Coping with Biological Dad(24 Posts)
Never posted on here before so please be gentle!
Been a step parent with my partner for the last two years. My partner and her ex don't get on at all. She left him. (in fact how they ended up together and having two kids baffles me). He actually likes me, but he's no reason to dislike me as the kids like me, I look after the kids and take them surfing, skating on holidays they've never been on before etc etc. I don't live with my partner yet, but put it to her that by next Sept I'll have enough to buy another house (which I'd planned to do anyway) and we can move in.
However, the bio - dad is a bit of a neanderthal. Doesn't really possess the same moral code as me and my partner. This creates a whole load of stress especially since the eldest is turning 14 in November. The things we wouldn't allow him to do for his own safety his Dad will just let him do. I also get played off by the Dad and the eldest which puts me in some very difficult and uncomfortable positions. I've found myself getting it in the neck from my partner due to actions by Dad and eldest for things totally out of my control.
For example, I bumped into the Dad getting out of the surf. He chats to me about behaviour of the eldest (he'd fronted up to me about co-operating with his brother and mum). He then goes on about some very serious situation the eldest was in. Obviously my partner needs to know this. But he asks me not to tell her as he dosen't want the grief. Puts me in an awkward situation. So in the end I pop round his house. Tell him he needs to tell her or I will. He agrees I should tell her. Before I leave he starts to say things about my partner and his feeling from his relationship with her. Not appropriate. I bite my lip, and having done what I set out to do I leave. I tell my partner. She's not happy. It causes an argument. I feel between a rock and a hard place.
There has been a whole host of issues over the last 6 months from the eldest ruining the last holiday to the Dad allowing the 13yo to sleep round at a girls house who's mother uses drugs and is mentally unstable (apparently she allows her 14yo to have boys over) RED FLAGS EVERYWHERE!!! My partner has forbidden such things but like me can't police everything.
My problem is I've no influence over the Dad and what control I have over the kids is negated by the Dad. This raises massive alarm bells for me. The kids are being put in the type of unsafe environments and circumstances and they are not mature enough to make the right decision. So I fear that all our lives could be compromised by the actions of others and I've no control over it. It terrifies me. I understand all kids are a pain from time to time especially teens. But I can see bad situations on the horizon and I'm not in control of heading them off. If you do everything you can to ensure things don't go wrong and then they do that's life I guess. But I can't handle somebody else interfering and causing issues on a regular basis. It's very stressful.
Its hard to raise my concerns to my partner about her past and the family as she doesn't always react well. She'll only see it her way and has such a poor relationship with bio-dad nothing ever changes. So I don't get to express with her my fears and concerns. I don't have any kids and have never been married. We have such a great time when we are together she's perfect but her past is creating a problem.
Everything blew up recently as I've been bottling up my stress and I walked away. Not good. I should have tried to explain what was wrong but I'm so stressed out with it and anxious I snapped. I'm heartbroken and don't know what to do. I'd be happy to have a bit of counselling with her. But not sure she would be keen.
You are way too involved in children who are not even yet living with you. You are not really a step-parent yet. It sounds like it's not just your doing though as clearly the dad considers you as such and so does your partner when it both suits them.
You need to take a step back and make it clear that you are doing because that's what is right. The kids are clearly playing up on this. Continue to build a relationship with the kids, but don't involved in matter of education, values and morals, that for their parents to do. When you decide to move in with your partner, then you'll need to discuss rules and agree on the extent of your role, but until then, stay away from it all.
I don't disagree with swingofthings - but then I also see the perspective of it sounds like some help for these kids could have a really significant (positive) impact on them in the long term. It sounds to me that you are seeing kids being treated inappropriately to the extent its dangerous by their dad - and your partner (no doubt understandably) finds this very difficult to manage. You as a third party could actually have a very positive impact here. But good lord not easy.
Id say counselling could be helpful. Ideally you'd be able to facilitate some sort of agreed behaviour "protocols". But I think you need to be realistic about what you can achieve.
Id say for now its a matter of acknowledging your limited role and being realistic about what you can achieve but just make sure that the kids know that you are a responsible adult who is there for them to come to when the shit almost inevitably hits the fan. You very probably can't stop the shit from happening but you can be very helpful to them putting it back together.
It’s really hard to tell from your post if the dad and your partner are harmful to the children. What specifically is it that the dad does, and what of your partners past is causing problems?
Is it actually neglectful behaviour or just not the way you would do things?
If it’s the former then you don’t have many options but to report the neglect to someone.
If it’s the latter then you need to step away. You aren’t living together yet. The way I see some people parent makes me want to scream, but that doesn’t give me the right to try and Chang things. Is this a family you really see yourself fitting into or would you ultimately be torturing yourself? They are not really at an age where they will be happy for your input in changing things.
Some great perspectives. Thank you. My partner very quickly started referring to the kids as "ours" and saying "well we have our two now" which made me feel very uncomfortable. Whilst I do spend a fair bit of time at her place purely as its easier for me to go there than all three travelling to mine you are all correct we don't live together and I shouldn't be getting involved in family matters. Although it is hard when your partner is upset by something you can see is clearly wrong and not in the childs best interests. Plus he is a bit of a bully to her as is his partner. It's been messy in the past.
