Adopted Children Have To Adapt To Drastically Different Rules
I was widowed and have raised my twin daughters, age 11, since they were a few months old. I have a parenting style that works well, with very little conflict and great results. While I let them develop their own interests and make their own choices, I'm very firm about what will not be permitted, such as things I don't consider age-appropriate (e.g. makeup), healthy (junk food) or useful (TV).
I think I've mostly struck a fair balance. For example, if my children want to watch a specific TV show, they can rent it, but we don't own a television and mindless channel surfing is not possible. I give them a generous allowance, but limit the types of things they can buy (books, art supplies, etc).
I rarely make an actual choice for them, but always limit the options. They are able to make decisions independently because the boundaries are clear and the rules don't change, and they don't need to constantly ask for my approval. I feel that micromanagement is not a good long-term strategy, since children need to learn how to solve their own problems and make good decisions.
I was briefly (less than a year) remarried when my children were toddlers. While I had no biological children from that marriage, my ex and I stayed good friends and I helped her financially. When she was diagnosed with cancer, she gave me guardianship of her children. She died a few months ago and I'm now the parent of three girls ages 10, 9, and 9, and a boy, 4.
My ex's parenting style was very loose. The children ate fast food most days, vegged out in front of the TV while in daycare or with babysitters, have no homework skills to speak of. It turns out they rarely completed homework before, and the girls have already formed habits of getting hair/nails done at salons and were allowed to wear makeup.
My ex also changed her mind often, so the children ask the same thing over and over, expecting that the answer might be different. They don't have an understanding that rules might be made based on some specific criteria (e.g., "No PG13-rated movies.") rather than on how tired or irritated the parent was at the time, so they are unable to predict my answer and don't understand that my answer will not change after I've had my morning coffee.
I firmly believe that my method is better. My twins are far ahead academically, while my younger children struggle compared to their peers. They don't enjoy books, were addicted to at least a dozen garbage TV shows, have memorized lyrics and dance moves to dozens of inappropriate pop songs (e.g., Tik Tok), and haven't learned to be independent about things like cleaning up after themselves or even basic hygiene routines. They didn't know they had to brush their teeth even if an adult didn't "make" them do it
. The need to micromanage their every move is driving me to the end of my patience, because I'm just not used to having to tell a 10 year old to do things like comb her hair.
As you can imagine, the changes have not been easy. While I've established my authority, I often hear (in a very mournful tone, and often said between the children rather than to me) that "Mommy wasn't so strict about this." or "We've always done this and it didn't hurt us." Although I have no intention of having different rules for different children, I find myself feeling a little guilty for forcing them to follow what must seem to them like very draconian rules.
I'm taking at least a year off work and I'm trying to make up for the strict rules by giving the children a lot of attention and help, but I think this goes over their heads due to their age, and they don't understand that time and attention are more valuable than TV and greasy hamburgers.
Do you think it was too harsh to make the changes all at once, without trying (at least for a while) to meet them half-way on things that their mother allowed and I forbid? Is there anything I can do to make the change in parenting styles easier or more understandable for them, without saying that their mother was wrong or a bad parent?
Problem Solving 4 Kids
Learn my 7 Step Problem Solving 4 Kids Process
A step by step guide to
teach your kids to be solution orientated.
- Your Stories
- Questions Answered
My Subscribers Get Freebies!
Let me know how I can support you to be an Awesome Parent!
Click N Kids would have to be one of my subscribers most popular programs, and from what they say, it is mostly because the kids have fun while they are learning. In fact they don't even realize they are learning! Click N kids are using the Looney Tune Characters now in their phonics program, which of course kids just love.