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Do you end up being the main carer for step dc? How do you feel?

(10 Posts)
updownaroundabout Wed 14-Aug-13 22:38:58

I generally have a pretty positive relationship with step dc, but quietly I resent the fact I seem to fall into the main carer role and everyone expects it, most of all them.

I wouldn't say this in rl, but I do often feel like dh should pull his weight more because they are HIS children. Once again we're falling back in the habit were they look to me for all guidance/ meals/ maid service without a thought to look to dh or their mum. They look to them for fun, contact etc and have good relationships but if it's hunger, school issues, shopping needs or work it's me. Probably because I do it and always have. Now I have bio dc's it's getting worse as they grow, I used to opt out of cooking meals etc when it got too far or go out to control the mick taking. But now I'm hardly going to take bio dc shopping for new shoes and miss out step dc or just cook for bio dc.

I end up resenting dh for lazy parenting and it drives a wedge and also get short with dc unfairly at times. He's rather traditional with male/ female role ideas, despite my efforts, and this makes for a difficult dynamic I find. I'm not a stay at home mum either.

I know the bigger issue is his lack of work around the place and parenting laziness plus their mum's sporadic input, but does anyone have experience of this and specifically the relationship with step dc? I like them, but inside I suppress a bit of annoyance at all the leg work they provide and teenage angst I deal with whilst I feel bio parents have the fun. I wouldn't be without them though but it brings mixed feelings.

brdgrl Wed 14-Aug-13 22:50:46

In a word, yes. Have just had another row about it with DH tonight, in fact!

Mine are 15 and 18, so it isn't like I have to change their nappies! And we (after initial set-up where they did absolutely nothing for themselves) do expect them to do chores and take care of some of their own needs. But I still find that it is always always down to me to be thinking about what needs done...I'm not bothered about sewing on the occasional button, but I resent doing the lion's share of the housework.

Most of all, though, I am bothered by the fact that I am the one who has to do all the 'big picture' stuff...all the planning, all the budgeting and meal planning/shopping, all the business of anticipating needs or thinking about the future, or just even noticing what's going on with them in their daily lives.

How old are your DSCs? What are they expected to do for themselves?
If your DH has rigid ideas about gender roles, I can see how it will be that much tougher to get some changes.

I suspect someone will be along in a minute to explain (better than I could,as I'm crap at it!) about detachment...

updownaroundabout Wed 14-Aug-13 22:58:12

step dc are 15 and 17, bio 3 and 8 months. So part the rattiness lately is from the fact the only the house sleeps is from 12am to 5.30am!

I fine the older ones even higher need than they were with relationships issues, hygeine issues, big plans such as uni or exam choices etc. I've done all the big chats.

I know what you mean about big picture thinking! I spend nearly the same on the weekly shop for the household which CAN cover everything as dh probably spends on snacky bits or giving out bits of money, which also results in wasted food! For example bacon to go in a meal, bacon is eaten with eggs and tomatoes bought as extras and original meal is not cooked. Or buying yogurts/ ice creams in dribs and drabs not multipacks as flavours etc wanted on a whim. It would cost a bomb which no meal planning at all.

Only today I practically dragged dsd to the hairdressers, she has psoriasis plus greasy hair and it was horrific. Everyone's happy with the resulting easy to manage nice cut but I resent having to intervene.

brdgrl Wed 14-Aug-13 23:10:18

Oh, we're very close then! I have a 3 year-old as well.

I fine the older ones even higher need than they were with relationships issues, hygeine issues, big plans such as uni or exam choices etc. I've done all the big chats.

Yep. I've done absolutely every last bit of the university planning for DSD, including all the financial figuring and doing masses of research into options around the course she wants to do. You're lucky if at least you get a good chat with them about it - I'm sort of expected to do the business end of things, but I can't really give my opinion.

* I spend nearly the same on the weekly shop for the household which CAN cover everything as dh probably spends on snacky bits or giving out bits of money, which also results in wasted food! *
Yep. Here too. We're absolutely skint at the moment, and I've just had to do a massive overhaul of the family budget - but of course when it comes down to it, we need to make some cutbacks. So I can say "ok, we need to make some changes", but then I get disregarded. It's so demoralising, because I am supposed to solve these problems, but if they don't like teh solutions, they just ignore me.

ChinaCupsandSaucers Thu 15-Aug-13 18:30:39

I've detached.

To be fair, I never allowed a situation to develop where I was primary carer - their mum was so abusive that it just wasn't worth the hassle, but I have mastered the art of stepping back and not getting involved even when it would be easy for me to do so.

It happened today. I spend a lot if 1-2-1 time with DSD (16) as her employer, not her SM. she hasn't seen DP for weeks. I know I could have invited her for dinner/round one evening after work, but deliberately don't - because it's up to DP to sort it out. DP has finally invited her for a BBQ tomorrow night (which he will shop and prepare for) and she asked me today what time she should come round. No idea I said, you'd better ask your Dad.

