Return to the Stepfamily Forum | Post a Follow-Up

 o
Making a big deal out of something little?

Posted by darfawnda (My Page) on
Tue, May 18, 10 at 1:51

I am still fuming a bit from an incident earlier tonight that my fiance has yet to acknowledge or apologize for and am wondering if I am feeling too strongly about the situation or if it is just a sign of what's to come.

At dinner, in usual fashion, my future SD7 decided to take her dear sweet time finishing her dinner around 45-60min is typical because she spends so much time talking and paying attention to the pets and not sitting properly in her chair and fussing over her veggies, etc. All she had left to finish was a fruit smoothie, which she was all excited about before dinner and then hardly touched at the table. Since it was her fruit/veggie portion of the meal it was important for her to eat so I finally said that we were going to spend 10 min in silence because she wouldn't shut up and concentrate on her food.

She did pretty good despite her "uncontrollable" giggling that Dad finally got after her for. What I was annoyed about though was that less than 5 min into the timer (yes, I set a timer) Dad decided to tickle daughter and break the silence. He claimed it was simply because she was done with her smoothie, but I was pissed because I was also trying to read quietly in the adjacent living room. I asked why they were talking and after he told me I said that I would be going up to my room to read in silence and that the 10 min was not up and was not just for the sake of finishing dinner.

My main issue is that I feel Dad completely disrespected the rule I set and basically told his daughter that she doesn't have to listen to me. I am mainly a SAHM, so I play a very active role in the rule setting, etc. I just feel like this incident sends two poor messages - it's ok for your partner to disrespect you and it's ok to not listen to your SM.

Am I blowing this situation up? I would never disrespect a rule made by my fiance for his daughter or blatantly do something he requested I not do out of courtesy. Maybe my issue is that I'm feeling like he's been discourteous about several things lately and this is just the straw breaking the poor camel's back. Or maybe it's hard when my fiance is trying to act like "one of the kids" and I hate having to set a rule for both of them to follow - I mean, is it so much to ask of an adult to either (a) be quiet for 10 min or (b) help enforce a child being quiet for 10 min?


Follow-Up Postings:

 o
RE: Making a big deal out of something little?

Why are the pets a part of your evening meal setting? If the critters are not in a cage , round them up and remove them prior to sitting down to eat. If caged, slip a cover over them...outta sight, outta mind.

While I get the concern that dad and you might not be 'parenting' (for lack of a better word to fit situation)in the same wave length, I'm not sure I'm ready to convict dad here yet.

When my family sits down to enjoy a meal together, it's not for the sole purpose of filling our faces and cleaning our plates. My case differs also as my little one has been on her adderall all day and come dinner she is chatty and in 'free' mode. That's not to say she is not expected to use manners and actually eat, but it's part of my job to assure meal runs smoothly along (removing distractions such as begging dog) and gentle reminders to try this or that. And her father would not be tickling her at table.

It would never occur to me to tell her to totally shut-up and I go off and read in the other room. But I get that's not your point or what you're asking...you're talking about following rules and expecting co-enforcement.

Things to consider: smaller servings, if she's small her tummy may fill full too quickly if she just cuts to the chase and gobbles her dinner down...also not sitting properly may affect intake ability; the pets, if she's easily distracted, why tempt her with obvious distractions; try gearing the conversations so she feels a part of them without dominating them and inbetween fork fulls are not neglected/forgotten.

As far as the you/dad bit, at a later time when child is not present you need to sit down and talk and come to agreements as to rules and what and how enforcement is. Consistancy in enforcement is as important as whatever rules you both agree on. If dad is a parnter in the set rule breaking and nuts to what SM thinks, you've got a problem.


 o
RE: Making a big deal out of something little?

agree with justmetoo, no pets at the table. Having a conversation at the table is fine and should be part of a family routine. If SD is taking long time to eat, she is full in 45 minutes and doesn't want smoothie anymore, she shouldn't be forced to eat. Some people do eat slow and whatever they were excited prior to dinner might change because they are already full.

