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Why don't the kids talk to us!?

(51 Posts)
KH369 Wed 16-Aug-17 15:31:50

I need help with my step sons (13&10). My husband and I are struggling with communication with them, like unless they are asking for food or drink that just don't speak! Instead they ignore us and just watch tv or play video games.
It's at the point where we dread them coming round for the weekend and we'll spend most our day in the kitchen talking and looking after our 2yo son instead of being in the front room with them because it's too frustrating being ignored.
I get texts every week from there mum saying everything they won't tell us. The last text I got was "he doesn't like your tuna pasta bake" ... After the 6th time I had made it for him! Apparently he's gone home starving each time because he didn't want to eat it or tell me he didn't like it and my husbands annoyed that he hasn't said anything to us and that his excuse for not eating is that he's full when clearly that was a lie and when asked about it just said "no I did like it there was just loads on the plate" so he's lying again. And I'm getting sick to death of all these texts telling me what I'm doing wrong, when in fact I can't do any more because I'm not being told if someone doesn't like a meal or they want to go out for the day.
If they don't talk to us how can we know if something's wrong, my husband works all hours of the week and I work early shifts on weekend so we are knackered on the weekends anyway and I have no desire to cook food that may or may not get eaten or sit and try to force a conversation out of a child that doesn't want to talk to me, but then I have to get subjected to texts from their mum that have, in the past, left me in tears thinking they don't like me or I'm a horrible person for making them eat food they hate or not taking them to the park (because I was never asked).
What can my husband and I do/say to get them to open up and talk to us? Even if it's just about there school day, we don't much care what they want to talk about so long as they are willing to speak to us about it. After having asked their mum why they tell her and not us their issues she just said they have always been so open with her (kick in the gut or what?) so that doesn't help us, their dad has always tried to be there for them, however recently since they have closed off he can no longer be bothered to make an effort and I can see it hurts him that the boys who only a few months ago used to ask him to join in with games now don't seem to want to be with him at weekends.

MrsOverTheRoad Wed 16-Aug-17 15:36:56

however recently since they have closed off he can no longer be bothered to make an effort

There's your problem right there.

13 and 10 are difficult ages. I have a 13 year old who spends most of her time in her room. she rarely talks to me or her Dad...I "visit" her for little chats as now and then, rarely...she DOES want to chat.

Your step sons need more patience and time.

Also you say you and their Dad spend most of your time in the kitchen with your 2 year old as you don't want to be ignored...don't you DO anything with your step sons? Go anywhere?

Do they have a room of their own to sit in?

kittybiscuits Wed 16-Aug-17 15:39:30

I think you need to be having this conversation with your OH. Your resentment is thinly veiled and the two of you need to work on building bridges with them. You didn't take them to the park because you were not asked?

This > recently since they have closed off he can no longer be bothered to make an effort and I can see it hurts him that the boys who only a few months ago used to ask him to join in with games now don't seem to want to be with him at weekends . Your OH is not stepping up to the mark as a parent. He is underinvolved and lacking a sense of responsibility for his kids. It's not up to them to ask to go places or to involve him in games.

stitchglitched Wed 16-Aug-17 15:42:27

Why doesn't your husband take his kids out somewhere, or join in with their gaming, instead of dreading their visits and hiding away in the kitchen? Don't wait for them to ask to go to the park, grab a football and tell them you're going. If I waited for my son to ask to do stuff, I'd be waiting forever whilst he festered in front of a screen. Your husband needs to take the initiative and put some effort in with his kids.

lunar1 Wed 16-Aug-17 15:42:51

It's a two way street, your husband can no longer be bothered to make the effort and spends all his time in the kitchen with you and your joint child.

Does he ever take them out?

notevernotnevernotnohow Wed 16-Aug-17 15:43:48

You're obviously not creating an environment they feel comfortable in. Your husband sounds like one of those fathers who expects the children to make the effort even though he makes none.

You avoid them and spend time with your baby instead. They feel like visitors to your home, not particularly wanted visitors either.

And you actually asked their mother why they talked to her and not you? She's their mother! isn't it obvious?

XJerseyGirlX Wed 16-Aug-17 15:47:59

Why don't you ask the kids what they want for dinner? He probably isn't lying on purpose, maybe just too polite to say he doesn't like what you made.

Sitting in the kitchen with your other child "dreading their visits" is what they have picked up on. They are the children and your meant to be the adults, the ones making the effort and doing the parenting.

swingofthings Wed 16-Aug-17 16:22:55

You could hehe been writing about my DS. For a few years he has gradually felt less and less part of his father's family. Too busy, too tired, not bothered and didn't feel his dad showed any real interest in his life. They rarely went out or did things together and they never asked him about his life at home. Gradually he spoke less and less and his dad didnt seem too really care.

This went on for a year or so until DS started to make excuses for not going. When I asked why he didn't talk to his dad about his feelings he said his dad never truly listened to him only heard what suited him and then got angry with him.

Hid dad like your OH decided that he couldn't be bothered to make an effort and inevitably it lead to DS refusing to go at all.

