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Substitute sibling (tangent)

(40 Posts)
ParadiseCity Fri 15-Jul-16 11:23:59


ParadiseCity Fri 15-Jul-16 11:28:14

Hope this has worked!

Rather than hijack the water park thread here is a space to talk about dos and don'ts of inviting children along to keep your own child company.

I'd say #1 rule for me is that there is nothing wrong with being an only child so saying 'isn't it lovely, X is like the brother you never had' is a HUGE no no...

dolkapots Fri 15-Jul-16 11:34:57

I can see this being a new DM article, so beware smile

LyndaNotLinda Fri 15-Jul-16 11:45:39

Is this a thing? I've never invited a child along to be a 'substitute sibling'. What a bizarre concept. Do people really do that? confused

LaContessaDiPlump Fri 15-Jul-16 11:53:11

Oh, we have a friend who definitely does this with DS1. He is such a surrogate sibling. He quite likes the child so it's all ok, but I can see it getting awkward in later years unless the mum calms down a bit.

I like her a lot and I understand she worries that her son will be lonely so have cut her a lot of slack with all the invites (they do not always suit us but she is so keen), but I still find the level of emotional investment from her a little odd. For example, there was once a song about how DS1 is her child's BFF. They happily sang it together to DS1 and I sat there like this confused blush

I had no idea 'surrogate siblings' was a thing but I can believe it.

ParadiseCity Fri 15-Jul-16 11:53:33

That's true... Fuck off daily mail don't fucking screen shot this you bunch of twats.

Lynda- shorthand for 'inviting someone along as company'

dolkapots Fri 15-Jul-16 11:56:15

I haven't used the substitute sibling term before but I know in my case two families (one with a very lonely only child and the other with a massive gap between siblings) where they invite another child along to fulfill their own child's need of company.

In both cases it wasn't even like a sibling relationship, where the wants/needs of both are considered. It was more an sub/dom type thing where the invited child had to go along with everything, and child #1's happiness depended on the willingness/performance of child #2.

LaContessaDiPlump Fri 15-Jul-16 12:05:54

I feel that the term 'surrogate sibling' could be taken as pejorative, though. It implies deliberate use of the child by another parent for childcare. This isn't always so!

ParadiseCity Fri 15-Jul-16 12:06:21

I know sometimes I invite a friend of DDs and then DS gets bored, I now try and invite groups of kids that all get on well together and make sure they all get to have equal say in what they do/play.

LittleMissSandy Fri 15-Jul-16 12:08:10

Hiya, I think the biggest issue we've tried to avoid with surrogate siblings is inviting the same one over and over. If you always invite one or two of the same children than the family may feel obliged to always say yes or DS/the friend could just get over invested and the relationship between the two children will change.

Taking a friend has become a thing in our family as DS doesn't have any cousins/family members around his age so I think we've gotten very good at keeping the balance but their are families who think, since they've invited you along you should do exactly what they want which isn't right at all.

DS was invited on a day trip to the beach once & he had an awful time as he had to get out of the water when the other child had finished, couldn't go on the rides he wanted at the fun fair if the other child didn't & his opinion wasn't asked at all. We've refused any more invites from this family, but it's clear that they assumed he had a great time so it wasn't an intentional thing.

dolkapots Fri 15-Jul-16 12:32:59

* they assumed he had a great time so it wasn't an intentional thing.*

That's the thing though, I think those who invite a friend with a "surrogate sibling" intention (not all do, obviously) are only considering the needs of their child. Your child is the means to the enjoyment, but their feelings/considerations are not taken into account.

but I still find the level of emotional investment from her a little odd.

Yes! In our case the mother was extremely intense, phoning constantly to try to arrange meetups etc and once I had 2 missed calls from her then an email entitled "WHY ARE YOU IGNORING ME????!!!!" She then started telling me that she noticed my dd seemed most happy when she was with her dd, so that meant that we should meet up at least 3 times per week hmm She would highly praise my dd, pointing out really positive qualities etc, whilst her dd was really manipulative and horrible to mine.

It developed into a really narc situation, where she would make out that all the meetups were actually for my benefit. Something happened and I gently confronted her, she then latched on to someone else and started slagging my dd off, whilst highly praising the "new" friend. It was just a very repetitive cycle that I'm glad I'm out of.

Schwabischeweihnachtskanne Fri 15-Jul-16 12:41:59

LittleMiss you are exactly right I think.

My DC2 is used for company for an only child and to make the mums life easier and dropped every time the dad comes home from working overseas. DS is the only one the mum likes to take with her as (although he can be very wild at home) he is very rule abiding when out with other families, unlike the sons only other close friend! The problem is that the mum sometimes seems to be under the impression she part owns ds1, and if he doesn't want to join them for something she can't take "sorry he's busy then" for an answer and will ask when he does have time so they can reschedule. .. Once when he'd been playing with other friends or at football or just fancied staying at home several times in a row the mum came over asking why I had forbidden DS1 to go anywhere with them all of a sudden! She also fairly often comments that I have a "spare" child as I have 3...

