Monday, May 10, 2010

What? Really? No Chores For Kids?

Each time my husband’s daughter comes to visit, it’s a fight. We live in another state and she stays with us for months at a time during her school vacations. With Spring Break coming up I’m anticipating yet another problem. For example, during her last visit I asked her clean her bathroom.Her father overheard me and chastised me for asking her to do chores when she’s visiting. He’s very protective of her and likes her to relax when she is with us. But, we can’t assign chores to those who live with us and not to those who live here part of the time.That doesn’t seem fair. What do you think?

Well you can, but we predict your family will break into factions—your side against his side—and, if that is the case, be prepared for the possibility of another divorce.It’s rare once family members take sides that the stepfamily stays in tact.

Non-custodial parents are often afraid if things are too tough around the house, their child will not want to return.We aren’t trying to paint the ultimate picture of doom.You can save it, but it’s going to take some backtracking and sincere dedication to the commitment your husband and you have made. This is when many say, “Of course, we are committed to each other. We got married!” But, that commitment often wanes when mom or dad thinks their child is being singled out or picked on.

The key word in your husband’s exclamation is visiting. Non-custodial parents are often afraid if things are too tough around the house, their child will not want to return. So, to ensure his daughter will want to come back, your husband likes her to feel like it’s a vacation when she comes to see him.It’s not uncommon in situations like this that parents start trying to bribe their kids with puppies or new bikes or the newest version of Rock Band in the hopes that the new stuff will keep them coming back. In his defense, he’s trying his best, but what he’s doing creates problems on many different fronts. First, his relationship with his daughter can stay stuck in the “visiting” mode and not progress to the deep father/daughter relationship we are sure both would like. Second, the obvious favoritism can cause animosity between your husband and the other children in the home, and between siblings as well. The other kids will reject her because they perceive that Dad likes her best, and they will reject him for the same reason. So by acting as you describe your husband is actually sabotaging his relationship with everyone—including his daughter--by openly favoring her. Best thing you can do at this point is get on the same page with Dad. Establish rules and treat all like family, and dad might look into counseling to help him conquer his insecurities associated with being a non-custodial parent.


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