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He ignores my dc!!!

(38 Posts)
Kaluki Wed 16-Oct-13 10:53:56

DP and I have been together for 4 years, live together, we have 2 kids each, his come to us eow and mine live with us. We have had a lot of problems over the years, he was the archetypal Disney Dad and his dc were very spoilt but things have improved in the last year or so and they are a lot better now.
My problem is the way he is with my children. He ignores them. Every now and then I comment on it and he makes an effort for a few weeks then it goes back to normal. Last night DS2 asked him a question and he completely ignored him (he said he didn't hear!) The only time he talks about them to me is to criticise them or moan about something. It's like he is not at all interested in either of them and they are in his way. He moaned last night that DS1 was still up pottering about at 10pm but he had been doing homework all that time and he wasn't doing anything wrong, he just came down for a drink and to talk about his English essay he had done. He's 14.
I do everything for his dc when they are here. I cook, wash and iron their clothes, help with their homework, basically everything I do for my own two I do for them too. DSD is 9 and won't let DP wash her hair for her so I do it (she has waist length hair and it is a nightmare to rinse out!) then I dry it and put it up for her, I love doing this for her, but it makes me so resentful that I do all this when he can barely acknowledge my kids.
This is bothering me more than the kids tbh and I have put up and shut up for a long time because he isn't actually nasty to them, just disinterested and detached. All four kids get on so well together and he is the love of my life but this one thing is really getting on top of me to the point where I feel like retaliating by ignoring his dc to see how he feels, but I just can't do that to them, it isn't their fault.
It would be such a shame to split up after we have come so far, but I feel like all the effort I have made to make us a happy family is being thrown back in my face every time he is like this with my dc.

FrauMoose Wed 16-Oct-13 10:56:22

What do your children think about him?

JustThisOnceOrTwiceOrThrice Wed 16-Oct-13 11:06:49

Was he like this before you lived together?

10pm isn't late for a 14 year old as far as I am aware.

I know you say he isn't horrible to the kids but he isn't exactly nice, warm and friendly either is he. Moaning about them all the time, criticising them and complaining about a teenager still being downstairs in the evening isn't going to make them feel very confident and welcome in their own home.

You say he is the love of your life but I think sometimes you have to put that feeling of love to one side for a moment and think about what someone is saying with their behaviour. Would you accept this from another family member or friend? Would you be happy with anyone else making your children feel so unimportant and in the way? He shouldn't be allowed to treat them like this because you feel that thing called Love for him.

You do everything for his kids too . . . does he ignore them as well?

It's really not good enough is it.

Kaluki Wed 16-Oct-13 11:13:15

They do like him (more than he deserves tbh) They have a lot in common with him, like the same rubbish films and tv programmes etc.
My ex (not their dad) was very overbearing and controlling with them and I think they like the fact that he keeps himself to himself and isn't like that and they have a great relationship with their Dad.
DS1 can be moody - he's at that awkward age, and he is a bit shy so I can see why he is difficult to connect with but DS2 is very outgoing and chatty and funny and often chatters away to him. DP speaks to him when he has to but other than that ignores him completely, until DSS arrives then he gets completely involved.
The problem is that I feel like he doesn't like them and they are in the way for him. He denies this but his actions say otherwise.

Kaluki Wed 16-Oct-13 11:20:26

Before we lived together I didn't really notice it as much, although looking back he was like it. We had so many problems with his dc that I overlooked the way he was with mine sad
He doesn't ignore his dc at all - quite the opposite. He fawns over them, especially DSD!
You are right, it's not good enough sad

JustThisOnceOrTwiceOrThrice Wed 16-Oct-13 11:45:59

Ok so it's not just the way he is, he just doesn't want to give your dc the attention he gives his own.

He is their stepdad, he can't just act as though they are kids that he has no connection to.

RevelsRoulette Wed 16-Oct-13 11:50:03

It must be difficult to love someone who barely tolerates your children. Speaking to your child only when he absolutely has to. That's so sad for your children. You have no idea how growing up in that environment is going to affect them in life, affect their future relationships.

elliebellys Wed 16-Oct-13 11:51:25

Kaluki,i feel for you.dont put yourself nd kids thru this for years to come.he is not suddenly goin to change after all this time.

