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Something Stepson said

(77 Posts)
HatRack Thu 04-Jun-20 10:39:43

I'm engaged to my partner of one year. He split with his ex two years ago.

Last night his 9yr old son got upset, started crying and then told his dad that he's sick of moving between houses (we do 50 50).

What does this mean? And what can we do to help him?

OP’s posts: |
AllsortsofAwkward Thu 04-Jun-20 10:40:44

Listen to him he sounds like 50/50 isnt feasible for him and he prefers to have a main base.

aSofaNearYou Thu 04-Jun-20 10:42:44

Did he say where he would prefer to live?

HatRack Thu 04-Jun-20 10:46:27

So it's a case of asking him where he'd prefer to live?

What about his two other siblings who also move between houses?

OP’s posts: |
HatRack Thu 04-Jun-20 10:49:04

So was this his way of saying he wants to see his dad "less"? (All his friends and school is at his mams). That's so sad. His dad tries so hard to be a good parent.

OP’s posts: |
Glowcat Thu 04-Jun-20 10:51:03

How far apart are his two homes?

AllsortsofAwkward Thu 04-Jun-20 10:51:49

Yes its what'd best for him it's clear the arrangement isnt working and his needs are paramount not you're parents.

Lynda07 Thu 04-Jun-20 10:54:35

It's not that he wants to see dad less so much as prefers being in the home that he considers his own, near friends, etc. His needs must be considered as must his siblings when they express them. He will still see his dad regularly and stay sometimes but not having to 'live' somewhere half the time will make him feel more secure. This is not an unusual situation.

HatRack Thu 04-Jun-20 11:06:27

About a 15minute drive apart.

OP’s posts: |
Emmagen Thu 04-Jun-20 11:06:25

It's not that he doesn't want to see his dad. He just wants a home base that feels more secure. Moving around so much and spending half the time at 2 different places you think should make him have 2 real homes, maybe it's making him feel more like he has no real home and always feels a bit like a guest. I can't even imagine how it feels to have nowhere you feel is really home.

Don't resent him for that. It's hard to tell adults things like that. It's not his dad's fault and it isn't a slight

Emmagen Thu 04-Jun-20 11:07:43

So it's not far? Could he start going home more in the week? So come over for dinner, spend time with his dad but then go home to sleep?

TooSadToSay Thu 04-Jun-20 11:09:12

Could you book a session with a therapist who could bring everyone together and facilitate this tricky conversation?

Bubblesbubblesmybubbles Thu 04-Jun-20 11:11:37

50:50 is hard work as a child I found (when i was the child). I never felt settled anywhere. Its not against the parent but it just felt like constant coming and going, talk to him and see what he would like to do

MarkRuffaloCrumble Thu 04-Jun-20 11:13:55

So was this his way of saying he wants to see his dad "less"? (All his friends and school is at his mams). That's so sad. His dad tries so hard to be a good parent.

You and his dad need to listen without being defensive. He’s said that he’s sick of the disruption of living in two places. He hasn’t said he doesn’t love his dad or that he wants to see him less. It’s not a criticism of your DP’s parenting or a reason for him to put his bottom lip out. It’s an opportunity to really listen to this child who has been brave and confident enough to voice that he’s not happy with his life as it is now.

What you choose to do with that is up to you, but I’d suggest dad sitting down with him and discussing what he can do to make the transition easier. Would week on/week off work better, or 3/4 etc. Would DSS prefer to have duplicates of his stuff at both houses, or would he rather bring things back and forth to make sure he has all his own stuff around. Would he rather be at one particular house at weekends etc - and try to make it work for him. It will require the grown-ups to take his views into account. It may mean more/less maintenance to be paid, or for the adults concerned to look at their work patterns and find a way to work around them, but he’s telling your clearly that this isn’t working for him, so drop the idea that this is all about your partner’s feelings on the matter, and listen.

