Glorified babysitter again!

(85 Posts)
entersandmum Thu 06-Jun-13 10:01:32

DP rang me at work yesterday, just to inform me that DSD 9 would be staying until Monday because she is off school.

Is he taking time off? Is he boll**ks. I now have to change my plans for my days off with Dd3 to babysit her.

I wouldn't mind except that for the last few months Dsd9 has become rude and sulky towards me and appears to be turning into a mini-wife whenever Dp is around.

She is currently sat on the sofa, refusing to get dressed or have breakfast, and occasionally throwing me some majorshiteye because I have had the audacity to speak to her.

ExW has cottoned on to the fact that I don't work Thursdayor Friday and last week I was minding her again as ExW had a party

NatashaBee Thu 06-Jun-13 10:08:49

I'd be annoyed too, especially that my DH had discussed it with his ex and presented it to me as a done deal without even asking. Your DSD does sound like a bit of a grumpy preteen, and I can see why you're annoyed that your plans have bee ruined, but your DH is the real issue here I think. Can he take at least an afternoon off so you can do some of the things you'd planned to do with your DD?

(Love your name btw!)

entersandmum Thu 06-Jun-13 10:25:14

Dp is self employed and can't afford to take any time off.

I've spoken to him about this but ExW goes ballistic if he doesn't have her or she threatens to leave her home alone. He has had to go and get her before when she's left her.

I'm really annoyed though as I see Dd3 for about 1.5hrs on a work day and like to spend my days off doing something fun.

We're stuck in the house for now because I can't just bugger off out and leave Dsd9 alone.

If she was mine I would be telling her to get dressed and out or her phone is going in the bin.

Unfortunately, I have to treat her like a royal visitor because as Dp says, ' if she gets upset she won't want to stay'.

This has been the root of many an argument between us and now that is affecting my own children I'm ready to throw in the towel.

Petal02 Thu 06-Jun-13 10:48:29

Unfortunately I have to treat her like a royal visitor because as DP says, “if she gets upset she won’t want to stay”

And that, coupled with a calculating ex, is why lots of us step mums are on a hiding to nowhere. Your DP is terrified to upset the child in case she stops visiting, and the ex does exactly as she pleases because DP is too scared to rock the boat.

White wine has been my salvation.

racmun Thu 06-Jun-13 10:48:56

You poor thing i bet you could scream - i feel annoyed for you!! I think you need to document exactly what is going in today and you seriously need to get this sorted with your DH.

I'm a step mum and there is no way i or my DH would accept my ss to be so rude- what example is your sd setting for your younger children - it is only going to lead to trouble.

I think you need to speak to DH tonight if she doesn't want to stay if she has to behave appropriately then what message is she getting - cone here treat your step mum like shit and get your own way, but that's ok because it's so important you come over- that is not right. She's a child and needs to fit in with your family.

As for you having to look after her I would refuse until your DH can get her to behave properly for you- tough shit if her mum threatens to leave her home alone - she won't it's just emotional blackmail that your DH falls for.

Furthermore yours days with your children are important and need to be respected by your DH and additional childcare not just dropped on.

You have got to get this sorted for your own sanity otherwise it will not end well.

Tuckshop Thu 06-Jun-13 10:56:02

Is she poorly? Why isn't she at school?

entersandmum Thu 06-Jun-13 11:24:56

racmun ExW has left her alone with ADHD elder sister 16 before. DP has had to race over many times when the elder sis has been trashing the house and ExW has gone clubbing.

Dsd 9 apparently has 2 weeks off at half term. I did find this a bit odd as Ds14 is back this week.

Think I should maybe just check the school website.

HugeLaurie Thu 06-Jun-13 11:37:29

What would your DH do if he wasn't married to you? What did he do when he wasn't married to you?

My point is that his ex-wife can play these games because your DH is just passing the problem on to you. I appreciate that some people might say this is your responsibility because you married him but when did common decency and respect for other peoples time go out of the window? I am sure that you do not mind looking after your SDD when it's been agreed and organised in advance but equally that doesn't mean that you are his on tap child care as and when it suits him and his ex-wife.

