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Frustrations on weekends with dad

(9 Posts)
turnupthebass Sat 12-Mar-05 09:39:35

I know this is probably common but we have a real problem when our boys go to their dads (every other weekend). I am stepdad to 3 lovely children, whose dad doesn't make any effort at all towards the personal hygiene of the children.

He will be picking them up in 10 minutes and will have them til 6 on Sunday night. In that time they will not have a bath, shower, wash of any sort and will not be asked / told to clean their teeth once either.

I know his and DW's marriage ended badly, but I find it utterly despicable that he uses them like this to score points - as he knows how much it upsets / disgusts us.

We also do our best to send clean clothes for the weekend, as we know he refuses to wash any clothes for them (because 'you got custody' apparently!) - but he doesn't tell them to get changed either (boys are 8 and 11 and being boys do often need telling!).

I know there is nothing we can do to make him look after them better, but it is just so frustrating. And when they visit their paternal grandparents (Sunday afternoon) they will be smelly boys in dirty clothes which makes it look like we can't look after them properly.

Caligula Sat 12-Mar-05 09:57:19

I think there's not a lot you can do about it. It's very difficult, but you just have to grit your teeth and accept the fact that the guy's a slob - there is no real legal mechanism for forcing a parent to look after a child properly. This sort of low-level neglect is a matter of parental choice, rather than state interference.

What you can do at home, is re-inforce to the boys that it's disgusting not to wash or change clothes, and when they're at their Dad's, they are responsible for their own hygiene (as he refuses to take responsibility for it). Put them straight in the bath when they get back to re-inforce to them that it's not acceptable to be habitually dirty for no good reason. Also, you could put some leaflets particularly about cleaning teeth in their bags, to remind them. You could even phone them to remind them to clean their teeth. But just don't discuss it with him anymore; if you think he's doing it to score points, rather than just solely because he's an incorrigible slob, then you're playing into his hands by responding. Just don't reward his puerile behaviour by undue attention (exactly as with a wayward toddler).

And don't worry about the paternal grandparents - who cares what they think about how you look after them? If they are smelly boys in dirty clothes, the grandparents will know they started off the day in their son's house, so it's his fault. If they wilfully choose not to know that, sod 'em. Not your problem.

turnupthebass Sat 12-Mar-05 11:26:05

Thanks Caligula - like the last bit especially!

He definitely does it to score points - in some ways at least I hope so, and that its not just that he doesnt care a damn about them.

Incidentally he isnt a slob per se - he looks after himself perfectly well. We do make a point of discussing it with them, and this morning I tried again by saying make sure you have a wash or you will be smelly, and you wouldn't want people to call you smelly?

We've even bought toothbrushes for them to take there (as he won't buy them any) - but without the reinforcement of being told to do it its all a bit in vain.

The wayward toddler analogy is very appropriate - I have never before come across a grown man (or woman) that behaves so unbelievably childishly.

I just hope in time they will see that we have their best interests at heart, and are not just nagging them all the time - unfortunately the freedom he offers them is probably much more enjoyable to them than us mithering about how clean they are / aren't all the time!

Caligula Sat 12-Mar-05 11:50:10

Ah, the joys of having the rights of a parent without the responbilities of one!

Twiglett Sat 12-Mar-05 11:53:41

actually the more you do what Caligula says, the more chance your children are going to say something in front of their grandparents and to their biological Dad about how disgusting it is to be dirty

kids do love to score points

Surfermum Sat 12-Mar-05 12:21:42

That's great advice from Caligula. My dh and I get the same with his dd but in reverse, as she doesn't live with us. When she arrives her finger nails and toe nails are black and her hair is unkempt, and her clothes are tatty and ill-fitting. The colour of the water turns when she has a shower or bath is unbelievable. When she first started coming to stay her mother sent her in the winter without a coat or jumper. I washed everything she came with overnight and she went home with it clean. The next visit she came with a bag full of dirty, creased clothes and no underwear, and on a third visit she had a bag of clothes for a 2 year old. She was 6.

We couldn't work out whether her mother was doing it deliberately to be awkward or try and wind us up, or whether dsd was sent to pack her things herself, or whether what her mother was sending was what she thought appropriate. Either way, we just didn't say anything whatsoever and just went out and bought her clothes and shoes to have here. Of course I then got accused of spoiling her and when I bought her shoes and clothes to take home I got accused of trying to buy her.

If the x was doing it for a response - tough luck we weren't playing, and if she wasn't and thought what she was doing was OK it was a case of her standards not being the same as ours. We've just concentrated on showing dsd our way of doing things, and think that as she gets older she'll make her choice as to whose way she prefers. And I decided a long time ago that I could be Mother Theresa and dsd's mum would still find fault! Her problem, not mine!!

SadSam Mon 14-Mar-05 09:16:10

I can relate to what Surfermum is saying. When our skids come to ours they are absolutely filthy. She packs them 1 change of clothes only which includes only 1 pair of knickers and socks each and never packs them a toothbrush. However, slightly different situation in that we can NOT get them, for love nor money, to have a bath/shower whilst they are here. We have tried everything! Nice bubble baths, toys in the bath etc etc but nothing works. We also cant get them to clean their teeth even though we have bought them kids toothpaste and novelty toothbrushes. Even if we have them for a whole week, it is exactly the same. We have tried everything to no evail. The only thing that we have done is buy them loads of new clothes, knickers, socks etc that they can wear whilst they are with us and which stay with us when they go back home. However, I do always wash the clothes they come with so they are clean for when they go home.

rickman Mon 14-Mar-05 10:20:10

Message withdrawn

SadSam Mon 14-Mar-05 10:53:25

Hi Rickman. You appear to be in a totally different situation, you seem a decent, loving parent, so I doubt that someone would post those things about you. At the end of the day if a father wants the best for his child then he wouldnt want them to be wearing old and dirty clothes and would buy them new ones. My DP pays over £400 a month in CSA payments and yet the BM is better off than we are! We both work over 50 hours a week each and struggle to even pay the mortgage. She however, does not work (officially), claims all the benefits under the sun, works in pubs and hotels for "cash in hand" money, spends loads of money on clothes for herself, cigarettes and alcohol. This is fine, each to their own, but we have to aswell as paying for CSA payments, pay for clothes for them, toys for them, school uniforms, football kit, dancing classes, football classes etc etc etc and all that coupled with the petrol to have them once a month (they live 200 miles away so it is an 800 mile round trip each time we have them) makes life very hard for us. They are filthy when we have them, but she is beautifully groomed. They only have 2nd hand new clothes, she spends a fortune on clothes for herself, and I dont know if they even possess a toothbrush at home cos they wont use one when they are with us! They eat like horses when we have them and even when we pick them up at tea time, they say they have not eaten all day so we have to stop at Macdonalds (extra cost again) so that they are not hungry on the 2 and a half hours journey back to ours. Sorry I dont mean to digress, but I am just trying to explain that not all fathers are like the father of your child.

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