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Our DC just don't get on

(12 Posts)
ToffeeSundae Sat 25-Jul-15 14:34:07

I've posted on here before under a NC, very early on in the process of introducing our dc looking for some tips about how to navigate introducing our respective dc.

In terms of my relationship with bf, we're very solid and love each other very much. In hindsight, we probably rushed the introductions. But then it's the first time either of us has dated someone with children so we are navigating blind so to speak. The DC got on very well initially and we quickly moved into 'blended family' mode with bf changing his contact so that we both had our DC on the same weekend EOW and have pretty much spent our entire weekends doing 'family' things. Although bf doesn't technically live with me, he was staying with a relative following the breakdown of his previous relationship and fairly early on his relative took his key back so he had little choice but to stay with me more or less full time.

This situation has been far from ideal for me as its a sort of limbo state between living together and just dating. I also didn't get the chance to 'build up' the amount of time I had to share my space. Coupled with a long term illness diagnosis for me, I have found it tough to have so little time to myself. But, I am a people pleaser by nature and have avoided bringing up my issues as I love him and didn't want to hurt him. I think I just hoped things would improve on their own.

On top of all this, my eldest DD(7) is going through some emotional and behavioural problems. Although they started before I met bf, they have got considerably worse over the time I've known him. I don't know whether my relationship with BF is part of the cause of whether this would have happened anyway. I have been to the doctors, got her into counselling (only available privately and had to stop due to cost), have contacted many agencies, none of whom seem willing or able to help. I have admitted that I am struggling to know what to do with her but I am trying. The main problem is that she is violent both towards her younger sister but also to BF's DS who is the same age as her.

I think part of the problem is that we're all squeezed into my tiny house which isn't big enough for so many people. My DC are having to share their space on every weekend that they spend with me. Also, and as much as I hate to admit it - I have begun to detatch from the DC (including BF's DS) because in the beginning they would all fight over my attention so I found it easier to detatch from them all. So whilst initially BF's DS enjoyed coming over and I got on very well with him initially, he now doesn't like coming over. I also feel like I've lost that initial bond with him and feel a bit detatched.

BF has noticed this and is starting to get upset with me for not making more of an effort. I feel resentful too because he brings his DS to stay at mine even when I don't have my own DC (this happens usually as a result of him swapping his normal contact weekend). So when I'm looking forward to spending some of my free time catching up on sleep (illness related) and work/housework, he wants me to go out with them and spend time with them.

Following a very honest talk, we have decided to scale back the time we spend together with our DC so that bf and DSS won't be staying over night at my house until the DC are getting on better and I've got on top of DD's behavioural and emotional issues. I know that this concerns bf however, as he would really like us to live together and have another DC together at some time in the near future. He doesn't want to wait too long due to our ages. He is worried that we might never be able to do this due to the DC (well, mine really). But I'm just not willing to give up my home and move in until I'm more certain that this could work for the DC.

I'm sorry this is so long but I really could use some advice about how we navigate through the relationship between the DCs, how do we help them get along? Also, how do I get back to getting along with BF's DS and feeling like I want to spend time with them? I'm hoping that having more quality time with my own DC will help in that I don't feel so detached from them and it may open up some space where I don't feel guilty for spending time with DSS.

Or are we flogging a dead horse and should just call quits because they will never get along like we hope they will? I have read around this board and it doesn't fill me with hope but I am still willing to give things a go because I love BF so much and think we could have a very happy future if we can just get around the peripheral issues. TIA.

Kkaty Sat 25-Jul-15 21:37:53

I suppose from your BF point of view - he saw you be committed and getting involved with his child - and then distancing yourself and for whatever reason - although you've tried to get help - your DCs behaviour still seems to be negatively affecting the whole household.

If I were him I'd be wondering what I can change - because it sounds as if you are the only one with enough influence to discpline your DC and expect good behaviour and to reach out to his kids.

If the counsellors/other agencies can't help - why is that? Do you give your DD consequences for her behaviour? Are you consistent? Is there an underlying problem? Until you manage this everything else seems stuck.

adelecarberry Sat 25-Jul-15 22:31:37

If its not working then call it quits sounds like its not for the benefit of the kids and utimately they are at the age where they got to come first. It doesn't sound as if your relationship with your bf has got the much needed groundwork to make this work especially as you stated you rushed In.Take a step back focus on yourself and your children, sounds like the 7 year old is extremely troubled and needs their mum. Having another child would make this situation far worse.

swingofthings Sun 26-Jul-15 10:38:57

I think your DP is unreasonable. He is foccusing at what he wants rather than accepting that the current situation means that it might not be possible. You have so much on your plate right now that agreeing to take on more would be totally unreasonable and very likely to lead to trouble.

Your focus should be on you and your DD and everything else should come second. Your DP should respect that.

