silverswordMay 11, 2011

Between Bio-parents and Step-parents. Between the children of both. Between the rest of the family.

Most people I talk with say they most argue about money and kids. I would agree. Differences in parenting styles, in interpretation... one parent 'catching' what the child is doing while the other parent thinks it's 'nothing'. The child sensing weakness and exploiting it unconsciously (or consciously) just to see where the boundaries lie.

Here's an example of how tangled things can get.

DH had a hard evening home with DD. When I came home, DD was in trouble, DH said 'I don't want to talk about it, let's talk about it tomorrow'. Since I was tired and DD was already in bed, I agreed.

Tomorrow came. I picked DD up from school and we came home. She asked to go do homework with a friend. I said ok, but be back by 5pm. DH came home just as she was leaving and asked where she was going. He then told me that her punishment from the day prior was not to go to her friend's house. She agreed that she had made that agreement with him.

As BM, I overrode DH's authority. Here's why: I told DD that because DH and I had not communicated, and I had told DD she could go, that she could still go. But I told her that I did realize she tried to go around DH, and that doesn't work. So, her punishment of not going to the friend's house still stood, but the length of time would start that day, instead of the day prior. Still the same punishment.

DH agreed with that (albeit reluctantly).

DD went to her friends house. Later, I was walking down the driveway and saw them in the trees doing their work. I said hello and asked DD how her homework was coming. She said she had two rhyming pairs. I asked what she had. She said something like "surprise/dedise". I asked her what "dedise" meant. She said her teacher said she could make them up. I told her that even if that were true, I say she needs to use actual words. Goodness knows there are plenty to choose from.

She threw herself down and made disagreeable noises. DH came up behind me and said, "that's it, that's what we were talking about, it's time for you to go home".

When we got back to the house he explained that her attitude was so bad after leaving that girls house the other day that he told DD that until her attitude improved, consistently, that she couldn't go play there. (and I totally agree, this little girl talks to her parents horribly and is in general a little brat, IMO). As DH said, this is a good lesson for not letting the attitudes of other people/friends influence your behavior.

DD started yelling from her room "mom, I love you mom".

I walked back there. DH tried to stop me because he didn't know what I was doing.

I told DD that she made an agreement, then she tried to pit me against DH. I upheld my agreement with her, but the punishment still stood. Then after I went against DH's original punishment (usurped his authority as SF) she engaged in exactly the same behavior that got her in trouble in the first place. I love you, but this style of interaction is not acceptable. So don't call out "I love you mom" thinking I'm going to rescue you. You did this to yourself.

DH thanked me for backing him up. I apologized for going over him. He apologized for not making the punishment clear to me (because really, that's what started the whole thing).

All in all it took up the better part of two hours and a lot of diplomacy.

And we both realized that even after five years it is still so difficult to balance what we think is right with the kids against what the other adult thinks is right with the kids. And presenting a united front is really hard, especially if you don't agree with what the other person is saying.

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I see it worked for DH and you...but I would not have allowed DD to go. Just because DH and I may have not discussed the issue, my DD would have made the agreement with her Dad and the agreement was no going to friends. To me that would seem two, whatever got child in 'trouble' to begin with and two, trying to now ignore what Dad says/thinks.

Usually when my children/SS/grandchildren where/are in 'trouble' with either DH or I that other parent stayed out of it. Kinda like, 'I was not there, I did not set consequence and I will not 'save' you nor get in the middle'. If incident occurred while both of us were present then consequence was mutual agreement or delayed until DH and I figured it out...which might have meant 'go to your room until we discuss this'.

I'm not a believer in what I consider 'double punishment'. For example if child got in 'trouble' at school I would not then also give additional punishment for same offense at home. I would discuss incorrect behavior or whatever that happened at school with child, but not hand out additional consenquences. I guess I always thought of it as the child having to learn to respect others and in different circumstances than just me/us.

In your case of your DD, had she gotten out of house pre SF coming home, I would have asked SF to go and bring her home. If I had heard 'I love you Mom' floating down the hallway I would have either ignored the voice (unless continued on) and discussed it with her later...or replied something casual like 'nice try, but I do love you too'.

I don't think there's really any right or wrong answer here. It all of course would depend on the relationships and the individual households. Noody does things the same way...I think we all just ry to do things the best we can.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2011 at 2:27PM
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Nope, no right or wrong answer. Just showing the balance and how tricky it can be.

I felt weird about saying she could go, but then again, I wanted to show her what it was like to keep an agreement. Probably not the best time to give this lesson, but I'm far from perfect.

It ended well though. She understood how she put herself in the situation and how she caused the whole thing.

DH realized he set it up because he didn't tell me the punishment, so I made other plans with DD.

