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birthday request for a locking cabinet

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
My DSS's 9th birthday is on Saturday. DH and I had lunch together today and I asked, "what does DSS want for his birthday?" DH laughed and said, "he only wants one thing: a locking cabinet for his bedroom."

Frankly, I wouldn't buy him (or any of the other kids) a locking cabinet. I didn't say this to DH. I just kind of smiled and kept my opinions to myself.

We're very good about respecting our children's privacy - they all have their own rooms - but they know that their privacy is a privilege, not a right. Additionally, all the children are fairly good about respecting one another's privacy as well.

Whenever something of his turns up missing, he automatically assumes that one of his step-sisters took it. Almost 100% of the time, it turns out that HE simply misplaced it. But that realization doesn't happen until after there's been a lot of yelling, crying and finger pointing. He also goes out of his way to remind everyone, all the time, that it's his and that "no one is ever allowed in my room!" We assure him all the time that no one is going into his room without his permission (except for me or DH to gather dirty laundry or change sheets), but he continues to be very, very suspicious.

I don't need anyone to tell me that he's probably having adjustment issues with getting used to living with his step-sisters. I know that already.

However, I have two issues with a child having a locking cabinet in his room: 1) I think it only reinforces the angry, suspicious "it's mine and I'm suspicious that everyone in my family is messing with my stuff" mindset, and 2) I don't think it's appropriate for a young child, living in his parent's house, to have a large space in which he can lock up stuff that the adults in the house would never have access to.

I might be swayed to be okay with the idea if DH had a spare key to this locking cabinet so that he could get into it if there was ever trouble, but that still doesn't address the mistrust problem. No one else in the house locks their belongings; we all trust one another enough to assume that our belongings will be respected.

BUT, he's not my kid. So I don't know what to do. I don't know whether or not it's even appropriate to bring my concerns to DH's attention. Clearly, he thinks it's adorable that his son wants a place to lock up his stuff, so it hasn't crossed his mind that it might be a problem.

Any thoughts?
post #2 of 27
it's your house too, and you have a right to be comfortable in it. If locking things is something that you feel strongly against, I think you have to be honest with your DH and let him know. I don't believe that you as a spouse and an adult should have to "suck it up and deal" simply because he's not your bio son.

My DH and I have been through this a great deal. Decide what you can live with and what you can't live with. Talk to DH and give your thoughts. Then it's up to him.

I think a spare key is a good compromise (if it comes to it), or even a combination lock. If DSS is bad about misplacing things, there's a good likelihood that his key might get lost too.

Personally, I would NEVER put a locking cabinet in any child's room- either bio or step. Trust is one thing, being stupid is another. Just my $.02, fwiw. Probably an unpopular opinion, but as a teacher, I see toooo many kids who have parents who give their kids waaayy too much freedom simply because they don't want to deal with parenting or discipline. Trust your kids to make the right choices for the right reasons, but love them enough to give them proper boundaries.

I can feel the soapbox coming, so I need to step down.
post #3 of 27
My dh's son also had the same problem very mistrustful always as I read your post I was nodding my head and thinking do we have the same child living in our house?

The only difference was on top of his trust issues with the family we had a toddler that kept getting into his room. It was frustrating for all of us the drama was constant. We put a lock on his door and the key had to be kept on a hook outside his door. High enough so our wee toddler couldn't get in but low enough for the rest of us ( including dhs' son of course ) to have access if needed. We also have a spare key that we keep in case the key goes missing. So far this has worked. Dh has really kept on top of it so the key is always within reach. When dss is home the door stays unlocked or if he locks the door while he's in the room the key has to be on the hook outside the door.

Locking cabinets may be a good idea just keep spare keys. If anything it may alleviate some of the melodrama.

Fyi, My dh and I had a hard time getting used to the idea in the beginning but within the guidlines/rules we have set out it's working.

good luck !
post #4 of 27
I second (third?) the idea of a locking cabinet or locking box, with you guys having a spare. I'd let him know you'll keep the spare somewhere safe in case he loses his key.

If he does tend to lose his things then accuse his stepsisters of taking them, this will indeed reduce the drama. Trust in families is obviously important, but it's something that can be built over time, and in the meantime he can learn to trust that his anxieties over his 'stuff' are being heard.

