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Divorce and Children - Different Rules, Different Homes After Divorce

You're divorced and you have kids. How do youhandle different rules and discipline between mom's house and dad'shouse? Do you have any say about what goes on in the other parent'shome anymore?Here's how one of my readers expressed her frustration:"Mytwo children are with my ex every other weekend and they have a totallydifferent set of rules in his house than in mine. They stay up late,eat a lot of sugar, homework never seems to get done, and they have nodiscipline. When they get back to my house, my children are irritable,overtired and rude. They seem to take a full day before they settleback in. What can I do?"It's not uncommon for the difference inparenting styles between parents to become glaringly obvious afterseparation. Children, depending on their age, usually do experiencesome transition time to get used to the unique rhythms of eachhousehold.Ultimately, all you're really able to control is beingclear about the expectations you have for your children and beingconsistent with them. You have little control over what happens "overthere" at your ex-partner's house. (Unless there is reason to believeyour children's lives are being endangered, in which case you need tospeak to your ex and/or call the appropriate authorities).Withthe homework issue, for example, let your children know that they areresponsible for getting their own homework done in time for schoolregardless of whether they are at mom's or dad's house. Teach themabout the importance of good nutrition. Children figure out prettyquickly how to play one parent off the other, so let them know theyhave certain responsibilities they need to meet.You can also setup a discussion with your ex to discuss the transition between houses.Approach it with the intention of seeking cooperation. Always keep yourchildren's best interests in mind. After all, you're no longer marriedbut you'll always be parents so in the long-run you need to learn howto co-parent together.Leave any editorializing or judgment out.For example, "Aren't you paying any attention? These kids are crankyand running wild at your house!" is not likely to foster open dialogue.Befactual and describe what you see. Try something like, "When the kidscome back to my house, they appear overtired and don't have theirhomework done. They have a hard time getting to school the next day.How can we address this issue?" This opens the door to opencommunication and problem-solving.Remember, you must also beopen for feedback on what's going on at your house from your ex aswell. Part of having an effective communication with your ex includesyou listening.

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