Every parent has their own approach to how they interact with their children. During your marriage, you may have been the enforcer, while your ex was the one who would be the proverbial good cop in difficult situations.

While such discrepancies aren’t a major issue during a happy marriage, they can be a source of significant contention during and after a divorce. Especially if your ex has never been big on routine, structure or discipline, you may find yourself feeling like the bad guy and worry that your kids will start to prefer spending time with the other parent as opposed to you.

How can you deal with sharing post-divorce parental responsibilities with a very permissive co-parent?

Sit down and talk about the role of discipline in child development

The best way for you to overcome this co-parenting conflict will involve openly talking about your desires and intentions while raising your kids. If you can’t do so independently, it may be wise for you and your ex to sit down with a co-parenting therapist who can guide you through the process of setting expectations and rules for one another and your children.

Enforce consistent rules at both households

The easiest way to prevent a discrepancy in parenting styles from impacting how much time the children want to spend with each parent is to ensure that the major issues remain the same between households. Having the same curfew, limits on screen time and expectations regarding schoolwork can contribute to children feeling a consistent sense of structure and discipline in both parental households.

Permissive parents may not like to establish a lot of rules, but they can and should help enforce them if those rules are what the children have come to understand and expect.

Remember that even children can see through attempts to bribe them

If your ex has gone from being a totally uninvolved parent to a spendthrift who won’t stop buying overpriced video games, it’s totally natural to feel frustrated. If discussions and rules simply won’t deter their behavior, you may have to accept that your children will not have the same structure at your ex’s house.

As your kids get older, they will see the permissiveness and gift-buying for what it really is, which is a thinly-veiled attempt to purchase their affection. Chances are good that your children will respect you more in the long run if you remain a stable and consistent parent instead of trying to copy your ex’s permissive behavior.