Delicate bedroom issue with DSC1(65 Posts)
DP and I are expecting a baby in a few months. I have one DC from a previous relationship, and he has three.
In recent months, since about when DSC1 (11) started secondary school, we've been having a hellish time with him (not obviously to do with the transition to secondary). He has become a mouthpiece for Mum, with whom he's always had a difficult, loveless relationship but who is now showering him with attention - which he's lapping up - and working with gusto to turn him against his dad, me and my DC (it seems to be working). He has been plain nasty, and stirred up a lot of tension among his siblings and my DC.
DSC1 has chosen not to come very much anymore. He would usually be with us a bit over a third of the time, along with his younger siblings, who've generally been coming as normal – and happily. I own the house, but it's home to us all, and of the four bedrooms, my younger DSCs have one between them, DSC1 has one to himself, my DC has a room and DP and I have one.
We have tried to get to the bottom of the problem with DSC1, but he doesn't say much, or cries, or just doesn't turn up (unless he wants something from Dad). We do know he's pretty anti all of us at the moment, which will be massively to do with Mum's influence. He's stayed two or three nights since the end of the summer - when, sadly, the atmosphere has been awful and fighting has sky-rocketed - and we don't see him for weeks at a time.
Meanwhile, we've become overrun with baby stuff, kindly given to us by friends – and saving us a fortune. It's piling up in the living space and the chaos is starting to get us down. We'd planned to muddle through in a degree of mess until we can extend, with baby (and baby's stuff) in with us until whenever that is. But I'm now wondering, and DP and I have started to talk about it tentatively, if we should reclaim DSC1's bedroom as a sort of nursery – a space for baby's things as well as a spare room for us to take it in turns to grab some rest in during the sleepless early months.
DSC1 isn't turning up. He won't give us any idea of when he will stay again. And we have no control over Mum's continuing toxic influence, so have no idea how long this dynamic will go on. And I'm starting to resent earmarking an entire room in our home for a child who is rarely here, while a child who will live here all the time will have no designated space for their stuff for a year or two – and our bedroom will be a resultant tip for that time.
If DP and I were to proceed with reclaiming DSC1's unused room, I would of course be the world's worst stepmother. There would be no reasoning or pragmatism, just drama. And DP worries, understandably, that he'd see even less of DSC1, which I can appreciate - though is keen to remain firm but fair with him rather than slip into Disney dad territory. But if we carry on as we are, well we'd all be dancing to DSC1's tune and, to be brutally honest, he doesn't need any encouragement to behave like a diva at the moment. We have camp beds. He could still stay. I just don't see how he has a right to 'bagsy' a whole room and not even turn up to use it when the space is very much needed by others in the household.
Is there a middle ground in this delicate scenario? AIBU? What would you do? Sigh.
Don't do it.
It sends such a horrible message to him to take 'his' room for the baby.
Do not get rid of his bedroom, or reclaim the space. Just don't.
I'd bet my bottom dollar the route of all of this is rejection (from Mum who you said is loveless, and Dad with new family/baby).
Getting rid of his bedroom is the worst thing you can do. Sell or get rid of baby stuff you don't need, share it between everyones rooms. Put it in the loft. But do not use his room.
Review the situation in a year or two.
Could you store some small stuff under the bed etc in the meanwhile?
How much crap does a baby need anyway?! And thats coming from someone with 3DC. Honestly, get rid or start telling people not to give anything else.
What a great plan......if your aim is to completely sever all ties with a struggling child who is being manipulated and pulled in different directions, removing his space in your home will just confirm everything his mother is saying.
I think it would send a bad message to formally "reclaim" the room. But I don't see why you/dh can't kip in there when he's not around if you need to grab some rest away from baby. Why would you need to make it into a "thing"?
Can you step back from this and read the thread through as if another poster had written it?
I'm guessing the DSC1 is around 12 if just started high school. That's a difficult age no matter what the family circumstances are. Is there any possibility you are projecting behaviours/attitudes on to his mother to explain what is pure and simply a hormonal teenager?
It's all a bit convenient this behaviour is happening just as you are looking for extra space. Would you think the same if this was your birth son?
It's quite reasonable to resolve the space issue as a family. However, I'd suggest treating him like the adult you want him to be and have the conversation about lack of space and talk through some solutions. You and dad might have to sleep in HIS room sometimes, you have some stuff you need to store and as he's not there so often, you're using HIS room. Or, the family are having a reshuffle and his siblings will be moving in with him, or vice versa. I think at this age it's important that he doesn't feel shoved out as his dad has a shiny new time consuming baby on the way. Having his own space will matter - your DH is right to worry that this will reduce his son's visits.