Since the other girl was waiting, and I had told DD yes (but she had to finish the 'hard' part of her homework first)... I let her go. Also, she had just come back from spring break with dad so hadn't seen any of her friends yet....

There's always a pebble that can throw off the balance.

It's not an issue that I need dissected as I'm comfortable with the way it went down and turned out as are DD and DH, but just to highlight how tricky it can be (especially if a person feels the Sparent is harsher than they would be...).

I often have to check my self because I think DH is being too harsh, then I realize she's just trying to play me.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2011 at 4:30PM
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Silver I don't know how I missed this post ... Lol but this really has been a problem for my Dh and I and probably the only problem we have ever had as parents/step father.
My dd is 10. How old is yours?

Dh doesn't think my punishments are harsh enough and sometimes I think he is TOO harsh. Like if something doesn't go right with dd he will say 'we are never going to that place again because you don't know how to act'
Well.. I say we don't go for a while but saying never and meaning it is too much. She's 10.
Or I will punish dd (I do all of the 'punishing' of dd) and I will say 'no outside tomorrow' and he says he remembers being punished for weeks. Well... Doesn't one or two days to a kid feel like weeks? Was he really grounded for 'week's' or did it just feel like weeks. Honestly sometimes I have a hard time believing DH was ever punished as a child ... Lol he was an only child and he was very spoiled. I haven't asked his parents but sometimes I want to call and ask, how long was he grounded? But I don't want to involve them just to prove a point.

I don't go in and rescue dd if Dh has said something but he thinks when I go to talk to her at all that I'm giving her the impression that I'm rescuing her. He doesn't punish her but he will correct her or say you have to stay in your room til mom comes home.. Well I have to go talk to her because I'm HOME now... But he thinks I should let her sit.

And sometimes it completely ruins our evenings together because he thinks I've let her off easy. I don't know what more I can do. Outside play and tv are literally the only things I could take away besides homework, food and sleep lol she doesn't really 'play' with things. No video games. So I don't know. I do the best I can but sometimes he doesn't agree that it was my best. On the other hand, like you said about your dd, just getting back from her dad's. Sometimes I feel dd is gone so much, harsh punishment and fighting isn't how I want to spend my few days that week on the same subject. I don't know. So hard to balance for sure.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 8:43PM
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My DH is, in alot of ways, the same. He takes things way to personally with DD. Admittedly she cries every single time we even remotely say something she doesnt like... but I, as her mom, can remember doing the same thing. I can remember (even as a teenager or an adult) wanting to have a serious conversation or .... well having any conversation that wasnt happy go lucky... crying...and I hated it (especially as a teenager). I wanted to be taken seriously but couldnt control my emotions and it pissed me off!! I try to tell Dh that perhaps she has the same issue (she doesnt want to cry but she cant control it) because I know it so well to heart but all he can see is her playing him and me.

But, at the same time... realizing this difference... I am able to relate to my skids better and what their bm might see differently. I try to take the lessons that I learn and apply them to my skids and my relationship with their BM... I mean it kills me that DH; at basically every single dinner, tells DD to slow down... but she is always the last one at the dinner table... How can you possible tell the slowest eater to slow down??? At the same time I take a step back and look at what he is seeing... she sits right by him (she likes to sit between dad and mom) and he sees her stuffing her face oh so quick in order to keep pace with teenagers. My first instinct is to take offense but then I realize if these were my skids and I was saying this infront of BM what would I expect her to see?! I mean she would be like "lay off"... and so I try to lay back and let them work it out.

If nothing else having my own husband whom I love and trust make me question things.. I am better able to see what BM might see without the understanding of I love this man and I know he means well...

    Bookmark   May 13, 2011 at 1:09AM
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My DD's 9 Myfam.

Thank you to both of you for realizing I wasn't asking for advice just posting an example of how crazy I feel in my head sometimes. I feel like the monkey in the middle. And I feel the same with DH and SD11 too.

It's not a big problem, just the same (dinner table manners issue/playing me/etc. ) that you both mentioned. I feel he's too harsh. And then I realize really I'm not harsh enough. I feel like I second guess him more than if he were her BD instead of SF. And then I remember how much I second guessed her BD when I was with him. Oops.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2011 at 1:36AM
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I get it. I think DH expects 'more' out of dd than he expects out of our son and I don't understand. Dd has exceptional table manners and I didn't teach her those. She was literally born with them. She has a HUGE pet peeve about other peoples bad eating habits... Well my son (almost 4) is an awful eater ... But my husband seems to pick on what she does... Drives me nuts.

So our kids are about the same age. A few months ... It's the 'funnest' of ages lol

'once a woman realizes her mother is right, she has a daughter who thinks she's wrong' lol

    Bookmark   May 13, 2011 at 6:21PM
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