The crux of the issue seems to be that too much is being demanded of you. You sound exhausted and in real need of time for yourself. This won't happen if you move in together, you are expected to treat his children as yours, your DD requires more of your attention, you are coping with illness AND you are supposed to somehow find it in yourself to cope with another child. Your DP needs to open his eyes and start thinking more of what he can do to make your life easier rather that putting pressure on you to meet his desires.

You've done the right thing to distance yourself a bit to concentrate on you and you children. it will also help to see how he deals with it all, and whether he is going to take the role of the martyr, or whether it will allow him to appreciate that he needs to be there for you more.

crispycookie Sun 26-Jul-15 10:56:41

Toffee I was in a very similar situation... However, our kids got along but my DC1 was always a more difficult child to deal with. And he turned 7 and all hell broke loose... The thing that jumped out from your post is how much your BF wants you to do as a 'family'. I made it very clear to my ex (sorry for you to hear but I did end up splitting with him) that if he had his DC over on a weekend I didn't have mine, he was responsible for their time together as that was my 'free' time. And even on the weekends we had together, we did one day as a family and one day we will do things separately.

It was very important to me that my DCs and I had a bond together outside of everything else. A precautionary tale of my friend who is still dating the same man six years on. Her DCs think her BF and his DD are fun and now they won't do anything with her unless they come along. Which I think is really sad and was something I was very keen to avoid with my DCs. We split in the end as everything got really difficult and I was very worried that the whole situation was affecting my DCs negatively overall. I had this overwhelming sense my DCs are still young (7 and 5) and still needed my full attention. The sense of relief I have felt since we split a few months ago is immense... I feel a burden has been lifted from me. I have no intention to date again but I will if the opportunity came along and shall we say big lessons learned here, there is much wisdom in the advice of waiting for a while before introductions! I seriously did the same as you as heck, I had no idea what I was doing... But never again and thankfully my kids have come off relatively unscathed by it all! Good luck! thanks

ToffeeSundae Sun 26-Jul-15 21:50:26

Thanks everyone for taking the time to reply. Obviously there is a lot more to it but my op was already long enough.

The issues with DD1 are complex really. She is having huge temper tantrums where she completely loses her temper and will shout, scream, hit, kick and swear. Often it takes her almost an hour for her to calm down. If she does this at home, she is put in her room to calm down. She does this on average 3 or 4 times whilst BF and DSS are here but will do it to a lesser extent when we're at home alone or if just bf is here. Most of our trips out are ruined by her tantrums. But it's not just losing her temper. She will also go into depressive episodes where she believes nobody loves her and says she wants to die. I once caught her with a belt around her neck during a time out. Bf has tried to be supportive about her behaviour but we have very different parenting styles (he's much stricter than me) and I know he feels like I should smack her and punish her more harshly. I have lost my temper with her whilst she is mid episode but it just makes things worse. However, I do understand that it must be infuriating for him to see his DS being hurt by my DD. This is partly why I have suggested that we limit their contact.

Having said that, it's not just my dc that are contributing factors - there is a bit of winding up going on from both my younger DD and DSS. Bf and I have taken different approaches with the dc - he is comfortable disciplining my dc (although not as harshly as he does his own ds) and also expects me to discipline his DS. I have refused to do this as I don't see it as my role but obviously discipline my own.

I think it's also down to the enequalness of the situation. Because bf doesn't have his own place, we can't ever visit him. It is always the case that my DC are having to share their home and me with his DS. This is partly why I've begun to detatch because it's impossible to treat them all equally (due to their different needs and our differing approaches). I feel awkward being affectionate with my DC in front of DSS. There were a few instances of DSS purposefully cuddling me when I was trying to discipline dd1 which obviously upset her. I also struggle to tell DSS 'no' and he's worked out that I'm a soft touch with him. Urgh, it's just a mess really but our fault for rushing things.

swing, thank you for recognising just how tough I have it (I haven't even mentioned the difficulties with my EA ex). I feel massively pulled trying to please everyone and never putting myself and my needs first. I'm not the most assertive person anyway but I feel it's getting too much.

Bf would be happy to spend every day with me and I feel guilty for needing my own time and space. He has his DS one weeknight in addition to EOW but has to stay at his relatives house on those nights so he can get DSS to school (we live 45 minutes apart). In the beginning I would visit him on this night because we weren't seeing each other as often but now he's here practically every day, he still expects me to visit each week and do the 45 minutes there and back late at night. I know it's because he misses me but again it's more pressure on me and I find it hard to say I actually need this time to myself. Even if he is not at mine, we still spend a couple of hours on the phone to each other.