FWIW, my DDs went through a stage early teens when they didn't see nearly enough of their dad. That was purely their choice and usually because they couldn't bear the thought of leaving their friends for more than a few hours! This was temporary and they now have a good relationship with him (and even better with their step mum).
We had similar problems when I was pregnant with dd1, Dss was the same age (11) and was also being manipulated by his mother, his behaviour was all over the place and he did what ever he could to make us feel guilty ( including running away from home ), his mum told him that we wouldn't have any time for him once the baby came, eventually he shut down completely and wouldn't talk to us or come to our house. The day came where I had dd1 and the next day was the day the step children were due to come over, we didn't want to say 'no, they couldn't come ' so we let them come over as usual ( even though I was recovering from a not so good birth ), the other 2 children came straight into my room to see the baby whilst DSs refused too, after half an hour I dragged myself out of bed and dumped the baby in his arms ( 'here's your new sister' ), he didn't put her down all day and even changed her and helped feed her ( I was bottle feeding ).
It hasn't been easy though and we have had ongoing problems with him ( he's now 22 ), if dss had his own way he would be a only child as he just can't handle anyone else being centre of attention, he still can't at the age of 22. We were not lucky enough to have a house big enough to have them all stay at the same time, we had to use what space we did have for the baby.
I think it's ok to store baby things in there for now but be prepared that when the baby does arrive he may get curious and want to visit, seeing the baby stuff in his room may upset him.
Tell him you are going to use his room unless he starts using it.
Keep baby, and all its bits, in with you for as long as possible. Babies are expected to share with the parents these days, so do that and either move your baby in with your own child when bigger (but move them both into the biggest room as they will obviously have the most stuff, living there most of the time).
As a teenager your stepson will need his space more than ever, it becomes really important - think back to your own teen years and how much you needed that space. It is going to be difficult and he isn't going to magically become endeared to you guys overnight, or stay often - and if he's not around I don't see why you can't crash out in his room from time to time. But make NO changes. He is feeling like he doesn't belong anywhere (as we all do at that age) and you need to make sure you don't re-affirm that belief.
He needs to spend time with his dad away from you, his younger siblings and toxic mum. Proper guy time, doing whatever he likes. Not spending loads of money, just quality time. To reassure him he is valued on his own, not one of many children or last on his dad's list.
Step parenting is hard, but it will be okay. Just hang in there.
I think your idea is right, you're just going about it the wrong way. Is there anyway you can rejig ALL the rooms to make it fairer, so he is not the only one who is experiencing change? That makes it less about 'him' and more about everyone adjusting for the new baby?
I would think of family life as though there were no his kids, your kids, both kids etc - just children. Currently - His 3 plus your 1 and soon to be 1 more. So that would be 5 children who all need a room.
Some sharing will have to happen and DSC1 needs to accept sharing a room and that his bed will be in his room but that he may be sharing his room. You cannot, under and circumstances not allow one child to have their room and their bed. That is unthinkable and heartless.
You do not mention genders or ages, which matter a lot with room sharing. Maybe:
- Girls room, boys room, nursery
- Older childrens room, younger childrens room, nursery
- Oldest's room, middles room, toddler & baby room
FATE is right. Do what she said. Just kids, not his kids, my kids, our kids
Very difficult, but I can completely see where you are coming from - we have a similar issue with a DSC that chooses not to come (also fuelled by toxic XW) and bedroom space...
Is there any scope for re-distributing all of the bedroom space - or at least appearing to - so that everyone (or nearly everyone) gets moved round "to make room for the baby" ie is there a larger room that the DSCs could move into which could be shared with DSC1 if he ever visits, but they can have to themselves the rest of the time? Or is there scope for your DC to share with one of the DSC and DSC1 shares with the other, so that everyone except the baby shares a room? All options will have consequences of course, but this way there could at least be no accusations of favouritism/lack of.
If you wanted him to still feel he has his own room, one further option would be to make your room the one that DSC1 has when he stays, and you move out into the nursery which has a double bed in it - so you and DP and the baby effectively have two rooms, you just only use one of them when DSC1 is visiting.
The issue would be tricky enough if DSC1 wasn't kicking off for whatever reason, but as he is, I can completely see that you would resent leaving the room empty. But if someone isn't visiting the house frequently, for whatever reason, it just doesn't make sense to have a room that is only used by them.
