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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading my rant!

MrsMcEnroe Sun 25-Aug-13 09:09:46

My initial, instinctive reaction to your OP, having read it very carefully, is that your new DP is not a very nice man!

Red flags:
He doesn't have regular contact with his own children;
He criticises your parenting;
He refers to your children as spoilt brats (WTF???);
He moves into YOUR home and instantly takes over the TV;
Doesn't tolerate toys in the living room;
Lies in bed late in the mornings;
Happy to discipline the kids but not interact with them in any other way....

He sounds awful. Is he nice to YOU?

You are being massively unfair to your children by tolerating this.

StoneBear Sun 25-Aug-13 09:38:13

Thanks for your frankness MrsM, he says he feels like a lodger here. We've had some terrible rows. I feel that I've made lots of changes, and he's being intolerant. I guess I wanted to know f I was being unrealistic.

In my ideal world, he would help me with the kids in the morning,but as he gets up at 8 and I have to be at work for 8, he doesn't. I do resent this. Also I think it's ok for small kids to have toys in the living room. When we get home he's usually there before us, and before he lived with us the kids would watch a bit of telly whilst getting ready for bed. Occasionally he does switch it over. He only referred to DCs as spoilt brats during heated debates.

When it is just me and him, it's fine. I have always said to him I find this arrangement difficult. I want him to bond better with my DCs as it was their home first.

My parents didn't take to him, raising concerns about his motives.

There has always been issues. I thought we were moving on but 2 days after the DCs return after their holidays at their dads, he has a massive sulk and walks out for and hour or so, and since been sullen with me, it's been tough.

MrsMcEnroe Sun 25-Aug-13 09:56:06

Yes it sounds tough, and it is obvious that you have very different expectations.

YOU want him to be your partner and a fully involved step-dad to your children. Fair enough, but did you have that discussion before he moved in, or did you just assume that it would happen naturally?

HE wants to control you, and is not interested in having a relationship with your children. Had he met your children before he moved in? If he had, was he nice to them? Have you met his children? How long were you together before he moved in?

I am wondering why on earth you are with a man who is so horrible to your children? And who is not interested in his own children??

StoneBear Sun 25-Aug-13 10:08:08

You're voicing my underlying concerns. we were together for over a year before we lived together, he used to stay at weekends and occas during the week. He was nice to them, he seems to have bonded with my youngest. I've met his children, they come over occasionally for sleepovers, and cinema etc. we've all been away together twice as a family. He says he sees them, but on an ad hoc basis.

I thought we had discussed things, perhaps not realising the pitfalls.

He says he doesnt like the way the kids treat me, "like a slave" and they can be disrespectful, and won't take a telling. He says I need to back him up more consistently.

AnythingNotEverything Sun 25-Aug-13 10:25:21

I think he's jealous of the attention you give your kids.

I think you have four children here.

louby44 Sun 25-Aug-13 10:37:16

I can relate a bit to your situation. I do was a bit soft with my 2 DS when I first met my DP. Like you I was working fulltime, still getting over my husbands infidelity and moved out of our family home.

He made me see that I had to set firmer boundaries and stick to them.

ChinaCupsandSaucers Sun 25-Aug-13 10:46:26

I'm going to put the other (step-parent) perspective here:

Firstly; Why the hell should he get up earlier in the mornings to help you with your DCs? If that's what you expected from him when he moved in then your motives are as questionable as his! If he offers to help then that's great, but he has no responsibility towards your DCs at all.

Secondly; why can't you agree to compromise about toys/TV etc? It's his home too, and I can understand why he wouldn't want toys strewn around all the family living spaces. Equally, he can't expect it to be a show home, either.

Thirdly; he thinks you spoil and indulge your kids and in the heat of the moment has called them brats. How do his DCs behave? If they are polite, well mannered & respectful then maybe his parenting skills are worth learning from?

Moving in with an established family is hard enough and if you want this to work then it's your responsibility to make the changes that create a home for both of you.

StoneBear Sun 25-Aug-13 11:21:04

China why is it my responsibility to make changes? Surely it's a 2 way thing. Also I feel as he's the other adult he should help with the kids, otherwise I'm still living as a single person, surely he should do his bit as he's joined our family, and as a partner not a live in lover. I'm not asking to help every day,but once in a blue moon would be good.

His kids seem in awe of him,unquestioning, but they are older, and yes I think he has identified flaws in my parenting, which I accept.

I appreciate your perspective.

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

StoneBear Sun 25-Aug-13 11:22:16

Oh and we do compromise about telly etc, DP has got his way entirely, and we accept that's the way now.

NatashaBee Sun 25-Aug-13 11:45:15

He does sound controlling at points, (or maybe just unrealistic in his expectations of children on a day to day basis) but why on earth would you expect him to get up and help you with your kids in the morning? And if DH and DSD sat whispering about me I'd be furious too.

testedpatience Sun 25-Aug-13 11:47:28

I was in a very similar situation to you when i met my now Dh. 3 kids, working fulltime and guilt about kicking abusive ex out.

It took about a year for Dh to find his place and role in our home and family but the one thing he did do was take the responsibility of the children on very quickly.

He did the school run so we didnt have to pay for breakfast club (he offered) and it fitted with his hours, cooked for the kids if he finished earlier than me and i was on lates so that they were all ready for me to put to bed. Money was always joint so that any clothing, haircuts and treats came out of either account with no resentment on his part as far as i know.

The one thing we did fall out about was discipline because he is much tougher than me. I'm laid back and more free flow, he is far more strict and if i'm honest has far higher expectations than me!

We have had a few whopper rows about it in the past but since having our own Ds i have realised that it wasnt him having a pop at my children because they are someone elses, its his parenting style is different from mine even with our own.

We fall out over our own Ds nowgrin

I couldnt tolerate a man who would send the kids upstairs and took control of the remote so i would question where your relationship is heading. Dont allow yourself to be a single Mum living with a man. You and your kids deserve better.

Boundaries are good but a divided household is a nightmare and your children might get angry about it as they get older and hold you responsible.

Have a good chat with your DP and tell him how you feel, hopefully you can find an answer and if not, show him the door.

onedev Sun 25-Aug-13 11:53:35

I agree with Mrs M & it seems terribly harsh on your DC.

ruthie2468 Sun 25-Aug-13 12:05:48

The children were watching tv, he sent them upstairs because they were in his way?! Bloody hell - he is horrible! Your kids will really resent you if this keeps happening.

DragonsAreReal Sun 25-Aug-13 12:15:27

Why is it because he's a step parent it's so awful to send the kids to play?

I send my own kids to play in their bedrooms when I want a bit of space/peace especially in the holidays. I wouldn't have no hesitation to send any dc in my house off with them to.

As for toys in the living room I have a rule that any toy out must be put away so one toy at a time in living room (don't care about their bedroom) but OP said they have a play room so why do they need toys in the living room to?