HatRack Thu 04-Jun-20 11:17:31

Studies show that 50 50 is best for children's psychological development:

www.todaysparent.com/family/parenting/divorce-most-kids-thrive-better-with-this-custody-arrangement/

OP’s posts: |
MarkRuffaloCrumble Thu 04-Jun-20 11:17:35

FWIW mine moaned about having to pack a bag, remember all their uniform, take toys, laptops etc just for a single night at their dad’s house! If yours are having to do that but with more stuff and more forward planning, it’s not surprising he’s had enough. It’s a pain living out of a suitcase. If you can find ways to make it less hassle for him, give him flexibility (when life is back to normal, to invite friends over etc) maybe he will feel better about it?

Starlight39 Thu 04-Jun-20 11:17:58

Unfortunately I’d say 50:50 is very hard for a child and the best thing a parent can do for their child is be willing to spend less time with them if that’s the right thing for the child. As upsetting as I can understand that can be (that goes for the mum too if SS would rather spend more time at dads). Can he have a conversation with stepson and just ask what his ideal would be. Maybe they can increase the time during the holidays? Or would it help to increase the length of time spent in each home so there’s less travelling between? I’d just reassure SS that you’re happy to listen and work something out together.

HatRack Thu 04-Jun-20 11:19:59

Thank you Mark. That's a really helpful post.

OP’s posts: |
MarkRuffaloCrumble Thu 04-Jun-20 11:22:03

Studies show that 50 50 is best for children's psychological development

And yet everyone I’ve known who started that way, has ended up having one main home, with the non-resident parent visiting them at that home and rarely even taking them back to theirs! 3 families I know have all ended up this way, starting from 50/50 originally.

It may be considered best in terms of both parents being equal, but there is plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest that not all kids enjoy this arrangement. It may depend on their ages, the set-up at each house, whether they have their own room, or a similar lifestyle at each house etc. But I don’t know a single family who have successfully maintained true 50/50 and have their DCs happy about it.

ThisMustBeMyDream Thu 04-Jun-20 11:24:04

There's a lot of assumptions that mums is his "home" and dad's is just a place he visits.

Is that the case?

If 50/50 isn't working, after looking at better ways of working, then which home does he want to spend more time in?

aSofaNearYou Thu 04-Jun-20 11:26:14

I think everyone is jumping the gun a bit. I don't think it's always as simple as just asking him where he wants to live - it also needs to be established whether that is also possible or practical with both parents schedules. Presumably things are organised to suit this arrangement. It would also be better if the siblings had the same arrangement, so I would be trying to establish how long he's felt this way, how serious he is about it, and whether there's anything that can be done to make him feel better about it before throwing the towel in, especially if it's not even plausible.

Try and find out what bothers him about it, is it missing his mum, missing his stuff, is there something he's allowed to do at his mum's that he isn't at yours that you didn't realise was important to him?

HatRack Thu 04-Jun-20 11:27:29

*There's a lot of assumptions that mums is his "home" and dad's is just a place he visits.

Is that the case?*

Yes, that seems to be the language the kids use.

OP’s posts: |
MarkRuffaloCrumble Thu 04-Jun-20 11:27:31

Given that the study linked above is based on Swedish pre-schoolers, I’m not sure it’s valid here. I think it’s great for younger kids to keep a strong bond with both parents, but if it’s not working, both parents have to be able to question what can be done to change it. And it’s not about what’s fair for the parents - it’s about what’s fair for the children.

HatRack Thu 04-Jun-20 11:30:00

I know his mum lets the kids stay up till midnight, which is not something we find appropriate.

OP’s posts: |
IncrediblySadToo Thu 04-Jun-20 11:30:56

There are just as many studies to show it's not good for children.

But all you need to know is that is not good for your DSS. He's unhappy, fed up of moving between houses. Don't take it personally. How would you like to do it? Imagine spending half your week at your mums & half your week at a friends house. As much as you might live them both I'm sure you'd soon get fed up if feeling like neither place is home and having to pack stuff up and remember everything every few days, endlessly.

You need to look at better options for HIM. The others might prefer to stay the same or do what he's doing.

There are so many options.

How would he feel about a full week at each house?

Just weekends so his school stuff stays at his Mams?

More term time at one more holiday time at the other?

It's not about 'love' it's about not being anywhere long enough to feel like it's 'home' and the constant upheaval.

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