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Partner and role with my DCs, some difficulties, please advice!

(5 Posts)
RedRosy Wed 06-Feb-13 08:59:40

I have 3 young DCs (3,5,7) and my partner has 2 older DCs. He is spending more time with us in my home, with a view to moving in. He has always been supportive, and says he loves my DCs too. I have struggled at times, having been a single Mum, who left an abusive relationship several years ago, and I'm fraught with guilt that I took the DCs from their Dad, even though it was the right thing to do. The DCs still have regular contact with their Dad. My eldest seemed to have anxiety issues, and struggles at bedtime, has doner since a baby, and I think it was due to what he witnessed as a small child when I was married.

Anyway, fast forward several years and after a lot of hard work, I have now got them into a good bedtime regime etc, but my partner questions the fact that although DS1 in bed, he can still be awake after 9 at night. I'm happy that he's in his own bed, and settled. We rowed about this last night. He claims I treat my eldest differently, and I probably do.

My partner has also started disciplining the DCs, and backs me up when I do, but at times, I think he is too strict.

So I tried to talk to him last night about expectations and boundaries.
He doesn't help through the night, or get up in the mornings, with them.
I guess I just want to know what is the usual form of partners role, what should I expect, and am I expecting too much. Given the fact he wants to move in, I think his role should be as equal as mine, but maybe thats wrong.

Please help me muddle through this!

glasscompletelybroken Wed 06-Feb-13 09:49:25

The bedtime routine in our house is, quite frankly, ridiculous. However it is a million times better than it was when I first knew DH and his DC's so I do know it is going in the right direction.

The problem for your DP is that he hasn't been there for the really difficult times before when you couldn't settle your eldest at all. He is just looking at the situation as it is now and thinks it should be different.

My advice would be to sit down with your DP and agree some basic house rules which you will both enforce either together or separetely but in an agreed way. Then just tell your DH that with things like bedtime you are making progress and it has been a long and difficult process and he just needs to trust your judgement on this and let you deal with it.

In general I think the parent should be responsible for discipline but that the step-parent should be able to step in when they are on their own with the DC's or when something happens that the parent might not have seen.

purpleroses Wed 06-Feb-13 10:59:54

I don't think it's unusual for a 7 year old to still be awake after 9pm some nights at least. My 9 year old commonly finds it hard to sleep and was often awake after 9pm when she was 7. Some kids are better sleepers than others. Maybe your DP was just lucky with his.

In terms of how you share things when you're together. I don't think there is a clear set of guidelines for you to follow at all. The only thing to do is to talk it all though, and keep doing so as your expectations and what seems right will change over time. I don't think you can expect him necessarily to have an equal role to you, not least because your DCs are unlikely to be looking for that, at least at the outset. You need to talk though all the details of what you expect - who will do housework? Who will shop, cook meals, etc? Will your DP get up in the night or morniing with them to give you a lie in half the time/ocassionaly/at weekends/never?

We wrote out house rules well before we moved in together, and tried to implement some of them in advance, which helped. Bedtimes was big issue for me, as DP let his stay up very late and I need my adult time. We've compromised, and he still lets them up later than I'd like sometimes, but it's better than it was before.

Generally with discipline you need to agree the rules together, you need to explain them to your own DCs, and then your DP can help enforce them when necessary - but always best if you do so when you're around.

RedRosy Wed 06-Feb-13 11:41:39

Hi thanks for your advice.
My DP is happy to discipline, and backs me up, but sometimes gets annoyed that I dont't discipline them when he thinks I should. Basically meaning I'm too lenient. I do think I should do the disciplining, as if he does then maybe the DCs may get resentful of him. So I agree its important to establish ground rules about this.
He is a lot stricter with his DCs than I am with mine, not allowing toys in the front room, no noise at meal time, eat your meal or no snacks or pudding, all things I should be more strict with. I'm happy with a noisy chaotic house, he prefers order. But I'm happy to compromise so we can all be happy together.
He also doesnt like the DCs in our bedroom, and they used to wander into my bed all the time, but I think that was laziness on my part. It now means I get up and take them back to bed to settle them, which I do, but it's always me, as I'm their Mum, and at times I do get a bit grumpy that he's not more laid back about this. I do see its preferable in the long term though.
Its hard work, and my concern is, should it be this hard, or maybe we are poles apart.
I dunno.

UC Wed 06-Feb-13 14:17:51

Hi RedRosy. I could have written your last post! I agree you need to establish your ground rules.

My DP is much stricter about meals than I would be - manners, no singing at table, and it becomes a nag sometimes, which I hate, and it stifles happy conversation and laughter. If you are happy with a chaotic house and he likes order, where are you going to compromise? My DP can't bear chaos or mess, and so removes himself from situations where there are a lot of kids round and mess/noise is likely. But this has caused massive tension for us, in that I am then resentful that I am dealing with it alone.

If there are no toys in the front room - isn't a compromise that any toys brought down there go back to where they live after? Seems a bit harsh.

I think what I'm trying to say is that something which seems minor now could become a major sticking point later, unless you really do establish a middle ground you can both accept, and live with happily. It should NOT be you doing all the compromise - and this is where we have fallen down a bit, as I feel I've done it all. So we haven't managed this, and have major rows about it sometimes, and have almost split over it (may still do..).

If my kids wake in the night, I go, if his do, he goes. I agree with your DP about kids in the bed - I would be uncomfortable with my DSSs in our bed, and he is uncomfortable with mine. Luckily, this is something we do actually agree on!

Good luck. Communication is the key..... And get these things discussed and in the open now, not once he's moved in and you realise you can't live with it....

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