Co-parenting Discipline

by Scott
(New York)

My ex-wife and 11 year old daughter have a volatile relationship. My ex's unrealistic expectations result in a screaming fight between them, and ends in my daughter being punished.


Example: My daughter asks if she can have some chips. My ex tells her "Only if you can run a mile on the treadmill in 8 minutes." My daughter naturally tries, fails, and then is angry that she is denied the chips. She yells and slams doors, and my ex grounds her for 2 weeks from her friends and the computer. She then calls me to tell me that I must continue the grounding at my house as well.

Is this right, or should the punishment be only at my ex's house? NOTE: We have shared custody equally, and my relationship with my daughter is beautiful, mutually respectful, open, and appropriate (I feel my ex's behavior is not appropriate), and it feels wrong for me to carry on the grounding at my house when she is so well behaved. Her time with me also runs through the weekends when her friends get together, and I am struggling with the question of telling her she cannot join them when I have no problems with her myself.

Is my ex's relationship with our daughter (and the discipline she inflicts) her responsibility or ours?

I am also concerned about my ex's competitive behavior towards my daughter, and concerned about my daughter's self image as she matures. She is a beautiful girl, and I am concerned that her mother is jealous of her and taking it out with discipline.

I have suggested counseling for mother-daughter relationship, and she got a referral, but has not yet made the call.

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Oct 04, 2009
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Thanks Again
by: Scott

Thank you again for your input, especially on a Sunday morning. I didn't expect that.

I will keep you posted on any developments, in hopes that my case might help other parents struggling with the same issues as I, and will also let others know of your helpful site. You are very kind to provide this type of service. Your commitment shows how much you really care. I will be purchasing your book as a gift to my ex for Christmas. (I hope she takes it the right way)


Oct 04, 2009
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Co-parenting issues
by: Laura Ramirez

That's great news, Scott. So pleased to know that your ex-wife has decided to go into therapy. That is the best possible choice for this situation. Hopefully, therapy will cause her to self-reflect and give her insight into the issues that she needs to work on.

You're right...the quality of your daughter's relationship with her mother is crucial to developing a healthy sense of self as she matures into a woman. I am so glad that it looks like this is exactly what she is going to get.

Oct 04, 2009
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Thansk You for Your Comment
by: Struggling Dad

Thank you for supporting me as the father of my 11 year old daughter. It's always encouraging to hear that I'm a good dad in a society that still considers the mother to be the ideal parent, and the father to take a secondary role. Even with the strides we've made as a society and the increased number of dads who are very involved in their children's lives, stereotypes are very difficult to hurdle.

My ex-wife has taken the first step in seeking counseling for her and our daughter. She has gone to one session this past week for a one-on-one with the therapist, and he requested a few more one-on-ones before bringing our daughter in.

I do appreciate your suggestion on seeking sole custody, and there's nothing I would enjoy more than full time with my children (we also have a 9 year old son). However, my ultimate wish is for my daughter to have a good and loving relationship with her mother as she does with me. I believe that her growth, and ultimate happiness as an adult, hinges on this, and I couldn't be happier about my ex finally agreeing to the counseling. My fingers are crossed, and I am hopeful. Thanks again for your support.

Oct 04, 2009
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Co-parenting Discipline
by: Laura Ramirez

Co-parenting discipline seems less of an issue here than your daughter's safe passage through adolescence. Your ex-wife sets her up by making her do unachievable tasks and then punishes her because she cannot complete them. That is what I call crazy-making and it is psychological abuse. If your ex-wife is really that cruel and is unwilling to seek out therapy, then I suggest you think about documenting these incidents and talking to your lawyer about getting full custody.

If your ex wife is jealous of your daughter (and it seems that she must be because no loving parent would set up her daughter in such a way), then you can probably expect these types of incidents to escalate as your young daughter starts to develop and look more and more like a woman because your ex wife will start to see her as competition.

My answer to your question about co-parenting discipline is an absolute no in this case. You must stand up for your daughter and refuse to uphold disciplinary actions that are really a disguise for cruel emotional abuse. Of course, when parents are realistic and on the same page about child discipline, then I recommend that they support each other from home to home, but not in this case.

You are a bright man who is asking the right questions and doing the best to defend his daughter against an emotionally abusive mother. Please continue to fight the good fight. The world needs more fathers like you.

You may want support from a good therapist or consider my parenting coaching program. It will help to have someone to listen to you and support you throughout this process.

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