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For those of you with teenage step children

(182 Posts)
theredhen Wed 14-Aug-13 12:16:50

What do you do about bedtimes?

Dp has a very early start and normally leaves the house by 6am. He's normally falling asleep by 10pm if we haven't already gone to bed. At the moment he's working 7 days a week.

Dsd2 and ds both take themselves to their rooms about 9.30 in the holidays leaving dp and I with some time without kids.

Dsd1 sits in her room all evening then appears at 9.30pm and sits with us both. Dp and I like our child free time to talk about any issues that have arisen during the day. We have five kids between us, two full time jobs, two troublesome ex's so there can be a lot to talk about and we both agree we need that time to talk every day for the sake of once what was our very fragile relationship.

Dp has said he doesn't know what to do. He has explained to her that we like to have a bit of time to ourselves before we go to bed and has offered her a tv in her room several times to which she always replies she doesn't want one as she doesn't watch tv.

She keeps appearing at 9.30 and parking her bum on the sofa. Dp has been taking her out one to one and trying to treat her more as an adult so feels sending her to her room is sending her the wrong message. Dsd2 and ds seem to manage it without being "told" as I did at that age.

Basically he's struggling to know what to do.

Personally I think he should try and encourage her to sit with us earlier in the evening and then send her off to her room (where she has laptop, phone, books etc) at 9.30 ish like the others.

I know it's very early for some teens but dp and I can't lie in til 11am like they can.


Petal02 Wed 14-Aug-13 22:11:58

I think it's important to remember that Redhen and her DP are the adults in this situation. Adults should run the household, not teenagers.

Xmasbaby11 Wed 14-Aug-13 22:12:52

Why don't you just go to bed and have your unwinding time there? I don't really agree with banning her from a family area, as she is part of the family, not a lodger.

childcarehell Wed 14-Aug-13 22:16:32

Well here is a small house, teenage step dcs and young dcs. We just go with the flow now and I've found I've just had to get used to it. It's not perfect and we're happier without trying to force behaviours. We escape to our room sometimes. I think it's fair to ask for some peace, but not on a routine basis to ask she's not around. I'd feel quite affronted. There's a balance, some night have her around, other nights just be open and say 'we want some us time please' openly or harrass her about chores that aren't done from 9.30 onwards until she hides-

It is difficult at times with changing dynamics, each phase passes. DH and in spring felt like we were a bit overrun. I ended up having a pop at dsd after dh and I sat outside in the cold dark garden for a bit of peace one night and he followed! It's settled again now, the 18, 15 and 3 yr old practically vanish into one bedroom from dinner to bed at the moment!

ImNotBloody14 Wed 14-Aug-13 22:19:25


i'm well aware that redhen and her DP are the adults. i'm also well aware of your opinion on where stepdcs belong in the house.

brdgrl Wed 14-Aug-13 22:28:07

Our home 'belongs' to the adults. We decide how the space is used, we decide how it's decorated, we make rules about how it is to be treated. We also carry the financial responsibility for it, and when something goes wrong, it is up to us to sort it out. Responsibilities and privileges that come with being the adults.

There are shared spaces - but that doesn't mean that the kids have free access to them anytime they like. If we're having company over to watch a film, we don't ask permission of the kids. If DH wants to watch something on the TV, he makes them change it over.

This isn't a 'step' issue, it's about how people view the boundary between adults and children in a home. In our home, we don't live as lodgers (paying for the right of usage) or university students in a flat (peers who share equally in decision making and responsibility). We are two adult people. When the kids have their own homes, they can do whatever they want with them.

Both the DSCs get privacy when they have friends round, and use of the television room.

(Minor point, but the daughter has been offered and declined a tv in her room.)

Onesleeptillwembley Thu 15-Aug-13 01:04:03

Bdrgrl I'm totally in agreement with your first paragraph. But I still think it's weird to send a 17 year old to their room at 9.30. It actually smacks of the OP being a bit weird and controlling and jealous of the poor girl. Nasty.

brdgrl Thu 15-Aug-13 01:28:30

I still think it's weird to send a 17 year old to their room at 9.30. It actually smacks of the OP being a bit weird and controlling and jealous of the poor girl. Nasty.

