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Someone remind me how to detach... detach... detach...

(9 Posts)
origamirose Sun 16-Oct-11 10:33:51

We're half way through a trying weekend. Nothing major, nothing more than all parents have to deal with when their children are growing up. But it's new to me, I moved in with my partner a couple of months ago. I've been with him for nearly 5 years, have known his children for years and I like them very much. They also like me and, more importantly, appear to accept me. Now that I'm here full-time I am aware of how soft my partner is with his girls. I understand why he is (all the usual guilt/fear that non resident dads have), I just find it more difficult to accept. My partner and I are arguing more than we ever have because if I'm honest I dread every other weekend and that one night a week when I feel as though I am a visitor here.
Anyone remember being in a similar situation? Anyone got any advice on how I can detach and remain caring? I don't have my own children and worry that I've bitten off more than I can chew.
Please be gentle with me...

saintlyjimjams Sun 16-Oct-11 10:37:16

Examples of how he's too soft please? You may just be unrealistic (you may not - but hard to tell from your op).

origamirose Sun 16-Oct-11 10:48:03

I may well be.
for example (it's mostly with his oldest who is a v mature 11 y.o - and undoubtedly hormonal):
DSD1 physically manhandling DSD2 when DP was asking her (nicely) to hurry up and put her shoes on so they could go out. DP completely ignored it.
DSD1 shouting at him and challenging almost every decision he makes - going for a walk, what to have for supper, what time to go to bed etc etc - lots of storming off and one way conflict. DP gives her 'space' - sometimes hours to calm down which prevents us from getting on with anything.
DSD1 and 2 shouting at each other for something as small as one drinking out of the others cup (understand the bickering - it's just the level of aggression between them that scares me). DP ignores.

I'm not really after reassurance that he is or isn't being too soft. I don't desperately want him to be hard on them. I just want to know how I can detach a bit. Much as I care about them, i know that they are not my children and I am not their mum, therefore I am not responsible for the level of discipline that they get here (I can have a view but that's it).

flixy102 Sun 16-Oct-11 10:48:06

This probably isn't much help but all I can say is that it does get easier over time. My DH is very soft with his DD and in the beginning it wound me up big time, so much so that, like you I dreaded her coming to us, and yes, I felt like the 'outsider' in my own home. I can't really say when the change happened but I am definately more detached now in that I just can let it go, most of the time. And I really think it has just come over time, not through any mega changes on DH part. Yes, he probably feels guilty, but that's his issue not yours so just try to remember but your an adult and they are the kids and rise above it.....and that's really hard I know!!!
That prob wasn't much help but just wanted to share grin

origamirose Sun 16-Oct-11 10:49:39

Thank you flixy - that's exactly what i wanted to hear.

scotchmeg Sun 16-Oct-11 19:51:12

Orgami, you do have a say in anything that goes on in your home. You also have the right to ask for a space where you can ask for the things you need without feeling guilty.

However, there is a fine line between that... and picking holes. Why do these things annoy you so much? What is the feeling you exereince when it is happening? Is it the lack of control in your own home? Is it mild jelousy that at that moment all the attention is on the children and not you? Do you resent your partner for not being stronger?

The examples you give, IMO, aren't that severe. There is a theory that you should allow battling siblings to battle. Heicoptering and refereeing between them doesn't give them space to learn about conflict in a safe environment.

(unless there is an actual danger for either of them of course)

He's also doing the right thing, in my opinion, to ignore his DSD1's tantrums and leave her to cool down. I think his mistake is allowing it to hold the rest of the family up.

Are you able to say to him "I understand why you feel she needs time to calm down when she's in a state, but I would prefer if the rest of us could carry on as normal while she does so as our family time/ that party we were going to/ the table we had booked for lunch/ the family gathering etc. is important to me"

Waiting around for him to pick up on your signalls seems to be pointless. You need to make your voice heard in a reasoned way... or just accept this is how it will be until the girls move out.. possibly longer.

scotchmeg Sun 16-Oct-11 19:54:21

When my DSD (similar age) acts up and her dad allows her to I say to her (and him in a round a bout way) "I'm sorry but my time is valuable and I don't need to sit here and listen to this/ change my plans because you are in a bad mood" and I walk off. It is really empowering.

I would do the same with my own teenage dd.

saintlyjimjams Sun 16-Oct-11 20:02:26

Agree with scotchmeg. I think the examples you give are fairly common in family life tbh and you probably wouldn't find it as irritating in your own children.

Also agree with scotchmeg that if a behaviour is directly affecting your plans then you have the right to an opinion about it and the right to a response. I like sm's approach.

Marmaladegirl Tue 25-Oct-11 20:42:06

Hello Origamirose

I have been living with my DP for a few years now and I'm still getting to grips with this challenge. It can be really difficult to put so much energy and emotion into helping to look after the DSC (age 6 and 8) and to have your life so dictated by their needs, but to have no say or control over anything they do. It got to the point for me that anything I said was taken by DP as criticism of his children, whether I asked them to help with something, including entertaining their younger siblings, or to behave differently. My partner was often over ruling me in front of them and I was becoming more and more resentful. Thankfully, I realised I need to try a new tactic. So I am leaving all discipline to DP from now on. I am trying the "friend" rather than "second/sometimes mother" approach. And I am going to focus my parenting efforts on my own children. It doesn't always feel like this is the right thing to do, we should be a team, but after 3 years of trying this is a matter of survival for us. I can't tell you if it is going to work yet.

You are doing really well to be thinking about this now, so early on, and definitely before you have children of your own if you plan to. The book How to be a Happy Step Mum by Lisa Doodson helps me. I have a quick read every time I get completely wound up and it helps me get some perspective.

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