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Struggling with step-parenting..

(30 Posts)
Ollypops1 Wed 11-Sep-13 21:44:25

Before I start, I know lots of people will say 'I should think myself lucky' or 'I've nothing to complain about' but I am honestly struggling and need some advice, preferably not negative......

So here goes: me and DP have been together 3 1/2yrs, he has 2 children from prev marriage, DSS now 14yrs and DSD now 12yrs, plus we have a 5 month old DS together. When we got together his children lived with their mother and they accepted me immediately for which I am very grateful. However just over 2 yrs ago DSS decided he wanted to live with his dad which he readily agreed to, despite the fact we were just about to move in together and I wasn't given an option regards his son moving in with us immediately. Long story short DSS moved in and DSD visited regularly. I have never really been able to cope with a teenager suddenly being full time in my home, let alone getting used to living with DP for the first time! We now have a child of our own and to be honest I am at the end of my rope. I cannot cope with my DSS, despite him being fairly well behaved. He is untidy, inconsiderate, a typical teen I know. In fact compared to some he is an angel if you don't have to live with him. I just feel like I was never given a choice regards him moving in, other than accept it or risk losing my partner which would break my heart. I'm only 33, trying to adjust to life as a new mother and a reluctant stepmother and I'm struggling. How do I cope/adjust/not lose my mind??? Please help xx

lunar1 Wed 11-Sep-13 21:54:19

You do have a choice, it might not be a nice one but it is your choice. You don't have to live with them.

Your partner does though, and be honest would you respect him if he turned his child away?

No advice on living with a teen though, they sound like typical teen behaviours which lets be honest are tough even if they are your own. Hopefully someone wise will be along soon.

exoticfruits Wed 11-Sep-13 22:03:45

I can see it is tough being thrown in with a teenager, but I had a child when I got married to DH and he would have been out of the door had he suggested for one minute that we didn't have my son! We had two more children and we are, and always have been, a family of 5. You have 3 children- of course they are not optional for your DP - he can't be expected to treat them differently. Why would he live with his youngest and not his eldest if he is able?
Would you really want a man who turns his child away?
You could try classes on parenting teens.

exoticfruits Wed 11-Sep-13 22:07:11

I would discuss it with DP, explain that you are finding it difficult but want help for it to succeed. If it was me I would really get to know DSS- do some things on your own with him.

theredhen Wed 11-Sep-13 22:32:52

I think many of us don't expect to have our step children full time and when the dynamics change, it's a big shock!

If you read Wednesday martins book, she gives reasons on why we can feel the way we do about our step children.

I agree that our partners shouldn't turn away their children, after all, I would dump dp pretty sharp ish if he expected me to turn away my son.

However, that doesn't make it easy to live with day to day.

My step daughter is also pretty good to be around but having her here virtually full time has caused our family unit a lot of upheaval and I do resent her for that.

It is quite common for teens to change their residence if their parents are separated especially if the parents argue and don't get on. I think some kids struggle with the constant two ing and fro ing and the having to change "sides". Some choose to "dump" one parent to give themselves a break from mixed loyalties.

If you can talk open and honestly (without being nasty) with your dp about how you feel, that can help immensely. Also, if you can try and get on parenting or step parenting courses that could help. I also think "making an effort " to talk to dsd helps me to understand her a bit more but equally time away from her and leaving dp to do the "parenting" and mundane stuff can help too.

brdgrl Thu 12-Sep-13 00:29:42

I think I'd be pretty pissed off if a decision like this were made without my input. That's not to say that the end outcome would not be the same - but it sounds to me (reading between the lines here, perhaps) like you were not included in the discussions about it and how it would happen, but were simply presented with a fait accompli - "Oh, my son has decided he wants to live here, so will be moving in". Not, "Ollypops, my son has decided he'd rather live here, and ex and I think it is a good idea. What do you think?" followed by a discussion of exactly how that would work out, what changes would have to be made, how do you think we should manage this, what compromises will everyone have to make...Well. If so, it is not at all surprising that you would feel a bit reluctant and a bit resentful.
I think you need to be ok with that, and so does your DP. As has already been said, it might help to be able to talk to him honestly about your feelings. Are you generally equal partners otherwise? Or is this the sort of thing (decisions that affect you are made without collaboration) that happens frequently?

brdgrl Thu 12-Sep-13 00:34:10

OP has a child with her DP. It is a bit simplistic and offensive to say that she has a choice (to leave him and presumably either leave her child or take it from it's father's home) any more than the DP has a choice to say no to another one of his children living with him. They are all children with an equal right to live with DP.

