Really down over dp's kids

(46 Posts)
Magda72 Mon 08-Jul-19 23:56:35

I'm just back from a 10 day holiday with dp, his three teens & two of my teens & it was honestly a very hard 10 days & I feel exhausted & upset from having to fake it for so long.
I post on here a bit & many of you may know that my dp tends to see his kids mainly in the town where they live due to logistics, geography & issues with their dm.
I have always struggled with his dc - or should I say they have always struggled with me - & so I have always striven to give them plenty of alone time with their dad while trying to support him in his parenting & trying to be a grown up friend to them (as opposed to parenting them). I do birthdays, Christmas gifts, days out, some long weekends away etc. & while I use here to vent my frustrations I really, really do try with them.
I know I have issues around how they are being parented, but again I either vent here or take it to my therapist & keep my mouth shut around dp unless he asks for specific advice.
After nearly 5 years & this holiday I just feel like nothing is getting better. I'm not saying I do everything right but I work in wellness/SN & have taught lots of teens & kids at school level. I also have taught adults with SN so I am well used to dealing with people & teens; can connect with most teens, get on great in a class setting; have a great relationship with my own kids, their friends & my nieces & nephews. But for some reason I cannot warm to dp's kids & they don't warm to me either. I DON'T dislike them, but I find being in their company very draining & I find many of their behaviours very odd & some quite rude. I also really felt dp was a different person on this trip & made NO effort to promote this as a joint holiday when the whole thing had been his idea in the first place! They clung out of him the whole trip & while this made him tired & cranky (they were like three primary age kids instead of 13, 16 & 19) he refused to speak to them about it. My two and I ended up just doing our own thing but my two (who have a great relationship with dp & who have previously spent time with his kids) were just bewildered & became very self conscious around them all, to the point where they both remarked to me that they felt they really weren't wanted around.
Virtually all meals (pre us doing our own thing) were silent unless myself & my son & daughter tried to get conversation going. They'd never say good morning or good bye & if I was left overseeing things because dp might have gone to the loo they'd just get up and leave my presence, saying nothing & not letting me know where they were off to.
I'm not even sure anymore if I'm the problem - this trip I just got the feeling that this is what they are like in general & that the dynamic between dp & them is just very 'odd' & getting odder. At the moment I just feel total despair at the future (am already feeling anxious about Christmas) & I feel very bad for my two who got caught in the middle of all this sullenness & neediness & whom I now feel are possibly looking at dp in a very different light.
I have tried & tried & tried to connect with them as have my kids, but we are increasing met with total disinterest. I feel there is nothing more I can do & I can't talk to the one person I really need & want to talk to.
I really don't need a bashing - I just needed to vent.

OP’s posts: |
NorthernSpirit Tue 09-Jul-19 00:44:41

You sound like you are really trying and I just wanted to send my support as I know how hard it is.

Does your OH recognise there is a problem?

I have a holiday coming up with my OH & 2 DSC and i’m dreading it. Youngest SC no problem at all. Oldest (14 girl) is heavily influenced by her mum (and no I wasn’t the OW) and she can’t bring herself to even talk to me. Like you i’ve tried lots of things but nothing helps and i’ve got to the stage were I can’t give any more - after 5 years I get nothing back.

Wishing you all the best.

SandyY2K Tue 09-Jul-19 00:49:13

Oh dear. It sounds really tough Magda.

I would have thought they would talk to your DC on the holiday.

Maybe having gone and come back, you can talk to DP about how it didn't really work out like a blended holiday...and maybe it's not what his DC wanted. I'm sure he'll jump to their defence with excuses...but just try and express that perhaps it's not what they want.

You tried your best and you can't do more than that. In future..maybe separate holidays is the best thing. You and he can go together...then you with your DC and him with his.

It's not fair for your DC being made to feel unwanted.

I would have suggested having a day out with some kind of team building activity...whete you mix up.the families, but his kids just don't sound it seems pointless.

Is the plan to all be together at Christmas? I know that time if year has many dreading it for my own reasons too.

