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Struggling with DSS

(31 Posts)
BPG20 Fri 27-Apr-18 09:04:48

DSS is 8 and DS is 17mo. DH and I have been together for 7 years, I've been helping parent DSS for 6 years. I love him very much and try my best to treat both boys equally.

The boys play together really well generally however DSS keeps all his toys in his room, where DS does not go. All of DS's toys are downstairs because he is so young. DSS has the option of keeping things downstairs but is asked to keep anything special upstairs so DS cannot break it. As such, DSS keeps everything upstairs and so DS has no access to any of DSS's things (which is fair enough!).

DSS plays with a lot of DS's toys, including a small ride on toy that he is far too big for (DSS is the size of a 10yo). I ask him not to because he might break it, which he listens to until the next week when he does it again.

This morning both joys were playing with a toy with some cars that DSS then picked up and put out of DS's reach so he could play with it himself. I asked him to put it back on the floor so DS could play too, since it was his toy. DSS did this, but then took all the toy cars away from DS to play with himself. Every time DS would pick up a car, DSS would take it off of him.

I asked DSS to come away and stop playing with it - I said that although they need to share, he needs to respect that it is DS's toy and he was stopping him from playing with it, when DS never plays with DSS's toys. He started sulking when I asked him how he would feel if DS was playing with DSS's toys and not letting him play. He often does this - just sits there pulling a face when asked a question he doesn't like the answer to.

I asked him for an answer, at which point DH walked in and went ballistic at me. Said that if I thought that this was the worst thing DSS could possibly do then I had another thing coming. I know that there's much worse than this, but I still don't think DSS was being kind and asked him to apologise, and from now on he is to ask DS if he can play with his toys rather than just doing it seeing as though we keep DS away from DSS's toys. DH said this was ridiculous as DS is too young to say yes or no to DSS playing with him, which is right but i think that DS should still be treated with the same respect that DSS is treated with.

When DSS still didn't apologise, I did lose my temper a bit - explained that the day before when DS had bit DSS I told him not to and asked him to apologise to DSS (by giving him a kiss as he can't say sorry), so its not as if I'm expecting more from DSS than I am from DS.

Basically DH is angry at me for making a mountain out of a molehill, but this has only happened because DH stepped in and got angry. I expect both the boys to treat each other and each other's things with respect and I am fed up of DS getting the shit end of the deal whilst DSS can do what he wants without any interference. DH has always disciplined his son when necessary but since DS came along he doesn't any more and I know it's because he is scared of DSS saying something to his mum about being told off, and his mum using it against DH because she thinks DS is struggling to adjust with us having a second child (even though she has another child a month older than ours).

I just don't know what to do any more. J feel like I can't discipline DSS without DH having a go at me, but I look after DSS a lot whilst DH is at work and I'm not having him picking on my son, especially when I pull DS up on his behaviour when he is unkind to DSS.

I know this is a DH problem, he admitted this morning after the argument that this is new to him and he is struggling with getting the right balance, but I can't put up with the constant arguing any time I dare to say a word against DSS.

I don't even know what I'm looking for with this post, I suppose I'm just venting. I just feel like my DS is getting the shit end of the stick whilst DSS can do whatever he wants.

OP’s posts: |
Handsfull13 Fri 27-Apr-18 09:21:28

You sound really fair with your parenting. And seem to be handling it well. I think you need a frank chat with your husband about his expectations as a family.
Point out that he has stopped parenting out of fear so you have continued it to keep the consistency. Him undermining you isn't helping but if he has a better suggestion you are happy to talk about it.
At the end of the day if he isn't going to let you parent your step son then he needs childcare when he is working. (It's kind of an empty threat but does sometimes work to put your point across)
You just need to stay calm and consistent for the children.

Bananasinpyjamas11 Fri 27-Apr-18 09:42:00

I asked him for an answer, at which point DH walked in and went ballistic at me.

There is your problem. Your DH needs to allow you to find your own level of parenting with your step son. As long as you are not picking on him unnecessarily? Be honest. It’s hard and sometimes not easy to find the joy in parenting a step child.

However it’s a massive over reaction from your DH. I’d try counselling? It’s really worth getting a third party in. And even a parenting course. Just to give that extra help. You need to manage your DHs expectations of this family.

Also, do some great fun outings together sometimes. Where you get to treat both boys. Let everyone see that you are not just the disciplined one.

DuchyDuke Fri 27-Apr-18 09:45:34

Your DH was right in that it is petty. I personally would make ALL toys communal, even ‘special’ ones. If they break they break so what. It’s just stuff.

