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Living Room/TV issues on access weekends

(78 Posts)
Petal02 Mon 22-Nov-10 15:25:23

This is one of my main bugbears, and has caused me major frustration over the last few days, as we had SS (age 16) from Thurs-Sun.

When I was a child, we watched kid?s programmes when we came in from school, and then at 6pm the news came on, and after that my parents pretty much decided what was on TV because they were the adults, I never saw myself as a deprived child, I had a TV in my bedroom which I could watch if I didn?t want to watch my parents programmes.

However when SS visits, he?s generally glued to the sofa, and surgically attached to the remote control. No one is physically stopping me from entering the lounge, but I?ve no desire to watch round-the-clock cartoons with an unwashed lump, so I tend to retreat upstairs. DH gets really cross when I retreat, it really winds him up, but it?s not HIM I?m retreating from. SS has a TV in his bedroom, but prefers ours at it?s a wider screen (I think boys like things like that) and DH argues that he doesn?t want SS to spend each access weekend in his bedroom, as they?d never get to see each other. I think DH?s ideal situation would be for me to sit with SS watching his choice of programmes eg, cartoons, super-hero dvds etc.

There have been many times when I?ve suggested that SS has control over the TV until I?ve cleared up after dinner, after which it should be ?grown-up? time. DH will agree to do this, but will never enforce the ?ruling? unless I apply pressure. He?s often said we shouldn?t need to have schedules in our own home ? well fine, I agree in theory, but without any schedules SS ends up taking over. When I?m a 50% stakeholder in our house, I resent having to sit upstairs like teenager watching TV in my bedroom.

I know that on access weekends, ?normal rules? go out of the window, and normal standards of behaviour/expectations are not enforced because Disney Dads over- indulge their children, at the expense of their new relationships.

AIBU?? Obviously I wouldn?t dare post these comments on that particular board, I?d be burnt at stake!

notremotelyintofootie Mon 22-Nov-10 16:12:56

Personally I just go in and say to dad who is 15, "right pass me the remote I want to see what's on, had enough of this teen crap".... If you don't even try this dss wont know that he isnt in charge of your tv.... It'd then his choice to sit with you or not.../and if dh argues about this just remind him you are the adults and its your lounge/tv too!

notremotelyintofootie Mon 22-Nov-10 16:14:15

Dsd not dad!!!

scurryfunge Mon 22-Nov-10 16:15:37

Hide the remote and go and do something nice as a family instead of watching tv.

ivykaty44 Mon 22-Nov-10 16:19:27

you ANBU

but you have to take soem control and go into the sitting room and take the remote control - just get on with it

if dad wants to spend time with his ds then wathcing tv is not time spent and he may have a shock in 10 years time when ds tells father "you never spent any time with me I always sat and wathced tv"

get dh to do "soemthing" with dss, soemthing they might share in common? snooker, pool, sports of soem kind?

glasscompletelybroken Mon 22-Nov-10 16:35:56

I have a TV problem too so can completely understand your frustration. We have a projector and on a Friday & saturday night when my DH lets my DBC's stay up late to watch films using the projector to have a really big screen on the wall of the living room. Of course to fully appreciate the picture you have to watch it in the dark.

Now I know I'm a bit odd but I don't actually like the TV much but I don't mind anyone else watching it as long as I can sit in the corner and read a book. Bit tricky in the dark!

I end up going to another room and then my DH doesn't like it because he says it's nice for us all to watch it as a family.

I can understand where he is coming from but it's really not nice for me!

Petal02 Mon 22-Nov-10 16:43:44

As I often say to my husband, there's no "cake and eat it" option. The bottom line, is that blended families don't always work very well.

I really did think that by the time SS got to 16, there would be some light at the end of the tunnel. But it's just not getting any easier.

theredhen Mon 22-Nov-10 16:55:52


I've seen both sides of this in my house.

When DSC are here, I rarely get to go on a computer or watch anything in peace as someone always seems to want something. Can't even have a bath as there won't be enough water for 7 of us. However, DP is quite good in that he will try and find something for all of us to watch or ask me what I would like to watch - he doesn't let the DC dictate after about 7pm.

harassedinherTINSELpants Tue 23-Nov-10 15:08:35

Petal - that's how it is in our house. Cbeebies or whatever on until 6ish or maybe later, and then it's "mummy & daddy tv".

Dsd would also be glued to the tv, pc or itouch thingy if we let her.

I really don't get why fathers complain they don't get enough access, but are then happy to plonk said kids in front of the tv?? Is it just me?!

