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Parenting Issues This forum is for discussing any of the parenting issues involved in your divorce, including parenting of step-children.

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  #1  
Old 06-30-2011, 02:27 PM
ForwardFromHere ForwardFromHere is offline
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Default Poor parenting - how do I bring it up with ex?

I feel that a lot of what my ex does with our children is, well, frankly, detrimental to their development. We have 2 boys, age 4.5 and 7.5.

Aside from the fact that mid-week each visit is a trip to some amusement park, and they are greeted with new toys and gifts each weekend (I bite my tongue), he gives them whatever they want, whenever they want it, just to avoid the negative behaviour from them. He and his live-in girlfriend have this parenting system where they "divide and conquer", in order to avoid conflict between the boys. I feel sibling rivalry is extemely important to their development, especially at this early age, as it teaches them conflict resolution and communication skills they will use later in life (and presently, since my eldest had an issue with bullying at school this year). Both boys have told me that they don't play with each other when they are at their father's, and I do notice that when they come back home, the rivalry is extreme because they have not had interaction with each other.

Another thing I've noticed is since I am a single mother (no significant other living with us or that is involved in parenting), I find it very difficult to explain to the kids that when they are at home with me, and I am talking to one child, the other has to wait his turn. They are very impatient and rude with their interrupting, as there is not that other adult to attend so instantly and accomodatingly as when they are at their father's. The 4.5yo specifically has issues with this, which in my opinion is more of a 2-3yo issue, and even his teacher has brought it up. I feel they are both developing this horrible sense of entitlement. It needs to be stopped now.

He treats them like babies. He carries them to the car, puts their shoes on for them, does up their coats (even does these things for the 7yo), stopping the car to give hugs to the 4yo because he is crying because the 7yo called him stupid....he does not require any responsibility from them at all, and coddles them. Once the kids told me that they don't sit at the table for dinner, that they watch tv and "Daddy calls us when it's time to come have another bite." Their sleep patterns are getting messed up because he/they will sleep with them when they wake up in the night. I worry my children are going to grow up to be pussies and get beat up on the playground!

I have tried to explain to the boys that I realize things are different at their father's, but at home there are certain behaviours expected of them. That I know over there they don't have responsibilities such as bedtimes, homework or getting ready for school, tidying up, helping with chores.....that everything over there is fun and games, but that the real world is full of responsibilities. It's funny to think it will be their MOTHER and not their father that will help them grow up to be responsible, respectful, strong men!!

I have no problem being the disciplinarian, it is my job as a parent to prepare them for what they will face in the real world, but when he is being more of a best buddy than a parent and essentially teaching them that life is an amusement park where they can have anything they want and somebody will always do everything for them, it is affecting their behaviour and development, I am thinking I need to approach him about it.

With the summer vacation now here, I'm concerned that these issues will get worse as they will be spending more time with their father. I feel I have my work cut out for me, for sure. I don't want to spend ALL my time with my kids correcting their behaviour, I'd like to have a little fun with them this summer.

*sigh*

Any constructive advice is welcome!
  #2  
Old 06-30-2011, 03:01 PM
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My constructive advice - what he does at his house is his business. He doesn't tell you how to parent, and he should expect the same in return.

The issue with the divid and conquer is probably you reading into things. Unless he has outright said he does it, it is more likely each adult in the house taking responsibility with the kids. If the kids really wanted to play with each, they will.

Stopping the car to deal with a crying child is showing compassion and putting his children's emotional state as a priority. I know if I didn't tend to my daughter when she is upset she has a tendancy to vomit, which she can't control.

The gifts are probably him over compensating for not being around. Guilt gifts. But again, how he spends his money is his business.

If you are finding issues with your children and the inconsistancies in parenting styles, I would suggest to him that you all attend family counselling as you see your children having issues adjusting from house to house. Aside from that, not much you can or should say to your ex.

Not all parents will parent the same way and there is no one right way.
  #3  
Old 06-30-2011, 03:15 PM
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Yeah... I don't see you having much luck with this.
If you and Dad are on good enough terms - you can certainly approach him with your concerns. If you're not doing so good together maybe try writing him a VERY polite letter outlining your concerns.
But ultimately - his parenting style is his, and there's not much you can do about it.

