Am I right?(45 Posts)
So my children got back from their dad's tonight and turns out that his wife made both my sons cry this weekend!!! They are 8 and 14, not emotional wrecks, very happy boys so this is not normal for them and very upsetting. This is not the first time its happened but they poured it all out tonight about how horrible she is.
It sounds like an unhappy home, silence at the dinner table, my sons cant bear being alone with her - she is not evil but a very miserable person from what I can make out. She does nothing to interact with my children, she will take them to a park if shes taking her son etc. They have 2 very young babies, I understand she is stressed but she sounds like a horrible woman. Theyve been together years, probably married around 4 so I am used to tales of how awful shes been but tonight has taken the biscuit....
My little one struggles to say "th" and words beginning with "R".... she is always telling him off for it (!!!!!!!!!) and yesterday (their dad was at work) made him sit down with a dictionary and read all the "th" words "properly"!!!!
Isnt that just a little bit fked up? The child has a speech impediment!!!! Its like the stories my mum tells of the nuns forcing her to write with her right hand, omg, I cant believe she did it, Im gobsmacked.
So Ive said to my ex that the boys will not be alone with her anymore. I know shes not dangerous, but that kind of attitude to children is upsetting and they dont need to be around such negativity. It means that he will have to get his parents to have the boys every other saturday, or I will have them back but I am not putting up with it any more!
So would you do the same? I am a step mum myself and it IS hard and I have had days where his kids drive me bonkers but I make massive efforts to ensure we have a close and good relationship and I would never ever ever ever speak to them like this!!! I expect them to follow the same rules as my children and that is all!
Oh and my ex wont answer the phone to me so I had to tell him what she'd done by text. He hasnt (and probably wont) reply but Ill let you know if he does!
I think that is great of you and for your exh. He needs to listen to his kids and it will probably take criticism about his dw better from the kids than from you as he won't see it so much as you interfering iyswim. (not saying you are btw!)
My youngest dsc is 8 and believe me when I say she is a manipulative little beggar at times! I love the bones of her but when she is in a mood she can be a right madam. I don't doubt that she goes home saying what a bitch I have been but dp and his exw have an ok ish relationship and whilst we do get the odd text it is usually the pattern that dp will tell exw at drop off if anything has gone off that has resulted in discipline etc so that she knows what happened and what punishment etc has been handed down.
His exw doesn't believe in discipline and never says no to the kids so that creates massive issues - however from snippets of what the kids have been saying recently I think since she moved in with her dp she has had to crack down as her dp doesn't take kindly to their crappy behaviour!
Thats what Ive said to them, of course I am here for them but really they need to discuss it with him. Theyve never really been able to chat with their dad, but maybe its time they did.
Step parents are a very easy target because very often the actual parents don't like them and regardless of how much you think they don't know, they always know.
Often if they have misbehaved and are worried nrp will tell rp then they will often get in first with an embellished version. I am not saying this is what has happened and you seem to be open to it as a possibility which from a sm perspective is very welcoming.
Your exh and his dw clearly have a different approach and depending on how long their approach has been running it could just be a rebellion against it esp given your kids ages.
I would be inclined to suggest that you suggest tonyour boys that if they have an issue with their step mum they discus it with their father and not you. They're old enough to be able to deal with this directly hopefully?
Youve all made me see it ALL from every angle.
As I said, exh doesnt answer the phone to me and Id text him.
Turns out he had something to say to me too.
I took it on board and had a good hard think.
I understand we parent differently, and as I said, I have sc myself, well I have a bf with children and we spend the weekends together (which is what exh does, we are just not married).
Ive told him if he would like to see the boys this weekend and have a chat then thats fine and he hasnt replied, but I dont expect him to.
Several of you have said my children might be manipulating the story, yes, they might. I have no real reason not to believe them but Im not stupid, theyre children and are going to aim for the angle that is preferable. That original post was written in anger and I apologise massively to any stepparents I may have offended.
I am a bit of a perfectionist and this does trickle in to every aspect of my life massively, but thanks all of you who have helped me see the error of my ways.
I am inclined to agree with alita
My dsc's behave completely differently when it is just me looking after them to when their dad is here too (he works shifts) - for me they behave fine. Do as asked, are polite, mostly remember manners eto. Wheb their dad is here I am blanked, disrespected and treated like shit on their shoes and it drives me insane. We have had the odd text from exw having a go because dp has hit the roof over their behaviour or because i have confiscated computers, sent them to their rooms or removed a trip out as punishment.
