When I was small, one of the things it was hard to get used to, was how different parents focused on different habits you had. My mother was a stickler for appearance, phrases like, ‘tuck your shirt in’, ‘pull your socks up’ and ‘ tie your shoe laces’ where common place and gained a Pavlov’s Dog responses.
So much so that, one day during a rugby match my brother, who wasn’t playing very well, had the ball and was running forward, the cry from the side line from Mum was “ Pull your socks up Craig..!!” At which point my brother put the ball down, physically pulled up both his socks picked the ball back up and carried on, much to the amusement of other spectators and the referee.
Unlike my mum, as a non-resident parent I don’t get to shape my children’s behaviours day to day. As I have my children for the weekend I find myself constantly repeating certain phrases – “ Keep your mouth closed when eating”, “Lift the toilet seat up” and “ look at people when you talk to them”.
Now I understand these are my opinions of what is acceptable behaviour, things they should know and learn. I know they don’t get away with these at school; however I wonder what my ex-wife does about it. At present it is hard as she has decided only to communicate by letter once a week, so I have adapted a new edict. My house my rules!
So weekends are based on rules we have come up with together, from putting breakfast stuff in the sink, to no TV before 7.30 am and if you ask for more you must eat it.
I have become a realist, in that I know I can’t control my children’s behaviour when they are not with me. I know that there mother will try and shape their social behaviours to suit what she thinks they should do. All I can do is try and get them to understand why I say things and hope they learn and grow into the wonderful young men I know they will be. Realistically though if I can get through a visiting weekend without one of them peeing on the toilet seat I am a happy man!!