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Step Children who take on Friend or Adult roles with their separated parents

(19 Posts)
Bananasinpyjamas1 Mon 21-Mar-16 16:54:09

Has anyone's step children (or own children) been encouraged to take on an adult type role in their parents lives after they've separated?

It may be one reason why my step kids have stopped visiting weekends when they used to here every weekend for 6 years. DP said recently that their mother says that she needs them around as she gets lonely (her boyfriend lives a long way away). She did the opposite for many years when he BF was around.

I think that this also happened with my older DSD with DP. When I came along she'd started to call him at night if he wasn't back by a certain time (ie with me) - she was 19 then - she would parent the younger kids (much to their annoyance). Unfortunately it didn't stretch to doing the housework or her own laundry!

Wdigin2this Mon 21-Mar-16 23:18:10

Ah,'ve hit the nail on the head there, it never stretches to housework! I haven't experienced this, but I know people, who when separated from their DC's DF, seem to think it's OK to share all their grievances about their ex, with their the point of treating them like a shoulder to cry on. So very wrong!

Bananasinpyjamas1 Tue 22-Mar-16 00:58:38

I wonder if its just one of things we as parents don't like to talk about. My own son was told jokingly to ' look after his mother' ( ie me) by well meaning adults when I was a single parent.

I just read an article about it and it said that nature doesn't like a void, it's common for kids and parents to fill that in without thinking.

Bananasinpyjamas1 Tue 22-Mar-16 01:01:52

And that is probably setting up trouble for step families, like me stepping into a role that a DSD was in, never going to be easy!

Atenco Tue 22-Mar-16 02:54:00

Well it's confined to step-families though, is it? I know my much older brother and sister complained that our mother used them as confidantes after our father left. Definitely inappropriate.

AppleyName Tue 22-Mar-16 10:17:34

I know what you mean. My 8 year old DSD seem to know far too much detail about her mum's romantic life and the ins and outs of her relationship break ups.

Petal02 Tue 22-Mar-16 11:25:16

The dynamics are often quite skewed in separated families!

Wdigin2this Tue 22-Mar-16 12:12:12

Why would you burden your DC with your break-up problems, it's hard enough for them as it is, without adding all that angst and worry?!

Bananasinpyjamas1 Tue 22-Mar-16 12:27:54

My sons dad broke up with his GF a couple of years together. His dad told him how devastating it was,'for us' he said, 'we might never see her again' etc. My son got really upset.

It's just so easy to do I guess. I hope I didn't do that myself. I know that this is more a separated parent thing. But I think this is a big reason I had such a tough time with older DSDs and not younger.

Bananasinpyjamas1 Tue 22-Mar-16 12:30:11

Petal - that is so right. It's so easy for the dynamics to get skewed on separated families. Kids get bought into an adult world too soon. They can learn to manipulate, or they are leaned on, or feel confused loyalties.

howtodowills Tue 22-Mar-16 12:32:55

DPs ex treats her daughter (8 y/o) as a "best friend" - it is so unnecessary and I think cruel to the child. As a consequence SD has been very anxious about mummy being alone, sad, not having a boyfriend, her "boyfriend" not calling. She is so OTT emotionally aware but of course can't handle it as she is 8 so it has affected her really badly.

DP tried to discuss it with his ex and she said "but she is my best friend."

There are times when I have been so so sad about something but would never burden my son with it.

I think it is common when the parents are single and don't have someone to talk to.

howtodowills Tue 22-Mar-16 12:33:40

and yes it has completely confused SD's loyalties and made her very angry to me and DP as we have eachother and "mummy has no-one".

Busybuzzybumblebee Tue 22-Mar-16 12:54:41

My mum did this when her and my df split, my poor brother at 15 took on the "man of the house" roll, he'd deal with her bills, be a sounding board when shed bitch about our df and sm (who was the ow for many years). Bur fot years my dm still relied on my df to do everything for her (drove my sm nuts) it was such a strange triangle where df and dB would have conversations about what to do with dm mortgage etc. It was so unfair on my dB. Now we're older my and my dsis take on a lot more of the burden as dm has never functioned one her own.

