First christmas blended(29 Posts)
DP and I have been together for a few years, living together for about 6 months - first christmas spent with all kids in same house.
From tomorrow (which is a normal contact day anyway) we have 5 kids in the house - ages range from 9-17 so dont exactly all "play" together (3 youngest get on well) - I AM VERY NERVOUS!!!
His eldest dc (13) is sometimes (not often) difficult - tantrums. Tantrums are not related to not feeling secure or loved or any of that stuff, they are related to not getting own way - so an example would be that she ordered the wrong food for lunch and wont eat what has arrived. Tantrums come by way of whining really loudly and refusing to talk but still making a lot of noise but not able to explain herself? Ive tried hard to understand but from what I can still tell is in some way she eventually gets her own way though this is a lot better than it used to be. That said they are very distressing for all involved. Only going on what DP says but her dm gives in to everything and does not encourage independence so if thats true I can see where they are coming from..... he was quite disney when we were first together.
So - she doesnt like roast dinners. But its christmas and we are having a very traditional roast. WWYD - cook something else or say given that there are three meats, three types of spuds and 8 veg on the table there MUST be something to eat?
I am very much of the latter opinion - raised in a "thats what youre getting" household and would be quite upset to see someone not eating the wonderful xmas dinner that my brother and I are cooking (huge family dinner).
I would make sure there is SOMETHING she likes - even if just a nice breadboard! What would be acceptable to her?
There will be turkey (she eats chicken turkey things), there will be potatoes (she eats chips n mash) , there will be 8 veg, she likes broccoli. it's not that she can't eat roast, but the getting her own way in all walks of life so far - at her aunties last year they made her pasta while everyone else had Christmas dinner.
Weve got a similar issue, dss-11 is incredibly fussy and will cry, whine and pretty much ruin meal times if he decides hes not eating something, its more a case of id rather have pizza and chips than I dont actually like that.
He will be expected to eat what is on the table or make himself some toast, any tantrums and he will be sent upstairs so he doesnt spoil everyone elses meal.
Im going to be brave and bring up the "what if she has a tantrum" conversation tonight actually.
The last one was the ordering something wrong incident (she can read, doesnt have SN) - it was her misreading that did it - most kids in that situation would express disappointment and attempt to eat it anyway. She had this meltdown in a busy pub. My nephew who is the same age sat there wondering where her "clip round the ear" was - not an actual one but her stern talking to about manners and gratitude.
DP was dreadful, pandered to her (though did not buy another meal) and then took her to town to buy new clothes :s (that was planned but I would have hoiked child out of pub and driven straight home).
Prob is we are doing chritsmas dinner at my parents house - if we were at home I would go with the sending to room suggestion but I dont know what we can do there? They have a big house, so I suppose rules for ALL kids could be set in advance of any misbehaviour - they will be sent away from the table out of the dining room so as they dont spoil it for everyone else.
If Im honest the pub dinner one was exruciating as my mum was there and she had never seen such behaviour from a child that age - I shouldnt be embarrassed but I am - my sister witnessed such a tantrum when we were camping this summer and in fact so did my brother. Theyll all be there and I just want it to go smoothly which I think it will other than dinner.
All that said she has eaten a (minimal) roast with us before.
Also - I am not claiming my children to be perfect and with a 9 year old hyper on choc and a very hormonal 17 year old it could be any of them having tantrums on the day!!!!
I guess if your dp is going to pander to her, you are limited in what you can do.
Try not to feel embarrassed, it's not really your responsibility.
If she were my responsibility, she'd be given a dinner as everyone else, she can eat what she wants and leave what she doesn't want (it's Christmas after all) but I would ignore any tantrums. If she really started playing up, I'd remove her from the room. But I'd only do that with my own kid, not down to me to do that with dp's kids.
So I'd probably just sit and seethe instead!
Whatever you do don't have it out with her in front of everyone, have your dp take her out of the room to discuss behaviour if that's on the cards.
Perhaps speak to her tomorrow evening and say look this is what tomorrow will be like, as the eldest/most responsible/whatever can I rely on you to lead the way for the others in terms of good behaviour as you are so good at (whatever).
I sympathise as I have a young relative like this and it is trying behaviour but in my case it's for attention and it works!!
Thing is if I seethe Ill blow afterwards as we have talked and talked and talked about this - so IF it happens and he does pander to her, he knows it will come with a massive world of shit.
There is SO much back story to this, he has basically raised the children and they are only still living with their mother thanks to her family supporting her in taking care of them. So when they were still together, its not an exaggeration to say she cared for their very basic needs during the day but when he got home he did everything. Every bath, evening meal, washing, cleaning, later on homework (to this day all their homework is done with him, and now me - its really sad but they dont even question that homework is only done at dads house.)
