Feel so guilty, but I'm finding some of this really hard

(18 Posts)
LollyPop87 Sat 02-Nov-13 09:28:35

Hi all. I'm new to this part of the forum, but I'm very glad I found it.

I'm going to sound like an awful person. I have been with my dp for two years. I love him so much and we have an amazing relationship, I've never been so happy.

Dp has a ds, who's now 6, from a previous relationship. Ds lives in a different city which unfortunately means that dp can only go to see him every other weekend, and has him up here during most of the school holidays. Dp finds this very hard as he misses his son desperately when he's not here. I think he is an amazing dad and really respect what he does. I try my best to support him and can't imagine how it must feel.

Me and dp have lived together for under a year. Before we lived together I spent lots of time with his ds and loved it, I love children.

When we moved in together the time I spent with his ds increased, but I was finding it ok. I think he is a lovely boy and really enjoy spending time with him, and love taking him on days out and things like that.

However, this is where I am going to sound awful. It's been his half term this week and he's been up this way. It's been the first time that I have been in work AND had him here too. Normally my holiday's are the same as his (I am a teachet so have half term etc off, but my half term was a week earlier this time).

I've found it hard. I've been coming home exhausted from work and haven't had the energy to interact with him at all. He's a lovely boy but can be very very loud. He will come right up into my face and talk loudly. He will sometimes scream for no reason. If he was my ds, I would ask for some quiet time at some times, but I can't because he is not. Sometimes by dp will ask him to be quiet after a while, but not always.

This isn't really making any sense. Basically, I am really really struggling with the sudden change in routine, in my role, in everything when he is here. Everything is just so loud and constant and I don't get a moment to myself once I'm home from work. I want children myself one day but I am not ready for my own children yet.

I feel so awful posting this. I love my dp, and and I am very close to his ds too. I want to be able to shift my focus when he is up so that I can cope better. I just don't know how to. What can I do to make myself enjoy it all a bit more? I don't want my dp's ds, or my dp to pick up on how I'm feeling.

I think I also find it hard that I know I would be a lot stricter if he was my ds than my dp is. He does let him get away with quite a lot (he has admitted that because he doesn't see him as much as he would like to he just wants to enjoy their time together, and therefore finds it difficult to discipline him). He will often throw tantrums if he doesn't want to do something and will cry and cry, until he gets his own way and then suddenly stops! I feel like this needs addressing but as he's not my ds I can't!

Sorry for the long post. And I'm sorry if I sound mean or horrible sad I promise I'm not really, I just want some advice as to how I can be better at this.

Thank you for reading smile

MatryoshkaDoll Sat 02-Nov-13 11:35:24

IME this is just what being a step parent is like.

My relationship with DSD changed quite a lot when I moved in with DP. Before we lived together we'd have cosy Disney weekends and days out. It was all wonderful and we were like a smug, cheesy advert. But that was because it was all a bit artificial, because I always knew I still had my own flat with all my own stuff in it and I could have things exactly how I wanted there.

Once DP and I started living together I lost all sense of that sanctuary and control. DSD is with us 50% of the time and I found it hard (still do) to get home from a day's slog in the office and then have to deal with chaos and screaming and no privacy and not being able to watch what I want on TV until after she's gone to bed.

I know every parent in the world will tell you that that's part and parcel of having kids. But when they're not your own, you don't have that unconditional love to fall back on which means you don't mind. And in truth, it can be an irritation sometimes.

You're parachuted into the daily grind of parenthood without having gone through any of the joy of conception, the excitement and anxiety of pregnancy, the wonder of birth, the nurturing through the tiny baby years... All the stuff that unconditionally bonds you to a child.

I think what you feel is perfectly natural and you shouldn't feel like a bad person for it. But you do need to realise that this is what it's like. Given a bit more time you might get better at managing your feelings, but as to whether those feelings will ever go away...? In that respect I don't have much advice to give you because I'm still looking for the answer myself!

Your DP needs to watch the Disney parenting though. My DP is very strict on pulling DSD up on bad behaviour. We've also been together long enough that I can discipline DSD too. And that really helps. Because I know I'm not going to have to suffer a load of nonsense that's out of my power to control.

Yes, you've volunteered to be in this position. But if you're going to be a family, everyone in that family has a duty to everyone else to make sure they feel equal and valued and heard.

'Knowing what you're signing up for' (hate that expression!) doesn't mean you have to suck up inconsiderate behaviour or that your needs automatically have to come last every time.

needaholidaynow Sat 02-Nov-13 13:13:32

Can I just offer you one bit of advice OP? Being a step parent doesn't mean that you're "not allowed" tell your partner's child not to do something, or disciplining them. You are one of the two adults in the household, and you should be respected in your own home. If your DP, his son, his ex doesn't like this then they need to realise that you won't be taken for a ride in your own home.

