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    Dragonfly1234's Avatar
    Dragonfly1234 Posts: 161, Reputation: 49
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    #1

    Apr 27, 2009, 06:09 AM
    Step son and vacations
    My husband and I have custody of our 10 year boy (always have). He visits his mom irregularly, on average one week-end a month. For the past 3 years, we have been doing some major renovations on our house, mostly ourselves, no contractors. We get tired and busy and we both work hectic schedules.

    We like to take a week once a year to get away just the two of us, it does a world of good. We come back re-energized and well. Lately our son has been making us feel guilty about not bringing him with us on vacation. We usually take him camping on a week-end, or visit places but never longer than a week-end here or there because my husband doesn't have enough vacation time to be able to go somewhere for longer more than once a year.

    I understand my step son's view point and know that he would really enjoy coming with us (and we would enjoy having him) but at the same time, I really feel we need this time alone as a couple, it does wonders to our relationship. We've tried explaining this to him but he just pouts and doesn't really care about the explanation.

    Sometimes I feel bad about not bringing him with us and other times I feel like he's being a little spoiled. We live in a wooded area, he's had a dirt bike since he was 6 years old. He has a new snowboard each year, xbox 360, more toys than he can play with, he's not missing anything on the entertainment front, let's just put it that way. We spend quality time with him, but as I said before, not for one consecutive week at a time.

    I guess my question is whether from an outside perspective we are right to insist on this vacation being just the two of us or are we overlookng some fundamental need my step-son has, that we just aren't seeing?
    DoulaLC's Avatar
    DoulaLC Posts: 10,488, Reputation: 1952
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    #2

    Apr 27, 2009, 10:24 AM

    He obviously enjoys spending time with the two of you and doing family things... enjoy it while it lasts because there will come a time where he is not as interested!

    Maybe there is a reason he doesn't want to be at his mothers for that long of a time. Could he perhaps spend part of that time staying with a friend's family? This would make it a bit of a vacation for him as well.

    Would it help if he gets to choose some places to go for the week-end outings? A compromise... you and dad go on your vacation and he gets to choose some of the places to go for the week-end outings.

    Or... How about a week long family vacation and then you and your husband take mini-vacations on several of the weekends he is at his mother's? This would actually give the two of you even more time away and more frequent breaks to reconnect as a couple.
    Dragonfly1234's Avatar
    Dragonfly1234 Posts: 161, Reputation: 49
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    #3

    Apr 27, 2009, 10:48 AM
    Quote Originally Posted by DoulaLC View Post
    He obviously enjoys spending time with the two of you and doing family things....enjoy it while it lasts because there will come a time where he is not as interested!

    Maybe there is a reason he doesn't want to be at his mothers for that long of a time. Could he perhaps spend part of that time staying with a friend's family? This would make it a bit of a vacation for him as well.

    Would it help if he gets to choose some places to go for the week-end outings? A compromise....you and dad go on your vacation and he gets to choose some of the places to go for the week-end outings.

    Or.....How about a week long family vacation and then you and your husband take mini-vacations on several of the weekends he is at his mother's? This would actually give the two of you even more time away and more frequent breaks to reconnect as a couple.
    Thanks, good suggestions. On a side note, he stays at his grandmother's when we're away for one week, and he really enjoys it there.
    artlady's Avatar
    artlady Posts: 4,208, Reputation: 1477
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    #4

    Apr 27, 2009, 11:15 AM

    I think it is perfectly normal for you and your husband to have this time alone ,without any distractions or obligations.

    I also think your son is of an age where he could go to a summer camp or even a day camp situation.

    He is old enough that you can explain to him that couples need this time alone to regroup and that it is a time for romance.It is good for him to know that relationships take work and this is an aspect of keeping your marriage happy and whole.

    Remind him how much he is loved but I think its perfectly acceptable for you to maintain your firmness on this issue.
    If more couples did what you do ,the divorce rates might not be so high.

