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They're not bad kids but they're not my kids

(32 Posts)
FedupofTurkey Tue 22-Jan-13 17:30:07

Probably be flamed for that.

I mean, they're not very badly behaved - they have their moments!

Its just they've not been raised as mine has - in as much as language, politeness, materialistic and wanting stuff and not respecting stuff and not appreciating they are children not adults therefore decisions aren't up to them!

That sounds bad and they're not bad just need refining in a few areas!

Xalla Fri 25-Jan-13 06:31:36

It's so true.... you can set house rules and boundaries but as far as values go, you're screwed. I say this as the wife of someone who does have 50 / 50 care.

Every single parents evening for my DSD since she was 3 (she's 7 now) has focussed on her dishonesty, her uncaring nature towards her peers, her lack of compassion and her love of the sound of her own voice. It's her Mum all over. The word 'bully' has yet to be used but I fear it's only a matter of time.

We deal with it by sticking to our guns when she's here; we insist on manners, on sharing, on respect, on taking turns, writing thank you letters, not littering etc. We get involved in community projects and my DH and I both volunteer at ALL of the kids' schools. We run a marble system for all the kids to encourage good behaviour (but DSD is only concerned with filling her jar 'first'). To be honest though, we've been doing all of this stuff for years and it's had depressingly little impact on my DSD's value system.

My DSD moves between two very, very different environments. She's not the product of a serious relationship - her parents were never 'partners'. They have very different lifestyles, upbringings and values plus they don't like each other much. So it's not surprising she's confused and it's to her credit that she deals with the two different environments as well as she does.

I do think this is the 'blended family' stuff that's the trickiest. What do you do when two homes are so different? Is it better for the kid to not see one of their parents very much than to be split between two such wholly different environments? I spend hours mulling it over in my head and getting nowhere! My DH thought 50 / 50 was for the best...

And breathe....

allnewtaketwo Fri 25-Jan-13 06:03:41

Branleuse from my experience, and from reading thousands of posts on here, 99.99999% of mothers absolutely do not want a step mother to parent their child. And tbh I have no inclination to "parent" my DSSs. The conflict in parenting style and values between their 2 actual parents are already sufficiently confusing for them that they certainly don't need me included in that.

NotaDisneyMum Thu 24-Jan-13 23:01:39

I am not in loco parentis of my DSC when they are here because they are in the care of a parent - their Dad.

Quite rightly, their mum considers it his job to parent them - not mine.

Why would she entrust the parenting of her DCs to someone she openly and actively resents?

My own DD has a wonderful SM - but my exH has a tendency to put to much in her hands, and the hands of other relatives, and I've had to remind him on more than one occasion that the women in DDs life are not interchangeable and that I don't stop being her mum when she's in his care.

Branleuse Thu 24-Jan-13 22:11:04

i dont see how parenting a child when they are in your care is stepping on anyones toes.
I really hope my exhs wife loves my ds and parents him when he is there. She is in loco parentis.

FedupofTurkey Thu 24-Jan-13 18:25:06

Redhen - how do you learn to detach?

Flurp - how do you not say anything?!

Beamur Wed 23-Jan-13 17:30:22

That's a good point about the difference between rules and values - DP's exW and I have very similar values so we've never clashed over the treatment of the kids. If there has been anything that has annoyed her, either she hasn't said so, or DP has kept it to himself..If anything I suspect she has probably been happy that me being around has helped her kids enjoy a more stable and organised home life.
I've never criticised Mums way of doing things either and DP has never bad mouthed his ex, either to me or the kids TBH.

NotaDisneyMum Wed 23-Jan-13 15:21:33

I agree with allnew - if a DSC is not required or encouraged to think for themselves in their primary home, then they are at a loss if their second home encourages independence and problem solving, for instance.

It gets even more problematic if the DC is exposed to negativity regarding the NR households way if doing things; in my DDs case, her Dad called the NSPCC regarding the chores I expected DD to do and he openly discussed his disagreement with her. In DDs case, because she's 50:50, the damage is limited - but if we were the NR household and she was here less often, it would undoubtedly do more damage to be told by her primary carer that her other parent is wrong.

allnewtaketwo Wed 23-Jan-13 14:38:51

I also think children can cope with different rules between houses. But rules are almost the easy bit. e.g. making bed, clearing table, etc etc. What I think is much more difficult is when different households have very different value systems and ways of living.

