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I should butt out - right?

(20 Posts)
theredhen Wed 20-Jul-11 13:33:05

DSD aged 15 is getting to have a pretty active social life. Next week, for example, she is out all but one evening, every night.

She said to DP that she wouldn't stay on "our" night next week as he would literally have to pick her up from town ten mins away at 11pm and she would go to bed and get up next morning and he would be taking her home at 6am.

DP's answer is that she can come over to us on the one night she isn't out. My thinking is that maybe she might want to spend it with her Mum especially as she will be with us all next weekend for a long weekend anyway. She certainly looked very uncomfortable when he suggested it.

I did think I might contact DSD and suggest that she comes up with a compromise, ie. that she just comes for tea or just for an hour or so one afternoon if she's free. However, I don't think going behind DP's back is a good idea even if I am doing it so that he gets "something" rather than "nothing".

If I talk to DP he will say that his ex will see every day even if only for a short while before bed and why shouldn't he spend an evening with her rather than not see her at all? DP has already told her in the past that he has to fight very hard to have contact with his kids and therefore, he expects her to come and see him.

LittleWhiteHeart Wed 20-Jul-11 13:37:58

Tough one ... as a rule of thumb with my own step-situation, 'If in doubt, butt the hell out' but that's just my approach as the line of least conflict works best for me!

Maybe you could suggest your idea to DP first and he can then suggest it to DSD? Good luck smile


Lasvegas Wed 20-Jul-11 13:50:46

I never get involved with step kids. It is too emotive let the parent s and the teemager sort things out. I know you are trying to help but DH may not see it like that.

theredhen Wed 20-Jul-11 14:09:59

I think the danger if I ever suggest that we have the kids less time than he actually wants, is that he will think that I don't want them here.

Petal02 Wed 20-Jul-11 14:21:46

I'd be tempted to leave well alone. I've adopted the 'detach' stance at present, and there seems to be less conflict. I agree with the poster who suggested it's a very emotive subject, and even your very best intentions can be misconstrued by an over-sensitive non-resident-father.

You'll recall I tried hard with flexible visiting, SS didn't reduce his time with us, it was just 're-allocated' on a 'little and often' basis, yet DH now thinks I was trying to reduce contact. Even illustrating my defence with pen and ink on a calendar didn't help, he just got his "you're trying to stop me seeing my son" head on, and there was no point in arguing.

And given your DP is very clingy towards his children at the best of times, I think your sensible idea might actually cause a row. It find it worrying that your step daughter is heading towards independence, yet your DP is almost stifling this, just to indulge his own insecurities.

Petal02 Wed 20-Jul-11 14:26:14

PS - I should add that your suggestion that she comes for tea is actually a very good compromise, even though your DP might not see it that way. That's how I was trying to move things forward with SS, that he still comes over, has a meal with us, but each visit doesn't have to result in an overnight stay, (which causes transport complications for DH the following morning) which is a more mature way of visiting.

theredhen Wed 20-Jul-11 14:28:45

Yes, I suspect it all sounds rather familiar to you, Petal, doesn't it?!

I think there is a real chance that eventually she will have a big row with him and stop coming. To be honest, I think it's only money and taxi services which keep her coming right now anyway. sad

I just know there is a compromise that means he can have less time with her but that it's quality time and it's a far better alternative to the never seeing her at all option, which I think he might end up with if not careful.

I just know I will be subjected to weeks / months of ranting by DP and correspondence from ex wife when it happens and I think the selfish part of me wants to prevent that from happening too.

Petal02 Wed 20-Jul-11 14:34:49

Redhen, do you think that if she did stop coming altogther, that the ex would try and (a) force her to come anyway so that she's 'out of the ex's hair' and/or (b) insist that if she isn't spending sufficient nights per week with your DP, that maintenance should increase? Option B is what happened to us, which is why I'm back to square one.

theredhen Wed 20-Jul-11 14:50:01

Hmmm... it all depends on the ex's mood. To be honest, I think she would rather "offload" the younger ones as they probably cramp her style more.

By eldest DSD not coming, it means that ex doesn't really have to spend time looking after her as she will be out most of the time anyway but it also means that she gets "one over" on DP by "proving" that the kids like her more. (yes, this is the sort of attitude that goes on).

As for the money, ex wife might try and ask for more but as there are 4 kids and DP pays over the odds anyway, I don't think it would make a massive amount of difference if 1 comes a bit less. If DSD had a big falling out with him, I wonder if he would still pay for all her social life too?! A bit more CSA would certainly be a lot less than what he pays for all her activities!

Petal02 Wed 20-Jul-11 15:02:27

I see where you're coming from - but how sad if DSD only chose to see her father because he gives her money. However from what you say about your DP, he'd happily part with cash if it meant she carried on visiting.

theredhen Wed 20-Jul-11 15:15:18

This is the danger isn't it?

