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To feel sorry for my stepson

(32 Posts)
SuperMum1900 Sat 27-May-17 18:20:08

My husbands son is 17 years old, dh had him with his the girlfriend at the time, they had split up before he was born. Dh remained in his life and has always had shared access with him. However from the age of 9 to 16 he has lived abroad. Contact remained but contact gradually eroded. Since being back in the uk dh was eager to resume 50:50 contact. Dss visits weekends and holidays, we currently supposed to have him for this week during half term. In this time stepson was abroad dh has met and married and joined my family with a son and a daughter of the same age group. Dh has struggled with his son since his return, he really does try but he just doesn't know how to act around and ends up acting in a biazzare way towards him. He will suggest one on one activities but dss will decline to do them. Dh finds it hurtful and he says he feels rejected by his son. This is very different to his relationship with my son with them getting on very well.

I'm not going to beat around the bush, stepson can be very awkward around here at times. He seems to have friends but would never have them around and will decline everything offered from me and dh, dh offered to give him a lift into London to meet his friends, he declined and got the train. He is very private and will not share anything with dh. He will often go for long runs and just dissapear in the afternoons.

Anyway I'm posting today because we went up the school to discuss university. My son and stepson are at the same school.

Dh had a argument with his son following this. Dss wants to do a degree in theology and something to do with the Abrahamic religions. Dh said he was concerned that dss would get into debt from uni and that he would not be able to get a job following uni.
I stayed out of the argument but dh said that he should do law. It wasn't a terrible argument no one shouted and certainly wasn't aggressive. I did intervene and stood up for dss.

I just want to find away to help mend their relationship not that it is necessary unbroken just I think currently the relationship is hurting dh and hurting dss.

Trifleorbust Sat 27-May-17 18:32:12

I think you need to advise your DH to build bridges with his son by supporting his choice, not challenging it.

SuperMum1900 Sat 27-May-17 18:33:22

I did I said to dh that it is his choice.

Justmadeperfectflapjacks Sat 27-May-17 18:34:53

I wouldn't have thought their relationship was strong enough for df to have expected such an input to have been respected. He sounds a fiercely independent young lad who he should be supporting before trying to influence his choices.

Allthewaves Sat 27-May-17 18:35:54

Dss degree is his choice

SuperMum1900 Sat 27-May-17 18:42:36

I did mention that. Dh did say he is still proud of his son for getting good grades and aspiring for university. I think dh has acceapt the degree thing but I think that it's the other things that are more important.

AnneLovesGilbert Sat 27-May-17 18:43:10

When I wa at school we were told none of us were likely to get a job based much on the degree we did so if we wanted to go to university we may as well study something we'd enjoy doing for 3 years at the best place we could get into to study it.

It sounds like your family is going through a tough time and this recent upset may be down to your DH trying to assert himself as the father and try to guide/override his son and his wishes.

I'd encourage your DH to remember his son is becoming an adult and that he'll be the only one to face the conferences, good and bad, of his choice of degree. If he doesn't then don't feel the need to blindly back him up but if it's appropriate have a word with your stepson and say it's fine if his dad doesn't agree, you wish him well whatever he chooses to do.

The world is changing faster than we even realise at the moment and it doesn't really matter what this young man wants to do as a job, whether he has any idea or not. He may go on to do all sorts of fascinating things and your DHs best shot at having a relationship with his son is to respect and support him. We were all young once!

It doesn't sound like it's been easy on anyone with your DSS having lived abroad, contact having been changed often and your DSS seeing his dad bringing up children his age while he doesn't see him that much.

Give him space. Respect his decisions. He sounds like an independent sort of person and he may go on to do great or at least interesting things with his life.

He's lucky to have you looking out for him.

AnneLovesGilbert Sat 27-May-17 18:45:16

Sorry, just to add. A friend in my halls was doing a law degree because his parents pressured him to. Hated every minute of the first semester, quit, worked in a cinema, started back the next year doing a film degree, loved it. Now works in policy for an HIV and AIDS prevention charity in South Africa.