    As much as we love our kids ,we have to remember that our marriage is equally important.So many parents always put the kids first and then when the nest is empty they are total strangers who have lost touch.
    excon's Avatar
    excon Posts: 21,482, Reputation: 2992
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    #5

    Apr 27, 2009, 11:22 AM
    Quote Originally Posted by Dragonfly1234 View Post
    I guess my question is whether from an outside perspective we are right to insist on this vacation being just the two of us or are we overlookng some fundamental need my step-son has, that we just aren't seeing?
    Hello D:

    Yes you are. You say you take him places but never for longer than a weekend... That's backwards! If you want time for yourselves, YOU take the weekends, but the week long vacation should be for family.

    In a few years, you'll be able to take lots of time off when he doesn't want to be with you. Now, he does, and now he should be.

    By the way, I was put off by your list of toys you buy him, as though that somehow should matter. It doesn't.

    excon
    Dragonfly1234's Avatar
    Dragonfly1234 Posts: 161, Reputation: 49
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    #6

    Apr 27, 2009, 12:07 PM
    Quote Originally Posted by excon View Post

    By the way, I was put off by your list of toys you buy him, as though that somehow should matter. It doesn't.

    excon
    That was to show that his position is not motivated by lack of 'entertainment', thought it was important to mention it so that it doesn't seem as though he wants to come with us because he's bored, that's not the reason.

    I understand both your suggestions, the only problem I find with that is that when we go away as a couple for a week-end, it doesn't seem long enough to de-connect and re-energize. I find it takes us a couple of days to start relaxing which is why week-ends don't seem to have the same benefits as that one week.
    DoulaLC's Avatar
    DoulaLC Posts: 10,488, Reputation: 1952
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    #7

    Apr 27, 2009, 12:12 PM

    How much vacation time does your husband get? Does he get any personal days that could be used? Would the possibility of one week for a family vacation and one week for a couple vacation be possible? It may be too late for this year if he has already taken time off, but for future reference perhaps.
    Dragonfly1234's Avatar
    Dragonfly1234 Posts: 161, Reputation: 49
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    #8

    Apr 27, 2009, 12:17 PM

    That would solve the problem wouldn't it. But unfortunately there is only one week available to us for vacation. He gets another week which we use to stay at his mothers to help get her 'winter-ready'. And yes, my step son is with us during that week.
    excon's Avatar
    excon Posts: 21,482, Reputation: 2992
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    #9

    Apr 27, 2009, 12:17 PM
    Quote Originally Posted by Dragonfly1234 View Post
    I understand both your suggestions, the only problem I find with that is that when we go away as a couple for a week-end, it doesn't seem long enough to de-connect and re-energize. I find it takes us a couple of days to start relaxing which is why week-ends don't seem to have the same benefits as that one week.
    Hello again, D:

    I'm sure that what you say is true. However, at this age, your priority should be with your son. Your needs come second.

    Believe me, in a few years you can have all the time to yourselves you want.

    excon
    DoulaLC's Avatar
    DoulaLC Posts: 10,488, Reputation: 1952
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    #10

    Apr 27, 2009, 12:21 PM

    Another possible compromise then... an extended week-end for you as a couple so that you have a few extra days over just a week-end and then a few days after for a family trip.
    Alty's Avatar
    Alty Posts: 28,317, Reputation: 5972
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    #11

    Apr 27, 2009, 12:21 PM

    Kids need time, so do couples, it's a juggling act.

    He's 10, soon he won't want you anywhere near him, heck, you'll have to drop him off three blocks from school because he cannot be seen with you, it's so not cool. ;)

    I have to agree with Excon. Now is the time to spend with him, you'll have plenty of time with you hubby later.

    It is important for couples to reconnect, but try to include your son, he's a part of this family too.

    My hubby and I get no alone time together, our kids come first. We never go away alone, never have, never will. I love our family trips and when the kids are bedded down for the night, that's when hubby and I get to connect as a couple.

    I would miss my kids too much to go away just with hubby, he'd be taking me home after one day because I'd constantly be talking about them, calling them, worrying about them, wishing the were with us.

    Connect as a family.
    Meredith1978's Avatar
    Meredith1978 Posts: 120, Reputation: 9
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    #12

    Apr 29, 2009, 12:55 PM

    Maybe the answer was in your question, there is nothing wrong with you taking that week together if you come back refreshed and relaxed. Honestly constantly taking care of business can be hard, renovating a house can further stress a relationship.