HugeLaurie Thu 06-Jun-13 11:42:02

And I'm not a step-mum. However I am a single mum with a 8yo DS and an ex-husband who has a partner who he lives with. I wouldn't do this to her in a month of Sundays. In the last seven years I have asked my ex to have our son once as an emergency and at short notice, when I was burgled.

UC Thu 06-Jun-13 11:54:29

Agree with Huge Laurie. Some people will probably come on and say you married the man, take on the daughter. Which is fine, EXCEPT that you clearly aren't allowed to treat the daughter as you do your own children. I don't think many people "get" this. Just because you don't work Thurs and Fris does NOT meant that you automatically should be the one to look after your DSD. She has two parents. They should be working out childcare for the holidays. And that childcare should not be the assumption that you will do it.

I speak from experience. I had to have this very same conversation with my DP about my DSSs. I was in a position where both he and his ex (with whom I get on well - there was no manipulation of the situation by her) had just got used to assuming that because I, like you, am off work 2 days a week, I would have all of our children (i.e. my own and theirs) for those days in the holidays. I found it stressful and difficult (there are 4 of them, ranging in age from 13 to 6), and I was dreading every holiday. I made my own rod to some extent because I did used to offer sometimes, especially if I had plans to go somewhere, I'd offer to take all 4 - and they got used to it, and started expecting it. Which is somewhat different...!

The difference though is that once I explained how I felt to DP, he and his ex sorted it out, and now it doesn't happen anymore. I do sometimes do something with all 4, but that's now my CHOICE.

I fear that maybe the difference is that my DP is not a Disney dad at all, and his ex is very supportive of me, my role, and of the children's relationship with their dad. This is perhaps the root of it.

I think you need to sit down with your DP, and lay it on the line. Otherwise it sounds as though you will reach the end of your tether.

StillSlightlyCrumpled Thu 06-Jun-13 12:00:38

Your DH has a royal cheek (& I'm very pro, it's the step child's home etc..), and you have every right to be really fed up about it.

You can tell her to get dressed or the phone is confiscated etc though, you really can. If your husband is angry about it then tough, you're angry about being taken advantage of. Either way it's an argument but this way you are taking a little control back of your day.

To be fair your DSD sounds just as cheesed off about the situation as you are and would probably enjoy going out once she sorted herself out. Maybe try again with a light / breezy approach and take it from there. I feel for her if she is fed up at home at only 9 years old but your DH shouldn't use you for babysitting without laying down some behaviour rules to his daughter first.

zipzap Thu 06-Jun-13 12:01:09

What sort of work does dh do? Is it something that his dd could go along to and sit quietly whilst he does it?

Or could you say what your plans were and tell him to tell his dd that that is what is happening and that she needs to buck her ideas up. Her mum also needs to be telling her to behave for you - if she is happy to dump her on you (as it seems to be you that she has cottoned on to having the days off and doing the looking after rather than her ex) - sounds like the ex is doing to dump her on you as much as she can regardless of whether or not not dsd wants to come!

Make sure you tell dsd about your plans for the next few weeks (or maybe more importantly - for the summer holidays) when you are going to be out or changing to be working on ad hoc days to fit in with other people's childcare at work or going to stay away or whatever you have to make up to make it sound like you no longer regularly have thursday and friday off so that she can't just dump her on you. Also look into local day care - I know our local primary school runs a great summer camp over the summer that you can use on an adhoc basis - her own school or a school local to you might do the same - so that if the mum tries to dump her on the dad and your dh then expects you to look after her regardless of plans, you can say 'I have plans but she can go to xxx play scheme today' and you can pay for it. Might make them think twice about using you as a free babysitter at their convenience!

