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DP Has Asked For Advice(14 Posts)
My life is very complicated, and there's far too much back story to get into here, so I'll keep this as short as possible without a dripfeed.
DP has 2 dc. Toddler/Pre-school age. He and exw split when they were babies, her decision, but she has been very difficult regarding contact. She stops it for no reason, makes SS reports for no reason (we're on a first name basis with three social workers, but we've never had an actual visit), refuses to turn up to court, or follow the court order, etc.
I met them roughly a year ago, and noticed some behaviour in dc2 that I felt needed to be corrected, but his kids, up to him, kept my mouth shut. This behaviour had increased, but from things his family have said, it was present way before they met me. It is small kid type stuff, but it's things I didn't let my dc do without correcting them. And it has become more noticeable.
First, dc2 has no concept of boundaries. Every room is enterable on a whim, including my DC's, and the bathroom. Will kick the door if it's locked until whoever it is comes out.
Everything belongs to them. Sharing is a no go when it's DC2 who has to share, other kids have to share everything with dc2. Dc2 will strike out if other kids don't share, and will strike out if asked to share with other kids, slapping their faces, hitting them, and then trying to say that they had hit dc2.
Dc2 will tell you what to say in conversation. Example: 'I want to go to the shops and we'll buy toys, you say yes of course. Now get the car keys.'
Dc2 says things about daddy loving mummy, and when they all move back in together -(although given the age at the time of the split, I wouldn't have thought there would be any memory of them living together) - in the 'new house' they'll still come to my house to see me, my dc and play with their toys here. Dp told her that he loves dc1 and dc2, me and my dc, but that daddy and mummy don't love each other, but they do love the dc. He said that he lives with me, and won't be moving into the 'new house'. (We know absolutely nothing about moving, or a new house).
Dc2 is very jealous and cannot stand any of us to speak to anyone else. Will physically move in between dp, or me, and another child. Not so much when it's DP and I talking to each other, although has done on occasion.
dc2 will not listen to me, regarding rules. If I say not to do something, dc2 has to do it, because apparently dc2 doesn't have to listen to me. Doesn't really listen to dp either.
dc2 does quite a bit of telling each parent what they 'want to hear'. Tells her dm that dc2 wants her the most, and hates dp, but tells dp the same.
After a particularly difficult contact, full of challenging behaviour, DP sat down and asked what I thought he should do.
He can't talk to exw, as she refuses to discuss rules, boundaries etc. with him in any useful way. One minute she says that dc2 is the perfect child who follows all the rules, and accepts boundaries, and the next is saying that there's no rules in her house so there shouldn't be rules in ours. One minute, she's saying that she can take dc2 on days out, and the next saying that dc2 is so badly behaved that they haven't left the house in several months. So we don't even know what rules and boundaries there are at Mum's house. I don't want to get into a whole courthouse drama about her parenting, but I suspect that she was telling us the truth when she said that there are no rules or boundaries. Also, dc1 has various medical issues, and we think gets the majority of the attention at mum's house.
DP is fearful of saying no to dc2, because he thinks that they won't want to come. Which set off Disney Dad alarm bells for me. I don't think that's the way to go, although I genuinely don't know how to advise him.
My personal opinion is that while this is mostly typical behaviour for this age group, and could be a lack of attention thing, it also can't be allowed to go unchecked. It's the how to do something about it that I'm struggling with. Before I met them, I did make it clear to him that privacy is important to me and to my dc(teenagers), and that his dc2 couldn't wander into rooms, or ignore rules.
This post is much more confusing than I had intended, so congratulations on making it this far!
I think what my question is is:
How to put rules and boundaries in place when there's none/different ones at mum's house?
I think you have to have some basic rules in place when they stay with you eg knock before coming into room etc, but otherwise I’d take a back seat. They are not your problem as such and any discipline must come from dh, at least initially. Is he on the same page as you?
I also agree that whatever goes on at mum's house you and DH set the boundaries you seem appropriate at your house. That is healthy parenting. This child may struggle with boundaries (you didn't mention age?) but will learn different rules at different homes. Give them lots of love but be firm and united on such things that are important to you such as privacy. Maybe have a reward chart in place to encourage compliance? I'm sure it's not that easy and I am not a SP.
