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Different lifestyles causing rift between DS and DSS

(22 Posts)
MarniePaysley Sun 29-Nov-15 19:02:32

I have one DS (12 years old) and 3 DSC , (2 boys 10 and 13 and 1 girl, 12 yrs)

DH and I got married seven years ago and DS lives with us full time, whilst DSC come and stay with us every weekend and then during the holidays.

DS' Father is quite well off and has always spoiled him, fancy holidays, designer clothing etc, his room is packed with all sorts of things and DS stays with him during the holidays.

As the kids have gotten older, the gap in wealth has become more of an issue.

Oldest DSS wanted a phone for his birthday, the new IPhone. His mother and DH discussed it and opted to get him a normal phone instead of a smart phone.

He was disappointed and said that DS had received the latest phone for his birthday and that it wasn't fair. DH said he wasn't DS' father, so tough.

Then younger DSS was going away on a camping trip, he was staying with us the night before and the zip on his sleeping back had broken off. So he asked if he could take DS' camping gear and I said it was perfectly fine.

His DM picked him up after the camping trip and then called me, she was furious at the fact that we gave him in her words 'DS' hand me downs' and should have called her about the lock on the sleeping bag instead.

Apologised even though I didn't feel like I did anything wrong.

A few weeks back, oldest DSS said he wanted his own room at ours instead of sharing with his brother and that DS could swap with him

DH explained that DS lived here full time and DSS had his own room at his DM's, so it would be unfair to move DS. DSS then said that DS had his own room at his Dad's and got very cross.

Then last weekend, we were all discussing Christmas plans, the kids all wanted to go away and when DS asked if we could go somewhere warm, oldest DSS said 'he should keep quiet because he wouldn't be going with us anyway'

DH then had a talk with DSS and things were slightly better.

Then this weekend, it was decided that we would be going to Scotland to spend Christmas with some of DH's family.

DSS then told DS that Scotland would be freezing but that it would still be better than staying in London like DS was.

DS then said that he wouldn't be staying in London, but that his Dad would be taking him to Abu Dhabi for a week.

DSS then became upset, DS said he was allowed to bring a friend and asked if he wanted to come along. DH said let me speak to DM, DM said no, absolutely not and now DSS isn't speaking to DS and has 'unfollowed him on Instagram ' which from DS' reaction I assume is an important thing in their world.

I haven't gotten involved but I can see that DSS is really upset and I think DH can be hard on him sometimes.

Does anyone have any ideas what I could do to help ease some of the tension between DS and DSS now?

ImperialBlether Sun 29-Nov-15 19:10:00

Is your son going to be spending Christmas with his dad, then, so that's why your stepson's mum doesn't want him going?

MarniePaysley Sun 29-Nov-15 19:14:14

Yep, DS spends the majority of his holidays with his Dad and DSS' Mum thinks it would be really strange for DSS to go along, especially at Christmas and she's never met DS father. So I can understand her decision but DSS isn't willing to listen.

ImperialBlether Sun 29-Nov-15 19:19:06

I can understand her if she would normally see him at Christmas, but if he was going to be with your family, I think she's being unfair. He doesn't have that sort of opportunity often and it might help the relationship a lot.

I think at the moment they suffer because they are both used to being the eldest in their family - it's hard to give that up to someone else.

MarniePaysley Sun 29-Nov-15 19:41:54

I've tried to speak to DH about talking to her and trying to get her to reconsider but he says she'll never change her mind. In the meantime I'm trying to make the Scotland trip sound as exciting as possible and maybe try and take them somewhere really nice in the summer, to make up for this trip but that's a short term solution.

lunar1 Sun 29-Nov-15 20:09:57

I can see exactly why she doesn't want her son staying with a complete stranger over Christmas. I'd be gutted to send my boys off every other Christmas if dh and I separated, no way would I give up a Christmas for a stranger.

