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Do you expect step children to leave things @ your house?

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
Some background: DSS is 13 (14 in April). He and his mom live about 15 minutes away from us. Normally, he would be at our house one or two nights during the week, and every weekend. Now that my DH is deployed, he is only here one night during the week (his mom's choice). I have a son of my own who is 3.

When you buy your DSS things (toys, clothes, shoes, games, etc.), what do you expect them to leave at your house, and what do you allow them to take back to their other parent's house?

Over the years, we've bought DSS lots of things that made their way over to his mom's house, never to be seen again.

Last year, it was a video game system (I have no idea which one, but it was some wonderful thing that everyone had to have or their heads might explode. Or something like that.). We let him take it to his mom's right away, because we didn't think it was fair that he'd only get to play with it on weekends. We've never seen it again.

This year, I've bought him things like socks and winter outerwear because he needed them desperately (his socks were all full of holes and the only gloves he ever had were too small and no longer waterproof - he'd come in with blue hands!). All of it went to his mom's house, and now when he is here, he's back to wearing holey socks and old, beat up gloves.

The latest thing is that he's started taking things from his bedroom: his alarm clock and a desk lamp and his winter pajamas. This last week, I wondered why he didn't change into his pajamas, and then in the morning when he got up for school, he was in just boxers and the t-shirt he wore to school. After he left, I looked everywhere and his PJ's were gone. At that time I noticed the clock and lamp were gone, too. I called him that night, and he said that they are all at his mom's because he "likes them (all 3 things) better than the ones he had at his mom's", and if they are his things why should it matter what he does with them?

I told him that all that was true, they are his things, but now he doesn't have a clock or a lamp or PJ's at our house, and (typical teenager?) he said "I don't care".

I feel like, at almost 14, he's too old for me to search his bag when he leaves to see if he's taking a pair of socks home that I'd like to be left here.

Maybe I shouldn't care if he chooses to not bring these things back. If his feet are cold from wearing holey socks, I guess that's his choice. Same with the gloves. But where do I draw the line? Where do you draw the line? I do feel bad because I make sure that my son is wearing warm clothing that fits, and DSS looks like a street urchin. (No, I don't care if he looks a little sloppy, but I do care if his clothes are too small or not warm enough or full of holes, when I know he has stuff that is the right size, etc.)
post #2 of 25
That sounds really frustrating. my stepkids are little (3 and 7), so it's easier to decide for them what stays and what goes. I think his clothes and such you'd have a hard time regulating since he's a teen, and I can see 14 yo logic about the alarm clock, too. Very frustrating.

We have nearly the opposite problem, as 7 yo DSS likes to bring all his stuff here and leave it with us. Mind you, we live 2000 miles from his mother, so he's only over here about 3-4 times a year, and the rest of the time we visit him there. But he wants to stake his claim to his room here and is always bringing stuff (or even sending stuff back with us!) to his room here. We buy lots for his room here, too, and he's always adding toys to it. Mind you, he's 7 and he will leave toys here knowing he won't see them for months! We encourage him to take stuff to his mom's house, including things we buy, but he literally told us "I already have plenty of toys there!" Can't argue with that.

Clothes we do manage to keep separate for the most part, but I'm guessing that will change as they get older.
post #3 of 25
I would draw the line at lamps, clocks and expensive games. Also portable TVs etc. We have had this same problem. We checked the back pack and the xbox 360 was going out the door. Legally, everything in your house belongs to you, not to your teenager. He should not be taking anything without permission, even PJs. If he feels free to take the lamp in his room, then it could be the dvd player in the family room, cause he likes that one better than the one at the other house. My own children always understood that the furnishings of their rooms were not theirs to give away, to take, to destroy or to change (as in paint). The beds and linens, lamps, clocks, etc were theirs to enjoy as long as they are at our house.We keep very little clothing at our house for the same reason for DSS because he takes it and it is never seen again.He wears his dad's PJ's and better clothes to church. Then he puts on the clothes he came in that I have washed to go home in.
post #4 of 25
For DSD, things here stay (or are immediately returned) here, and things from her mom's go back to her mom's immediately.

