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"The kids come first." What does it mean to you?(35 Posts)
Brand new SM here, reading every thread on this forum and books out my ears, trying to get educated and prepared!
And I've noticed "the kids have to come first" seems to come up everywhere, but often used in different ways / with different meanings and intentions.
I've got my own thoughts but don't want to direct the discussion down one path when someone might otherwise say something I'd never thought of, so am keeping my opinions to myself for the time being (hoping that's not bad posting etiquette?)
I'm interested: what does 'coming first' mean to you?
The kids are most important. Their feelings being hurt if I miss a dance show come before me wanting to go to a concert with a friend. Not can't ever see friends as I have kids.
Kid needing a new jacket more important than me needing one. Not kid needs latest trainers (but has suitable ones) so I can't have something.
Depends on context really.
Kids "needs" should come first, but their "wants" shouldn't. There's a lot of conflict caused by disney parents who put their DC's wants above everyone else's needs and wants. Most relationships where that happens are doomed to fail.
Exactly what @TempusEejit said.
I've seen many parents put too much pressure on kids/treat them like adults, and that makes me very sad. Example: a guy I know getting offered an amazing job, but asking his pre teen children whether he should accept it.
I too second @TempusEejit.
Kids will 'want' everything - it's the nature of the beast , but they do not need everything.
I can only really give examples from my own situation so here goes.
My dps 3 kids have every possible device, designer sports gear, latest trainers etc. - all bought on a whim by their dm. They want all this stuff but need very little of it. As a result they have no concept of money or saving for things, or of the gratification of earning a treat.
My dd (12) recently had a moan about having to give up her room at her dads while a guest was staying over. I pulled her up on this - she needed a bed (which she got) but she wanted not to give up her room. I'm glad her sm held out on this one.
Giving in to wants creates entitled kids imo & the relationship therapist Esther Perel says the biggest threat to all modern relationships is children being treated as more important than the two adults in the relationship.
'Kids come first' means that my child's needs comes before my wants. Even when I'd like to put my wants first.
However, my child's wants do not come before my wants. Neither do my wants automatically come before theirs. We try to accommodate wants wherever possible in our family. But nobody gets their wants met all the time.
@troodiedoo - my ex did same recently to my 15 year old & caused him (my ds) a lot of distress. I spoke to ex & told him to make any decisions like that himself from now on & that the kids will adapt to whatever changes occur but they can't make life decisions for him.
Yes the kids come first, but I agree that their "wants" don't and the adult needs run a close second.
The fact of my relationship is not something my kids or my step kids can do anything about. It is there and they have to deal with it. However around that everyone in my house trays everyone else with live and respect and the DC and the SDC are entirely and absolutely equal all that time. That doesn't mean they are treated absolutely equal all the time, but it all evens out in the long run.
The kids come first to me means that the kids are treated with decency and respect, same as anyone else and the same as the adults
Magda could not agree more with your first post. My SC have EVERYTHING they want and all they don't want besides. Their DM has openly admitted she has always bought them things- just because, when she and My DH separated (it was his decision so she felt like she had to buy them stuff) so much so now they always expect something every time they go out, kick up a major fuss if they don't get and have both just spent nearly £200 Worth of Christmas money in 2 days just cos they can. After all that one of them rang DH yesterday to 'borrow' £30 towards a game !!! They have zero concept of money at all.
I agree with most PP, needs come before wants thst included adults needs too. Kids need shoes/ clothes - me or DH would like new clothes. Kids come first. Me or DH need clothes- DC really wants a toy or something... adult needs come first.
As for SC coming first - above their fathers (writing from female POV) partner - in our house everybody is equal, nobody more important than anyone else and we always try and compromise.
As you've posted this on step-parenting, I wonder if you intended it to relate to that?
Kids come first related to step-parenting means for me, whatever guaranteed obstacles you face in the future with residence parent/non resident parent disagreements etc (and there will be many!) you have to bite the bullet, remain civil and do whatever is in the best interests of the children because they and their relationship with their parents come first above anything else.
I second what everyone have said, needs vs wants. The only caveat is that what one parent consider a want is what another parent consider a need and that's where the conflict comes in.
If a child is unhappy, does it mean that he is learning through life that you can't have what you want, or do you consider unhappiness a psychological issue and therefore aiming to make your children happy a need to fulfill?
To me, in the context of step parenting, it would mean if the new man caused ructions between me and my kids he’d be gone. If he caused them/our house to be unhappy he’d be gone. However I probably have more extreme views than most and get on very well with my kids and know they don’t act out/complain without genuine reason. I also have a friend whose step parent molested her and when she told her Mum her Mum said “he’s nice and wouldn’t do that” then let her daughter get taken into foster care and stayed with the guy. In my book he would have had to move out and stay away. Even if I thought he wasn’t capable of it. The fact the child fears him is enough that their need for a happy Home trumps my need for a new man on my arm. It has very little to do with how spoilt the kids are by material things.