Also they are your kids to get up not his and if they haven't clicked yet I doubt he wants to be in charge of them as such when you two are not a team yet. I would start small by getting him to take them out for pizza/cinema/park/dinner/school run before getting them ready in the morning.

ChinaCupsandSaucers Sun 25-Aug-13 12:24:11

Also I feel as he's the other adult he should help with the kids, otherwise I'm still living as a single person, surely he should do his bit as he's joined our family

So you haven't formed a partnership? You consider he has joined you?

That's the fundamental issue I think - you see him as an addition to the family you had established - not a new start in which both adults are equal.

As for expecting him to help with the kids otherwise you consider yourself to be living as a single person, there is only one other person you can reasonably expect to share parenting responsibilities; your DCs other parent. Don't try and palm the job off to someone else, particularly if they aren't willing. confused

lunar1 Sun 25-Aug-13 12:44:06

I think these rules are fine if that's how your children have been brought up, but i dont think its right that you move someone into their lives and all of a sudden the rules all have to change. Presumably the toys were in the lounge and the children's channels on when he came to visit? Did he say then that he wasn't keen on this or that you were too soft? Or did it all start when he moved in?

Obviously some compromise is needed, but this just sounds like he is making demands that should have all been ironed out prior to moving in, after all he was staying with you at weekends so knew your setup.

I really dont think you can complain about the mornings though, again unless you agreed before he moved in that you would get up together to see to them then its really your responsibility.

He doesnt sound a great dad to his own children which would be a huge warning for me.

I dont mean this specifically at you OP but i often wonder in situations like this what happens if you separate and move someone else in further down the line? do the children have to change all their routines and lifestyles according to the demands of the next step dad.

Mueslimorning Sun 25-Aug-13 13:11:25

Dh calls this moving the goalposts. How about a set time that is kiddy TV time and after dinner/ youngest bedtime its adult time? Then your dc would probably not moan or whisper and your dp couldn't just kick them out, but would have to respect their time too.
Same with toys, allowed during their time in living room and then they take them upstairs.
I'd have to say though that I'd expect some help In the mornings, even if its dp making breakfast for adults and you looking after the kids, but there should be some give. I'm sure he expects you to be willing at night when you're tired after a days work and childcare...

ChinaCupsandSaucers Sun 25-Aug-13 14:00:36

I'm sure he expects you to be willing at night when you're tired after a days work and childcare...

Willing to what, exactly? If you mean what I think you mean by that, all I can say is thank goodness most DCs aren't being brought up with that attitude, how 1950's grin

Surely noone really trades sex for help with their DCs now-a-days, do they? Really?

elliebellys Sun 25-Aug-13 14:44:10

Stonebear why on earth wasnt all this discussed before him moving in? How long have you been together .

StoneBear Sun 25-Aug-13 14:56:07

Thanks for your comments. We did chat, and initially he started staying for more time, done knew what I was like with the kids, and the routines we had. In many ways things are better for us all, better discipline, better regime at bedtime, and more independent DCs. I said before he moved in what my expectations were- that I expected an adult to help out, he agreed.

In the holidays when we all went away I got up with all the kids except for 1 day, his kids and mine.

Anyway. There has to be compromises.

We have been together for 2 years now.

reup Sun 25-Aug-13 14:59:30

I wasn't quite sure about the holiday part. Did you pay for a holiday for you and him and both lots of dc? Was there a reason he didn't contribute? Does he contribute financially to the household?

Is he as strict with his children?

StoneBear Sun 25-Aug-13 15:06:50

Yes I paid for the holiday, as I did last year. Financially things are not organised, everything in my name, he pays for shopping if he gets it. I ask him for money towards bills.

He is strict with his own kids.

cupoftchai Sun 25-Aug-13 15:12:32

he sounds controllling. You've been with an abusive man before, is there anything about this partner that reminds you of your ex? anything at all? what about friends, what do they think about him? you say your parents questioned his motives, what was that about?

elliebellys Sun 25-Aug-13 15:16:44

Well sorry to say it but he sure has a good thing in your house.why would he want things to be different..

MrsCampbellBlack Sun 25-Aug-13 15:23:06

Golly, I do hope your 3 year old is really independent now!

Seriously, he just walks in, turns the tv over and then tells your child off. And you just accept this.

You are going to have bigger problems with your children if you continue to allow this to happen. Its very easy to parent small children by fear but we all know its wrong.

I'd suggest you look long and hard at what your children and you get out of this relationship.

Fairylea Sun 25-Aug-13 15:25:11

I see a lot of red flags.

I have a dd aged 10 from a previous relationship and I have remarried and now have ds 14 months with my dh.

Dh has brought dd up as his own for the past four years. We share parenting completely, good and bad parts and especially as we now have ds it's very important to us that both dc are treated exactly the same. (Well age permitting!).

Dh has always taken turns getting up with the kids, I couldn't be doing this mine and yours thing you have going on. In my mind if you are a family you share everything.

That extends to our money too. Waffling now but I am a sahm and dh and I put all our money into a joint account and we have equal spending money. We don't do separate anything, dh would never suggest dd isn't his child. He feels that she is as much his as ds (she still sees her dad regularly too).

The toys in the living room and tv thing would be a massive red flag for me. I think toys should be availableIn shared living areas of the house and tv controls should at least be shared, not monopolised by your dp.

I think he sounds selfish and controlling. Sorry.

elliebellys Sun 25-Aug-13 15:31:50

Op have you ever had councilling after your split from exh?.you seem to have a recurring pattern going on.

Fairylea Sun 25-Aug-13 15:35:12

I also get the impression that he feels that his "baby days" of parenting are over.. his dc are a lot older than yours. Your dc are still very little, the 3 year old is little more than a baby.

I'd be worried he essentially wants them all "seen and not heard", he seems to have a very Victorian and authoritative way about him.

Be very careful.

StoneBear Sun 25-Aug-13 15:38:31

I had counselling at the end and after we split up. I do have issues with assertiveness, lack of I mean. I just wanted a normal family life, where both adults share parenting responsibilities, and I did discuss this with my partner.

Maybe I jumped at this relationship.

MrsCampbellBlack Sun 25-Aug-13 15:45:24

Stonebear - he just doesn't sound from what you've written, the type of person I'd want my children to have as a father figure in their life.

cupoftchai Sun 25-Aug-13 15:53:36

your kids are too precious to risk exposing to all the disadvantage and harm that comes from their mum being in a controlling relaitonship. You've got out of it once, with the right support and strength you will all recover: but don't do it again!

it's great that you're listening to yourself and also a real positive that you got some counselling. Is there anyone you can talk to to explore what is going on in this relationship and see if there are all these red flags, and help you make a plan to step back from it? Or can you do this yourself?

what do you mean by 'jumped at', do you mean rushed in too fast or are you thinking he maybe wasn't right for you after all?

ChinaCupsandSaucers Sun 25-Aug-13 15:55:03

I just wanted a normal family life, where both adults share parenting responsibilities

The reality is that you have split from your DCs dad, which means that you will always be a separated parent even if you are in a relationship with another man.

