Guilt/Lazy Parenting - The Sequel

mattie_gtFebruary 21, 2011

I'm feeling frustrated right now. DH has been working a lot of OT in the past few weeks; most of it has been last-minute and naturally, I'm the one who is then in charge of SS (in addition to the every day several hours after school until DH gets home). The weather does not help any of our moods at all, and I know that that's a factor. Another part is that SS is still very clingy during his "bad" weeks, and it's exhausting walking this constant tightrope of reinforcing good behavior and trying to build self-esteem while discouraging bad behavior. So, I explained to DH that when the weekend rolls around, I realized that he is tired from working OT - but I am tired as well, from all of the extra hours with sole responsibility for SS, and that he (DH) needs to take over for at least a couple of hours per weekend and allow me a complete break from that.

Fine, DH agreed that that is fair. But....DH seems to be reverting right back into that same behavior that he displayed with SS18, that he said he realized in retrospect was a very bad idea, that we had both agreed neither one of us were going to do. DH bought SS another new toy this weekend; DH had bought it for him "just because" SS wanted it, it was on clearance, and DH said he hasn't gotten to spend that much time with him lately.

I'm ticked off. DH is a sweetie and likes to buy presents, for me and for SS, "just because". The problem with this is that SS has got some issues going on with all of this mess, and one of them is that he has lately decided that possessions will equal happiness; if only he gets the "right" new toy he will be happy. Needless to say it doesn't work, and he was talking that same night about another new toy that he wanted, that if only he had it he would be happy. I've been trying really hard to work with SS on his learning to make himself happy, and on watching us to see how it's experiences and activities that make us happy rather than possessions - and I feel like DH just set us right back again. Buy it for him because he got good grades, buy it for him a week later - but don't immediately buy it because he says he'll he'll "be happy forever" and because you feel guilty!

The other thing that is annoying me is that way too often I'll wander downstairs on the weekend to find SS playing a video game or watching a movie, and he'll tell me that "Daddy said" that he could. When I find DH he tells me that he said it was OK because it'll keep SS occupied while DH does whatever he wants/needs to get done. Meanwhile, I've spent all week enforcing the rules, trying to help SS learn to occupy his own time and/or doing things with him - and DH can't make it a couple of hours??!!'

I am not happy. It's hard enough being a step-parent without feeling like I'm being stuck in the role of rule-enforcer while DH gets to be "fun parent". I know DH is exhausted - because I am exhausted as well. But I don't just cave in and take the easy way out, and why should DH? If DH were changing "rules" for SS's good that would be one thing - but he's not. It's for himself.

I feel like I'm getting put into a position where I have two options - either do a DH and just ignore the whole thing, do basically whatever I please and hope SS magically comes through OK - or to follow DH and SS around 24/7 and make sure that there is any structure and stability.

I don't know, maybe I've over-reacting. I really hate this time of year because my spirits are very low (as are DH's, and I think perhaps SS's as well). Maybe if I just let it go for a few weeks it'll get better when spring comes. But right now I just feel really taken advantage of; I feel like DH is saying "I want a well-adjusted child, and I want you to do all the work of raising him."

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hhmm don't really have any advice just maybe some thoughts...

Maybe SS should be in more extracurricular activities so he is busy and spends more time with other people, rather than you 24/7.

I do not remember if you work but if you don't or only part-time, then I could see how DH thinks that it is your contribution to the family while he works? i am not saying he is right, but perhaps that's how he thinks. If both you work full time demanding careers then why do you always watch SS?

Also I am not sure about finances, but perhaps hire babysitter once in awhile or ask other family to help?

As about gifts..Buying gifts and toys just "because" is not wrong per se, but making SS to believe that toys equal happiness is entirely wrong, but I am not sure what you can do...Are there any boys in the area SS could play with?

One more thought about toys and gifts....Buying gifts because you feel guilty or want a child out of your hair is a BAD BAD idea (and it always backfires) but I disagree with buying gifts for good grades. Wanting academic success should be intrinsic motivation from a very early age. If he gets good grades now because of gifts (I am not saying he does, just hypothetically) then what are you going to do when he is in high school? can't buy toy cars then. Plus it only teaches him wrong things and values. Honestly I never bought DD anything for good grades, not even once. I myself never got anything for grades.

It is not necessarily wrong for SS to watch a movie or play game, but it is very wrong for DH to not spend time with him. Could he be legitimately beyond exhausted? I don't know how old is your DH, I realize the last couple of years that when I get home from work i am so exhausted that I don't know how I woudl be able to take care of a child. I am glad I had DD young because now I just don't have energy after work.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2011 at 10:39AM
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Parent of One, I work from home. I took this job because of child-care issues. Where we live the lack of organized before-school/after school care is appalling. The buses won't pick-up/deliver kids anywhere but from one designated home, and that must be the child's main residence, not grandma or day care center. The few child care centers that have their own bus service to any particular school can have years long waiting lists. It is apparently just assumed that one's family will help - well, for local family we've got some of my family and that's it, and they all work full-time.

