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Sd's here when their dad is not... I can't deal with it

(215 Posts)
Sleepyk Tue 28-May-13 19:58:02

My husband has agreed (not for the first time) that his eldest daughter (15) can come
and stay while their mum is on holiday... Problem is I don't want her here. It's a terrible thing to say but we have a very distant relationship whereby I ask her how she is ...she answers, I ask her how School is ...she answers, but if I don't speak she doesn't say a wordk. . I always feel so awkward Around her when we are alone. She will happily sleep till 2 in the afternoon(in my daughters bedroom) and spends the rest of the time glued to her phone (I would not allow my children to do either). It's all so strained.

My problem is my husband will be at work all day so it's me and my sd..... I just don't know how to approach the subject with my husband with making it sound as if I am some wicked step mum! Am I being childish ?

nextphase Tue 28-May-13 20:30:10

How old is your daughter?
Can you plan some days / half days out, and then either sd comes with you "were going to do X leaving at 10am, would you like me to wake you, or do you want to stay at home on your own".
No ideas what 15 yr olds like doing tho - about a decade off that!

Is there anything she might like doing with you? Cooking? Make overs? Home made facials etc?

Sounds stressful tho. Hope the week goes OK

catsmother Tue 28-May-13 20:47:30

I don't know it's necessarily childish .... you can't force a "good" relationship at the end of the day, and if you're civil and friendly, it might just be that the two of you don't "click", however much you wish it was different.

However .... what might come under the umbrella of "childish", well, rude anyway, is your DH taking you for granted and arranging stuff without including you in that decision too. The end result might be the same - many stepmums find it very hard to say a firm no to contact when their partner isn't there (particularly when the atmosphere feels awkward - it may well do to SD too) - but IMO there's a hell of a difference psychologically between being part of the decision process as a supposedly equal adult and being presented with a fait accompli. It's particularly difficult if you are expected to step into a parental/supervisory/caring role yet at the same time different rules and boundaries apply to that child in comparism to your own - that sort of divisive set up can leave you feeling pretty powerless and without any authority in your own home. It blurs the line between child and adult - even more than it's usually blurred when dealing with a teen.

You haven't said what your set up is. Do you work from home and/or have younger kids to look after ? I work from home and certainly wouldn't be happy at having extra responsibility landed on me without any prior discussion .... even if I was "only" at home "anyway" with younger kids an extra body means extra work, and it can be pretty hard to balance activities if there's a big gap between all the kids. I think there's two things here, or maybe three:

1. DH taking you for granted. There's no excuse for that and in your shoes I'd kind of feel like the housekeeper or something, i.e. someone he didn't have to ask beforehand.
2. Different rules for different kids. Unfair if you're supposed to be a blended family. All the kids should adhere to the same rules - with age appropriate allowances built in obviously for stuff like bedtimes, TV viewing etc. Otherwise it suggests that the kids who are allowed extra privileges are "better".
3. Being totally honest, if you don't have a close relationship with SD - and that's not a crime so long as you do your best and are kind - it seems pretty pointless for her to come over at all if her dad's not going to be around. He should bloody well take some time off work or he shouldn't otherwise have agreed .... what's been arranged isn't his bloody issue to agree as he's not going to be there the vast majority of time! Basically, you've ended up as a babysitter for him and his ex. SD probably isn't stupid and may well not like this set up any more than you do - again, this isn't irrefutable proof of you being a "wicked stepmother", just the fact you can't be best friends with everyone all the time. However, I bet she wishes her dad was going to be around more.

Think you need to point all of this out to him. If he wants to see his daughter then fine, take time off work. If he can't do that, then he either declines having her at this particular time, or, he asks you before agreeing and has to be fully prepared that you might say no. Point out to him that you might feel better about helping him out if he was prepared to sit down with you and fully commit to a set of house rules etc that all the kids must follow .... but that should be implemented anyway, and still wouldn't be an absolute guarantee of you being an unpaid babysitter when it suits him and his ex.

theredhen Tue 28-May-13 20:57:46

Cats mother, a brilliant post. Very well put.