With my DSD (18), we'd send her 'out'. She doesn't have to go to her room. She just has to leave that room. I guess what options that leaves a teen depends on the house, but for us it means DSD can go to her room (the largest in the home, with laptop etc), or the rather spacious kitchen. Weird or controlling?? I just don't see it as anything but a natural way of handling things. I think its not right to ascribe motives that aren't necessarily there...if the post were about OP's DS, I'd have taken the question at face value then, too.

purpleroses Thu 15-Aug-13 05:52:52

I feel exactly the same about my own DCs as I do the DSC in that I prefer them all off to their rooms before us.

As brdgrl has articulated well it's about feeling like the adults of the house, not housemates. It's absolutely nothing to do with not wanting either the DSC (or my own DCs) to be in the house. And I've seen similar threads on the teenage board about bio DCs and bedtimes.

allnewtaketwo Thu 15-Aug-13 06:25:34

Wanting adult time with your husband is hardly weird or controlling FGS. There has to be the ability to let the teenager know when they just need to do their own thing in a separate space some of the time. Completely disagree with the notion of adults having to skulk up upstairs to bed to get time away from teenagers hogging the communal living space.

We are making very slow progress in this area, as DH is now saying more to DSSs that they need to watch a film in the other downstairs room in the evening rather than in the space we're in.

Exotic "you get your own time when they go out". Yes that would be true IF they go out. My DSS does not go out, ever, without a parent, outside of school. There is NO time without him in the house during access. From waking to sleeping, he's there. He's nearly 18.

exoticfruits Thu 15-Aug-13 06:51:54

I think that perhaps the difference is the fact that they are DSCs and access is very unnatural at that age because they are suddenly visitors in an area where they don't know anyone and they also have a step parent who hasn't had them since babies and had their needs evolve over the years.
You are talking about a situation that everyone has-i.e the children get older and can't have a bedtime- they go to bed later or at the same time as you and you share a house, often a small house. If it is their main residence they have a bedroom that is 'theirs' and friends to go out with or activities outside the home. If it is access it is far more difficult for them, they have a room that is more like a visitor's room than theirs, no friends in the area and no activities. Speaking generally of course- some will feel at home, have friends in the area etc.
I think you just need to see it as a very short stage. If he is nearly 18yrs it won't be for much longer- as an adult he won't be continuing the childhood pattern of access. It is just like having a visitor- if I stay with someone I don't expect to be banished to my room at 9.30 so that my hosts can have time to themselves. I stayed with my mother all last week- often we went to bed together- sometimes she went first.

exoticfruits Thu 15-Aug-13 06:53:09

A suggestion would be to have a friend over with them and then they would have someone to go out with.

exoticfruits Thu 15-Aug-13 06:53:59

That should have read went to bed at the same time and not together.

allnewtaketwo Thu 15-Aug-13 06:59:08

"If it is their main residence they have a bedroom that is 'theirs' and friends to go out with or activities outside the home"

No, to the contrary, in his main residence he shares a room and has no friends or activities there either.

"If he is nearly 18yrs it won't be for much longer- as an adult he won't be continuing the childhood pattern of access"

What is going to stop the pattern though? I can see the same pattern remaining for years to come.

theredhen Thu 15-Aug-13 07:02:33

To the poster who suggested dp and I get time when dsc are out, do you really think that 5 children all go out at once? Assuming we now allow 15 year olds to stay up too?

If dp and I go to our room, yes we would get some time together and that is the positive but I do feel that we would be running away and when we disappear and leave dsd1 in the living room, she would simply go to bed anyway as she has done when we have done this.

I like an occasional glass of wine or bar of chocolate and I hate food in the bedroom so it would stop those treats. Dp is on "borrowed time" in the evenings anyway. If we went to bed at 7pm, as soon as he got into bed he'd be asleep which defeats the object of us getting some time to talk.

