Struggling with step parenting

(160 Posts)
natalie49 Fri 02-Aug-13 15:20:20

Hi, I am brand new to the site, and this is my first post. I visited mumsnet to see whether anybody else had similar problems to me with regards to step parenting and associated struggles. Of course you do!

This is my story (bear with me as I am not familiar with the shortcuts you use to describe relationships etc).

I have been with my husband for 9 years, married for 4.5 years. He came with baggage, 3 kids (13, 8 and 6 back in 2004) and in the throes of a messy divorce, but we survived his angst and financial pressures of getting divorced, and the kids lived with his Ex, which meant that we could get on with our own lives to a degree. He saw the kids on an adhoc basis, but he always kept a good level of contact with them, and we had them to stay occasionally.

Time has moved on of course, but not for the better. Ex wife has mental health problems which did not initially get diagnosed when the kids remained in her custody. Last year she proclaimed that she could no longer look after the 2 remaining kids in her care, social services got involved, and we were left with no option to house the 2 now teens, girl who is now 17.5, and boy is nearly 16.

I have never been a biological mother, and have found the past few months extremely hard, adjusting to having 2 moody teens in our house full time, and it is not a large house. We had to convert a double room into 2 single rooms just to accommodate them, which has cost us an arm and a leg. I really resent having them here, particularly now it is the school holidays, and am wishing the years away. SD in particular is very 2 faced and thinks she knows everything. I have been seeing a counsellor recently as I need to channel my anger and pent up frustration, as it was beginning to affect a previously rock solid marriage. I could write loads more, but really am just after a bit of advice on how to cope with this intrusion of space, lack of privacy and most of all TEENAGERS! Thanks for reading.

emilyeggs Mon 05-Aug-13 21:07:08

Bumping this up for you,

Petal02 Mon 05-Aug-13 21:35:36

I just wanted to say that having two teenagers that I'm not related to, moving into my house, would be my idea of hell. Hopefully Brdgrl or Catsmother will be along shortly - two wise ladies who will be able to advise you.

MorningHasBroken Mon 05-Aug-13 22:01:03

natalie, it may well be worth posting in the Teenagers section for advice on handling teenagers specifically, as well as getting advice here on being a more 'hands on' step mother so suddenly.

Nothing particularly constructive too ad apart from that, I'm afraid...

MorningHasBroken Mon 05-Aug-13 22:01:18

*to add

UC Tue 06-Aug-13 09:23:06

natalie, I wondered too whether it would be good to post in the teenagers section, but I would be careful with how you express things, so that you get real constructive advice, rather than being simply told "they're his kids and you must suck it up".

I think you are right to be seeing a counsellor for yourself, as it must be very difficult to talk about this openly with your dh. He must be finding this hard too, as I'm guessing although they are his kids, he doesn't know them all that well either as they haven't lived with him since they were tiny. It doesn't sound as though you had that regular an arrangement with them before.

And of course the kids themselves must be finding this difficult. THey've been uprooted from the home they knew. You don't say whether this has involved new schools, new area etc. Guessing it may well have done.

I wondered whether you could access some family counselling, for all of you, together and also separately, so that you can all come to terms with what must have been a very unsettling period for everyone.

brdgrl Tue 06-Aug-13 10:05:29

Hi there. Sorry, I missed this before.

I married a widower who had two kids just entering the teen years. We've been together for five years now. The kids are pretty much identical in age to your DSCs now.

We also have a daughter together; she is 3 - but we did not all move in together until she was six months old, mainly because of my concerns about living with the teenagers and about my DH's parenting of them/the state of their home/the lack of healthy boundaries in their home.

I've found it very, very hard....especially with DSD, who can be very manipulative and has always been very resistant to my presence in her dad's life. I completely relate to the 'know-it-all' problem - and it gets very frustrating and even depressing to be constantly treated as though you know less than a couple of (actually fairly naive and often uninformed) kids. One thing I think people 'on the outside' cannot appreciate is the degree to which teenagers can bully a stepparent...for the longest time, I found it very, very hard to protect my own feelings and rights - the kids could say and do whatever they liked, but I was supposed to treat them with kid gloves! Anyway, I won't go on and on about my own issues, but I do understand some of what you are feeling.

Of course, I knew from the start that I'd be living with the kids if I lived with DH. You had a different set of expectations, and you have had a real upheaval now.

We have had counseling, and it has helped, I think. Not family counseling, but couple counseling. First through Relate (I insisted on that before we moved in together, so that we could talk about how we would adjust and make changes) and later through a private therapist. One thing the counselor said to me was that I had to allow myself to mourn. Given that my DH and DSCs were always being described in terms of their own loss, the kids' mum, it had never occurred to me that I was 'allowed' to feel I'd lost something too, but the counselor said that I in effect had lost the life and marriage, even the experience of motherhood, that I had imagined for myself, and that I ought to grieve and then accept that. I don't know why, but hearing that was helpful...maybe it just helped to have someone acknowledge that I was hurting, I don't know exactly. But it seems to me now that you are experiencing that loss,too, and maybe you and your DH both need to really acknowledge that.

Oh, this is getting really long - I am sorry! I will just finish by asking you a couple of questions - how is your DH coping with this change? Is he parenting effectively? And do you have clear roles and rules in the home? - and by recommending the same book I have recommended here to others; it is called Stepcoupling, by Susan Wisdom.

Good luck, and keep posting. There are some lovely ladies here and they have made things much more manageable for me.

natalie49 Thu 08-Aug-13 14:11:31

Hi brdgrl

You have been very helpful, thank you for all your advice. I havent posted on here since, because there have been a few altercations between DH and myself. He struggles to understand why I am so angry/upset all the time, and has shouted at me, telling me I have a foul temper, which I don't. He is more likely to raise his voice, which then causes me to raise mine. He says I am angry with the world, and hate everything, I tell him that I am not, and do not, but he does not understand that this is all to do with having his kids live with us. We have just about got back to normal, and as we are going on holiday on Sunday (all of us plus 2 dogs) so we can not afford to become hostile towards each other, although I really do not want to go.

To answer your questions, I think DH is struggling as well. He is not coping as a parent, not having done it for 9 years, and certainly not with teenagers. He is too soft on them, treating them like friends, rather than being an authorative figure (he told me he doesnt act in this way). Rules and roles in the home are fairly good. Its just them being here which pisses me off as I work from home. I just dont want my space invaded, as I am not used to it. DH has agreed now to joint counselling, which is a big step forward, holidays are now getting in the way, so it will be beg September before we can start that.

brdgrl Sat 10-Aug-13 10:51:59

Sorry to hear things have been rocky.
Good luck with the holidays...I can understand why you'd be anxious. Try to get some time to yourself, even if it means being a bit awkward and insisting on it.

Maybe your DH knows, really, that the kids (or more accurately, his parenting?) are the issue, but it must be hard for him to accept that. I had a hell of a time getting my DH to see that actually, ANYONE (in other words, not just weird over-sensitive angry me!) might have found my situation/roles in the house difficult and unacceptable. We still argue about this - we had a rough week last week - he described it afterwards as "an irritable week" (clearly meaning I was irritable) - I told him that from where I sat, I could just as easily describe it as a "thoughtless week" - that his actions, not just my response, ought to enter into things!

Anyway, maybe counseling will help him see how he's allowing the problem to worsen.

brdgrl Sat 10-Aug-13 10:52:43

What is your home space like? Do you have your own office? Privacy?

PearlyWhites Sat 10-Aug-13 10:54:07

I think you need to change your attitude . The fact that you referred to the dc as " baggage" in your op speaks volumes.

brdgrl Sat 10-Aug-13 11:16:23

Very helpful, pearlywhites.

Anormalfamily Sat 10-Aug-13 11:31:15

OP, I tried to convince my dh over a period of years that all was not well, I.e. it wasn't me being over sensitive or mean to dsc, it was him!
Our counselor has had to explain this to him many times (yesterday again) that he can't be BFF with his dc, but must parent them adequately, respect me and set boundaries so all feel wanted and secure.
Get a good therapist who will insist on nothing less!!

burberryqueen Sat 10-Aug-13 11:33:34

agree with pearlywhites the term 'baggage' says it all

brdgrl Sat 10-Aug-13 11:46:54

I think it probably"says it all" if you have come onto a thread with a preconceived view. It certainly doesn't "say it all" when one actually reads the post.

OP, please don't be put off. I know this was your first time posting on here, or on MN at all. I hate to break it to you, but there are some people who will go out of their way to post unpleasantly on the step-parenting threads. I'd urge you to 'consider the source', and take no notice. There are lovely people here, too, who will offer you constructive advice and empathy. I hope you will come back.

burberryqueen Sat 10-Aug-13 11:48:59

would you like your children or any children related to you to be referred to as 'baggage' then brdgrl?

brdgrl Sat 10-Aug-13 11:56:13

I wouldn't care. If someone refers to my DD as my or my DH's 'baggage' on an online support group, that's their business, not mine. But I am confused - are you concerned that the OP is posting about your own child?

I have been around long enough to know that "brought baggage" and "man/woman with baggage" are turns of phrase used to indicate that a person had a life before the relationship, and that aspects of that life have presented challenges to the current relationship.

I quite like baggage, as it happens. And I don't mind saying that I brought my share of it to my marriage, as did my DH. His included (although was not limited to) children.

Now, if she'd written "my DH had shit on his shoes when we met, in the form of two children", maybe, just maybe, you'd be on to something. As it is, though, it just looks like another a deliberately insulting and shit-stirring post.

burberryqueen Sat 10-Aug-13 12:00:29

i didn't insult anyone...
choice of words says a lot.

brdgrl Sat 10-Aug-13 12:05:59

choice of words says a lot.
It does indeed. The only words you have chosen to direct to a first-time poster asking for support, were critical and decidedly unsupportive. If you feel they were not insulting, you are operating by different standards than most.

brdgrl Sat 10-Aug-13 12:08:10

Sorry, OP, I should not be drawn into a hijack of your thread. Let us know how things go, ok?

burberryqueen Sat 10-Aug-13 12:11:04

the kids lived with his Ex, which meant that we could get on with our own lives to a degree
so you married a man with three children but wanted 'your own lives'? There was no idea that his kids would be part of your lives?
He saw the kids on an adhoc basis - you mean there were no contact arrangements or regular visits? whose choice was that then?
Last year she proclaimed that she could no longer look after the 2 remaining kids
why use 'proclaimed' here? why not 'said'?
we were left with no option to house the 2 now teens how horrible for them to feel they were an unpleasant duty for their father
cost us an arm and a leg what did you expect, that they would disappear after your happy wedding?
I really resent having them here - shouldn't have married a man with children then should you?

emilyeggs Sat 10-Aug-13 12:16:18

Burberry you are not very helpful at all are you!? Why are you posting if you have nothing useful to say? Not a very nice person

Graceparkhill Sat 10-Aug-13 12:16:42

I think this is a very difficult situation for all concerned and am wondering if the OP can carve out some time/ privacy to de stress. Not a solution in itself of course but a coping mechanism.

Presumably there is some light on the horizon as they are older and will move out to study/ work at some stage? They are also in a position to help out with chores/ do their own etc.

My other bit of advice would be a sort of team meeting with the 4 of you where you can agree some ground rules and structure for your new life together.

I would try to do this over food and in a public place- nothing fancy,could even be a picnic- so that everyone behaves appropriately.

burberryqueen Sat 10-Aug-13 12:16:49

really am i not?
maybe op isnt a 'very nice person'

emilyeggs Sat 10-Aug-13 12:17:58

So don't bother posting then!

burberryqueen Sat 10-Aug-13 12:21:56

i think someone should question the OP's attitude to her husband's chilldren why not?
her choice of words is soooo telling, throughout.
I am not intending to insult anyone but marrying a man with children and expecting them to disappear or not be a bother is a

emilyeggs Sat 10-Aug-13 12:26:40

Where does it say she expected them to disappear? And your first post was very negative....maybe you could have been more constructive instead? She has said she is struggling and was looking for advice!

