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Just need to get this off my chest

(60 Posts)
Petal02 Mon 12-Sep-11 09:19:15

DH has arranged to do rugby coaching for our local “under 12s” on SS’s midweek night. When this first came up, I knew DH was really keen to do the coaching, and I’m very happy for him to do this. I asked what he’d do about SS’s midweek night, and he said he’d speak to SS and get him to swap his midweek night for another night – fair enough. But on Friday I heard SS telling DH that he doesn’t want to change his midweek night and still wants to come over as usual, even though DH won’t be in. DH caved in straight away, and agreed that he’d leave work early on those evenings, so that he could collect SS from college, and drop him off at our house before going to rugby …….

Two things here: firstly it seems insane that DH should want to bring SS to our house on an evening when he’s not in (and even more insane that SS should want this to happen), but hey – the rota always wins; and secondly, (and most importantly) what really makes me angry is that DH and I had already made an agreement between ourselves, that we’d change the midweek night, but SS is allowed to over-rule this.

On a practical level, the above won’t have an enormous impact on me, as it’s DH who does all the running around, and I fully expect (hope?) that SS will spend such evenings in his bedroom on the computer, but it’s the principle that grates – we go to such stupid lengths to adhere to the rota, and also that DH is quite happy to undermine me.

Sorry for ranting.

ruddynorah Mon 12-Sep-11 09:31:37

So keeping the rota as is suits them both and doesn't impact on you? What's the problem then?

Petal02 Mon 12-Sep-11 09:36:30

It's the insanity of DH/SS insisting on 'access' on an evening when they won't see each other, and also that DH will have to drive a VERY long way to ferry SS back to our (empty) house after college, before heading back in the opposite direction for rugby. That what frustrates me. I admitted in my first post that it won't have much impact on me, but it upsets me to see DH doing such frankly bizarre things in pursuit of the rota. I just wanted to get it off my chest.

ruddynorah Mon 12-Sep-11 09:40:58

But it doesn't sound like it is in pursuit of the rota. He discussed it with your ss and they both were happy to keep it as is. Why do you think your ss doesn't want to change the night? Does he have things to do on the other nights?

Petal02 Mon 12-Sep-11 09:51:52

No - SS doesn't have stuff to do on other nights. SS won't tolerate any change of routine, even a minor variation, and DH indulges this, generally to his own detriment. And I find it frustrating to see the amount of time DH has to take off work, and the miles he has to drive, just to stick to a rota, when if they had access 24 hours earlier/later, a sizeable chunk of the driving would not be necessary, AND they'd get to see each other. I'm not asking for any practical solutions, I just find it very frustrating to see DH being run ragged so unnecessarily.

brdgrl Mon 12-Sep-11 10:00:47

...and again, this was a decision for you two - you and Dh i mean! - to make together! can totally understand your frustration and annoyance.

Petal02 Mon 12-Sep-11 10:09:41

Yes Brdgrl - that's precisely my point! DH and I should surely be the decision-makers in our household? When I was growing up, the adults made the decisions, not the kids .........

theredhen Mon 12-Sep-11 13:03:49

Yep. Completely with you on this one! In a "normal" family you make decisions together and neither one is frightened of the child "not liking“ the decision and then changing the decision to suit the child. I have no issues in changing DS life to suit me and dp as long as its also fair to ds too. not the same when it comes to step kids though is it? sad

catsmother Mon 12-Sep-11 13:22:19

This does seem a crazy arrangement. It'd be different if you and he had a good relationship and he wanted to come over and spend time with you - but it's not like that is it, and of course, he'll barely see his dad. Makes me wonder if (maybe) he's scared of upsetting the routine - not for his own sake, but because his mum might kick off if she's got used to having that particular night to herself ? Otherwise .... it's just bonkers and I'm not sure what SS achieves by coming over ..... surely the main point is that he'd usually be seeing his dad ? Sticking to that night now means that contact is reduced which surely isn't a good thing for either of them ?

In your shoes I admit I'd be very angry about this - it's a pointless waste of petrol and time, unless there's something specific which SS has to do at your house on that night. Also of course, you'd already discussed this and this is one of those occasions when DH should have told SS that night would be swapped because a) he otherwise wouldn't see him, b) the extra kerfuffle is ridiculous and c) it's wasting money . It's not right that a child gets to call the shots on this when there's no compelling argument for the status quo .... doesn't he actually want to see his dad apart from anything ?

