I am useless at this

(22 Posts)
dontknowwhattodoorsay Fri 19-Apr-13 09:52:33

Well I've spoken to my boyfriend and he agrees we need to set some rules. I said we need them for ALL the children not just his. It's mainly the noise levels and the eating of snacks at stupid times. I want limits on snacks, both the amounts and the times they can be eaten. As far as I know you do not need a packet of crisps as soon as you wake up or just before you go to bed grin. Oh and the backchat needs to stop!

He agrees with me in theory we just need to see if in practice it's the same! Fingers crossed!

Thank you for sharing your experiences. It helps me know that I'm not alone on this.

Kaluki Wed 17-Apr-13 11:11:11

Planeticketplease - excellent post.
I don't think your way is unconventional at all. That is the way we do things now and I wish I had been more forthright from day one.
The problem as I see it is that you want these kids to like you, because if they don't that threatens your whole relationship, so you are frightened to discipline them, which then means they have the upper hand and can then rule the roost. That's what happened to me anyway and I spent a lot of time in the bedroom crying, scared to go down and face them all. DP was no help - he was a typical Disney dad and never told them off at all.
But it started affecting my own dc, they thought I was favouring DPs kids over them and after a particularly hurrendous holiday I had a meltdown and walked out!
DP and I had a long talk and set some rules and he gave me full authority to discipline them (and I insisted he discipline them too!)
Four years on and we are fine now, I still hide though - sometimes it just gets a bit too full on and I need some space. One of the rules I have made is that the kids can have the run of the lounge until 9pm then they have to clear out and give DP and I the tv remote some time. Also nobody is to bother us until 9am (unless in an emergency) so at least we get a bit of adult time.

BlueBumedFly Tue 16-Apr-13 23:31:46

I was rubbish at step parenting for years, started OK I think but got progressively rubbish at knowing what and what not to do or say / when to step in etc. when DD came along. Now it's all fab and great but a lot of talking had to be done (and a lot of tears from me) and planning. Every weekend is so hectic, it's not easy so please don't beat yourself up, you are not alone on this one!

I found that when I tamed to DH he suprised me by understanding where I thought he would be on the 'side' of the kids. Just talk otherwise it gets beyond talking which is rubbish for everyone.

Good luck, its a hard job x

Beamur Tue 16-Apr-13 23:22:11

Lots of good advice already - but don't feel bad about wanting some time to be how you want it at the weekend too. Like FrauMoose says really. You don't have to spend all weekend playing families - non-step families don't spend every minute together either.

CookieDoughKid Tue 16-Apr-13 23:17:14

Agree on set of rules and write it all down/print out onto a big poster and put it up so everyone can see! I know that's not practical but you and your partner need to verbalise a united front to your kids and show consistent parenting.

If you both are providing consistent parenting & discipline, and your partner backs you - then it shouldn't matter who 'says' it to the kids. It might just raise the level of respect in your step children's eyes -- plus show you are not a push over.--

FrauMoose Mon 15-Apr-13 17:58:37

The first time I went away with my partner and his children on holiday, we fixed it so that I had the morning to myself, but then did outings together.

I think it could be useful to also think about the weekends as times when you see your own friends and go out. And also times when your partner takes the kids out, and sometimes you'll go along but at other times not.

Are there things you enjoy doing, that the children would also enjoy doing to?

I think it's partly about boundaries, but also about giving yourself space while also trying to introduce a bit of enjoyable togetherness.

dontknowwhattodoorsay Mon 15-Apr-13 11:07:14

Thank you all so much. Reading your replies has made me feel a lot better. I think it is time for a chat with my boyfriend and time to set up ground rules. I am definitely taking tips from you all grin

Alwayscheerful Mon 15-Apr-13 09:36:17

Planet please - ditto
Excellent advice.

planeticketplease Sun 14-Apr-13 20:40:39

I don't know if this will be of any use as its apparently a bit of an unconventional way to do things, but when dh and i moved in together he and I discussed our expectations of behaviour from dsc (regardless of what they did at their mums), and suitable levels of punishment/discipline. Then he let me lose with exactly the same authority as him, backed me completely even if he didn't actually agree with my decision, and we got together every evening to discuss how it had gone, what worked, what didn't, what to change etc. This was balanced with me doing as much as possible 1 on 1 with each dsc. It worked for us and is still how things work in our house, the evening post mortum over a glass of wine has become a kind of ritual! The kids very quickly accepted that it was my house too, and that respecting me meant good attention from me. We have our ups and downs these days but I generally have a really good relationship with all of them and they now live with us fulltime.

That said, the first few months I used to do a lot of hiding in bed crying and wondering what the hell I'd done... I think that is normal. Children all seem to have a limited awareness of other peoples space and need for territory. Even these days I tend to live in the kitchen and dining room and the kids use the lounge and upstairs till they're all in bed, that way we don't get under each others feet too much.

Also, in my experience, 11 year olds are really good at making you feel like something they scraped off their shoe! The huffing, big sighs, rolling of eyes and endless arguing back are infuriating and demoralising. I have no words of wisdom there except to start counting the years till they'll leave home!!

