We have a dilemma in our household that would be really beneficial to receive a bit of guidance or input from others with. It is a parenting issue and my husband and I seem to be at an impasse at resolving. So he asked that I put it to my Blog and FB friends in the hope that we could get others views on our situation. Comments would be GREATLY appreciated!!
I guess I should start with a bit of background. Our household consists of my husband, myself and my daughter (now age 16) with my stepson (age 13 in Dec.) visiting 3 weekends of the month and anytime he is out of school. Except for soccer season when he visits only on weekends he is not playing soccer (which usually means one weekend a month).
The dilemma started last December when I was readying the house for our Christmas get together with my family. I was cleaning and generally putting everything in its proper place. I had asked that the kids clean their rooms and put all of their things away.
My daughter did so, but my stepson did not. A couple of days before our get together I cleaned his room, putting all his things away and even going so far as placing storage containers and a large basket into his closet to help him KEEP his room clean going forth. I sorted his sports items into one container, GI Joe items into another, misc. toy guns into yet another container, matchbox cars and misc. items into the last container and all his army men and vehicles into the basket. Making his closet organized and easy to keep picked up. I also organized his board games at the top of his closet; placed his PS2 games and books in the cabinet beside his desk, all organized and easy to access; hung or folded his clothes and put them in the closet or the chest of drawers; placed a mesh cube near the closet to hold his dirty clothes; vacuumed his floor; made the bed; and dusted the furniture. I spent a good two hours on this room and it was spotlessly clean.
Then, the evening of our get together, he was playing with a remote control car and torturing our little dog. The dog was terrified of the car and he kept chasing the dog with it. After being told to stop several times my husband took the car away. This upset my stepson and he headed off to his room. After a few hours my husband went to check on him. The boy said that he was bored and looking for something to do, so he dumped all of the items from every storage container and the basket onto the floor. He had received a thousand piece build-a-car set for Christmas and had dumped every bit of it onto his dresser. He had eaten pistachios in the room and the shells were thrown all around the room. You could literally not walk through the room. I was frustrated that he had trashed the room. And felt that he should have to clean the mess himself. The build-a-car set was the only thing that was picked up before he left on this visitation.
So for the next few visitations this subject was a source of much distress in our house. He would visit, the messy room would be mentioned, but it never got touched. He also would leave his things outside in the yard causing them to have to be picked up by either his father, the man that mows our yard, or me.
On one visit, my daughter was voicing her frustration with having to keep her room picked up or not be allowed to do the things with her friends that she wanted to do, while the stepson was allowed to visit and do the things that he wanted to do and not have to touch his room. I reached the boiling point. I brought up the messy room and I raised my voice, yes, I yelled at my husband and the stepson. This sent the boy to his room crying where he called his mother. She in turn called my husband. He ended up taking the kid back home. Several phone calls were exchanged between my husband and his ex, it was a real source of distress for all. It was said that the boy did not understand what was expected of him and that he did not want to visit our house anymore. So for a few weeks he did not.
During this time, I put together lists for each child detailing the expectations of each of them. Both lists were then emailed to my husbands ex so that there would be NO confusion as to just what IS expected of both kids. The lists were discussed at his house with his mother and here on his next visitation. The day of his return to his mother, the room was said to be cleaned. His father did a quick check before heading out for the return trip. After they left I went into the room to put away some laundry. I opened the closet door and one of the storage containers fell out at my feet. The closet looked as if the items on the floor had been raked into the closet with some of the items being tossed into a container so that the closet door would shut. Some items had been shoved under the bed and into the cabinet. Pistachio shells were scattered behind the bed and under the desk. Dirty clothes were tossed behind the bed against the wall so as not to be seen when opening the bedroom door, others were tossed into the closet. Clean clothes that were hanging in the closet were also on the closet floor. Water bottles and Coke cans were sitting in the window and on the dresser. The room was still not clean and his things were still being left outside.
Visitations would come and go with the room and items outside being dicussed, but little was done to resolve the problem. If much was said about it the boy would call his mother and want to go home. I began to bring it up to my husband often, especially on visitation weekends. There just never seemed to be time to deal with it.
During the month of July while the boy was visiting for weeks at a time, I would mention the room and the things outside saying that if they were not putt away properly that I was going to do it myself and that there would be nothing left after doing so. I gave this warning several times giving the boy ample time to put his things away properly.
Finally, in mid August, I cleaned the room. I put everything into the storage containers sorting them as I had done before. But this time, I put the storage containers in the garage along with any item that I picked up out of the yard like his bike, electric scooter, basketballs, soccer balls and baseballs. I then bought a pad lock and locked the garage. I also moved his tv out of his room and into our bedroom, leaving the boy with pretty much a bed, dresser and desk.
The boy has had two visitations since my doing this. The first visit (Fri. to Sun.) he had brought his PS3 with him and my husband allowed him to hook it up in the living room after I had gone to bed the first night and to play it there during his visit. The only exception was in the evenings when all of us were in the living room and wanting to watch tv. On Sunday of this visit the boy was even allowed (by my husband) to play with a soccer ball outside that he said he found in the weeds. (My husband had been in the garage on Sat. doing some repairs and the boy was out there with him for awhile)
His last visitation upon arriving and finding the garage locked again the boy got a large rock and tried to beat the lock off of the door. After awhile his Dad went outside and gave him a baseball bat and some baseballs that were in the trunk of his car. The next morning I awoke to the sounds of the PS3 being played in the living room. And, again he was allowed to play it all weekend the same way he had the visitation before. Before leaving for his return trip home his Dad reminded him that he needed to pick up the baseball stuff outside. I mentioned the one laying in the back yard. And, after they left went outside and picked it up.
My husband is of the opinion that the boy has been punished enough and that I should return all his things to him. I on the other hand feel that there has been no punishment at all and that the things should remain where they are and that additional punishment should be added for his trying to distroy the lock.
We are asking you to give us your comments and views on this. It is a real problem in this household and we are both interested in what you have to say. PLEASE COMMENT!!! (either here or on FB)