If by 'normal' you mean a cohesive family unit, with equal responsibility for the DCs - it's very, very unlikely to happen.

You made a poor choice of father for your DCs but you can't replace him with a more suitable model who you can reasonably expect do all the things as a Dad that you want him to - sharing nighttime wakings, helping get out of the house in the morning etc.
If a stepparent chooses to do these things, then it is a bonus, something to appreciate - not part and parcel of a relationship with you.

StoneBear Sun 25-Aug-13 16:11:16

Yes I meant a cohesive family unit. And I believe that is possible. I gues I mean rushed into. Perhaps. I think if the roles were reversed and I had moved in with my partner, with dcs there most of the time, I'd try to be like a mum, and that's a little unrealistic and simplistic. I see that. We're having a big chat tonight, so will see how things pan out.

ChinaCupsandSaucers Sun 25-Aug-13 16:18:40

I'd try to be like a mum, and that's a little unrealistic and simplistic

Yes. It is. How would you feel if your DCs were suddenly expected to accept another woman behaving like a mum.

Stepparents rarely do that. It's a minefield of expectation, obligation, conflicting emotions and social judgements.
If you are serious about wanting a 'new man' in your life then before you create an image in your head of what his role will be in your DCs life, I suggest you read one of the many Stepparenting/blended families books available so that your expectations of your partner and your DCs is realistic.

newlifeforme Sun 25-Aug-13 17:41:23

Being a step parent is very tough and not every one is cut out for the role.It feels like your partner isn't really onboard.He may have valid views on boundaries but he seems to be expressing those views aggressively.I would react strongly if my husband spoke to my daughter (his step daughter) as your partner did.

Your children are very young and I don't feel any of your rules are that inappropriate.I also think it takes 2 years to know a partner so I suspect you are now seeing the real him.I think his adhoc parenting to his own children reflect his parenting desires, which is to not be highly involved.You however want a more involved step parent so you are not compatible.Please don't settle, its too easy to replace one bad relationship with another.You often don't know you have settled until you have invested too much, either emotionally or financially.

brdgrl Sun 25-Aug-13 18:22:33

Chinacups has given some great advice, I think.

I'm surprised at the strength of feeling against your DPI must say, the only thing I see from the OP which I would call a 'red flag' is - possibly - the lack of regular contact with his own DCs. And without knowing any more about that, I guess it is hard to say any more.

The other points - Well. You agree that your kids have been a bit over-indulged and that your ex doesn't enforce rules and boundaries.

TV - I'm trying to picture what is actually going on there. If the TV is on for the kids for long stretches of time with no particular focus, and then he is coming in to switch it over to his programme, I don't see the problem, frankly. If the kids have one hour in which they are choosing a specific programme, and are glued to it and then he comes in and abruptly switches it over, that's a bit different. Maybe the solution is to have a more structured approach to tv time. (I mean specific times when the kids are watching and choosing - not the other way around - DP and you are the adults.) I do completely disagree with other posters, though, in that I think tv control should sit firmly with the adults. That doesn't mean being unkind about it, and if your DP is being unkind, that's a different thing, too.

Toys - I also have a front room where I don't tolerate toys. You say the kids have bedrooms and a playroom, same here, so I just don't let DD (3) or the DSCs (teens) lying around in the front room. It's mainly DD, really, so this isn't about stepkids, just different ideas, I guess. (And anyone that knows me IRL would laugh at the idea of me being very strict or Victorian!) But your DP is entitled to have some of his ideas about homelife taken on board, too.

Help in the mornings - DH has never expected me to be up with his kids in the mornings. I know couples manage this differently, but I do think there is a lot to be said for taking responsibility for your own kids in these circumstances. Likewise, when his kids are there, he should be doing the primary care, not foisting it onto you. That doesn't mean there can't be flexibility and help. I do a lot of the parenting of my DSCs, but there is a big difference between the bits I do willingly and voluntarily, and feeling taken for granted.

I too get the feeling that you see it as your DP having moved into your home and joined your family. That's a problem if he feels like he would like to be in a home he can think of as his own home. I'll be honest - I'd never ever ever have moved in with DH and the DSCs - we all moved into a new place together, and immediately there were - for ALL of us - new ways of doing things, new rules, new pictures on walls, new spaces...of course that isn't always possible, but what I am getting at is that it is not really fair to expect DP to feel like an outsider who has no ordinary adult life or say over how things happen in his home.

brdgrl Sun 25-Aug-13 18:23:20

Book recommendation: Stepcoupling, by Susan Wisdom.

riverboat Sun 25-Aug-13 19:49:27

Great post brdgrl

StoneBear - to answer your original question, I don't think there are universal ideals for stepparents. Some people have a very successful setup where the stepparent is fairly detached, other stepparents love their DSC like their own and parent them as they would their own.

It's all down to what works for you and yours.

I think that give and take is key. On the one hand I would be taken aback if DP expected me to get up in the morning on a regular basis with his son while he stayed in bed. I do it once in a while as a favour if I know DP particularly needs sleep, but not because I feel it is in any way my responsibility. But then I am also accepting of things like toys in the living room or DSS sometimes watching cartoons when there's a programme I want to watch, because I don't have unrealistic expectations about what it's like living with a child.

brdgrl's post asks a lot of pertinent questions. So often from posts on these boards it's hard to discern enough from the facts as they're posted, so much depends on the manner in which things are done...

MrsCampbellBlack Sun 25-Aug-13 21:01:36

Thing is with the tv thing that it does sound as though it was done unkindly. There was no 'come on children, you've watched enough tv' - he just turned it over - and that is rude and modelling very poor behaviour in my opinion.

And also the fact that he's good at discipline but not interacting with the children - do people really not think that's a massive warning sign?

The OP is busy blaming herself for being too soft but I actually wonder if she is or that's just what her DP has convinced her of.

StoneBear Sun 25-Aug-13 22:45:50

Before we lived together we did discuss our expectations, about roles. I feel sad that he feels at times like a lodger in the house. My DCs can be cheeky to him, I felt it was an age thing, as they're 3,5and 7. I do back him and vice versa even if he doesn't agree.

I know I need to be firmer with my DCs, and he's agreed that he can be too strict at times.

We are planning to build a new house together, just got planning permission, with rooms for everyone.

I am soft, always have been, and realise that you need to parent not befriend your DCs.

So I think there's scope for improval from all of us.

MrsCampbellBlack Mon 26-Aug-13 06:43:28

I totally agree that the role of a parent is not to be the best friend of the child. But kindness is very important and I would not build a house with someone who wasn't kind/interested in my children.

I'd take a long look at your relationship before you start building a house together, especially if its going to be jointly funded.

