parenting differences

I had an old friend recently move in with my family to help her and her own family out. I knew from the beginning there would be some issues but wanted to help her move back to our state like she had been wanting for some time. She is a single parent with a couple kids who works full time and is frequently tired and irritable, which usually means the kids are angrily dealt with or allowed to run wild.

I have a bit of a problem with anxiety and hyper vigilance which I fully acknowledge but sometimes have trouble recognizing in the moment. Because of this I usually don’t speak up right away when I feel something is wrong so that I can take some time to evaluate a situation and be sure the problem isn’t really my own. So I just wanted some advice on how best to deal with a few things and/or get a wake up call that I may be overreacting or reading too deeply into something. This has already gotten long so I’ll try to be brief.
-I watch one of her kids every day during the week morning to evening without pay or even gratitude or acknowledgement of it. I feel like its interfering with my time with my own child. Not to mention if I want to do something special I have to take her child along, pay for their things and never get paid back by the mother.
-I am a stay at home mom after years of being a single mom in exactly the situation shes in now (working all the time, barely having time for kids), but largely without roommates to help with bills and babysitting and she treats me like I’m lazy, undeserving of my new status, and owe her since I don’t work.
-The main thing I take issue with is that I feel like I can’t trust her to follow my rules for my child when she watches her. Which has only been a few times and there were problems each of these instances. She is very lax with her kids for the most part and has openly told me that she thinks the rules I set for my child are too strict and letting my child break those rules isn’t a big deal. Things like letting her watch tv during the week (I only allow it on the weekends and then only 2 hours max a day so she learns to manage her time and entertainment) or drinking or eating things with artificial sweeteners. Also, the only time I asked her to watch the child during the school week I asked her to be sure to check her homework as she had been struggling in school and it turns out she didn’t even glance at it and it irked me for her to get 70’s on homework assignments that could have been prevented. It IS a big deal to me and I’m appalled that she doesn’t respect my wishes on how I choose to raise my child. I’m at the point that I don’t want to have any responsibility over her kids nor her mine. Any advice is greatly appreciated and I can provide more examples if needed.

4 thoughts on “parenting differences

  1. DavidIsGreat says:

    [This relationship, like any other, is about give and take. Not knowing any more than what you’ve given, it sounds like you probably shouldn’t be watching each other’s kids. You feel it’s interfering with your life and she doesn’t really want to follow the rules for your kid. Unless you both are able to come to a suitable middle ground, you probably should find somebody else that will.

    Child care is expensive and that sucks, but there might reason to think about hiring some help.

  2. New User 46053 says:

    [Thank you for your comment. I think you’re right about other options being considered. I didn’t realize how resentful I had become until I looked at what I had written. Even at this moment I am missing out on a weekend with my husband and in laws because she is on call and asked me to stay. Pretty much every time she asks me to watch her kids I say yes because she complains about how she doesn’t have anyone else to do it. Which actually isn’t true, she just has to pay for it with the other person she knows. I guess I am finding it to be too much pressure and at a frequency that I’m not comfortable with. I don’t really need her to babysit my child as I have others who can do that if I need it so it is all mainly for her benefit. I only recently started asking her to reciprocate with watching my child sometimes and that’s when this other stuff with her thumbing her nose at my wishes started. I hate that I feel this way, but in the past I feel that I have been a little too helpful and accommodating with others and have been taken advantage of. I am trying to strike a healthy balance but now I’m wondering if my resentment at this point is tipping the scales into selfish asshole territory.

  3. Dennis Hong says:

    [I don’t even think this is an issue of strict versus lax parenting issue. To me, this is an issue of guest versus host. She’s living in your house. Therefore, she should be abiding by your rules. It doesn’t matter if she disagrees with your parenting style. It’s not her right to dictate to you how you should be parenting in your own home.

    Anyway, I’m not a parent, so obviously take my opinion with a grain of salt. But, I do feel like if you address this as an issue of her being a guest in your home, then you can sidestep the argument over who’s a better parent.

    So, say something like, “Look, we obviously have very different styles of parenting. I’m not going to dictate to you how you parent. Nor do I expect you to dictate to me how I parent. I’m not here to argue who’s right or wrong. However, when you are staying in my home, we go by my rules. Likewise, when I visit your home (hopefully one day soon), I will of course abide by your rules.”

  4. AKchic says:

    [I’m a parent and I’ve allowed friends to stay with me periodically (with their kids) to move on to bigger and better (hopefully) on a temporary basis. I’ve also allowed single friends to stay with me.

    I am strict with my kids. Some call me the drill sergeant. Like you, they get no tv on the weekdays, and certainly no caffeine and I don’t allow candy in the house. Chores must be done before they are allowed to play, and if they dare run in the house, or stomp, they have to come back and walk again until they get it right. Soaping the mouth for backtalk, and spankings for serious infractions (trying to choke a brother after accusing him of cheating at super nintendo because you didn’t win because you’re the oldest? Yeah, no more video games after that incident – all game systems are locked up in my gun cabinet and have been for the last 6 months). Video games only during school breaks. You get the idea.

    If this person doesn’t respect your parenting rules, then she can’t baby-sit your kids. Period. Sure, having someone living with you makes it easy to consider her a built-in baby-sitter, but as you said, you can remember what it was like to be a single parent, working full time and then coming home to kids. Try to see how she feels on this. She works all day and comes to YOUR home with YOUR rules. She is depressed, stressed out, and (hopefully) trying to save up as much money to get out of your house as soon as possible. The last thing she wants to do is watch your kids with your rules because she’s unaccustomed to them at best, at worst, because she feels (however wrongly, just thanks to the Mommy-wars syndrome) that it’s a judgement on her own parenting skills (or lackthereof). So, she lashes out a bit with passive aggressive remarks.
    You may be friends, but housemates isn’t the best thing for the two of you. Or your kids.

    It is time to establish WHEN she will be moving. A timeline (however long or short) must be established. You do not need to know her finances, nor need to be the keeper of her books. You just need to let her know that living together is making the both of you tense, which is putting a strain on your friendship, which is worrying you. That it’s not what you had intended when you offered her and her children a place to stay. That some boundaries need to be set, and a general timeline needs to be established. Then set up boundaries as far as parenting. She is a guest, yes, but she is also a tenant. You are a landlord/host. It is your home and your parenting rules that should be established for YOUR children. She can do what she likes with her kids, but only so much that she does it within the confines of her space with her children. If you are feeding her kids, then they will have to follow the same dietary rules because you aren’t a diner.
    If you can’t afford to pay for her child(ren) to go out with you and yours, then don’t take the child(ren) with you. Stop asking her to baby-sit. Get a baby-sitter. Seriously. She isn’t your live-in nanny. She needs time to rest and recoup from her daily stresses.
    I have no doubt that she is feeling jealous of your good fortune. I’m not saying it’s rational, I’m just stating facts. She’s having a hard time adjusting to the fact that you two used to be in similar situations and now you are doing better than her and it makes her realize that her choices have made her practically a beggar who can’t support her child(ren) without help. It’s depressing/demoralizing for a woman, for a mother.
    Set boundaries, be sympathetic, but set a timeline for her own financial independence. No more using her as daycare unless you pay her, which then sets the precedence that she will be paying you for childcare as well. Also, get into some volunteer work that will make you BUSY outside of the house so you can’t baby-sit all the time so she’ll have no alternative but to find other daycare options.

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