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Expectations of step parent -what's realistic? Am I expecting too much?

(153 Posts)
StoneBear Sun 25-Aug-13 08:48:57


I have 3dcs (aged 3,5,7) from prev relationship, and now live with DP, who has 2 DCs (aged10,13). He came to live with us in our small 4 bed house. We have fallen out because he says I over indulge, and baby my dcs. He complains they are spoilt brats. After some reflection, I accept he is right, in a way. So I'm in the process of setting up better boundaries, and trying to get my DCs to be more independent. I am trying hard.

I think I parent this way partly due to guilt of leaving my ex abusive husband, having not had a supportive partner from when ds1 arrived, and trying to make up for a difficult home environment. I left and set up a great family home, have a well paid job, work long hours, and have indulged the kids. Initially they used to all creep through and sleep with me, and not fall asleep unless I was with them at bedtime, so after a hard slog, we now have a good bedtime regime, and no night time bed hopping. This has been a massive improvement.

My exH is a bit of a Disney dad now, made worse by he fact his parents and him all stay together whilst the DCs re there, so they are very indulged. The DCs are away every second weekend and half school hols. When they come back there is usually a settling in period, when they are weepy or sullen, which I feel awful about. However, it is getting better.

Anyway, my new partner moved in 7 months ago, and I'm confused about what his role should be. After reading heaps of threads I feel I have had unrealistic expectations, and I see that I have been too soft with kids.

I get up with them every morning for breakfast, which can be early, whilst DP stays in bed, having set an alarm for nearer 8 on a weekday, always lies in at the weekend. I feel resentful of this. I do all the getting up to see to the kids at night, but they're little and understandably want their mum. He doesn't tolerate toys in the living room, as the kids have their own rooms and a playroom. If he's at home he watches his choice of TV programmes, whilst I usually put on a kids channel, if the tv is on at all.

I feel that the DCs initially resented his presence at home, but now accept it, and are affectionate towards him now, as he is with them.

He has no fixed contact arrangements, with his own DCs, we have been away on hols together, arranged and paid by me, and they have stayed when my dcs are at their dads.

I feel we need to bond more as a family, and have suggested a get together every second weekend. We went on holiday altogether in the Summer, and they seemed to enjoy each others company. Due to space it's difficult to have them all stay over at one time.

My DP and I get on fabulously when the DCs aren't around, tensions build when they are.

So my questions are, what role should my DP take with my DCs? Our relationship is on shaky ground, because of the way I am with the DCs, however I feel he is overly strict at times. What's the best way to try to resolve this? Should I be expecting him to be more of a dad? He's happy to discipline,but there's no other parenting going on, which I find difficult. He says he will try to be less strict, and interact better with the DCs, but its such hard work. I'm piggy in the middle, can you have it all?

Thanks for reading my rant!

SquidgyMummy Mon 26-Aug-13 21:40:24

Well I would just live separately and see him without your DCs around.
Maybe in an ideal world that would be enough for you both.
He is certainly no help as a co-parent (step or otherwise)

ballstoit Mon 26-Aug-13 23:14:41

The staying in bed and not helping with the DC is not a pretty picture. I often have my parents, friends and siblings round for dinner (not all at once usually grin ). Then, after dinner they will often volunteer to bathe my DC, read stories etc while I tidy and wash up. Or vice versa. That isn't because it's their responsibility, or because I can't cope. It's their way of offering support with the hard work that is being a lone parent to 3 small children. Why doesn't your do want to offer you the same support occasionally?

Bottom line is, are you and your dc happier with him or without him? I suspect it's the latter. You are providing a role model for your DC of how people behave in a relationship, and it's not a model I'd want my children to aspire to.

There's no shame in ending a relationship that isn't working.

Kaluki Mon 26-Aug-13 23:44:08

This thread is very interesting because I can see both sides.
My DP was terribly soft on his dc and a complete Disney dad when we met and when we moved in together I insisted that he discipline them and set rules and boundaries and I am sure at some point I called them spoilt brats (they were).
I don't get up for his dc while he lays in bed unless there is a good reason and I tell them to tidy up/clear away their toys and after 8pm I take control of the tv remote and send all the kids off to do something else. So in that respect I am like your DP and think your expectations are slightly unrealistic.
But the difference is that DP and I are a team, we respect each other and treat all the dc the same and neither one of us is the 'boss' or the alpha parent. We have both compromised a lot and made changes.
The thing that worries me about your posts is that he seems to be using you. He is living in your house, hardly contributing financially, enjoying holidays at your expense and about to move to a bigger house funded by you - he's what is known in here as a cocklodger!!!
Maybe you are soft on your kids - only you know that, but I think you are being too soft with him too. He has no right to treat you with such little respect and you have every right to disagree with his rules. Things like this should be discussed between you and agreed on as a team, not one person imposing his will and the other having to go along with it!!

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