witchofmiddx Tue 28-May-13 21:26:02

Whilst all 15 yr olds are different, my dd seems to want to fill her holidays only with her friends, she would balk at my 'arranging' anything for her. I also have dss 15 who, like your dsd, will only speak to me when spoken to, and will never instigate a conversation with me. Forget the ever threatening 'Wicked Step Mum' mantle, i think you are perfectly justified in explaining to your dh exactly what you said in your op, and pointing out to him that it may not be ideal for dsd either.

purpleroses Tue 28-May-13 22:06:02

Agree with a lot of what catsmother has said. Only thing is though, at 15 your DP is not necessarily taking you for granted or expecting you to "look after" her during the day. Because if you weren't around she could presumably look after herself for the day and your DP could sort her out dinner, etc when he gets in. That may be how he's thinking.

I end up in a similar position with my DSC sometimes as DP agrees to have them for chunks of the holidays, often months in advance, then ends up taking on work commitments. For the younger two, I really don't mind as they play happily with my own DCs and I'm comfortable with parenting them. For the older two, (aged 14 and 15) however I find it much harder, something that I often have to spell out for DP. One thing that helps is if I talk to DP in advance and make him agree with the DSC what they are supposed to be doing all day. Eg what hours they're allowed to game on computers, what time to be in by, etc. I'm then left to enforce rules that we have set and he has already laid out for them - which is a much more comfortable situation to be in as a stepparent than being the one who tries to tell a DSC what they are and aren't allowed to do.

What would you like DSD to be doing during the day? Could you, say, spell out that you'd like her to cook one meal a day, be up by 10am, or whatever you think she should be doing? Could you ask that she has a quick chat with you over breakfast each day about her plans for they day? What actual things would make it better?

I think you're entirely justified in the way you feel, and right to talk to DP about the difficulties and ask him to help make things easier. For both of you possibly, as DSD may be behaving as she does as she's not very comfortable around you either. If he could get her to identify why this is and how it could be easier for her, that might help too.

I don't think it would be reasonable to actually ask him not to have her stay though, or demand that he takes the time off work, as she is old enough to take care of herself in the day if needs be. So it's quite a different situation from him asking you to care for her. Annual leave never goes as far as you want it to, and her mum's entitled to a holiday from time to time too.

If that all fails, then make plans of your own for the times when she's around - do stuff round the house in the mornings whilst she sleeps, then take yourself out for the afternoon. If she leaves the house in a mess, get your DP to pull her up on it when he gets back in the evening.

Petal02 Tue 28-May-13 22:37:46

Catsmother, superb post. There is really no point in arranging for SD to be around when her father isn't present. And whilst another poster makes a valid point that perhaps a 15 yr old doesn't need looking after as such, nevertheless it still leaves her hanging around the house, when her father isn't around, making the OP feel uncomfortable. And of course none of this facilitates quality time between father and daughter.

The other factor at play here, is that many men genuinely feel that access is taking place, providing the child is under their roof/on their 'watch', regardless of whether they see the child or not.

My DH's definition of access seemed to be simply removing DSS from his mother's house. Whether they spent time together or not was viewed as academic.

Xalla Wed 29-May-13 06:24:45

OP your feelings are very justified for all the reasons catsmother so brilliantly sets out.

The proposed arrangement does sound horribly awkward given your relationship with your DSD and I can't imagine she's looking forward to it much easier.

If your DH won't take the time off I'd suggest it may be better for DSD to stay with grandparents / godparents / friends for at least part of the week. That or if she really doesn't need 'looking after' per se, perhaps you can arrange a break of your own to coincide with part of her stay...

Xalla Wed 29-May-13 06:25:06

Either not easier!

Sleepyk Wed 29-May-13 08:29:18

Thank you... You have echoed my EXACT feelings but just feel like I'm being mean! My sd is 15 (very15!) and, to be brutal, she only wants to come and stay because she wants to see her friends rather than spend the week at her mums caravan (rather than the fact she misses her father). Her mum always takes her and her little sister to their caravan every school holiday. In that respect she probably has no intention of being around the house much during the day (unless asleep which as I said in my first post she can quite happily stay in bed till mid afternoon (But she sleeps in our 2 year olds room downstairs which means the room is then out of action!)

In regards to speaking to her-I am not in a position, unfortunately, to ask her do / not do things as she doesn't take kindly to that! (Last time that happened she didn't come round for 2 months)...

