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DSS is now 18 - surely things must change ......... ?

(513 Posts)
Petal02 Tue 04-Sep-12 16:16:25

So DSS has now celebrated (he didn’t have a party, he just wanted to go out for a meal with DH and I) his 18th birthday and starts back at 6th Form College (for his second year of A levels) next week. I’d like some honest opinions, especially from those of you who know the background details.

We’ve been operating flexible-ish visiting for the last few months, with some minor resistance from DSS, and on the whole it’s worked OK. DSS now works on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, just round the corner from where he lives with his mother. DH had (unsuccessfully) tried to ferry DSS to/from his workplace during his alternate weekend stays with us, but given the distances involved, it just meant DH spending Saturday and Sunday on the road, whereas if DSS had been based at his mothers, it’s literally a two minute walk. So DH has had to concede that it’s impractical to keep DSS with us beyond Saturday lunch time on access weekends.

DSS is very keen that he still has the same amount of time with his Dad, even though DH works Monday-Friday and DSS works Saturday and Sunday. Even DH had reluctantly agreed this is impractical. However as access weekends used to run from Thursday 4pm til Sunday 6pm, and now they’re shorter because they finish at lunch time on Saturday (before DSS starts his afternoon shift),DSS wants to shift his visits so that they run from Tuesday 4pm til Saturday lunch time. I understand that he’s losing two weekend days with his Dad, as he’s now working, and wants two extra week nights to compensate.

But having an “access weekend” that starts on Tuesday (!!!!!!!) even though it finishes on Saturday lunch time, seems ridiculous for an adult. And that’s what DSS is now, he’s an adult. It surely can’t be realistic to maintain the same amount of contact hours that he had when he was 11, not when he’s working at weekends, and it’s logistically very difficult for DH to bring him over to us on a Tuesday night, because that means he needs lifts to/from college on Weds/Thurs/Fri which impacts greatly on DH’s work. Not to mention that DH and I often do stuff on weeknights. Should we stop these things because DH has an adult son?

In my opinion, things surely have to change ………. I don’t see why (although tell me if I’m wrong) DSS can’t be OK with Thursday 4pm-Sat lunch time? Yes, it’s less time with his Dad but he’s 18 now. Of course they still want to see each other, but I’m amazed that an 18 yr old wants so much rostered time with a parent. I’m also worried that DSS may cease his weekend job if he can’t maintain the same amount of contact with DH.

DH hasn't given DSS an answer on his Tuesday-Saturday request yet. I want to talk to DH about it tonight or tomorrow. But before I do, I’d like some opinions from fellow SMs. I don’t want to spend four consecutive weekend nights hanging out with DH’s adult son, just so that “ x” amount of weekly hours can be achieved. I think it’s all insane but I suspect I’m too close to the situation to see it clearly.

slartybartfast Wed 05-Sep-12 10:47:33

i think op should leave the dss and his father to decide their access and dont push him away if he wants to see his dad. tut on you

PineappleBed Wed 05-Sep-12 10:49:03

How about saying yes to this new rota but treating him like a permanent fixture when he's with you instead of a visitor so you still do your evening stuff when he's there. Your DH should just drop him at college and pick him up at times to suit him. He can entertain himself if there early/late with mates/internet/studying.

When he heads to uni then you'll be free during the week and presumably he'll split his uni hols between you guys and his mum depending on when you're around.

Bonsoir Wed 05-Sep-12 10:49:33

Well of course. Petal02 tries, very ineffectively, to "objectify" the situation by talking about clinginess, independence, adulthood. But that is just window-dressing. Her desire to see much less of her DSS in her home (feelings which, indeed, "shine through") are what all her posts are about. This needs pointing out to some other posters.

WhereYouLeftIt Wed 05-Sep-12 10:50:29

On my reading of the OP's posts, both of this young man's parents seem to live a goodly distance from one another, and to me this seems to be at the heart of the PRACTICAL problem of transport (I am ignoring everything else for the moment).

He is 18, old enough to drive. If he had independent transport, there wouldn't really be a problem. Why do his mum and dad not get together to pay for driving lessons and a runaround/insurance? Is this financially possible, OP?

PineappleBed Wed 05-Sep-12 10:50:35

I say that about college as that's what I did and so did most of my friends. No one was dropped at 9 and picked up at 4 so he won't be unusual or lonely. He could join a college club - good for the uni cb!

PineappleBed Wed 05-Sep-12 10:51:12


Paiviaso Wed 05-Sep-12 10:55:20

OP, to be honest I also get the impression you simply want DSS to be around less. Otherwise I don't really understand what the problem is.

