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DSD and DSS saying they don't want to come anymore - help please

(122 Posts)
impatienceisavirtue Tue 11-Mar-14 09:56:30

Sorry very long.

Horrific weekend last time with DSD and DSS. One of the most stressful weekends I've had in a while - especially bearing in mind I'd just had an early MC. They were rude, very badly behaved, trashed the house, ungrateful and awful to my kids. We actually had to go home in the middle of a trip out for something we needed urgently for the next day as they were so badly behaved. I am not ashamed to say I was glad to see the back of them. I can only imagine how distressing it was for DH.

His exw continues to reinforce this behaviour and thinks it's funny. She actively tries to encourage disney parenting by him but this obviously isn't in anyone's best interests, for her either. He is great with them but there is only so much we can do at the moment when every step forward is erased as soon as they go home.

Anyway. It turns out DSD had been using the home phone to ring her mum many times a day to tell her how awful it was (...not mentioning that she was getting told off because of her horrendous behaviour). Also without asking permission to use the phone.

When we dropped them off EXW went ballistic and called DH unfairly all the names under the sun for not pandering.

Following on from that the next day he received a call to say that they do not want to come to ours anymore. I think it is a mix of the kids trying to manipulate us to some degree - we beg them to come and then when they get there we wouldn't dare deign to (rightly so) deal with their behaviour, and his EXW actively encouraging them to say this to upset DH.

Total minefield and I really could do with some honest answers. What do we do? They would normally come up this Friday. I have said I think we should say that is fine, we would have liked them to come but it is their choice. EXW said he "needs to do something about it" and should basically call them and beg them to come. I think long term this is a mistake and that we need to hold our ground now, as hard as it is for him. EXW will look like an idiot if she has encouraged this and promised the kids that it will go their way and it doesn't, and she'll also be begging us to take them by the end of the week as she cadges them off all week in clubs so she doesn't have to deal with them.

I'm not trying to be horrible, I just think that it's the right thing to do or we'll be making things worse. For me it is unbearable at the moment when they are here. I'm exhausted by the time the weekend rolls around, v stressful job, condition that causes total exhaustion, the upset of the MC, and various other things. I actually dread the stress. But they are just children at the end of the day and I adore DH and will stand by whatever he wants to do.

BTW I am nice to the children and don't treat them differently to my own or make them feel excluded when they are here.

Any advice please?

impatienceisavirtue Tue 11-Mar-14 09:58:24

BTW - they're 10 and 14

Bonsoir Tue 11-Mar-14 10:01:28

I think you should leave it. There are several red flags in your post and I think you may need to think about how you treat your DSD and DSS. Why would your DSD "need permission" to use the telephone to call her mother? Why "beg" them to come?

leave it to your DP and her, and try and stay out of it?

That might give you some "peace", even if just in your mind.

It is not your problem to solve.

fatfingers Tue 11-Mar-14 10:03:45

I don't have any experience of this but I think I'd be inclined to say that's fine, dh will just take them out for the day this weekend instead. Your dh could then use this as an opportunity to speak to the children on their own about why they are behaving like this.

cattypussclaw Tue 11-Mar-14 10:06:18

Being a stepparent is totally like walking across a minefield. Been there.

How old are the children?

Assuming they aren't teenagers (my SC are 19 and 16 now so it's really is their choice if and when they come to visit), then it sounds like you are entirely doing the right thing. I think your husband needs to make it clear that they are welcome to come and visit and he will miss them if they don't visit but that neither you nor he will tolerate bad behaviour. I'd stick to your guns xx

Dumpylump Tue 11-Mar-14 10:06:51

Basic manners to ask if it's ok to use the phone surely Bonsoir? I expect my own kids to check before they call their friends.

Kaluki Tue 11-Mar-14 10:06:57

You poor thing sad so sorry to hear about your mc.
These children aren't going to get any better unless you and your DP stand firm together and don't accept their bad behaviour.
He should tell them they are always welcome to come but there will be rules in your house and they must follow them or face consequences.
Make a list of the deal breakers and consequences for breaking them.
If they phone their Mum moaning then tell her the same thing - your house your rules.
From the sound of it she won't want them to stop coming to you so she will have to back you up.
DP needs to ignore his ex and do things his way.

cattypussclaw Tue 11-Mar-14 10:09:37

Sorry, x post. At 10 and 14 they may well be getting to the age where they want to spend time with their mates at the weekends. It was certainly around this age that my SC's every other weekend thing started to waver.

