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House rules that work for teens and DS?

(13 Posts)
Azzak Sat 14-Dec-13 12:37:30

I was divorced for 10 years before DH moved in 4 years ago and we've been married for 1yr. DD has just started at uni and DS will hopefully be at uni in a years time. The relationship between DS/DD and DS has been v strained. The dislike between them feels very strong. Recently DH and DS had a fall out and DS told me he wants to move out. DD is so happy and smiling since starting uni and she's not looking forwards to seeing DH again. DH is also anxious about DD coming back home for hols.

A bit of me was thinking that things will get easier if we can hang on 7 months til after A level exams and DS goes off on travels. Hearing that DS wants to move out has hit me hard and I'm devastated. I've got to try something different.

We need something practical and I've thought about suggesting house rules for discussion and agreement next week when DS arrives home from uni. Ideas I've had so far are:
1. keep voices calm - if feel or notice raised voices/emotions declare time out and both parties leave the room
2. clean kitchen at all times (DH's biggest gripe)
3. when in kitchen for more than 30 mins agree timings with others (when kitchen 'hogged' for 2 hours I get lots of complaints from all)
4. mark on calendar when out (all have said that not knowing when other party is going to be in the house raises anxiety levels)
5. it's ok not to like someone and we are each responsible for being polite with those we don't like (DD, DS and DH all saying they're trying to like the other(s) for my sake but their behaviour is saying quite different things)

I'm not sure how these will work. I'm wondering if others have established ground rules that have had a big impact? Any advice on what works and what doesn't work much appreciated.

Any other advice on what works when relationships have broken down much appreciated

RandomMess Sat 14-Dec-13 12:42:30

How about the 4 of you discussing and agreeing house rules together.

You could suggest those and ask if anyone has any opinions on them and other rules they'd like in there?

CAn you bring some humour into the discussions - like parading around with a big board that says "I want to hog the kitchen for 2 hours"???

GaryTheTankEngine Sat 14-Dec-13 12:45:09

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Azzak Sat 14-Dec-13 15:56:36

Yes, I plan for the 4 of us to discuss and agree house rules.
Humour would be tricky to start with as we're all so miserable/angry because of the tensions. However, I'll try if it feels right.

It's absolutely not a nice family atmosphere! I've seen other discussions suggest house rules as a way to repair relationships. I'm hoping the house rules will improve the atmosphere a little. At this point I can't ever imagine DH liking DS or DD, nor DS or DD ever liking DH. Me and DH are very happy when we're alone.
How would you suggest relationships are repaired?

Last year I tried getting DH and DD to agree what they need from each other to be happier but it didn't work. I'm now starting with what I need (and my perceptions of what they all need) to try and move forwards.

I'm really interested in hearing if other stepfamilies have found house rules that made things easier for teens and DH.

mathanxiety Sat 14-Dec-13 22:30:23

It seems your children have had to deal with someone who has established a rule about an important place in the house without much consultation with others who also use that room?

If people are talking about 'hogging' the kitchen then clearly it is seen as somebody's turf. Maybe it is symbolic turf -- whoever rules the kitchen rules the family.

I think it is time for you to put on your big girl panties and assert your ownership of the kitchen and position as parent and head of house. You need to make rules and tell everyone else to toe the line. They are all involved in some drama designed to establish which of them you like most. As long as you put up with the fighting, they all think they have a chance to win you. So put your foot down and end it.

Your kitchen, your rules.
when in kitchen for more than 30 mins agree timings with others (when kitchen 'hogged' for 2 hours I get lots of complaints from all)
This is not workable.

Tell them all to grow up and that you are not one bit impressed by any of them. If there's any discussion of house rules or anything else, let them have it among themselves and do not get involved. They are behaving like a bunch of children. Your DS's threat to leave is raising the ante in the fight for ownership of you.

Tell them you do not care whether they like each other and how they get along is their business. Don't play this game of theirs.

However you need to talk with
(1) your children about their feelings when you and DH got together, displacement, etc.
(2) your DH about being a numpty wrt the children and 'turf' battles. He needs to behave like a grownup.

NoComet Sat 14-Dec-13 22:35:55

No idea, mum cooked and washed just as she always had, the idea of her letting us make a mess of the kitchen is utterly alien.

You said where you were going and when you'd be back.

And you were!

Azzak Sat 14-Dec-13 23:12:37

Yikes! If I'm to take over the kitchen I'll have to start doing all the cooking again!

Are you in a stepfamily? Did this tactic work for you?

ivykaty44 Sat 14-Dec-13 23:20:30

why don't your dc like your dh? Why doesn't your dh like your dc?

Yes it is fine not to like someone, but often that person doesn't live with you or live with a parent of yours

mathanxiety Sat 14-Dec-13 23:58:47

I'm not in a stepfamily, but exSIL and exBIL now have a happy one because exSIL got MAD (she grew up in a military family and it was s sight to see and hear apparently) and drew a line in the sand.

Basically you have a power vacuum in your family and you are the only one in a position to fill it.

You have to take the kitchen back. It is your seat of power.

Play your cards right and you won't have to do all the cooking either.

Get a big freezer.
Get DH and DS to cook four meals between them (kitchen to themselves if necessary).
They can arrange times to do this themselves, and they can also arrange that they do not duplicate meals (so no lasagne four days running). Then you cook the remaining three meals. Or they each cook three meals if you really hate cooking. But the important thing is they answer to you and they run their meal ideas by you (to show them that they answer to you) and you leave all the rest of the details to them.

They are not going to get better at getting along if you are going to be the buffer between them.

As far as coming and going and general tidyness goes, rule can be as Starballbunny described: leave it as mum wants it (everyone else can go and suck their thumbs on this one -- it's your kitchen and your rules and standards obtain), and everyone has the decency to tell you when they are out and when they expect to be back, and also to call if they are delayed. Not because their turf is being threatened by the presence of another person but because they all owe it to you.

Crack the whip.

Azzak Tue 17-Dec-13 21:05:45

I sat them down, explained why the rules, told them the rules, asked if agreed, they all agreed. All looked a little shocked I was being so assertive.
An attempt the next morning to change a rule, tantrum because I refused. I was so angry I wasn't being taken seriously I broke rule number 1 and talked about the front door. I later apologised for breaking a rule and continued to refuse to change on the grounds all had agreed and we need to see if the rules can work for 1 week before changing any of them.
Yesterday it was very frosty in the house.
Today house is feeling calmer and everyone talking calmly to each other. So far so good!!! smile Taking it all one day at a time.

Not in my nature to be controlling and inflexible but good to know I can do it when the situation demands. I haven't taken all the advice in this thread word for word. All the postings were helpful in getting me to think differently and to find a solution which is working (so far).

Many Thanks everyone for your advice and support

RandomMess Tue 17-Dec-13 21:31:24

I really hope it works out for you all!

mathanxiety Tue 17-Dec-13 22:24:55

Well done. Stick to your guns.

Frosty is better than all of them fighting like toddlers among themselves over whose mummy you are. They will actually feel better when they know for sure who is in charge.

ShesYourDaughter Tue 17-Dec-13 22:37:47

Go girl!

Small steps. One at a time.

Hang in there.

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