Am I too suspicious, or is DP sticking his head in the sand?

(23 Posts)
purpleroses Tue 23-Apr-13 18:52:17

DSD is 15, nearly 16. She's recently split with a BF and has taken to staying out a lot at a friend's house, who lives round the corner from us. When I say a lot, I mean most Saturday nights. (DSD and younger siblings stay with us at weekends, and with their mum in the week). My own DCs are a bit younger so not really had to worry about boundaries for teenagers just yet. Trouble is I think DP is even more clueless than me. This Saturday DSD headed off out "to her friend's" wearing a bra top, v short skirt (and tights), make up and jacket. Doesn't seem like the clothes you would wear to go round your friend's for a sleepover. She also left the house in the wrong direction to be going to the friend's house. The friend has never come here for a sleepover. It's always DSD going there.

I'm fairly sure she's lying to DP, is off into town clubbing, and then quite possibly back to the friend's overnight, but who knows? The friend's parents could think the friend is round here, for all I know. DP has never spoken to the friend's parents (though he thinks he has their number somewhere). I challenged him about her behaviour yesterday, and in frustration told him that my fears were that she could be spending the night with blokes she's picked up in a club, and not at friend's house at all. I think most likely this isn't what's happening, but DP won't ring the friend's parents to check. I suggested he just gave them a friendly call to check that they're OK with DSD being round there so much, but he seems to think that he can't do this behind DSD's back. IMO there's no point in doing it unless it is behind her back, as if he warns her first that he'll be checking she'll a) get cross at him and b) make sure she is at the friend's house that time.

He says he trusts her, but what I fear he means is that he doesn't want to know what she's up to. He tended to rely on her to help out with the younger DCs quite a bit after his divorce, before he met me, and she's always been very mature and sensible. Doesn't feel like DP really feels he is her parent, and has any authority over her. She doesn't ask to do things, she just tells him what her plans are.

But she is nearly 16 - am I being overly suspicious? Should I just leave DP to it, hope she's OK and be there to help pick up the pieces if she's not? She's no real problem round the house, or to me directly. Just concerned that no one's really parenting her at weekends.

Alwayscheerful Tue 23-Apr-13 21:07:55

My DSCs were always pretty scathing because their Mother rarely bothered to speak to their friends parents to discuss or check up on arrangements for sleepovers. I think its a good to speak to the other parents if only to pass on an emergency telephone number , it is also polite to check arrangements regarding pick up and drop off times and meals. You can pretty much guarantee that pubs, clubs and heavy drinking will take place unless you do your best to put obstacles in their way!

taxiforme Tue 23-Apr-13 21:20:03

I absolutely agree that you are right to be concerned.
She is 15 and you both have a duty of care to ensure that she is n

taxiforme Tue 23-Apr-13 21:21:26

Not exposed to danger.
I would do some subtle checking. Who knows, the other parent may be clueless too.

Sorry iPhone blunder..

NotaDisneyMum Tue 23-Apr-13 21:28:18

Why does the OP have a duty of care to her DSC?

tribpot Tue 23-Apr-13 21:30:50

So to be clear, no-one knows where this 15 year old girl is on a Saturday night? Her mum thinks she's with her dad and her dad .. er, just thinks it's alright that he doesn't know?

purpleroses Tue 23-Apr-13 22:00:31

To be fair to my DP, he does ask DSD where she is going, and she says she is going to sleep over at her friend's house. It's just that he is choosing to believe her and not to check up.

NADM - you're right, I don't have any duties, or authority over my DSD. I get on pretty well with her, but have only known her since she was 13 and have never really felt like a parent to her (in the way I do with the younger DSC). I don't feel it's my place to be phoning up her friend's parents to check up on her, especially as this isn't a routine thing that DP does so she'd know it was something that I'd initiated instead of her dad. DP and I always try and be the bad cop to our own kids - the relationship's much more secure. He wouldn't want me to be checking up on DSD either. But doesn't seem to want to do it himself. And I can't think of any other way of checking up really (following her?)

I think it's arisen because DSD is quite assertive and independent, and DP doesn't really know how to parent teenagers. He's never had anything to do with many of their friends (as his ex always did the school run, etc) and he went to boarding school himself, so doesn't even have the same sort of teenage years of his own to reflect back on. Whereas I was once a teenage girl myself.....

elliebellys Tue 23-Apr-13 22:32:45

Purple have you raised this with her mum,if dp wont check maybe her mum might do it.?

taxiforme Tue 23-Apr-13 22:35:00

Duty of care glibly used, sorry. Its my catholic guilt complex. Not getting into whether there is a legal social ethical or moral duty to a step child but would consider that I have a responsibility towards my stepchildren to act in a way which does not expose them to harm or in this case speak out when i suspect that they may be at risk. Hopefully for the op there is nothing in it, but the post suggests otherwise.

