Expectations of step parent -what's realistic? Am I expecting too much?

(153 Posts)
StoneBear Sun 25-Aug-13 08:48:57

Hi

I have 3dcs (aged 3,5,7) from prev relationship, and now live with DP, who has 2 DCs (aged10,13). He came to live with us in our small 4 bed house. We have fallen out because he says I over indulge, and baby my dcs. He complains they are spoilt brats. After some reflection, I accept he is right, in a way. So I'm in the process of setting up better boundaries, and trying to get my DCs to be more independent. I am trying hard.

I think I parent this way partly due to guilt of leaving my ex abusive husband, having not had a supportive partner from when ds1 arrived, and trying to make up for a difficult home environment. I left and set up a great family home, have a well paid job, work long hours, and have indulged the kids. Initially they used to all creep through and sleep with me, and not fall asleep unless I was with them at bedtime, so after a hard slog, we now have a good bedtime regime, and no night time bed hopping. This has been a massive improvement.

My exH is a bit of a Disney dad now, made worse by he fact his parents and him all stay together whilst the DCs re there, so they are very indulged. The DCs are away every second weekend and half school hols. When they come back there is usually a settling in period, when they are weepy or sullen, which I feel awful about. However, it is getting better.

Anyway, my new partner moved in 7 months ago, and I'm confused about what his role should be. After reading heaps of threads I feel I have had unrealistic expectations, and I see that I have been too soft with kids.

I get up with them every morning for breakfast, which can be early, whilst DP stays in bed, having set an alarm for nearer 8 on a weekday, always lies in at the weekend. I feel resentful of this. I do all the getting up to see to the kids at night, but they're little and understandably want their mum. He doesn't tolerate toys in the living room, as the kids have their own rooms and a playroom. If he's at home he watches his choice of TV programmes, whilst I usually put on a kids channel, if the tv is on at all.

I feel that the DCs initially resented his presence at home, but now accept it, and are affectionate towards him now, as he is with them.

He has no fixed contact arrangements, with his own DCs, we have been away on hols together, arranged and paid by me, and they have stayed when my dcs are at their dads.

I feel we need to bond more as a family, and have suggested a get together every second weekend. We went on holiday altogether in the Summer, and they seemed to enjoy each others company. Due to space it's difficult to have them all stay over at one time.

My DP and I get on fabulously when the DCs aren't around, tensions build when they are.

So my questions are, what role should my DP take with my DCs? Our relationship is on shaky ground, because of the way I am with the DCs, however I feel he is overly strict at times. What's the best way to try to resolve this? Should I be expecting him to be more of a dad? He's happy to discipline,but there's no other parenting going on, which I find difficult. He says he will try to be less strict, and interact better with the DCs, but its such hard work. I'm piggy in the middle, can you have it all?

Thanks for reading my rant!

MrsCampbellBlack Mon 26-Aug-13 14:58:21

And you do seem to keep ignoring the big where the OP said the only bit of 'parenting' her DP does is discipline. And I know that's normally the final bit that the step-parents I know have got involved in.

I'd personally be worried about a DP who found it easy to tell my children off but never to play with them or treat them with politeness/kindness.

basgetti Mon 26-Aug-13 15:00:30

I don't understand why some posters are saying that he has no obligation to help with the DCs, yet has every right to discipline them. Why should children be forced to share their home with an adult who only chooses to 'parent' over negative issues and seemingly for his own needs? I don't think that is a very healthy dynamic for young children to be forced to live with.

ChinaCupsandSaucers Mon 26-Aug-13 15:02:33

I don't see how one parent wouldn't come to feel resentful if they are run into the ground while the other does nothing.

But the other parent is doing something - the OPs DCs have regular overnight contact with their dad, so the OP gets a break then to lie in, spend with her DP or whatever she wishes to.

All families operate differently - the problem here seems to be that the OP and her DP have very different expectations.

nicknamegame Mon 26-Aug-13 15:03:16

I should probably say though that those would be the expectations I have for myself and my own children. It doesn't mean that I think it would or should be the way for every family. There can be a million reasons why people have made rules/decisions about how their family will operate and I get that. Fwiw though, I would have a problem with the cherry picking described in the OP. You don't get to wade in disciplining children who you have no interest in at any other point in the day.

ExcuseTypos Mon 26-Aug-13 15:05:29

I'm sorry but he doesn't sound very nice at all. Lots of reg flags which others have already pointed out.

He seems to bring nothing to the 'family'. You say things are great when it's just the two of you, but your dc are going to be with you for a very long time.

I'm afraid any man who told me my children were spoilt brats would be out of the door.

