Blended family parenting

As part of my NY resolutions, you may have seen that I have to work on being a better person in the home – with the kids and with the lovely. The last few months since we have been back have been quite challenging. There have been more fights about the kids, and with the kids, and I currently feel very blocked and out of control. Advice from friends who have blended families said focus on backing each other up and putting your relationship first, as well as picking your battles.

You’d think all of this would be easy – it is but it isn’t.

Part of my issue comes with enforcing assistance and device times. If we have rules and jobs for the kids (now just including my daughter and the lovely’s two youngest), then should we not enforce them? What is the point of having a rule if we aren’t going to? The lovely is not convinced about this. She is probably right in that I want a Utopia! However, in a house of seven people, it’s not unreasonable to ask that everyone contribute.

Plenty of parenting experts say that mastery of basic tasks is important to children’s independent development. What they don’t say is how bloody painful and annoying it is to enforce that mastery as parents! That’s it though, that’s the job. I’m sure some relinquish it as too hard, creating people who feel entitled or can’t cope (or both). We’re not wanting to be that parent or guardian.

The lovely and I have different parenting styles, although similar in many ways. We both value manners, responding to requests and minimal fighting. With my daughter, I’m more likely to get distracted after requesting a task be done (and not follow up). With her kids, the lovely is more likely to do tasks on their behalf. We both are hard on each other’s children (although there is also an overlaying complication with the relationship between the lovely and my Asperger traits daughter not discussed here).

So, do we have job lists and device times or don’t we? We’ve tried several different variations of helping, each with an explanation about why it’s important. Still they fight about who’s getting off the couch to empty the dishwasher, point blank refuse (a huge trigger for me), delay or only do half the job. Completely what kids do but also a constant drain when it’s at least three of them doing it all the time!

We are about to embark on another version – this time with only minimal device time restrictions and the tasks for the week all falling on the one person. We only have to follow up one person and enforce two device times, not six. If that person doesn’t perform, they get a device time penalty which we have yet to finalise.

Will it work? What is the purpose? The lovely is not convinced it will achieve the harmony and assistance we require.

Purpose – contribute to the household so that everyone living here has a clean, safe and peaceful place to live and enjoy.

For me the goals are to help the kids:

  1. learn about tasks that will assist them to manage their own house
  2. learn about time management
  3. free up adult time for other household activities
  4. develop an appreciation of the work it takes to run a functioning household – this is probably unrealistic of me. I’m not sure I ever really got that as a child who had ‘chores’ to do of how little my contribution was to the overall scheme of things that my parents (mother especially) did to run the house. In fact you probably never really appreciate it until you are doing everything yourself, or even everything for yourself and a partner. So let’s scrap that one!

So will it work? Stay tuned!

Wishing you all the happiness the Universe can bring,

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