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What SC should be doing?

(23 Posts)
HungryHippo89 Tue 12-Feb-13 12:33:29

Just a quick one really ... DP & I have recently started disagreeing on what DSD (7 but closer to 8) should be doing around the house and for herself. We have her every weekend Friday - Sunday. And up untill early December I cleaned her bedroom for her on a Saturday morning (whilst I did the rest of the household chores). We agreed that she was now too old not to have any responsibility at all. She should be able to put all her toys away properly in her bedroom and put her dirty clothes in the washbasket. DP however will not back down on things like - Using her knife and fork correctly, currently she eats pretty much everything with her fingers and rips things apart instead of biting. She chews with her mouth open and talks when her mouth is full of food. I personally think it is pretty gross when I am sat across the table from her and she is trying to talk with a mouthful of chicken nuggets and the pieces are spraying out her mouth across the table.
She also isn't capable of picking her towel up off the floor and hanging it on the banister after she has had a bath. She also doesn't seem to be capeable of taking her plate into the kitchen scraping it to the bag that's on the side and putting it in the dishwasher. She can't pick her own clothes out..either myself or DP still has to wash her hair for her. It's only been recently that we no longer needed to supervise her brushing her teeth. She doesn't brush her own hair.

It just get's me worried that she is so bloody mollycoddled and everybody does everything for her. I was mainly just wondering should she be able to do all these things herself yet? And do your children do anything else beyong this?

BourbonsandTea Tue 12-Feb-13 12:37:37

I think she should be doing all of the above on her own. Doing it for her isn't mollycoddling it's holding her back.

ThingummyBob Tue 12-Feb-13 12:40:43

I think your questions re others dc are a moot point really.

You say in your post DP however will not back down on things and this is the issue here. She is his child, not yours. He has to be the one parenting her, not you.

Some of what you mention is reasonable for a 7 year old, some is not. Its not really your call though. Your post sounds as if you don't like her much, maybe she picks up on that sad

theredhen Tue 12-Feb-13 12:41:19

I have a 9 yr old dsd who does most of what you are suggesting.

I don't think you're being unreasonable in your requests. It does depend on what she might have learnt at mums house though and how mature she is.

I have a friend whose daughter couldn't wash her own hair at 11 years old or make herself a drink or sleep I her own bed! It was partly my friend Molly coddling her, partly her daughter liking the attention for being a baby and partly because the daughter simply isn't very advanced, is behind in school and is just younger than her years.

HungryHippo89 Tue 12-Feb-13 12:50:55

DSD is very bright at school. She is probably a bit beyond her years. I mean I suppose my concern is with things like saying she isn't able to wash her hair properly is, how comfortable is she going to be in a years time with either her dad or me going into the bathroom to wash her hair for her? The eating thing, I just find gross and fear for when she goes round to her friends houses for tea and she can't eat properly? I was really more interested in is this normal for a girl of her age or IS she being babied?

And what i meant with DP won't back down on those things - he won't encourage her to do them for herself. Or encourage her to eat correctly.

theredhen Tue 12-Feb-13 13:14:01

My dsd has always been good at eating nicely, in fact she's very slow at eating because she only takes tiny mouthfuls and then talks a lot!

Dsd has been washing her own hair since about the age of 6 but I know lots that don't at that age.

purpleroses Tue 12-Feb-13 13:19:28

Some of the things you mention are about good manners and it's absolutely your place to try and enforce them. That said, it's not easy. I'm still badgering DSS to eat with cutlery and he's 10 shock

Hair washing and choosing clothes are more about boosting her independence. The ideal would be if your DP could speak to his ex about it and try and gently encouage her in the right direction in both houses. And treat the times when she is helped as opportunities to teach her how to do it herself.

ProbablyJustGas Tue 12-Feb-13 13:49:26

My DSD just turned 7. She picks out her own clothes for both school and weekends, takes her plate through after tea and scrapes remains into the green caddy, can either load her plate into the dishwasher or leave it at the sink (depends whether DW is full), sets the table, makes her bed, puts toys away, uses a knife and fork, washes/conditions her own hair and dries herself off and gets dressed after a bath or swimming lessons.

However, a lot of this is still with guidance. There are sometimes strong recommendations for clothes, depending on weather/activity. If her plate is loaded with leftovers and she's having a hard time carrying, we might take it off her and finish the job. She still needs coaching through shampooing and conditioning her own hair, especially if she's in the shower after swimming lessons (gets distracted by other kids' chat). She needs to be reminded to actually use the fork and knife at the side of her plate and not talk with her mouth full.

I remember asking my DH "shouldn't she be doing that" a lot when I first met his daughter. I think that's just what happens when an "outsider" gets a really intimate look at a family. There was also some regressive behaviour ("I can't, you do it Daddeeee") when it became clear to DSD that I was moving in. It was likely attention-seeking, and seems to be normal by all accounts, even in bio families. E.g., a good friend of mine recently experienced this with her DD2 after her DD3 was born - suddenly DD2 didn't know how to put on socks.