She gets frustrated by his reluctance to have the youngest over only seeing him 6 times a month but has the edlest over all the time. He see's the youngest as inconvienent as he cant look after himself at 9yo. That causes huge emotional upset with the youngest. So when my partner says it's both of them or niether the eldest holds it against his Mum suggesting it's unfair he can't see his Dad. He can't afford to take them on holiday but will take his partner and buy a new motorbike. It's stuff like that which is both frustrating and upsetting.
I've clearly made a terrible mistake/rookie error in being referred to as a step-parent and trying to take on that role. It's a bit of a mess and the proofs in the pudding, I'm in the deep end but I don't have any tools or standing to navigate the situation.
I need to speak with her and redefine the boundaries and my role. See where that leaves us. At the end of the day I love her, but I'm just a boyfriend.
Thanks so much for taking the time to respond. I really appreciate it.
Your not really just a boyfriend as she has made you more than that, and has put you in a very difficult situation. All the worry and guilt that comes with parenting and none of the rights or recognition.
If it’s any consolation my mum did exactly the same, except she married my step dad within 6 weeks. Now at 37 I would say that my stepdad is the best of all my parent, the most stable and consistent. We had a very rocky decade to get there through my teens though.
I would have your boundaries clear before you talk with her.
I think your last post makes sense. Can i just say though that the fact that you are responsible, care and want to get it right matters.
You sound like a sound person ... even though you are not married you are taking on the role as a step parent and you are wanting the best for all.
for the bio dad comment. I would say the same if a women said bio mother don’t dismiss his position he is their father. I agree with swing of things your way too involved in these kids lives your not their step father, you don’t even live with them, your simply their mums bf. Your gf has involved you in this situation unfairly this is between your gf and her ex.
You sound great. A positive influence in the kids lives. You are a step dad I wouldn’t let terms dictate your role, which is a parental one whatever your status.
It’s really tough, being a step parent. Having to watch on the sidelines while the parents make decisions but you can’t, and yet having an active role. Very tough. I’m not surprised the stress overwhelmed you. Although the kids may now be wary - building trust with step kids is hard. They might not invest in you if they are worried you will leave.
I dint think there is any other way to work it other than getting stuck in. It’s not workable not to parent, however it’s better to get involved slowly and build it up. I’d say that the kids being able to choose when older to stay at their dads is going to set up huge problems.
Honestly, do you want to do this?
Love this... eight replies and only one 'bio Dad' comment. I would love to see the responses to this thread if the genders were reversed and it was a step mum writing it. I don't think the responses would have been so kind.
All that aside, I think that the OP is too involved/opinionated/judgemental in and of the parenting situation. I am a non resident step parent (and have been for more than a decade). My DP and his ex don't get on and the constant conflict between them is damaging for everyone - especially the children. In this situation, just like mine, the needs of the children should be at the centre and these children probably need their parents to co-parent cooperatively. They are unlikely to need (or want) another Dad but as a step parent the OP could still be a positive influence by:
- continuing to spend time with the children and to give them new experiences and fun (a relief from any high tension situation)
- being a constant, loving, low conflict adult in their lives - I think the low conflict bit is the most important - the last thing these kids need is another adult bringing fresh conflict to an already hostile situation
- trying to bring the two parents closer together in their parenting relationship (this is a long haul, slow game and may not work but if anyone can do it the step parent can). For example, helping the children's mother to stay calm and rational in her dealings with her ex, encouraging her to (where appropriate) to show kindness and consideration towards her ex and generally be more of a moderator/peace maker than aggressor.
If I had known what I know now when I first embarked on this relationship I would have run for the hills. I was optimistic at first and thought things would settle down/improve. They haven't. My life is wrapped up in a drama that I really want a part in. I'm saying that OP because cutting your losses early on is simpler than leaving it until your lives are entwined.
It sounds like she is trying to pass the responsibility of co-parenting when separated on to you which totally unreasonable. Every separated parent will say how incredibly hard it is but that doesn't mean you can expected someone who isn't even yet part of the household to take that responsibility.
Worse than expecting this is that she'll be happy for you to do so when it suits. The moment you make a decision that she won't agree with it will backfire on you. These kids are not you joint children they are hers and her ex even if she fantasises that they are yours.
Trade very carefully as all she seems to want bitter is give you the crap that comes with the situation. You might feel you are doing the right thing to build your relationship but it might really come to bite you later.
All these comments are on point. I need to face up to the reality of the challenge in front of me. I’m going to try and put all the points discussed above across to her and see if we can reboot our relationship on more realistic terms that take account of the difficulties now and in the future. That’s if she can see the wider picture and acknowledge the mistakes and assumptions we have both made. Understandably she wants someone in her life who she loves and will be kind and respectful to her children whilst building a new life with her ie the life she never had with the father of her children. But to do that I guess you have to be very open to change and compromise and have a lot of patience. I’m not sure she acknowledges the dramatic changes I’ve experienced since being involved with her and the kids. I’ve been very naive in hindsight. Although I have always said that the main problem is they do not co-parent. If anything the responses above have shown me that my stress and worry is based on legitimate concerns that others have experienced. And not just me being negative and thinking the worst.
