What are we doing next Dad?

(82 Posts)
groundhogday17 Wed 09-Jan-13 08:32:13

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?

groundhogday17 Wed 09-Jan-13 09:42:00


Petal02 Wed 09-Jan-13 10:24:35

I don’t have any words of wisdom, but I wanted to sympathise with you, and we have a very similar situation with my DSS, who is 18.

DH is keen to encourage him to engage in a more age-appropriate lifestyle, rather than the fixed access rota with a structured entertainment schedule, but DSS is still very keen to visit as per the rota and DH won’t challenge this. The problem we have, is that if DH doesn’t entertain DSS, then DSS simply spends the entire visit either on his computer or lazing on the sofa in front of the TV, basically watching the clock tick round til it’s time for him to go home again.

This insistence on a visiting schedule actually impedes occasions when they could do normal father/son stuff together – ie there’s a Cricket Masterclass taking place next month, on a Sunday morning, DH and DSS would both enjoy doing that together, but as it falls outside of rostered visiting, it won’t happen.

In an ideal world, DH would tell DSS there’s no point in coming to visit for days on end if he just hangs round the house, but that’s never going to happen. By now, I thought DSS would be popping in and out on an adhoc basis, but scheduled access has to be adhered to.

So as I said, no words of wisdom from me, but I feel your pain.

Petal02 Wed 09-Jan-13 10:26:14

And before anyone suggests this – DSS does not have any mental health issues, he’s simply very young for his age, very clingy and very lazy.

groundhogday17 Wed 09-Jan-13 13:27:54

Petal how do you cope with the actual weekends? I'm getting stressed already and it' 2 days away. How do the access weekends pan out for you?

flurp Wed 09-Jan-13 15:33:23

My step children will be like this in a few year too I'm sure.
They can't just play or entertain themselves like my dc do. It's always where are we going what are we doing ... Etc If you don't have an answer they whine continuously that they are bored! I have been saying for years that they should learn to entertain themselves sometimes but they simply can't or won't! Poor DP is run ragged every other weekend trying to think up things to do with them. He is rather jealous when my kids go up and play with their Lego for a few hours leaving me free to do my own thing!!!

Petal02 Wed 09-Jan-13 16:07:19

Groundhog, when we were on the “old regime” (Thurs night til 6pm Sunday EOW) it was really difficult. If DH and I wanted to go anywhere, we had to take DSS with us, which used to get very silly. We had to take him with us when I needed to choose new glasses, he had to come to Tesco with us, we had a failed attempt at choosing new kitchen work tops (DSS always used to position himself between us and the goods on display, making it impossible to shop). It seems perfectly natural to have DH with me, but when you’ve got two 6ft males trailing round the shops it’s quite impractical. So many completely nroaml weekend activities had to wait til child-free weekends, which I could understand if he were 6, but not at 18.

Sunday were the worst; DSS didn’t usually get out of bed til 2pm-ish, and as he had to be back at his mother’s (having had his evening meal) by 6pm, we could do very little with Sunday afternoons, and basically used to watch the clock tick round til it was time for him to go home.

In the early days I often used to go off and do my own thing on access weekends, but this didn’t always work – it just used to make me feel resentful, so I didn’t actually achieve anything. Also, DH used to get upset at my absence, which caused rows.

Basically, alternate weekends were “dead time”, all due to the fact that DH had to babysit his 18 year old. I used to post about it here, and generally got slated.

But DSS then started working on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, his workplace was 2 mins walk from his mother’s house. It made access weekends completely unworkable; DSS still wanted to come to us as usual but then Saturdays/Sundays were backwards and forwards (and then backwards and forwards again) between our home and the ex’s village. And then repeat on Sundays.

So I suggested to DH that we changed the arrangements, and to my surprise he agreed that DSS now visits from Thurs evening- Saturday lunch time each week, so it’s “little and often” rather than a protracted fortnightly residential that didn’t work for anyone. DSS doesn’t get any less time with us (we had to work this out very carefully) but once DH has dropped him back home on Saturday lunch time (he’s then in the right place to go work on Sat/Sun afternoons) the rest of the weekend is ours. It’s made the situation far more bearable; we tend to make Friday evening ‘family nights’, then DH takes DSS to the snooker hall on Saturday morning while I play (indoor) tennis, so they get some quality time together. As one of my friends pointed out, that’s probably about the same amount of 1-2-1 time that a resident father would spend with an 18 yr old, so I don’t think DSS is losing out.

