I've been with DH now for over 6 years. And every week we get at least 1 phonecall from his ex (the kids' mum) about her disapproval of our methods of dealing with behaviour.
As a general rule, we have explained to the kids that we feel consequences are what happens as a result of a choice, when they know it is the wrong thing to do. Whereas a punishment is something they do not like to make them not do it again... (just how we explain it- our way).
Anyway, I'll give you the latest "issue".
DSS' birthday- neither of the kids really like cake, but DH likes to mark the occasion, so he gets 4 cupcakes (one each) and the kids tell him which they want. They beg, plead, scream, etc etc for these particular cupcakes. DH agrees. We both know they won't eat them, but anyway...
So the night of, we have forgotten all about them. It's 15mins before bedtime and DSS asks about them. We suggest we do it in the morning instead as it's so late. But they, again, beg, so we allow it. However, we make sure they understand that as soon as they are finished eating, it is bed time. They agree.
DSD complains about every part of the cupcake (she has complained about the entire day as it's what DSS wants to do... we remind her all day that it's his birthday not hers, and we do the same for her), so I say, "Sweetie, if you don't like it you don't have to eat it. Are you finished?" She says yes and puts the mostly uneaten cupcake in the fridge, and then gets ready for bed. We give her a kiss and cuddle and say goodnight.
DSS is still eating and finishes most of it within 15 minutes and then is done so he gets ready for bed and we tuck him in, kiss and cuddle.
All good. Kids are fine, noone is upset.
Flash forward a few days and they go to their mums. We get a passive aggressive email titled "punishment and food" with a piece of an article about encouraging healthy eating habits (all stuff I know, and we do). Usually, we would have gotten a screaming phone call. This time we didn't.
My point? We we harsh? unreasonable? Is what we did a punishment?
We checked with the kids when they came back, to make sure they understood. Neither of them felt upset at it. DSD did say it was annoying that DSS stayed up later, but said (without prompting) that it was what had been agreed on, so she wasn't upset.
Their mother grills them about their time with us. It's like she HAS to find something to be able to complain about.
I guess the years have taken their toll, and I'm starting to feel worn down. I find myself nodding along and not listening to her anymore, because there is always something wrong with us (DH is the worst father in the world apparently, because DSS can't ride a bike... nothing to do with the fact that she insisted he be in a pram at all times until he was 5).
So, bubhub, am I an awful person? Are we bad parents?
(I do consider myself a parent while their with us, but not their
parent, if that makes sense... as in, I treat them as I would my biological child).
I freely admit, that we are not above criticism, but my god... every time.