The wider issue of his behaviour - play the long game, be welcoming when he wants to come, accepting when he doesn't but when he's with you he plays by your rules; we were told by several childcare professionals that DSC feel more secure if they have to fit in to normal life rather than having life revolve around them, so although it will be tempting to bend over backwards to try and resolve things, it's actually better not to.
Best of luck
There seem to be an awful lot of poisonous ex-wives about! Are all your partners that blind they marry evil women first time around, and saints second?
Much of this is ordinary child's behaviour, and a reflection of a disjointed, sometimes chaotic family life. If everyone would stop looking for reasons to demonise the step children's mother and focus instead on communicating with the child these issues would be resolved so much more quickly.
Carole, agree re the poisonous ex wives, it's up there with "I'm going to leave when the kids are older" and "we don't have sex anymore".
I would say the middle ground is to use the bedroom as storage, and use it to have a nap in if you need, but make it very much still DSC1's bedroom. Presumably he doesn't turn up unannounced, so you'd have a little bit of time to make sure it's ready for him if he does come? No reason not to use any bed that's not being slept in if you want to sleep separately on the odd occasion when the baby's little. Just make sure there's clean bedding on if/when DSS comes again.
Alternatively, put DSC1 to share with either DSC2 or your own DC (depending on ages/genders/how they get on), and then use DSC3's bedroom as the room to store baby stuff in.
But yes, you do need to handle it carefully if you're to avoid worsening the situation with DSS1 by making him feel you've pushed him out in favour of the new baby. And presumably the baby doesn't actually need a room of its own to sleep in for a few months at least yet. I think children are more accommodating about the needs of a new baby once it's there, and they've got to know it than they are when it's hasn't yet arrived, and might just be something to worry about taking all your parent's time and energy away from you.
I'm going to go against the grain here. I think you should use the room (or a room) for the baby's stuff. With the number of children you will have in total, there's going to need to be more sharing anyway. Could the eldest of the two DSC who share, share with DSS1? And then the youngest DSC with your child? And then the baby has his or her own room? I know babies generally sleep in with their parents until 6 months, but you'll need somewhere for a changing table, to feed in peace and so on. And this hasn't been mentioned yet - and it probably shouldn't affect anything - but if I were you, I'd be feeling resentful that I couldn't use my own house as I wished. I hope it works out for you OP.
Errr ... the 'poisonous ex wife' isn't always a creature of myth.
Label any particular group of people and you'll find bad 'uns amongst them - and that includes exes, of both sexes. Doesn't mean they don't exist at all - and indeed, they are more likely to be referred to on a board like this because stepfamilies where all adults genuinely work in the best interests of the children, where all parties are honest, fair and properly communicative, probably don't bother to post - why on earth would they when they have a good working relationship and a successful blended family ?
FWIW - and speaking personally, I can assure you that my partner's ex is most definitely poison - and that's a polite way of putting it. That's not an assumption based on sour grapes or gossip - it's what I've seen with my own eyes in black and white (on paper and on screen), it's the vile, foul rants which have been left on my home answerphone, it's the deliberate spite thrown at my partner when she tells him that she's involved the children in stuff they couldn't possibly have understood (and would therefore worry, frighten them and divide their loyalties) and the ensuing contact problems we've had to deal with for years. So - if that's not poison I don't know what is. I could literally write a book full of examples I know 100% have happened - because I've seen it, read it, heard it. It would make your hair stand on end.
Disclaimer - I don't think for one minute that ALL ex-wives are poison. I'm an ex wife FFS and my eldest child was a stepchild long before I became a stepmother. Even in spite of the troubles we've had I still like to think that most exes are reasonable people - it's just a shame that some pps don't give others the benefit of the doubt and concede that actually, they may just be telling the truth about their own particular situation.
As you were ......
I would use the room.
No way would i have an empty room with stuff everywhere else when a child never uses it.
Whats going to happen when the baby needs their own room?
Counting, it's NOT an empty room. It belongs to a child who is struggling with teenage years and family issues. It's not a bloody craft room.
Keep the bed for him and his stuff but re jig as necessary, so that he "shares" it with another child.
Ridiculous to keep a whole room empty while everyone pussy foots around.
Real life should continue in step families as in any other family. You can only do so much and I suspect you would keep his room for years and it would t make any difference to how he is behaving now.
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