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Blended family struggling to blend

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BobbyJon Wed 19-Apr-17 21:50:10

Hey,
(hey sorry if this a bit long :/ I've put it in two posts)

I'm 36, I have two kids, a 17 year old son, and a 15 year old daughter. My beautiful wife, their mother passed away 10 years ago and I've raised them by myself since then.
I went on a few first dates since she died but nothing more than that.

Two years ago I met my fiance. She is 33. She has two kids as well, a 16 year old daughter, and an 8 year old son. Her little boy has epilepsy.
She split up with her partner (kids father) 8 years ago, he literally upped and left out of the blue, but it was a blessing for her, he wasn't a good guy and she was better without him.
She has dated since him, but it never worked out.

Our relationship is great. I never thought i'd feel like this again, never thought i'd connect with someone like this again, I love her, honestly i feel like a teenager again!

Which kind of brings me on to our 'teenagers'. She and her kids moved into my home at the start of March (its a bigger house, lots of land, right by the beach, its perfect for a family).
We are due to be married this July! Which of course means we we're always going to be 'blending families' when it came to living together.

It's not like our kids haven't met before, they've met loads. It's also not like we didn't know there could be issues, we did.
I'm extremely proud of the adults my kids are becoming, they are trustworthy, kind, popular, they are both athletically talented and dedicated to it too, they compete at the various sports at a very high level.
My SO's little boy is a real cheeky chappy, he loves to follow my kids around and hang out with them. Her daughter is, a good kid, I really like her and i feel like we have a good relationship but she has had her problems, underage smoking, underage drinking, truancy, a suspension from school, she's no angel, I guess it hasn't been the easiest upbringing for her and she has had issues. Although, id say if anything this is improving since me and SO have been together.
She attends the same school as my kids so she already knew them, she was pretty close with my son, they both surf and the used to hang out in the same circles and this is actually how I met my fiance in the first pace.

(cont..)

BobbyJon Wed 19-Apr-17 21:50:40

Cont..

However, her and my daughter, don't really get on. Not outward hostility, they don't argue or anything, but its always there under the surface. Like living in a cold war.

Its something that is pretty in the open, my son offered to sleep in our caravan outside when they moved in so the girls didn't have to share a room (Something which im pretty sure he loves seeing how he can play his drums as loud as he wants out there ) I don't know what it is exactly, i think they're just close in age and struggle to find common ground, I don't know.

(I was slightly concerned initially that I might have the opposite problem with my son, that he might like her a little too much, and that she wouldnt be the best of influences on him, but actually, over the last year - 18 months where we've spent a lot more time as a "blended family", i would say if anything she's been positively influenced.. she's certainly attending school more (although she still smokes like a chimney, but baby steps i guess).

I guess my question is, that I'm looking for advice on the best way to handle it. Our families are 'blended' now after all but i have always striven above all else to give my kids a happy home. My fiance thinks that it's not that bad and we just need to give it more time, while they get used to it.. but i don't know? Is that right? Obviously i don't want my daughter to be uncomfortable.
And I don't enjoy living in a frosty atmosphere, myself.

I appreciate as well that this is also a difficult situation for my step daughter! She hasnt had a smooth upbringing, she's witnessed a bad relationship between her mum and dad, shes had to take on a lot of responsibility for her brother, and she's not very good at expressing her emotion. The funny thing is that sometimes my step daughter reminds me more of my late wife than either of my kids do - cause my wife was a proper little rouge at that age! Whereas my bio kids have been so easy to raise!

I did check in with my daughter about the subject a couple of days ago her words were "Dad, I love you, I love SO , I love how happy she makes you, and I'm fine, me and her - it's fine"
I told her that I want her to be more that 'fine', and she responded 'well lets go with fine for now and try and work up, yeah?'

Which would be great but i don't know if i should be doing something more to try an enable that to happen? Its not like the kids have just met, they've known each other for years.

