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parents splitting up when you're an adult/accepting new "step-parents"

(15 Posts)
HappyJoyful Thu 31-Oct-13 10:38:14

Umm, an interesting comment you make about him taking you along to meet a mistress before - maybe somehow you need to talk those thoughts anxieties / thoughts through with him first ? Perhaps it's sort of causing some of the angst.

Glad to hear my folks aren't the only ones that contemplate splitting house

At the age your kids are - certainly don't worry about them having to call them anything other than what you tell them.

Horsemad Wed 30-Oct-13 22:11:39

My mother insisted on signing b/day cards to my DC from Nan & Grandad.
My dad has been dead for almost 30 yrs, my kids call my SFather by his Christian name, so no idea why she signed cards that way!
Interestingly, she signed their cards this yr from Nan & [SFather's name].


Dahlen Wed 30-Oct-13 16:25:27

I think every case is different. From my own observations I'd have to say that adult children often seem to take it worse than dependent children.

I think there's a lot of truth in the PP's comment that our parents' relationship is a template for our own, so when it goes wrong it feels like our own relationship is under threat (even though all this is happening subconsciously). There can be a sense that our childhood was a lie if our parents divorce after we've flown the nest. That's very unsettling.

I think even as adults who accept that our parents' separation is a good thing, there is a small subconscious child inside who wants them to get back together and recreate the childhood of our dreams. The new partner is an obvious barrier to that. Also, in cases where an affair has been involved, I think it's tempting to blame/dislike the new partner in much the same way people blame the OW/OM.

In your case Arabella there is obviously a history of your DF behaving badly and his current partner is clearly not the first he's had since marrying your mother. That is obviously going to hinder your ability to accept his new partner because a part of you will be wondering how permanent she is likely to be and not wanting your DC to bond in case she disappears. I think that's probably quite a sensible reservation under the circumstances, though I would always be polite and friendly to the new woman who isn't, after all, responsible for your DF's behaviour.

Generally speaking, I think a certain degree of reservation is always a good thing for any new relationship. In the same way I wouldn't introduce a new partner of my own to my DC, and when I did I would take it slowly. The same rules apply to step-parents of adult children and their own children I think.

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Wed 30-Oct-13 16:04:45

I read your opening paragraph and thought, not only are these your parents, so if you have a good relationship it will hurt to see them go through this; but also until 5 years' ago, your parents' relationship has has probably been a template for your own relationship, no wonder you are upset, adult or not.

Reading further it appears your dad was having an affair back when you were a small child. That puts things in a different light even if his current gf is someone he says only known for 10 months. Whether he had a string of mistresses or just one, it is unsuitable for children to be placed in the situation of knowing and enduring.

However, back to now, you yourself say your DM would not expect you to shun this woman nor keep your DCs away from her. It is not a question of replacing grandma, your mother still being vey much alive and in the picture. I presume your DCs won't call this other woman by whichever name they have for your DM? Gf may not even wish to try and form a bond with you or your family. The DCs are young enough to accept whatever you tell them about your F and his new companion.

I haven't been in your shoes but I'd have thought best to get a first couple of meetings over with well before Christmas. Perhaps en masse to break the ice on neutral ground with DP along for moral support would be preferrable. Allowing for DC2's age, or general routines, you'll have the excuse to leave if you feel uncomfortable.

Hettyjones Wed 30-Oct-13 15:55:00

Arabella, of course 10mths is still early esp if they're not living together and there's a chance it may be temporary. My experience on both mine and dh's side is of long term step parents.

And no, I wouldn't expect the circumstances surrounding our (hypothetical) divorce to influence the way our children related to either of us. By the time they are adults I would expect them to understand and not feel affected by it. If DH left me for another women after our children had reached adulthood then I certainly wouldn't expect it to affect their relationship with their father. We have good friends who have recently divorced and whilst I am close to the woman and feel defensive of her due to his affair, it hasn't stopped us seeing her xh. He and DH are close friends and they're adults and their marriage is their business.

ladyantigone Wed 30-Oct-13 15:52:32

My parents split when I was a child, but since then I've had three step-parents as an adult, and yes it is bloody hard!! My mum's husband (she married when I was 23) doesn't give a stuff about us, or even her as far as I can see. We largely ignore each other.

When my father split acrimoniously from his second wife (I was 25) and quickly got together with his third, he really could not understand why people weren't happy for him. We'd invested quite a bit of energy in Wife II - she was hard work and not nice. It simply put us out of kilter, the thought that we'd all have to start again. We were just a bit reticent, but he thought we were all trying to spoil his happiness. As it turns out, Wife III is lovely, but not massively interested in his children. I wonder if he told her we weren't over the moon about another massive drama.

The thing is that it doesn't much matter. My family doesn't exist now. The easy dynamic you have when you've all been together for donkey's years doesn't exist. You get used to just doing the best in the situation and hoping nobody moves on again!

Lamu Wed 30-Oct-13 14:18:07

I totally sympathise with you. I think firstly you need to separate your feelings about i) the separation/divorce ii) and the new partner. Unless they are linked of course.

My 'D'M is currently getting divorced to husband number 3 after 8 years of marriage. Her last one lasted a little over 5 years. She kept insisting on Dd 2 spending time with 'grandad' even though I wasn't entirely comfortable with it. I've resisted having any sort of relationship with dm's husband as I didn't feel I needed another faux father figure especially with my mothers track record. That said, he's a brave nice guy and has put up with my mothers quirks for longer than we all anticipated.

Your children do not have to spend time with your dads new partner unless you want them to. And you would not be unreasonable in taking the relationship slowly. Yes fake it, be polite, you may warm to each other in time but only if it hasn't been forced upon you by your father iykwim.