SuperMum1900 Sat 27-May-17 19:01:37

I agree no one should do something they don't want to do.

I think that dh generally does not know how to have a relationship with his son. I don't think dh is someone who wouldn't want to have a relationship with his son. I think dh could have a good relationship. I just don't know how to start it.

SuperMum1900 Sat 27-May-17 19:05:42

Also i think that dss being brought up abroad can sometimes be culturally very different.

keeplooking Sat 27-May-17 19:24:00

Because your dss was abroad, your dh was not really part of his life for the 7 years during which he grew from a child into an (almost) adult. I think it is over-optimistic to expect dss to now happily accept guidance/ advice/nagging from someone with whom he has only just re-established close contact. There is a great deal of difference between parenting a 9 yr old and a 17 yr old, and your dh must realise that he can't just pick up where he left off.

Give dss some space. it is actually quite natural for teenagers to distance themselves from parents and become more private, secretive, even! Your dh shouldn't take it personally. It's part of growing up and becoming an independent individual. It happens in all families, but perhaps your dh is more uncomfortable with the process, as he was hoping to get closer to his ds at a time when it is normal for dc to start breaking away.

It's very important that your dh lets his ds choose his own path in life and supports him in his choices, if there is to be any chance of building what could be a strong bond in the future. Let the relationship develop naturally. It may take some time, but there will be a better outcome and less resentment than if the issue is forced.

AnneLovesGilbert Sat 27-May-17 19:44:58

Good post keeplooking

OP, I feel for all of you. It may be that your DSS going to university gives them both a chance to develop a new kind of relationship.

If you DH is able to support DSS in his choices I'm sure they'll have nice opportunities for contact. Depending on where he goes you can go and visit him and take him out for lunch, send him thoughtful gifts, write him cards, give him your independance he needs, share his interests, give him a place to come home to you when he needs it or has time off.

opinionatedfreak Sat 27-May-17 20:02:52

Most wannabe lawyers don't do law degrees.
Theology from a good uni would be a really good choice.

I know loads. Only one of them has law as their undergraduate degree (and it was in Scottish law and they practice in England!). The rest all have History, modern languages or english degrees from good places (Oxbridge, Durham, Edinburgh etc)

needsahalo Sat 27-May-17 20:10:59

Sounds like an amazing course choice. It will be your DSS's debt to pay so it should be his choice of course, surely? Does he have legal career aspirations?

Finola1step Sat 27-May-17 20:18:40

There are many, many professions that would view a good Theology degree from a good university as very desirable. What with all that critical thinking and discussion. Does your dh know what a Theology degree entails?

SomeOtherFuckers Sat 27-May-17 21:13:32

Tell your DH that if his son chooses law and doesn't want to do it then he will fail.

SuperMum1900 Sun 28-May-17 09:18:34

There is a great deal of difference between parenting a 9 yr old and a 17 yr old, and your dh must realise that he can't just pick up where he left off.

Absolutely but this is the problem dh doesn't know how to behave around him and ends up getting it wrong.

keeplooking Sun 28-May-17 09:40:26

This might be worth a read.

Brandnewstart Sun 28-May-17 09:54:59

I just wanted to say hats off to your dh. He has done his upmost to stay in contact with his son. It must have been awful for him when his son moved abroad. You sound like you doing your best to support the relationship too and I think it's amazing. Sorry if this sounds patronising!
However, the relationship is fragile because of this separation and I think you dh needs to tread softly. Lots of dynamics are involved - you husband living with another child the same age, your dss leaving as a child and coming back as a young man etc.
Had your dh had a honest discussion with his son? I can understand that he wants it all to go back to how it was before he moved, but it's unrealistic.
I think at 17, young adults are very wrapped up in what they want to do anyway and naturally pulling away for their parents. I think the more you dh pushes to spend time and challenges decisions, the more dss will pull away.
I suppose perhaps your husband is seeing some behaviour as rejection but actually some of it is your dss becoming independent because of his age.

rhinorocks Sun 28-May-17 14:29:54

I have a theology degree. I earn over £150,000 a year.

