Psychologists have their ideas about the benefits of two parents living in the same household. But if we were to ask kids what they like about having mom and dad around, we?d likely hear, ?Because if one says No, we can ask the other.?

It?s called ?appealing the decision.? Most expert kids have mastered the appeals process, which includes only a few standard steps:

1. Make sure a room, wall (preferably brick) or miles are between mom and pop, making it inconvenient if not impossible for one to confirm if the other really said, ?Okay, you can have the car all weekend if you dust the coffee table first.?

2. Use perfect timing. Wendell will approach mom with the appeal to go over to Perry?s house and watch The Video Game That Ate Chicago only after dad has left for the store, taking his negative answer with him. Or dad is underneath a disassembled lawn tractor when the appeal comes when he hears, ?Mom said she thinks you should let me trim the bushes after I play basketball so my muscles will already be warmed up.?

3. Use appeal jargon. ?Mom said to ask you; Dad told me it?s okay with him if it?s okay with you; Mom said we could, but we wanted to tell you because you?re our dad.? Watch out for this last one. As you?re swelling with pride, you may hear, ?Dad, do you have an extra 10 bucks you don?t want??

4. When all else fails, use guilt. ?How come you never let us do anything that mom says is okay? You always say No; it never does me any good to ask you anything.? If you deny the appeal, prepare yourself to hear: ?Guilty as charged.?

One way to drastically cut appeals is for you and your spouse to cease deferring decisions to each other. Decide yourself whether or not Holmes can stay up until midnight reading Family Law in Action. Because kids have the mental agility of trial lawyers, they won?t always be quietly deterred by your no-appeals stance. Therefore, you may have to render a few other verdicts.

Verdict No. 1. Any decision made initially by one parent will automatically be upheld by the other, whether or not he or she agrees with it. No doubt you and your spouse will disagree at times. Iron out your differences later, out of court, away from Perry and Mason. The more often you and your spouse openly disagree, the more appeals you?ll hear.

Verdict No. 2. Whenever Perry appeals a decision, ask him if he?s already been given an answer. If Yes, refer to Verdict No. 1. If he falsifies the record and tells you he received a Yes when he actually got a No, Perry will pay the consequences for his fraudulent actions. For example, if he claims that your spouse said he could go swimming now and sweep out the garage later, when in fact it was sweep then swim, he will have to weed the flower bed in addition to sweeping the garage when he returns, along with losing his swimming privilege for a week.

Why do kids continue to appeal decisions even after their parents have caught on? They?ve got nothing to lose and much to gain. At worst, they?ll just hear again what they didn?t want to hear the first time around. At best, they could get a verdict overturned or at least a hung jury.

And this provides invaluable information for future requests. They know who is better to ask first.

The doctor is always in at