Conflict of parenting standards.....WWYD?

(22 Posts)
Natmu Mon 17-Dec-12 16:39:47

NotaDisneyMum you are making a lot of sense. I'm sorry your DP had to go through such a tough time with his DD but it's valuable to be able to learn from his experience. We have had time to talk about all this quite a lot today and I think DH is coming round to the idea that we should just maintain the boundaries and be there for her when she needs us. He's honestly not an uncaring person and desperately wants her to be happy and to have lots of opportunities in life, he's just been feeling like his hands are tied so often.

NotaDisneyMum Mon 17-Dec-12 15:03:28

he feels like he has lost all control already because DSD will be coming to us one weekend a fortnight once we hit January and therefore he will have no impact on her life.

My DP used to feel like this until he realised that he isn't just his DC's parent when they are with him, it is a 24/7 job, and it is quite possible to build and maintain a positive relationship with a DC with very limited contact.

Your DP can chose whether to make the effort and be a parent all the time or not. It is hard work, and sometimes, my DP has found it too hard - but when he has made the effort, it has immediately paid off.

My DP kept up to date with what his DD was doing at school and clubs all the while she was estranged and he wrote to her regularly, referring to the things she had been doing. He didn't expect a reply, and he didn't get one, but he congratulated her on achievements, commented on milestones and made it clear that he was interested and up to date with her life.

One notable incident,; he attended regional drama finals he knew she was appearing in; he didn't tell her he would be there, and it was too big a venue for her to see him. Despite that, she texted him for the first time in over a year at the end of the performance, asking him if he had been there and if he knew the results.
The point is that despite the fact that she said that hated him, and that she has refused to speak to him for months, she had assumed that he would be there to see her play because she KNEW that he loved her and supported her.

your DP doesn't need to control his DD, but by being a consistant, stable parental figure in her life, she will know he is there whenever she needs him.

theredhen Mon 17-Dec-12 13:38:13

I have a 14 yr old and I always get phone numbers for where he is staying, either house phone or parents mobile. The parents need a way to contact me in an emergency and ds is notoriously bad for not taking his phone off silent mode, so I can't rely on contact by his mobile phone. I just think its sensible all round.

PoppyPrincess Mon 17-Dec-12 13:12:33

If my ex tried to tell me how to bring up DS I'd tell him to do one! What he does with him during his time is his business and what I do with him in my time is my business. Yes in an ideal world we'd all be singing from the sand hymn sheet but to be the parent who is getting told what you should and shouldn't do would just be crap.
I wouldn't mind guessing that mum does set her rules when going out but DSD is probably just being a typical teenager saying 'awww it's so unfair, mum doesn't make me do that!' . I seem to recall doing that on a few occasions with my parents!

Bonsoir Mon 17-Dec-12 12:59:22

I agree that you cannot make an ex do much. But, on occasions, DP has frightened her by outlining the possible dreadful outcomes of her lax parenting. She has exceedingly little imagination when it comes to bringing up her children, but, equally, is quite gullible when regaled with (improbable) scare stories!

Izzyschangelingisarriving Mon 17-Dec-12 12:53:24

bugger all you can do - battles, pick them and all that.

You cannot make an ex do anything.

Bonsoir Mon 17-Dec-12 12:49:14

At 14, asking for telephone numbers (indeed, ringing the parents of the child she will be visiting) is not OTT.

PoppyPrincess Mon 17-Dec-12 12:32:27

And can I just say that I think getting phone numbers of where she's going is a little OTT, especially as she's got a mobile.
She probably doesn't even have her friends home numbers as nobody uses them these days. I don't even have my best friends home numbers, the only people who have mine is our parents and that's only because they like to use their free evening and weekend calls lol.
The poor girl probably feels like a right tit asking her friends for their home numbers because dad wants it.
I'm not saying your wrong, just that I think it's just a step too far.

PoppyPrincess Mon 17-Dec-12 12:27:09

I think it will be difficult to get the ex to change her attitude, if it has already been discussed and she hasn't taken any notice then what is different now?

I wouldn't say that my mum didn't bat an eyelid at what I did as a teen, I was never ever allowed to hang around on street corners like a lot of kids my age were doing at my age so what she was doing was keeping me away from doing that. If she didn't let me drink i would just tell her j was going to a friend's but really be stood on a street corner drinking white lightening. When I started going to pubs and clubs at 16 she would sit up waiting for me or come and pick me up at 2am. It's not that she didn't care, i'm sure she wasn't happy about it all, i always got lectures about not drinking too much, staying with friends, keeping drinks safe, don't get in a dodgy taxi etc etc. I think she was just more wise to what went on than my friends Mum's, she knows what goes on and educated me about staying safe rather than just saying ''no''. I think she was right, I grew up to be a sensible drinker because it was never really a forbidden thing.

