A quick rant about the DSC's mum(36 Posts)
DSD's (age 15) Mum is still adamant that she is not going to go away to College in September; despite signing the application form and taking her to the open day last week. She takes every opportunity to tell DP and DSD that it "won't be happening". DP and I are doing what we can to support DSD, but we now realise that their Mums behaviour regarding this is having an affect on DSS as well.
DSS (age 9) stated confidently this weekend that his sister "isn't ready" to go to College. I had to try hard not to laugh out loud when he said it, as the words were so out of context for a 9 year old - he is repeating parrot-fashion what he hears his Mum saying with absolutely no idea what it means!
I was quite tough on him, and insisted that he explain to me what he meant, and what DSD would have to do differently in his opinion to be "ready" to leave home. He floundered about, coming up with things that he couldn't do which he thought that DSD would need to be able to do before she went away, and eventually he said that because DSD doesn't do what she is told by her Mum, then she's not ready to leave home.
There was sheer bewilderment on his face when I told him that I thought he should be very proud of his big sister for her ambition and determination and for being brave enough to choose to do something that will be a bit scary but exciting at the same time.
It's just so sad that his understanding of maturity and adulthood is compliance with his Mums wishes. In the past, he seems to have been frightened to express an opinion that contradicts his Mum; now he doesn't seem able to think independently from her; his views, opinions, likes and dislikes are entirely dictated by his Mum - and he repeats them openly, even though he doesn't know what they mean.
I wouldn't take too much notice of what a nine year old says. It's not up to him what his sister does. But I think 15 is too young to go to college. I'd leave them to make the decision themselves what is best. It's not really up to you to decide. And I don't think it's up to you to quiz him on his opinions. He's only nine.
I think that not wanting a 15 year old to go away to college during the week is a valid opinion to have as a parent. I would imagine it can be seen as being obstructive and unsupportive of a dd who knows what she wants and is brave etc just as it could be viewed as being caring and wise about a daughters true capabilities and maturities. Your dss like all 9 year old will repeat what he has heard at home and I don't really think you should bring him into your disagreement with your dsd mum. I know from reading your other posts that you dislike your dsd mum and you may well have good reason to do so but I think you should be very careful to try as much as possible not to put this quite immature 9 year old in the middle. You have said before that he is very immature and lacking in his ability to make decisions. I am not sure this is the way to tackle it.
I didn't actually express my own opinion about DSD 'readiness' although yes, i did say that if DSD was my big sister I'd be very proud of her and thought that he could do the same.
It is often amusing when a child mimics adult behaviour or language out of context - youtube is full of such videos - which is what I meant when I said that I tried not to laugh out loud; I went on to express my sadness at the impact this is having on both DCs.
I have much higher expectations of 9 year olds than many on this thread - as i said, if hes mature enough to voice his opinion in that environment, then I believe that he should be taught that it comes with the responsibility to explain and justify. His peers are engaging in debate and persuasive argument at school; parroting opinions will prevent him achieving in that as well.
I've never tolerated DCs being 'background noise', I've always listened and engaged which means that my DD doesn't blurt out whatever comes in to her head before considering it. DSS is now learning the same lesson; sometimes painfully. His random, attention-seeking question "Is that true?" regarding what was written on the side of a packet of biscuits resulted in a conversation about why he thought I would know the answer if he didn't, whether he thought the manufacturer should be allowed to print untruths on their packet and culminated in DP spending time with him writing to the manufacturer to ask them the same question. He admits now that it was a valuable lesson in thinking before he speaks!
"try hard not to laugh out"
" I insisted he that he explain to me"
"he floundered about"
He is 9 yrs old.
yes he is repeating things, my DCs do the same. His understanding of maturity is given to him by the adults around him - that includes his father and SM, not just his mother. ever thought he might find it scary he is losing a constant in his life.
Just think OP could either have presented it better to the forum or dealt with it better, because it sure as hell comes across as her enjoying putting her view on to a 9 yr old and making him feel small,scared and not sure - "bewilderment".
Sad because notadisney usually comes across as sensible but on this occasion really does not.
My daughter is more than capable of disagreeing with me, but spouts her Dads opinions parrot fashion with no rhyme or reason. Dsd is the opposite, believing and reciting everything her mum says but arguing with dad. I wonder if there is always one parent who is "favoured" in this way... And if it happens in together families too? I agree it is nauseating. I disagreed with both of my parents in equal amounts and knew I had the right to question things and have my own opinion. I'm very grateful for that.