It's getting to the point now where resent is creeping in. BF getting annoyed with me for wanting to sleep whilst his DS (but not my two) was over, saying that his DS was 'left out' because he didn't like the fruit I'd given my two and so couldn't have any. And obviously from me for having to constantly share my space but also because it feels like bf has the freedom to change his plans (I'm going out on such and such night) at short notice whereas I feel like I always have to be at home hosting him as a 'guest' (because technically he is until we officially live together and what I refer to as the 'limbo' situation).

I realise I'm making this sound very negative but bf and I are a very good match for one another. There are times when the DC get on really well and we have a lot of fun. I think I could just do with some ideas and guidance on how we help the DC to get along better if anyone has any?

TIA again and sorry this was so long.

lunar1 Sun 26-Jul-15 21:58:21

You boyfriend is putting far to much pressure on you. Your dd needs so much right now and it sounds like he is trying to get you to be a mum to his child too.

What on earth is he thinking wanting to have another child right now? You can't keep up with so many demands on you indefinitely, I would take a big step back from him if I were you. Your poor dd sounds like she could have serious mental health issues and he wants you to smack her. Trust your instincts.

Janethegirl Sun 26-Jul-15 22:08:06

Your child should be your priority at the minute, your bf should understand as he is an adult. I know it may not work like that but your dd must be your priority.

ToffeeSundae Sun 26-Jul-15 22:17:33

Thank you lunar. It don't know if it's so much that he wants me to be another mother to his DS, more that he wants me to be as close to his child as I am to mine which is perhaps unrealistic, particularly as there just hasnt been the time for that to develop. We've only been together 11 months. I think the reason for this is that he was the child of step parents on both sides who were by his recollection, borderline abusive. His step-mother drove him away from his father because he didn't fit into her idea of a perfect nucular family. I know he worries that he will bring a woman like that into his DS's life. I obviously wouldn't ever do that and I really hope that one day I will feel a closeness and bond to DSS but it's way too early for that. I can understand how my behaviour appears to him but I feel I am fair and equal with all the children hence being standoffish with all of them and not just DSS. I'm not saying it's ideal by any stretch, just that it's the coping mechanism I've had to deploy in the face of constant bickering over me. He also makes a huge amount of effort with my two but then they spend a lot more time together because he's in our home very often and obviously they are here too. So I guess he will sense an unfairness between the amount of effort we are each apparently putting in. But that is out of context and a direct result of the living situation.

Re having another child, we a&e talking about doing that in 3-5 years IF it's right. He was upfront about his desire for another chikd when we met and at that point I said I would be willing in several years if I met the right person. I think his sorry is that things will never improve but by then it will be too late for him to find someone else and have a child. I told him that that is a distinct risk/possibility but that only he can make a decision as to whether that's a risk he's willing to take.

I am trying really hard to get to the bottom of DD's issues but as in my op, nobody is willing to help. Cahms told me her issues sound like behaviour only and referred me to sure start. Sure start said her issues are beyond their capabilities. Counselling is too expensive. I feel really stuck.

LineRunner Sun 26-Jul-15 22:18:42

I'd call it quits.

The relationship is exhausting you, putting pressure you and your primary relationship with your DCs, causing you stress and making you feel negative.

The current living arrangements are such that your DP's request to bring another child into your life sounds really quite concerning. As in, trapping you.

PushPineappleShakeTheTree Mon 27-Jul-15 09:21:53

I think no one has so far suggested ways to help your DC get along because we can all see that's not the actual problem here. Even if there were no other issues going on at all you're forcing all the DC into sharing a cramped space where any benefit in doing that is purely for you and your DP i.e you two getting to spend time together. Your DC have no such positives to outweigh the negatives and they have no choice in whether they can tell your DP/DSS to leave and give them some space when it all starts to get a bit too much.

Not a perfect analogy, but imagine if one of your DC insisted on having a couple of friends to sleep over every week at the expense of everyone else in the household being cramped and miserable - you wouldn't think the solution was to find ways to make everyone enjoy being with the friends as much as your one DC did.

I guess my view is clouded by the time when my exMIL came to stay with me and my ex for three months, I liked her immensely and had always got on really well with her, but those three months living together were hell (even though she acted impeccably throughout) because our house was too small and we all felt suffocated.

Add to the mix your DD1's current behavioural problems and your DP's totally unrealistic expectations of a blended family and you're all headed for heartache. You're not responsible for fixing your DP's childhood experiences, especially not at the cost of your own DDs' wellbeing. Your DDs are too little to vote with their feet and escape the situation by choosing to live with their dad so whilst they are that young and dependant on you their needs have to come first.

I hope you can work things out.

amarmai Wed 29-Jul-15 23:36:22

You are trying to meet all these expectations placed on you by this man who has moved into your home, rather than get a place of his own. Your health and your children's needs come before his demands. The demand for another child really concerns me , considering your health and the needs of the children you already have. His demand that you smack a child who is disturbed to the point of putting a belt around her neck? ? He is causing damage to you and your children .

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