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Got to pick your battles ...... But WWYD?

(111 Posts)
Petal02 Sat 06-Apr-13 18:08:08

DSS, who is 18 1/2, is taking his driving test next month. DH has been happy to agree that once he's got his licence (he already has a car) that we can finally discontinue with the access rota, as DSS will be able to transport himself to/from our house as and when he wishes. I was delighted, I've lived by a rota for far too long, and the thought of normality is wonderful.

However DH said something strange last night; that he wants DSS to have a key so that he can come over whether we're in or not. This niggled me slightly, I'd expected DSS would visit us when we're home, I've never got my head round all this "in absentia" visiting, I don't see the point. But my main, overriding concern is that DSS has a terrible track record when it comes to switching things off, closing windows, locking doors and is completely incapable of sorting out pets (would you shut a dog in the lounge when you go out?) and can't master our very simple burglar alarm. The thought of him letting himself into our empty house, and then leaving without locking up, or with the gas hob still lit, or the French windows still open ....... Well it's scary.

I appreciate its normal to be home alone at the house you live in, but I'm uncomfortable, essentially on fire/flood/security grounds, of having him hang out at ours when we're out.

So you have to pick your battles, so I'm proposing to suggest the following to DH: I accept I might have to give in gracefully regards DSS having a key, he's 18 and it is indeed his fathers house. But I want DH to have a proper conversation, not a Disney joke, about taking care of our home, and if we have any problems, that the privilege of a key is rescinded (assuming the house hasn't burnt down).

In return for this, I request that if we're going on holiday or away for the weekend etc, that we don't leave DSS to secure the house (I couldn't relax on a beach wondering if DSS had left the bath taps running) and that he doesn't visit our empty house while we're away, as there's no point. Does that sound reasonable?

I really don't want a huge row with DH over this, I know he wants DSS to feel welcome, but this needs to be balanced with the need to protect our home, and my peace of mind. And (I shan't say this to DH) I understand why you need key for the house you live in, but don't think it's mandatory for any other houses. Not when the 'child' in question has been repeatedly irresponsible with basic household procedures.

Can I reiterate I'm not suggesting we reduce visits, just that they take place when we're in, and that he doesn't cause damage to our home.

FrauMoose Mon 08-Apr-13 08:17:45

I have two stepchildren both now in my twenties. My stepdaughter has lived here on and off and has a key. Although there have been occasional very very minor issues about times when we've gone away and she's done stuff like disconnect everything round the TV in order to play Nintendo Wii, but not remembered to connect it all back, so we've spent hours struggling with the leads - that's just ultra-trivial stuff. If she was away, but planned/wanted to come back at a time when we were also away, she would let us know first about her plans.

My stepson is just not as tuned into other people's feelings - he's on the autistic spectrum. At one point he had a key because he'd lived with us temporarily, but we got back from a holiday which coincided with a university reading week - to find that he had decided to come back without letting us know. (He actually had only stayed a day because he had never listened when we told him about the hot water/heating etc and hadn't been able to make anything work.) The place smelled of smoke, though I think he tried to air it. Spouse and I are in agreement - for all sorts of reasons - that we wouldn't let him have a key again.

I think it is as much about the personality/responsibility of the young person with the key as about whether the relationship is a parental or step-parental one.

Petal02 Sun 07-Apr-13 10:23:43

Thanks NADM, that's interesting.

NotaDisneyMum Sun 07-Apr-13 10:22:02

petal. There are posts in which parents are accused of rejecting their teen by withholding a key though.
It's not exclusive to step-parents; although I'm the first to admit the venom with which it is done here on the step- board is far more marked than anywhere else on MN wink

Petal02 Sun 07-Apr-13 10:19:10

Thank you Desk planner, that's exactly my point. If a bio child were a liability, no one would criticise you for withholding a key.

DeskPlanner Sun 07-Apr-13 10:07:22

I think the point that All and Petal are trying to make is that they wouldn't expect there biological children, if they had them, to let themselves onto there patents home when they had left home or gone off to uni. So why should the situation be any different for adult sc ?

NotaDisneyMum Sun 07-Apr-13 10:04:14

There are lots of posts from parents in the MN teen section asking for advice/opinions on exactly this issue - to be fair, there is a similar split of opinions; some people think that withholding a housekey from a DC is the ultimate rejection, others think that it's a privilege that has to he earned and can be withdrawn.

Freddiemisagreatshag Sun 07-Apr-13 09:59:38

Well, I don't see it like that. Because he's not some randomer you don't know. He's your husbands child and it should be his home.

But I don't think we are ever going to see eye to eye on this. And it's supposed to be a supportive thread for you Petal, so I shall bow out.

