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what is "normal" when it comes to teenagers and bedtime rituals?

(38 Posts)
brdgrl Mon 04-Jul-11 23:07:18

DSD is 16. DH takes her a glass of water and tucks her in every night. She goes to bed whenever she likes, no set bedtime (fine - she is 16!!!). So whenever she is ready for bed - as early sometimes as 9:30 and other times well past midnight or even later - she comes to DH and tells him (not asks, but tells) that she wants her glass of water "in five minutes". Whatever he's doing then, he stops, gets her water, and takes it to her. Sometimes they'll chat then for ten minutes, and sometimes for 30 minutes or even longer. This is every night.

This really gets on my nerves. I understand that it is a ritual they have always done. And I understand him wanting to say goodnight to his kids! BUt this seems OTT to me. Whatever he's doing, he just stops. If he's working, or having a little time to himself. Or if he and I are doing something...if we are watching a dvd, he'll stop it and off he goes and I sit there waiting for him to come back. Since it is on her demand, rather than at a set time, there is no way to plan around it. If he keeps her waiting more than the five minutes she wants, she'll start calling him and whining. (She has even rung him on his cell, from her room...)

On the exceedingly rare occasion that DH and I go out on an actual date, if we get back after she has 'gone to bed', she's always awake. As soon as we come in, she'll yell from her room and he goes obediently off to fetch the water. So maybe we have been out to a gig, and had a few drinks, and a good, romantic evening together...and then we come home and I am looking forward to maybe having a glass of wine, or going to bed...and instead I go off to bed by myself while he has a chat with her, and frankly, any 'mood' created by the date is long gone!

She is quite capable, too, of using this tactic deliberately to interrupt us, particularly if she is annoyed with me about something.

We also have two other kids - DSS is 13, and DD is 1. DSS just gets a glass of water when DH takes DD hers, whenever that is. I put DD to bed myself at around 7:30.

I don't want to sound heartless. But seriously? Is 16 too old for this? Or at least - for this kind of bossiness about it? I don't exsactly want him to stop the bedtime ritual altogther, because I can see that it is important to them both. But it feels weird to me, and I definitely resent the interruptions.
Any advice???

HRHMJOFMAGICJAMALAND Mon 04-Jul-11 23:09:28

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PeopleCallMeTricky Mon 04-Jul-11 23:11:58

I think that would probably piss me off if it was my step-daughter, but if it was my own daughter, it wouldn't. Sorry that is no help at all is it?

Slambang Mon 04-Jul-11 23:15:01

Yup it does seem a bit over th top bit it is only a glass of water. It's not hurting anybody. It's not costing any money. He likes the rital. She likes the ritual and whatever you say about it will be seen as interfering.

Grin and bear it and let her grow out of it when she and he are both ready. (when she goes to uni? when she has a boyfriend sharing her room?).

HRHMJOFMAGICJAMALAND Mon 04-Jul-11 23:17:00

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BertieBotts Mon 04-Jul-11 23:18:14

I think that's really sweet. It must be important to both of them. I wonder if in a way she's trying to assert that no matter how important you are to her dad, she still is as well, and I think it is important she gets that reassurance, even if it's slightly inconvenient. I can see it's annoying though, especially if you've been on a date. Perhaps he could make a point on those nights of having a chat with her before you two go out and then make it clear he expects her to be in bed when you get back. Presumably though your 1 year old must interrupt you sometimes? And I'd imagine for considerably more than ten minutes. I think it's important that children know their parents will always be there for them if they need them.

If you can try to think long term, this will only be for the next 2 years if she goes to university, maybe a couple more if she doesn't.

elastamum Mon 04-Jul-11 23:18:16

I'm a single mum not a stepmum, but that time with your teenage kids is precious and I would never foresake that bedtime chat with my kids.