It gets better, but you and your DH will both need to expect the same behaviour of your DSD for her to become more independent. Otherwise, she will just be able to play you two off each other. Any new task or responsibility, I've found, is best introduced on a weekend when everyone has more time to be patient, rather than first thing Monday morning. Picking out your own clothes is an easy one to start with - if she gets wound up about making the "right" choice, you or DH can narrow it down to two or three outfits and have her pick one for the day.

ProbablyJustGas Tue 12-Feb-13 14:02:09

Oh, IME, new tasks and responsibilities have been a lot more successful when DH introduces the expectation to DSD, rather than me. I've been able to get away with introducing a few (drying self off and dressing self after the pool was a big one), but shampooing her own head really started to happen after DH (and actually DSD's mum too) was consistently saying to DSD, "Right, here is some shampoo. Now, show me how you wash your hair."

ElenorRigby Tue 12-Feb-13 17:29:50

DSD 10 can do all of the above despite her useless mother.
DD 5 1/2 can do all all of the above too.

If 5yo DD can do it all, so can your DSD!

mumandboys123 Tue 12-Feb-13 18:52:12

Much depends on the individual child and what their parents consider appropriate. I don't have an issue with washing a child's hair at that age, nor do I think it's wrong to not be able to 'pick out clothes' or having to supervise teeth brushing. The table manners are an issue but other than repeat the obvious 'don't speak with your mouthful, use your knife and fork', there is nothing else you can do. Personally I would have an issue with my child being fed chicken nuggets (horrible things) but as the mother, if I said that to you, the step mother, what would be your response? You can only do so much - and it's not unreasonable to expect plates to be moved around, towels to be picked up etc. So just say it without making a big deal out of it and eventually it will go in.

eslteacher Tue 12-Feb-13 23:11:00

I have a DSS who is 7, and have been wondering some of the same things re: what is reasonable behaviour to expect and what is not.

DP always enforces rules to do with being at the table and eating properly, as that is important to him. Also he does generally pick up on any instances of downright 'bad' behaviour and deal with it (in his way). But he is IMO lax with lots of other things that I keep thinking 'if he was my child I'd be making an effort to get him to do X, Y and Z'

Things like:
- Always just dropping coats/bath towels/bags/shoes in the middle of the floor and leaving them there
- Not flushing the toilet about 50% of the time (pretty gross sometimes)
- Leaving used snack plates / cups / wrappers wherever it was he finished with them (on his bed, on the floor, on a chair, on the sofa...)

DSS never gets encouraged to stop doing any of the above things, so of course he just keeps doing them, why wouldn't he? Actually I do try to get him to flush the loo, but no-one ever picks him up on any of the other things (Incidentally, at least a few of them are crossovers with things you mention!)

I guess it's something I need to speak to DP about, but since I have no children of my own and not much experience with children other than DSS I don't know what's reasonable and whats not, and I generally try to stay cool and pretty passive where DSS is concerned as long as it's not something major, which none of the above things are. It's just that all of the things add up to me feeling like DSS isn't being taught to start taking responsibility for himself enough, and that we're teaching him we'll always be there running around after him clearing up. Doesn't sit well with me and it does make me feel resentful tbh.

So in brief, I share your pain but don't have any answers! Will be interested to hear how you get on. Incidentally, DSS does brush his teeth and deal with his own bath/shower/hair-wash himself now and has never fussed about those things at all since he was about 6. Which I am grateful for!

Eliza22 Fri 15-Feb-13 10:54:18

Nip it in the bud, NOW! Or run away, as fast as you can.

Firstly, it's not unreasonable to expect her to pick up her towels (or anything else) from the floor. You are not room service. You are not the maid. If the situation continues, you may end up in my shoes....

In 2011, I told my then 17 yr old SD (after two years of my tidying after her) to sort her room out. The floor was a mass of dirty undies, used makeup wipes, drinks cans, tissues...... You get the picture and the smell was horrendous. She had a bin and a laundry basket in there. She never changed her bed, ironed an item of clothing, made so much as a snack/sandwich in all that time. She was like a house guest, permanently.

She did it reluctantly and we haven't seen her since. She was so annoyed that her dad didn't "stick up" for her against me, that she flounced out and now refuses contact.

Sort it. I kid you not.

Makingthemostofit Fri 15-Feb-13 12:42:12

Totally agree with Eliza, was slave for over 2 yrs. until this worm turned. Bought a drier, provided laundry basket and politely pointed out need to do own washing. Never tidy dsd bedroom anymore and ask dh to get her to Hoover own floor etc. she is 16 and quite capable of personal hygiene, I.e. endless showers, hairstyling, makeup etc, but since being handed laundry basket no longer feels the necessity to change clothes twice daily. I knew I had been taken for a ride by watching the fake smile disappear from her face. Hated myself for not standing up for myself sooner.

