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Old 09-28-2004, 08:18 AM   #1
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wantwavesD HB User
Question How do you deal with step kids?

I'm a 24yr old dad of a 9yr old step son and a 16mo. old daughter... I am having a clash with the son b/c we're both hard headed and my wife says I expect way too much of him. I just want him to be responsible, like cleaning up after himself(ie- pick up clothes from shower, clean up drinks when he spills, etc). I think a lot of my "anal"-ness started when I bought my house a little over a year ago. I've never really had to care about the super cleanliness and upkeep of a place b/c they were all apartments, so who cares? someone else would fix it, right? Well, now that I own a house, it seems that I am just going nuts on the organization and cleanliness of it and it's driving me and my fam crazy(but the thing is, it's not super clean or perfect, I just get mad when things aren't picked up or put away when it's so simple). I don't really know what to expect a 9 yr old to do, since I've never had a 9 yr old.
What I'm looking for is help from people who have dealt with this kind of thing (high expectations for kids, wanting a house to live up to your expectations when the other people in the house don't have that same expectation.(ie cleanliness and organization)....
This is serious for me because it's tearing my family apart but it's something I don't know how to deal with. I can't just give up and become the house maid and start picking up everyones mess. I DO expect to do that for my daughter since she's 16 months old; I guess I get mad and pick b/c I feel like the others in my family aren't pulling their weight. But to be fair, how much weight is a 9 yr old expected to pull?
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Old 09-28-2004, 08:39 AM   #2
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Re: How do you deal with step kids?

I think that a 9 year old can be expected to pull quite a bit of weight. The problem seems to be that this 9 year old hasn't been asked to do a whole lot previously (either from his dad, if he was around, or his mom) So, you need to ease him into the role of cleaning up after himself. How long have you two been together? I'm sure he's having some issues about having a new dad around. But don't let him use that as an excuse. And you do not deserve to be the maid. Do you also clean up after your wife? If you do, you need to stop and have her pull her weight too and help you set an example. Does your son get an allowance? You can use that to help build up his responsibility. I also think you should sit down and have a little talk with him. (i'm sure you've probably told him this stuff a million times) But have a little quiet time, just the two of you, and gently explain how this is making you feel and see why he doesn't want to do the stuff. Ask what you can do to help him learn to do it. Ask if you're asking him to do too much and ask what he would be willing to do. Then hold him to it. But don't do it like a dictator...he is a kid afterall. Most kids don't care about having a clean house, but they do care about allowances, their favorite toys, and making their parents happy. Good luck dad!!

Last edited by Kiera1595; 09-28-2004 at 08:40 AM.

 
Old 09-28-2004, 10:56 AM   #3
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Re: How do you deal with step kids?

Along with what Kiera said I would like to add that you need to have a talk with your wife and make sure you two are on the same page. If you are telling him to do something and "MOM" doesnt then that will creat problems not only between you and him but possibly between you and your wife because your expecting him to do things that mom doesnt and you will end up being the bad guy.

 
Old 09-28-2004, 08:49 PM   #4
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wantwavesD HB User
Re: How do you deal with step kids?

to kiera and boston, thank you for the advice. I have been in his life for about three years now... He does resent me b/c I'm an authority figure and demand a lot; while at the same time I don't spend the time with him that he needs and that, I think, is one of the big reasons he acts the way he does. I will take these suggestions to the bank b/c I need the help to make things better.

 
Old 10-04-2004, 10:56 AM   #5
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boston HB User
Re: How do you deal with step kids?

How are things going wantwaves. Keep us updated.

 
Old 10-04-2004, 12:22 PM   #6
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Re: How do you deal with step kids?

I don't think picking up his clothes and cleaning his own messes is too harsh. Here's what I do (I have four kids): I have two spots designated for dirty laundry. GET THEM THERE! Or they don't get washed, and eventually, they have no clean clothes for school. Start making your 16 month old carry her clothes to the same spot(s) (but don't hold it against her/him if she does'nt quite make it). As for spilled drinks: If you spill your drink, and you refuse to clean it, you go to your room for 5 minutes. If I have to take time out to clean your mess- your taking time out to think about it. If time out doesn't help, restrict where and what he drinks. He can only drink at the table- which I would actually make that a family rule. AND...if you cant clean your drink after you spill it, all you are allowed to drink is water for the next 3 days- it does less damage when its spilt. After the 3 days are up, if he spills and doesn't clean-remind him kindly that he will be limited to water only drinks if he doesn't- usually they will clean it then. But be prepared to back it up with three more days if he doesn't. Loosing his favorite drink is going to bug him more than having to bend and clean his mess!