What you can do - is reiterate to the children that they have 2 homes. And when they are at your home your rules must be followed. My boy is 6, and well aware that rules vary between homes.
  #4  
Old 06-30-2011, 04:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ForwardFromHere View Post
I feel that a lot of what my ex does with our children is, well, frankly, detrimental to their development. We have 2 boys, age 4.5 and 7.5.

Aside from the fact that mid-week each visit is a trip to some amusement park, and they are greeted with new toys and gifts each weekend (I bite my tongue), he gives them whatever they want, whenever they want it, just to avoid the negative behaviour from them. He and his live-in girlfriend have this parenting system where they "divide and conquer", in order to avoid conflict between the boys. I feel sibling rivalry is extemely important to their development, especially at this early age, as it teaches them conflict resolution and communication skills they will use later in life (and presently, since my eldest had an issue with bullying at school this year). Both boys have told me that they don't play with each other when they are at their father's, and I do notice that when they come back home, the rivalry is extreme because they have not had interaction with each other.

Another thing I've noticed is since I am a single mother (no significant other living with us or that is involved in parenting), I find it very difficult to explain to the kids that when they are at home with me, and I am talking to one child, the other has to wait his turn. They are very impatient and rude with their interrupting, as there is not that other adult to attend so instantly and accomodatingly as when they are at their father's. The 4.5yo specifically has issues with this, which in my opinion is more of a 2-3yo issue, and even his teacher has brought it up. I feel they are both developing this horrible sense of entitlement. It needs to be stopped now.

He treats them like babies. He carries them to the car, puts their shoes on for them, does up their coats (even does these things for the 7yo), stopping the car to give hugs to the 4yo because he is crying because the 7yo called him stupid....he does not require any responsibility from them at all, and coddles them. Once the kids told me that they don't sit at the table for dinner, that they watch tv and "Daddy calls us when it's time to come have another bite." Their sleep patterns are getting messed up because he/they will sleep with them when they wake up in the night. I worry my children are going to grow up to be pussies and get beat up on the playground!

I have tried to explain to the boys that I realize things are different at their father's, but at home there are certain behaviours expected of them. That I know over there they don't have responsibilities such as bedtimes, homework or getting ready for school, tidying up, helping with chores.....that everything over there is fun and games, but that the real world is full of responsibilities. It's funny to think it will be their MOTHER and not their father that will help them grow up to be responsible, respectful, strong men!!

I have no problem being the disciplinarian, it is my job as a parent to prepare them for what they will face in the real world, but when he is being more of a best buddy than a parent and essentially teaching them that life is an amusement park where they can have anything they want and somebody will always do everything for them, it is affecting their behaviour and development, I am thinking I need to approach him about it.

With the summer vacation now here, I'm concerned that these issues will get worse as they will be spending more time with their father. I feel I have my work cut out for me, for sure. I don't want to spend ALL my time with my kids correcting their behaviour, I'd like to have a little fun with them this summer.

*sigh*

Any constructive advice is welcome!
He sounds like a very attentive parent who just happens to parent quite a bit differently than you do. Perhaps he feels you're too hard on them and he is trying to think of how to broach the subject of telling YOU how to parent. Neither way is right and neither is wrong, they're just different.

Although I must say that I know sooooo many people who wish their spouses/ex spouses would be so attentive and involved with the kids. I know a tonne of parents who would be thrilled to have this as their biggest 'issue' with the other parent.
  #5  
Old 06-30-2011, 05:02 PM
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We are not on bad terms by any means. And it's not that I want to tell him HOW to parent, I just want him TO PARENT. Children require limitations and discipline, they thrive on it. It is his job, it's not supposed to be easy. I don't feel he is doing his job. And I must disagree about what happens at his house is his business. What happens with OUR kids, is both of OUR business, no matter where it happens. To think otherwise is just a poor attitude. I should've made it clear in my first post, that this is not an issue between my ex and I, it's an issue concerning our kids. I'm not reading anything into anything. Everything above is fact.

Thank you, wretchedotis, this is what I feared, that my only choice may be to educate my children about the differences between the households. I had one divorced parent tell me that all I can do is be consistent in my home, and know that one day they will realize the benefits they received from my parenting and respect me for it. I fear they will grow up and wish they had had a father, not just a buddy. Don't get me wrong, I know that they are lucky to have a father that spends time with them, but, I just wish he would teach them things instead of just giving them things, so-to-speak. I hope to be lucky enough to one day be with someone who will provide a good father figure for them to learn about life from.

