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To think children should not ALWAYS come first

(197 Posts)
FavaBeansAndANiceChianti Wed 09-Oct-19 17:55:24

And that it's actually quite detrimental to their future personalities to let them think that they should?

I'm not talking inviting a known sex offender to live in your home kind of situation. But I hate seeing this line trotted out when half of the time I actually think it wouldn't do the children involved any harm to not come first in that particular situation.

Sometimes I read things on here and wonder how entitled and selfish these children must grow up to be.

I've seen people getting the pitchforks out because apparently parents should prioritize abroad holidays if their child has become 'accustomed' to them even if they can't afford it or would rather use the money elsewhere one year.

And I can't even start on the step parenting threads, you see it ALL the time on there, often over things which seem more to do with putting the ex first than the children.

I understand generally that children should come first in terms of needs. However, AIBU to think that people take this far too literally sometimes and it really is fine for other people's wants, needs and desires and feelings to be taken into consideration within the family from time to time?

seaweedandmarchingbands Wed 09-Oct-19 17:57:50

Children's needs should be prioritised. Their wants do need to be prioritised sometimes. I agree generally that it’s bad for children to believe they always come first in all circumstances, and bad for them to believe the people who love them won’t put them first when it matters. The balance is a tricky one.

PookieDo Wed 09-Oct-19 17:58:07

People tell me this all the time because I decided to stay single until they have left home. So what, my children my choice. It’s easier this way it’s not just easier for them but me too

Also I don’t have much choice in this seen as their dad never puts them first ever, someone has to and that person has been me 🤷🏻‍♀️

StarlingsInSummer Wed 09-Oct-19 18:00:04

Children’s needs should always come first. Their desires shouldn’t necessarily come before their parents’ needs or desires. Or not always anyway.

FriedasCarLoad Wed 09-Oct-19 18:00:44

Absolutely agree with you.

Whilst children’s safety and welfare should come first, their preferences should not.

Adult life is a nasty shock for those who’ve been brought up to be the centre of the world.

CheshireChat Wed 09-Oct-19 18:01:11

There was an identical thread a while back actually, IIRC most posters thought that as long as you prioritize the kid's needs, there's a lot more leeway with wants.

FavaBeansAndANiceChianti Wed 09-Oct-19 18:01:23

I do get that in a lot of circumstances they should be first.

But for example the holiday one, surely it's a better lesson to teach them that sometimes we can afford luxuries in life and sometimes we can't.

Some years we go to Spain, sometimes we go to a caravan in Wales, some years we haven't been able to go anywhere. I'm not going to bankrupt myself so that my child can have the beach holiday they have become 'accustomed' to. It's just bloody life! 🤷

PurpleDaisies Wed 09-Oct-19 18:02:17

There was definitely a similar thread recently. Most posters agreed wants and needs are different.

FavaBeansAndANiceChianti Wed 09-Oct-19 18:03:04

So what, my children my choice. It’s easier this way it’s not just easier for them but me too

Absolutely your choice, which I respect.

It doesn't mean you're awful if you haven't chosen the same way though.

FavaBeansAndANiceChianti Wed 09-Oct-19 18:04:27

Apologies for the duplicate thread blush

Fireextinguished Wed 09-Oct-19 18:05:46

Needs are shelter, food, clothing love and care. Holidays are a want. Completely different

SimonJT Wed 09-Oct-19 18:07:33

My sons needs always come first, there are times when putting my own needs first would be nice, but that wouldn’t be right in the longterm.

bridgetreilly Wed 09-Oct-19 18:11:03

Quite right. Children all need to learn that other people matter too, that they aren't usually the most important person in the room, that it's okay to have to wait or to share, that they won't always be able to have things that they want. Even if they really want them.

RopeBrick Wed 09-Oct-19 18:13:46

Children's needs should come first. Children's wants should be on equal footing with adults' wants.

AnneLovesGilbert Wed 09-Oct-19 18:17:21

You’re right and I said exactly that this morning on a thread about step parenting. It’s rife over there and but often more the responsibility of the step parent than either actual parent. My blended family/household works because we operate on a basis of balance where needs and wants are weighed up daily and everyone’s mostly happy and content. If I put what my DSC want first all the time I’d be a jiggering wreck with no money to keep a roof over their heads, food on the table, clothes to keep them warm, time to reset myself occasionally and my marriage in tatters. If you have more than one child you have to weigh things up all the time anyway. Graceful compromise is a life skill.

Settlersofcatan Wed 09-Oct-19 18:23:02

I think the thing is that people disagree on what a want Vs a need is.

So, for example, we both earn enough that either of us could be a SAHP and we would still be fairly comfortably off but neither of us want to so our kids (I'm currently on mat leave) will both be in childcare from the age of 12 months. Some posters would argue that at 12 months a baby needs a parent at home, I don't agree.

LeekMunchingSheepShagger Wed 09-Oct-19 18:28:16

I completely agree. It's vital that children learn that they can't always have what they want.

SDTGisAnEvilWolefGenius Wed 09-Oct-19 18:30:16

In some situations, the parent should look after their own needs first, so they can then take care of their children’s needs - the prime example would be if the oxygen masks came down on a plane - the advice is to put your own mask on first and then help your kids with theirs.

It also depends on the relative importance of the needs - for example, if the parent has diabetes, and if their child needs a drink or a nappy change, but the parent needs their insulin (or sugar because they are having a hypo), then the parent’s need must come first. The parent who has just cut or scalded themselves needs to take care of that first, before they look after their child’s needs.

Same applies when you have more than one child - sometimes you need to decide whose need is greater, and look after that child first.

