Anyone want to apply their wits to a tricky family dynamic problem?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by Jade Cambell, Feb 19, 2008.

  1. Jade Cambell macrumors 6502

    Sep 14, 2007
    I've got a rather strange and unjust situation in my house right now, and i'd like some input from everybody, and hopefully advice as well.

    I'm 17, my younger brother is 14, and we live in a house with our parents. My older brother is in college.

    I'm really into movies, and so is my dad, so we like to watch movies on my computer usually 3 or 4 times a week. My mom likes the family to be together in the evenings after dinner, and not have me and my dad split off by ourselves to watch a movie. Often it's a movie that my mom and brother don't want to watch, so it's not like they could join us.

    So lately, my mom has been enforcing that we spend time together as a family in the evening, and she forbids my dad and me from watching movies together. She says that my dad is her husband, and he committed to be a family man when they got married.. bla bla bla, something along those lines. She says I can go be by myself if I don't want to be with the family. Is something not right here?

    So now I end up by myself on my computer, typing away on MacRumors, while my family is out in the living room begging me to come play some game with them. Actually, today my dad came home early so that him and me could watch a movie before dinner, which was okay with my mom. But it's going to be a consistent problem, even though there was a solution today.

    Basically, my mom demands that the family all be in the same room after dinner, and she doesn't realize that she's asking other people to do something they don't want to do, for her enjoyment. She enforces it in the name of "togetherness" but I wanted to be together with my dad watching movies. Why is that different?

    When my dad and me "get our way," my mom and my brother are free to do whatever they want, while we watch our movie. When my mom gets her way, Nobody can do what they want. She's asking us to sit around doing nothing, or find something to do, ANYTHING but watch a movie. As long as the damn family is together. Her request enslaves other people. My dad and me don't have a request. We don't ask anything of anybody. We just want to watch a movie.

    Is it normal for a mother to so strongly desire that she spends time together with her entire family in the evening, at the cost of her own son and husbands desires?

    I just need some input on this, or advice. If somebody tells me that it's normal and that I should respect my mom, that would actually make me feel better. But if it's true that she's being totally unreasonable, i'll want that feeling to be confirmed.


    edit: Oh, I should mention that my 14 year old brother is 14 going on 9. So when you think of the situation, imagine a 17 year old and a 9 year old. That'll be more accurate.
  2. EricNau Moderator emeritus


    Apr 27, 2005
    San Francisco, CA
    Perhaps your mom wants to spend more time with your dad? It sounds like the daily routine involves your dad going to work (I'm assuming early in the morning), coming home to eat dinner, and then escaping to watch a movie with you. ...If that's the case, she probably misses spending time with him (and I'm sure her kids as well, but realize that she sees more of you because you get home from school earlier).

    Your mom probably isn't trying to be so strict, but rather just got sick of the current situation and so, put her foot down.

    Maybe the entire family could watch a movie that everyone wants to watch?
  3. angelneo macrumors 68000

    Jun 13, 2004
    I'm just curious, what's your dad's say on this situation?
  4. alFR macrumors 68020

    Aug 10, 2006
    Get Apple TV, watch movies on TV in family room rather than on computer upstairs. Sorted.
  5. GfPQqmcRKUvP macrumors 68040


    Sep 29, 2005
    If only it were that easy. The OP mentioned that these movies are of no interest to his mom and his 9 year old (;)) brother.

    Ya, I agree with a previous poster. What's your dad's perspective on the situation.
  6. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    She could make an effort to watch movies with you and your father, but she doesn't appear to. However, she expects you two to make an effort to spent time with her. I think she's being unreasonable.

    You can either spend half the time watching movies with your dad, and half the time doing something with your mum together, or you can choose movies that you can all watch together.
  7. swiftaw macrumors 603


    Jan 31, 2005
    Omaha, NE, USA
    Perhaps offer up a compromise where certain nights are 'family nights' and certain nights are 'free'.