Similarly, DSD is going away to college in a few weeks and Mum refuses to get involved in the packing & preparation - pans, duvets, paperwork etc. She's been telling me how frustrated she is that her mums not helping and how worried she is that she won't be ready in time. I could step in and sort it out with her - but sorry, not my job. I'm still sceptical that she'll go at all - her Mum is openly unsupportive and DP is oblivious. But I'm not going to get involved.

matana Fri 16-Aug-13 10:29:39

Blimey. Everything is most certainly not rosey in our family (DSD1 has ceased contact on her own instigation) but i would never allow this to happen. I regularly offer to do things with and for DSD2, because i love her and i want to, but i have never felt DH was parenting lazily and leaving the hard stuff to me. We have always been clear with each other that they are his daughters and therefore his and ExW's primary responsibility, though i play a huge role. Increasingly his ex will contact me about access dates because she knows that DH is hopeless remembering things and i often know more about our other plans (like days out, holidays and appointments). But other than that and some shopping trips with DSD (which i like) DH takes the lead. Don't get me wrong, there have been moments, but we've been together for 11 years now and i've known DSD2 for most of her life, so we've found a balance. But he never would have expected me to be the main carer for his children and tbh it kind of annoys me to hear that other dads are shirking.

theredhen Sat 17-Aug-13 07:21:51

I really don't try to "parent" my step kids. I am just a female role model who supports their dad in parenting them.

Don't get me wrong, there's plenty I don't agree with when it comes to his and ex's parenting but unless I was seeing abuse, I don't feel the need to take over.

For example dsd4 aged 10 was at home all day with dsd1 17 last week. Dp was at work all day, ex wife didn't want the kids back at hers as normal. Dsd4 was on the computer form 9am til 5.30pm playing a computer game. 1 break for lunch. There is no way that would have happened if she was mine. BUT it won't kill her and when I got in from work at 4.30, I could have taken her out for a bike ride, got her to help me with some chores etc. I could have given dsd1 a list of things to do with dsd4 in the morning rather than just allow her to do nothing with her all day. I could have booked her in holiday club or arranged for her to have a play date. But all those things are not my responsibility, they're the job of the parents. They are all the things I would have done with ds but dsd4 isn't mine and therefore not up to me to parent her.

I have taught dsd4 some "firsts" in the past. I did allow myself some pride. However if I talk about them now, she will dismiss them and seems to recall doing them with mum and not me. hmm If I had invested my time to deliberately do those things and more, I think I could end up very hurt, so I simply don't.

I also have my own ds who only really has me for day to day life as a parent and I do feel that every hour I invest "parenting" step children is an hour I lose parenting my own ds.

I do all the day to day stuff but dp is very hands on at home about domestic stuff. The kids clean their own rooms, I deliberately don't go and pick up their wet towels and dirty clothes from their rooms, they simply don't get washed. He allows them to use hundreds of drinking glasses each day, so he washes up. If he's asked them to wash and wipe up and they haven't done it, I wait for him to come home to the consequences of his parenting and he will either pull them on it or do it himself.

I do my best to not take on a parenting role because that's the responsibility of the parents.

Anormalfamily Sat 17-Aug-13 09:15:45

There are some excellent posts here and I sincerely hope women new to being a sm read these. Would save so much heartache down the road.
I'm not sure if its really only fathers' "lazy" or "hopeless" parenting at work, I feel I was roped in to "replace" the mum (I'm more the hands on parent type and as mum is more the hands off I'm pretty sure now dh thought it would work. Thankfully it didn't).
However, it doesn't matter if we agree with mums/ dads parenting methods, again, except of course if they were being abusive. I told dh last night when he asked my opinion on something re his kids that it wasn't my business to comment, I will give advice if asked by him/dsc but I won't put myself out anymore the way I used to make it my mission
There are quite a number of stepfamily books out there, I know, I've read them... But I don't think I've ever come across this bit of invaluable advice.

theredhen Sat 17-Aug-13 09:57:32

One of the biggest mistakes anyone inviting a partner into a step family can make is to expect the new partner to be a replacement parent. Even if the natural parent is not in contact or has died, I still think the step parent has a role which is different to taking responsibility like a parent should.

brdgrl Sat 17-Aug-13 18:44:40

it doesn't matter if we agree with mums/ dads parenting methods

I agree with most of what has been said here - but I actually don't think it is as simple as that. In fact, I think it matters a lot if the stepparent agrees with the parenting method - especially when the kids live in teh home! Where the parenting method (or lack thereof) has a direct impact on life in the home for others, I think it is perfectly right and indeed essential that a stepparent be involved or at least able to discuss the issue with the parent.

That's my personal line. For example, I wouldn't get involved with things about how the kids dressed or what their diet was like - if DH wanted to know what I thought, I'd tell him, and if I were worried for their health and safety I would discuss it with him - but I wouldn't try to change the situation if DH were happy with his decision about it.

On the other hand, if I thought his 'I'm your buddy' parenting method was the reason behind his kids speaking disrespectfully to me, or if their poor diet was racketing our food budget into the stratosphere, or if they were leaving their clothes on the living room floor - those are all things I would absolutely see it as my responsibility and 'right' to get involved in.

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