We really don't have anything in common and, of course, I'm sure she feels as awkward too (clearly not as much as I or she wouldn't want to come).

I am home with my two year old (I also have my own son who is 15 who lives with us). I will stop moaning now...

StillSlightlyCrumpled Wed 29-May-13 08:40:53

She probable doesn't feel as awkward because she is 15 and by their very nature 15 year olds can be very self absorbed. If she is going to be around with friends etc it may not be as bad as you imagine.

Petal02 Wed 29-May-13 09:07:42

I'd be really uncomfortable if DSS was hanging around the house with me for days on end. Not that he specifically does anything wrong, but it's just the awkwardness and unnaturalness of it all.

Turniptwirl Wed 29-May-13 09:09:28

I very much like maryz''s advice to treat teenagers like unpleasant lodgers, put up with them and be civil but don't get overly invested in their attitude, especially since she's not yours and you're not close.

Take your DCs out for the day, you can invite her but she'll probably decline but at least you've asked

RubyOnRails Wed 29-May-13 09:10:43

How does she get on with your son?

Petal02 Wed 29-May-13 09:16:00

But if the OP is having to make plans to take herself out of the house due to SD's visit, that's really wrong! If the OP is going to feel so uncomfortable that she has to go out, then surely this visit shouldn't be going ahead?

Sleepyk Wed 29-May-13 09:16:44

They are very different creatures.... Although the same age by a week. They do talk like 2 15 year olds do but my sd comes from a very different upbringing (im uite a strict parent i suppose and sd's mum is not) so they don't have many things that they talk about.

orangeandemons Wed 29-May-13 09:22:18

My ds often stayed in bed until afternoon, and was on his phone the rest of the time. Why cant you let her do that if it makes it easier all round?

That is what a lot of teenagers do

Petal02 Wed 29-May-13 09:31:20

But I still don't see the point of SD being there if her father isn't.

StillSlightlyCrumpled Wed 29-May-13 09:35:27

Yes, I would have her tbh and then leave her to it. If you were both out at work all day you wouldn't even know for sure what time she got up. I can understand you might feel a little on edge or uncomfortable, but as a step mum myself the best thing I did was support DH in his view that our home was his DC's home too and they were welcome around whenever they wanted.

I did have times when I felt that I didn't know what to say to them during their teenage years, but then their mum told me they were the same at hers and I just went with it. I am so very glad I did, because now the older ones are early twenties they will just stop by to see me & DC's whether DH is in or not, and I really enjoy their company.

StillSlightlyCrumpled Wed 29-May-13 09:37:03

Petal, I read it as the SD doesn't want to go away with her mum on holiday. At 15 this starts to happen, staying at dads so she can still see her mates etc seems a perfectly natural thing to me. She doesn't need a babysitter during the day, why would he take time off work?

Fairylea Wed 29-May-13 09:41:16

Can you all do something together? Visit a museum or a park or something, even a theme park if money allows it? She might just say no but maybe some "family" time together doing something rather than all being confined at home might make things easier communication wise...?

purpleroses Wed 29-May-13 09:57:47

My 15 year old DSD does exactly the same - opts out of family holidays with one parent in order to stay with the other and hang out with her friends.

But agree that as she doesn't need you to look after her in the day, it is not reasonable to ask her not to come, or ask your DP to stay home to care for her. Just ignore her and get on with your own thing. You need to work out what you actually need her to do differently so that you're more comfortable with it, and then ask your DP to talk to her about it. But really, if she's in bed til 2pm (or hiding in her bedroom at least) and then out with her friends, she's not going to be that much bother.

curryeater Wed 29-May-13 10:05:34

I don't know if your dp expects you to look after her. It sounds like he has offered his home to his daughter, which he is entitled to do, and he is aware that his daughter isn't really up for much interaction so he thinks if her as self-sufficient.

why can't she sleep till 2?

If you want to be (feel you ought to be) nice then you can make some overtures to go somewhere, do something together. If you don't want to, or if she rebuffs you, then fine. but he can have his daughter to stay if her mother is away.

curryeater Wed 29-May-13 10:05:59

x-posts!

Maryz Wed 29-May-13 10:07:42

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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