Have just spent 30mins chatting to DS1 as he is going to bed. IMO those evening chats are really important. Sorry this isnt what you want to hear but if my bf wants to spend time chatting with his kids in the evening that is OK by me. i hope to be around long after they have flown the nest

scaredoflove Mon 04-Jul-11 23:22:36

She needs her ritual and it is obviously a special time for them

16 year olds are funny creatures, in one respect they are so very adult but they can revert to needy little people in a flash

Whilst it's annoying for you, it's special for them. It's nice a teen still wants her Dad and I think you need to just accept it. It won't last forever, she will be out and about and doing her own thing soon and then you'll be lucky if you see her

Let them have this time without outside crashing it

wellwisher Mon 04-Jul-11 23:31:37

Very sympathetic responses here (to your DSD I mean). She sounds to me like a selfish, controlling little madam - but if her dad accepts this behaviour, you'll only be the bad guy if you challenge it. Can you suck it up for a couple more years? Doesn't she ever go away to stay with friends or with her mum? I'd just schedule your dates for those nights and make the most of them.

What happens if you and your DH go to bed before her - you can't be up past midnight every night is you have a 1-year-old, surely? Does your DH have to get up again when madam decides she's ready for her glass of water?

brdgrl Mon 04-Jul-11 23:33:43

ok. thanks.
I understand that it is an important ritual.
i guess i am struggling with the timing issue - if we could plan around it somehow, or even if she went to bed at a sort of predictable time each night...

But mostly, I guess what really bothers me is her ATTITUDE. The bossy tone, the way he has to jump to it...god forbid he should say "I'm in the middle of something here, but I'll be up in 20 minutes".

She is the same about lots of other things...tonight she said to him "I am going in to town tomorrow [to meet her friends], so I need you to wake me up early so I can shower before you". Meaning - he should set his alarm for an hour earlier than he actually needs to get up, bring her tea in bed, and then wait for her to finish in the bathroom before he starts his day. Never mind that we have a schedule worked out in the mornings to share the baby duties and our own work, or that 16 is old enough to set an alarm herself...or that she could maybe not insist on showering first and using all the hot water???

My DH is at home all day, and she has his ear, all day, any time. So it isn't like this is their one opportunity out of the day. The kid he NEEDS to be talking to is DSS, who stays in his room all day playing video games and is maybe a more typical teenager in that he doesn't WANT to be around dad every minute of every day. But DSD is pretty much glued to DH's side and demanding his attention whenever she is here, which now that it is summer, is all the time unless she goes out with her friends. And DH doesn't bother about the other kids this way, it is all about DSD and what she wants, when she wants it. Sometimes DH misses saying goodnight to the baby AT ALL, because he says he will come up in ten minutes (to giveme time to get her ready for bed) and then he'll be talking to DSD for half an hour and by the time he comes up, baby is already asleep.

I guess I sound like the wicked stepmother. Sorry.

HRHMJOFMAGICJAMALAND Mon 04-Jul-11 23:34:00

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brdgrl Mon 04-Jul-11 23:38:51

and yes...last night we had already gone to bed, and she came tapping at the door for her glass of water...

thanks, everyone, really, i appreciate the responses even if they aren't exactly what i want to hear! and thanks wellwisher for the sympathetic voice. smile

Her mom is deceased - which I know will automatically produce the response that "OH, she needs her dad, poor kid!" and believe me, I get it, I do, but there is so much overcompensation that goes on...well, it is one of those things that some people will understand if they have been there, and some people won't i guess!

brdgrl Mon 04-Jul-11 23:44:17

but yes, i guess i need to accept this one and suck it up for a couple more years.

if he starts taking glasses of water to her and her husband in ten years time, though...then i really will put my foot down! ;)

wellwisher Mon 04-Jul-11 23:55:14

I think it would be OK for you to suggest to your DH that if DSD hasn't asked for her water by the time you guys start getting ready for bed, he takes it in to her (and has the usual nice chat) at that point. It isn't fair for her to disturb you when you're in bed unless she's ill or there's some other emergency, and at 16 she should understand and accept that. It would have to be her dad who says it to her though...

cat64 Tue 05-Jul-11 00:02:25

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Fifis25StottieCakes Tue 05-Jul-11 00:10:26

She sounds like a spoilt to me TBH. I think she is using it to control the situation.

