A House Divided Against Itself

Posted April 15, 2016 by

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If you’re struggling with your co-parent (or an ex) – arguing about whose style is more correct, or more effective – you’re not alone. Coming to an agreement can be very difficult. And when you’re talking about parenting, emotions can certainly run very high.

The good news is, you and your co-parent can find a way to work together, even if you have different ideas.

If you find that you and your partner often argue about key issues, take some time to discuss places you might agree.

Sounds easy enough, but how are you supposed to find places you agree when you argue about everything? The good news is, no matter how insurmountable it feels, there are a few things you might try, just to get started:

Create a specific time to come together and talk about your differences in parenting. This isn’t a time to argue, it’s a time to acknowledge that you have differences. It’s a time to talk about how you might manage those differences more effectively, for the sake of your child. As simplistic as it seems, openly acknowledging your differences, rather than staying in the tug of war between you, can help to shift things.

Once you’ve talked about your differences, affirm together that you’d like to find more common ground, in order to help your child learn and grow. Find one or two behaviors you’d both like your child to improve. Talk about ways you can clearly and effectively help your child take responsibility for improving these behaviors.

One last thing – try to stay focused on specific behaviors like reducing backtalk, or completing chores, rather than broad concepts like “respect” or “attitude.” Those tend to be gray areas in which parents – and adults in general – have lots of disagreements. If you find yourselves being drawn into another argument, step back, take a break, and refocus on one or two very specific behaviors.

Be sure to have these conversations in private, rather than in front of your child. Most importantly, agree to present a united front to your child. Let her know that she can’t get around the rules by appealing to one parent over another. For more help with how to address specific behaviors, check out our article archives HERE.

Except in cases of abuse, there are no clear cut right or wrong answers when it comes to parenting styles. Discussing different ways of reaching your shared family goals is a worthwhile endeavor. Just don’t let those arguments get in the way of your parenting. One step at a time – one shared goal at a time – you and your co-parent can make a fantastic team.

For more on parenting differences, you might check out: Differences in Parenting? How Your Child May Be Using it Against You, Two Parents, One Plan.

Good luck, and please keep in touch and let us know how it goes! We’d love to hear how you and your co-parent work together.


Marissa, Empowering Parents Coach


Marissa is a proud mom to two boys, age 10 and 5. She earned her degree in Sociology from Saint Joseph’s College of Maine and has been a 1-on-1 Coach since 2011. Prior to coming to Empowering Parents, Marissa gained experience working as the House Manager of a group home for teenage boys, as a Children’s Mental Health Case Manager, and also spent several years working on the Children’s Unit at a Psych. Hospital.

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  1. KWood Report

    UPDATE! Well its 1 Week and after a Talk about NO MORE Sleeping Together Under My Roof that has stopped BUT Sleeping until 11 AM doing Zero,Not Working or Looking for Work has NOT.We both talked with these children who want to be Grown Ups Saturday,just 4 days ago to let them know they have to start looking for work and instilled the fact that they need to look forward to being Independent.My 18 Year Old Daughter was informed by me that taking 12 Credits at College isnt Full Time or Part Time and of course she stated No,Its Full Time!Anything 12 and over is considered Full Time,well she is full of it.Food is dissapearing in Large Quantities so I guess being Selfish means dont have any consideration for anyone but themselves forgetting who Buys the Food and I dont buy Junk as I eat healthy,cut up a Cantaloupe for the next day and it had Legs as it disappeared and my Baby didnt have a Clue where it went.Thats OK as I dont forget,trust me I always enjoy sharing and enjoy cooking as well but have turned my head to that.The Boyfriend is up at 9 am on Saturdays rise and shine as he has a Football Game.Yesterday in 90 Degree Heat I washed and waxed my Car just feet from his Room and not even a Glass of Water was offered.Yes,this is the same kid that I paid for a New Fender Installation just 2 Months ago,I didnt do it with anything but thoughtfulness but Im tired of it being a One Way Street.Ive since purchased some cool items within the past Month but will just put them in the Closet and will Donate them.It would be nice to be acknowledged but since Im not I wont feel a thing when I throw them out.Now they are having there Sit Down Breakfast (Pancakes,Eggs,Juice,etc)and I havent had a Coffee yet and have been up since 5:30 am running around getting things organized and put away.The BIG Insult was Sunday as I entered the Kitchen to see the Boyfriend stretched out on my $1500.00 Lazy Boy Custom Chair watching Football on my 4 Week Old 55″ Samsung.The Chair was purchased because due to Spinal Cord Injuries from my Job as a Prison Guard I cannot sit on the Nattuzzi Sofa as its too low,to have the audacity to sit in it and watch Football eating Popcorn is another Nail in the Coffin.He will soon get used to stretching out on someones Lawn…..with Her beside Him.