PearlyWhites Sat 10-Aug-13 12:29:36

Feel free to search my previous posts I do not just come in mumsnet just to insult people on the step parenting boards.

enderwoman Sat 10-Aug-13 12:31:25

My local council runs a parenting teens course. Biological parents often struggle parenting teens so as a sudden full time step parent it is not surprising that you and your dh are too.
Yy to family therapy. Your step children must have issues with sudden change in living circumstances and their mum and it would provide an opportunity to sort out a way forward.

brdgrl Sat 10-Aug-13 12:37:18

That's true, pearly, you have many more constructive posts on other boards.

ChinaCupsandSaucers Sat 10-Aug-13 14:13:06

her choice of words is soooo telling, throughout

There's a post on the 'teenage' board you might want to comment on burberry - I'm sure that you'll have an opinion about the OPs choice of words about her DD - or are parents allowed to vent with impunity?

allnewtaketwo Sat 10-Aug-13 14:24:54

Lets not feed the nasty piece of work who has chosen to join this thread purely to insult the OP and polish the chip on her shoulder.

OP, brdgrl has offered some really good advice. There's lots of support to be had on this board so please keep posting.

I'm glad you've been seeing a counsellor as well. I find that as a SP one if the hardest things is to be able to say what I think to someone truly objective.

I'm not in the ame situation as you but have step teenagers here every other weekend, which is difficult enough. One of the hardest things, I find, is the constant presence of the eldest (also 17) as he resolutely refuses to do anything without a parent. I do hope for your sake that your DSCs have interests outside the home that at least give you some respite . The other aspect is the space in the evenings - I've never managed it, but having time just DH and I on an access evening would be nice. Do you have time in the evenings without the DSCs around?

ijustwanttobeme Sat 10-Aug-13 14:52:13

hi Natalie49

My experience:

I met DP when I was 25, with a good job, my own flat and independence. The word children was not even in my vocabulary as I was never going to have any...

He had been divorced with for nearly a year and on our 1st date told me he had 3Dcs, then 15, 11 and 7. Gulp, I thought but I really liked this man and also for being honest with me.

He had them every other weekend and once overnight in the week, so situ slightly different o your DHs.

6 weeks into our relationship his ex wife rang him and said she could not have the children anymore, and they came to live with DP.

They have lived with him (us, once I'd moved in) until they one by one, left home.

It was hard, but I knew from day one he had DCs, so what did I expect? and what rights did I have to complain?

They had just discovered that mum didn't want them any more ( new fella on the scene) and so had to come and live with Dad. I was hardly going to walk about with the strop ( even though DSD aged 15 would report back everything DP and I ever did/ spoke about, and DSD2 7, was unable to ever tell mum that we'd gone to the oark/ cinema etc ( if just the two of us - through loyalty to mum).

What worked for us, was that we tried to involve them in everything, so that they never got the feeling that they were in the way.

Your post reeks of resentment and I bet it's hard to keep that out of your day to day actions/ tone of voice/ body language when it comes to them.

It takes time and effort on all parties, but small things like getting their fave DVD to watch as a family together ( even if after 15 mins they walk out saying , 'it's boring') or something bought for DSD that you heard her mention. Not produced wit a huge flourish but just casually handed over..

You may not get a great deal of thanks today, next week or this year, but it will be noted. After all, it was last month, DSS said to me, 'I remember when you took us all to the theatre to see a show. I really enjoyed it, but made out I hadn't as i didn't want you to know. Can I just apologise now'.

He's 32 now, so must have been at least 18/19 years ago

riverboat Sat 10-Aug-13 15:11:25

Interesting post ijust, and some nice things to hear too!

I agree that to some extent 'fake it til you make it' can do wonders, is throwing yourself into activities/discussions with the DSC even when you REALLLY don't feel like it and are wishing they weren't around. I do this and it usually ends up making me feel much happier and more content in my relationship with DSS.

But this (for me) has to be combined with a careful mix of detatchment and me-time also. I don't have the right to overule DP's parenting decisions, so for example when DSS gets away with something I don't think he should I have had to learn to bite my tongue...

I then would bring certain things up with DP in private if they were really problematic for me and we'd try to agree on a way forward.

From your posts OP it's not too clear if there are major discipline/house rules issues or not but I'm sensing yes?

I think its entirely normal to feel resentful when two teenagers come to live with you unexpectedly and your whole living situation changes. Yes of course rationally she got together with a man with kids etc etc but that doesn't mean she isn't allowed to find it difficult. It seems that OP is seeking support SO AS to not to take out her resentment on them.

ChinaCupsandSaucers Sat 10-Aug-13 21:12:14

I would question the future of my relationship with DP if DSS came to live with us full time.

Yes, I knew DP had DCs when I met him - he had a cute 5 year old boy who was fun to be with.

He now has an emotionally damaged, high maintenance 10 year old DS who has significant medical anxiety issues and can't be left alone with me due to the EA he has been subjected to.

Did I know what I was getting into? No. Not a clue. And if DP ever became DS primary carer it would be at the cost of our relationship.

BathingBelle Sat 10-Aug-13 21:24:51

too soft on them, treating them like friends, rather than being an authorative figure (he told me he doesnt act in this way).

I think he may need to start acting in tisxway or your lives will become utter hell. Teen steps (I speak from experience as one and as SM some years ago) have nothing else to do in the holidays but take their hurt and frustration out on you. All the things they want to say or do to their own parents but cannot will come your way.

Your DH needs to get totally involved in finding activities for them, and taking off enough time that you are not managing them alone in an atmosphere that can easily and irrevocably become toxic, especially with a father figure who wants everyone to think he's the good guy, FFS. He's the dad.

Make sure you can escape, make sure there are agreed household rules so you don't come back to increasing squalor, and pass all the parenting back where it belongs, wit the parents.

And ignore the negative bitterness here. You haven't committed a crime, merely asked advice. There are lots of projectors about; you have enough on your plate getting your DH to behave like a father, so ignore unhelpful invective.

Good luck.

witchofmiddx Sun 11-Aug-13 15:30:02

My children have a stepmother. Ds 13 has never shown much interest in her, being merely polite. How would she react if told he would be living there full time? She would probably use the phrase 'baggage' as complimentary! My children are my jewels.. but I wouldn't blame her in the slightest!
Having said that if gd forbid if I wasn't around anymore, I would very much hope she would strive to get the support she needed to support them. Op came on here for support...

allnewtaketwo Sun 11-Aug-13 16:57:44

That's a good way to look at it witch smile. I'd hope that any adult whose home/care my child was ever in for extended periods had all the support they needed too.

natalie49 Tue 13-Aug-13 11:05:00

Burberryqueen, what a nasty person you are. You do not know what I have been through with this man. I could talk for hours or days, but seeing as I am in the SW of France with 2 kids I hate, and a husband I would eagerly divorce then i suggest you shut up for the time being.

brdgrl Tue 13-Aug-13 11:07:26

Natalie, I take it it is not going well! Do you want to talk about it?

natalie49 Tue 13-Aug-13 11:21:46

Yes that would be good but I don't want to give numbers
out on this site. What do you suggest ?

natalie49 Wed 14-Aug-13 05:38:36

Thank you all who have posted positive comments on here. I will not reply individually to you, but I would like to clear up a couple of major points here. I met DH on a dating website, I knew damn well that he had 3 kids. I was there to support him when we went through CAFCASS to get custody of his kids as mother was and still is a chocolate teapot. Said organisation deemed mother to be fit to have custody of kids although she self harmed (but not in front of the children, quote from official report). Therefore, to those posters who thought that I would get married and swan off into the sunset step children free, that was totally not the case. My original post was perhaps misleading. When I said DH saw kids on an ad hoc basis, I omitted to say that he saw them at least twice a week, and we have taken them on holidays intermittently since 2005.

They have always been a permanent fixture in our lives, and yes, we would have them for weekends etc, as ex wife used to book herself into a loony retreat at the last minute, giving us no structure as to when we would have the kids "dumped" on us, and yes I mean that sincerely.

To have 2 teens come to live with us now is destroying me, my relationship with DH and just about everything I can think of. I hate them, they hate me, I do not want them full time. I am the bad cop, DH is trying to make up for the bad years they spent caring for their mother, and in the process, is alienating me. He doesn't realise this, as if I try to explain how I feel, he clams up. His excuse for sluttish behaviour from his daughter is that she is hormonal, has a lot of growing up to do, and he didn't grow up himself until he hit 30. Good excuse eh? He then asks me to remember how I was at nearly 18, to which I reply, well adjusted, and just about to live abroad, despite having had 3 fathers and been to 13 schools! I know the kids have had a major upheaval to deal with, but they just don't get how badly it has affected me/us, and I don't think I can cope with the situation without doing something drastic. There are questions being asked about space, schools, activities out of the home etc. the quick answer is no, nothing has changed and we live a minimum of 25 miles away from their circle of friends. I could write reams but we can not do anything about step sons school until this time next year when he completes his GCSE course. Sorry I am unable to use the short cut DSS as he is not dear to me, just a pain in the proverbial.

When I get angry - at least once a day - I end up blaming their mother for being so useless and dumping them on us. Not good but true.

Well, rant over, it's 6.30am in SW France. Another fun day in the sun with 2 people I want to get rid off. SD complained yesterday that she was going a bit red and wanted to stay out of the sun today. I pointed out that there is factor 50, 30, 20 and 15 right by the front door, so try applying a bit of common sense and using the cream. Unfortunately she doesn't have any common sense......

underdoggy Wed 14-Aug-13 07:12:40

Natalie looking after children is difficult whether they are your 'own' or not (I know this because I do both) but in the nicest possible way you need to get a grip here. This is what children are like.

You are sinking into a spiral with their behaviour - and I'm afraid failing to be the adult. For example, the last example about the suncream is a complete non-event that describes only your own frustration, not the behaviour of these teens.

Teens are very sensitive to people not wanting around. burberryqueen got called rude, nasty etc. but in fact, what she is expressing is absolutely true, although it may not be what you want to hear. I have had many threads about my situation and the harsher comments have made me take a look at myself, as I think you will have to do. Your negative attitude towards the children is a big source of problems, so you will have to change it unless you want to sacrifice your marriage.

You knew your husband had children, but perhaps you did not know what children are. I have to put a smile on my face about ten times a day, but I talk and joke with, am interested in and care for a teen who despite my darkest thoughts, does not feel unwanted around the house.

You can make this situation better and if you're not prepared to then you must remove yourself from it.

We got given a teenager (13) the same year I had a baby and there have been many evenings when I have gone to bed quite ashamed of my behaviour but there have been other very uplifting times and I hope in the future he will look back and know how hard we worked for him.

Ledkr Wed 14-Aug-13 07:29:42

If you "hate" his children then you get the hell out for all your sakes. Honestly, what a horrible thing to wonder its not working out.

ChinaCupsandSaucers Wed 14-Aug-13 07:35:44

Ledkr Would you give the same advice to a mum who is struggling with her teen DC, and says she hates them?

underdoggy Wed 14-Aug-13 07:58:44

The mothers of teens don't have that option china sadly.

However, she is not their mother.

I could potentially have sent back my teen but I never considered it because I am committed to giving him a good childhood. OP needs to reset this whole situation, which I believe she could do.

The DH is an big problem and this I really understand because when we got our teen my DH (who is not his dad but related) failed to get involved in the way that was needed. He also failed to put himself squarely behind me as I built authority and that's a situation that never changed - I had to make my peace with it. In the OP's case though, he DH is the children's father, so perhaps he can be forced to take a more constructive role. The whole 'best mates' attitude to parenting is disastrous at a younger age, but I wonder if it's that bad at this age, when they're nearly adults. He just needs to set it within a framework of respect.

The thing that changes this whole situation, in my view, is the nearly-adult age of the children.

OP, you need to set down your boundaries with them. My boundary is that if he is rude or disrespectful in any way, he gets nothing but haughty withdrawal. If you are not in charge of their money or whatever, then you are stuffed on this one though. Would your DH still give them money when they have just been rude to you?