But to answer your original question – having a young adult, that you’re not allowed to kick up the backside, hanging round the house EOW, living the lifestyle of a much younger child, was almost too much to bear sometimes. DH really struggles to parent DSS as a young adult, he finds it much easier to revert to parent/child mode. In fact only last week DH was wondering if we could find a child-friendly activity that we could all do together on a Saturday morning – until I reminded him that his “child” is 18 and that a trip to the Wacky Warehouse or Soft Play Zone probably wouldn’t be suitable.

I realise that your situation is made more difficult as you’ve also got a younger DSS, and that your older stepson “piggy backs” onto the more normal arrangements you have with DSS14. But I want you to know that I totally understand your frustration.

NotaDisneyMum Wed 09-Jan-13 16:30:30

My DSS is a lot younger but used to demonstrate similar behaviour - we knew that he was capable of occupying himself because he spends days at a time in the care of his elderly grandma who is disabled and housebound and is in bed a lot of the time.
Possibly because of that, and the expectations his Mum had given him about visits to Dad, DSS used to assume that the weekend would be wall to wall entertainment.

We resolved it by planning household chores for some of the weekend - so if he asked 'what are we doing today?' DP would tell him that they were going to clear out the shed, weed the garden, put up shelves or something similar. Some of the tasks captured DSS imagination and he'd happily help change the car tyre, for instance, but others were a drudge - but DP never said that he had to help; he could go and do his own thing if he wanted to smile Over time, DSS has learnt to wait and see what we have planned wink

purpleroses Wed 09-Jan-13 16:43:32

I find suggestions that they help with the gardening, tidy their rooms or help me cook a meal tends to get rid of most of the expectations of entertainment. Thankfully DP tends to use the same tactic, as he gets pretty much no leisure time except when the kids are here, so has to do all those sort of things with them around. Could you see if your two DSC could do anything more together? Or offer lifts into town, to a friend's etc to help facilitate more independent life? Or would it help if you and your DH made some rough plans for the weekend that include whatever you'd like to see happen, and then when DSS asks what is going to happen, there's an answer to give him. And make it clear that if it isn't what he fancies doing, he can make his own plans.

Nice to hear your situation has got a bit better, Petal

groundhogday17 Wed 09-Jan-13 17:28:21

Thanks all. Petal omg at the thought of finding a "child friendly activity" for an 18yo!

NADM I used to use the chore response. So if DSS said what are we doing next, I used to say "well since you're stuck for things to do you can empty the dishwasher, or whatever". Tbh though, it didn't make any difference and I ended up giving up.

Purple roses one if the problems is that he doesn't appear to have any friends. Or well none he sees outside school anyway. I suspect this has a lot to do with his unusual lifestyle and that hes happy to hang around with mum all the time. What on earth does he say when the other students are talking about what he did at the weekend, I wonder?

The trouble with us having a loose plan for the weekend is that it's providing him with a solution rather than making him think? DH wondered if a new tact of pretty much letting him feel very bored might force him into action. I'm not convinced but we can try both those tacts in turn I guess!

I think he still views himself as that little kid who goes to dads so dad can have "access" and that it is dads job to entertain him. I don't think his behaviour will change until that mindset does iykwim?

purpleroses Wed 09-Jan-13 17:31:35

But if he's the same with his mum, then it's not really a result of the "access time" thing though, is it? Sounds more a result of him not really having much of a social life. Does he have friends at school/college? Boys can need a bit of a prod to set up social things with their mates I think.

Bonsoir Wed 09-Jan-13 17:33:09

My DP takes DSS1 and DSS2 to the gym for a session with a personal trainer every Sunday morning (including the weekends they are at their mother's). DP is clear with the DSSs that they have to be prepared to do whatever the trainer requires. DP always tells the trainer to massacre them grin.

The DSSs love going to the gym with DP... and we both love that we don't hear another squeak out of them all afternoon grin.

They also have regular activities (English tutor, tennis coach) on Saturday. Honestly, at this age boys need regular structured activity.

NotaDisneyMum Wed 09-Jan-13 17:35:34

Groundhog - it means you get 5 minutes to put your feet up while he empties the dishwasher, though! wink

groundhogday17 Wed 09-Jan-13 17:38:59

He says he doesn't "have time" for structured activity. In reality his mum likes his time free so he can help her with shopping/kids/gardening whatever (although she is married)

Purple he doesn't have the same issue at mums because she keeps him 100% busy with the above things. Also he does all is homework at her house which means he has almost no homework to do here. I don't think he has mentioned a single friend since he was about 8.