Kaluki Wed 16-Oct-13 11:56:50

Thats the thing. It is getting harder and harder and the resentment is building up. I have told him this and he promises to make more effort but it is always short lived.
I think he feels guilty that he sees my kids all the time when he can only see his EOW, but he knew that when he moved in.
I'm running out of patience.

theredhen Wed 16-Oct-13 12:29:10

I think the issue is actually to do with his own kids.

It's very common for parents to feel resentful of step kids when they feel their relationship with their own kids is fragile.

I sometimes resent my step kids being around when I want to spend time with my ds without them.

I think you're right to talk to him and expect your children to be treated fairly. He needs to find a way to have a relationship of his own with your kids. It doesn't have to be all loving and giving but it does have to be pleasant and kind.

Kaluki Wed 16-Oct-13 13:00:24

I get that, it is hard to be around kids when you are missing your own children so much, but I guess that my resentment comes from the fact that I am still expected to do so much for his dc.
Maybe I should detach a bit too - not be mean, just not be so willing to do everything for them and make him take on more of the parenting jobs. I only started doing so much because he was clearly struggling with them, but now they are better behaved and happier I might hand back the reins.
But what damage will that do them? They have been used as weapons enough over the years. I don't want to do that to them too.

JustThisOnceOrTwiceOrThrice Wed 16-Oct-13 13:10:47

Perhaps just point out to him that you do everything for his kids and he needs to take over. Assuming that he does actually take over willingly and happily without waiting for you to have to tell him to, then they won't be damaged by it.

If he sits there and moans about it while you remind him to get off his arse and do things for his children, while the kids are going without and feeling neglected and sad . . .

lunar1 Wed 16-Oct-13 13:11:26

I don't think you should do that to your step children, I think all the children have been through enough.
I also don't think it's fair that your children have to live with someone like this, he is such a poor role model for them.

quoteunquote Wed 16-Oct-13 13:14:32

When you sit down with your children and talk about it, what do they say?

wannaBe Wed 16-Oct-13 13:23:29

You're not a happy family if he and your kids have no relationship though are you?

This would be a dealbreaker for me. As much as I understand that it's hard to take on someone else's kids, anyone who gets involved with someone who has kids knows that those kids come as part of the package, and that moving in with the parent means moving in with the kids too. I realise that taking on stepchildren is different to having your own children and that that relationship will be different, but if he is capable of interacting with children then he is capable of interacting with yours.

I would have a discussion with him along the lines of why he feels so unable to relate to your own children and where he thinks this is going, make it an open honest discussion about how you all feel, but perhaps be prepared for the fact that this might never change and then ask yourself whether you feel the relationship has a future based on that.

Fooso Wed 16-Oct-13 14:03:26

Kaluki, you may remember I've posted about this very thing before - like you it was becoming a big issue - all of the children live with us, and no mum around so I do everything for them. My DP was detached from my DS as he said he found it hard to relate to him (I also have an uncommunicative 14 year old boy!)... It nearly broke us up... He didn't want to lose me or break up the family and I had to be very specific about what he wasn't doing and what I felt he should be doing... He has made a big effort and their relationship has improved. Unfortunately it took the threat of our break up to get him to sit up and change - but change he did..

Fooso Wed 16-Oct-13 14:08:35

My previous thread - with some mumsnet words of wisdom

Kaluki Wed 16-Oct-13 14:12:54

Thanks for all the replies!
Quote - I haven't talked to the dc about it because I don't want to make a big deal of it. I know they like him and dsc a lot and love being part of a big family. If I thought for a minute they were unhappy I would act but I genuinely think they are happy with the situation.
Lunar - I agree that the dc have been through enough. DSC are so messed up by their parents divorce I can't bear to add to that. Another breakup would be catastrophic for all of them and I really don't want to put them through that either.
I guess because my dc have their own Dad to be a role model and their relationship with him is great the fact that DP is on the sidelines just being 'Mummy's boyfriend' doesn't phase them. It's me who wants him to be more because I am more to his dc.
When I talk about it he says he doesn't mean to do it, he is stressed at work and distracted, he's tired, he misses his own kids, he finds it hard to talk to DS1 ... Lots of excuses and then good intentions but all short lived.
In every other way he is great - it's just this, but it's turning into a deal breaker for me.

theredhen Wed 16-Oct-13 14:13:05

Maybe you should ask dp if he would like you to detach from his kids and list all the things you could stop doing?

