Building a step family(10 Posts)
This is my first time posting on this forum. I have been seeing my man for over a year now and we are hoping to move in together next year. I have 2 children from my previous marriage who live with me most of the time apart from when they go to their dad's every other weekend and extra in the holidays. I am in court next month as my ex says he wants joint residence which I suspect is because he is jealous of my new relationship.
My man has one son who he has about half the time but on his ex's terms which means there is no real set pattern except he has him every other Saturday - the rest revolves around his ex's work pattern.
My kids are building a really good relationship with my boyfriend. My daughter (6) did say the other day that she didn't want him to come round as much but then was all over him when he did come round - I suspect it is her father's influence! I am slowly building a relationship with his son but it is taking time as I don't see him as much and often when I do I'm dealing with my own kids.
So just wondered if anyone has any advice on making us work as a stepfamily. My particular concerns are:
1) I am worried about my boyfriend's son feeling left and sidelined by my children as he will be with us less. He will be moving into my house where my children are already established.
2) My children often sleep in bed with me and I'm worried about them resenting my boyfriend when they can't do this any more.
3) How to sell the idea to the children - there will need to be juggling of bedrooms and the boys will have to share initially until we can afford to convert the loft.
4) Getting my parents to accept the situation. They have been really supportive since I split from my husband and worry about my new relationship.
Things feel really right when we are all together but I'm not naive and I know it will be hard work making it work.
I don't want to be negative but I wouldn't do it at the moment- there seem to be too many difficulties. I would really get to know his DS and make sure that you have spent time alone, without your DCs and also make sure that DP has plenty of time alone with your DCs, together and alone. Make sure that your parents are treating you as a family of 5. How soon before you can convert the loft? Sharing a room when they are not used to it, may be a huge issue as it would be very much your DS's room and DP's DS would be a visitor and not part of the family.
Hellow there. I was in your position about a year and a half ago. I've now been with my DP 2.5 years and have been living together the last six months. He has 4 DCs and I have 2. Overall I think we're very happy we made the move, and the kids are pretty positive too. We moved into DP's house, which wasn't my ideal (I'd rather have moved somewhere new together) but was the most practical thing to do. That has meant that his kids (who grow up in this house) have had to share their terretory, and get used to new ways of doing things in their old home. What we did was to spend quite a few months (about 8 months I think) planning to move in together, but not having told the kids, getting them used to spending time together. We also sat down and wrote out what our current house rules were and which ones would have to change, and started implementing some of the changes in advance of moving in, which I think has helped.
In answer to your questions:
1) I think it is difficult when the one who is with you least often was there first. We put a bit of effort into buying a few things for my DSC to make them feel this was there home. They now have a few more items of clothing, books, etc that live here. And I bought them some of the things, which I think helped send out the signal that this is their house too. We have a shared bedroom (DSS2 and my DS) and it has both boys' names on the door.
2) I had this issue with my DD. It was one of the things we discussed well before we moved in and DP was quite clear that he wasn't comfortable with it. I tried to wean her off it beforehand, though not entirely successfully. When we moved in together I told her clearly that she couldn't do it any more, but if she wakes in the night I take her back to her bed and sit with her there a while to settle her. It did make for a few weeks of rotten sleep for me, but she's now OK. She's very fond of DP but is a bit jelous of me sharing his bed, and did regress to being a bit more babyish when we first moved in. With hindsight I should probably have tried harder to get her settled in her own bed before we moved.
3) Our kids were mostly delighted! We told them just a few weeks before we moved, as we reckoned would be long enough, and it was. We also did some jiggling between rooms, but got the kids involved in this. DSD1 redecorated her own room and the bedroom that was to be shared was redecorated to help it look like a new room. DP had a lot of junk to clear out, to make space for my things, which did cause a bit of friction - would have been better if he'd got started on making space a bit sooner. The bedroom sharers are getting on find now though and both say they actively enjoy sharing.
4) I think things take time with parents, especially if they don't see you very often. I disagree with the previous poster who says they need to see you as a family of 5 before you move, as you're not really. You'll be a fluctuating family of different sizes at different times. And your DSS may not really be a big part of your parent's lives. When DP and I visit our parents, we've generally taken only the grandchildren (ie we visit his parents when mine are at their dad's and vice versa) - but it's hard for us as his older two are teens already, and there's so many DCs altogether - it might be easier for you, but I do think you need to let them take their time to get used to the new people in your lives, and accept that there will be many times when it's not all 5 of you all together. A blended family with part time kids can be great fun, but it's not the same thing as a simple family of 5. Good luck.
I agree with purpleroses-IF you stay as you are. It is if you plan to have DCs together that you need to be the family to your parents, otherwise they are going to leave on DC out, or not treat them in the same way.
Once people have joint DCs they all need to be equal members of the family to everyone. If you don't have joint DCs then you can manage fine, as purpleroses says.
Either way I wouldn't be in a hurry to rush into it.
Once people have joint DCs they all need to be equal members of the family to everyone.
I disagree - I don't think this is always a right or reasonable expectation.
Suppose Bob has a child with Sue, and Kay has a child with Tom. Both couples split, and then Bob and Kay end up together, in a blended family of their two respective children, plus a new 'joint' child. Should Sue's parents treat the 'joint' child as an 'equal' member of their family? What about their grandchild's other step-sibling (Kay and Tom's child)? They are grandparents to only one child. The 'joint' child has two sets of relations, maternal and paternal. So do each of the other two children.
In my own blended family, my DSCs have maternal relatives, who don't feel any particular connection to my and DH's daughter, to whom they are unrelated biologically and have no real contact with. Which is fine. My own parents have been very welcoming and have a warm relationship with my DSCs, but the DSCs (teenagers) do not view them as grandparents exactly. Which is fine.
The way blended families look, feel, or operate is different from family to family, and that is good. Blanket statements about how they 'need' to handle the relationships between members are pointless.
I have one DC and 2joint DCs and I simply wouldn't have gone on and had 2more DCs if my first was going to be treated differently and was not accepted as equal by all the family.
In case of OP, I can see that while they don't have joint DCs the DCs can quite easily understand that they have different sets of grandparents BUT once they have a joint DC it leaves one DC as less equal.e.g. They all see OP's parents at Christmas and the blood grandchildren get better presents than the step grandchild- or do the grandparents pretend he isn't part of the family? Is DSS not supposed to mind that he is only a visitor in his own family, not a full member like his half sibling and step siblings?
Maybe it depends how old the DCs are when you get together.
Luckily for me DH's extended family have always treated my eldest as an equal part of the family to their blood grandchildren and anything else would have been very upsetting. We are a family of 5 and not a family of 4 with one who is less equal.
Thank you for the replies.
We are trying to have lots of shared experiences as a family of 5 or 4. Trying to find opportunities for me to get to know his son a little better without my children around as well. The reality is that there will have to be some room sharing. My OH doesn't have a great credit rating and I currently work part time so borrowing the money to convert the loft is a few years away but hopefully we will be able to do it before they are teenagers. Thinking we will try and sell it to the children with new beds (a high sleeper and bunk beds) and redecorating rooms. The boys - my 3 year old and his 6 year old would need to share and we would try and make sure they had their own space within the room.
My parents are showing a bit more enthusiasm for my OH after he spent the day with my family on Saturday. I think my family would be accepting of his son just don't think they are going to have many opportunities to get to know each other. We are very definitely not planning on having any more children together!
If you are not planning more children the whole thing is much easier - good luck.
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