She pretty much has two of everything, since she spends equal time at each house.

Her mom used to "forget" to send things back and we would never see them again. We made enough of a stink about it over the past few months that she seems to get it now.

It is also getting more obvious which things are from which house (very little with characters on it here, for example). She is on her second backpack and lunchbox this school year at her mom's house, but I would be surprised if the ones we bought don't last another year because we buy high quality things. That is part of the reason that I'd prefer that the things that we buy stay here. I spend a good amount of time researching and waiting for sales, so it would be annoying for those things to just disappear and get stuck with the cheap/broken version from her mom's house.

ETA: I did let her bring a whistle to her mom's house. She received in her V-Day box from another child at school (what kind of cruel joke were the parents of that child playing?) and was, uh, very enthusiastic about it. All. Night. Long. I totally expected it to come back, but I haven't seen it yet.
post #5 of 25
Originally Posted by pinksprklybarefoot View Post

It is also getting more obvious which things are from which house (very little with characters on it here, for example).
Us too! It's funny, we'll sort clothes to send them back, and little things are different. Like both families buy the same size and brand of underwear, but the other family buys all the character stuff. So we sort, like "Cinderella: hers. Frogs: ours. My Little Pony: hers. Flowers: ours." etc.
post #6 of 25
I was this kid! :

I wanted my new, cool things from my dad's house to come with me to mom's, after all, I didn't pick them to not wear them! But (most of the time) my dad refused to buy me anything and what I had at is house was woefully inadequate. This led me to want to bring lots of stuff from Mom's to leave/use at dad's. This was unfair to my mom who was a teacher making 1/4 of what my dad did but who always provided for me.

As a teen, I totally understood why my parents did not want me to transfer stuff. But , that would not have kept me from throwing a selfish fit about it.

Things like lamps, furniture, game systems, were not allowed to travel without explicit permission. (My alarm clock I had to take because my dad refused to get me one. Clothes it was OK to take as long as they CAME HOME - either by wearing or bringing. Toys and books were for my entertainment, and I could leave them where I wanted provided I didn't go whining about being bored.

Maybe you could lay out some ground rules? Although, if I were you, I would let his father do it. (When does he come back?)
post #7 of 25
Hi, I have 2 kids from my forst marriage and they are 11 and 14. When I left said marriage they were 6 weeks and 3 years, so we have a looong history of back and forth between homes.

We have spent a fortune over the years on toys and clothes that have gone to my ex's never to be seen again or only to resurface once they are long outgrown. It has been infuriating for us, but aside from a few items here and there we decided that these are the kid's things and they get to decide whether they want to bring an item back or forth.

My ex has a MAZE of rules about what can come here and when it can come here and when it MUST be back etc. His rules make the kids crazy. My ex even accuses them of stealing when they bring their own things over here. All of this (and other stuff too) has led to my oldest son moving in with us full time rather than spend half his time with his dad. So this issue can be a big one.

I think it is okay to have certain items that one set of parents feels they need to keep track of but that it is easy to go overboard, if you will, and make the kids feel really controlled. At least that is what has happened with my older 2 kids and their dad.
post #8 of 25
My kids used to bring stuff from here to their Dad's. Until their Dad pitched a fit and threw #2's stuff all over my parent's front lawn (including feminine pads). Honestly, there were few things I had an issue with their leaving. But if they left more clothes than they were wearing, it was helpful if they brought an equivalent number home so they'd have something to wear.

They did, however, find that leaving things at their Dad's was a bad idea. They'd leave personal items, then come back to find that they'd been used and/or destroyed. Literally. #2 was given an encyclopedia of animals, and she left it as her SS told her she'd like to look at it. She went back in a month and found that the cover was ripped off, the binding was broken, etc. Her Dad pretty much told her that she had to expect to share things at his home. That's only one example.

So.... yeah. I've told them both that if it's something they really like and care about - they should bring it home.
post #9 of 25
Small toys, we let them bring to their mom's--and we generally never see them again.

Gifts we give them (which are generally expensive) stay at our house. They don't have a problem with it, but their mom does. Too bad.

