What do I need to be asking – myself and my partner?(13 Posts)
Total newbie here, crew – and I'm only just getting a handle on what I might be getting involved with...
I'm Scottish, living in Spain.
Started seeing my boyfriend (Spanish, fluent English) about a year ago, seriously dating for 6 months. As we live a fair distance apart, I usually spend a week or so staying at his place and then a week or so at mine.
He has an 11 year old bio son, who's with him 6 afternoons and 2 weekends a month.
His son and I get on as well as we can – I'm learning Spanish but I'm not confident yet, and his English is virtually nil.
But he's a sweet kid and I know I'll get there language wise, with enough practice.
Until now, I've stayed away from my boyfriend's place when his son is staying over, as they co-sleep in dad's bed. I'm expected to sleep in the son's bed - which I'm not comfortable with mostly because it's his space, and at some point he's going to want to sleep on his own. I don't want there to be any mental blockages to that decision as and when he gets to it (as in "She always sleeps in my bed, maybe I can't go in my room tonight"). I'm also just not comfortable on the couch (it's squeaky and slippery!).
But this weekend, just before his son came to stay, my boyfriend started talking to me about potentially moving in together. His landlord is selling the property and he has to move anyway, and given the amount of time we spend together...
He also mentioned having a conversation about whether or not I want to have kids of my own someday - and whether he wants any more – as these things are usually a good idea to get a decision made on sooner rather than later.
That all felt pretty exciting... until his son arrived. And I've stayed the weekend (third time sleeping on the couch). And I realised all in a rush that I wouldn't just be moving in with my boyfriend; I'd be moving in with his son as well. I'm suddenly imagining the time they spend playing Playstation and shoot'em'ups together (i.e all weekend) happening in MY living room, where I like to read and paint and be relaxed and quiet.
I'm imagining the dishes piling up on weekends when the son is staying, because he doesn't do any chores when he's here.
I'm imagining the expectation that I'll watch his son when he works nights.
I'm imagining having to make it clear that if we move in together, I'm not having an 11 year old boy in my bed, and I'm not sleeping on the couch.
And I know, for you guys this must seem like "Big whoop - OBVIOUSLY..."
But for me, it's only just landed.
Yesterday while they were out together I just sat on the floor and sobbed – I had no idea where all this emotion was coming from, but I think it was just the sudden realisation of what I'm REALLY facing here, not just the rosy idea I had before.
I love my boyfriend. And I like his son.
But I've never been around kids before - I'm an only child from a home with an absent father and a very unusual mother who's always suffered poor mental health, never around children as an adult... I have no idea what I'm doing here, no point of reference even for what to expect from my boyfriend when his son is around.
I do know I find the co-sleeping COMBINED with the lack of helping out around the house and having his dad fetch him everything from a towel to a glass of water a bit unnerving - if it was just one of those elements I wouldn't think twice, but all together it's not a dynamic I'd want to be a part of, and if we had our own kids I'd want to raise them very differently.
More than anything I know I need to talk to my boyfriend about how I'm feeling, and what I'm nervous about.
But I'm scared of hitting a nerve when it comes to discussing his son. He's definitely a bit of a Disney Dad and behaves in a very guilty way, even though it was BM who cheated and broke up the relationship.
How do I approach this topic with tact and with honesty? What do I need to consider and get clear about with my boyfriend before we make any decisions? What questions do I need to be asking: both to myself and to him?
Would really appreciate your advice!
No advise sorry but didn't want to read and run. I think it's wise to stop and consider the situation, as you are doing. You're doing the sensible thing by really thinking it over. When a child is involved it's important to be careful with your actions like moving in together etc. Hopefully someone with more helpful input will be along soon.. x
Too early to decide to move together, don't do it. You need to spend a lot more time together, when you can still go back to your place until you get to that point when you actually feel you don't need to go home again.
You need to have many more discussions about rules, expectations, what tick your boxes, what is and isn't open for compromise. You need to move from 'boyfriend/girlfriend' to partners before considering sharing everything together.
I think he should be moving the son into his own bed before you even think about moving In . Although his son should always come first , he should be treated as a child and you an adult and if sounds like it's the other way round i.e. You on the couch and him in the bed .
In my experience step parenting is hard , but near impossible when the two of you have completely opposite parenting styles .