I agree that both adults people have to follow the rules but rules have to make sense. 10 minutes silence while i read in the other room does not sound too reasonable. Plus it was not a rule that mutually decided by you and dad and then he did not follow.

Tickling kids at the table or actually anywhere is rather silly but rules have to be reconsidered. I agree that tickling is unnecessary.

Does she have ADHD? Can't sit still? Or just too many distractions? I would get to the bottom of it and come up with some reasonable table manners routine. Then everyone has to follow.


 o
RE: Making a big deal out of something little?

I dont think YOU should be making rules. Dad should. You two are not equal parents.

I am confused, do you have kids of your own. You say you are SAHM?


 o
RE: Making a big deal out of something little?

Meals and food are a big issue and everyone has a strong opinion about them!

Does SD normally eat well? DH and I do not make an issue out of my DD's eating at all because she is one of those kids who eats pretty much anything---sure, she has her foods she doesn't like, but for the most part, she eats almost any veggie we serve, and always her meat/protein. She is NOT a fan of carbs---mashed potatoes, stuffing, pastas, etc. She will ALWAYS ask for seconds on veggies/fruits, and whatever meat we serve. Honestly, her eating habits are very healthy. She eats until she is full and we don't ever have to make her eat X amount of bites of this or that.

SS is a total different story. There is not a single veggie we can get him to eat without a battle. He doesn't particularly like any kind of meat---chicken, beef, fish, whatever. What he WILL eat is buttered noodles, garlic bread, chips, rice, stuffing, etc. The worse it is for you, the more he eats it. We have probs at dinner b/c if I serve grilled chicken breasts, broccoli and mashed potatoes, SS will load up on potatoes and not touch his broccoli or chicken. DD will eat her broccoli and chicken and not the potatoes.

Then DH insists that SS eat some of his chicken and some of his broccoli, and SS gets ANGRY and says "But DD isn't eating her mashed potatoes, that's not fair!"

We DO have separate rules for each. Dh and I will not make DD eat a side item like that b/c, really, there's not much nutritional value to it. If she is eating her veggie and protein, that's really what I am concerned with.

SO--in general---how does your SD eat? Is she picking at her food and then complaining an hour later that she's hungry? We have that issue with SS. He wont eat his dinner but then an hour later, he wants graham crackers or pretzels or whatever, and that is not okay with DH or me.

If your SD is like that, then I think there's a problem. If she generally eats well at meal times, then I think making a big deal out of finishing one particular food is not a good idea.

What IS a big deal is contradicting you in front of SD. BUT in fairness to DH---did you lay down the 10 minute rule without consulting him? I can see him being irritated if he didn't agree with it, and ultimately, parenting decisions like that should be his call. However, he should have addressed it with you privately and not in front of SD.


 o
RE: Making a big deal out of something little?

darfawnda, you have my sympathy! When I met DH dinners with SS8 were awful! He's a picky eater with a small appetite anyway, and at that time (due to DH working a lot of overtime) really wanted attention from DH - he could and did sit at the table for hours; every night would deteriorate to negotiating sessions of how much and what he had to eat, and praising him for every bite he took.

You need to calmly address your concerns with FDH, and agree on what is and what is not acceptable at table, and what the consequences will be. DH is home today and we were talking about how much better dinners are here now; he says your FDH may not have meant to undermine you at all. If he thought that the intention was "You have ten minutes to finish your dinner" and that SD came in under the deadline, then his actions are understandable.

It took us quite some time to work through the dinner issues; we tried many many things before we finally found what worked for all of us. SS has to eat at least two out of three things on his plate; he's picky but it's also erratic so in the long run he gets a balanced diet. No seconds until he finishes at least those two firsts. And, if we are done eating and he is not almost finished, we excuse ourselves, walk away, and leave him to eat alone.. in silence. Conversation is resumed after he has finished. Oh, and now he is praised for using good manners, rather than for eating.

