Conflict between parents over care of young arises when the young benefit from the effort of both parents, but each parent suffers a reduction in future reproductive success as a consequence of its own effort. Here, we review existing models and argue that they fail to capture many important components of parental conflict. For example, we lack adequate models of how a parent should compensate for a reduction in the effort of its mate. These models should incorporate the process by which decisions are reached. Recent theory suggests that a parent benefits by handicapping itself, and more experimental and theoretical work on this topic could be fruitful. We also need more theoretical work on attractiveness that incorporates consistent interactions between males and females.