What an ego one must have to teach ones children to believe everything they say without question.
I agree with what purpleroses is saying, and I don't think that telling someone - anyone - what they "should" think is going to help them learn to form their own opinions.
I think there is a big difference between expressing a different opinion for a child to take on board and process, and putting them on the spot to explain an opinion that they've expressed when you know that it's their parent's opinion. And where you have a situation where there is acrimony and you have the RP forcing their will and opinions on the children, I really can't see how challenging that opinion through a 9 year old will help the overall situation. I think I would be concerned that the 9 year old may go back to his mum and repeat what was said and that that would inflame things. Is this the girl who has only just started coming to your home again (or am I getting stories muddled?).
The whole situation around her going to College and her parents' differing opinions sounds stressful enough, I think if it were me I'd be keeping a 9 year old well out of that. I don't discuss anything with dsd (17, lives with me and not her Dad) about dd and dsd often comes back from her Dad's full of what he and his girlfriend have said/think about dd and contact/me.
I just refuse to go there at all with dsd. They can choose to discuss things with her and make her piggy in the middle. I won't. It's not anything she needs to be concerned about or involved with, and most of all it isn't fair on her.
I think it's good to listen to his opinion and then give yours and explain your (positive for the child) reasons behind it.
So you can say "I'm sorry you feel that way, I think it will be a great thing for dsd because she will become very independent and be doing something she loves and she will have a great career at the end of it. Why do you think it won't be great for dsd?"
So dss has seen you give your reasons, then he is invited to share his views. If his views are his own and it's all done in a non confrontational way, he should respond with genuine reasons which he can articulate. Even if that's to say she might lose her pencil case or something.
I think you're right, that if he's spouting rubbish that he doesn't understand and just repeating things his mother's said, you need some way of shutting him up. I'm just not sure challenging him to defend his views is the way to go. I think I'd go for something that implies he is too young to have a view on the issues - "well it's hard for parents to judge when they're DCS are old enough, and mums always worry about their DCs being away from them" kind of thing - implying that you know those are his mum's views not his, and understand where they're coming from, even though you don't agree. Rather than telling him he should be proud of his DSis for standing up to their mum. Only a very confident/rebellious child would do that at 9.
DSS1, at about the age of 15, loudly and clearly told DSS2 (about 10 at the time), that if he didn't do better in his school tests, then he would end up going to "Stupid School". He meant the local comp, rather than the school DSS1 was at.
When questioned, he admitted that this is what his mother had said. So he was repeating this verbatim, in parrot fasion, in a manner which was bullying DSS2, making him stressed and impacting his self esteem (this wasn't an isolated statement). Now should we have not tackled that in case DSS1 felt "bewildered", as he was merely repeated his mother, all the while allowing the impacts on DSS2 to continue . Not withstanding that, should we as adults allow a child to think it's ok to refer to "stupid school", for people who don't pass tests
Only a step-mum could be accused of browbeating by encouraging DSC to have pride in their siblings
There aren't many rules in our family - but one we do have is that privileges come hand in hand with responsibility.
If DSS isn't ready for the responsibility of discussing his opinions, then he isn't ready for the privilege of taking part in adult dinner time conversation; something he values and enjoys.
The point is that a 9 year old shouldn't feel "bewildered" or "flounder around" if he is simply asked why he thinks something.
Surely it's showing an interest in the child's personality to respond to their comments? Or as adults are we supposed to never question a child on their feelings and beliefs?
My ds would still believe in monsters under the bed and ghosts on the shed if I hadn't talked through his feelings and beliefs.
Surely I should treat my step children in the same way?
I didnt read it at all as "brow beating" and contrary to enjoying it, the OP sounds like she found it frustrating, not like fun
so you brow beat a 9 yr old - made him"bewildered, he floundered around".
All very well to sit down and explain what it means but your post comes across as you belittling a 9 yr old. He may be parroting but did you really need to do it like that?
You sound like you enjoyed it.
Pinksham, i know a poor woman who's married to a man like this and her life is hell and her husband won't do anything against his very controlling wishes. Wouldnt wish that on anyone. But clearly I was being flippant above in any case, personally its no skin off my nose whether he gets married or not
I doubt your DSD's going to take too much notice of what her 9 year old DB says regarding her leaving home. She must be old enough to realise that he's just repeating their mum. Your DSS is too young to have a sensible opinion on whether DSD is old enough to leave home, but he may know that he doesn't really want her to go and that he'll miss her - that could be partly what's beneath what he's saying - but he's articulating it along the lines that he's heard others say.
