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Clashing priorities

(20 Posts)
Mueslimorning Mon 16-Sep-13 14:42:26

I had a chat with dh recently and I think I handled the situation relatively well. I suppose I'm posting because I'd like to know if someone had/ has similar issues and if I sound reasonable?

Dh and exw are both careerists and have always relied heavily on child minders (2 dc) and private schools with extra long afternoon hours (until 6pm) to be able to realize their goals. Fair enough, but I picked my job so that I could be home for future dc (have ds).

Both dsc are now resentful of their parents attitude, dsd has already changed schools and dss is looking to do the same, just so that they can be home in the afternoon, like ds, not "locked up" in school (their words).
Dss, nearly 13, lives 50:50 with us. He is a bit immature for his age and will need lots of parental care for some time to come.

Dh swore blind when we met that he'd left his old ways behind him, family is really important to him and ex is a bad mother, etc.
Now he is seriously talking about promotion (more hours at work, more traveling abroad, etc). I am not amused. It seems to me dh lied about his priorities, may possibly think ex is wrong for doing same as him, I,e, concentrating on career. But as Im home more than him, I think he wants me to take over parenting his ds when he stays with us.
I told him either he waits until dss is at least 16 and over the worst, or dss will be living full time with his mum and she can decide herself who will look after him.
Don't be me wrong, dss is a lovely boy and we get on well. But I'm not his mother or nursemaid. And I don't want to be pushed into this awkward situation.
(That dh already feels superior all round for having a better paid job and international networking is another story...)
Has anybody here handled a similar situation well?

Kaluki Mon 16-Sep-13 15:55:40

No but I think you are 100% right. His DS is his and his ex's responsibility.

Petal02 Mon 16-Sep-13 16:16:27

So if your DH takes this super duper job, would he expect his ex to take on more parenting in his absence? Or has he already intimated it fall to you, OP? And what about the ex's career? Are you describing a situation whereby DH and his ex can both pursue high-powered careers providing you're the "third" parent who's prepared to be the child-minder?

UC Mon 16-Sep-13 16:26:48

I deal with a similar situation. I have 2 DSs, and 2 DSSs who live with us 50:50. They are with us at least 2 school nights a week plus the following mornings. Like you, DP and his ex work full time, and I work part time - a decision historically based on childcare needs from when I was married before. The 50:50 pattern is worked out around my working days, so that I am home for all the children when they come out of school on the days they are with us. When they all get up in the morning, DP has already left for work, so I effectively have all the DS and DSSs here for an hour and a half every evening and an hour and a half every morning that they're all "scheduled" to be at our house. My ex's DW does the same on the days my DSs are with them.

I have never considered putting DSSs into childcare, while my own DSs come home, and would never consider that. But we discussed this before moving in, and I have always accepted this is the way it is. Plus DP is always home by tea time. And he is very supportive if there is ever a problem, he will back me up.

Having said that, I draw the line in the holidays, and don't have all the children here on my days off when my own DSs are here. I would find that just too much. I can cope with a couple of hours after and before school, but whole days are too much.

I think you need to be really open with your DP. Discuss how you feel. If his DS is to come back to yours on some days, you need clear expectations as to behaviour etc. If you have rules for your DS re homework etc., then he needs to follow the same rules.

I can see how your DSS would view the current situation as very unfair to him. And to be honest, I think you've gone perhaps too far the other way in refusing to have him come home on what will be max a couple of days a week.

Mueslimorning Mon 16-Sep-13 16:49:17

UC, I must have been too confusing in my description.
This is all hypothetical. Atm dss has all the privileges of having "a parttime" working sm, just like ds (I do work full time, btw, I'm a teacher, but my day ends earlier).
Dh works reasonable hours atm, but it happens that dss is here with me when dh is abroad. When dss lived full time with his mum, he did not come over during the week when dh wasn't here.
I'm fine (if asked) with the odd day of being prime carer for dss, but its not going to work for me if this is a regular occurrence.
My ds is 15 and quite independent, so I'd like to make other use of days when dh is not here to share the responsibility for dss.

Kaluki, thanks for vote of confidence!

Petal, that's it exactly. Not much wrong there!?!? Me thinks it stinks...

purpleroses Mon 16-Sep-13 17:10:48

I think it depends partly how you see your marriage, and who will benefit from him taking the promotion. If you're financially separate, and it's just him who will benefit then he's asking something that's rather unfair that you look after DSS so that he can work more.

But if you see his career, money, earning potential as something that will benefit your both then I think it could be reasonable that you do mroe of the childcare while he earns more money.