AmberLeaf Mon 26-Aug-13 15:05:35

There has been a lot of projection and assumption on this thread by others

Yes from various points of view, which is, as ever standard for such a forum.

some of whom have even said thst the OP has been brainwashed into believing she has been soft on her DCs, yet the OP agreed that she has!

Erm, would her agreeing not tie in with being brainwashed? confused

Nice cherrypicking of info from the OP too.

Are you familiar with patterns of behavior in abusive relationships? several posters here obviously are [not necessarily from personal experience either which blows the projection thing out] and have recognised 'red flags'

brdgrl. This is way more than a step parenting/family issue.

I think people here are being negative about an abusive man, not a step parent. If he was the childrens father I for one would say the same thing.

Alwayscheerful Mon 26-Aug-13 15:06:16

China - I think the OP says her DP's children occasionally stay over when her DCs are away, so there is little child free time.

nicknamegame Mon 26-Aug-13 15:06:33

Ah you're being pedantic there china! You know that by 'other' I meant step parent! grin

Fair enough the kids see their dad regularly - but they are so small and they are hard work at that age, are you really truly saying the step parent should offer absolutely no help whatsoever for those kids? Seriously? He shouldn't cook a meal, run a bath, get up with them occasionally, take them to school?

OptimisticPessimist Mon 26-Aug-13 15:08:31

I wonder if the difference in expectation you're seeing China is the difference between resident and non-resident step parents? I would expect a NRP with EOW contact to do the bulk of the parenting for their own DC, because they're only doing it one weekend a fortnight. I'd expect a resident step parent, especialyl with such young children involved to take a more supportive role tbh - out of care for the RP if nothing else. If my partner stayed in bed every single morning while I got three young children ready and out of the door single-handedly I'd start to feel pretty resentful - I'd expect him to care enough about me and my well being enough to not allow that situation to occur. I do think when you become a resident step parent you are agreeing to take on a much larger role than a NR SP - your income will be taken into account for tax credit assessments, tax credits will expect you to care for the children if you end up out of work and the RP works, it's a much different dynamic. I certainly would not be staying in a relationship where my children were being treated like this or my family dynamic trampled on with such disregard for mine and my children's feelings.

I do think there are huge red flags in the OPs posts, and I agree that her past experience might mean that it's less obvious to her. FourLittleDudes post was very important I think.

ChinaCupsandSaucers Mon 26-Aug-13 15:10:26

Are you familiar with patterns of behavior in abusive relationships? several posters here obviously are [not necessarily from personal experience either which blows the projection thing out] and have recognised 'red flags'

I suppose my point is that those 'red flags' could equally be the sign of an overindulgent parent - and those with experience of that are highlighting alternative interpretations.

Only the OP knows, but given that she has acknowledged herself that she indulged her DCs, I don't see that it's as black and white as some people think.

nicknamegame Mon 26-Aug-13 15:11:02

Excellent post Optimistic

brdgrl Mon 26-Aug-13 15:12:48

I don't even know if the OP is saying some of these things, honestly. She has described things which it is impossible to make a considered evaluation of without more context, frankly. That's where projection (and yes, some haste to judgement about a step-parent, I think) is coming in.

I don't know if the OP's DP is a bully and an abuser or not, but there certainly is not enough evidence in her posts to draw that conclusion.

The remark about him not parenting seemed to me to be made in the context of the OP's complaint that he wasn't getting up to care for her kids, and this is supported by her remarks about wanting him to be more help with the kids. I think it is a leap from this to 'all he does is discipline'.

I parent my DSCs - but I don't get up with them. If my DH saw that as an essential part of my parenting (thankfully he doesn't), he might complain that I wasn't parenting them, I suppose. That would ignore the other positive things that I do with and for the kids.

The OP has come back to say that she thinks there is work to be done on all parts. That's not good enough for you???

The OP is the one who knows best, but when she acknowledges that there are problems with the kids' behaviour, or that her DP might have a point, the response that she is too weak to know what she is talking about! Really? Or is there just such a desire to read into all of this and find a bad guy in the stepfather, that the OP's actual own knowledge of her life is being ignored 'for her own good'?

ChinaCupsandSaucers Mon 26-Aug-13 15:13:53

are you really truly saying the step parent should offer absolutely no help whatsoever for those kids? Seriously? He shouldn't cook a meal, run a bath, get up with them occasionally, take them to school?

I'm saying that it shouldn't be an expectation, condition of the relationship, or taken for granted.

If a stepparent chooses to support their partners parenting willingly, then that's great - and funnily enough, they are more likely to if they don't feel obliged to wink

Sparklysilversequins Mon 26-Aug-13 15:14:05

He calls her children spoiled brats.
He criticises her parenting of her children.
He sulks and is sullen when they return from being with their Dad.
He only gets involved with negative issues surrounding discipline.
He walks in and turns the tv over without asking and then shouts at the children and calls them cheeky when they ask why.

