Struggling a bit with his children, and how we move forward?(36 Posts)
This is a really difficult post to write. I feel super disloyal to my OH, but I keep mulling it over and could really use some advice. I have no-one in this position in RL. And my OH is my best friend - but for obvious reasons until I get this straight in my head, I can't talk about this.
We've been together a while now. He has 2 DC under 9, I have 2 that are much older (mid/late teens). OH is a fantastic guy, truly. I adore him, and it feels like he's the one I've been waiting all my life to meet. (sorry, appreciate that sounds a bit vomit-y). He feels the same about me, is really supportive of me, helps me in lots of ways. My life feels so much better, happier, easier, since I met him. He gets on ok with my DC but they are basically young adults - so his relationship with them is more of a pals/mates kind of thing than anything parental. They are often out with friends/ having friends round/ in their rooms on social media etc so we don't do much together as in my DC, me and OH, but that's not an issue, my DC don't really think it's cool at their age to be seen with their mum - we go out for meals every few weeks & they're happy with that.
So, our relationship is pretty serious, we see each other 3/4 nights a week. We were intending to move in together in the next 12 months, but I can't see that happening, nor do I think it would be fair until I feel happier about how we'd work as a blended family.
I should say first I have very little to do with children other than my own. None of my close friends have any children. So I'm not really used to dealing with them. His DC are totally different from mine (at that age) but that's probably due to different upbringing, but I do find it hard at times, and I think I need to understand if it's me, if I'm being unfair and therefore need to find some way of looking at it differently, or whether others would find some of their behaviours difficult too, and how you'd handle them.
I'm lucky in that they're not hostile to me, quite the opposite they are very affectionate (I'm not a naturally affectionate person other than to my DC so I do sometimes feel a bit awkward about this, but reciprocate their cuddles, let them sit on my lap, play with my hair). So that's not it. It's more like they're not very good at being told no - as I understand it their mum never refuses them anything. If you say no they get really upset very quickly. For example they'll ask for a drink/snack while we're maybe walking back from the park to their house. I'll say we'll be back in a few mins, you can have one then. But they'll keep asking, saying they have to have a drink NOW etc, they're thirsty/too hungry (and cry, or keep asking and asking) and we'll end up having to take a detour via the shop. Or if they ask at mine what's in a cupboard, I tell them then they're pulling the door and trying to open it, and if I refuse that creates upset.
They're really bad at losing games and if they don't win we get sulking and tears. If they do win (and if I finish last, for ex) the elder DC will say 'oh you're really rubbish at this game, look how much I beat you. You've done so badly'. To which I smile and say well, someone has to come last, it's only a game, but the 'Yes but look how bad you did, I've done so much better' continues for some time. Every time. My DC were never allowed to speak to adults like that, and still aren't now!
I also have to take turns to sit in the front seat of OH's car, or play a game to win a turn. Again, my DC never sat in the front if there was an adult there. One way round it is to go separately in my own car, but obviously once we live together I don't want to be taking two cars out every time! We've also never spent the night together whilst DC are with him because his DC sleep in his bed at least part of the night, and they'd get upset if they couldn't get into his room in the morning. But again if we can't get to that stage how are we ever going to be able to live together?
I do like them, I just find some of their behaviour quite difficult to handle, and I want to work this out now so I don't get resentful of them. I know written down it seems pretty trivial, and fully accept that my OH comes as a package. But I just find this harder than I expected. Any thoughts/advice??
I haven't posted in a while because I'm still trying to get my head around some things after 6 years (!) of living together...
I'm just going to put it like this: is there a slim chance that your dp is perhaps being the most charming of all men and you're obvious soulmate because he needs to be to make up for obviously badly brought up/ spoiled by guilt children?
To this day, my dh will "not see" rude behaviour, will put the most jaw dropping spin on his dd's (18 now) shenanigans (he's a bit more of a parent to dss) and I still ponder why? (I have often asked his advice re my teen ds, will not stand his even being cheeky to dh etc).