Mojavewonderer Mon 26-Aug-13 08:21:42

I am in the same situation as you op but I know it's not my husbands job to be my kids dad, that's my ex husbands job. I get up with my kids and my husband gets up with his kids when they stay (its just unfortunate my kids get up at 6 while his don't get up until 9) I don't tell his kids off and he doesn't tell my kids off. If we see something naughty going on we point it out to the other parent to sort out. We give each other advice about parenting skills. We get on well as a family but its not always been this way. I am soft at parenting, my kids could get away with murder because I felt guilty about leaving their dad because I was unhappy so I overcompensated with them and my husband helped me see that. My husband gets cross quite quickly he had a terribly abusive relationship with his ex wife who used to belittle and hit him and he was quite strict with his kids but helped him chill out and actually have fun with his kids and not worry if they made a bit of a mess. 4 years its taken but now it's great and we all are happy.
Its not been very long since you moved in together and it does take time to settle.
We went through exactly what you guys are going through and it's hard but hopefully you can all get through it.
Good luck

AmberLeaf Mon 26-Aug-13 08:31:52

You have moved from one abusive man to another.

I think you should repost this on the relationships board.

ElenorRigby Mon 26-Aug-13 08:42:29

FWIW I'm a step parent too, however I see huge red flags with this situation.
What exactly are the positives about this relationship, apart from getting on when those pesky kids arn't around.

bellabom Mon 26-Aug-13 08:53:36

I really don't see why he should get up and help with your kids in the morning at all. You haven't moved an au pair in! However, if he wants to be playing a part in discipline and how they are raised he will need to do a mix of fun stuff, praise, drudgery, and discipline. You can't have one of any of that without all of them and earn the kid's respect.

The TV thing is just rude though and bullying IMO.

JumpingJackSprat Mon 26-Aug-13 09:01:16

I dont think he sounds abusive. He sounds like hes struggling to find a place for himself in your family unit and nobody is particularly willing to make room. What happened with the tv - was it cartoons in the background or were they actively watching it? I dont think the tv is the kids to control personally - if theres something i specifically want to watch and dss isnt already watching tv then i turn it off. sometimes he then moans that he wants to watch "his programmes" but hes only interested in the tv once i have turned it over. i think its important for him to learn that other people in the house may not want to have cartoons on all weekend and their wants are important too. likewise dp often puts sport on in the same circumstances. op sounds like this man has brought some positive changes, only you know what the dynamic is like. i dont think its fair to expect him to get up with your kids.

Big red flags waving here, he moved in just 7 months ago and he is already trying to rule the roost in your house, and make digs at your parenting when he doesn't have anywhere near a perfect relationship with his own offspring.

I would consider splitting up as he is becoming far too involved and opinionated with children that are not not even his. After just 7 months he shouldn't be interfering in your life and putting you down, it isn't right and it isn't fair on your children if you follow through with his demands.

I'm sure your dc have been through enough in the past with your abusive ex without having to deal with another one on the scene. Put your dc first and ltb

ballstoit Mon 26-Aug-13 09:18:19

The only involving himself in discipline worries me. IMO discipline is the last bit a step-parent becomes involved in. When I was first with ex-h, I think I was more like an aunt type figure to his ds's. I wasn't responsible for them - didn't cook for them, do their washing or discipline them. I did play games with them, read to them, took them out separately to the park. I didn't discipline them until I started looking after them on my own, which was when I was pg with ds and we'd lived together for 2 years.

I am a lone parent to 3 DC, who are 4,6 & 8. The thought of them being disciplined by someone who has no relationship or real interest in them, other than trying to minimise their presence in our home, turns my stomach.

AmberLeaf Mon 26-Aug-13 09:25:37

He's happy to discipline,but there's no other parenting going on

That is worrying.

Oh and we do compromise about telly etc DP has got his way entirely, and we accept that's the way now

As is that.

There are some things here that you could say are part and parcel of step families, but the biggest issue is IMO his controlling bullying way and that you seem to have gone from one abusive relationship to another.

AmberLeaf Mon 26-Aug-13 09:27:09

Re him not getting up with the OPs children in the morning, she also says while camping he didn't get up with his own kids either bar one day.

ChinaCupsandSaucers Mon 26-Aug-13 10:01:36

amber his DCs are 10 and 13, so don't need supervision in the mornings in the same way as the OPs DCs do; they didn't need parenting in the same way.

Saying that - I would resent my DP if the rest of the family were up and about and he repeatedly laid in bed while on holiday - I'd be encouraging him to get up and help his kids cook pancakes while I got my little ones ready wink

WaitingForMe Mon 26-Aug-13 10:06:40

What stands out for me is the only parenting being the discipline. I like a tidy house, insisted DH was less of a Disney dad etc but I was immediately involved in all the good bits - taking my DSSs to the park, planning Birthdays/Holidays/Christmas.

Things like who gets up and TV rules can be worked on but if he doesn't actually want the kids in his life (both his own and his step kids from the sound if it) then there isn't much of an answer to be had.

nicknamegame Mon 26-Aug-13 13:07:03

China I have to say, I think you've been very harsh in your advice on this thread.

OP, I see nothing wrong in expecting the other adult in your life to have some responsibility towards your children. I would also feel very resentful (and experienced this) if my partner 'cherry picked' the parts of family life that appealed to him and opted out of the bits that don't. As others have said, there are red flags here. I do hope you're ok.

ChinaCupsandSaucers Mon 26-Aug-13 13:20:00

OP, I see nothing wrong in expecting the other adult in your life to have some responsibility towards your children

The overwhelming advice here on MN from Mums to Stepmums who have been delegated responsibility for their DSC by the DCs dad is to butt the hell out!

The double standards are incredible - on one thread, a stepmum is being sympathised with for having her DSC dumped on her, and yet on another, a stepfather is being castigated for not taking DCs on as his own.

WSM syndrome at its best wink

MrsCampbellBlack Mon 26-Aug-13 13:45:48

I don't think its WSM at all. Its basic human kindness. If you live with someone and you see they're tired as they get up with small children everyday, well it would be nice to let that person have a lie-in occasionally surely?

Sparklysilversequins Mon 26-Aug-13 13:51:46

Well my expectations must be impossibly high because the idea of a man who is supposed to be my partner, who has a nice lie in every morning and then when he DOES get up throws his weight about with regards to the remote control switching it over mid programme and sending my children to their rooms with a nice little bellow ringing in their ears does absolutely nothing for me. Maybe that's why I am still a Sad Single confused.

OP he sounds like a twat and I fear it will only get worse as your children get older.

edam Mon 26-Aug-13 13:58:59

agree with Sparkly.

He's behaving like a bully. Stalking into a room and switching over the TV that other people are already watching? Extremely rude. Lounging around in bed EVERY morning while his partner is up with the kids? Extremely lazy. Doesn't have consistent, regular contact with his own kids? Red flag, especially as he hasn't given the OP any reason.

edam Mon 26-Aug-13 14:00:43

Oh, and not contributing to household finances? A parasite. He's getting bed and board for free, ordering the OP's kids around - something is very wrong here and it isn't the children. His behaviour needs sorting out.

