Yep, I'm one of the ones that totally underestimated how hard it would be....(17 Posts)
We recently moved in together (which is stressful enough as it is!) and I'm already struggling I'm surprised how tough I'm finding having his DC here - which makes me feel like a terrible person and even worse about the whole thing.
Because of the situation with his ex I hadn't met the children loads of times before we moved in (in short, we lived 150 miles apart and it was difficult making it work combined with DC mum being very anti and us not wanting to push it) so I know it's bound to be hard for them too and just going to take time but I feel awkward in my own home.
When I used to visit DP with them there I naively thought those feelings came from being in a home that wasn't mine etc but now we've moved into a different house together, I still feel it.
The boys (12 & 9) are very sweet but I'm fairly shocked at their behaviour - I was brought up in a strict household & my sister brings my nephews up as we were, so I'm not used to it. DP says they're just children and, because I don't have any, I can't judge how hard it is getting children to do what you want them to. The beds are unmade, clothes stay where they drop them, dishes stay on the dining room table or get put on the kitchen side if they can be forced to, albeit with a lot of whining and the tv is never off - not even during meal times.
People raise children differently and have different expectations, I completely get that, but it's making me feel anti DP and anti being here when they are.
I'm sorry for such a long post, I just need to get it off my chest and have a word with myself!
All I can say is pick your battles. It's frustrating living with children being raised differently to how you would wish to raise your own children, but also you probably do have high expectations to some extent.
If you want to have some input on setting different standards of behaviour, you need to make an effort to also be good cop instead of always bad cop - praise good behaviour, find ways to have fun and bond with them. Then pick your battles, decide which things you really can't live with and try to work with your DP to get them making beds or clearing up or whatever. But you won't be able to change everything, some things you will just have to learn to shrug and accept.
Leave it for at least 6 months. Just focus on bonding with them. If you can leave the discipline to dad life will be MUCH easier. Agree house rules with your partner but let him enforce them. Don't make them anything too far from what has already been in existence. But don't clean up after them! That's a road to resentment. Let him collect their dishes and dirty clothes. Just don't do it. Focus on the fun stuff.
but it's making me feel anti DP and anti being here when they are.
Maybe you and your partner are not compatible? It seems you have a very different outlook on parenting/upbringing. I'm afraid this will only get worse OP. No one is in the wrong, you just have different styles.
I would give it time and leave discipline to him for now, it's difficult when you hardly know them, but it will get easier. Give it at least 6 months and focus on bonding with them and once the respect and relationship is there you won't feel awkward about 'nagging' them.
Are you planning on having kids one day? What about actual discipline, it's one thing having a difference of opinion when it comes to a messy room than actual behaviour. It may or may not be a deal breaker depending on how willing you both are to compromise.
Thanks so much for the responses, I'm feeling pretty overwhelmed at the mo so it's a bit hard to see the woods for the trees.
Their actual behaviour isn't bad at all, they're not cheeky or rude or anything like that and I enjoy spending time with them. I know I'm a bit 'if it's not done my way, you're doing it wrong...!' So I'm desperately trying not to say anything or cause any issues but it means it's building up and becoming more major than it perhaps needs to.
We are hoping to have a child & we've discussed discipline before, he was brought up fairly strict and agrees children need boundaries and should be expected to help in an age appropriate way. He just doesn't seem to see his children don't fit in to that category!
Thanks again though, I know I need to discuss it with DP.
My way of handling I was to say 'their mess, your problem'.
So, DH cooks for them, mostly, I don't pick up after them, and I don't discipline them, unless something immediately stupid is happening, where a 'what on earth is going on' is called for.
DH and his ex parent in a way entirely different from the way I would have done, but they have brought up 3 good kids, it works for them. And that's the important bit. It's really not anything to do with me.
My blood pressure went back to normal once I stepped back. It's really not an easy job being a stepparent, it's pretty thankless. And if you don't think it's for you there's no shame in realising that.
Try and get on with the mum too. That really helps. What you are going through sounds pretty normal. It doesn't get much easier as they get older either, the issues are different, though I found it more entertaining as they got older.
There's some good advice on theses boards, the more laid back you can be the better...
and agrees children need boundaries and should be expected to help in an age appropriate way. He just doesn't seem to see his children don't fit in to that category!
^ This seems to be fairly common!
I agree with picking your battles and definitely with building a bond with the children. Two of my friends have tried to discipline DD3 (she can be a handful). One friend has built up a wonderful bond that seems to make any discipline just part of that good relationship. The other friend doesn't have that bond with DD3 and each time she tries to discipline her it just makes DD3 dislike her more. FWIW, this friend has my best interests at heart and is really trying to help. It just doesn't work because the bond isn't there with DD3.
So work really hard on the bonding OP!
I think it's very different/hard for oarents that only have the children with them for a short time. I had the same issues in that he agreed with what I would say re table manners, cleaning up after themselves etc but somehow seemed unable to bring himself to 'nag' them all the time. It's hard to establish routine and behaviours when they aren't there all the time.