I would also say that it does children no harm to learn that their wants and needs are not always paramount. Most of their needs are not life-or-death needs and it will do them no harm to wait if their parent is in the middle of something else - cooking, for example, or making an important phone call - or, when my dses were little, drinking that first, life-giving cup of coffee!

AnneLovesGilbert Wed 09-Oct-19 18:33:18

Some posters would argue that at 12 months a baby needs a parent at home, I don't agree.

Others would argue that children need parents who are happy and for many people that requires stimulation outside of the home.

I want to stay at home instead of going back to work after maternity but we need the income to pay our mortgage and bills and particularly to fund my DSC.

Bluntness100 Wed 09-Oct-19 18:34:08

The holiday one is a weird extreme example and doesn't really do you any favours. I'm not sure I know anyone who would get into debt for a holiday just because their child accepted it.

In general as children have no control, then yes, their needs and welfare come first.

Clearly not in terms of holidays you can't afford though.

ZaphodBeeblerox Wed 09-Oct-19 18:34:31

Agree with others above that their needs - food, safety, shelter, emotional well-being, love, feeling of security - should come first.

In my case I wonder about parents who do things like extended co-sleeping etc. I know mums on bf groups who cosleep and go to bed with their little ones who are 3 or 4 years old, while their partner sleeps in a different room. Arguably the child does need mum to sleep, but I wonder if they shouldn’t sleep train etc to prioritise their marital relationship somewhat.

Wtfdoipick Wed 09-Oct-19 18:35:31

I don't necessarily think putting children first means that you have to give them everything they want, to me it just means to consider the impact of something on them. So before you do something consider the impact on them first.

FavaBeansAndANiceChianti Wed 09-Oct-19 18:38:17

The holiday one is a weird extreme example and doesn't really do you any favours

I've seen that very argument on here. Not going into debt, that was exaggeration but I have seen someone tell a poster that they shouldn't do X Y or Z if it means they can't afford a holiday that year because their children are used to them.

Longlongsummer Wed 09-Oct-19 18:42:21

Children always come first in step families! Being a SM I’ve heard this so many times.

What helps to think more clearly is
Children’s NEEDS always come first.
Children’s WANTS should not always come first.

And in step families. The Step Mums NEEDS are important and shouldn’t be trumped by the mothers!

Longlongsummer Wed 09-Oct-19 18:46:32

A prime example is a step mother giving birth to a child and wanting say a week without step kids. Just to adjust, to settle etc.

Here to me clearly the SMs needs come first.

However they are vilified as the step kids are going to apparently be irreparably damaged for life for not being around the newborn straight away and having their schedule in any way disrupted.

I find this unbelievable. It is so clear that in this case SMs needs are pretty important and so are the newborns child’s needs to have a relaxed mother.

AnneLovesGilbert Wed 09-Oct-19 19:07:36

That’s an interesting one Longlongsummer because while a lot of people agree, when I had DD earlier this year, which involved several days in labour, an EMCS under a GA and a slow painful recovery, we kept contact the same as normal and DH brought them to the hospital the day we went up to the ward because while DD barely opened her eyes and couldn’t have given a crap, it meant a lot to my DSC and me that they met her ASAP and they could see we were okay and what our newly expanded family looked like. DH drove many many miles that evening on no sleep and I felt like I’d been hit by a bus but it was so worth it and those memories are forever and got us off to a good start. I could have had a child with a man who hadn’t done it before but I didn’t and his children are in my family and their relationship with their sister was as important as my need to rest. When we were home again we had them as much as normal but watched more films than usual and ate more oven food. They needed feeding, we wanted things to be as easy as possible. Everyone was happy.

IceCreamAndCandyfloss Wed 09-Oct-19 21:49:08

I think their needs should always come first and wants should be met if reasonable ie hobbies etc.

I think they should definitely be first before new relationships, I’ve seen too many put a new relationship over a child.

SpagBowl99 Wed 09-Oct-19 22:00:21

Totally agree with you OP. Children's needs need to be met, but then everyone is on an equal footing.

Have to admit that I am not always practicing this. But I agree we should be.

Longlongsummer Thu 10-Oct-19 00:01:48

@AnneLovesGilbert if that’s what you felt was good for you then that is great. However many SMs have difficulties and there are problematic, tricky relationships which aren’t just about feeding kids, and it’s totally fine to put these tricky dynamics on hold for a few days. I was made to feel guilty for asking for a few days space from my very tricky and resentful DSD, and so I just gave in and said it was fine. It wasn’t. My first days out of hospital were all about her, she was not nice to my older child, she wanted to have the baby on her own on day three, she wanted her mother to come around, she said breastfeeding was rude and complained to her father constantly. Sometimes I think a parent, even a SM needs to be prioritised even for a short while.

Visiting in hospital is obviously usually totally fine.

Wellthatwasarottennightssleep Thu 10-Oct-19 00:29:54

Agree that there's a distinction between needs and wants (although it's not always completely clear-cut which is which). I know mothers who brag about the fact that, as a point of principle, they will cancel any adult plans at short notice if their small child tells them to cancel. That seems ridiculous to me. It would be different if the child is ill or uncharacteristically distraught about something; in that case, I'd argue that the child needs to be with a loving, familiar attachment figure until they feel better (although not necessarily the mother). But giving into a tantrum because the child doesn't want to share mummy isn't putting the child's needs first. I'd argue it's the opposite, because children need to learn how to function in society and that their wants can't always come first.