FourLittleDudes Mon 26-Aug-13 14:03:33

He sounds like my ex. Scarily so.

He started off the exact same way, but it wasn't long before he could barely hide the dislike and irritation he felt towards my children. He wanted them upstairs and out the way as soon as they walked through the door. Things got alot worse before I finally woke up and left him.

My children though, still wonder why I let a man move in and turn their lives upside down, we were happy until he came along and decided on his no toys downstairs and no kids programmes rules, until them playing became "them making a noise" and it was told repeatedly that I was to soft with them etc. They have never been badly behaved children, just normal children. And I let them down. I should have defended their right to be children, to act as children do and to feel comfortable in their own home.

Never again will I allow anyone to talk about my children the way he ended up doing (brats among other things) they were an annoyance to be endured until they went to their dads and he has me to himself, but his tolerance wore thin in the end and he stopped hiding his dislike for them.

It is my biggest regret.

ChinaCupsandSaucers Mon 26-Aug-13 14:07:30

mrscambell it entirely depends on the DCs, surely?

The OP has said that her DCs are cheeky and play up - I wouldn't get up so my DP could lie in bed for longer in that case, I'd expect them to co-operate - especially as there are mornings when the DCs aren't there so the OP gets a lie in then. My DSD is left to 'care' for DSS on school mornings and he plays up for her - if she goes and gets grandma or mum out of bed and he magically behaves. There's no way I'm introducing that type of dynamic into my home; dads kid, dads problem!

I've made no secret of the fact that I leave all the parenting of the DSC to my DP - even now, DSS doesnt welcome or appreciate my input and experiences physical symptoms of anxiety when left in my sole care.

I accept some people have interpreted other aspects of the behaviour as unacceptable - I think it depends on the circumstances but the fundamental problem imo is that the OP considers her DP to have joined her family. That makes being a stepparent 100 times harder than it already is.

Alwayscheerful Mon 26-Aug-13 14:11:00

Your children are very young and whilst you should be encouraging their independence they are still at the needy stage which can be exhausting, if your partner loves you, ask yourself, why he doesnt make himself part of your family by occasionally getting up and making breakfast and bringing you a cup of tea in the morning, why doesn't he take them to the park for an hour whilst you have a long bath?

I agree you should not be looking for a replacement father you are looking for your soul mate and life partner, he is either a man child or very selfish, to be honest you would be better off on your own, ask your self what will be left after the initial attraction wears off? Two years is very early days, too early to be building a house with joint funds.

MrsCampbellBlack Mon 26-Aug-13 14:16:39

China - sorry, I think you're wrong.

As sparkly so eloquently put it he sounds a 'twat'.

And he OP's children are young, still very young - some naughtiness is to be expected. I'm also not convinced the OP is too soft - its just her DP has convinced her he is.

And yes, the ad hoc contact with his own children seems very odd to me.

nicknamegame Mon 26-Aug-13 14:17:56

China people are allowed to disagree with you from time to time. You know that's ok, right?

I'm not sure how you got double standards from my post - I wouldn't advise a step parent to do nothing for their kids anymore than I would say a step parent should 'butt out'. I personally don't find it acceptable for a partner to behave in the way that the op describes, hence my post, but you would find me saying the same thing to a step parent who came on here and asked if its was ok for them to behave in way. So really, it's a bit unimaginative to wheel out the 'double standards' card every time someone on here has a different opinion from you.

ChinaCupsandSaucers Mon 26-Aug-13 14:27:48

nickname I'm sorry, have I said something to upset you?

I was only trying to highlight that your view, that stepparents should take on parental responsibility for DSC, is not widely held here on MN and that Stepmums are regularly abused and insulted for being as involved as you expect the OPs DP to be.

It's the fact that your view has not been shouted down is evidence of double standards - from experience, i would say that you would very quickly have been flamed if you were proposing that a stepmum get up in the morning to care for her DSC.

AmberLeaf Mon 26-Aug-13 14:29:15

It isn't that he is doing nothing with his step children, he is happy to punish them and is criticising the OP on her parenting while trying to convince her that a 3 yr old should be more independant. jeez. Do you really think that is healthy and normal?

OP take note of FourLittleDudes post please.

AmberLeaf Mon 26-Aug-13 14:31:33

China this situation is just not comparable to a regular/healthy step set up.

There are other worrying issues at play here, maybe take your step hat off and you may be able to see them.

This thread really would benefit from being posted in relationships.

This relationship isn't healthy and will in the end have consequences. This man is abusive, you need to put your children first.
They are very young and need totally different parenting than that of a 10 & 13yo.

Alwayscheerful Mon 26-Aug-13 14:48:19

I agree 3, 5 & 7 is very young, parent, step parent, auntie or friend the childrens needs are the same, normal step parenting 'rules' do not apply to children this young, their needs are their needs full stop. DP needs to support you or leave and OP please do not enable him.

ChinaCupsandSaucers Mon 26-Aug-13 14:48:50

amber I'm struggling to see it, I'm afraid!

Taking just the OPs posts, she has said that:

financially nothing has been sorted and her partner pays towards bills when she asks him and buys shopping. The OP paid for a family holiday they went on. poor planning but not financially abusive, there's no suggestion that the OP has tried to change things or that her DP has dictated that it must be this way

The OPs DP has expressed his desire for toys not to be left in the living room. No suggestion he has been abusive or rude about it. This is his home too, and the DCs have a playroom.

The OPs DP turned to TV to a channel he wanted to watch, compared to a situation, described by the OP, in which 'when the TV is on, it's on kids channels'. i don't see anything wrong with an adult in the home turning the TV over to watch a programme he wants to see if the kids TV programmes are background noise and the DCs roam backwards and forwards to view while doing other things

The OPs DP sent the DCs upstairs. Where their toys/the playroom is?

There has been a lot of projection and assumption on this thread by others - some of whom have even said thst the OP has been brainwashed into believing she has been soft on her DCs, yet the OP agreed that she has!

I just can't draw the same conclusions based on what the OP has said!

brdgrl Mon 26-Aug-13 14:50:25

You seem very reasonable about it all in your last post. I hope you will find ways of adjusting expectations and behaviour on all sides.
You know your situation. The rest of us are only speculating, and sometimes projecting, based on our own experiences (and in some cases, our own prejudices). Of course your DP would have a very different take on things, and you acknowledge there are improvements to be made on all sides. Please do think about seeing a counselor and also looking at some of the step-parenting books. The advice you will get from professionals is often very different indeed from that given by the non-step-parenting public.

brdgrl Mon 26-Aug-13 14:52:15

I'd also of course suggest reading lots and lots of threads on these boards. You will begin to see patterns in stepfamily conflicts, and you will also get a sense of which posters are routinely negative about stepparents.

nicknamegame Mon 26-Aug-13 14:55:50

Amber I agree with everything you say. There is too much focus on what he is and isn't doing as a parent/step parent rather than the very obvious bullying.