BPG20 Fri 27-Apr-18 09:52:35

I'm very seriously considering counselling and spent yesterday afternoon trying to find something that would fit in around DHs job (we already had several medical appointments a week at the moment so no way he can get any more time off).

The problem with communal toys Duchy is the age difference. DSS has a tablet and several other expensive things that DS could break in an instant because he is too young to understand (everything gets thrown at the moment). Or smaller collectibles that DS would put in his mouth and choke on. Or trading cards that DS would rip.

I believe I was being fair, and DH has since told me that he overreacted and that he thinks DSS is struggling to adapt to having a younger sibling here who he now has to be very conscious of (should have mentioned in OP that DS is adopted and has only been home a relatively short amount of time - didn't mean to dripfeed).

OP’s posts: |
BPG20 Fri 27-Apr-18 09:55:46

Also we've just got back from a weekend away where we had lots of family time, I'm making a lot of effort to do nice things as a family. I've even given up my hobby so that DH can take DSS to his hobby (same hobby - my class would start just after DSS's finished so DH had to be home put DS to bed) because DSS was sad his dad couldn't watch him anymore. Which means the one thing that I did for myself, that I really enjoy, and the only break I really get from DS, I've given up so that DSS can have his dad watch him do it.

OP’s posts: |
DuchyDuke Fri 27-Apr-18 09:56:27

Bloomin’ hec. You could have mentioned the adopted part earlier! In that case you absolutely must nip this behaviour in the bud as it could shore up additional issues for your son in the future. I still suggest making communal toys - maybe the appropriate stuff? I personally would make the tablet communal and let DS use it under supervision.

BPG20 Fri 27-Apr-18 10:04:12

I'm really not sure DSS has any appropriate stuff to share with DS sad it's all tiny or tech, and I don't really want DS using tablets etc yet (feel guilty enough about the excessive use of the television. He is really not very gentle! Also it's stuff DS has received for himself over birthdays Christmas etc and it feels a bit mean to tell him it's no longer his stuff but also his brothers, especially if he is struggling to adapt to having a sibling. All I want from him is to treat his brother with the same respect he is shown - not taking his things, asking nicely, apologising.

DSS really is a fantastic child, he's not at all mean spirited, we have had a small issue of him seeming to regress since DS came home (DSS has started using baby talk, wanting to watch CBeebies, playing with all the baby toys) which we have been trying to deal with so not sure if this is just a part of that.

OP’s posts: |
Aprilmightbemynewname Fri 27-Apr-18 10:10:21

Can you invest in some toys that need to be shared?
Half an hour share time every day, a time to be considerate?
Make sure you do some big boys stuff when ds is asleep. Make cakes or something!! There needs to be a bonus on being the oldest imo.

colditz Fri 27-Apr-18 10:12:24

"All I want from him is to treat his brother with the same respect he is shown "

COmpletely unrealistic - he's 8, not 38.

Now consider his life from HIS point of view.

Dad lives elsewhere and he only sees dad at weekends. Mum has had a baby and suddenly life is all about babies. Be quiet, you'll wake the baby. Don't leave that there, the baby will eat it. Be nice to the baby. Baby baby baby baby baby. Thank GOD he can go to his dad's for some attention and some peace! Oh - another baby. And weird rules around Baby's toys that my mum doesn't have because she loves BOTH her children. And I'm horrible and rude, apparently. Oh.

BPG20 Fri 27-Apr-18 10:15:41

Buying some shared toys might work!

He does enjoy the 'park of a later bedtime; at the weekends we will get some popcorn and watch a film he chooses, or play a board game. We eat together (DS eats at 5pm, we eat at 7pm once DH is home) and always gets the choice between eating earlier or waiting until his dad is home, and always wants to wait.

I feel like DSS has definitely got the better deal and we make accommodations for him because he's only here half the time and that this is at his brothers expense.

OP’s posts: |
BPG20 Fri 27-Apr-18 10:19:18

*Now consider his life from HIS point of view.

Dad lives elsewhere and he only sees dad at weekends. Mum has had a baby and suddenly life is all about babies. Be quiet, you'll wake the baby. Don't leave that there, the baby will eat it. Be nice to the baby. Baby baby baby baby baby. Thank GOD he can go to his dad's for some attention and some peace! Oh - another baby. And weird rules around Baby's toys that my mum doesn't have because she loves BOTH her children. And I'm horrible and rude, apparently. Oh.*

Yup this was his mum's argument too - we were a safe haven away from babies. I think it's ridiculous to expect me to remain childless to accommodate his need for a home where there's not another child.