So, when SS gets home sometimes other kids are home, but quite often not - they're at their relatives because their parents are at work. Even if SS has time to play on school nights very often none of the other kids do, by the time they get home, do homework, take baths, eat dinner, etc. On regular weeks DH does spend time with SS, after dinner; these last few due to OT he has not been. I guess one of my other issues is that I met DH at work - so I know that sometimes he'll work OT, even when it's not strictly necessary, to help someone else out, and I fear that he's falling right back into that same routine as well. I've talked to him before about how he just assumes that I am always ready, willing and able to be with SS at no notice, and how it means that I am unable to make plans of my own. (And remember, I work from home - so I am desperate to get out of this house sometimes!)

I agree about buying toys for grades; I just meant that I'd rather DH do that than buy them out of guilt or to occupy SS's time. The whole "possessions will make you happy" thing is a newer one, and straight from BM and SS18. And, of course, it doesn't work. I've been trying to work with him on obtaining self-esteem and happiness through accomplishments and achievements, but progress is erratic at best - every time he does accomplish something, he'll be rightfully proud of himself until he goes to BM's, at which time he'll try to tell her and/or SS18 - and then he's put down and belittled, every single time. Court progress is going almost nowhere; it's been almost a year since this all started and they haven't even gotten to mediation yet!

I know DH is tired; we're not kids anymore. I'm tired too. We're both depressed from the weather. I know it's very difficult to get chores done with SS following around chattering non-stop, but I do it.

We had actually been talking about after-school tutoring for SS. We just found out that most of his class goes to it; we thought that it was more for kids who need extra help, but apparently most of the parents feel that it's beneficial, and SS has said he'd like to try it (because so many of his classmates go) so maybe that is worth trying. We had thought it would be better for him to be able to come home after school, but I'm not sure any of our plans are working out the way that we thought that they would.

Maybe I'm just feeling sorry for myself today; it's very dismal out. I just feel like everything is a big knotted mess and if I find the right piece and start unraveling the knot, then we'll all slowly start to feel better - but I don't know which piece it is. :-(

    Bookmark   February 21, 2011 at 11:58AM
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I hear you, we've been kind of depressed here too, the weather has been very difficult this winter, no sun and endless, endless snow...So I totally hear you, plus when the weather is nice you can at least ask SS to pay outside a bit but now everyone stuck at home. tutoring is not a bad idea even if he does great at school, anything to keep him busy. Well at least SS has safe home and loving family.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2011 at 2:16PM
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I feel myself in somewhat the same situation -- not with skids but with the weather and the mood. Can't get out of the house enough, however, I work outside of home so I'm not at home all day and then all evening too.

I am the lazy parent though and DH hasn't really said if he is bothered or not. And I too bought the kids a small toy this weekend because we were out spending time together which we had not done In a while due to the weather. DH just rolled his eyes and said, so much for birthdays and didn't they just have Christmas? But I don't care. I wanted to get them something small because that isn't something we have done in a while or that we ever do. I could justify with many reasons I stand by spending $15 total on my two kids. I don't feel guilty that I haven't done it, it was just something I wanted to do. My kids also have not been discipline problems so I'm not always on them about anything. I think the most frustrating thing for me right now is DS3 is always in to something and won't poop in the potty but he is 3 and he isn't really being BAD for me.

I feel frustrated with DH sometimes when he gets to go out with work or has late dinner meetings because I would like to go too. Next week we are going to a meeting together ( we work together) I'm excited but sometimes I just feel like he is doing everything fun while I have to be at home with the kids. They are both my kids, 1 mine 1 ours but still... I feel annoyed-- I want a meeting too!! I worked some OT on Saturday and came home to complete caios ... House a wreck, nothing done... So I was mad that he let them destroy the house while he just watched tv or whatever he did. I almost cancelled date night because I was so mad. But now that I'm back at work, everyone is back on schedule, I'm over it. Sometimes we get lazy over the weekends and then I feel annoyed because I am the only one that will clean to get us put back together.

So I know how you must feel.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2011 at 2:41PM
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I feel better that I am not alone! (Misery loves company, you know.) Last winter was better; we got tons of snow but it was nice, white, fluffy, and we could go out and do stuff in it. This year it's either been bitterly cold and windy or dismal and sleeting. DH and I can struggle through to spring; we've got hobbies, books, etc. to keep us busy but SS has not yet found anything he enjoys doing on his own for any period of time (despite our best efforts).

