Concerns about Stepson.(13 Posts)
I have a lovely Stepson who is 9. He comes to us every weekend and usually he is a delight, lovely and helpful, mature and sweet. I have however noticed that whenever we do things with extended family members (his cousin's, aunts and uncles etc) he really changes and cries all the time, throws tantrums and is generally just mopey and miserable. At these points without fail he always says he wants to see his mum and kicks off further if it isn't possible. Does anyone have any idea why this could be?
For example last weekend we had a BBQ where we invited my DH's family around, my DSS's cousin's who he says he loves to play with etc. Suddenly he started crying and noticing this I sat down with him and had a chat, he told me he was upset because he doesnt see much of his mum when he is home and now he wasn't going to see her for another two nights and he was sad due to that. I took him out for a walk to the shops to get an ice lolly by himself hoping that would distract him and he seemed fine, but as soon as we got back to the bbq he started hysterically crying again. My DH tried talking to him and offered him to call his DM, which he did, but he told her the reason he was upset was because he didnt want to play with his half sister? (who was playing quite happily with her cousin at this point and hadn't really bothered DSS at all) I was rather miffed at this, although didnt say anything. DH had a chat with her about what he had said to us and she got rather defensive about it so I don't know if DSS felt like he couldn't tell her how he really felt or if he was telling us both seperate things.
I spoke to him the morning after and he told me he gets jealous as everyone has their mum's there and he doesn't and he feels like she doesn't have time for him (she works and he comes to us every weekend so maybe this is why?) But again, he tells his DM different so I am unsure whether he is being entirely honest about things?
Just after some advice really, he is a sensitive boy, always has been, but it is horrible seeing him so upset whenever we are around other people and was wondering if anyone had every experienced anything like this and if there is anything we can do that will help?
Thanks in advance!
Could he alternate weekends? Every weekend means that he isn't getting much quality time at all with her if he is in school all week.
I have suggested that to DH before but when he bought it up with her it was shot down unfortunately 😔 if there are any weekends she has him (fairly rare) it is usually his Nan or Aunt on her side that has him.
Is it possible that he feels on show in front of relatives and feels the need to make a visible display that he is loyal to his mom and not having a good time when he is with you/his dad?
I know that seems rather convoluted, but it's possible. My daughter went through a very brief phase of being mean to me when her dad and I first split up, but only when he was in our house. I assumed it was a show of loyalty to her dad and once I explained she didn't need to do that and she could be her usual nice self no matter who was there and who she was staying with, she instantly reverted back to her normal behaviour.
On the other hand, he may well just be upset (especially if he is mature and intelligent) that his mother seemingly doesn't want/can't have him at weekends, and seeing wider family has just become a trigger for the histrionics. If so, and it's now become a fixed habit in his mind, he might just need some help to break that cycle.
Maybe talk with him before the next event about what's going to happen and who will be there and what he can do to handle his own emotions if he does find himself getting upset. Could he go to his room for a little while to calm down? Or could he have your phone and listen to some music or something? Idk, just anything to pre empt the meltdown and give him some tools to try and deal with it if it does happen.
If he's unwilling to even try this then it might indicate that he wants all those relatives to see him having a tantrum?
Thank you for the advice Orangesandapples. I will try to distract him before it gets to that point next time, it can be tricky as sometimes it has been when we have been out doing an activity or something, it only really clicked with me that he does this every time we are with extended family during this last event.
We are seeing family tomorrow so let's see what happens 🙈
It's entirely possible possible that he genuinely is missing his Mum. Every weekend away from his primary residence is quite a lot when he's at school full time in the week and his mum works too - he could well be craving time to just chill out in his own usual environment. It's not a slight against you or your DH if he feels that way, I get like that if I've been busy and I'm not in his situation. Would it be possible to look into changing every other weekend, or one in four weekends into a midweek stay so that he's still getting time with his dad but also knows he has a regular scheduled weekend in his primary home?
I will try suggesting that again but unfortunately last time it was a no go with his mum. We live too far from his school to do the weekly runs sadly (and DH leaves for work at 6.30 so school runs are left to me and I have two different schools to do the drop off to as it is) but I will make the suggestion again. Thank you 😊
I think that your DH needs to speak to his ex and explain what their DS is saying at your house.
It sounds like he is frightened of telling his mum the truth - does she work every weekend?
No, she doesn't work weekends, she works during the week (it has been the holidays the past couple of weeks here so he has been with his Aunt/Nan etc while she works) she has a very active social life over the weekends-which I totally understand as she is single and needs that, so even for any reason he stays with her over the weekend he ends up staying with one of her family members anyway. DH had a chat with her about what he was saying last week and she got incredibly defensive unfortunately 😔 seems like we are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Obviously we love having him around and if he is going to be with other family members anyway we would much rather have him. He really is a lovely boy generally, just worried about him and this behaviour. Seeing a NT nine year old having full blown tantrums over it all is rather worrying 😔
I'm most likely to miss my kids when they're at their dad's if I'm around other people with kids, so i think your DSS has probably correctly identified why being around extended family makes him miss his mum. He sees other kids with their mums.
We have the same routine as you with DSC every weekend, and it's been that way since DH and his split when they were aged 6-11. They're teens now and i don't think it's been great for their relationship with their mum (so much so in one case that DSS1 now lives with us full time and rarely sees his mum) They're not getting the quality time with her to really build a strong relationship with her. But i know how hard it is to challenge that as a step parent, as you just come across as not wanting them around. DH has managed to get their mum to have them the odd weekend, but it's a few times a year, no more. She considers the weekends to be her child-free liesure time and won't do more, and DH has never pushed very hard as he likes seeing them at weekends and doesn't want to sound like he doesn't want them, when he's already conscious that they feel a bit rejected by their mum's refusal to spend weekends with them. Tricky.
I think distraction is probably the best thing you can do when DSS is missing his mum tbh. Though you could try seeing if he wants to draw her a picture of what he's been up to. If you're aware of situations he finds hard if guess you or his dad could make an extra fuss of him when you're with extended family, and not just assume he'll go off and play happily.
Also, does he know other kids with separated parents? Could be worth pointing some out to him if there are friends or family in a situation similar to him, so he's aware he's not the only one spending time between two homes.
I had an active single life before meeting my current partner and I had an alternate weekend arrangement with XH. This suited me well as I had quality weekend time with my son and some single life as well.
I would never have given up all my weekends with my son, as that was when we did family outings etc or even just played board games together and went for walks and stuff like that.
It seems to me that your SS sees quality family time and has realised he doesn't have that with his mother. I could be reading this completely wrong though.
Maybe a bit strange but...
Could he do weekend clubs from your house? So that he has a routine when he is there and he sees it more of his home?
This may help him "normalise" it a bit more?
Also means that he has something to talk about to uncles etc and also to tell his mum in the week
Thank you for all the advice.
Evergreen, you have described pretty much exactly how we feel about it all. It is so tricky, especially as a step parent as I don't have a say in anything really (quite rightly) but when you see a kid you love and care about hurting, it is hard not to.
Moaning, I suspect you are right tbh.
Yellowbelly, that is a good idea. Maybe we can suggest that to him and see what he would like to do. He is a bit of a homebody bless him, much prefers to sit in front of a screen than do anything 🙈 but we can only try 😊
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