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What should my DD and her partner do?

(76 Posts)
Seb2015 Tue 03-Jan-17 14:35:20

My eldest DD's DP has two children aged 10 and 7 from a previous relationship and was seeing them most weekends. My DD is a fab step-mum and gives her time generously and lovingly to them both. However, there has always been tension with the children's mum who seems to see my DD as a threat even though she had nothing to do with the breakdown of the relationship.

Anyway, the older of the children has, over the last few months decided that he wants to stay at home and play computer games most weekends, which has greatly upset his dad and my DD. They have tried persuading him; accepting that he has other interests and that he doesn't want to spend all of his free time going to see dad (even though there are always activities for them to do; it's not just a change of wallpaper!) to be told the following weekend that he isn't coming again; telling him that he hasn't got an option - in other words, playing it every way they can think of but to no avail. They are getting no support from the mum who thinks that children should be free to make their own decisions (even to the point of choosing which high school he should go to) and who has made no secret of egging on backing up her son. He, in the way that all children will, had no trouble tearing himself away from his computer games when it came to visiting his dad and DD to get his Christmas presents, nor did he for his birthday.

Any ideas on how to handle this please? They have asked for my input and I think they need to keep the door open to him but, as they don't have any back-up from his mother, their hands are pretty much tied but you wise lot may have some other thoughts.

Lisalou Tue 03-Jan-17 16:24:33

Mmmm, hard one. I think when kids reach a certain age (i presume he is pre-teen/teen?) you cant really force them to visit the other parent. I would be making sure that he knows they are around, text him regularly, maybe meet him after school for tea once in a while? It may be that he doesn't want to go to them on the weekends but would be happy to see them once a week after school. Good luck finding solutions xxx

f77ms Tue 03-Jan-17 16:31:11

My son and dil are going through this at the moment . They had planned a weekend away with my dils 2 little ones 8 and 6 and my sons little boy of 8 . My son sees him regularly at least fri-sunday every week and he gets on very well with his step brother and sister . They rang to arrange a pick up time to be told that he didn`t want to come because he had a new game he wanted to play . My son and dil are going to go for mediation to try to stop this sort of thing from happening , it is not the first time and the little lad also has lots of time off school which they would like to address at the same time . Could your daughter go for mediation? apparently you can still get legal aid if it is for mediation . It seems a good idea to me xx

Luckygirl Tue 03-Jan-17 16:34:18

All you can do is to keep in touch all the time in every way you can - preferably something techy like texts, facebook or skype. Just keep the link open so that he never forgets you are there. The more fuss that is made, the more he will dig his heels in - ditto his mother. Just play it cool. You cannot persuade him, so do not try - all you can do is let him know he is loved and the door is open for him.

Unfortunately at this age he will start to play one parent off against the other and you just have to refuse to play the game.

He will of course be there like a shot if there are presents involved - that is just the nature of children - it does not mean he is a mercenary chap.

You can support your DD and her partner and all bide your time.

Good luck with this.

f77ms Tue 03-Jan-17 16:34:36

I think 10 years old is a bit young to be deciding things for your self , what happens if he decides he doesn`t want to go to school ?

FarNorth Tue 03-Jan-17 16:42:37

It's possible that playing computer games is the in thing for his peers and he wants to keep up with the latest one. They may even be games where you play online with/against your friends, so if he's unavailable he is missing out.

I think they can only do as they are - keep in touch and make sure he knows he's welcome.

TriciaF Tue 03-Jan-17 17:02:40

I agree with the other posters - keep in touch and make sure he knows he's welcome.
We had a similar scenario, getting together with children from previous relationships. Two of them eventually opted for us, the other 2 returned to their other parent.
It was very upsetting at the time, but looking back now, it must have been much harder for them. Having to choose which parent to support when they loved each equally.
Another point to Seb - boys tend to be more protective of their mother in a situation like this, which is good, and natural.