Think fatfingers' suggestion of their Dad taking them out for the day is a great suggestion.

Sparklysilversequins Tue 11-Mar-14 10:13:58

I agree with Bonsoir and I am not surprised they don't want to come.

cattypussclaw Tue 11-Mar-14 10:17:30

Eh? Why sparkly? Because they have to ask to use the phone?!?

Sparklysilversequins Tue 11-Mar-14 10:19:35

They shouldn't have to ask to speak to their mother and I agree there is an overall tone to your OP that doesn't sit right.

impatienceisavirtue Tue 11-Mar-14 10:22:24

Bonsoir The same reason as why my kids would need to ask permission to use the phone. It's manners. In our house all of them have to ask permission to use things that cost money. She hadn't asked - KNEW she had to ask no matter who she was calling - and just did it anyway, repeatedly. Sorry but how is that a red flag?

And "beg" them to come - I don't understand the issues? The options are either that we say "OK, come when you're ready" as they're saying they don't want to come or we ring them up and say "please please come".

Thanks though for your entirely helpful reply hmm

Fiscal We are a famly - we parent together - all of the children. They are his DC so the choice is ultimately up to him and it's him that deal with EXW and makes the arrangements but of course we discuss things together and I support him. He deals with it on the face of things and I don't get involved or interfere in that sense but I also can't just leave him to it when it's really upsetting him

catty - this is sometimes true with DSS - he has said he had plans with his mates that weekend and it's been a total non-issue, we understand and rearranged for when was better for him. We know it's totally normal at his age and he can just tell us if that's the issue.

fatfingers that is a really good idea but it is the weekend they were supposed to be coming up - we both work all week and he can't take time off atm during the week. It's not me they have an issue with - we get on fine, it's their behaviour iygwim?

My kids go their dad's for some portion of most weekends so the stepkids have a lot of one on one time with their dad - I also make sure I make myself scarce sometimes so they have him to themselves and can spend proper time together, but we are also a family.

Thank you kaluki

impatienceisavirtue Tue 11-Mar-14 10:24:57

They don't have to ask to speak to their mother. They have to ask to use the telephone. Because it's manners.

And of course the tone is off - I'm frustrated and venting. Surely it is healthy to be ranting on here rather than bottling up the frustration?

Both stepkids like me and we get on fine. They are used to getting their own way at home and they don't at our house and they don't like that. That is not the issue, but thank you.

CocktailQueen Tue 11-Mar-14 10:25:57

I can empathise, OP. I'd say you should stick to your guns. Tell them, fine, if you don't want to come, you will miss them but it's their decision. Let exw know that you won't be walked all over or manipulated.

Then, when they do come, you need to sit them down and spell out house rules to them - your house, your rules. Let them know the consequences for bad behaviour.

Do they spend time along with their dad or are you always there? Would it help if they did?

I think the OP's tone is aggravated and upset - no wonder. I like my dc to let me know they're using the phone before using it too; that in itself it not unreasonable.

impatienceisavirtue Tue 11-Mar-14 10:27:30

And to clear up by "we beg them to come and then when they get there we wouldn't dare deign to (rightly so) deal with their behaviour, and his EXW actively encouraging them to say this to upset DH."
I don't mean we do normally beg them to come - I meant if we deal with it by begging them to come this time, sorry just realised that wasn't clear.

I've been on hold for 56 minutes and I'm multi tasking.

CocktailQueen Tue 11-Mar-14 10:27:55

And also - if your ds's ex is being deliberately awkward and not backing up your dh at all, there is very little you can do about that without badmouthing her. Just be consistent with your rules and sanctions for bad behaviour. The kids are more than old enough to understand that there are different rules at their mum's and your house.

What are they like at school?

impatienceisavirtue Tue 11-Mar-14 10:29:22

Thanks cocktail - My children go to their dads every weekend for varying amounts of times and so the stepkids always get time where they're the only kids there but I also make sure I keep out of the way and let them see just their dad for some of the time too

KashewK Tue 11-Mar-14 10:32:50

My sympathies on your miscarriage Impatience.