Magda72 Tue 09-Jul-19 01:21:50

Thanks for the replies & support guys. @NorthernSpirit I know it's just so demoralising when you get nothing back. A lot of my frustration is that I'm not pushy & I don't try to parent them - I'm respectful of all that & they don't seem to even respect that.
@SandyY2K the weird thing about my dp is if left alone he'll sometimes come to me and express frustration about their behaviour. However, if I bring it up he immediately gets defensive and bangs on about how they're just different/quieter than mine. Yes they are quieter than mine but it's not just that. It's like they've developed this weird thing with dp whereby they just do not want to 'share' him with anyone - they go around like a little pack, surrounding him so no one else can get near him! All of this I could understand if they were younger but at their ages it just seems really odd. On holidays the 13.5 yo would literally climb on dp the minute he'd get in the pool and not get off him!
Dp would like us all to spend Xmas eve together but honestly I just don't think I could bare the tension. My eldest will be home & he's spent very little time with them as he's away studying. He's almost 23, very mature & has expressed (to me only) his dislike of their attitude. Again I just can't say any of this to dp. Dp is quieter than me & thinks my kids very gregarious which they are, but they're very friendly. You're dead right about holidaying separately in the future. I had my reservations about this one but dp assured me he'd spoken to them & that they were happy to holiday together!?! Maybe they weren't honest with him or maybe they spoke too late, after we'd booked & dp was then on the back foot.
We did a city break together last year & while the behaviours were similar dp was a bit more firm - I think.

OP’s posts: |
Weezol Tue 09-Jul-19 01:31:04

Not only is this grim for you, it's awful for your kids. I'd refuse to take any more joint holidays.

How is the relationship on a day to day basis?

Magda72 Tue 09-Jul-19 01:31:24

I should also add that my exh & I have a non formal Xmas arrangement. I generally have the kids every Xmas eve & half Xmas day & they go to their dads for Xmas evening & Boxing Day. Dp now tries to match this (as opposed to alternating) as he doesn't like being with me & my kids on Xmas eve if his are with their dm as in he thinks it looks bad. But it's an arrangement that doesn't really work at his end & just keeps causing issues with his exw. I have explained to him that most people alternate it's just that my exh is not a massive Xmas fan & prefers to have them Xmas night & Boxing Day when his parents visit - we've been doing this for 10 years.
Again just more stress.

OP’s posts: |
Magda72 Tue 09-Jul-19 01:42:18

@Weezol - dp technically lives with me but works away a lot so my kids don't see him daily & they're with their df one night midweek. However they & dp get on great. Dp has kept a house in the town where his kids live & he sees them there eo full w, one night the other weekends, holidays & some midweek if his work allows. His kids do come up here but less so recently as it's been an exam year so I go down a weekend day if my kids are with their df or sometimes they come with me. It's always been stilted with a huge effort being made by my kids. And dp's kids do this odd thing when they visit of not talking to people but helping themselves to everything, sitting wherever they want, watching what they want. I mean they should be able to do this but you'd think they'd then bother to interact with us all & not just dp.
Dp's extended family are very kind & often ask my kids to family events & dp's nieces & nephews talk more to my kids than dp's!
You're right - I'm not going to subject my kids to a holiday like that again. I was actually crying (to myself) the second last day as they'd been such troopers & I know they were doing it for me & I felt crap for dragging them through it.

OP’s posts: |


Magda72 Tue 09-Jul-19 01:47:47

Also I KNOW it's hard on them not living with their df full time - but my guys' df lives with his other two kids ft & my kids have had to deal with & get used to that. I know my kids siblings are half & not step & that can make a difference, but dp isn't here with me & my kids all week - he works away 3/4 nights some weeks & this as all been explained to his kids, repeatedly.

OP’s posts: |
MzHz Tue 09-Jul-19 01:53:17

Aw! what great kids you have! You must be very proud of them! Hugs to you all.

I hear you, you do sound like you’d be making a far better job of this than I would! Hats off to you for managing to keep these plates spinning so far.

Did your dp notice this abysmal behaviour from his kids? Was it the older ones more than the younger or were they all the same? Would you be able to raise this with him and say that there won’t be any combined holidays from now on. Or as least say 18 or above is the cut off and just take the younger one - mind you that sounds a bit off too.

I feel for you, this situation is a tough one to know what to do to resolve

Tavannach Tue 09-Jul-19 01:55:37

They all, including your DP, sound like they would benefit from some form of counselling.

Your dp needs to make it clear to them that their relationship is not threatened. He has more than enough love to be able to maintain his love for them, and love you as well.

It's not fair on your kids, or on you.