    If taking your vacation makes it so you can take care of everything else 51 weeks a year more power to you. I wouldn't give up the week. Part of parenting is taking care of yourself too. Make sure to plan a couple really special family weekends when you get back.
    Justwantfair's Avatar
    Justwantfair Posts: 3,422, Reputation: 944
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    #13

    Apr 29, 2009, 01:06 PM

    I think that knowing that it bothers your son, is more reason to rearrange the next couple of years.

    After he is sixteen, he will have work and obligations that require him to not go on the 'family vacation'. I understand that you need husband/wife time. Why not do a weekend away twice yearly/three times if it still isn't enough and ensure that you are doing dinners just the two of you once or twice a month.

    I think that the one week 'family' vacation should be way more important to you. You and your husband will have plenty of alone time once the child is out of your life. Spending quality time as a family can be just as rewarding for you and your husband as alone time.

    It really seems this had more to do with a step-parenting need for the solo couple. I believe you are looking at it through disconnected eyes to the value of a strong family that works and relaxs together.
    Dragonfly1234's Avatar
    Dragonfly1234 Posts: 161, Reputation: 49
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    #14

    Apr 29, 2009, 01:43 PM

    Thank you everyone for the advice. And although I appreciate it, in talking with a professional about this situation I've decided it's important that we continue having this once week for us and the following week at my mother-in-law's is in fact family time, even if we are not lying on a beach.

    Next year, some friends are getting married in Mexico and we will be bringing him with us on this trip. But the following year will be once again just my husband and I.
    Justwantfair's Avatar
    Justwantfair Posts: 3,422, Reputation: 944
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    #15

    Apr 29, 2009, 01:46 PM
    Quote Originally Posted by Dragonfly1234 View Post
    Thank you everyone for the advice. And although I appreciate it, in talking with a professional about this situation I've decided it's important that we continue having this once week for us and the following week at my mother-in-law's is in fact family time, even if we are not lying on a beach.

    Next year, some friends are getting married in Mexico and we will be bringing him with us on this trip. But the following year will be once again just my husband and I.
    Hopefully when the two of you have children, you can experience the joy of 'family vacations'. As I believe that you are missing out. Hopefully your step-son will not be too hurt that his wishes weren't valued.

    Good luck to you and God bless.
    liz28's Avatar
    liz28 Posts: 4,662, Reputation: 1034
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    #16

    Apr 29, 2009, 01:50 PM

    When I was younger my parents went on vacation with us and sometimes they went alone. I use to want to go but I got over it. Sometimes you need to some enjoyment with just the two of you.

    Me and my fiancÚ have a couple cruise coming up for 5 days that we both are looking forward to. My 8 year old daughter wants to come but I already explained she can't and she understand that. She might not want to accept it but she will.

    So it is okay if the two of you go on one trip out of the year without your son. I see no harm with doing so.
    Dragonfly1234's Avatar
    Dragonfly1234 Posts: 161, Reputation: 49
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    #17

    Apr 29, 2009, 01:52 PM
    Quote Originally Posted by Justwantfair View Post
    It really seems this had more to do with a step-parenting need for the solo couple. I believe you are looking at it through disconnected eyes to the value of a strong family that works and relaxs together.
    Although I appreciate your post, I really feel you are lacking a lot of information before making a statement like that.

    As far as the step-parenting issue, I have been raising my step-son since he was a year and half. My husband works night shifts and therefore is never home with us at night. He spends time with my step-son when he comes home from school for a couple of hours and the rest is all me and has been that way for a very long time. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't change anything about my situations but boy do I find people are quick to judge when a step parent makes a comment. I've been a full time step parent for almost nine years and have loved every minute of but I often gotten the impression that people are expecting you to resent your role, which is why I always think twice about venting about an issue, but sometimes I still forget.
    Justwantfair's Avatar
    Justwantfair Posts: 3,422, Reputation: 944
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    #18

    Apr 29, 2009, 02:11 PM
    Quote Originally Posted by Dragonfly1234 View Post
    Although I appreciate your post, I really feel you are lacking a lot of information before making a statement like that.