We don't have this trouble at all with DSS2. He doesn't enjoy structured activities at all, but us totally happy put on his bike, with football, art/music.

groundhogday17 Wed 09-Jan-13 17:39:46

Yes NADM there is that!

purpleroses Wed 09-Jan-13 17:41:19

Yes, but he's not learnt to entertain himself at either house - he's used to being kept busy by parents.

I'd try your letting him get really bored approach alongside some suggestions of things he might like to do, and see if that works.

If you have a loose plan for the weekend, it might not fix DSS's behaviour, but it might stop it bothering you so much as you'd be doing whatever you'd like to be doing anyway, rather than building the weekend round him.

Bonsoir Wed 09-Jan-13 17:43:39

Children who haven't got any hobbies (because their parents never paid for activities for them when they were little) are often really bored or find it difficult to entertain themselves.

Perhaps you should try paying for something that he could learn to do?

Petal02 Wed 09-Jan-13 17:44:59

Bonsoir, you honestly think that males of 17/18 years of age need structured weekend activity????? At what age, in your opinion, should they cease to need this?

groundhogday17 Wed 09-Jan-13 17:46:19

Tbh I do come up with plans for the weekend, but increasingly these involve me being out of the house at weekends. DH has just spoken to them both on the phone. With DSS2 there was an animated chat about DSSs week. With DSS1 the first thing he said was "what are we doing this weekend?"

Yes purple you're right. The main difference is that his mother appears to like him being this way ( she has never wanted him to mix with others really or having any outside 'influences'), whereas I find it infuriating and DH finds it a mix between worrying and annoying

Bonsoir Wed 09-Jan-13 17:46:40

Yes of course they do Petal02.

groundhogday17 Wed 09-Jan-13 17:47:07

The thought of this for the next 5+ years is sad.

Bonsoir Wed 09-Jan-13 17:47:48

I'm not planning on denying the DSSs sport etc any time soon? Why would I? They make great progress and it keeps them out of trouble!

groundhogday17 Wed 09-Jan-13 17:47:58

DSS1 went to plenty of paid activities, so I don't agree with your theory at all Bonsoir

Bonsoir Wed 09-Jan-13 17:49:19

And why doesn't he do any anymore? Tennis? Gym? Wakeboarding? Chess? Etc etc.

Poor teenagers, why are they expected to have such boring weekends and not complain sad?

groundhogday17 Wed 09-Jan-13 17:49:46

Tbh I think it's the dominance of paid organised activities that ate partly to blame for the lack of imagination in many teens. There simply wasn't this trend a couple of decades ago yet kids still found plenty of things to do. It wasn't all laid on a plate do more creativity was required

groundhogday17 Wed 09-Jan-13 17:50:23

He isn't interested in any of those things Bonsoir.

Bonsoir Wed 09-Jan-13 17:50:58

BS!!! Kids were really bored in the past.

It really is outrageous to expect a teenager to self-entertain all weekend.

groundhogday17 Wed 09-Jan-13 17:51:30

He isn't interested in anything at all tbh

groundhogday17 Wed 09-Jan-13 17:51:56

Lol at outrageous

groundhogday17 Wed 09-Jan-13 17:52:57

I didn't say he was expected to entertain ALL. But 30 minutes or do in 3 days would be a start

Bonsoir Wed 09-Jan-13 17:54:51

Think about it. It's just lazy and neglectful parenting not to organise something for your DCs at the weekend. It doesn't have to be an entertainment (though a family outing to a restaurant/cinema on Saturday night or Sunday late afternoon is always nice) but it does need to provide stimulation. Humans are designed to self-stimulate eternally, especially not when they are young.

groundhogday17 Wed 09-Jan-13 17:54:54

I didnt say kids didn't get bored in the past. But ime my friends and I wouldnt have been asking mummy and daddy what they were doing to entertain us at 17yo. I had a part time job and a boyfriend for a start. And yes I still studied

Bonsoir Wed 09-Jan-13 17:55:09

are not designed to self-stimulate

groundhogday17 Wed 09-Jan-13 17:57:38

The other 2 manage to self entertain. And im talking about during family downtime, not all weekend! It's only DSS1 that struggles. Many of my work colleagues have boys this age and they're experiences are very very different. Much more a mix of some family time but a lot of socialising/outside interests as well

