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Socialising or see NRP?

(32 Posts)
thegreenhen Mon 12-Oct-15 21:04:56

I have 4 step children.

The youngest is age 12. She has started to want to socialise both in our "time" and in mums "time".

My dp doesn't really want this as he feels that he doesn't see her enough as it is.

She lives with us a third of the time.

My two older step daughters have got to age 18 years old and just sat with us all of contact time with no conversation or time of any quality.

What do other families do?

He tried to compromise today and let her go to a friends after school for a couple of hours but she wanted to stay at the friends for dinner and my dp said no.

She's had dinner with us, then just been monosyllabic with us or sat in her room on her phone. She's been here but not really communicated with any of us.


wannaBe Mon 12-Oct-15 22:02:09

your dp is being totally unreasonable. she is twelve. Socialising is part of being a normal pre teen/teenager. That doesn't change just because her parents happen not to be together.

If he's not careful she will start to refuse to spend time there and there will be nothing he can do about it.

Tell him to grow up and start treating his daughter like the developing individual she is rather than a possession.

Fianceechickie Mon 12-Oct-15 22:04:23

This is a really difficult one that we sometimes struggle with too. My DSCs are 8 and 10 but we have always had this problem in that they want to go to parties, do things with friends, extra-curricular etc during 'our' time. Its hard because my DH's time with them is even less than yours by the sounds of it and when its further cut down by socialising time, you're stuck between not wanting to lost that precious time and not wanting to upset your DSCs and wreck their social life. My DH's ex also makes it worse by setting up situations where she tells us that they are desperate to go somewhere, puts pressure on us to agree and we never get to know whether the children are keen or not. She will often tell them she is sure it will be okay with us or say to us 'X is too scared to ask you...' It can wreck our weekends and mean my DP spends ages driving them round (we don't live that close) and meanwhile he loses time with the other child.

To answer your question, we do normally let them do things if at all possible ie unless we have already made plans which directly conflict. It causes my DH upset and angst, especially if their mum has been involved but yes we do. There has maybe been the odd time we have made up a prior arrangement too avoid one of their social events but then we have to carry it through!!

campervan67 Mon 12-Oct-15 22:14:52

My DC always go to parties etc that they are invited to during their dad's weekend, if at all possible. Luckily he is ok with that.

It's part of normal life for kids, they shouldn't miss out. And I'm in the same boat, I work all week and spend evenings ferrying them around to various after school activities (because I obviously can't sign them up for activities that are on the weekend) so I'd quite like to spend quality family time with them on my weekends too! It's not just the NRP who misses out. But I think socialising with other kids is pretty important.

enderwoman Mon 12-Oct-15 22:59:50

Ex and I prioritise socialising over "our time". Children range from 9 to 14 so they are naturally at the stage of shifting their focus from us to their friends. If we were together, they would be going to parties etc so I don't think that they should suffer because we're not together.

Wdigin2this Mon 12-Oct-15 23:15:38

Thegreenhen, I agree with all of the OP's, it's sad that their DF feels he's missing out, but children of that age will want to be out socialising with people their own age! He's just going to have to accept, his youngest child is growing up with everything that's life!

wannaBe Tue 13-Oct-15 01:22:54

the thing is that as the kids get older they spend less time at home anyway even if the parents are together. That's part of growing up. Surely children will just grow up to resent parents for making them religiously be at their house, in their company on their time?

My ds spends a lot of time doing things with me and his dad on our respective time, but the idea that either of us would curtail his social freedom or needs just because we felt entitled to "our time" is just alien to me.

As ds gets older I will expect him to spend more time with his friends rather than with me, and I know that my ex is of a similar view. That is a normal part of growing up. normal growing up shouldn't cease because parents aren't together....

runawaysimba Tue 13-Oct-15 02:34:37

I agree with the others - it's all a normal part of growing up and I know as I did, my Dad saw less of me.

But could you ask her to invite her friends instead, at least some of the time? That would be a win-win, I would think.

pinkprimroses Tue 13-Oct-15 08:47:45

A third of her time is a lot, I don't think it's reasonable of your DP to insist she is always in the house. 12 year olds develop social lives, that's normal and healty and his job as a parent is to support that, not be some needy person she feels a duty to help.

