My husband's (almost) 10 yr old son lives with his mother Monday thru Thursday. On Fridays my husband picks him up from school and he stays with us thru Monday morning. Recently (within the last couple months)he has been very vocal about his dislike for staying at our home.
He isn't doing well in some subjects in school and my husband has been cracking down on him to ask for tutoring that the school provides, listen better in class, respect his teachers, etc (the typical stuff). We have been sitting down for family meals a couple times during the weekend and my husband fights with his son to eat "real" food that was made, many times his son breaks out in to crying fits over eating the food (doesn't seem to matter what I make, he argues about eating all of it). We have a small chores list for him, for which he earns an allowance on what he completes (taking out the trash, making his bed, helping take care of our pets, etc).
At his mom's house, he has far less expectations and a whole lot more fun. She doesn't impress the importance of doing well in school, completing his work and NOT failing (she won't support tutoring because it would mean he'd miss part of one recess). She will agree she is on board with something but when something happens, she'll will decide for whatever reason she doesn't want to enforce the rules anymore, leaving my husband to entirely dole out the consequences of his son's bad grades or behavior. She doesn't require him to do anything in her own home and does no cooking thus he eats lots of microwaved chicken nuggets, fish sticks and fast food which he loves, so getting him to eat real meat and potatoes on the weekend is a huge ordeal at our home.
My husband's ex wife is who is is, she lives her life her way and that is fine, I don't expect that we will change her in any way. What is frustrating is that now his son is becoming increasingly upset about coming to our home because he sees us--in comparison to his mom's home--as the "torture place" where he has to do all kinds of awful things. Did I mention, we have a puppy that his son just loves playing with, he has other pets he loves playing with here, we do let him pick what he wants to eat some evenings, we make time for "family fun" times with games, Wii tournaments, movie nights, swimming in the pool during the summer...you name it, we have fun, too, when the work for the day is done! All and all, I think we have a fairly good home life. Sometimes, I feel we are being easy on him compared to how I or my husband was raised.
Even though my husband doesn't say much to his son when he loudly complains (even runs away from him) when he picks him up, I know he feels bad about this. Before we got married and moved into our home, my husband provided his son less structure on the weekends which he wanted to change when we finally settled (and he has implemented more structure and rules in the last 10 months).
It also doesn't help that ALL the grandparents enable him to have this behavior by giving him everything he wants and spoiling him rotten (because he's the only grand child in the area). No matter how much we ask, they do what they want. In comparison to every other home he stays in, our home must seem like a prison to him!
So, what to do? Do we just wait this time out and not take what he says personally? Will it just take more time? I don't feel we have a bad home--I feel we are doing what most sensible parents would do with regards to parenting. This situation is foreign to me--I feel bad for my husband...now his son doesn't want to stay with us even though we have a great home now (much different than before we got married).
Any words of wisdom will be much appreciate! I'm really at a loss right now.