  2. KWood Report

    Hi,Thanks for the different Articles as they are very informative.I found this Website by searching for why Parents dont agree on Raising a Teen,I think I want the correct thing but my Wife thinks otherwise so let me start…Im in my 50’s and Totally Disabled,you will understand why I mention this.My Daughter (Step of 14 Years)feels and acts like she is “Entitled”.Only one Child.Excellent in School now a Freshman in College.Earlier this Summer she met a Boy who is 21 and He comes from a Single Parent rough type of home.Shortly after He is staying overnight due to bad circumstances at His Home in a Separate Bedroom while He looks for a Roommate to Rent from.Its been 3 Months now and he lost the Job He had and found another,my Daughter worked and then all of a sudden quit as it was “beneath Her” working at a Nail Salon as a Receptionist.The Owner remodeled and asked her to clean up and she didnt like his attitude or the work and quit.They Both get up around 11:30-12:00 PM,sleep all day and go out and stay up at late at night At first Both did some Chores (empty the dishwasher and garbage,that is all!)they basically dont do it as often as I would like,that is all I ask because I cant bend down due to my Health.Ive had talks with my Daughter but they end up either with an She talking over Me or walking out of the room.Its getting old real fast but my Wife doesnt agree and does their chores.She isnt Home when they get up and they plan it so they wake just before she arrives.Its 10:30 AM and I need help putting a Bed together,they are sleeping.The Dishwasher is Full and if I bring it up to my Wife she gives me a dirty look,she doesnt see what I see.I told Her this morning that this has to Stop,I have a beautiful Home,pay all the Bills and Maintain this Property and Im the “Bad Guy” I even have a 4 Year College pre paid for my daughter,I pay her Car Insurance my wife pays for the Car so She has Zero Responsibilities.Last week I had my Nephews Sleep over and found out they were Sleeping in Bed that Night together.I was furious,my Wife didnt feel it a big deal.Its no respect and I feel like whatever I say doesnt matter.Did I say she met Him on Tinder????

  3. mattsangel Report

    My children’s father hates me and my daughter minipulates him.
    He came and got them for the first time in almost 3 years this summer. They spent two weeks with him.
    The afternoon he brought them home she went off with her boyfriend and didn’t come home that night. I had to go get her at some strangers house.
    I called an officer to talk to her.
    Then later I decided to take her phone as part of her punishment. “Dad said you can’t take my phone because he pays the bill ”
    Called police back out and they said yes I can.
    Dad calls the next morning with an attitude and says I expect to hear from her every morning and night.
    The next night she calls them twice and leaves messages. Well five minutes later I get a call. I miss the call and back.
    Step mom answers and I say did Kevin just call.
    She says “No I did thank you.” OK
    Well after my daughter gets off phone I check my voice mail. Step-mom left a message threatening to call the police if Ashlyn didn’t call back.
    She has gotten out of control. Today she forged a note to ride the bus home with her boyfriend. She also blocked the school number on my phone, but I saw where it was rejected and unblocked it. Got a call from the school asking if it was ok for her to ride bus home with boyfriend. I said no it is not ok.
    Nevermind that her father is way behind on child support 12000- the year she lived with him. (She came home because step-mom jumped on her) just want him to stop and be a father.
    What can I do?
    Is there help out there?

