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Blended family - kids going absolutely bonkers whenever they are around each other. At our wits end!

(25 Posts)
HepHep Tue 04-Mar-14 21:36:44

All all, I hope some of you might be able to shed some light on this issue as it is causing some contention and we are both really unsure how to move forward with it. I'll try and be concise but obviously don't want to drip feed.

So DP and I have been dating for about 14 months, it was a long distance relationship at the start and we are both women. Not sure the latter is relevant but it slightly affects the parenting dynamic as we are both mothers and the main carer for our respective children, IYSWIM. I moved in with DP fully in November, until then there had been a fair bit of to-ing and fro-ing, and I still spend about a week a month in my old location a few hundred miles away so my DS can spend time with his dad. But we for all intents and purposes live together full time. I home educate my DS, and DPs DD goes to school and is with her dad ever other weekend, sometimes more. Our kids are around each other most evenings, alternate weekends and all holidays etc.

We were always delighted with how eerily well the kids got on together from the outset, but it has been getting more and more draining how incredibly bonkers they get when around each other.
DP has a DD of almost 8, and my DS is 5.5. When they are around each other they both behave like they are 3 or 4, and I am not exaggerating. Screaming, shouting, being quite naughty and inconsiderate and just generally being hell to be around. They seem to show off to each other or egg each other on in terms of using rude words or laughing after one of us has told them off, etc. As soon as they are on their own, or with any other children at all, they are both fine - their normal selves. And individually they are both great kids, who can act their age and be a real pleasure to be around. Together, they wind each other up and just become a bit hyper and horrendous.

It is getting more and more difficult and we are also at odds on how to deal with it. My DP thinks they are happy, kids will be kids and we shouldn't bother too much, although it also irritates her what they can be like at times. I would prefer to be stricter and more firm about what is and isn't acceptable behaviour, even if that means punishing them with timeout or withdrawn privileges or whatever until they understand that they can't dominate every situation with shrieking and horseplay the whole bloody time. This isn't just when we are in the house, it is when they are out as well. Every car journey, walk, trip anywhere. On one particular trip to the bank while I waited with both kids, I asked them about 5 times with increasing crossness to stop what they were doing and they looked at me blankly and just carried on each time. It was like they couldn't help themselves. Especially DPs DD will ignore what I say and only toe the line for her mother, which is demoralising and frustrating, although I know it's a common issue in step families, not that we are quite that yet.

There is an element of 'you child is leading my child astray! My DC is lovely when your DC isn't around' that I can feel creeping in when we discuss it, and that's why I want to deal with it because it's starting to cause tensions and resentment. DP is a MNer too grin so she will no doubt be along at some point to explain how it is for her. Sorry for the ramble. What on earth can we do to encourage to play with each other the way they do with any other children? Why are they going mental when together - does this ever happen in blended families that the kids get on SO well it's almost deafening? smile

HepHep Tue 04-Mar-14 23:33:39


TamerB Tue 04-Mar-14 23:38:35

Well you have got together without any clear plan and the children are picking up on it.
You need to sit down with your DP and make structures and boundaries that you are both happy with, although you may have to compromise to some extent.
You then explain the rules to the DCs and they will feel more secure.
You then make sure you are consistent.

ExBrightonBell Tue 04-Mar-14 23:39:47

Have you tried posting in the step-families bit? You might get more replies there.

I have absolutely no relevant experience at all, but it occurs to me that how you deal with the children needs a lot more discussion between you and your partner. You need a united approach agreed in advance that you both can get behind 100%.

This would seem to be an urgent priority before you are live together completely full time.

SummerRain Tue 04-Mar-14 23:48:30

I don't think this is necessarily a step family issue. My children wind each other up to extraordinary levels too, especially my two boys. Individually they're fine but put them in a room together and it descends into utter chaos.

I'm afraid I have no idea what the solution is, some children just seem to hype each other up for no apparent reason and unfortunately your two appear to have that chemistry.

steppemum Tue 04-Mar-14 23:48:42

Yes definitely make a plan. Don't start with the behaviour, talk about your values and ideals in relation to parenting. What matters most to you? Fun? Structure? Love? Security? Respect? They are not mutual exclusive of course, but it will help you see each others parenting basis.

Then agree certain times/rules when it matters, and when they can let off steam, so for example they can run round screaming after school, but at the meal table, they must do x, y and z.
Also talk about how to support each others parenting, and you will both need to make a point of saying to your dcs, that when an adult tells them NO, they need to listen.
Whatever you decide, it needs to come form both of you as a united front.

And also, make sure you have one on one time with your own dc.

HepHep Tue 04-Mar-14 23:49:20

Thanks, both. I have double posted in step parenting as well, yes.

We are more or less living together full time already, I have given up my place late last year and we are now sharing a home, bills, food etc. So yeah this does need to be addressed I feel, and it doesn't feel like we are unified in our approach at the moment, mainly because we disagree on how to handle it.

HepHep Tue 04-Mar-14 23:50:44

oops, x-ppsted with more of you. Thank you so much, all suggestions are really welcome - we are each coming from a place of having an only child and so this is all quite hard work smile.