Chippednailvarnishing Wed 19-Apr-17 21:54:20

Are they sharing a room, because if one child has to sleep in a caravan so someone else doesn't have to share a room your description that its a bigger house, lots of land, right by the beach, its perfect for a family isn't exactly true is it.

Wallywobbles Wed 19-Apr-17 21:57:08

I think your daughter is right. Sometimes fine is as good as it gets. And time is probably the answer. They are all on the cusp of leaving apart from the youngest. Just concentrate on life skills and independence. And as they begin to leave for uni that dynamic will change again and again. I'm afraid some times you just have to go with it for a while.

I'm the youngest from a blended full time family. And I'm a step mum 50% and mum 100%. Be happy with fine.

Wallywobbles Wed 19-Apr-17 21:58:01

Chipped no one is sharing a room.

BobbyJon Wed 19-Apr-17 23:11:19

@chippednailvanish it's a spacious house but not enough bedrooms no, however the plan was always to build an extension so we do have enough rooms and an additional living space but I wasn't going to start that till after the wedding
...however I'm not sure I'll be able to get my son out of the caravan now anyway!

@wallywobbles Yeah I know, I think that's whats hard for me, since the day my wife died everything has been about my kids, i'd move mountains for them! Where as like you say, this is about me and my fiance, I am very happy, but I am aware that it doesn't necessarily benefit my kids and that's something I've never dealt with. I feel guilty if my happiness is at the expense of my daughters!!

And you're right! I don't think my son (my eldest) will be leaving in the short term because he wants to pursue his sporting career whilst getting on board with the family farm. But your right even the girls are approaching adulthood! Time seems to move so fast, I know the situation isn't forever! But I would always hope that 'home' is somewhere my daughter, well both my kids, can feel comfortable & safe & loved, that's something always striven for!

Pinkandwhiteblossoms Wed 19-Apr-17 23:12:37

You possibly won't like this answer but I would put a halt on moving in together for a few years.

Chippednailvarnishing Wed 19-Apr-17 23:21:04

Agree with pink . Children in caravans because there's not enough bedrooms, not enough money for an extension and the underlying hope that they'll leave soon sounds the perfect recipe for very unhappy teens.

wrinkleseverywhere Wed 19-Apr-17 23:26:10

No advice but have reported as you have given the names & ages of all of the DC involved as well as your partner which makes this very identifying. I suggest you also report it & ask for the names to be removed.

MuffinMaiden Wed 19-Apr-17 23:49:33

Honestly, fine is good. Step siblings won't always get on, but full siblings won't always either! wink The age they're at is the most likely to be difficult anyway relationship-wise, my younger sister for example was a torrent of abuse at that age. You can't really do much to make them get on, but you can make sure they can both have the support and independence that teenagers need and hope they'll find a way to co-exist as young adults.

swingofthings Thu 20-Apr-17 05:57:19

She is giving you the go ahead, take it! You DD sounds like a very mature girl and that's probably why she isn't yet to close to you SD. The only thing you can do is always keep the communication going. Things start to go wrong when people they can't tell their loved ones how they feel because they don't think they will be listened to.

My only advice would be to continue to spend some time with your kids alone. They will have been used to this for 10 years and probably still need it. I've been with my OH for 8 years, married 4, but ever since we got together, I have continued to take my kids on a holiday just the three of us. The dynamics are then different and it is a time when it's back to being the three of us.

Underthemoonlight Thu 20-Apr-17 06:20:46

It sounds all so rushed you sound nice but surely you should give it more time before remarrying your dd sounds concerning could she be being bullied by your step daughter?

