DSS1's "D"M doesn't seem to care where he's been all day - DP's worried about him feeling unloved...

(41 Posts)
SamanthaMulder Sat 31-Aug-13 22:15:19

Both DSSs are supposed to be on their 2 night weekend at their DM's house. Yesterday, DSS1 (14) asked his DM if he could come home to play on his Xbox and she agreed on comdition that he went back to hers for tea when she rang him, which he dutifully did. Now, I think he must have told her that he was going back out to see his mates (DSSs have been away for a week at their DGM's), but he came back home to go back on the Xbox and she was going to call/text him when it was time fro him to come home.

She eventually called DSS1 around 10pm last night - he convinced her to let him stay at "his friend's house" because it was late. I think she must have said something about making sure he came home for tea and that she was going to call/text him.

So, DSS1 has spent all day at home sleeping until lunchtime and then playing on his Xbox again basically waiting for the summons to go back to his DM's house. HE eventually called her at 9pm to find out what's going on and she gives him a massive bollocking for not going back to her's in time for tea. DSS1 has now gone back to his DM's, and we will be collecting him at lunchtime tomorrow after "not seeing him since Friday afternoon".

She's made no effort all day to check on how he is after she's seen him for probably a total of less than an hour in a week. DP's really upset about the way she's pretty much ignored her own son for 24 hours, then given him hell when DSS1 realised that it was late (we had been asking him regularly if he'd heard from her, that he was ok, if he was hungry although DP didn't want to offer him a proper tea in the hope that DSS would go to his DM's off his own back, etc). It's just crap really.

randomAXEofkindness Wed 25-Sep-13 11:05:47

I haven't read the whole thread, just the first page.

"several times we've had DSS1 come home first thing in the morning when he's supposed to be at his DM's until lunchtime or coming home during one of his DM's evenings with some excuse that he needs something from his room and staying holed up in there"

Why doesn't he want to go home to his own mother? How do you know that he isn't being abused at his mums? I was physically/emotionally abused by my mother for 18 years and I didn't tell anyone about it. If somebody had asked me "Do you want to go home to your mum?" I would have answered "No"; I wouldn't have told them why. If I'd had the opportunity to nip round to my dad's, I would have gone there and stayed as long as possible. If my dad had facilitated this, I would have been/still would be incredibly grateful to him. As it was, he did what some people here seem to be encouraging and threw me back into the lion's den.

I think it would be a mistake for the op to prioritize trying to improve dss's relationship with his mother (have never witnessed this done by an outsider effectively EVER) over offering a non-judgmental haven for her dss to escape whatever is going on at home. I'd bet you £2 (it's all I have, hardtimes! grin), that if the op took the computer etc away, he'd still prefer to come. My dss's friends are at his mums, he's got every console/game going there, gets taken for meals/to the cinema etc. We don't have computer consoles, are skint, expect him to help out a lot more with the dc's, healthier food, less tv etc. He STILL doesn't want to go home to his mum. We've known for a few years that she emotionally abuses him - but he's only had the space to tell us this because we don't make any fuss, we're good listeners, and we never say a word to dhex about it. All we can do is offer him some respite and help him to cope with her behaviour. I think that you and your DH did the right thing. I'd be incredibly wary of letting his mum in on his secrets (they're not harming him or anybody else) and focus on building his trust so that he can open up to you. If it turns out that he isn't suffering any abuse, little is lost. If he is, then you've offered him the best possible care you can have done throughout a horrible situation.

ChinaCupsandSaucers Wed 04-Sep-13 22:13:10

If DSS1 seems comfortable with his lot after this time, I'd be wary about suggesting anything that could upset things now.

Well, he isn't, is he?

You've said in your OP that your DP is worried that his DS feels unloved by his Mum, he's holing himself up at your house rather than spend time with her, lying to her about spending time with his Dad (why would any DC do that?) - not signs of a well balanced DC who is well adjusted despite the family unheaval and Dads ongoing mental health issues....

Counselling will never harm a DC - but failure to provide the support he needs now could have lifelong consequences.

SamanthaMulder Wed 04-Sep-13 21:43:42

DSS1 certainly does the reason why - she walked out on them all and was pregnant with her DD by the end of the month. DSS2 was only 2 at the time and I don't think he remember a time that they were together. The remaining family went through a lot of trauma at the time anyway - DP's DF was very ill and died 4 months after the split, then DP was attacked and hospitalised for over a week just over a month later. His Ex tried to get him to have the boys back the same evening he was discharged from hospital when he had no food in the house and no money to buy anything other than a few pounds which some friends had lent him when they'd visited him in hospital.

Once DP was out of hospital, I think he put the barriers up to some extent - them against the world. He didn't speak to his GP about his MH until after we got together and I moved in, when he was finally coming around to realise that the way he was feeling wasn't right. A few months later DP was diagnosed with PTSD from the attack.

