DSS is now 18 - surely things must change ......... ?

(513 Posts)
Petal02 Tue 04-Sep-12 16:16:25

So DSS has now celebrated (he didn’t have a party, he just wanted to go out for a meal with DH and I) his 18th birthday and starts back at 6th Form College (for his second year of A levels) next week. I’d like some honest opinions, especially from those of you who know the background details.

We’ve been operating flexible-ish visiting for the last few months, with some minor resistance from DSS, and on the whole it’s worked OK. DSS now works on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, just round the corner from where he lives with his mother. DH had (unsuccessfully) tried to ferry DSS to/from his workplace during his alternate weekend stays with us, but given the distances involved, it just meant DH spending Saturday and Sunday on the road, whereas if DSS had been based at his mothers, it’s literally a two minute walk. So DH has had to concede that it’s impractical to keep DSS with us beyond Saturday lunch time on access weekends.

DSS is very keen that he still has the same amount of time with his Dad, even though DH works Monday-Friday and DSS works Saturday and Sunday. Even DH had reluctantly agreed this is impractical. However as access weekends used to run from Thursday 4pm til Sunday 6pm, and now they’re shorter because they finish at lunch time on Saturday (before DSS starts his afternoon shift),DSS wants to shift his visits so that they run from Tuesday 4pm til Saturday lunch time. I understand that he’s losing two weekend days with his Dad, as he’s now working, and wants two extra week nights to compensate.

But having an “access weekend” that starts on Tuesday (!!!!!!!) even though it finishes on Saturday lunch time, seems ridiculous for an adult. And that’s what DSS is now, he’s an adult. It surely can’t be realistic to maintain the same amount of contact hours that he had when he was 11, not when he’s working at weekends, and it’s logistically very difficult for DH to bring him over to us on a Tuesday night, because that means he needs lifts to/from college on Weds/Thurs/Fri which impacts greatly on DH’s work. Not to mention that DH and I often do stuff on weeknights. Should we stop these things because DH has an adult son?

In my opinion, things surely have to change ………. I don’t see why (although tell me if I’m wrong) DSS can’t be OK with Thursday 4pm-Sat lunch time? Yes, it’s less time with his Dad but he’s 18 now. Of course they still want to see each other, but I’m amazed that an 18 yr old wants so much rostered time with a parent. I’m also worried that DSS may cease his weekend job if he can’t maintain the same amount of contact with DH.

DH hasn't given DSS an answer on his Tuesday-Saturday request yet. I want to talk to DH about it tonight or tomorrow. But before I do, I’d like some opinions from fellow SMs. I don’t want to spend four consecutive weekend nights hanging out with DH’s adult son, just so that “ x” amount of weekly hours can be achieved. I think it’s all insane but I suspect I’m too close to the situation to see it clearly.

OhChristFENTON Tue 04-Sep-12 16:37:07

No, no, no Aarrrrghghghhhh!!

ahem

A weekend visit would presumably be, say, two overnight stays right? So there's your Thursday to Saturday lunchtime, - that's it, done. It's more than ample for an 18 year old's "quality time" with his Dad. For heaven's sake if he were living in the same household that is more time than a teenager would normally spend with any parent isn't it? (I know, I know this young man is rather different to most teenagers hmm )

Could DH perhaps express to him that, yes he would love to maintain that quality time period but the Thurs to Sat should cover that and in any case an additional Tuesday and Wednesday stay over would not constitute 'quality time' but merely ferrying around therefore only adding pressure and stress to DH and that's not the way he wants to spend his time with him.

In answer to your question, yes things should change - insisting on clocking up the hours at this age is ridiculous.

theredhen Tue 04-Sep-12 17:38:35

Does he not want to see his mum during the week?! sad

What happens with Uni or work? He's going to want to spend every other weekend with you when he gets a nine to five job and I bet he chooses a Uni down the road.

I think your dp is in a difficult position as it must be hard to say "no" but this is just soooo unhealthy for everyone!

