New to MN please be kind.. Just need to voice a concern

(8 Posts)
Justonedayatatime Sat 14-Sep-13 15:41:56

This is my first post on MN so if I make some awful faux pas please forgive me.
I would just like to get something off my chest as in rl none of my friends are in same situation and though they offer empathy they don't really understand.
My Dp has a ds16 and a dd12. Dp and I have been together for a year and a half but are living together now. I appreciate how lucky I am after reading some of the other threads as I have been excepted by dsc from day one I wouldn't say we are close but they are very polite and it is still early days.
I find myself comparing my own upbringing all the time to that of my dsc. My parents always encouraged hobbies and after school activities, encouraged us in the evenings to talk to them and took us to museums, art galleries etc. btw my parents are by no means perfect awful divorce when I was a teen when both behaved v badly.
My Dps children do nothing. I have questioned my Dp about this as I have to admit I was slightly horrified. My Dp and his Exw were not short of money or time etc to encourage these things. They just don't seem to have thought it important. My Dps Exw doesn't see it as important to encourage dsd's school work ( dss is very self motivated and studious, dsd just normal kid needs to be told to finish homework etc) as "pretty girls always get on in life" an attitude I find completely baffling and prehistoric. My Dp does not agree with this but has never really voiced disagreement.
I think this fundamental attitude worries me with regards to any potential future dc of our own and I feel sad for dsc they are both bright intelligent kids.
Before I had been introduced to dsc I encouraged Dp to take dsd to an art gallery instead of just shopping. They went to see the Damien hirst exhib last summer which she still talks about . Telling her dad that she was able to talk about it in art class and feeling v proud. This is just an example but I feel like I have to push for this kind of thing, always me suggesting it.
My Dp has also complained in past about how he thinks the kids are too materialistic but how else can he expect them to be?
Have other people had this sort of experience? Feeling that your Dps relationship with kids reveals things or behaviour you weren't aware of and wouldn't necessarily be under normal circumstances until you had children of your own.

peppersquint Sat 14-Sep-13 15:58:15

Justonedayatatime - no you're not alone in this, but don't worry if/when you have your own DC with DP then you will be in the driving seat more. It is natural to compare your DSC's upbringing to your own and absoultely fine to suggest alternatives or do other things with them. Don't be afraid of taking the initiative and suggesting hobbies, outings or whatever that you can do as a family or even with just you. I think that we all never stop learning how to parent or how to do something different, we can all get stuck in a rut and you may be the breath of fresh air needed to inspire new hobbies or interests. Your DP may just have spent so much time in "conflict with his children's mother that these things got pushed to the back. I have four DSC (now all in their 30s) but when I met DH they were early to late teens - we did new things together and found new interests and I enjoyed learning new things from them too. When our DD (now 16) was born I felt that I could bring more of my upbringing and interests into things and DP grew as a parent because of that - for all of his DCs.

Justonedayatatime Sat 14-Sep-13 16:35:18

Peppersquint- Thank you for your reply. What you say about Dps marriage I think is true and both him and his Exw come from families where they were not encouraged either so it is understandable. Dp was v sporty captain of football team etc but his parents never came to watch him and everything he did at school was off his own back. I just would have thought that sort of experience would have encouraged him to be different with his own kids.
I suppose it just comes as surprise when things you think are just obvious parts of family life don't occur to other people. My Dp is 10 years older than me and I guess as a childless 28 year old I didn't expect to be the one giving him parenting advice. Also just to be clear both dsc have had a very comfortable loving upbringing in all other aspects. I'm not trying to imply they have been horribly deprived.
It's very strange being in two teens lives especially as like most people I can clearly remember how I felt at that age.

peppersquint Sat 14-Sep-13 16:49:04

Justonedayatatime - I know you're not being negative about your DP or his ex's parenting - sometimes making comments can make you feel critical - I was like that. I was 28 when I had my DD (25 when I met him) and DH is 20 years older than me - I never felt awkward giving parenting advice (before DD was born and after) - but then I'm a mouthy cow ;) Enjoy your time with DSC - and take it from me - if you stay involved in all their lives your DCs (if/when you have them) will benefit from having older siblings and a DP who will see everything fresh and new through your eyes (not to the detriment of his older children but to the benefit of all)

Justonedayatatime Sat 14-Sep-13 20:48:46

Peppersquint- My Dp has never taken anything I have said so far as negative criticism if anything I have been able to make him feel more secure in his own decision making regarding dsc. His self confidence having been very low before. However there have been some worries about the dsc getting bored if we do something outside the realm of cinema/ theme park/ shopping. Which wouldn't really have occurred to me as my parents took us to things they wanted to see/do perhaps not expecting us to be super excited but that we would appreciate it in the long run. I think this seen as a little old fashioned maybe.
Obviously these are not everyday events Dp tries quite hard to avoid the whole Disney dad thing. Although he is only human and wants them to have a nice time when they are with us.

brdgrl Sat 14-Sep-13 21:15:57

No, you are definitely not alone.

I met my now DH when the DSC were similar age to yours, and we have a DD now. There are things I find really hard to understand about the choices DH and his first wife made with regard to the kids, and it did worry me that I'd be continually struggling to raise our own DD more in line with my own values and ideas.

DH did not have strong views, though - I mean that - according to him - it was not so much conscious parenting choices on his part with the DSCs so much as a lack of foresight or a sort of inertia. One of the kids was quite strong-willed even as a child, and it seems they just sort of gave in to it and gave her whatever they had to to keep her 'happy'. We don't have a clash of 'parenting philosophies' IYSWIM, because he says that he never had a 'parenting philosophy', just did whatever got them through the moment!

He was very open to doing things differently, and has been happy for me to take the lead with DD. Because of the large age gap - and I hope you will find this too - it is actually not that difficult to do things very differently. We can have different rules and expectations of DD, and do different sorts of activities, because of that age gap. Sometimes DSD gives me grief by talking about how things were so much better for her...An example - she was allowed to draw on the walls and furniture because in her words 'mum and dad thought it was important for me to express my creativity"; in DH's version, he hated that but didn't seem able to stop it and mum didn't mind it) - the not so hidden message is that I am stomping out DD's creative spirit, but I can laugh at that and carry on! The DSC had a lot more material things and expensive experiences/activities than I either can or wish to provide for DD, but again, the age gap means I can pretty much laugh it off. And I think it is good for the DSC to see us/their dad doing things in a different way and seeing that it works.

One thing that we did with the older kids was to sort of 'take turns'...you could choose an activity one time, and let each of them choose on their turn. That way no one feels criticised so much as they feel they can share something they enjoy.

exoticfruits Sat 14-Sep-13 21:16:34

I think it is quite common. I once went out with a divorced man with an 11yr old DD and found it very difficult because there was too much emphasis on spending money. I just built up my own relationship and did a lot of craft type things. You can do a lot without implying criticism.

purpleroses Sun 15-Sep-13 10:39:08

I think you're unlikely to change the way he parents them much, but if they're up for it, then you can bring a whole load of new things into their lives.

I've introduced my DCs to camping, taken one to art exhibitions, got her involved in a local theatre production and various other stuff. If there's stuff you'd do anyway, then it's lovely just to ask if they want to come along. If they seem a bit reticent, you can always tie something in to a shopping trip or cake in a café.

One hard thing about single parenting, which your DP and his ex may both have experienced, is that it's hard to do anything just with one child. That's one nice thing about step-parenting is that there's no responsibility to always be looking after more than one - so you can do something that just one of them enjoys.

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