All that without even mentioning him lolling around in bed every morning while she does all the work.

These children are LITTLE! They still need a specific type of parenting. They come first, that is not "spoiling" he doesn't seem to see this which makes me wonder how much actual involvement he had with his own children during their early years.

Finally, somehow the OP managed to remove herself from a crap relationship, create a good family home, work in a good, well paying job and was bringing up thriving happy children. Fuckwit has moved in and suddenly it's all wrong, the kids are spoiled brats and OP's methods need to change to suit his lordship?

I think the facts speak for themselves.

brdgrl Mon 26-Aug-13 15:14:07

As for resident/nonresident - I have my DSCs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. I don't get up with them in the mornings if my DH is here to do it.

AmberLeaf Mon 26-Aug-13 15:14:07

China, given the bigger picture, it is more likely that this isn't a matter of 'over indulgent' parenting.

The red flags that concern me are little to do with parenting anyway and more to do with the behavior of this man towards the OP and her history which makes her vulnerable to someone like him.

AmberLeaf Mon 26-Aug-13 15:16:16

Exactly Sparklysilversequins.

OptimisticPessimist Mon 26-Aug-13 15:18:40

Finally, somehow the OP managed to remove herself from a crap relationship, create a good family home, work in a good, well paying job and was bringing up thriving happy children. Fuckwit has moved in and suddenly it's all wrong, the kids are spoiled brats and OP's methods need to change to suit his lordship?

Yes, this ^

OptimisticPessimist Mon 26-Aug-13 15:20:18

I didn't mean getting up was a pre-requisite of you are a resident step parent. Just that I would have different expectations, and that might explain the double standard China seems to think is occurring. Regardless of your personal family set up, being a resident SP and a NR Sp are two entirely different things, especially with three very young children.

ivykaty44 Mon 26-Aug-13 15:21:39

Just now, for example, DP got up, came through to the living room and switched the tv over to his programmes, and sent the kids upstairs. My eldest whispered tome on the stairs, "why did x change th channel?" And DP overhears, shouts don't be cheeky, then chastises me for not backing him up. I dunno, I see the DCs point better in this instance.

This lack of respect for other people living in the house would be a very big red flag. He is a dictator

Can you imagine what would happen if you dc came into the living room and changed the channel and told your dp to go to the kitchen?

ChinaCupsandSaucers Mon 26-Aug-13 15:23:03

amber I've only read this thread and the OP hasn't described how he treats her on here; I'm obviously missing backstory!

AnotherStitchInTime Mon 26-Aug-13 15:31:30

I think there are different ways of step-parenting and what works for one relationship doesn't for another.

Things that worry me about what you have said:

Your financial arrangements - he is living in your house, yet your finances are not clear cut. Does he work too? It think you need a set arrangement in place for bills etc...

His relationship with your kids - It is odd that the only involvement he has is discipline. I wouldn't expect him to get up with them in the mornings, but some help with meal times, bedtimes, family outings together and playing with them, yes. The tv thing is not too much of a problem IMO, they are young and should not be dictating television time. Can they not have set tv time or even a tv in the playroom to get around this issue?

No one here knows the truth about your kids behaviour or the reasons for his contact arrangements for his kids so I don't necessarily see his suggestions for improving bedtime and night times or amount he sees his kids as an issue unless you feel there is one.

AmberLeaf Mon 26-Aug-13 15:33:39

amber I've only read this thread and the OP hasn't described how he treats her on here; I'm obviously missing backstory!

China this is the first post I remember seeing from this poster.

The backstory is in her posts.

ivykaty44 Mon 26-Aug-13 15:37:57

I feel sad that he feels at times like a lodger in the house.

Thing is he doesn't behave in any way like a lodger, his behaviour described on this thread is on e of an alpha male who believes he is entitled to be put above anyone else int he household and doesn't pull his weight or give and take.

he gives money towards bill - I wonder is this offered or do you tell him how much he needs to give?

he lords it up over you telling you where you are going wrong running your household

He allows you to take him and his dc on holiday.

He either needs to integrate with the family and not think his way is the way it should be and what he says goes, which is how it is in his mind.

ChinaCupsandSaucers Mon 26-Aug-13 15:40:42

I'm obviously reading a different thread!

The OP has said that her DP is affectionate towards the DCs, theres no mention of abuse (towards her or her DCs) and she's admitted that she is indulgent because of their past.
I've not seen any suggestion of a backstory that leads me to suspect she's a victim....???

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