Bonsoir Mon 17-Dec-12 12:21:26

I think your DH needs to talk to his exW and make her frightened!

Natmu Mon 17-Dec-12 12:18:00

DH has just read the thread and says he agrees with what you are all saying but he feels like he has lost all control already because DSD will be coming to us one weekend a fortnight once we hit January and therefore he will have no impact on her life.

Roseformeplease Mon 17-Dec-12 12:10:14

I would say that on the nights she is with you then you are responsible for her safety. On the nights she is away, you are not. If her mother chooses to take full responsibility for her safety 24/7 then the mother needs to be aware of this. I think you could obliquely tell the mother of "Rumours of drug taking" and that she is still a child.

Can you get something in writing for all concerned to sign or agree to?

Bonsoir Mon 17-Dec-12 12:07:56

Carry on upholding your higher standards and insist on DSD coming on her regular days.

It will come out in the wash - my DSS1 has moved in with us permanently and DSS2 is desperate to join him (after years of 50:50) because they are now desperate for the higher standards of care and attention they get at our house!

Natmu Mon 17-Dec-12 12:05:21

Notadisney I completely see what you're saying and I kind of felt that that was my gut feeling in all this but I couldn't find a way to explain it. I don't think DSD necessarily intends to blackmail us although that is the end result, I think her motivation comes from a desire for an easy life.

Poppy I also see what you're saying. I had a friend whose mum was very much like yours and wouldn't twitch an eyebrow at anything we got up to whereas my parents were very strict and I lied through my back teeth to get what I wanted. The trouble is achieving that balance. ATM we are the strict ones and exDW is trying to be her BFF and now that she has the option she would rather choose the soft touch.

I also have an older DSD (21) by the way who is an entirely different character and holds a massive amount of respect for her Dad and would always turn to him rather than her mum in times of trouble.

What do you all think with respect to exDW? Would you just carry on regardless and let her make her own rules if she wants any or should we continue trying to form some kind of symmetry between the two homes? I feel like we're onto a losing battle because we've had the same arguments conversations time and time again when she agrees in principal but then never follows through.

NotaDisneyMum Mon 17-Dec-12 08:54:07

poppy I agree entirely - there are any number of ways to parent a teen, and every parent has their own values as to how they consider is best to do this.

My point is that if a parent decides to compromise their own parenting values solely in order to appease their DC who is threatening them in some way, or making life difficult, then the parents motive for changing their values is not for the good of the DC, it is to fulfil a need of the parent.

theredhen Mon 17-Dec-12 08:47:01

I think this is a common parenting issue and I read lots of things like this over on the teenager board, however, when you add in the dynamic of the child being a step family, you add in another dimension because the teenager can use the fact that they're in a step family to sway their parents in a way they wouldn't perhaps have done otherwise.

It's more important in a step family for the kids to know where they stand and for the kids not to exhert control over their parents.

The trouble is it becomes very difficult for the parents (and step parents) to be clear about what they expect and what they are prepared to compromise on when they are being badgered to change their mind through threats of reduced or no contact. And once the child has tried to use this method of persuasion, any change in parenting standards will now been seen by the teenager to be as a direct result of her blackmailing behaviour, which means she will use it again in the future.

PoppyPrincess Mon 17-Dec-12 08:25:39

I do agree that kids need parenting but I remember what me and my friends were doing when we were teenagers. We were getting drunk, going to nightclubs etc.
My mum always knew where I was, my friends used to lie to their parents. If anything had ever happened, if we'd lost our money and couldn't get home, if one of us had collapsed or puking their guts up, if I'd got ridiculously drunk and had lost my friends, whatever it may have been I knew I could always ring my mum and she'd be there in 10 mins.
My mum always knew where I was, who I was with, what I was doing because I knew she wouldn't bollock me. That doesn't mean she didn't care or didn't worry about me but she knew that if she was too strict I'd still be going out getting drunk but just lying to her about it, she'd rather she knew where I was than me be lying to her.
The thought of my daughter being leathered in a nightclub or at a party and me not knowing about it sends shivers down my spine.
My friends who I was friends with as teens say the same, they're going to be more like my mum than their mums because they want to know where their kids are.
Teens will always do what they like, they get drunk, some have sex, some take drugs. Regardless of what you do or say they will find a way to do it anyway.
I think there can be a balance between being a BFF and a strict parent.