Petal02 Mon 12-Sep-11 13:26:41

To be honest, the whole situation has taken a huge backward step since "flexible visiting" was revoked in the summer. Prior to that, DH wasn't too bad at consulting me and keeping me in the loop. But now that the rota has been re-introduced, it's like we've gone back three or four years, and DH is back to his old ways of agreeing to practically anything SS requests, without any reference to me. It's almost like since I was over-ruled on flexibliity, my position in the household is weakened, and I feel I get less respect.

Petal02 Mon 12-Sep-11 13:45:29

Catsmother, I think we cross-posted. I don’t think SS wants to stick to the rota because of his mother; she’s got two girls who are both under 5, and they’re with her whether SS is there or not, so it’s not like that particular night has become a night off for her. It’s just that SS doesn’t like change, and DH indulges this. Mind you, SS has recently left school and started college, which must have been a big change – so in reality SS probably copes OK with change, but has managed to convince DH that he can’t ……

I agree totally that the child shouldn’t get to call the shots (although a lot of step children do) and you’re right that there’s no compelling argument to keep to the status quo. I refer back to something I posted on a recent thread of Redhen’s – that providing SS is under DH’s roof, they’re both quite happy, whether they’re actually spending time together or not.

Part of me thinks I shouldn’t get so het up about something that doesn’t have a lot of direct impact on me; but I just can’t stand by silently and watch DH doing such ridiculous things just to protect SS from any slight changes to routine, I want to scream with frustration.

You’re also right that this is actually reducing contact, although SS and DH don’t see it like that; after all, providing DH removes SS from his mother’s house, then everyone (except me) interprets this as contact taking place.

I’m really struggling with this at the moment.

ShootinTheBreeze Mon 12-Sep-11 13:52:20

He's in college and still has rigid access arrangements?! Will you still be having him when he's married? confused

Petal02 Mon 12-Sep-11 13:59:00

Hi Shootin - god knows when we'll be free of the rota. If he does OK at college then he wants to go to Uni, so this will hopefully bring a natural break to things. Although i could still seem him expecting to have a rota during holiday periods.

Cavvie Mon 12-Sep-11 14:24:38

I agree with you OP. It is so frustrating to make a decision with your OH only for the SC to over-rule it.

And especially if he's at college!! doesn't exactly need to stick to a routine to keep him from emotional harm, surely!?

Totally understand your frustration.

catsmother Mon 12-Sep-11 15:01:00

Do you get mad at your DH ? (.... or is it like banging your head on a brick wall ?)

..... because in your shoes, it wouldn't be the fact that SS sitting upstairs alone in his room (!) would bother me, it'd be the fact that unnecessary journeys were costing time and money, AND the fact that a child was insisting upon this useless exercise. I wouldn't feel so strongly if the lure of his bedroom on that night (dad there or not) was so compelling that he made his own way to yours but it's this whole wasted driving thing which is just crazy. I'd also be asking just how much DH actually wants to see his son too ... why isn't he upset at seeing him less for example ? Okay .... I know the apron strings are (usually) naturally cut at about this age and that's all very well, but as you say, in that case, why keep up a pretence of "contact" when none is actually taking place ? I can't think of any good argument why SS would want to stick to that night and I'd be damned cross at money being wasted, especially in these times.

What does your DH say if you say "hold on, thought we discussed this .." and if it's " ... but it's what SS wanted", then he needs to be told that SS is a child and that your feelings, as his supposed adult equal, should take precedence ... especially when it sounds as if neither of them are that bothered about seeing the other and you are therefore paying out unnecessarily for SS to sit all on his ownsome which presumably he could do at his mother's.

slimbo Mon 12-Sep-11 15:08:50

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Petal02 Mon 12-Sep-11 15:34:02

Slimbo – regarding WHY is SS so determined to come to our house when his Dad isn’t there. Two reasons, firstly he can do exactly as he likes, ie as much computer, TV, fizzy drinks as he wishes, no chores etc etc and also because he’s been indoctrinated by both his parents to think that Life As We Know It is dependent upon strict adherence to the rota. And as there’s never been anything in SS’s life that’s constituted a better offer (ie friends, sport, parties etc) there’s never been any reason for things to be changed. The natural transition I expected has never occurred. I’ve never met such a clingy 17 yr old.

