With so many divorced parents and blended families out there, differences in parenting crop up all the time. If you are divorced or separated from your child’s other parent, your experience may range from peaceful co-parenting to all-out warfare.

Different houses with different rules and different parenting styles can make the experience of parenting even more challenging.

If you find yourself frustrated and angry with both your child and their other parent, your own ability to act as an effective parent can seriously crumble.

Here’s a common situation our parent coaches hear:

“I have a 14-year-old daughter who is out of control. Her mother and I are divorced, and have shared custody. The problem is that her mother does not follow through when I give our daughter a punishment, and she is constantly undermining my authority. Her mother tells her not to listen to me, and offers to pick her up if she and I are fighting.

The worst part is, her mother completely disregards my rules. If my daughter breaks a rule, she is not allowed to see her friends, but her mother still lets her see them over at her house.

After years of trying to get her mother to follow through with my punishments—so that my daughter would learn her lesson—I informed my daughter that if she breaks restriction at her mother’s house, her original restriction would be doubled. So far, we are up to 9 solid weeks of restriction for my daughter, and by the way things are going, she will never be off.

How do I get her mother to stop interfering and get my daughter to follow all of my rules? This can’t go on like this.”

Many, many parents share this frustration: you want the best for your child, but the other parent doesn’t agree with your methods or refuses to cooperate out of anger and spite.

Either way, you can’t control what happens outside of your home: the other parent’s house is their domain, just as your home is your domain.

As most parents find, it simply isn’t possible to control what goes on elsewhere, and attempting to do so only adds to ongoing power struggles and resentments. Everyone digs in their heels, and nobody wins.

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It’s not easy to step out of those battles between yourself and the other parent, but in order to be an effective parent, you will need to focus on those areas in which you do have control. You will need to find a way to create a culture of accountability in your own home, and work with your child while they are under your own roof.

(Of course, if you are concerned about abuse or neglect in the other parent’s home, you need to reach out to your local resources, such as child protective or crisis services.)

In the scenario described above, not only does the battle between the two parents get in the way of effective parenting, but there are two other things at play as well: power struggles and ineffective consequences.

Let’s look at these two important aspects of effective parenting.

Avoid Power Struggles With Your Child

As James Lehman says, kids watch their parents for a living. Your child knows what irritates you, and I’m sure they know how to drag you into an argument. What results is a power struggle-each one of you arguing about who is right, whether the rules are fair, and any number of other issues that are completely irrelevant.

Engaging in power struggles with your child sends a clear message that not only are the rules up for debate, but the two of you are equals: they have the power to upset you.

Power struggles never create the change you are looking for. Remember, just because your child invites you into an argument, it doesn’t mean you have to accept the invitation. It is up to you to resist that temptation to argue, yell, or otherwise defend your rules.

Keeping your cool under stress, responding as calmly as you can, and walking away when you find yourself unable to keep calm are completely within your power and help you claim the power in your home.

Realize that your child does not have to like your rules, they simply need to find a way to abide by them. As you stop defending your rules and expectations, and focus on helping your child abide by those rules and expectations, you’ll begin to really see a change in your household.

Use Consequences, Not Punishments

Consequences are one of the ways you help your child learn more appropriate behaviors: using something they value in order to get them to do something that you value. Many parents focus solely on consequences to change behavior, but it’s important to remember that there is more to the picture than that. Remember that your child may need some help figuring out what they can do to help themselves meet your expectations. It’s not enough to say “do this or else!”

It is tempting for many parents, especially in the heat of frustration and anger, to remove everything from a child, down to the door on their room or books read for “fun.” Some parents might keep adding days to their child’s sentence, as our dad did in the scenario above. The trouble is, putting your child on “permanent restriction” is unlikely to change the situation. Remember, as James says, you can’t punish someone into better behavior.

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Complete restriction is also ineffective. Your child will learn to live without what has been taken, or they will find other ways to enjoy those things without your consent.

You might think that taking everything will teach your child a lesson, but kids’ minds just don’t work that way.

While I’m sure that’s not the answer many parents want to hear, the good news is, you can begin to have more authority in your own home without taking everything away forever and without giving in.

Stepping out of power struggles and arguments (which undermine your authority and aren’t effective anyway) and designing effective rules and consequences will help you and your child see improvement. Keep your expectations realistic, and allow your child to earn something they value each and every day.

