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Sibling contact(9 Posts)
Hi Guys, we have regular sibling contact with our boys brothers and sisters. It's obviously a bit of an organisational nightmare trying to get all of us together at the same time, but we do it because we feel it's really important for our children.
My question is around parenting styles. We have very different parenting styles to the other parents and struggle sometimes with a bit of a lack of discipline from the other parents e.g. their children are allowed free reign to run around restaurants, and they play fight with our boys a lot. Sometimes I feel like the bad guy telling our boys to sit still or not fight etc, but the other parents don't seem to notice or mind. I get asked from my oldest, "how come XXX is allowed to play around? He is my brother, we get treated differently, its not fair"
Do you think I should talk to the other parents, or just leave it? A bit stuck as the social implications for this, if it goes pear shaped, are pretty massive for my children. I really really want them to continue seeing their siblings.
Oh dear. I'm afraid that my instinct is that no, you shouldn't talk to the other parents. What would you say? "Our parenting styles are incompatible, so please change yours?'
I think you are finding this difficult because your son's response is making you feel guilty. After all, there is absolutely nothing wrong (or unusual!) in parents treating children differently, and children complaining that they are not allowed to do what other children do, and parents having to say, "X's mother can do what she likes; I'm your mother, and these are my rules". But your son's response taps into (I'm guessing) a deep sadness for your children, and maybe a measure of (unnecessary) guilt, that if life was fair they would be living in the same family and therefore they would be parented in the same way.
It's not your fault that that isn't happening, but it isn't the other parents' fault either. I recognise this creates a problem for you, but nothing like the problems that will follow from you falling out with the other parents. I think you just have to find the words that help you confidently explain to your children why, in your family, these are the rules.
Best of luck.
I think you are right (in fact, I know you are right) that I shouldn't talk to the other parents, I guess I just wanted it affirmed by the crew
Devora said it all
It is hard, seeming like 'the bad guy' having to tell your children not to do something 'fun' when their siblings are
My children have a lot of siblings between them, and I have maintained some contact with the nearly all and direct contact with some of them. I have been in that situation before. Not with running around restaurants, but for instance, talking about things they read/watch on TV, how late they stay up or far worse, the expensive christmas present one sister was bought, my DD had wanted badly, and I could not possibly afford. I was told that 'if X and Y adopted me, I would get nicer stuff, IT'S NOT FAIR' accompanied by lots of anger and tears
Which is shit. But not anyone's fault. And I agree with Devora completely when she says it taps into sadness and deeper feelings about their situation. Hope things are better at your next meeting/s and good luck to you
The others have said some great things. I would agree, although not an adoptive parent (yet!) that I would not say anything negative to the other parents.
If possible I would aim for some meetings which are very child-centred, might be hard if the children are all different ages. However, if it is possible could you you aim for restaurants or pub's serving meals where they have a garden, outside safe play area, soft play area etc. Or go for a picnic in a park etc (weather permitting!).
Also can you go prepared with some activities all the kids can do to keep them all quiet at least some of the time?
When we go out to restaurants now, especially with wider family, I always have pens and paper with me. It stems from a visit a while back when we visited a non-child friendly pub and they had nothing for the kids to do. They were crawling under the table etc and we couldn't have a proper grown-up catch up chat! I got some note paper and pens from a friendly bar man and gave the kids a drawing competition, their ages ranged from 6 to almost teenage and amazingly they were happy to draw! I had about 4 rounds, one between each course! (Am counting coffee as a course here - am not posh!!). There was no prize and I just said each child had done best in their age 'group'! Unsurprisingly as there was only one kid in each age range or 'group'.
Drawing categories were things like 'Under the sea' or 'At the zoo' but I am sure we got some zombies and motorbike pictures too!
I KNOW it won't work for all kids and it might not work for your situation but I was surprised because the small amount of time we spent admiring their works of art gave us quite a lot of free 'chatting' time.
I guess if the visits can be not too long it would help. Do you normally spend a long time together?
PS If you don't mind my asking, how often do you meet up with them?
We have contact with the adoptive family of my DD's older siblings. We meet up during most school holidays. I have a great relationship with the other mum and we do seem to have similar parenting styles so it makes things easy.
We always make it about the children and meet at places where they can run around and enjoy playing together.
We also invite each others children to birthday parties and we go to each others houses for lunch sometimes too so that the children can play in familiar surroundings and the meet up becomes just like any other play date.
This contrasts with my DS's contact with his older siblings which only happens once a year because of the distance between where we live.
This contact can be a bit stressful for all concerned because of the excitement that builds up before the meet up which then all bubbles up during the actual day leading to tears and bad behaviour all around!
I wouldn't risk raising the subject of the other children's behaviour as it may spoil the relationship you have with this other family. You need to suggest a day out that allows the kids to be kids and make allowances for over excitement.
We always choose child centred activities, however, there is quite an age range so it's tricky to find something that suits a nearly teen down to an under 2. And we have to eat I also always allow for over excitement but I won't tolerate my boys running wild no matter how excited they are. I'm not an ogre I promise, it's just they were so out of control when we got them that the slightest thing can turn them into Tasmanian devils!!
I won't say anything to the other parents, I don't think I ever planned to really, just needed it reaffirming.
I am sure you are the least ogre like mummy there is.
Agree with what the others have said. I am always the Mean Mummy at get togethers with other parents and children. I've learnt I need to relax a bit on some things (eg double ice cream) but stick firm on things (esp behavioural, eg running around) where the inconsistency of being allowed one time but not another are harder to explain to small children.
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