IfOnlyOurEyesSawSouls Tue 09-Jul-19 02:05:57

@Magda72 you have said it yourself- you cannot do any more.

I could have written your post word for word. I tried for years but at the end of the day their upbringing was so different to our own DC things were never going to get better. (I really disagreed with how they had been parented).

In the end it was affecting our marriage and ultimately although yes i loved them they weren't my DC.

For my sanity I decided that yes it was important DH see his children- but it wasn't important they see me.

I stopped trying to blend the family. I stopped the holidays, family days out , meals all of which were so awful anyway.

DH saw his children... and i did not.

I let go of the notion that we all could be a family together, and it was the best thing i did.

His DC had such different ( or a lack of ) values.

Now they are adults they are still the same thoughless inconsiderate people and i am relieved that i dont invest anytime or energy in them more .

Stop chasing a vision of something that will never be, for the sake of you & your DC thanks because you will never get acknowledgement of how hard you try.

Rachelover40 Tue 09-Jul-19 02:07:11

Your children sound terrific! You've done well there girl.

The eldest of dp's children is 19 so a young adult, he should know better and could set a good example to his siblings but is probably too lazy to make the effort so just goes with the flow. I imagine he will choose not to go away with all of you again but will be holidaying with friends, which is quite normal.

Your partner really needs to be more aware of how this situation is affecting you, it's not fair of him to opt out of responsibility. Please do try to speak seriously to him, he probably knows it's not right already but it needs to be emphasised. Like his eldest, he goes with the flow because it's the easiest option in the short term.

I don't know where you go from here but do know you cannot go on feeling unhappy. You deserve better.

You're great by the way.
flowers wine

LatentPhase Tue 09-Jul-19 06:47:10

Aw, Magda I can hear the despondency through every word. I really feel for you. To have a holiday like that sounds soul destroying.

I echo pp you and your dc are utterly terrific. Your DP should be delighted to have you all in his life, setting such healthy examples of how to be.

DP’s dc seem so held back by the dynamic. I wonder what’s at the heart of it.

If he just worked on this with the 19yo - do you sense the younger two would follow suit? How is DP now that you’re all home?

As you know my situation is not dissimilar. WRT one of DP’s dc. I feel we have made progress in the sense I have broken my silence on it. We had heart-to-hearts and he can see the issues and agrees with my need to demand healthier ways of doing things. We now have an ongoing dialogue (we don’t agree on everything) and I’ve started to feel we are now in this together. He is processing it and now there is no part of this which is off limits for discussion. That makes all the difference. Not being able to dialogue this with my DP is the killer. Maybe it’s the case for you, too. What happened to his/your counselling? They need family therapy. As do my DP/his son and dd/his ex.

IfOnly can I ask does your non blended situation/marriage still work ok? Is there resentment? Or do you manage ok?

LatentPhase Tue 09-Jul-19 06:58:32

I think at the very least DP needs to acknowledge the impact that this has on you and your dc. He cannot pretend this works. Then go from there. Don’t hold back Magda - there is no point.

IfOnlyOurEyesSawSouls Tue 09-Jul-19 07:42:06

@LatentPhase there is so much less tension now smile

Magda72 Tue 09-Jul-19 08:35:06

Again guys, thanks for the replies & kind words 😊. @IfOnlyOurEyesSawSouls like latent I too would be interested to know how your dh has handled your disengaging? I feel exactly as you did/do but I think dp would take disengagement from his kids as a disengagement from him!
@LatentPhase - dp hasn't been to counselling in weeks due to work/holiday & while it does help a lot in the days after a session if time lapses then he sort of forgets all about what has been discussed in session. There are times when we discuss stuff & he sees where I'm coming from & then there are times where any comment is taken as a personal insult.
The 19 yo is actually the nicest to me (& always has been) but he is very atypical of a 19 yo; has no friends, has no interest in anything beyond schoolwork & reading & hanging out with dp. Dp has been putting this down to being introverted & anxious over exams and the 19yo did have some counselling but stopped after 4 sessions. Having observed him for the last 10 days I am beginning to think he's on the spectrum & no one noticed as both dp & his exw are quite introverted & probably saw his behaviour as normal when he was younger. But again if I say something I doubt it will be well received as spectrum issues would be seen as a judgement in the guy by both dp & his ex.
There IS something very off in their dynamic as a family & I just don't think dp sees that or if he does it's too hard for him to acknowledge it. I also think he just thinks I happen to have outgoing, motivated kids & just doesn't realise the effort I've put in to getting them that way if you know what I mean.
I haven't seen dp since we got back as instead of putting his guys on a direct route airport bus home which would have made sense, he drove 2.5 hours while jet lagged to get them home & then opted to stay in his house there as he was tired & didn't want to journey another 2 hours home to me. He's now off working til the end of the week.
I think I am being avoided! smile