But you are going to have to plan your attack with FDH, and agree on it. And then re-negotiate if it's not working. And try again. I'm not sure how often SD is with you and FDH; if it is not that much he may not want to "ruin" visits by being strict. It would be nice if he understands that if there are firm clear rules then things will probably get a lot better with dinner.


 o
RE: Making a big deal out of something little?

Did you want her to eat? Or just be quiet?
Rules should be designed carefully to get the result you really want.

Also, YOU made up a rule (not Dad) then left the table leaving him to enforce a rule he didn't set and probably didn't agree with.


 o
RE: Making a big deal out of something little?

I do think you are making a big deal out of something little. First of all most parents don't get 10 minutes of quiet time to sit and read when the kids are home. Quiet time is usually after the kids are in bed...lol.

Second of all I look at dinner time as a time for families to sit together and talk and spend time together. It is not unusual for our dinner to last 30-45 minutes because we are all sitting around talking. Quiet honestly eating slowly is better for you. I do make our kids eat some veggies and protein at dinner. If they are full and have not finished their veggies or protein I have them wrap their plate and put it in the fridge. This way if they are hungry later they can eat it. If they are not hungry later they do not have to eat it, but there is no dessert. I make sure to give them portions that are reasonable.

As far as rules go you and your bf need to make rules together. If you agree on them they are more likely to be followed. He may find your silence rule to be too much and that is why he broke it. To be quiet honest if dh expected our kids to eat dinner quickly and in silence so he could read a book I would not go along with it either.


 o
RE: Making a big deal out of something little?

I think it's a mistake to battle over food. It just never ends well.

I agree that it's not a good idea to set rules down that YOU want without discussing them with FDH and expect HIM to enforce them. You both need to be on the same page in setting and enforcing rules.

Is there some kind of rule that she HAS to eat everything she is served? And if so, who is doing the serving, you or her? IOW are you giving her too much food and then getting upset because she won't eat it? And are the foods things she likes or are you trying to insist she eat things she doesn't like?

Playing with pets, talking, giggling, dawdling... all these may very well be her way of dealing with having food on her plate that she simply doesn't want to eat.

There are plenty of ways to get kids to eat at least SOME good-for-you foods - a different topic altogether - but insisting on her eating either too much, or things she doesn't like, is just not a good idea. It's a no win battle.

Maybe serve her a lot less -- and she can take seconds if she needs to. Ask her to help with prep and food choices to get her interested in what she's eating. Don't expect her to eat foods she doesn't like.

If she still wants to sit at the table for an hour, then you and Dad leave the room and leave her by herself to finish. Doesn't require quiet time, just alone time. It can be awful lonely in the room by yourself with your parents in the other room, not getting the benefit of your antics!

So:
1. Find the root of the problem - why isn't she eating?
2. Don't battle over food, find ways to make things work without hard & fast rules that make her feel forced to eat.
3. Get on the same page with FDH - make and enforce rules together.


 o
RE: Making a big deal out of something little?

Can you set a time frame for meals... it's ridiculous to spend almost an hour to eat a meal. (maybe in a restaurant with bad service or five courses, it might take that long) She is either not hungry anymore or she is testing to see how long she can go before a parent does something. But that can be resolved by saying, dinner is over in ten minutes... and clear the table in ten minutes whether she is done or not. She isn't going to starve. (and DAD should be the one to do it)

The bigger problem is that you and dad are not on the same page. Kids pick up on that and she knows dad doesn't mean it... you said it and walked away.. dad played with her. If dad doesn't get a grip on this now, he will have a hard time... no he will have an impossible time, reigning her in when she is older. I was laid back & lenient with my kids & when they got to be teenagers... I had to fight tooth & nail to be taken seriously. It's nice to be the fun parent and get along with them great when they are little.. but if they don't respect or take you seriously (& have a little fear), there will most likely be problems later. and a SM that creates rules & becomes the enforcer while dad allows the kids to break those rules, because he disagrees with them is going to become the villain. Sometimes it's hard to not become the villain when dad agrees with your ideas or rules... but if he openly disagrees or ignores them, you end up feeling undermined & it sends a message to the kids that they don't have to listen to you because daddy ignores you too. If he disagrees with you, they are his kids & he can deal with them.