You are reacting, rather than directing your own course with them. Tell them how you feel, what you need and stop getting drawn into childish tit for tat. They will lose respect for you and quite frankly, they will have a point.

purpleroses Wed 14-Aug-13 08:22:04

It sounds a really tough situation for you, and don't know I have that much to offer. But one thing you mentioned is that when you try to tell your DP how you feel he clams up on you. My DP does this too. One thing that has worked for us on a couple of occasions when I've been really upset about something has been for me to write it all down, and let him have the time he needs to reflect on things. It's harder for him to stick his head in the sand and pretend the problems don't exist if you've written things down for him, and some time to think through his responses to your problems might help him. Write down what you think the problems are, and a few possible suggestions of things that he could do that might help.

brdgrl Wed 14-Aug-13 08:55:55

As a stepmum, I don't have the option of 'sending back' my stepkids.

Natalie, I sent you a message yesterday. I'll write more on here later but I have to go off to work now...

Ledkr Wed 14-Aug-13 09:07:06

Nobody really has the option of sending back their chikdren but I'd suggest its easier to walk away from a step child whom you hate than your own child whom you are temporarily pissed off with.
I'm in a blended family too but nobody talks about hating any of the children.
If my husband said he hated my dc and meant it if tell him to leave.

underdoggy Wed 14-Aug-13 09:21:01

I agree with Ledkr wholeheartedly.

OP this is your life, whether you relish this aspect of it or not. Every morning when you wake up, these young people will be there. And if they feel you don't like them, they will press your buttons all day long.

However, bear in mind, before you alienate them with anger and resentment, that this is the worst time, holidaying all together. It is still something we can barely manage.

Have you tried to find common ground with them?

I am absolutely not saying that it is easy - it has been the story of my life for 3 years now.

With so much muddy water already under the bridge in your relationship with them, I would request their help in finding a new way.

One year after our teen (13 then, and bloody difficult) came to live with us, after a bad day, I asked him to choose a few things he would like to change about our family life. His answers were very enlightening and were the start of the changes for the better.

You need a sea-change in how you deal with them, and what they think of you or surely it can only spell the end of your relationship.

Ledkr Wed 14-Aug-13 16:25:49

Also bare in mind it's not forever and one day life will be more peaceful.
I agree about the holiday too. We've just come back and at times I felt I'd explode with rage at their absolute selfishness and ingratitude.

SquidgyMummy Wed 14-Aug-13 17:08:46

Hi OP,

i do feel for you, i have 2 DSC, they were 7 & 12 when DP and I got together, over 5 years ago. It was very tough, and they lived in the UK, whilst we live in (funnily enough) SW France.

We have since had DS who is now almost 3, so becoming a mother did change my perspective towards them, as i had an admittedly self-indulgent single life till i met DP aged 37 and had DS at 40. Now i just let DP do his thing with them. They are here at the moment and DS has just been hanging out with them, whilst i have been on day trips with DS and another friend with toddlers who is camping in our field. Everyone doing their own thing, everyone is happy.

I digress however....

Given your DSC's ages, what i sincerely think could work for you as a family would be, if you could afford it, for your DH to either rent a house closer to their circle of friends for a year, so that he can deal with parenting them his way. Let him make his own mistakes and let them have time to bond and heal.

They are old enough to be left on their own a night or 2 each week so you could be together with just your DH. Then you can go over to them or they can come over and you all spend time as a family when some of the heat has been taken out of this situation....

It is not ideal, but it is only a couple of years and given what the kids have been through with their mother, a couple of years of support from their father (without having to worry about upsetting you too) could well help change their behaviour.

It may seem drastic, but surely it is better than potentially splitting from your husband through all the stress of this upheaval. They will be making their own in the world in a year or two and i think a bit of sacrifice now could really save your sanity.

natalie49 Wed 14-Aug-13 18:12:07

Hi SquidgyMummy

Thanks for your feedback. There are lots of things I could comment on, but no, I would not want to be without my DH living in another house, besides we can not afford to do that. SD is hoping to go university next year, away from our locality, so I am waiting for that to happen, as she has the temper of her mother, and bulimic with it, a stroppy little madam who makes my blood boil.

As you will know, SW France is a lovely place, and today DH and i have had our own day, eating at a bistro on the port waterfront, walking the dogs who also love swimming, and buying local produce for supper. What have the teens done?? Spend all day in their bedrooms, we might have just left them in England! I find them so boring and unimaginative. A lot of that comes from their mother, who rarely gets her backside out of bed. This is the frst day of the holiday that I can say DH and I have had fun in our own way. The kids are so damn boring. They fly back without us on Monday - thank god, a week on our own.

natalie49 Wed 14-Aug-13 18:19:59

Oh and they hog the kitchen, fridge, kettle, food in general, they are always in the way of the fridge etc, and it drives me mad, as they expect food and drink on tap without so much as a thanks. Move forward 2-3 years, I will be happy again. I do love my DH and want to stay with him, but I didnt ask to look after his sulky kids. Perhaps, when they were younger it would have been easier, but now they are teens and think they know it all, it is ure crap believe me.

SquidgyMummy Wed 14-Aug-13 18:34:56

Well my DSS (only 12) spends most days glued to his Ipad, so i know what you mean! However DSD (now 17) is great and even babysat 3 toddlers whilst my friend and i escaped for a quick drink last night.

Look, it's only a year, just recite the parenting mantra "this too shall pass". I know they are not your bio children and it is unexpected, but they are part of your DP's "package".

Perhaps as a way of getting a bit of "breathing space" from them would you be able to rent some office space for your business for a while? I used to work in start up companies back in the day and we often did that and it was quite was quite fun! <misty eyed about the dotcom years>.

Anyway keep posting if you need to vent. Sounds like you are somewhere on the atlantic coast, we are in the Dordogne so can't even offer you a wine to take the edge off!

underdoggy Wed 14-Aug-13 19:26:50

Natalie we could all fill pages with the annoying things teens do, yours aren't any different to anyone else's.

You are in a position of responsibility towards them, by dint of being married to their father. They will dislike you for this attitude and it will come back to you in the future like an emotional boomerang. It will not all be over in 2-3 years, and you are kidding yourself if you think it will. They will be home for holidays, then may want to live at home while they find work, and your DH may want to support them. FOR YEARS. This is a problem you need to work on.

If they leave a mess in the kitchen, make them come and clean it up. Learn to tune out some of the things they say and ask them about their lives. Level with them.

I notice you have only replied to and thanked the poster who sympathised with you. I too am trying to help. My teen is away this week and I am very happy with the freedom, DH and I are close and everything is nicer. Believe me, I get this. But that does not stop me trying to be absolutely the best mother I can be to him, to make him feel a part of our family, because he is. THese children are a part of your family, live with it.

Ledkr Wed 14-Aug-13 20:37:49

I think that life could be more pleasant if you did try to improve things.
Have you read up on teenagers because its interesting and I find it quite empowering.
Mine also do everything you say (and more) but you sound as if you are picking on everything they do which is horrible for them.
I actually think your dh is a bit spineless for not telling you to be nicer to his kids tbh.
You also mention their poor mother quite often in a negative way. People can't help having mental health problems you know and she's no more responsible for the children than your husband is.

brdgrl Wed 14-Aug-13 22:13:51

The OP is posting precisely because she understands that change is needed. The assumption that SHE must be the one to change (or leave) is the problem. I suspect she has already changed - in fact, reading her OP, she has already made some enormous compromises. And yes, she will probably make more. Her husband and, yes, the stepchildren also need to change.

As for leaving the relationship...I entered into my marriage intending it to be for life. We have a DD together as well. If I leave the marriage, it has negative repercussions for my own child as well as my stepchildren. For those reasons, I would prefer to work on our problems than leave. The OP is trying to work on the problems in her marriage.

cyburbia Thu 15-Aug-13 08:53:53

But you do need to change, if you bring children into your family and that change inevitably starts with the parents. You set down rules, out of self-preservation, and you work towards enforcing them while at the same time building bridges between you. Not just rant about how much you loathe their very presence.

It also concerns me that the OP speaks with vitriol about a young woman who has bulimia.

brdgrl Thu 15-Aug-13 09:52:01

The Op is not 'just ranting'. Read her bloody posts!
On here, she is ranting. That's sort of the point.

cyburbia Thu 15-Aug-13 10:34:44

I mean ranting on here hmm. I have read her posts. I am trying to be constructive because I have been in a very similar situation myself.

Ledkr Thu 15-Aug-13 10:58:00

brdgirl you always speak much sense on these boards and I can understand your defence of others in similar situations but you can't possibly read the ops posts and not feel a bit sad for the "hated" children who have already been through so much and now have to live with someone who resents them.
It's a Shame and its not helping anyone.
Of course marriage is for life which is why if you marry someone with children you need to take into account that they will be around in some shake or form.
Me and my dh have had my four around since we met.
We've never had a holiday alone or even a weekend, we don't get lie ins or peaceful meals together or the house to ourselves. Of course that's not ideal but that's how it is and we just get on with it.

ImNotBloody14 Thu 15-Aug-13 11:17:54


<wish there was an emoticon for disgust>

Ledkr Thu 15-Aug-13 12:33:27

For whom?

ImNotBloody14 Thu 15-Aug-13 12:35:40


fackinell Thu 15-Aug-13 12:37:11

Natalie, you do have my sympathies. I have been with DP for two years and he has a DD aged 16 who we see twice a wk with one sleepover. It was really fraught in the beginning as she really resented me being around. We are fine now but I would still probably struggle if she came to stay FT.

It's very easy to put up with a refusal to do any chores and put up with shit tv (amongst other teenage loveliness) for one day a week. I have no DC of my own either although have had one MC and still trying.

Do you have space to make a place away from it all for yourself? A room or even part of your bedroom where you can have a sofa and a tv or something?

You will find on here that as a stepmum you can do no right by some. You just have to look at Disney movies to see how we are thought of!! grin

A tip that worked for me re the I Know Everything Teen (although with another teen and not DSD, who is actually quite quiet ATM) was just to say 'that's nice, dear' in a dismissive manner if what she said was a load of bollocks. I'd have an interesting debate with her if it was factually correct as I was aware she was testing out her social skills. But I was not about to be informed I could not be a true chilli peppers fan if mother's milk was not my fav album, etc. A that's nice, dear shut her up pretty quickly as she couldn't argue if I wasn't and knew my subtext was, 'you are talking out of your arse.'

Another thing I've learned was to pick
my battles. Everything may be annoying to you but you'll be taken more seriously if you choose one a week rather than one a day.
Also, you're right. it WILL get easier!!

My DSD took a lot of work to get used to my ways but we bonded over our mutual disgust for Dad's snoring/farting/shit choice of programmes so maybe a bit of friendly ganging up on Dad could work. My DSD now chooses to be around me at family functions and treats me as security and a confidant.

I spend a lot of time building her confidence, noticing new clothes, being interested in her career plans and yes, she can be a total PITA at times. little things like leaving her a magazine I've read, giving her a voucher I wouldn't get round to using (of course I'd use £20 in Boots but I knew she'd get a kick out of new makeup.) I've noticed the more loving I act towards her the more loving I feel.

