Why do Stepchildren need to stay the night?

(102 Posts)
tinybluemoon Mon 18-Mar-13 10:41:15

Just a question that was raised in my other thread (Sorry MN head quarters, I know you hate these spin offs) that I thought might be worthy of exploration.

Why is it so important that our stepchildren stay the night? It isn't like any activities or bonding can be undertaken while sleeping, and I know myself I've always preferred to sleep in my own bed, and I know my own children are much the same. Surely it would be just as worth while to eat dinner as a family and than return home, especially if the children must be up early to be delieved home in the morning, not leaving much time for morning activities.

So why is it always viewed as important for visitation to include overnights? Who actually benefits from these? The children? The parents? The CSA? Who?

fuzzpig Mon 18-Mar-13 12:13:23

Because it's nice?

My 14yo DSDs stay round lots even since we moved to the same town (ie it would be possible to just come round for daytime visits) but why on earth wouldn't they?

Unfortunately our house is tiny (we are actually on the housing register due to 'overcrowding' and hoping to move to a 3 bed where they will have their own beds) so they just sleep on the sofa or mattresses but they have their own stuff here which gets moved back and forth as need dictates. They love it, we love it, our little DCs get loads more time with their big sisters because they are here when they wake up (sometimes they end up kipping together anyway!), and DSDs get grown up time with DH and me once the little ones are in bed, because they don't have to get home. When they were younger they'd come into our room in the mornings and we would just chat for ages, that was always when any worries about school etc would come out.

The only thing we don't do is sleepovers on school nights - none of us drive, and their school is the opposite side of town, so we stick to weekends and holidays. We don't have any particular access arrangement, it's all casual which works brilliantly. Last month they both chose to do their work experience at our DCs' school/nursery, so they stayed with us all week - it was a very crowded hectic house but it was absolutely wonderful. They are very easy going teens and really aren't fussed about where they sleep!

Also as they are twins who share a room at home it's nice that they can escape from each other by coming here.

As a PP said in an ideal world we'd have a huge house with a room each for them but we don't - but it doesn't seem to have any negative effects, we all get on brilliantly and are a very happy family. I can't imagine not having them to sleep over.

Pinkshaman Mon 18-Mar-13 12:13:26

I've been dealing with the fall-out of my dd and dsd (who lives with me, not her Dad) being pushed out of his life by him moving his girlfriend and her children into what was the family home and there being no room for them.

Dsd was devastated as her life-long dream was to live with her Dad and I, and then when I left to live with her Dad and have the relationship she had always wanted with him. They couldn't understand why dsd was upset about the new arrangements, and this was compounded by they way she was told.

DD found it really difficult too as in her eyes, that had been her home and from having a whole bedroom to herself most of the time, the whole room had been changed and she only had a couple of drawers and another child yelling at her that it was her room, not dd's.

But it wasn't the rooms that were at the root of it. What was really going on for them (and still is) was that their Dad had prioritised the new family over them. The first weekend the new family arrived, they were taken to meet dd (who was with my sister at the time) and once introductions were over she was told that they were all off to the beach and she couldn't go as there wasn't room in the car. My heart still breaks for her over that.

The next call I got from xh was to say that while dd could visit, there wasn't room for her to stay. I kicked up a fuss and xh conceded that she could go with a blow up mattress and they would see how it went sad.

To my girls it really doesn't matter that they are being squeezed into a tiny house, what they wanted reassurance over was that they were still as important in their Dad's eyes. Yesterday I held dsd who cried until she was sick because she had been begging her Dad just to spend a couple of hours with her and he refused angry sad. And dd too would love that she went and did something with just her and her Dad, nothing much - a walk in the woods and little trip out to the shops. But he won't, he tells her that everyone has to go.

Please, please make sure that when you are considering this that you look at things from the childrens' point of view and make sure that they don't feel pushed out and unwanted by their Dad like my girls feel.

Greensleeves Mon 18-Mar-13 12:16:32

Because there should ALWAYS be a place for a child where his/her parent lives, unless he is in prison

If you really can't understand that, maybe you should do your dp and his family a favour and do one hmm

Oh pink that's so heartbreaking, how the hell do they expect children to not feel deserted and devastated by shit like that?

