I recently spoke with a client about how they can manage setting and enforcing the rules that they wanted in their home, when the other parent had clearly different rules and seemed to undermine their authority with the kids.

Their kids were always saying “we don’t have to do that at Daddy’s house, so we’re not going to do it here”. Conversely, it turns out the other parent was getting the same treatment.

You know the story. It could be simple, like what time they go to bed, how much XBOX, PlayStation they play, or TV they watch, or even whether they are allowed ‘junk’ food in your house. It doesn’t matter whose house they are staying in, they can always play the “other house” game.

Well, the reality is that the ground rules really do differ. They always did. It’s just that when you were together, you were more likely to back each other up, or the kids knew the ground rules better.

It’s still the same. Set the rules that you want. If your child needs you to explain them, then do so respectfully. Acknowledge that they may not understand why they are important to you, and say that they are. If you have been fighting about them, call like it is. Let them know that you don’t want to keep fighting and that this is important to you. Depending on your child’s age and personality, consider whether you need to explain in detail, negotiate a compromise or just tell them that this is what it is.

Parenting styles differ. I was lucky and had a child who needed to have things explained, and when I took the time, I generally got compliance. Sometimes it didn’t work that way, but it often did. Many of my friends and relatives thought I was crazy to explain things to a child, to talk to him as if he were a young adult, but I felt we both deserved better.

You know your child, your energy levels and your needs at any given time better than anyone else.

Say and do the best you can, and remember, sometimes you will stuff it up, and other times, it will be a breeze. And sometimes either way, you won’t know why.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences. Write your comments below.


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