You're divorced and you have kids. How do you handle different rules and discipline between mom's house and dad's house? Do you have any say about what goes on in the other parent's home anymore?

Here's how one of my readers expressed her frustration:

"My two children are with my ex every other weekend and they have a totally different set of rules in his house than in mine. They stay up late, eat a lot of sugar, homework never seems to get done, and they have no discipline. When they get back to my house, my children are irritable, overtired and rude. They seem to take a full day before they settle back in. What can I do?"

It's not uncommon for the difference in parenting styles between parents to become glaringly obvious after separation. Children, depending on their age, usually do experience some transition time to get used to the unique rhythms of each household.

Ultimately, all you're really able to control is being clear about the expectations you have for your children and being consistent with them. You have little control over what happens "over there" at your ex-partner's house. (Unless there is reason to believe your children's lives are being endangered, in which case you need to speak to your ex and/or call the appropriate authorities).

With the homework issue, for example, let your children know that they are responsible for getting their own homework done in time for school regardless of whether they are at mom's or dad's house. Teach them about the importance of good nutrition. Children figure out pretty quickly how to play one parent off the other, so let them know they have certain responsibilities they need to meet.

You can also set up a discussion with your ex to discuss the transition between houses. Approach it with the intention of seeking cooperation. Always keep your children's best interests in mind. After all, you're no longer married but you'll always be parents so in the long-run you need to learn how to co-parent together.

Leave any editorializing or judgment out. For example, "Aren't you paying any attention? These kids are cranky and running wild at your house!" is not likely to foster open dialogue.

Be factual and describe what you see. Try something like, "When the kids come back to my house, they appear overtired and don't have their homework done. They have a hard time getting to school the next day. How can we address this issue?" This opens the door to open communication and problem-solving.

Remember, you must also be open for feedback on what's going on at your house from your ex as well. Part of having an effective communication with your ex includes you listening.

Author's Bio: 

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