Bananasinpyjamas1 Tue 22-Mar-16 17:02:12

How to - yes that's exactly how my Ex treats our son, as his best friend. He shares his money worries. Tells him how hard it is when he's not there. Wants him to best man at his wedding because he told him he is his best friend.

Doesn't ask or take interest in his schooling though!

Your DSC is really young to take on being her mums friend. Shame as it makes the child feel special but its a burden.

Busy - that's hard on your brother, effectively having to be the adult at 15, to your mum who was an adult but behaving like a child. My mum is lovely but alsi did this to me, I had to be her sounding board for years, from age 9.

Bluelilies Thu 24-Mar-16 09:13:59

My eldest DSD had taken on quite an adult role with DH when I first met her, aged just 13. She would help parent the younger ones as DP didn't always cope very well with all of them. She also ended up looking after DH when he was ill once or twice. I don't think she really wanted that role though and I think it's been one reason I've always had a very positive relationship with her that she was quite glad to lose that responsibility to me. It did make it hard to parent her through teenage issues though - DH found it hard to have real authority over her.

howtodowills Thu 24-Mar-16 10:26:00

That is lucky bluelillies - I have read so much about the teen years being hard and girls almost seeing their role as being dad's new wife.

My SD (8 yrs) doesn't like it when she isn't consulted over things which really a child shouldn't even be interested in.

lookluv Thu 24-Mar-16 11:23:17

howto - my DS is 9yrs old and like your SD, he wants to be consulted on everything. It is a control issue - I tell him he is too young and I will decide and in one humdinger of an argument about him not telling me what to do - it all came out.

His Effwit father ( my expression), the OW and I have made decisions that have "ruined" his life and now he is big enough to understand he is not letting us make those decisions.

I can see where he is coming from - his family got destroyed, he is told where he will be at a weekend,he misses parties, activities at the whim of his DF, he is made to go on a holiday with the OW, eat food she makes and knows he does not like - who is emotionally abusive to him and his DF will not acknowledge etc etc etc. I make him do homework, wash etc etc.

I have pointed out to him normal families, kids get told what to do. He pointed out that at least that was a family discussion this is not a family discussion it is generally about his DF. he is sadly right.

We ( the adults) make them grow up v quickly and face situations that we struggle to control and understand - he has worked it out in his head and does not want to feel out of control.

Then throw an SM into the mix and we wonder why the kids rebel against another autority figure telling them what to do.

I do not blame the children - it is the adults as always at fault.

coffeeisnectar Thu 24-Mar-16 16:15:17

Interesting post Bananas!

I do think in the case of my DSD who was 6 when her parents split, that both of them treated her like a mini adult. She was given far too much deference and choice/decision making so that by the time I came along when she was 8 and her mum also had a new partner at the same time, she suddenly found herself being outed from her position, certainly in DP's house. I found it difficult where we had four children aged 16, 13, 8 and 6 between us, all girls, and just about everything had to revolve around the 8 year old. Because she was used to deciding where to go, what to eat and having everything her way and her dad to herself.

I have no idea what it was like in her mums house after the arrival of her new partner but as he had no dependent children (all now being adults) I'm pretty sure he was happy to maintain the status quo and leave the decision making on everything to DSD and her mum.

I'm loathe to say she's spoiled but she's now 12 and used to having everything her way. As a result she's now refusing to even speak to DP on the phone, never mind see him. Her mum says she doesn't know why. I would hazard a guess that the last time she was here DP actually told her NO when she demanded to sleep over at a friends (and it was a demand issued through about 13 text messages over the space of several hours, getting more and more shitty in attitude) and he now knows that unless he's willing to say yes to everything then she won't come back.

You reap what you sow.

Wdigin2this Fri 25-Mar-16 22:15:10

Coffee, never a truer saying! I could also add...she is what you made her!

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