In return, however, I get a dh who will split domestic chores fairly, be probably more considerate in ways your average hubby might not, ....
It reminds me at times of Watership Down when the well fed rabbits pretended not to see the farmers traps... Disconcerting. To say the least.
OP is this how you want to live your life?
You will find a partner who is a better fit, DP splits chores equally is very considerate of my feelings and a lovely man. He has no children with whom I need to compete with.
Look at your life the way it is right now, and ask yourself is this how you wish to live till the children leave home (might be well into their 20's).
This isn't how I want to live my life forever. But equally he only has the children EOW, which I don't think will increase, and of course they won't be children forever.
Maybe we wait to live together until all the children have left home? (I know he finds my DCs mess and untidiness difficult - he doesn't say anything to them but I know it grates a little on him). I don't know if that's an answer. Financially I'm relatively comfortable and could easily afford to live on my own for another 10 years if that was the best solution.
I actually don't know if I would find anyone who is a better fit tbh, or not without other compromises. I've dated a lot, I was single for nearly a decade before I met OH. I might meet someone equally considerate, with no DC, but he might not help around the house (OH and I split chores equally, if anything he does more than me)...or he might not share my view on the world, or whatever. I don't think anyone's perfect.
I get the feeling if OH and I had met and had our children together, I wouldn't be having these issues, because generally he and I are on the same page - but he's always worked full time, very long hours when he was first building up his career, his ExW was a SAHM, and so when they first split he had to work really hard to build up a relationship with his DC because they didn't want to come and stay with his (even now they still cry to go home on probably 1 out of 3 of their weekends together).
Part of the problem is a lot of the stuff that I'm struggling with he doesn't hear or see, they seem to play up more when he's out of earshot. He actually is quite strict with certain things (except the car - that's been going on since the DC were babies as their mother insisted on sitting in the back. No idea why, but now they expect the front seat). He also generally thinks they're exceptionally well behaved, which in some ways they are - they will sit down and behave if we go out for dinner (whereas my DC would have probably got up and wandered off at that age, they got bored sitting down) but equally they do sigh and fuss a lot at the same time (albeit he does tell them off when it's in front of him).
Sounds like, having raised your children already, you don't really want to go through it all again which is fair enough.
Things like the car are weird and I am totally with you on that. Children don't get to decide who sits up front.
How would your DP propose to resolve the sleeping in his bed issue if you and he were to move in together? Would he and the DSCs expect you to decamp to the sofa while they're there?
If I were you I'd put off moving in together until the DSCs were older. If your DP forces the issue, be honest with him why.
echo the front seat issue - i would never accept that.. I agree with other posters if these things are annoying eow then I would wait and don't do anything about moving in. Your DP's over compensating for not seeing his children more and there's not much you can do about that. My advice (and i live with my DSDs full time) is to keep your own space and sanity for now.
Am definitely not rushing the moving in. There is no space for his DC here yet anyway (I need to clear out my junk/hobby room to make a bedroom for one of them, and reorganise my spare room) so we're a way off them even staying over let alone moving in.
The sleeping issue he's not really suggested a resolution for yet. He said before he'd like me to stay over when he has them but then said he couldn't because of the upset it would cause if they couldn't come in during the night. So we've not tried. I think he understands we can't plan to live together til we spend the night together regularly. Financially he has more to gain from us living together than me, but he doesn't seem in any hurry, which to my mind is good.
It's not you op. Those things would annoy me too. The car seat thing is ridiculous kids should be in the back at all times if there's an adult in the front or not.
The bed thing also depending on ages seems like something most toddlers grow out of. Taking detours and pulling open cupboards especially if it's your house just insist. How does your dp handle whinging/meltdowns?
This is the main problem with being a step parent for me, especially only eow. These behaviours and habits are being learnt and reenforced all week, there is only so much parenting you and dp can realistically do the rest of the time.
All children are not the same because they are not raised the same. You say yourself that in some ways, they are better behaved than your children were in some occasions.
Unless their behaviour is disrespectful towards you -and it doesn't seem to be the case so far- that you will need to accept them as they are and appreciate that their dad and mum are not raising them as you chose to raise your own children.
