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Frustrated future SM's picture

So things have been much better with BF lately. We haven't had any arguments in a while. Our daughter is turning 7 months and she's just the best baby! We will be taking her to music classes, swimming lessons and yoga these next few months, which will be fun! Seriously looking forward to Summer and beach trips and I'm just hoping we can have a great summer with his kids too.

I'm a very active person, especially in spring and summer and since I spent most of the winter indoors with baby, I'm too excited to get out and do things all the time. Hiking, biking, jogging, swimming anything that will keep me active. I want to do some of these things with BF, his kids and our daughter. Problem is, his son only wants to play video games ALL THE TIME. It's frustrating because we could have someone babysit him while the rest of us do something fun together, but it would be mean to leave him out all the time. Not only that but BF feels guilty whenever his son isn't there and it ruins our fun because he gets mopey and we end up having to leave early and run back to his son because BF aboslutely has to sit next to him and watch him play video games (since when does watching a kid play video games count as spending time together???) Now he has no problem missing out on spending time with his daughter or our daughter together, that doesn't bother him one bit, but if his son's not around he's flooded with guilt.

There's definitely some favoritism going on and I'm noticing it more and more. I fear that he may sabotage his bond with our daughter and his own daughter without even realizing it. I feel like I now have to step up and just take the girls and do things alone with them because I can't allow them to miss out on experiences because of his son, and I refuse to have our fun ruined because daddy feels guilty about not being by his son's side while he plays the games.

How do I get his son interested in doing other things? How do I deal with the favoritism? Do I just always take the girls places and leave the boys to do their own thing?


Maxwell09's picture

Your DH needs to be a dad. He needs to be the “bad guy” and make his son turn off the PlayStation/Xbox/electronic and make him go be active. 

elkclan's picture

^^^^^^ THIS. 

With clear boundaries about when you must be off it and when you can be on it. In our house, on holidays,. you can be on it til breakfast. 9-5 you're not on it. After 5, they can do screen time again, though sometimes we make them do group activities. If the weather is AWFUL we sometimes bend on this. This is England, so we bend. And you have to be prepared to direct activities. But yesterday, we had terrible weather and we played squash, went swimming and then had them build a gerbil maze. Good stuff. 

My son, in particular, struggled with this - new partner, new regime, but I was grateful to have some help setting down boundaries on this. And basically, after a bit of whinging he's fallen right in line. 

You have to be prepared to ignore the moping the first few times. And most of all, the bio parent takes the flack. This wasn't my SO's rule. This is MY rule for MY son. It just so happens I got the idea from my SO's rules for his kids. 

Frustrated future SM's picture

Yeah, I should talk to him about setting boundaries. Doing bonding activities is so important to me and I want all of us to do them together. It's just hard because he thinks his son will find anything that's not videogames boring so he doesn't even want to try to get his son to participate in other activities. He doesn't want to make his son do things that might bore him because he doesn't want to be hated. It's so obvious his son loves being with him though so I don't understand this thinking.

Frustrated future SM's picture

He absolutely hates being the bad guy. He's completely insecure about his relationship with his kids and he competes with BM, so he can't bring himself to play that part when necessary. He tries but I definitely think he could try a lot harder. He brings them to the playground sometimes, but I think he should be doing so much more with them.

TrueNorth77's picture

Why is his son running the show? His addiction to video games trumps all family time? SS12 here is also obsessed with video games, and yes sometimes my SO watches him play *eye roll*, but when we have plans, the games go off and SS comes with. That needs to be the routine and rule of the house- when you have plans to do something else, it doesn’t matter if SS would rather play video games- he doesn’t get to, his attendance at the other activity is required and non-negotiable. As addicted as SS here is to video games, he does enjoy the other activities, and I believe it helps that the tone is set that he’s coming no matter what, so he doesn’t feel like he could be playing video games instead. Your SO is failing on this one. 

Frustrated future SM's picture

I've been asking myself that same question for months now! And yes his addiction does trump family time and it grinds my gears. We definitely need to work on establishing who the adults are and make it clear that his son doesn't run the show and needs to be involved in whatever activities we choose to do.

