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How Far Disengaged?

ThatGirl's picture

OK, so I've decided to try and disengage, as skids only resent me when trying to help parent them. SO and I discussed it and he wasn't real happy about, said he didn't want to "give up" on his kids. I explained I wasn't giving up on them, but that they have two parents and it's their job to do the parenting. I told him I was no longer going to bug the kid about school work, room cleaning, all the normal stuff... that it was now solely his responsibility to handle all of these things, just as it would be if I weren't around.

So Monday night we get a call from the school saying SS13 received a progress report that day, and that it needs to be signed and returned on Friday. I'm thinking, OK, time for SO to start his new job of being the parent. SS13 is dropped off for his week with us. Nothing much going on there, since he comes after dinner. We watch some TV together and go to bed. No mention of the progress report from him, and SO didn't ask for it. I figure he doesn't want to upset the kid on his first day back.

Tuesday I come home from work and it's unusually quiet, so I figure skid must be out playing. Nope, he was actually upstairs at the desk doing homework! His dad did it, I was amazed! SS13 is also being unusually pleasant, so I'm thinking SO must have had a talk with him about his behavior the previous week, and more than likely got a look at progress report. We eat dinner, watch a movie, then go to bed.

Yesterday I come home, it's quiet again, I'm thinking *woo hoo* he's actually doing homework again. SO is cooking dinner, then his phone rings. It's SS13 calling from a friend's house, asking if he can stay longer (it's already after 6). Apparently SO told him he could go do homework with his friend. He said, "No, I said until 7 and I'm coming to get you." No whining on the other side, which is amazing to me. When he gets back he asks to see what they were working on, and all seems good.

Then he has SS13 go upstairs and strip his bed to be washed (should have been done weeks ago, but he'd never do it when I asked). The bed was so nasty (he spilled something on it and tried to claim the dog peed) that he had kicked the down comforter and sheets to the floor and was sleeping in the bare mattress in his PJs and hooded sweatshirt (that he also wears to school everyday). It's disgusting and I tried telling him several times that he needed to wash his bedding and sweatshirt, and that he should not be sleeping in a sweatshirt and wearing it to school. This had been going on for the last two weekly visits, and I had told his dad about it, but he wouldn't do anything until now. As he had the kid washing the bedding, he reminded him that it's his job to take care of that stuff, and also gave him a talk about not sleeping in street clothes and why. WOW!!!!

So we all go to bed happy, and I'm thinking this disengaging stuff seems to be work so far, even though it's only been a week. He really should have had the kid wash all his stuff Monday night when he came home, or immediately after school the next day, but whatever, at least he finally got around to it. It's a start, and I'm excited about it.

I wake up this morning and am wondering why SO hasn't mentioned the progress report. Maybe he thinks my disengaging also means I don't want to hear about this stuff? Is that how it should work? I don't really know. But I'm still curious, and SS13's backpack is sitting right there. I'm also wondering if he brought back the iPod Touch we bought him (it's been mysteriously absent for about a month, and SO has told him he needs to produce it "or else"). So I decide screw it, I'm gonna snoop, and open up the backpack. No iPod, and a wadded up, unsigned progress report. Four F's, one D, two B's.

So now what? How disengaged am I supposed to be? Is it OK to ask SO that status of the progress report and iPod? I suppose it's possible he forgot about these two items. Should I remind him? Or maybe he's perfectly aware that bringing up these issues with SS13 will be unpleasant, and he'd prefer to ignore them. I'm thinking if I'm going to remind him, I need to do it now. The progress report is due to be returned to school tomorrow. Any punishment he prescribes for the poor grades and the missing iPod will need to take place this weekend, since we return him to his mother's Monday night.

This sounds bad, but I seriously believe SO is just going to neglect it. He doesn't want to have to punish the boy. He'll probably not bring it up until the weekend is over, after the kid has had his fun and sleep overs, after the two have them have played pool and darts and watched football. I think he'd prefer to wait until just before we return him to his mom's, that way he can be made at him for a few minutes, then apart from him for a week, then start all over again the next Monday.

What do I do now, or do I just ignore it? I would really like to see this boy do well. I don't want him to end up like the 3 older skids Sad


ThatGirl's picture

1. No
2. No, not really
3. Yes, he was there when we received the phone call to tell us the progress report was issued
4. That's my ultimate question. If I get in the middle, SS13 will be made to complete all of the missing assignments over the weekend, which will in turn bring his grades up. I want him to succeed. His older brother is a drop-out and a junkie, an older sister finished high school but had to go to continuation school to do it, another older sister is supposed to graduate this year, but it doesn't look like it's going to happen. SO always says how much he would love to see one of his children walk at graduation.

