Help re step parenting

(14 Posts)
sweetpea13 Thu 08-Aug-13 11:19:19

I've not really got any advice but I just wanted to say that I understand.

My DP has been in DS's life since he was a baby and in many ways he is like his Dad and DS really looks up to him, he usually calls him by his first name but will usually refer to him as his Dad's eg "that's my Dad". DS sees his real dad every weekend but he doesn't really play a proper father role to him.
I'm really happy that DS has such a good father figure in his life and has a nice, secure family set up but on the other hand it makes me sad that sometimes DS is treated differently to his sister and step siblings (mine and DP's daughter and DP's 2 children from past relationship). DS's behaviour can often be difficult and I do think it's because he wants DP's attention, but I do think that DP is a fantastic stepdad so I just don't know what the answer is. I just try and see it as a positive that he has such a good stepdad, things aren't perfect but is there such a thing? I know that DS has a better and happier life with me and DP than he would do if me and his biological Dad were together or if I was on my own.

needaholidaynow Thu 08-Aug-13 10:22:26

Gosh I didn't see that bit! Very well put!

Xalla Thu 08-Aug-13 06:45:51

When my baby arrives it'll have two parents, just like DSD has two parents, not 1.5 parents while DSD gets 2.5

That's a great way to put it - exactly the conclusion I came to!

EMS23 Wed 07-Aug-13 21:33:48

Oh I can sympathise! I adore my DSS. We have 2 DD's and although I have a different feeling toward them in that they are mine, I love all 3 fiercely and care for DSS as if he is mine..
BUT
In the brutally honest way that kids do, he himself said just last week 'but I love my mum and dad more than I love you'. I wasn't upset, I wouldn't expect anything else but my DH was furious and tried to tell him off.

Kaluki Wed 07-Aug-13 21:03:17

Ime I don't think many step Children really want their stepmom to have a motherly role. That tends to come from the father - usually to make their own lives easier or to annoy the ex wife! grin

needaholidaynow Wed 07-Aug-13 18:41:58

* In a way I would find it much easier if DSD's mum wasn't around so much. Then my role would be much more defined.*

This ^^

I think this really does explain a big reason why I find step parenting so bloody hard work. My role isn't defined. If my DSD was here full time and I didn't feel like I have to play a "mother role" a few days a week, then I think I would take to my position in her life much better.

But in reality, to my DSD her mum is amazing and sacred. Whatever role I play in her life it won't even come close to that one she has with her mum, and why would it? So I don't want to play a mother role to her, as it would be wasting my time and also detracting the specialness of the relationship I have with my own children. I am their mum and always will be, but I won't ever be DSD's mum.

If she was here full time, then maybe I would see myself as a mother figure to her, but because this is not the case I have no desire to think of myself that way. Merely a friend who cooks her tea 3 or 4 times a week. I can't call it anything more than that I'm afraid.

RinseAndRepeat Wed 07-Aug-13 18:04:36

"just because he is, in your eyes, a better dad than your DS father, doesn't mean you can try and compensate for that by asking your DP to step in"

This is very insightful. DP does this to me - tries to create a parental relationship between me and DSD because her own mum lets her down quite a lot. It's not fair and makes me feel very uncomfortable.

I can only echo what all the other posters have said. Being a SP is bloody hard. And even more so when the other parent is still very much in the picture. In a way I would find it much easier if DSD's mum wasn't around so much. Then my role would be much more defined.

As it is, she already has two very present parents. She doesn't need a third. All I can do is be kind to her, care for her, make sure she's safe, etc.

I'm pregnant with my first child at the moment and I already know I will love it 1000 times more than I could ever love my DSD. I think my DP really struggles to understand that. But I'm not going to feel bad for saying that because it's only natural. And if DP were in my position, he'd feel the same.

When my baby arrives it'll have two parents, just like DSD has two parents, not 1.5 parents while DSD gets 2.5.

I think you should cut your DP some slack too.

Fooso Wed 07-Aug-13 13:53:38

I've been in a very similar place - the best bit of advice i've had is "their relationship might not look how you would envisage but it's working for them".... I say this to myself and it helps stop setting unrealistic expectations for my DP and my DS, who like your son, has his own dad and seems happy just to jog along in their own little way

Bonsoir Tue 06-Aug-13 10:18:05

Don't expect your DH to treat his DSS as if he were his child.

