Wife insists that I watch 10yr old step son while she is at work

(197 Posts)
Conradicus Thu 24-Sep-20 04:26:23

Hi everyone, just looking for some opinions on what is a sensible course of action.

simple situation: Today is Wednesday, and I scheduled a rehearsal with my band for this Friday. I don't work Wednesday, and the other members are free that day as well. So, because this is the only time we will be able to meet before one of our members has to leave town for a week, and because everyone is free, i confirmed my availability. When my wife came home after work (step son in bed) I told her that I had a rehearsal first thing when I saw her. She immediately became defensive and said that I had to watch her son. She goes to work at 3:30, and the rehearsal starts at noon and won't go for more than 5 hrs. It immediately became a problem where she brought our marriage into question, stating that he needs to be my #1 priority and that all else follows. She said that if I was unable to work something else out, that I would have to cancel. Bear in mind that weekdays, he is home alone for between 4-5 hours because both of us work (he is in online school due to the pandemic).

Now, the difficulty is that she is unwilling to compromise, and that it is MY responsibility to work something out so that I can go to the rehearsal. I proposed 3 things. 1. That I come home at 3:30 when she goes to work. 2 That we have the rehearsal at our house. 3. I ask my sister to watch him. the first two she outright denied as being a possibility even though neither directly effects her, and the 3rd, she says that it's my job to ask my sister to watch her son. This band is one of my top priorities in life, and when she married me, she knew that I aspire to become a professional musician. I just want some help with how to talk with her about this without sending her the false message that her son is not important to me. He is very important to me and I love him and care about his well being and education. What can I do? is two days in advance too short of notice? Is she being uncompromising or is it just me because I want to be able to fully dedicate myself to this band, which she knows is very very important to me.

Thanks, name redacted by MNHQ

OP’s posts: |
Plesky Thu 24-Sep-20 04:50:17

But surely you’re aware of your wife’s work schedule more than two days in advance, and that your stepson is young enough to need to be looked after while she works? Who did you think was looking after him?

QueenOfPain Thu 24-Sep-20 04:52:09

YANBU, sounds like she’s being a bit of a dick. Either of your first two suggestions would have been fine if she was genuinely just concerned about childcare. But we know that’s not really the case don’t we because of all the time he spends alone in the week.

Five hours for band practice is a bit much though, unless you’ve not been able to practice in months or have some incredibly importing show/recording coming up or something?

My dp is in a band, they practice once a week (if that), usually around an hour to an hour and a half. They are regularly putting out new stuff and recording, have played large UK rock/metal festivals. 5 hours seems like a lot.

Straven123 Thu 24-Sep-20 04:53:11

Take him with you.

QueenOfPain Thu 24-Sep-20 04:53:33

@Plesky Perhaps his did could have had him? Also, OP mentions his wife has no qualms leaving the boy to homeschool himself during the week for several hours on end while they both work.

Cynara Thu 24-Sep-20 04:59:36

She's very unreasonable and this isn't about the childcare. If he's home alone on other occasions and options 1 and 2 (both perfectly reasonable) were offered and declined, then she has some other issue and she's hiding behind the childcare thing. Does your wife have a problem with you being in the band in general? Or does she just expect you to jump every time she makes a demand and doesn't like you having any other priorities?
What's the background with her son's dad? Can he watch him while his mother's at work?

Mummyoflittledragon Thu 24-Sep-20 05:06:42

I’m wondering if she’s fed up with all the rehearsals. 5 hours is a long time. Is the band taking over your life?


SenorFrog Thu 24-Sep-20 05:09:45

You married a woman with a child, that child becomes a priority for you too. Simple as that really. That said, if he gets left at others times then surely it's ok to leave him again; or the other solutions you mentioned; or take him with you.

Nikori Thu 24-Sep-20 05:11:38

As wonderful as being in a band is, does it actually pay any money? Maybe your wife is frustrated with you not working and spending your time on music.

mayflowerapplepie Thu 24-Sep-20 05:27:10

Ok. Issues I can see:
1. Your ten year old step son should surely not be left alone for that long every day
2. He is your step son and you have taken on some responsibility for him but ultimately he is not your child
3. Once there IS a child around you probably should run commitments past each other before saying yes
4. I think that given you both leave him all the time anyway your wife is being a bit of a dick about an hour or two more...

Mintjulia Thu 24-Sep-20 05:30:39

I'd be very concerned about leaving a child that age for 4-5 hours a day regularly.

Your suggestions are all reasonable. Take your dss with you or hold the rehearsal at your house. Find him a quiet room, settle him with his laptop and make sure he is online & connected. If your wife isn't there she can't really dictate how you care for dss.

Your wife sounds very stressed.

TitsOutForHarambe Thu 24-Sep-20 05:50:56

What's the issue with you leaving rehearsal early to be back at 3.30? I can't see any problem with this at all. It's what I would do if I were in your shoes.

MaggieAndHopey Thu 24-Sep-20 05:59:51


As wonderful as being in a band is, does it actually pay any money? Maybe your wife is frustrated with you not working and spending your time on music.

