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Teen DSC treating DH quite badly

(33 Posts)
daisychainmail Tue 09-Dec-14 09:37:40

Dh has two older children in their teens. They live with their mum a few hours drive away and visit about once a month. Though they are pleasant when here they are really quite odd with DH about contact. Among other things they:
1. Can't be bothered to come to the phone when he calls / don't answer their mobiles or call back.
2. Won't answer email / texts
3. Often decide not to visit at short notice
4. Have never sent birthday / xmas / fathers day things for DH (let alone me or our toddler, their half-sibling)
5. Occasionally send texts asking DH to buy them expensive gifts (this has really ramped up for xmas)
I feel really sorry for them and I always try to do the right thing, i.e. am very kind to them when they're here and always encourage him to keep trying, and I always make them a little birthday party each with cake and put together fun presents and so on. At the end of the day their mother has not encouraged them to value their relationship with DH. They are not angry at him about anything and there hasn't been an argument.
Does anyone have any experience of this? It's hard because for all the tiptoeing round, if they were my kids I would be furious.

daisychainmail Tue 09-Dec-14 09:39:08

p.s. It's not as if he doesn't know them well - they lived with him until they were quite old, and for some of that time (post separation) they lived with just him. Their mum is (well seems) happy and has moved on.

Longtalljosie Tue 09-Dec-14 09:39:45

They're obviously very angry with him. How expensive are the presents they're asking for?

daisychainmail Tue 09-Dec-14 09:41:26

Angry at him about what? They don't say that they are, and when they visit they don't mention anything. He has asked. And their mum also has asked them.

£400?

MarianneSolong Tue 09-Dec-14 09:44:15

Maybe your husband is also tiptoeing about?

Teenagers are routinely thoughtless and can be demanding. They also have their own friends and commitments and might well want to alter the times when they visit.

But in your shoes I'd do all the caring things you are doing. But also make it clear that you expected them to celebrate their father's birthday and that of their sibling.

As they get older it's easier in one way. They're becoming adults and can start to think things out for themselves. You can appeal to their sense of what's right. (Whereas little kids would need their mother to help them shop for presents etc.) I don't think it's about getting angry. It's about telling them there are choices they can make. They have an input into all the family relationships, rather than just being passive recipients.

daisychainmail Tue 09-Dec-14 09:47:21

Yes, DH does tell them this very kindly. He does a good job with them when he sees them (and obviously has for the first bit of their life). He takes care to take them shopping for little presents and say this kind of stuff. We also make sure they also get their mum a little souvenir/send a postcard if we take them somewhere, and we always encourage them to call her if they're with us for longer (which they do).

SunnyBaudelaire Tue 09-Dec-14 09:47:58

"they lived with him until they were quite old"
- then what happened?

TheBatteriesHaveRunOut Tue 09-Dec-14 09:48:52

teenagers live in their own little bubble, sometimes, and maybe it plain doesn't occur to them to send birthday/fathers' day cards etc?

the not answering calls/replying etc is rude but again, a lot of teenagers are like that imo

ditto asking for presents! There's a book called something like 'Get out of my life but first give me and alex a lift to town' - sound familiar? wink

I think if they were angry they'd not be pleasant when they do see him.

What does dh think of this - has he had a word with them about how nice it would be if he/you/your dc had cards from them?

daisychainmail Tue 09-Dec-14 09:49:25

I think you are right my DH is kind of on the back foot now as he is hurt. But for years he has had this. And even more that I didn't write in the OP, like buying them tickets to things they said they wanted him to take them to then turning up (2 hours away) only for them to phone down and say they didn't fancy it actually, and he has had to just drive home.

daisychainmail Tue 09-Dec-14 09:50:32

He has - they just nod and smile but don't do it. He said when he was with his ex she never got him a birthday card/present either confused

daisychainmail Tue 09-Dec-14 09:52:11

I'm not going to change what I'm doing - i.e. I've already been out and bought them cute stocking presents. But I know the older one will refuse to visit and so we will drop the pressies at her house, and she won't even text to say thankyou. She is 17.

TheBatteriesHaveRunOut Tue 09-Dec-14 09:52:49

sorry x post about dh

he has to say it a bit more firmly

personally I'd say 'my purse opens in a speed relative to that which you use to reply to texts - treat others how you'd like to be treated'

Also, you encourage them to call their mum when they're with you - would they not call if you didn't prompt them? I think the issue is more that they're teenagers, though maybe their mum hasn't helped much.

TheBatteriesHaveRunOut Tue 09-Dec-14 09:53:57

you are doing the right thing - good for you smile

i hope your decency and kindness rub off on them at some point

SunnyBaudelaire Tue 09-Dec-14 09:54:44

so what did happen to stop him living with them? You didn't say.

daisychainmail Tue 09-Dec-14 09:57:05

Ok, I'll keep on at it. I am relentlessly positive about them and always try to do quite banal but nice things, like cook lovely meals when they visit, and always encourage DH to go and do things with them and think about what they're into and so on. DH is always nice to them too but is now very worn down, and is becoming really quite hurt by it all. My message to him is always try to phone them again/let's plan this nice thing but sometimes he gets annoyed and says why should he, just to be rejected again? It's hard then to know what to say. He's a good dad, and hasn't treated their mum badly either (though the two of them really don't get on).

daisychainmail Tue 09-Dec-14 09:57:25

Their mum decided she wanted them to live with her.

Maroonie Tue 09-Dec-14 09:57:54

A lot of it sounds like a teenager thing rather than a step thing.
My parents are still together and when I was a teenager I wasn't great at shopping for my dad's birthday and I would rearrange/cancel plans with him to see friends at the weekend. I would also have asked for expensive presents...
Obviously because that's the only time you see them it is difficult for your DH but I don't think its personal.
Try to relax about it, sounds like you are great so just keep doing that and when their teenage brains become adult brains they will probably have a good relationship with their dad and you.
I think if you push it things could escalate and it will be hard to recover.

SunnyBaudelaire Tue 09-Dec-14 09:58:22

so did their parents never live together then?
I sense a touch of caginess here.

daisychainmail Tue 09-Dec-14 09:59:44

That's kind of my thinking Maroonie. When I'm feeling optimistic I say that they actually must be quite well adjusted because they are able to treat their dad (and by extension me and our child) with all the teenage distain/neglect they would if we lived with them, rather than the unhealthy pussyfooting around you see some children doing with NRPs.

daisychainmail Tue 09-Dec-14 10:00:57

They lived together for 10 years, she had an affair, they broke up, she wanted to be free for a few years so lived in various places while he had the kids in his new house (while he was single). Then when mum decided to put some roots down she wanted the kids back. He said ok - it wasn't massively acrimonious.

magpieginglebells Tue 09-Dec-14 10:01:55

We're the parents together and if so what age did they split up? I was 18 when my parents split and it was hard to play happy families, especially with step parents.

daisychainmail Tue 09-Dec-14 10:02:43

They were 9 and 4 when parents split up.

basgetti Tue 09-Dec-14 10:03:10

I would think the distance of a few hours away and only monthly visits may be contributing to it. It puts your DH more into the category of relative they see sometimes rather than parent. Especially for teens who by nature can be pretty self absorbed and living in the moment, it sounds to me like a case of 'out of sight, out of mind.'

magpieginglebells Tue 09-Dec-14 10:03:13

Cross posts, sounds as if they may be blaming and punishing him (even though it isn't his fault)

daisychainmail Tue 09-Dec-14 10:03:16

I'm not really expecting them to plat happy families, in fact I encourage him to go down and see them on their turf if they'd prefer that.

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