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Different rules at different houses.

(14 Posts)
mummynumber2 Wed 03-Sep-08 12:28:15

I'm just wondering if anyone has any experience of this and what people think about having one level of expected behaviour while with one parent and a completly different one with the other.

We have a situation where, while with their DM my DSCs don't seem to have any rules or order at all. This is to the extent where my 12yo DSD is allowed to do exactly as she wants without even telling her mother where she is or when she will get back, where as we insist that we know where we are at all times. We don't allow 7yo DSS to sware, spit and hit other children where as DPs ex ignores it. We have bed times, meals at the table involving a knife and fork, expect them to tidy up after themselves etc. which they don't do while with their DM.

All this makes their behaviour completly different in the two different places to the extent that two different child carers have now said that they will look after them at our house but not at their DMs house.

Up until around a year ago we were having them almost 50% of the time and now it's quite a lot less (not our or their choice) and I think recently they have not been coping too well with our way of doing things. After a fairly difficult and stressful couple of weeks during the summer holidays, DP and I are beginning to wonder if it's worthwile carrying on like this. After constant complaints from all 3 of them about having too many rules and threats of not coming here any more I wonder what the point is. All that seems to be coming from it is a resentment towards us and constant tension. If you're only seeing children 1 or 2 nights a week how much influence can you really have?

Iaro Wed 03-Sep-08 12:39:14

I think you can still have some influence, though it is difficult with children as they need some sort of consistent message throughout.

We are much stricter with the girls than their mother is. We have accepted that fact though and make it clear to both girls (7 & 5) that whilst somethings may be acceptable at Mum's house, they aren't here.

We have them for 50% of the time so it is easier.

I don't know what the answer is in your circumstances, I wouldn't back down on it, but I think you do have to choose your battles to some extent, think is this really really important, important enought to taint what time you do have with them

fondant4000 Wed 03-Sep-08 13:03:25

They are getting older, so enforcement is going to get more tricky, I think.

Is there any chance of having a discussion and agreement with them about rules, where you both give a bit? At least that way they'd feel they had been consulted over what must be a confusing situation for them?

Lazycow Wed 03-Sep-08 13:05:52

Have you tried talking to them and asking them what they think are reasonable rules to have? 12 and 7 years old seem old enough to have some say.

I think most children want some rules actually and they may prefer that to haviving none at all. It gives tham some structure. You can however involve them in the decisions.

However the change from very strict household to one that has no rules can be a very difficult one

Why not have the chat with them (you need to keep it light though and avoid complaining about their behaviour so far, focus on the future. They may surprise you with their suggestions.

Of course you need to have some input too and in the end I'd say you need to have a few basic rules anyway regardles of what they say. I'd try and keep the rules to the really important ones. Mine would be something like

- All household members treat each other with respect (adullts included).
That way if someone shouts/swears at someone you can ask 'Is that treating people with respect?' Also dropping stuff on the floor 'Is this treating others with respect?'

- No Swearing (this needs to apply to adults too).
You can also have some fun on deciding on sanctions if you do swear. Children can lose some pocket money maybe and adults can put money in a swear box. That can then be used for a family outing at some point maybe. (just ideas)

- No hitting or using physical violence

- Respects other's privacy (eg always know on bedroom doors before entering)

I personally wouldn't worry about the food/eating rules or even the bedtime ones too much (you don't have them for long enough to make that easy to enforce). I'd focus on the really important behavioural ones.

mummynumber2 Wed 03-Sep-08 13:24:06

Thanks Iaro. I think it's important too but I just wonder if good behaviour 1 / 2 days a week is more important than a good relationship with their father.

Just out of interest do you know if your DSDs complain to their DM about rules at your house and do you know how she responds to that?

I have a feeling that DSCs mother has been allowing them to behave in a worse way recently for fear of them prefering to spend more time with us (when she suddenly took away the arrangement where we had them 6 nights out of 14 they were very upset). So they complain to her about our rules and she agrees with them about them being unreasonable and makes more of an effort to have no rules.
Vicious circle.

mummynumber2 Wed 03-Sep-08 13:24:48

x posts - sorry

mummynumber2 Wed 03-Sep-08 13:36:59

The thing is they do behave pretty well while they're here most of the time. Dp and I are very consistant and have measures in place if they don't behave and it seems to work.But that doesn't stop them complaining and threatening not to see us.