It might make him sit up and notice if he thinks there's a consequence for him to have to pick up the slack? At the moment he's not really getting a consequence for having a non relationship with your kids.

I don't necessarily think you should "punish" his kids for his behaviour but you could word the situation like this for him to understand?

My dp was like this and a combination of counselling, me almost moving out and his dd moving in full time have changed our family dynamics for the better.

We also had crisis after crisis with his kids which kept both of our focus on dsc and his ex rather than on his relationship with my ds.

I am still very prickly if he snaps at my ds but it is now better balanced with a positive relationship.

I'd dearly love my dp to have a closer relationship with my ds but I'm happy (as is ds) to accept a "jogging along" type of relationship, which to be fair, is really what I have with his kids.

Kaluki Wed 16-Oct-13 14:21:33

Interesting thread Fooso - glad I'm not alone.

peppersquint Wed 16-Oct-13 17:41:16

Are you sure he's not doing "the best he can" - if your DC's father is fantastic with his own kids are you not making an unfair comparison for your DP. Maybe he is fairly hands-off anyway?

purpleroses Wed 16-Oct-13 18:17:11

I don't think you're alone. My DP is a bit similar tbh - usually pleasant round my DCs but not really engaged with them at all. Very much leaves things up to me in the week when it's only my two around.

Whereas at the weekend we're both more involved with the DCs, but that largely means me doing things for his ones, because there are 4 of his, and they're with us every weekend (whereas mine are off at their dad's EOW). It all adds up to me doing a lot more for his than he does for mine. I'm not sure that that's necessarily a problem - but would like him to feel something a bit more than just accepting of mine.

Partly it's that my DP works long hours and is very much in "work mode" during the week. He only really switches into family mode at the weekends. Is that partly the case for you too maybe?

But partly it is a unthinking difference in the way he relates to mine, quicker to criticise them, makes less allowances for things, or just happy to leave everything up to me relating to them.

I've asked him to collect my youngest from a club next week, as I'll be out. I'm wondering whether setting up more time for him to be in charge of them when I'm not around might help a bit.

Kaluki Wed 16-Oct-13 18:50:38

A lot of it is that he works long hours and is really tired most evenings so I do make allowances for this.
It's exactly like you said purple I just wish he'd engage a bit more.
It's effortless with your own kids isn't it but he needs to make that bit more effort to get on with mine and tbh I don't feel like he can be bothered.

CountryGal13 Wed 16-Oct-13 20:43:20

It definately sounds like your partner is struggling with step parenting and I certainly don't think you should leave him as yet, especially as you said that your dc like him and arn't particularly bothered about the situation.
Would he consider counciling? Or maybe you just need to have a heart to heart with him and try to find out why he is the way he is with them and let him know how much it hurts you.
Is it possible that he really didn't hear your son speak to him because he was consumed in his own thoughts? A colleague of mine once told me that I occasionally do this when I'm stressed and I'd had no idea that she'd even spoken to me.
I'm guilty of being quite detached from my step teens too. I suppose I'm like that because I often feel rejected by them and I have to protect my feelings. Everything is dad, dad, dad and It makes my feel insignificant in my own home. (I bet my husband doesn't notice that they do this...) I do however always make an effort to ask how they are ect when they come but, although they'll chat back to me in response, it's always me that has to start the very one sided conversations and it does get exhausting. It's probably just a teen thing.
Maybe if you could talk openly with you're partner then he might be able to explain the reasons why he is how he is with them. Saying that, he really needs to be pleasant to them no matter what, ignoring them is not an option.
Really hope things improve for you soon.

cappy123 Fri 18-Oct-13 15:27:11

A lot of sense here. And I get where country girl is coming from with the one-sided hard work with stepteens. I confess that I've sometimes thought 'when we have our kids you'll see' but have to banish that thought. DSD didn't ask for me to be in her life and neither she nor DH will tolerate me withdrawing. Chat to your man. Your kids deserve that.

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