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How not to care

Hastings's picture

I care too much. I'm a "fixer." A caretaker. Just my personality. I've known on an intellectual level that as a SM, there are limits and, ultimately, I can't/shouldn't care more than the bios do. Still, it's hard to internalize that.

Truth is, I care about SS10. I want him to be a good, productive, likable person. He has a lot of potential,

But I can't make him be that way. How he's raised, the values instilled in him, those are all up to DH and BM. My annoyances and frustrations do nothing but make me look like a grumpy, wicked stepmom and create tension with DH.

So. I'm making a more conscious decided effort to stay out of it. I've been trying to do that but I think it's time I buckle down,

It's a small thing, really, but last night was kind of a tipping point. SS had been back with us for two days and DH still has not dealt with the "poop in the closet" thing, though he mentions it again to me, saying he hasn't but he's going to.

Eating had been an issue. SS keeps suddenly deciding ge no longer likes foods he's always loved. Personally I think it's his way of trying to get us to get him fast food or keep other junky stuff around for him like his mom does. We like to get pizza or burgers as much as the next person and we have snacks on hand but we also try to promote some healthy eating habits. And we like to cook. If he doesn't like something, we save it for adult weeks.

So, last night I made breakfast for dinner, which SS has always loved. Homemade biscuits, turkey bacon, scrambled eggs. I did SS's eggs separately since he only likes pepper on his and DH and I prefer a little doctoring. SS took one bite of his eggs, then just ate the biscuits and bacon. This is a kid who wants eggs for breakfast every morning. He told DH they were too salty. (I added no salt. At all.)

Anyway, DH just said he didn't know what to do about it (after letting him get snack foods and then ice cream for dessert). I just shrugged. No advice. No nagging. DH is worried about eating habits but does nothing about it. Not my problem. And if SS won't eat stuff I cook, I just don't cook for him (though, honestly, he does the same with what DH cooks). Not my problem. I'm done bending over backwards to figure out SS-approved meals.

Comments

caninelover's picture

The poop thing is just nasty and DH needs to stop procrastinating and talk to SS - and hold him accountable.  Future room searches and a punishment if it happens again (no Xbox, whatever).

The food though...meh.  Kids that age are often fickle.  Sometimes it's about control or manipulation but sometimes not.  He may have said too salty because he heard an adult say it as a way if not eating the eggs.  Maybe it was attention he wanted or just the feeling that he had the right to say no.  I would ignore it and keep doing what you're doing, he'll eat or not but don't give him attention for the behavior.  If it bugs you than let DH cook while he's there.

Hastings's picture

That's pretty much what I'm doing. I don't really care if SS eats or not. But I'm not fixing special meals.

Attention is probably part of it. He has a tendency to share any slight or discomfort or inconvenience. From what I've witnessed that usually that brings a strong response from BM and her parents. Less strong from DH. Whatever. Attention seeking is annoying but not unusual.

advice.only2's picture

For the poop I would address it with SS in front of DH and let them both know if it happens again the closet and bedroom doors are coming off and SS and DH will be in there scrubbing that place with bleach. I did the same with my DH and Spawn when she was flinging used tampons and pads under my BD's bed! DH was mad at me because he wanted to handle it "his way" (meaning not at all). Instead I made it miserably uncomfortable for both of them so they had to actually do something about it. But I wasn't letting it go because it was a hazard affecting my daughter.

As for the rest either DH will get annoyed enough he will start doing something or he will continue to let it go, but remind him it's HIS choice to do nothing.

The_Upgrade's picture

So let me get this straight, if he turns his nose up at dinner he can skip right to icecream?! 

Hastings's picture

Pretty much. He's never denied dessert. The thing that bugs me is DH talks frequently about how he worries about SS's eating habits because weight and healthy eating are important to DH. He's asked for my advice before and I said, if SS won't eat dinner, he can fix himself a sandwich but only people who eat what's cooked (including veggies) get dessert. DH thought that sounded smart. No action. I'm not making any more suggestions even if he asks. Asked. Answered.

The_Upgrade's picture

The logic I've always used with my 3 yr old is if she's too full to eat dinner then that's fine. I won't force food into her. But if she's too full for dinner then surely there's no room for dessert. 

JRI's picture

Two of my SKs were picky eaters.  I'm sure part of it was a passive-aggressive way to reject me.  I had so many other issues going on with them that I just couldn't pay attention to every issue.  I cooked whatever I was going to cook and they could eat it or not.  DH often doled out fast food money (within walking distance).  It felt like not responding was my wisest course.

YSS had a fast food fetish.  I think it was the taste consistency he craved.  Whatever.  He eats healthily now.  SD still has odd food preferences leaning heavily to white bread and soda, seldom eats fruit or veggies and no fish.  I stopped commenting many years ago.  But it was interesting that while she lived with us for 10 months and when she visits now, she wolfs down my food, asks how it's made and buys the ingredients ( or so she says).  Again, whatever   

Hastings's picture

SS used to be a great eater and loved stuff other kids don't. According to DH, he complains that we don't have certain frozen foods for him for lunch or snacks and we don't get him pizza or fast food very often. (We usually do takeout once a week or so.)

Maybe it's just an age thing. Maybe it's passive aggressive against me. Maybe it's attention seeking. Or manipulation. Maybe all of that combined.

I just know I'm letting go of any emotional involvement.

Gimlet's picture

If I had a dollar for every time I thought because I cared and knew what I was doing that I could "help", I could probably retire.