Longlongsummer Thu 10-Oct-19 00:45:14

In my experience it is also often when people separate that ‘children must come first’ is bought acutely into the picture. It is often to serve adults needs, rather than the child’s, for example:
- a parent over intensely identifying with their child and putting their own anxieties onto them
- indulging a child to ensure their love is still intact after separation
- Covering their own perceived inadequacy as a parent by repeating this e.g. my DD must have her own preferred holiday above many adult decisions because I do not parent her as much as I did before and feel guilty.

It also can teach children that they can manipulate their parents as their wants trump anyone else’s.

However on the other side it is absolutely awful to see children’s needs ignored for adult priorities, such as a parent not being interested in their schooling, their emotional and physical health. The parent ultimately must sacrifice their selfish wants for their kids needs, or step kids.

Wellthatwasarottennightssleep Thu 10-Oct-19 00:47:06

Oh, and my mother has always bragged about being a superior mother because she didn't pursue a new relationship until her kids were adults. Then, after I'd left home, she met a guy online and moved him in when she'd met him less than half a dozen times. He sexually harassed me and made inappropriate comments every time I was visiting, so I ended up feeling uncomfortable in my mother's house and not really visiting anymore unless I had to. At the end of the day, it's her life and her home, of course. But I think our relationship would be much better now if she had introduced a carefully vetted new partner at a gradual pace when I was a child. Instead, she martyred herself to "I will never bring a man into the house while my kids live there", then panicked because she (wrongly) thought she was on the shelf.

ArizonaRobbins Thu 10-Oct-19 01:21:46

Well personally I don’t think “blended families” are ever about putting the children first.

Christ. Can you imagine having to live with unrelated strangers without any say in the matter? I wouldn’t ever put my girls through that. It is always about the adults’ needs before the children.

Oliversmumsarmy Thu 10-Oct-19 02:02:38

I certainly wasn’t put first ever when I was growing up.

My mother didn’t want to spoil me

I vowed never to do that to my own children so they come first all the time

They have grown up to be kind, confident, and hard working.

StoppinBy Thu 10-Oct-19 02:04:28

@longlongsummer IMO your example is terrible and your idea of wants and needs are out of wack.

Stepchildren need to feel they are not being excluded - their father just had a baby who is there sibling and yes they do need to be able to bond with that child. Not sure how you feel that wanting them gone for a week would facilitate that?

On the other hand many many women have given birth/had c/sections and then gone home to their other children. Do you think that only the mothers biological children have a right to be included in welcoming baby home?

All mothers want peace and yes at some stage they all need it but cutting step children out of this important time is a very selfish want, not a need.

In my view children's needs come first and their wants should always be considered by their parents/guardians but are not as important as the adults wants.

RainbowMum11 Thu 10-Oct-19 02:10:12

It's needs vs wants.
Needs absolutely should be prioritised, wants, not always - that's what's potentially damaging.

mathanxiety Thu 10-Oct-19 02:10:21

Maybe a good example would be an expensive school trip abroad that a family would be very stretched to afford.

I disagree about blended families. It depends very much on the age of the children involved, and maybe on the sensitivity of the parents. If the blending happens when the DCs are young they can frequently figure out a way to become a solid family. It can also frequently be very advantageous from a financial pov to amalgamate households, and this can nearly always benefit the children. Obv if a blended family features children from one or two previous relationships plus children of the third relationship, then blending is necessary.

Pixxie7 Thu 10-Oct-19 02:50:48

Whilst no one can really argue that children’s needs should come first. It’s a worrying trend that they should come first in everything. Parents have a responsibility to bring up their children to be active members of society, always being put first is not going to happen.
Therefore we have a responsibility to ensure they realise this from a young age.

BadSun Thu 10-Oct-19 03:03:34

I've never actually seen anyone saying childrens' wants should always come first.

Userzzzzz Thu 10-Oct-19 03:09:12

Yes children’s ‘needs’ should come first but as part of that, I believe children need to learn that they can’t always come first, they sometimes they need to think about others and they can’t have everything they want. I’d also say that some ‘needs’ are ridiculous so the parent needs to make a sensible decision on behalf of their child.

Userzzzzz Thu 10-Oct-19 03:10:36

Eg my 3 year old frequently thinks she needs something that she doesn’t. She doesn’t understand the difference between need or want.

Zippetydoodahzippetyay Thu 10-Oct-19 03:30:37

Absolutely agree with those of you who say their needs should be prioritised but not necessarily their wants.

I always try to remember though that you can't serve from an empty vessel. If you don't take care of your own physical, mental and emotional health, you won't be the best parent you can be.

edgeofheaven Thu 10-Oct-19 04:53:38

I was watching "Queer Eye" on Netflix and there was a couple who had given the master bedroom to their 8 year old daughter. The father slept in the basement and the mother slept on the sofa. This was because the 8 year old didn't want to share with a sibling confused The Fab Five rightly told them - you are the adults, you pay for this home, you need proper sleep and rest to work and care for the family, and your relationship will suffer if you are sleeping separately. Clear case of prioritising a child's want over the rest of the family's needs.

Bobthefishermanswife Thu 10-Oct-19 05:25:21

To an extent you are right op.
It's mine and dps relationship, our son is here because of our love for eachother.
As a baby of course his needs come first, but as a parent it's my job to teach him independence, so as he gets older, he will still be a priority, but he won't always be number one.

Limpshade Thu 10-Oct-19 05:33:44

I have seen it that desperately tired posters hoping to sleep train, get their toddler to sleep in their bed, etc etc have found short shrift from a small number of posters to the tune of, "They're only young once, just cosleep with them until adulthood - that's what I did". Except for cases where it's a very small baby, I do think a mother needs to put herself first sometimes. Everybody agrees that PND is an awful, awful thing, but comments like that which place a mother's mental health below everything else surely feed into it.