I agree with the majority. Children come first means Children's physical and emotional needs must be met as a priority before everything else.
Wants is a different matter.
I see the sad side of this with my two aged 13 and 10.
I don't have another partner but my ex does. My dc feel as though they are bottom of the pile as far as their dad is concerned. Ow first, then him, then the dog then them.
This adds to the feelings of abandonment they still feel from the split and makes them resent their dad and his new life.
I would say it would be to do with fairness and respect and your partner not selling the children down the river to keep you happy.
My actual father, for instance, would always keep the peace with my mother despite her unreasonableness and bullying behaviour. That was because he didn’t want to get in her bad books. It meant we still have a difficult relationship. This could happen in step families too and the biological parent would not be prioritising the children.
With step children, for instance, if you decided you wanted to move away to suit yourself, but ignored the difficulties that would involve in your partner have regular contact with the children. Or say you eventually had children together, that you would both prioritise those children and make your step children feel further down the pecking order - being excluded from family holidays etc.
The question is also 'which kids come first'?
One main area of contention is bedrooms. Do you decide to have another child if it means that the step-children don't have a room any longer, but they are teenagers and won't be visiting for long any longer? Do you decide that a young child has the biggest room because it's their main residence over two teenagers who only come once in a while.
In this case, whose needs supersede that of the other kids, and what is a want vs a need when it comes to bedroom, when each child is very different and it might mean a lot to one and not to the other?
I think the kids come first in the context of blended families, for me means that when the big decisions are made they are the principal consideration.
For example, we made sure when Dh and I moved in together that we moved to a house that was near to their schools. That they did not lose out on personal space etc, they all had a bedroom each.
When planning family holidays we made sure that the kids needs would be met, own bedrooms, activities to suit them all etc.
They all had individual time with their own parents, my DD and I would have time together....
It does not mean always buying them what they want and giving them their own way all the time.
With experience, “kids come first” is spoken by weak fathers!
It is often used as a way to stop a step parent asking for reasonable adjustments - e.g.
SM - your daughter is often rude to me, could you ask her to be a bit nicer to me and sometimes I’d like to go away for the weekend just you and me?
Parent - What? No! Kids come first!
I know the above is a bit simplistic.
However, I’ve a child from a previous relationship, and I’ve managed relations with his step dad and never once felt the need to say “kids come first”. It’s far more complex. I needed to sometimes put the needs of my partner first, sometimes my sons and sometimes my own. Sometimes my step children! It’s all a question of flexibility.
This is all really interesting!
Bananasinpyjamas11 that was the angle I'd read in a few places online – and what got me interested in this in the first place (although I'm really enjoying hearing the other angles here too).
Growing up, my parents saw the two of them having a solid, loving and united front as a WAY of putting me first, modelling what a relationship should / could look like even if it felt at times (to me) like I was coming second. They were the adults, they were a unit, and I was the child. Turned out they didn't do the best job, but I can respect where they were coming from
But with stepfamilies, of course it's different. Kids and parents have an undeniably stronger and longer bond than dad and SM (or vice versa), and I've read of a lot of situations where parent and child are the 'unit' and SM feels like they're always going to be the 'outsider' who comes second.
I've felt it myself, too, hard, although being very new to this I wouldn't expect it to be any other way.
The point of blending a family is that your little unit becomes a bigger unit.
If you're still divided down the middle then the blending hasn't worked very well. I'd be questioning whether it was the right relationship.
It is interesting to see what it means to different people ladybee and alexa
If I see someone say kids come first - I often think that the new husband or wife relationship is doomed. For that phrase to come out, something crucial hasn’t worked.
Wants vs needs is a good way to look at it too.
An SM needs to be an insider in the home, not an outsider. Needs to not be ignored.
A step child needs loving, structured, parenting and not to be pushed out.
No, I don’t believe that children come first. All family members should be treated equally.
Children should be cherished and loved, but never more than your spouse or OH. What happens when the kids grow up and leave? It’s back to just the two of you on your own.
Children need to see how relationships and marriage work. If you push your partner down on your list of priorities, children will think that marriage isn’t that important.
Children who are number one, or think they are number one become self centred.
Everyone should be equal.
"Kids come first" means I will never come first in a relationship with someone who has kids. Which is the main reason I've never dated men with kids. It's selfish but I want to be prioritised in my relationship.
Totally agree with Northern
I think there are many marriages/relationships that have failed or are doomed to fail because the kids always 'come first'
As others have said what happens when the kids leave home and you are left with nothing to say to your spouse?