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Active vs. Passive Parenting

Hi Mark,

Thanks for sharing and helping us parents who are frustrated and absolutely dumbfounded as to what to do with our little darlings.

My question to you is how do parents who are divorced work together and stay consistent? My ex and I are equally worried and upset with our 17yr old boy. We however, have very different parenting styles. I'm more into boundaries and keeping the lines of communication open. My ex lets our son run the show. I cannot tell my ex what to do or how to handle situations because he doesn't like anyone doing this, especially his ex. He takes everything very personally.

I have raised my son for over 16 yrs. My son is now living with his dad. He needs to see if the grass is greener and in some ways it is through his eyes. Less structure, way more freedom, no chores, no sch. meals, girlfriend can sleepover, money magically appears in his bank acct., curfew not enforced. These are just a few examples that I cannot deal with. His father doesn't know how to parent, because historically his been the Disneyland parent and now he needs to be the real parent and he doesn't know where to begin.

Can you give me some simple steps that will help us see eye to eye just a little?

I do plan on offering your web page to him. Yes or No

Thanks for your time and wisdom,

D.

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Hi D.,

Yes …please do offer the website and eBook. Do your best to recruit your ex as a partner in problem solving in spite of the fact that he seems to be on the opposite page from you.

==> A weaker plan supported by both parents is much better than a strong plan supported by only one parent. <==

Your situation is far from ideal. Your husband is apparently doing a lot of things that contribute to the problem rather than help resolve it. However, that system tends to break down in the long run. Here’s the pattern I see quite frequently with divorced parents:

1. Child does not like the structured environment with the ‘active parent’ (i.e., the one in which the parent issues and enforces house rules).
2. Child moves to the least restrictive environment with ‘passive parent’ (i.e., the one in which the parent has few rules/expectations).
3. Due to low supervision/monitoring, the child gets into significant trouble (e.g., at school, with the law, etc.) – or -- child and ‘passive parent’ get into a huge argument, thus ‘passive parent’ kicks child out of his/her home.
4. Child returns to the ‘active parent’s’ home.

Your husband is trying to be the “good guy” – but the “good guy” usually only maintains “good-guy-status” for the short-term due to the following: The more free hand-outs of stuff and freedom the ‘passive parent’ issues, the more the child expects and desires (enough is never enough!). This strong sense of entitlement on the part of the child tends to grate on the ‘passive parent’s’ nerves over time, resulting in some serious parent-child conflict.

In any event, remember that a weaker plan supported by both parents is much better than a strong plan supported by only one parent.

Good luck,

Mark

Online Parent Support

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