We live in the land of the only child (Ok not China... but 1 is the average number of children per woman in Germany too) and most are not like this - it's all in the personality of the mum (in this case as the dad is usually away) and the dynamic of the family.

DS1 is with them now - her DS wanted to go to the football field in the next village, but they "can't" unless they take ds1 for him to play with.

DS1 does have fun with them, but sometimes it can get stifling (his mum bombards me with whatsaps trying to "book" Ds1s time before they come home from school, when usually kids around here call for or phone each other or make their own plans at school) and gets huffy if DS1 doesn't want to fit in with their plans.

Lymmmummy Fri 15-Jul-16 12:44:23

It's a difficult one - some will have only children or large age gaps and are not fortunate enough to have extended family if cousins or friends children - personally see no harm in it but would not consider it myself until say age 10 or so

I have a friend who agreed to her DC flying to Dubai with her friend (only child) because father lived there - children were about 14 -

I find it odd that some go away in enormous groups of friends/family - but perhaps that's just me

LyndaNotLinda Fri 15-Jul-16 12:58:02

Wow. DS is an only child and I was going to invite a friend along to the swimming pool with us in the summer as I thought they both might have fun (and I can sit at the side and read a book) but this thread is making me feel like I won't bother.

Schwabischeweihnachtskanne Fri 15-Jul-16 13:06:12

Lynda I would hurry to add that another of my children has always cherished her time with one only child friend and another who has only much older siblings because of the novelty of a peaceful house not containing small brothers!

It's a difficult thread topic probably because experiences are as varied as families themselves are!

LaContessaDiPlump Fri 15-Jul-16 13:06:15

That's different, Lynda - if the thought of taking your child places by yourself made you panic and you were constantly seeking out playmates for him without regard to the feelings of the other child, that would be one thing. But you're describing what I would call a reasonable level of wanting your child (and their friend!) to have company, while acknowledging that it would set up a nice environment for you too.

Schwabischeweihnachtskanne Fri 15-Jul-16 13:10:26

It's only problematic when one family becomes reliant on another for company for their child and appears to feel entitled to "borrow" the child I think.

Families with all sibling combinations invite friends along on days out sometimes and it's a nice thing to do normally.

LyndaNotLinda Fri 15-Jul-16 13:12:55

Oh no, I don't do that. I don't pester people.

BlueLeopard Fri 15-Jul-16 16:32:04

I've an only so I'm taking notes here for future use smile

ParadiseCity Fri 15-Jul-16 17:16:13

YY, the expectation of being able to borrow your child to make their life easier, is what grates. It's not an only child thing necessarily though, IME. And I know lots of lovely only children whose parents don't do this!

MissDuke Fri 15-Jul-16 17:33:30

I haven't really thought about it much before until I read that thread. I really don't like how the op had invited this child with the expectation that he would do everything her son would be doing - basically so her son wouldn't require adult company. I would be very unhappy for one of my children to be 'used' in this way. Surely when you invite along at friend to something it should be mutually beneficial to both?

LittleMissSandy Fri 15-Jul-16 17:54:36

Miss Duke, I'm that OP that you're referring to, I thought that the trip would be beneficial to both boys. I made it very clear that minimal supervision was what they would be receiving & that would be the case whether friend came along or not. At 10 they're old enough to run around a water park filled with life guards & cameras if they're able & confident swimmers, which I assumed the friend was.

It's a water park, their's really not much to do except swim & go on water slides, it's not unreasonable to expect a child to do those activities.

lessthanBeau Fri 15-Jul-16 20:57:57

My sil and bil always have other kids tagging along with them dn is an only but her best friends are twins so they always cart around two extras with them for company. I can't think of anything worse, I like to have my own family to myself when we go out so we can just do what we want to do, but I m lucky that my DD likes her own company and doesn't nag for friends to come along every time, it might be different if she did, but then you find yourself having to do it all the time. We prefer to go out with other families altogether if we want company, it means you don't have to be in charge of other people's children.
If it works for you though and the other parents and kids are happy with it, wheres the harm?

dolkapots Sat 16-Jul-16 13:49:32

No harm indeed in having extra friends along, we are a big family but mine often like friends to come along. The problem is when a parent relies on another child to entertain/occupy their child, often stepping over normal friendship boundaries and is used and expected to be on call 24/7.

MargaretCavendish Sat 16-Jul-16 14:03:29

I think this thread is a bit ott - I can see how this could go wrong, but it can also be absolutely fine! I used to go on holiday with a friend's family because she was an only child - it was great, and to be honest I was a bit jealous, as my brother wouldn't have been my first choice of holiday companion but I didn't get options! Obviously the 'other' child shouldn't have to constantly bend to the whims of their friend, but I think it's really unfair to accuse the OP of the other thread of expecting this. If you accept an invitation to a particular activity then you should be expecting to partake in that activity. If I invited a friend shopping I would expect to compromise on which shops we went to, but I would be pretty annoyed if she announced she didn't want to go in any shops at all! Similarly if you're invited to a water park you get to decide exactly which rides you want to go on, but you really shouldn't accept the invitation if you can't go on any rides at all.

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