Hey Rene,

Love the site and all your great advice. Here’s my problem.

My daughter, Rachel is 12 years old and starting to act out. She wants to wear what she wants to wear, skips on her studies and constantly back chats to me when I ask her for anything.

I’m trying to take a hard line with her but the problem is my husband Tommy. He was brought up in a very relaxed household where anything goes and pretty much gives Rachel free rein and anything she wants.

Rachel’s now got wise to whom to go to if she wants something and is always using the phrase ‘Dad said it was okay!’ I’ve tried to talk to my husband about our different parenting styles but he’s hardly ever around so doesn’t understand. He thinks I’m over-reacting! But it’s very easy to say ‘yes’ when you don’t have to deal with the consequences.

How do I get Tommy on board with my rules – and teach my daughter how to respect ME?


Melissa, St Louis.

Hey Melissa:

You and your husband need to get on the same page and STAT before you end up with a BRAT!  The fact that Tommy is not around a lot and the  disciplinary duties fall to you might be a good thing. Listen, Good Enough Mother is herself something of a lax parent, but only with regard to the minor issues (like breakfast for dinner); the big issues are another matter altogether. Here’s what I would suggest.

1. START WITH TOMMY: You two need a parenting road map of sorts. We parent the way we were parented and since you two have different backgrounds you will need to work together to find the middle ground. I would explain to him why you think the way you do on certain issues and ask why he thinks the way he does. Communication is key here. I don’t think it would be a bad idea to write some of this stuff down so you remember what you agreed to and can refer back to it in case there are questions. I know it sound rudimentary but what do you have to lose?

2. LAY DOWN THE LAW WITH RACHEL: Once you and Tommy have your game plan, together you go to Rachel and let her know how it’s going to go down from here on out. If dad is not there much of the time, he will defer to your authority on issues (he of course will agree to this because you have talked about it. There will be no ambiguity). The “Dad says it is okay” argument will then become non-existent because you’ll know exactly what dad said.

3. BE THE ADULT: There are three things in your letter that honestly are a bit perplexing to me. What do you mean she wants to “wear what she wants to wear”  and “skip on her studies”? Who’s buying her clothes? Aren’t you exercising some oversight in what is in her closet? My Casey wants to wear what she wants to wear too but the things she has to choose from are appropriate for a 14-year-old girl and they were paid for with my money. Unless Rachel has a truckload of cash stashed somewhere, you’re going to have the ultimate say in what comes home from the store. Man up and tell her you will not buy inappropriate clothing which automatically alleviates the issue of her wearing it. With regard to her studies, why aren’t you there? Crack down and follow up.  Set up clear rewards and punishments and if she doesn’t follow through with her end of the bargain, she doesn’t get rewarded. Pretty simple. Oh and the punishment thing works well with the sass talk too.

Look, Rachel is no fool. Whether implied or explicit, she has figured out there is a chasm between you and Tommy on parenting and like any smart kid, has learned how to capitalize on that. Well you’re about to shut that down by bringing it all out into the open so here is no misunderstanding, and then go forward as a team.

Good Luck!

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