Heartbroken about DSS behaviour - long, sorry!(36 Posts)
Hi all, just to explain I have a DSS who is 6.10, I live with my DH (his dad) and we are expecting a baby in 7 weeks. DSS spends every weekend with us and normally lives with his mum and her fiancé. We all have a great relationship, i.e. spend lots of time all together and everything is always very amicable. DSS is an only child and DH and his ex split just after DSS 1st birthday so DSS doesn't remember DH and his mum being together.
Anyway, since we announced my pregnancy, DH's ex and her fiancé have been 100% positive and supportive and DSS has been excited all the way through, until the last few weeks. He's been asking for a brother/sister for years. He's always been exceptionally polite and kind and works well in the routines we have established at both houses. However recently he's started getting tearful when he leaves his mum's house ad telling us he doesn't want to stay for 2 nights, just one. He's also asking to ring his mum constantly - he's called her 3 times since we brought him home yesterday evening.
It turns out that last week he threw a really big strop at the dinner table (with his mum and her fiancé) and said that he hated his stepdad and just wanted his mum and dad to live together. His behaviour has got a lot worse recently and DH, exW's fiancé and I have all been maintaining the boundaries but making sure we really praise good behaviour whereas exW has been getting the brunt of the back chatting and disobeying/refusing etc and (has herself said) that she doesn't know what to do and is so worried about hurting him that she's not telling him off for it at all. We all spoke about it last night and without prompting, she said she felt that she needed to do the same as us 3 so hopefully things will improve on that front.
I just feel so sad because no matter how much we reassure him, I feel that the new baby is really worrying him. He's regressed into watching baby TV programmes and playing with baby toys. DH, exW and DSS all had a 'family meeting' yesterday where they allowed DSS to ask them anything about the situation. However since then, DSS seems to feel that it has opened the floodgates to moan about everything he feels is unfair in his life, i.e. his mum not playing with him 24/7 and having to do household chores instead and the fact he doesn't have a nighttime drink (we're trying to get him dry overnight). He has changed from the mature, happy 6year old who enjoyed spending time with us to a babyish, clingy boy who seems to resent spending one with us and only wants his mum. I feel like I'm part of the cause of this and have messed up his life by getting pregnant. Help!!
I would probably explain to him that his comments were hurtful and not acceptable and then leave it there and move on to something else.
He has no choice other than to accept the situation. A new baby is on its way whether he likes it or not and there could well be more to follow
So probably best to take a 'business as usual' approach which includes telling him off if he is rude or disrespectful.
It's good that his mum is going to try a more 'consistent' approach - this must be difficult for her actually .
bonsoir he does not have 4 adults on his back - what a stupid thing to say!
Even in very ordinary set ups 6 year olds get a bit wobbly with change.
Keep his routine going, dont go over and over things, just keep things simple. Bonsoir is right about the ratio of 4:1 being very over powering, a bit of benign neglect is no bad thing sometimes.
Good luck with baby.
(a word of warning, when you have your newborn home with you this 6 year old boy will suddenly seem grown up and you may find yourself thinking he should be all mature as he will seem MASSIVE besides how he seems now. But he will need to be treated as a young boy for anotherr while so try not to lose patience or to expect too much from him. And if you find your seves saying "Now we expected more from you at your age you should be able to help with the baby not make it more difficult" etc etc then just stop. Catch yourself, remember he is only a small boy, and go forth..)
How does a good relationship between step families mean he's not getting his own life? Why would it detract from that? I really really don't understand Bonsoir.
Are you suggesting that the OP tell the boys mother she doesn't have time for a cuppa cos she urgently need to take DSS out to enjoy himself?
I didn't see anywhere in her post that he DSS spends any less than the normal amount of time with other children.
OP, you are doing NOTHING WRONG here. The way the four adults in this situation are behaving is admirable, and should be the ideal for step families.
Op sounds to me like you are all dealing with both the divorce and this very temporary blip for DSS admirably! some for you!