She actually told me she loved me recently and I was surprised how much that meant to me (I say it to her occasionally without expecting a return.) Teems can be annoying, unpleasant, ungrateful and lazy, but they're our bundle of hormones (as stepmums) too. It's not them and us, it's all of us. This attitude worked for me anyway. Keep posting, we are all here for you. grin

Ledkr Thu 15-Aug-13 12:48:47

fack how lovely, well done xx
Dh has had a hard time from my dd but is sticking with it and uses humour a lot. The last few weeks I can really see an improvement. Your post will spur him on.
I need to repeat that a mother is not any more responsible for chikdren than the father.
If one person is not able to cope then the other parent needs to step up. Simple as that.

brdgrl Thu 15-Aug-13 12:51:56

Ledkr, I do think it's sad, and I want to see OP find ways to get through it that make the whole family stronger. I do feel for the kids - but I also feel for the OP. (I also don't think that her "being nicer" or buying gifts for the kids and overlooking their behaviour is the right way to create a healthy family unit, so I think she's been given some duff advice - but that's another point.) I think she's hurting. She's had a radical change in her living circumstances, one that while it may have always been a possibility, was not 'what she signed up for'. In theory, we all know that an accident for our DH could turn us into a carer overnight, or that we could lose our job and our home, or that our aging parent could end up needing to move in with us. But when any of those things happen, it can be catastrophic and stressful and extremely unpleasant - especially if one is not given much power to handle the fall-out! Imagine an OP writing to say that her MIL has had to move in, that she is difficult and moody, and that the DH won't speak to her about her behaviour. There will be those who say, "well, it's your husband's mother, suck it up", as well as those who say "well, MIL's are awful, what do you expect, change your attitude", and also those who say "poor you, that must be awful, she sounds a right pain in the ass - let's find some strategies to help you cope! And by the way, what the hell is your DH doing about it?"

OF COURSE kids are different and OF COURSE the father's responsibility is absolute - - but I can't fault the OP for being upset about it and having feelings about it....feelings which any one of us is capable of.

If she feels 'hate' and resentment, what would you have her do about it? I'd be the first to say that - for the sake of everyone in that family - she needs to find ways to manage those feelings. And she needs to consider her actions towards vulnerable children. But she's not wrong to feel as she does, any more than a poster who hates her demanding, hostile, bitter MIL on another board.

Ranting and venting is good. As stepmums, we often don't have anyone 'IRL' who will listen to us, or have the first inkling of what we're coping with at home. Even good friends aren't always helpful...I don't know ONE other person 'IRL' who is in my situation - my DH's sister was once, though, and she is a fantastic support to me - but she lives far away, I see her twice a year, and then - she's my DH's sister, so I can't always rant to her! There is a higher rate of depression amongst stepmums than non-stepmums - I truly believe that the isolation and the sense of constant judgement and shifting goalposts contribute greatly to that. These are support That's what the OP needs. Good advice about how to change the dynamic that is making her so miserable. I think the fact that she's here, asking us all for help, is a clear sign that she's not unwilling to learn/adapt...but she also, quite rightly, feels put upon and angry with her DH.

We've never had a holiday alone or even a weekend, we don't get lie ins or peaceful meals together or the house to ourselves.

See, I don't think that is the "natural" or "normal" way to be and that a person is wrong to object to that situation! Don't misunderstand me - I am not saying that you are "abnormal" or putting you down for it. But my DH and I don't live that way, and wouldn't, and that doesn't make us "abnormal" either. We've had trips and weekends away (as we have a toddler as well as the teens, not as many of those as I'd like...), we have 'date nights' where we eat a meal separately from the kids and they're told to leave us to it. We have absolutely no family here and are pretty broke - so we do struggle a bit with childcare - we aren't able to go out as much as we'd like, and we need to make date nights at home or just share a beer in the garden, instead of dinner and the cinema or drinks in a pub!

brdgrl Thu 15-Aug-13 12:54:01

Good post, fack...I second the suggestion of 'ganging up' on DH in a light-hearted way smile

There is a degree of 'fake it until you make it' required...but you have to be careful not to fake it so much you are crushing yourself.

Ledkr Thu 15-Aug-13 13:13:32

Of course we do nice things together and have nice meals in etc but I meant the type of things that people generally do at the start of a relationship of if there are no children involved.
Dh was single and childless and could have chosen to marry someone conventional with no kids but he didn't.
I have re read the ops posts and I'm sorry but some of it is plain nasty.
Described a fellow female as "sluttish" not acceptable.
Made light of her bulemia, vile sorry.
Admitted to saying stuff about their mother being useless and so they have to have them!
Saying someone who has mental health problems is useless and when she used to book into loony retreats the chikdren were dumped on them! hmm
The op doesn't actually sound very nice as a human being so its hard to sympathise with her much.
A lot if what has been said to the children could be described as emotional abuse.

fackinell Thu 15-Aug-13 13:20:57

Guys, sorry if I made it seem like I'm sweetening DSD with gifts. I'm honestly not and also I reiterate Brdgrl's comment about not 'buying' children!

Apart from the voucher and token gifts from holiday, I've only ever given her £20, and that was to pay for Dad's birthday tea when he jokingly said he hoped she brought her purse. It was a jokey two fingers up at Dad moment and when she produced it I insisted on 'paying' for my own and she get her and DP's. the shock on his face and having a little secret with her was worth the new dress I want in Peacocks. grin

It's definitely the little things, like sticking up for her flattering new highlights when DP asks if a bird shat on her head. I would have missed so much of this funny, annoying young woman if I'd not made a humongous effort. Trust me, there were moments when I could barely keep my mouth shut when she screamed how much she hated HER (me) being there. I got on amazingly with my stepmum and still do. I knew it wouldn't be a picnic actually being one though.

Ledkr Thu 15-Aug-13 13:24:58

Well if a few small tokens got you where you are then who gives a flying.
Still sounds successful.

brdgrl Thu 15-Aug-13 13:34:10

I really do agree with you about the 'sluttish' and 'looney' remarks being off. But I think when I read it, my reaction was more "wow, she's really angry" not that she isn't a nice human being. I think the key thing is that she's having a rant.

A lot if what has been said to the children could be described as emotional abuse.
Ah. I think we are understanding this completely differently. I don't think the OP is saying things here, that she can't (or so that she doesn't!) say them to the kids. I don't see anywhere in her posts where she has said or done anything 'nasty' to the kids.

Do you mean this?
When I get angry - at least once a day - I end up blaming their mother for being so useless and dumping them on us.
I really didn't take that as meaning that she said it to the kids. I rather thought she meant either in her own mind or to her DH.
Apart from that, she doesn't say anything about things she has said or done to the kids which I find 'nasty'. The suncream remark doesn't ring any alarm bells with me, frankly, and mostly she seems to be rowing with her DH about things, not with the kids themselves. She's tired of being the 'bad cop', she says - well, that is fair enough - she ought to be able to reprimand the kids or tell them something is not acceptable if it isn't, and meanwhile her DH is just saying that doesn't want to be an authority figure with them.

Ledkr Thu 15-Aug-13 13:37:59

Well I did read it as that buy I apologise to op if that's wrong.
I was the sd of a nice but disinterested step dad and I also work with troubled adopted teens so I see first hand the damage that can be done and it just makes me sad.

brdgrl Thu 15-Aug-13 13:38:37

fack, Sorry, I wasn't meaning you at all (I hadn't even read your post yet when I wrote that, bit of a crosspost) - I was referring to a post way upthread...for what it's worth, I often give presents to my DSCs, I just meant it's not good as a strategy for 'getting in good; with sulky teens. smile

brdgrl Thu 15-Aug-13 13:40:05

Maybe she did, Ledkr - I just know how often I think things I would never ever say to the DSCs, so I suppose I see it that way.

underdoggy Thu 15-Aug-13 13:59:27

I have massively bribed DN!

Ledkr if you work with troubled adopted teens, would you like to take a look at this. Scroll down and look for the fostering link. It's my SIL and their foster twins. It shows what you can do with love.

fackinell Thu 15-Aug-13 14:10:51

No probs Brdgrl.

I did a little oooh shock at the looney and sluttish comment too tbh but OP does sound extremely stressed and angry. When I'm pissed off with DP he can be the biggest twat I've ever met and the love of my life the very next day. So not assuming that she's a nasty person. Just reaching the end of her rope.

I didn't see much about the area of France you live in OP. are there any cafes or pubs near by that you could escape to with your laptop for an hour or so? Some people don't like that but I've never had a problem having a quiet coffee or glass of wine on my own with a newspaper. May do your head good to escape.

Not sure how you are financially but my DFIL has just built himself a small summer house to escape from his DP when he wants time out.
Or your DSC could use it as a project with DF to make a den to use.

Ledkr Thu 15-Aug-13 14:15:21

Thanks under doggy I will do.
I'm not sure the op lives in France but is on holiday.
Again I may be wrong.
I really hope I am about her saying stuff outloud to the kids.

fackinell Thu 15-Aug-13 14:24:45

No, I'm probably getting confused smile

underdoggy Thu 15-Aug-13 14:26:59

I don't think it matters whether you say it out loud - teens are not fools, they know when they're not wanted. that's why I think the OP needs to make peace with the situation and work on strategies to make life easier for everyone. Effort goes a long way.

If DN is being awful I retreat to my room. I have to say we are lucky to be fairly well off and when things got really hard we moved to a much bigger house. Not sharing a bathroom any more is a big relief.

brdgrl Thu 15-Aug-13 14:57:09

Not sharing a bathroom any more is a big relief.
When we decided to move in together, I told DH we'd have to find a place where we could have our own bathroom. He laughed and told me to keep dreaming - but we got really lucky with finding a place and among other things I have my own bathroom and a tiny office (I do most of my work from home). I really can't overstate the joy of not sharing with the teens.

Of course, we just found out that we have to move... there it goes. sad

Ledkr Thu 15-Aug-13 15:15:44

I agree. I should downsize now the kids are fewer but I can't face losing my attic room with lovely ensuite.

fackinell Thu 15-Aug-13 15:30:56

grin I wouldn't mind sharing a bathroom with DSD, she's immaculately clean but DP.... Hmmmm. Too hairy and doesn't clean the toilet bowl!!

daisychain01 Sun 18-Aug-13 15:08:42

Hi Natalie, I have only just come across this thread and have read every post on here.

I cannot add further to the excellent constructive advice, it is thorough and really makes sense. I just want to add a few comments, if I may.

Sometimes the "noise" gets in the way and it blocks the situation, preventing any hope existing that there is light at the end of the tunnel. By noise, I mean the confusion, hurt and frustration. Feelings become increasingly negative, its a vicious negative cycle. It is missing the point to judge you as a "bad person", and i think that has been recognised by other posters. I sense that you venting on here is probably the first release valve you have had to the pressure cooker of your life. It doesnt make you good or bad, it sounds like you are just finding it soooo tough knowing how to deal with and relate to a couple of teenager who sound remarkably normal, to be honest. You have recognised they are young, naive and dont know everything. I have a funny Simon Drew card which says something along the lines of

"Advice to Teenagers: are you tired of being harrassed by your stupid parents? Act now! Move out and pay your own bills.... While you still know everything!!"

My belief about making step parenting work tends to have two themes that crop up very often - its about the step parent having the backing and support of the partner to set reasonable disciplinary boundaries, and about feeling a sense o f control, in a positive healthy way, that you have choices about the situation.

Firstly, it is critical that the Step parent has the emotional backing of the parent, and visibly, to the children. This should manifest itself, not by ganging up on the children, but ensuring where discipline is needed, both parent and step parent speak with a united voice about what needs to happen. Young people need, in fact want loving boundaries, it shown they are Cared about. It cannot happen if the SP does it and the parent is lax, indulgent and trest their children like "their mates" aka Disney parenting. It doesnt guarantee that the Children will automatically love the step parent back but it keeps those healthy boundaries, keeps order in the home and a bonus might just be that respect will be built. Big caveat here... It takes a lot of time patience and motivation of both parents to do this, working together. If the step parent doesnt feel able or willing to invest emotionally, they are unlikely to be giving it a fair chance to improve. My assumption is that Maybe you are currently too angry, and feel hate, rather than being able to allow yourself any positive emotions (agreed, you may have good reasons, it is your choice) you just want to distance yourself - this is not a judgement just an observation. If you felt that some counselling is appropriate, it could help you to remove the "noise" the unhelpful emotions and start to create a strategy with your husband to regain control.

Which brings me to the matter of control, another key aspect. In this context I mean, that you have some sense of regaining control that you lost when your DHs children came to live with you due to the adverse circumstances of the children's mother. I agree your words used to describe mental health are not appropriate, but taken within the context of your situation, your anger and frustration have been manifested with those scathing words. Someone i dont think you have met or had any relationship with has effectively put a bomb under you life and it is you who is picking up the pieces.

