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Tiptoeing round the step children

(15 Posts)
Sleepyk Sat 17-Nov-12 23:04:04

My husbands daughters come round every 2 weeks and I always find myself wishing I wasn't there! I have 2 other children ( 1 of them with my husband) andI just find the things my step daughters are allowed to do / say, I wouldn't allow. I end up feeling uncomfortable in my own home.. This evening I insisted ( nicely, I thought) that they come and eat their dinner but because the older one wanted to watch more tv she started crying and wanted to go home. Her dad took her side and took her and her sister home. ( she is nearly 15) ... Is there a way of handling all this?

griphook Sat 17-Nov-12 23:22:37

Speak to your dh, he needs to stop worrying about the fact that he only sees his dd every 2 weeks, he needs to act like he would if she lived with you.

My dp used to bend over backwards to ensure ss had a good weekend ie would pretty much ensure the whole weekend was geared towards things to entertain him. But it creates such a superficial atmosphere and expectation and becomes difficult for everyone

glasscompletelybroken Mon 19-Nov-12 13:07:10

She's nealry 15!! Don't cook for them. Either let your DH do it or let them get themselves something when they want. The only answer for you with kids this age is to totally disengage from this - it is too late to change anything and you will drive yourself mad trying.

Moosylorris Mon 19-Nov-12 14:17:31

Your house, your rules?! Sounds like she knows the tricks to get what she wants!

brdgrl Mon 19-Nov-12 16:44:03

I suggest (if not already done) that you sit down with your husband and write (yes, write them down!) a set of house rules. These should apply to everyone when they are in the home, with adjustments where needed for age differences. You and your DH should also decide what the consequence will be for each rule if broken. Then sit down with all the kids present and explain the rules and the consequences. You might even want to post them somewhere so they can't forget them.

For example, "everyone sits down to eat at the table when called" is a perfectly reasonable and enforceable rule.

You then will have the next step, of enforcing/getting DH to also enforce the rules consistently and fairly...but you can't even start with that unless everyone has the same rules and knows exactly what is expected of them.

purpleroses Mon 19-Nov-12 18:37:35

brdgrl - having just gone down that route designing house rules with our two sets of kids when moving in together, I'm not sure I'd recommend it with teenagers. The younger ones (9-12) were great about it, but DSD (15) was really put out by the notion of house rules. It wasn't really the actual content of them, just having them imposed and written up on the fridge door that upset her. With hindsight I think it would have been better for DP just to have talked with her directly about the one or two issues that concerned her, explained our rationalle, and helped agree a solution she was OK with.

But I'd be furious too if I'd cooked food that kids were allowed to turn their noses up at because they'd rather watch TV - have they been allowed to do this in the past? Do they do it when their dad cooks too? Or was this new? Seems from what you say, so obvious that your DP should have switched the TV off and told them to come and eat or go hungry, so why on earth is he driving them back to their mums? Certainly no use having house rules written down for the kids if the two of you are not in agreement about them. I think that needs to come first.

Chood Mon 19-Nov-12 21:42:30

I'm sorry, but the kids are not the problem here. Their dad took their side and not yours?? You need to have a serious conversation with him about his commitment to you. He trusts you to set rules and care for one of his children but not the others? Forget the kids, you need to make him explain himself.

Sleepyk Wed 21-Nov-12 07:46:43

God! Thank you all... I know how I feel is right but its just so hard to know if my expectations are too much, I had visions of me being this wonderful step mum who the girls loved and adored.... Clearly delusional! They have no rules at home and hubby is petrified to lay down the law for the exact reason that he doesn't one the teen to say she isn't coming any more! I can see the reasoning but the are here every wed night and every other weekend so its hard to detach myself from the situation. You are right though the teen has been allowed to manipulate the situation as she does with most things... And I hate to say it but I'd rather not see them at all! I find many things they do unacceptable but they have been allowed to by their mum (and dad) - the teen has just had her belly button pierced which has brought home how different we are as parents. Me and hubby did talk it through finally and he knows what he did was so very wrong but now what? The girls don't want to come round (and I don't want to see them but haven't said that) ... But obviously their relationship with their dad is important . Is it weird to just suggest shorter contact times and then when they come over and I will go out and busy myself with other things?

