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My relationship with my 8 year old step son is deteriorating - pls advise! Thx

(9 Posts)
ALCS Tue 07-Jun-11 01:55:16

Hi, I am new to this and I would like to ask you for an advice. Apologies in advance for not using the appropriate abbreviations and for a long message.

I have been with my BF for almost 3 years. My partner has 3 boys; this year they will be 15, 13 and next month 8 years old. My BF and I moved in together after 9 months of dating and I met the youngest two 6 months later. For the first good 5 months I used to vacate our flat and stay with my friend, so that the kids could get used to new surroundings (my BF's idea). Later I would stay in the flat but sleep in a separate bedroom. His eldest however didn't want to visit because of me (even though I wasn't there) and after 2 visits he didn't come again for few months. We thought we lost him. Luckily my BF's ex found a new partner and everything changed. After months and months of not wanting to visit his dad he was visiting ok and our relationship is quite good now. Last year in June we moved to a new place and from then on my BF and I sleep in the same bedroom.

I get on pretty well with the first two boys. I say pretty well as the 15 year old is testing our patience with "I know it all" but that's what all teenagers are and it's totally understandable. He can be lazy, selfish and manipulative at times, but yet again he is a teenager plus (with regards to selfish and manipulative) most similar to my partners ex wife - everyone said that. Overall however they are good kids.

I have a problem however with the youngest one. For some unexplained reason I find the youngest one really, really irritating. He is very loud, can't stay still for 2 minutes, gets overly excited about things and when he speaks he can't put sentences properly together - almost every sentence starts with a question i.e. do you know Rita (from Alton Towers) and has to have "it's like" in it, all he is interested in are X-box and Wii, Simpson and Family Guy (although I don't think he should be watching it at such young age). He must be in a centre of everyone's attention all the time and if he doesn't get his way he gets very moody and express his anger by slamming the door or stamping his foot and walking away. He also picks up fights with his older brothers and when he loses he cries for Daddy and uses crocodile tears to get his attention. Naturally he doesn't like all the foods we are cooking, so I have started to cook with him (he is keen!) and surprise surprise he now likes mushrooms - but he is still fussy and likes to make a scene at a table, even complaining about food he previously has been fine with.

Hi is not unintelligent (although it is apparent he won't be as academic as his brothers) but for example he doesn't remember who is auntie R. An auntie who has been sending him cards, present and money for B-day and Christmas and with whom he spent last holiday. She is my partner's only sister. He remembers Penguin Club alrightsmile. His attention span is minimal, he cannot concentrate and we have been trying very hard to slow him down so he can think before he opens his mouth.

Naturally he doesn't want to go to bed at decent time and tries everything to stay up often questioning how come his brothers cab stay and he cannot. When we say that his brothers are older he gets upset. When he was younger, every night he would get up at 2am-ish, wondered to his parents' bedroom and ended up sleeping in his parents' bed. His mother had to leave lights on in the hallway (which is ok as a lot of kids are scared of the dark) AND had to stay outside of his door with a promise of not going downstairs as otherwise he would not want to sleep - the fact that she let him is unthinkable to me. How a young child can dictate such things. Surely with a proper bed time routine from a young age his mother wouldn't have to stay outside of his bedroom until he falls asleep.

He would either ask me a question, and then ask my partner the same question or he would only ask me as everyone else is busy and don't listening to him, so I am 4th to go. He doesn't really notice me much around the house and is glued to his father, which is important as he sees his dad every 2 weeks from Friday afternoon till Sunday eve, so not often. They do spend however half of their holidays with his dad.

I feel that my relationship with him is evaporating and I don't know what to do about it. I guess I am frustrated that he behaves in a certain way, which would not be how I would bring my own children. I am annoyed that I am nobody for him. I don't have to mention that he isn't looking for any physical contact with me. When he was younger he would hold my hand when we were going to a hairdresser or a park, but we haven't done much recently. I cannot find much in common with him and because he speaks fast and doesn't use the language properly I cannot fully understand what he is trying to tell me. Plus I can't get excited (and I have tried) about his world - boys' stuff and all!

When they visit I now often stay in bed till later and I try and arrange to either see my friends on Saturday afternoons or go shopping (even if it's just a window shopping). I feel that I need to get out as otherwise he will drive me crazy. Him and his (almost) 13 year brother fight a lot, but he picks up fights with both of his brother. His often screaming (daaad so and so is mean to meeee!) is doing my head in and I can't wait to get out of the house.