The mum probably has to deal with the fall out from this all the time. It's hard enough for children to understand why friends may seem so much more privileged than they are, it must be so much worse in your step children's position.

MarniePaysley Sun 29-Nov-15 20:24:17

@lunar1 I can understand her position completely but I feel horrid for DSS, I can't seem to do anything right for him, they used to get along wonderfully but now it's all very uncomfortable. I've put rules in place for DS to try and minimise the issues but it hasn't helped much. I'm thinking about getting them to do an activity together once or twice a week but I'm not sure how wise that is, spending more time together may just make things worse.

Bananasinpyjamas1 Sun 29-Nov-15 21:28:53

It is a hard one, kids can get very competitive and a really, really keen sense of what is 'fair'. It was very sweet of your DS to ask your DSS along at Christmas - but I wonder - how would that make the other step kids feel?

If DSS is being mean to DS that isn't nice - and DH and you should tell him. It isn't DSs fault if he gets nice things/goes away. Remind your DS to be tactful (sounds like he is), but make it clear that you are being very fair in your household - you can't magically give your DSS or the other step kids everything that your DS has, but I bet there are other things that DS doesn't have either. Perhaps he doesn't see his Dad as much, for instance. It is always going to be unequal and DSS can't be taking out his fustration about this on your DS - he has to learn this.

My step kids and son are often sizing up the differences in each other and picking resentments over it. It's almost impossible to please everyone and I don't think it's healthy for them to be creating dramas out of these things.

If we ever did anything 'nice' like go to the cinema and one step kid had decided to go to her mothers instead that weekend, we'd get a fuming phone call about 'why she was not included'... well, because you decided not to come! But no, we'd bend over backwards and phone up.

Apart from that, I'd make sure to do stuff together often as a family on the weekends, it doesn't have to cost money, to try and build up an equality and opportunities for the kids, who sound all about the same age. Get them out and about. If they sulk just ignore it and tell them to buck up their ideas!!!

3phase Mon 30-Nov-15 06:46:38

If DSS is with his Dad for Xmas, it's up to his Dad alone to decide if he can go to Abu Dhabi or not surely? If DSS wants to go, on Dad's time, and Dad is happy with it....surely it's Dad's call?

Abu Dhabi is safe. He would be going with his stepbrother. He's a teenager. Can your DH not put his foot down with Mum? It was very sweet of your DS to invite DSS and actually very kind of his father too.

The thing about the sleeping bags sounds totally unreasonable - did DSS tell his Mum that you were making him do with 'handmedowns' or did she come up with that herself? Regardless, you're family and in families things like camping gear tend to be very much shared!

I sympathise OP. We have a not dissimilar situation here. flowers

purpledasies Mon 30-Nov-15 09:23:43

We have similar issues at ours with a big disparity in wealth between my ex (who's always skint) and my DH's ex, who likes to think she's hard done by but actually has a huge income. DSC all have the latest Iphone6s as a result, and my DC have Moto Gs, which i've paid for. And like with you, there's a big disparity in where the styles of holiday they get with their other parents.

We've always taken the line that we do everything we can to make things fair between them in our house, but that we can't control what their other parents (ie our exes) do, and thankfully my DC do seem - mostly - to be OK about that. We draw comparisons with other families - cousins, schoolfriends, etc who have different home lives, and say that we have no more control over our ex's households than we do those people. They moan sometimes, but do genuniely seem to understand that line.

Both my ex and me have always been quite keen to instill in our DC that some people waste money on silly things and that there are more important things in life than having lots of money, and they do seem to have picked up some of that ethos. I think that would be your DH's job, rather than yours though - to maybe tell your DSC that your ex wastes spends money on things that aren't really important, and that he (or his ex) will always make sure they have the important things in life. But it's a tough argument to have with a 13 year old, I know.

I'd also make sure to praise your DS's generosity for inviting DSS along with his dad at Christmas - it's a lovely gesture, and sad for him that it's got thrown back in his face, when it's not his fault at all.

