In the on-going efforts to create a strong structure, stable environment and predictable outcomes, we spent time over the past few days working out a list of responsibilities, rules, expectations, rewards etc, etc, etc, for the kids to have a framework to operate within. PG has termed this document the Domestic Tranquility Codex. Are we a bunch of big geeks, or what? ;)
It's been fascinating to see them work through those ideas as a firm line, look for ways to wiggle around them, seek to exceed expectations, and just flat out fail at some of the basics, mostly to see what might happen. If I push this button, will the parenting machine give out the expected response? If I push this other button, will that get me something else that I want? I think it's also been good for all of the parents in the household to have firm expected behaviors that are put in writing to rely on, particularly when dealing with a non-biological child. We aren't seeking to parent the other person's child, but we are looking to create a structure that supports taking action as an authority figure and responsible adult where the kids know that their parent would be taking the same actions and having the same rules and expected behaviors.
I hear that a lot of poly families use resources created for step-parenting situations to navigate these waters of choppy family politics. One of my continued concerns is about S's daughter, who spends a good chunk of time with her bio-mother, having different experiences of expected behavior with her mom. We are structured here, which probably makes her mom feel very lenient in comparison. Her mom also has no job responsibilities or other children to balance out, so she can have a more lax parenting style. S has been good about talking with her, setting up as much consistency as he can between spaces, but it still feels like there is a bit of an "us versus them" thing going on, with S's daughter and mom being one unit and the rest of us another and the daughter trying to keep a foot on both sides of the fence.
None of these points are going to be transformed overnight into a smoothly running machine, so we'll just keep muddling along and doing the best we can with what we know. I'm glad the girls have slightly different schedules, as this allows them to have some solo time with parents, as well as maintain a more defined sense of individuality. All in all, I'd have to say it's going well, particularly with all the big changes in the past couple weeks! Teamwork is the key, and it's feeling like we're all getting pointed in the same general direction, happily so. Accidental sock transfers not withstanding... ;)