NotaDisneyMum Wed 21-Nov-12 08:21:35

OK - let's take one step at a time.

Problem 1 - Your DSD is threatening to vote with her feet - to leave dads home and not visit if she doesn't get her own way. This can only be achieved if her mum facilitates it and allows her to be at home instead. Her mother is at fault for allowing this.

Problem 2 Your DP won't parent his DD for fear of her voting with her feet. What then, are his reasons for wanting to see his DD? Does he enjoy her company as a person? Is he worried what other people will think if she won't see him? His job is to parent his DD - if he is absolving himself of that, then what are his motives for wanting to maintain contact?

Problem 3 Your DSD is rude and disrespectful towards you. Your DPs job is to parent his DD and teach her acceptable behaviour.

Your DSD is not at fault here. Her parents are failing her - by not guiding her, teaching her, setting boundaries, PARENTING her.

Sleepyk Wed 21-Nov-12 14:02:54

Their mum has always refused to speak to me but I know the children run rings around her. Dad adores his children but will happily admit that he doesnt adore them so much as they get bigger. he just feels like he has abandoned them ( as his own father did to him) if he doesn't see them. I suppose that's my dilemma : would it be damaging to just back off let them have time time with their dad alone (although it would have to be less time I can't stay out for 48 hours every other week!) or keep trying with them?

Incrediblemeee Wed 21-Nov-12 14:05:54

Have to agree with Disney on this one. It has taken three years to get DH to act reasonably regarding his kids. He seemed to view seeing dd as dating her and his ds was a buddy. After ordering some books on setting boundaries, dh recognized some errors he made, but getting him to back me up on house rules is still difficult. He has no problem sanctioning my ds but reluctant regarding own. Any request for consideration which might upset visiting times (very frequent in our house) are stonewalled. Dc are 12 and 15, have no rules at home and unhappy with chores at our place.

NotaDisneyMum Wed 21-Nov-12 17:17:18

You can back off and leave them to it (its called disengaging) - but you can't request that your DP reduced contact with his DCs in order to make it easier for you to do so.

I know of several women who live their own lives and do no more than share the occasional meal with their DH children - they arrange weekends away, trips out, volunteer or work flexible hours; even just stay in a separate part of the house - but you shouldn't demand he limits contact with them so that you are not inconvenienced, you'll need to find a way of accommodating the current schedule somehow.

Incrediblemeee Wed 21-Nov-12 17:51:40

Have recently disengaged, partly due to workload, partly because it remained a thankless task. I have other responsibilities outside the home, also tiring though and not an option to escape to. Our mistake was marrying to soon after meeting, I had been divorced 8 years and my son took to dh immediately when they met, I was introduced to dc months later and got cold shouldered, their parents had been divorced 2 years and ex wife literally from hell. Unfortunately the skids were forced down my throat by both parents, dh so that I should hurriedly replace neglectful mother, ex because she only wants generous child support but not responsibility. Bad feelings all round. Only by finally disengaging do I see the abusive behavior in our relationship and would like to establish parity. I'm afraid I need a strong signal at this point or its all over. Resentment cannot be buried any longer, it is starting to rot and smell a bit...

Sleepyk Fri 23-Nov-12 07:20:51

.... Thank you everyone. Clearly have a long way to go but at least I know I'm not some wicked archaic old hag with weird expectations! I shall write down my list of rules in preparation. It won't take long ... RULE 1 Be nice. End of list.

NotaDisneyMum Fri 23-Nov-12 07:24:09

You'll need to define nice wink

The rule no hitting in our house resulted in pinching, kicking and so on, to the cry of I'm not hitting! - so the rule was changed to read no deliberately hurting anyone else.

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