Focus On One Behavior at a Time

As far as rules and consequences go, don’t try to tackle every single behavior at once: it is exhausting for you, and overwhelming for your child. You might start by establishing basic ground rules in your house, such as no substance use, no physical or verbal abuse, and one or two others, such as rules around curfew or homework.

Once you have seen improvement in compliance with these rules, you can move on to the next most annoying or challenging behaviors on your list.

To be effective, allow your child to earn their privileges day by day. If possible, match one privilege to each rule. For example: when they have completed their schoolwork by 6 pm, they have earned half an hour on the computer. If they don’t complete their work, they don’t get the computer time that day, but they get to try again the next day. If they seem to have a hard time meeting that expectation, sit down with them and help them figure out what they can do differently to help them earn that computer time.

Remember that an effective consequence uses something that your child values to get something you value. Don’t wait for them to “want” to do homework! Keep their “eyes on the prize,” as James says.

Related content: Why Don’t Consequences Work for My Teen

Your House, Your Rules

Even when parents are committed to working as a team, there are likely to be differences. And when there is hurt or resentment between the parents, that teamwork is even harder. Remember that your rules and consequences apply only in your home, and you can only enforce them inside your home. As much as you may want the situation to change, you cannot control what goes on in the other parent’s home. Trying to do so is unlikely to be effective, and pits the two parents against each other.

When parents openly argue or degrade each other, your child learns how to play the two of you against each other in order to get what they want. You may not want to, but try not to make judgments about the other parent’s rules in front of your child. Doing so only serves to give your child less confidence in your authority.

You have a great opportunity to role model how to appropriately and respectfully handle disagreements. Remember, no matter how the other parent behaves, you have power over your own behaviors and reactions. You may truly feel that your ways are better than the other parent’s, but just as they are not involved in the rules in your home, you are not involved in the rules in their home.

When there are differences in rules, you might tell your child, “how your mother does things is up to her. These are the rules and expectations in our house.” Calmly and clearly claim the authority in your own home, and step out of those power struggles. No one said it was easy, but following these suggestions can help you create a more peaceful and smoothly running home.

Related content:
The Disneyland Daddy
Divorce and Kids: Managing Your Child’s Behavior When the Family Breaks Up

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Megan Devine is a licensed clinical therapist, former Empowering Parents Parent Coach, speaker and writer. She is also the bonus-parent to a successfully launched young man. You can find more of her work at refugeingrief.com, where she advocates for new ways to live with grief.

Comments (32)
  • Eric

    I am a divorced Dad with a 12-year-old daughter. Our relationship has been rocky, to say the least, over the past few years. She refuses to spend time with me and has, for the past three years, made worse over the pandemic. My ex-wife blames this on my “Victorian” parenting style, influenced by my 24-year military career. We divorced four years ago, and it has been downhill since then. I agreed for my ex-wife and daughter to return to the United Kingdom as we believed it a healthier environment to raise a child. I followed a few months later a Parenting Visa sponsored by my ex-wife. I undertook my visa renewal last summer, and my ex-wife refused to support my visa again as I had gone long stretches, months at a time, without seeing my daughter because she refused to see me or even talk with me.

    I have spoken with numerous councillors and clergy, as well as hundreds of hours conversing with friends, and no one can make sense of my situation. Admittedly, I sometimes lost patience and said the magic phrase (Because I said so), but I was never overly harsh with consequences, never spanked, and rarely raised my voice. My physical presence, over 6’5” tall, intimidates people even if I just stand near them. I changed tactics with my daughter by kneeling to get eye-to-eye with her. My daughter began asking around seven years old, then taunted me, "Why have you been so mean to us for five years”. She said I laughed at her when she hurt herself falling on the crossbar of her bike (I did not) and continued with this claim for a couple of years, even after telling her it wasn’t true and that I would never laugh at her getting hurt. My ex-wife would “correct” me in front of our daughter and explain to her “, I don’t know why Daddy is so mean. He wasn’t like this when we got married”. My daughter would then taunt me with my being mean.

