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.

SamanthaMulder Sat 31-Aug-13 22:15:53

Sorry it's a bit of a rant - just needed to get it off my chest.

theredhen Sun 01-Sep-13 17:12:05

Whether his mum knows or not, why was he allowed to lie to his mum about where he was?

smokinaces Sun 01-Sep-13 17:39:50

Why did you allow him to lie to his mother and spend the weekend at yours instead?

NatashaBee Sun 01-Sep-13 17:41:56

If he was at yours, you should have made sure his mother was aware of that.

UC Sun 01-Sep-13 18:36:44

I agree with the others. Why did you accept that he was lying to his mum about where he was?

SamanthaMulder Sun 01-Sep-13 23:16:36

Long back story - long and short of it is that DSS1 doesn't like his mother and complains about going to hers almost every week, and DP & his ExW's communication is generally kept at bare minimum to remain civilised.

On Friday night, I think DP preferred that DSS1 arranged to not go to hers when she called at 10pm - DP was attacked a few years ago and suffers from PTSD. It was dark, DSS1 would've had to cross a very busy road (we're not that far from a dual carriageway, and the road he'd have to cross is a main trunk road) and pass at least one rowdy pub. On Saturday, we were expecting her to call him anytime - DP, DD & I went out for the day and were not expecting DSS1 to still be home when we got back in the early evening.

She had the ability to contact DSS1 at any time, but chose not to.

NatashaBee Sun 01-Sep-13 23:20:22

That doesn't really explain why you allowed him to lie to his mother. If your DP didn't want him out at 10pm then he should have arranged to get DSS back to his mum's earlier, or called her to explain the situation.

SamanthaMulder Sun 01-Sep-13 23:38:34

We understand that DSS's DM allows him to stay out until 10pm when he's at hers. When I was expecting DD last year, one evening DSS1 tracked us down to a bar 2 miles away because none of his friends were out and he didn't want to stay in at his DM's house. She wasn't bothered about where he was because it was before 9pm.

DSS1 lied to his mother on Friday night because she would have flipped about him staying home that night. He knew that he would get less grief if he said he was staying at a friends.

smokinaces Mon 02-Sep-13 08:47:02

You are completely encouraging this bad relationship. You are allowing him to demonise his mother and encouraging him to lie. He is a child. He may well moan. But it is not your place to act like a child as well. When he goes to his mothers he should stay there. You need to stop this now. Either that or he needs to be honest with his mother and make a new routine with her. It sounds like its not that she "doesn't care" but that she understands he is a teen with friends and a life and trying to be nice with 10pm curfews with his friends. But he needs to have got off his arse, off his Xbox and gone to hers off his own back.

TheGirlFromIpanema Mon 02-Sep-13 08:53:36

10pm isn't late for a teen in the hols/weekends though is it confused

He is a teen who can obviously get himself between the two houses with no bother.

I'd be really pissed off that the teen was lying to his mother tbh. You don't get to dictate his relationship with her and she did call him. He just lied, with your blessing it seems.

ChinaCupsandSaucers Mon 02-Sep-13 09:14:11

Long back story - long and short of it is that DSS1 doesn't like his mother and complains about going to hers almost every week, and DP & his ExW's communication is generally kept at bare minimum to remain civilised

Isn't it your DPs responsibility to support his son to achieve an improved relationship with his Mum? At the moment, your DP (and you by association) are actively undermining it - hardly the behaviour of a responsible parent. He needs to put his feelings about his ex to one side and work as hard as he can to support his son; counselling, mediation, youth workers etc
He can't change his ex, but he can teach his son how to manage and cope effectively with his Mums behaviour without undermining their relationship.

SamanthaMulder Mon 02-Sep-13 20:50:27

Normally DP tries to encourage DSS1 to go to his DMs, but DP's had a stressful summer holidays looking after the 3 DCs, so I think he decided to let DSS1 get away with it for a quiet life. I know I asked DSS1 when we got back on Saturday afternoon when he was going to go to hers, and his reply was "she said she'd call me for tea" - I can hardly manhandle a nearly 6ft teen out of the house with a toddler under one arm.

Since I moved in with DP, 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 until DP ends up almost pleading with him to go so there's no arguments with her. DP often talks about how he wants to make sure that DSS1 doesn't feel unwanted after she walked out on all of them when DSS1 was only 9, and part of DP doing that is to not refuse to let his son in.

The hunting us down incident last year, DSS1 was only 13 and a skinny 5'4". He'd checked every pub in the town (7 of them) we live in on a Friday night before cycling to the next village to check the pubs there to find us - we were horrified and we left straight away to walk him back. When we told him that night that he couldn't come home with us because he was supposed to be at his DM's (by that time it was nearly 10pm, it would take us 10 mins to walk home, then we would have had to practically thrown DSS1 out), DSS1 went off in tears. All because he didn't want to be in the same house as his DM.

He's nearly 15 now, we can't afford to go to court or mediation to rearrange the stipulated nights, so what else should we do? She knows that he regularly arranges to stay as friends houses for the night when he's supposed to be staying with her (I think he managed it 3 weeks running at one point during my early months with DP), but it was a surprise to me that she made no attempt to contact him for nearly 24 hours.

NatashaBee Mon 02-Sep-13 21:04:37

I think when kids get to your DSS's age it's sometimes time to review the access arrangements. What does your DSS actually want to do in terms of seeing his mother? I imagine that he may want to relax and see friends at the weekend rather than hopping back and forth from one house to another according to a rota. Do you think his mum and dad would be open to sitting down and discussing a new plan?

SamanthaMulder Tue 03-Sep-13 06:51:17

Funny thing is, most of DSS1's friends live near his DMs house as DP moved to different part of town after she moved back to town with her new DP after leaving (I think she moved into the same street which was a bit too much for DP, especially as her new P threatened DP after one arguement between them. I think DP had had enough of violence when his Ex used to knock him out cold when she was drunk - something the DSSs are not aware of). DSS1 said a couple of months ago that when he hits 16 and isn't bound by the court order, he'll probably stay at her's for similar nights as he does at the moment, but he doesn't like having to be there at fixed times.

It's only in the last few months (after 5 years of separation & the divorce) that DP & his Ex have relaxed enough to amend the odd night due to her wanting them on Wednesday instead of Tuesday on a couple of weeks or asking if we could pick them up at 10am instead of 12noon one weekend, then reciprocating with having them til 2pm the following weekend. She still hasn't relaxed on her change to the school holiday arrangement that she instigated after I moved in where she used to have them until 12noon after the weekday night (she's a SAHM), then decided that she couldn't have them past 9am (although is DSS1 is still in bed, then he's allowed to sleep in, then she turfs him out as soon as he wakes up). I think it'll be at least a year by the time DP & his Ex are settled enough to discuss any changes to the arrangements, so DSS1 will be or almost be 16 so it would make any discussions irrelevant anyway.

ChinaCupsandSaucers Tue 03-Sep-13 08:07:44

* I can hardly manhandle a nearly 6ft teen out of the house with a toddler under one arm.*

You can call his Mum though.

It's one thing to detach and have nothing to do with your DSS movements or presence in your home - but when you begin to facilitate his lying and deception yourself (rather than leaving your DP to deal with it) then you become complicit in whatever power games they are all playing.

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.

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...

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

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

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?

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 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 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 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.

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.

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 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

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

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


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

I think you are bonkers!

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 16:06:37

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 16:19:04

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 16:21:06

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

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 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.

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.

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 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 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.

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.

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