So when they split he carried on the doing everything approach, not realising that theyre not young dc any more - she is 13 now after all. My 13 year old nephew, same year at school, is soooo different - and two of my own having been that age in the last few years and working with teens gives me a broad sense that the way she behaves is just not "normal" - not that Id ever give it that title.
She has grown up a LOT since I met them, with a very carefully guided helping hand from me - if DP hadnt been receptive to advice I wouldnt have stayed with him because I couldnt cope and it wouldnt be fair on him or her but he does acknowledge that these tantrums should not be taking place and that they are akin to a toddler - because at home, if she keeps crying, her mum (or one of the relatives) will do what she wants because they dont know what else to do.
Oh he wont do it in front of everyone!!
Thats good advice actually, yeah we will big her up tomorrow night saying we need her to be the grown up one etc :D
Oh Opera we have one of those little madams as well...
Whilst I am firmly with you on the "this is what's for dinner take it or leave it", I also know that my DSD would LOVE that much of an audience and would be looking for any excuse to go into meltdown...especially as your DSD has previous in a busy pub...
So I think you may have a choice between wanting her to eat what you want her to eat, and everyone enjoying the day without any stress...
It sounds like there are enough things that she will eat for her to make a meal out of, so is the compromise telling her what's on offer - tonight - and what does she want on her plate and then just going with that, to the letter, no sneaking anything else on or asking her to try anything different? Even if it doesn't constitute your idea of a "proper" meal?
I wouldn't dream of going as far as cooking something different, but, from my experience, you aren't going to change her in a day, and Christmas Day definitely isn't the day to start...
As I'm writing this I'm grinning to myself, I can't believe I am writing this heresy...but ten years into step-parenting I have got to the point where I don't care if DSD doesn't eat all of her lunch, what's important is that everyone else gets to enjoy theirs.
Best of luck
Christmas is about family and you have your blended family together for the first time. I would ensure that there was something that everyone was happy to eat. Can you not talk to her and ask her what she likes and makes sure you cater for that. You say it's nothing to do with her not feeling wanted, yet I think it sends a very clear you're not wanted message, when the meal that is served, is food she doesn't like, and the response it tough, eat it or starve.
It's not that hard to chuck in a few sausages to show her that she is a valued and important member of the family.
Planning and arranging it all in advance is considerate.
Stopping in the middle of dinner to cook something else, is pandering.
It sounds like you are preparing yourself to slap her down to size (metaphorically speaking) before she's even arrived. She doesn't really stand a chance because she is 13 and this is new for her too.
Maybe the need to have her own way, reassures her that she does actually matter. If she is just expected to fit in around whatever you do, then she might as well not be there.
It definitely isnt not fitting in - she rules the roost!!! I am not preparing to slap her down at all, I am preparing for eventualities that may occur.
If we were cooking a spicy curry or highly flavoured meal that she was unfamiliar with then I would be a bit more understanding but this is a roast dinner, all the ingredients (bar say the red cabbage) are things she eats in different formats - it is that the other side of her family DO cook a separate meal for her and she expects that from us.
I have done nothing but try and involve her in family life from day 1. I accept she is only 13 - but actually - 13 isnt a small child.
She is loved by everyone, there are not issues with this, she isnt expected to just fit in - but she is expected to behave in the same was as the other children when it comes to manners and having a tantrum at the dinner table ISNT acceptable at her age.
Having said that there will be pigs in blankets, mash and yorkshires. She eats toad in the hole so perhaps it wont be a thing at all.
and yeah, they come tomorrow before shops shut so I think my plan is to say to all kids "we're having this, this, this - is there anything else anyone likes with their christmas dinner"
pasta and ham and cheese over my dead body
Sounds fine, just cut yourself some slack, open a nice bottle of something and ignore whatever she eats/doesn't eat. That way you take away her opportunity for kicking off/being the centre of attention, which is what this is really all about, as you know.
She's actually very shy! But I agree it's an attention thing.
As long as her dinner comes from the food cooked for Christmas dinner and dp doesn't get up and make her a sandwich, I'll call it a success!
I would too, hope it all goes off without a hitch! (or a sandwich...)
I had similar issues with both dsc however they have long since given uo in this house as they don't win and dp got the sharp edge of my tongue a few times for pandering.
they are fully aware that they eat what is put in front of them or they go to bed hungry and I don't care if it's breakfast or dinner! like youra they eat chicken nuggets, Turkey drummers etc so they get the reasoning that a chicken Breast is a large nugget without the batter so there isn't anything they don't like therefore they have two choice eat or starve. no arguments no bargaining (dp's path of choice) and no acceptance of tantrums. first sign of sulking or bad behaviour and they are banished to their bedroom. can you prep your folks and explain so that there is a room they can be dismissed to in the event of crappy behaviour?
