New to this! Help needed(24 Posts)
Just going to give a short version of my story. I'm 25, no children yet. Met OH just over a year ago, he comes with 2 little ones - 5 and 7.
I'm really struggling - I absolutely adore my partner and want to be with him but am finding accepting 2 children and ex partner quite difficult.
I try my hardest when they come over every other weekend - the little boy (5) is very naughty and plays up for the attention of his dad (to be expected I know)
I just want to know if it does get any easier and any helpful hints/tips ... Please no ear bashing about me being selfish etc as I am genuinely trying really hard x
If it's their existence you are struggling with then there's a possibility that this relationship isn't for you. But if it's behaviour or more specific things then you can work on it.
Do you have much experience of children generally?
I bet he isn't naughty, I bet he's just five! I thought all kids were naughty before I had my own. No it doesn't get easier, harder if anything - new challenges as they get older and all that. You're only 25, I would cut my losses if I were you, doesn't make you a bad person, just someone who doesn't want that level of commitment in their life.
Like you I had no children of my own when I met my DH who came with 4DSC. They are all grown up now (20 years later) but it was difficult and there were many times when I really think I should have just walked away and made my life a whole lot less complicated. It helped that I heard a programme on radio 4 at the time which explained that a parent getting a new partner is a lose-lose situation for many SC. They have often lost the stable family they thought they had and now stand to lose precious time with Dad who has a shiny new partner. I was desperate to be a really great SM but the reality of achieving that in the face of opposition from the DSCs was very different and mine were a little older than 5 and 7. Fortunately, I had a hobby that took up a lot of time at weekends so I tended to leave DH to have his time with DSCs for the morning/early afternoon and then was around in the afternoon/evening (we didn't have them during the week due to school).
I would say think very very carefully about what you want. I appreciate that I may get flamed for this but I wasn't the OW and DH had been divorced for years before we met and, not having my own children, I found it incredibly difficult on all fronts - the money, the clinginess, the not being liked despite trying my hardest, having "our" time eaten into, not being able to make any plans for holidays or weekends away etc without factoring them in and also (and I know this sounds selfish) the fact that I always came second. I didn't develop any parental feelings until I had my own so really didn't get that. Saying that, I just soldiered on and just did my best and regularly see them (sometimes even without DH!) now they are all adults so must have done something right!
In terms of practical things I would say give your OH and his DCs space - he might want you helping out all of the time since it takes the pressure off of him but they need his attention, they are very young. Don't be ashamed of struggling - believe me it a very natural reaction. You don't have to love your stepchildren but, if you are in for the long haul, you do need to be a good parent. Bad behaviour isn't acceptable and you and your OH need to agree on your role. You don't have to put up with being treated poorly in your own home (my DSD was always much better when she was at my house than her Dad's). Agree the ground rules.
If it is too much, then really do seriously think about what you see as your future together. I came very very close to calling it a day on a number of occasions and I was older than you. Your OH's children are going to be a focus for at least another 13 years and you will always have to share your OH and any children you have with them. Sorry - I know it sounds really blunt but do you think you can do that?
Thanks for replying - I think it's something I'm going to have to learn to deal with as I really cannot imagine being without my partner, we are so right for each other.
His children live a couple of hours away so we only have them every other weekend - some weekends are fine and we all have a lovely time but there are quite a few where I struggle (this is just me being honest - don't shoot me!) having the house taken over by 2 children and sharing time with my OH - Sounds horrible I know. But they always come first as they should and they always have a lovely time when they come down so I can't be doing anything too far wrong
No, I have no experience so all very new to me!
I get on really well with the older girl and I'm not a horrible person! Just struggling. But nothing bad enough to stop me wanting to be part of it and to walk away
You can't be right for each other if your struggling with his children? You only been together a year yet you moved in and involved in his DC lives, that's a big adjustment for little ones. How long have your DP and his ex been split up? It's normal for a 5 year old to crave a attention often acting out to gain attention. Could it be you've rushed yourself into playing step mom rather than building a relationship slowly and it's become over whelming? You need to decide if this life is for you and if you can accept his DC in his life. Maybe take a set back let your DP take him DC out for some time together and slowly start getting involved. This will give you time to see if it's for you and avoid the DC forming close attachments.