Pipsytwos Wed 09-Jan-13 17:58:20

Reading this post has made me finally accept that my partner is right about my stepson. He's only 5, but we keep him at all times occupied with high impact activity. We pay for horse riding, swimming, I do crafts, play games, football. Way more than you'd get in a family youd live with. All of a sudden, if he's got 5 mins not doing anything because partner is using the loo or doing dinner and I'm nursing my baby he'll say 'I'm telling Mummy that I'm bored at Daddy's' Once we had to do our shopping while he was with us because it hadn't been long since having a csection and I couldn't drive to do it on my own (we have stepson early sat till sun evening every week) and he went mad. Started hitting and screaming. I think we're responsible for allowing him to think he's owed a good time and that our lives should stop as to facilitate that. My partner has said enough is enough, that dss has too much power and he needs to see that he is part of a family, a normal one that does normal things. Now I see where this can lead I think we do need to sort it and maybe my argument of 'oh we only have him at weekends we should just make it about him' will just cause us more problems.

groundhogday17 Wed 09-Jan-13 18:04:12

Yes Pipsy I'm with you all the way on that. You do t want to have this when he's 17yo, you really dont

LillianGish Wed 09-Jan-13 18:12:47

Humans aren't designed to self-stimulate - honestly Bonsoir I usually agree with you, but what does that even mean?! I agree kids should have hobbies, but they should also be able to amuse themselves. Both are important.In the case of the 18-year-old - he's not a child, it's an adult. I can't believe he even has to be tied in to access visits at that age - he could leave home if he wanted to, be fighting in Afghanistan. Surely if he wants to go to a cricket masterclass with his dad on a Sunday he doesn't need his mother's agreement for that to happen.

Bonsoir Wed 09-Jan-13 18:14:47

I get really fed up with threads complaining about teenage boys - it's all about mothers/stepmothers' personal agendas (not wanting to have to bother or pay) and nothing to do with the reality of teenage boys and where their brains are.

Tough shit if you have a teenaged boy around - deal with the reality grin.

groundhogday17 Wed 09-Jan-13 18:15:50

Why read them if you're so sick of them confused

Bonsoir Wed 09-Jan-13 18:16:24

Because I feel sorry for the teenage boys at the receiving end of so much bitching!

groundhogday17 Wed 09-Jan-13 18:19:39

The reality is a terminally bored socially isolated young adult who I suspect will be thus his entire life. I'm mature enough to realise that my frustration is way from the biggest problem here. And also that giving him the cop out of keeping him entertained 24/7 is merely masking the reality he'll experience for the rest of his life, namely that no one can do this for him ad infinitum. Well unless he always lives with his mum, which is a strong possibility

Bonsoir Wed 09-Jan-13 18:25:13

Don't be such a meanie and do something for him.

groundhogday17 Wed 09-Jan-13 18:32:26

When did I say we don't do anything for him. Honestly I don't really see the point in discussing this with you when you're just making stuff up. And to be honest I don't agree with your parenting style, but thanks for the input.

Bonsoir Wed 09-Jan-13 18:33:10

Maybe you don't agree, but the result is fab grin

LillianGish Wed 09-Jan-13 18:34:38

Have you thought of turning the question round and asking him what he wants to do?

Selks Wed 09-Jan-13 18:34:39

Bonsoir, he is 17, almost an adult, and shouldn't need activities etc organising for him. Are you familiar with young people of that age group at all? It's hardly "lazy and neglectful parenting" not to provide activities for that age group every weekend. I find it hard to believe that you are being serious!
Part of growing up is learning to self-guide with activity and interests, becoming ones' own person etc etc. It's a necessary part of child development, and imo the lads mother is doing him no favours at all in stifling this.

Numberlock Wed 09-Jan-13 18:35:05

Well surely his dad provides some entertainment during the weekend so his son must enjoy some activities - what are they? I have 3 teenage boys and have them 50% of the time. They don't expect a pre-planned agenda but we do lots together - cinema, theatre, meals out, pub quiz, meal with friends, DVD box set etc; the eldest two are 17 and I hope our 'social life' will continue for life.

nkf Wed 09-Jan-13 18:39:08

The op doesn't like having the boy around. She always posts these why won't he leave my husband alone posts. Not pretty.

Bonsoir Wed 09-Jan-13 18:39:10

I have DSS1 (nearly 18) and DSS2 (15 and a half) so yes, am pretty familiar with boys that age. And I meet a lot of 17/18 year olds in a professional capacity grin. I think my judgement is based on a hell of a lot of experience.

groundhogday17 Wed 09-Jan-13 18:40:18

Lillian yes this has been DH's tack, asks him back what he wants to do. The answer is always "I don't know"

Number yes DH does loads with them. He will happilly partake, but not in anything when a parent isn't doing it with him. Our weekends with our joint children are a healthy mix between enjoying activities together as a family, then some downtime in between where we doing chores whatever and children do what they fancy. DSS2 enjoys this mix as well, and on the occasions DSS1 hasnt been here, the weekends have been very enjoyable.

