Am I right?

(45 Posts)
littlegreenlight1 Sun 27-Apr-14 20:06:10

So my children got back from their dad's tonight and turns out that his wife made both my sons cry this weekend!!! They are 8 and 14, not emotional wrecks, very happy boys so this is not normal for them and very upsetting. This is not the first time its happened but they poured it all out tonight about how horrible she is.
It sounds like an unhappy home, silence at the dinner table, my sons cant bear being alone with her - she is not evil but a very miserable person from what I can make out. She does nothing to interact with my children, she will take them to a park if shes taking her son etc. They have 2 very young babies, I understand she is stressed but she sounds like a horrible woman. Theyve been together years, probably married around 4 so I am used to tales of how awful shes been but tonight has taken the biscuit....
My little one struggles to say "th" and words beginning with "R".... she is always telling him off for it (!!!!!!!!!) and yesterday (their dad was at work) made him sit down with a dictionary and read all the "th" words "properly"!!!!
Isnt that just a little bit fked up? The child has a speech impediment!!!! Its like the stories my mum tells of the nuns forcing her to write with her right hand, omg, I cant believe she did it, Im gobsmacked.

So Ive said to my ex that the boys will not be alone with her anymore. I know shes not dangerous, but that kind of attitude to children is upsetting and they dont need to be around such negativity. It means that he will have to get his parents to have the boys every other saturday, or I will have them back but I am not putting up with it any more!

So would you do the same? I am a step mum myself and it IS hard and I have had days where his kids drive me bonkers but I make massive efforts to ensure we have a close and good relationship and I would never ever ever ever speak to them like this!!! I expect them to follow the same rules as my children and that is all!

Oh and my ex wont answer the phone to me so I had to tell him what she'd done by text. He hasnt (and probably wont) reply but Ill let you know if he does!

Malificentmaud Sun 27-Apr-14 20:13:30

Hmm tough one. I'm sorry i don't have the answer but didn't want to read and run. thanks

RandomMess Sun 27-Apr-14 20:16:35

Presumably at 14 your eldest has an opinion on whether he wants to carry on going or not? What does he say about it?

littlegreenlight1 Sun 27-Apr-14 20:18:32

He wants to see his dad but not be alone with her! Theyre fine about being around her if hes there, but I think she may well be 2 different people depending on if hes there or not....

RandomMess Sun 27-Apr-14 20:21:27

Well that says it all really, doesn't it?

I would put it in writing to him that the boys no longer want to spend time with his wife without him being around and you want him to respect their wishes as you are concerned if he doesn't they will eventually refuse to see him at all.

sad sounds like it's been going on for a while doesn't it?

littlegreenlight1 Sun 27-Apr-14 20:24:54

I think I Just never caught on that she was that bad. Yknow its nothing major, but she is causing a 14 year old boy to go and cry, that is not on. The younger one cries more easily if he thinks he might be in trouble etc, but this was because big one had asked little one to get his toothbrush and he went and did it so she told big one off for making little one his "slave" and little one told off for doing it I mean ffs - how shit did she make them feel for them to cry?!??! I often tell them not to use him as their runner even though I do it myself but at the end of the day its hardly a big deal and he could say no if he didnt want to, he was just being helpful!!

MuttonCadet Sun 27-Apr-14 20:30:47

Your last message sounds like she was sticking up for the youngest? What's wrong with that?

Does he have a speech impediment or is he lazy with his speech? I pull my nephews up for using "f" instead of "th" is that wrong? (Although to cry about it seems extreme, so there must be some issues).

Ultimately they'll decide on contact for themselves, at 15 I'm surprised that the eldest isn't making his own arrangements already.

RandomMess Sun 27-Apr-14 20:38:34

I was just wondering if you would achieve more by phrasing it something along the lines of "It seems as though your dw is finding the boys a bit much at the moment. Perhaps if you're not going to be around it would be better if they stayed with me rather than her having to look after them"?

It could be simple case that she just hasn't warmed to them as personalities so she finds any conflict between them or them and her just too much.

alex7149 Sun 27-Apr-14 20:57:12

It's difficult because it must be hard to tell if she's actually doing these things in a malicious or controlling way or is she trying to help them... your boys may dislike her either way.

dsd who lives with us has a massive struggle with reading due to ld and to help her learn I do flash cards with her every other night. She doesn't like doing it, but gets a sweet for every 5 she gets right. She sometimes ends up in tears if she can't be bothered, but reading is a life skill she needs and it seems to be improving so we need to do it. Maybe she thought that getting him to practice his pronunciation might help (though a bit ill informed as presumably he is seeing a salt).

I don't know, she may have good intentions but bbe getting it badly wrong. On the other hand your 14 year old wouldn't cry unless she was me an! and I think he'd probably have a more grounded view of it than your 8 year old. So I would listen to the 14 year old. Talk to your ex about this and maybe give them the next couple or weekend's to show they can make the change and if not see if you can change contact so they don't see her. If she has good intentions then she will be sad that she has been misunderstood over the years and will try and change.

