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What are we doing next Dad?

(82 Posts)
groundhogday17 Wed 09-Jan-13 08:32:13

DSSs (17 and 14) come round every other weekend, as per strict access schedule since they were young. Court order has of course now expired for eldest but rota unchanged in practice.

DSS2 is lovely child to get along with, has his own interets, hobbies etc. DSS1 is a whole different ball game. Every other weekend in life, before he comes round "What are we doing this weekend Dad?". When he's at ours, "What are we doing next Dad". So, so wearing and frustrating from a child/young adult this age.

Half of the problem is that when at his mother's house he does absolutely everything with her. Food shopping, gardening, out walking, looking after the younger children. So he's 100% occupied by her. Doesn't ever see friends outside of school. No hobbies of his own. No part time job. No learning difficulties, does well at school. But socially and emotionally you would draw the conclusion that he's quite under-developed. His mother imo has encouraged this dependence and she is very strictly controlling of him. Actively discouraged friends when he was younger, still not "allowed" to do a very long list of stuff for no valid reasons etc etc etc.

So when at our house, when he's not 100% "occupied" by a parent, he is at a complete loss as to what to so with himself. Hence the constant "what are we doing next dad?". DH hasn't been a Disney type and for years has been trying to turn this question back and ask DSS1 what he would like to do, what ideas he has himself for the weekend. But it falls on deaf ears.

When I spoke to people about this, say 5 years ago, people said "He'll grow out of it", "He'll develop his own interests". But he hasn't. I personally can't see him changing in any sort of medium term future. I am completely envisioning a 20 odd year old coming round and asking "What are we doing next dad".

BTW he doesn't "have" to come over. DH has had various conversations about him about this, and he definitely wants to come round. So that's not the problem.

So - what do you think DH should do about the constant "What are we doing next Dad?" questions? Any ideas?

Petal02 Wed 09-Jan-13 18:40:27

Groundhog, I'll take Bonsoir's advice on board -this weekend will be finger painting, Peppa Pig DVD, jelly & ice cream, an hour on the swings in the park, soft play, reading practice and a trip to our local Mr Bungle Aminal Centre. Problem solved! Yes, I know he's old enough to be in Afghanistan, but surely most Marine Commandos are given structured activities by their parents when they're between tours/detachments?

groundhogday17 Wed 09-Jan-13 18:42:13

Nkf youre totally barking up the wrong tree. Ive suggested and DH has proactively asked DSS1 to join him in activities in non-access time as well, but this never happens. I have 2 DSSs so it's not about not wanting them around at all

Numberlock Wed 09-Jan-13 18:43:10

Poor lad.

LillianGish Wed 09-Jan-13 18:43:25

grin Petal

groundhogday17 Wed 09-Jan-13 18:43:51

Nkf I haven't posted here at all (other than one other thread today) so I have no idea what you're talking about

Numberlock Wed 09-Jan-13 18:45:58

Petal - alternatively you could tell everyone how much better life is when he's not around eh?

racingheart Wed 09-Jan-13 18:47:41

Long shot, but can you set him some challenges? Tell him what you're telling us but frame it in a nice way. Say that at 18 you expect him to show some initiative and independence, and that you'll help him sort this out and try out new things. Make up a list of challenges with him and an appropriate reward system once it's complete. (E.g. He cooks you all a family meal, you then go bowling as a family etc.) I know it's what you'd normally do for someone at least 5 years younger than him, but people can't learn stuff they've not been taught.

Get him up out of bed and tell him what is happening at weekends. Explain he can stay in or come with you but you're leaving at a given time. Don't just hang around all day tiptoeing round him. Make plans that he can opt in and out of but be clear you won't wait until 2pm for them to happen.

Can you link him up with some other teens his age to go to the cinema one night - getting there and back unaided?

Can you give him a budget and tell him to organise a family surprise day out? Just get him galvanised - lots of praise for what he does do and no compromises on his behalf for what he doesn't.

Read 'Drive' by Janine Caffrey - it's all about how we mollycoddle our kids into a state of semi-comatose hopelessness. It does them harm. He's lucky to have you getting sick of it!

groundhogday17 Wed 09-Jan-13 18:53:18

They're very good ideas racing heart. I like the idea IOC letting him organise a family day out, it would get him thinking. Will definitely look out that book!

NotaDisneyMum Wed 09-Jan-13 19:30:07

bonsoir I assume because the teens you meet are in contact with professionals such as yourself in relation to their homelife that they are not necessarily considered 'average' in that sense?

My own experience of 17/18 year old young men is very different - many are Dads themselves smile

Actually, that's not a bad idea - perhaps having a child themselves will provide them with the directed activities and stimulation they need wink

Bonsoir Wed 09-Jan-13 19:49:18

No, NADM - they are not "average" because they are high achievers but that is all.

And I don't think you should be comparing any 18 year unfavourably to a father - 18 year olds shouldn't be fathers.