It's also likely to backfire if her DM does allow her to see friends, as she's getting to an age when she could start trying to reduce her time with her dad if she thinks it's getting in the way of things she wants and needs to be doing.

Can you remind your DP that her DM is also seeing less of her no doubt - so it's not that he's "losing" custody at all, just that his DD is becoming a more sociable person with her friends. You could also encourage her to invite friends round to yours sometimes.

Wdigin2this Tue 13-Oct-15 10:57:58

I have. DSGD, who split her time between each parent and our house. As she grew older, my DH was quite upset when there were times she normally stayed with us, but wanted to go to friends for sleepovers! We compromised by occasionally having her and a few friends over to ours for the night, I went to town with the sparkly, pink party stuff, movies, mock-tails, popcorn the lot! It happened maybe 5 or 6 times until she eventually grew out of that phase and now has a boyfriend whom she obviously wants to spend time with, so DH has just gradually accepted she is a teen and even though she still likes to spend some time with him, her social life is more exiting...perfectly normal!

3phase Tue 13-Oct-15 13:30:48

It's tricky this.

My DSD is with us 50:50. Because of her age and where we all live, she wouldn't be able to see friends or do any out of school activities unless the adults in her life arranged it for her and took her.

Mum rarely does so I do it all. All the playdates, all the sleepovers, most of the parties and all of the activities happen when DSD is here, in DH's time. So she sees much less of DH that she does of her Mum. This is compounded by the fact that DH works far more than Mum - she does 16 hours a week and he does a minimum of 45.

No idea what the right answer is. DH is aware of it and perturbed by it but equally, he sees that she needs a social life and hobbies. DSD has come to expect it of us anyway so she'd be put out if we started saying 'no, you have to stay home to see your Dad'.

It means she gets a lot of sofa / snuggle time with Mum that she doesn't get with DH. As a result I think her relationship with Mum is getting ever closer and DH is mostly seen as an enabler (he pays for everything as well). I think I'm just seen as a taxi / secretary hmm

Wdigin2this Tue 13-Oct-15 14:07:56

Oh dear, that is a tricky situation, and I think it's what probably happened before I came on the scene when DSD was a child! I'd say be very aware that this can escalate, my DSD is grown up, but most certainly still sees her DF as an enabler who pays for EVERYTHING, because that's what he always did!

Wdigin2this Tue 13-Oct-15 14:10:04

PS: I know it'll probably be difficult travel/distance wise, but don't let yourself get sucked too much into that taxi driving/fixer upper role, you'll be taken advantage of, which will lead to resentment!

3phase Tue 13-Oct-15 14:44:48

No choice really. Agreement is 50:50. Reality is more like 60:40. Possibly 70:30. I have children at the same school. They all have playdates, activities, parties etc so DSD has to get the same when she's here. DH works full time, I work part-time and mostly from home so I'm the taxi and secretary. I do get taken advantage of by Mum, DSD and to some extent DH (although if I pick him up on it, he'll apologise profusely and change his ways --for a while--). It does cause resentment at times. What's that word....? Oh yeah, thankless...wink

swingofthings Tue 13-Oct-15 16:35:52

My ex has the same view than your partner and didn't want the children to socialise much during his time with him. The problem is that that was during week-ends, so limited their time to socialise much. Thankfully, he realised on time that children get to an age when they can choose whether to want to stay with the nrp or not, and that if he continued to frustrate them, they would just stop going. He is now much more flexible, although still moans a lot about it.

Wdigin2this Tue 13-Oct-15 19:47:09

3phase, you're obviously already very resentful, and I know how that feels! Don't you have stuff of your own you want to do, can't you just occasionally say, 'I won't be available to take (child's name) to football/dance/whatever, because I've arranged to meet a friend for lunch/dinner/drink, sorry, but it can't be helped and someone else will have to do it!'

