To move in or not to move in?

(45 Posts)
ILoveTomHardy Mon 24-Jun-13 16:43:34

I have lurked on this board for a while now but now something has cropped up that I need some advice about.

I have been with my bf for five years. He is 46 and I am 39. I have a 8yo DS and he has an 11 DD.

His DD is lovely and we get on well. My DS gets on well with my BF so all seems good.

My BF and I have just got engaged and we are due to move in together soon, probably in August/September of this year, but nothing is final atm.

I have always noticed that my BF is different when his DD is around. Slightly colder than normal and very defensive about her in general. It's hard to put my finger on exactly what the issue is but it makes me feel slightly uneasy about living together. He takes everything I say about his DD as a criticism, which it certainly isn't. For example on Saturday I offered to take my BF food shopping. I arrived and I was waiting for them to get their shoes on. He actually put her shoes on for her and tied the laces for her. She had a small paper cut on her finger, she waved her finger at him and he fetched a plaster, took it out of the wrapper, took her old plaster off and put the new one on for her.

She is a really nice girl, but she is very spoilt by my BF (which certainly isn't her fault).

The main problem I suppose is that we have completely different parenting styles. I am strict with my DS and my BF is the complete opposite with his DD. He lets her do anything she wants. There are absolutely no rules in his house when she comes over.

For example this weekend my DS and I went for tea at his house. He told my DS he couldn't eat his muffin in the sitting room (the children were both watching television), but that his DD could, as she was older (!).

I know that these are just small examples but it's hard to describe how different he is when his DD is there. It's like he is wound up all of the time until she leaves.

He says he can't tell her off about anything as he wants it to be fun for her when she comes over. He was moaning about her bedroom at the weekend and the mess but he said that he would tidy it so she doesn't have to.

I don't want to tell him how to parent his DD but I can see the difference in parenting styles clashing in the future. I also feel that we are two separate families and that may well still be the case when we move in together. Me and my DS and him and his DD. I am starting to feel quite worried about it to be honest.

Feelingbetterbyfar Sat 29-Jun-13 10:06:19

May I also suggest the importance of relationship counseling.
A good counselor goes a long way in giving objective guidelines and support for mums with common sense.
The trouble is, you still have to be extremely vigilant and point out the misguided behaviour of Disney parenting at every turn.
Dh has now significantly let up on spousification of dsd, who in turn has become very affectionate towards me (as we are no longer set up as rivals), but is turning now to dss to become big buddies instead!!
I've pointed this out, of course, but until our next counseling session I'm pretty sure dh is super confident I'm over reacting and its perfectly ok to share as much time with dss as possible, eventhough he lives 50:50 with us, to detriment of our (shaky) marriage.

ChippingInWiredOnCoffee Fri 28-Jun-13 20:35:11

You are thinking and doing all the right things... I'm just sad that you have to and worried that it might not be enough. When are you going to talk to him? I'm not sure tomorrow before she arrives is the best time... where will DS be? I think you need a time when she isn't about to arrive so he has time to think about it and when you don't have time constraints or DS ear wigging.

ILoveTomHardy Fri 28-Jun-13 19:48:31

I have got a horrible feeling that he will take it very badly. I'm thinking of the future too, when we have teenagers in the house and what that will be like. I'm trying my hardest to bring my DS to respect women. What will he think if he is brought up in a house where his "sister" is spoilt rotten and has no boundaries?

ChippingInWiredOnCoffee Fri 28-Jun-13 18:58:23

For him there is no problem...*yet*. How do you think he will react when you tell him that it is a problem for you and until it's resolved to your satisfaction you will not be moving in together and if you aren't moving in together there's no point in the relationship at all? you could probably phrase that a little more gently, but them's the bones of it!).

Everything you say is right... smile sad <sigh>

ILoveTomHardy Fri 28-Jun-13 18:49:15

I doubt he would go for counselling. For him there is no problem. You have hit the nail on the head. He's like a doting uncle type figure and not a father in the real sense of the word. I just can't get over how different he is with me when she is there. He's really off hand and a lot colder with me than he usually is. It's like he doesn't want to be disloyal but that's ridiculous.

