Children are often smarter than we give them credit for, especially when it comes to learning the in’s and outs of their family. For children, learning how to get what they want isn’t a deliberate attempt at circumventing the rules but rather a simple “want and achieve” mentality that will help them set goals in the future. Unfortunately, many couples struggle to set aside their differences and adapt one unique family set of rules (where the same rules apply at both households). By deciding to work together as a unified front with your ex, you’ll help your children understand that despite being in different households, both parents are equally involved in the decision-making process.
Same Rules with Same Consequences
Work with your partner to establish similar rules within both households for the children; this will help the kids understand that despite having two homes, the same rules are expected to be followed. This is especially true for those trying to push limits or boundaries. Determine a fair set of rules that must be followed and discuss any punishments for breaking the rules. Likewise, discuss whether punishment will be transferred to both households (if lost at mom’s its gone at dad’s too).
Understand the Different Dynamic in the Home
Many times the primary partner (the individual with the most time) gets frustrated by a limited number of rules being followed at the other parent’s household. While it’s true this can be confusing to the children, it’s also important to remember that you ultimately have no control at the other home. Loss of privileges isn’t fair to enforce at another home – much like you wouldn’t want your time being dictated either. Try to come up with a fair decision between the two of you.
Have Meetings with the Children Periodically
Appear as a united front when it matters most – parenting your children. Take the time to get along with your ex (as much as you believe they don’t deserve a second glance) to limit the stress and anxiety your children feel. It’s important that you can both appear at school or family functions and work out compromise in the future. By working together, you can both have a clear and transparent understanding of their current behavior, education, and development. By being on the same page, your children will be less likely to play the, “I can do it at mom/dads house!” card – leaving less manipulation and deceit as a result.