I was thinking about writing an email to him, asking if we could open up this topic without conflict, and welcome any suggestions or concerns he has about what happens when the boys are home. I just fear it coming across as confrontational to him, and was hoping for suggestions on how to word it so that it comes across as 'our' issue and not 'his' issue. Or perhaps hear from any other single moms with similar issues?

I will also look into family counselling for sure. What if he refuses? Can I have that put into the sep. agreement?
  #6  
Old 06-30-2011, 05:21 PM
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No point in counselling unless BOTH sides are willing to compromise and it doesn't sound like that's likely at all.
  #7  
Old 06-30-2011, 05:23 PM
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Make no mistake. It will appear confrontational.
Would you approve of him telling you that your parenting skills are lacking? Regardless of how politely it was worded?

I think your best bet is to leave well enough alone.

As for seperation agreement - you can put anything and everything you can imagine in it. That doesn't mean it will be followed, however.
  #8  
Old 06-30-2011, 05:40 PM
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I would approve of him bringing up anything he felt was a concern about our children. He has raised concerns with me before: the kids playing with their cousins since my sister's smokes (only outdoors), and the fact that I let them watch Jurassic Park for movie night one night. He felt they were too young, but it's one of their favorites. But I can't imagine him saying to me, "Hey, lighten up on the discipline, would ya'? The kids are too damned well-behaved and polite when they come over here. And maybe you could do more for them, they are too independent and we like to spoon feed them here." (joking).

I guess what I am also hoping is to avoid this causing an issue between us by not discussing it. Currently we are getting along fine, but if I end up with growing resentment from consistent behavioral issues with regards to lack of discipline, it's bound to cause friction between us. I was hoping to 'nip it in the bud'.
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Old 06-30-2011, 06:05 PM
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Even in homes with two still-married parents...most couples have parenting styles. I still remember my mom with the "wait until your dad gets home" speech.

Its normal...and its not a big deal. I would try to send a polite note just outlining the school issues with your one child and simply asking him to monitor it while they are at his house. You'll have to find a method to do this going forward anyway in the event that there are any types of issues at the school. But it sounds like he and his partner are spending lots of time with the kids. So basically, I'd relax...take a deep breath.

Eventually, as your kids grow, I'm suspecting they'll learn they can get away with stuff at his house that they can't get away with at yours. Kids do this in every situation...they test the boundaries and act accordingly. Again, its normal.

My stbx enjoys jerking my daughters awake for school at the crack of dawn by yelling at her "GET UP!!!". Both my kids take after me and HATE being shocked out of their sleep. I've always had a slower method for getting them going in the morning. And correspondingly, they give him a really shitty time in the morning, whine, grump, etc and actually take longer to get ready. With me, they're happy and I can talk to them and get them ready more efficiently. If he wants to listen to them be cranky in the morning...whatever, his problem.

I'd honestly just find a method to communicate school issues without being controlling, confrontational or assuming that you're right or that you know what goes on at his house. Your boys are small and kids make a lot of crap up. And same as what another poster said...Its his house....he's a father and gets to make parenting decisions...that's how it goes.

For some people, the hardest thing about divorce is moving from "control" to "compromise" since they couldn't figure it out when they were still married. Not saying that's what's going on with you at all..you sound like an excellent mother but you do have to realize that approaching anything with your ex-spouse now requires careful tact.

By the way, for whatever reason your spouse buys gifts for your kids...I'd be glad. I know so many men that won't be a damned thing for their kids because they're paying child support. That he's doing it and that his new partner is even helping with your boys is a really good thing.

Good luck and best wishes to you and your children!
  #10  
Old 06-30-2011, 06:19 PM
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Thank you, PH. Everything you've said makes perfect sense, and I agree with.

I've been listening to the kids this afternoon, their interactions, and their fights, wondering...Can it be completely coincidental that this happens the day after they come home from their father's everytime? Then I was outside at the BBQ thinking more about their conflicts, and now I'm wondering how much of this is only our youngest child. When I think about it, our oldest is very responsible, and it does more often seem to be the youngest causing the issues. He does have some VERY minor developmental issues from being born premature, maybe I just need to bring it up with my ex that we need to work together on his behaviour and development. If at least, I think I may have just found my way of opening the conversation without it being confrontational!!
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