I wish they had gotten him interested in sports or other hobbies that don't involve a screen, but this is where he and BM failed as parents.

shamds's picture

Hubbys family home about 3 hours drive away.

ss will sit there for 5-6 hours straight with the other nerd/computer addicted cousins watching them play computer games. Just sit there like zombies.... he locks himself in his room all the time

its a known fact that video gamers are way more aggro because of all the fighting/shooting games that when you remove it or tell them to stop playing it they get verbal and physical real quick

hubby couldn’t figure out why ss always answered him with attitude, rudeness and just shouting for just basic things. So i offered hubby advice as he was asking for help and said state very clearly when he is next back from university, he has 24 hrs to clean his room and bathroom (he bleached, scrubbed, sprayed and vacuumed) and hubby inspected to make sure it was upto par, he was told he had to empty trash daily, had to sit outside with rest of the family (which often he sits on his own on sofa with his phone), he is not allowed to lock his door, hubby barges in whenever for inspection and hubby doesn’t knock because he lost the privilege for that level of privacy and respect, hubby started this end of jan, so far its been maintained.

the catalyst for this progress and hubby putting his foot firmly down with ss bullshit behaviour was me telling hubby i am done and want a divorce. Since i am from overseas, our 2 toddlers would have to come with me as hubby is a sole income earner and unable to care for them. That scared and forced hubby into action....

believe me ss actually prioritises watching cartoons and playing computer games than going to his cousins weddings... apparently he has homework to do but the moment i walk through the door he is couch surfing watching cartoons..

we don’t take him for weekend getaways because he ruins the mood by being a loner. At times he’s said he wants to come but last minute cancels not caring that his hotel bedroom can’t be cancelled last minute because hubby incurs the cost so now he doesn’t come. When he has come he behaves like he doesn’t want to be there so then why come??

Cogito Ergo Sum's picture

I agree with the other posters who have said that it needs to become a non-negotiable in your home, SS slots in with the rest of the family, that way you are able to get outdoors & your BF gets to spend time with his son. We have a pair of gaming obsessed boys in our household too & need to force them out of their virtual lives & into the real world at times - so I can totally relate. I've always reasoned that they can't stay at home all day unsupervised so if we're choosing to be out & about then they're coming with us, they don't get to dicate terms, they're not the adults. Once they stop being depressed over their separation from their one true love, video games, they honestly enjoy it despite themselves. I'm sure your BF will get on board & back you up, after all, it's in his sons best interest to get outside & spend time with real live humans from time to time. 

Winterglow's picture

His son is EIGHT, for goodness sake! It's time to remind your bf that HE is the adult here! Adults make the decisions, not little boys!

Frustrated future SM's picture

Yeah, I definitely need to get him to understand this. It's ridiculous that he let's his son call the shots.

dysfunctionally_blended's picture

Why hasn't anyone thought to take the gaming equipment away?!

Catering to kids is ridiculous. Family has plans and we all go. Don't like it I don't care you can sit in the car and watch.

But to just stay home because the kid doesn't want to stop playing a video game - how crazy is that! 

Frustrated future SM's picture

Believe me if he were my kid he'd only be playing them on weekends and it'd only be for one hour maybe two if I'm feeling generous. But I can't make BF take the videogames away and he's too afraid of making his son hate him and not want to see him anymore, so he won't.

We definitely need to come up with some sort of compromise on this though.

bananaseedo's picture

I see two extremes here, the boy who does nothing, and you wanting to take your kid to 3 different lesson plans before she's a year old! 

Swimming lessons are valuable eventually but at 7 months? just go and enjoy the pool w/  Incorporate into your routine while she watches.  MUSIC lessons?  Buy some of those piano toys and let her play.  Let her be a baby.  Seriously you're talking about scheduling lessons for a 7 month old-you will burn yourself and her out.  Hiking slap her on ya and go but don't waste your money/time on lessons when these are normal everyday activities you can just incorporate her into.  Focus on YOUR kid and let dad handle his son.

sunshinex's picture

Yeah, I was wondering about this too.

Are the other kids in any sort of activities or lessons? It seems silly to have a 7-month-old baby in so many lessons - to each their own but that would exhaust me. Plus, at her age, isn't she napping 3 or so times a day still? When does she get time to relax and nap? If the other kids aren't in anything, is it possible THEY are sensing favoritism, and at least the boy is pulling away because of it? 

Frustrated future SM's picture

His son has done sports in the past but he hates them, so that's not likely to continue, and his daughter has taken dance lessons. The amount of lessons I'd like to bring my baby to is my business, not yours, so don't worry about it. They're each one day a week and no longer than an hour, So she's not overloaded like a high schooler or something. I'm still pretty young so I have the energy to do all these things. I've also always been very active and fit but that's my lifestyle, which wasn't the topic of this post. And like I already said the lessons are more for me to bond with her and spend time with other adults and her with other kids. She always gets 2 naps, and 3 if I can fit the third one in but she doesn't absolutely need that third nap. I have a great schedule and routine worked out for her. And they're not sensing favoritism because they don't know about the activities. We don't tell them about that and she just started them. I know his daughter wants to do gymnastics but for some reason he has yet to sign her up for that, but that's BF's problem, not mine. And his son just doesn't like to do anything.