You are fortunate enough to be able to find out BEFORE attaching yourself through marriage. Many SM's find out later... after they are married and maybe after they have a child too. and then it gets messy!


 o
RE: Making a big deal out of something little?

Families nowadays usually eat only one meal together so it is also time to discuss day events and so on, I actually don't see 45 minutes like too long, on the other hand food gets cold-unless it was a cold dish. If food is finished OK to still sit and talk and even giggle.

To me it sounded that SD was full and didn't have to sit there, smoothies are filling, I would not expect a child to drink smoothies after they ate a meal. She was excited about it before she ate, she was hungry then, but not anymore. Smoothie even without dairy, just fruit, still is filling and is appropriate as a snack or lunch, I would not suggest to feed to kids after dinner.

I think there are many possible reasons for SD acting the way she does, it cannot be fixed by telling her to sit silent for 10 minutes. Does not like food, is full, is not hungry, has ADD, too many distractions, too tired etc


 o
RE: Making a big deal out of something little?

I love it when family dinners go long. More time to talk. I can read a book later. If food gets cold, I can put it in microwave for a minute.


 o
RE: Making a big deal out of something little?

When my DH and I first started getting SS more frequently, meals at our house would last for an hour or more. DH and I would be done eating after 30 minutes (while carrying on conversation) but SS would hardly touch his food and we would be sitting at the table waiting for him to finish. We (DH and I) sat down one night and talked about how to handle it. We knew the issue wasn't that SS was full, he just didn't like the food. We then decided to start using a timer. SS had 15 minutes after DH and I finished to finish his own food. After the timer went off he had to clean up because the meal was over. And if his plate was not cleaned, then he had nothing else to eat until the next meals. We also limited what and how much he had to drink at meals. We found that he would fill up on milk and then not want to eat anything because he was full of milk or whatever other beverage we had. This worked like a charm. Meals are much more pleasant, there is no fighting or crying, and everyone leave the table content.


 o
RE: Making a big deal out of something little?

Seems a little hardcore to me.

When DS was growing up, family dinners often lasted 1-2 hours at the table with lots of talking, silliness & giggles. Same when I was young.

I guess to me family dinnertime is a time for reconnecting, not just feeding your face but feeding your soul. She's a little kid not a little soldier. Let her be silly, she'll have such a short time to do so.

JMHO
~Cat


 o
RE: Making a big deal out of something little?

She's a little kid not a little soldier.

haha I love it!


 o
RE: Making a big deal out of something little?

Using a timer? Time outs? For leisurely dining. Why dont you just tell the kids not to come? You obviously dont want them to come.


 o
RE: Making a big deal out of something little?

A leisurely family dinner is fine. My mom is and always has been a very slow eater, so dinner with her can easily last for an hour, and is always occasion for a nice chat. BUT, she is slowly and steadily eating and, given time, will eventually finish. When I met DH, SS would have eaten literally one or two bites of food by the time that everyone else was done, and would not eat more unless and until he was begged, coerced, bribed, or pleaded with. That is not the same thing at all! I think SS viewed that as one of his few opportunities to be the center of attention, which was a separate issue. But we would be doing him no favors by letting this behavior continue; it is not a healthy nor appropriate way to get attention. (It is not any physical issue; when he wants to go play or do something fun after dinner he eats as quickly as the next person.)


 o
RE: Making a big deal out of something little?

Its hard to judge when we arent there. How much time does SS get with his dad? Didnt you say dad works a lot of OY. You talk about the child wanting attention. What's wrong with child wanting to talk to his Dad? Is mom unavailable? Maybe child should be having dinner with her. Its best to really know both parents, but if one wont have a leisurely dinner, especially if stepparent objects, maybe a change in visitation is best.


 o
RE: Making a big deal out of something little?

