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Looking after DSC overnight

(10 Posts)
steppingout Wed 11-Jan-17 12:59:52

I'm having a dilemma about where responsibility as a step-parent begins and ends, so thought I'd see if anyone had been in a similar situation/had any thoughts. I have one DSD who is resident with us (sees her mum EOWE), so I am necessarily closely involved in looking after her day to day, and at least one evening a week where OH is working late or goes out with friends. This is all fine and we have managed to build a generally settled and affectionate relationship.

But - I'm starting to feel like I have all of the responsibilities of being a parent without having much of a voice in how it’s done. I do homework with her but don't go to parents evening (her mum does), I'm not involved in major parenting decisions etc. I am fine with this in principle – I’m not her parent and absolutely not trying to take over the role – but it’s starting to make me feel like if it’s recognised that I don’t really have a say in the fundamentals, then for my own long term sanity there might need to be some kind of line drawn in terms of how much I take on.

The thing that has brought this to a head is OH wanting to go away for a weekend (2/3 nights) when we have DSD, and he’s made fairly firm plans that seem to rely on me looking after her for the whole weekend on my own. I’m feeling annoyed about it and trying to work out why... I don’t know - is it the same as one parent expecting the other to hold the fort for a weekend away, or is it reasonable for me to say that it’s not my responsibility? I am going away for a weekend to visit my friends when DSD is at home.

I am obviously going to talk to him about it, but I thought it would be useful to get some other viewpoints too... Sorry it's a bit long - thanks for reading if you've made it this far!

Lunar1 Wed 11-Jan-17 13:25:11

If my husband or I make plans that rely on the other being around out of the normal routine for our children we check with each other first. They are our joint children.

He's talking advantage of you and expecting too much. You would not be at all unreasonable to say no to this. I get the impression you wouldn't have minded so much if he'd actually talked to you first.

Sanityseeker75 Wed 11-Jan-17 14:48:11

Don't want to read and run but if you are primary care giver and residential parent you can apply for PR - this does not take away from mom or dad but helps

Evergreen777 Wed 11-Jan-17 17:08:12

Same as Lunar - I would expect to ask to go away for the weekend if it means leaving a partner to look after the kids, even if they were joint kids. I'd definitely ask DH to look after my DC (not his) if they were with us for the weekend I wanted to go away. He always says it's OK though. I appreciate this, but would probably start to question the extent to which we are a unit if he said no.

Like you, we have one DSC living with us, who sees his mum infrequently. I do take on a lot of the parenting of this DSC - homework, cooking, helping him sort out GP appointments, etc as DH works much longer hours than me. Though I do also feel that DH treats me - mostly - as an equal parent in his life. I have equal say over day to day decisions, and have been quite involved in his uni applications. The only thing I leave to DH are liaison with is DW (as he is uniquely talented at not firing back angry emails at the outrageous things she sometimes comes up with - I'd be hotter headed, so this is probably best left to him) Plus she doesn't seem keen to acknowledge that I'm actually parenting her DS so probably easiest not to push this point.

I think it's out of order for your DP not to have asked you before he made plans - though I think if DSD lives with you it's not unreasonable for him to have a weekend off once in a while. Parents evenings are difficult if the ex goes - as you going too may just be a bit awkward all round. Maybe just ask to be involved as much as possible apart from this - eg are you able to contact her school/teachers if you need to? Do they know who you are? Maybe try and find an opportunity to introduce yourself. Can DH and DSD feed back to you what has been said after a parents' evening?

As suggested above, legal PR would recognise legally the role you're already taking, though might not make much difference day to day unless those around you (DH, the ex, DSD, school, etc) make effort to recognise your role.

swingofthings Wed 11-Jan-17 17:13:15

Of course you should be annoyed! I've been with my partner for 8 years, married for almost 4 and he has been a resident SP for 7 years. Even now I would never book a hotel and expect him to look after my teenagers. They are my children, my responsibility and being in a committed relationship with him doesn't change this.

