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Stepkids and Responsibility-Where is the line?

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
Dsd lives with us 35-40% of the time. She goes back and forth once or twice a week. Lately, she is forgetting a lot of things at either house-i.e. a jacket/shoes (clothing she actually needs at the other house), her musical instrument, something she needs for an afterschool sport, etc., so not just things that we can easily duplicate or get the next time she needs it. She is 9 and I want to teach her about responbility and the consequences to not remembering to bring her things where they need to be, but I also feel like it is not HER choice to be going back and forth between houses, so she deserves a little slack for that. So, we end up rushing across town (20-25 min depending on traffic) to her mom's house to get/drop off her things, which is not usually a huge deal, but definitely takes us out of our way.

At what point do we just say, look, this is your responsiblity and your reality and we are not going to constantly "fix" it for you when you forget? FWIW we do remind her of what she needs, but we also expect her to get her things together without us checking every single thing. I don't mind doing the extra running when it is possible, but today it made us all late because she forgot something at moms, forgot to call to arrange to get it after I told her to, and then didn't remember until it was time to leave and tried to blame it on me, dp, her mom, etc. for her not remembering to do it-is she truly too young to remember to bring everything with her, especially with reminders? I truly don't know if it is fair to expect this of her...I think it must be incredibly hard to drag your life back and forth, so I totally see that. Any thoughts/experience?
post #2 of 6
I think she's old enough to remember. It might be helpful for her to have a checklist printed out of all the things she may need. It could be put in a plastic sleeve and left in her bag so she can look it over when she's packing.

My kids don't go to their birth dads, but when they sleep over at my moms I never check their bag. Each of them has forgotten a towel or underwear when we've gone to swimming lessons. It sucks, but it makes them more careful the next time.
post #3 of 6
Maybe when she's in her teens?

At 9, kids are still learning to keep track of which learning materials they need to bring home, to get their homework done. ALSO keeping track of which possessions need to be at which parent's house is an additional burden that's not a natural, expected part of growing and maturing. As you very appropriately pointed out, it wasn't her choice to have two homes. Nor did you, her parents, choose that reality for her because it was "good for her" and she "needed to learn how to handle it", like homework.

When she reaches an age where she can manage most of her possessions/assignments completely independently, between school and home - no teachers checking her assignment notebook and parents signing that they saw it - then she's ready to be told, "You were irresponsible and left your flute at your other parent's house, so you'll have to suffer the consequences."

My twin sons are in 8th grade and only this school year am I starting to make this 100% their responsibility. Next year, they'll be in high school and they need to be ready to have a lot more expectations heaped upon them. But until now, I've tried to remind myself: "If their Dad and I knew what they needed to transport from one house to the next - and what a pain it would be if those things got left behind - and WE failed to notice that they didn't have their sweatsuit, or shoes, or lunch boxes, on the way to the car... Then it's understandable that the kids overlooked it."

Even now, I offer guidance and options, such as, "If you're quick to call/text/e-mail your Dad about the uniform you left at his house, he might be able to make time to drop it off in the morning, on his way to work, before your bus comes. If he can't, you need to ask your step-mom if she will bring it with her to your game (and thank her!); or ask her if I can pick it up from her while I'm running errands at noon and I'll bring it to the game. Either way, you'll have to wait 'til she or I get there, to change. It would have been a lot easier if you had remembered!"

But they're mildly Autistic. Your daughter may be ready for this responsibility sooner. But clearly - if she's forgetting things on a regular basis - she is not ready, now.
post #4 of 6
Some of us never really get the hang of this...

I would just check her bag before leaving, at least until she consistently remembers all her big stuff. Maybe by age 11 she'll be sorted, maybe 13. Hopefully by 18. My DH is 31, and he still doesn't really have the hang of this.
post #5 of 6
While she should be able to remember what she needs, maybe she could use some help figuring out the best way to do that. Is it a list? Getting everything together the night before and placing it by the door? Asking you (nicely) to spot check? I'm sure there are other options.

One thing I have done with both of mine (since they started school, actually) is limiting the number of times per semester that I would go to school to retrieve forgotten stuff. First/second grade? A few times. By the time they were in HS? It was once. And once that one time was over? Too bad. They could explain to the coach, teacher, etc. why they didn't have what they needed.
post #6 of 6
Thread Starter 
I will definitely be writing up a list to put in her bag-what an easy solution that I didn't even think of! Thanks everyone-it sounds like we are on the right track for the most part in picking up/dropping off forgotten stuff.

I think what annoyed me today and made me wonder if we were not giving her enough responsibility was when I asked her why she didn't call her mom and she said "well, nobody gave me the phone". And yes, she knows exactly where the phone is and how to use it! I think having a list for her to check will help her be more responsible without us hovering so much and hopefully cut back on these extra trips.

Thanks for the perspective-looks like we have a few more years, but I had to laugh at the pp who said some of us never get it-I am not so organized myself
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