Kids are bloody brilliant at manipulation especially where split families are involved.
How certain are you that the story you have received is actually the truth?
Perhaps you would be better off talking calmly to your ex and telling him what the kids have said and asking him what has gone off?
I'm a step mum who's been on the receiving end of something similar. The eldest of my husband's teens was upset with him for something which had nothing to do with me. Obviously, resentful feelings must have been bubbling away for sometime because all of a sudden we got a text from mum saying that they only wanted to see dad in future and not me with a list of things that I'd supposedly said, done or ment. Things that I had said sounded awful when they were completely taken out of context and shortened to mean what they obviously wanted them to. The only time I'd ever got angry, even though it was over a year previous was dragged up and even though it was justified their mother was only told their very edited version of events, ect ect. I could go on forever about all of the times they've upset me, ignored me, disrespected my home ect but apparently that doesn't matter because I'm the adult. I'm always polite and friendly to my husband's teens but I'm very detached because the rejection used to really upset me.
I'd just consider that there might be another side to this story and that your sons may be taking things she does and says very personally because they don't really like her. I don't look after my sc anymore because they'd ignore me and pretend I didn't exist when their dad wasn't here so the atmosphere on my days off was awful and was making me miserable. I've found step parenting to be an absolute minefield and your damned if you do and damned if you dont. I now have as little to do with everything as possible x
Amen UC. The life of a step mum is so misunderstood, often punished by normally well-behaved, 'angelic' children, misunderstood/unappreciated by fathers who disney parent or parent through guilt, who are made to feel guilty by exwives and dc for having a life....... And hated by the natural mother's who think we are maniacs who don't want to share their children and who think we hate them.
At what point do we get a break or some support? At what point are the children just left to live peacefully, without interference - within two households with different dynamics, different rules and are raised to be responsible for their own behaviour and stop playing parents off against each other. Sorry, I have feet firmly in both camps and nurture my children to address their issues directly with myself if relevant to me or their father if it is something to do with him or his house/rules. (Two of my dc are younger than the OP's).
However, on the other hand one of my dsc is extremely cold to me regardless that I make every effort to show interest and interact with them, unfortunately he believes his mothers lies. The other three are absolutely fine with me, however they portray to their mother that they don't like me and that they don't like spending time with me because of this or that. Basically, they lie to keep her happy. I'm okay with it, I understand why they do it, for an easier life. I pity them though, poor kids having to do that, feeling so divided. Just saying OP, things are not always what they seem, not always as bad/negative as kids portray. And sometimes you do have to eat your vegetables, or pick up your laundry, or put the dishes away, regardless of which house you're in. It's not about control, not about anyone being mean, it's family life, whether you like it or not. People have different styles, we are all different, but unless you have concrete proof that she is deliberately 'bullying' your children, I'd tread carefully with addressing this.
Littlegreenlight, it is definitely true that kids behave totally differently at one house to the other. I can give you numerous examples of this in my own children, and my step-children.
I have had conversations with my ex, where he has said our DSs are behaving confrontationally with him, answering back etc, whilst when they have been at our house, they are beautifully behaved and polite. I have had the same in reverse - I've talked to him about one or other of them misbehaving, and he's said that they haven't shown the same behaviours at his.
My step children are the same. They can be angels here, and demons at their mums, and vice versa.
A lot of it boils down to dynamics. Your children have other kids in their dad's household, and only themselves in yours I think? My SDCs have a similar thing, whilst my DCs also have a sibling with their dad. It is a big leap going from a house where you are the only kids and the boundaries are very clear because it's always been just your immediate family, to adjusting to another house where there are other kids too, some related to you through a shared parent, and some not related to you at all, only by the situation you are in.
As for your DCs' step mum, I have been in the situation where I have been home alone looking after my DSs and my SDCs at the same time - so 4 kids at once on my own - two mine and two steps. I found it stressful, difficult, arguments were highly likely, as it is impossible to cater for 4 kids at once, when their ages range from 12 - 6. Eventually, I told my DP that I couldn't cope with it, and didn't want to do it, as it was no good for the kids or for me, and therefore, him. And I was only doing it once in a while, for a day or so in the holidays. It sounds like the SM in your situation has to do this EVERY WEEK. And she has 5 children, with an even wider age range than me. I think she is in an almost impossible situation, and I'm not surprised that she is stressed and probably miserable and suffering under the strain.