Like you, I like to cook.  Stomach weirdness runs in my family and I care very much about my diet.  They know me at the farmers markets, I have a weekly CSA, I source things as well as I can.  I know that I am lucky to have the time and resources to do that, I am not saying that it's for everyone.  It wasn't always that way for me. 

My husband's kids are "picky" eaters.  OSS actually isn't, but wouldn't eat anything I made.   YSS has some food issues and only eats processed, bland food that's mostly white or beige.  I can't tell you how many of my meals have gone into the garbage.  So at this point, I make healthy dinners and DH and I eat them.  I shop at Aldi for YSS (BM shops there and since he knows the food, he will eat it) and that's what he eats.  I make nothing for him and haven't for years now.

It doesn't matter why he's doing it, it just matters that it's an unwinnable situation for you.  Make what you want to feed yourself well and let your DH handle SS.  There is nothing to be gained here.  All I got for my effort was BM telling DH that I made "weird food" that her kids hated.

I'm not going to comment on the poop thing because others have covered it and you already know what I think of your husband and his parenting.

Hastings's picture

Very true. I'm leaving the food up to DH now. I'm not going to purposefully cook things I know SS doesn't like but if I make something and he doesn't want to eat it, that's not my problem.

And believe me, I have my own opinions and problems with DH and his parenting. I believe DH and BM are doing that kid NO favors at all. But I'm working to let go of that. Not my circus. Not my monkey.

Cover1W's picture

I feel you, really, really do.

I care about YSD15 - but I cannot get involved because each time *I* am the one that gets into trouble. It's crazy making so I stay out of it. The latest involves a broken light switch cover in her room (I am certain due to her obsessive handstands that DH hasn't fixed nor made her help do so and I stratight up told him to do so but "it's so hard and he has so many other important things to do himself" that teaching her to fix her broken stuff so she can see how much time it actually takes doesn't mean a dang thing and I'm the meanie who found it in the first place...."why were you in her room?") AND his complaining / wanting advice again on something which ended with him saying, "Well don't be mad if I don't do it ok?"  FFS. WHY ASK ME.  So I told him then and there that we will get zero input from me at all, which I generally do but he really wants to handle her behavioral problems with BM and not me -  ok then good luck with that.

I would NOT NOT accept the lack of discussion/handling of the poo situation. YOU do not accept that. I did not accept the pee issue in my own home in a bathroom. I gave DH one last warning and told him if you do NOT handle it the next time I see it I WILL be handling it as it's MY home as well and it's a disgusting situation that should NOT be happening ANYWHERE.  No hold barred - you go ballistic.

Food issues cropping up? Power play IMHO. OSD has legit issues. YSD is just playing it up as she DID eat a variety of foods and was fairly adventerous. Well, now we are not like mommy's house and we're inferior and so is our food. DH caters to her and I refuse to so I do not cook if she is here (which can be for over a week in the summer) unless there's something specific I want to make. Make that clear to DH that there will be no special meals made by you.  If your DH wants to cook them, or give your SS something else, it's 100% on him.  Do not get involved in food battles.

Hastings's picture

Exactly. My DH asks for advice and then ignores it or accuses me of being too hard on His Majesty. I'm shutting that down.

I've told DH before that I make one meal. Period. Anything else is on him and he didn't push back. But I can tell, again, he thinks I'm too tough and strict. Too bad.

SeeYouNever's picture

My SD used to be a bit picky about food only when I cooked it. I learned that if I do the prep but let my husband finish the cooking she would eat it because she could take the credit. Whatever. 

It's hard not to care about food if you're a fixer cooking for people is probably one of the ways you show that you care about them and it's important to you. 

In order to disengage from meals when you begin making or planning dinner I would just make a comment to your husband what are you going to do about SS's dinner? From there he can choose to make him something special go get some fast food or make him eat what you have made. 

I think the poop in the closet thing is a much bigger issue and that needs to be addressed. I'm pretty sure your DH hasn't addressed it yet because who knows how to even begin that conversation! What SS did was so out of bounds it goes beyond normal parenting..

Hastings's picture

Oh yeah. I'm pretty sure DH is dreading the conversation, in part because he knows SS well enough to know he'll just cry or shut down entirely. Still needs to be properly addressed, though. This going along like everything's normal and nothing happened isn't ok -- not for something like that!

Onanisland's picture

I've dealt with stuff like this before and I know it's no fun. Takes all the pleasure out of mealtimes. No point giving you advice since we have 2 skids and 2 little boys so the dynamic and challenges are different. I would just say try to take some of the power away from mealtimes by not looking at or commenting on what he eats. Model healthy eating but look away if it's not happening. If you can remove the tension he'll probably lose interest in being so challenging. Studies show that picky eating is reinforced by nagging parents. It's so hard to do, but maybe just give him a healthy meal and look away! I always include one 'safe food' for my kids so they can fill up on that. And remind him that you don't need his opinion about the food - eat or don't.

Hastings's picture

You're right about tension, etc. But there isn't any (that I'm aware of). I never comment to him on what he eats or doesn't, or push him to try things. DH doesn't either. I have an "eat or don't -- not my problem" attitude. Any discussion is with DH when SS isn't around.

Harry's picture

He's not parenting his DS,  as shitting in the closet still has no punishment.  SS is seeing what he can get away with / driving you crazy.  Your DH instead of parenting SS he helping him.  Getting ice cream after not eating dinner. 

Hastings's picture

Exactly. DH just lets anything good -- then complains to me about what SS is or isn't doing. Refuses to actually work to fix problems. I'm frankly tired of it. And it hurts my relationship with SS in the process.