Could you cope with that? For instance, you mentioned about telling them that they had to wait to get home for a snack, but what did their dad say? It should have been their dad making that decision, not you, at least not at this stage of your relation (between you and the kids).
If you do move out, you will need to be very clear as to what the rules are. Before I moved it with my partner, we discussed on a number of occasions how it would work. We agreed that I would make sure the kids kept the place tidy as he can't stand mess and that would stress him. On the other hand, he agreed that he wouldn't discipline them because that is my role, but I would listen to his advice. Sometimes I agree with it, sometimes I don't, but it is not very often that he says something. It is working for us, it wouldn't work for another family, what matters is to discuss and agree compromises before even thinking of moving forward.
It sounds like you are doing well as you are at the moment so why change things? But then I am not naturally good with children either and the last thing you want is to be turned into the wicked step-mother.
No easy solution!
If they are EOW and younger now, then an advantage of moving together soon is they may be more easily adjustable than when they are older, and you would have a chance at forming some kind of relationship.
If you wait until they are older - those habits will still be there but in different ways - and no way could you change them and in my experience it is even more irritating having adult DSDs who are 'entitled' and daddys girls.
But I would insisted in always being in the front seat. There has to be some adjustment - the sooner the better. Of course they will whine. Of course OH won't like it. But in 10 years it will drive you insane.
OP I think you could be me. When I first met my now DH's 6 year old I was horrified by his behaviour and the way DH would allow him to speak to adults, dictate where people (not just me) sat, and did not discipline him for kicking etc. etc.
My DH is the loveliest, kindest, most thoughtful and courteous person (I knew him for many years prior to us finally getting together) so I was shocked that his DS was not being brought up to be these things.
However, I spoke to DH about my problems with this, and he asked advice (I have a grown up DS) and we both adjusted our expectations a bit. Meanwhile, DSS has grown into a lovely, polite/cheeky/funny/Minecraft obsessed 8 year old whom I love dearly and we have established some boundaries that we all step over occasionally. I expect the usual pre-teen and teenage rollercoasters, of course, but we have become a family I think. We do have him 3 days a week, so it's probably easier in many ways than EOW though.
So what I'm saying is keep talking, be patient, and if your DH is your soulmate it just may all work out well.
Honestly, I'd re-think the whole relationship. You have to go under the idea that he is NOT going to change as far as how he treats/raises his children. And that he will not back you up in trying to correct them. And EOW with children like his appear to be would be too much for me to deal with on a regular basis. Plus as they get older, I'm afraid their behaviour would escalate. Whining and crying in a 5 year old can turn into real behavioural issues in a 15 year old!
Plus, once you move in and are a 'family unit' he may very well want to have the children more frequently for 'family' dinners, holidays, etc. A single dad often won't do as many 'family things' as a dad with a spouse/live in partner will do since he has someone there to share the burden.
Plus, I can foresee some tension if there is conflict between the older vs younger kids. Is he going to back you up in defending your kids if they don't want the younger ones messing in their stuff or disrupting them?
Adults sit in the front. End of. That would do it for me. I spent my childhood in the back so now it's my time. Same for children now imo. If you are going to live with him you both need to be on the same page and put down rules.
Don't move in together yet, leave it a few years, there's no reason why you should live together and blend families.
And, yes, they do grow up, but they may change their minds about who they live with more as they get older. DH used to have his kids EOW, but the eldest when he was 11 basically moved in full time with us. He's 21 and still there. It doesn't get any easier as they get older, in fact it probably gets harder.
So, to repeat my point, moving in together isn't a necessary next step. When yours are older, and if they move out, you and DH can spend more time together.
We're definitely not moving in together anytime soon. The soonest I think it could be is the end of next year, but equally I don't think delaying it beyond that (if I'm still not sure by then) isn't an issue. Like I said, financially I'm ok, so there's no desperate rush. My DC are likely to be going off to uni in the next couple of years, all being well, so we might consider it then. I know OH is happy to wait a bit, he'd never lived on his own until he split with his XW (he's lived with girlfriends or flatmates since his teens, but never on his own) and I know he really enjoys having his own space.