When my boys were younger we hardly had the tv on at all. They were out with their friends or doing stuff with me even if only walking the dog.

FreudianSlimmery Tue 23-Nov-10 15:14:25

I do sympathise and it makes me very glad we don't have anything but the five basic channels - otherwise my DSCs would easily watch rubbish all day, that's what they do at their house, its what their mum does too but that's another thread!

Your DH really needs to find something fun to with his dc, watching tv all day is not good for him and it's no way to bond with his dad!

Petal02 Tue 23-Nov-10 15:20:57

To be fair to DH, he's really keen to get SS out of house, but SS just isn't interested, and (like most Disney Dads), DH wouldn't dream of applying any pressure, just in case he upsets his little cherub. The upshot is that SS festers on the sofa on access weekends.

I will DEFINITELY try the suggestion of taking more control of my living room, and will insist that 'grown-up' time starts as soon as I've cleared up after dinner in the evening. Of course, none of this would be an issue if SS mixed with his peers, played sport or had a social life, but that's a whole different issue!!

harassedinherTINSELpants Tue 23-Nov-10 15:57:13

My ds2 would "fester" too, but that's different and easier as I would tell him in no uncertain terms.

I think teenagers are similar to toddlers, in that they need ground rules too. So I think you should agree tell him when the tv is yours.

FreudianSlimmery Tue 23-Nov-10 18:32:50

Your DH really needs to step up here. We had a minor issue with my DSDs just wanting to watch DVDs or play wii all day, so in the end we agreed on limits. Admittedly its easier as we have our own DCs and it gives us more of an excuse to do stuff IYSWIM, like getting out to the park etc.

I am bloody glad my DH is not a Disney dad I don't think I could put up with it.

What does dss's mum think about it? Does he act the same at his house, is she worried about his lack of socialising etc?

pleasechange Wed 24-Nov-10 11:02:35

Petal I have exactly the same problem. Most access weekends I find myself in my bedroom watching TV/on the computer because there is either a film I'm not interested in being watched in the lounge, or xbox being played in lounge. Problem is that DH has no real incentive to stop it because he also enjoys the xbox! But of course he regularly comments that it would be nice if we could spend the time together as a family hmm. Yes - so that means you guys doing exactly what you want while I sit bored stiff watching, great. The "cake and eat it" expression definitely springs to mind.

The thing is - I can see a bit where a father would say well I don't get much time with them as it is - BUT isn't that just the case in general with teenagers?? I certainly don't remember wanting to sit with my parents every weekend night watching TV. Don't most teenagers generally spend a lot of their time hibernating in their bedrooms away from parents? (or got forbid with friends - shock horror)

I have recently got DH to agree to getting a TV put in the spare room, which DBS's can use to play xbox, i.e. not in the lounge. We'll see how this pans out.....

Petal02 Wed 24-Nov-10 14:21:25

Allnew - you raise an interesting point about DH having no incentive to change the situation. In our house, even though DH ideally wants us all to be happy, ultimately indulging SS takes prority. And as SS is at his happiest when watching hours of cartoons in the lounge, my DH has no incentive to change things either.

What is it about these weekend Dads who go to ridiculous lengths to ensure they have their full entitlement of access - only to leave their little darling in front of the TV all weekend, or worse still go off to work and leave Golden Child with someone else!!!

I think they like the idea of access, but not so much the reality.

pleasechange Wed 24-Nov-10 15:23:42

I think that when the 'children' involved are teenagers then the whole arranged access thing is nonsense anyway - it's so artificial. It's just to artificial for a teenager to be spending every waking hour of a day with a parent. I'm sure that when the 'child' is at home, they probably actually spend very little time 'doing things' with the resident parent, yet these access weekends are meant to be all 'let's find things to do as a family 24/7'.

I really think that at this age it shouldn't be arranged access on such a formal basis. But I know in your case Petal, and in mine, the formality has no sign of changing sad

Petal02 Wed 24-Nov-10 15:39:48

Allnew - it's interesting that you mention the formality of our access; I brought this up again last week with DH.

The reason this came up, is that DH needed to work late on Thursday evening, but commented to me that he wouldn't be able to do this, because he has to collect SS. I asked why couldn't he amend the pick-up time, or, given he really needed to work on Thursday night, could he not collect SS on Friday instead - I mean, he's 16-and-a-half now .... He said he couldn't do this, and that he'd have to re-arrange his work commitments.