My 9 year old, 5 year old and 2(soon to be 3)year old all have a list of jobs they have to do daily and weekly. Daily includes: HOMEWORK, pick up your toys in the main parts of the house (evening before bed)- If you don't- you loose them. Feed and water dogs and cats, water horses(except in winter-husband does it then)- this is done because they are their animals. If they don't want to take care of them, we will get rid of them. Having a pet is a luxury-NOT a necessity. Play and have fun. Over summer break, they also have to: 9 yr old-load the dishwasher or wash dishes by hand once every day-his choice. 5 yr old- load dryer once a day and start water in washer. 2 yr old- unload dryer so I can fold.
Weekly: Clean your room(all 3 older kids). Clean your bathroom(9 and 5 yr old). Wipe walls with a damp cloth (2yr old).
At the same time though- I do not completely forbid them to make messes. Making some messes is part of being a kid. My kids are allowed to roll in mud(outside-if you have that much dirt in the house-I'd say you have a serious problem!!!), have dirt fights(outside), put stickers all over the back of their bedroom door, on their dresser, and on their bed. Have food fights (outside of course!).Make messes with toys-if its in there room it stays for a week- if they don't clean it then, they dont get company or to go to friends. If the toys don't get cleaned from main parts of house, they get put in our "REPO LOT". Repo is above the cupboards-they can see them, but they cant touch them-when they get them back, maybe they will take better care of them.
And no, my house isn't spotless- BUT its not a disaster either. And I have two kids with ADHD, so it is difficult- I know how that is. My biggest problem is with the kids breaking things. Right now, my 9 yr old lost his birthday money and has to help me scrub the floor by hand with soap and water to help work off his debt. Right now, floor scrubbing is fun to him- and his 5 and 2 yr old bro and sis even are joining in the fun(they wanted to!)- but, when it starts cutting into their free mess time....I know they'll complain! Also, when we have a tree fall or get cut down, the kids have to help pick up branches and stack wood. The branches are used to have bon fires (which they love to have), and the fire wood is usually sold, and the money goes to pay for horse hay, family time, pizza, ect-fun stuff for them. Believe it or not, they don't give us alot of trouble about the wood stuff- my 9 yr old complains, but he still does it.

Hope this helps!
ladyshy

 
Old 10-06-2004, 06:31 AM   #7
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Re: How do you deal with step kids?

Well, I've read some good suggestions. Now my wife and I are going to make a list of chores(daily and weekly) for my step son. Our counselor suggested this and we just need to implement it. The easy part will be making the list, I think the difficult part will be ensuring it is adhered to.
This morning was a good one for the most part. He woke up, took his shower(he gets himself ready for school everyday) and even cleaned up his room and made his bed! (usually he takes 20 minutes to put on his shoes b/c he's veggin' out infront of the TV watching cartoon network.) That's every now and then when that happens.(the cleaning the room part!) I also think one of the big problems is that I'm on shift work, so every 7 days I get on a different shift and only 1 of the 3 different shifts I am here in the morning with the rest of my family. My wife is one of those people that have trouble waking up in the morning (3 or 4 snoozes on the alarm clock!), me on the other hand can wake up to an ant sneezing. With the wife the way she is and her routine (wake up, shower immediately and get dressed, then go off to work), there's no time for her to ensure the son does what he needs to do because by the time she's out of the shower, he's out the door to catch the bus. So, hopefully the daily "things to do" list will help in the aspect of him knowing what's required and that we will enforce the consequences if the chores aren't finished.
That's a part I'm kind of stuck on..... what do I do/take away from him if he doesn't do what's required?
There really is nothing when I think about it, he comes home after school, does his homework and goes outside to play when there's time. It's getting dark so early now, so really, he doesn't do too much! He might watch some TV with us, but we rarely watch it, too. Maybe some wheel of fortune and jeopardy, and one of the 8 o'clock shows, but that's it.
He does get $5 a week for "keeping his room clean" and taking out trash and window washing(which rarely gets done) and cleaning up the table after every meal. In every one's opinion, is that too much money for the work? Or should there be more money or more work? My opinion is that he should do a little more, but what else is there really?
I don't know, any more suggestions would be helpful. Things aren't too bad here, lately. He doesn't give me attitude as long as I'm not requesting him to do stuff/ pick up/ clean up after himself. He's one of those "I know everything" 9 yr olds. and with him being a step son, its harder b/c I have a hard time sometimes seeing him as my kid. It's like he resents me b/c I tell him to do stuff his mom doesn't I guess. She, in my opinion, Is slack. We've had the conversation/ arguments that the things I harp on don't really matter b/c all it's doing is creating animosity and resentment from the boy to me. But I want a clean and liveable house AND I want him to learn to be responsible and follow through. I know that from what you're reading you probably think I live in a pig pen, but it's not as bad as it sounds. It's the simple, easily done things. Putting the milk away(he's done that twice now, left it out all night to go bad. I know it wasn't on purpose, but had he followed through, it wouldn't have happened), picking up the bathroom when he's done showering, just putting stuff away when you're done with it..... I just get frustrated when it's not done b/c I see it as so easy to do. It would take less than 30 seconds to do most of the stuff I want.
Anyway, enough griping. I appreciate the replies and hope they keep coming. I'm getting some good ideas here....
sorry for the long read.

 
Old 10-08-2004, 10:58 AM   #8
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boston HB User
Re: How do you deal with step kids?

It sounds like your doing pretty good. How much allowance and how many chores a child should do is really up to the parents. What one thinks is enough another might think is too much, but once you agree on something you need to stick with it. Of corse there will always be exception where you will have to let something slide every once in a while.
How about making a list of all his chores and putting a $$ amount for each one the harder the chore the more $$, and if something does not get done then that much is deducted from his weekly allowance.

 
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