For example in DSS's house, their mother micro-manages their lives to the second. Even for DSS1 (17), he is constantly with her, follows her around, goes food shopping with her, his hobbies are her hobbies. She has no expectation or desire that he thinks for himself or does something that doesn't involve her. Within our home, this micro-management simply doesn't occur, even for our 4yo. So DSS1 is totally at a loss to know what to do with himself in any sort of down time in our house. This sort of difference in parenting style is way beyond house rules

Beamur Wed 23-Jan-13 13:42:54

FWIW I think kids can cope with different rules at different houses.
I got fed up with picking up dirty clothes from the kids floor so said if it wasn't in the wash bin, it wsn't getting washed - but to make life super easy for the kids provided them with a bin or bag in their rooms too, so clothes could go in the washbin in the bathroom or in their bedrooms. Little rules like that are easy to follow but have to be enforced.
It's really important that the step parent and the bio parent are in agreement with how their parent though and that the step does have a degree of autonomy with regard to discipline (and is not undermined).
I also agree that kids need some time alone with their parent without the step parent being there too. This gives the step parent some head space too!
I've never thought of my role towards my DSC's as 'mothering' them, but to take care of their physical needs and to be kind and considerate to them.
The tough part though, is that you effectively do sacrifice a lot for your stepkids, but rarely get any thanks. I look at it in the long term, once they are adults themselves and maybe parents too, they may look back at their own childhoods and I hope we'll have done a good job.
My DSD was amazed to discover recently that it was me, not their Dad who had made their packed lunches for approx. 4 years...although instead of thanking me she pointed out that once (once!!) I'd given her peanut butter instead of marmite by mistake....grin

imtheonlyone Wed 23-Jan-13 12:52:47

We recently moved as well and made sure that we bought a house where all the children have their own room so that his boys feel like they belong here - because they do really and are always welcome!! It has helped. We also have times when DP just spends time with his boys without me and mine around and that helps too as they don't get much time alone with their dad which I'm sure doesn't help. Luckily the four of them are good friends and are a really like brothers as in they love each other one minute and at loggerheads the next confusedconfused

Today is not a good day!!!!!

imtheonlyone Wed 23-Jan-13 12:48:55

It's amazing to read this thread - I am struggling and struggling again with house rules and discipline for my two DSs and my DP's two DS's! It's sooooo hard!!! There are days when I can't even stand to look at his kids and days when they are lovely and we have a really nice time.
I think the main issue we have is that we are not their main discipline figure - clearly they are pampered at home and can basically do what they please. They never have to tidy up or put their dirty clothes in a wash bin or clear their plates from the table. Our children are similar ages so the eldest two are 8 and the two younger are 5 and 4. I have always brought y boys up to have respect - say please and thank you and that at the end of the day we have a big tidy up, etc etc! Just a few what I consider basic values!
It's so hard when the DSSs are here and will basically refuse to do anything (because they never have to) and even refuse to my DP .... Te youngest copies the eldest. They are very very head strong little individuals and we have a continuing battle with them. I do try to cut them some slack as I totally appreciate its confusing for them between te two environments. Things are getting better - slowly - they tidy up a bit more and bring finished plates to the kitchen .... But only because I have put my foot down! I can't let my kids see them get away with stuff that I want my boys to do!!
Sometimes I hate all this - it's so hard - this morning DSS1 ages 8 refused to get in the car to go to school!!! The. The little one kicked off .... Copying ..... Just because they have to leave earlier than we do to get to school!
It's mostly the lack I respect for adults that I can't stand. I have lost count the number of times his kids have called me and DP and his dad an idiot or we're stupid or refused to do something perfectly normal that we've asked!! They are so like their mother!!
We do now have table manners (stickers and treats for good manners) and shoes off at the door and tidying up before leaving pretty much sorted now. Although they have their moments.
Ido find his kids more irritating than mine as he does mine I think that's just normal. It is really really hard and those who fall into it and it works are so very lucky!!!
The most important thing is to be a combined front from you and DP so that they are getting the same message from both of you when they are in your house.
I could go on forever ..... I won't!! But I hear you all and I understand your pain and if any of you have top tips to help me when things are really rough that would be great grin

DreamsTurnToGoldDust Wed 23-Jan-13 12:43:01

It doesnt have to be as clear as black or white Bran. I like my Dss very much but hes not mine, not parented as mine are. He has a mother, a good mother, I would never step on her toes and I might not always agree but I respect the way she parents.

Branleuse Wed 23-Jan-13 12:29:23

how on earth would you expect a stepparent to bond fully with a child they werent allowed to actually parent though?

It would just be like a small noisy immature lodger that ate your food and intruded on your free time.

I honestly cant see how it would work. Must be pretty confusing for the child too

Eliza22 Wed 23-Jan-13 08:45:58


I have 3 steps (adults now). Two I get along fine with and I think it's because fundamentally, I LIKE the people they are. However, the youngest, at 18 (now thank God, at Uni) has been a bloody nightmare for me. I first met her, aged 12. She was wary. Her parents marriage ended, 3 years before DH and I met, because his wife had an affair. Nothing to do with me.

From the off, she was rude, in a way that even at 12, I wouldn't have gotten away with and I certainly pull my own son up (now also a 12 yr old) for much less. However, allowances were made as she was the youngest/the divorce etc. Now, 6 years on, she doesn't want anything to do with me, my son or more importantly.... Her dad. DH tries very hard to keep communication up but sadly for him, it's mostly thrown back at him.

And, I think ALLNEW has it, really...... It's not WHO she is but rather HOW she is. I think she's just not that nice a young woman. And if she were not my husband's "child", I'd have walked away from any kind of relationship, long ago. Of course, this doesn't bode well for "our" future but, I've tried as hard as I'm going to with this young woman.