Waxonwaxoff0 Thu 10-Oct-19 05:41:07

The holidays abroad thing is ridiculous.

But in the case of step parenting, I think blended families are more hassle than they're worth and rarely di

Waxonwaxoff0 Thu 10-Oct-19 05:43:50

Posted too soon.

Rarely does everyone come out of it unscathed. Personal experience of it as a child was negative for me and for that reason I have chosen not to have a relationship while DS is a child.

Material things are another thing entirely. DS doesn't get everything he wants just because he wants it.

Sockwomble Thu 10-Oct-19 06:02:02

With my son his needs come first and then his wants are considered along with everyone else's. Whether something is a need or want varies between children and families. For example there are lots of situations where I wouldn't take my child somewhere or keep him there because I know he won't or isn't coping with them. In that situation I might want to be there but he needs not to so we don't go.

Tumbleweed101 Thu 10-Oct-19 06:02:42

The person in the household whose needs are greatest should be prioritised, whether that is an adult or a child. Families work together so everyone is supported. For example
a parent who is struggling with a health issue should have their needs met before a child’s if the impact of not doing so will be detrimental to the family.

Children are not more important than anyone else in a family and adults have the knowledge and experience to have the final say on a situation.

Overtime2019 Thu 10-Oct-19 06:18:15

Kids come before anyone end of

Cherrysherbet Thu 10-Oct-19 06:21:37

I do agree with you op, and I feel this ‘my little princess’ thing is getting quite worrying. We are going to end up with a population full of very disappointed people when they realise life isn’t always a bowl of cherries, and they don’t always come first.

I must say though, my children have everything they need, and more.
I WANT some new boots, My 8yr old Dd WANTS some new boots. I can’t justify buying us both some this week. Guess who’s getting some at the weekend hmmmmmm.....not me!
With the holiday situation, we would not be going on holiday if I couldn’t afford it, just because my children wanted it, but smaller things I always let them have before I think of myself...that’s normal, isn’t it?

stuffedpeppers Thu 10-Oct-19 06:21:47

Well that did not take long to turn into a step kids and Ex bashing thread and there are not bad SMS out there likewise there are never any good Exs and the usually fathers aren't all Disney!

What a goady thread.

Oh and no children do not always come first but their needs are equal to everyone elses.

COI : Mum and step mum

Oblomov19 Thu 10-Oct-19 06:22:11

Nope. Children don't come first in my book. Never have. Even that old line, gets my goat.
I am as important as my Dh. Without us, there IS no family for ds's to be part of!

pictish Thu 10-Oct-19 06:37:08

Yanbu at all and some of the hand-wringing to that effect you get on here makes me cross.

user1493413286 Thu 10-Oct-19 06:38:30

What children need should be prioritised but that’s very different to what they want and people get that confused. Children don’t need lots of material items but they need to feel loved and be well looked after.
Also in the world we live in today children can’t always be put first as sometimes it’s a balance of needs; I’m sure it’d be better for my DD if I worked less but equally she needs a roof over her head.

Kungfupanda67 Thu 10-Oct-19 06:45:21

What gets me is the Facebook posts ‘my babies always come first’ when talking about how they don’t go out socially any more, or won’t get a job because their ‘babies always come first’.

I think kids need to fit into family life and be empathetic enough to know that both their needs and wants sometimes need to take a back seat depending on what everyone else needs/wants. I’ve got 3 kids, if they all need me 2 of them have to wait. If I need something at the same time as my kids need something, it’s whoever has the greatest need - I need lunch, my 3 year old needs someone to help him set up a train track. My need comes first.

PP example of her and her daughter both wanting new boots. If both our shoes had holes in, child would get them first. If we both had decent shoes and both just wanted a nice new pair, I’d be getting mine first!

corythatwas Thu 10-Oct-19 06:55:59

Everybody else seems to know lots of little princesses (why not princes?), can't say I do really. Most families I know tend to be far more pragmatic, and I have also known families where the children were expected to be far more grownup than the adults (one actually involving a stepchild, thankfully he Was far more mature than his stepmother or heaven knows what might have happened).
I'm with WTF on the first page: children don't always need to come first but you do need to consider the impact. And you do need to consider that unlike a new step-parent a child can't just decide that "hey, this isn't work g for me, I'm going to move out and give this relationship a break".

ChilledBee Thu 10-Oct-19 07:01:50

I think what people forget is that actually, having a co-parenting relationship were you can rely on each other and don't have to keep to civil rather than friendly boundaries so in the best interests of the child. I know I have friends who could not have their parents at the same events in their life (like literally had to choose between mum and dad at wedding) and ones who can get on with having a christening or a family Christmas without wondering if mum and dad will kick off.

People always say that this only matters when the kids are kids but actually, there has been more cause for my parents to be somewhere together and united since I've been an adult and they've been retired.

I think people put arbitrage boundaries around how one should interact with an ex to honour the relationship. I think it is weird to count how someone treats another person as some indication of how they feel about you. I don't want my husband to be rude or unhelpful to other people to show how much he loves me. I just want him to be lovely to me.

Teacher22 Thu 10-Oct-19 07:05:31

There is another thread where a poster says she is being pressurised to spend five grand for a school holiday she can’t afford. She cannot refuse because the child’s friends are going and the child will be disappointed.

In my view this attitude is irrational and counter productive. The family finances are jeopardised so they could lose their house or go into debt, the other family members will be deprived to ‘feed the cuckoo’ and, worst, the child will be given a view of the world which is false and which will be likely to make them spoilt and entitled , therefore, unemployable and friendless.

