Parents Need a Unified Front

My 11-year-old son is as stubborn as can be. He talks back to me but not his father. How does his father react to this? He shakes his head and blames me.

--A Parent Soup member
Question:

Young adolescents often get their way by using the divide and conquer ploy on their parents. It sounds like your son is employing this tactic to great success. Unfortunately, you and your husband are playing into his hands. The battles right now are mild compared to some of the other conflicts that might lie ahead. So before those times come, you and your husband have some work to do. Without being confrontational, talk with your husband about what is happening. For example, you might say: "I think it is great the way our son responds to your requests. It would really help me out if you could back me up when I ask him to do something." Whenever your husband disagrees with you, ask that he wait until your son is out of earshot before expressing those feelings.

At 11, your son is beginning to look for ways that he can be more independent. Look for other ways you can grant him more freedom. And before you issue an order, ask yourself if he should be allowed to decide the matter for himself.

-- Charlene Giannetti, coauthor of The Roller-Coaster Years and Parenting 911

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