Before DP & I got together, I was a friend of theirs and DP had asked me to try and convince DSS1 to not be so hostile to his DM. (my parents also split after my DM had an affair, although I was older and left to live with my DM shortly after once DM was settled). I spent some time talking to DSS1 about how he felt - I at least succeeded in getting him to stop swearing at her at the school gate. However, the time I spent with the boys seemed to have a great impact on them and DP overheard his Ex complaining to the boys when he was dropping them off one day and the door hadn't closed behind them that she was sick to death hearing about "Samantha" (it must have been me she was referring to as my RL name isn't very common), so they must have been talking about me a lot at hers.

I've spent some time talking to DSS1's heads of year during yr 7 & 8 after he moved to high school after we had a few minor concerns (due to DP's PTSD, it was decided that I'd be more tactful/diplomatic in talks with the teachers over those issues, so I really was thrown in at the deep end). With both teachers, I was reassured that DSS1 seems well adjusted and they had no concerns with him apart from being a little easily led by a few idiotic friends. Yr 9 passed with little incident, and he's started yr 10 with what seems to be a good attitude. If DSS1 seems comfortable with his lot after this time, I'd be wary about suggesting anything that could upset things now.

ChinaCupsandSaucers Wed 04-Sep-13 19:55:36

Do the DCs know the reasons for their parents split? hmm

That alone is a good reason to seek play therapy or counselling for them - DSD has recently revealed how much emotional conflict knowing that her Mum has had an affair has caused her.

SamanthaMulder Wed 04-Sep-13 19:36:35

3littlefrogs - Both DSSs say very little about their DM's now DH (the man she left their DF for). The only comment I've had out of either of them in 3 years about him is "Mum says we have to call him Dad when we're there".

DSS2 is 7. Last week, the boys did go over together, but DSS1 left soon after. DSS2 usually complains when we collect him from his DM's because he has to share a room with her DD (4) - if DSS2 is to be believed, her DD still wakes up regularly in the night and wakes him as well.

TBH, DSS1's normal relationship with his mother seems to have reached an air of benign indifference most of the time - that's an improvement from when he was still in primary school and would scream obscenities at her across the school yard when she went to collect him from school.

This weekend's Xbox thing - I think he was doing some game mission with some of his mates on Xbox Live.

Bonsoir - I am 10 years down the line with that scenario and the DSSs live with us now because they want things like an evening meal, interest in their school work and a supportive environment for high stakes exams and the transition to HE - none of which their mother has the slightest interest in providing.
Sounds similar to us. A few months after I moved in, she told DP she couldn't have them one night because she couldn't afford to feed them - they would have been at hers long enough to have tea and breakfast. She actually said at the time that DP should pay her for the nights she has them. DP put up no complaint and they stayed at ours that night, but stonewalled her on the money question - she's never done it since.

The only time time I have ever known her to buy the DSSs any clothes has been an outfit at birthdays or Xmas - she's never made any contribution towards school uniform or equipment in the time I've been with DP. DP collected DSS2 from school once after the DSSs had spent the night at hers and he was complaining his pants were hurting - we found out she'd sent him to school wearing pants 2 sizes too small for him. There's countless basic things I can't understand why she does them.

Bonsoir Wed 04-Sep-13 18:12:19

3littlefrogs - if both families live locally to one another, I think it's not unusual for siblings to not always come and go at the same time.

3littlefrogs Wed 04-Sep-13 16:35:22

Sorry if this has already been mentioned, but how does DSS1 get along with his mother's new partner?

What does DSS2 have to say about it all? Does DSS2 stay at his mum's happily? I don't understand why the transporting of the 2 boys does not happen at the same time.

Alarm bells would be ringing with me in this situation TBH. 14 is still quite young, and while I agree that the average 14 year old would be happier hanging out with friends rather than parents, this doesn't seem to be what is happening here.

The other worry is the amount of time spent on the Xbox. Is it the Xbox that is the problem perhaps?

I think there is more going on here.

Bonsoir Wed 04-Sep-13 16:21:06

We have years of examples behind us. She expects many things - she fails to realise that there is work and sacrifice involved.

ChinaCupsandSaucers Wed 04-Sep-13 16:19:04

And, more to the point - my DSSs' mother places huge value on high stakes exams (as do the DSSs and DP and I) - she just refuses to help in the execution.

Now I think you're bonkers!

Have you ever heard the phrase 'actions speak louder then words?'

Are you really foolish enough to believe what your DSC mum says, despite her behaviour and actions?

Bonsoir Wed 04-Sep-13 16:06:37

And, more to the point - my DSSs' mother places huge value on high stakes exams (as do the DSSs and DP and I) - she just refuses to help in the execution.

She would, however, be the first to blame the DC if they failed to live up to her expectations,

ChinaCupsandSaucers Wed 04-Sep-13 16:06:00

Oh well. I won't lose any sleep over it. I doubt it's an exclusive club.