Needs, both emotional and physical, must be met but a little disappointment and a whole heap of reality build character and resilience. Often, parents and other adults’ needs must come before children’s wants. The fact that, often, they do not, is seen in a generation which is sometimes mannerless, angry, spoilt and suffering from depression and other mental health issues.

ChilledBee Thu 10-Oct-19 07:11:23

A prime example is a step mother giving birth to a child and wanting say a week without step kids. Just to adjust, to settle etc.

Here to me clearly the SMs needs come first.

However they are vilified as the step kids are going to apparently be irreparably damaged for life for not being around the newborn straight away and having their schedule in any way disrupted.

I find this unbelievable. It is so clear that in this case SMs needs are pretty important and so are the newborns child’s needs to have a relaxed mother.

When I had my 1 year old, my 2 3 year olds were obviously at home for all of the first days of their birth. As their parents, we cant just cast them off so we enjoy a baby moon with our new baby. That's how it is when you're a parent. Sure,family stepped up to babysit when we went to the hospital and in the days after for a few hours here and there. We didnt send them away for a week though because other people have to work/live.

If I only saw my children for part of the time, I certainly wouldn't think it appropriate to send them away for any length of time because I've chosen to have another child. That's what parenting is about. Why should people in 2nd families have that space when people in 1st families often don't? It is not unheard of for a women with other children to go and have her baby alone with the staff because her partner has to look after the older children.

I think it's nice if someone can take your child(ren) at this point, but you should no way expect it or complain when it cannot be facilitated. That's part of the choice to have more children.

CaveMum Thu 10-Oct-19 07:13:29

Look up the modern day philosopher Alain De Botton and his School of Life. He has a lot to say on this including that a parents most important job is to let their child down (to gently teach them about rejection and disappointment in life).

He was a recent guest on the Steve Wright Show, worth listening to.

From memory it was about an hour and a half into the show.

Velveteenfruitbowl Thu 10-Oct-19 07:13:56

I think it’s one of those phrases that are a bit open to interpretation. If you are a parent you have a moral obligation to prioritise the needs and development of your children. But literally putting them first all the time is detrimental (sacrificing your career/social life to always be there when they are little and then ending up a financial/emotional burden to them in adulthood is something that comes to mind as a common parenting mistake for example). It’s a catch-22 if you interpret it literally. Most people seem to be able to strike a balance in order to meet their needs without overindulging them and harming their development or narrowing their own lives so much that they become a burden as their children grow up.

Bellatrix14 Thu 10-Oct-19 07:39:48

I think the step mother issue depends a lot on whether it’s her first baby. I’ve seen this multiple times on here and often people trot out the line “Well if they were your biological children would you send them away?” which is slightly a moot point in that situation because if they were the SMs children then it wouldn’t be her first baby...

Children’s needs need to come first, and I think sometimes their wants do too. But not all the time. I wonder if the people saying that children should come first all the time are the parents of the children/teenagers who will come up behind me in a classroom while I am having a conversation with another pupil (or a member of staff) and go “Miss, Miss, Miss” repeatedly until I turn around and it turns out the crisis is that they want to borrow a pencil sharpener hmm

Bellringer Thu 10-Oct-19 07:44:03

A strong relationship between parents/caregivers is important for a secure family. A good working relationship even for separated parents is important too. Parents meeting their own needs and each other's up to a point also makes for better relationships. What's good for the parent is good for the child, and vice versa in healthy families. If parents are divided children get in the middle, as weapons or manipulated/manipulators. This is not good for emotional wellbeing.
If there has to be a choice something is wrong. It's juggling all the time, taking turns, sharing, prioritising and reprioritising. The welfare of the child/rent is paramount but does not mean they come first every time

ChilledBee Thu 10-Oct-19 07:45:34


It's irrelevant if it is her first baby, it isn't his first baby so he can't not look after them. Imagine if a guy wanted to send his step kids away for a week so he could have time alone with his first conceived child?

Maybe not having that special time alone and kid free is part of the downside of having children with someone who already has kids.

Aridane Thu 10-Oct-19 07:45:50

I agree, OP.

Sacrifices to be made on needs - eg if insufficient food, prioritise feeding children. Or prioriitise purchase of essential children’s clothing over bottles of wine.

But ‘wants’, no.

stucknoue Thu 10-Oct-19 07:51:15

Children's needs should be prioritised not wants and demands! They need love, good nutrition, your time .... they don't need holidays, gaming machines and takeaways. So no one should be buying holidays they cannot afford but kids need to be taken into account by new partners, not to any greater extent than a natural parent would (nothing wrong with having an occasional sitter or going away without kids for a special birthday) but especially when they are not resident all the time, they should be prioritised when they visit

stucknoue Thu 10-Oct-19 07:55:24


Seems like to got it spot on. It's so important that step kids don't feel pushed away by the birth of a new half sibling.

crazywelshgirl Thu 10-Oct-19 08:01:29


The difference between a 1st family and a 2nd family is a really simple one; in most cases where the 2nd family has restricted access to the DSC, that child is being brought up with different values, accepted behaviours, sense of entitlement potentially, etc. This makes the 2nd family’s life more difficult and stressful when the DSC is around, than any resident children (if there are any). They often don’t know/care to learn the household routine or rules and believe that their needs and wants should always come first.

As an example, my DSD’s routine couldn’t be changed when I had just given birth to my daughter and we had to have her for half of school holidays. Her DF had to go to work and while we would usually send her to OOSH, we couldn’t afford to as I was on maternity leave. At seven years old DSD couldn’t even put a piece of bread in the toaster for herself (I was breastfeeding and asked her to do this and I would then help sort it out when I was done), when asked to get ready to go out, doesn’t put shoes on and doesn’t say anything until we’re halfway up the street (walking), refuses to eat different foods every time we have her and expects us to shop for her at a moment’s notice e.g. “I fancy spaghetti bologna tonight”.

