As a bonus parent the time will come when you will have to set the boundaries between homes. It is unrealistic to expect the rules and routines to be the same in both households. Based off of the living situation, for example, if bio mom is single and working full time while the kids are in daycare and bio father has a significant other helping with childcare, it is impossible to assume that we are all doing things the same way. My kids bio mom is single, working full time, and the kids are in daycare. Additionally she is very passive about their behaviors. As my 5 year old likes to inform me, “mom doesn’t do anything, she just tells us to go to our room”. In reality it is probably that she is tired from the day and doesn’t have the energy or will power to really address any situation.
Carlos and I are fairly strict, if you could call it that. For me, I value peace and order in the home and I believe it’s important for children to have respect for their parents and authority over them. In short, we don’t send them to their room for misbehaviors. Depending on the situation, we discuss with them what they did wrong and then escalate as needed from there.
It’s very important, as early on as possible, to establish the boundaries of the other household in your home. Carlos and I had a recent incident where bio mom disagreed with certain disciplines and then tried to create an issue about it involving the kids. The issue was taken care of pretty quickly since frankly it wasn’t the discipline that was the issue as much as it was who was doing the disciplining.
When the kids returned to us I felt it was very important that they understand where the line is between homes. I explained to them that mommy has her own rules at her house and daddy and I have our own rules at our home. While there are no secrets to what goes on in our home, they are more than welcome to inform their mother they were disciplined, that’s not going to change how they are disciplined. Mommy does not live here and therefore mommy does not make the rules or decisions for this house.
Often times the bio mom will try to push her opinion into your home because she feels that you are irrelevant as an outsider, and since they are not your children you don’t get to have a say in anything. This is where she is very wrong. As I have informed my kids bio mom, I am responsible for the boys when they are in my custody and that requires a form of authority if I am to maintain their safety. As hard as it may seem, try not to take these things personally. I always have to remind myself that it wouldn’t matter if it were me or someone else, these problems would still be problems. Either way, you are still entitled to live your own life and run your own home - no matter who is staying there.
I say so many times how important it is to remember that as a bonus parent, your life does not become irrelevant or insignificant because two other people decided to have children. My life is still important, my happiness is still important and my peace it still important. This means that, in my home, I will have rules set in place to maintain peace and happiness with everyone who lives here. The only other person who impacts any changes will be Carlos, not bio mom. This goes the other way as well, I may not agree with bio mom’s methods for discipline or daily routines but I respect that she has her own life separate from us and she is free to run her own home how she chooses to.
It is a long never ending struggle being a bonus parent. If you have had to deal with situations like this yourself, or are dealing with them now - stay encouraged - stay strong - you’re doing a great job! :)
Photo By: Toa Heftiba