I think that for your own sanity, it would help if you can take the two above themes (united front with your husband + regaining control ) along as a starting point for counselling. Maybe now you have got to the end of your tether, its time to reset the clock and wipe the slate clean and take small steps towards a more positive future. Focus on a few achieveable goals so you at least get some respect from your DSCs if nothing else. You are the adult, in fairness they are still children in terms of emotional maturity!

Only you can decide how much motivation you have, but if you have come to Mumsnet I assume you DO want to try something right?

ReluctantStepMum Wed 28-Aug-13 15:30:05

Dear Daisychain

I de-registered from this site as I was on holiday, and to be fair, some posters on here made me feel very depressed, or should I say more depressed! I have come back as I wanted to thank you for your words of wisdom. I showed my DH the whole thread, and it did open his eyes as to how much pain I am going through, and we have agreed to try a different stance, although the holiday was not a happy memory for me, probably one of the worst I have ever experienced.

To put the record straight on one thing you said; I have met his Ex on several occasions, she is not a nice person, even if she does have mental health issues. She tried to make my DH bankrupt, she refused to accept that she could not look after the children 6-7 years ago, and it was only when the Police and Social Workers got involved this time last year, that she finally admitted defeat. She hides behind religion as an excuse for her faults, illness and behaviour in general. I don't care what you and other posters think about my description of her. Had my love for DH not been so strong for 9 years now, then she would have been the cause of our split long ago. He left her to avoid spiralling into depression himself, and her diagnosis was not then known. She then accused me, to her childrens' face, of being an adultress with her husband. Thankfully, they saw through that, as they knew how bad living with her actually was, and what lies she was capable of.

Anyway I wont dwell on her any longer, other than to say that her inability to admit years ago that she did not want the children living with her is what I am now paying for, at a time when I should be enjoying life as a middle-aged adult. I am wishing the days away until the Kids go back to school/college. All they do is loiter around the house all day, and I am not used to it. I work from home. I have my study door shut, and feel like a prisoner in my own house. Luckily we do have a large "attic" bedroom with its own ensuite, but I do not see why I should retreat there for some peace and sanity when I do not want them sat in the same room as me.

There is plenty more I could say, everybody has their own story to tell after all, but I think I have written enough for the time being.

theyoniwayisnorthwards Thu 29-Aug-13 00:29:09

To clarify it for you, I think posters are objecting to the use of the word 'looney' to describe mental health issues rather than defending the individual you are describing.

I would add my voice to the others pointing out that these children almost certainly pick up on your hostility toward them. This must feel very frightening to them as they now find themselves dependent on you and their father to guide them, look after their interests and protect them.

I think counselling is an excellent and positive step for you. I hope you manage to find a way to manage your frustration, good luck.

ReluctantStepMum Thu 29-Aug-13 11:40:19

To the most recent poster, lets move off the "looney" phrase shall we. That woman has been in my life for almost 9 years and has for the utmost caused nothing but pain to the whole extended family. She used to abandon the kids and go to a "Retreat" to meditate, without as much of a word of warning, and we were always left to pick up the pieces - for 8 years - hence my contempt for her.

I do not think the kids are "frightened" of their situation, just ungrateful for what we have provided for them at short notice. Also at almost 16 and 18, I think I have a right to not warm to them, when they are so hormonal and have lived such an unstructured life for 9 years, when I have always been very organised and in control of my life, and they do not slot into my life very easily. Raised eyes is the latest trick of DSD (nearly 18). She is very impetuous and we do not get on, its as simple as that.

I do not rant at them, infact, I am just polite, without getting too involved, and only interact when it suits them. I could say distance myself, but no I just do not engage because simply put, they do not endear themselves to me. I am a very sociable and outgoing person and it pains me to have to bite my tongue in my own house.

I am currently seeing a counsellor who is very good, but that has been a few weeks now due to holidays etc. He wont see my husband, so I may have to find a new counsellor who will see us both, which is not ideal therefore I am stalling at present.

ReluctantStepMum Thu 29-Aug-13 15:07:37

OK, DH working from home today, which means we both are. I mentioned DSS being very loud at midnight last night - I was watching a Bridget Jones film, as I had had an intensive committee meeting to do with Amateur Dramatics, which I am heavily involved in, and was winding down with a glass of wine whilst DH went to bed at 10.30. At Midnight, when the film ended, it sounded like world war 3 upstairs but I didnt say anything to DSS and went to bed.

Mentioned it to DH this morning, who had a quiet word with DSS about the disruption to the household. DSS said he hadnt realised he was making a load of noise, but then it is all about the computer games he plays and didnt realise they were noisy. I was told by DH that I should have said something at the time rather than leave it so many hours, as it was disruptive behaviour for me, but he hadnt heard anything as fast asleep. Sorry, I do not see it as my place to do so - yet!

Also, DSD has been to Reading Festival over the weekend and come back with a stinking cold, and must have heard her brother making a racket last night, as their rooms are side by side. If she said anything to him, she did not mention it, and now has gone to a party for the best part of the evening. DSS is also going out for the whole night tonight, hurrah, a bit of peace for me and DH.

Lethologica Thu 29-Aug-13 19:37:28

I feel really sorry for everyone in the OPs family including the OP. It is very sad that everyone of them must be hurting. sad
It is definitely not a short term problem, university holidays are long and a lot of young adults return to their home after finishing their degrees.

I think it's in the OPs best interests to try and make the 'children' feel secure and welcome in the family home. I am not sure exactly when the 'children' moved in but it seems like it is VERY early days. It is a huge upheaval for everyone and I can't imagine it would be possible to do without problems. Everyone must be feeling very unsettled.

I hope the OP finds useful advice on this thread.

hettienne Thu 29-Aug-13 19:53:54

OP, I think you're expecting too much for teenagers to be grateful that their father has given them a home - he isn't doing them a favour, he has a duty towards them.

Do you think you would feel happier moving out of the family home and seeing your DH at your house or out? Having your own space to work etc? It isn't that unusual these days for couples to be together but live apart. You are so miserable and angry at the moment and those children shouldn't have to live with someone who hates them either - it must be a horrible environment for everyone at the moment.

ChinaCupsandSaucers Thu 29-Aug-13 20:35:07

OP, I think you're expecting too much for teenagers to be grateful that their father has given them a home - he isn't doing them a favour, he has a duty towards them.

Given their ages and the fact that Soc Serv were involved, the DCs would have had some options open to them - it is by no means inevitable that late-teen DCs who have had ad-hoc contact with their father for 9 years will be housed with him.

I accept that the DCs may not have welcomed any of the options open to them, but having decided that living with their father was the 'least unfavourable' option, it is not unreasonable to expect young adults to behave appropriately.
Of course, appropriate behaviour is taught by parents, and in the absence of a positive role model while growing up, the OPs DSC are likely to be immature socially and possibly emotionally.
That is incredibly hard to live with - the OP has to suspend all social expectation within her own home and accommodate what is generally regarded as rude, ungrateful, unacceptable behaviour in the one place she should be able to reasonably expect to be safe from it.

ReluctantStepMum Thu 29-Aug-13 20:38:26

They moved in with us in Feburary, this after SEVERAL months of negotiation with Social workers, Ex wife and her mother (the latter being to reclaim the maintenance of £1K per month that they wanted to retain), plus £6-7K of building maintenance and furniture buying.

Yes it is a true upheaval for everybody concerned. The Teens have taken to it like a duck to water. They just wanted a secure homestead, and now have it, they are not complaining. They do show ingratitude, although we do have to throw tasks at them like emptying the dishwasher, emptying waste baskets in their bedrooms and bathroom, hoovering, washing their bed covers, even cleaning cars, in order to stop being in room 24/7 and in order to earn their pocket money (more for younger one than older one). Constant reminders that this is not an hotel and we need everyone to pull rank, rather than let Dad and SM do all the hard work. They have not had this before. Their mother never educated them in the way of life.

I am not moving out of our home - DH and I built this home and pay for this together. We have lived in harmony for 8 years, this situation is not going to change that. If I did move out, it would be for good, and that is not something I want. I am miserable because this whole situation has been thrust upon me, and the logical answer that you all seem to be telling me is to move out and leave my husband. I am not that spineless. It would appear that a few posters on here would choose that as the easy alternative. Somewhere in my manifesto it says that I love my husband to bits, and could not leave him or live without him. What is there to understand?

I have gone from zero to 100 in 5 minutes in having to try and live with "fully fledged" teenagers full-time, try and understand my position. Its like having house guests who you can not ask to leave. Say what you want, however the real crux of this is that my life has changed into something I did not want. If the children think I hate them then they can go back and live with their mother. They still go there regularly, so they have the choice. And the choice they made is that they live here. Doesn't that tell you something about the life choices they had before? Not once have they said to their Father that they are fed up living with us and would rather return to a mother who does not nurture them, does not have any food in the house, and sleeps all day. Does not do any housework....I could go on adinfinitum.......

ReluctantStepMum Thu 29-Aug-13 20:42:06


I posted my message at the same time as you and didnt see your very worthwhile comment. You are totally right, that is exactly the situation, and that is where it hurts.

hettienne Thu 29-Aug-13 20:58:57

No child should have to feel grateful that their father didn't have them put into care!

ChinaCupsandSaucers Thu 29-Aug-13 22:01:44

No child should have to feel grateful that their father didn't have them put into care!

In my experience their father would have been only one of the parties involved in the decision regarding the DCs future - in the case of the older DC, they could have been the option of supported independent living, and lets not forget these DCs have an adult sibling with whom they may well have a closer relationship than their dad.

Your simplistic assumption that dad had two choices - the DCs live with him or go into care - suggests you have little experience of the system. It wouldn't be unusual for the younger DC to still have an active Social Worker tp monitor welfare and may even have 'looked after' status alongside Mum and Dad, because of the very limited relationship they have previously had with their (now) primary carers.

paperlantern Fri 30-Aug-13 08:47:50

it strikes me that sometimes the best advice isn't always the kindest.

yes having motherhood thrust upon you is extremely difficult. you loose much freedom and other people now come first much if not all of the time.

but that's the whole point. yes this is difficult for you but your feelings can't possibly come first here, not if either you or your dh want to do right but two very needy kids.

Having a vulnerable child or young adult in the care of a parent is infinitely preferable than supported living. they are in the right place.

With great respect for what you are going through your attitude is all wrong to make it work. It's not working for you and you are hanging on because you're not prepared to give up on what you had. That has already gone.

you need space. tbh your dh probably also needs space, he needs to do what is needed with his kids. he cannot and should not be having to deal with your problems with the situation right now.

that doesn't make him able to be a great partner. it does make a great dad. either you need to respect that, suck up your discomfort and put the kids first. or get out before it destrroys your husbands respect for you.

Yes you can always afford to live apart it just may require different lifestyle expectations. but one way or another you can't avoid that anyway.

ReluctantStepMum Fri 30-Aug-13 09:19:46

Paper lantern

I think you have misunderstood some of my issues.

I haven't lost my freedom, I still have a car, and social activities/hobbies.

The Teens do not come first, my DH is more reasonable than that, he is starting to support the difficulties I am having with learning to live with 2 extra nearly adults in a house that has challenging communal areas.

The Teens are not vulnerable - they lead a normal life in their own way. They would never have been subjected to supported living whilst there was still a competent parent to look after them.

Yes I need space, that is the main issue. DH doesn't involve himself with the kids that much as they have their own agenda and does not need to chauffeur them around that much, they catch the train or bus.

I am not putting the Teens first, they are not babies, and my DH does not expect me to.

I am not living apart from my DH, understand that please. Teens have to learn how to live to our style, not the other way round.

My issue is, please listen, is that I didn't ask to be a full time SM to 2 fully grown hormonal semi- adults, who need to be tutored daily, and now that I have to have them in my life full time, it is making me very frustrated.

