Teenage dsc- we need to change things but what? Activities, attitude or contact?(41 Posts)
Things are becoming unhappy in our household- for everyone- and need some ideas from those who have been where we are or who can see some sort of solution.
DP has 15yo (DSD) and 14yo (DSS). We also have 6yo and 4yo. DSC with us every other weekend. We live in a commutable distance from them and their mum and sometimes see DSC for an evening in the week if they can.
DSC don't socialise with any friends while with us ( has been offered and suggested many times). They are both v sporty and attend various clubs for this and have made lots of friends but seem to want to keep them separate.
When they are with us, they don't occupy themselves. Don't use bedrooms to chill out in, watch tv, read, etc despite having their own space.
'Family' type outings are seen as boring and more stressful than they are worth. So the only outings which appeal to DSC tend to be those that are
Sorry posted too soon.
Activities that appeal tend to cost a lot (cinema etc) and we can't afford this week in week out.
We love DSC dearly but we feel change is needed. Are their any activities one of us could do with the DSC while the other parent is with the little ones? just to break things up a bit? Activities that are cheaper? Alternatively should we be looking at altering contact pattern?
I know in many respects they are being typical teenagers but without the outlet of friends while with us. So house is turning into a pressure cooker...
Oh god we have this, only eldest is now 17 and no end in sight. It's been the same since he was 6. Pressure cooker is a good description, as I literally feel I have steam coming out of my ears by a Sunday evening. Unlike yours though, my DSSs don't seem to have friends at all.
No suggestions, sorry, but sympathies!
It is so hard- and quite sad actually as no one happy including DSC I would think. The first day is okayish but after that they are restless. They look at clocks/watches and visibly cheer up on the journey back to mums. On a typical weekend with ther mum they would be in and out, seeing mates etc. we've encouraged this but they are not interested. They organise all social stuff for their alternate weekends.
Yes we do have an Xbox. Is a family one in the lounge.
Xbox comes in handy for when it all gets too much but think we need something more...
I'd consider changing the contact pattern, it doesn't mean you need to see less of them, but a strict EOW arrangement for older teenagers doesn't seem to be working for you.
Your 'pressure cooker' comment is spot-on; until we finally managed to persuade DSS (who had just turned 18 at this point), to cease the access rota, it put everyone under a lot of pressure, and we've found that "little and often" rather than protracted fortnightly residentials is working better for everyone. We just couldn't occupy him from Thurs-Sun EOW.
Changing contact was one thought I had considered. Like you say, not seeing them less but spaced out differently. I had wondered about making weekends shorter but suggesting that we see them for an extra evening in the week. I would also add though that if their mum needed us to have them for a whole weekend for whatever reason that would be fair enough or if we wanted them for whole weekend here or there that would also be fine. DP and I have not seriously discussed this so don't know how this would go down with their mum.
Also I can see an issue with my contact idea, as DSC are so busy in the week. I also think that bringing idea up with their mum might be hard for DP as he would maybe feel like we are not coping with the weekends and not want to admit it.
It's certainly worth considering Grizzly. I'd like to think that their mum would be amenable to sensible changes now they're getting a bit older. When I was that age, being "away from home" EOW would not have been much fun.
I think sometimes both children and parents view "access" time as sacrosanct and would never consider anything like seeing friends etc during those visits, making things intense and unnatural, leading to your pressure cooker situation.
It's their mums reaction that I can't gauge in my mind yet. I genuinely feel that if we suggested a change, the DSC would be pleased. But will their mum be upset at missing losing her 'whole weekend' off IFYSWIM. When the DSC were little I would never have suggested this, but now they are older and more self-sufficient I wonder if it would be so much of a problem. They are regularly home alone in the day, and as I mentioned, if she wanted to go away we could easily accommodate this.
Petal I think it's partly the DSC viewing contact time as separate to their friends but also out of a sense of loyalty to mum. She has met a lot of their friends early on and is also friendly with the parents. Sometimes when they socialise its also families socialising together. We have honestly tried over the years but they seemed happier keeping contact separate.
The ex was very resistant to any changes, she wanted to maintain her DSS-free alternate weekends. DSS wasn't keen either, but the 'old' arrangement just wasn't working, and we wanted life to 'evolve' as he got older. What works when a child is 7/8/9 doesn't necessarily work forever.
Cooking a meal/cake/etc?
Movie night in (with popcorn, etc)? Much cheaper than the cinema
Tennis in the park?
My ex owns a canoe which he takes my two DCs out in quite a lot when they're at his - pretty cheap after the initial outlay, and goes down well with outdoorsy children/teens.
Do you know any other families with similar aged teens you could join up with for an outing somewhere?
Or just tell them that the family budget for this weekend will be X, and once it's gone, let them get board for a while - they will eventually find ways to entertain themselves.
I also have a house full of teenagers who just don't / won't go out.
We live NEARER to their friends than at mums but they still sit in ALL weekend looking bored.
I think it's just the way they are though and even my own ds would happily sit in front of the PC all day if I didn't encourage him to see friends and do other things.
Teens are notoriously difficult to get interested in anything. Except grunting and being miserable
Grizzly, purpleroses make some good suggestions. Just one question: is your DH the sort of Dad who feels obliged to offer wall-to-wall expensive entertainment on acces weekends, just to ensure the child want to keep visiting?
But the downside to providing an entertainment schedule, is that 'normal' things can't happen on access weekends, whereas I feel it's important for real life to continue regardless of who's in the household. DH was so busy trying to provide a Butlins-style itinerary, that everyday things like gardening, decorating etc had to be deferred until non-access weekends, and that wasn't good for anyone either.
Some fab ideas- thank you. And useful whether or not we make any changes to contact. No DP doesn't feel obligated to provide a constant stream of entertainment. He has resolutely tried to maintain a balanced time at weekends which was fine when DSC were younger. Now, rather than it being about treating them, it's more about breaking up the days- giving DSC a break from the little ones and the littl ones a break from DSC !
At their ages have you considered sitting down and talking to them and asking them what they want rather than trying to make decisions for them?
Maybe they might have some ideas about what contact they want with their dad...might ease the sit with his ex if it comes from them rather than you.
Thank you- yes that's a very valid point. If any changes were to be suggested to contact it would definitely be DP that suggested it rather than me and only if he were in agreement of course.
Speaking to the DSCS first is a tricky one- I can see how it would be beneficial but worried their mum might see it as coercion ie 'we think this, and the DSC want it too so it ought to happen'. Obviously we wouldn't mean it like that but may be perceived that way? I feel maybe their mum would prefer it if we mentioned it to her first. But that's just our situation.
Thanks 34DD! Breakfast idea is great. That type of contact seems to work best for DSC- we have sometimes had shortened contact weekends for other reasons (just one-offs) and everyone seems much happier. But I think it is easier for me to be objective and say the weekends don't appear to be working as they are. DP, while having said he is unhappy and stressed at how the weekends go, I think will find it hard to actually explain this to the DC or their mum without feeling as though he is admitting defeat iyswim. But he does of course want their happiness.
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