Malificentmaud Sun 27-Apr-14 21:59:45

This is where so much trouble occurs when there are too many adults parenting. It's so fraught with issues it makes my brain hurt.

Alita, what you're doing with you dsd sounds very helpful and I just know 100% that your heart is in the right place but if someone rewarded my daughter with sweets for achieving something like reading or spelling I think I'd die a little inside confused

I guess we set out to parent with one man, then it doesn't work out and instead of stepping up, (sometimes due to work commitments or ingrained social beliefs which are unavoidable) he leaves it up to his new partner to take on much of the parenting. Then the child potentially has four parents, all with different beliefs. Accept in the case of serious neglect or abuse, no one is right or wrong. But it's a fucking minefield!!confusedconfusedconfused

The stepmother in OP is most likely a very decent person with the children's best interests at heart. But she's clearly left alone with another couple's (rather "ex" couple's) children (with no training, pay, or legal rights) and has the task of parenting them in a way that suits their mother and father alongside the way she (and possibly her ex) choose to parent their own children who are also present. It's an impossible position.

fedupbutfine Sun 27-Apr-14 22:40:56

Does he have a speech impediment or is he lazy with his speech? I pull my nephews up for using "f" instead of "th" is that wrong? (Although to cry about it seems extreme, so there must be some issues).

if a child is struggling with speech, they are struggling with speech. To take the mick or be rude about it is bullying. You don't think children who struggle with speech aren't already aware of how different they are?

Trollsworth Sun 27-Apr-14 22:48:31

as a parent of a child who had speech therapy, it is not wrong to correct poor pronunciation. If the child can say 'th', then they child should say 'th' whenever it is appropriate. If you live in an area where 'f' and 'th' are commonly interchanged, it can be very, very helpful for an older child to see those words written down so he knows which ones begin with 'th'.

Trying to parent someone else's children according to their wishes when you think they are doing it wrong is extremely hard. If she didn't care how his speech developed, she'd have told him to shut up. She doesn't sound super nice, but she does sound like she gives a shit.

brdgrl Sun 27-Apr-14 22:49:59

Yes, this is tough...it is too hard to know what's really going on.
I do think it is probably going too far, OP, to say or even allow the children to say that they won't see their father's wife anymore.

I'm wondering what you would see as the right amount or right sort of interaction between the kids and their long-time stepmum. You said that she doesn't interact with the kids enough, only taking them to the park when taking her own son, but clearly she is also spending quite a bit of time with them and looks after them when the father is at work and then if she is working with them (however well or badly) on schoolwork or speech, that sounds like she is actually interacting with them. And she has multiple children of her own, if I understand your post correctly, including babies - I think you need to be clear in your own mind even about what kind of relationship you would find appropriate. She can't just always be a smiling, indulgent robot - and she will make mistakes, and she is entitled to be herself, and so are you.

I agree with what Malificent has said above - some of this is down to parenting differences, and if she is put in a position to parent by your DH (his choice), then it is going to be inevitable. While the kids have you and their father as parents, she is their stepparent, and that is going to involve some influence over them - especially if she is providing care to them.

I'm afraid that the reality is that the kids may not like her, and you may find her a bit miserable, but actually, she is part of their family now and that's just something you and they will have to accept. They have step and/or half siblings as well! It would seem like a better idea to try to work with your ex on this then to create a further family division in their lives.

brdgrl Sun 27-Apr-14 22:53:36

On the other hand your 14 year old wouldn't cry unless she was mean!

Nah. Honestly...both I and my DH have made the DSCs cry, when they were 14, and not because we were being horribly mean, either. ;)

alita7 Sun 27-Apr-14 22:56:13

Maud unfortunately, sweets is what helps get her to do it :S It does mean though that every time she wants sweet things and were home she has to earn them. wasn't 100% sure on it myself but dp and I discussed it and tried other things but after a couple of times it wasn't a fun game anymore and other rewards don't really work too well with her. Got to get her to do it somehow, she's hates reading as she really struggles and with her asd she hates it if something doesn't follow rules so English is very confusing for her as it's so varied.

sorry for hijacking the thread a bit just explaining!

brdgrl Sun 27-Apr-14 23:26:33

Alita, i think what Maud's getting at there isn't really about whether you are right or wrong to give her sweets. I'm sure you and your DH considered how you wanted to approach it and made a plan and are doing it because you believe it is the best approach. Most parents and stepparents are trying to do just that, I think.

But the mother of a child whose stepmum has decided on that approach - rewards for reading and flashcards (and I am deliberately trying to make this about a generic child, not YOUR dsc, because its really more a general point about the trap of step-parenting!) - might feel really strongly, and with as much evidence and belief on her side - that it isn't the choice she wants for her kid. So it comes down to a disagreement between the child's two parents about what's right. And the stepparent can get caught in the middle, either by putting him/herself too much in the direct delivery of the parenting or by the other parent being too willing to step back and let the stepparent do that delivery...I'm possibly going to be more upset, let's face it, if I think the stepmum (whose motives and affection for my child are a source of concern to me in the first place, as is clearly the case for many mums) is 'giving my child an eating disorder' than if its the child's father doing exactly the same thing.