SuperMum1900 Sun 28-May-17 16:09:26

I just wanted to say hats off to your dh. He has done his upmost to stay in contact with his son. It must have been awful for him when his son moved abroad. You sound like you doing your best to support the relationship too and I think it's amazing. Sorry if this sounds patronising!

Not patronising at all! It was hard on dh.

*However, the relationship is fragile because of this separation and I think you dh needs to tread softly. Lots of dynamics are involved - you husband living with another child the same age, your dss leaving as a child and coming back as a young man etc.
Had your dh had a honest discussion with his son? I can understand that he wants it all to go back to how it was before he moved, but it's unrealistic.
I think at 17, young adults are very wrapped up in what they want to do anyway and naturally pulling away for their parents. I think the more you dh pushes to spend time and challenges decisions, the more dss will pull away.
I suppose perhaps your husband is seeing some behaviour as rejection but actually some of it is your dss becoming independent because of his age.*

Yes I understand this, I think because of the missed time dh wants to maybe catch up. I think at 17 teenagers begin to distance. However things like shared interests continue on from younger years. Dh wasn't with his son for this so none of that has been built up. Combined with ds growing up in another culture things typical of a teenager in this country don't always fit what dh thinks his son may enjoy.

I have a theology degree. I earn over £150,000 a year.

Dh has a view education must be for employment and so he thinks courses that lead to a potential job are better. For example my son is looking into engineering which leads into a job in engineering.
But this has been settled, because it is his choice at the end of the day.

happypoobum Sun 28-May-17 16:16:50

You say DH gets on well with your DS who is a similar age, so he does know how to get on with teenagers in general, although of course they may have very different personalities.

Maybe he needs to slow down and just accept DSS as he is, with his need for privacy, going for a run, being independent.

The fact DSS is still agreeing to spend whole weeks with you and the blended family speaks absolute volumes in a positive way, and it sounds like you are a switched on and caring SM flowers

daisychain01 Sun 28-May-17 16:21:44

I think at 17, young adults are very wrapped up in what they want to do anyway and naturally pulling away for their parents. I think the more you dh pushes to spend time and challenges decisions, the more dss will pull away

I agree, brandnew, this happens even when family life has been settled and normal. Add to the mix the fact the DSS was out of the country at a crucial time in his development, and it is very hard for the DF to play catch up. They wont have had many of the shared memories that father and son would have had, in the years when the DSS would have been receptive to the idea of "doing things with Dad" (hobbies, activities etc).

OP, all your DH can do is demonstrate he is always there (even if not "needed" in the conventional way) and see if a relationship can emerge later. It will need lots of patience and lack of demands.

Did your DSS have a step-father? I know it's painful, but could it be there was someone who was present day to day who became more relevant to him growing up? Kids go for the immediacy of daily contact.

keeplooking Sun 28-May-17 16:42:15

I have a theology degree. I earn over £150,000 a year.

Not wanting to derail the thread - I have posted relevantly (if that's a word) before - but do you mind saying what area you work in, rhino? Ds has a Theology degree!

SuperMum1900 Sun 28-May-17 17:13:57

You say DH gets on well with your DS who is a similar age, so he does know how to get on with teenagers in general, although of course they may have very different personalities.

They are different in terms of personalities. Ds will do a lot more with dh, they both love football and just seem to click together.

Maybe he needs to slow down and just accept DSS as he is, with his need for privacy, going for a run, being independent.

I think dh does acceapt but he would like more of a relationship.

The fact DSS is still agreeing to spend whole weeks with you and the blended family speaks absolute volumes in a positive way, and it sounds like you are a switched on and caring SM

Thank you flowers

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