Eliza22 Fri 15-Feb-13 18:57:08

makingthemostofit you were probably, like me, trying hard to make it all work, make everything ok, make her less upset that dad had met someone else (after his wife's affair ended their 20 yr marriage) and had the audacity to marry her. I wish I'd never bothered.

colditz Fri 15-Feb-13 19:05:04

She's only seven, my god I thought you were whining about a teen!

I have a step daughter the same age, but I ALSO have a nine year old and a six year old myself.

Firstly, you need to be more realistic. She is a little girl, not a teenager. Getting her to help you clean her room and put her own toys away, basically tidy up after herself, is not unreasonable, but what IS unreasonable is expecting her to remember to do this every time, especially as you are the only person asking her to and she doesn't live with you.

Secondly, she's not your child and you're not responsible for her mess. It's your husbands job to make sure her crap gets picked up, not yours.

Eliza22 Fri 15-Feb-13 19:15:23

Christ, I misread it too! MY SD was 17 and utterly bone idle when it came to doing anything for herself........ this girl IS only 7! I think a little guidance IS necessary and she should be picking up her clothes etc off the floor but 7 is very young. A gentle approach is necessary smile

planeticketplease Fri 15-Feb-13 21:41:28

My dsd has just turned 6 and she does all the above. She generally needs reminding to pick up towels, always needs telling to tidy her room but does the rest by herself, normally without prompting. Sometimes she needs help to do the task properly (ie rinsing hair) but she will usually attempt it herself. There are quite a few children in our house and dh and I both work, so independence in all the children is actively encouraged. I think making it a positive thing with lost of praise is the key - even my dd (age 2) likes to set the table, put her plate on the side and put her clothes in the laundry basket because she gets told how clever she is every time!

I think step mothers get a really rough deal: if our sdc behave well it is all down to the parents and nothing to do with our input, but if they behave badly we are included in the responsibility and blame. It is your house so you should have a say in what is expected of everyone who lives in that house.

Eliza22 Fri 15-Feb-13 22:23:28

planeticketplease your two year old sounds like a sweetie pie! My son is 12 now but from 2 he's used a linen basket and tidied his toys up. As a five yr old he'd help me clear the table.

BigPigLittlePig Tue 19-Feb-13 21:23:20

I have a 5 year old dsd. She was a bit mollycoddled too, to use your phrase OP, but over the past year or so we have encouraged her to be a bit more independent. As other people have said, she needs reminding though. DH was very pampered by his mum growing up, but as I am the one who cleans up in the house, I set the house rules, and I will not pamper in that way, either to dsd or dd.

So, we expect dsd to have good table manners, both lay the table and clear her plate away afterwards, take her toys up to her room at the end of the day, and tidy her room at the end of the weekend before she goes back to her mums. She has very particular views on her clothes so other than advising re: extra layers in the cold, she picks her own mismatched clothes. Before she leaves on a Sunday, if she has done her jobs/chores, she gets her pocket money.

I think you need to talk to your dp - my standpoint has always been that I won't have dsd treated any differently than any children me and dh have. Good luck!

Xalla Wed 20-Feb-13 06:31:23

My DSD is 7. We expect her to dress herself, dry herself after a bath, flush the loo, keep her room tidy, lay the table etc.

We supervise hair washing and teeth brushing because she's not capable of doing either independently. Especially the teeth - we had let her do her own for the last year or so then at her last dental apt she needed 3 fillings so we've gone back to doing it with her. As far as hair washing goes, she has unusually thick hair and couldn't get the conditioner out alone - quicker for us to do it.

Her room is generally a tip and her idea of 'tidying' is often kicking things under the bed / into the wardrobe. I love bigpiglittlepig's pocket money idea - I think we'll be implementing that this weekend ;-)

QueenofWhatever Wed 20-Feb-13 19:47:57

DD is just eight and does all these things and more. I think it's all perfectly reasonable.

Are you sure she doesn't do these things when she's with her Mum? I know my DD does nothing when she's at her Dad's and runs circles around him. Kids are incredibly adept at sussng out what they can get away with.

I don't understand Pp who say it's for your DP to sort out. If it's your home then you both have the same amount of say IYSWIM. It sounds like there is tension between you and your DP - maybe working on having a united front would be the best place to start. Of course, this means you might have to compromise on some stuff. Talking with her mouth full and cutlery would be non-negotiable for me.

theredhen Thu 21-Feb-13 07:13:14

Queen, that is very true. I was recently appalled to hear that my ds aged 14 doesn't lift a finger at his fathers house. Not because he can't or hasn't been brought up to, because no one expects it and he's too lazy to volunteer! shock

He's been doing chores here since he was a tot.

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