To disengage or not ??

(17 Posts)
Boxingdaydisappoints Sun 04-Mar-18 08:39:19

I moved in with DP a number of years ago, after a relatively short and blissful time together. I'll admit I didn't have any experience of stepchildren and in my ignorance didn't have any idea of how hard it would be.

After years of trying to bond with the children I eventually took a step back and tried to disengage in order to save my sanity and my relationship. It's not easy and disengaging is not my natural choice.

If I had my time again I would no way have given up my own home. Are there any stepmums who have tried this and made a success of living with a partner and his kids? I don't have children of my own.

OP’s posts: |
CrabappleBiscuit Sun 04-Mar-18 08:47:59

I kept my house (rented out) as it did wonders for my sanity knowing I had the option of moving out....I would also fantasy googling of places to move out to. For temporary respite.

Would also go on holiday with friends or visit friends on kids’ weekends.

How old are they and are they there full time.?

I disengaged a lot, got cleaners so I wasn’t resenting tidying up, got an allotment for ‘me time’ and took up running.

Also realised it was ok to say no, I’m not doing x.

It gets a lot easier as they get older. I’ve just spent the weekend with grown up stepchildren, their Other halves, my DH and their mum for various complicated reasons and it was all fine.

WhiteCat1704 Sun 04-Mar-18 09:04:45

How ols are the children and do they live with you full time or just visit?

My SC moving in with us has almost broken our relationship. It was hellish. If she hasn't moved out we would have split..and we have a child together.

In my experience disengaging doesn't work if you live together as you almost end up as a second class citizen, hiding in your own home.

What helps is A LOT talking to your DH, united front and being very direct with SC yourself. And lower your expectations..they are likely not to appreciate anything you do for them so don't do too much

ElChan03 Sun 04-Mar-18 09:26:40

I live with my dp and his 2 children and do not have children of my own.
When I first moved in it was awful and I felt like I was living in their house but paying the bills.
I had been with dad for over a year before I moved in and dsd was really positive. I knew she had some challenging aspects to her personality but I thought it was a result of living with a disabled sibling. Moving in opened my eyes to a bullied dad, a domineering and really confused little girl and some really bad personal hygiene practices. My dp was ruled by her like a wife, she dictated everything but then the sole focus of dp time was dss.
I rolled my sleeves up and tackled it all from behind the scenes, helped dp to take back control and help dsd be a little girl again not a little girl trying to be an adult.
I persevered and it was tough especially when I couldn't engage fully and had to do it all from the sidelines. I used to cry in my car at night and not want to go home.
Then I just decided that disengaging didn't work and I tried out co parenting and now the home is calm and I feel part of the family and dsd is a bright and kind little girl, dss has a great routine and hardly any meltdowns now, and the family as a whole are in a brilliant place. It just took a lot of personal sacrifice and hard work but I think it's been worth it.

However would I advise anyone else thinking of doing it to do it? NO. RUN AWAY.

Boxingdaydisappoints Sun 04-Mar-18 10:17:43

The children are 14 and 18. I had hoped the older one wouldn't be a problem still, but rather than getting better it's got worse as I expect him to not behave so childishly and to grow up. He's still very immature. They are with us 50% of the time including EOW.

If anyone asks me now if it's worth it, it 100% is not. The exclusion, the loneliness, the feeling of being third best. But I love my DP and I live in hope that one day they'll fly the nest.

OP’s posts: |
WhiteCat1704 Sun 04-Mar-18 11:01:40

Oh OP...I know the feeling..
Is the 18year going to uni soon? That would help..
How is your OH? It really is on him to ensure you are not excluded and to put boundaries in place..

50% is better than 100% but still tough..

I don't know if you want to have children yourself but as you don't already really evaluate if your DP is worth it...There are normal, childless men out there..

foodiefil Sun 04-Mar-18 11:13:43

Been there, done that, got the t shirt.

They were teens too. Boy no problem. Girl big problem. For a while, a good while, years. Thankfully she started to soften and I've just cried waving her off as she heads back to uni because I miss her. Yes it's lovely to have weekends with my DH - they were with us every weekend and a night during the week - but I do feel pangs of sadness when she goes back to uni! Honestly.