Seeing as it's quite new i agree with PPs who suggest to step back initially and let the kids get used to your presence. Maybe focus on 1 issue I.e picking up clothes to start with. That's what I did and perserverence paid off in the end. IF they are good kids and you get on well then that's half the battle won already
I'm not the best at picking my battles, I let things go then snap over the stupid stuff!
So much good advice, thank you all. It's really comforting to know this is 'normal' and hear how other people have handled it and moved forward. Even if that's with the help of a lot of gin
I also think there's an element of cutting DP some slack. Don't know how long he's been apart from their mum but in my DH's case he had to build an entirely new relationship with DSC because they were no longer all living together as a family. I think there's often a bit of fear there that they might just decide they don't want to come to see Dad if he's too hard on them about stuff like clearing up after themselves. That's not to say they should be allowed to do what they like but it can take a bit of time to get the balance right. I know it's harder in the winter but I can recommend getting out and doing fun stuff with them as much as possible, really helps with bonding and saves you feeling too 'invaded' at home. Also nothing wrong in you leaving them to it and going out yourself some of the time or DP taking them out without you, it's important they feel they have time with just their dad as well as time all together. The biggest thing is to give it time, finding the right balance doesn't happen straight away and it's rarely plain sailing right from the offset. I've tried really hard over the years (DSC late teens now and I've been with DH since they were 2 and 4 respectively) to see my role as supporting his relationship with them rather than full on parent, sometimes that involves taking a back seat or removing myself from the equation altogether by going out or encouraging him to take them out on his own so he can focus on what's best for him and them without having to think about me. I do think there has to be a degree of selflessness in being a step parent, I knew he had kids before we got together and have always felt it was important for me to try and make his relationship with them easier rather than harder. I must have done ok, they're close to their dad and still come twice a week even now the eldest is 18 and there's genuine love between them and me as well, they seem to think I've been a good step mum to them and I'm proud of that. We have always had rules in our home though and it didn't take long for them to adapt to those rules being different from their home with mum. You and DP need to agree on what those rules should be and if there's jobs (like making beds or picking up clothes) he doesn't want to ask them to do themselves then he needs to do them rather than expect you to pick up after everyone.
I agree with pp, take your time, step back and pick your battles. I shed lots of tears of frustration in our first year living together. Now 8 years later is it much better and we are very happy.
Let it ride for the next few months, pick your battles, and take it one step at a time. In a few months suggest that the kids help clear the table, then start asking them to bring their washing down or to the washing basket etc. That is what I did. Small steps.
When I first moved with DH, who doesn't have children (and doesn't like them much anyway!), it was quite difficult. My children are very well behaved by today's standards, but if there is one area of their life they don't show great potential, that's when it comes to tidiness. Unfortunately, my OH is OCD.... so clearly, it was going to clash. OH found it hard to cope with being in a house that was a show house any longer, the kids struggle always feeling on edge, and I felt stuck in between.
The good news is...4 years on and it is a lot better because all sides have made efforts and so we are come to a stage where we are not all too far off. OH has significantly lower is expectations. OH has taken a step back from the feeling a pride in his home and just isn't attached to it as much as he was before we moved in. As a results, his standards have reduce significantly. As for me, I continue to say the same things a zillion times to the kids and somehow, albeit at snail pace, they are starting to take in all the things they have heard for the past 10 years and gradually showing some signs of growing up to not be slobs!
Still a way to go, but we can all live together happily. You've just moved in, so don't have to high expectations. It will take time to find your place in this new set up and for everyone to aligned to each other needs. My advice is, close your eyes to what you don't want to see and let their dad deal with things.
Such good advice, and so comforting to hear your DH has been able to adjust swing I know I focus on the small stuff sometimes and get bogged down in detail that doesn't always matter.
It's going to be a massive learning curve but I've had a long convo with DP today who agrees we all need to make compromises but that we need to focus on bonding and enjoying our time together, most importantly.
Truly, thank you so much to every one of you for replying and sharing your experiences.
I think you can have rules in your home and your DH should be prepared to compromise. We learnt that you can have different styles and still work together. They will do stuff for you that they would never do for their DF.
I think you are entitled to set down rules in your home - after all, who is picking up after them, clearing their plates, tidying their stuff? If your DH is willing to compromise a little and support you, you can make it work. The problem is that is a huge if, particularly if his relationship with his ex is not good.
I agree with the PP who said wait 6 months, build your bond with them and then set down some rules and discuss why you have them, how you can introduce them. This will not hurt your relationship as in my experience they never love you for being soft on them.
If your DH insists they respect you and forms a united front with you, it will work. If he is scared of upsetting his ex and doesn't want to rock the boat, then it probably won't.
You sound very kind and thoughtful, but you mustn't be a pushover or you will start to resent it.
If you want this to work, and you want to stay sane....step back!
His children....his parenting decisions! I know all those things like not picking up after themselves are driving you nuts, but if they're only there for weekends you can cope....but do not clean up after them! Ensure your partner understands that this is his job....nothing to do with you, then you can carry on bonding and having fun with them!
But if you plan to have DC together, you need to agree on the parenting style BEFORE you take that step!
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