I don't know a stepmother who hasn't struggled at some stage - especially those of us who didn't have our own children and therefore had nothing by way of experience as to what reasonable expectations might be. As you say, it is the invasion of your home and the fact that you have to share your OH's attention that is the issue - that is exactly how I felt. But that isn't going to change for many years. It is absolutely right that he puts his children first but I, for one, didn't find that easy. It just wasn't the relationship I envisaged for myself. I don't think anyone has said you are a horrible person - all the responses look very measured to me.
If you are getting overwhelmed then you need to find a way of coping. You do NOT have to be the perfect mother replacement. You aren't their mother and you don't have to be around all the time. Be realistic about your relationship with his children. Many of us went into such relationships thinking we could be the perfect stepmother and create a spectacularly wonderful happy family - unfortunately real life has a nasty way of getting in the way. Be kind to yourself, you aren't the first to feel this way and you certainly won't be the last.
As a few us of have said, you need to make time for yourself and to give him space with his children. You don't need to be with them all the time they are staying with you. If, as you indicate, you want this relationship to work then just be prepared for the fact that it is going to be difficult and, if you are anything like me, it will be an uphill struggle to ensure you don't end up bitter and resentful. That said, it is possible to come out of the other side smiling. I am testament to that. Make plans in advance for the weekends they are staying with you so that your OH knows when you aren't going to be around. That can be as basic as popping to the gym for an hour, meeting friends for coffee or (in my case) even the glamour of the weekly shop at Tesco! Live your life - you can't put it on hold every other weekend. It is tiring enough being a parent - doing the same job with no emotional bond can be exhausting.
Also, as Nicki said (and thanks for the unsolicited testimonial) it is going to get harder - just wait for those teenage years, oh the drama and the histrionics. I am SO glad I am through those! Good luck
You've had some good advice Cheesecake
It is hard, and will probably get worse before it gets better, but the trick is to plan and prepare. If they're only with you every other weekend, it's not so bad, you could save up all the the things you need/want to do for then. Factor in hair/beauty salon/gym/clothes shopping for the Saturday, and visit friends/family for an hour or so on the Sunday. The DC need time alone with their dad and he needs time with them, but if you are to be a permanent person in his life, they do need to spend some time with you too!
But I would say, it is early days yet, you've not been together long...so you need to be ruthlessly honest with yourself. Is this life (be aware they'll always be a huge part of it) what you really want? Do you think you'll cope with the possibility of them staying with you longer as they get older,? Do you want DC of your own...does he want more?
If considering all of this, you want to go on with your relationship, good luck to you!!!
Cheesecake - You have had some very good advice here.
I would take a little step back and try to weigh up your relationship as rationally as you can. As you are still young enough to be able to split up and find someone without children and ExW. That, is usually so much easier and really worth considering.
Is his parenting similar to how you think yours would be? Are things with the ExW fairly reasonable?
Do basically like the kids and they are not nasty to you? Can you imagine a future where you had kids together with your partner, does it seem to you that you may really resent your step kids in that scenario or can you live with a bigger family with teens and young kids? Do you see big troubles ahead?
Really grateful for all of your helpful responses.
I'm trying to remember what was asked so I can answer all Q's!
They are actually boTh very sweet and they have taken to me - they always ask where I am when I'm not around and call me their friend - the little boy has often come and laid with me for a cuddle. So I can't complain on that front at all.
Me and OH do want children together in the future and we have spoken about this.
He was never married to their mum and she used to be a nightmare but she's now moved on and has a new partner herself so is much more civil. They only really communicate when they have to, she sometimes sends a text at the weekend to say "remember sun cream" or something but rarely and them talking isn't an issue and doesn't bother me in the slightest.
It is a huge level of commitment and I do feel very young to be taking it on but I can't see myself being any happier without my partner. So I guess I need to give it my best shot
The truth is it could go either way. I agree that you can't say that you are right for each other if you can't accept his children. It would actually make you very wrong for each other, even if otherwise, everything is perfect because they will always be there and ultimately, he will always have to prioritise their needs over yours.