I think the op's point is that there comes a point in all sp's lives when you have to make that call..get involved and risk overstepping or not get involved and worry about that awful chance...

It sounds as if your dp would be happy for the help and "suggestions" from you as a former teenage girl. From what you say he does sound a bit rabbit in headlights (my dh "please don't talk about periods..lol) with his suddenly grown up little girl.

Really, I would ask yourself - what are the risks of doing this checking (or better getting dp to do it) and risk overstepping or not getting involved and having this worry.

purpleroses Tue 23-Apr-13 22:56:45

ellie I don't know her well enough to talk to her. And if I did, I think she'd just ring up DP and have a go at him, so nothing would be solved. She doesn't have any involvement in DSC's weekend lives really, as they're here every weekend and not sure that she and DSD have a very easy relationship tbh.

taxi - yes he is a bit like a rabbit in the headlights, and has previously welcomed advice from me on teenage boundaries. But these days DSD tends just to tell him (and only if asked) what she is doing. She doesn't ask for permission, and I don't think DP really knows how to deal with this.

I could maybe offer to ring the friend's parents, in the hope that DP will realise this could backfire worse on me than it would on him, so then agree to do it himself.

brdgrl Tue 23-Apr-13 23:34:27

I just yesterday got very different advice about 15-tear-olds, lying and drinking on my recent post. I wonder if it is because I was posting about a boy. hmm

Anyway. I agree that it sounds likely that she (or she and the friend together) are going out, and you are right to be concerned if no one is really aware of what she is up to. Although I am sure I will be told it is excessive by the 'kids will be kids' brigade, I would be pressing my DH to speak to the other family.

Our counselor also advised us to give DSS a bit of a 'worst case scenario' type talk, about all the things that can possibly go wrong when drinking or even just being around people who are.

Doesn't feel like DP really feels he is her parent, and has any authority over her. She doesn't ask to do things, she just tells him what her plans are.
This, this, this. This has been the pattern around ours. DH has finally woken up to it and is trying to address and redirect things, but it is such a struggle for him - I wince sometimes because he just seems to lack that parental authority or even a sense of being 'head of household'. Too often, the kids seem to act as though we are all university students sharing a flat, rather than children and parents.

Kaluki Wed 24-Apr-13 10:47:08

I think you should get DP to talk to her Mum or do it yourself.
If she ignores the problem too then you know you tried.
I would want to know if I were her tbh.
When I had a DSD in a previous relationship I found some really provocative poses and messages from boys on her Bebo account on my laptop when she left it on. I forwarded it all to her Mum (exDP didn't know - he would have gone ape!). About that time a man was grooming young girls on there and the schools came down hard on social networking.
I couldn't have lived with myself if I had done nothing knowing she was potentially at risk.

Jan45 Wed 24-Apr-13 12:27:25

If her dad doesn't want to then that's the end of it, it's not up to you, she's his responsibility. I understand your worry though, she's still very much a child and at a vulnerable age but again, she has two parents so it's their job, not yours, you've said what you think, he's choosing not to act on your advice so that's really it - as far as you are concerned anyway.

purpleroses Wed 24-Apr-13 13:08:06

brdgrl - what do you think made your DP wake up to the need to paren them? My DP does parent the younger ones, very happily. He's not a disney dad. But his relationship with the eldest has developed quite differently I think. Partly because she just assumes autonomy, and partly because he's relied on her being mature and sensible in the past, so now feels he has to go on trusting her to be so. She's not causing any problems at home though, so not sure whether it's an issue I can/should push.

MrsBourneUltimatum Wed 24-Apr-13 13:18:41

This rang alarm bells with me- when I was 16/17 onwards I had a very secret, much older (like 30/31yr old) boyfriend who, understandably, I didn't tell my parents about. My best friend was the only one who knew and I would say I was at hers and she knew I was saying this so would cover if there was any need to (and there never was but she was my back up). My mum and dad accepted it as I was previously trustworthy but looking back it was really suspicious and I used to go out dressed up to the nines as well. I was sensible enough to go out of the house in the right direction though grin.

Maybe do some digging on this one?

Kaluki Wed 24-Apr-13 15:07:57

I got oressured into losing my virginity at 15 to a horrible boy because I lied to my parents and said I was staying at a friends. I got away with it but I wish to God that I hadn't!