PatriciaHolm Mon 18-Mar-13 12:21:07

Because "home" isn't just one place for these children, it should be two - one with each parent, a home in which they feel equally loved and welcome. Not a place in which they are treated on a par with next door neighbours who pop in for a cuppa and toddle off later.

Viviennemary Mon 18-Mar-13 12:22:10

I think it is quite important. They need to feel part of the family rather than get the feeling they are being despatched off home as soon as possible. Which seems to be the situation in your case. Sorry if I have to this wrong. but this is what it sounds like to me. You wouldn't like it if somebody suggested you should get your own flat and not stay overnight. Same thing.

Booyhoo Mon 18-Mar-13 12:31:21

i think i'm going to start putting the dcs out at night. i mean who really benefits from them sleeping here. it's not like we actually do anything together while they sleep so there's no point letting them sleep in the house. and breakfast, they could sort that themselves outside soemwhere. again, no benefit to anyone having us togetehr to eat. and bath-time? forget it, what a waste of time. it can be done just as easily by, er someone else? yeah, pretty much unless we are at the funfair or eating mcflurries, there's no real point to my dcs being with me so i'm just going to leave all that dull parenting business up to some other person whose time i place no value on.

What a strange question to ask.

Perhaps some people are just not cut out for step parenting.

badguider Mon 18-Mar-13 12:34:28

I have no direct experience but I assume it's exactly so that there is no own bed and other bed as you say in the OP. It's so that the child feels they have a home with both parents rather than one home and one place where they are a guest and 'visit'.

In some ways I suppose this will depend on the balance of care, if they spend 90% of their time at one parent's then it will be 'home' and the other parent will be 'away', but I think most parents try for something more like 60/40 or 50/50 in terms of care.

fuzzpig Mon 18-Mar-13 12:35:19

Oh pink that is horrific sad

Thank goodness you are there for your DSD.

Just another 2p to respond to the OP - if my DH didn't get to put his DD to bed and see her the next morning, I think the temptation to keep her up past bedtime and overstimulate her during the day would be much, much stronger. Having the kids overnight gives the adults a sense of security about their relationship with the kids too, IMO, and actually allows the grownups to prioritize the kids' well-being. Considering how many of us flip out when our children bond with another well-meaning adult in their lives, be it a step-parent or pushy in-law grandparent, I think the adults' sense of security is just as important as the kids'. I think we are told that this should not be the case - that the adults do the breaking up and therefore maybe do not deserve to have feelings - but I think that need for a secure relationship is still just as present in the grownups.

Besides, no one should have to go through life feeling surplus to requirements, whether that's stepmom, Dad or kiddo. smile

pinkbraces Mon 18-Mar-13 13:15:40

Because they are not just my step children, they are my husbands children, and its their home.

And, you cant have late night chats with the teens if they are not there, or sleepy sunday mornings, or giggles and hot choc when they come in after a dates.

So many many reasons why - but mainly because we are a family

theredhen Mon 18-Mar-13 13:21:03

Pink, that does sound awful and I can relate to a lot of your post as a Mum to my own child and the way his father has behaved.

However, there is so much that your ex could do to make your DC feel loved and valued by him that doesn't involve overnight stays. I can see that being pushed out of the old family home must be very hard on the kids but never taking them out for the day on his own, having them round for tea, insisting on taking step siblings out etc. is really what is the problem, basically he's being an arse! Overnights or no overnights.

My own DS stays overnight at his Dad's (no bed or belongings are allowed to be kept there), does it make for a better relationship with his Dad? I really don't think so. I think it just reminds DS that he's not really part of his Dads life all the more. It also makes it easier for his Dad to say he has a "relationship" with DS when he can sit in another room and ignore DS for the weekend, whereas if he had to take him out, he would be forced to talk to him and interract with him.

I think it all depends on so many things, closeness to PWC home, school, friends, how many hours NRP works etc etc.

I have seen my 4 DSC when they were younger literally being dragged out for hours in the car to faciliate 4 different school runs which are miles away (had they lived with us, they would have got free transport) rather than getting 1 lift home with Mum / getting free transport back to Mums and Dad picking them up from there later. I've seen my DSC being made to get up 2 hours earlier than they would at Mums to fit round DP work and the school runs. I've seen sick kids being transported around by car to faciliate the rota and timetable. I've seen kids getting upset and stressed by having to remember their Monday morning books and clothes, show and tell items on Friday mornings knowing that they are "not allowed" at the other parents house until after school on Monday.