    From the time my wife and I married, we tried unsuccessfully tried having children (I am sterile, and she has endometriosis), went through numerous surgeries for her endo, adopted my biological great niece, moved from the UK to the US (military orders) lost her grandmother, my mother, went through military retirement then relocation to Upstate New York (unknown area for us both), buying a house, my losing my job then finally finding work with the VA. I was miserable all the time with work and the loss of my mother. My ex-wife felt my family was overly critical about her parenting, and the only reason they “allowed” us to adopt our daughter was so they could control her upbringing. She effectively walled off my family where; no one felt comfortable engaging with her. My family didn’t always make the best decisions or say the right things, but they felt our daughter was in a much better place with us than with my niece.

    As a new parent, I felt unprepared for my child as I did not have younger siblings and joined the military when my sister had kids. My parents divorced when I was seven. My mom rarely implemented rules, and my dad went from one relationship to another and one job to another. I never left comfortable in my Dad Skin and felt overwhelming guilt for leaving for work, leaving them behind when I moved to the States, and they stayed in the UK awaiting a visa; I felt shame when we had to move to the US and leave my wife’s family, and when I retired from active duty and moved to New York. I felt every decision was wrong, both personal and professional. My ex-wife tried helping, but I was soon overwhelmed and said I would figure out parenting. I regret saying that, as our communication wasn’t great, and I don’t think we ever recovered.

    My issue is an inability to co-parent with my ex-wife as she lays all the blame at my feet. Reading your articles, I see red flags with how my ex-wife undercut my parenting. I also see how I should improve my parenting. I am in the legal process of gaining access to my child, but I face the unique situation of her not wanting to see me and knowing that going to court will undoubtedly make things worse. On the other hand, if I do nothing, I will never have the chance to improve my relationship. No matter how it goes, it is a no-win situation; my daughter loses. It’s heartbreaking every second of every day, and I am unsure what to do and which way is best going forward.

