What are we doing next Dad?(82 Posts)
DSSs (17 and 14) come round every other weekend, as per strict access schedule since they were young. Court order has of course now expired for eldest but rota unchanged in practice.
DSS2 is lovely child to get along with, has his own interets, hobbies etc. DSS1 is a whole different ball game. Every other weekend in life, before he comes round "What are we doing this weekend Dad?". When he's at ours, "What are we doing next Dad". So, so wearing and frustrating from a child/young adult this age.
Half of the problem is that when at his mother's house he does absolutely everything with her. Food shopping, gardening, out walking, looking after the younger children. So he's 100% occupied by her. Doesn't ever see friends outside of school. No hobbies of his own. No part time job. No learning difficulties, does well at school. But socially and emotionally you would draw the conclusion that he's quite under-developed. His mother imo has encouraged this dependence and she is very strictly controlling of him. Actively discouraged friends when he was younger, still not "allowed" to do a very long list of stuff for no valid reasons etc etc etc.
So when at our house, when he's not 100% "occupied" by a parent, he is at a complete loss as to what to so with himself. Hence the constant "what are we doing next dad?". DH hasn't been a Disney type and for years has been trying to turn this question back and ask DSS1 what he would like to do, what ideas he has himself for the weekend. But it falls on deaf ears.
When I spoke to people about this, say 5 years ago, people said "He'll grow out of it", "He'll develop his own interests". But he hasn't. I personally can't see him changing in any sort of medium term future. I am completely envisioning a 20 odd year old coming round and asking "What are we doing next dad".
BTW he doesn't "have" to come over. DH has had various conversations about him about this, and he definitely wants to come round. So that's not the problem.
So - what do you think DH should do about the constant "What are we doing next Dad?" questions? Any ideas?
I agree with the poster who suggested introducing independent challenges for him like organising a meal or day out.
One thing I learned from bringing up three children is that there is no switch which automatically turns on to 'adulthood' when they are 18. One of mine continued to need personal development support for a few further years, partly, I suspect, because of the fall out of our break up when she was younger. She's great now, just lovely, and the extra few years of helping her to become happily independent were well worth it.
I know others thought I should have expected more as she was legally an adult. But adding teen support that little bit longer can be the difference between rearing a successful adult and one who never quite gets off the ground.
One thing which helps is to gently hand things back to them with a love-bombing vote of confidence, 'I know you're a smart person, someone who can sort this out... I have every faith in you that you can do it... The kind of loving family-orientated person you are makes me know you can find a way to do this...'
(Even when you don't!)
Hmm, I have an old friend who has been coming to stay with me for long weekends about twice a over the last 10 years.
Whenever she comes, she HAS to know exactly what the blow-by-blow plan is for the weekend, including getting up times, bedtimes, activities etc. If you say 'I don't know, shall we just see what we feel like doing tomorrow?' she is visibly nervous and uncomfortable.
She is happy to lounge around for a bit but only in an'organised' way, eg its been scheduled as such.
Its obviously some kind of disordered need for control/planning. Yet she is also uncomfortable being the one actually making the decisions herself. I have always tried to be sympathetic but her last visit drove me so crazy that I don't think I can face it again in the near future tbh.
Reading your post about your DSS made me think about her. Is he obsesssed with having a plan for the whole weekend laid out at the start? I wonder if its some kind of OCD thing.
I have a 17 year old DSD and she'd be HORRIFIED if I had to suggest things to when she is with us. She goes to college, books her own holidays (and goes on them with her friends), works out all the things she needs to do - and then asks me for lifts!
Groundhogday I really feel for you (as I always have done for Petal). It must be so bloody frustrating. My 7 year old has more get up and go than your DSS.
I have no advice I'm afraid - because I'm of the "Just bloody well get out from under my feet and DO something" school of thought - but you have my sympathies.
He'll really need to apply to a course that doesn't interview on application. Not sure how many do/don't these days
Structured access at age 22 is a VERY scary thought. Although no doubt Bonsoir will suggest you should provide Butlins-style entertainment til then.
My slight worry is that DSS will accept a place at his 2nd choice Uni, and then he may still live at his Mum's house. I'll cross that bridge if I come to it.
I'm hoping his mother will put a stop to it. I don't imagine she'll let him defer tbh. She feels very much defined by his achievements, so I can't see her being happy with him being a bum for a year.
But in any case he fully intends that when he goes to university it will be here and he will continue living with mummy. DSS2 will still be doing the rota, so DSS1 will tag along to. Hence at a minimum he'll be doing rostered access visits until say 22, as per the court schedule written when he was 6.
I had wondered if DSS would take a gap year, but thankfully it's never been mentioned. He would simply spend it in his bedroom, and continuing with the rota. It would be a wasted year. But I know what you mean about wanting to defer growing up ......
My DSS1 would be due to apply later this year. BUT - he's thinking of deferring . No particular reason - he doesn't have any plans for a gap year or anything in particular he wants to do. I personally think he wants to defer growing up.