    As far as the step-parenting issue, I have been raising my step-son since he was a year and half. My husband works night shifts and therefore is never home with us at night. He spends time with my step-son when he comes home from school for a couple of hours and the rest is all me and has been that way for a very long time. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't change anything about my situations but boy do I find people are quick to judge when a step parent makes a comment. I've been a full time step parent for almost nine years and have loved every minute of but I often gotten the impression that people are expecting you to resent your role, which is why I always think twice about venting about an issue, but sometimes I still forget.
    I wasn't saying you resent your role, not even that you shouldn't enjoy vacations as a couple. But family vacations that are all about the child and what the child will enjoy can be very connecting for the whole family, including you and your husband.

    Seems that the best thing that I would have thought would be to alternate and make special family vacations (Disney World, Water Parks, Camping) that are things that your child would enjoy and alternate the quality time for reconnection for you and your husband.

    Often times even when a step parent enjoys their role and doesn't outwardly resent the child there is still a disconnection to the how the child feels. I wasn't trying to sound harsh, I have seen it and experienced it in my own situations. It is good to know that you don't feel like you suffer any hidden resentment for your step son. Often parents don't realize the hidden resentment until they have children of their own. My apologies that you were offended.
    Dragonfly1234's Avatar
    Dragonfly1234 Posts: 161, Reputation: 49
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    #19

    Apr 29, 2009, 02:25 PM
    Quote Originally Posted by Justwantfair View Post
    I wasn't saying you resent your role, not even that you shouldn't enjoy vacations as a couple. But family vacations that are all about the child and what the child will enjoy can be very connecting for the whole family, including you and your husband.

    Seems that the best thing that I would have thought would be to alternate and make special family vacations (Disney World, Water Parks, Camping) that are things that your child would enjoy and alternate the quality time for reconnection for you and your husband.

    Often times even when a step parent enjoys their role and doesn't outwardly resent the child there is still a disconnection to the how the child feels. I wasn't trying to sound harsh, I have seen it and experienced it in my own situations. It is good to know that you don't feel like you suffer any hidden resentment for your step son. Often parents don't realize the hidden resentment until they have children of their own. My apologies that you were offended.

    I'm not offended, and I do agree that a family vacation in a resort sounds terrific, whenever we go on a trip and we see families we think how nice it is. By day 3, we miss our son and plan on bringing him the next year. Then by the time next year's trip is near, we're so exhausted all we want to do is sleep for a week.

    As far as the disconnect between step parent and step child, I can't speak for anyone else but I can tell you that's not the case for me. And if and when we do have another child, it will be a very positive time for all of us, no hidden resentment will surface, you can trust me that. I refer to him as my step son because I've been given too many 'she's-trying-to-replace-his-mother' looks and comments in the past. Then again, when I do refer to him as my step-son, sometimes people sense a disconnect... it's like I can't win. :)

    I'm not sure what your relationship with step parenting has been but it doesn't sound like you had a very positive experience, that's really too bad, I hope it worked out.
    Justwantfair's Avatar
    Justwantfair Posts: 3,422, Reputation: 944
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    #20

    Apr 29, 2009, 02:32 PM

    Actually my experiences with step-parenting are on a variety of levels all of them pleasant experiences.

    My step-mother raised me since I was 2 yo, she is the best mother I could have ever hoped for but there was a disconnect that showed especially when my younger brother was born. I do not have any resentment of that, as I think it is very human.

    I have participated with an ex in step-parenting his son, who I loved just as much as my two children, but really began to appreciate the suddle differences in the thought processes of parenting my children and parenting my step-son. That didn't change the love I have for him and he is still in my life.

    My children are being raised by a step-father and while I know that he loves the children there are a variety of differences I see from how he looks at our vacation plans. We always plan trips for us and for them, but we have an ample ability to plan and vacation often.

    I would never assume that because there is a hidden resentment it is a bad thing. It is a human emotion. That is why I wasn't meaning to offend.

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