Teaching the kids the "right" thing goes out the window because he wants to see his kids. sad

Petal02 Wed 20-Jul-11 15:28:37


Rather like DH and his ex, who don't seem to mind that SS's development is completely suppressed, just so long as the access rota has adhered to. Sorry to bang on about it, can't you just tell I'm not over this yet !!!

exoticfruits Wed 20-Jul-11 15:30:06

DP is going to have to realise that as DCs get to be older teenagers things have to change-they can't just be handed back and forth-they get social lives.

theredhen Wed 20-Jul-11 16:05:08

Petal - I feel your pain and frustration. Try and keep yourself amused and detatched if you can.

Exotic - I think the danger is because DP doesn't live with his kids all the time and even though he speaks to them every single day, he doesn't quite understand just how busy DSD life can be. He honestly sees it as though he is "owed" time if she doesn't come one day. He doesn't seem to understand that maybe Mum isn't seeing her daughter much either!

exoticfruits Wed 20-Jul-11 16:44:24

I agree theredhen-he would have the same problem if he was with her all the time. They grow up and away! He needs to work with the natural development and not take it personally. He will have a better adult relationship with his DD if he accepts that she is growing up and wants more say over when and where she spends her time.

Petal02 Thu 21-Jul-11 12:24:20

Just bumping this up - Redhen, did you decide to say anything to your DP about this, or have you let it lie?

theredhen Thu 21-Jul-11 13:01:42

I've decided to let it lie for the time being and see what transpires next week. I might say something depending on what happens but I will say it to him and not to DSD.

theredhen Tue 26-Jul-11 09:41:34

Well DP last spoke to DSD on Thursday night. He speaks to his kids every day. He managed to "let go" and told DSD that she could come another night and he wouldn't phone her but she could phone him when she has a minute. Obviously, she has done neither yet. DP is upset and I am trying to make light of it by saying she is just a teenager etc.

Second DSD is just getting hormonal and is being rude and sharp to DP and to others. Blatantly ignores DP, boasts about her academic acheivements and belittles and ridicules those around her who arent' as "bright".

DSS plays a sport. DP went to see him play last weekend for nearly 2 hours (not our weekend) DSS sat within a few feet of DP and didn't even ackowledge he was there let alone say hello.

DSD4 is very rude and ill mannered and screams when she doesn't get her own way.

DP has been the one who has moaned to me about all this in the last few days and yet I am yet again facing the issue of the kids Mum wanting to spend time with her boyfriend so she "offers" for DP to have the kids for extended times even though she knows he is working 12 - 15 hour days.

I really have trouble reconciling the whinging I get from DP and the fact that he is so keen to have the kids when he is not even around. Just so long as they're not with their Mum.

Petal02 Tue 26-Jul-11 10:56:19

Hi Redhen, your DP’s relationship with his children is so complex and convoluted, that it’s hard to know where to start when it comes to analysing his behaviour. He seems desperate to maintain quite intense contact, even with the older children, he seems to want them under his roof as much as possible to ‘score points’ against his ex, but for most of that time he’s at work, leaving them with you. And completely fails to understand (or chooses to pretend he doesn’t understand ……) the pressure this puts you under.

The frustration must drive you insane. I don’t have any magic words of advice, but want to send you some empathy and moral support.

I’ve probably been quite slow on the uptake, but it’s only over the past month or so that I’ve accepted that the relationship between a non-resident-parent and their child/ren is just so incredibly distorted, emotive and unhealthy that you’ll never make sense of it – I’m four weeks into my ‘detaching’ stance, and I certainly feel like I’ve vacated the boxing ring.

theredhen Tue 26-Jul-11 11:16:57

To be fair to him, I have been at work too but I had planned to finish early on some days and spend some time with DS. Now, I have to spend it being referee to 4 kids or simply stay at work. DSC won't even let DS have 5 mins alone to get dressed without me having to nag them to leave him alone. No chance of me even getting a five minute conversation with my own son when they are around. Of course, I get plenty of time alone with each of them though. Perhaps if I was like DSC Mother, i would be pleased to not have much contact with my own child and want him to be in a house with no adult supervision for days on end, so long as he wasn't with me.

My fault for not telling DP my plans about work but I doubt it would have made much difference anyway.

I get so frustrated that no-one wants to take responsibility for these kids. Both parents blaming each other and both treating them like possessions. One parent choosing not to be with the kids and the other not being able to but still taking them anyway. I suspect he is frightened that the Mother will tell the kids "Dad doesn't want you" if he doesn't take them - she's said it before.

I'm glad you feel better Petal. I think with one child, you can at least do your own thing and escape into another room or leave the house without worrying about he welfare of the youngest. I think you just need to concentrate on yourself when DSS is around and enjoy your relationship when DSS is with his Mum.

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