Hi Allnew, yes - DSS is still keen to go to University. His first choice of University is at the other side of the country, his second choice is almost on the doorstep (scary) but his other options are all some distance away.
The strange thing is, once we're not living by the rota, I'll probably enjoy his visits when he's back home.
I have a teenage DSS and a teenage DS. Both are pretty lazy when given half the chance.
I do think teenage boys do need a bit of a kick up the backside, encouragement and motivation from parents/step parents. However, I disagree that a whole schedule should be arranged for older teenage boys.
Nothing wrong with encouraging them to see mates and offering to drive them there or arranging to go out for a family meal, offering to pay for a hobby/sport etc but to have to arrange every minute of a late teens agenda is OTT and not healthy IMO.
Petal is your DSS still going to be going away to university later this year?
Hi Redhen, our present arrangements are the most painless to date, and whilst the "can't contemplate seeing Dad outside of the rota" mindset still exists, that's really DH/DSS's problem, and as with all step-family situations, you've got to pick your battles!!!!
Petal god forbid that my DSS1 will ever get a part time job. His mother would never allow it. And I struggle to imagine who would employ him tbh as I imagine some sort of interview would be required and he'd need to sound even slightly enthusiastic, which he struggles with
I'm so glad to hear that a more sensible solution has been put in place for your DSS.
So DP and DSS are still spending the same amount of time together but the rota has changed to allow DSS to have a part time job and for DP not to be driving around all weekend. A perfectly sensible solution - not always a route taken in step families!
I know it's not quite the flexibility you are probably looking for, but it's a step in the right direction.
He wants his father to be his social life, rather than a parent. And there is no uptake of father/son time that falls outside of an out-dated court order
Yep, I totally understand that. My DSSs only interest is hanging out with his Dad. He expects DH to fill the space in his life that would normally be taken up with friends his own age. If DSS wants to go into town to buy a computer game, or watch football etc etc it would never enter his head to do this with someone his own age. And whilst Im not suggesting they shouldn't have father/son time, I would expect this to be in addition to spending time with friends, not in place of it.
As regards the structured access arrangements, this actually inhibits father/son time, rather than creating it the Cricket Masterclass is a case in point. It falls outside of scheduled time, so neither DH nor DSS would consider it a possibility. DH and DSS both support the same football team, and when there was a big play-off last year, it would have been nice for them to watch it together, but no it fell outside of access, so it just wasnt on anyones radar. Structured access for young adults creates a very artificial, stifling environment I dont know who benefits.
DSS seems to have been almost indoctrinated to believe that a precise amount of pre-arranged weekly hours have, without exception, to be spent with his father. He genuinely cant think beyond this.
Yes indeed I think a key issue is the lack of peers/friends/social life. If these were in place, then I imagine that outside of scheduled activities and family activities, friends and social time would be filling the voids. As it is, he is fully expectant that it is his parent who should fill the void. Therefore somehow he wants his father to BE his social life, rather than a parent. Yet not outside it strict access visits. Like in Petals case, there is no take up of genuine father son bonding/fun opportunities that don't fall within the hours of an outdated court order
I also think the main problem is the lack of a social life. See the same in my dss, when he came into my life at 9 he was living same life as Groundhog Day describes, no friends, ingratiating himself with adults, a mother who had him sleep in her bed and basically controlled the life out of him. In 3 years he has changed a lot, adjusted to a "boys" life around my ds, is able to make friends on his own, etc. but dm still very much in charge at home and so it is VERY difficult for him to take initiative.
18 year olds shouldn't be fathers???
What planet are you on??
How about 18 year old mothers?
I was one of those (so was my mum) and I think We both did a bloody good job!
At 18 you are an adult and as such should be able to organise your own time/social life/study etc
My 19 year old dd is away at uni living on her own and taking care of herself.
Bonsior, if i tried to plan structured activities for my 15 yr DD i think she would answer with something unprintable!! She makes her own arrangements with her friends be it shopping, cinema, a meal or just hanging out at eachothers' houses. I think the problem arises if the teenager has no social life.
I cannot abide the slating of teenage boys en masse, Fenton.
Oh for crying out loud TEENAGE BOYS ARE A PAIN IN THE ARSE until they grow some and find a life of their own
<DISCLAIMER: they can of course have their very lovely moments, but for Dave's sake, - get real>
No, NADM - they are not "average" because they are high achievers but that is all.
And I don't think you should be comparing any 18 year unfavourably to a father - 18 year olds shouldn't be fathers.
bonsoir I assume because the teens you meet are in contact with professionals such as yourself in relation to their homelife that they are not necessarily considered 'average' in that sense?
My own experience of 17/18 year old young men is very different - many are Dads themselves
Actually, that's not a bad idea - perhaps having a child themselves will provide them with the directed activities and stimulation they need
They're very good ideas racing heart. I like the idea IOC letting him organise a family day out, it would get him thinking. Will definitely look out that book!
Join the discussion
Please login first.