I can also give you examples of kids manipulating the situation. My youngest DS decided that what he really wanted was his mummy and daddy back together. How to achieve that? Tell his dad that his SD was mean, and tell his mum (me) that his SM was mean. Then we'd get rid of our partners, and hey presto, we'd get back together. Luckily all the adults communicated with eachother, and got to the bottom of it - DS was telling lies in order to achieve a grander aim. Maybe he has a career as a politician before him...
It's difficult, but please don't automatically think that the SM is the "bad" cop in all situations. It sounds as though she's been left in a situation that could push anyone to their limits. It would be better if she could see that you understand that, rather than leaping to attack here because she "made your DCs cry". If she's anything like me, the stress of looking after so many kids on your own, when they aren't all yours, on a regular basis, she'll have spent many an hour in tears herself.
alita, thank you, you've made me think a lot.
I hadn't really considered that they'd behave differently there, I know them so well I just assume they're as they are for me. their dad and I are very different people, we had our first very young and obviously grew up over time and just weren't compatible.
I know step families, hell just families are all different and we all do things differently so we will work something out, we'll talk next time the boys are due to go and find a solution that makes everyone happy ( if that's possible!).
thanks again for all the advice though, it's been interesting.
It's either much much worse than the op says/ knows to cause a 14 year old boy to cry. or what's going on Is exaggerated by the boys and played on because they just don't like her.
I think it's fair for a step mum to tell one child not to make the other do things for him, it's probably some thing she sees a lot which means it probably annoys her and she is probably stressed. The book thing could just be what she thought would be helpful (rightly or wrongly) i agree it's not her place if you don't want her to do it, but at the same time it's not her being mean.
so it from the examples given it doesn't sound like she's awful, just not getting things right.
The boys may hate seeing her... Some kids hate seeing their grandparents but have to as they're family members! In an ideal world your ex wouldn't be working and leaving them alone with her but he probably hasn't got a choice atm. Maybe they could go to his parents for the day 1 weekend they have them a month, with or without her.
I would ask to have a chat with your ex or even try and arrange a chat with her if you can try not to be too accusing without hearing her side, if you are on speaking terms.
I know you are only trying to protect your kids which is obviously the right thing to do, but don't forget how many times kids will get upset and think you're being unfair when you feel you are telling them off appropriately or trying to get them to do homework or something else they don't want to do, so it may be that this is the case. They may play up more when their dad isn't there (especially the younger one) even if they're great kids, dsd 1 gets all attention seeking and argumentative if dp is busy doing something but is lovely if he's giving them all attention - so maybe they just dislike her as to them she is taking up time they want to be with their dad? Especially if she can't give them much attention cos of her kids which may make them feel like a spare part (especially if the family is somewhat split eg with the holiday cottages).
What I mean is sometime kids think they don't like a person when actually they don't like the situation and associate that person with the situation. have another chat with your boys especially the older one and see if he thinks that could be the case or if he definitely feels she is mean etc.
I also think it was actually nice of her to take an interest in your child's speech. Surely it's better she is interested rather than not bother?
Maybe you needed to calm down before firing off a text, sound like you were very upset but in my experience there is always two sides to a story. It's a bit unrealistic to say you don't want her looking after your children on her own.
I agree with yoyo. Either you leave your ex and his DP to decide for themselves how to run their own household - and that includes letting his DP parent them the way she sees fit. Or you re-negotiate contact so that they aren't spending half their time there in her sole charge.
Could you suggest they go Saturday night and Sunday day 3 weekends out of 4? That would actually mean their dad sees more of them and you would still get one full weekend a month with them.
If you can't talk to your ex, then much better to suggest your DSs talk to their dad directly about whatever has upset them. He's much better placed than you are to get a handle on it, and talk to his DP to find out her side of things. I do think that a 14 year old crying because he's been told off for treating his younger brother as a slave sounds like there must be something else going on that he's not told you. Kids do like to tell tales and stories of woe in the other household, especially if they think you'll take their side without question.