She will always be a priority, just like my son is for me. But love isn't a commodity, you can't use it up by loving someone else too. The way I love my son is not the same as the way I love my BF.

I think children can only benefit from rules, lots of love and a strong relationship between the adults in the house. He thinks that loving me means excluding her. Not a good way to start living together.

ChippingInWiredOnCoffee Fri 28-Jun-13 17:56:11

Ilove - this is probably going to sound harsh and blunt and I don't mean it to, but I don't know how else to word it. You sound really lovely and I truely hope it all works out well for you x

For almost all of her life, 10 1/2 years now, he has only ever had non residential contact with her, he has no idea how to be a parent, is what it boils down to. He knows how to be an uncle, friend, doting god parent. He has never had to parent her, not in the true sense.

Changing the way he is with her is going to be very hard.

I really wish you had picked him up on this 5 years ago, when she was small, instead of just being grateful you could go home at the end of the day as changing the way he is with her is going to be hard on both of them.

It is important to have the same, agreed, rules for both the children while not fundamentally changing how you choose to parent - that is hard enough, but essentially it's not so much 'the rules' that are the problem, but just his overall Disney Dad/Princess Daughter thinking.

Would he consider going to counselling - as twinkle says, so he understands why this isn't good for his DD and why your relationship will not survive this attitude either.

twinkletwinkle9 Fri 28-Jun-13 17:15:34

I was in an almost identical situation but then a 'surprise' pregnancy made us make the decision to move in together.
I'll admit at first it was pretty hard, it was fine Mon-Friday but then the kids would come at weekend and the house was full of tensions and arguments from almost the minute they arrived to the minute they went home.
Mainly because as lovely as the children are there was no discipline or rules. DP was disciplining my DS but not his own, this made me so defensive of my own DS and was making me really mad with his own children.
We nearly split up over it at one point because he refused to tell them off, he doesn't get that much time with them so he didn't want to spend that time telling them off.
We went for relationship counselling and I think at that point he realised that he was close to losing his relationship and family because of his Disney parenting.
Together we decided what was acceptable from all the children, house rules and discipline procedures. Since then things have been much better, not perfect but much better.
If together you can't agree on what you will BOTH accept and not accept from BOTH children then I don't think you can ever be truly happy living together.

DonutForMyself Fri 28-Jun-13 17:07:13

Well then I guess this will tell you how much he values the idea of you all living together as a family, because if he doesn't promise to review his parenting methods (and of course actually follow through with that) then he will be missing out on part of his future with you. Let us know how it goes x

ILoveTomHardy Fri 28-Jun-13 16:12:18

The thing is that he has seen her every single week since he and his ex split up (when his DD was six months old). She also stays with him full time for around three weeks of the school holidays. He also has her for long weekends probably three or four times a year when her mum goes away for the weekend. So it's not like he is scared of not seeing her. They have a very regular contact pattern which they both enjoy.

From my point of view he has built her up in his head as being perfect in every single way and therefore cannot be criticised in any way whatsoever. This is what worries me about our upcoming conversation. He will take whatever I say as a personal attack on his daughter, which it isn't. I like her, this isn't about her and the way she is, this is about the way he parents her.

I don't want us to be like two separate families in the same house. My best case scenario would be that she loves coming over, she gets treated as an 11 year old girl and she goes home happy. I want her to come over whenever she likes. I have said to my BF that when we live together if she wanted to come for tea more often in the week and stay over I can drop her at school on my way to work. He can't do that now because he has to be at work at 8am.

I want my DS not to feel like a second class citizen while she is there. End of. I don't see this as being particularly complicated, but it seems that it is complicated for my BF who insists on treating her like visiting royalty, rather than his child.