I saw this coming and tried to tell his dad but he would get on the defensive so I gave up. He is now feeling sorry for himself and even more angry at DS. He cannot see at all that his behaviour led to DS mutism and now wanting to do with him.

HelloSquirrels Wed 16-Aug-17 16:28:12

Why don't you ask the kids what they want for dinner? really? Do you ask your kids every day what they want for dinner? A 10 or 13yo is entirely capable of saying I don't like this.

Op I would suggest your husband just takes some initiative and does things with them and you take a step back. Why should you get the criticism from their mum when you literally have no idea what they want to do or like? I would honestly focus on your 2yo and get your husband to deal with this. I would block ex wife's number as well unless you really need to speak to her.

LoyaltyAndLobster Wed 16-Aug-17 16:29:36

OP how long has this been going on for? And how often do they come?

notevernotnevernotnohow Wed 16-Aug-17 16:29:44

eally? Do you ask your kids every day what they want for dinner?

They aren't her kids and they aren't there every day, and she keeps making them things they hate when they don't feel able to say so. So yes, she should ask them what they want to eat.
Or not, and keep making them feel like she doesn't give a crap about them.

HelloSquirrels Wed 16-Aug-17 16:31:32

Same decisions as an adult and parent would.

Give them options yes but free reign? It will only cause 100 more problems.

HelloSquirrels Wed 16-Aug-17 16:32:07

That didn't post right but you get what I'm saying

notevernotnevernotnohow Wed 16-Aug-17 16:35:09

No it won't. Asking a child guest in your home what things they like to eat will not cause a hundred problems. It might actually solve one of OP's problems.
Also its just basic manners.

HelloSquirrels Wed 16-Aug-17 16:35:47

They're not guests they're her husband's children. hmm

notevernotnevernotnohow Wed 16-Aug-17 16:36:25

Who do not live there, and are therefore guests. People who don't live in our house are called guests.

notevernotnevernotnohow Wed 16-Aug-17 16:36:35

your not our

HelloSquirrels Wed 16-Aug-17 16:37:33

It's absolutely shite all to do with basic manners. They're there to see their dad and sibling not to be wined and dined.

Give them an option ie pasta bake or sausage and mash or whatever but don't just say "what do you want" for a lot of kids that's a green light that they'll get to eat crap every weekend and have the ultimate decision, which they shouldn't imo.

HelloSquirrels Wed 16-Aug-17 16:38:06

Step children/biological children are not guests. They're family surely?

HelloSquirrels Wed 16-Aug-17 16:38:45

I never considered my ss a guest when he didn't live here. He was my ss and therefore part of the family. Not a guest.

NC4now Wed 16-Aug-17 16:40:30

I'd ask them what they want to do, or what they would like for their tea. They obviously don't feel comfortable asking spontaneously, for whatever reason, so as the adult, reach out to them and appeal to their better nature.
Make them feel like their wants and needs are important to you, instead of hiding in the kitchen.

stitchglitched Wed 16-Aug-17 16:42:22

What is wrong with asking kids what they'd like for dinner? They clearly don't feel comfortable saying they don't like certain food and OP and her partner need to take some responsibility for that. Surely finding out the sort of food they'd enjoy is a positive thing, shows interest in them and their comfort, and removes one of the issues causing conflict.

titchy Wed 16-Aug-17 16:43:34

It doesn't look like they feel it's their family home though does it. They feel like guests. If I only saw my child once a fortnight I'd be making damn sure I had their favourite food in - why wouldn't you?

When they say they're full and leave most of their dinner, they're not lying, they're being polite. This is to be encouraged, not used as a stick to beat them with.

And your dh sits in the kitchen with you instead spending time with his kids - well he's a pretty shit father isn't he? He needs to make some bloody effort. That's what parents do. Not skulk in the kitchen moaning and wondering where it all went wrong.

NC4now Wed 16-Aug-17 16:44:18

If you don't like the idea of free reign, why not get them involved in the meal planning and shopping. Ask what you make that they enjoy and is there anything they'd like you to make, or take them out for tea/let them choose a takeaway.
It's about making them feel heard, IYSWIM.

KH369 Wed 16-Aug-17 16:45:23

Appreciate all the different responses. We did used to take them out very other time we had them but after spending the weekend at Blackpool with them and then being told by their mum that they hated every second we decided to stop planning trips and asked them to tell we things they would like to do, so that we knew they would enjoy it, all we've had is a soft play centre and football pitch - that we have done numerous times. The park thing, if I don't know they want to go I'm not going to take them - I'm tired and have a 2yo whose potty training and sleep regressing so I'm not thinking about going to a park.
When I say we spend time with our son I mean with the potty training etc and feeding him, and them, they spend a lot of time with their little brother and have their own bedroom and tv too.
I know my partner needs to step up, I have told him, but when he gets knocked back by his own children it does start to take its toll. He knows he needs to make the effort, he's tried and failed. I'm asking for suggestions on what else to do, not a critisism on my husbands behaviour - I already know that's a problem. We don't want them to stop coming round but we are at a loss as to what to do anymore.

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