We buy clothes that they wear at our house and they put on the clothes they wore over back on when it's time to go back to their mom's house (reason being-she smokes these horrific clove cigarettes around the children and the clothes stink really, really bad). That's how it has works for almost 3 years now.
post #10 of 25
With a teenager, I'd probably set some ground rules about items that "belong to the house" that he's not allowed to take with him- such as lamps or alarm clocks. Though, truth be told, I would tell him to simply select a lamp and a clock from mom's house to leave here, even if it's not the same one that I'd purchased.

Clothing and personal electronics (stuff that isnt' meant to be shared by other family members) I'd let go of. If the teenager wants to wear holey socks instead of packing good socks from the other house, it's his feet. I'd give him a gentle reminder that he's out of PJs or socks or whatever, and possibly let the other parent know about it so she could remind him as well, but I woudln't harp on it.

If we were talking about 5yos, I'd take a much more active role in the process.
post #11 of 25
I am the stepmother to a 9yo boy and 6yo girl. The way I see it, their toys are THEIR TOYS, and we let them take them with them to their moms if they want. Clothes, the same. However, their mother yells at them if they so much as slip a .25 cent machine toy in their pocket to bring over here, because she doesn't want them to have it "over here". Ridiculous, if you ask me. Their belongings are their belongings, and I believe it gives them a better sense of cohesiveness and ownership of some small part of their lives to be able to determine, themselves, what of their personal items they'd like where. JMO.
post #12 of 25
DSD has always been free to take things she liked from our house: clothes, socks, toys, books, laptop, etc. etc. etc. Of course it caused some inconvinience over the years, but we always tried to make it easier on her.

No, we are not rich, and yes, buying an extra pair of shoes because she left appropriate ones for the weather at her mom's is not easy, but hey... she is a kid, and has little control over her family situation as it is, the least we could do is to skip the drama over "this toy is too expensive to leave the house" and "where are the socks I bought you last week, hmmm??" If she cares enough about the toy to miss it here next weekend, she'll bring it back, and if she doesn't - then it's okay.. it's her toy, she'll be the one without it, and will learn her lesson.

We discussed things like "hey, please try to come prepared for the weather, it's kind of tough buying a new pair of shoes just because you forgot the other one at your mom's", but it's one thing to discuss, and another thing to forbid. I'm all for discussing, and all against forbidding. Their lives are split in two, they are torn between two households, it's not very fair to just ask them to "suck it up, and leave it here because I bought it".

I think if clothes is of an issue, adults should take the time reminding kids "do you have things you need for the weekend? unholy socks? shoes? a sweater? great!"

Everything else is up to the kids. If DSD wanted to take a game system to her mom's, and it was HER game system, she'd have to deal with the fact that she can't play the game when she is over here, if it's fine with her, it's fine by me. IF I didn't want her to take the game over to her mom's, I wouldn't be giving it to DSD as a present, I'd be buying it for myself...

Just my 2 cents.

P.S. if DSD needed two alarm clocks and her mom refused to buy one for her, I'd be happy to provide the second alarm clock, not because it saves money for her mom, but because it puts a smile on DSD's face.

P.P.S. Teacher's salary here! hehe...
post #13 of 25
Oriole great minds think alike! Your post made me smile, and hopeful that there are others out there who understand just how torn up these children's lives are, without having to designate..this is mommy's house toy...and daddy's house toy...and this shirt came from dads...etc.

This just reaffirms my view that what is theirs, is theirs. They are responsible for it, and can keep it at either household. It burns me up when their mother tells them they can't bring a toy over that they just got for Christmas or what not because it's "too expensive and daddy may let you lose it"!
post #14 of 25
All the big stuff or expensive things stay with us unless it is from family and they want it to go back and forth. Even then we still make the final judgement call.
post #15 of 25
DSD is 7, so we pretty much decide what goes back and forth for her. She wears a school uniform every day, so we keep one clean uniform at our house (she is only with us overnight one school day every other week). The one she was wearing when she came gets washed by me and is ready for her the next time she comes.