    I think it IS important for families to spend time together, but I don't think it has to be every night. A family activity once or twice a week should suffice, and the activity should by chosen on some kind of rotating basis.
  8. GfPQqmcRKUvP macrumors 68040


    Sep 29, 2005
    And most importantly, is it important if the time spent together is forced?
  9. swiftaw macrumors 603


    Jan 31, 2005
    Omaha, NE, USA
    No, as I implied above, it shouldn't be every night, but if you are never do anything together that isn't good either.
  10. JSpence macrumors regular


    Oct 4, 2007
    Orlando, FL
    Sounds like your mum feels left out mate. I think she realizes you are 17, growing into a man soon enough, and before you know it, you're out of the house, leaving another 14 year old behind, who's going on 10. The summer before I moved out, my father purchased an RV and we drove up the east coast from FL to Maine, to Canada, to Nova Scotia.
    I bring it up because it sounds like your mother is wanting the same thing my father did; and it's the fact that she wants to have a few good memories before you leave the house. Maybe she has the perspective that movies aren't active enough, and maybe she feels left out because she doesn't a good film like you and your good old Dad do.
    I am under the impression that your mother might feel something along those lines, as well as she doesn't want your younger and more immature brother to pick up the habit of watching 3-4 films/week. When you leave the house, she's thinking along the lines of you leaving a guideline for him to follow.. ..perhaps.
  11. miniConvert macrumors 68040


    Mar 4, 2006
    Kent, UK - the 'Garden of England'.
    Well, if that's the way your mum wants things and your dad's going along with it then that's the way it is. Give her the next year or so, you'll be out of the house altogether soon enough.
  12. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

    Oct 9, 2006
    I am on the route compromise that few nights a week are family night. On those nights after dinner everyone spends time together. I would try to make one of those days Friday or Saturday night every week (does not have to be the same night every week) because that avoids the entire homework issue.
    Try to see it from your moms point of view. She wants the family to spend time together and as it was you all were not spending time as a family.

    After you get out of high school your mom can kiss any hope of this good bye because it is not like you will be home much. In college I was home maybe 2 months out of the year and then for my last 3 semesters I spend an entire 3 weeks(total time) with my family. Now that I am out of college that is going to drop to maybe a week a year because of work.
  13. amanda kathryn macrumors regular

    Feb 18, 2008
    sorry, i didn't get a chance to read all the replies so this has probably been mentioned. it sounds like you all need to decide on a "family night" or two, so you and dad can still have some movies, but one or two nights a week are set side for the whole family, maybe go out to dinner so there's no household distractions. mom needs to understand there's other things the rest of you may want to do, but she should have her family time too.

    additionally, maybe mom and dad need a date night on their own.
  14. Chillijam macrumors member


    Oct 26, 2007
    UK, but maybe not for much longer
    As a couple of other people have suggested, the *only* way forward without causing more damage to the family dynamic is compromise.

    There are a few issues here to address.

    1) You obviously feel your mother is being unreasonable. However, I would seriously suggest that you try to see things from her point of view before you make your conclusions. She is probably either home alone all day, or out doing a job she may not like. She is away from the man she committed to sharing her life with, and may naturally feel that the commitment should be coming back from your father. "Film Nights" are not necessarily the issue, rather the fact that she may feel that they are spending more time apart than together.
    2) Your mother obviously feels you are being unreasonable, disappearing off to watch movies with your dad rather than trying to act like part of the family. I can understand that to an extent, but for her to lay down the law like this is not going to do the situation any good, as you and your father will inevitably start to resent the commandment that you shall not watch movies away from everyone else.

    My advice, for what it is worth*, is for you to all sit down together and TALK about the issues, the fact that you enjoy watching movies with your dad, and that you are not trying to pull away from the family. Try to keep calm and rational, and make sure that she listens to your side of things. Also important, is to make sure you listen to hers. With a little effort, and a little time, there is no reason why you can't come up with a compromise that everyone can live with.

    Good luck.

    *It's worth exactly what you paid for it, but let me tell you that in common with 99% of the population I have made mistakes in this area, and learned the hard way that communication is everything in any meaningful relationship.
  15. spork183 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 30, 2006
    short and sweet. You need to sit down and talk about it rationally with mom and dad. You need to not get angry and you should use lots of "I feel" statements rather than being accusatory. Give your mom the chance to lay out her concerns and feelings. You won't likely get everything you want, but welcome to the real world. Compromise is better than smoldering resentment. Luck.