OP’s posts: |
MichelleC69 Tue 09-Jul-19 08:43:44

Just wanted to add my support - blended families are not at all easy. Like you, my daughter and stepsons have had different upbringings and behave very differently. I find some of their behaviours rude and disinterested, but I'm starting to accept that this probably won't change and I just have to learn to ignore it. Hope you managed to enjoy your holiday anyway. Our next one is without kids and I'm very much looking forward to no stress!

WomanLikeMeLM Tue 09-Jul-19 09:35:16

5 teenagers! I am not surprised you are stressed!

Weezol Tue 09-Jul-19 12:55:19

It sounds to me as if you are very bottom of his list of priorities. Does he ever put you first?

Magda72 Tue 09-Jul-19 13:48:28

Thanks @MichelleC69 - yes child free holidays should be the goal 😊!
At @Weezol - he does prioritise me in fairness. But what he doesn't seem to be able to do is prioritise me in front of, or along with his kids. As in if we're all together they HAVE to be center stage. Again, I would understand this if his kids were younger but I feel it's a bit off with a bunch of teens who actually see their dad a lot & who spend lots of alone time with him.

OP’s posts: |
SandyY2K Tue 09-Jul-19 16:38:05

His DC sound socially awkward from what you've described. Perhaps the effect of 2 introverted parents has rubbed off on them.

I imagine that he secretly wishes his DC behaved more mature and sensible like yours do. That's not an easy thing to admit...even to yourself.

Their behaviour was probably embarrassing for him...and when your kids behave in such a feels like you as a parent have caused it in some way.

Just the way as parents, you feel proud when your child does well... ppl also credit you as a parent when you have sensible, well developed children too.

In his case, there may be a feeling of failure around how they conduct themselves. If we agree that children are a product of their environment, then one might assume their parents have contributed to their behaviour.

Some of the things you mention sound like poor manners from them.

Have you seen their interactions with other adults?

Tactfulish Tue 09-Jul-19 16:43:13

Totally sympathise Magda72. Last year we went away and middle DSC (18) then was horrible and barely acknowledged our exisitance - it ruined the holdiay for me as I couldn't believe how entitled someone could be.....I said then never again with that DSC.
This year we went on a holiday of a life time with the youngest DSC and my DC and it was similar, felt like DSC was only on holiday in order to post or brag on snapchat, even my own DS was dissapointed as thought it would be fun together but DSC would plug in air pods and just not interact at all. Some days would not even say morning or acknowledge you.
It is utterly unrewarding and rude when you have worked hard to give them a nice experience (ones I never had as a child) and in any other walk of life you just wouldn't tolorate another human being so bloody rude...
I would go doown the seprate holiday route with your own kids and then an adult only trip sometime if you can manage it smile

LatentPhase Wed 10-Jul-19 10:15:55

I feel this is more than about holidays though.

I feel Magda if your DP doesn’t see the problem then you kind of are scuppered. It must feel very lonely.

@IfOnlyOurEyesSawSouls does your dh see his kids outside the home? Do you go out? If they are independent adults I guess that’s ok. But if they’re dependents they need a base in which to have contact.

But it’s the not blending/compartmentalising of life which is quite draining, I think. I think guys tolerate it better than women. And if you’re not on the same page then what. More cake for you Magda.

Snog Wed 10-Jul-19 10:32:37

As a different perspective, both myself and my friends have had holidays with our own teens (none of us has SC) where the teen has been awful to be on holiday with and has pretty much ruined the holiday.

It may be best not to go on holiday with them.

LatentPhase Wed 10-Jul-19 12:42:00

Oh I agree ungrateful teens isn’t exactly exclusive to step family setups. And the constant Snapchatting really can rile me and that’s just my kids! Two years ago mine were horrid on holiday (just with me - I found it lonely and vowed never again) and so the following year we went to a UK destination and brought their friends along. Much better.

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