I'm kind of relieved that people don't think I'm being completely out of order over the DC. I'm really not a children person...babies I love (up to the age they talk back!) but beyond that I find them hard work. I can do groups of children (I used to have a great time at my DC's parties when they were small) but individually, and for longer than an hour, I'm not so good. Doesn't help that OH is always saying how amazing I am with his DC, so I feel under pressure to maintain my cheerfulness even when they are niggling me by going on and on, or jibbing me about not winning a game etc.
The car thing is the one that grates on me the most, I need to think how to approach OH about that. Problem is this is SO ingrained with his DC (and has been/is encouraged by their mum) that I am not sure he'll be willing to change it. The slight irony is I know this was a point of conflict in their marriage, because OH used to get fed up being in the front on his own, especially on long journeys...yet now he seems quite happy for me to sit in the back if I've not 'won', or it's not my turn.
As for living with us more than EOW, it's possible but unlikely - my house (where we'll be living for at least the next 5-10 years, or certainly I will) is an hour from their mum, and where they will go to school. We might in future end up with maybe 2 out of 3 weekends, but I don't foresee midweek because of the distance, though I guess it's possible.
The car would drive me crazy - my sister has this stupid idea that her son doesn't have to abide by norms of behaviour in cars as he is tall. So, when we went on holiday one time, there were the four of them, me and we had a driver, so six of us in a jeep. Her son got the front seat all the time because he was tall, and he whined the back was uncomfortable - no shit, it was uncomfortable for the rest of us too. He was 16 at the time and my view is that a 16yo should put up with discomfort at times to be polite to their aging aunt!
Similarly, when he has been in my car she has told him he doesn't need to do his seatbelt up because it's hard for him being so tall (btw, he's only about 6', my dp is 6'4" and doesn't have any special dispensation from the law as far as I know) but in that case because it was my car I simply refused to drive until he did it up and my sister quietly seethed.
In your shoes I would just say every time you walk towards the car "I'll drive darling" and then he can have the row about sitting in the front, see how he likes it. Don't take your car, you drive his.
Children should defer to adults in this situation. dss hasn't ever tried this, though once or twice I have offered that he sit in the front to chat to his dad, or if I have wanted to nod off.
I would also ask your dp to remind them that gloating is impolite and can make other people feel bad. No-one likes a bad winner. dss can be a bit gloaty but I pull him up on it because I think it is an unattractive trait to develop - maybe you could discuss with dp on this basis?
Or, when they ask to play games, say "I'm rubbish at this so you need to be kind to me" then when they gloat, remind them.
dss was 9 when we met and he used to sleep in dp bed now and then, but he was starting to grow out of it. He did have tears now and then and ask to go back to mum's and sometimes we did that if it was the Sunday afternoon (just tired I expect). I don't know if there was upset when I started staying over, I didn't notice really - he did come in now ad then in the night but we just said he needed to go back to bed and he did. He came in the bed some mornings (so obviously I always wore pjs!) but he soon grew out of this, though now and then he still comes in and site on the bed to talk to us. In a way, the issue has to be forced - they cannot keep sleeping in his bed and he needs to speak to them about it and tell them it's not grown up.
I had more issues with the dog sleeping on the bed.....
The front seat issue is a power thing, for sure.
I had this problem with my 2 DSD's when I started seeing their DF, now my DH.
You really need to get your OH to nip this in the bud. Safety issues aside, there is no way an adult should be relegated to the back seat so a child can sit in the front, it's disrespectful.
Would your husband make his Mother, or Father sit in the back so a child could ride in front?
I'm not insured to drive his car (I'm a newish driver, his is a very expensive car).
Any adult other than the driver sits in the back - I've not seen it yet where there are more than 2 adults in the car, so not sure how that would work out, but where there are 2, if GPs pick them up, or their mum and her new partner, for example, then the adult not driving always sits in the back so his DC can sit in the front.