I have similar issues in a way with my DP - he has prioritised a career with high earnings but which also places unreasonable high demands on his time. He's never had to prioritise being at home for the DCs. Mostly his ex stayed at home with the DCs when they were small, but now that time with either parent is more formalised there ends up being times when he has comitted to having the DCs and then feels he needs to take on a work comitment, and I'm left looking after the DCs. I can't suggest he just flings them back at his ex as she'll have made plans by then or booked a holiday. Also don't like complicating the DCs lives any more than necessary, so it's easiest for them if they come to us as planned. I was a little uncomfy about this at first but we've now got engaged and I feel better about it now - if we're going to be a partnership then we will both benefit from his high earnings, so fair enough that I do more of the domestic stuff including the kids. I'd be disinclined to damage my own career, but tend to take the attitude that if I'm at home looking after my own DCs, it doesn't really matter much to have his around too. I also think that you get out of relationships what you put in - maybe that's naive, but I hope that building up good relations with the DSC will work out well in the long run.

But.. dh already feels superior all round for having a better paid job and international networking is another story - I'm not sure it is though is it? I think that's the heart of the problem - if he sees himself as superior whilst he earns money and you do the childcare, then that's not respecting the role of caring for children in the way it deserves to be respected. And hence he's not respecting your value in contributing to this. So it's not two people contributing differnet kinds of things to a marriage, it's one person thinking they're superior because of their high status job, and looking down on the other one who's childcaring is enableing them to do it. I think that's really the problem

Mueslimorning Mon 16-Sep-13 17:45:42

... And the fact that no, I'm not profiting from his higher income. We have separate finances and have just had a massive blowup about him actually squirreling away money.
So yes, I do see it as an unfair situation, but apart from telling dh that a promotion is just not on while dss needs parenting, I can't think of anything else to discuss... I left dh1 because he was never home and treated our home like a hotel. I'd hate to think dh2 is so similar.
Does anybody feel they have a suggestion that would make this situation fair for all, dh, dss and me? It seems beyond me...

mumandboys123 Mon 16-Sep-13 17:48:58

wonders since when working made you a 'bad mum'....or when going out and earning a living meant that your family wasn't your priority....

You realise that it's not acceptable that your partner pursues his career with the expectation that you care for his child....but I wonder if he has considered discussing it with the child's mother and the implications it may have for her own working patterns? Or is he simply going to go ahead and assume that mum will pick up whatever slack there is if you won't?

Mueslimorning Mon 16-Sep-13 17:49:44

Ps, just to clarify re finances:
Dh always made out he had v little spare cash, however his income level changed greatly last year and instead of filling me in or adding a significant amount more to our common pot, he kept it quiet and I stumbled across it about a week ago.
This oversight was mentioned in counseling and dh after much shouting, lying and a few tears, decided to up his monthly contribution...

purpleroses Mon 16-Sep-13 17:54:02

I don't think it's fair to have separate finances, if one of you is contributing a lot more than the other to other aspects of life. Not unless you even things up some way financially.

And 13 year olds do need parenting. They may not need someone to be with them every minute after school. But they need someone around a fair bit of the time. You certainly can't go off abroad and leave them for days at a time.

Mueslimorning Mon 16-Sep-13 18:04:09

Mumandboys, actually he knows mum won't pick up slack, that's seriously where I come in. It's beyond him that I question his right to move ahead, after all his dc are used to nannies and long school times. And yes, their mum would leave them alone for days if need be to pursue her own career (dsd at that time 12, babysitting dss of 8, overnight).
Perhaps I'm a bit over protective as mum, but for me kids come first, after all I wanted ds. Nothing wrong with working, but having a career is different in my book.
And I totally agree that a 13 year old needs parenting. Ds, 15, home sick atm and totally appreciates me being around (after school at a reasonable time in the late afternoon, early evening) to make cups of tea etc.
But there can be other situations too where a parental shoulder is needed to,lean or cry on...

mumandboys123 Mon 16-Sep-13 19:37:22

ah, right, so every mother who chooses a career is a 'bad mum' because they are trying to do what works for them as well as their children? So every mother should simply forgo any career development, pay rises, decent pensions, work satisfaction etc. etc. etc. when the minute they have children....or if their child's father won't fairly share the care of children, they should give up their dreams regardless? you think that women who didn't want to give up a career didn't want their children in the same way you did? that it somehow makes you a 'better' mum because you only 'work' rather than have a career? you realise that there are careers out there that won't tolerate more than a few months out of the workplace due to how their field works? you know this is how women find themselves with nothing when a marriage ends and end up on benefits to be called scrounges and scum?

seriously shaking my head here.

2rebecca Mon 16-Sep-13 21:04:43

I'm probably a careerist as well, as although i work part time it's often after 6 before I'm home on an evening. Few well paying jobs have school hours.
I don't think this makes me a bad mum and hope that when my daughter chooses a career she won't limit herself to jobs that are only 9.30-3.30.
I think if your husband earns more and expects you to do more childcare etc then he should be sharing his extra income with you however.
I agree with you that your husband and his ex should be the main carers for their kids though and child care shouldn't all fall to the person who works the least hours.
I'm not clear why the children were allowed to change schools before it was clarified who would be looking after them in the additional hours if they aren't old enough to look after themselves.
Your husband and his ex should have kept them at their previous school until they were old enough not to need adult supervision if they hadn't got that issue clarified.

brdgrl Mon 16-Sep-13 21:12:53

Perhaps I'm a bit over protective as mum, but for me kids come first, after all I wanted ds. Nothing wrong with working, but having a career is different in my book.
I'm a bit put off by this, I must say. I wanted my DD, after all. Moreover, I teach and that is my career.