Petal02 Sun 07-Apr-13 09:58:05

Well said Allnew, normal wishes/standards are construed negatively if applied in a step situation.

allnewtaketwo Sun 07-Apr-13 09:54:28

Agree everyone is so different about this type of thing. I personally hate anyone coming unexpectedly to the house and would never consider going not someone's house without knocking, my parents included. But it seems that these differences are acceptable only until there are step "children" involved, at which point your wishes stop being "differences" and apparently turn into evil stepmother traits of wanting to exclude the "children" and not liking them

TheHumancatapult Sun 07-Apr-13 09:44:28

not add Freddie were all just different .i would hate my mum to walk straight into mine

BenjaminButton172 Sun 07-Apr-13 09:40:45

I think what we have established here is that every household/family is different.

Petal i can understand what you are saying/your worries. If my dd acted like your ss she wouldnt get a key whether it is her home or not.

If he does get a key i think some rules are needed along with consequences ie removing of key.

Hope all goes well with your chat to dh smile

DeskPlanner Sun 07-Apr-13 09:38:09

Nobody is odd, we all have different ways of doing things. I always ring the bell to my patents, as they do at mine, despite us all having keys, doesn't mean where odd either.

Freddiemisagreatshag Sun 07-Apr-13 09:29:41

Well, I'm odd.

I'd never expect mine to ring the doorbell. Nor do my parents. Not to their home.

And DS1 has "moved out properly" to uni but I can't get rid of him he's coming back which is a joke

DeskPlanner Sun 07-Apr-13 09:29:31

Everyone is different, I would hate to find a load of people lounging round my home if I wasn't expecting it. My parents wouldn't have liked the idea either. Your home life sounds lovely Freddie, as was mine growing up. Just different.
Can't speak about my own dc as we are a long way off the uni years she says while trying not to think of the uni years. Sob. grin

TheHumancatapult Sun 07-Apr-13 09:27:19


I Have 4dc two of them in teens both at home (19 and 16) and ye sthey both have keys and yes ds2 planning uni and he will have a key when he goes to come and go as this is his home .but once moved out properly i would expect them to ring the doorbell first

DeskPlanner Sun 07-Apr-13 09:24:09

Petal have you discussed with your ss about abandoning the rota when he can drive ? I'd be concerned about him sticking with it and just driving himself between homes, instead of waiting for your dh to chauffeur him. He does seem very fond if a routine. You would know when to expect him at any rate.

Freddiemisagreatshag Sun 07-Apr-13 09:21:17

Absolutely not Petal grin

I love having them all round and I can't wait til the bigger ones are home from Uni for the summer and I never quite know how many bodies will be in the living room when I wake up.

Petal02 Sun 07-Apr-13 09:19:22

Freddie, it would be a boring world if every household operated in the same way. I just hope your underwear is always pristine and matching smile !!

Freddiemisagreatshag Sun 07-Apr-13 09:16:11

On the underwear thing. I never stopped being in my underwear. If they didn't like it they were free to stop coming round. It's not that different to a bikini or holiday clothes.

But then again, as I said, I seem to be too relaxed.

Freddiemisagreatshag Sun 07-Apr-13 09:14:37

Petal I never said you had. I have apologised already if I gave that impression.

And, as I have also said, the firsts have seen me in knickers and vest top. Doesn't bother me. Might have bothered them but I doubt it. Well, maybe scared them half to death, but they still crash here.

I've also realised my family is weird. We seem to be rather more relaxed about that kind of stuff than many.

Petal02 Sun 07-Apr-13 09:14:25

PS - when I was younger, I was given a house key at age 15, my brother never got one. I was sensible, my brother wasn't, but my parents didn't have to factor 'step' issues into the equation. If you could be trusted you got a key, if not, then you didn't 't. Quite simple.

Petal02 Sun 07-Apr-13 09:12:00

Freddie, no one is suggesting we 'cut him out' or reduce support or give him any less of anything.

I'm just very wary of giving him the privilege/responsibilty of a key, when recent events (dog shut in lounge, grill left on, alarm not set) have suggested he's not ready yet. I'm not taking anything away, I'm not taking a key off him, he hasn't got one yet.

As I said in an earlier post, we just need to strike a balance that accommodates DH's wishes and my wish to protect my home. And I occasionally walk round in my underwear so I'd like to know who's going to be walking through the front door. DSS has never considered our house to be his home, he's always lived with his mum and visited Dad, so I doubt giving him a key, or not, will change his views.

I plan to speak to DH today with my compromise, I'll let you know how I get on.

TheHumancatapult Sun 07-Apr-13 08:56:38

i have a key to my mums but i knock on door ring/bell do not walk in same for my place she has key but I would not expect her to let self in.

but agree maybe more tricky as ss is still only young as such .does he have own room in house and stuff what was the access arrangements before .Did he stay EOw etc so its in reality his home to

Freddiemisagreatshag Sun 07-Apr-13 08:50:50

I don't get this "they're 18 they're on their own they're adults now"

My 23 year old is graduating this summer and coming HOME. to here. And then going back to Uni to do something else. And this will be his HOME for as long as he needs it to be.

Am I weird?

Freddiemisagreatshag Sun 07-Apr-13 08:48:08

Sorry all new the "cutting out" was to the suggestion at that point in the thread, that at age 18 he should be standing on his own feet.

I apologise for not making it clear. I was posting from my phone. Which I realise is no excuse

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