I don't agree about the 4 controlling adults thing - just don't think a 6 year old would see it like that. My close friend is a SM as well and has a similar aged DS. The parents all get together for coffee at drop off and pick up and she was telling me the other week that her DH held his EXDW's new baby on his knee while they all played a board game together with his DS. The DS concerned is thriving in this atmosphere of mutual respect and while of course the adults don't agree on every aspect of the DS's upbringing, they can at least discuss differences calmly as you can.
You need to treat this as a temporary phase and I know it's very hard when you feel very emotional due to pg, but remember 6 is very young still. I'm sure if he were (God forbid) ever to lose you or his mum's fiancé he would actually be devastated. just keep doing the good job you are doing and being a great SM to him and this phase will pass. My ex DP had a much younger DSis from his father's second marriage and adored her.
Sorry - should say my friend has similar aged DSS
Thanks all. I have been trying to prepare DSS for the baby but find it difficult...I don't want him to think the baby is all I go on about but I know he needs reassurance about it!
What I've been doing is highlighting how good his behaviour is with his baby cousin, both to DSS and also to other people so that DSS can hear it, i.e. stuff like "DSS is the best at making baby cousin laugh, he's so much better at it than us grown ups, wow DSS look how much she likes you, you're going to be so good with the new baby etc." DSS also loves feeling the baby kick and I tell him that baby is trying to play with him already and only kicks people they know they love already and DSS is its favourite person. I've also made sure that DSS will be the first person (apart from DH of course) to see the new baby when it's born.
As you can tell I really want this to work for us all!!!!
Ds1 was just short of 3 when Ds2 was born and he regressed, no step family, I was a SAHM and he had had me all to himself up until that point.
He even deliberately stood in front of me and wet his pants whilst I was breastfeeding so that I would prioritise him over his brother. It was heartbreaking for me, I just told him that I was feeding his brother and he would have to wait. Once I had fed Ds2 then I changed Ds1.
I also made sure that if I was doing something with Ds1 and Ds2 started crying I would say outloud, hang on a minute I am just doing X for your brother, so that Ds1 would feel that there were times when he came first.
I think your DSS's behaviour is totally normal, he has been the centre of 4 people's worlds for 6 years and that is going to change. And I have to take my hat off to you for keeping everything so amicable as step-parenting can be a minefield.
Enjoy your pregnancy.
Firstly, congratulations on your pg
dss is bound to be having very mixed emotions. He's excited about having a sibling, but at the same time probably a bit worried or even jealous - after all, six years is a long time and he is used to getting all the attention all the time. We had similar problems because there are five years between our two but, when dd arrived, ds was absolutely smitten and over the moon and everything was fine.
Also, I would agree that around age six is a difficult time for boys anyway - testosterone levels are high and they have mood swings. ds is nearly 15 and has (generally) been very easy going all his life, but even he had a blip at around this age. I have memories of shouting matches and one time when he locked me in the dining room, by holding the door on the outside!! It passed. Good luck, I'm sure your new family will bring you plenty of love and happiness.
OP, I'm very jealous of your situation! Crazy but true! I love the fact that your DH works with his exW to give a happy life for their child which now includes 2 wonderful step parents.
My DH's ex is a complete b***h who will do anything to drive a wedge between hubby and his 3 kids, unfortunately she's worked with one of them :-(
Your step son is showing normal behaviour with a sibling coming and he's just using the situation as ammo. Don't let him away with it, give him his usual time outs/punishments for any bad behaviour and include him in any baby related things. Show him life wont change with the arrival of new baby and continue to show him your love - from all 4 parents. And don't change the little meetings you have, my brothers fiancé is 30 and her parents split and dad has remarried. She has a wonderful relationship with her SM and her SM and real mum are friends and chat to each other at family get togethers! That's priceless!!!
I agree with abbiehodes, lay it on thick about what a wonderful big brother he is going to be!
I could not disagree with Bonsoir more.
Four loving parents all pulling in the same direction? Perfect, wonderful and a fabulous example. He's 6, he's not going to feel smothered, he's going to feel loved.
A pregnancy in that situation is always going to throw up some issues. Continue to praise the good, ignore the bad and things will work themselves out.
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