I guess anyone who doesn't share your views is bonkers in your opinion, aren't they?

Bonsoir Wed 04-Sep-13 16:02:52

I think you are bonkers!

brdgrl Wed 04-Sep-13 14:55:57

Precisely.

ChinaCupsandSaucers Wed 04-Sep-13 12:56:23

Bonsoir. In a word, yes.

To explain more thoroughly - not all parents place a value on high stakes exams - and those parents are not wrong; just have different values to yours (and your DPs).

Your way is not the only way, despite your assertion that anything you don't agree with is BS hmm

Bonsoir Wed 04-Sep-13 11:32:49

Really? You think that telling your son to go out for the evening because you are having a party the night before a high stake exam when he needs to revise and be encouraged and supported is merely an alternative approach to parenting that the other family should be proactively supporting? hmm

brdgrl Wed 04-Sep-13 10:35:58

* What I mean is to equip the DCs with the skills to cope with the different approaches of their respective parents and not reinforce the feelings of rejection that they may be feeling.*
Yes and yes.

If the two parents, or households, have different values, as when one places a high premium on prestige and material goods, one is not more of a parent than the other by virtue of not having the same approach. I am a little dubious of equating 'parental rejection' with 'not helping with 'high stakes exams'.

Bonsoir Wed 04-Sep-13 10:04:09

And it is very wrong to victim blame and claim that it is the child doing the rejecting when it is the parent.

Bonsoir Wed 04-Sep-13 10:02:42

That is idealistic BS, China. Children should not be expected to parent themselves by bridging the skills gap unless circumstances are dire.

ChinaCupsandSaucers Wed 04-Sep-13 09:45:43

I'm not suggesting you try and change the parent!

What I mean is to equip the DCs with the skills to cope with the different approaches of their respective parents and not reinforce the feelings of rejection that they may be feeling.

By giving them the easy option of opting out of the relationship with the less involved parent the DC is missing valuable opportunities to learn about different relationship patterns and cope with situations that make them uncomfortable.
Your DSS, for instance, could have learnt the skills to manage without an evening meal made for him at home, or sought support for schoolwork elsewhere without rejecting his mother - rather than be given the option to live in an environment that suited him at the expense of his relationship with one of his parents.

DCs whose parents are not separated don't have the option of securing a home that delivers their 'preferred' style of parenting; they develop coping strategies and parents and DCs learn together what works.

My own preference is to give my DD life skills which she can transfer to other situations as she grows up - rather than rescue her and remove her from a situation she isn't comfortable with - particularly if that involves her Dad, who is an equal parent in her life. Just because he doesn't do things my way doesn't make him wrong, just different!

Bonsoir Wed 04-Sep-13 08:57:15

It isn't that simple, ChinaCupsandSaucers. You can wish all you like for your DCs' or DSSs' other parent to take an active interest in their children and to be a loving and effective parent, but if that parent has in effect resigned from parenting, there is extremely little you can do to change them. I am 10 years down the line with that scenario and the DSSs live with us now because they want things like an evening meal, interest in their school work and a supportive environment for high stakes exams and the transition to HE - none of which their mother has the slightest interest in providing.

ChinaCupsandSaucers Wed 04-Sep-13 08:42:28

I don't think it's unfair - just a different approach!

Some parents would consider it a failing on their part if their DCs relationship with the other parent deteriorated. I'd be mortified if my DD was hiding out and lying to her Dad.

Whereas others consider themselves in competition as to who has the best relationship with their DC - so would never do anything to help improve it - as you suggest, some even take the opportunity to reduce contact between parent and DC when things are tough.

Bonsoir Wed 04-Sep-13 07:18:11

I sympathise, OP, and I think you have had some very unfair treatment on this thread. You sound like a stepmother who has embraced teenaged stepsons almost FT with open arms and an open heart and you cannot be held responsible for the poor relationship your DSSs have with their own mother, which is all of her making.

Perhaps it is time for your DP to tackle his ex and suggest that the DSSs reduce their overnight contact time with her?

smokinaces Tue 03-Sep-13 22:54:31

Tbh, no wonder your stepson acts like this. You all act like children!!

NatashaBee Tue 03-Sep-13 19:59:58

Then be the bigger and better person, and talk to her. If you are civil then maybe she'll surprise you and be civil back. At the very least, if she kicks off at you or refuses to talk to you, you would be a little more justified in throwing your hands up and not involving yourself in letting her know where your DSS is (not that that means it's OK to encourage or allow him to lie to her, though). It's not the school playground...

SamanthaMulder Tue 03-Sep-13 19:42:55

You can call his Mum though.

Haha! That's a good one. She's only made eye contact with me a handful of times in 3 years, and seems to totally resent my involvement in her son's lives even though I wouldn't be in it if she hadn't walked out on them. I keep away from her like her DP keeps away from my DP.

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