China, the difference here I guess is that I would expect a step parent, male or female to get up now and then with the step kids. I would also expect them to help out with school runs, bed times and all the other chores of being a parent. Not by way of replacing a parent and certainly not by way of shouldering the bulk of the responsibility but helping out from time to time? Yes. I just don't see how a family can work if there are such definitive lines drawn in the way you describe, and I don't see how one parent wouldn't come to feel resentful if they are run into the ground while the other does nothing.
I suppose I took issue with you saying things like 'why the hell should he get up with your kids'? I think it's harsh, and I would also like to ask the question - why the hell not?

Sparklysilversequins Mon 26-Aug-13 14:56:09

China I actually think its YOU that's projecting and assuming. The OP has used all the examples you have used in your post to show situations that have caused her concern, she is not just describing every day issues, she is using them to express that she feels something is not right and shes the one on the ground, you are ignoring that fundamental point.

MrsCampbellBlack Mon 26-Aug-13 14:56:58

China - what you described re. tv would be sort of ok, although in my family we politely ask before turning the tv over. But anyway, that is not what OP described.

Not sure I'm the only one projecting to be honest.

But I agree with amber that its more of a relationship issue between her and her DP.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nice cherrypicking of info from the OP too.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Excellent post Optimistic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I think the facts speak for themselves.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Exactly Sparklysilversequins.

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

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

Yes, this ^

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Things that worry me about what you have said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

The backstory is in her posts.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I'm obviously reading a different thread!

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

This bloke moved in 7 months ago!!! Will not permitt toys in ops house (it isn't his house) and the only parenting going on from him to ops children is disapline. The man is controlling, it is obvious!

ChinaCupsandSaucers Mon 26-Aug-13 15:48:14

LOL! How funny! grin

Wicked stepdad bans toys from the house!

Where, exactly, does the OP say that?

newlifeforme Mon 26-Aug-13 15:48:16

Op, I do think this relationship has moved very fast.2 years is no time at all, why are you rushing to make such a commitment such as building a house together?

I think there are red flags here, maybe they can be resolved but it would be better to do this whilst you are in your own house.Moving you & your children to a new house puts you in a more vulnerable position.It may feel appealing to have a new larger house but the risks potentially outweigh the benefits.What if his behaviour escalated when you had moved to the new house? Would you have a viable exit plan? I'm sorry that I sound negative but I've seen similar behaviour before and 4 years in, the relationship unravels.

I agree with others, your partner should not be attempting to discipline the children if he does not have a good relationship with them.He doesn't appear willing to invest his time.

Sorry mis put, not allowed toys in the lounge

ChinaCupsandSaucers Mon 26-Aug-13 15:57:24

pumpkin doesn't sound quite so controlling put like that, does it?

There are at least 10 live threads on MN at the moment about the same issue, many of which are <whispers> parents restricting their DCs toys to a playroom. How unreasonable!

But he hasn't long moved in, it wasn't his house to start with.
With kids as young as that they need toys to keep them stimulated & if the dc are always in their playroom they won't see much of their mother or stepfather who obviously wants them out of the way like his own children of whom he doesn't hardly see.

AmberLeaf Mon 26-Aug-13 16:09:33

I'm obviously reading a different thread!

Must be.

Sparklysilversequins Mon 26-Aug-13 16:15:27

"Pumpkin doesn't sound quite so controlling put like that does it?"

Yes it does actually with you being pretty much the only person this thread who doesn't think so?

OptimisticPessimist Mon 26-Aug-13 16:18:38

The issue isn't whether a "no toys in the living room" rule is reasonable though, it's whether the OP's DP is UR for unilaterally deciding that such a rule should be in place, going entirely against what the OP previously had in place for her children. She doesn't say that when he moved in the agreed on a change, she says he "doesn't tolerate toys in the living room" which is entirely different. With such young children, unless the parent sits in the playroom with the children, toys in communal areas are kind of to be expected and to expect them to play independently all the time is unrealistic. Tbh, I've had a playroom before, which was downstairs and next to the living room so not far away from where I was but the children still preferred to play in the living room and get input from me. It's their home as much as it is the OP's or the DP's.

Bonsoir Mon 26-Aug-13 16:23:50

I think he is taking you for a ride, OP! No toys in the sitting room? Switching channels on the TV? Not very nice, is he?

ExcuseTypos Mon 26-Aug-13 16:26:55

Agree Optimistic. It's quite a Victorian attitude to have the dc only playing with their toys in the playroom. And the OP has a 3 year old, I wouldn't be happy for them to be playing unsupervised for long stretches upstairs whilst the adults are downstairs.

OP you said you're planning on building a house with this man. I would seriously put that on hold until these issues have been ironed out. And by that I don't mean you giving in to his wishes.

Sparklysilversequins Mon 26-Aug-13 16:28:54

My dd is 6 and has her own room stuffed with toys. However 90% of the time she's in the living room or kitchen with me making a mess either talking to me or just being companionably quiet. I wouldn't have it any other way because I reckon in about 6 years time she will be keeping herself shut up in her room the way her older brother does.

I simply would not tolerate someone moving into our home and trying to change that whilst at the time referring to her as a spoilt brat. It's her home too! Why should harmless, normal, bond building practices be changed or disbanded because a grown man doesn't like it? I imagine you'll say it's his home too now china. Well if he sees the children already in situ in the home and functioning well as a problem and a nuisance that need to be moved into their rooms and out of his way then he should not be moving in there.

ivykaty44 Mon 26-Aug-13 16:32:46

He had a choice to move in and the children don't have a choice to move out

Alwayscheerful Mon 26-Aug-13 16:33:13

I am in the no toys in the sitting room camp for older children and I would expect younger childrens toys to be tidied away before dinner. This applies to my children and step children. I would expect a toy free sitting room most of the time after the age 10 and all the time in the evenings.

ExcuseTypos Mon 26-Aug-13 16:34:25

I also wonder what he'll be demanding in a couple of years, if he feels he can lay the law down as soon as he's moved in.

OptimisticPessimist Mon 26-Aug-13 16:36:23

That sounds fairly reasonable Always, although all of the OP's children are well under 10. The children being asked to tidy their toys away before dinner would be a perfectly reasonable compromise in the OP's situation, the DP imposing his expectations on the rest of the family is not.

OptimisticPessimist Mon 26-Aug-13 16:38:10

Yes I agree Excuse. I'd be running like the wind tbh. Kids get one childhood and there's no way I'd be gambling theirs on a waster like this.

elliebellys Mon 26-Aug-13 17:13:04

Op,how did your big chat go?.have you managed to get any kind of solution at all..

balia Mon 26-Aug-13 17:38:51

I'm a step-parent, and my DH is, too. His situation was similar to your DP's, in that he moved into my home and had to create a relationship with DD who was then 8. I realise this is a very hard thing to do, we certainly had our ups and downs and share of rows. But what strikes me about your DP, in contrast to DH, is the complete lack of respect he seems to have for you. He's living off you. He uses you to look after his kids (as well as just leaving you to look after the DC's he should be trying to create a relationship with) despite the fact that he criticises your parenting.