Frustrated future SM's picture

The activities are for me to get out of the house and for her to get socialized and spend time with other babies. Obviously these things don't really do anything for her, they're more for the parents to have something to do, meet other parents and it's a way to bond with baby. I do believe I mentioned being home all winter with her, so I don't see anything wrong with finally going out, meeting people, and bonding with my baby and BF as a family at the same time by doing these activities. And I believe that everything you do with your kids in these young years sets them up for who they're going to become down the road, and no I don't want my child to be lazy, sit around the house all day, and want to use gaming devices all day everyday.

iamlosingit's picture

My DH idea of "time well spent" is he and SS sitting on different couches (sometimes side-by-side) but neither one speaking as SS is on DH laptop playing games/watching annoying videos of other people playing games and DH is engrossed in his phone.  Drop-off has actually been late because of this.  It drives me nuts.

sunshinex's picture

Wtf lol

My SD is 7 almost 8 so pretty much the same age. I give her a 2 minute warning before shutting off the TV/video games if we have to go out. Even if we have to grocery shop. I have an 18-month-old and SD - she's not old enough to stay home alone so unfortunately, if I have to go somewhere, she has to stop whatever she's doing and get her shoes on and come with me. 

There is no way in hell I'd be considering paying a babysitter perfectly good money to watch her do what SHE wants when the household has things we NEED to do. Heck, even if we were just going to do some sort of fun activity, there would be literally no choice -- it'd be a simple "SD, we're going to XYZ, you've got 2 minutes before you need to get ready." 

I really, really don't understand why on earth you'd allow an 8-year-old kid to dictate where you, as a family, go or what you, as a family, do. That seems super unfair to the rest of the household. Not only that, but it seems like a great way to make others resent him. 

Frustrated future SM's picture

I don't understand it either. I'd never allow my kids to make decisions or call the shots. It's very unfair for everyone but mainly his sisters.

tog redux's picture

For people who like video games, watching someone play or playing with them is like watching them play a sport, or playing that sport with them.  So for your DH and his son, it's not a "waste of time", and it IS doing something together.  It's the same for them as it would be if they were shooting baskets or if DH was watching him shoot baskets.

That being said, it's not healthy to let the kid game all the time, just as it wouldn't be healthy to let him shoot baskets all day or watch him do it.  So it's not that gaming is inherently bad, but allowing a kid to do anything obsessively is no good.

But you can't control that. Take the baby and go have fun, and let him glom onto his son when his son is there.  Take his daughter, too, if she wants to go. 

Frustrated future SM's picture

It's definitely a waste of time and is not a way to bond and spend time together. Maybe if they played together it would be a little better, but they don't play together BF just watches him play. My dad and I used to play video games together and it was fun and I have great memories of those moments, so for us it was a way of bonding but my dad certainly didn't let me call shots or decide the family wasn't going out to do something just because I wanted to play videogames. Videogame addiction is no joke and his son may be on his way to becoming an addict. I could understand if he had other hobbies or played sports but his son does nothing else. He hates every sport he's tried and doesn't do anything else. And now he's one of those twitch users and I still don't even know what the heck twitch is and what the point of it is.

Basically his videogame use isn't monitored or even limited and it effects what we get to go out and do as a family which is not fair to anyone.

Siemprematahari's picture

Why does this kid even have an option of staying home to play video games?? The weather is getting nice and your BF needs to parent and get his son involved in family activities. This is your BF fault for allowing this and if I were you I'd do the activities without him. Why should you and the other kids miss out on family fun because SS wants to be home playing video games? You really need to address this, it will be more of the same for years to come if you don't shut it down now.

fourbrats's picture

needs to redirect that interest in video games into things related to STEM such as coding, science, computer building etc. He could for example, build a computer with his kid. Redirect that focus but he has to do it. 

Another suggestion.....the older kids each pick an activity once a month or once every couple of weeks that they are interested in. Everything you mentioned are activities you enjoy or want the baby to do but want to do them "together." There doesn't seem to be a mention of what anyone else in the "together" wants to do. Your SO may not be interested in your list of activities and his son is an easy out so he should pick as well. We have a big family so we take turns. DH is an artist and three of the kids like art so we may go to a museum as an activity. I like books and we happen to have an awesome four level bookstore locally that is near the outdoor market so we take a trip downtown and do that. DS likes sports (he is an adult now but we still do this) so we go to a game or go watch his game. The youngest is a STEM ace so we may take a trip to the science museum or go watch one of her competitions. In the end we make the decisions but we allow opinions and also allow them to pick some activities. 

Dad needs to set rules for the gaming and also set rules for chosen activities. Son can choose a family trip to the nickel arcade but then the next month he needs to choose something active like the trampoline park. Things like that. But he has to set the tone and force some of the things his son doesn't want to do as well. 

Frustrated future SM's picture

Letting everyone get a chance to pick something that we do is an awesome idea! You're right, I was trying to get them to do things I want to do, so that should work much better! I can talk to him about setting limits for the gaming and doing more learning activities.