It sounds like way too much stress in my opinion.
Your single with no kids yourself ... do you really need this hassle in your life, when you could get a woman without the baggage this relationship comes with. She comes with too much drama and it won't end anytime soon.
In fact it will get worse when you live together.
Seriously... if you were my brother I'd say to run the other way. Fast and far.
How old are you?
Do you want your own children?
Can you what trouble that will bring?
Yes I see where you are coming from. Maybe it is impossible to have relationships of these types and be totally happy. We haven’t seen each other for 10 days and whilst I miss her I don’t miss the situations surrounding her. I have felt nice and relaxed for the first time in months. I do keep going back to a central question which is “what’s in it for me”. We have arranged to talk but after putting my problems to her in writing explaining the difficulties around the whole step parent issue she seemed to just make this all out to be my problem, not acknowledging the difficulties inherent in the situation which is was almost like she was blaming me or that my thoughts and feelings were baseless. At 42 and no longer wanting kids I’m starting to think it’s best to cut and run. We are meeting Friday to chat but I’m not really looking forward to it.
Even worse that she disregards and can't see your point of view.
The 10 days of stress free time are you indication that you really don't need this.
Your ok financially ... taking het kids on holidays....which is a bonus.
At 42 with no kids... no Ex wife to contend with..... I'd say you have a much better pick of women out there.
I agree with sandy - you're thoughtful and baggage free. There are plenty of women out there who would appreciate this. Me included if you fancy a date ;)
Thanks for the comments. I think the best thing to do is meet Friday and be positive about it. What will be will be. We will either appreciate each other’s point of view and support one another or go our separate ways. It would be good for me to go back to how things where initially. A boyfriend with no involvement in parenting at all. Not standing on a rugby touch line with the ex and his racist father etc. It’s a shame though. As my partners family are amazing. Her brother is a diamond and her mum and dad are just like mine. I even employ her mum to clean the holiday let. We can sit and chat for hours. As for the kids. Well at the moment it’s difficult to see them reaching their potential with such a divide in the parents and parents family and such different views on so many important matters. I don’t think it will be long before both children move in with their dad permanently. Literally a couple of years. I really feel for my partner with this hanging over her. She clings to the hope that they will see their dad for what he is when they get older. Or that she will be able to explain the truth to them. I just don’t think that matters what they think of their dad. They love him, and like being at his house. All that matters is what they think of her. And things get so strained they don’t respect her. But I think she needs to let go of all that and allow the children to go to their dads if they wish. But that’s easy for me to say. She deserves so much more. But she feels she’s been fighting on her own for the last 14yrs she’s forgotten how to let someone help her or let someone else take the lead. I’m not dreading Friday now. It’ll be what it will be.
the ex and his racist father
Are you a different race to them?
I still think it's too much hassle... and you could well be biting off more than you can chew here ...
As long as you are with her...you'll have the ex avd all this stress in your life.
Good luck for Friday.
No, I'm white. But they have far right views. And there will be no Friday conversation as it ended today. So their we go! Bit shit, but onwards. Next stop California for my hols!
wow Surf that came out of the blue, Are you okay?
You had a massive mountain to climb in your relationship, which may or may not have worked out.
Have a good holiday
No, not really ok. But only as upset as anyone would be I guess. I was looking for some reassurances regarding my concerns, maybe a plan to meet the challenges and address them. I felt the concerns were legitimate and given everyone’s perspectives above that appeared to be the case. It must be very difficult to be the real mum or dad and hear that your baggage (don’t really like that word) is an issue and facing up to it and dealing with it must constantly hang over you. Equally having no baggage brings its issues as well, although inverted. It wouldn’t feel so bad if it wasn’t for the fact that I love her.
Hi Surf - only coming across this post now. How sad for you. But, go on your holidays & relax & see how you feel after a few weeks. Your (ex)gf may also have time to reflect.
Speaking as a mum it took me a while to psychologically detangle myself from my ex - this was down to the kids & worry about their relationship with their dad & how to facilitate that all while disagreeing with his parenting & general behaviour. It took me months of therapy to get to a place of acceptance & the ability to put strong boundaries in place. It sounds like your gf is in a similar place as well as being worn out. NOTHING grinds you down as much as trying to coparent with someone you just can't deal with. Maybe she'll get there or maybe she never will.
I'm totally out the other side now & am a sm to my dps three. He has a very difficult ex & so I also see things from this point of view. The situation with his ex & kids really put a strain on our relationship & to be honest we both acknowledge that we're still together because I'd already gone through so much shit I'm actually a really good support to him, as in I'm able to handle it as I've been there myself.
Just know that if your gf doesn't wake up to the fact that you're actually trying to help her without emotionally bailing her out so to speak then there's very little you can do to make her see the light - she has to come to that herself. She needs to close one door before she opens another.
I'm sorry things haven't worked out, but I'm sure you'll be fine in time.
Don't allow your genuine concerns you be disregarded in any relationship.... you're worth more than that.
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