ChippingInWiredOnCoffee Fri 28-Jun-13 16:04:33

Also, throw in the fact that your DS would then be living with her Daddy and (understandably) she is going to get much more posessive & demanding and your DS is going to be 'in the wrong' all the time - unless your DP gets a good grip on this beforehand it would be a nightmare that you don't need and certainly your DS doesn't deserve.

Cerisier Fri 28-Jun-13 16:03:07

Disney Dad Parenting v Sensible Everyday Mum Parenting - depressing but apt Chipping.

Good luck with the chat OP. I suspect everything will become crystal clear once it is over. Either way, I hope it works out well.

ChippingInWiredOnCoffee Fri 28-Jun-13 16:01:54

I'm really pleased that you are so... sensible, level headed & wise! That you realise that you need to see the changes, not just hear promises etc. This about 'rules' it's about attitude and the only way to gauge that is to see it over a period of time. You have waited 5 years - waiting until you are sure (either way) is wise.

It isn't 'really odd' though - it's sadly very normal with NRP's sad The need to be the 'fun & chilled' parent, they want the kids to want to be there, they don't want them to start to refuse to come. I can understand it, but it's not healthy, for anyone - especially his daughter. You see it again and again on these boards and it causes a lot of heartache in blended families.

DonutForMyself Fri 28-Jun-13 15:54:35

Oh I know exactly what you mean about taking it all as personal attack sad

When I've brought up issues about lying/stealing etc in a really lighthearted way (all kids do silly thing sometimes, its not like they think of it in a mean way, they just see something and think "oooh I'd like that") he used to categorically state that his kids would never steal anything (even though my kids' stuff would mysteriously end up at their house!)

He's a bit more realistic now but he still always gives his the benefit of the doubt, especially the youngest, who can do no wrong, whereas mine are always lying, obviously hmm

Jan45 Fri 28-Jun-13 15:53:48

Good luck, you sound a lovely level headed person so watch the heart doesn't take over as it so often can!

Eliza22 Fri 28-Jun-13 15:49:33

"Knows how to HURT him" ...

Eliza22 Fri 28-Jun-13 15:48:45

No, it's not odd. Not at all. My DH walked on eggshells with youngest daughter because he was scared she'd stop seeing him. She knew this. He hasn't had a relationship (beyond an occasional text message and a lunch) with her in over 2 years. Daughter wants her own way and now, at 19, she still behaves with dad like a petulant little girl. And he has allowed this.

She knows how to hurst him and she does, by her absence, because she can.

ILoveTomHardy Fri 28-Jun-13 15:36:13

It's taken five years to get to this point because we wanted to be sure that it was the right thing for the children. Obviously over that time we have spent quite a lot of time together but his Disney activities didn't bother me too much, as I had my own home to go to after we had spent the day together. He also seems to have got worse as she has got older. Not sure why that might be.

What I need to be wary of is lots of promises about how things will change without any evidence to back this up. I don't want to take his word for it, I want to see changes for myself over a period of months before we make any definite plans to move in together. That doesn't mean telling her off every five minutes, it just means him acting like a parent, not a combination of best friend, man servant, and general dogsbody. He seems to actually be frightened of upsetting her at the moment, which is a bit odd to say the least.

ChippingInWiredOnCoffee Fri 28-Jun-13 14:44:38

I don't think it will go at all well either sad

Disney Dad Parenting v Sensible Everyday Mum Parenting There is a HUGE gulf there, which you sensibly realise needs sorting out. I would go as far as to say it needs sorting out to see if you want to stay in a relationship with him - not just if you want to move in with him this year. If you don't move in with him - what's the point in the relationship really? I'm surprised it has taken 5 years to get to this point.

Disney Dad's are very hard work to be around and do their kids no favours at all sad

Eliza22 Fri 28-Jun-13 14:39:47

And be careful what "agreements" are reached. By that, I mean to say my DH was fully aware that his youngest daughter did not want me. His attitude was, she will like you because I love you and when she sees how you "are" and how happy we are together, she'll be fine. She detests me. She's now 19. It is illogical and thankfully not the attitude her siblings took but still, DH assumed too much.