Jayanna9040 Tue 03-Jan-17 17:08:54

Make the favourite computer games available at Dads house? Then you'll know whether it's really the games or something else. And maybe he really doesn't want to spend all his free time at Dads house. Who would want all their free time planned out for them? One day a weekend might be happier for him.

kittylester Tue 03-Jan-17 17:18:38

That's a really good point and something that DD has, very reluctantly done, with DGS2's favourite crap toy. Unfortunately, there is often one parent bending over backwards to ensure things happen properly and one idiot who doesn't.

Also a good point about every day at the weekend being too much. He might want to hang out with his mates.

When DD was going to go for mediation legal aid wasn't available for the sessions and we were going to pay. Luckily the Idiot refused to go as he wouldn't have stood by any agreement. It's hard!

Luckygirl Tue 03-Jan-17 18:22:32

I do agree that it is not really acceptable that children who are old enough to have an opinion should be shunted about with no choice in the matter. I would not like it if someone said to me that I must be with one family member one day and another the next, however much I might love them. You cannot put down roots, make local friends and make your own little nest with your belonging around you. It is a difficult situation and I think the way forward is for your DD and her OH to be understanding of this and not invite conflict.

Luckygirl Tue 03-Jan-17 18:24:16

What I am saying is that they need to make sure he knows that they understand that it is not easy for him and do not want to pressure him into coming to stay when it is not convenient for him....but that they miss him and the door is always open.

Seb2015 Wed 04-Jan-17 13:12:29

Thank you all - there have been some very useful observations and suggestions on here. f77ms I don't think mediation would be an option, the mother is very hostile and probably wouldn't agree with it, but in an ideal world... I also agree that 10 is too young to be making big decisions but hey, it's easier to give in than have a battle - even though she's making that proverbial rod. Jayanna my DD and her partner have resisted having computer games because they only see the children at weekends so want to be doing things with them rather than have them sat in front of the box all day - but that probably isn't what Christopher wants. Luckygirl and Lisalou I agree with you both about keeping the door open and I think your idea, Lucky of skyping is an excellent one, thank you. TriciaF you're right about boys and their mums, I hadn't thought of that - and we know that she is very verbal in her dislike for my DD and the children's dad and at his age he is too young to work it out for himself. Tragic. Kittylester, aint that the truth - it sometimes feels like all the good work that one parent does is undermined in seconds - and it's always the kids that get the rotten end of the stick.

Jane10 Wed 04-Jan-17 13:22:13

If they want him there and they know he likes computer games then surely they should compromise and let him play them at their house? Look on the games as transitional objects.

Seb2015 Wed 04-Jan-17 13:41:36

But he's not an only child, Jane10 so if he was to be allowed to sit in to play his game then his sister would have to miss out on the things my DD and her partner have planned. And at the moment Christopher seems to be getting his own way on so much that perhaps him 'winning' again wouldn't be doing him any favours long term.

Elegran Wed 04-Jan-17 14:00:05

No, she wouldn't have to miss out - why should she? The children are not conjoined twins who must go everywhere together. They could have one child at a time, and plan something more techy with him when he is there (always doing the same thing as your sister is very boring to a young lad. I bet he doesn't play much with his sister the rest of the time.) Is there a science museum within reach that you could visit? A mountain biking centre?

And when his sister talks about the exciting things she has been doing, perhaps he will choose to join her sometimes.

Keep in touch other ways, as posters have suggested, and treat him like a sensible young man, not a recalcitrant child. Work with him, not against him.

Elegran Wed 04-Jan-17 14:01:29

Should be that they could visit, not that you could visit - though you would probably find it very interesting too..

Jane10 Wed 04-Jan-17 14:06:57

I really do think that a little compromise could go a long way. It would also serve to 'normalise' his staying at his Dads. Just an ordinary quiet weekend rather than a full on all action time. Are they trying just too hard?

Riverwalk Wed 04-Jan-17 14:18:27

I'm in agreement with those who say let him have his computer games when he's with his father - having just had my GC (11 & 7) to stay for five days I know that they can be prised from their fingers when necessary! Whether we like it or not, these pesky games are part of everyday life - why should his life be so different when with his dad?

