I see lots of blogs about motherhood to babies and toddlers but not many for teenagers and especially those for mums that don’t live with their kids, how do you raise kids that don’t live with you full time? How do you deal with different parenting styles to those of your ex partners? It’s a struggle, in all honesty.
I am very lucky with my ex husband and his partner we all parent on the same page and we all agree on any steps that need to be taken and never had a conflict, we all get on so well both about the kids welfare and as friends, myself and my ex husband (Edwardo) have always been ‘kids are your kids and not your friend’ kind of parents, we’ve always been strict with bedtimes when they were younger (from about the age of 16 onwards as long as they are in bed at a decent time school nights, weekends aren’t so strict), bath time routines etc (of course they are teenage boys now and don’t always want to grace the bath with their bodies lol) and just general parenting, of course we got it wrong and still sometimes get it wrong even now but my boys know their limits and know not to go too far, since they got older and older the ‘banter bus’ had been appearing more and more and while they do take the mickey out of one another, we draw the line at other kids, us parents and other elders because there is no need for it. My youngest son doesn’t really get banter because of his autism, he tries but sometimes comes across a bit rude in the process but we let him know it’s not appropriate.
But how do you deal with parenting someone else’s child and how do you deal with parenting someone else’s child when your styles are so far apart? Well as I found out, dancing to your own beat while they are with you and even though it might annoy you that there doesn’t appear to be any routine (I guess with so much ‘autism and routine’ in my own family I find it hard when there doesn’t seem to be any in my ‘other’ family) you have to let it slide, unless the child is in danger (which they aren’t) you have to accept that there is a different style of parenting to you out there.
I found it very difficult at the start with my step kids as any kind of routine was alien to them, I mean they had it with their dad but being a single man on his own he didn’t really have much guidance and kind of lost his way a little bit, when I first met them they were in bed so early when they stayed but I suggested increasing it to a little later (8.30pm and 9pm for a nine and ten year old wasn’t late enough still apparently according to their mum, any later to bed and we found them to be very tired the next day), my step son had very little ‘skills’ because it’s always been easier just to do everything for him like tie his shoelaces etc, it’s been a long road but he does these things now, using a knife and fork during dinner was another one that seemed a bit lost on them, sitting at a table without the tv on, taking your plates out to the kitchen when you were done, so many other things that I don’t wish to go into as it’s more personal but these little things were lacking and I think slowly but surely we have turned corners that I don’t think their dad could quite believe. There are things my step son refuses point blank to do with his mum but when he comes to us he does it quite happily and that’s not out of ‘fear’ it’s because it’s routine, bath then bed. It’s not their mums fault either, I am not bashing her parenting because everyone’s styles are different, we do what works for us and she does what works for her, if it doesn’t work for her, we can only guide her in the right direction but if she chooses not to follow the advice then this has nothing to do with us, the same applies to her giving us advice, if we feel it wouldn’t work then we don’t do it. we have been accused of being too strict when it comes to dinner time and bedtime in the past but one of the key things as a parent it’s important for a child to have variety in their diet and it’s important to have enough rest of the next day.
Take eating habits with my step son has very odd eating habits and I know odd habits having two sons with ASD but the habits he has picked up over the years is from other people and not from any kind of fear with food, my sons can tell me why they don’t like certain foods which they have tried and don’t like, my step son won’t even try a heck a lot of food let alone tell me the reason why he doesn’t like it, usually because someone else doesn’t like it. We have had times where he has cried because he doesn’t want to eat carrots for example but even though we tell him to eat them first he always leaves them to last, he likes them he just doesn’t have them often enough and by the time I do them again he has forgotten they aren’t actually that bad, while he has learnt to eat some new things I have also learnt that there is some foods he will not touch and I know not to give them to him, which is fine but I’ve never been one to cook loads of different meals and as we are on a diet I find myself cooking different meals all the time now for him, I have to be careful on the spice and certainly no sauces of any description, even though he likes pizza and pasta sauces he will not go near ketchup.
We were talking the other day about an experience he had with a friend on her birthday, they had ordered a take away and he will only eat nuggets from this take away but when they pulled away and got home instead of three lots of nuggets and a hamburger they got one lot of nuggets and three burgers, my step son had a meltdown about not being able to have chicken nuggets the birthday girl had to give away her food so he could eat, I asked him was that the right thing to do as it was her birthday and she had something to eat she didn’t really want and he replied ‘I don’t like burgers’, even if they scrapped the stuff off he still wouldn’t eat it and he refused to eat a sandwich the other week as my husband had chopped some cucumber on the chopping board and even though he hadn’t tasted he sandwich he said he could smell it, even though the board has been wiped down, we’ve been to breakfast at a family members once and they had spent all morning cooking breakfast for him only to eat cereal and I am absolutely shitting myself at Christmas as we are out for lunch and I know it’s going to be a battle with him, even just to eat a roast potato for example. When I met him he would only eat nuggets, sausages, the inside of pizza and sandwiches (not the crusts) and pasta or noodles, to me this diet wasn’t going to help him in the long run, while sauces aren’t important having vegetables etc are important and he does eat more now and has tried a few dishes but sadly because he doesn’t have them often enough the next time I do it, he will refuse to eat the dish for a while and then says ‘this is really nice’.
So part time parenting can be hard when the other parents style is so different but you just have to get on with it your way, as long as no harm is coming to the child and even if it’s only 4 times a month they get routine or they get a chance to chill out if they have too much routine at home, you keep rocking it your way, as long as their is cuddles and kisses along the way you’re doing it right.