NotaDisneyMum Mon 17-Dec-12 06:58:57

If your DP relaxes the rules and chooses to no longer parent his DD, what are his reasons for wanting to spend time with her?

I've always been of the opinion that a parents job is to parent and if they opt out of doing that when they are capable then they have no role in their DCs lives.

If your DP stops parenting in order to make your lives easier and in order to meet his own need to see her then what is the benefit of regular contact to his DD?

My DP had to make this choice. His ex also undermined him and allowed DSD to refuse contact. DP decided that his job was to parent her, and she chose not to see him for 2 years. He maintained contact through letters and directly with school/clubs etc.
She came back, though. They are closer now than they ever would have been. and she has far more respect and time for him than she does for her Mum, who has always tried to be her BFF rather than her parent.

theredhen Mon 17-Dec-12 06:49:55

She is a teenager who lives in two different houses with two different rules, she has learnt she can get one house to change the rules by emotionally blackmailing. I suspect she is doing something similar in mums house and this is why mum is giving in.

If your dp gives in to this, you are handing this fourteen year old girl an immense amount if power and this will just be the start of things to come.

It's your dp job to parent this girl and to make sure she's safe. If he changes his rules it needs to be because of other reasons and compromises not because his daughter has emotionally blackmailed him,

Natmu Mon 17-Dec-12 04:53:44

She does have a mobile. I can see what you're saying about the trust thing. Part of the problem for DH is that she has been caught lying about where she was going on more than one occasion so I think he feels like he can't trust her any more but as you say maybe we have to just take the plunge.

I have (at times) quite a close relationship with her and she often confides in me things she would never tell DH. Last week she told me that her boyfriend (15) regularly does ecstasy on the nights when they get together with his mates. She has told him that she hates it and she wants him to stop. She is very anti-drugs to her credit but I don't know whether he has agreed to stop and in any case presumably if he did stop there would still be other people doing it at these 'social gatherings' as they call them. Of course I have been made to swear not to tell DH about this but in the light of all that's happened I don't know if I have an obligation to as he is her parent. The fall out if I did would be horrendous. She would almost certainly be stopped from seeing him and there would be massive rows.

We have tried to compromise with her and explained that we are doing it because we love her and want her to be safe but she doesn't believe it. She is in that teenage place of 'everyone hates me and wants to make my life hell'. I think you're right though that we just need to keep trying. Thank you for your advice smile

PoppyPrincess Mon 17-Dec-12 01:05:06

Has she not got a mobile phone? I think that would be a fairly good compromise. It doesn't have to be an expensive thing, just one that serves it's purpose.
You do need to give her a certain amount of your trust, by being too strict it just makes them lie to you about who they're with and where they're going.
I'd just explain that you're only trying to establish some rules because you love her and want to make sure she's safe but you also want to show that you trust her. Maybe ask her what she thinks is reasonable, make an agreement all together, eg she doesn't need to supply phone numbers as long as she keeps her mobile with her. You promise that you won't be checking up on her as long as she's open and honest with you.

You really just need to get her on your side so she feels like she can tell you things rather than you being the enemy who tells her she can't do this and she can't do that.

Good luck!

Natmu Sun 16-Dec-12 21:48:59

I have a 14 year old DSD who up until now has split her time 50/50 between us and her mum. We live very close so it's practical for her to go to either house from school.

Over the past year she has started to have boyfriends and want to go out in the evenings. DH and I established ground rules for going out eg only certain nights and provided she had finished all homework. We also put in place rules for her safety eg we need to know; where she is, who with, phone number and address for her friend's house etc. She has always protested against some of these saying they are too strict and her mum doesn't make her give phone numbers.

In the end DH had a long discussion with exDW and DSD during which they all agreed rules. Since then exDW has not upheld any of the agreed rules and DSD has now said she only wants to see us once a fortnight.

This is not the first time disagreements like this have happened and DH has said he now wants nothing more to do with any of it. He says she can do what she wants because if he continues to stick to the agreed rules she will stop coming at all. I am inclined to agree because it has just completely worn us down trying to create some boundaries for DSD which just keep being torn down and undermined. On the other hand a big part of me is saying we should uphold our beliefs in our parenting skills for DSD's sake as much as anything so that at least we know she is safe when she's with us.

We're stuck for a solution to this problem. What would you do?

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