User, I get the impression that the DP would agree with that, but needs advice on how to go about it?
OP, did you ask his permission to post on here? You’re probably going to get a lot of advice, and it might be helpful for him to read from the horses mouth iyswim? But that might be easier if he doesn’t feel you’ve aired his dirty washing.
I will come back in a mo with my two pennorth
Sounds like the poor kid is having a rough time.
To answer your question:
Same way you'd put in rules and boundaries if they were with you all the time.
How old are the dc?
Sit down all together. Say you're going to set the house rules. Ask the kids what good rules would be. Frame the rules positively: "use kind words" instead of "no name calling", "follow instructions" not "no answering back", etc etc. You and DP get the final say on all rules - this is not a democracy. Then enforce the rules - calmly, consistently. Easier said than done, I know, but really important.
Kids like rules. Yes, they test them, but clear consistent rules make kids feel safe. If you think back to your favourite teacher in school, it was probably someone with excellent classroom control. Therefore your dp shouldn't worry too much about the kids not wanting to come - they will.
There are likely to be issues for the kids transitioning between the two households - keep consistent, be clear that "in this house the rule is...." and you'll get there. Oh, and bucketloads of praise and attention every time they do something right.
Dc2 is a toddler so between 1 and 3years old? I think your expecting far to much from such a small child
Are you seriously talking about a toddler here?
I think you need to back off I have a toddler and he’s not self aware at all of boundaries, he has tantrums and doesn’t like to share either. I think it might be wise to encourage time with your dp and his dc away from you and your dc.
'I want to go to the shops and we'll buy toys, you say yes of course. Now get the car keys.'
Sorry, but coming from a tiny kid, I find that beyond adorable.
As you were!
It was cute and funny, the first time. I'm not explaining it well, but it's like dc2 thinks that if dc2 doesn't tell the other person what to say, then there won't be any conversation or attention, iyswim? It's every conversation. Even asking 'how are you today?' DC2 will tell us what to say to keep the conversation going.
DC2 is 3/4 so it's not that we're expecting perfect behaviour at all times, and I am aware that there will always be some pushing against the boundaries. It's that there kind of hasn't been any boundaries, and that the negative behaviour has been addressed at all.
Ex-w has given us very mixed messages about how she deals with it, from placating, pleading and bribing dc2, to ignoring it, to not having any rules so dc2 hasn't done anything 'wrong'. Her current stance is along those lines - dc2 is only to be spoken to about behaviour (negative or positive) by her.
I have been looking for a reward chart system. I think something a bit visual and interactive might work a bit better than a sticker chart system, so maybe a jar that DC2 can put shapes into?
Do t start feeling that this is your duty to resolve. You've only been with your DP for a short time and the kids have had enough adjustments to make to have to adapt to yet a third person (might be more if with a childminder or GP) who expect something from him.
This child sounds like he has a stronger personality than average. It happens and it might mean that he will grow to be more of a leader by nature. Its not always a bad thing for a child to be strong headed however boundaries do indeed need to be put in place but that's for your DP to do so and if he lacks confidence to do it, then that's his problem and shouldn't be something to defer to you.
Step out of it honestly or you can be assured that it will back fire. Saying that of course you are in your right to say things to him, including that he needs to remember to knock on a door before entering but to be fair it might take some times reminding him and like most cases it will probably stop when he himself will feel uncomfortable with what he might see otherwise. It's all normal behaviour.
Children thrive on boundaries as they feel more secure. They are also very good at learning from a very young age the different rules that different people have.
So I think you and your partner have to sit down and decide on some simple rules and then enforced then kindly but firmly.
Children always claim that their mother has said something that suits them, but your house, your rules.
Forget what the ExW does, it’s not relevant at your house, I don’t think.
As others have said, kids really do thrive with rules and clear boundaries. Knock off any Disney Dad behaviour as well - my SDCs receive no such thing from their DF and they’re unspoilt, undemanding, happy little things.
Even if they do decide they don’t want to come - tough. They are children, you are the adults.
The child needs boundaries and soon. Your house your rules. To be honest I think this is far more odd than just normal 3/4 yr old behaviour.