It doesn't sound like he is confused about his role at all - he gets to boss everyone around and live rent free.

StoneBear Mon 26-Aug-13 18:24:27

Thanks for all your comments, I have been/am at work so havent had a chance to respond.

Backstory, met DP online, he persued me, he was my first relationship after leaving my ex. He presented himself as very kind, and was good with the DCs. He moved in when he lost his home as it was tied to a job he'd been made redundant from, and had debts, which have since been paid off with his redundancy. That was 9 months ago now, and at the time, I felt perhaps it was too quick to make the step, I did have doubts and concerns. He got a job quickly, but we have never officially sorted out the financial arrangements. I have told him I need it sorted out, and he's always said, "we'll talk about it later". It has occured to me there is a financial gain to him staying with me. Certainly my family seem to think so, but they are civilised to him. He has complained he feels like an outsider. The house wont be a joint venture, I'm funding it, and plan to get a solicitor to draw up a cohabitation agreement etc, which he agreed with.

I have poured over posts here, and in relationships, as I do recognise the issues. I feel ashamed to have set up home with a man so unaccepting of my DCs, I feel I have badly misjudged things, and perhaps to the detriment of my DCs. The thing is, he was initially accepting, but things changed once he's moved in.

I agree I am soft, my mum also has taken me to task on this, and I am really working on being a better parent. I dont mind so much the toy thing, as we do have limited communal living space, but when DP initially brought it up, I felt he was being unreasonable, and I recall arguing that it was mine and my DCs house first. But I have tried to compromise. TV, well I think the kids are resentful, but its not a bad thing for their TV time to be structured. Last night, I suggested to DP that they could have a half hour whilst they had a bedtime snack and everyone seemed to think that was ok.

I mentioned the morning thing, I think not because I specifically expect him to get up instead of me, as I have to get up early anyway, but as a support to me. He sets his alarm for once we're out of the house. My ex used to be lazy in the mornings, so maybe this is why it upsets me. I can see its not reasonable to expect him to get up, but would love a cup of tea made for me whilst I'm rushing about getting everyone, including myself ready, who wouldn't?

I feel ashamed as in RL I am a successful professional person, I have moved to my home town, and haven't really any local friends, or social life. For me, this needs to change. My job is to offer advice to others, and I'm not bad at it. I think there are red flags, and I guess I wondered if I was being over analytical.

I really do appreciate all your advice. I turned to mumsnet years ago when I left my ex. It empowered me to leave, and thats why I returned, I guess.

Not sure my relationship is the one, I just wondered what others thought. And my biggest concern is my DCs, they have been through so much, they deserve the best, not a distracted mum, who's being pulled in all directions.

Thank you all.

ivykaty44 Mon 26-Aug-13 18:31:46

If your relationship is not the one - then why are you with him?

Are you afraid of being on your own long term?
What good is it doing you being with this man? What do you get from this relationship?
Do you really love him and trust him?

Sparklysilversequins Mon 26-Aug-13 18:33:49

He sets his alarm for when you're out of the house, he doesn't like toys to be seen, he sends your children to their rooms, he is sullen and sulky and it's all happy when they're not there.

He does not like your children sad. He pretended long enough to get though the door and now he's in he's showing his true colours. This thread is making me horribly sad. Your Mum says you're soft? Well LOTS of Mums say that because they're of a generation that brought children up far differently.

I hope you can find a way to sort this out because it is only going to get worse and your dc will end up with an unhappy childhood because of your choice of man.

riverboat Mon 26-Aug-13 18:35:11

I'm sorry to read that OP. For me the financial issues and his refusal to discuss them are the most concerning thing. No shame in being unemployed for a spell if its unavoidable, but his attitude towards the financial support you are giving him seems all wrong. That rings more alarm bells than the channel changing and toy refusal...

riverboat Mon 26-Aug-13 18:44:06

So wait, apart from sometimes paying for the food shopping, does he pay literally nothing else in terms of bills or living expenses? Even though he has a job?

Does he contribute to the household in other ways eg doing the lions share of cooking/cleaning?

brdgrl Mon 26-Aug-13 18:46:53

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

Kids and adults can have different privileges and limitations. WTAF.

According to some posters here, I am clearly a bully and abuser of my own DD, because I don't let her have her toys in every room of the house. Pish-posh. I have a bright and lively and very loved child whom gets comments everywhere we go about her sunny disposition.

brdgrl Mon 26-Aug-13 18:47:17

who, obviously. smile

NameThatTuna Mon 26-Aug-13 18:48:20

I agree with Amberleaf

China you sound like my stepmum, and guess what? I have no relationship with her and sadly, I don't have one with my father. Do you know why? Because I was treated differently to her own kids. She didn't really do anything with us when we went to visit. It was left to my dad, who we only saw on a adhoc basis too.

Small children don't understand. All they care about is a happy, loving home.

DP is step dad to my DD. She's very close to her dad but DP still treats her like his own. They have a great relationship, DP and DD's dad have a great relationship. All because we love and want whats best for DD.

There are red flags here.

I would love to know what OP's family said about him. In case you missed that part, her DM didn't take to him and questioned his motives.


NameThatTuna Mon 26-Aug-13 18:49:58

X post with OP

MrsCampbellBlack Mon 26-Aug-13 19:18:31

Brdgirl - are you reading what the OP writes.

I know this is the step-parenting topic, but come on, you must surely see that not every step-parent is a good one?

Stone - perhaps you should just post in relationships about your relationship - it doesn't sound like you get a great deal from it and I'm pretty sure your dc's are getting even less from it sadly.

AmberLeaf Mon 26-Aug-13 19:22:22

According to some posters here, I am clearly a bully and abuser of my own DD, because I don't let her have her toys in every room of the house. Pish-posh. I have a bright and lively and very loved child whom gets comments everywhere we go about her sunny disposition

That is obviously because you are not also an abusive cocklodger smile

But seriously, this isn't about you is it?

nicknamegame Mon 26-Aug-13 19:56:24

Brdgirl and China own this topic, everyone knows that.


brdgrl Mon 26-Aug-13 20:15:58

Not every step-parent is a bad one. I'm not defending the DP, but I am willing to accept that the OP knows her own mind. And I think it is really ridiculous for her DP to be labeled a bully and abuser with such certainty, based on the fact that she and he are discovering it is tougher than they thought for him to adjust to living in a house with children or for her to adjust her own expectations about his role.

Is it about me? No, but it is certainly relevant that I am in the same position, in some respects, as the OP's DH. And that I have the same rules and expectations in my home as he would like to have in his, and I think that is worth pointing out, since the usual step bashers see fit to tell the OP how extreme, Victorian, unrealistic, cruel etc her DP is...what is wrong with my pointing out that, in fact, some parents do have similar rules in their own (reasonably happy) homes?

lunar1 Mon 26-Aug-13 20:17:03

Op the more you post the worse he sounds. Did you even make a decision for him to move in or did it just happen due to his circumstances?