Aaaaaasrrrrggh too!

At 18 there shouldn't be access hours.

He should meet up with his dad when they are both free. Stay over or pop up to see him.

Having access hours is silly IMO.

worldsgreatest Tue 04-Sep-12 18:22:48

At 18 I would expect him to have keys to both the homes he has grown up in and come and go as he pleases, while showing respect for the rules of both houses

He should also plan his own journeys on the bus or trains and not expect to be picked up or dropped off

purpleroses Tue 04-Sep-12 18:34:38

Leaving aside the practicalities, I can't actually see why at 18 he necessarily shouldn't be coming for the same amount of time as he did at 11. He's still at sixth form, living at home. As he's always spent his time between two homes, why not go on doing so? And if Tue- Sat fits in for a fortnightly visit bettern than Thu-Sun, then why not? Difficult if it involves lots of ferrying around, but it will actually give you more time with just your DP at weekends.

Have read your posts previously and it does sound like you've made some good progress with making the rota more flexible, and a part time job has got to be a good thing for DSS with little social life.

Agree he should be making his own way between houses if at all possible. Does he drive yet? Could you suggest DP gets him driving lessons? That might free him up to be more flexible with visiting.

18 may be regarded as adulthood, but realistically I think you can only expect the big change to come when he finishes his A levels and either goes off to university of decides to move into a place of his own. Only another year!

Kaluki Tue 04-Sep-12 20:07:02

It is insane! It's ridiculous!
DP should tell him if he wants to come on Tuesday he can be responsible for getting himself to and from college! Agree that sorting him out with driving lessons is a good way to encourage independence.
At 18 he should be doing more for himself and not relying in his parents for lifts IMO!
How much say do you get in this? Are you expected to out up and shut up or can you object to this ridiculous set up?

riverboat Tue 04-Sep-12 21:05:25

It does sound incredibly frustrating. I do not think you should be sacrificing going out with your DP on weeknights here. But, I do think that if he wants to stay at your place on those nights, maybe that should be OK. IMO, the end of sixth form and not the 18th birthday as such might be an easier and more appropriate moment to build up to truly 'adult' contact arrangements.

glasscompletelybroken Wed 05-Sep-12 09:25:41

I agree that he should be able to spend time with both parents but surely at 18 he would just come and go as he pleased and Petal and her dp would just carry on with their lives as normal without having to entertain him?

I left home at 17 and visited my parents as and when I could, but I considered myself to be an adult and visited as an adult. This boy has failed to grow up because of the child-like way he has been treated. I would let him come when he wants but he has to make his own way there, let himself in and generally behave like a grown up. If Petal & her DP are home then they can interact, eat together etc but if they are out then he has to feed himself, entertain himself and generally be a grown-up.

Bonsoir Wed 05-Sep-12 09:26:49

Petal02 - your DSS is still a school boy. He's not an independent adult.

OhChristFENTON Wed 05-Sep-12 09:30:06

He's a young adult who needn't be clinging to his father's trouser leg.

glasscompletelybroken Wed 05-Sep-12 09:41:56

Bonsoir - he is old enough to drink, get married, vote, fight for his country - what other clues do you need that this "boy" is officially an adult? And the whole point is that he NEEDS to learn to be independent.

Bonsoir Wed 05-Sep-12 09:43:18

But he isn't independent: if he is not at his father's house, he is at his mother's house, because he is a school boy. He seems desperate to see his father and his stepmother seems equally desperate to prevent this.

Indali Wed 05-Sep-12 09:52:15

I would say until this academic year is over he should still have access hours / help with getting to school. After his A levels finish then renegotiate the arrangement to something more flexible and adult.

babesdontlie Wed 05-Sep-12 09:57:11

My DSD is 21, when she got to 18 (prob even 17) we dropped the set stay over days and went with either her or DH suggesting a time or date plus frequent phonecalls.