I don't have any rules around the baby's toys. I just don't expect him to snatch from his brother whilst he is playing with his own toys, especially when I don't allow DS to touch DSS's toys.

Also never said he was horrible and rude. I've said I love him and he is fantastic.

Any chance you're projecting?

OP’s posts: |
takeittakeit Fri 27-Apr-18 10:30:12

Have to agree with Colditz.

Your issues with your DP you need to address.

However, this is two brothers fighting over toys and you are treating an 8yr old like a 2 yr old - whilst the rules are the same the approach and language are different. Snatching when one has something the ther does not really want but just wants it because .... completely normal sibling behaviour.

Discuss parameters with your DP but you need to learnt o be age appropriate with your children. If your DSS knows that DS is adopted - they are the same to you in his eyes. That is a dynamic which is going to be hard to level - because you are saying to one child - I love you more than the other even though neither of you are actually mine. a very difficult situation and I do not envy you.

DSS - new babies at Mums, new baby at yours - new rules in both paces, all centred around a bloody baby and all restricting him not there for his benefit. Very difficult at such a young age to process.

colditz Fri 27-Apr-18 10:32:23

You haven't taken on board anything I've said, you've just popped off. I said consider life from HIS point of view. You're not, at all. You're still only considering your own point of view.

Of course you cannot remain childfree on the whim of an eight your old, but that's still YOUR point of view. He probably would have rather you did and doesn't see the need for yet another disruptive baby in HIS life.

Of course you don't think he's rude and horrible. But he's got a sibling the same age at home, and he's clearly fine to treat his other sibling that way, so it's only you correcting that behaviour. His actual mother thinks it's fine, YOU don't, ergo you think he's rude and horrible (^he's eight, remember^)

And of course you love him and say he's fantastic. But you tell him off for, to him, completely normal sibling interactions - and he won't feel the love there.

You're expecting him to have an adult understanding of the situation and he's not going to. He's unlikely to feel the level of affection you feel for your baby, ever, and is probably a bit baffled about why you wanted it so much

colditz Fri 27-Apr-18 10:36:28

I feel like DSS has definitely got the better deal and we make accommodations for him because he's only here half the time and that this is at his brothers expense.

Is this how he was treated before the babies came?

because if it was, why would he feel any benefit to having babies in his life.?

MOTHERS like babies. Eight year old boys like chocolate, puppies and not cleaning up after themselves. The best you can hope for WRT babies is them not actively harming it.

Handsfull13 Fri 27-Apr-18 10:54:37

The adoption was one hell of a drip feed there.
But mostly I stand by what I said the first time.
But I agree with other posters you need communal toys, your son can have special toys aswell which aren't communal like favourite teddy and best car which can be put in his room when ss is staying.
Then you aren't dealing with who's toys they are you are just dealing with snatching which is a normal sibling problem which you can deal with fairly. But you still need to discuss with your husband how you both will go about it.
Regressing a little when a new baby is brought home is normal, my SS is 15 and he got more child like when our babies came home. He realised it wasn't for him and grew up again. Your SS will start acting older again when he is settled and realises it's more fun being bigger you just have to lightly encourage it.

swingofthings Fri 27-Apr-18 11:05:31

You were absolutely right to pick up on your dss behaviour but I can see how your OH felt your were making a mountain out of a molehill. You told him off you explained why it was wrong pushing him to tell you how he would feel if it was the other way around was a step not necessary when he didn't know what to answer you.

You should have left it there as I agree thst his behaviour was quite normal for his age and not one to make a principle of.

TheBlueDot Fri 27-Apr-18 11:11:37

Your DSS is young enough to still enjoy playing with toys. It must be tricky for him to NOT want to play with toys freely available downstairs and to understand that he has to ask a baby if it’s ok to play - why are t these shared toys? By making this about DS toys vs DSS toys you’re setting them up to compete.

DS toys can be sharing toys that everyone can play with downstairs. DSS toys can be sharing, but as if happens that the youngest sibling is too young to play with them, they can be met upstairs.

Do you send DSS upstairs to play with his toys on his own? I’d suggest you let him come downstairs and play around you and DS. Hemust feel a bit as if he’s banished upstairs, and told off when he is downstairs.

NorthernSpirit Fri 27-Apr-18 11:12:48

Sorry, haven’t read the entire thread, just your original post OP.