You are a control freak big time. First - Not your kid. Dad sets rules and you agree with what he says. End of story. You are not even married to this kids dad. You have NO right. You are a guest in their home. The child belongs there.
I hope your fiance figures it out for the sake of his kid that everyone is in for a lifetime of your controlling games and it will be miserable for everyone.
Back out gracefully. You are already the classic step monster.
That child will hate you and your marriage, if you go forward will fail. Because you havent got the ability to look threw another's eyes. Your too busy being selfish.

Making a child eat according to your expectations and then becoming demanding and manipulitive. Not healthy. Leave the kid alone, let dad parent. Butt out. Not your place.

I feel sorry for the kid and her weak ass dad


 o
RE: Making a big deal out of something little?

KK: Its hard to judge when we arent there. How much time does SS get with his dad? Didnt you say dad works a lot of OY. You talk about the child wanting attention. What's wrong with child wanting to talk to his Dad? Is mom unavailable? Maybe child should be having dinner with her.

I don't know if you were referring to my post, if you were, I will respond. Yes, Dad did work a lot of OT when I met him, because BM never paid her child support and he was trying to pay for raising two children. Now, he does not work OT, because the needed money comes from MY paycheck. NOTHING is wrong with SS wanting to spend time with Dad, and no one ever said there was. I clearly said that the time is now spent with him after dinner, and I also clearly said that things are much better than they were back then and we don't have these issues now. "Mom" is not available, she doesn't see him half the time she is allowed to, oh, and BTW, they don't sit down to dinner when he is there. They eat frozen dinners in front of the television without talking, if he's lucky. If not, he simply isn't fed.

Its best to really know both parents, but if one wont have a leisurely dinner, especially if stepparent objects, maybe a change in visitation is best.

I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you thought that I was someone else.


 o
RE: Making a big deal out of something little?

Hi Darfawnda! What you're describing is super common, one of the "growing pains" stepfamilies experience. Sometimes a SM can't win when we feel and are tasked with acting strongly parental towards our SKs, yet their father undercuts us.

Do I have it right that you are sometimes the only adult in charge of your SD? So, you are the parent in control some of the time? Does your SD behave differently then? That's so common also, and pretty natural.

But as regards your fiancee undercutting you, here is one suggestion, and this might not be the right one in your situation, but might be worth a try. You can tell him that you don't think it is a good message to send your beloved SD that she doesn't have to obey you. Tell him that if he thinks you are being unreasonable or unnecessarily harsh with SD, that you guys can have a secret signal of some kind that you will leave the room and discuss it out of earshot of SD. Teaching a kid to play one parent off the other--bad message!

But even more to the point, do you even enjoy being the hard guy in this? Do you like being the disciplinarian? It doesn't sound fun to me! Why not say "Well, I'm done with dinner, I'm going to go finish that great new book I just bought, see you two later." And just go? We women fall into a trap of taking on more parenting duties than we have to, ha!


 o
RE: Making a big deal out of something little?

" nice chat. BUT, she is slowly and steadily eating and, given time, will eventually finish. When I met DH, SS would have eaten literally one or two bites of food by the time that everyone else was done, and would not eat more unless and until he was begged, coerced, bribed, or pleaded with."

Gee, maybe the kid just isn't hungry? Good grief, so he/she doesn't eat all their dinner, big deal. They are kids, they are excited to see you & gather with the family. Slow down, lose the timer & just enjoy being together.

I'm sure they will make up for it the next meal. These super-controlled dining environments seem extremely uncomfortable, rigid and unpleasant to me. I can't imagine what a child must think about it. Geesh.

~Cat


 o
RE: Making a big deal out of something little?

Um, Cat? I said "he could and did sit at the table for hours; every night would deteriorate to negotiating sessions of how much and what he had to eat, and praising him for every bite he took."

A) It was not that he wasn't hungry for any dinner every single night.