Myfampg, I know what you mean! DH is going to a training class next week, and I am jealous. That's insane; I've been to training classes, and I know that he's going to spend hours driving so that he can sit in an overheated hotel conference room, desperately trying to pay attention to get his company's money's worth from it, and wishing that he hadn't gobbled fast food during his half-hour lunch break. I know that if I were there I'd be thinking how nice it would be to be to be snug at home with SS instead of driving hours back in the darkness.

Blah. Thanks for listening. It has become apparent to me that I am in my usual winter funk. I will keep my mouth shut and hang in there a few more weeks, and one day soon I will go outside and the crocuses will be blooming, and my mood will improve drastically. (Everyone should have crocuses, even if they only bloom for a day before the deer eat them, they're one of the very first flowers here and every year I'm thrilled to see them.)

    Bookmark   February 21, 2011 at 3:24PM
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me too me too!

I'm afraid you won't let me join in the complaining though because it's gorgeous here right now. Sunny, deep blue skies, 61 degrees.

I've been envying everyone their snow. It has been raining a lot here....

    Bookmark   February 21, 2011 at 4:44PM
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silvers, come here do some shoveling if you envy us, we had a foot of snow again last night. :) haha

I do like snow, driving on ice and shoveling not so much

    Bookmark   February 21, 2011 at 7:13PM
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So I have more to add to my comment DH pissed me off when I got home today. I rarely ask him to pick up my DD for me because I feel that it is my responsibility to get her and then I can't complain if SM does it so I try to be fair -- I don't like it that she does it so I
make sure it's always me. Lol that's just one of my little things. Anyway. Today I wanted to go to the store and get a few things but I knew that DD would have homework AND needed dinner AND had 7pm piano so... I asked DH to pick up both kids, get them home, get DD started on homework, reminded him that DS would need a potty reminder AS SOON as they got home, and to start dinner. Monday Is easy oven pizza night so it wasn't a huge dinner thing to fix. I got
Home 30 minutes after him to find DS had pooped his pants and was playing (in dirty pants) not literally but they had not been changed. Dinner was cooking, DD was screaming/squealing at DH because he was 'picking' on her and her homework
wasn't started. Picking - I get so annoyed by his picking. He is playing and he will twirl her hair while she is reading and she gets ticked. He will tell her she has something on her chin so she goes to
check and there is nothing there - which then sends her in to squealing mode again argh! I know he is kidding but my nerves can only take so much .... And then we were late for class because she wasn't done eating... It was like, I should have just done it myself -- period. Should have gone to the store this morning or last night. Sometimes I feel like I have to do everything and it drives me insane. It drives me to exhaustion.

Well at least I didn't have to clean up DS's poopy undies. Lol that was all on DH!!

    Bookmark   February 21, 2011 at 8:18PM
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Everyone can join in the griping! We got a snowstorm as well; I'm actually in a better mood because it's now sunny, white and bright out. I always think I should be a premature snow-bird - except that it would still be dark after work and I think that's my real problem. I have no idea how people can live up in the far north and have three hours of daylight in the winter; I'd be stark raving mad.

Myfampg, LOL! I am convinced men are incapable of multi-tasking. They'll do something like cook dinner and tell you how they spent 45 minutes making dinner - and you're thinking "Yeah, well, when I spend 45 minutes making dinner I'm also cleaning the kitchen as I go, supervising homework, paying a bill or two, throwing in a load of laundry, feeding the pets, watering the plants...." and men seem to stand there staring at pots of water waiting for them to come to a boil (without the lid on - why do men never put the lid on a pot of water while they're trying to bring it to a boil?!)

    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 10:10AM
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Oh my... isn't that the truth.

Or they "clean" the kitchen but don't wipe counters, clean stove, sweep floor.

ok, you did a few dishes...but...

    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 12:35PM
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SS is off school today because of the snow, as is DH (roads were impassable to where he was supposed to go this AM), so SS is out shoveling sidewalks to earn money to buy things (DH is supervising). So far he's made $15 ($5 sidewalk/front walk). LOL! I'm feeling pleased.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 1:59PM
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could SS do my sidewalk?:)

    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 4:14PM
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Lol good job Mattie!!

    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 8:30PM
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SS made $65!! He did some driveways as well, and got tips - everyone said that kids never come to shovel walks anymore (something DH and I have commented on before.) 10% for his bank account and a huge shopping spree at Toys R Us leaves one happy, proud and exhausted little boy - and two proud adults. That's even with the discounted elderly-neighbor rate; SS got two-thirds pay; one-third from me, one-third from DH, and one-third his labor, because we didn't want him charging the 80 some year old widow on our street - but we didn't want her walk to not get done either.

It's time like these it's all worth it.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 8:56PM
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good job mattie!

    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 10:17PM
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