A Fait Accompli is another term for Manipulation

When you present you’re partner or ex with a fait accompli, you’re manipulating them into taking half the responsibility for your actions.
— Roger McEwan

Whether you’re together or separated, both parents need to operate on a level playing field. Parenting should not be a game that you play in order to get your own way at the expense of your partner, ex or children. That’s simply not how adults should behave.

In this blog I’m particularly focusing on that most frustrating situation – being presented with a situation that has already been decided before you hear about it leaving you no option but to accept it, a fait accompli.

Recently I have found myself the “victim” of two of these. The first is complex around schooling (I’ll save that for my follow up book) and the second was in relation to a holiday planned by my daughter and some school friends. In both situations the first I heard of the matters in question it was too late to do anything. If I had put my foot down (and maybe I should have) I would have been painted as the bad guy who rained on my daughter’s parade.

The holiday was “cooked up” between my daughter (16 going on 25) and school friends and involved an overseas trip to one of her friend’s home (a wealthy school mate at that!). The trip had many potential problems that stood out but by the time the trip was raised with me, by a combination of my daughter and ex, the tickets were all but booked. To cut a long story short, we had to spend additional money (even more money than I could afford) to bring her home early after the trip disintegrated. It was a circus from start to finish including one of the friend’s parents deciding, because their daughter was unhappy, to fly out her boyfriend. Too many dollars and not enough sense!

If you present your partner or ex with a fait accompli then you are removing their ability to exercise parental judgement. It’s important that you recognise it for what it is, manipulation. In fact you’re simply manipulating them into taking half the responsibility for your actions. And, as the 2x2 matrix below demonstrates, all outcomes from this situation have negative aspects.

2x2 fait accompli.png

If you don’t agree to the plan then the outcome will never be known and you may damage your relationship with your child who will see you as the villain. They will never thank you for doing the right thing because they, your child and your partner or ex, will always believe the plan would have worked perfectly.

If you agree and it doesn’t go well, then the damage could be anything from minor to major dependent on the outcome. The final situation, where everything goes okay, has, I think, the worst outcome. It demonstrates to your child that manipulating people to get your own way is a valid tactic employed by adults.

I’ve had a few positive chats with my daughter about the events to help her understand what happened and why it isn’t a good way to operate. She has learnt a lesson, the hard way (but I think she’s the only one). As both situations have had their problems she now sees the value in having adult discussions first before any decisions are made. You can never know what the outcomes will be in advance but sometimes wiser heads are best employed before, and not after, the fact.


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