Rule #21: Throw Your Spouse Under the Bus

Play hooky with responsibility by throwing your spouse under the bus.

Play hooky with responsibility by throwing your spouse under the bus.

In the epic struggle to be adored and mindlessly worshipped by your children, there will be winners and losers. And because you’re not exactly the picture of emotional security, there’s no way you want to lose. Ever. You simply can’t fathom one or more of your children thinking you are undeserving of your “World’s Best Parent” coffee mug.

Which means that when anything goes awry—for example, a trip to Disneyland is suddenly canceled—it’s important to assign blame to your spouse. That’s right, the bus of parental legacy is moving quite fast, so toss your spouse under it with the deftness of a hit man.

Hey, One Parent Has to Be the A-Hole (Just Not You)

You’re fine being labeled as a manipulative tool by co-workers. And you’re cool with the judgment that you possess zero maturity or worldly perspective by extended family. But you draw the line at being deemed an a-hole by your kids. Let that foul-smelling trophy be hoisted by your spouse. Here are the best tricks of the blame game:

Serve the “If-Then-But” Sandwich

To reinforce to your children that your spouse is a loser and you are, in fact, the “World’s Best Parent,” serve up helpings of the popular “If-Then-But” Sandwich. The verbal dish consists of making sure your children know your spouse is to blame, pointing out how you would handle the situation if you had it your way, and cementing the fact that your spouse really is a heartless ghoul. Consider these usable scenarios:

No, we can’t take him home. Daddy wants him to live in this cage forever.

No, we can’t take him home. Daddy wants him to live in this cage forever.

If your father loved puppies, then we could save this dog from the pound. But he likes it when there’s no happy ending.

If your mother wasn’t such a health freak, then I’d let you have all the candy you want. But your mom hates to see you happy.

If your father wasn’t such a cheapskate, then we could go to Disneyland on vacation. But he’d rather go to Vegas without you.

Undermine the “United Front”

Many woefully misguided parenting experts will tell you that a “united front” between you and your spouse is the key to disciplining your children and maintaining order in your household. But all that does is label both of you as mean spirited.

Instead, after agreeing with your spouse to take a stance against young Duncan’s potty-mouth, privately let Duncan know that you think it’s hilarious when he curses at waitresses and old people, and you wish mommy had a sense of humor, too.

Fan the Flame of Blame Outward

It’s important as a parent that you’re seen as a beacon of healthy childrearing among the rest of the parenting community. Having your good name soiled by the deeds of your children is to be avoided at all costs. So when your child fails publicly (and he will), it’s best to quickly associate your “other” half with any and all blame:

When your kid pees his pants at karate practice: “I told Evelyn she should let him pee when he says he has to go, but she’s so regimented about his bathroom schedule.”

When your kid forgets his homework: “It’s my husband. He won’t let Bobby do anything until he’s panhandled for loose change in front of 7-Eleven a few hours each night.”

When your kid gets into a fight at school: “I keep telling my wife we should limit the raw meat in his diet and not let him drink her Pabst backwash before school, but the bitch won’t listen to me.”

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Shell December 31, 2008 at 8:45 am

IF I were to follow your advice and (literally) throw my spouse under a bus,
THEN, I could get arrested which would suck because I look really bad in orange,
BUT maybe you would feel bad for me (bad advice and all) and my comment would make your front page and it would all be worth it!


Silk December 31, 2008 at 9:03 am

I am rolling….! “young Duncan’s potty mouth….” Priceless!

The “epic struggle to be adored and mindlessly worshiped by your children….” What are the parents born in the late 20s and 30s thinking when they see these ‘wonderful’ new-age parents in action!


jason December 31, 2008 at 9:12 am

if your father wasn’t such a raging drunk, then we could afford Happy Meals at the McDonald’s drive-in, but daddy doesn’t have a license.


bloggingmom67 December 31, 2008 at 9:17 am

As usual .. just love this post.

The thing that’s great about this post is that it’s really not so far-fetched. I know there’s times I’ve “thrown” my hubby under the bus.

“Yeah, I wish we could have Christmas lights on our house, too, but Daddy doesn’t want to put them.”

And so has he. “Your mother doesn’t want you to eat cereal in front of the TV, so you can’t.”

Maybe we’re awful people or parents, but I don’t think so. It’s not that I expect my kids to worship me. It’s more that sometimes I’m just being a bitch.


Rachel January 7, 2009 at 9:01 am

Personally, I’ve always liked the hands-off front parents take when they just don’t want to bother — “Ask your mother.” “Ask your father.” That, to me, is the equivalent of saying, “Sure, go smoke a bowl and have lots of unprotected sex.” But maybe that’s another blog post: Show Kids You Care By Offloading Them Onto Their Other Parent.


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