Suck up my discomfort?? No, I will not, but thanks for the advice. My husband respects me btw, cos he is a very decent man, and knows that our current situation is a joint problem, not just mine.

Lethologica Fri 30-Aug-13 09:38:59

OP, Realistically what do you think could be done to make this situation work? I am sure that if the kids morphed into polite, grateful and helpful teenagers it would help but unfortunately that is simply not going to happen? I also doubt whether your DH is suddenly going to start 'disciplining' them?
Do you think you will be able to ever stop hating them? They are not going to go away and willbe part of your DHs life forever.

paperlantern Fri 30-Aug-13 09:44:35

if he is a decent man he won't put up with your attitude for long. it isn't a positive attitude for his kids. they do not have to adapt to you, you all have to adapt to each other

yes if they have come from so bad a home situation they have been through the care process they are vulnerable. if you can't take that as a base line point of understanding you are the wrong person to be a part of their first line care

paperlantern Fri 30-Aug-13 09:46:57

a decent man always puts his kids first

paperlantern Fri 30-Aug-13 09:48:19

the freedom you have lost is for your feelings to come first. they shouldn't

paperlantern Fri 30-Aug-13 10:09:01

you are confusing your problems, joint problems and his problems.

your joint problem is how you all live as a family and what support can you give your dh/he needs to be a good dad.

his problem is that his has two vulnerable kids that he cannot let down because they have already been badly let down by one parent. any child let down consistently by a parent is vulnerable whether they outwardly appear so or not. Being a dad when your kids need you should come before being a husband

your problem is that you resent their presence in the house and that you think the kids should fit into what you already have.

YOUR problem is not a joint problem. make it a joint problem and your dh won't appreciate you for it. Either you must change your attitude or onw way or another it won't work for anyone. which is wrong because the situation must work for the kids

ReluctantStepMum Fri 30-Aug-13 10:22:57

Paperlantern, without starting a fight and bickering about some of the issues you raise, I would like to say that my DH also can not wait for both of them to leave home and start their own lives. He left his EX 9 years ago due to her controlling behaviour towards him which was due to her showing symptoms of bipolar and personality disorder, none of this was diagnosed at the time, then became a diagnosis of PTSD (for what we still have no idea).

DH loves his kids and has always been a good father, but he is not hung up on being the perfect father. He has minimal contact with his eldest DD, purely because he is not a doting Dad who has to call her every day or so.

He became a father at a very young age, and to be honest, enjoyed his freedom when he left the marital home 9 years ago. He will always care for them, but I do not think he will have a really close relationship with the 2 youngest when they leave home. Thats just his way.

He saw it as his duty to house the 2 Teens due to the fact that they were expressing concerns about having to care for their mother. He would rather have left them where they were, if a competent adult was in place. They did not go through an extended care process - Police got Social Workers involved when EXW was admitted to hospital after a 2nd suicide attempt and said that she could not look after the children anymore, when infact, they were looking after her.

We attended 2 Family Conference Sessions whereby it became clear that EXW's welfare was the main concern of EXW's Mother, rather than her own Grandchildren. At that point, we had to make the decision to rehome them. Social Workers were only bothered about the 15 year old DSS, not the 17 year old DSD.

When we announced this at the Family Conference review meeting, EXW's Church "carer" said that it would be very hard for me to adjust, and I just bit my tongue, saying yes, not realising the affect it would have on me at all. I am a first line carer because of my husband. He sees it as a "duty" to care for his nearly adult children, not an act of love, believe me.

So, put yourself in my shoes: nearly 50, never had kids (my dogs are my babies), did not want to become a mother at 48, and if I had wanted to, did not want to have to give birth to 2 nearly adults, who grunt and strop and roll their eyes when things don't go their way. Perhaps "Hate" is a bad word to use, I admit that, but I now realise belatedly, that I just do not want them FULLTIME, and have absolutely no choice until they go to Uni, or whatever they decide to do.

My fault, I agreed to take them in, as I wanted to support my husband, but we didn't really have a choice at the time. We then had to fight for 6 months to annul the maintenance contract via mediation and solicitors, as EXW felt that it was her right to continue to receive £1K per month to live on her own, as she does not work and still lives in the 4 bed marital home. We won that battle eventually, but the stress has been considerable, and has had health implications for me.

There, so stop judging me as the WSM, and understand, that I can not just press a switch that says that I should love my life and become a doting Step Mother, when infact this year has felt like hell on earth.

StephenFrySaidSo Fri 30-Aug-13 10:28:32

those poor, poor kids. their own father doesn't even want them there. none of the adults in their life want them. they're not welcome in (I would say their own home but it's really not theirs at all) the house they live in. i'll bet they're counting the days aswell until they can go to uni. some people really do make fucking up their kids into a work of art. sad

paperlantern Fri 30-Aug-13 10:29:47

rehome? they are children not animals

If you'd talked that way about animals in the doghouse you'd have been pilloried and rightly so.

no you should never have agreed to take them in.

ReluctantStepMum Fri 30-Aug-13 10:38:17

Oh grow up both of you, until you have been involved in a particular situation, how are you to know what the hell is going on? I was trying to be honest, but it doesnt get you very far on this bloody website does it?

Yes they are probably counting the days until they can leave. Dont most kids? Not my fault that they come from a disfunctional family. Their bloody mother should never have had kids, she is totally incompetent, and could not wait to give them away, that was evident. She mistreated the eldest when she was a babe, who avoids her mother like the plague now. All that happened well before I came along, and DH did not even know, until his own mother visited and witnessed the treatment.

Rehome - I think that is a phrase used very regularly actually, what phrase would you use?

ChinaCupsandSaucers Fri 30-Aug-13 10:40:09

Ah, those pesky double standards are at play again, aren't they!

It's quite OK for parents to ask for advice and support on MN as to how to deal with their feelings of resentment, bitterness and yes, at times, dislike of their DCs because they have been left 'holding the baby' by an errant spouse, or have raised their teens to be disrespectful and entitled - but woe betide a stepmum for asking for the same!

OP Noone has the right tell you your feelings are invalid - they are yours and yours alone. It's how you behave that is open to judgement - and just the fact that you are seeking support here speaks volumes!

theyoniwayisnorthwards Fri 30-Aug-13 10:42:48

Oh OP Your last post is one of the saddest things I have read on here lately. Those poor young people. I desperately hope your DH can learn that his children's wellbeing is more important than his freedom.

By a 'decent man' you mean a man who puts your life together ahead of his kids? I don't even know what to say to that.

It seems you really believe your feelings (and your husbands) are the important issue here and if you are coming from that perspective I don't think I can give any advice or insight that would be useful so I will bow out of this conversation.

Please try to be as kind as you can to them.

StephenFrySaidSo Fri 30-Aug-13 10:48:13

" Their bloody mother should never have had kids,"

nor should their father if he didn't want to look after them. cant you see that?

OP can I ask why you keep referring back to what their mother has done to them? this is about your feelings and how you are coping with having two step children living with you.

ReluctantStepMum Fri 30-Aug-13 10:53:48

"Oh OP Your last post is one of the saddest things I have read on here lately. Those poor young people. I desperately hope your DH can learn that his children's wellbeing is more important than his freedom."

DH does put his DC's wellbeing before his own, he wouldnt have looked after them otherwise. He just doesnt molly coddle them, but he is always there for them, and they know that. He is a good father but understands that they need to develop in their own way. They are not poor young people at all

ReluctantStepMum Fri 30-Aug-13 10:57:42

Sorry cant work out how to do "BOLD" on here.


Whatever you seem to say on here comes back to bite you. I am glad that you seem to know what I am trying to say. I think I am going to stop posting for a while as it is becoming too heated. My counsellor, although pricey, at least understands where I am coming from, as he has had a similar experience.

AllDirections Fri 30-Aug-13 11:06:09

who grunt and strop and roll their eyes when things don't go their way

Teenagers do this? shock hmm

I agree with everything that StephenFry said. Those poor, poor kids sad

ReluctantStepMum Fri 30-Aug-13 11:07:25


Yes the mother has been the catalyst to all of this, and she has caused all of our pain for several years, so I would like to blame her for the distress the children may feel. My husband carried her through 15 years of miserable marriage. He tried counselling and Relate through much of that to protect the children, but eventually gave up due to her unreasonable behaviour, and unwillingness to change. So of course that has left an impression on him. He loves his children, but feels heavily let down by the earlier years in his life whereby he did absolutely everything in the home as well as holding down a full time job, and now he has had to restart the same process all over again, when he had moved on, whilst still maintaining an excellent level of contact with his kids. I feel for him, and he feels for me in that he has dragged me into exactly the same situation he had 20 or so years ago.

Life isnt always as simple as it looks is it?

Emptychairs Fri 30-Aug-13 11:08:59

OP, I admire the way you insist on having rights in your house, too.
I was a total pushover and also felt that the dsc (who had a terrible, spoiled, entitled upbringing) had to be nurtured and mothered and would be loving and preferably grateful towards me, who also had not asked to have them in any shape or form
It got me nothing but heartache, tension and anxiety and I nearly left dh on numerous occasions as he was only making the situation worse by constantly pandering to their whims.
Then I grew a spine (similar to the one you already have, hang on to it!) and lo and behold, everyone decided to improve their manners, contribute to chores and be generally nicer, including dh.
Don't let anyone grind you down, your dsc are lucky to have a role model who shows them what a decent home looks like and how daily life is managed. Get your dh to set proper boundaries and keep those house rules, eventually you'll get there (hope to get there myself, but assertive behaviour is new to me and so I'll keep my fingers crossed for both of us).

StephenFrySaidSo Fri 30-Aug-13 11:15:40

ok- I can totally see why you would like to blame the mother and have reason to (I also believe your DH played a part in creating this situation whether you agree or not) however- blame will not help you feel better about this situation. it will not help you manage your feelings about it or towards the children.

forgetting about what is best for the family or for the kids or for your dh, thinking about what will best help YOU cope and adjust so that YOU are feeling more comfortable about it I think you need to accept that this IS the situation at least for the next couple of years so you need to decide what is best going to get you through it and I honestly think blaming anyone at all is holding you back from that. regardless of who is to blame, the situation is what it is and wont change by being angry with their mother. can you accept that?

Lethologica Fri 30-Aug-13 11:28:11


You need to try and be more practical about this. I completely understand that MN is probably the first place you have been able to honestly vent your frustrations but I think you would be better trying to work out how you can make the situation better rather than focusing on the injustices of it all.
You can not do anything about what has happened in the past. sad It is also pointless to wish you had nice non-eye-rolling step teens.

The situation is what it is and you have to work out the best way to deal with it. I think that letting go of your hatred and anger would be a huge step forward.

I would try and slowly build some type of relationship with them. Obviously, not a parental type relationship just one where you can all support one another a little. They are not little children but they have had what sounds like an awful home life and I bet they would benefit from every bit of support they can get.

I feel desperately sorry for the whole family sad

Lethologica Fri 30-Aug-13 11:32:19

I cross posted with StephenFry. We are both saying the same type of thing.

StephenFrySaidSo Fri 30-Aug-13 11:33:04

it's also worth noting that if your DH is playing the blame game or (dare I say it) the victim card then he is not helping you to get through it- rather he will be reinforcing your feelings of blame which is counterproductive if he wants you to feel better about the situation. it might feel good for him to have someone agreeing with him that EXW is all to blame but it isn't what you need. i'm aware that what you need isn't the most important thing for the family but i'm trying to approach this from the angle you are coming from yourself and focusing only on what you are feeling about it.

ReluctantStepMum Fri 30-Aug-13 14:58:12


No DH is not playing a blame game at all, I have seen it all first hand for the past 9 years, and know how manipulatively cruel EXW was/is. He is doing nothing to reinforce blame, and did not create the situation that you mentioned in a previous post. I am not sticking up for him, I just know, from various/several family accounts, that EXW is not a nice person. Her children dont even like her, for heavens sake. She has created this maelstrom, and yes, it is awful for the kids, and they must feel very bad about everything, but when we tried to get CAFCASS involved 6 years ago, to attempt to right the wrongs about everything we knew was wrong, they stuck up for her case and granted her full custody with unlimited access.