My BF noticed that my relationship is with his kids is deteriorating and it really could be a deal breaker for us. We love each other very much and went through a lot already in this relationship (long story), but unless things change I cannot see a light at the end of this tunnel. I've been thinking a lot about why I react with such a dislike toward the youngest. As I said I find him very time consuming and irritating. I don't find other children that and I generally like kids. I do however have a good time with him when it is just the 2 of us as he is a different kid altogether and can be a good fun. But overall he wants to spent time with his dad - not me!

My partner's ex is getting married soon, she knows her partner for just 1 year, yet he moved in with her within 5 months of them being together, with no fuss as to sleeping arrangements and they are now getting married. I feel that the kids think her BF is somewhat more important than me because it is in the kids' eyes "serious" alas my BF and I are just "dating". Could that be the reason for me feeling left out of the equation and being embarrassed about my (lack of) status in front of the children? I don't know, but I need to fix things before it is too late.

Any advice will be much appreciated.


eslteacher Tue 07-Jun-11 09:24:42

I don't know if I have any advice for you, but just want to say that I share a lot of your feelings and am going through some of the same stuff myself with my 6 year old stepson (I just posted a thread about this the other day)...I am very familiar with the feelings of annoyance at the refusals to eat food he previously liked, the constantly wanting to be the centre of attention, and also agree that it's hard to get excited about the "world" of a young boy, ie when they want just want to be playing computer games or watching cartoons you've never heard of or playing "pretend" cowboy/army/anything-involving-a-toy-gun type games. I too often stay in bed later at the weekends when the kid is here, and arrange to do other activities to have a bit of time away from it all.

I don't necessarily share your feelings of rejection/insignificance - to me, it's natural that my stepson is All About Daddy. We have a decent enough relationship, in so far as he is always friendly enough with me, but it's not like he clamours for my time or attention tin the way he does for his dad and that's fine with me. I also identify with the him-not-listening-to-your-replies thing, but to me that's just a typical kid thing even though it is really annoying. I am just grateful that we can be pleasant with each other, that he (so far) isn't testing me or being rude to me, and that I can get through weekends with him without showing my inner annoyance at all his forementioned typical 6 year old behaviours. This is enough for me at the moment, and I wouldn't necessarily want a lot more from our relationship.

The bedtime thing does sound REALLY annoying, and I agree one of the hardest things about being a stepparent is thinking "if he were my child I wouldn't have raised him to behave like this" but obviously this is futile thinking as you didn't raise him, he is behaving like this, and you don't necessarily have the authority to try to instill a new routine etc. I think the only solution here would be to talk to your boyfriend about trying to set some new rules.

And the language thing does sound a little strange, but I'm honestly not sure what to advise here.

Overall, I'd say your boyfriend and his children are very lucky that you care so much about cultivating good relationships within your step family, even if they don't realise it! I think the fact is that young kids just aren't necessarily capable of realising, much less appreciating, the sacrifices you are making for them, and it's certainly very difficult for most kids to understand that they themselves aren't at the centre of the universe. I think you probably just have to take the high road, try to keep your relationship with your youngest step son functioning on a basic level, but not necessarily expect too much from it?

All that said, I am not an expert in any of this, only having been a stepparent myself for a couple of years, maybe someone else will have a completely different perspective.

ALCS Tue 07-Jun-11 14:33:54

Dear Riverboat,

Your message was really helpful.

Until recently and before I read other stem mum's blogs I thought that something is wrong with me because I was feeling very irritated and fed up at times.

It is good to know there are people all around me experiencing similar issues.

By BF is trying hard to understand where I am coming from. He even said that it would be very difficult for him to look after someone else's children, but nonetheless he doesn't need another child (me) in the equasion.

I was an only child and I presume I find it hard to see a child wanting full attention all the time (clearly I need to learn how to sharesmile).

I spoke to my mum about it and she said she never had problems with putting me to bed as I wanted to be on my own, doors closed and lights off. I was also very happy to play on my own, but I think girls generally do whereas boys need to interact more. I followed her advice to try and do "my things" at the weekend, but I think my BF would like me to be more involved, just as I was at the beginning. Perhaps he should read other step mums blogs to fully understand it is not an easy way when we don't have that "connection".