It makes me sad to hear that some stepmums feel like that must keep their voices and feelings shut, or lock themselves away when the stepchild arrives. That's not what familys do sad

Stand your ground OP!

LollyPop87 Sat 02-Nov-13 14:22:48

Thank you both so much for your replies. MatryoshkaDoll - I actually felt a bit teary reading your reply. This is exactly how I feel. I was literally only saying this sentence - 'you don't have the unconditional love to fall back on which means you don't mind' to my sister when we were chatting about it on Wednesday! That is exactly it. And it can be an irritation sometimes. It really can. And you don't have that unconditional love to fall back on to stop it being an irritation.

And yes, you are totally just parachuted into it all. This is exactly how I feel. No build up, no excitement, just a ready made child that might behave quite differently to how you would expect a child of your own to feel.

I can't tell you how amazing it is to hear that I'm not the only one that feels like this. I find as well, because I'm not a parent, and I don't have this automatic unconditional love, I have to try extra hard to make up for it. And that it would be even worse for me to feel any irritation or find it hard, because he's not my child. I'm not sure if that makes sense!

Needaholidaynow - I think you're right. I do worry so much, because I am probably a lot stricter than my dp. (I think its the teacher in me too!). Some of the things are very small things, like saying please and thank you, and some of them are bigger things, like screaming and tantrums. I do sometimes feel like I haven't got a say in things in my own home when he is here, and that is very hard. Maybe I should speak to my dp about it. I just worry he'll see it as me disliking his ds, which is far from the case, I like him very much!

Is it awful that I can't quite honestly say I love his ds? I like him very much, and care about him alot, but love is a very strong emotion and I don't think that's how I feel. Do I need to feel this way? Will I feel this way over time?
I feel awful admitting that.

LollyPop87 Sat 02-Nov-13 14:26:00

Just to add, I care about him deeply and would do anything to keep him from harm. I also really enjoy spending time with him and I'm proud of his acheivements. I certainly don't feel the opposite of love towards him. So maybe I do love him in my own way. It's just I've never been in this situation before and I'm not sure how I'm supposed to feel.

MatryoshkaDoll Sat 02-Nov-13 14:49:57

No, you don't have to love him. You can't force yourself to love someone anyway. You either will or you won't.

What you can control is whether you're kind and fair and respectful to him. Which I'm sure you are already.

And that's all anyone can reasonably ask from a step parent, I think.

MatryoshkaDoll Sat 02-Nov-13 14:50:42

God, DO NOT start making yourself feel guilty for not loving him. Really. That way misery lies.

needaholidaynow Sat 02-Nov-13 18:16:17

I echo the others that you can't force yourself to love your partners child the way that his parents love him! It would be very wrong if anyone put that pressure on to you. You can't pull that love out of nowhere.

Kaluki Sat 02-Nov-13 22:43:58

You are being too hard on yourself.
You don't have to love him - I don't love my DSC.
You have the right to relax after being at work all day and to tell DSS off if He is being too loud/naughty whatever.
Talk to your DH and set some boundaries - it doesn't mean you don't lime him, just that you need some space sometimes

MatryoshkaDoll Sat 02-Nov-13 23:06:06

If you think about it; excluding your relatives, how many people do you meet during your lifetime that you end up truly loving? 10, maybe? 20 if you're lucky?

And those are people that you actively choose to have in your life.

What are the odds that your partner's children - whom you don't get a choice over - will end up being among those rare 20?

Another poster wrote on a different thread on here that when a step parent meets a step child, you're essentially bringing together two individuals with their own unique personalities and expecting those personalities to not only be compatible, but to be capable of loving each other (with the obvious concessions made for adult/child age gap, obviously).

Needaholiday is right. You can't pull 'love' from nowhere. Expecting yourself to be able to is setting yourself up for failure.

NerdyBird Sun 03-Nov-13 21:22:30

Hi lollypop

Don't feel bad for finding it hard. Step-parenting IS hard. I have been with my dp for two years. He has two DD and full time residency. I moved in three months ago and it's taking time to adjust. I do some parenting and discipline too if necessary. Happily my dp is mostly supportive, although sometimes he does things differently to how I would. I do love my DSDs but I would say it's in a different way to how their dad does, or to how I would love my own child. They say they love me back, but I expect it's in a different way than their parents. Do try and speak to your dp, it will probably help. Don't criticise his DS (i'm sure you wouldn't) but do tell him how you feel.