In terms of hand downs - I've run into exactly the same problem as you. Despite spending £££ on the DSC, their mum fails to buy them anything outdoorsy - so I've given them various hand downs from our kids for when we've taken them out of town, or for geography field trips. DH's ex got stroppy about it once that DSS2 was wearing DS's hand downs. DSS2 now refuses to wear anything of DS's which is a pain if he's not brought a coat, wellies, etc with him. The older DSC thankfully have enough tact not to mention that they've been borrowing my DC's things I think, so their mum's not got wind of it since. Meanwhile DSD has bee "smuggling" clothes she's outgrown out of her DM's house to give to DD, knowing her mum wouldn't approve (for reasons I've no idea of), though also knowing she'll never notice I guess. It's very sweet of her and DD is very appreciative.

MarniePaysley Mon 30-Nov-15 09:29:40

@bananasinpyjamas1 The other DSC are quite easy going, thankfully they'd both rather go to Scotland anyway but I do see how resentment could grow if we're not treating them all the same. DSS has been talked to on numerous occasions, his behaviour then improves but then the following weekend we're back to square one with him. DS is thankfully at an age where he can understand the behaviour and does try to be tactful but with both of them on social media, DSS still knows about the trips DS takes with his Dad and whatever new item he was bought and these things have started to become an issue. His DM called DH to ask if he could get DS to block DSS or stop "showing off" and I said no, if she doesn't want DSS to have DS on whatever app than she should deal with it without getting my DS involved.

I like the idea of dragging them all out to do something together, we could go for an evening walk etc, they'll be lots of moans but I can live with that.

MarniePaysley Mon 30-Nov-15 09:41:56

@3phase their current agreement, that's been in place for the last four years is that one parent cannot take any of the kids out of the U.K. without the other parents permission, ironically it was DH who argued to have that as a stipulation. So DSS can't go along without his DM's permission and she's made it quite clear that it's never going to happen.

After being picked up from camp younger DSS told his DM that he preferred DS' sleeping bag as he didn't need as many blankets on top to keep warm and wondered if he'd be allowed to keep it, this led to DM ranting at me over "hand me downs" her words, no one else's. Thankfully younger DSS didn't let it bother him and for some reason found it quite funny.

DM hates the kids sharing anything with DS, any piece of clothing or game is always retuned with a rather rude phone call. Thanks for the flowers, I think I'll need them this Christmas.

DiscoDiva70 Mon 30-Nov-15 09:44:25

It may not be so much the material things your ds has that cause resentment between him and your dss. It could boil down to the fact ds lives with dss's dad and so spends more time with him than he does.
Also, if I were ds's mum there's no way I'd allow someone I'd never met to take my son on holiday.

MarniePaysley Mon 30-Nov-15 10:02:57

@purpledasies Our biggest obstacle is certainly DH's ex, anytime the kids want anything remotely expensive it turns into a blame game, with DS and I solely responsible for their materialistic outlook. In her words, I'm raising a spoilt little brat who won't ever understand the value of money and that its all DH's fault that the kids have to deal with us. Whenever DSS complains about something DS has, it's a quick phone call to DH about how horrid we all are for buying DS fancy things when we know she can't do the same for her DSC. DH has explained on numerous occasions that it's DS' father who buys it for him and he has no control over that but it means absolutely nothing to her.

Your DH's ex sounds exactly like mine when it comes to hand me downs. She won't accept the DSCs wearing anything of DS's she hates me buying them clothes, so the kids just say their Dad bought it instead. Younger DSS borrows all sorts of things, coats, tops etc his DM gets furious but he just ignores her, which isn't very good but it's DH who has to deal with her and not me.