Agree with you about racist or bigoted views though - I do always pick my DSC up on those fast if I ever hear them (we get a bit of anti-state school rubbish spouted out that's come from their mum most often)
pinkshaman I think there is a difference between asking my DSS to explain why he thinks his sister "isn't ready" for College and telling him that he is wrong and that of course she is.
I understand that his self-confidence may take a hit when challenged; but what about DSD? Even if she had both her parents unwavering support, she would still be feeling a bit nervous and anxious about taking the big step to leave home - and this is the first time she has defied her Mum, so hearing her younger brother confidently assert that even HE doesn't think she is ready for College is going to put a big dent in her self confidence, too.
If the DSC have repeated racist, discriminatory or bigoted opinions then DP and I have challenged those, too. I really don't care if they parrot their Mum's opinion about Burger King meals for instance, and will let it go, but when they express racist views then DP would be failing as a parent if he didn't make them aware of the possible consequences of holding and expressing that opinion.
He's still very young. People can and do change, or maybe he won't change and he'll find the relationship that is absolutely the right match for him. Seems a bit sad to be wishing he never gets married .
With DSS1 (17) I don't ever seeing him have the will or inclination to disagree with his mothers opinions. I can only say I hope he never gets married, because the poor wife's life would be a misery, such is his need for validation by his mother
Sorry bit off track there but made me think!
I wouldn't have questioned whether I agreed with her opinions at 9. I started to as I got older into my late teens I think but it was really hard to express them as I was shot down in flames or ignored.
I think it's really tricky ground to challenge what you know is their parent's view - step families are a minefield as it is. And IME stepchildren will be very protective of their parents, even if they do have a different opinion themselves. I think that if you aren't used to forming your opinions then to have two of the most important people in your life (ie a stepmum and a mum)having completely different ones will throw you into turmoil. There's definitely a balance to be struck and caution needs to be exercised. I think there are probably ways of encouraging children to think independently - which I think is really important - without necessarily putting them on the spot about what is known to be their parent's opinion.
I am very much of the I don't have to make you wrong for me to be right school of thought now, there are just different opinions and different ways of doing things - and I do feel that that approach stood me in good stead when I was dealing with dsd and her mum.
Yes interestingly DSS1 is only interested in maths and sciences and does best at these
It's not surprising that all my step children do well in maths rather than arts subjects. Their father is also that way inclined too though.
Certainly my dp is now aware through counselling how important listening to others opinions now is.
I wonder what sort of effect it has education wise as well. Certainly for Arts related subjects, the ability to challenge and form independent opinion is absolutely crucial
pinkshaman - Your point is a very good one and one I have considered at length many times.
I think it's a case of finding a balance. I know that questioning every opinion of the DSC (or anyone else) would be terrible for their self esteem. Who wants to be constantly questioned on why they like apples and not bananas etc etc.
However, when I can quite clearly see that it's not their opinion and is the opinion of their Mother, I will pull them on it by gently asking why they think like that, I probably do that less than 30% of the time.
I actually think I owe it to the kids to pull them on it. To help them to think independently and to question not only their Mums opinions, but everyone else's too. I encourage them to understand that everyone has an opinion but often it is just that and it doesn't mean that one opinion is necessary "right" compared to another.
I didn't pull them on it for several years and I feel much happier in myself now because I feel I am having a positive input in their life rather than not getting involved by biting my tongue.
Eldest DSC is now struggling with friendships, relationships etc because whilst her peers are growing and developing, she is unable to flourish as she should be doing because she is unable to articulate her feelings and needs so comes across as arrogant, rude and demanding.
Pinshaman - just out of interest, did you agree with your mum's opinions? I'm curious on DSS1's behalf whether:
a) it hasn't occured to him that it is possible for him to have opinions of his own, as she has actively quashed this possibility for so long, or
b) he has his own views but has become scared of voicing them so voices hers instead
As someone who grew up with a mum who forced opinions on me I would have found it crucifying to be our in the position of having to explain my mums opinions and then having them challenged.
My confidence was pretty low as it was, and to have someone challenging my opinions in the ways being described made my confidence about speaking out or expressing an opinion even worse.
I do get what it's like having a step-child parroting their mums opinions and values, dsd's mum and I are poles apart. But please have a think about how you are approaching that you have a different opinion as you may well be making it worse for him.
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