Fenton Wed 09-Jan-13 19:57:27

Oh for crying out loud TEENAGE BOYS ARE A PAIN IN THE ARSE until they grow some and find a life of their own


<DISCLAIMER: they can of course have their very lovely moments, but for Dave's sake, - get real>

Numberlock Wed 09-Jan-13 20:17:48

I cannot abide the slating of teenage boys en masse, Fenton.

witchofmiddx Wed 09-Jan-13 20:33:32

Bonsior, if i tried to plan structured activities for my 15 yr DD i think she would answer with something unprintable!! She makes her own arrangements with her friends be it shopping, cinema, a meal or just hanging out at eachothers' houses. I think the problem arises if the teenager has no social life.

flurp Wed 09-Jan-13 22:32:05

18 year olds shouldn't be fathers???
What planet are you on??
How about 18 year old mothers?
I was one of those (so was my mum) and I think We both did a bloody good job!
At 18 you are an adult and as such should be able to organise your own time/social life/study etc
My 19 year old dd is away at uni living on her own and taking care of herself.

Theoldtriangle Thu 10-Jan-13 07:13:58

I also think the main problem is the lack of a social life. See the same in my dss, when he came into my life at 9 he was living same life as Groundhog Day describes, no friends, ingratiating himself with adults, a mother who had him sleep in her bed and basically controlled the life out of him. In 3 years he has changed a lot, adjusted to a "boys" life around my ds, is able to make friends on his own, etc. but dm still very much in charge at home and so it is VERY difficult for him to take initiative.

groundhogday17 Thu 10-Jan-13 09:21:01

Yes indeed I think a key issue is the lack of peers/friends/social life. If these were in place, then I imagine that outside of scheduled activities and family activities, friends and social time would be filling the voids. As it is, he is fully expectant that it is his parent who should fill the void. Therefore somehow he wants his father to BE his social life, rather than a parent. Yet not outside it strict access visits. Like in Petals case, there is no take up of genuine father son bonding/fun opportunities that don't fall within the hours of an outdated court order

Petal02 Thu 10-Jan-13 10:23:54

He wants his father to be his social life, rather than a parent. And there is no uptake of father/son time that falls outside of an out-dated court order

Yep, I totally understand that. My DSS’s only interest is hanging out with his Dad. He expects DH to fill the space in his life that would normally be taken up with friends his own age. If DSS wants to go into town to buy a computer game, or watch football etc etc it would never enter his head to do this with someone his own age. And whilst I’m not suggesting they shouldn't have father/son time, I would expect this to be in addition to spending time with friends, not in place of it.

As regards the structured access arrangements, this actually inhibits father/son time, rather than creating it – the Cricket Masterclass is a case in point. It falls outside of scheduled time, so neither DH nor DSS would consider it a possibility. DH and DSS both support the same football team, and when there was a big play-off last year, it would have been nice for them to watch it together, but no – it fell outside of access, so it just wasn’t on anyone’s radar. Structured access for young adults creates a very artificial, stifling environment – I don’t know who benefits.

DSS seems to have been almost indoctrinated to believe that a precise amount of pre-arranged weekly hours have, without exception, to be spent with his father. He genuinely can’t think beyond this.

theredhen Thu 10-Jan-13 10:30:40


I'm so glad to hear that a more sensible solution has been put in place for your DSS.

So DP and DSS are still spending the same amount of time together but the rota has changed to allow DSS to have a part time job and for DP not to be driving around all weekend. A perfectly sensible solution - not always a route taken in step families!

I know it's not quite the flexibility you are probably looking for, but it's a step in the right direction.

allnewtaketwo Thu 10-Jan-13 10:40:11

Another one!

Petal god forbid that my DSS1 will ever get a part time job. His mother would never allow it. And I struggle to imagine who would employ him tbh as I imagine some sort of interview would be required and he'd need to sound even slightly enthusiastic, which he struggles with

Petal02 Thu 10-Jan-13 10:40:57

Hi Redhen, our present arrangements are the most painless to date, and whilst the "can't contemplate seeing Dad outside of the rota" mindset still exists, that's really DH/DSS's problem, and as with all step-family situations, you've got to pick your battles!!!!

allnewtaketwo Thu 10-Jan-13 10:45:24

Petal is your DSS still going to be going away to university later this year?

theredhen Thu 10-Jan-13 10:48:07

I have a teenage DSS and a teenage DS. Both are pretty lazy when given half the chance.

I do think teenage boys do need a bit of a kick up the backside, encouragement and motivation from parents/step parents. However, I disagree that a whole schedule should be arranged for older teenage boys.

Nothing wrong with encouraging them to see mates and offering to drive them there or arranging to go out for a family meal, offering to pay for a hobby/sport etc but to have to arrange every minute of a late teens agenda is OTT and not healthy IMO.

Petal02 Thu 10-Jan-13 10:49:53

Hi Allnew, yes - DSS is still keen to go to University. His first choice of University is at the other side of the country, his second choice is almost on the doorstep (scary) but his other options are all some distance away.

The strange thing is, once we're not living by the rota, I'll probably enjoy his visits when he's back home.

allnewtaketwo Thu 10-Jan-13 10:52:15

My DSS1 would be due to apply later this year. BUT - he's thinking of deferring sad. No particular reason - he doesn't have any plans for a gap year or anything in particular he wants to do. I personally think he wants to defer growing up.

Petal02 Thu 10-Jan-13 10:57:42

I had wondered if DSS would take a gap year, but thankfully it's never been mentioned. He would simply spend it in his bedroom, and continuing with the rota. It would be a wasted year. But I know what you mean about wanting to defer growing up ......

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