different parenting styles/ agendas?

(43 Posts)
ezcargot Mon 06-Jul-15 22:35:26

AIBU to think it's bloody difficult to enforce consistency in these situations?

My DP and I have pretty similar views on behaviour, unfortunately his ex is totally on a different page. She lets their DC get away with doing nothing, eating crap, watching tv all the time etc. Then when they come to DPs if he tries to enforce rules they get upset. At mine if I ask them to pick up toys they say I can do it for them!

She also makes them quite dependant on her, often they are crying and upset when they're dropped off because they don't want to come (which I think she probably encourages) and then every time they're asked to do anything they don't like they want to go home.

I feel for my DP, the constant can we go home / we miss our mom is pretty horrible for him to hear. He and his Ex have been split for over 2 years so it's not like this is really recent and they're just getting used to the changes.

littlejohnnydory Mon 06-Jul-15 23:00:27

There is so much going on there that it's difficult to know where to start. It sounds from the tone of your OP that you are being pretty negative about the children's mum, which isn't going to help them at all. People do have different expectations and parenting styles - I wouldn't like the "eating crap and watching TV all the time" either but plenty do and it isn't abusive, it's how I was brought up - so you're going to have to get over it, I'm afraid.

Ideally, the children's parents would be able to sit down and have a conversation about keeping things consistent and positive for the children but that depends on how grown up they can be in putting the children's needs first. Saying, "your parenting is sloppy, we want you to enforce our rules" isn't going to work.

"She makes them quite dependent on her" - that's your perspective. Children are dependent on their caregiver. If the children don't want to come to your house, you might want to wonder why (not just blaming their mum). They will miss their mum and having to come when they don't want to will be horrible and upsetting for them, I'm afraid. What do you do when they say these things? Does their dad give them a cuddle and tell them how much he loves having them? because it sounds like you're just telling them off! How old are these children? It makes a difference whether they are young children or teenagers.

Hang on, is this a reverse?

ezcargot Mon 06-Jul-15 23:14:11

Not a reverse.

If they turn up in tears, yes DP gives them lots of hugs and attention (he does anyway but more so then) however that doesn't work as often they just say they want their mum.

We don't just tell them off, but we do have rules (like most people) about tidying up toys and books and not leaving wrappers on floor and similar and I don't think them telling us to do it ourselves is an appropriate response. If we insist and there are tears/ requests to go home we don't make a fuss over them then because it seems at those times like the upset is more because they've been asked to do something they don't want to.

Discussion with his Ex is nigh on impossible because she won't accept that her way isn't correct.

Fatmomma99 Mon 06-Jul-15 23:20:20

Wow, littlejohnnydory. Great post!

I'd say pick your battles, ezcargot.

Also turning negatives to positives. I.e less of "don't do xxx" and more of "please do xxx" and lots of thanks and positive praise when you get what you want.

And lots of modelling positive behaviour good too.

But don't underestimate how horrible it is for his DC. I have adult friends whose parents split when they were kids, and they STILL harbour fantasies that their parents will get back together.
It's horrible for them, so please be kind!

Theycallmemellowjello Mon 06-Jul-15 23:26:35

I think you need to recognise that your partner is co parent with his ex. So they need to come up with a unified strategy as far as poss - this may mean you adjusting your expectations as well. If they are unable to adjust to coming to your place and crying to come home when they're there, it sounds like the problem is more yours in practical terms. And I agree with pps that you need to drop the negativity around the ex - she's the kids' mother and if you want to make the trauma of separation easier on the children you'll support her and not make them feel that there's any animosity or judgment - children can pick upon this.

ezcargot Mon 06-Jul-15 23:28:47

I do always say please do x and y. However this is either ignored, refusal or I'm told to do it myself. Again, this is because at home with mom they're allowed to get away with it. Part of the reason they object to coming is because they are expected to do more than watch tv. We try to encourage healthier eating, but that's pretty much a lost battle.

I can't help but think if their mom was encouraging more resilience, and talking up their time with DP they might be happier and less distressed about coming.

