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The best way to handle someone elses children is to set expectations and stick to them. Ask for support from your husband to back you up. You must respect that you will not change their behavior overnight and that you can't set the boundaries at their mother's house.
The children are able to realize that you have expecations of behavior in your house that may be different from the expectations at their mother's house.
The number one thing to remember is not to engage in the power struggle. The expectations are yours to set. If they don't do what you want, don't engage the behavior in the moment, however when they need a lift to the movies or pocket money, set the boundary in that moment.
If they don't meet your expectation you have boundaries.
It is important that you attempt to set the expectations with your husband and that he supports you.
If the children are older, sit them down and explain your expectations to them in a calm clear manner and allow them to have input. The most important thing is to stick to those expectations once they are set.
If the children are younger, work with them a little more. Make doing chores into a game. Who is the quickest vaccumer? How can help me the most in a given week (sticker chart on fridge)? If they lie or are selfish they get a sticker removed.
A reward for the most stickers can be choosing the movie on Friday night or a trip to the library.
Setting clear boundaries of expectations is a difficult struggle for any parent and in your case it is compounded being a step mother, however once you have set those expectations the children will riase to them and be grateful that you set them.
I hope that I have offered some advice that can help you with your challenge. Just remember that love is a powerful tool use it with care...
should be... Who can help the most in a given week (sticker chart on fridge)? If they lie or are selfish they get a sticker removed.
I would like to help you with your question.
I understand the parenting challenge you have with these two children. That they have been influenced by a mother with the kind of issues you describe makes it quite difficult to reach them.
However, I would like to suggest a very wonderful parenting book for you: Parenting with Love and Logic by Foster Cline and Jim Fay. I believe this is one of the very best parenting books available. Their website is filled with wonderful tips and practical advice. Parenting with Love and Logic puts the parent in charge while putting an end to the kid(s) running the family.
I appreciate your comment that you have offered the kids love and understanding. Yes...that is the best way to be a positive influence in their life and provide the kind of foundation that will lead to a healthy relationship with you.
I can hear the frustration in what you have written. I can understand the dilemma of trying to parent two wild children who have not been raised with boundaries/rules/consequences.
What I am wondering about is how involved their father is and if he has a good understanding of how difficult parenting these children are given their mother's influence.
Are the two of you on the same page so that there is near seamless parenting going on? That is, that he backs what you say and vice versa?
While my best opinion is to use the Parenting with Love and Logic method, I also suggest you start weekly family meetings. The purpose would be to ensure communication between all members, model respect and care, allow the kids to have input into family life, and to build a team. Many families find this an effective way to bring the family together on a routine basis for problem-solving, accountability, and sharing.
Let me know what you think about this.