Of course, we gave my stepdaughter a door alarm for her room for her birthday one year, when she was perpetually cross at the idea of her little sister invading her space....

Lots of kids go through a phase of loving the idea of having a secret space or more control over their premises, whether through a locking diary, a door alarm (!), a cabinet, a hideyhole, or a boobytrap for unsuspecting snoopers. It doesn't seem like a huge deal to me.
post #5 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by mammastar2 View Post
I second (third?) the idea of a locking cabinet or locking box, with you guys having a spare. I'd let him know you'll keep the spare somewhere safe in case he loses his key.

If he does tend to lose his things then accuse his stepsisters of taking them, this will indeed reduce the drama. Trust in families is obviously important, but it's something that can be built over time, and in the meantime he can learn to trust that his anxieties over his 'stuff' are being heard.

Of course, we gave my stepdaughter a door alarm for her room for her birthday one year, when she was perpetually cross at the idea of her little sister invading her space....

Lots of kids go through a phase of loving the idea of having a secret space or more control over their premises, whether through a locking diary, a door alarm (!), a cabinet, a hideyhole, or a boobytrap for unsuspecting snoopers. It doesn't seem like a huge deal to me.

I think you and your DH having a spare key is a good idea also.... and I have to agree with above poster... I know I had lots of little secret stashes when I was young... I loved having little boxes to lock away my gems (stones and such I would find). lol My own little treasures.
post #6 of 27
Both of my kids would have welcomed a secure place to keep their belongings, but there were real issues with their stuff being kept safe. They literally could not leave anything they valued at their Dad's w/o knowing that it would be destroyed by one of the other kids. There were no consequences for the other kids beyond a vague "oh, well we'll tell them they shouldn't do that..." Yet, when my son accidentally brought one of his stepbrother's GameBoy games home (and yes, I do believe it was accidental - he came to me immediately and asked to call his Dad/SMom to let them know he had it and could either bring it the next time he came or we could mail it), he was literally screamed at for being a thief and he'd pay the price the next time they saw him.

Give the kid a locked cabinet and keep an extra key.
post #7 of 27
Everyone deserves a little private, secure space. Give him the cabinet and keep an extra key (with him knowing of course). His dad could keep the extra key put away somewhere so your DSS wouldn't feel like he was just waiting to use it.
post #8 of 27
I agree with the above posters let him have a locked cabinet/box and keep a spare key. It would be hard to feel comfortable in a place where you weren't guaranteed privacy from your siblings when you were gone.

If he knows you have a key, he'll probably keep his gun/meth/porn stash somewhere else ( I know he's 9).
post #9 of 27
I think that its not unreasonable for him to ask for that. It doesn't sound like he is trying to hide anything from YOU, just the sibs and really - what harm in that? I would however, keep a spare key for it so that if he loses one he still can get in (and he KNOWS you have the spare so its not like he will really hide anything crazy in there as he gets older).
I can see your side for sure, but I say, as long as you have a key - let him feel a little more comfortable! At least it will take the fights down a notch as he cant accuse them of getting something that was locked up - right!?
post #10 of 27
m_a, I'm hearing a lot of resistance in general and am guessing that the cabinet is just a symptom of probs that go beyond the boy's adjustment.

You guys have been in there for a year. You feel disrespected by the stepkids, have no space of your own, are unsupported by your husband wrt discipline/respect, and feel like you're living in a shrine to the ex-wife; your girls are crying because they don't feel at home or welcome. The stepkids are angry. Your dsd is acting out (or being 11) and frustrated/angry about changes you've brought to her home; your dss believes your girls are stealing from him, to the extent that he wants to lock his stuff away from them. The stepkids have an erratic, bipolar mom who's already damaged them, and they may not be able to adjust and accommodate your kids.

It doesn't really sound like anyone's adjusted.

Three questions for you:

1. Is there a regular family counselor in the picture?

2. How long are you willing to let the experiment run?

3. How do you know if the results are good?

The second-youngest kid is 9, right? Worst-case, that means you've got 9 years, maybe less, before you can live together without tons of kid drama. Presumably you're going to be married a lot longer than that. So -- and this is just a thought -- what are the possibilities for living apart but very nearby until the kids are older or grown? You can visit, he can visit, the kids can visit, but nobody's forced to live with another family and another family's ways. Nobody's forced to raise their kids to someone else's standards.