Isadora2007 Thu 20-Apr-17 06:30:22

You say your daughter is honest with you (I'm hoping you changed their names!) and she has said it's fine. You are giving her a huge life lesson in rubbing alongside people who aren't necessarily your cup of tea...which is a great skill. At 16 there can be such huge differences in life choices and expressions of self etc but underneath if they're both decent kids there may well be a mutual respect that will underpin an easier relationship in the long run. The security of marriage for them may well help aid that as it gives them a similarity.
Ignore people about the rooms etc as your son sounds delighted to be in a caravan and you have the house plans in hand.
Best wishes for your wedding. You sound like a lovely family. I especially like that you feel your step daughter is similar to your late wife...that's lovely as she clearly needs a man in her life who can love her despite her walls she has built up to put people off.

nigelforgotthepassword Thu 20-Apr-17 06:48:20

As pp said the house stuff seems fine to me-the kid in the caravan is an older teen and he offered.He's probably loving it! (Actually that said it might warrant a few checks later at night to make sure he's not partying it up in there-which is what I would have done at that age-but other than that, fine as a temporary measure).
Your daughter sounds sensible.Sometimes even blood siblings don't get on much better than 'fine'. It's a big change for you all, and Although it's not as easy a situation for you and your daughter it's also got positives (which your daughter has identified) and isn't, as pp have said, forever.

Chinnygirl Thu 20-Apr-17 07:29:57

I have friends with kids who are waiting a couple of years till the kids move out before they will live together because of blending issues. You have the rest of your life to spend with someone, the kids are only in your house for a couple of years. I'd postpone things and live apart for awhile.

WannaBe Thu 20-Apr-17 09:40:32

My personal opinion is that the blended family is a bit of a myth, and that in reality, blending families really just doesn't work, but on the whole parents want it to because they want to be together and their kids come as a part of that.

I think that given you are now already living together, fine is a good place to be. I think that unless the children are blatantly unhappy, moving out or separating until they're not living at home already would create more disruption than the fact that you are now all living under the same roof. Your teens are clearly mature, partly likely because they have had to grow up fast because of the loss of their mum, but they're mature enough to want you to be happy as well, and likely they know that they're not all going to be living together for ever. So I would just go with the flow.

Second families are never going to run entirely smoothly. It's just the nature of the beast.....

YetAnotherHelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 20-Apr-17 10:35:59

Hi there BobbyJon,
We have popped on and edited the real names out of your post, just to protect identities and whatnot, hope that's okay with you!

BobbyJon Thu 20-Apr-17 13:09:27

@pink @chippednailvanish well we are already living together. I think living together and then not would create enormous amounts of instability! Besides I'm perfectly capable of building an extension I just haven't done it yet, and he didn't HAVE to go in the caravan he could of had the deck room or something, he WANTED the caravan, he's literally next to the house with my SS knocking on his door every morning, it's not a biggy!
I am certainly not hoping for my kids to leave - when they do I'll be supportive and tell them to go live there own lives and all of that! ...But inside I'm dreading the day!!! Ive been a dad since I was like 18, I don't know adult life without being an active dad, and having my kids is what has pulled me through some of the hardest points in my life!
Im certainly not chomping at the bit for them to go!

@wrinkleseverywhere I literally had to read through twice before I noticed that, I didn't mean to.

@MuffinMaiden yeah I guess that is true too. I guess I'm blessed that me and my two have always been a really tight unit, this isn't the case for some bio families! I guess it's bad that o feel like I'm changing this for my daughter now, 15 years in

BobbyJon Thu 20-Apr-17 13:11:10

@swingofthings she is very mature! She's a wise head!
Ive always been pretty open with my kids that I don't have all the anwsers, I'm making itnup has I go haha, but that we'll figure it out together! And they've always been very open with me. I feel like we've got really good lines of communication.