Lateswim16 Mon 06-Jul-15 23:32:19

Yes be kind, poor kids.

However kids do understand that there are different rules for different settings and if you are consistent and fair with kindness they will adapt.
It's a fine line between being so careful you let them rule the roost and manipulate all the adults here because they see discord and being too strict.

Must be hard op.

ezcargot Mon 06-Jul-15 23:34:55

They're crying to go home at DPs, when they get there, or if asked to do something they don't want to. They only come to mine once every few weeks and it's again when if there's something they don't want to do we get requests to go home to mom, or if they hurt themselves (one of them got a splinter from the playhouse for instance).

Fatmomma99 Mon 06-Jul-15 23:35:59

Not meaning to be hard on you OP, and sorry for posting twice, but it kind-of pulls at my heart strings when there are posts on here about step children, because what the OP doesn't #get# is that there is a war that the children have already lost and they have already won, and then the OP complains about this or that, and the step children already have limited contact with their birth parent.

I kind-0f breaks my heart!

SurlyCue Mon 06-Jul-15 23:38:40

Are you and DP living in separate houses? How old are DCs and how long have they known you as their dad's girlfriend?

ezcargot Mon 06-Jul-15 23:39:46

It's very hard for DP, he really looks forward to seeing them every time but when they turn up I tears it's not a great start, and it's hard when he always feels they'd rather be with their mom than him. He's decorated their rooms, takes them out to cinema, park and allsorts, but they still say they want to be at home (as in with mom) which isn't nice to hear when he's trying his hardest to keep up regular contact.

ezcargot Mon 06-Jul-15 23:43:56

Yes we live seperately, I've know the DC for nearly a year and a half, we've been together longer but left it a while to meet them because we weren't sure how they'd react.

SurlyCue Mon 06-Jul-15 23:54:33

Tbh, and without meaning to offend, it sounds like theyre being given 3 homes to acclimatise to each with different expectations of them. I understand that you and DP agree on parenting styles but i'll hazard a guess (because no two people or homes are exactly the same) that the rules in your house are probably a bit different to dad's which are again different to mum's.

Whilst they are still clearly having trouble settling i would try and avoid having them stay at yours. Let them get to grips with being at dad's, some DC do take longer than others to adjust to separation and you still havent said what age they are so i'm guessing still small. They are probably feeling it a bit expecting to spend weekends with their dad and then having to come to his girlfriend's house (do you have children?)

breachee Mon 06-Jul-15 23:58:01

Spend time with the children , smile at then, play with them, give them your full attention, let them know that they matter to you.

I have (old) memories of having a stepmother. I hated her for not being my mum , but began to appreciate her when her own personality began to shine through.

You can't ever be mum to these children, but if you have taken on their dad then you have to accept them as yours. Love them as much as you can, and pay them the respect they deserve as individuals, no matter what their mum is like.

If they learn to love, respect and like you, they will follow your rules, but the rules are not the most important thing in this situation.

NobodyLivesHere Tue 07-Jul-15 00:14:32

Discussion with his Ex is nigh on impossible because she won't accept that her way isn't correct.

Well, that's not a good place to start is it? Telling her she does things all wrong?
When my step ds is here and things are not as they are at his house we just say 'I realise it's different at home, but different houses have different rules and this is how we do it here'.
How old are these kids?

SurlyCue Tue 07-Jul-15 00:18:50

Discussion with his Ex is nigh on impossible because she won't accept that her way isn't correct.

Who decided that your way is correct and that its for you to decide hers isnt? You are infact incorrect because there is no correct here. You just gave different parenting styles. How would you react if she approached you and said that you needed to accept you were parenting wrong?

WorraLiberty Tue 07-Jul-15 00:23:32

I think you need to cut the kids more slack really.

Of course they're going to miss their constant and primary care giver (and especially when they hurt themselves), and the fact their parents have been split over 2 years, doesn't necessarily make it easier.

They're having to contend with living with their Mum, visiting their Dad in a separate home and also visiting their Dad's girlfriend in her home too.