The end result of this year will likely be SD failing to move on to middle school. Is this my fault? No. Is this my problem? No. Is this DHs responsibility? Yes.

And this is what causes the conundrum. If SO wants it so badly, he really needs to stay on top of it. It's not my job, it's not my fault, but maybe I can HELP him do his job?

ThatGirl's picture

This sounds so much like us! The difference is that my sons are now onto to college and out of the house. But the situation with skids and their dad is exactly the same. He talks the talk, appears to know what needs to be done, and say he will do it, but almost never follows through. It makes me insane.

aggravated1's picture

If you are looking in his backpack and worrying about his progress report, then you aren't disengaged.

Look back at your first paragraph on what you told your DH, and then ask yourself; did you hold firm to that? or did you backslide?

True disengagement means you DON'T CARE if SS gets punished, or when he gets punished.If it isn't something that directly affects your or your household's well being and/or safety, then it isn't your concern.

You start down a slippery slope when you tell a DH that you are disengaging, then you don't follow through.

ThatGirl's picture

That's exactly how I was thinking it's supposed to work, but I could be sure. But then there's this: If it isn't something that directly affects your or your household's well being and/or safety, then it isn't your concern. I think his failure does affect our household, but I'm not entirely sure how.

Totally conflicted, aren't I? This isn't at all like Me. I have no idea what's even happened to Me. I think she ran away when she saw the mess I'd gotten myself into with these skids.

aggravated1's picture

"I think his failure does affect our household, but I'm not entirely sure how."

So let's think about how it could affect your household. If he doesn't graduate high school on time, will you have to pay child support an extra year? That may affect you, but is it really in the long run worth everything you would have to do to drag this kid kicking and screaming through years of school?

I think Blender's example of what goes on in her house is perfect. She does what she needs to, and leaves it to DH to do what he needs to, and if he doesn't, well its not her problem.

My SD is 14. I have heard that she is having sex, smoking, possibly doing drugs, failing school, you name it. I used to tell my DH about these things, because I thought as a parent, he would be concerned and do something about it.

He didn't, and you know why?
Because his need to be liked and his fear of his children were stronger than his need to make sure his children were growing up in a safe, responsible way. He sticks his head in the sand.

So when I found out that SD is having sex, did I tell DH? No. What good would it do? If I can find out this information on my own, he should care enough to find out the information on HIS own.
So it's not my problem.

Trust me, when you start really disengaging, you are going to feel so much better.

ThatGirl's picture

OK, this really hit home. Same thing was going on with SD when she was with us. I'd find out all these things about sex and drugs and pregnancy tests and failing grades and shoplifting and a million other things. I thought it important to let her dad know so that we could handle it. All that did was make the girl hate me for invading her privacy. She'd have been able to do all of those things without notice if I weren't around. She stays with her mom fulltime now.

stronggirl's picture

I know it is hard to disengage...I try all the time and never succeed because we want the best for ALL of our children...but sooner or later DH is going to have to face the music and that might be when the school calls AGAIN. Let him deal with it...even though it is really hard to do!

JustAnotherSM's picture

If I were in your situation, I would remind DH that the progress report needs to be returned with a signature by Friday. I would only do this because my DH is forgetful so it would be strictly a reminder (similar to the school calling). I would NOT ask about the grades or the iPod, though.

Disengagement is easy when it works out the way it should with DH taking on his parental duties and skids either listening or being punished. But what happens when DH doesn't step up? That's when it gets tough. But don't give in. Let DH and SS suffer the natural consequences or their actions. They both will learn a lot from their own failures.

on the fence's picture

My BF does not concern himself with my sons' grades and I do not concern myself with his kids' grades. We never have. That's the parent's deal. When my sons had trouble in school I had to deal with that myself or get their bio fathers involved. My mother always told me "Don't borrow trouble!" LOL!

ThatGirl's picture

Thank you, all! I've made up my mind, I'm not going to say a word. If DH wants he handle it, he will. *washing hands*

ThatGirl's picture

*update* Tonight at dinner, SO asked SS13 if he turned in his progress report. So he did ask for it and sign it! All on his own. That would explain why he's been making the boy do his homework. He also told him he would help with his homework next week, even tho it's BM's week. Said he would meet him at the library everyday for an hour. I was very proud of SO.

Then the phone rang and it was a kid asking SS13 if he could stay the night. SO said yes and just took him there. While I'm exciting about having the rest of the night to ourselves, I'm still wondering why the boy is allowed to stay at a friend's house after bringing home such an awful progress report.