“Not Necessarily Sacred”: Making Rules For the Blended Family

Posted on February 8, 2012 by

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Franklin D. Roosevelt said, in that wonderful bass voice of his: “Rules are not necessarily sacred, principles are.” Let’s see where that takes us.

In my post “‘A Room Of Her Own:’ The Saga of the Blended Family Continues,” I suggested that another major topic, after space, that needs addressing when households combine is how to manage household rules.

Picture this: Mom restricts TV-watching for her children to Sponge Bob alone (poor dears), and her children have been allowed–as teens, if you can fancy it–to watch “Cars,” “The Smurfs,” and–in non-cartoon-watching bliss–”Mr. Popper’s Penguins,” when they earn the right to a movie at all.

Wife 2′s kids are huge fans of “Project Runway” and “Two Men and a Baby”–and have entered the seductive world of R-rated movies, which they themselves can pull up on On-Demand, HD TV (unsupervised)–a feat I can’t see myself ever achieving in my wildest dreams.

(I’m stuck in the days when you actually got up, walked to the TV, and turned a knob. My son has 4 remote controls to his TV. If my granddaughter asks to watch a television show, I’m forced to act out all the parts myself to distract her. At any one moment I could be DJ Lance, Muno ["He's tall and friendly!"], Foofa [yup--you've got it--pink and happy]–Brobee, Tootie, or magic robot Plex. That’s before I have to call up my old high school Spanish for my Dora the Explorer routine. It’s so fatiguing that I see why they leave raising children to the young.)

Dad and Wife 2 are junk food addicts themselves, so their house is replete with Pop-Tarts, Cheetos, potato chips, Girl Scout cookies, Werthers, and an astonishing array of chocolate treats.

‘We don’t care. At OUR house we get celery sticks–and it’s great, right, Fred? Great?”

Dad’s former wife is, of all things, a vegan–so it’s basically veggie burgers, sunflower butter and boatloads of veggies for Mom’s kids, who’ve never even heard of Pop-Tarts.

Fundamentally, different households have different rules. But by whose rules should the children abide when they’re combined in one house, now with conflicting family requirements?