    • Empowering Parents Coach Marissa Stephens, 1-on-1 Coach Report


      I can certainly hear how frustrating the situation with your
      daughter’s father is. If you and her dad are unable to communicate and come to
      an agreement around the cell phone, then it will be important to keep the focus
      on the things you do have control of. Regardless of what dad says or does, you
      have control of the rules and limits in your home, when your daughter is with
      you.  If the phone becomes too complicated to manage, because you don’t
      have full control of it, it may be helpful to look at the privileges you do
      have control over, such as giving money, rides, or the WI-FI password. Best of
      luck to you as you continue to work on this.

  4. Empowering Parents Coach Marissa Stephens, 1-on-1 Coach Report


    Thanks for writing in with your question. It sounds like
    your family is going through a big transition, and it is quite normal for kids
    to test limits during that time. It might be helpful for you and your husband
    to work out a routine and agreement of how to handle situations like this when
    the kids are pushing the limits. I would encourage you to check out the article
    https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/when-parents-disagree-10-ways-to-parent-as-a-team/, by Debbie Pincus, for some
    suggestions on working with your husband to come up with a plan you can both
    agree on and support one another with, for the sake of the children. Best of
    luck to you, and please let us know if you have any more questions.

  5. Empowering Parents Coach Marissa Stephens, 1-on-1 Coach Report

    my sons mama 

    I am sorry to hear about all the challenges your family is
    dealing with right now. It can certainly be difficult for children in your son’s
    situation to be dealing with grown-up issues at a young age. Often times the
    acting out behavior comes from lack of more appropriate problem solving skills to
    deal with the issues kids might be facing. When it comes to your son’s behavior,
    it will be important to establish clear, consistent limits around the acting
    out behaviors, as well as having conversations with him to help him identify
    better ways to handle the difficult situations. Sara Bean, one of our
    Empowering Parents authors, talks more about ineffective problem solving and
    how to help kids learn better skills, in her article The Surprising Reason for
    Bad Child Behavior: “I Can’t Solve Problems”. Whether or not you share information with your
    spouse is ultimately up to you. Thanks for writing in, and please let us know
    if you have any more questions.

  6. my sons mama Report

    my girlfriend and I always seem to get into arguments over my sons behavior because she is really tough on him when he starts disrespecting me and I understand that he can’t do it and I always try to back him up and state the good things he does not the negative. He stopped lying to us and has started again since my mom has came to stay with us for a while so I told her she has to leave because his old attitude came back when she came here he started acting like he did while living with my grandma and mom and we dislike it but don’t want to have to make her leave without really having a place to go besides my grandmas and I talked to both of them and let her know hes lying again and she needs to quit helping him lie because he thinks its ok.Please ‘ let me know how I can solve some issues where having as parents because I don’t want to ruin the relationship I have with my girlfriend. My kids love her and respect her its my son and her who always bumps heads and I’m getting very stressed out and I forgot where both females and I think that we both want to be right all the time and can;t be what are some books I can read on how to get along better on parenting with my son I think he may be ADHD and there saying a little autistic but where not sure about it yet and that comes into play due to the fact he always is playing and acts like a robot all day long making noises and going back and forth while he’s playing alone daily. Then when we talk with him he starts doing that to and its effecting him in school and we really want him to get the best of his education and be a the boy we know he can be we seen it happen and he’s going backwards now like I said since my moms been here and we don’t want that to happen every time he gets around her and he loves her and wants her to be around. Itss just getting so hard for me I don’t know what to do besides starting therapy for myself I think is a start  yet I don’t want my son feeling its all his fault’

  7. Mama23 Report

    I have a son with ODD and is extremely challenging.  This article makes very interesting reading. However for me the “other parent” is not my son’s dad but my mom who has been heavily involved in my son’s parenting. And yes we don’t seem to agree on the best way of handling him and his very challenging behaviour. I am increasingly feeling that my mom undermines me and the way I try to handle my son.  Besides he behaves a bit differently when he is with her resulting in her not believing some of his worst behaviors.  I have tried talking with my mom and it doesn’t seem to be working. My son knows that his grandma puts me down sometimes and this has resulted in him also undermining me because he knows his grandma will most likely be on his side.  The whole thing is really stressing me out.



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