One good technique for finding out what has been going on would be to ask them "what do you think DSM/Dad would say if you told them what you've just told me?" Can help to get fuller picture.
Whatever, I'm sure she's dreadful and your children are always perfectly behaved.
You sound like a nightmare.
He is parenting when hes there but when hes not he has no idea what is happening. And I get NO input from him any other time.
We will come to some arrangement but if Im not happy with my children in a situation then damn right he will hear about it!!!! My god, if our kids ever went to him the other way around he would be straight on my case and rightly so! If my kids were naughty, rude etc, Id say she had cause to speak sternly to them but theyre not, he never says that she has been upset BECAUSE of the kids - which is something he absolutely would tell me.
I imagine she does, I wouldnt be happy to have to do it every weekend. She goes from having 3 kids to 5 on her own, practically probably very difficult I expect.
No its not working so Ill have to speak to him but no way could we all sit down together, it will be like pulling teeth to get him to admit its not working, to come up with new arrangements (nothing will suit him) etc etc.
To keep his maintenance paymets the same (he only cares about money in terms of how often he has the kids, he wont have them less as he will have to give me more) he would have to have them every saturday night.
Which Im not overly keen on but whatever, I dont want my children coming home so bloody miserable so it might be the only way. I dont know. I wont have any contact with him until 2 weekends time when they go again so Ill have it all straight in my head by then.
Goes without saying that he hasnt replied to my text.
I can't believe others are supporting this idea. Massively unfair to your children to restrict their time with their stepfamily members. Unfair to your ex to insist that he be present at every minute (presumably you occasionally leave your children with another family member or carer? Does your ex get to demand that you stop doing that?
And unfair to try to dictate how they divide things up in their family unit.
I really don't know what you'd be happy with. If she isn't "overstepping", then she's neglecting. If your kids aren't happy with something she says or does, then they can't be there. And this isn't a new arrival in their lives, clearly.
Sorry, but this seems so wrong to me. You need to let your ex deal with the children and parent them as he sees fit when they're with him.
If their dad isn't their when the kids are there, then it isn't fair on his partner to be expected to look after them but not be allowed to look after them her way.
Oh dear. This must be hard for you. I think you're right to ask that their dad be present or at least, not missing for any length of time. It's not working is it? Not for your boys, not for this woman. Perhaps she objects to being left to "parent" her partner's other kids? Doesn't really matter. Fact is, they are clearly unhappy and it needs to be addressed. It's important they don't lose contact with their dad and if this continues, they will.
Could you all sit down and discuss? I could with my ex and his partner but my DH (second marriage) could not. At all.
If he's at work the whole of every Saturday, then having them just go for the Sunday - or maybe arrive Saturday evening, would seem much more sensible. Maybe every Sunday if that suits you OK?
Does sould like your ex is already aware that his DW is struggling with his DCs and they work better as two kind of separate families rather than one big one.
He works every saturday, so they go friday night, and come back to me on Sunday eves, only eow though, no contact during the week, he lives 20 miles away which isnt far but when he doesnt finish work until 6 and my LO is in bed at half 7, it doesnt leave much.
Im not saying they cant be with her, just not on their own. I dont trust her, she upsets them, they can just come to me. Their step mum takes the babies out when my ex is there, its a really weird set up (ie theyre all going on holiday but my ex will be in a cottage with "his" children and she will be in another one with "hers" but that includes the two that are "his" as well.
I might be overreacting, Ill have to speak to him but I am a step parent myself and I know I could never speak to my bf's children that way, I find it over stepping the mark.
My son CANT pronounce those letters/sounds, I think forcing him to try is bullying.
Thanks for all the advice though, its really helped.
Your ex should be spending more time with them.
I would be very wary of getting too involved in your ex's household. The things you describe don't sound that awful really. Kids can be head work and there have been times when I'm sure some of my DSC would have told tales to their mum of my doing dreadful things - during the course of sorting out disputes between them, getting youngest off his computer, etc. They tell us takes off their DM too
They are well old enough to discuss how they feel with their dad. You can help them to do this. I agree that there's no reason for them to be visiting for whole weekends when their dad's not there but it's not always feasible never to be leaving them in her company. They're a bit old to be dragged round Tescos or taken along everywhere your ex might need to go in a weekend.
Join the discussion
Please login first.