StillSlightlyCrumpled Thu 06-Jun-13 12:02:17

Oh and he shouldn't use you for babysitting without your permission either.

bunchamunchycrunchycarrots Thu 06-Jun-13 12:02:58

HugeLaurie I was going to post the exact same thing. I would never ever make that kind of assumption about my ex's fiance, and there have been a few occasions where I've been in a pickle due to childcare problems - it still didn't cross my mind to even consider asking my ex if his fiance would be able to help out. It's just so wrong to expect someone else to pick up that slack with no effort made to ask if that's OK. OP, both your DH and his ex are taking you for granted, as a glorified baby sitter as you say. I've no doubt that part of your DSD's behaviour towards you is at least partly based on the knowledge that neither of her parents want or take the responsibility to care for her when it's needed. So you are on a hiding to nothing in terms of how to address her behaviour/rudeness towards you.

brdgrl Thu 06-Jun-13 12:03:47

HugeLaurie and the others are right.

I appreciate that some people might say this is your responsibility because you married him but when did common decency and respect for other peoples time go out of the window?
Those 'some people' would also be massively mistaken...it doesn't become your responsibility through marriage. In fact, as stepmums we are constantly reminded by the rest of the population that we are not mums to these kids. As such, the childcare 'obligation' most closely parallels that of a non-parental and unpaid family member. This means, or certainly ought to mean, that the person looking after the child does it voluntarily, without undue inconvenience, and with at least the level of authority one would grant to an aunt/uncle/grandparent. Added to that, since it is in your home, the child should be expected to comply with whatever house rules you lay down.

I wouldn't look after my nephews, for free or for any amount, under these circumstances. And I love them beyond reason.

If she was mine I would be telling her to get dressed and out or her phone is going in the bin.
And until you can say that - and know your DP will back it up - you should be refusing to be a caregiver.

I'd be sorely tempted to hire a babysitter for your DSD and carry on with your own plans. And let your DP pay for it. He's taking the piss.

entersandmum Thu 06-Jun-13 12:36:43

Well I managed to get us all out for a while till Dsd got bored.

Dp and I are not married, we just co-habit, so to speak. That however is a whole other story!

Not looking good is it?

Dsd back on her phone and I've set up Dd3 with her peddling pool.

The school is on holiday. Shame on me for thinking otherwise!

catsmother Thu 06-Jun-13 12:36:44

This is such a perennial old chestnut on the step boards - but my hackles rise every time I read about yet another poor SM being taken totally for granted by her partner and his ex.

Yes, yes, yes to everyone who agrees this should be discussed and agreed with the stepmum beforehand. And that means, that possibly, she might say no ! As Huge says, the DP and his ex would have to sort something out between them if the OP didn't exist.

But most importantly, even if the OP agreed to this it should be conditional on the fact that whilst in her care she should be allowed to discipline SD properly (what "properly" means is of course subjective and something else OP and her DP should agree on together - but being unable to do anything is plain ridiculous and of course the kid plays up).

If that means she strops off - where have I heard that before - so be it. I'm sick of reading about adults and whole households being held to ransom by manipulative kids - even if that manipulation has been born out of bad parenting. At that stage the DP needs to man up and consider what, exactly, has led to that stage ..... it's certainly not normal ..... and perhaps think about a different approach. Ultimately, a 9 year old shouldn't be able to decide not to come anyway - it's a totally inappropriate level of power to give her - and if she refuses to budge (and her mother doesn't enforce this) then he has the option of a contact order to ensure he keeps seeing his daughter.

And if the DP's concerned that SD is being left alone and/or in the company of an older child who can't be trusted to care for her properly then he needs to inform social services. Otherwise the mother knows that the slightest hint of that happening will scare DP into complying with short notice care - regardless of how practical this actually is.

PS: this is why I thank god there's a huge distance between us and my stepkids (created by ex moving, not us) because I'm sure if we were nearer this kind of crap might have been tried on me too, especially since I work from home which some people imagine means I'm not actually working at all.

PPS: please UC can you clone your DP, and his ex too for that matter, and let us all have copies of them !