Wheresthelight what a refreshing post! There is stuff she will eat included at dinner, it's that she'd prefer pasta and that's what she'd get at the other side of the families house.
Just told dp there is to be no pasta, he seems happy with everything..... I've said we must have stuff she likes, he says we have.... Off shopping now!
opera I am aware my post will likely get me flamed by some for being an evil bitch but I am a firm believer that children need to learn respect and boundaries as well as what is acceptable behaviour. my dd is 16 months so stoll learning about food etc but she will be dealt with in exactly the same manner and I was firm with dp from the minute I found out I was pregnant that I would not have a two their hierarchy in this house. dsc's are part of the family, they are not visiting guests and therefore there are standards of behaviour that are expected of them and they receive discipline if they deliberately flout those rules.
we rarely have issues these days but it has taken 2 years of hell to get to this point and for the exact same reasons that you are having issues, every other person in their lives panders to their crap.
it isn't evil to teach a child manners and boundaries. I love my dsc's with all my heart. they are great fun to be around and we have loads of fun times but they are fully aware of what happens if their mess about too much
ooh wheresthelight you're going to get drummed out of the brownies now !
I completely agree with you, that's exactly what goes on in this house, with the exception of big celebrations with other people present when I cannot be bothered to prioritise DSC tantrums so they get to pick and choose from what's on offer. But that's all, no special/different meals or anything...
As you say it's the pandering that goes on elsewhere that causes the problems - at her mother's house my youngest DSC was once offered SIX different options (cooked one after another) to try and get her to eat something.
I wouldn't have believed it had the whole performance not been witnessed, incredulously, by friends of DH, who rang to say this might be what was causing the problems we were having at mealtimes...
Im so glad to hear you guys say this stuff. I wouldnt see a child go hungry but I certainly expect christmas dinner, when given so many options, to be eaten - my dm has spent a fortune on it and all the children should be appreciative of that.
Anyway, during the shopping dp and I (alone) spoke at length about our expectations of the kids collectively on christmas day (and any day really but like I say its a huge family affair).
We have agreed that throughout the whole day, any negative behaviour or tantrums will not be engaged with and said child will be removed to another room. There are three reception rooms and only two will be in use at any time so this works. That goes for all kids. We'll tell them that tomorrow night in a "we want you to have fun but expect you to be on your best behaviour" which sounds a bit dictorial but is necessary with so many children - my parents wont cope with a screaming house full - whilst laughter and games will be encouraged, chaos is not.
And in general I only cook meals that I know all the kids will eat. Someone upthread said something about not caring now.... well not exactly that but after dp told me my homemade falafels and lamb kebabs would go down well with his kids and dsc1 announced loudly at the table that it was "DISGUSTING" and went on to say it tasted funny, mouldy, weird etc etc I vowed to stick to a menu of chicken wraps, pizza on fridays, meatballs and spaghetti - stuff they ALL like. So it definitely isnt her being pushed out because I cook stuff she doesnt like (bar the greek food but that was dp's fault!)
And it IS a lot to do with respect. I am not forcing her to eat - merely saying that this IS what is for dinner and like someone else said if anyone doesnt like that they are free to prepare something else. She is 13 not 3.
Haha acharm as a brownie leader that comment has properly tickled me ð
I do the same operaha, I rarely cook anything I don't know they like and if I do there is always an alternative option even if just beans on toast!
Yep. My kids are quite adventurous, its how theyve been raised. Im not saying that as a stealth brag or that I am a better parent than their dm - I was raised with a lot of multi cultural food and passed that on to my kids - my sister is the fussiest person I knew when I was a kid, we're all different.
It does make things like my kids faves of pulled pork or burritos stuffed with peppers and spicy meat difficult as I Know they wont eat them (their mum cooks two different meals EVERY night) but in those cases its a "try or there is toast" kinda thing - but I rarely do it, its just I cant penalise my kids all the time either.
I think somewhere I have the text dp sent me when we hadnt been together that long and his kids were coming for dinner for the first time. He gave me a HUGE list of what each of them would and wouldnt eat. Watch this space.
I found it. It was ridiculous and I cant bring myself to write the whole thing down but did include the words "she will eat chicken if theyre nuggets" !
Dont get me wrong, my 17 year old loves chicken nuggets - tomorrow night we are having "nibbles" instead of a proper meal so we can all chill and hang as a family and we have goujons!! So nuggets basically. I am NO food snob but I do like everyone to try and also to appreciate the money and time that goes in to their dinner! Its ok to try something and not like it - it is completely different to sit at the table and announce the food as "disgusting"
unless youve cooked it yourself
Def think you have a suitable approach. I think a quiet word with DSD by her Dad beforehand should be done something along the lines of "I know this isn't your favourite meal but there are things there you do like and either eat those or go without with a good attitude" type of thing. Some children need to have the requirement of acceptable behaviour spelt out to them.
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