I suspect (apologies if I am wrong) that the OP would be less unhappy if her children came home and said their dad had made them cry. We accept that parents will sometimes make their kids cry (at least, I hope we do!).

There are some things we all sort of agree are important, even if we disagree about what's best - like breastfeeding vs bottlefeeding, or co-sleeping vs cot sleeping - but for some people, the really triggering, really important debates might be something else - dealing with a speech impediment, or a learning difficulty, or chores and pocket-money, or any number of things.

I've seen threads about stepmums getting the children's hair cut - and some posters think it is all a storm in a teacup, or why shouldn't the stepmum get a more practical haircut - but I have to say, if anyone, even her dad, cut my DD's hair against my wishes, I would be incandescent with rage.

brdgrl Sun 27-Apr-14 23:27:00

Sorry if that was rambly and didn't make sense.

yoyo27 Sun 27-Apr-14 23:29:55

The other week my SS told his dad that I had told him off and was crying. I had said, in a very calm voice "x please don't throw that ball at my daughter's face". Luckily his sister heard me and said I hadn't told him off.

But my point is that things can be easily misinterpreted even with the best will in the world x

alita7 Sun 27-Apr-14 23:56:24

Brd girl I think that is an important point that makes my situation slightly irrelevant in that dsd lives with us and her mum has supervised contact and doesn't seem to ask anymore about these things except at official meeting's so things like hair cuts, education etc are all down to dp and therefore us as a couple. So I do all the 'mum' things for her (and don't I know it from dsd if I forget to do any of those things :p) .

It must be very hard for step mums who have their step kids at weekends and whose mothers are still either their primary care giver or very involved if not, to figure out how to look after a step child without breaking boundaries.
and hard for mothers who feel that the step mum isn't keeping to sometimes unsaid rules or isn't doing it your way.

so I think you need to chat to your ex, for the sake of the conversation keep It as you're assuming she means we'll but it's upsetting the kids could she try and not do x y and z.

I said earlier that you should not make them see her if she doesn't change but actually I think it's a conversation that the kids should have with dad, coming from you it would see like your rocking the boat and restricting contact. on the off chance that actually she's a horrible bitch then something needs saying.

brdgrl Mon 28-Apr-14 00:08:15

Yes, same here, Alita - no mum involved! - harder in some ways but so much easier in others!

purpleroses Mon 28-Apr-14 07:34:13

I would be very wary of getting too involved in your ex's household. The things you describe don't sound that awful really. Kids can be head work and there have been times when I'm sure some of my DSC would have told tales to their mum of my doing dreadful things - during the course of sorting out disputes between them, getting youngest off his computer, etc. They tell us takes off their DM too grin

They are well old enough to discuss how they feel with their dad. You can help them to do this. I agree that there's no reason for them to be visiting for whole weekends when their dad's not there but it's not always feasible never to be leaving them in her company. They're a bit old to be dragged round Tescos or taken along everywhere your ex might need to go in a weekend.

TheSlagOfSnacks Mon 28-Apr-14 12:09:22

Your ex should be spending more time with them.

littlegreenlight1 Mon 28-Apr-14 12:17:51

He works every saturday, so they go friday night, and come back to me on Sunday eves, only eow though, no contact during the week, he lives 20 miles away which isnt far but when he doesnt finish work until 6 and my LO is in bed at half 7, it doesnt leave much.
Im not saying they cant be with her, just not on their own. I dont trust her, she upsets them, they can just come to me. Their step mum takes the babies out when my ex is there, its a really weird set up (ie theyre all going on holiday but my ex will be in a cottage with "his" children and she will be in another one with "hers" but that includes the two that are "his" as well.

I might be overreacting, Ill have to speak to him but I am a step parent myself and I know I could never speak to my bf's children that way, I find it over stepping the mark.

My son CANT pronounce those letters/sounds, I think forcing him to try is bullying.

Thanks for all the advice though, its really helped.

purpleroses Mon 28-Apr-14 12:31:49

If he's at work the whole of every Saturday, then having them just go for the Sunday - or maybe arrive Saturday evening, would seem much more sensible. Maybe every Sunday if that suits you OK?

Does sould like your ex is already aware that his DW is struggling with his DCs and they work better as two kind of separate families rather than one big one.

Eliza22 Mon 28-Apr-14 15:12:07

Oh dear. This must be hard for you. I think you're right to ask that their dad be present or at least, not missing for any length of time. It's not working is it? Not for your boys, not for this woman. Perhaps she objects to being left to "parent" her partner's other kids? Doesn't really matter. Fact is, they are clearly unhappy and it needs to be addressed. It's important they don't lose contact with their dad and if this continues, they will.

Could you all sit down and discuss? I could with my ex and his partner but my DH (second marriage) could not. At all.

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