As for the cabinet itself -- I think every kid should have some private space unless s/he proves him- or herself untrustworthy, in which case it has to be earned back. A cabinet seems a little big, but in general I don't have a problme with the idea. Know, though, that it won't solve the "they stole" problem. All that will happen is that he'll accuse them of stealing the key or breaking in.
post #11 of 27
wow...im so confused by the last post. i didnt read all of that in this ONE post..maybe there are other posts.

i think its normal to want to have a "private" space. i would have no problem w/ it.
post #12 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by mama41 View Post
The second-youngest kid is 9, right? Worst-case, that means you've got 9 years, maybe less, before you can live together without tons of kid drama. Presumably you're going to be married a lot longer than that. So -- and this is just a thought -- what are the possibilities for living apart but very nearby until the kids are older or grown? You can visit, he can visit, the kids can visit, but nobody's forced to live with another family and another family's ways. Nobody's forced to raise their kids to someone else's standards.

Please tell me you honestly don't think this is a reasonable solution....


THEY ARE A FAMILY!!! Why would a woman move out from her new husband "just to spare the kids"?? Yes there is an adjustment period... but my goodnes.... they will survive! I would think it would be more tramtic to have another adult move out on them again!

They are a family and need to learn to live cohesively as one... No one is obviously going anywhere...

I'm sorry but that is the most messed up suggestion I have ever read....
post #13 of 27
First of all, I have to admit, I see no problem with 9 y.o. kid having a security box, so the rest of my post is probably biased from that very standpoint.

Here it is...

I think a security box (natural for many kids) and the mistrusting behavior (happens between siblings here and there, probably intensified by blended family in your situation) are two issues, somewhat overlapping, but still.

I loved having secret places to hide things in when I was a kid, I'd feel bad denying something like that to a kid. I really see nothing wrong with it.

I would work through the "He TOOK MY STUFF" issues one at a time: "we don't accuse people of taking things. We can talk about it when you are calm. ", kwim? That's the real problem here, so let's address the behavior in itself, vs. a birthday wish.

And lastly, I often give my opinion on gifts DP picks out for DSD, but I always leave the final say up to him. I don't think that security box is something that falls under "it's your house too, you don't have to suck it up". Just my humble opinion.

When all said and done, discussing your concerns with your husband, and suggesting that he keeps a spare (might be a good idea anyway, in case the kid loses his key), would be a wonderful compromise for all involved.
post #14 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by JSMa View Post
Please tell me you honestly don't think this is a reasonable solution....


THEY ARE A FAMILY!!! Why would a woman move out from her new husband "just to spare the kids"?? Yes there is an adjustment period... but my goodnes.... they will survive! I would think it would be more tramtic to have another adult move out on them again!

They are a family and need to learn to live cohesively as one... No one is obviously going anywhere...

I'm sorry but that is the most messed up suggestion I have ever read....
I actually don't thing that's the most farfetched thing I've ever heard. If I would have fallen head over heels for a man with kids or for a man who didn't blend beautifully with my kids that's what I would have done. Honestly, this family may not survive or adjust and the kids may never get over this. As a parent I wouldn't be willing to sacrifice my children for a new family. It may be an extreme idea but it's not crazy.
post #15 of 27
My sisters used to steal stuff from me, particularly money. My parents never believed me.

They did allow me to have a locked box, and that made me feel so much better. I kept my diary in there as well as cash.

My older dss has a big 'treasure box' that I've promised him I'll (we, actually - dh too) never look in unless I was afraid for his safety (drugs, alcohol, ect), or had another incredible reason. If he asked for a locked box, sure! Give your dad the spare key, and same rules apply.

We don't have locked doors on the bedrooms, because the boys would lock each other out. But privacy is a must, especially for some kids, and especially in a blended family. It's not you he's worried about, it's his siblings/stepsiblings. Kids snoop - I did!
post #16 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by pinksprklybarefoot View Post
If he knows you have a key, he'll probably keep his gun/meth/porn stash somewhere else ( I know he's 9).
Now THAT'S funny!
post #17 of 27

for clarity-

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oriole View Post
And lastly, I often give my opinion on gifts DP picks out for DSD, but I always leave the final say up to him. I don't think that security box is something that falls under "it's your house too, you don't have to suck it up". Just my humble opinion.
Originally meant as "pick your battles." If you can't live with it, you can't live with it. I don't believe that we as step parents should be expected by our DH/DP to just suck things up and live with things we aren't comfortable with or really disagree with. I have a sincere issue (not an ugly issue- just sincere) with having my needs overlooked and not addressed by DH because his bio wants something and I just "need to get over it."

