House Rules…

…are apparently negotiable (at least some people think they are). I was raised in an LDS family. Mom tried to teach me at an early age how important church is in having a happy life. It’s a lesson that I really began to grasp when I was married to my ex-husband and living across the country from my family. I had fallen away from the church as a result of hurt feelings and feeling a lack of compassion and support from local church leaders before I got married. My ex husband and I were living with his dad and step mom and I was no longer allowed to attend my church. I had to attend theirs or lose the roof over my head. Not being allowed to attend my church left a big impression on me and I finally understood what mom tried to teach me so many years before. Another lesson I learned about church was that the rules and guidelines put in place by the church are less about controlling and limiting the people, and more about protecting them and helping them to live a truly happy life. Drugs, alcohol, and sex can give you the illusion of happiness, but when the consequences hit, the misery sets in. Only when we protect ourselves from this stuff are we truly happy.

Now, years later and remarried with a good sized family that is spread across many states and countries, I want to be able to maintain a certain spirit, or feeling, in my home. I consider myself to be a pretty strict parent. I see the potential my children have and I expect them to live up to that potential. I have children who drink, smoke, do drugs, have sex outside of marriage, and I am hard on them. When they come into my home they know that I do not allow that stuff in my home. They will quickly be removed from my home if the rules are not followed. They know this and yet they still have a choice. They are welcome to leave anytime they feel the rules are not worth following. I know it sounds harsh. I have many children (natural, step, adopted, foster, etc.) and I have to protect the ones who are too young or immature to protect themselves. I also need to protect my home and myself.

I have begun to notice issues with my husband becoming far more relaxed on the issue of following rules. He will encourage others to break the rules, often unintentionally, but encourage them still the same. I will tell one or more of the children to do something and he will give them an easier, or lesser, job to do, or just tell them to do the bare minimum to get by. I know my family hates when I yell, and they all know this will lead to me yelling, so I don’t understand why he does it. We currently have 2 of our kids, and temporary custody of another child living with us, and trying to get full custody of yet another. Gaining custody of these kids is important to both of us, at least he says it’s important to him, so why does he continue to allow turmoil in our home that could jeopardize these kids well being. I just don’t get it.

I know he’s a good dad, but I wonder how long until he becomes so absent minded that it all goes down the drain. Some days I feel like we’re pretty close to hitting that point. I have to be strong. I have always felt like the mean parent. I know it comes from the years of him being a weekend dad to 3 of them, and always feeling like he had to buy their love. This was a cycle that started long before I came into the picture, and he allowed it to continue until it became normalized. I felt forced into the role of bad cop while my husband enjoyed playing good cop. Since I came in to the family at the height of this cycle, I could see the damaging effects much clearer than the others could, but I was too late to fix it. I hope that someday they will understand why I am the kind of parent I am. 

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