As for sleeping in his bed, as I understand it they come into his bed at some point in the night every night they sleep over. so it's more than an occasional thing, and they cry if his door is ever shut, so they can't get in (until he gets up and opens it). I suspect it'd be worse if he then sent them back to bed.
I never thought my DSC would change residency, in the space of 2 weeks, we lost complete contact with DSS and DSD2 moved in full time with us with minimal contact with Mum. That was over 3 years ago, and DSD2 is still with us full time and no contact from DSS.
Teens do often change contact, statistically it's quite common - all to do with the natural withdrawing from 1 parent. So don't under-estimate the possibility of it happening.
You are right to want to get things ironed out before you live together, I didn't and I regret it a lot. It's so much harder to sort out once you are in the thick of it.
I definitely wouldn't be happy with the car situation, the hierarchy is all wrong.
He needs to sort it out - they are either too young to be in the front seat or too old to be in his bed!
He needs to get a grip really, it doesn't help them in the long run to think they are in charge, it's too much pressure and they will act up as a result of it.
Why does he think it's OK for them to come into his bed? Is he suffering some kind of guilt, or worry they will decide not to stay with him?
I can understand gp being indulging, that's their job. I expect when you say the dm and her dp, the dp is driving? Sp it is the mum who has decided to sit in the back, not forced this odd behaviour onto a third party.
I don't think I could put up with it myself. I get annoyed at adults who claim they can only travel in the front!
Yes their mum always sits in the back, that's how this habit started. I'm not entirely sure but I think if ever she takes her car, her OH takes his own, to avoid sitting in the back himself!
I'm going to have to raise it with him, but I'm conscious it doesn't come across as me being unfair. My view is his DC get a lot of time in the car without me. I'm only with them one day a fortnight, 1-3 car journeys. I do think my OH might say well it's only 3 times a fortnight, can't you put up with it? But I don't know if I should have to. He does sometimes bag me the seat, but I feel the front seat should be mine by default, not just when he negotiates it for me. Or else I'll just have to start driving my car and meeting them at places. But I don't want that to come off as an ultimatum
As for the sleeping, I think he indulges it because at first they were so unwilling to stay with him, and he was trying to build a relationship with them as they'd always spent so much time with their mum, he was on the periphery - so it was a way to get more of a bond with them.
I know you probably will get the 'what is wrong with the back seat' from your OH - he won't see why - but do it anyway! And just stick to your guns. Use everything you have - turn anything back on him - 'why wouldn't you let me if it's only a few trips' - just don't back down!
I'd do that first before the sleeping issue. Then start saying things like 'I think as they are growing up it might not be great for them to share our bed - let's see if we can work out how to help them get more confident about sleeping at night on their own.'
TBH I found much of what your complaining about to be quite trivial. It's just kids being kids and every family has its own way of doing things.
The behaviour that we ignore or trivialise in our own DCs can obviously be irritating to others if forced to live with it.
You can do what others have suggested which is bin the relationship and hopefully find a nice man without kids or with older uninvolved kids.
It sounds like the kids really like you which is absolutely great. There are so many horror stories of hostile step kids on here that I think you are really starting this from a position of strength.
I think you need to build up your relationship with these children. Take off your judgement hat and lay down some laws as nicely as possible.
Kids whinging? Ignore it. Kids whinge, it's what they do. They'll stop once they learn it's not getting them anywhere. Stop judging their mother for parenting them badly in your book. You have no idea what goes on.
Kids sitting in front seat of car? Tell them to move their backsides; front seats are for grown ups.
Only you can decide if you love your partner enough for it to be worth it.
If your OH has to 'negotiate' the front seat for you with dc's under 9, then he's in for a heap of trouble when they hit teens!
Also 'winning' the right to sit in the front? It's bonkers. They sound like a pair of entitled spoilt brats.
Join the discussion
Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Register now
Already registered with Mumsnet? Log in to leave your comment or alternatively, sign in with Facebook or Google.
Please login first.