In a nutshell she is being brought up by first family to be dependant, lazy and incapable. We battle with this all the time and try and change this behaviour with reward charts, etc.

At the time of coming home with a newborn, I didn’t need the stress of an incapable child.

As an FYI, this was three years ago, and my three year old is at a point where she is leapfrogging DSD in terms of capability and obedience.

Monkeyplanet Thu 10-Oct-19 08:02:57

Children need discipline and to need to learn we don't always get what we want immediately or at all sometimes but their needs should always come first and their wants should be entertained and considered not just dismissed out of hand

OllyBJolly Thu 10-Oct-19 08:07:25

I don't necessarily think putting children first means that you have to give them everything they want, to me it just means to consider the impact of something on them. So before you do something consider the impact on them first

This. And the new baby example doesn't consider the impact on the family. I think SMs forget that their baby isn't only theirs - they are bringing a new sibling into the world and into the SC's lives. That should be done positively and thoughtfully. Not with the attitude "It's all about me now" .

ChilledBee Thu 10-Oct-19 08:07:32


I don't think all 7 year olds can safely do themselves a breakfast myself so I think it is reasonable adults to assume a 7 year old will need help. But even if she should have been doing that five years ago, she is your partner's child and therefore he cannot simply give up responsibility for her when it suits him.

If her maternal family are really incompetent and he is a decent guy, he would be the RP and wouldn't rest until he is. At this point,if has such a good parent, he would have 50/50 because although it isn't great to keep moving around for children, he would want at least half of her time to be in a place where she is parented appropriately.

So no, it was completely out if order to relinquish care of his older child because he has conceived with you. If I was his co-parent and I wanted him to have less to do with her, I'd use any choice he made like this against him to show that our child isn't a priority for him and that his 2nd family takes precedence.

Honestly, it sounds like this child would be happier and have a more secure and consistent upbringing without her father in her life. He seems flaky.

Divgirl2 Thu 10-Oct-19 08:13:51

@chilledbee what is it about PPs partner that makes them seem flaky? I am not getting that at all from their post.

crazywelshgirl Thu 10-Oct-19 08:20:35


He seems flaky because he needed to work and we couldn’t afford to send her to OOSH? Or should we have gone into debt so that we could maintain her normal routine?

I didn’t say her first family is incapable of bringing her up; we have different values. Very different things.

I also didn’t say I expected her to make breakfast herself. Just to put some bread in the toaster and I could help when I was done breastfeeding.

With regard to access, we are moving towards a 50/50 agreement. He is in the military and was away for long periods of time so for her stability, and in putting her needs first, he agreed to less access. Not really flaky at all but considering the needs and emotions of a child that needs routine. Now that we have stability in his job and no long periods of going away, we’re slowly moving towards a better arrangement (for her and him). Slowly because we’re putting her needs first and don’t want to force sudden change on her.

I also don’t think there was need for such a personal attack. I was simply giving a different perspective and agreement that not all DSC are angels or easy. As second families, we accept that but at really hard times, sometimes it’s in the best interests of everyone to have some breathing space. That doesn’t mean excluding DSC and they should be involved and welcomed at the time of a newborn coming into the family, but it can mean a slight change to routine for a couple of weeks.

ChilledBee Thu 10-Oct-19 08:22:02

The fact that he is with a woman who has these views of his daughter and speak about her that way and that he would have another child knowing he couldn't afford childcare for the other and the only options were either she stays with a step mother who thinks she stupid, "lazy", "dependent" and "incapable" and who wouldn't even realise the kid doesn't have shoes on until they are down the street. "Flaky" is the mildest term I have to describe this creature.

ChilledBee Thu 10-Oct-19 08:24:01

Parents don't get to oust their kids to make the newborn days with subsequent children easier. You're not a parent but he is.

This is really terrible.

crazywelshgirl Thu 10-Oct-19 08:28:01


Also, to clarify, I never called DSD stupid. You have inferred that.

I’m sure you’re aware that when you go from a two-person income to a one-person income, money is tight.

And, the shoes - I was a sleep deprived new Mum who assumed that when leaving the house a seven-year old would have put shoes on.

My relationship with DSD is actually very good and she is more likely to come to me than BM with emotional issues (which I then discuss with both BP to come to a resolution). We try and work through the issues that we see and improve all the time.

ChilledBee Thu 10-Oct-19 08:34:00

Yes saying that your child leapfrogged DSD etc and the other terms you used does imply you think she's stupid. I didnt put stupid in quotes but you did use every single other term and frankly,you should be ashamed of yourself and that partner of yours.

He had no business having more children and you have no business being in this little girl's life with those toxic views of her that you hold.

crazywelshgirl Thu 10-Oct-19 08:39:02


You’re really not “listening”. The relationship with her is good. We are helping her to improve and contribute positively to her life. She is behind with a number of skills because she is enabled at home and taught that this is ok. We support her, are patient with her, and give her everything she needs. She is not stupid but she has little motivation to put in effort which holds her back. Gentle encouragement all the way.

But in that first time at home with a newborn, it’s very difficult.

Back to the original topic, should a child’s needs always come first. In this case, DSC’s wants were put first, above that of the newborn and the SM. And I don’t believe that that should have been the care.

Also, you sound very bitter and angry. I hope you’re ok.