    One more thing, don't drag dad into confirming your point of view. He has to live with mom for a lot of years after you are long gone. Don't throw him under the bus.
  16. yellow Moderator emeritus


    Oct 21, 2003
    Portland, OR
    How does your family dynamic fit into what your parents do for a living? Is it a parallel?
  17. atszyman macrumors 68020


    Sep 16, 2003
    The Dallas 'burbs
    Are the family nights enforced only on weeknights? Is your dad at home on weekends during the day?

    Maybe you need to move the movie watching to Saturday and Sunday afternoon. Your mom doesn't see her husband or kids during the day, and when the evening rolls around it's not a big surprise that she wants to spend time with the family. You'll be out of the house soon enough and having you and your dad run off for 2-3 hours after dinner every night is time that she, and your brother, don't get to spend with your dad and you. You may be getting the option to do what you want just because you have time with your mom and brother between school letting out and your dad getting home, and partially because she realizes that you'll be leaving the house soon enough and doesn't want to force you into things you don't want to do for fear that you won't want to come home/visit, once you leave the house.

    Make the best of the family time and try to enjoy it. Sure you like watching movies with your dad, but find other times to do that, as you get older you may start to regret not spending time with your family, only rarely do I hear people say that they wish they'd spent less time with their family as they get older.

    As for the 14 going on 10 brother, there is a tremendous amount of maturing that goes on between the ages of 14-21 and three years can seem like a generational gap at times. Keep in mind that neither he, nor his friends can drive yet so their interests and entertainment options are limited. If you really think he's that immature, maybe spending some time with him might be a good thing, you can start to influence his interests and maybe move him towards a 14 going on 15-16 in ways that spending the evenings hanging out with your mom, while you and dad went off to watch movies, couldn't.

    Suck it up and deal with the family time, it sounds like if you really don't want to be there you don't have to be, so if your dad is cool with the family time after dinner, there really isn't a family issue and you'll be out of the house soon enough and you can schedule in movies with your dad on the weekends and breaks you are home from college, maybe even get your dad to take a day or two off work when your home on breaks.

    I do find it amusing that you were trying to tell parents how to raise their kids in this thread while looking for advice on how to deal with your family here.
  18. RedTomato macrumors 68040


    Mar 4, 2005
    .. London ..
    As a parent myself, and not all that much older than the OP :) I understand too. I have similar problems with my partner and kids.

    Basically, it's important that you rotate nights, negotiate schedules, and also negotiate any changes that you might need to make, in the spirit of making sure everyone is happy.

    some suggestions:

    - move the computer into the family room once or twice a week so that even if only you and your dad are watching it, at least you're in the same room as your mum and bro.

    - once or twice a week, let your mum pick the film. Doesn't matter if you've seen it before or have to go out and buy it. Her taste will develop after she's seen a few films, just like it did with you.

    Some family films are pretty fun for adults too, like Shrek and anything by Pixar. Akira Kuroshawara does *some* good family stuff too. (maybe Seven Samaurai, Ran, Yojimbo). Also check out anything by Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away, Kiki, Mononoke, Castle in the Sky) - all these films are classics.

    - arrange a regular date night for your mum and your dad in return for letting you and your dad watch a film on your own. Yes, you, the son, arrange it. You're 17, you're old enough. Just offer to babysit your bro once or twice a week. Monday night is fine.

    - Maybe buy your parents some theatre tickets or book a table at a restaurant for them (no need to pay their bill) or something, just smooth their way.

    Hope that helps.

    xx RedTomato
  19. kcbyemom macrumors newbie

    Jan 15, 2008
    Darlin' your folks have problems right now, give them the space to work things out and give your dad the encouragement he needs.
    No mother is going to be jealous of time a father spends with his kid. It may have to do with money - college requires some planning - it may be something else. :eek:
    Whatever it is - it likely has nothing to do with you or movies.
    Grab your little brother and take him for a bike ride during Mom's forced togetherness, or better if you have access to a car drive to the arches and buy him a soda once in a while.
    He will benefit by trying to be cool and act his age, your folks will have some time to discuss things in private.
  20. Jade Cambell thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 14, 2007
    Alright.. I just got up, and I read all the responses, and I have to clarify a number of things.