Kaluki Tue 06-Aug-13 10:13:48

I partly agree that you are pushing too hard for something that isn't there. I don't love my dsc in the way I love my own, I never could. I don't think of them as my dc or my responsibility. That said, I care for them and they are part of the family. You can't force your DP to love your son like his own but he should still treat him the same as your dds.
I have had problems with the way my DP treated my kids in that when his weren't there he all but ignored them yet he still told them off and expected them to do what he said. I have had to tell him that until he spends time getting to know them and being nice to them then he doesn't have the right to discipline them. Its better now, especially as they are getting older, but he is a lot like your DP in that he doesn't want to be their Dad (quite right) but struggles to know how to be a stepdad. I suggested he treat them as he would a nephew or younger brother which seemed to help.

ChinaCupsandSaucers Tue 06-Aug-13 07:42:15

I feel that he has almost given up. Its as if he thinks 'well I'm not his dad so I'm not going to try and be'

And why should he?

Sound like he's a great stepdad, supportive but leaving the parenting to the DCs parents - just because he is, in your eyes, a better dad than your DS father, doesn't mean you can try and compensate for that by asking your DP to step in.

I suggest that you allow them to develop their own relationship in their own time and don't push either of them into something they're not ready for.

Xalla Tue 06-Aug-13 06:21:41

I think he's doing a pretty good job by the sounds of things too actually Arsescratcher.

Like Needaholiday, I came into step-parenting without children of my own. In the early days I had a great bond with DSD and did loads with her on my own - she wasn't at school at the time and DH was working so we had lots of time together. Fast forward 6 years and I'm pg with mine and DH's third child. I rarely do much with DSD on her own these days. I can think of once in the last few months when I took her and a school friend out for the day because she had an Inset Day when my own kids didn't and DH was working. It's mostly a time issue; she's with us 50% of the time and my DH works over 50 hours a week so I tend to have my hands my full. I do her school runs, take her to her activities etc but when DH gets home, I expect him to do her homework with her, get her ready for bed etc while I deal with our younger children. When I do have free time, I want to spend it with my own kids. I'm more than happy to take my own kids off at the weekend so DH can spend time alone with DSD though.

My bond with DSD isn't something I think of as paramount anymore; she has two parents and doesn't need a third. Mostly I think she accepts it. The person I have difficulty convincing is my DH who often comes out with lines like "but she is our child" when I'm telling him I feel it's inappropriate for me to do something like attend her open days at school on my own and that he / her mother should be going. I hope she sees me as a caring and dependable presence in her life but (and this sounds harsh) I don't actually want her to see me as anymore than that. I hope we can be friends when she's older but things are very difficult between her mother and my DH and in all honesty, I have no idea how things will turn out with my DSD and I think that's another reason I tend to hold back emotionally.

I think if your DS is seeing his Dad regularly, there is far less of a reason for your DP to take on much more of a fatherly role than he already is to be honest. As a step-parent, I think you can feel pulled in all sorts of directions and certainly for me, I hit a point where for my own sanity and for the sake of my own babies, I needed to prioritise. There are only so many hours in the day! Kids are little for such a short period of time and I didn't want to feel in 10 years time that I'd missed out on their babyhood because I was running around after a child that had two perfectly capable parents of her own.

needaholidaynow Tue 06-Aug-13 02:10:14

Aaah I think you need to cut him some slack to be honest. It isn't easy being a step parent, and as soon as people start to disagree on what exactly their role is (whether a parental or a friend figure), then that's when the problems start.

Many step parents don't have children of their own at first. They get on amazingly with their stepchildren, form a fantastic bond, and then they have a child of their own with their partner. This is when they realise just how much stronger their connection with their own child is, there's really nothing quite like it. It's just a natural parental instinct. My love for my DSs is not something that I could ever feel for DSD, but I still care about her. Which I think is the same for your DP with your DS.

I've said the exact same thing that your DP said to you with the added "You wouldn't last 5 minutes as a Step parent". Because I do believe that to be true.

I am sure your DS does feel secure and loved by you all. Your DP has been in his life for 7 years now and I am pretty sure he doesn't feel rejected by your DP. Don't try and force him to be a father figure, or to tell hm to see your DS as his own. This could cause resentment and cause your DP to detach if he's being told how to act or feel.

You know what, regarding taking him out once a week and stuff, I have not done anything like that with my DSD for a long time. I think it's because I feel that if I spend quality time with just her then I am pushing my own children aside for another child that already has a mum to do these things with and they will wonder why their mum is pushing them aside. Do you think that's what your DP could be feeling like?

Arsescratcher Tue 06-Aug-13 00:30:12

I've created a new account as I don't want to be identifiable.

This may be long, please bear with me.

