Advice Wanted!(5 Posts)
Hello! Step-parenting is a whole new topic on MN for me, but my partner and I are talking about the long term and I want to make sure we get this right from the start.
I have two DCs (10 and 3) from my previous relationship (never married), and ex and I have a relatively strong co-parenting partnership, although we do sometimes still disagree on significant things.
My current DP is the absolute love of my life, and I am delighted that we are now beginning to talk about a future together, which will certainly involve living together and likely marriage too (although this isn't a priority for either of us, we aren't religious and neither has considered it in previous relationships). I have introduced him gradually to the DC, being guided by his and their feelings, and now they have a good strong foundation of friendship to build upon. He seems to genuinely enjoy spending time with them, and is kind and patient when they arse about The DC often ask when they will next see him, and seem happy and relaxed in his company.
We don't intend to rush into this, but I thought it might be good to get advice from people who've been there so that we can make this as easy and painless as possible for everyone involved. Soooooo, what are the most important things for us to consider here? What would you have done differently with hindsight? Any thoughts from people who've been through this would be gratefully received!
Don't assume because everything is fine now, it will remain so.
My DHs DCs and I had a very positive relationship. They sought out my company, we holidayed together, as DHs DD got older, she worked for me.
But the disagreement and issues between their parents damaged that - sadly, I don't see them at all now.
Ok, thanks NewNN. Is this kind of thing unavoidable in some situations, or is there anything we could consider doing now/in the future to mitigate the risk?
text. It depends on you and your ex being equally committed to not involving the DCs in any disputes or disagreements you may have.
Sadly, no matter how committee you are, it takes two.
But, that might be my baggage as a stepmum influencing my opinion.
I do think the key is not to expect to much. Even my DD, who has had both a stepdad and stepmum for half her life, doesn't have a close, affectionate relationship with either of them. She respects them, and they bring something very positive to her life - but, despite my DH (and I assume, my exH DW) loving her dearly, the emotional investment is very one sided. I remember, after 4 years, apparently out of the blue, DD told me that she didn't like DH very much! They has spent the previous day laughing and joking together. It's a complex and conflicted relationship for many.
Time doesn't necessarily create a stronger bond and in lots of cases, DCs tolerate rather than welcome a DSParents presence, despite all the positive things that stepparent brings to their life.
Be realistic, communicate and compromise.
Of course all is well now. When my OH met my kids, it was immediate osmosis! It got much much more difficult when we started to live together. Suddenly, we were faced with different views, expectations and perceptions.
We made it work though by applying the above. My advice would be to honest about each other and discuss ground rules from the start. However disheartening it would have been for both of us if we were not on the same wavelengths from the start, there would have been no way we could have made our evolving relationship successful.
The key aspect for me was that he overall agreed with the way I was raising/disciplining my kids. I was confident in my approach, and although none are perfect and all parents should be adaptable, I wasn't prepared to be much stricter, or much more lenient than I was then, so it was important that he thought my kids were well behaved overall.
One key aspect for him was that he wasn't prepared to be a replacement dad to them. That means that however he accepted that they came as a package, and that meant sharing his life with them, including finances, he wasn't prepared to take on most of the day to day tasks that come with being a dad. That was absolutely fine with me as indeed, I also wasn't looking for a replacement dad for them.
These two were the main consideration, then there was the adjusting to the changes, ie. my kids accepting that they would need to be tidier than they used to be (OH has higher standards then me and gets anxious if not met, although he did gradually lowered his standards with time!), and OH had to accept that kids were kids and that occasionally, they would play up, be noisy and not do as they are told, all part of discipline.
Finally, it came down to being realistic. OH is not very close to DS as they are very different and DS is being a typical teenager, but then we have two male friends who have issues with their own kids the same age, so we are not making it a step issue. There is no conflict or frustration, more an acceptance that they are best to ignore each other for the time being. I am confident that once he grows at of it, and things are thrown in her life, they will become close again but I respect that I can't force it on them, no matter how I wish for it.
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