It really seems to me that you are letting your judgment of your DSC's mum's life choice and parenting obscure what really is an issue about your marriage, not her parenting. Why not just let go of the idea that they (she) have made some kind of mistake and just look to your own boundaries instead? What are you willing to provide in terms of childcare for DSS?
Actually, if they - she and your DH - were happy enough in the past to have their son looked after by nannies or after school programs, why not let them continue in that vein? You don't need to 'take up the slack'; it is their responsibility. You may not like it, but really, it is their choice. What is not their choice, is how you use your own time.

ChinaCupsandSaucers Mon 16-Sep-13 23:01:39

OP There are a lot of issues here that are all mixed up; separating them out will help you decide on a way forward, I think.

1) If your DSC are being put at risk by being left alone at night without parental supervision, then it is your DPs responsibility to address that. If he chooses not to, then you can (and arguably have a moral obligation to) report your concerns to the relevant authorities.

2) The choice of your DSC mum to pursue a career at the expense of parenting her DCs is none of your business.

3) You are under no obligation to babysit, supervise or parent your DSC in the absence of their father.

4) Your opinion, respect and love for your DP may well be influenced by his commitment and choices regarding the parenting of his DCs. Something to explore in one of your counselling sessions, maybe?

Mueslimorning Tue 17-Sep-13 06:19:35

Sorry for any offense caused. Wasn't my actual argument.
When dh and I met he admired my choices re parenting and wished his kids were raised the same way as my ds. I actually believed this blush
Dh vilifying his ex behaviour, especially after divorce when she would happily leave dc alone overnight, did not prevent dh from defending her choices (I proposed reporting her to ss, dh countered he was also babysitting his younger brother when his parents went out, not overnight though, and didn't want my involvement after this...)
Everybody is right here in pointing out kids should not be given choice of schools as long as there is no other after school supervision in place.

I think what happened is this, dsc liked my take on parenting, heard their father admiring my home making skills (another blush ) and they all figured (without my consent) that muesli would look after all the kids, unpaid of course, as I'd do it for love... Fair enough, after all I should put my money where my mouth is, right? But dh will still be here to help out, right? Wrong!
Dh and ex now believe they can both move up another rung because ill carry the slack (not a nice expression). Not on.
Again, sorry for sounding judgmental. I did point out it was about a clash of priorities, its not about being a better mum, its about a dad (and mum) pushing child care responsibility on "third parent".

lunar1 Tue 17-Sep-13 07:21:08

You seem to have married into a situation which I'd fundamentally against your beliefs.

The only option I can see is that your dh employs child care in his home for when his 13 year old is there. You would then have to decide if this was a home you wanted to live in? I honestly don't think I would.

mumandboys123 Tue 17-Sep-13 07:33:24

This is an argument between you and your partner and has nothing at all to do with his ex. They need to work out their career priorities between them and I would suggest you encourage this - if they can't care for their children then they can't have a new job.

A 13 year old child should be able to let themselves in, fix a snack, watch TV and make a start on homework for a few hours after school. It may be an ideal to have a parent there, but the reality is that for many children, this simply can't happen. Unless there is some reason the child can't be home alone - special needs? - then the ex and your partner need to decide if they're happy with that. An au pair is a relatively cheap form of childcare and may help with the situation?

And from my perspective, any man who villifies his ex isn't a man ready to 'move on' or in any way at peace with his past.

Mueslimorning Tue 17-Sep-13 13:15:06

Thanks for your input everybody. That really does sum up the situation very well for me.
Even if mum and dad pretend that their 13 year old ds can be left to his own devices (as most kids this age would be, mine included), this is not borne out in RL.
I wouldn't go as far as to say dss is sn, but I tried addressing the problem many years ago with dh. At the time he agreed dss had some developmental issues but that "exw would definitely not hear of it!"
Now of course I'm thinking that it was actually dh who didn't want an ounce of criticism cast upon his offspring, although mum could of course have acted upon own initiative (but as you all say, it was none of my business, mums choice as dss lived with her full time then).
Only its affecting me now with the 50:50 split. As it stands, dss attends a school with extra long hours and dh is home by 6 at the latest.
If dss gets his way and attends a school with regular hours and dh is away pursuing his ambitions, then moi is left to deal with an awkward situation.

Thank you all again for letting me say this so directly and giving your opinion. It's the vague nature of dss behaviour (I suspect autism/ aspergers) and his parents unwillingness to address this that makes it impossible for me to take over more responsibility.
Dsd is 16 and has always been a self reliant couch potato (not unlike ds...) and no trouble at all.

UC Tue 17-Sep-13 14:08:24

Hmm. I've re-read the posts, and your situation is quite different to mine - I didn't appreciate you were being asked to be sole carer, not just for an hour or two after school, but overnight on a regular basis. Your current situation sounds more similar, but not the proposed one. I too would be unhappy.

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