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  • DoIletgo
    Hi, my 16 yr old daughter has started smoking cigarettes and marijuana and I have told her that it isn’t allowed it in my house and needs to stop otherwise no friends. Obviously her behaviour, college work etc is affected but I am aware she is a teenager so IMore understand that can happen with some children.. Unfortunately my ex has always undermined me. Well what he does is say one thing to me and does the complete opposite. He has a deep hatred towards me and has expressed it throughout her life to me and also to her….well he will be as nice as pie to me for a few months saying what I want to hear and then when I catch him out he will tell me exactly what he thinks of me venomously! He has bought her a vape with nicotine and allows her to do what ever she wants in his house. Even letting her stay there with her friends whilst he goes away for the week. She is suppose to be 50/50 but she is now not responding and when he responds he makes up excuses. I feel I just need to let it go as I’m just fighting a losing battle. The only person who is getting stressed out and feels sad is me.
  • CandyB
    my ex and i have 50/50 week on week off and he has told them when I first left that when they are 12 they can decide who they want to live with. my ex is all about asking the kids what they want where im concered. My son isMore a daddys boy and after he turned 12 he went to live with his dad(I didn't get a say) and i don't see or hear from him unless he needs something or knows he is going to get something, my daughter is 11 and my ex is starting the same thing with her, he knows that she wants to live with me full time so he is telling her that he will sell her quad and other rec toys if she isn't around to use them. He also has a holiday trailer and quads so does alot of camping and quading in the summer, plans camping on my weekends and tells her she is missing out because she will be with me, She will ask if she can go and when i tell her no its my weekend she throws a fit, in turn telling her dad and i get a nasty message from him about letting her do what she wants. How does one deal with this? How do you cope, i could fight it in court but I would be broke and he tells the kids everything concerning me, if i say something mean to him or to make me look bad.
    • Denise Rowden, Parent CoachEP Coach
      Thank you for reaching out with what sounds like a very upsetting situation. I'm so sorry you and your daughter are going through this. Ultimately, you're not going to be able to control what goes on at their dad's house, no matter how unfair his actions are. You can onlyMore control the culture of accountability within your home. We have several articles that focus specifically on divorced parents you may find helpful: https://www.empoweringparents.com/article-categories/non-traditional-families/divorced-parents/. We appreciate you being part of our Empowering Parents community and hope you will check back and let us know how things are going.
  • Kerry
    My wife's ex is remarried. We have 50/50 custody, but need to adjust the visitation schedule for holidays. He refuses to participate in figuring out the calendar, but will eventually agree to one. Unfortunately, he then consistently will either "screw up" and will schedule things with the kids onMore my wife's time or he will assume we have nothing going on when the kids are with us and will plan something he wants the kids at. Worst is that he already has the kids excited about these things. In the beginning (4 years ago), we tried to be accommodating, but it happened so often that we just couldn't anymore. My wife consistently then looks like the bad guy and it can make our time with the kids sour. Were we really supposed to have our 12 year old miss seeing her cousins she only gets to see a couple of times a year so she can attend ans sing at her dad's and step-mom's one year anniversary of their business (which their dad expressed would be really important to him) when they were the one's that scheduled the event on a weekend the kids weren't with him?
  • Belinda K
    My ex partner doesn't speak to me or my partner. My exs mother is always bossing us around and guilt tripping me or blackmailing me to let my son go over. If I say no I am busy she still turns up and it's got that bad with theMore mind games I write down every time my son goes out with them. He could go out today and in three days and I quote "can we pick him up today we have his father coming for lunch and we haven't seen him all week" What do I do I say no they still turn up or they ring another ten times and turn up. They also tell me you need to buy new clothes for him not second hand stuff. I said I have two children and I buy them what I can you want new clothes for him get your son to buy them.
    • Rebecca Wolfenden, Parent Coach
      It can be so challenging when you feel as though your boundaries are not being respected, and I’m glad that you’re here reaching out for support. Something that can be useful is to talk with her during a calm time, and clearly stating your limits. For example, youMore might say something like, “I know how much you love my son, and I’m glad that you want to spend so much time with him. At the same time, it’s difficult when you call at the last minute to set up plans, or you show up unannounced. Moving forward, if you want to spend time with my son, you will need to set this up at least 2 days in advance. If you come to my house after I have said no or at the last minute, you will still not be allowed to take him on a visit that day.” You might find more helpful tips in Grandparents and Parents Disagreeing? 11 Tips for Both of You. I hope that you will write back and let us know how things are going for you and your family. Take care.
  • Step mom needing help
    I have a 7 yr old step son. His dad works so I am taking care of him usually just me and him during the day. We alternate weeks with his biological mom. They live in a house filled with 9 people and he is constantly entertained over there byMore people and electronics. They have parties all the time or are going to sleepovers at others houses. At our house he doesnt want to do anything except watch tv or play on a tablet. We dont have a back yard so cant send him outside unless I go with him. We try and get him to play with his toys but he would rather sit there in silence then play with the toys. He hasnt touched them in over a year. I have thought about getting rid of them and even said to him i was going to but it doesnt seem to matter. Now he broke his tablet and i dont have the funds to replace it. It seems like he feels like it is a punishment to have his own room and have toys to play with. How do I compete with all the people in the other house? He is always saying "well at my moms house i get to" or I dont get in trouble for that there". I tell him this is our house and our rules. I cant play with him all the time as I need to do my work as well. He is also doing worse in school over there because he doesnt get into trouble for anything. When he got put on punishment at school for cheating she got him a dirt bike. Im at the point where I just want to let her have him the majority of the time so I dont have to deal with all the problems but at the same time I know he needs the rules and structure me and his dad provide. Any advise?
    • Rebecca Wolfenden, Parent Coach
      I’m so sorry to hear about the issues you are facing with your stepson. It’s pretty common for kids with divorced parents to argue and try to play the different households off each other, as a way to avoid responsibility and consequences. In all honesty, you cannot competeMore with his mom’s household, and I don’t recommend trying to do so. As mentioned in Parenting After Divorce: 9 Ways to Parent on Your Own Terms, you and his dad are the ones in charge when your stepson is in your home, and you cannot control what happens when he’s with his mom. At this point, it could be useful for both of you to talk with him during a calm time (such as before his next visit) about your expectations for his behavior while he is in your home. For example, you might talk about the amount of time you expect him to spend on homework, screen time limits/expectations and other options for entertainment that you are willing to provide, like going to the playground. I recognize how frustrating this must be for you, and I hope that you will write back and let us know how things are going for you and your family.
  • At a Loss Dad
    My son's visit their mom for the majority of the summer, and have since returned but their manners, and respect have gone completely out the window.  I can see a marked change in them this time over past years, and this has been a regular thing for 6 years now. More I don't know what to do, I can see something in them that was never there before, and they are making little comments and gestures about wanting to live with their mother (who can not afford or manage them).  I feel really down and out and worried they will want to leave me, I am trying my best, we have a great household, great school, activities etc....How do I compete with kids who have nothing but fun all summer, then return to my house for school and rules, and bedtimes?
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport

      @At a Loss Dad 

      We hear from many

      parents who describe similar circumstances, so you are not alone in feeling

      this way.  In all honesty, it’s probably going to be ineffective to try to

      “compete” with the environment which your kids experience with their mom over

      the summer.  Instead, I recommend focusing on your own parenting while

      your sons are with you, as pointed out in https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/parenting-after-divorce-9-ways-to-parent-on-your-own-terms/.  I recognize how

      difficult this must be for you, and I hope that you will write back and let us

      know how things are going for you.  Take care.

  • DesparateOtherMom

    Our situation is one of constant manipulations by his ex-wife.  She has convinced the three girls, ages 9, 12, & 14, that they aren't welcomed in our home, that we don't want them there, and that they don't have to visit us at all.  We have four simple rules, clean up after yourself, don't spend all of your time behind tech, sit down and have dinner together and get dressed everyday.  Yes this last one really did have to become a rule because they spend all of their time in their pjs at their moms house when they are not at school and when they were with us, we had to harp on them to get dressed and ready to go all the time.  We are a family that is on the go a lot.  She has also convinced them that everything is entirely their choice so if they don't want to come visit, they don't have to. 

    We pushed for counseling, only to be pushed out and treated as outsiders, their mother gets sessions with the girls and counselors, and we have been told "The girls never bonded with their father", which is patently untrue.  I have to watch my husband go through periods of depression and anger over this constantly.

    Do you have any articles that address these types of manipulations and what we can do to address it or work around it?  The more compromises we make to try to have a healthy, productive relationship with the girls, the more ground we lose each time.

    Desperate Other Mom,


    • DeniseR_ParentalSupport


      I am so sorry you are having to deal with such a difficult

      situation. Unfortunately, you’re not really going to be able to control what

      the other parent chooses to do in her home. It’s going to be most productive to

      focus on establishing a culture of accountability in your own home, as James

      Lehman explains in the article Divorce and Kids: Managing Your Child’s Behavior When the Family Breaks Up. Truthfully, you’re not going to be

      able to control the choices other people make. You can only control how you

      choose to respond to those choices. It may be helpful to speak with a counselor

      or therapist who is able to help you and your husband develop ways of coping

      with the distress you are experiencing. I know this isn’t an easy situation to

      be in. Good luck to you and your family as you work through these challenges.

      Be sure to check back to let us know how things are going. Take care.

  • MissingMyKids
    My situation is similar except for my ex actually goes a step further and allows my 17 year old son to stay at his house to avoid having to follow my rules or accept the consequences of breaking them. Regardless of whose weekend it is, my ex won't make myMore son come home. He (my ex) said I'm too strict and my rules are stupid. I don't interfere with his rules and hate that he constantly undermines me in front of and to the kids. If I tell my son he has to come home or he'll be grounded, he still runs to his dad's and then gets mad at me for grounding him. His dad bought him a car and pays for his cell phone so I can't even take all of that away. How do I get him to come home?!! He hates having to follow my rules (which aren't out of the ordinary for a 17 year old! I just want him home by 12:30 on weekends and to come home after school to eat dinner at home rather than running off to his girlfriends for 8 hours every day!). My ex lets him do whatever he wants and is at work all night so there isn't anyone home to tell him what to do. I'm afraid he'll never come home. I'm tired of being the bad guy because I want to spend time with my kids! :( HELP!!
    • 😊
      I don’t know when you wrote this and perhaps you have passed this stage now. I just wanted to say I am going through a very similar situation with my 16 yr old..(17 next month) daughter. I am coming to the point of just letting go. StillMore giving the love, still standing by my boundaries and just trying to accept that this is how it is right now. It is very sad and I do feel like I am a bad mother but deep down I know I’m not, it’s a difficult situation. I can only do my part and not change my ex. I hope your situation has improved already if this was a long time a go or will improve if it is now.
    • Darlene EP


      I am so sorry you are struggling

      with such a difficult situation. Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to fix

      this. There are a number of things you don’t have any control over. You can’t

      make your son stay at your house to experience his consequence and you cannot change

      the rules his father has. Your son is at the age where he has more freedom with

      his choices. If he wants to be at his dad’s house, he can choose to do that.