At some stage you have to start cutting the apron strings

Bonsoir Wed 05-Sep-12 09:59:06

My DSS1 is just starting his final year of school, too. He can come here as often as he likes or needs and I will support him and DP in every way I can possibly do to maximise his school results/exams and university entrance.

Petal02 Wed 05-Sep-12 10:02:24

My view is that by now, DSS should be able to visit on an adhoc basis, rather than maintaining a structured situation, where a set amount of hours have to be factored into each week – which seems like a very unnatural way to maintain a father/son relationship, more suited to a young child.

Public transport is not an option, the bus service is terrible in our area, and DSS couldn’t realistically get to/from college from our house, unless DSS gives him lifts. I can’t help out with this, because daily work journey takes me in the opposite direction to DSS’s college.

I just thought things would be a little easier by now. I expected he’d be doing age appropriate stuff and wouldn’t still be so desperate to spend as much time as possible clinging to his Dad, to the point of writing down the hours each week to check that he’s getting his full quota of contact time. I think that’s just plain weird.

Driving lessons haven’t materialised. DSS has been getting round to sending off for his provisional licence for a year now, but “hasn’t had time”.

Bonsoir Wed 05-Sep-12 10:03:55

Your view is at odds with the reality of your DSS's life: he is still a school boy with the highly routine, structured life of a school boy. The reality is that you don't want to see him, Petal02.

Bonsoir Wed 05-Sep-12 10:05:19

If your DSS is writing down the number of his contact hours, that is in all probability a mechanism of self-defence against his stepmother, who would like to reduce them.

pinkbraces Wed 05-Sep-12 10:06:19

I assume he has keys, why not suggest he does what most teenagers of his age do, come and go, obviously making sure you and his Dad know what his movements are.

If he doesnt like that suggestion then perhaps its up to your DH abd DSS to decide how to move forward - it really doesnt have to be that difficult.

Petal02 Wed 05-Sep-12 10:09:28

Bonsoir, I had simply hoped that by now, DSS would be more independent and less clingy. I’m not suggesting he ceases contact with his father. Can I also point out that when DH was DSS’s age, he was serving in the Falklands ………

Bonsoir Wed 05-Sep-12 10:11:36

What happened a generation ago or to his father is totally irrelevant. And your hoping that your DSS would get out of you way is really pretty unpleasant, Petal02. I think you need to rethink your attitude. You might find that your DSS becomes a bit more relaxed about access to his father if his stepmother isn't wishing quite so hard for him to stay away.

Bonsoir - don't most "schoolboys" of 18 spend less time with any parent, whether they live in the same house or not? I don't think that Petal is trying to stop her dss seeing his dad at all, I think she is trying to help him become an independent adult.

ImNotCrazyMyMotherHadMeTested Wed 05-Sep-12 10:13:35

Why not make it a "condition" of the extra nights staying over that he has to get to you and to college himself?

It's ridiculous that his transport to college will impact on your husband's work hours - my DD is 15 and if she wants to do something during my working hours, she makes her own arrangements, she doesn't ask me to take time off to get her there!

If this pushes him into getting his provisional licence, are your husband and his mother in a position to get him a runaround so that he can be more independent?

purpleroses Wed 05-Sep-12 10:13:49

He's got a part time job, and is at sixth form doing A-levels - that sounds like "age appropriate stuff" to me. Children don't usually leave home when they are 18 - not if they're at sixth form, that would be quite unusual. If he's heading for university it will all change next year. So why not just let him devise whatever rota he wants until then.

People are different, some people like being spontaneous and being able to do things ad hoc. Other people prefer to have life organised and to know where they're going to be when. Maybe your DSS is the organised type that likes to have routine in his life. Not really such a bad thing. If he just called in when he fancied it and came to stay for days at a time when you weren't expecting it, wouldn't that be harder for you?

I can't help thinking that the underlying problem is that your DSS (and probably your DH, and your DSS's mum too) feel that he lives with you part-time, but you consider that he lives with his mum and should only be visiting the way an adult child (who has left home) might visit.

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