B) We usually eat at 6:30 and dinnertime could not be moved forward because it was the earliest that it could be made after work. Anything more than two hours at table meant bedtime was delayed. SS is groggy in morning if he gets into bed late and that is not fair for him not to be rested for school.

C) This isn't a problem anymore. Routine, consistency and patience have (mostly) worked. Very rarely does this happen now, we repeat what is expected of him, it's fine.

Please understand I meant exactly what I said and was not exaggerating. This wasn't a once a month or once every two weeks thing; it was every single night.

These super-controlled dining environments seem extremely uncomfortable, rigid and unpleasant to me. Sorry if you think that being expected to eat at least some part of a meal in under two hours without being prompted is controlling and uncomfortable. Perhaps we should have just let him lounge in front of the TV snacking on junk food every night?


 o
RE: Making a big deal out of something little?

Fabulous discussion! We have the same issues with my DD... taking a really long time etc. We had to use the timer as well. She literally got a 15-minute warning.

Super-controlled? I really don't know. I wavered back and forth on this. My DH has a lot more of a strict dining room manners thing going on than I do. But in the end I think he was right. It's like Mattie said, at first it was awful, then with consistency and patience it's become an actually enjoyable mealtime experience for everyone.

Honestly I think on my DD's part it was a play to get to stay up longer. The more she can stretch out the evening...

And I don't know how people are ok with eating 1-2 hour meals during the week. My dd is in bed at 7:30, 45 minutes for dinner would be the absolute maximum on a school night.


 o
RE: Making a big deal out of something little?

Thank you for the input from everyone. It's quite obvious that many of you have had similar issues and can relate from both sides. I did feel a little bad at the time (hence the reason I posted) so it's nice to know that many of you can relate in one way or another.

As a clarification, this is not a "rule" for the dinner table, it was a one time instance. I have made several changes to dinner as well since we began our arrangement of living together including smaller portions (her dad used to give her larger portions so now I control it since I seem to have a better idea of what she can finish and I know she will eat all of her favorite thing and get full if she's allowed to) and earlier dinner time so that it's not a huge rush. FSD takes a shower after dinner and also calls BM which generally takes about an hour between the two.

There is no rule that she has to clean her plate (I think that leads to poor eating attitudes down the road), but she can't ask for dessert unless she ate all of her meal. Also, she is no longer allowed to get her own snacks because she was sometimes eating too close to dinner and then wouldn't be hungry.

I think the main problem (which I've observed a number of times) is that Dad feels guilty that she doesn't have any siblings to play with. His behavior often mimics that of a sibling rather than a parent. It pisses me off when I am expected to be the "parent" and scold both of them for bad behavior. He likes to tell her how she "got him in trouble" when I tell him to stop distracting her from her food. It's like a whole "us against her" game that not only leaves me feeling left out but is so completely inappropriate for a parent. I assume this is something that stems back farther in their relationship.

As for the time that he spends with his daughter - he has 50/50 custody so we have her every other week and he talks to her on the phone every night when she is at BMs. I talk to him regularly (when she is not around) about the things I notice that bother me for the sake of her development or my sanity.

Oh, and he asked her to apologize to me for not listening which I politely told him the next day was totally unnecessary since he was the one that I expected an apology from (after all, she was just following him), but I suppose that does mean he brought it to her attention that she should listen to me.

pinkhill: Just because a child lives in my house half time was not in my body for 9 months prior to their birth does not make me a "guest" in my own home. I understand what you are saying regarding Dad making the parenting decisions, but to imply that I am a selfish control freak for asking my FSD one night to be quiet and eat her food (BTW, Dad generally asks her this every night and I think had asked her several times already during that meal) seems a bit harsh. If only every future step parent took your advice and allowed themselves to be completely steam rolled by their partner and their partner's children there would be a 0% chance of step parenting survival. Maybe that's what you're hoping for though...


 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!


Return to the Stepfamily Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.


Learn more about in-text links on this page here