Mueslimorning Thu 12-Sep-13 06:50:11

Ollypops, I'd say brdgrl has summed it up pretty accurately?
I was in the same position at the beginning of our relationship. Dh would state the rules and I would be forced to agree (full of resentment at not being asked now I felt).
We've had to endure a lot of turmoil, all unnecessary I may add, because dh never saw fit to ask my opinion.
Finally in couple counseling he was told in no uncertain terms that he was endangering his second marriage and creating an unhealthy atmosphere for all dc (prioritizing dsc over all others in the family does them no favors).
Olly, you must stick to your guns on all issues that concern you, make your dh understand your position and take you into consideration no matter what's being discussed. He does not get to rule the roost, it would be seriously detrimental to you as a couple and the family in general.
Take it from me, I'm much older than you, unfortunately not wiser, but its a bad idea to let so called partners make lone family decisions. Good luck.

exoticfruits Thu 12-Sep-13 06:53:42

I think that you have to realise it is a choice when you first meet a man with children. Even if he sees them only part time, his absolute ideal is going to be to have them full time and he will be overjoyed if that happens in the future. He has 3 equal children- you can't expect him to want to want full time with the youngest and not the older ones.

exoticfruits Thu 12-Sep-13 06:55:56

That is all very well Meusili but I had a son when I married DH- in no way was he optional!

exoticfruits Thu 12-Sep-13 06:57:17

It was my lone decision- I come with a son and you get both or it is off! DH had a choice- take the package or walk away.

theredhen Thu 12-Sep-13 08:12:04

Exotic, did your child live with you? Has anything changed? I think it's ok to say that "one day" part time kids may be full time kids, but actually what you have to deal with is the here and now.

I suspect op prepared herself for being a "part time" step parent to being TOLD she was being a full time step parent.

If she was party to the discussions on the how's and where's, she probably could have made a more informed decision. Strategies could have been out in place to help her cope with emotional transition. I'm sure the change was difficult for everyone, but often the step parent is the one who gets no consideration. Everyone wants to talk about how the children feel, how either parent feels but the step parent gets told to suck it up despite the decision changing her life considerably.

Fooso Thu 12-Sep-13 09:05:38

i was in a v similar situation, my dp and i moved in with me and my ds and this 2 girls (then 12 and 8) came to live with us full time (their DM became ill). Like you I was not consulted but I understand completely why he did it - who wouldn't - but that didn't take away my resentment at the time. I went to counselling and she said I was entitled to feel resentment as to how it came about but that it was how I dealt with it now that was important - i was the adult, and it was up to me, if i wanted to stay, to accept it and change my attitude. The counselling helped and i can honestly say we are a family. We do have 2 teens in the house now, my DS and DSD, and it's hard work - but that would have been the case had they both been my natural children. So my advice is to speak to your DP about how you feel - it will stop it building up inside - but remember it is not your DSS's fault - he just wants to be with his dad x good luck

Ollypops1 Thu 12-Sep-13 09:30:27

A huge thank you for everyone's point of view and advice, I'm so grateful. I feel so guilty for being resentful towards an innocent child whose parents are divorcing, I do know I'm being selfish and childish but can't seem to snap out of it. DP and I are completely equal and make family decisions together, however the initial decision of DP and DSS coming as a full time package wasn't negotiable really. As a few people have said, what type of father would he be to turn any of his children away? One if the reasons I love him and had a child with him myself is because I have seen first hand what a wonderful parent he is. It's just been so difficult, having my first baby with the added pressure of a teen in the house, coinciding with the school holidays of course when said teen never left the house (computer geek!). I think I need to look into some counselling as I am constantly struggling with this, I have tried to talk to DP but he doesn't understand how I feel, outside help may be the answer. Thanks again, I really appreciate all the advice and support .

ChinaCupsandSaucers Thu 12-Sep-13 09:33:11

Even if he sees them only part time, his absolute ideal is going to be to have them full time and he will be overjoyed if that happens in the future.

I'd be livid if my DP expressed that attitude - it would be a deal breaker for me, I'm afraid.

A DC has two equal parents and the time spent with each should reflect the DCs needs - not what will overjoy their respective parents.
Placing that kind of burden on a DC is unforgivable IMO - even if not expressed openly, any parent who 'secretly wishes' for their DCs to live exclusively with them will communicate it to the DCs in any number of different ways.
There is no way I'd share my life with a man who had so little consideration for his DCs in favour if his own wants and desires.

exoticfruits Thu 12-Sep-13 10:12:06

My child has always lived with me, but if he hadn't I wouldn't have had more children with a partner who was going to treat them unequally.
You should be pleased- if you died and your DP was the lone parent would you really want him to have a partner who resented your child and had them on sufferance? Much better to know he would put his child first.
People keep posting the utterly ridiculous question of who do you love most- your partner or your children- I point out it is different BUT there is no doubt in my mind that children have to come first- partners are adults and deal with it.
I am sorry I am giving you a hard time, OP. I appreciate that it is really hard to live with a teen when you suddenly get one and they were not part of the plan - they can be difficult enough when they are your own! However I can't see the alternative- for DP it isn't a question - it is a fact he has a child and of course he must live with him if they both want it. Where he is going wrong is not discussing it, helping you and making ways of making it work.
I think you would benefit from outside help. Good post from fooso.