I hope these replies are helping and making you realise that these feelings are completely normal for a lot of step parents. Good luck.

likesnowflakesinanocean Sun 14-Apr-13 09:49:53

you neee to set some rules for your house, so everyone knows where they stand . I didn't at first and will admit now got walked all over it took a long time but now when I get argh I don't have to do that at mums will simply say this isn't Mums. she probably does the same about our rules. I wouldn't disrespect whatever rules they follow at home but different things work for different people and you need to not feel constantly at battle. plus don't feel bad for hiding out everyone needs to now and again whether it be from your sc, dc or husband grin.

brdgrl Sat 13-Apr-13 22:00:40

First of all, don't beat yourself up for the way you feel. It is very common, honestly.

Before we all lived together, I used to 'hide out' quite a bit, because I found it such hard work to be around the kids sometimes, and because my role was so unclear to all of us, and because my boundaries were not being respected and I found it too difficult to deal with on my own. After we all moved in together, DH and I came up with a list of 'house rules' and sat the kids down and let them know what was expected. DH and I have been working on it ever since, and I still 'hide' from time to time - but it is like night and day to what it was once. So...don't beat yourself up, but don't resign yourself to it either. Establish your rules together, and enforce them together, and it can get better. Honest.

balia Sat 13-Apr-13 21:27:38

Monsterchild's advice is excellent - at the moment it sounds like nobody knows what the rules/expectations are, which is bound to make everyone feel on edge. Also, sometimes it can help to leave all the rule enforcement to Dad for a bit, while you work on some getting to know you/positive interaction (but again, the two of you have to have worked that out beforehand!). It is very hard to broach the subject, but from experience if you start from a positive standpoint (that you want to get to know them better, get on with them better) it is much easier. Are your own boys older or younger? How does your bf get on with them?

dontknowwhattodoorsay Sat 13-Apr-13 20:41:32

Thank you for the tip.

It is a difficult juggling act. I have so many things going on at the moment that the weekends should be a relaxing time for us all.

LineRunner Sat 13-Apr-13 20:35:16

If you don't get much response on this thread, OP, you could think about re-posting with a much more specific thread title, such as [excuse drama!] 'Please help, I need to feel comfortable with my DP's 11yos at weekends' or something like that.

Although you may want to talk about you and the DP as well? And you've got your own DC. It is tough, isn't it?

dontknowwhattodoorsay Sat 13-Apr-13 20:35:04

grin monsterchild I like that!

I will have to say something without it sounding like I'm moaning. I know how defensive I can be if somebody dares criticise my babies (sssh don't tell them I called them that they hate it wink).

I'm hoping it gets better. I can't keep dreading the weekends.

monsterchild Sat 13-Apr-13 20:31:08

I feel for you. I have a DSD who is 7. It was hard in the beginning, but I had to have a lot of talks with my DH about ground rules that he agreed to and that either of us could enforce, as well as what would not be effective due to DSD's life with her mother. there's no reason a child can't learn two sets of rules, but there are also other battles that aren't worth fighting.

It took a while, but I think you need to let your BF know what is absolutely not acceptable and what is imperative as far as behavior. When the two of you have figured that out, let the twins know that too. Your bf has to be on the same page or the kids will try to play you. And your kids will do that too!

It can get better. And BTW, I told my DSD that I'm actually the EVIL stepmother, not the wicked one! grin

dontknowwhattodoorsay Sat 13-Apr-13 20:25:02

It is hard but thank you for being so kind to me. I really appreciate it. I feel like the wicked witch sometimes when all I've done is ask them to take their plate to the sink!

LineRunner Sat 13-Apr-13 20:21:58

Lord it sounds hard. I hope that experienced SMs are along to help you soon.

But you do need to talk to your partner. And you don't sound pathetic. You are asking for some help. That's pretty strong, in my book. smile

dontknowwhattodoorsay Sat 13-Apr-13 20:15:27

Hi Linerunner. It's wrong to the twins. They are 11 and in year 7 so not that young but just coming to the horror of teenagedom!

My own boys drive me to despair, they aren't angels by any means, but I know how to handle them and they know how to handle me.

I've been told when I go to my room I'm being rude and upsetting the twins but if I stay down then somehow I do or say something that upsets them too. I try not to discipline them because I don't feel it's my place. Instead I say things like I don't like that behaviour or I don't let my boys do that so please don't do it here. They said they wanted to be treated like part of the family (which they are anyway) so I treated them the way I would my boys but they didn't like that either.

I probably sound really pathetic. I will try to speak to my boyfriend about it. That is probably the best thing to do. I just don't want to sound horrible about his children.

I'm so confused.

LineRunner Sat 13-Apr-13 19:30:10

Hi, OP. When you say it's 'wrong', it's wrong to who? Your bf, or the twins, or both? I'm guessing they're young, and young children do tend to take over anyway.

You need to talk to your bf about this, midweek, when the pressure's not on, about how you can be part of the weekends. Would that be possible?

I don't have step-DCs but my own DCs drive me to my bedroom sometimes. smile

dontknowwhattodoorsay Sat 13-Apr-13 18:59:54

Oh I've namechanged for this cos I'm so ashamed of feeling like this.

dontknowwhattodoorsay Sat 13-Apr-13 18:57:55

We have my boyfriends children EVERY weekend and EVERY weekend I feel horrible.

It doesn't matter what I say or what I do it's wrong. I'm fed up of feeling like an outsider in my own home. I feel like I have to be shut away in the tv room or my bedroom so that the twins can take over the downstairs of the house.

I know it's probably my fault, something I have said or done but surely I'm allowed to feel at ease in my own home.

I don't even know why I've posted this.

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