I sometimes forget that they have a "special" bond I will never have until I have my own I will never know what that truly means and I need to start appreciating that he is not rude to me; he is just a boy who will grow out of things in time. Or so I hope!smile

This forum is a great way to went out without feeling like an outcast.

I guess in the future I need to remember to be his friend as much as he allows me and not his parent or a teacher and try harder at not showing my annoyance, which he may not see, but he daddy certainly does.

Thanks again for sharing your views with me and good luck with your DSS (dear step son?).


jzhmum Thu 09-Jun-11 20:50:11

I think your ss sounds like a typical boy. The bedtime thing is more normal than you think...I did the same as your bf ex. It is hard to stick to things with 3 children to deal with so try not to judge her too harshly (on this anyway) A big help to me is talking to other mums and you'll see that all kids are annoying.
I have a step daughter and 3 of my own sons. They are all annoying and also all have good points. They all live with me and take it in turns to push buttons. My advise is to ignor and when he does something you like praise...if he talks incorrectly tell him you can't understand and tell him how a sentence should start...if he is loud then lower your voice so he has to lower his.
You dont need to talk to bf just do it.
Do not forget that you can not magic unconditional love!
Do not be too hard on yourself...
Hope this helps
Oh and boys really are annoying between 6 and 10 lol xxx

Smum99 Fri 10-Jun-11 11:18:30

My first thoughts are that your Stepson may just be the annoying youngest but there may also be some reasons behind it - how's he doing at school? Has he ever been assessed? Also he has gone through significant change at home with his mum, it must have been tough for the boys to have a new man move into their home so quickly, his clingness to his dad could be reaction to that, which in turn is having an impact on your relationship with him. Children acting up usually have an underlying issue. I also think your bf needs to be more supportive, it's all very well to say - I understand how difficult it is to be with children that aren't yours but he doesn't actually have to. He must support you on this - trust me if he had another partner he would have the same issues with the boys, maybe worse. You, as the step parent aren't the problem - his DCs are (or specifically the younger boy is). He needs to resolve the behaviour problems with the boys rather than expecting you to tolerate poor behaviour.

UC Mon 13-Jun-11 15:42:15

I don't have long, but wanted to post to say have you read "the Step-parents' parachute"? It covers much of what you are saying - about rejection, and not allowing yourself to feel it, and about you and your partner being a unit. Also understanding the child whose parents have split - many subconsciously hang on to the desire to see their parents reunited. It sounds as though your DSS has had to come to terms with the loss of that dream by both his mother and father having a new partner in the recent past. Remember he is a child, trying to deal with things going on around him, and giving up that dream of his parents coming back together is a difficult one.

It doesn't sound as though you and your bf were presented to the children as a unit - you spent the first 5 months leaving your home when they came, which I do find a bit odd, although I understand your motives. In trying to make the transition easier, you may have made it harder for yourself and your step sons, in that you now have to build the relationship.

Good luck. Keep trying. And give it time and patience. And talk to your partner about how you feel.

Poshbaggirl Mon 13-Jun-11 20:26:43

I bet he would enjoy reading at bedtime, he's getting to the point where he should be reading in bed himself, but i bet he'd enjoy being read to, he'd appreciate the one on one too. I guess it depends if you have the space.
Children can be bloody annoying even if they are your own.
Bringing Up Boys and The Secret Of Happy Children are good books.

Poshbaggirl Mon 13-Jun-11 20:33:26

Do something different with him. Airfix modelling, my many brothers spent many happy absorbing hours doing that. Anything to get him away from those goddam computers and gaming. Sounds like hes craving some quality time with someone, doing an activity like that either gives their brains time to chill or lets them chat away about stuff that is on their minds and there must be alot.
I find that girls love doing old fashioned craft projects and old fashioned sewing. Boys must be the same.

theredhen Mon 13-Jun-11 21:39:29

I think it's easier to get girls to get away from computers because they are natural multi taskers and don't get as "obsessed" and focused as boys.

However, when boys do get away from computers and engaged in something else, it can be really beneficial. What about K-nex or some sort of trading cards, some boys love crafts too and at this age they can be getting into "proper" books too.

For what it's worth I have an 8 yr old DSD who displays many of the traits you mention and is also the youngest in the family.

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