FavaBeansAndANiceChianti Thu 10-Oct-19 08:55:06

you are the adults, you pay for this home, you need proper sleep and rest to work and care for the family, and your relationship will suffer if you are sleeping separately

Absolutely true. I've seen it suggested more than once that the adults sleep on the pull out bed in the lounge so kids don't have to share bedrooms. That's insane to me.

I also disagree about the blended families thing always being about the adults and it can never be any good for the children.

It surely depends on how it's introduced? Mum moving new boyfriend in after 2 dates and never having met her kids? Absolutely not okay.

Two people deciding to live together after being in a committed relationship, meeting the children regularly and ensuring there is a good relationship there? That's okay in my book.

Both my parents moved on eventually after splitting and both times it brought more to my life because the people they chose were fantastic. My step dad especially. I couldn't imagine my life without him. But he wasn't some random stranger to me when he moved in as other PPs suggested. My mother made sure we'd had plenty of opportunity beforehand to know each other.

My own step kids message me often in between contact. They tell me they've missed me etc when they come. I can say for certain they'd be very upset if I just upped and left tomorrow because their dad didn't want a 'stranger' living in their house.

It's all about the execution I think.

It's important to mention step parents/families I think because this is said far more on threads about that than threads about biological parents.

Some times it's warranted of course but others it can get completely ridiculous.

FavaBeansAndANiceChianti Thu 10-Oct-19 08:57:56

I also hate this reluctance to discipline older children for appalling behaviour.

Like a 17 year old who treats their dads girlfriend with utter contempt is constantly excused as being a child. Sometimes j wonder if it was only me that would have got an absolute bollocking off my parent if I'd have spoken to an adult the way some 'children' are allowed to do so on here.

I cared about my father (not just myself) enough at 17 to want to see him happy yet on here it's constantly excused.

ChilledBee Thu 10-Oct-19 09:00:05

Right but the difference is that as RPs, people don't have the luxury of even considering relinquishing the care of an older child (with or without additional needs) to care for their newborn. The only choice we have is to decide not to have more children because the needs of our existing children are too demanding.

ChilledBee Thu 10-Oct-19 09:03:51

I'm in my first marriage with 3 kids. I'm neither a SP or RP post separation/divorce so I have nothing to be bitter about.

What I have done is teach a lot of kids who are harmed by their parent's relationship choices. Sometimes that's because a parent stays with someone who abuses them and/or their children. Other times it is because of issues surrounding a 2nd family and their feelings of displacement and rejection as their NRP prioritises their new life.

ChilledBee Thu 10-Oct-19 09:05:15

I've also seen it work really well and that usually involves friendly co-parents/SPs.

wineisneedednow Thu 10-Oct-19 09:07:16


This is true for traditional families (sorry not sure of proper term) but in a two-family situation, can’t it also be the case that the family without a newborn help out? Always making it a positive experience for the child and ensuring they don’t feel pushed away.

When DSD’s Mum was pregnant with her second child she was struggling at the end of pregnancy (quite sick) and we offered to have DSD to give her some relief. It was handled with care with DSD saw it as a treat. We also offered to help when baby came along to give them time to settle in. So it can work positively in a two-family situation.

(sorry was experimenting with name change and changed without realising it)

notsurewhattotype Thu 10-Oct-19 09:10:20

My parents always said to me that me and my sisters always got what we needed but we never got what we wanted. I always thought this pretty hard until I grew up! Now I have DS and he will always get what he needs but he won't always get what he wants.

NotStayingIn Thu 10-Oct-19 09:12:13

I agree OP. It feels like people who are unhealthily obsessive about putting their child before everyone and everything else don’t have much else going on in their lives.

They have lost their own identity and by continuing to make it solely about their child they don’t have to address the fact that there is no balance. It becomes martyr like and not healthy for either parent or child.

Longlongsummer Thu 10-Oct-19 09:21:13

And the new baby example doesn't consider the impact on the family. I think SMs forget that their baby isn't only theirs - they are bringing a new sibling into the world and into the SC's lives. That should be done positively and thoughtfully. Not with the attitude "It's all about me now"

You see this is where I think it can get very skewed and crazy. I was talking about a few days, a mum and her new baby is a critical time in that first week when things are very vulnerable. Who could possibly argue that a step kids wants are above a new mothers needs? Crazy.

And no, they are not her children so it is not the same. And yes the Dad should be focused on the mother of his baby above his older step kids. FOR THAT WEEK.

There are times when adult needs are priority. And they get to choose. Not the kids. And that is totally okay.

Longlongsummer Thu 10-Oct-19 09:24:28

In step family example I do agree that I also see parents put their new relationships first above the kids too sometimes in a way that ignores their child’s needs. That is really awful. However this is not as often as you’d think. On the step parent boards it is overwhelmingly SMs trying to put their step kids first and ignoring their own needs until they are totally drained.

Longlongsummer Thu 10-Oct-19 09:39:58

@crazywelshgirlshgirl I do agree. It’s maturity I think and an unselfish nature in a parent that is key.

For example:
My Ex thinks be puts his son first all the time. He does that by showering him with gifts, telling him he loves him and only seeing him when my son says it’s okay. Which is now about 2 days every two months. So he puts his sons wants right up there. He does not cater for his needs at all, he doesn’t even check he’s brushed his teeth when he stays.