Hold firm with the DSC's don't pander to them and don't beg them.

Leave their mother to pick up the pieces.

impatienceisavirtue Tue 11-Mar-14 10:33:28

We never badmouth the mother - we know that isn't healthy and would only cause them distress (especially having seen what that did when my exh went through a phase of doing it sad )

DSD is acting up somewhat at the moment at school - being mouthy etc but nothing awful. DSS has just had some trouble at school and DH dealt with it. Went and picked him up after school and had a long chat with him and they came to a solution together and things have got a lot better for DSS. DSS is now at a different school that he chose, and it is a lot more suited to him. However exw and her partner keep going on at him about his behaviour at the previous school and how he must not do this again etc rather than letting him have a fresh start. Focussed entirely on the past negatives rather than going forward, whereas we were really encouraging with him. I think it knocked his confidence a bit sad

QueenofallIsee Tue 11-Mar-14 10:35:52

At 10 and 14 they are old enough for some tough love. I would say 'OK, we would never force you to come but we love having you' and make sure that your DH keeps up contact via phone and Social Media. The Ex-W wil soon change her tune once she is on parent patrol 24/7 and once she is 'on side' the adults can work together to fix it

brdgrl Tue 11-Mar-14 10:42:49

I don't think either approach - "fine, don't come" OR "oh please come, little snookums! We'll stop being so mean" - is appropriate.

ExW ought to be saying to them "sorry, you have no choice in the matter, you are going to dad's this weekend." Kids in 'regular' families don't get to opt out of contact when they are unhappy about being asked to behave themselves.

And then, as cocktail says, you and DH should carry on being consistent and firm with the house rules.

Of course, if ExW isn't doing this, then you are right: all your DH can really do is say he'd like them to come, and expects them to come. Is there a contact order that applies?

I totally get why you'd say 'fine, don't come then' - but I think it will backfire and make things harder in the long run.

I also see why you might want to make your own plans for yourself and your kids for the time when they are there and just leave your DH to it.

(caveat - I am a stepmum but the DSCs live here all the time, so I don't have direct experience of this...but I do see how it plays out for others in your shoes.)

impatienceisavirtue Tue 11-Mar-14 10:57:45

Thank you kashew

queen - I hope so. Not to spite EXW, but to hopefully make her think twice about doing this again, I hope it totally backfires and the kids can see a bit that it�s not fair or normal to be treating them like pawns as she often does.

brdgrl No contact agreement, they';ve always agreed between each other.

He did actually phrase it that way � that we would love them to come and that he�ll miss them and it�s a shame but that�s fine. That was when EXW went mental and said he should be begging them to come, and I wanted to get some opinions as to whether we were doing the right thing. It seems to be the lesser of the evils as far as the options as either way it�s unpleasant for everyone, especially the kids in the long run.

The last time they were here, one example of the behaviour was DSS punching my DS who is half his age, sparrow like and asthmatic in the stomach, HARD. He couldn�t even explain why he�d done it, they get on well when they�re not bickering. EXW doesn�t get involved when they are physically tearing strips off each other at home and they find it hard to accept that in our house violence towards anyone is unacceptable. Whenever they bicker their automatic response is to physically lash out because they are used to getting away with it. Obviously we do not stand for this and is one of the instances of us being �mean� � preventing them from hurting each other or my DC who are not used to this.

We have discovered before that EXW has played silly games with them like this before � sadly it�s always the kids that get hurt. I think it is 50/50 � they are saying they don�t want to come (because of the things mentioned above) and she is encouraging this, rather than being reasonable and agreeing to co-parent or being even remotely supportive of their relationship with DH. When DH tried to speak to her about the incident above (and not the incident in isolation, but the fact that he didn�t feel she should be sitting back while they did this at home or at ours) she wasn�t even remotely interested.

Bonsoir Tue 11-Mar-14 11:00:51

They ought to have their own mobiles but, if they don't, you are being VVU to expect them to ask for permission before calling their mother.

KashewK Tue 11-Mar-14 11:06:08

Bonsoir hmm
She said she expects to ask to use the bloomin phone as a house rule.

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