Petal02 Thu 12-Sep-13 10:14:20

I think a lot of people can cope (or at least try to cope) with part time step children, but would probably not become involved with a man who had his children full time. I realise the situation can change for a variety of reasons, but I just can't imagine how hard it must be.

I've often wondered what on earth I'd do if ever DSS came to live with us. I love DH with all my heart, but could I live with his son?

Petal02 Thu 12-Sep-13 10:21:11

PS - if you ask 100 married men if they'd want live with their wife's mother, I wonder what the response would be? I doubt any of these men would wish to turn an elderly lady away, but conversely they probably wouldn't relish living with her. Surely this is the same principle as with step children?

exoticfruits Thu 12-Sep-13 10:22:44

I went out with a man for 2years who had a DD that he saw at weekends.
I was intending to marry him and was aware that if he could have had his DD he would have jumped at it and if the mother died or had chronic ill health etc he would have had her.
It didn't work out and I'm not sure that I would have gone through with it. Don't base your relationship on part time- assume it could change at any point when you come to decide.

exoticfruits Thu 12-Sep-13 10:24:50

I think an elderly parent is different- there are options. I have already told my children that they are on no account to have me to live with them if I get to the stage that I can't live alone.

brdgrl Thu 12-Sep-13 10:24:59

When circumstances radically change, I think a stepparent has to accept that. It should be on every prospective stepparent's mind, from the beginning, that something could happen to the children's mum/dad, be it death, emotional or living circumstances.

HOWEVER. That doesn't mean that the stepparent should not be included in these decisions. It also doesn't make sense to treat a kid's wish to move household on a par with the death or inability of the RP to continue the existing arrangements.

I think that any radical change of living situation requires the agreement and the planning of both people in the relationship. That's true if we're talking about having another child, moving in a mother-in-law, an existing child changing residence or hours of residence. Hell, it is even true of a child simply moving rooms within the home! The stepparent should have every expectation of being included in those conversations from the minute the subject is broached.

It is the parent, not the stepparent, who has the choice. If circumstances change, the parent has every right to say "I want DC to live with us here". If he or she doesn't like the response of the stepparent to that, of course he or she can (and perhaps ought) to leave the relationship. But the stepparent doesn't bear that burden, and has every right to defend the needs of herself or of other children in the equation, too.

Speaking for myself, it would never be an option to say "no" if my DH requested such a thing. But I would definitely expect to have an awful lot to say about when it happened, how it happened, and what I would expect in return (like what provisions would be made by my DH to minimise disruption to other children, to finances, to my work) and I would absolutely expect it to be brought to me for discussion, not presented to me.

Ollypops1 Thu 12-Sep-13 10:30:50

Exoticfruits, I completely agree that children come first and I would hate to think that if something happened to me My son would live with someone who just tolerated him because they had to, but I do feel that sometimes that is how it is, it can't be just me. My partner does everything he can to make life easy and to ensure everyone is kept happy which makes me feel worse still as I don't want him to feel torn between me and his son, and would never ever ask or expect him to choose. I think my main problem is DP has had almost 15 yrs of parenting experience & preparation for teenage years, I have not. I have had to learn in a short time how to deal with a teen and then a new baby as well, it's been very very hard. I will look into outside help and give myself a strong talking to, I appreciate that I am an adult and must try harder to accept my situation and enjoy that I have a loving partner, a gorgeous baby son and thankfully step children who accept me and love their new brother immensely.

brdgrl Thu 12-Sep-13 10:46:17

OP, I married a widower who had two teen/preteen kids. They are now 18 and 15, and I have a 3 year-old DD. In my situation, I did know that the kids would live with us full-time. But I know exactly how hard it is to be a new mum and a new parent of teens at the same time. We all moved in together when DD was six months old. You defintely are not alone in feeling as you do. When giving yourself a talking to, be kind, please, and try to accept that the feelings you have are ok. In trying too hard to 'accept your situation' and feel grateful, you can actually make yourself more stressed out and unhappy. x

Ollypops1 Thu 12-Sep-13 10:54:46

Brdgrl thank you so much, your comment has just had me in tears, mainly of relief that I'm not being completely unreasonable in feeling this way and hearing someone say that trying too hard to be grateful and not accepting that perhaps how I feel about things is ok can make me more stressed really strikes a chord with me. Thank you

exoticfruits Thu 12-Sep-13 11:35:48

The other thing to bear in mind is that he is already 14yrs and time goes quickly- you are probably at the most difficult time and it will get easier.
I am assuming that your child is a baby- as they get old enough to have a relationship as siblings it will be easier. You will also get a built in babysitter so that you can go out with DP. DSS will also go out more as he gets older.

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