So, after a lot of from me, we made an agreement. The things I truly can't live with, we address. The other things, I make compromises. We *pick our battles* and hope for the best, so to speak. That means, though, I have to be honest about what I can handle.

All parties should be considered, and it's not fair for one person's wishes to not be considered just because they aren't a bio parent. That's rude, and I don't think I'd really want to be married to my DH if he didn't take my thoughts into account. Which means we often disagree, but we usually come up with something everyone can live with. Then no one feels disrespected.

Sometimes my hot buttons are very different than DH and DSS. But it doesn't mean they aren't important.

Sure is hard sometimes, isn't it?
post #18 of 27
Oooh, boy, do I get it -- the feeling that we should be a trusting family. I recently had to put a real lock on our bedroom door because DD took her phone and iPod out of my room (they'd been confiscated for another incident). Now we have to change our alarm code to one our kids don't know because they sneaked out of the house in the wee hours. My kids all have a something that they can lock, and DP and I have spare keys to all of those things.

One big advantage to giving your SS the box is, you wouldn't have to listen to his accusations anymore. It really is nice now that I don't have to listen to my kids carrying on about who took who's iPod, etc.

Honestly, though, I don't think this is a step issue. This is an age issue. My older kids are 11, 12, and 14, and keeping an eye on them gets to be more work as time goes on - passwords to their voicemail, email, myspace, phone numbers for their many friends, keys to everything, etc. (FTR, my kids know that anything they write down on a piece of paper is 100% private; anything on the computer and accessible by others is different and they don't assume they have privacy.) I'd never let my kids lock anything up unless I had a key, too, but I've found that those locked cabinets make them more responsible.
post #19 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by JSMa View Post
Please tell me you honestly don't think this is a reasonable solution....


THEY ARE A FAMILY!!! Why would a woman move out from her new husband "just to spare the kids"?? Yes there is an adjustment period... but my goodnes.... they will survive! I would think it would be more tramtic to have another adult move out on them again!

They are a family and need to learn to live cohesively as one... No one is obviously going anywhere...

I'm sorry but that is the most messed up suggestion I have ever read....
First, politeness counts.

Second, there are many families that don't live together, and many married couples who don't live together. It's routine in academia, where two-professor families may be split by thousands of miles because in any given year, there may be five jobs open in the entire country for a subspecialty. Others do it by choice. Still others do it because of a child's education, real estate considerations, a family illness, or just plain preference. I'd have willingly stayed married and lived separately from my now-xh, whose mental illness was not just hell for me to live with but hurting our dd. But I wouldn't have lived with him.

If after doing all the things there are to do, and giving it a good chance, both sets of kids and m_a are still having a tough time living together, then I don't see a reason to ruin a good marriage by forcing children into molds they just don't fit. She and her dh have got about a decade's worth of childrearing left, but after that they may have another 40-50 years of marriage.
post #20 of 27
I'm going to play devil's advocate here, and suggest something. DF and I have been calling it The Worst Idea Ever around the house.

A few weeks ago, I posted about my dsd's mom wanting us to move into the other side of her duplex. If mama 41's theory actually is sound, then The Worst Idea Ever might be the answer for this family. Let's pretend that money isn't an issue.

So they rent a duplex, DH sets up camp with his kids in one side, DW with her kids in another. They are able to decorate their respective sides as they wish. Everyone is allowed to go back and forth as they wish, but the kids' bedrooms are in their respective houses.

The married couple could have a bedroom in each place, and switch off every other night. This, of course is okay because the youngest is almost a tween and I am assuming that they will not have any additional children. Joint children woud make this plan less doable.

They could have dinner together a several nights a week. They could have family outings. But they would have seperate spaces.

Granted, this completely ruins the "one big family" dynamic that a lot of us strive for. But if it is between splitting up and paying for two residences, or doing this and paying for two residences, it might be worth a shot.

Just an interesting thought.
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