Underwear, undershirts, hair accessories & tights/socks go back and forth between houses. Meaning, whatever she is wearing when she comes to us goes into the laundry and she puts on fresh in the morning from her drawer and wears them home to her mom's house.

As far as regular clothing, since she wears a uniform most of the time, her regular outfits stay at the house that bought them. If DSD comes to us in regular clothes, we pack them up and send them back in her backpack the next day.

Pajamas, bathing suits and toys stay at the house that bought them (or a special toy is brought to the other house and then brought back).
post #16 of 25
We don't want expensive things like Xbox to leave the house. Not to a friends house and not to his mom's house. Anything else is fine-- clothes, toys books, etc. I know that if she bought him something very expensive and fragile (he has much younger siblings at each house) and it was here and I didn't know how expensive and fragile it was, I wouldn't be very careful with it. So, I expect the same thing would happen over there. He has asked to bring the Xbox to her house, but dh told him that it didn't leave the house to go anywhere, not just her house and he seemed ok with that. We also don't let him bring his Ipod to school, so it doesn't seem that weird to me to keep expensive things at home.

Af far as clothes, it drives me crazy, but I just let it go, just every few weeks remind him, hey can you bring home a sweater and some pants and some socks. . .

As for medium sized things like lamps? I think I would tell him to ask his mom to get him a lamp for his room over there. He sometimes doesn't think about that.
post #17 of 25
Originally Posted by LovingMommy85 View Post
I am the stepmother to a 9yo boy and 6yo girl. The way I see it, their toys are THEIR TOYS, and we let them take them with them to their moms if they want. Clothes, the same. However, their mother yells at them if they so much as slip a .25 cent machine toy in their pocket to bring over here, because she doesn't want them to have it "over here". Ridiculous, if you ask me. Their belongings are their belongings, and I believe it gives them a better sense of cohesiveness and ownership of some small part of their lives to be able to determine, themselves, what of their personal items they'd like where. JMO.

I feel very strongly about this issue because my DD (13 y.o) is the one who suffers the most. Her bio dad is the one who searches her backpack and even makes a big deal about how the clothes he buys for her to wear are HIS clothes. She feels just awful about it.

These kids have had hard enough time adjusting to two different homes. If things make it easier, why create a power struggle over it. If buying a new thing will take food out of someone's mouth, then discuss this with the other parent. It's not fair to make the kids suffer because we put them in this situation.
post #18 of 25
We generally try to discourage my stepdaughter from bringing things from our house to her Mother's house because most the time, they don't come back. We can't afford to keep buying her new clothes and, less often, new toys. (Clothes are the main issue. Unless it's an expensive toy or a toy that has sentimental value, toys are usually not the issue.) Some things just stay here. Her Mother lets her bring anything she wants from her Mother's house. We just make sure to casually mention to my stepdaughter, "Did you pack all your toys (or whatever) in your backpack?" before she leaves for her Mother's. Now, before anyone posts telling me that toys and clothes are my stepdaughter's belongiongs, not me and my Husband's belongings and not her Mother's belongings, I completely agree, but past experiences don't allow that. Anyone who's ever have to dress a child in sandles and a spring jacket for school in the freezing rain, because "your" rainboots and "your" raincoat are at the child's other house, or dress a child in a turtleneck and shorts on a 75 degree day, because "your" clothes are mostly all at the child's other house, would know what I mean. It's not the best situation, but sometimes not allowing things to go back and forth is in the child's best interest. Know what I mean?
post #19 of 25
Harleyhalfmoon I can totally understand your side of the equation as well. While it hasn't come to that here, if it did then we would perhaps be a bit less lax on keeping their clothes/things here. I guess it truly depends on both of the families involved and past experiences. In our situation, it works fine to let them bring stuff back and forth, but she usually sends them over with a suitcase of clothes each when they come on the weekends and for holidays, because we only have a few outfits for them because they grow so darn quick
post #20 of 25
I don't feel like it is making dss suffer because we have the same rules for both boys-- expensive things stay at home. We can be more casual about clothing because we live in southern California where no one freezes for lack of a coat and it rarely rains.
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