Good luck

YesterdayI Sun 03-Nov-13 21:53:13

I would quietly start to get a bit more involved in disciplining your DSS. If you don't it will drive you nuts and it isn't doing your DSS any favours. As a teacher I bet you know how to go about it, consistency is the name of the game.

Don't worry about whether or not you love your DSS. It is wonderful that you are fond of him grin

LollyPop87 Sat 16-Nov-13 17:01:38

I am really sorry for not replying until now - I could not find this thread anywhere, and being fairly new I wasn't sure what to do. Very sorry!

I just wanted to say a massive thank you to everyone who has replied. It is such a massive relief to hear that the way I feel is not wrong. I always felt that I had to love him in the same way as I will one day love my own child, but this thread has made me realise that its ok if that doesn't happen.

I would obviously do my best to treat him the same, and like I say I do care about him alot.

It is very hard though. When I posted that I didn't actually love him, I was expecting to be told that I was awful. It was the first time I'd really admitted it to myself. So it is amazing to know that its ok.

It makes sense really. The love people have for their children must be the strongest in the world, it is not something that I can just make myself feel. I'm so relieved that I can start excepting that.

Thank you all so much. I think I'm gonna spend quite a lot of time on this forum. It is just amazing to be able to speak to people who are going through similar things and to be able to be honest without worrying about being judged.

I think maybe I do need to play a part in the discipline too. The thing is, I don't have any children myself, so I'm not always sure if I'm being too strict. When I'm in work, the rules are very clear, so I know when i need to respond. Im not sure where the boundaries should be with DSS. I think I would also be a stricter parent than my dp. He is an amazing dad btw, I'm not saying I'd necessarily be right.

Thank you all again for your replies and advice smile

LollyPop87 Sat 16-Nov-13 17:03:19

Accepting*. Its been a long week!

Labro Sat 16-Nov-13 18:52:36

Hi there,

I'd say that you have done brilliantly to acknowledge the way you feel.

I'm not a step mum, but the mum of a ds who has had a step mum since around the age of 5/6.

I would say the worst decisions my ex and his wife made were telling their respective children (not through anything I or her daughters father said) that they each only told their own children off whilst continually thrusting 'we are a family' down the childrens throats.

Just as the love you feel for dss isn't that of a mother for a child, the childs love for you isn't the love of a child to its parents.
Its a relationship which should be celebrated for its difference.

As a teacher, when you have new children each year, you relate to them, you set boundaries for them, you may even love different things about them and feel proud of their achievements etc and in return receive acknowledgement that you have played a significant role in their daily lives and development. You wouldn't allow a 6 yr old in school to throw tantrums and shout in your face, so between you and dp you need to transfer the same sense of respect for you and your space and belongings to your dss.
Its not about being dss parent but teaching him respect for others, which hopefully dp will support you with.

BigPigLittlePig Sat 16-Nov-13 19:34:40

You are not alone. I could have written the OP myself. The behaviour does need addressing if it is bothering you, as trust me, it will only get worse. Set the house rules and ensure that all parties abide by them, and establish with your dp how to enforce them.

It is not easy, and having a 12 month dd who doesn't sleep, and working 50+ hrs per week has left me feeling slightly distant from dsd - not her fault but unconditional love is indeed a wonderful thing that you cannot fake.

Good luck with it all xx

riverboat Sat 16-Nov-13 20:51:57

Lollypop, just wanted to add my voice to those of sympathy. My DSS is such a good boy in so many ways, but there is no getting round the fact that he is a child who is annoying at times and who is not the product of my own ideas and values. I think so many of the difficulties of stepoarenting come from not having unconditional love to fall back on. It must be harder if there is Disney parenting going on, but I assure you even without that it is still hard!

I had such a lovely day today, a day on my own to do what I wanted in the house for the first time in months. Within an hour of DSS arriving this evening, I was hearing 'I don't like it, I cant eat it' regarding the dinner I'd made specifically for him really hoping he'd like it, I was stuck watching some kids film I had no interest in, and I just felt all the contendedness of my day draining away...not good, and it's not DSS's fault or DP's or mine, it's just so hard adjusting from 'child free' to 'child centered' eow!

LollyPop87 Thu 21-Nov-13 18:54:54

Thank you so much everyone smile I can't even begin to explain how hearing about other people's experiences is helping.

Riverboat - I can relate to that experience so much. I actually read that last paragraph a few times because it rings so true with how I've felt so many times.

I was just wondering, does anyone have any advice as to how I could talk about this with my dp? He's quite sensitive and I don't want him to take it the wrong way and feel upset. I just really want to talk about how I feel before dss comes up during the Christmas holidays. I feel bad admitting it, but I actually feel quite apprehensive about it. It's just so hard.

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