We recently had visits from step son (22) and oldest step daughter (23) and as always, they were a pleasure. I like them both, very much.

flurp Tue 22-Jan-13 22:26:51

I feel like that about my dsc too. In fact I have never said so to DP but I find his dd sly and sneaky and a bit bratty! His son is very cute and likeable though.
She's not mine and it doesn't bother anyone else so I keep my mouth shut and pick my battles.

allnewtaketwo Tue 22-Jan-13 20:12:16

Branleause, the thing is, that the very situation in your home, which you find good, is abhorred my many mothers because you are blurring the lines between "step" and not "step" relationships and titles. So what one parent/family finds desirable, another parent/family will find intolerable.

I think it can be very difficult with a non resident DSC ion particular because you have DP little impact over their upbringing. Not solely from a house rules perspective, but also their personal values. Also there's so little you can do in changing their values/behaviours, and so much of what you think appears to the parent/others as a criticism. So when DSS1 was still eating without a knife at the age of 12, unable/unwilling to use a knife and fork, I actually came to find it unbearable to watch. I tried to coach/persuade etc etc but it just didn't annoy DH in the way it did me, and the more I said/did, the more it came across as criticism. Same with making bed/failure to bring his plate to the sink etc. I simply wouldn't tolerate those things in my own child.

Like redhen says, sometimes there is a child you simply find you don't like very much. Not because of who their parents are, but because their value system is so at odds with your own. This becomes a greater problem in time I think, because into adulthood there are no more excuses for bad manners/behaviour/lack of thought/respect. Who wouldn't find that difficult on their home confused

FedupofTurkey Tue 22-Jan-13 20:03:18

Redhen, thats exactly it down to the 'boasting' put me downs too!

theredhen Tue 22-Jan-13 19:34:40

I was thinking about this today. My eldest dsd is nearly 17. I was thinking if she wasn't my step daughter and was a friends daughter or just an acquaintance, would I actually like her? The answer is probably no. She has lots of good qualities but carries lots of issues from her parents divorce and her personality is a lot like her mothers. Her wanting to impress by boasting or by putting other people down to make herself look "better" are traits I abhor in anyone. hmm

She's nearly an adult now and it would be an uphill struggle to change her even if her parents wanted to.

I haven't brought her up and only came into her life a few years ago, her attitude is not down to me and I've long since given up hoping she will like me. grin

I try and appreciate her positive qualities. Make sure dp knows how I feel about her personality without expecting him to change her. But do expect him to pull her up on not living within our house rules.

She's a perfectly respectable young lady who doesn't have terrible behavioural issues which cause huge amounts of stress but she does have personality traits I simply don't like.

But as long as she's respectful to me and my ds, that's all I should expect.

Would I be proud if I were her parent? no. But then dp might not be proud of my ds. I think it's part of learning to detach.

FedupofTurkey Tue 22-Jan-13 17:59:07

Branleuse - we all have a good relationship and I'm sure my child annoys his step dad at times. I think a lot of learning is done at an earlier age and i've missed out on promoting that. However we do have house rules for fighting etc.

Branleuse Tue 22-Jan-13 17:53:51

mind you, my dp has always parented him like a parent too. Theres been no difference in what hes allowed to do compared to me. He would tell him off/discipline him exactly the same as his own kids.
I expect ds to have the same respect for his stepmother when hes at his fathers house

Beamur Tue 22-Jan-13 17:53:24

I'd agree with the house rules approach - that way you and your DP/H are in agreement (very important) and the kids know what to expect. You may have to accept some areas you won't see eye to eye on, but set the boundaries where you can live with them.
My DSD in particular has driven me half mad with her carelessness but it's something I can live with. However, I don't put up with any level of backchat at all and I expect they will do as I ask (but I never ask anything unreasonable - well, I don't think so...) grin
I've always got on well with my DSC and we've not had any clashes (I think this is quite unusual though) but I think we all have respect for each other.
Unless you are a complete saint, things your DSC do will annoy you, more so than if it were your own child doing it....the trick though is to remember at all times that you are the grown up and cut them a bit of slack at times, they are still kids, and having to deal with the fall out of living at two homes as well.

Mollydoggerson Tue 22-Jan-13 17:53:24

Actually can I scrap my meessage above, I don't really have aany experience of a step parenting family so excuse me for saying anything.

Branleuse Tue 22-Jan-13 17:51:38

Even your biological kids dont always act exactly how youd like them to act, no matter how you brought them up. Theyre still their own people

Branleuse Tue 22-Jan-13 17:50:22

Shame. My dp has been SF to my eldest son since he was 4 and hes now 12 and my dp just treated him as his own blood from the start and nothing changed when we had our own children. He always says he has 3 kids and never even uses the word stepson or stepfather. They have an amazing relationship (and ds1 still has a great relationship with his bio father too)
I think maybe because both me and dp were brought up with stepfathers its fairly easy for us to put ourselves in the position of the child.
Such a shame when step parents dont/wont bond with their stepchildren for some reason

Mollydoggerson Tue 22-Jan-13 17:48:03

And you are not their parent, so you have missed out on a certain learning curve as well.

Neither they or you are perfect, you'll just have to make the most of things.

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