Fianceechickie Tue 13-Oct-15 22:06:38

My DH'S ex has contacted him today to say that my DSD wants to spend 11-5 both sat and sun this weekend doing a church sing and dance project thing. We only have them every other weekend so he's not seen her for almost two weeks. He's gutted. I think there's a case for some recognition on the part of the child that they have a duty to respect the NRP's feelings. I mean none of us would say it's okay to miss seeing our parents or grandparents who love spending time with us because there's something we'd rather do with our friends. Of course they need to socialise. Its natural and healthy but it shouldn't be any time they want. Hard though when the requests to do stuff are co ftming through an ex who, in our case, would be quite haply if the dscs spent as little time as possible with us.

campervan67 Tue 13-Oct-15 22:18:21

Fiancee sorry I completely disagree. The child should not have to miss out on an activity that is reasonable for them to want to do, that their friends are doing, just because their parents happen to be divorced. It's not fair. Obviously if it clashes with a pre-arranged activity that they've agreed on with NRP that's different, but as a general rule the NRP should just be a parent, which often involves ferrying the DC around to activities all weekend.

Fianceechickie Tue 13-Oct-15 22:45:32

I'm not saying they should? They do just need to be learn to be mindful, as we all should, that we can't just please ourselves. My dscs never miss out on something they really want to do unless there's a clash, as I've said in my previous post, even though that often means the step sibling who isn't doing the social activity ends up spending the time intended to be with their much missed dad, with their step mum instead because dad is ferrying. The siblings feelings need to be taken into account as well. We do have the odd occasion when my dscs will decide that family time is more important and I'm proud that they are responsible enough to take those decisions. What about when step children live even further away from their nrp? It's inevitable they will miss out then when it's the nrp weekend so I don't think any of us step parents should feel beholden to allow them to do anything and everything, especially as like I say we can't speak to the child themselves about the activity and only hear an edited version though the ex.

pinkprimroses Tue 13-Oct-15 23:23:26

I think if they live really far away and only visit occasionally in the holidays it'sa bit different. But a child that stays EOW (or more as the OP's DSD does) needs to be allowed to see it as normal life. I also think a parent is missing the point a bit by focussing on how many hours they've spent under their roof - as kids get older they can spend most of that time in their rooms or online. It's much better to try to find just an hour or two of real time to chat at least once a week. And car journeys whilst you run them around are a great opportunity for that.

BertrandRussell Tue 13-Oct-15 23:28:56

"I mean none of us would say it's okay to miss seeing our parents or grandparents who love spending time with us because there's something we'd rather do with our friends"

If they were a teenager I would!

Daringgreatly Wed 14-Oct-15 10:10:33

It's just part of growing up. They get older, they get more of a social life and facilitating that is part of being a parent. It's not the NRP's "time", if anything it's the child's time.

And I agree about the travelling time - some of our best conversations happen then.

pinkprimroses Wed 14-Oct-15 10:37:19

We're off to visit MIL for the day on Sunday. DSD is not coming because she has a rehearsal in the middle of the day and doesn't want to miss it. MIL is absolutely fine about this and understands that teenagers have their own lives. She doesn't want visiting her to be something any of them see as an obligation.

I think she has completely the right attitude on this, even though she sees her grandchildren much less than most NRPs.

BlueBlueSea Wed 14-Oct-15 21:09:37

Teenagers do develop their own lives. My ex has to put up with DD going to see him, spending half the day on her phone then going off with her friends and coming back home to save him having to drop her off. He knows she has an active social life and that it is important for her to develop friendships and independence. I am sure it pisses him off, but he needs to understand that she is growing up.

I try to make sure that my kids do not suffer because we are divorced, if they would have done something if we had been still together, then they should stll do it now.

thegreenhen Wed 14-Oct-15 22:44:02

I really hope dsd4 doesn't just accept this from her dad and speaks out.

It's been heart breaking watching two teen girls just laying about ALL weekend every weekend.

I have been encouraging her to have her friends to ours and so far, dp hasn't stopped this.

It's good to read, I'm not being daft. I know it's hard for dp but as kids get older I really believe quality is more important than quantity.

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