      Given that, what we would recommend is to focus on what you do have control

      over. The rules of your house, being the first one. You do not have to change

      your rules, but keep in mind, the consequences to hold your son accountable for

      breaking your rules are not enforceable. Therefore, you can either find

      something else that is or you can let go of consequences and have conversations

      about what he can do to follow your rules. Truthfully, you may be picking 

      losing battle with wanting him to come home after school everyday. Being that

      your son is 17, he is going to want to be with his girlfriend more than his

      family. That is completely normal. Maybe you can think about what would be

      acceptable to you and that your son would more likely be inclined to do. For

      instance, maybe you can have him spend 1 or 2 evenings with you for dinner and

      let go of the other nights. I hope this helps. I know this is not an easy

      situation. Take care.

  • I have been divorced for 8 years but as my 3 kids get older, it seems they love their dad more and side with him always on everything in which we differ in opinion. He does not participate financially which is a tremendous stressor for me and a source ofMore constant resentment. Hes the sympathetic, doting caregiver and im the disciplinarian who makes all decisions because I am the one paying for them. How can I keep my ex from pinning the kids against me and constantly making me look like the bad guy? How can I help the kids see where I'm coming from? I don't bad mouth him but they know my feelings toward him are cold at best.

    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport

      @Momma OTeens 
      It is
      a difficult position to be in when you feel like you are always playing the
      role of the “bad guy” and disciplinarian, while your ex gets to be the “good
      guy” and friend.  Unfortunately, you cannot control what your ex chooses
      to tell your children during their time together.  It mayMore also be
      difficult to try to get your children to see things from your adult perspective
      because that is not where they are developmentally.  The area where you
      will have the most control is over yourself and your own actions.  It’s
      great that you are not “bad mouthing” your ex, and we encourage you to continue
      to do so.  We also encourage you to do your part to not involve your
      children in disagreements with your ex.  Debbie Pincus offers more tips in
      her article http://www.empoweringparents.com/parenting-after-d...
      The truth is, part of being an effective parent is http://www.empoweringparents.com/No-Means-No-How-t..., and your kids might not always welcome or
      agree with them, especially in the moment when those limits are being set. 
      Although it may be difficult to do in the moment, you can take comfort in the
      fact that by doing so, you are helping to prepare them for the adult world they
      will soon be entering.  Thank you for writing in; please be sure to check
      back and let us know how things are going.  Take care.

  • D. Rowden, Parental Support Advisor
    To "Hope": Thank you for taking the time to share your story. I can hear how frustrated you are with your daughter's lying. Lying can be a difficult behavior to deal with for most parents. It may be helpful to keep in mind lying is a problem-solving issue for kids,More not a moral issue. It's great that you discussed the incident with your daughter and explained the effect it could have on others. Adding "What could you do differently next time?" as a way to help your daughter develop better problem-solving skills also could be helpful. It would be appropriate to have a small, consistent consequence that is implemented every time she lies, such as 1/2 hour early to bed. Here is an excellent article on lying I think could be helpful for your situation Kids and Lying: Does Your Child Twist the Truth? I hope this has been helpful. Good luck to you and your family. Take care.
  • Hope
    My daughter is 5 years old and her dad and i were never married and now are seperated and I am engaged as well, she and my fiance started out rough, she was very rebellious and mean but now she is sweet kind and accepts him and our home andMore rules, but her manipulation and white lies start creeping in about things that she says her dad says and her Aunt on his side has said, same with lies about her school and teachers, she has come home and told me that the teachers tell her that I dont do a good job brushing her hair and they always take it down when I put it in pig tails or something, well today she came home and said they made her take off her leggings she had worn underneath her skirt and throw them away, I was furious and called the school, come to find out that she had tore little whole it them ( they were nylon) and so the teacher had her take them off because they were becoming a distraction and the teacher put them in her cubby, I was furious with my daughter for lying and manipulating me and then I started to wonder all the other things she says about school that are not true, I am not sure if she does it for attention or what, I sat her down and told her that was the last time a lie was coming out of her mouth and of course she started to cry but I stayed strong and made sure that she understood how that might make the teacher feel when she finds out she had lies told about her. Am I handling the situation right?
  • Sara Bean, M.Ed., Parental Support Advisor
    Hi Shelley: It’s so hurtful when your teen seems to suddenly turn on you, and when you have a co-parent who is allowing her to escape accountability. The tough thing is you can’t control anyone but yourself. It’s best for you to focus on how you can respond to theMore situation at this time, as well as how you cope with the emotions this brings up for you. Seeing a counselor in your local area is an excellent start and a good way to learn some new skills that might help in this situation. One thing we think might be helpful is to try to problem solve with your daughter when you talk to her—she has mentioned that she is afraid of getting in trouble. You can let her know your rules won’t change, but there may be some consequences and ask her how she can cope with this situation differently. You can even let her know that avoiding you will not help or solve the problem. Regarding how she is speaking to you, for now it might be best to ignore the disrespectful behavior and the backtalk. If she escalates to verbal abuse (swearing, name-calling, or yelling), you can set some limits with her—tell her you don’t like it when she talks to you that way and if she continues to verbally abuse you, you will end the call. Here is an article that might be helpful to you: Fighting with Your Teen? What to Do After the Blowout: 7 Steps to Defuse the Tension. We wish you and your family luck as you work through this. Take care.
  • Shelley

