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Friends, activities, clubs anything to cheer up a 11 year old SD

(7 Posts)
onionlove Wed 13-Jul-11 16:04:31

Hi everyone,
Just had another challenging weekend with SD, she has always been a quiet girl but I'm finding it is really starting to bring down the mood of the house and it puts me on edge and makes me want to spend less time with her which isn't good. I think it would do her good to spend time with kids her own age rather than being with DH, me and DS (1) all weekend.
We have tried making friends i.e. introducing her to children of our friends but she doesn't seem bothered on spending time with these children again. Last time she went swimming with two daughters of friends of ours they all fell out and she was quiet all day again. We went to a lovely fair on Saturday, with live music, drama, henna tattoos, glitter, fairground etc. and it was so hard because she didn't want to go on anything visit any stalls, have her hair done, buy a bracelet nothing! If I ever went anywhere like that when I was that age I nagged to do everything at once!
She is very introverted and solemn, we know she really likes gym class and we said we would find a class where we live or Dad would take her to one where she lives for consistency but she said she didn't want to in case we have visitors and she missed out on seeing them. My sister visits once in a blue moon with her kids, we don't really have any other visitors.
I know its probably an age thing and my DH was quiet at her age too but just wondering if anyone else has come across similar and has joined clubs or anything for every other weekend so their 'steps' can make friends where they live.
DH finds it very difficult, he has repeatedly asked her what's wrong, what she would like to do when she is here and what can he do to make her feel better but he usually gets a shrug of shoulders. I'm dreading the summer holidays and don't think I can cope with a whole week - help!

brdgrl Thu 14-Jul-11 11:19:18

How long has this been going on? Are there any big changes - are these visits still a relatively new thing, is she maybe struggling to figure out her place in the home, especially with a baby there too?

It is interesting that she said that about not wanting to miss visitors - did she get on well with your sisters' kids? Maybe she would like to spend time with other kids, but just hasn't 'clicked' with the kids of your friends.

I guess I don't have real advice, just sympathy. It is similar with my 13 year-old SS, who lives with us - he doesn't seem able to entertain himself, so is bored and i think a bit lonely - but nothing we try to arrange meets with much enthusiasm either.

Is it possible for her to have one of her friends (from where her mother lives) around or to stay, or is it too far away?

onionlove Thu 14-Jul-11 13:39:25

Hi brdgrl,
Some big changes, arrival of DS, her mum got married again and there are two teenage kids from her new step-dad, so difficult to know because she won't talk to us. We have had her every other weekend for about 6 years I guess. I think she does struggle, she won't do anything without DH telling her to, we tell her to make herself at home but she still sits at the table and waits for meals rather than just helping herself to cereal, sandwiches, whatever she wants. DH has to tell her to go and have a wash in the morning otherwise she'll just sit at the table. She doesn't even put the TV on without one of us asking if she wants to watch. She did get on with sis's kids but they live a long way away so we never see them that often. I think she is lonely, we have offered to have one of her mates over but its not really practical since they live about 30 miles away, difficult when the parents wouldn't know us either. I was just wondering if doing something like drama or dance etc would get her mixing with other kids and help confidence etc. I must admit it makes me frustrated because I feel like I've got a shadow all the time she is here which is probably not helping the situation as she will begin to pick up the vibe.

brdgrl Thu 14-Jul-11 16:51:17

That is a lot of change. Has she always been so passive?
Getting her involved in some outside stuff is probably a good idea, but maybe you can get her more involved in things at the house too, so that she doesn't feel she's being fobbed off or sent away. She might be feeling a bit pushed aside (as a result of all the other changes, I mean) and maybe some of her passivity is really about just wanting to stay not leaving the table until she is told, maybe it is a sort of clinginess because she doesn't want to miss anything. If she spends a lot of time alone, even if she is a quiet and reserved kind of girl, she might start to convince herself that no one really wants her around. sad
I have a one-year old too, I know how busy I am, so I hesitate to even ask, but are there things you can all do together as well as trying to encourage some outside interests of her own? A drama class sounds really good for her on her own, but maybe also you could find something the whole family does, where she can have fun with you guys - where she feels more comfortable - and still dip in and out of activities with other kids.

How much does she interact with the baby?

swash Thu 14-Jul-11 19:30:59

Ah that sounds sad for her - and really difficult for you. We've found family swimming is a great activity for a mixed age-group - and dss does swimming classes in the holidays. I would factor in some her-and-dad time into each weekend if you can - doesn't have to be a big thing. I would also have some little thing waiting on her bed when she arrives - like a comic - to help her feel welcomed and cared-for.

onionlove Thu 14-Jul-11 19:49:56

brdgrl - thanks for your insights, very valuable! She has always been a quiet girl and would never ask for anything she wanted or show enthusiasm, we don't know how she is brought up at home but she does spend a lot of time with grandparents, childminder, step dad etc. and her mum doesn't seem to encourage her to make friends or have activities with friends - hard to say though as DH and her mum don't talk anymore. But I get the impression that she just doesn't want to be 'in the way' we have tried to reassure constantly on this point but it doesn't seem to work.
I think your right about the clinginess and that in truth could be what is 'turning me off' as I just assumed she wanted more time with her Dad and also it makes me feel a bit claustrophobic as I feel I am trying to raise the level of happiness in the household all the time which is hard to do when you're trying to keep a teething baby happy :-) DH can also be very quiet (peas in a pod springs to mind!) We do a lot of simple things together like playing in the garden, going to the park etc. and she has a lot of good interaction with the baby, reading and playing with him. I think if I'm honest because she tries to look after him too much i.e. telling him off etc. (which I think she gets from being with MIL when she is helping her look after her baby cousins) which I find irritating, I wish she could play with him and not try to be his mum. I may be too clingy with him myself but that is a long story and some of it due to the fact I am working far more hours than I want to at the moment.
swash - it is sad, swimming is a good idea and I know she likes that. She always has her-and-dad time but I must admit I get a bit hacked off when DH puts the grand prix on or falls asleep when he is supposed to be spending quality time, I've tried to talk to him about that one but decided that is a battle I won't pick. They do go to the cinema and read and play games together a bit. I think she's at a bit of an inbetween age where there are some things she probably doesn't want to do with Dad, shopping etc.
I like the idea of the little pressi, there are always lots of little things she needs, I know everyone is going to think I'm selfish, I just wish DH would be the one to instigate a discussion and try to sort it out but I guess men just aren't built that way.
thanks again
Onion xx

swash Thu 14-Jul-11 22:23:59

tbh as your own children grow, you realise that it really is the mother who is at the centre of the family. very hard when you are the sm - I definitely found it harder to step-parent when I had my dcs. btw, you might want to post on the stepparenting board as well as here.

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