FrauMoose Thu 25-Apr-13 10:16:23

Is it possible/desirable to bypass your partner and simply have a woman to woman talk with your stepdaughter about her personal health and safety? For example if she and her friend were to be going to a Saturday night party prior to the sleepover, and her friend were to get hopelessly drunk what would she do? Is she aware of issues around spiked drinks, street drugs, lowered consciousness of risk etc. If any of Saturday nights with a friend involve her getting involved in sexual activity is she aware of the risks of STIs, and does she have condoms in her handbag? Yes, she is growing up and wants to explore independence, but does she feel in control of her actions?

I'm assuming that clubs and pubs are going to be checking for ID - so anything risky are more likely to involve events in other people's houses.

purpleroses Thu 25-Apr-13 13:58:09

Kaluki sad Would feel bad if she later turns round to us and says she wish she'd been kept safer.

fraumoose - possibly - if the opportunity arrises I will. It's certainly the sort of conversation DP would be more than happy for me to have with her and leave him out of. But we're a large household, and DSD is out a lot, so it's not easy to get much of a chance to talk just to her. She did inflict Geordieshore on me the other week when it was (quite unusually) just the two of us in, which gave a bit of opportunity to talk about sex and drink, etc. But it's difficult to engineer such a situation. DSD tends to take a bit of a brash Don't-be-silly-and-worry-about-me-I'm-fine attitude. She certainly doesn't come looking for advice. She knows about contraception, and has some knowledge of SDIs (came back with a friend giggling that they'd both just had Clamidia (sp?) tests in town the other week in order to get the free goodies that were being given out. But this was in front of the younger DCs (and her friend) so I didn't get the chance to ask her whether she was actually worried about that. With my own to DCs, I just inititate any conversations I feel they need, but it's so much harder with one that's not my own. I don't know quite where to start.

I'm not sure where she's going. If it's other people's houses, I'm not sure why she wouldn't just be honest - as she's been to parties and then back to a friend's for a sleepover on other ocassions. When I was her age, clubs were pretty slack about ID, but I think they are stricter these days. She'd probably pass for 18 if she could get hold of some fake ID though.

Grammaticus Thu 25-Apr-13 14:03:27

Your DP needs to call them. But if he won't I would do it myself. Im sure you love and care about her. It's not your job. But I'd do it if the alternative were leaving it undone.

purpleroses Sun 05-May-13 20:49:07

Update - DP said he'd call DSD's friend's parents next time she stayed over. But last weekend she didn't go out so issue dropped.

However just got back from night away with younger DCs which DSD1 opted out of and said she'd stay at her mum's instead (her mum ok about this). But 10am today she texted DP saying sorry she's damaged the table with drink marks (2 of them). Got back to find toilet seat broken too. DSD wasn't supposed to be here at all but she says she'd stopped by on way to friend's house (with company...?)

Have just tacked DP about it and said he needs to speak to his ex and friend's parents to.find where they think DSD was.last night. He says he will but not now. Feel very frustrated as I'd be on the phone right now if it was up to me. But get accused of nagging if I push the issue sad

brdgrl Mon 06-May-13 18:06:59

Oh, dear. I'd be livid now, I think.

However. It's no longer a 'parenting' issue, but a 'house rules' issue - which in many ways I find much easier to deal with.

I'd like to say that in your shoes, I'd be on the phone myself now - and I think you could - but I know that I would find it hard to do so myself. But I do think it has crossed a line now and there is no way it is not your business any longer!

brdgrl Mon 06-May-13 18:07:37

What is your DP doing about the damage, btw?

purpleroses Mon 06-May-13 19:14:41

Yes, I know what you mean. 'House rules' issues are ones I feel I've a right to get involved in, whereas it really is up to DP not me to set appropriate boundaries for DSD. He's spoken to her firmly about the table and is attempting to fix it with polish. The toilet seat had been starting to break anyway (hinges gone) so possibly not entirely her fault - though I find it unlikely that it would break whilst in use by a single female who presumably wouldn't have any reason to put the seat up or down. I can't really get involved about the table being damaged because it's DP's table, and I've previously been guilty of leaving a drink mark on it so I'd be a bit of a hypocrite.

Anyway... DP has emailed his ex about it. Ex says DSD was at the friend's house on Saturday as far as she knows, and she doesn't have any contact details for the friend. DP thinks she's pretty much given up having any control over DSD.

I've found DP out the friend's surname (via facebook) but they seem to be ex-directory. So he needs to ask DSD for the number. He's says he'll do this next time she's going to stay over there - and ring them, like I first suggested, just to check they're generally OK with her staying so much - but only when she next goes there (assuming she tells him in advance of course....) He also says he doesn't want a big argument with her just before her GCSEs. I think DP is possibly right that asking DSD for the friend's number (much as it's absolutely what he should be doing) will probably result in a big row.

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