SeasonofTheWitch Wed 05-Mar-14 10:11:34

I'd say most households with more than one child in have quite similar times - living with the dynamic between siblings is a huge blessing (one of my favourite things is watching my children play together) but also a challenge (like the times you describe above!).

For your two it must be a wonderful novelty to have a constant playmate like this but it's likely they'll settle down into a more typical sibling relationship.

As others have said, the main thing is for you and do to have an agreed approach to parenting and also agreed limits/boundaries. And also understanding that there's no right way to parent, it's about having something that works for you all.

WeekendsAreHappyDays Wed 05-Mar-14 10:16:07

Blending families is hard, blending families where one child is home edded and one is not is, I would imagine going to be almost impossible. And I say that as someone with an interest in home educating.

BelleOfTheBorstal Wed 05-Mar-14 10:17:34

Do they have separate bedrooms?

derektheladyhamster Wed 05-Mar-14 10:23:09

my 2 boys (same age gap as your 2) were like this at that age. I hated going out with them together online shopping became my savior I agree that the novelty of a playmate has something to do with it, and it's probably their age too.

I am the disciplinarian in the family so they had the same boundaries (still didn't help their behavior on occasion though!)

HepHep Wed 05-Mar-14 10:25:06

They do have separate bedrooms, thank god. Weekends, what makes you say that, out of interest? That aspect is quite a tricky one and ends up with us feeling like two distinct families under one roof. confused

WeekendsAreHappyDays Wed 05-Mar-14 10:32:20

Its 2 completely different parenting styles, its going to lead to accusations of favouritism, you are going to hve days when the older 1 doesnt want to go to school and more.

To blend a family you need to be able to parent together, jn a fair and equitable way, both singing from the same hymn sheet

HepHep Wed 05-Mar-14 11:12:52

Yeah, well DPs DD goes to private school, I would love to send DS to private school but I can't afford it. So we are coming from different places, for sure. That said, both kids seem happy with their differing lives - it is just different. Which sometimes seems sad. DP is a teacher grin but is pro-home ed as well.

BelleOfTheBorstal Wed 05-Mar-14 11:13:29

With them having separate bedrooms, I would be instigating some kind of time out policy, whereby if they really become out of control, they have to go and spend thirty minutes in their bedrooms, doing something quiet and restful, such as reading.
So you are out and they won't calm down, simply tell them if they do not, you will be sending them for quiet time in their rooms, once you are all home.

HepHep Wed 05-Mar-14 11:21:08

Oh, I am totally all for this and this is what I have used with DS when I was a single parent and he was acting up. DP is not so happy with this method though, and feels it is punishing them for just being lively and happy.

WeekendsAreHappyDays Wed 05-Mar-14 11:47:46

I agree with dp - timeout is ineffective and doesnt address the issues.

WeekendsAreHappyDays Wed 05-Mar-14 11:50:25

Plus it would be wrong to start introducing harsher discipline methods than a child is used to. You and DP need to sit down together - and decide between you a way forward.

LingDiLong Wed 05-Mar-14 13:53:31

I agree that this isn't necessarily a blended family problem - my kids can be like this together. I think it helps to really look at what they are doing and being very specific about what bothers you. There is no point telling them to 'calm down' or 'stop being silly' for example but 'you are being too loud' or 'no running around inside' may get better results with the kids and help you and your partner work out exactly what constitutes 'undesirable behaviour' in your house. You may be able to come to a compromise?!

Sometimes my kids drive me crazy being noisy and silly but they're not actually being naughty just loud and irritating! I try and stop before I tell them off and think about exactly what I'm telling them off for. Are they being rude to me or each other? Are they doing something that may lead to broken property or injuries?

Procrastreation Wed 05-Mar-14 19:48:09

Larger groups of kids naturally are more lively (the way that large groups in restaurants are noisy - even if it's the actuarys away day!) .

Why not create special 'mad dog times' eg take them to a local wood to get it out of their system.

At other times - I find it useful to channel my brood. Eg ask them to organize a party, or offer them £5 if they can sort all the laundry and demonstrate great team work. That let's them still be excitable without being destructive.

LBsBongers Wed 05-Mar-14 19:59:10

My 3 go bonkers, people comment on how well behaved they are in public but at home they can get very very excited and bomb about with each other. I would say that if you are only used to one then two ( relatively young) kids together is probably quite a shock. With me you are very much in control and two together has tipped the power balance towards the kids.

bubblesmonkey Wed 05-Mar-14 20:00:01

Thanks for the replies. I am the OP's DP. It's good to get some other perspectives on this situation.

LBsBongers Wed 05-Mar-14 20:00:59

Sorry should read ' with one'

HepHep Thu 06-Mar-14 08:49:31

Yes, it's great to get other perspectives. I think they always got on so well I hadn't given much thought to the actual realities of going from 1 to 2 kids - which after all people always say is the hardest compared to going from 2-3 or 3-4 etc etc. Apart from going from none to one, obviously wink

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