It can be difficult when you have set limits in place that other parents don’t recognize, such as caps on television time or sweets. When your children spend time with parents who don’t respect those limits, it can be difficult to enforce the rules.
Here’s how you can manage other parents who break your rules so that your limits won’t be undermined:
Clearly Explain Your Rules
Sometimes, a misunderstanding is at the heart of the problem. Most parents will respect your rules so long as they know what they are. If you hear adults swearing in front of your kids, or you feel like your children are playing too many video games at a friend’s house, just pull the parents aside and explain the limits you have set in your own home.
Be careful not to assign any blame or to place any judgment or you risk angering the parents and creating a problem. Act as if there has just been a misunderstanding and that you are confident that now that they understand your rules, they will respect them.
Talk to Your Kids
Your children may be confused when they are told that they can only watch television for an hour a day when they are home but then see their friends watching cartoons for half a Saturday. Talk to your kids and explain how some families have different expectations for behavior and different rules for what is acceptable.
Next, explain that the rules you set in your home should be followed even when they are in another person’s home. Explain — in an age-appropriate way — the basis for those rules and why they are necessary.
If the other parents have not curbed the behavior, you can limit your children’s exposure to those influences by hosting more gatherings in your own home, where you can control the environment. By hosting gatherings at your own home, you can allow your children to spend time with their friends, but you can control what activities they engage in.
Plan for Indulgences
If you know that other parents are likely to let your children eat a lot of sweets or watch a lot of television when they are at their house, plan for those indulgences. Look at those visits the same way you would a party or a vacation — as a special occasion. Know that your children may eat more sweets than you like or watch more television than you like, then reduce the amount you allow at home leading up to those visits.
Phase in Other Playmates
If you find that your efforts to strike a compromise with the other parents is unsuccessful, or that they are breaking rules or allowing behavior in a way that is totally unacceptable to you, start finding ways to phase in other playmates. You don’t want to stop your child from seeing these friend completely and immediately, but you may be able to start spending more time with other friends whose family rules more closely resemble your own. Your children’s ages and the closeness of these relationships will determine what’s possible.
Have you had to deal with the difficult situation of confronting other parents who did not respect your rules for your children? How did you handle it? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!
Sarah Rexman is the main researcher and writer for bedbugs.org. Her most recent accomplishment includes graduating from Florida State, with a degree in environmental science. Her current focus for the site involves researching online resources and bed bug pictures.