Yeah this is something I've been thinking about! Obviously up to know it's just been me and the kids and they've had a lot of my focus!
I think in a lot of ways I've been lucky with my kids. My late wife always wanted to take them out of school before secondary school and travel for a year. I owed it to her to make it happen so when the kids were 11 & 13 i took them travelling for a year.. Africa, Central/South America, southeast Asia, we backpacked, we camped, we worked on a lot of volunteer projects. I so was almost not going to do it without my wife, but i'm so thankful that i did because that time that i got to spend with them was priceless and I really do think that it's gone a long way to us having such a strong relationship today! (and I know that she would have been so mad at me if i hadn't done it haha!).
Obviously I do want to blend as a family.. but I don't want to lose that bond with my kids and I don't want them to feel like they now have to share my attention all of the time!
ive also tried to spend some one on one time with the step kids to hopefully bond, ive been doing some kayaking with my SS and I've been teaching my SD to drive (just on our private farmland - I've told her the way she drives I'm not letting her on an actual road till she's 50!! shock haha)

BobbyJon Thu 20-Apr-17 13:13:36

@underthemoonlight I don't think it's that rushed! I've been widowed 10 years and I've been with my fiancé for 2!
She's not being bullied by her.. they've known each other years but they've always run in different circles, I'm pretty sure my daughter always felt SD was a bit of an idiot, and I dunno what my SD's problem was!

@isadora2007 i completely completely agree! They are both decent kids deep down, my SD just doesn't always show it, but it's there! And I do believe my daughter means what she says, I'm sure she'd rather not live with SD but I'm sure she wants me to be happy! Which is sweet but I can't help but feel a little guilty.
Yeah I'm hoping marriage will help the situation not hurt it, I think at that age, they all want to feel secure!
Thank you, thank you smile I honestly do, my wife didn't always express her emotion in the best way either at that age! I think that's my SD's problem too. And it can be hard to be a bit of an adrenaline junkie at that age without getting into trouble!
I think so too, I hope I can be a positive example in her life! ...it's funny actually If she's not going to come home or shes going to be in really late she'll shoot me a text like 'Bobby I'm going to be late. I'm okay. Don't worry.' ...which I actually think is quite sweet, and is considerate, because my kids always let me know like when they'll be home, but that's not something that my SD has ever had with my fiance. But she knows that I'll worry, so she texts me. I think all teenagers like to be worried about deep down, even if they'd never say it haha!

Chippednailvarnishing Thu 20-Apr-17 13:20:44

I gave up reading after the hundredth exclamation mark.

SpikeGilesSandwich Thu 20-Apr-17 13:29:42

If you only met two years ago, it does seem awfully rushed to be getting married so soon. I'm relieved you have a caravan for your DS as forcing the two girls to share would be appalling.
As a former fifteen year old girl, I can say that it's a very trying time even in a stable family and the sudden introduction of a random new teenager and child into her private space must be really stressful. You need to keep a discrete eye on her, it's prime time for self-harming, eating disorders etc. I'm not trying to worry you but I had some of these experiences myself and know how damaging it can be. Best of luck with it all.

chickenjalfrezi Thu 20-Apr-17 13:46:18

Probably going to go against the grain here OP but moving apart or delaying your wedding will only serve to create more of a divide. No it's not a great time for teenage girls but when is? This is coming from someone who is blending two primary aged girls, one from a widowed family and one from a divorce situation.

You sound like you're doing the right things. We spend time in various combinations from adults to children and put a lot of effort into time and activities being fair to everyone. It's hard but it's worth it - there is not quick fix. Time together will help, a month since moving in is no time.

Pretty sure your son at 17 would be looking for the opportunity to live alone in the caravan so don't worry about that!

Underthemoonlight Thu 20-Apr-17 14:25:45

Yes 2 years is very quick to move into together and be planning a wedding. I meantioned bullying because of the behaviour you described your daughter displaying and the atmosphere between the two of them being an issue. It can be an issue especially at that age. It could just be the fact she's at a vulnerable age in her life and she sees your dp being a mother to her dd that it's highlighted what she's missed out. Maybe she mourning the loss of that

Wallywobbles Thu 20-Apr-17 14:44:24

MN would have you living single and celibate for as long as it takes for your kids (and preferably grand kids) to have families of their own.

I think you are doing fine. I've lived the mixed family unit from both ends and fine is good. Contrary to popular opinion my experience is really positive. My mum died, so like you there were no other parents in the mix apart from my Dad and step mum.

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