    My husband and I are having a similar problem with my 14 year old step-daughter. I have been in her life since she was two years old and we had a great relationship until the time she began adolescence. I never treated her like a “step” child and have always made her feel loved and cared for. She has always had a wonderful relationship with her father. She’s always been a Daddy’s Girl and was always respectful and kind.

    We have always had a strained relationship with her mother. Her mother has tried to damage the relationship we have with our daughter. She talks bad about with both of us in front of our daughter. I worked at the same elementary school she attended (but in a different grade with special needs children) and her mother tried to have me fired stating that I was interfering with her education (even though we only saw each other before and after school).

    The current issue we are having is that our daughter is having problems involving boys, some very destructive behavior. Her mother called and told my husband what was going on using the phrase “she acting like a slut”. They ended up having words and after that her mother has decided that if our daughter doesn’t want to come over then she won’t make her. She is giving her the decision. So, our daughter stated she didn’t want to come over because she was afraid of getting in trouble because of her recent bad behaviors. Our daughter has been taking rudely and disrespectfully to the both of us. She hasn’t been to our home since Christmas. We just started going to counseling so hopefully that will help.

    My question is how do you gain the relationship back if you never get to see you child? We already contacted the authorities and they won’t intervene because of her age. So, if her mother won’t “make” her and we don’t have any way to see her, what do we do? She is out of control and talks to us on the phone very disrespectfully and said that she doesn’t have to listen to us and we can’t “control” her.

  • Sara Bean, M.Ed., Parental Support Advisor
    Hi Kim. Dealing with teens who have a false sense of entitlement can be so irritating. You certainly do not have to drive your 19 year old to work, especially if she has been disrespectful, abusive, or refusing to help around the house. At her age, getting to work isMore her problem to solve, not yours. Remember, though, that you can’t change how your daughters feel. Feeling entitled or angry is their problem and you don’t have to try to get those feelings to go away by over-explaining or justifying your actions. Instead of trying to get them to see things your way, I would simply continue to focus on their behavior and setting limits with them when their behavior is not meeting your expectations. Here’s a helpful article that gives more suggestions about setting boundaries with kids who are defiant and disrespectful: When ODD Kids, Entitlement Mentality and Verbal Abuse Collide. We wish you luck as you continue to work through this. Take care.
  • kim

    The issue I am having revolves around my two teenage daughters. They often try to control many situations by arguing with me what should or should not be done. Their father and I are divorced and I don't feel that we parent them in the same manner. I also feel that they don't respect me because their father doesn't respect me as a parent. (manipulates the fact that our marriage didn't work with me being a bad parent)

    My children have a sense of entitlement. When I am disrespected by them I refuse to go out of my way to do things for them that are not a necessity. They feel that since I am their parent I am obligated to do everything for them regardless of their behaviour. An example would be giving my oldest daughter who is 19 a ride to work when she clearly does not deserve a ride. She feels that this is a necessity and that it is my obligation to drive her regardless of how she has disrespected me.