    1. Me and my brother are unschooled. We don't go to school, we don't get taught at home. My mom and me do sit on opposite ends of the house though, at our computers, so she doesn't see me that much during the day. But she does see me.

    2. My younger brother has no friends. He's 14 going on 10 in social skills and other similar areas, and he's 14 going on 70 when it comes to music, because that's what he's been studying for the past 8 or 9 years. And he also happens to be a musical genius.

    3. Moving the computer into the family room isn't an option, because in this house (and this is primarily encouraged by me) watching a film is taken very seriously. If you aren't going to be sitting down with your eyes on the screen for the duration of the film, you shouldn't be hearing parts of it because it's playing in the same room. That's a disrespect to the art. Generally if someone doesn't want to watch a movie that someone else is watching, they leave the room.

    4. My dad works on the weekends. He's always gone before the three of us get up, and he's back between 7:00 and 8:00 usually.

    5. Every evening, after my dad is pulled away to be with the family, and i'm either left to join them or watch a movie by myself, I usually choose to join the family and start a discussion about how unjust the situation is. For the past week, "family time" has been us arguing about my right to watch movies in the evening with my dad.

    hm.. I guess those are all the main points I needed to clarify. Keep the great advice coming!
  21. Macaddicttt macrumors 6502a


    Apr 22, 2004
    San Diego, CA
    Well, obviously your father is willing to give up movie nights with you in favor of spending time with the rest of your family, so why don't you do your part and just watch the fricking movies during the day when you're sitting at home, not in school, doing nothing? Seems like a pretty easy solution.

    And does anyone else here see the irony of you extolling your mother's parenting abilities vis-a-vis her book, yet you also complain of your mother's parenting abilities when she tries to use them on you? :rolleyes:

    P.S. You sound like you're 17 going on 9, since when you "try" to be with the family instead of watching movies, you just act real "mature" by not letting go of the problem and giving your mother what she would like at least a couple times. You sound like you have a pretty "Me, me, me!" attitude. Neither of you are right, so just compromise.
  22. yellow Moderator emeritus


    Oct 21, 2003
    Portland, OR
    Do you live in the US? How can you not get schooling?
    I thought that was US law. Homeschool or public/private school.
  23. Coolnat2004 macrumors 6502


    Jan 12, 2005
    Isn't this illegal? What do you expect to do in the future without an education?

    However, keep in mind that I have friends that are in school, and know very little, but that is more because of their home life.. You sound more intelligent than them, from what I can tell..
  24. Jade Cambell thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 14, 2007
    I'm homeschooled according to the law. Occasionally "the law" comes and checks on whether we're learning enough, and usually says that we're 6 or 7 grades ahead of the grade we'd be in if we were in school.
  25. Xfujinon macrumors 6502

    Jul 27, 2007
    Iowa City, Iowa
    #25 don't go to school? Not even home-school? Well, I don't blame you 99% of cases, home-school = no school, effectively, unless your parents are very, very unorthodox (and not fundamentalists).

    Mothers and their "family time" is a bizarre topic. My mother got into that phase too, but turned it quickly into the most abhorred hour of my life because it was made unpleasant by her complex, convoluted demands, such as "you can't say this and this and this" or "we can only do this and that". Now, aside from that fact that she is clinically afflicted with several psychiatric disorders which complicate things, she is highly unreasonable. Maybe your mother is fine, she just wants some positive attention. My dad and me, we are both solitary people, and we like to do single-person entertainment sorts of things, whereas my mother and sister like to be the center of attention in a constant social gathering-type atmosphere. Naturally, this doesn't mix well.

    I don't have a good solution to you, other than suck it up. You'll get plenty of YOU time if you go to college, or barring that, get a job and your own place. Most of the people on this forum will tell you that your mother's request is not unreasonable, and I would tend to agree, however the only problem I see is that granting this request can be problematic for everyone. Look at it as part of your rent for living there. When I was forced to do "family time", I used to keep a little notebook so I could write down the insane or nonsensical things my mother would say for amusement later (or to show a judge).

    Best of luck! It'll be over soon.

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