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different rules here/there and being the bad guy.

(16 Posts)
PfftTheMagicDraco Tue 11-Aug-15 20:55:13


First time poster in this section, was hoping for some advice from those wiser than me.

I have 2 DCs. DP has 2 DCs. All four are within 3 yrs of each other (6-9 ish age range).

DP and I live together with my DC (about 75% of the time, the rest they are with their father).

Due to varying circumstances, we only get to have DSC in the school holidays. Half terms, easter, Christmas, and Summer when they come here to stay. We visit them for the day when we can.

All the children get on very well, and it's generally going ok. Apart from the nagging feeling that we are always the bad guys. DSC do whatever they want at home. They pretty much get waited on hand and foot, they never have to say please, they leave dirty clothes all over the floor and struggle to flush the toilet.

DC that live here have to help as a team. They make their beds, clear the table, tidy their rooms, say please, don't demand cola or the playstation every half an hour. Because neither DP nor I would allow it.

As far as we are concerned (and DP and I are united as far as raising kids goes), the rules have to be the same for all of them. I think kids adapt to different rules in different houses, and they will learn. I can't have two of them sitting on their bum whilst I go around flushing toilets and clearing pages with the other two being forced to go and make their beds.

We had a chat with DSC about this, explained that things are different at home to here, but we all work as a team together and they are part of our family, which means they get treated as such, not like guests - because they aren't!

DSD (9) today said she "wished she'd never come to see us", because I asked her to help DS clear the table after dinner, followed by huffing and stropping and all sorts. When we all them to do anything, it's a battle.

Now, I feel like this is the way it HAS to be, because I want to treat all 4 of them the same, and fairly. DP agrees, but we are both sitting with that niggling feeling that we are the bad guys. We want them to have fun here, and want to come. I don't want them to think it's worse here because they can't scream in the garden at 6am, or play tablets in bed until midnight, but at the same time, I can't let them do those things :/

So come on, wise step parents, how the FUCK do I deal with this?

K888 Tue 11-Aug-15 21:37:23

You sound like you ARE dealing with it OP, and with you and your partner as a team you are doing the right thing. I've struggled and let my DSC get away with much more than our DS or my DS and it only led to justified feelings of unfairness.

Stick to your guns. Of course they will kick off. Of course you will be the bad guys. But if you are both united and work as a team, and be fair, then it will calm down. If you are concerned then you could add in some nice, fun activities to lift the mood. Constantly both tell them, that you know they are going to find the change hard, but that is the way it is, be calm, be clear!

Although - there may always be SOME things that are different - maybe youo and your partner can review things in the next weeks - what really ARE important, what can you let go, even for now, sort that out later. Reward them as much as punish - if DSD clears the table, does everything without going mental - get something nice for their room or something - go out to cinema together?

MsColouring Tue 11-Aug-15 21:52:15

Sounds very familiar. I have two ds 6 and 9, dp has ds also 9. We always feel like the bad guys with dss who is allowed to raid the fridge whenever he likes with his mum and is totally mollycoddled. It is an ongoing situation with us, just when we think we've cracked one thing, something else crops up. Things that have helped for us are:
Having a list of 'morning jobs' on the fridge that they have to do before screen time.
Agreeing rules as a family and putting them up.
Trying to make helping fun - doing baking etc.
Trying to do fun stuff as a family so dss can see that being here is fun as well.
Trying to reach some compromises e.g dss isn't allowed to raid the fridge but can have a mid morning snack if he asks.

I'm sure someone will come along in a minute to tell you that you are wrong trying to enforce your rules in your home but I agree that children can adapt and you can't treat children differently. I wonder whether they find it harder to adapt when it is their 'main' home which is the more lenient. My kids cope fine with different rules at their dad's but it is stricter here.

yellowdaisies Tue 11-Aug-15 22:03:45

It's great that you and your DP agree on how you want things to work. But presumably the DSC have visited in the past under a different set of rules and expectations? If so, you might want to see if there are some compromises you can make between where you'd like them to be at, and where they're at right now. I don't think you necessarily expect all the changes to come from them. I've had to allow my DC more computer time than previously, let them eat cocopops for breakfast at weekends and reduce how often they wash up. But the DSC do do more chores that than they used to, know that cocopops are only for weekends and no longer play computer games all day long. My own DC have had to learn to be more respectful of other people's possessions too - ie it's not all one way with one set of kids having to make all the adjustments.

Also your DP may say be agrees with you, but he needs to take some respoaibility for the rules (or lack of rules) the DSC had previously whilst in his care.

caravanista13 Tue 11-Aug-15 22:04:03

I'm not a step parent by it sounds as if you're doing exactly the right thing. They may put up a struggle but children do learn to adapt to different rules in different settings.