Yes, he is 18, but he is still a dependent and lives at home, this is not abnormal. We don't all morph into fully functioning adults at 18, it takes years. It is obviously incredibly important to him to spend time with his dad. In order to maintain this amount of time he will either have to:

a) have a key to your house, and a form of transport, and show up at your house at various times during the week (which is pretty normal for older children)
b) come Thursday through Saturday, transported by you and DP

Surely its a bit nicer to have the scheduled time, so you always know how to plan your weeks?

If transport is causing a problem, then work to resolve it. Get him driving, get him using the bus or train if you can't pick him up.

But it is very wrong of you to say he shouldn't spend as much time with his dad because "it is time to grow up."

HiHowAreYou Wed 05-Sep-12 10:57:31

I don't understand why you feel a more vague set-up would suit you better. He may decide to stay at yours for three weeks, then go to his Mum's for a week, back to yours for a fortnight, to his Mum's for a month. Why would that suit you more? You'd never know when you'd be doing drop offs or when you'd have evenings free. Surely it's sensible to be able to know what's going to happen when?

You seem to assume that your "more adult", ad-hoc system, would mean he'd spend less time at yours, and that you and your DH would have to make less changes to your routines. Because it'd be more convenient for you. And it comes across clearly that that's really what appeals to you.

This idea that you want to help him to be an adult by having no plan for his time, it just doesn't make any sense at all!

Bonsoir Wed 05-Sep-12 11:01:33

The vaguer set-up makes complete sense as it then would give Petal02 more leeway to say "no" to suggested dates for her DSS to visit, presumably because she would have organised other activities for her and DH together.

Petal02 Wed 05-Sep-12 11:02:27

Thank you Pineapple and WhereYouLeftIt for your constructive suggestions. I agree that transport (or lack of it) is a major issue in all of this.

I like the idea of DSS doing some “after 4pm” college activities, until DH can get there to pick him up – that would at least make the evenings a bit easier, rather than DH having to leave work early. Although it would still leave DH with a real headache re morning transport.

MagicLlamaStrikesBack Wed 05-Sep-12 11:02:59


Ive read a number of your threads, and I think that whilst you have every right to be annoyed about the situation, I dont think you are being realistic to expect DSS to reach an age and magically change visiting to an ad hoc basis.

I think you need to try and change how you view this, because you are expecting him to act like an adult in relation to contact, when he is barely acting like an adult in any other situation.

I suspect in your DSS head he has two homes. Homes where he has due to the access rota in place been expected to spend time. He doenst view himself as living with his mum and going to visit his dad around other commitments .. he is trying to maintain the rountine hes always had two homes where he spends significant time

My older DB was like this. My dad and DBs mum had an amicable breakup, flexible contact and both new partners got on with everyone one. Dad and mum had me & younger bro, all one big happy family.

DB struggled and I mean struggled. He felt he has to spend time with both families else it meant he loved his mum or dad more and he didnt want them to think he loved one of them more. Even at 19 he worried that if he spent less time with one of them, they might think he prefered the other one.

OatyBeatie Wed 05-Sep-12 11:03:12

Just responding to the original post, here, not the thread as a whole, but it is very sad to think that this young lad is expected to let go of the idea of spending regular, reliable, and extensive amounts of time with his dad just because he is 18 and because his stepmum doesn't want to spend four consecutive nights with him.

Yes, I suppose it is faintly absurd that this contact time still has to be "rostered", but that is an overhang from how this boy has had to be parented by his dad, through no fault of the boy's own. It is how he has become used to securing the closeness with his dad that he wants ( and how lovely that he still wants it).

And, yes, at his age he should be prepared to resolve the transport problem himself, as much as is possible. But he is still a young lad at school, probably without the money to buy a car and therefore dependent on an amount of parental goodwill re lifts. He is clearly very old in his school year so has hit 18 at a time when he still has quite a long period of school life ahead of him, which limits his ability to organise his time and resources in a way that suits his stepmum better.

MagicLlamaStrikesBack Wed 05-Sep-12 11:06:10

I absolutely agree that your DP shouldnt be changing his work hours to enable him to pick him up as that is madness. For a 5 year old yes, but an 18 year old no.

He can loiter about at college, or wander aimlessly round town, or some other such nonsense that kids do these days!

Bonsoir Wed 05-Sep-12 11:07:34

Gosh, my DP regularly works his schedule around for the DSSs. They are in important years at school and don't have time to waste hanging around town or in after-school activities that are mere time fillers.