Only time will tell if it makes or break. It might get easier as you all get used to it and you become less possessive of your OH. The children might adjust to new rules that are essential to you, and you might learn to adapt to life with children.
Or it could get worse, with you growing more and more resentful of the attention they receive, start to express your frustration to them and your OH, which in turn might make them dislike you and therefore challenging, whilst your OH is stuck in the middle and ultimately always taking their side, with you only growing even more resentful.
Does your OH know how you feel? If not, you do need to talk to him because otherwise, he will assume all is well and will resent you later for letting him believe this was the case when you kept quiet so not to impact on the relationship at that time.
One thing I would say, of my own DC as well as my OH's, is that the older they become the more complicated their lives and issues become - whether it's schools, homework, exams, family stuff, friends, social media, money, relationships, space, bedrooms, holidays, clothes, phones, laptops, bikes, driving lessons, work experience, loans, fees, etc etc.
It's pretty complicated a lot of the time.
It's really not that I don't accept them, I try so hard, I just struggle sometimes and it all gets overwhelming - surely that's just being human?
I do think me and my partner are right for each other or I wouldn't be putting so much effort in and coming here for advice, I'd just leave.
He does know how I feel and he understands and he listens but obviously there's not a lot that can be done - he has children and that's that - I just wanted tips on how to make the whole process run more smoothly
Thing is it's only every other weekend. I'm not sure that it actually should be such a struggle really.
That is true Nicki. Cheesecake - while it is natural to struggle a bit, I wonder whether this isn't a bit of a warning sign. I had step kids every weekend and at least one full-time, totally overwhelmed! Definitely wouldn't do it again. But I do think EOW would have been far easier, you get a weekend with just your partner, all those weekday evenings, it's not that much for someone who has kids.
I get that you love your partner and he seems great and right. I just get a little sense that this could be a problem? Maybe it will get easier with time like you said, you will adjust, and you get on with the kids and they like you. It's just that at the minute, for a step family, it does seem fairly 'low stress' - there aren't huge issues, normal kids, no resentment of you, amicable Ex, and it still feels a struggle?
Only you will know and I hope I'm not being too negative. This could well all end really well for you all. Just listen to your inner voice over the next few weeks and months.
OP I really struggled with EOW to start with as by the end of the weekend DSD who was 3 at the time and i would have made friends and then two weeks later she would be all shy with me again and we would have to start from scratch. Once contact was a bit more regular and we got more familiar with each other it got heaps easier. We now two years on have a fantastic relationship. I still however struggle with some aspects from time to time, I think I'm just one of those people who over analyses and stress about things. I make sure I have time out every Saturday and Sunday morning once DH is up to go to the gym do some shopping etc and that really helps. And it gives them time alone together.
DSD and I also have a few activities her and I do alone together that we both really enjoy like baking, gardening and swimming. I found its helped us bond a lot and makes when she is being difficult so much easier to manage as I know just how lovely she really is.
Thank you all for your honest opinions - I've taken it all on board. This website is great for advice
Not going to much help but my dp is a full time single parent who has no childcare options so I have his children 24/7. I would kill for EOW access but accept that is not going to happen.
I know it is so tough being a step parent, so good luck
I think it's fair enough to find it hard work - it is! I'm not in the same position as we have DSD about 90% of the time. I know someone whose DP has EOWE contact though, and while on one level I'm quite envious, I can see why she finds it hard. She likes them, but it's difficult to find a routine as a unit when it's not constant. I've even reached the stage where I can even be glad (mostly) that we have DSD a lot - it means that my relationship with her has become a natural part of what's going on day to day, rather than a big event every couple of weeks. Lots of good advice here though, and I don't know if you've read Stepmonster? I found that really helpful when I was starting out. Good luck!
Thank you, it's nice that I'm not the only one who can understand why EOW is difficult - it's as you say, it's difficult to really bond with them and it becomes a big thing EOW where lots of money has to be spent etc rather than just normal day to day things. So I appreciate that you can see where I'm coming from.
Will definitely give it a read! Sounds like it might be useful
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