I have thought about writing down a list of rules and asking for their thoughts but I fear that I would have quite a negative response. They believe (reinforced by their mother) that rules are for school not for home and any rules they have to abide by at home are wrong.

We have tried to explain to them why we do things a certain way, especially the 12yo and 10yo but are told that the way they do things at musm works well.

overthemill Wed 03-Sep-08 13:43:27

we have my dsc 5 nights out of 14 and half all hols

i think we have more boundaries here and are stricter about bedtimes/food etc (no coke, no crisps except weekends etc) and sometimes they winge but we just say, your mum has her way of doing things and we have ours. in 10 years they've got used to it!!!

my dsd did say recently she is treated much more as a grown up at her mums house and i asked what that meant. but we worked out together that she was really talking about the gender difference - 3 younger brothers there and 1 younger brother and my dd here. so it was more about her cooking/babysitting and all the boys playing together and her doing diff things

BecauseImWorthIt Wed 03-Sep-08 13:46:55

I think if you were to change anything now, it would make things even more unsettling.

You have (IMO) established some very good rules and the children know what they are. Whether they like them or not is another matter!

At 12 especially they will be bound to be kicking back anyway.

I would say stick to your guns. Your house, your rules. Thank goodness you and your DP are in agreement!

jammi Wed 03-Sep-08 16:26:35

Message withdrawn

LadyBabo Wed 03-Sep-08 20:56:01

I agree!
I had no rules about where I could or couldn't go, or at what time,from the age of 14. My friends used to say 'you're so lucky!' but I KNEW that it was because my mum was too wrapped up in other stuff...

Yes it is difficult when they are only with you for a short time. We have compromised with 'rules' with our sd, fortunately she is a little star, but things like table manners and bringing washing down were a problem for a while.
Washing - she brings it down, or runs out of clothes!
Table Manners - ignore unless using knife / fork in a daft way that makes cutting food more difficult. I try to ignore the noise and I NEVER look...

Fortunately the big age gap between sd 11 and dd2 means that dd is not aware of the things that sd can do that she can't e.g. eat with mouth open yeeuch!

mummynumber2 Thu 04-Sep-08 17:51:09

That's really good to know LadyBabo. I'm sure at some point they will realise that we have some rules here because we care about them but at the moment I just hope they don't resent us too much for it.

We really do try to make it nice for them here and I just hope they can see that. We never make negative coments to them about the lack of disipline/ rules/ safety at theis mothers house but I sometimes think it would help tham to hear things from our side. Of course we would never have that conversation with them.

I think it's more easy for me to compromise on acceptable behaviour than for DP. It's devestating for him to have to watch his children be brought up in this way and to have such a small amount of influence and input in their lives.

jojostar Thu 04-Sep-08 22:01:43

hiya, we have rules in our house that my dsd's do not have in theirs and i wouldnt change any of them. They have exceptional table manners now and know that grown up girls look nicer not slouched all over the table etc I was over the moon whan this was commented on in a restaurant. They look after their things because they are given pretty things at our house and they understand they have a bedtime because are loved and cared for. I give my son who is 9 a little independance nipping to the shop with a friend etc but apart from that they all have rules which they have to abide by. I have heard we don't do that at my mums/ dads and I just say in my house they are my rules and thats that. It may be easier for me cos mine are younger but what keeps me going (nagging grin) is the fact that i have put my best into helping them be the best they can be.....

Alishanty Sat 27-Sep-08 15:46:53

Hi we have the same problem with dsd (12 yrs). At her mums she can run wild, stay out late etc, has the house to herself as he mum is always in the pub. Obviously we have concerns re her safety but there's not much we can do when she's not with us. It is hard to say anything as she is very protective of her mum and lies if asked about her. We try not to say anthing negative about her mum as don't want to be accused of having a go at her. We have had her say she doesn't want to come to ours as it is too strict, meaning we have discipline in our house i.e. we expect manners, to be told what's going on and where she is and we expect her to tidy up after herself. We cannot be more relaxed around her as don't think this is fair on our other dcs. It is hard when we know we do alot more for her, clothe her, provide decent meals, take her places, none of which her mum does properly. The other day dp even had to write an absence note for when she was off sick at her mum's because the ex hadn't bothered and dsd was going to get into trouble. Dp has just said this is the way we do things here and risk her not coming round. She always comes round eventually. It is hard for him to see his dd being brought up this way though.

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