Ground rules and picking your battles(11 Posts)
DP and DSD11 are moving in next weekend. DP is a widower so DSD will be living with us FT. I have DD11 and DS9. Everyone will have their own bedrooms and DSD and DD will be starting secondary school together in September. I've known DSD more than 2 years and I've been with DP 2.5 years. We own the house equally.
I have concerns (obviously) as it's such a big change for us all.
I would welcome advice on what ground rules we should decide upon (for all five of us!) and also would be keen to find out how couples who have blended families keep strong and not let resentment take over if things are going a bit awry. Eg. I am very keen that rudeness and disrespect are challenged, but I am worried that DP and I don't agree on what constitutes rudeness (ahem).
Thank you! x
Congrats on your move! DP and I moved in together about 6 months ago and have DSD6 and DSS6 about half the week. I don't have any of my own so it's a complete change. I recently read this www.amazon.co.uk/How-Happy-Stepmum-Lisa-Doodson/dp/0091929628/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1437741661&sr=1-1&keywords=how+to+be+a+happy+stepmum and found it massively helpful. Don't have any specific advice but the book helped me to clarify some of the things I've been thinking/worrying about/trying not to think about/hoping. I chose that of all the similar titles as the reviews were from women saying they wished they read it years ago. It's not groundbreaking but it makes a lot of sense. I keep it on my bedside table! Good luck with everything.
Also try reading step monster by Wednesday Martin.
That you are already agreeing groundrules - and seeing it is important to set these between you is a GREAT start! Wish I'd done the same...
I'd say for rudeness:
Saying hello (nicely)
Saying thank you for dinner/other things
Asking for things nicely - not just asking their own parent all the time
If either parent notices bad behaviour/wants to ask them to tidy their rooms or not leave a mess - then they have to respect whichever parent and not get in a big strop.
In return - both step parent and parent will agree to be fair to all children, (try) not to favourite one against the others, ensure all rules kept up and allow each child one to one time with their own parent.
If you set rules between you then you could see right away what differences you both may have - be nice if you can include kids and ask them what they would like.
I'd also bear in mind that whoever moves in - is it your OH and DSD with you? They may feel more 'vulnerable' and need to be made really welcome - and to let your own children know that even if their house hasn't changed - some rules/things may need to change otherwise it is all the 'newcomers' adjusting.
And there will always be some differences in parenting styles/expectations - which is probably okay if it's not too much or too unfair.
Haven't managed any of these myself and resentment from my DSDs is terrible! But my OH doesn't back me up.
Maybe sit down and get each person to write out a 'contract'
This is how I would like to be treated.....
This is what would make me happy..
This is what would make me sad....
My responsibilities in keeping the home a happy place live, will be...
Would this work for your family as a starting point for a discussion about agreed ground rules that work for everyone?
Your OH and you could give examples of thing that you feel are rude. The children could give examples of things that they think are unfair.
Anne and Purple Hen - I purchased and read both of those books a while back, they were really useful and I think I will re-read bits of them as time goes on!
Kkaty - thank you for your advice. It's what I needed to hear. DP is so laid back (although secretly I think he's desparate for it all to work out and is also anxious) that I sometimes feel like I'm naggy and unkind for even suggesting these kinds of conversations.
We extended the house so almost everyone has new bedrooms (my DD is happy to stay in her old one) and DSD has been involved in choosing things for her bedroom and deciding where things should go. DSD has been through a horrible time, but I still think she should be aware that being rude (even passively, by ignoring, not answering, answering so quietly she cannot be heard) is not ok. My kids are no angels, btw, but I always make sure they say sorry if they've been rude or disrespectful. I think DSD is understandably insecure and this informs a lot of jealous and sad feelings. I really want to help her with this, which is why I want to establish how we communicate and to keep those lines of communication open.
I am terrified of DP not backing me up and vice versa - I guess this is my biggest fear because I'm scared it could break us.
You sound very considerate, thoughtful and a good parent. I hope that your DP and yourself can work together as a team, you sound so much less naive than I was - which has to be a good start!
My advice is don't take over. This child has lost her mum, the last thing she needs to feel is that she is also 'losing' her dad, as in the dad that she has known and acted in a certain way all her life.
Of course some things might have to change, but you might also have to accept that things might not do exactly as you would hope. More important, remember that time is everyone's best friend and what matters more than anything is to allow people to adjust to change. Ultimately, it will be much less of a chance for your and your children than it will be for your partner and his DD, so that needs to be taken into consideration.
More importantly, be kind to each other and accept that it will take time to adjust to your different habits and what is normal to all of you.
Although it is very sad that she has lost her mum it does help that you will be no competing on that front. I don't mean to sound harsh but that seems to cause so many problems
Sit down and and have a meeting to discuss what is and isn't acceptable.
I would have a chat with OH beforehand and discuss the backing each other up. You can both agree what is important to both of you and then negotiate of the rest.
It will always be a work in progress so there has to be a way of reviewing how things are going
First discuss things as a couple before you move in together. What can you not tolerate? Are there things you are not keen on but you can compromise on? Then involve the children in a discussion so they feel like they have some ownership.
There may be issues that you haven't even thought of (rules around eating have been a much bigger issue than we expected them to be) and some you think of which won't be so much of an issue. We thought we would need to make sure we gave our own dc 1-1 time every weekend - it turns out they are not that fussed.
Backing each other up is a major one. I have been guilty of undermining my dp without really thinking. We try and back each other in front of the kids and then if we are not happy we discuss it later away from the children.
Thanks all. This has been so helpful.
Florentina I love your suggestion. We are going to do that.
OH surprised me at the weekend and suddenly seemed to be taking it all very seriously and even had suggestions of his own. We chatted about a few issues and how we would back each other up and what we could and couldn't let go.
We just spent a lovely weekend (my DC were with their Dad), but we got some things for the house and I helped DSD decorate her room.
For the moment things are seeming less overwhelming, but we shall see! x
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