Such behavior is a problem, even if the children were not from a family of divorce. This situation needs to be addressed; if it isn't, it will be a major source of stress between you and your friend. Regardless of what is occurring in the home of the other parent, in your home the children need to learn to respond to the jurisdiction of you and their parent. If you and the parent can't work this out, seek some professional help.
Discipline is only effective when it's enforced. While you may be trying to build structure and teach them manners, etc, it is your partner (their parent) who must support those efforts. If they are not following through, if the kids sense that you two are not united in you rules or structure, they will certainly test it. And let's face it, they know you are not their parent.
Many non-custodial parents feel guilty enforcing rules or disciplining because they have such limited time with their children. Is this a possiblity? Perhaps you two should decide together what rules and consequences will be and present a united front, with plenty of support to follow through for each other.
I have been in your shoes and recognition worked better than punishment for my step children.
I posted in clear view the rules of the house. Each house and families have different types of rules. To help the children differentiate from one home to the other, post the rules in sight.
I also made a graft with the kids name and what is expected of them while they are at our home (i.e., take bath, brush teeth, etc.). This listed in view what we expected them to do while at thier second home. Before taking them home, we would give them the option of using thier "points" for a prize or to earn money to save up for a bigger prize.
Hope this helps - most self-help and child rearing books advise to recognize the positive and not but so much attention on the negative. Good luck!
I am an eighteen year old female who has been dealing with my parents divorce since I was in second grade. In between now and then my mom has had two new relationships one of which ended up being marriage. In the childs perspective of how a child should act is different from the nieve adult point of view. When a child's parents separate it is separating everything the child has ever known. Think about it. You grow up with the love and security of both parents, but when suddenly your parents separate you can't help but think it is your own fault. You lose all sence of support and comfort because you are torn between two fighting adults who are supposedly the "role models" in your life. The parents are too busy trying to prove their innocence in all wrong doing that they don't even realize that their children are observing every action they make. This new environment for a child is the hardest thing they have to experience in their young adolescent years so when you throw a new "friend" into the situation you create a completely new confusion and hatered in the kid. Can you honestly expect a kid to treat you with the respect that you want? I will admitt, when my mom first brought home my step-dad I did not even want to give him a chance. Right away he tried to become apart of the bond that my sisters and I had molded throughout the whole divorce. He came on so strong that it pushed everyone of us further away each time he just said one word to us. When he would attempt to tell us what to do we wouldn't give him the time of day. Every rude and disrespectful action we displayed towards him was intentionally trying to get him out of our lives. Looking back on the way we treated him now is interesting because nine years later the same man and I are so close because he finally backed off with trying so hard at becoming our new parent. My advice to all adults that are trying to raise a child from a divorce situation is to just take it slow. Don't try and be their friend or an authorative figure for a while. Give the kid a chance to adapt to having you around and then when you feel you have the respect of the child slowly start making progress of becoming the new gardian of the child. Never get it set in your mind that you are the new "mother or father" of the child because chances are, you will never be able to replace their blood parent. This is not indicating that you can not discipline the child I am suggesting that you treat the new kid in your life the same way you would treat your bosses kid or on the lines of that. You wouldn't tell your bosses kid to clean their room or stop watching TV, so I wouldn't do it to that child as well. Eventually you will gain the friendship and respect of the child, even if it takes nine or more years. I do not know if any one who reads this agrees with me, but this is just a "childs" perspective who went through it first hand.