I asked him why, after all this time, was he still in his ex's pocket over the strict rota. To my surprise he said that he no longer does it to comply with his ex, and that he chooses to stick to the rota because "that's how we've always done it." I just can't find words to express my frustration. It's like access has to take place at set times, just like night follows day, and the rest of everyone's life has to fit round it.

One of DH's friends asked him to play squash at 7pm on Sunday night. DH declined, as he has to take SS home at 7pm. When I asked if he could take SS home at 6.30pm, to accommodate the squash match, the response was the same - I take him home at 7pm, because that's what we've always done.

I expect you understand my frustration. However the upshot is a young adult who's still extremely infantile. I honestly think he hides behind the access schedule as a way of avoiding life. And whilst I can understand (to a point) that DH wants to protect his child from reality, I now think he's doing more harm than good.

pleasechange Wed 24-Nov-10 15:48:49

That is so frustrating Petal, you must be ready to scream. Why on earth would a 16 yo want to be subject to such rigidity. I find it incredulous (yet I see it weekly as you do)

The incidents you've cited are just plainly ridiculous. You must want to bang their heads together. I often wonder where the cut-off is. It's not as if some magic wand is going to be waved on his 18th birthday, so where will it all end?!

mjinhiding Wed 24-Nov-10 15:56:44

Message withdrawn

pleasechange Wed 24-Nov-10 15:59:45

mj my DSSs are exactly the same as Petal's DS in this respect. They have no inclination to do anything other than follow daddy around every waking hour. Apart from 1 hour's organised activity on a Saturday. The rest of the time, from waking to going to bed, they are glued to DH's side. For me this is what makes the weekends so difficult. If DH gets up from the sofa and wanders in the kitchen for a drink, DSS (15) will commonly follow him, I kid you not.

mjinhiding Wed 24-Nov-10 16:01:54

Message withdrawn

Petal02 Wed 24-Nov-10 16:11:57

Allnew/Mjinhiding - it's so comforting that you understand. Access weekends would be so much easier if SS had a life!!! If I'm honest, I think DH is very well aware that SS should be branching out by now, but (as per usual) I think he's terrified that SS will stop wanting to visit unless his total comfort is assured at all times.

DH makes plenty of excuses for him - generally that SS attends a school with a large catchment area, and therefore the other lads aren't on his doorstep. Interesting I also went to a school with a similar catchment area - but guess what? We all managed to use buses, bicycles, lifts from parents etc, and I had quite a busy social life from age 14.

SS doesn't want to play sport, even though DH encourages him. But again, DH won't push him. So there's nothing going on to 'naturally' break the pattern. We still have the same regime we had when he was 11. Thankfully he wants to go to Uni when he's 18. But god knows how he'll cope.

It really helps to know there are other ladies out there who understand the frustration.

mjinhiding Wed 24-Nov-10 16:18:41

Message withdrawn

Petal02 Wed 24-Nov-10 16:48:34

I agree that it's weird. You know how you occasionally hear about a woman who's still breast-feeding a 5-yr-old, and you think "erm, that's just not quite right", well that's how I feel about DH/SSs relationship. He's too old to be treated like a baby.

As regards family outings - DH prefers it if we all go out together, and gets very upset if I decline. But then you end up with this odd situation of being followed round by a 6ft, 16-yr-old, it's just plain freaky. I never see any other couples out with teenagers like that. We're supposed to be going to a Christmas Market in Derby in a few weeks time, not the sort of thing a teenage boy would be interested in, but because it clashes with an access weekend, he'll have to trail round with us.

I'm half tempted to say to DH, that if he wants to attend the event with his son, then that's fine, but I really don't want to include an adolescent in our social lives, so I'll take a rain check on this occasion. When I was 16, I NEVER expected to follow my parents around like a wet lettuce, I would have died of embarrassment!!!

theredhen Wed 24-Nov-10 16:55:24

"I cannot imagine, for one second, having any one of the 3 of them, spend a whole weekend, stuck to the TV in the living room, playing games, watching cartoons"

That's exactly how my life is.

DSD1 is aged 14 and is sometimes out and about, but often will stay in all day and all night. DSD2 will very rarely go out, DS is out sometimes or has friends over to us. DSS never goes out without his Dad hmm and DSD is too little to be doing much anyway.

Doesn't help that we live 5 miles away from their friends, and any public transport.

We do know that when they stay at their Mum's for the weekend or the holidays, they sometimes don't step outside from the school run on Friday to the school run on Monday. They don't even draw the curtains back. confused

To be fair to your DSS, Petal, I was a very shy teenager and preferred to stay in and read than be out partying with friends, but I did have a Sat / evening job from the age of 13 and did go out occassionally.

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