Did you miss the two times the OP mentions having a job too?

Nikori Thu 24-Sep-20 06:03:26

Did you miss the two times the OP mentions having a job too?

Yup, I completely did. I really need to look into getting some glasses.

Thack Thu 24-Sep-20 06:09:00

Longer term solution - get the lad a guitar for Christmas. Instruments are good for kids right? Maybe the idea of joining in one day would spur him on and then DW would have to see your band as good for DSS too.

Jamhandprints Thu 24-Sep-20 06:09:10

Wow, so sad to leave a 10 year old alone for hours every day. If you're in the UK this is REALLY not ok.

Threeisnotacrowd Thu 24-Sep-20 06:14:36

Seems odd to me that you are married and refer to him as “her son”

Surely he can come to the rehearsal with you? Either be dropped there or you pop out to get him?

Or you ask your sister to look after YOUR son? I can’t see the issue with this one

MagpieSong Thu 24-Sep-20 06:16:12

It’s hard to say as it could be you’re always rehearsing and, as much as you say you care about Step Son, perhaps you don’t actually do much and she’s feeling miffed. Equally, she could be being unreasonable. Hard to tell.

To be fair, in Covid times, a rehearsal at her house does affect her, you don’t know if you’re exposing her son and we don’t know if it would break the rule of six. Also, maybe she’s just irked you’d suggest your sister watching him and not accept some parental responsibility yourself.

worldweary45 Thu 24-Sep-20 06:22:19

Why is it on Mumsnet when a step mother posts about a father's expectation that she looks after his child on her day off, there are loads of shouts of 'his child, his responsibility' -but when a step father posts the same thing he's told to step up and take some parental responsibility?

OP -she's pissed off about the 5 hour band rehearsal, this has nothing to do with childcare

mathanxiety Thu 24-Sep-20 06:22:41

is it just me because I want to be able to fully dedicate myself to this band,

Yes, I think it's just you.

You married a woman who has a son and a job. You can't fully dedicate yourself to a band and also to a wife and stepson while holding down a job too.

Do you want a wife or a band?

As to your suggestions:
I don't think having a band plug all your instruments and amps in in your home for five hours at a stretch is a good idea. You may have neighbours who would object, especially if they are trying to work from home. You could blow fuses.
Do you have form for saying you will be back at a certain time and then turning up late? Have you caused her to be late to work in the past?
Yes, it is your job to ask your sister to take your stepson for the afternoon if you are the person who is supposed to be doing the parenting for the afternoon. If you are dropping a previously agreed arrangement (i.e. you looking after the lad for the afternoon) then you are the one who has to come up with an alternative arrangement. Your wife isn't the secretary facilitating your music career and picking up the slack.

NoSquirrels Thu 24-Sep-20 06:23:19

Not sure.

Much depends on whether you knew you were expected to watch him. And if you know your wife is working, and you are off, then I think it was perfectly reasonable for her to assume you knew you were supposed to be being the parent figure, not the fancy-free singleton.

That he's alone for 4-5 hours while you both work is a red herring. Presumably your wife is of the opinion that you shouldn't be leaving a 10-year-old to his own devices for even MORE time when it is avoidable.

Your solutions aren't bad - she's being a bit weird digging her heels in there - but you should have had him as number 1 priority in your mind, and then checked in about possibly solutions etc BEFORE arranging your rehearsal.

Basically, act like the father figure not the feckless muso. Family (& relationship) first, band second.

You can make it work, I am sure. However, loads of musicians are a bit selfish about their time and energy and put the music first - if that's you, don't make it about her "knowing" it's super important to you, be honest - you are valuing the music over the relationship. Don't make it her issue to accommodate you, make it your mission to make it work without compromising the other important stuff.

RomanyBlood Thu 24-Sep-20 06:24:26

Why can’t he sit in in your band practice 3.30 to 5? Either she drops him off or you nip out and collect him? He can read in the corner with a snack. Or help with simple support tasks - train him up, he’ll love it!

Minimumstandard Thu 24-Sep-20 06:30:21

She's being very unreasonable. He's not a toddler who needs constant supervision. So taking him with you/having the rehearsal at yours are perfectly reasonable suggestions. Also, and I might get flamed for this, he's not your child and the people with primary responsibility for childcare for him are his mum and dad. It's lovely that you help (and stops his mum from needing to book a babysitter, which might have an impact on the family finances, if you share them). But if she's unhappy with your suggestions/you're unavailable, it's her responsibility to find an alternative.

SimonJT Thu 24-Sep-20 06:30:45

Why isn’t she sorting out appropriate childcare for her son? Hes her son, when she is unable to care for him due to work she should be arranging childcare for those days in advance. Unless you said “I will have him on Friday” she should assume she needs to sort care for him.

Minimumstandard Thu 24-Sep-20 06:32:53

@worldweary45. Completely agree! What is it with parents trying to offload their responsibilities for their own children onto others?

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