It cant' be easy for any of you but least of all the children.

SorchaN Tue 07-Jul-15 01:39:58

I get a bit of this with my own kids, who live half the time with me and the other half with my ex. My ex and I differ quite significantly about tidying up, hours in front of the TV, doing chores, etc. And yes, when I (politely but firmly) tell them it's time to switch off the TV or whatever, they often respond by saying they want to go back to their dad's.

I explain regularly that the rules at my place are different from the rules at their dad's, but of course they know how to push my buttons (kids are great at that) and they try to use this line about going back to their dad's to try to get out of tidying up etc. I stay calm and tenacious about my rules, and they eventually acquiesce. But I do have to go through this rigmarole almost every time they come to me from their dad's.

For what it's worth, there's no point trying to change their mother's behaviour or parenting style. All you can do is insist that the kids stick to their dad's rules when they're at their dad's. They will get used to it eventually. There's no point in their dad taking it personally either - it's the sort of thing kids do. They moan when they don't get what they want, and they use every possible means to try to get what they want, even if it's hurtful. The thing to remember is that they're kids - they don't really mean it.

CassieBearRawr Tue 07-Jul-15 01:48:36

You need to let go of your aggression towards their mum. It shines through just from your thread title alone.

Mermaidhair Tue 07-Jul-15 05:20:55

What was your dp like as a dad when he was with his ex? Was he involved, did he have one on one with them then? How old are the children now? It sounds like they are younger with toys etc. Try to see it from their point of view, it must be so hard for them. Yes it's hard for your dp, but he is an adult who can make sense of what is going on, his children don't understand.

Teabagbeforemilk Tue 07-Jul-15 05:31:38

If they split 2 years ago and you met them 18 months ago, it may have felt (to them) that this all happened quickly. Now at weekends they have to share him with you.

Fwiw I think you need to back off. You have a lot of involvement with these kids even though you don't actually live with their father. I also don't think they should be staying at yours. They should be staying with their father. A lot of children find having 2 homes difficult. Having 3 is too much.

I also think since you don't live with him, you need to stop judging the mother. These aren't your kids or even your step kids. Thy are your boyfriends kids. This is entirely for him to deal with and you need to let him have lots of time with them alone until they feel secure and happy when staying with him.

If the mother is encouraging them to dislike their dad, he can overcome this with time and love. But again it's something he needs to sort

AngularMurky Tue 07-Jul-15 05:36:52

How old are the DC? How often does your DP have contact?

ezcargot Tue 07-Jul-15 06:48:03

The children are 7 and 8. Care is split 66/33, so DP basically has them a third of the time. I see them once a week at most, so I'm not always there, they spend lots more time with DP alone than with me and him.

Also they don't stay at mine, just visit, like I'm sure they visit other people's houses when they're with their mom.

I'm mot saying our way is right necessarily, but she won't ever discuss anything because she thinks she can't be wrong. Part of the reason they split up was because of different views on raising DC, and because she wouldn't discuss it and just said her way was right/ best. DP also didn't get much 1 on 1 time with DC when they were together as she'd say they needed their mom and didn't let him get very involved.

I don't have aggression to their mom, but I don't agree her parenting style (but yes that's her bed to make) and I do think she could do more to make the DC happy about visits to dads.

duckydinosaur Tue 07-Jul-15 07:03:34

Poor kids. I think you need to back off. Where you the OW? Basically you are trying to parent these poor kids when it is not your place to. I feel so bad for these kids sad

Cherryblossomsinspring Tue 07-Jul-15 07:17:41

I think you need to let go of what you think their mum should be doing, if she is uncooperative there is nothing you can do about that. I think you need to focus on being kind and welcoming to the k8ds. Have plans in place that get you away from the battleground before the arguing about picking things up starts. Be firm in telling them that 'in this house we....'. Kids are intelligent and flexible usually if carefully managed and will be well able to understand that your house has different rules and behaviours to their mums house. Be consistent and hang in there. It's a learning process.

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