To be fair, it is the legal system and to a degree, the mental health carers who are to blame, and we are now picking up the pieces, just when we thought things could not / would not get worse. I have to work at my own demons, but as I see from other posters, that can take years rather than months, and a lot of the posters are mums already, and I have never been one, so having 2 Teens thrust upon me is exceedingly difficult. Why do you think I chose to get a counsellor? I realised I needed to talk to somebody outside of the family, and also outside of my circle of friends. Coming on MN was somewhere I thought I could voice my opinions, but there are so many people on here who can not or do not want to understand my predicament.

StephenFrySaidSo Fri 30-Aug-13 16:11:08

I said he played a part in creating this situation. and by that I mean the whole situation, the marriage, the children, leaving the family and now choosing to have his children living with someone who has the feelings that you do about them. I doubt he was an angel and has behaved perfectly throughout the whole 25 odd years.

you are right- there are many on here whole cannot understand your predicament- just as there are family situations you could never understand. bear in mind that MN is a huge community- there will be varying on opinions on any subject you could think to speak about so do not be disheartened that some on here cant help you with this situation.

tbh quite honest I don't think you are willing to let go of the blame or the feelings you are holding onto and although I understand it is hard to change the habit of feeling a certain way, I do think it's necessary for you to do so if you are going to begin feeling more positive about this. I wont post further as I do find your attitude difficult to sympathise with which is what I think you are seeking here? and I don't think advice is really what you after.

ReluctantStepMum Fri 30-Aug-13 16:37:06

SF - Fair enough - good job I have just spoken to my counsellor and booked an appt with him for next week.

Btw, I will defend my DH, he is a good man and an angel for 98% of the time, and we are the best of friends. His EXW lost a good'un who I had the good fortune to meet. He is a rare breed, believe me. He can be apt to lose his temper, but only when he is up against the wall (sting in Scorpio tail, which is what he is).

I know exactly what happened in his marriage. He tried to save it several times for the childrens' sake. He never cheated on EXW although he never got sex apart from 3 times in the marriage (tongue in cheek, but almost true!) He behaved impeccably throughout the divorce (first hand knowledge) which lasted much longer than it should have done, and he has always been there for the kids at the drop of a hat.

He has been and still is a wonderful husband to me which is why I am still with him. I didn't have the feelings I now have towards his children until they came to live permanently with us. We were always friends and got on well. This is a whole different set of rules/kettle of fish now and very painful to deal with.

So do not darken his name as he has done his best. I will not miss your posts.

Lethologica Fri 30-Aug-13 18:54:42

In your OP you asked for help with how to deal with these teens and because of that you are being given strategies as to how to move forward and make the most of the situation.

You do not seem receptive to any of this advice and seem simply to want people to agree with you about unfair everything is.

If you just wanted to come on Mumsnet to moan and get sympathy you should have said so. There is nothing wrong with doing this and it would have saved a lot of posters the trouble of trying to give you helpful advice.

ReluctantStepMum Fri 30-Aug-13 20:03:53

Thank you for your kind comments, and you keep on going with that assertiveness, fingers crossed for you too.

I am receptive to advice but only when it is constructive and not damning. I do not think that everything is unfair, if you read my posts, you will find that I am finding it extremely hard to adapt to my current situation, and am looking for like minded people who have had to deal with the same issues.

I expect a lot of you are part-time SMs. I was for 8 years, now it is full time, which is much harder than the odd weekend or holiday week. Now my house and life has been taken over by Teens who are not my blood relations, and who just eat (loads), sleep and shit, without a single mention of thanks. Not to mention the astronomical cost it is imposing upon both of us. Did I sign up to "I will pay for my Stepkids and for them to drain us of any resources we may have had?" No actually, I did not. I was happy to be a part time SM.

And to you who go "thats what teenagers do", then I will reply, I did not want Teenagers - Full stop! I know that a couple of posters on here are really easy to talk/relate to, and therefore I will concentrate my efforts with them. They can obviously see both sides of the coin, and for that I am grateful.

I dont want sympathy, thats too late in the day, I want to hear real life stories of those who have dealt with this kind of situation, and how they managed to cope with it in their own way, to draw on their experiences, so that it may help me in the coming months/years. Thats why I visited MN, not to wail and cry over split milk. There are some posters who have given very positive advice that I have shown my DH. There are others who just like to chastise and create merry mayhem. Let them. I have a tougher skin than they think and any patronising comments will just pass me by.

Bring it on!!

fackinell Sat 31-Aug-13 13:09:14

Reluctant, I know their mother has mental health problems but is there any way she could cope with some access weekends? I know they are older (so its not quite access as such) but even if every second wknd they went to stay at hers? You can have done much valued time with your DH and its important that they maintain a relationship with their DM.

I can fully imagine your situation. It is one thing being a PT SM and a different thing completely to have your DSC there full time. I would definitely find it hard FT and my DP's DD is a really great girl. She's still untidy, leaves shit around and refuses to help out though. The dynamic would have to change if she ever chose to stay FT.

ReluctantStepMum Sat 31-Aug-13 14:06:46

Is the normal way of existence?

I am at home today, and have hoovered downstairs, put the dishwasher and washing machine on, just about to put another load on. Taken DSS/D's off the line, cos they are too lazy.

I have been fucking busy all day, husband taken eldest daughter out diving, whilst 2nd daughter is working - good for her. Son has stayed in room all day. I am so pissed off with him, he is a little shit, sorry, but I am about to explode!

fackinell Sat 31-Aug-13 16:12:52

I personally wouldn't do their share of the housework. Their laundry is theirs. I was doing my own at 14. Can you instigate turns to cook and do chores?

Emptychairs Sat 31-Aug-13 16:27:00

You may be interested in our house rules, set up last year when dsd was 15, ds 14 and dss 12.
Basically they have to tidy up living room after use (Xbox etc)
Keep own rooms clean (hoovering, taking out litter, making and changing own bed)
DO OWN LAUNDRY, for this I bought a drier especially!!! We both taught them how to use washing machine and drier and I haven't looked back since.
Since this summer when we had dsc for a whole month (really, REALLY hard) they have been getting own breakfast, brunch, sometimes snack lunches, they look well fed!

Emptychairs Sat 31-Aug-13 16:29:00

All dc take turns filling dishwasher, I.e. once a week.

ReluctantStepMum Sun 01-Sep-13 02:52:38

Don't get me wrong, the kids do chores, ie laundry, cooking etc. that's not the issue. The issue is a lazy nearly 16 year old boy who does not surface from his room for 18 hours, so I am left to take said laundry off line. He needs a damn good kicking up the proverbial when his father is not here, he is sooooooo lazy it is unbearable.

fackinell Sun 01-Sep-13 11:08:16

Just leave the washing out. If he knows you won't do it he will have to. Maybe a couple of times having to rewash it after a downpour or finding a bug or two on them if its out all night may help. No offence, but you are enabling his behaviour. This particular issue isn't a SP one, its a parenting one. A lot of teens are lazy shits.

ReluctantStepMum Sun 01-Sep-13 11:53:51

I needed to put my own on the line. It was nearly 4pm in the afternoon and the washing had been out for 24 hours. I just chucked the 2 kids washing into the basket without folding it up, which is not what I usually do, because I am nice and methodical. That doesnt get me anywhere, so now I just throw it in the basket, all creased and all.

I am not enabling his behaviour, he just doesnt have a brain, He has literally just risen, showered and now having breakfast when it is almost midday, and thats after spending all day yesterday in his bedroom. I think DSS must masturbate all day long!!!! My DH has just said something "nice" to him. I can always tell by the lovely tone of voice he reserves for his kids. We have just had an argument about money, and I told him I am about ready to jump off a cliff. I think I may have to do so soon.

I DID NOT WANT teenagers, they are shit. Especially ones you have not even brought up as your own. I think I am reaching Last Chance Saloon, even if I do love my husband. Kids are just not for me, especially when they are lazy little fkers. I love my 2 little dogs but then I raised them and taught them how to behave.

fackinell Sun 01-Sep-13 13:48:33

Perhaps use money from his allowance to but an airier then. Tell him he must use that as he can't be trusted to use the line.

At least you know that if you don't want DC of your own that all this will end one day. They will get their own places eventually and any kids they have will be doing the same to them one day.

Don't give them the satisfaction of jumping off a cliff FGS!! grin

theyoniwayisnorthwards Sun 01-Sep-13 19:04:04

Are you this awful about these kids in real life? Do you say these things out loud? Do you know how shocking it sounds? Yes teenagers are often lazy. They are not fuckers. They are not shit.

And it is weird to speculate that he masturbates all day. If its a joke it's unfunny.

ReluctantStepMum Sun 01-Sep-13 20:05:20

the-whatever your nickname is - I do not say things out loud to them at all, but I am able to vent in an adult environment, thank you. DH and I have just got back from a very pleasant afternoon BBQ. It is now 8pm and DSS has not got out of his room all day. Even his sister is annoyed with with him, for not having tried to prepare something to eat, after we left instructions at 3.30pm. She has just said that dinner will be about half an hour. He has just gone back to bedroom saying "OK".

I think that he is doing something like what I mentioned earlier. After all, my husband said that he used to do that at 16 years old.

DSD has walked the dogs whilst we are out, and for that we are really grateful, and told her so. She is actually coming round to helping us now. DSS on the other hand, is a lazy little shit, and needs his butt kicking, but I will leave that to DH to deal with.

ReluctantStepMum Sun 01-Sep-13 20:42:21

They now have burnt dinner because they did not monitor it. We have decided to let them learn by experience. At their ages, you would expect a little more common sense.

fackinell Sun 01-Sep-13 21:13:28

Fair play to your DSD for helping out today smile

Some of my DSD's friends trashed something of her Dad's last night. Fixable, but she left DP to sort it out. This was one of my rare battles I chose to pick and said I thought that was U. She knows this too.

It is not easy being a SP as you have very little say. Unlike like a parent you can't really tell them to tow the line as teens. I let a lot wash over me but I think it's unfair to turn OP into a villain. It's healthy to have a place to sound off do this doesn't spill over into RL.

theyoniwayisnorthwards Sun 01-Sep-13 21:57:19

Your DSS may be spending excessive time in his room because he is depressed (which would be a very natural reaction to the circumstances you say he has had to live through). He may be feeling unwelcome and uncertain, he may feel confused, angry and upset at his Mother or his Father and he may not have the tools to express his feelings and his thoughts in the way an adult would.

None of this is his fault. He is not doing you wrong by merely existing. He is 15 and he has the right to live with his parent, to act out and be a teenager and STILL be loved and valued through those years.

Yes, teenagers can be irritating, ungrateful and hard to live with. Yes, you didn't have kids so you didn't expect you would have to deal with one of the hardest phases of parenting. But you married a parent, and now you are an adult in this boy's life. That in itself means you ought to give a shit about him and consider his best interests. You can have boundaries and still be kind.

brdgrl Sun 01-Sep-13 22:15:00

Given my own experience of a boy this age, I think he's likely spending all that time in his room because he is wanking, sleeping, texting friends and playing xbox (or similar). Not necessarily in that order. Nothing really wrong with that (make sure your DH has a talk with him and gives him a box of tissues, so you don't end up with the laundry nightmare I had when DSS was 15). But when that time in his room is cutting into the other responsibilities he has - spending a certain amount of time being sociable, basic hygiene, chores - then it is not unreasonable to be concerned about it.
You can have boundaries and still be kind, like the above poster says. How about deciding with DH exactly what the expectations of DSS are? Does he have to eat meals with the rest of the family, and which ones? (DSS gets his own breakfast and most lunches, we all eat dinner together.) When do chores need to be done, or is it just open-ended? Does he get pocket money, and is that linked to chores and/or behaviour?
What about time that he is expected to spend with the family, or in activities outside the home?
When things were toughest with the DSCs, one thing that did work was (lame as it sounds) having some family activities - the kind that are quite structured (like a board game) or that provide an opportunity for everyone to interact, but also be focused on something else (like watching a film). Avoid the activities that provide opportunities for the 'problem areas' and find ones that also provide chances to slowly move things in a more positive direction. Movie nights were good for us, because we made them 'fair' - instead of DSD continuing to choose the film, grab the comfy chair, hold the remote and yell at everyone for talking while she herself kept up a monologue, we set the room up differently, so that all the seats had advantages, DH took control of the remote, we picked films by consensus (or by DH and I giving one or two suggestions for them to choose from), and made a point of asking the kids, equally, to do things like make a pot of tea while DH or I fixed a snack. It sounds both obvious and ridiculous to have put so much thought into even the smallest aspects of a night in - but it really did end up so that now we all look forward to spending that time together.
With DSS, I insist on him spending some time with us, and coming on outings, once in a while, even if he doesn't really want to. I don't want him to spend his adolescence in his bedroom, growing farther away from us. And like I say to DH - I've never met a grown man who complains that his parents made him spend too much time with them as a teenager.