How long have you been together? I kept trying, wouldn't tolerate rudeness towards me, eventually did spill out that I was sad that they were rude to me quite a lot. She got the message and it eased up. If they sense you're backing off that will put their backs up. Any chance of a day out all together where you do something fun? Talk to them, pay attention to them, show interest in their lives.

Good luck, it's hard and I felt everything you felt.


thirstyformore Sat 10-Mar-18 08:16:39

I've disengaged. For a variety of reasons and it is so much better. She's only here one weekend night/day a week so a combination of hiding in a different room, arranging girls nights out, going to the gym/for a run, doing stuff with my younger kids generally means our paths don't cross too much, and I retain my sanity.

I genuinely think my marriage wouldn't have survived otherwise, and more kids would have had divorced parents.

thirstyformore Sat 10-Mar-18 08:18:04

my kids not more

meme70 Sat 10-Mar-18 15:38:33

I am a Mum 3 nan Of 3 SM of 1

I’d never be a SM again it’s been dreadful
Ex wife is vile
SD has issues abound
DH has left me to do all his child’s care everything

I’d not choose this path again in all honestly

UpANDover9 Sat 10-Mar-18 16:00:59

I've recently disengaged after 7 years of trying, it was a tough decision but it was that or my health, my DS noticed. No matter what I did it was never good enough. I go out when they visit, thankfully it's only once or twice a month and keep myself busy. if I had my time again i would not have married my DH or sold my home. I wouldn't recommend this life to anyone. Roll on university days, hopefully as they get older and experience life more they will realise

NinaNoSleep Sat 10-Mar-18 16:18:08

Slowly disengaging too. They are grown up. Feels like a very complicated mix of step mum and MIL combined. Trying to work through expectations that the DSC's grew up with combined with that of my SDIL and her family.
Lots talking but lots of them trying to drive a wedge between me and my DP. Awful, but easier to manage when they have their own homes.

Magda72 Sat 10-Mar-18 16:32:07

Disengage if you need to. Your health & sanity are of utmost importance.
It really is not an easy road.
My dp's 3dcs (who live with their mum mostly) were fine with me until they & their dm realized how serious dp was about me & then they got all kinds of rude.
Things are much better now but I just don't get involved with them & I leave dp & them to it on their weekends as making an effort was getting me no thanks & my own dc were seeing this & really not liking it as they are naturally protective of me.
Dp has kids & that's ok but I'd so much rather he didn't; my life would be much more stress free - people will flay me on here for that comment.
Flip side is my kids make my dp's life so much easier than his make mine - they're happy for us & are very welcoming to him & he literally has to make no effort with them at all.
It's sad really & if we didn't have enough money to enable us not to all be living on top of each other I'd have walked even though I love him to bits.
He has a difficult ex & the kids are extremely entitled - & both she & dp (at times) have them up on pedestals.

Boxingdaydisappoints Sat 10-Mar-18 18:29:43

Thanks so much for your honesty. It is a really tough road and it's comforting to know I'm not alone and that it's not all my fault. Good luck to you all in similar positions.

OP’s posts: |
Bananasinpyjamas11 Mon 12-Mar-18 01:12:00

I’ve no positive advice however you have my sympathies.

In my experience if the kids aren’t nice to you, it’s unlikely to get better in their late teens. Time moves on though and they will, hopefully, get busier with their lives. Perhaps the 18 year will go to Uni?

If both kids are doing ok in school and have friends- then they will take off and become adults. I’d be worried if I were you if either DSC is not growing up, showing signs of being adults who will want to live with you and not work, or cook etc. That’s a red flag for you as it’s a hugely stressful situation- as SM you will be in a very tough place.

Swivelchairaccident83 Mon 12-Mar-18 20:39:40

OP I’ve been with my partner for 8 years, married for 3. His daughter is 25 and it’s getting harder. She has decided to move back home. I’m currently held up in our bedroom feeling so upset. There’s more to it but I don’t wish to gatecrash your thread.
If anyone is reading this and is romanticising about a happy home with step children.... RUN! RUNAWAY! FAST!

Swivelchairaccident83 Mon 12-Mar-18 20:43:17

I wish you luck and whatever approach you take I hope it works out for you all. I really do. Step parents need a break. You’re not alone. I’ve never heard of the disengaging approach. It sounds interesting.

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