2 things stand out for me - your DSS sounds like he suffers from only child syndrome. Won’t share. How does he get on at school? This needs to be nipped in the bud by your OH. Kids need to learn to work with others and share. Or they become selfish.

Your OH sounds like a Disney dad and he isn’t stepping up and parenting. He needs to nip this behaviour in the bud - it will only get worse.

BPG20 Fri 27-Apr-18 11:13:27

We definitely make a lot more effort to ensure DS gets more one-on-one interaction with his dad, and that he has more 'perks of being the big brother, since DS came home. I posted a couple of examples but there are more.

I don't think anyone can comment on 8yo's not having any interest in babies. DSS adores them. He was desperate for a baby brother. I know the reality of it is different, but he is very engaged with his brother and dotes on him. I don't think that all I can expect from DSS is for him not to actively harm him and I think that's a pretty shitty expectation from any sibling to another. Also DSS did not take a toy that DS wasn't playing with - he took the toy he was playing with and kept moving it out of reach and then taking bits off of DS so he couldn't play. I get that it's normal behaviour (I have siblings) but that doesn't mean I should turn a blind eye. I wouldn't allow him to do it to his friends if we were visiting them, or his cousins, so I don't think I should let him do it to his brother?

OP’s posts: |
BPG20 Fri 27-Apr-18 11:17:29

BlueDot DSS is free to play with any toy in the house. I have only asked him this morning to start asking his brother (a toddler, so not really a baby) to play with his toys BECAUSE he was snatching them and putting them out of reach. Up until now he could play with whatever he likes except the ride on toy I mentioned which he is far too big for.

We never send DSS up to play on his own. He doesnt really have "toys" that he plays with but he is welcome to bring anything down that he wants- books, colouring, his tablet etc and I keep DS away from them whilst DSS has them so they don't get damaged. DSS will occasionally take himself off to his room to play quietly - he is always told that that's fine if he wants quiet time butbhes also welcome to bring anything he wants downstairs. He doesn't want his things down here as he doesn't want DS playing with them.

OP’s posts: |
BPG20 Fri 27-Apr-18 11:19:29

*You were absolutely right to pick up on your dss behaviour but I can see how your OH felt your were making a mountain out of a molehill. You told him off you explained why it was wrong pushing him to tell you how he would feel if it was the other way around was a step not necessary when he didn't know what to answer you.

You should have left it there as I agree thst his behaviour was quite normal for his age and not one to make a principle of.*

Thanks swing, I see what you're saying but it was a calm and quiet discussion until DH came in so I wasn't deliberately making a big thing of it, I didn't know that DSS wouldn't be able to answer me until I asked. I'm just trying to teach him empathy, thought it was fairly normal to ask a child how it would feel if someone had done the same to them?

OP’s posts: |
Handsfull13 Fri 27-Apr-18 11:46:36

It's normal to ask kids how they would feel about it happening to them but it's normal they won't actually answer but just take it in.
I think you're doing the right thing but I would get rid of SS asking to play with toys but focusing instead on the not snatching.
I think a lot of us posting that it's normal to snatch and hide toys mean that you should be dealing with that behaviour aswell. But it's something you need to talk to your husband about and point out it's normal for siblings so it isn't a sign your SS is having problems with having a new sibling at all.

BPG20 Fri 27-Apr-18 12:10:31

Thank you Handsfull, I was expecting him to say something like "it would make me feel sad" but if it's normal for them not to answer but just take it in then that's fine, I accept that my expectations were unrealistic smile I think the problem is that DSS has always been very well behaved so whenever he has moments of not being "Perfect" his parents think there must be a deeper issue. And therefore place the blame of his behaviour on something else, when actually it's just him not being perfect (because who is?!?).

So I see what he did as something that was a bit unkind and he needs to apologise for, whereas DH and his ex would see it as him struggling with DS, therefore placing the blame on him rather than DSS.

OP’s posts: |
MeridianB Fri 27-Apr-18 15:43:44

Hi BGP

I have a similar age gap and did exactly the same with toys. You have to keep the older child's toys safe from baby and baby safe from the older child's toys.

In our case the older child had no interest in the baby's toys, which makes me think your DSS would like more attention. Does he have any 1:1 time with his Dad? Maybe step this up - can they do some kind of 'big boys' activity together each week for a couple of hours? Swimming, lunch, cinema, cycling?

8 is a tricky age and we saw the beginning of being less childlike and more changeable behavior - not wanting to do things previously loved and getting more into computer games. It heralded the start of pre-puberty.

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