I did tell DS that it was very nice of him and his Dad to invite DSS along and that it was a shame it didn't work out but that it was nothing to do with him and that in the future, they could hopefully go away together. Not much chance of that until they're in their late teens but it brightened up DS

MarniePaysley Mon 30-Nov-15 10:12:21

@DiscoDiva70 I do understand her saying no to the trip but it's the way, she's gone about it that's frustrating. She could have tried and explained it all to DSS but it was a straight no and that if he really wanted to go, DH should take them all their himself. Which we can't afford to do but their DM doesn't seem to understand that.

DS does get to spend a lot of time with DH and DH does go out of his way to do things with him as DS only sees his own Dad during the holidays, so a lack of time with DSS may be an issue although it's never seemed that way but spending more time with DSS alone isn't that difficult and it's definetly worth a try.

3phase Mon 30-Nov-15 10:30:50

Ah, got it. It might be worth getting that reviewed in the next couple of years if your DH can. I think you're already in 'grey' territory applying that to a 13 year old and I don't think it will work at all when he's 15 / 16.

Sounds like Mum is determined your DSS doesn't forge a relationship with your DS and is doing whatever she can to alienate the two boys. I suppose the disparity in their father's wealth is a problem in itself but it sounds like she is exploiting the issue to her own ends.

I don't know what to suggest other than your DH attempts to discuss it with her and possibly at mediation.

Bananasinpyjamas1 Mon 30-Nov-15 10:33:35

Marnie - you sound like a calm and caring person, and your DS sounds very sweet to have ignored the bad feelings from DSS towards him and still been generous to invite him for Xmas, good of your Ex too!

It does sound like DHs Ex is stirring up bad feelings too and has a lot of resentment that is getting passed on. Can't your DH be harder with both his Ex and his son? Tell them both to stop making things harder for relationships between siblings and your DH should be refusing to even listen to his Ex about this matter now. Just put his foot down.

If his DS continues to be mean that he should have to miss out on some stuff in your household until he can treat your DS with a little kindness? He's being mean, his mum is being nasty and it results in rejection to your DS who is completely blameless, still a child and has does nothing wrong.

purpledasies Mon 30-Nov-15 10:39:26

It is sad isn't it, when you're aware they're having to cover up things that you do for them, or the fact that they're close to their step-siblings and happy to share with them, because their DM will disapprove? My older DSC have got quite good at knowing what not to mention to their DM - but I do think it's a shame they have to do that.

ThomasRichard Mon 30-Nov-15 10:48:14

Can you send them both off to PGL for a week over one of the other school holidays?

Your exH sounds quite good really if he said DSS could go on holiday with them. Is he understanding of the situation?

swingofthings Tue 01-Dec-15 19:20:43

For some reason, she doesn't seem to believe that all the luxuries your DS get to enjoy comes from his dad but that some comes from you and your OH. Why is that? Is DS saying things differently? Could he himself not believe that everything comes from your DS's dad?

It sounds to me like their could be some misunderstanding that needs clarifying, but otherwise, unfortunately, it is just the way it is. You sound like a wonderful SM though and he is very lucky for this. Unfortunately, some kids get more jealous than others over luxurious things and it is hard to undo it. Could your OH make a bit of an effort to make him happy though, if not getting the latest i-phone, explaining why he can't afford, maybe getting him a model that would be better than a basic phone?

Adelecarberry87 Thu 03-Dec-15 12:56:05

Your DS is very lucky to have the lifestyle he has with his dad. Why does your DH not spend as much in your DS and alittle more on his DS inregards to phones and gadgets. They carry then on them and use them at both houses and therefore ineffect by doing that they will be the same. Especially as your DS will have the latest gadet anyways. I think when it comes to a certain age when gadets are involved it might be easier to split the cost down with both bioglogical parents but say the item is off all of you so to speak. Your DS through circumstances is getting the best of everything and its one way i could suggest keeping things fair as hard as it.

HandsomeGroomGiveHerRoom Sun 06-Dec-15 14:42:51

PGL often have two for one offers, and you can pay using childcare vouchers (even for young teens).

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