Fifis25StottieCakes Tue 05-Jul-11 00:10:57

* was going to insert brat but i thought that was harsh sorry

theredhen Tue 05-Jul-11 08:04:42

My teen gets sent to bed at a regular time. Sometimes I will say goodnight to him downstairs and sometimes I will go up and say goodnight as well. Really depends on my mood and what I'm doing (so if I'm about to go upstairs for a shower, for example). DS gets his own drink of water only if he wants one. DS doesn't expect me to come up but likes it if I do. Probably about 50% of the time I will go upstairs.

DSC get a drink made for them by DP and brought up to them (fruit juice). They then have to be told several times to actually go to bed once upstairs. They then leave the sticky drinks in their room the next morning and leave clothes, towels and curtains for DP to sort out.

Just one of the double standards in a step parents life! sad

coccyx Tue 05-Jul-11 08:11:08

May be a ritual but i think she needs pulling back into line. bad attitude!!!!!

HelloKlitty Tue 05-Jul-11 08:18:34

I wouldn't allow her to tap at your door! Let her know if she misses her chance then that's it!

chelen Tue 05-Jul-11 10:50:25

I think its great that they have the special time together, but its not ok that she dictates when. I guess I would ask what would be considered socially normal in adulthood - basically you usually make arrangements with friends, see them when you said, mutual agreement. That's what we try to move our kids towards - emotionally/socially positive adult behaviour. I suppose some people have very good friends where they drop in whenever, but that still has to be by agreement generally.

So I guess I would try to get my partner to talk to her and say 'I love the time with you but because you now go to bed late sometimes, I want to do it at a sensible time. So lets agree on a time, and stick to it'. Definitely no mention of you in that chat!

She can have his attention but it isn't realistic to continue to think if we click our fingers people will just drop everything - that won't happen outside the home or in the workplace or when away at uni etc.

Sariah Tue 05-Jul-11 12:52:49

I think it is contolling and totally ott. I have a ds18 and 2sds 17 and 15 and if they are capable of doing something then they do it. Whatever about saying good night, that would drive me absolutely mad. She sounds like she needs reassurance but there are better ways of giving it than this ritual.

mo3d Tue 05-Jul-11 13:03:02

My eldest d is 16 and she goes up at 10 during the week and has a shower and goes to bed. She wouldn't be up til after midnight during the week. The other thing she wouldn't do is speak to us the way you say you dsd does.

It's very sad that her mum has died, but your dh is doing her no favours letting her speak however she feels. She will find it very difficult in the real world if she thinks speaking to people like that is ok.

I think the ritual is lovely too, but it needs a set time. Dsd would still be getting her dad's attention but at a time that is convenient for everyone, not just her. You're a family, you're all important, it doesn't revolve around one person.

Perhaps during the week it could be say 10.30 and later at the weekends? Let dsd decide the times, but then it must be agreed by all that they are stuck to.

brdgrl Tue 05-Jul-11 20:04:03

thanks, all!
I think this has helped me get some perspective, and I feel like I need to accept it as a general thing, but I can still ask for some changes to avoid the worst times. Like not coming in after we have gone to bed, and saying good night before we go out instead of when we get home. ANd maybe asking him to keep it to ten minutes or so if he and I are in the middle of something.

I am going to try to have a talk with DH about it...I like the suggestions of trying to fix a time for it, although I don't know if DH will see the point in it, I can but ask!

mo3d Tue 05-Jul-11 20:32:42

I was thinking about your question today and wanted to add that I think the idea of the fixed time will have to come from your dh, and he will have to sound like he thinks it's a good idea and that it didn't come from you. Otherwise your dsd might think you're meddling between her and her dad.

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