He treats my kids with respect and vice versa, but the only parenting duties he takes on are the one he wants to do or the one he does when I very rarely ask as a favour.

You should definitely talk to him and reminding that however much you care for your SD, and how you don't mind getting involved with some day to day duties with her in addition to fun times, she is not your responsibility and he can't assume that he can rely on you as he does. To be fair, even if she was your daugther, would it make a difference? Still not acceptable to assume that you could look after her on your own.

workingmumsarebad Wed 11-Jan-17 19:36:02

DSD lives with you -she is a permanent ficture. YOu do not have her over in your home - she lives there. This is very different from contact time.

Even so he should have asked you- this has nothing to do with her being your DSD - this is just commone courtesy.

IslaLettuce Wed 11-Jan-17 20:01:08

I'm not sure why but it doesn't sit right with me. He should discuss any time away from family home with you and I'm not even sure if he should be even having regular nights out whilst you care for his daughter let alone a weekend away. He pulls his weight in all other aspects? Would he take care for all his children if you went on a weekend away?

steppingout Wed 11-Jan-17 23:19:19

He definitely pulls his weight generally and neither of us has any other DC. Thank you everyone for your feedback. As some of you have suggested, I think I'm partly just annoyed that he didn't specifically ask! Generally we only plan nights away for when DSD isn't with us. She sees her mum every other weekend so there is regular time to do that, these dates just didn't fall into it and couldn't be changed.

PR is probably worth looking into - thanks for the suggestion. It's only a small part of it, but I am sometimes concerned about being left in sole charge for long periods when I don't have any legal standing in an emergency situation.

OH is generally fine with me having a voice in things, but does sometimes make parenting decisions that I don't necessarily agree with - then I don't feel like I can really speak up as ultimately she is his daughter no matter how much I do in practical terms. I don't think her mum sees me as someone who should be included other than if contact times change.

Bananasinpyjamas1 Thu 12-Jan-17 00:36:29

But - I'm starting to feel like I have all of the responsibilities of being a parent without having much of a voice in how it’s done

I think that you have your answer right there. Evergreen and others seem to have a much more respectful, obvious arrangement where as SM the parental role is established - I had similar to you in that I was residential SM but no parental role accepted and no say whatsoever.

You can end up in your position - where if he was still living with his wife he'd still check whether it was OK with you to go away - and yet as SM you can be demoted as an 'invisible parent'. Which isn't workable, and resentment will build up in you and quite rightly so! At least it sounds as if your problem is with your DP and not your step daughter - the relationship sounds very good and I'm sure you've put a lot of effort in to build it, and your DSC must have reciprocated too.

I know that you will not have 'as much' say as her Mum and Dad - over important decisions. However day to day you ARE the MAIN PARENT. Say that to yourself and your DP several times! You did not choose that, it just IS. Her mum could choose to ask for more time, her Dad could choose to work less. But they haven't. So they HAVE to acknowledge you more.

And I absolutely HATE it when people just throw the 'but the child lives there so just suck it up' attitude. Suck up what? Her own Mum and Dad choosing NOT to care for their own child for a weekend and not even asking if it's OK? No OP, don't suck that up. It doesn't meant you don't care for your DSC, in fact it is the opposite - where is the care from the parents!

Good luck flowers

Bananasinpyjamas1 Thu 12-Jan-17 00:42:00

PR is probably worth looking into - thanks for the suggestion. It's only a small part of it, but I am sometimes concerned about being left in sole charge for long periods when I don't have any legal standing in an emergency situation.

This is also very worthwhile to bring up, even if just to show what responsibility you do have. I had a situation where I had all 3 step children, one had a potentially serious accident that I had to make decisions on there and then. DP was uncontactable in a kayak somewhere and their Mum had refused contact with me on any terms. A little scary when you think about it!

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