Advice? How Do You Co-Parent With a Parent Who Doesn’t Correct Behavior?

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QUESTION: How do you co parent with a parent who doesn’t correct behavior?

“I’m divorced and co-parenting four kids with my ex. Our smallest child is having issues at daycare, and I had to sit in a meeting with them about his actions. I’m the only one who pays for everything for our kids. I get no support, nor do I ask for anything for them because I know I won’t get it from him. Anyways, I talk to him about these issues, and he blames the daycare, saying I need to remove him, that our child isn’t the problem even though we are having the same issues at both of our houses. He gives our youngest whatever he wants and gives him extra when he throws tantrums. He also treats him like a baby. I ask him to help with potty training when he is there and he doesn’t. He makes his mom take care of our kids when he is supposed to have them (they live in the same house, and he won’t do anything for them but still wants them over), but when I say, why does your mom take care of them he acts like he does everything for the kids… So my question is, how do you co-parent with a parent who sees nothing wrong with his child acting out (basically hitting teachers and throwing tantrums? He is 3.) This is unacceptable behavior for me. Our other kids have never done this. I’m just totally done with this man. I want my kids to be with their father. They love him, but I just want some sort of compromise, but everything I ask for him to do the “magically already does it” when I know for a fact he doesn’t, I’m not even asking for much; I just want our child to have a better future.”

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Raising Kids: How Do You Co-Parent With a Parent Who Doesn't Correct Behavior?

Community Answers

The following top answers have been selected by a moderator from hundreds of responses to the original question.

“First of all, the kid is 3, which means impulse control is only beginning to develop. He has no stop mechanism when it comes to outbursts, so your expectations on him are too high and there shouldn’t be any discipline in the first place. This is the age where you model the behavior you want to see (meaning if you spank/hit your child as discipline, they aren’t going to learn to not hit that way). Instead offer alternatives to the hitting…. “when we’re mad we don’t hit because that hurts people, we stop and take a deep breath.” Tantrums are normal. They are just frustration from not being able to communicate their emotions properly.”

“Play therapy might be good. The little guy is having a really rough time coping and it comes out in frustration and anger. He needs coping & self-soothing strategies and lots of love and reassurance that all the adults in his life love him and will be there for him always, even when households change. Be sure he understands nothing he is or did caused the divorce. Kids think they are the center of the universe & they’re the cause of everything. Make sure he has lots of physical exercise: playground time, running around the yard or sidewalk, maybe a mini-trampoline. Play music and dance with him and see what he likes: soothing ambient, head-banging metal, improvisational jazz, soaring opera, show tunes. Music and movement are great ways to show and experience emotions when we can’t express them in words. Also look into yoga, meditation, tai chi, or other types of meditation for kids. And check on your other kids: they may be having a really hard time coping too but are quieter about it.”

“He’s only 3. Your ex is probably very right that the daycare is to blame, as kids model behavior at that age from what they see. A 3-year-old does not need emotional discipline. Especially when throwing a tantrum. Adults throw tantrums. He’s young, he’s learning to process his emotions, and should never be punished for it. So bravo to the father for that. Your little one has a difficult situation with two homes, separated parents, etc. You and the daycare especially should be considering the difficulties that will produce for the rest of his life. My advice- let go of your need to control. You’ll never be able to control how your son reacts to his situation, your ex, parents, etc. Worry about what you have control over and come from a place of sympathy.”

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