Also, I have to say this, although you say you've been asked for your input, it's really nothing to do with you. You're not their grandmother; they are the children of your DDs partner and his ex, to whom you sound quite hostile.

How do you know his mum is 'egging' him on? I would imagine most young mothers would welcome their children going to their dad's at the weekend.

The boy has expressed a preference - it's not 'winning again'

paddyann Wed 04-Jan-17 14:39:51

maybe he doesn't want to be treated like a visitor,its his dads house so he and his sister should be able to just be there and do nothing if thats what they want.Some poor children are pushed from one activity to another and they'd be happier reading a book,playing with his game or as my grandson says ...just hanging.I certainly dont remember every day being outings etc when my kids were that age

Seb2015 Wed 04-Jan-17 15:26:02

Riverwalk I am not their grandmother, you are right, but I treat them as such because they are my daughter's stepchildren and I refuse to make them feel 'outside' of the family. I am only hostile to their mother because of what I have seen and heard personally. And you would think, wouldn't you, that most young mothers would not only welcome the break at the weekend, but that they would appreciate someone else giving them love and attention? Unfortunately, this is not the case. She is incredibly jealous of the relationship my daughter has with her children and is very vocal about it. I was asked for my advice, I am not sticking my oar in. Yes, he has expressed a preference - a preference that he knows his mum wants. And she gives into him with most things including decisions that are too big for him to make alone - such as which high school he goes to. Fact, not guesses.

Perhaps they are Jane. I'll suggest that, thank you. I agree with you Paddyann about too many activities - some of the activities just mean playing with lego or similar, it isn't always a day out - they couldn't afford that. They just want to interact with them that's all but perhaps that's too much; it's difficult being a part time parent.

Jayanna9040 Wed 04-Jan-17 16:19:08

I'm worried this reply wil make you cross, but I do beg you to consider It. It does sound rather as if the weekends are about what the adults think will be fun and bonding rather than what a ten year wants to do. I'm not terribly in favour of computer games myself, but actually they have become the play together/social interaction for most children of his age. Not very many would want to play with Lego or go on outings to the park or museum except as an occasional thing. How about his dad playing the computer games with him?
Of course they want to make the most of their time with him but it does all sound rather intense and as if he has to take part in stuff that he's not really interested in.

Anya Wed 04-Jan-17 16:27:31

Actually 10 is not too young to make decisions. GS1 is 10 and quite able to make a sensible choice, despite everything.

You cannot coerce him, but you can bribe persuade him. It might have to be computer games if that's what it takes, though you might like to set some boundaries such as time allowed. And there must be some other activities he would enjoy, surely.

Ask him.

Plus you do have to take the influence of his mother into account.

Seb2015 Wed 04-Jan-17 16:52:06

Jayanna he loves lego - I used that just as an illustration to show that it isn't all about going out and doing stuff but I take your point.

I agree Anya about the decision making in general - the ones his Dad objects to the most strongly is that there are two high schools near where he lives. One is much better than the other but he doesn't want that one because his friends are going to the other. Now I know that is really important to him but we all know you make new friends when you go to secondary school and he will still see his ld friends outside of school - but his Mum thinks this is a decision he should make for himself (even though she admitted she wanted him to go to the other). The decision not to visit his Dad is his own to make; I just hope it doesn't impact upon their relationship in the long term.

Anya Wed 04-Jan-17 16:56:10

Is he going to secondary school in September 2017?

paddyann Wed 04-Jan-17 17:21:55

I agree its very difficult ,my daughter is on marriage number two and her husband is brilliant with the two children from the first ,her oldest two found it very hard to settle in their dads new home with his new partner and her kids ,its been a tough few years and at 9 and 5 they were allowed to make decisions about when THEY wanted to go and Daddy phoned then at other times ,now after 4 years they are much more amenable to staying with the other kids and even get on OK (not well) with the horrid little GD's remark.My GS is now almost 14 ,,he can keep in touch with his friends by FB and online gaming.Its what works for the kids that matters NOT what the parents want.By the way he also refused to go to a school his dad wanted and he is doing exceptionally well there