Another step parent example:
I definitely did not want my step daughter around the first week after my newborn was born. I gave in though but it was awful and was not good for me, newborn or me and DP. But there you go you move on. I did a fair number of her wants, for example I took her to a shows in town, always cooked her favorite meal when she was here. It’s nice to do that. No bother for me either why wouldn’t I. I saw her needs as being able to still have a very strong bond with her Dad. So I made sure they had lots of room to carry pretty much as before. I saw her needs as having a simple, not confusing childhood by being clear I was not her mum, respecting her mother. Respecting her. I saw many needs such as diet not being met and tried to make sure she had access to healthier food without being too dominant etc. And the list goes on. However whenever I did have a need, such as for her not to be rude to my children, then this was a big sticking point and that is when I sometimes found her mum and Dad would be super defensive and say ‘it’s just her nature’ etc and I would be saying no, her wants to behave as she likes is not a need, she does not come first, other people also have needs including my kids to live in a fairly healthy atmosphere.

So I don’t think it’s rocket science. Just common sense really.

ChilledBee Thu 10-Oct-19 10:16:07

This is true for traditional families (sorry not sure of proper term) but in a two-family situation, can’t it also be the case that the family without a newborn help out? Always making it a positive experience for the child and ensuring they don’t feel pushed away.

Yes absolutely. But when it is clear that the SP has no intention of fostering that type of relationship and/or actively opposes any friendly bond between co-parents (Eg AIBU to think DP doesn't need to have a cuppa when he drops off SC?), they can't then expect for ex to do something close family would do for a new parent.

FavaBeansAndANiceChianti Thu 10-Oct-19 10:22:44

Eg AIBU to think DP doesn't need to have a cuppa when he drops off SC?

It's all relevant though isn't it? this situation, to me, depends on whether that particular ex has been reasonable previously.

For example, if my ex treated my husband like shit, spoke about him horribly, threatened him, tried to turn our kids against him simply because he existed or whatever, I wouldn't be going in for a cuppa at pick ups and I'd be nothing but tolerantly civil towards him. I certainly wouldn't be his friend just because he co parents my children. You don't have to be super friendly with exes simply because they are the other parent of your kids. It depends on numerous factors.

But I agree. If there's no reasons why exes can't be friendly, it should be encouraged.

carolina21 Thu 10-Oct-19 10:22:47

Child's need come first

FavaBeansAndANiceChianti Thu 10-Oct-19 10:30:28

Like I never understand the posters who say it's okay for two exes to go on holiday with each other and their kids (when they are in new relationships).

Going in for a brew is one thing. But surely all holidaying as a family is just confusing? I don't think it does children any good really to think that nothing changes when their parents aren't together anymore because likely one day it will.

ChilledBee Thu 10-Oct-19 10:32:14

I suppose I focus a lot now on what people choose. If that example was the case for me, I'd probably decide that this level of drama isn't for me and abandon the relationship but if it was too late for that, his choice to remain friendly would tell me how he prioritises his life. I wouldn't be angry so much as disappointed that we were not the match I thought we were. I wouldn't view it much differently to meeting a fabulous guy who doesn't share my desire to settle down close to family and have kids. It doesn't make him a bastard. He is just on his path, and I'm on mine.

Dissimilitude Thu 10-Oct-19 10:35:48

I think people correctly think "children's needs come first", but then they make the mistake of thinking "only think of the children, all the time".

If you're married / in a relationship, you need to give this relationship due weight within the family set up, because the relationship is the thing which underpins many of the essentials that the children need - i.e. the stability and flexibility of a two-person household.

If, by prioritising the children exclusively you are neglecting your marriage / relationship, you are actually undermining the children's environment overall.

ChilledBee Thu 10-Oct-19 10:37:46

DH family have some confusing links with intertangled timelines but the children seem to understand just fine. I didnt and I always felt awkward when I knew people with history were in the same room only to see them greet each other warmly or discreetly avoid each other depending on the situation. There is hurt and scars and trauma, don't get me wrong. But nobody is confused about who is who and people don't let their issues with one person (ie their dad) affect their ability to bond with the people connected to them through that person (ie paternal half siblings). Some of the assumptions I made about the effects of these situations were wrong. It also creates an ability to see blood as thick as water rather than the opposite.

Monkeyplanet Thu 10-Oct-19 10:55:44

I think the step mother issue depends a lot on whether it’s her first baby. I’ve seen this multiple times on here and often people trot out the line “Well if they were your biological children would you send them away?” which is slightly a moot point in that situation because if they were the SMs children then it wouldn’t be her first baby...

I don't think it's a moot point in that situation because SM willingly chose to have children with a man who has children so she can never have the FTM experience of being alone and having a babymoon because they as a couple have a responsibility to those children. It is a sacrifice you made by entering that relationship. Don't chose a man with children if you are not willing to accept the responsibilities and sacrifices it comes with. I would be livid if a new partner suggested my children who I see for part of the week must go to their other parent and miss visitation because we had a new baby. Not on

Novembersbean Thu 10-Oct-19 10:56:00

Really interesting thread - I completely agree with you OP and this is my biggest MN pet peeve (I don't think it is nearly as common a mentality outside of this forum).

I think it's really telling that you also mentioned the threads with parents excusing awful behaviour from near adults, I think this is very much linked. I've seen people defending "children" into their 20s as apparently "21 year olds are always selfish". I don't think there's any reason for someone of that age to be naturally selfish and downright unpleasant and the parents that do think that is just how people do that age behave are very likely the people that raised their kids to think their wants should always come first. A 21 year old should have learned to cope with other peoples feelings and needs being considered a long, long time ago, but if they've always been put first in all circumstances, how will they?

I have to admit I am a bit worried about what all these kids are going to end up like.

shearwater Thu 10-Oct-19 11:01:44

Well it's always a juggling act, but I have generally tried to show my daughters that while I have their backs and will go to the ends of the earth for them, I am also a separate person with A Life that goes on outside the general sphere of "Mum Duties" and their needs and wants and I think they appreciate me all the more for that.

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