This may not be a popular viewpoint, but IMO the point at which someone feels they need to intervene and tell someone else how things with their children need to change is the point at which a relationship becomes unsustainable. Because everyone parents differently, and what works for one may not work for another and vice versa, but there is no way to achieve that happy balance without both having to give in on some levels, and there are some things which are just not achieveable in that instance.
As a parent I wouldn't have time for any man who wanted to move into my house and tell me how things with my child needed to change, because how things are with my child work for us and it's nobody else's place to tell me otherwise.
Conversely however, a co sleeping eleven year old and an expectation that I sleep on the couch when he is there would be an absolute deal-breaker for me, and the point at which I would accept that the relationship had no future.
You need to decide where your boundaries are, and what you will need to accept as part of being a step parent and what you really couldn't. Things like playing video games at weekends and ultimately a potentially stroppy teenager and everything that that brings will be part and parcel of any relationship where there are pre teens and ultimately teenagers in the equation, and those are things which would need to be accepted with even a potential POV on the teen having to learn to clear up after himself, especially if you are going to have children of your own and would want an example setting. But an eleven year old who co sleeps is a whole different ballgame and is going to be one which is very difficult to tackle because you are essentially going to have to say "look, as of now he can't sleep in your bed because that's my place," only you know whether you feel you can address that one. Personally I wouldn't, and I would be running for the hills right now.
As it stands you would be a lodger /housekeeper /dish washer. .
And nanny. .
Doesn't sound much in it for you op. .
Suggest a family meeting to draw up an ideal new living arrangement.
If you are of a similar thinking then fab - if it's clear your position will still be lodger with nanny /housekeeping thrown in then run as fast as you can. .
but IMO the point at which someone feels they need to intervene and tell someone else how things with their children need to change is the point at which a relationship becomes unsustainable
Completely agree with your post but had to highlight this bit to give my own example in which my actions were for the good of my stepson. Pretty early on in our relationship I informed my DP that I would not smoke around my stepson and also would not tolerate others (principally my DP's brother) smoking around my stepson. My DP agreed and told me I
should could tell everyone not to smoke around my stepson. I realise examples like this are relatively rare but in this instance I felt I had not just the right, but the obligation, to look after my young stepson's health. As it was, everyone aquiesced.
Previously I had witnessed people smoking around my stepson, multiple times. In this case, as ever, I put my stepson's health before anyone's feelings.
Your example is a bit different though TheLeague as not smoking around kids is something very few people would argue with and it's not something which changes the day-to-day dynamics of the relationship between parent and child i.e apart from an absence of cigarette smoke your DSS isn't going to notice any changes to the way in which he is being parented or how his access visits pan out. Although having said that I would strongly question why your DP has left it to you to tell people not to smoke around your DSS rather than protecting his son himself? I don't think I'd be comfortable with that.
He really should not be co-sleeping with an 11 year old
Hmmmmm, I think you've answered your own question. If you moved in together, how long would it be before all these things make you resentful and bitter?
In my experience, any attempt to change the way a separated DF treats his child, is met with a defensiveness that defies logic...so you're onto a loser straight away!
Think carefully about this, and certainly you should expect that the co-sleeping stops, waaaaayyyy before you share the bed!
Tricky, isn't it. I would let him do all the running on this one. Anytime he mentions moving in together, ask him gently how he sees it all working out? If he volunteers that, of course, I need to get my son to sleep in his own bed and clear up around here, then you will know that he doesn't just want an unpaid housekeeper/nanny/cleaner oh and someone to share the rent/mortgage. Listen out v v carefully for him telling you what you want to hear. Agree that you need to try out the changes 'to make sure you all understand how it will all work' before you move in together. Make sure the son is being told the truth about why the changes are being tried out.
You see, the red flag for me is that his reasoning is having to find a new place, ie his own convenience in reducing his costs rather than wanting to turn his life upside down, in order to be with you. He has a son, whose needs (and possibly wants) will always rank above yours.
Have you met his family? How do they treat you? Have you been welcomed as his friend or ignored as his mistress? These things can also have a major impact on your life and that of any future children you might have.
Well done on noticing it before giving up your own space. You are in a position of power, able to negotiate the minimum kind of life you want for yourself. Don't give that up easily, life together with someone else is never easy. Don't make yours any harder than it needs to be, given your circumstances.
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