This thread got me thinking. What if not only the allegiance of children was in question, but also that of adults? Being an Erfworld fan, I thought that a loyalty stat would make the political games of noble families much more interesting.
Basically, every family member (not heroes or regular troops) has a loyalty stat, which can be influence by various elements upon which I shall elaborate further down. The idea is that the dynasties are unlike your unfalteringly loyal units which obey every order, but are more like "natural allies"; they are inherently loyal to their progenitor, but their structure is parallel to your empire, rather than being an inseparable part of it. This approach opens an additional possibility of sides being aligned with more than one family, making for a complex weave of noble houses.
This system's merit is found in the ability of your enemies to influence that loyalty stat. The main way of doing so would be through political intrigue, or diplomacy, as it is more commonly referred to. This could be a fascinating departure from the traditional and quite frankly boring approach to diplomacy, which is limited to simplistic alliances and exchange of technologies. A diplomacy-driven empire would cause betrayal and strife in enemy families. This system also lends itself perfectly for a powerful espionage option, with the threat of turning some of your important assets against you. Nobles with low loyalty may even remain with their original side, but may offer enemies information in exchange for riches or some other reward.
Loyalty should also be influenceable by magic, though such an approach would be the sledgehammer to the scalpel of politics. Using a spell to modify a family member's loyalty would be very effective, but the affected sovreign would know immediatly who the spellcaster is, and of course, the charm could be broken via normal anti-magic measures. Therefore, a magical approach to modifying loyalty is brutal and short-term, as opposed to the subtle and long-term mundane machinations.
Finally, it would be interesting is certain natural events could influence loyalty as well. For instance, imagine the good-hearted prince who is ordered to commit atrocities in the name of his father, and subsequently vows to defeat his wicked parent by defecting to his enemies; or picture the king's cousin, stationed in a lone and distant outpost, struggling to survive despite harsh conditions and constant attack by wild creatures. When the enemy comes proposing the aid which his king has declined for so long, he turns without hesitation, preferring to save his men rather than uphold his vows of allegiance.
Of course, this entire system suffers from a problem we are familiar with; simply put, it might just be too complicated. However, I believe that it would make diplomacy and espionage much more interesting and lifelike, making noble family members into individuals with their own goals and desires rather than another piece on the board.