PPPS: if my 9 year old was refusing to get dressed they'd not only have their phone confiscated (not that they'd have a phone at that age ?!?) but they'd be dragged out to wherever we were going in their nightwear. That is what your DP should be threatening too - along with a major bollocking for being so rude and disrespectful to you OP. It's outrageous that you're stuck in because of a bloody 9 year old yet your pathetic DP won't do anything about it !

entersandmum Thu 06-Jun-13 12:38:41

Arrrrrrgh. Paddling pool, damn autocorrect.

I do not have Dd3 doing a car boot!

UC Thu 06-Jun-13 12:51:14

OP, you have got unanimous replies - unusual for the Step parenting board! I really think you should perhaps consider showing your DP the thread.

Catsmother, your posts are always so very clear and well structured. I find myself agreeing with you pretty much always!

I realise I am v lucky with our set up, and that DP and his ex both value what I do, and don't overstep (hahha!!) the mark. If they didn't, I would have reached the end of that tether long ago I think. My ex is the same. We sort out our childcare between the two of us, and if there's a problem we both ASK our respective partners first before getting them to help out. This means that usually, they are willing and able to help out, rather than feeling put upon and resentful. There's nothing worse than being in a position of powerlessness, which is where I think OP is.

OP, take some power back if you can. What if you had been away these two days? Maybe you should be going to visit friends/family next time... Your DP and his ex need to see that you aren't always just "there" to be dumped on.

HugeLaurie Thu 06-Jun-13 12:53:13

My view on this is that my son is the product of my marriage to my ex-husband. We decided to have a child and unfortunately not long after that we split up.

He sees our son twice a week on fixed days and times. There is some room for changing days if required, however this is done at least a week in advance and I ask my ex-husband not his partner if these changes are ok. This happens once or twice a year, maximum.

I do this for two reasons:-

1. Our son is our responsibility and not his partner's.
2. I would never want her to resent our son because of a lack of basic manners and respect on the part of me and my ex-husband. The routine is there for a reason. Changes are pre-planned with lots of notice.

They are basically using you as unpaid childcare without even asking you if it is convenient. This is not about whether you like your SDD or not or whether you are trying to prevent him seeing his daughter or any other emotional reasoning. This is about decency and respect for your time.

entersandmum Thu 06-Jun-13 12:55:51

DP works at a busy hospital so can't have Dsd with him and I'll admit that I would feel awful about sending Dsd9 to childcare and excluding her from our day. I always try and make sure that any family trip has something from toddlers to teens.

To be honest when we are alone she has her moments but isn't that bad. When Dp is around or due home Dsd9 is a nightmare and I usually end up doing chores drinking wine in another room

i think as everyone else has said your DP needs to deal with this and you should refuse to care for DSD if you cannot discipline in some manner.

I often has DSS when DP is not avalible however i can discipline him if needed, yes he sometimes doesn't like it but then niether do my own DC!!

You need to talk to your DP or this situation will drive you away.

entersandmum Thu 06-Jun-13 13:30:39

I think I already know in my heart that DP needs to 'rman up' as far as ExW and Dsd9 are concerned.

I work with ex-offenders and ExW was recently pi**ed off that I couldn't take her to work with me!

I've had the chat numerous times with him. Usually this results in excuses. ' I don't see her all the time' , she has been through a lot' etc.

I've actually planned a trip for myself and the kids. DP and Dsd want to come along but to be honest I can't afford it and I want to have some quality time with my own children.

If I had known the issues surrounding ExW and Dsd9, I probably wouldn't have dated DP at all.

DP is always telling me that I should treat Dsd like my own. Think I will get the ball rolling on that one and I guess we will see how it goes.

Good luck!

It can be easily resolved as long as he is willing to listen!

I've had the chat numerous times with him. Usually this results in excuses. ' I don't see her all the time' , she has been through a lot' etc. but he not seeing her if she with you and he is at work so he can't use that as an excuse to make you look after your SD

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