    It is a never ending battle with them. No matter how many times we try to discuss it they cannot see their actions.

    I need advice.

  • Rebecca Wolfenden, Parental Support Advisor
    To 'ReplacementMom': It is frustrating to feel like you are being undermined in your own home. Many blended families have arguments over your kid vs my kid, and the people who benefit from that is the kids, who learn that they can play the adults off each other. More We recommend talking with your husband about finding some common ground in your parenting. That may be as simple as, “We both agree we want our children to be responsible adults”. Once you have that basic understanding, then you can look at rules of the house. We also advise that the child’s biological parent take the lead in terms of enforcing the rules of the house, and the stepparent take on a supporting role. As hard as this is to accept, it goes a long way toward creating a united front in parenting. If you disagree, you can do so privately, away from your daughters. I am including a link to an article series I hope you find helpful: “My Blended Family Won’t Blend—Help!” Part I: How You and Your Spouse Can Get on the Same Page & “My Blended Family Won’t Blend!” Part II: What to Do When Your Stepkids Disrespect You. Good luck to you and your family as you continue to work through this.
  • ReplacementMom

    My 17 yr old stepdaughter's mom died when she was 6. So from a very young age, she learned how to use tears and pity to manipulate others to get her way, get out of trouble, etc. She has been diagnosed with that ODD and is passive aggresive when it comes to undermining my authority.

    Her father doesn't help matters. If I have a rule, such as no sleep overs on school nights, she will text him to ask if it's ok and he always caves in and lets her. Then when I object they both make me out to look like the bad guy "she's staying here" "we can make sure they get to bed early" "it's her cousin" whatever. Meanwhile I have a 20 yr old still living at home while attending college. (She is also not allowed sleep overs on school nights) My husband and I get into battles over your daughter/my daughter and I feel like he picks my daughter apart unfairly to take the heat off his own disrespectful brat. Sorry, frustration leaked thru there! Anyhow, what do I do when I'm being undermined in my own home?

  • nandachandru
    teenagers like it when parents disagree.they play one against another and usually get their way.it is important to be united as much as possible, in your parenting.if you disagree with your partener's parenting confront him or her in private.discuss differences and formulate strategies to parent more harmoniously.keep focused onMore the needs of your kid , not yourself
  • nandachandru
    i think, its better your grand daughter , stays away from herboyfriend and concentrates on her studies,she is too young to stay way frm her fly
  • concerned

    I have read the comments regarding different parenting

    opinions. My granddaughter lives 3 days with her dad and 4 days with my daughter. She is 13 and her dad allows her

    to be alone with a boyfriend that is 14. He leaves them

    at his home and out in the community for hours. My daughter does not like this unsupervised way of raising

    her daughter and tries to talk to her ex, but he will not

    listen stating remarks like, "The boy she is dating is a good kid, and why can't you trust your daughter?" Myself

    as well as my daughter are concerned that she might become pregnant or that her grades in school will become worse.

    My daughter has tried to set limits and explain consequences to my granddaughter but she just blows these

    comments off. This is creating quite a rif between both parents. I have tried to contact the boys parents, but they will not answer my phone calls. What now??

  • Carole Banks

    Dear Holly:

    We don’t recommend using ‘punishment’s to change behaviors, instead, we recommend using ‘consequences’ along with a problem solving conversation. Punishments do not change behaviors. They cause resentment—not remorse. Maybe what needs to happen first is taking a step back and looking at your daughter’s desire to ‘party’. If your daughter is using substances, for example, perhaps an additional appropriate consequence would be to speak to an alcohol or drug counselor. Call us here on the Total Transformation’s Support Line and give us more information regarding your situation and your daughter’s behaviors that cause you concern. Let us hear from you.

  • holly
    My 19 y/o daughter secretly had a party trashing our rental house last week. My husband thinks consequences should be about her doing chores around the house. Her phone was taken, but she still is driving & going out 5 days later. I think she shouldMore be punished & have more privledges taken away for a longer time (disrespect, lying... He doesn't know she went to jail three weeks ago. HELP! She had a party at our home in Feb. She didn't clean up after either party.
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