ReluctantStepMum Tue 03-Sep-13 22:55:37

Tonight is the first time that I have felt really assertive to dealing with my DSC's. DSS had supper early as was tired after the first day back at school. He retired at 8.40pm then proceeded to make a racket upstairs, a bit like a dog who will not settle down. I know, I have 2 JRTs. Eventually, when DH and I were trying to watch a recorded programme, I just shouted please could he just calm down and go to bed, after 1 hour of frustrating noise. He did, but DH took homage and argued with me that it is not my place to do so. I explained to him that I own half the house, and pay half the bills, so I can say what I want to. DH then continues to sulk until he then goes to bed. Although it was not a pleasant end to the evening, I feel better for having vented and received a result with DSS. I do think that half if not more of the problem is with DH who is not laying down rules in the household, and it is always me that is the bad cop. I am going to continue this now, as the kids need to understand we are not, well me, going to pander to their needs.

ReluctantStepMum Tue 03-Sep-13 22:59:06

Oh I have just been locked out of home whilst sitting in garden with iPad by DSD who is not that nice!

purpleroses Tue 03-Sep-13 23:00:03

Your DH thinks it's not your place to tell your DSS to shut up when he's making such a racket you can't hear the TV?

No wonder you're having such a tough time of it shock He needs to get his act together and lay down some basic house rules for them. And you as the other adult in the house have every right to tell them when they're out of order if they are.

ReluctantStepMum Tue 03-Sep-13 23:31:44

Purple, DH seems to have different hearing zones. My comments are daily under fire and I have to constantly tell him not to criticise me. I love him but he is doing my head in, and I am becoming very depressed. To be honest I think he is too. We have just found out that we have to fork out £2500 rail fare just for DSD, whereas her mother used to get it for free. Makes you want to give up working doesnt it? £500 per month for 2 kids to finish their education in next year. Where's fair in that??

Emptychairs Wed 04-Sep-13 06:08:45

No wonder youre so angry. Dh also used to pander to dsc, its called Disney parenting by some, all the time. I could have exploded with rage! Unfortunately I had not yet come across mn to vent... Common sense of course told me that dh was creating a catastrophic atmosphere for everybody concerned. In couple counseling he is having to listen to it from a third neutral expert party. Like you, I never said anything to the dsc, knowing how dh would react. Since the conselor has told him to create rules and boundaries to ensure his dc proper development he is v keen to do the right thing.

fackinell Wed 04-Sep-13 12:30:05

I have told my DP that he is creating a monster, by pandering. My (mostly lovely) DSD is 16 now and her standard reply to everything is, 'I don't want to.' I wish it worked for me!!

I've told DP that she will be unable to maintain adult relationships if he doesn't stop this now. Her standard issue reply may make him clean up after her wild party of spillages and damage to his property but it won't cut it with work or a real life partner. 'Get the people who made the mess to clean up,' was her response to me when I said she should be doing it. wink

ReluctantStepMum Thu 05-Sep-13 20:13:11

DH has gone out for an hour or so but I ended cooking a nice chicken, garlic and mushroom tomato sauce with pasta and garlic bread. Its never good enough, i might as well die and go to heaven. The little b's never appreciates
what you do and she is little miss righteous, I actually dont like her at all as she rises above her station all the time!

ReluctantStepMum Thu 05-Sep-13 21:09:21

I have just told DH I am leaving, cos he won't listen to lots of things I am trying to tell him about. Sad, cos its 9 days from the first time we met 9 years ago. I would rather live on my own than argue every night and always get pushed down and walked out on. I have really tried to be reasonable, but he never wants to listen. The kids can hear, I am sure. He blames me for everything, when I am the one who says lets go to joint counselling. He agrees then puts me down for various reasons. I used to really love him, even a week ago, but he has changed all that now. He can Sod off into the distance with his kids, I'll take the dogs.

ReluctantStepMum Thu 05-Sep-13 21:14:28

And he pisses out of the lounge to go to bed. I am beginning to really hate him at present.

fackinell Fri 06-Sep-13 00:03:33

I have tea envy, Reluctant!! Sounds lush. Mine's being a cock too. Fancy a flatshare with me and my cat? smile

ReluctantStepMum Fri 06-Sep-13 09:54:03

Yes Fackinell, that sounds good, but where do you live? That is a major factor, and could your cat stand 2 Jack Russels? :-) I noticed on another post that you are SE, me too!

brdgrl Fri 06-Sep-13 10:51:35

I have just told DH I am leaving, cos he won't listen to lots of things I am trying to tell him about.
Oh, dear. It's really awful, isn't it. I'm sorry.
Have you and DH spoken about it since?

fackinell Fri 06-Sep-13 11:16:08

I'm in Scotland, Reluctant, and I love JRs grin I am indeed SE.

Had a mini heart attack there thinking Brdgrl was in the same boat too!! shock

Well I got a kiss and a I love you this am but it's a coincidence that DSD is staying over tonight and he won't want an atmosphere....I was told his parenting style (?) was none of my fucking business last night and he's pissed off that I have a friend coming today while he is at work. This isn't a home for me, I'm a cash cow, end of. angry

Petal02 Fri 06-Sep-13 13:30:31

Fackinell - is there any earthly reason why you shouldn't be having a friend over today??????

fackinell Fri 06-Sep-13 13:36:36

Not IMO, petal. He is a gay male, perhaps old fuddyduddy drawers has a problem with that, although he always moans if I have people round. wink

ReluctantStepMum Fri 06-Sep-13 19:02:17

My DH has said that he has been tracking my posts since I trusted him enough to show comments on here. He has over stepped the mark, and we have just argued big time about the fact he thinks I am angry all the time now, when in fact the only thing that makes me angry is having his kids 24/7. He has just told me to fuck off, so I will. Goodbye dear husband, you are blaming me for the breakdown of your 2nd marriage, when infact it is your first wife who has caused all of this by her incompetence at looking after the kids you chose to have in the first place. I have just made supper for your kids and I hope it burns. Hope you read this before I de register so that you can not keep a track on me.

ReluctantStepMum Fri 06-Sep-13 20:17:23

I've cooked the supper, been told I'm not wanted, and the kids seem to have used the toilet downstairs 4 times in about as many minutes. I hear that as it directly below our bedroom, that I have consigned myself to. I am going downstairs now to get a glass of wine, and they can all fuck off. 5th time toilet has flushed. No wonder our water bill has shot through the roof! I am an alien in my own home.......I need alternative living space without this crap.

daisychain01 Sun 08-Sep-13 09:01:12

Reluctant I have only just returned to your thread after the post I made in early August and am so shocked and saddened at how badly it is going wrong.

I recognise that you are there in that terrible, oppressive situation (I called it a pressure cooker and that is definitely what it must have been feeling like) and that it is easy to make comments about "those poor kids" etc etc. i too would feel very resentful if, like you, I had worked hard all my life for a good quality of life, to see it going down the drain. Your DHs children have never had continuity of care, that is awful and has led to their beyond out of control and awful behaviour, their mother clearly hasn't been capable of caring for her children, and sorry to say it, but your DH isn't actually doing anyone proud, is he! He doesn't seem particularly committed to bringing proper discipline into their upbringing, and neither is he sticking by you, his wife. As they say on MN "he needs to grow a pair".

Heaven alone knows if you will even read this message, as your last couple of posts sounded desperately sad, that you were going to walk away from your marriage. Again, all that noise and chaos I mentioned in my other post, upthread, seems to have clouded the fact that you love your husband. If only you could find some resolution, to at least give your marriage a chance.

You are a strong woman, you know your own mind, you need to do what you need to do. I just didn't want to "read and run" having read your latest posts. If there is anything I can do to support you, send me a MN email and I will be there for you.

daisychain01 Sun 08-Sep-13 09:07:33

And if MrReluctant reads this, please try to see it from a different point of view and not stay angry but try to take a role in getting things back on track. Maybe arrange to talk together, in a neutral place, to take the sting out of things - it is possible, it just needs you both to talk calmly.

Good luck.

cheesecake77 Thu 10-Oct-13 18:41:47

Hi all, I'm new to MN and looking for some advice and figured this would be the best place to get some honest answers!

My DSD used the iPad last weekend whilst staying over at our house for the weekend. She wasn't off the bloody thing all weekend. But hey, not my place to say anything. So she left herself logged into my twitter app on the iPad... I didn't mean to snoop and now I really wish I hadn't kept scrolling.

She comes across as sweet and innocent but she is a 15 year old girl and I remember what I was getting up to at 15 so her persona hasn't always washed with me blush. Anyhow, basically, her twitter has revealed her sexual appetite for want of a better description, she has a boyfriend, but maintains to her Dad, my DP that nothing has happened or will be happening any time soon and how much she wants to still enjoy her "childhood". Blowjobs, anal, girls, the lot. Through twitter there was a link to a Tumblr account, which I've never even heard of. I clicked on it. There are images on there of anorexic girls, female nudity, smoking, tattoos, drug use, suicide references and self harming. There are a couple of images of her smoking but the rest of the images appear to be just random pictures of other people, that could be found on the internet.

Now she has self-harmed in the past. She has been caught smoking in the past but allegedly that was all put behind her about 6 months ago. But the drugs, the lesbian and suicide stuff?!?!?!

I just don't know what to do with this. Do I tell my DP? It will crush him. Do I tell her Mother? Do I tell her directly what I accidentally found?

Our relationship isn't fantastic. Before me and DP got together he'd been single for 5 years so me coming along and "taking her Daddy away" has never really been forgiven but I rise above her sometimes underhand antics and keep the peace the majority of the time. We're civil aside from when she overdoes things in front of Daddy, conveniently.

I'm scared not to do anything about this in case she is in a bad place and is going down the wrong path with the wrong crowd, but I am scared in a sense to speak up because I should never have found what I did on the iPad.

Opinions and advice will truly be appreciated. I'm driving myself crazy with this and DP knows there's something up with me.

Thank you for reading.

Kate x

ChinaCupsandSaucers Thu 10-Oct-13 19:05:26

cheesecake you might want to start a new thread - but I know exactly what you are experiencing; I have been there.

Although my DSD was estranged from DP for over 2 years (aged 13-15), I was very aware of what she was doing as her Twitter feed, account, Instagram etc were all public - anyone could see them.

I suggested, on numerous occasions, that DP might want to take a look; I told him she was posting her phone number, when she was home-alone etc etc. I gave him details free classes for parents to learn the skills they needed to effectively keep their DCs safe online.
He buried his head in the sand and didn't bother.

Eventually, after DD had re-engaged with us - she ended up receiving death threats, came running to Daddy for help and it ended up as a police matter. It was messy and upsetting for everyone involved.
DP has now attended the courses and monitors things a lot more closely.

If you are Social Media savvy and you're worried about your DSD online activity, I suggest you monitor from a distance. They might need your help when it all goes wrong. I only intervened once - when she published MY address (before DP and I were living together) online. DP dealt with it but if he hadn't I would have done.

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