Catsmother – do I get mad at DH or is it like banging my head against a brick wall? Both. I try so hard to detach, but there’s only so much Ignoring The Elephant In The Room that someone with a pulse can stand. DH gets incredibly defensive, and it’s almost impossible to discuss it, without it turning into a row. DH is very prone to playing the “you don’t want me to see my son” card, and that’s not the case at all. DH is no fool and I suspect he knows darn fine that we shouldn’t have to live like this, but he lives in terror of upsetting SS, and this motivates many of his decisions. In DH’s eyes, if SS’s requests are being indulged, then all is well in the world, and the cost in terms of time and fuel are not questioned. Although he’s generally quite sensible about expenditure in other areas of our lives.

If I question DH, pointing out that he and I previously agreed something, his response is always that “SS wasn’t happy about it” – and I always point out that I’m not happy that he’s changed things. But it gets me nowhere. In my darker moments I have wondered quite how much DH would be prepared to lose in pursuit of upholding the rota. I always fight my corner, it always turns into a row. It’s practically the only thing we fall out about.

ConstanceNoring Mon 12-Sep-11 16:16:37

oh Petal sad I really don't know what to say, so sorry this nonsense is still going on for you.

Head. Brick Wall. Bash.

then wine

Cavvie Mon 12-Sep-11 16:29:55

Is this the 17 year old that still sits on his dad's knee and follows his around the house etc?

Cavvie Mon 12-Sep-11 16:30:23

follows his *dad around the house etc

Petal02 Mon 12-Sep-11 16:35:31

No, I think that's someone else. But my SS is extremely clingy towards his Dad, he often drapes himself around DH when they're walking down the street. It looks very strange.

Cavvie Mon 12-Sep-11 16:39:25

oh god, couldn't put up with that, sorry sad bet it puts you off being out in public with them. Doesn't your DP find his behaviour weird?

I suppose this is all a bit off topic but the biggest issue here is that you are not being listened to and respected like the other adult in the relationship. Its like you DSS has been promoted to that position and you are further down the "ranking" iyswim? I've seen this happen before. It never gets better.

Petal02 Mon 12-Sep-11 16:54:30

Cavvie - in all other areas of our life, we're two equal partners. Unless it involves SS, and then SS always gets the casting vote. It creates a very unhealthy dynamic.

catsmother Mon 12-Sep-11 17:16:18

Would you - and do you think your DH would - consider couples counselling ? If you've talked and talked and he is completely unprepared to acknowledge the unnaturalness of a child calling the shots like this, then maybe it'd take a 3rd party to help him realise this state of affairs just isn't healthy. Thing is, despite the fact SS is almost an adult (allegedly) I can't see this attitude miraculously stopping when he's 18 .... it's just going to go on and on isn't it .... I should imagine that DH will be just as scared of upsetting SS when he's 19, 21 or 25 or whatever. Has he ever articulated what, exactly, he's scared of anyway ? .... does he think SS will refuse to see him if it's not entirely on his terms ? Though if the temptation of fizzy drinks and computers is enough to get him there when his dad's away, would SS really relinquish all that just because his dad explains - politely and with notice - that a particular night is no longer convenient.

I feel very angry on your behalf that he often pulls the "you don't want me to see my son" card, which of course is emotional blackmail and is also very effective at stopping objective discussion where SS is concerned because you're put on the back foot when he says that and immediately cast into a wicked stepmother role. In fact, given this latest stupidity, he's actually a big fat hypocrite because what he's allowed SS to dictate reduces his contact time. If he really wants to see his son, and spend some time chatting, sharing a DVD and meal etc., then your suggestion of an alternative night (without back and forth driving) is the option which enables him to do this.

Really really feel for you .... in your shoes I'm afraid the resentment at taking 2nd place to a child would just be too much. Every time your DH does something like this, the respect you feel for him must be chipped away a bit more - or at least that's how I'd feel.

Petal02 Tue 13-Sep-11 08:47:29

Hi Catsmother - I will certainly give counselling/mediation some thought. Particularly as SS will be 18 next year, and the thought of having to stick to a rigid rota for an ADULT is really beyond the pale.

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