RoxanneReidsChafingFishnets Wed 30-Oct-13 13:46:45

Which isnt**

RoxanneReidsChafingFishnets Wed 30-Oct-13 13:45:33

I was 18 when mine split.

I then got pregnant so each step parent had to adjust to been a step grandparent.

I get on well with stepdad. Its actually his birthday today and I've organised it as mum is working. He is very close to my nearly 4 year old. Neither can do wrong in each others eyes grin He calls him his own version of grandad and step dad likes to brag about his grandson.

My dads gf I do not get on with. She has no children of her own and doesn't really accept me as I'm not dads bio daughter. My son calls her by her name when he sees her which is often at all even though been around since he was born.

I'm nice for my dads sake tbh.

ArabellaBeaumaris Wed 30-Oct-13 13:44:32

Hettyjones of course my parents are adults with their own wants/needs, & I do not expect them to stay together for the sake of their grown children hmm but no, my dad's girlfriend is not grandma - they have been together for 10 months. If your relationship with your DH broke down, would you accept that the circumstances in which that took place might affect your children's relationships with you & your DH?

HappyJoyful my aunt is talking about converting the house into flats & divorcing then! I really can't imagine it working for them at all, no new partners involved though. But you're right, I do just have to go along with it, & had already thought about meeting up on neutral ground. I suspect my dad is waiting for me to offer a meeting. DC are 5 and 2.

To be honest it all brings back awful memories of dad taking me & my brothers to the museum with his mistress back when we were kids, & the torn feelings of loyalty to my mum but being a powerless child.

Feckssake Wed 30-Oct-13 13:38:35

I'm in a similar situation, and I can empathise with feeling uncomfortable with it all - especially as my F's new partner both looks and acts a LOT like my M. Freaky stuff. I found their relationship hard to take, I think because of that similarity, but my M's new partner is very different from my F, and I get on fine with him. I am LOVELY to my F's partner, even though she makes me grit my teeth. Apparently she thinks I'm great. Ultimately I'm aiming to get to the point where I'm not pretending, although I accept that may be some time away . . .

You'll need to find some reserves of restraint, and as MN says, fake it till you make it.

Hettyjones Wed 30-Oct-13 13:20:14

I'm always amazed at how this seems to affect people. To my mind they are adults with their own wants/needs and sex life and if my relationship with DH irretrievably broke down then the only consideration would be the kids. When your kids are adults you don't have that consideration.

And of course FIL's wife is grandma. They've been married longer than we have (just) and my dcs have always known them to live together. So it's grandad and grandma's house etc.

Mrsostrich Wed 30-Oct-13 12:56:46

I was 15 when my parents divorced I went with my dad as we got on better and I figured someone needed to watch out for him (washing cleaning cooking etc) he met someone when I was 18. I never expected my dad to meet anyone at all. I wasn't keen on her at first. She was very full on mother type, wanting to do things as a family etx which was alien to me and I pushed her away and if I'm honest I was jealous.

But by the time I was 20 ish I loved her and although she does my head in sometimes I have a lot of respect for her.

I'm in my early 30's now she is as much of a nana to my dd as my mum is. We have a really good relationship and most importantly my dad is the happiest I have ever known him to be.

HappyJoyful Wed 30-Oct-13 12:49:52

I sympathise totally.

I think it's underestimated sometimes the effect it can and does have on adult children.

My parents separated sometime ago, and are not legally divorced- they converted the house into 'flats' and my Mums partner moved in! It was all totally freaky and cringe worthy. I oddly (out of character) managed to deal with it all first and tried hard not to be hostile / defensive, however, he was a totally unpleasant control freak and in the end I no longer speak to him he also has moved out but due to other reasons

I guess the way I had to view it was they were both happy - it sounds like your parents are too ? There doesn't appear to be any bitterness and anger on their behalf so I guess you have to try and go with it.

I recall vividly also meeting my Dad's new partner and I figured for some reason found that ok.. I again, felt I had to be the bigger person, it can't have been easier for her either I guess.

I would suggest meeting somewhere neutral, I wouldn't take the kids either. Randomly, I also took along a small pot plant for her - I'm not entirely sure why, but I figured making her 'welcome'.

It is all a bit odd and cringe worthy - however, sometimes better to sigh, accept things and try and make the best of the situation... you can learn to like them (or not!) as time goes on.. just for starters maybe just keep things polite and friendly.

Does she have any kids ?

Don't worry about your kids - you don't mention their ages, I most certainly wouldn't expect our DD to call anyone other than the grandparents by such titles and we simply refer to the partners by their names - though given DD isn't even 3 yet it's been very simple for her and she rarely has contact with the partners anyway..

ArabellaBeaumaris Wed 30-Oct-13 12:38:02

My parents have separated after 30+ years & are getting a divorce. I'm a grown up with a partner & 2 DC but have found it quite hard to deal with (it's been on/off for 5 years). Easier now that is is definite & they are moving towards financial settlements etc, no going back. Their relationship is amicable & they see each other frequently.

My dad now has a new partner who he has moved in with. Our relationship has taken quite a hit over this separation from my mum, & he clearly doesn't feel at ease talking about his new partner to me. In fact he hasn't told me that he has moved in with her, it was my mum who told me. I am aware that if she sticks around I will have to meet her & she will have to spend time with my children. I feel very hostile towards her & defensive on behalf of my mother. My mum will never ask me not to see her/keep the grandchildren away & is very upset that my relationship with my dad has been damaged, but also feels very hurt at being replaced so quickly, & would not like to see my children responding to someone else as a "grandmother".

I just can't imagine having an easy meeting with my dad & his new partner - I cringe inside just to think about it. Have other people been through this?

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