NarkedRaspberry Wed 05-Sep-12 11:08:31

It sounds like you had his 18th birthday fixed in your head as the time he becomes 'an adult' and steps back from your and his father's lives. That was just very unrealistic. 18 year old boys I know who are still in education spend lots of time with their father/male guardian. What his father was doing at 18 is irrelevant.

I would suggest getting the provisional license paperwork, having his father sit down with him to fill it in and arranging lessons. Be warned though. You seem to think that 'unstructured' contact = seeing him a lot less. Unstructured contact + a newly passed driver full of the joys of it could = him on your doorstep every night.

LtEveDallas Wed 05-Sep-12 11:09:26

My 16 year old DSD hopped on a train last Monday (3 hour journey, 2 changes) to visit the college she wants to attend for 6th Form.

She chose this college because her mum intended to move to the area in Aug. As it happens her plans have been put on hold for a couple of months.

DSD still wants to go to this college, and has, off her own back, found herself a room in a home that she could stay in 3 times a week until her mum's move comes off. In between times she will get the train back home, or down to us. We know the people she will be living with and they are very happy to have her.

She did all of the arranging herself. We only found out yesterday when she approached me for cash to be able to move in. She presented me with a fully fledged plan, worked out to the Nth degree, and even a budget/choice of payments I could make (which made me smile - because of course I could just have told her to bugger off smile)

I was gobsmacked at first, but then realised that DSD is a product of what we have made her. She is a bright, confident young lady that knows what she wants and how to get it.

This is a 16 year old. Petal's DSS is 18. He is an adult BY LAW (to all the people saying he isn't confused) and I would expect him to be able to do something similar. I don't think the issue is Petal at all and I would be very concerned if I knew any adult who wanted to cling to the past as hard as this.

MagicLlamaStrikesBack Wed 05-Sep-12 11:13:41

Provisional Licence can be applied for online, as long as you know your passport number and NI number if you have them, so he can get it done with no procrastinating.

In fairness to Petal, I dont think shes bothered about him being around more if her DP wasnt expected to entertain him the whole time he was around IYSWIM? Theres a difference in having a child hanging out at your home, chilling in your room, vegging out in the TV etc, and having to amuse that child the whole time they are there.

My DSs are 8 & 6 and I dont expect them to be attached to me like limpets and expect me to entertain them all the time now and I certainly wouldnt if they were 18 & 16.

Petal02 Wed 05-Sep-12 11:14:47

Thank you OatyBeatie and Magic Llama for also being constructive.

Aside from transport, the other problem is simply “hours in the week”. DH works Monday-Friday, DSS works Saturday-Sunday, and trying to replace the hours “lost” due to DSS’s weekend job is tricky, particularly with the geography involved. We almost get mathematical about this (which I find strange, not just regarding DSS, but strange for anyone to be honest) that every single hour not spent with DH at the weekend, due to the weekend job, has to be “made up” elsewhere in the week. It’s like trying to balance a budget sheet.

LtEveDallas Wed 05-Sep-12 11:16:11

Theres a difference in having a child hanging out at your home, chilling in your room, vegging out in the TV etc, and having to amuse that child the whole time they are there

YY to this. The DSS in Petal's situation sounds very needy, much more than most teenagers, let alone adults.

Balderdashandpiffle Wed 05-Sep-12 11:16:57

Just because one 16 year-old does something that doesn't mean all 16 year-olds should do it.

Some children cope better with their parents separating than others, and some are desperate to get away from their parents and live alone, and some aren't ready yet.

procrastinor Wed 05-Sep-12 11:25:58

Petal in all seriousness what does your husband want?

Petal02 Wed 05-Sep-12 11:28:49

DH also wishes DSS were more independent, but doesn't want to upset him.

Bonsoir Wed 05-Sep-12 11:30:01

Do either of you grasp that pushing DSS away and back to his mother's will not help him become independent?

MagicLlamaStrikesBack Wed 05-Sep-12 11:31:47

Do you know why your DSS is so fixated on hours spent with his dad? Can he explain why he feels he needs it? What reasons has he given?

Maybe hes just slow at change. There was a time when you thought he would never even get a job because of the rota, and he has at least managed that

<desperately looking for silver linings>

purpleroses Wed 05-Sep-12 11:35:26

I really don't think it's childish to want to follow a routine. My sister's father in law is in his 60s but has a very fixed routine that every Sunday all his adult children come round for the day, and then every Tuesday his daughter comes for dinner. It's perfectly normal for many adults to want to organise their time.

And it's obviously much easier for your DH to pick DSS up from college (and arrange work around this) if he knows when it will be required. I can't see why having a routine is a problem.

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