I did mention that there is a tv in the "spare room". This is a room that forms part of her annexe. She has a virtually self contained flat to live in. So it's not like we are excluding her from tv although as mentioned she is adamant she doesn't want one in her room anyway.

I too feel I don't want any children around for 30 mins before bed. It's not a step issue. I was far more strict on this when I lived alone with just my ds. I always needed to time alone then to help ensure I was the best parent I could be the next day and feel exactly the same now although I include my dsc now.

exoticfruits Thu 15-Aug-13 07:31:42

Having just stayed with my mother, her spare room isn't somewhere I would want to retire to at 9.30 so I don't see why they should be different.
Surely the pattern will change, allnewtaketwo, if he doesn't go to university he will have to do a course or get a job. What are his plans?

allnewtaketwo Thu 15-Aug-13 07:53:40

He will go to university, in our home town, live with mum and still want to come EOW. He has no interest in a PT job as he insists on spending every waking hour (outside of education) with mum or dad. Turning 18 isn't suddenly going to give him a personality transplant.

Yonihadtoask Thu 15-Aug-13 08:03:11

Ours don't go out either!

Not that I am advocating hanging around on the streets drinking and smoking from the age of 13 as I did but I just wish they would do something.

That's my DS (15) and DSS (16).

I was never in the house. Why would I want to spend more time than necessary with the oldies????

theredhen Thu 15-Aug-13 08:17:22

Even if step kids get a job or a social life it probably means they're still going to come to yours to sleep, so the problem still remains unless they don't get home til 10.30 every single night of their lives.

I should also point out that my step children have lived in the marital home with their father since their parents split so its not like they're visitors.

exoticfruits Thu 15-Aug-13 08:27:13

You need to change the pattern then - go out- go away for the weekend- volunteer him for things! When he goes to university sit him down and explain that as an adult things will change.

The problem is the same for every family theredhen- children stop conveniently going to bed early. Maybe it is harder if they are not your own.

catsmother Thu 15-Aug-13 08:56:52

Last ditch helpful (?) suggestion: start snogging on the sofa .... only the most oblivious teenager could possibly bear to remain in the room thereafter .............. grin

theredhen Thu 15-Aug-13 08:58:55

Cats mother, ha ha. grin

I had already thought of that. Am I daring enough to do it? grin

Don't really want to make her vomit.

destructogirl Thu 15-Aug-13 09:15:46

I'm not a step parent, but my DH is. To be honest I'm pretty horrified at the thought of sending DD (17) out of the room. I'd be pretty pissed off at DH if he suggested it.

brdgrl Thu 15-Aug-13 10:01:02

My DSD lives here all the time (no access dimension, I mean) - and she would do the exact same thing if permitted. She has a job, but that's nothing like every evening, and it is rare for her to go out with friends.

It is common to read on MN about these teens who can't bear to be at home and spend all their time out with their friends - but in my experience, it isn't a universal truth!

Encouraging OP's DSD to do her own thing is a fine suggestion, but really, it's no substitute for just being clear and nicely assertive.

ExcuseTypos Thu 15-Aug-13 10:42:12

Sending a teenager to her room at 9.30? That's really not on. It would be if she were 12 but she isn't.

Teenagers do hang around late at night. I've often gone to bed earlier than my teenage DDs.

I think your DSD will feel quite pushed put by being asked to go her room at 9.30. It's really not a normal thing for a parent to say.

ImNotBloody14 Thu 15-Aug-13 10:52:28

tbh if you're usually in bed by ten then I cant see why both of you going up at half 9 to talk is so much of an issue. and it doesn't have to be rigid, every night. i'm sure there are nights when dsd wont be there, or will stay in her room and there will probably also be nights where you/he are tired enough to want to go to bed earlier. (by half an hour!) I think a bit of give and take is normal in families and I think fair parents see the house as their dcs home aswell as just their (the parents') property. at 17 she is just at an age where she will be starting to spend more time away from home with friends, college, uni or work so I don't think you'll face this particular problem with her for much longer but you do have other dcs following behind who will have different patterns of activity.

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