My Rules vs Her Rules: Single Parent Problems


I’m a single dad of two boys. I’ve been that way since before my youngest was born. My oldest was only 2 so neither of them remember a time when their parents were together. For them it’s always been “Mom’s house” or “Dad’s house”. The split up wasn’t a beautiful thing, as most aren’t as you can imagine, and the two of us have butted heads on more then one occasion. However, it has never spilled out in front of the kids and we do our best to always put their needs first. Over the years all ill will has faded away and now we are completely neutral towards each other. We have now become somewhat of a successful split-parenting unit.

That being said we don’t always see eye-to-eye on every single little thing and the kids have sorta developed a “mom’s rules/dad’s rules” mentality. Nothing major but we do things differently and see things on different levels of appropriateness. I don’t allow food or drink in the living room, she does. I strictly enforce a “clean up after yourself” rule, she’s more lax. She restricts certain tv programs, I allow them. She believes “everything that comes out of the freezer is bad for you”, while mine is stocked full of all sorts of frozen delights. It’s all in the point of view really.

However, we differ greatly in their punishments. More often then not the punishment doesn’t carry over from one house to the other. So all they have to do is wait it out till they switch and they’re in the clear. I would drop them off with an explanation of the “crime” and the corresponding punishment only to find out later that she blew it off. Likewise, when she gives me the same… I may have every intention of following it… but then I don’t. Maybe I didn’t agree with the severity, maybe they’re on their best behavior and I feel they deserve a temporary pardon… either way they always seem to get away with it.

Are they bad kids? Not even close. Could they use a little more uniform structure between houses? I don’t know, it probably couldn’t hurt. But then I think to myself: ┬áboth of their parents are very much involved with every aspect of their lives and that’s something you definitely don’t see every day.