Please put your children first, they shouldn't have to live with a man who clearly hates them. There are some incredible step parents out there, my dad is one of them. We had our moments as my mum really rushed things when she met him, but the he always made us feel wanted.

You can do better than this man.

brdgrl Mon 26-Aug-13 20:19:48

I've read every word of the OP's posts. I don't think she's had any problem with what I have written, and she's been remarkably honest and sensible about the good and the bad of her DP.

MrsCampbellBlack Mon 26-Aug-13 20:44:24

Sadly, not much good about him though from what the OP has posted.

I'd just be very wary of getting even more financially entagled with him whilst I was so unsure of the relationship.

elliebellys Mon 26-Aug-13 20:46:34

O come on please why when a different view is expressed ,its then called step bashing...the views are on his apparent behaviour,not because he,s step dad..o nd it always seems to be the same posters who claim it.

brdgrl Mon 26-Aug-13 20:47:34

and it is always the same posters who do it. Always.

elliebellys Mon 26-Aug-13 20:52:59

Brdgl,so dont let it wind u up,everyones entitled to their own view whether we agree or not..

nicknamegame Mon 26-Aug-13 20:54:07

I think there should be a sticky on this board to warn that alternative views will not be tolerated and that you'll immediately be labelled as a 'step-basher' if you flaunt that rule.

brdgrl Mon 26-Aug-13 20:57:13

Precisely, Ellie.

SquidgyMummy Mon 26-Aug-13 21:14:16

Op, this has turned into a bit of a bun fight.
However, reading your posts, i would say that you know that this isn't the right relationship for you and most importantly your kids.

Your current DP is luckily not as abusive as your Ex, but he definitely seems controlling. He is on to a good thing, you came along at a time when he was in a financial mess. You have basically subsidised him paying off his debts.

I really don't think you should be living with him anymore, he is not adding to your life. I would suggest that he rents somewhere locally and you see him when your DCs are away. They don't need to be bossed around by him. So what if you are soft towards your children, you implemented structure after your divorce and they get love and cuddles from you.

The extra energy you expend on looking after your DP's children and generally being piggy in the middle could be spent on your DCs and time for yourself...

Listen to your family, they have your best interests at heart and can see your DP for what he is....

StoneBear Mon 26-Aug-13 21:14:18

Thank you for all comments, it's helpful to get differing opinions.

DP does a lot of cooking our meals, and the washing, so when I putting my DCs to bed he's usually preparing our tea. There is certainly a change when my DCs aren't here, and one I have raised with him, several times.
I feel at times I have a double life, and it would be great if it didn't have to be like that.

StoneBear Mon 26-Aug-13 21:18:19

I think I have suppressed my resentment of him, but I can see that even if he loves me, he doesn't love me with DCs, and that's the bottom line. And maybe when we started out, even though he said he accepted we all came together as a package, maybe he did have good intentions, it's not working out. I'm sad, but I'd much rather put my DCs first, than accept this double life of my own creation.

brdgrl Mon 26-Aug-13 21:21:18

Good luck, StoneBear. It sounds like you are a strong person, and you'll be fine if you do go back to being on your own. (keep us posted, if you feel like it!)

SquidgyMummy Mon 26-Aug-13 21:25:27


I see that he helps out a bit, but making dinner for just the 2 of you isn't loads of help. (I initially thought he made dinner for the whole family.)

What is the change when your DC's are away?

I just think you are taking on too much. If you lived separately, you could choose what to do with the child-free time and when your DP visits your home, he should be treating you and your DCs with respect, not ordering them around.

There are so many red flags here. You've got out of one unhealthy relationship before try and see this one for what it is...

SquidgyMummy Mon 26-Aug-13 21:27:31

You're not happy and it looks like you now know what to do.
Be strong and see it through for your DCs

StoneBear Mon 26-Aug-13 21:27:33

Thanks. In a way when I started the post I wondered if I was being unrealistic, but I realise we were both unrealistic. Last week I felt very upset when we fell out as I was too soft with the kids, and he stormed off out of the house, and on return and for several days after he was sulking. I felt it was my fault, but it wasn't, it was differing expectations.

StoneBear Mon 26-Aug-13 21:30:38

The change is he is happier, more relaxed, fun to be with. Less moody. I could go on.

SquidgyMummy Mon 26-Aug-13 21:37:49


[http://www.wikihow.com/Recognize-a-Controlling-Person This] article is a bit long but really tells you everything you need to know about controlling people.

Sounds like you are walking on eggshells around this man.
At least you have done sensible things like having a cohabitation agreement drawn up.

I think next time your DCs are at their Dad's you and your DP need to have a frank chat. Be prepared for a (positive) change in his behaviour to appease you, but really you and your DCs were just fine before he came along.

Please Please don't put up with or let your little ones have to put up with living with this man any longer....

SquidgyMummy Mon 26-Aug-13 21:38:37
SquidgyMummy Mon 26-Aug-13 21:40:24

Well I would just live separately and see him without your DCs around.
Maybe in an ideal world that would be enough for you both.
He is certainly no help as a co-parent (step or otherwise)

ballstoit Mon 26-Aug-13 23:14:41

The staying in bed and not helping with the DC is not a pretty picture. I often have my parents, friends and siblings round for dinner (not all at once usually grin ). Then, after dinner they will often volunteer to bathe my DC, read stories etc while I tidy and wash up. Or vice versa. That isn't because it's their responsibility, or because I can't cope. It's their way of offering support with the hard work that is being a lone parent to 3 small children. Why doesn't your do want to offer you the same support occasionally?

Bottom line is, are you and your dc happier with him or without him? I suspect it's the latter. You are providing a role model for your DC of how people behave in a relationship, and it's not a model I'd want my children to aspire to.

There's no shame in ending a relationship that isn't working.

Kaluki Mon 26-Aug-13 23:44:08

This thread is very interesting because I can see both sides.
My DP was terribly soft on his dc and a complete Disney dad when we met and when we moved in together I insisted that he discipline them and set rules and boundaries and I am sure at some point I called them spoilt brats (they were).
I don't get up for his dc while he lays in bed unless there is a good reason and I tell them to tidy up/clear away their toys and after 8pm I take control of the tv remote and send all the kids off to do something else. So in that respect I am like your DP and think your expectations are slightly unrealistic.
But the difference is that DP and I are a team, we respect each other and treat all the dc the same and neither one of us is the 'boss' or the alpha parent. We have both compromised a lot and made changes.
The thing that worries me about your posts is that he seems to be using you. He is living in your house, hardly contributing financially, enjoying holidays at your expense and about to move to a bigger house funded by you - he's what is known in here as a cocklodger!!!
Maybe you are soft on your kids - only you know that, but I think you are being too soft with him too. He has no right to treat you with such little respect and you have every right to disagree with his rules. Things like this should be discussed between you and agreed on as a team, not one person imposing his will and the other having to go along with it!!

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