PfftTheMagicDraco Tue 11-Aug-15 23:57:02

Yellow - no, they haven't. These have always been the rules here, the issues we are having are just ongoing. I think because we don't have them as often as we would like they feel enlarged, there's too long inbetween visits - and things get forgotten.

Some great advice here, thank you. Will read again in the morning and digest. smile

chocolateorange88 Wed 12-Aug-15 12:24:35

I'm in a very similar situation as my DP has just moved in and has his DCS every other weekend and one night every week plus half the holidays. I have my DC 75% of the time. DPS oldest DC (aged 9) is constantly asking for different dinners (doesn't like homemade food apparently!) And doesn't want to do anything for themselves (including squeezing ketchup out the bottle which they had tears over the other night when told to do it themselves). Wanting to stay stuck in front of a screen all the time is a constant issue, as well as not helping out (which my younger DC has to do).
We are sticking to our guns, the whole family is given the meal that is put in front of them, alongside some veg, bread, potato etc depending on night so even if they don't like the main dish there is something to eat (no extra meals made). If they want to request a meal they can and we will try to make it one night (not THAT night). If they don't help out when asked there is no tv or computers.
Feeling like he bad guys is hard, but I feel we have to be fair on them all or they won't accept it as home. It's tough. Will watch what other people say as well.

hampsterdam Wed 12-Aug-15 19:58:36

For me this is one of the most frustrating things about being sm. Very limited control over behaviour which has an effect in your home and on your kids. Unfortunately you can't break a bad habit in a weekend or even 2 weeks. At least dp is on board, half the battle won I reckon. No advice really just sympathy.

Love51 Wed 12-Aug-15 20:05:55

They may be having you on about how much they get away with at home. That may ease the guilt!

PfftTheMagicDraco Wed 12-Aug-15 20:33:52

Chocolate - it's hard! Sounds very similar to our battles, but this thread has buoyed me up a little really, was so worried we were doing the wrong thing. And at the same time worried about getting into the trap of treating them like royalty.
Had a chat with them today about how everyone chips in together, we are all a family and how my DC have to do jobs when they aren't here. Behaviour much better today, though I did have to remove a lunch from the table when one of them looked at it and said "I don't want that, it smells horrible". shock it was brioche!

Keep on chugging!

PfftTheMagicDraco Wed 12-Aug-15 20:35:09

Hampsterdam - you are so right. We notice changes after a few days having them here, but then they go home and everything gets undone, there's no chance to make a permanent change. Frustrating, and I feel bad for them, they only at like this because of how things are at home.

K888 Wed 12-Aug-15 20:37:03

OP if you can get a (reasonably) happy household running with rules you and your DP are in agreement with - then you've saved yourselves years of stress!

Tryharder Wed 12-Aug-15 22:35:55

It sounds like you are coping perfectly well.

But you sound dismissive about the DCs mother. Every house has different rules and she might be max about some things and strict with others. Just because one person runs their household like a boot camp, doesn't make the lax parent 'worse'.

fedupbutfine Wed 12-Aug-15 22:59:44

I have to agree tryharder, my children are devils for not flushing the toilet and leaving their clothes in a heap on the floor - it is mentioned every day to them and they don't get away with it, even if they persist with it. I don't, however, feel the need for it to be a 'big' thing - there are more important rules and routines I need them to follow for my household to be able to function without problems. It's a case of pick your I'm a shit mother? You can imagine what I would have to say about that!

PfftTheMagicDraco Thu 13-Aug-15 00:42:59

I've never said she (or anyone else for that matter!) was a shit mother! Don't take what I haven't said and user it to beat me!
Things are different for them at home to what they are here. That's all I said, and gave examples to illustrate.

I would imagine that me bitching to her on the phone about what they might have done, or how they do things there would be very wrong, which is why I would never do that.

What I have posted here is a short snapshot, if I wrote everything down it would be miles long, but I would have said that I think she has a very tough job, with other children aside from DSC, and more than enough on her plate. I've never criticised her either to her face, nor through her children, nor criticised what they do at home to them. I've always just said that rules are different in different houses.

I don't think I'm better, we're all just doing the best we can, aren't we? And I only have the DSC for a few weeks a year - she has them all the time.

I'm sorry if you thought I was slagging her (and indirectly you) off. That was not at all my intention. I like her a lot, she has always been very friendly with me,and very supportive of any rules we have implemented here. We have to be rule driven due to ASD in the house - but again, I went for brevity in my post rather than elaborating. smile

K888 Thu 13-Aug-15 13:09:42

I know we don't know what goes everything that goes on in Mum's house, and lord know it is difficult bringing up kids on your own.

But I think it's okay to be a bit miffed sometimes if the Ex is openly passing the buck. I have been cross about my DSCs rude behaviour that their mum does nothing about - and often encourages against me - which I have to deal with. But because we never know the full story, we just have to concentrate on the environment that we can control.

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