Who really benefits in all those circumstances? Dad gets to say he has his "contact", Mum gets a break, the kids get stressed and bored when it's not necessary. I know that every situation is different but I actually believe my DSC would be better off only staying overnight at ours on Fridays and Saturdays and school holidays.

And as an adult who was passed from pillar to post as a child, I really feel that kids need stability and routine. All I wanted was a permanent, safe place where I could feel at home and I could be part of another place but I had the security of my home when I needed it, not when a court/rota/parents agenda dictated it.

willyoulistentome Mon 18-Mar-13 13:21:12

My step kids live 90 mins away. Apart from all the good reasons mentioned above, it would have added another 3 hours in the car for the kids and another 6 hours for DH PER EOWeekend, if they had had to ferry to and fro for bedtime.

Pinkshaman Mon 18-Mar-13 13:21:32

It is Libertine and fuzzpig, thank you.

pictish Mon 18-Mar-13 13:22:06

What a stupid question. hmm

CointreauVersial Mon 18-Mar-13 13:24:31

Pink - that's so sad.

When my dad remarried (I was 13), my stepmum made it a priority that I should be able to stay over whenever I wanted.

For the first few months I slept on a campbed in a store-room, surrounded by tins of baked beans, until they were able to rearrange the house and create a small bedroom for me. I didn't care; the important thing was that I was welcome and considered part of the family. Packing me off home in the evening would have given a very different message.

It's one of the reasons I love my stepmum.

Booyhoo Mon 18-Mar-13 13:30:05

also worth noting OP that they're only step children to you. to their dad they're his children, to their mum, they're her children, to themselves they are their parents' children. they probably dont think of themselves as being in a state of 'step' except in relation to you whereas to you they are always step children.

seeker Mon 18-Mar-13 13:33:04

Because it's their home. We're not talking about a play date here.

"My own bed" is telling.

Booyhoo Mon 18-Mar-13 13:34:55

i also think that if a child is used to having both parents at home in the evening, sharing bathtime, bedtime, breakfast, school runs, finding uniforms etc then it is very confusing for the child to suddenly not be 'allowed' to do those things with one parent just because the parent lives in another house. obviously it has to be practical and if dad moves to australia then an overnight visit once a week just wont work but where possible i think the adults involved should be doing what they can to make it possible for the children to spend good quality time with both parents. as much as it might be inconvenient, the children really should be the priority.

Pinkshaman Mon 18-Mar-13 13:39:28

I know, he could be doing loads more. He doesn't even bother to phone dd between visits. I am grateful (on dd's behalf) that he relented and had her for overnights, otherwise that would have been even worse. I don't feel though that even if he were doing all the other things that it wouldn't matter whether they were there overnight or not - I think it definitely would matter to them. As it is, it's only dd that goes overnight.

pictish Mon 18-Mar-13 13:44:55

I'm astonished that anyone - even someone without kids - needs to ask this.

But then I suppose...if you don't know, then you don't know.

AThingInYourLife Mon 18-Mar-13 13:46:22

"yeah, pretty much unless we are at the funfair or eating mcflurries, there's no real point to my dcs being with me so i'm just going to leave all that dull parenting business up to some other person whose time i place no value on."

grin sad

Well said

Petal02 Mon 18-Mar-13 13:54:50

I’m astonished that anyone – even someone without kids – needs to ask this

Pictish, I think you can only draw on your own experience when commenting on threads. I think overnighting is fine when physically/practically/logistically possible – but when it’s not ……. I’ve never seen the point in making entire households suffer with ridiculous levels of overcrowding (as per the OP’s situation) and/or making it extremely difficult for the child to get to/from school, simply so that someone can say they’ve achieved overnighting. It’s overnighting for the sake of it when it gets to that point. I don’t know who benefits.

It’s like sticking slavishly to the access rota, doing insane things to achieve rota compliance, even if such compliance doesn’t actually mean the parent/child get to spend time together.

Why does common sense go out the window with step families?

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