Background:

I met my partner when my son was 2 years old. I was married to Sons dad, wasn't a happy relationship. I was young, thought it was the right thing marrying him as I'd got pregnant very quickly into the relationship. In all honesty I never loved him. I think this had an effect on my son looking back as he was quite clingy, and by the time he was 18mo the relationship had broken down and we were alone and happy.

Fast forward 6m and I met current partner. Things moved quickly and although I was cautious due to previous relationship Right from the beginning he was pretty much spot on, very hands on with J, and treated him like his own. Never had any issues. J saw his dad mrs weekends, which was great but his dad has always spoilt him materialistically and it would show on a Sunday night when he returned.

After 2 years we had a child of our own, and things were good. Partner has always been a good dad, yet as our daughter got a bit older I could see he treated her differently. Nothing big, subtle things. He always argued that from a strangers POV they wouldn't notice and that I was being uber sensitive, which maybe I was. He is extremely close with our daughter, to the point that even sometimes I used to get get narked with it as he totally lavished her with attention and I'd feel like a spare part some weekends when J wasn't home.

Over the years I feel that the relationship between J and his step dad has worsened. Nothing huge, which probably may look like I'm nit picking and he hasn't ever done any thing bad I suppose its what he ISNT doing I have issue with. We've been together 9 years now by the way.

He still sees his dad most weekends.

For example - I can't remember when he last took J to the park to have a kick about.

J loves fishing and pops out after school most nights to fish in the village, he's asked partner to go along a few times and he's said no most times. Sometimes with good reason if he's got stuff on, but sometimes he appears like he can't be bothered.

I feel that he has almost given up. Its as if he thinks 'well I'm not his dad so I'm not going to try and be'

I have taken this up with him again tonight, he feels I'm attacking him and I'm not. I want a fair and realistic solution.

He argues that it is harder for him as he sees his dad 2-3 days a week and doesn't have the time during the week for quality time. This is true, but there are ways. He argues his dad has and always will spoil him with material items, and he can't and won't compete. Again, he's right he is spoilt by his dad and sometimes his attitude when he comes home stinks, and I have to be firm with him. His dad will never change this so I won't waste my efforts talking t him about it.

He said if his dad had never been around he could've been the parent and felt like he truly was his dad, but that hasn't happened, and actually this isn't a bad thing. I am glad my sons real dad is about in many ways as some children don't get that. We all get along, his dad pays his way, and has on the whole been reliable over the last 9 1/2 years. I see its not left a avenue for OH to step into dad shoes and it only be him but he doesn't see he can STILL have a relationship with him, albeit a different one.

He also throws at me that I have no idea what being a step parent is like so can't expect everything hmm I argue he has no idea how it is to be me, or the 11year old who may just be picking up on these things.

We've also had another child recently and he's great with her too, I can't fault him as a dad to the girls at all I just feel he is lacking with his stepson, and it really hurts me, and although it may not show yet it will have an effect on him at some point. I want him to grow up feeling loved by us all, not to tell me I fucked up. I find it hard also that he appeared better early on in our relationship with J than what he is now. I don't know why.

I've felt that he could actually have a great relationship with J as although J loves his real dad its plainly obvious he isn't secure with him. He hates the fact his dad smokes and when he calls him mid week he's in the pub every night. He's always said he's glad we don't drink and smoke. He asked me this year if he condo take J out of school for a week to go abroad, J asked me to lie for him and say school said no as he didn't want to go away with his dad as he didn't feel safe sad but did with us. So whilst he loves his dad, he's happy and secure here. I've explained to OH that taking him out once a week and going fishing / play football for a bit would do him the world of good. I hate that I have to suggest these things. He should want to.

I may have painted him to be a bad person which of course he isn't because I wouldn't be here if he was, I'm just at a loss as how I can help improve things. OH is very much a 'black and white' person. He's the type of person who thinks well this is the way it is so deal with it and whilst that way of mind may work with some things, like his job I've had to tell him in the past that it doesn't work thinking that way in relationships and with children. He feels because J hasn't come out and said he's upset or wants to do extra stuff with him its ok. Again, thinking black and white. If it ain't broke don't fix it mentality.

I've said tonight that whilst I see his point in that I can never understand how it must feel t be a step parent I also can't sit by and ignore how I feel about this as it has started to make me feel a bit resentful over things with us a couple. I'm getting sensitive if he tells J off now comparing it to how he tells the others off and I don't want that. I know that if this isn't nipped in the bud now it will fester.

So please help! Advice majorly appreciated. Ill probably show him this.

Ps - be honest, but nice wink

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now