Petal02 Wed 09-Jan-13 18:40:27

Groundhog, I'll take Bonsoir's advice on board -this weekend will be finger painting, Peppa Pig DVD, jelly & ice cream, an hour on the swings in the park, soft play, reading practice and a trip to our local Mr Bungle Aminal Centre. Problem solved! Yes, I know he's old enough to be in Afghanistan, but surely most Marine Commandos are given structured activities by their parents when they're between tours/detachments?

groundhogday17 Wed 09-Jan-13 18:42:13

Nkf youre totally barking up the wrong tree. Ive suggested and DH has proactively asked DSS1 to join him in activities in non-access time as well, but this never happens. I have 2 DSSs so it's not about not wanting them around at all

Numberlock Wed 09-Jan-13 18:43:10

Poor lad.

LillianGish Wed 09-Jan-13 18:43:25

grin Petal

groundhogday17 Wed 09-Jan-13 18:43:51

Nkf I haven't posted here at all (other than one other thread today) so I have no idea what you're talking about

Numberlock Wed 09-Jan-13 18:45:58

Petal - alternatively you could tell everyone how much better life is when he's not around eh?

racingheart Wed 09-Jan-13 18:47:41

Long shot, but can you set him some challenges? Tell him what you're telling us but frame it in a nice way. Say that at 18 you expect him to show some initiative and independence, and that you'll help him sort this out and try out new things. Make up a list of challenges with him and an appropriate reward system once it's complete. (E.g. He cooks you all a family meal, you then go bowling as a family etc.) I know it's what you'd normally do for someone at least 5 years younger than him, but people can't learn stuff they've not been taught.

Get him up out of bed and tell him what is happening at weekends. Explain he can stay in or come with you but you're leaving at a given time. Don't just hang around all day tiptoeing round him. Make plans that he can opt in and out of but be clear you won't wait until 2pm for them to happen.

Can you link him up with some other teens his age to go to the cinema one night - getting there and back unaided?

Can you give him a budget and tell him to organise a family surprise day out? Just get him galvanised - lots of praise for what he does do and no compromises on his behalf for what he doesn't.

Read 'Drive' by Janine Caffrey - it's all about how we mollycoddle our kids into a state of semi-comatose hopelessness. It does them harm. He's lucky to have you getting sick of it!

groundhogday17 Wed 09-Jan-13 18:53:18

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!

NotaDisneyMum Wed 09-Jan-13 19:30:07

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 smile

Actually, that's not a bad idea - perhaps having a child themselves will provide them with the directed activities and stimulation they need wink

Bonsoir Wed 09-Jan-13 19:49:18

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.

Fenton Wed 09-Jan-13 19:57:27

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>

Numberlock Wed 09-Jan-13 20:17:48

I cannot abide the slating of teenage boys en masse, Fenton.

witchofmiddx Wed 09-Jan-13 20:33:32

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.

flurp Wed 09-Jan-13 22:32:05

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.

Theoldtriangle Thu 10-Jan-13 07:13:58

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.

groundhogday17 Thu 10-Jan-13 09:21:01

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

Petal02 Thu 10-Jan-13 10:23:54

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 DSS’s 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 I’m 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 wasn’t on anyone’s radar. Structured access for young adults creates a very artificial, stifling environment – I don’t 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 can’t think beyond this.

theredhen Thu 10-Jan-13 10:30:40


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.

allnewtaketwo Thu 10-Jan-13 10:40:11

Another one!

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

Petal02 Thu 10-Jan-13 10:40:57

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!!!!

allnewtaketwo Thu 10-Jan-13 10:45:24

Petal is your DSS still going to be going away to university later this year?

theredhen Thu 10-Jan-13 10:48:07

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.

Petal02 Thu 10-Jan-13 10:49:53

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.

allnewtaketwo Thu 10-Jan-13 10:52:15

My DSS1 would be due to apply later this year. BUT - he's thinking of deferring sad. 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.

Petal02 Thu 10-Jan-13 10:57:42

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 ......

allnewtaketwo Thu 10-Jan-13 11:02:42

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.

Petal02 Thu 10-Jan-13 11:07:12

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.

allnewtaketwo Thu 10-Jan-13 11:11:56

He'll really need to apply to a course that doesn't interview on application. Not sure how many do/don't these days

LtEveDallas Thu 10-Jan-13 11:31:02

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.

riverboat Sat 12-Jan-13 09:27:26

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.

riverboat Sat 12-Jan-13 09:28:08

- twice a year

Hesterton Sat 19-Jan-13 07:54:52

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!)

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