ILoveTomHardy Fri 28-Jun-13 14:37:22

I don't think that it will go well for one second. My worry is that he will take anything I say as an attack on his DD (which is what he usually does when I say anything). Even something completely innocent, which is not critical of her in any way shape or form, is taken as criticism of her or of him and the way he is with her.

I know it's hard to discuss differences in parenting styles as some people will view this as a criticism of them but at the end of the day I have to act in my son's best interests and it is not in his best interests to be treated as a second class citizen in his own home, wherever that might be.

We all love our kids, that goes without saying, but he seems to see it as some sort of competition between him and his ex. He wants to be the "fun" parent. He wants his DD to want to be with him and not his ex. It's not healthy.

In every other way he is great, but this seems to be a huge problem that I can't see a long term solution to at the moment.

DonutForMyself Fri 28-Jun-13 14:27:49

Hope the talk goes well! Don't be railroaded into anything for your DS's sake as well as your own. It's a tricky line to walk and if it takes some time to get the boundaries in place before it happens that can only be a good thing x

ILoveTomHardy Fri 28-Jun-13 14:09:52

Thank you for all of your responses. I suppose that the engagement has brought it home to me how much he indulges his DD. She is a lovely girl and I do like her a lot but she can be a little bit rude and entitled sometimes. I do realise this is not her fault but his for making her like this.

Our parenting styles could not be more different. My son and I are very, very close. We have a relationship that is based on seven years of living on our own. He sees his dad once or twice a week but for the most part he lives with me, so we know each other extremely well.

On the other hand my BF sees his DD once a week, from Saturday lunchtime until Sunday dinner time. Don't get me wrong here, they obviously love each other a lot but they haven't got that easy relationship that comes when you live with each other all of the time IYSWIM.

I think that he is trying to make coming to his house like one constant party for his DD. He won't allow her to have even one second of being bored, which I don't agree with at all.

The long and short of it is that we are having a conversation about it tomorrow before she arrives. That conversation will determine whether we move in or not. I am sensing that we won't be for the foreseeable future.

BunchofTulips Thu 27-Jun-13 16:41:11

Have you read much of the step-parenting board here? Please do. smile

It is so great that you haven't moved in yet. Don't do it! For many, it is too late.

If you want to in the future, I would think that your BF would have to be on the same page as you and would have to show that in his behaviour before you move in. Show you massive changes in fact! The good thing is that you can stay put until you can see that you could live with him and his attitude towards DSD.

If, after your talk, he doesn't get it or does but can't change then at least you don't have to put up with it all the time. As you have said, that really would be awful and you would be so stressed, tense and unhappy.

DonutForMyself Thu 27-Jun-13 14:26:40

A friend has recommended a step-parenting course for my and my BF as we are very much like you, he indulges his DCs whereas I am quite strict. He is quick to think the worst of my DD (although he says he loves her and feels like he is close to her, "almost" like one of his own) but always gives his DDs the benefit of the doubt (if someone is lying he will presume its my DD). I am too polite to say anything negative about his DDs (even when I know for a fact they are lying) because whenever I have it has caused arguments.

There's no way I could live with him while we have such different parenting styles (if ever) so if you are planning on moving in together you need to make some sort of parenting class a pre-requisite. I have rules about not eating upstairs and no pens in bed etc because I don't want crumbs all over their rooms and ink on the bedding, but because he doesn't have any rules about anything his DDs completely ignore my rules and he doesn't back me up because he says he doesn't notice half the time.

My DCs notice how indulged his are and seem to understand that it isn't necessarily better to get everything you want the second that you want it, but it must be hard for them and they have started making comments (sometimes when he is around) so it could definitely start to cause more problems if we don't sort it out. Resentment will build up and you'll all end up getting stressed about it.

Eliza22 Thu 27-Jun-13 14:02:50

Don't more in. This has "nightmare" written all over it for you and your son.

It's so hard, I know but do not do this.

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