organism tends to maintain stability while adjusting to conditions that are best for its survival.

(britanica –

This is what our body does. It tries to maintain stability.

Because of homeostasis it can be hard to lose weight, or we can hack it for short term gain.

When I was training martial arts I had to cut weight to fight as I was squarely between 2 weight classes naturally and wanted the advantage. So I had to learn to cut.

Cutting is basically just gaming your diet to achieve the goal on comp day. From here we could rehydrate and prepare for battle.

The easiest cut I did was a water cut. By drinking a lot of extra water, eliminating salt form my diet and eating just what I needed the body got used to the water and the weight. As the competition came closer the water would be cut back, but the body continued to eliminate the water as it had previously. The result was that water weight was flooded from the body, leaving muscles with less weight in them. The theory from there is to get the water back in, and be significantly heavier for the competition.

This works the same in our lives.
We are operating in the world a certain way, and if we try to change our minds usually continue in the old patterns and habits. By planning, we can game this response just like a fighter does their weight!
For example, when I come home I always drop all of my things at the end of the bed, creating a “death pile.” Having a 14 year old I would be explaining that I am focusing in on her room, demanding that she clean it every morning while mine remained a mess. I would explain that one day I am going to decide that enough is enough and then my room would remain clean (… okay! MOSTLY remain clean…ish…) from then on.
A few weeks later I began cleaning my room, most days. Now it is almost a habit (that I am currently failing. Change is hard!)

And that’s the point. Even when we want to, change is hard.
When it comes to our partner we need to realise this.

By expressing our expectations, they have a chance to take what matters to us seriously. But then we owe them something.
We need to allow them time, grace and encouragement in their efforts!

Continually kicking someone who is trying to get up isn’t going to help them up. Keep the mouth shut and offer a hand.
ABSOLUTELY express the dissatisfaction, but if you can not control your words pick a better time for the conversation.

Some things can take months or years to truly change. Look for the small wins in the mean time and celebrate them with your partner.

They are a human struggling just like the rest of us.

– Empathy

We are all in this world together.

Broken People make Broken People.
Broken People Hurt People.
Hurt People Break People.

We all need to chill out and put ourselves in the shoes of another. Every other.

Driving and get cut off, why were they distracted… what’s going on in their life?

Rude sales clerk, who hurt them today?

Mother being a hypocrite… what can’t she face?

Partner forgetting to do something important… firstly, What could I have done to help. Second, why are they struggling at the moment?

This is just a quick tease as the blog grew as I typed away
I finish up these points in partII
If you have anything to add or ask, jump in the comments below, or right here!!! >>>

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1 year ago

You are so insightful and intelligent Zach! I’m sure you are kicking all the step dad goals!

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