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Wanting to withdraw from the DC(45 Posts)
Just returned from a family holiday abroad. DC has three children (DS 12, DD 9 and DD6). This was the second holiday abroad and we've had a few weekends away in the UK.
The holiday was a nightmare from start to finish. Various things went wrong and throughout the holiday it felt like nothing was enough for the kids.
I organised everything (I like organising it so that's fine) but DP had to constantly prompt DC to be grateful for what we've done. Everything was organised with the kids in mind, beach days, theme parks, water parks etc.
DP at times was useless. Completely oblivious to the lack of manners, rolling eyes and backchat. I called him out on it a few times and he then pulled the kids up.
It just made me want to withdraw completely. He says I shouldn't and the kids are just craving attention but I think they are just being ungrateful brats.
I usually like to do so much for the kids like organise days out, buy them clothes etc. DP is a great Dad but he's a typical Disney Dad. Doesn't want to upset them as he only sees them EOWE and a few weeks during their holidays.
I think me withdrawing won't impact the kids. They don't seem to care at all so I just think I might as well leave their Dad to sort everything out like he should do. WWYD?
Are you sure you should be with this man? His kids and him are a package deal, and rightly so. They are still very young and it’s a tough situation for them - you could try being a lot more patient and kind for a start!! It’s not about holidays, it’s about them feeling secure and happy with their Dad. Calling them ungrateful brats behind their backs is horrible. If you don’t like them, it will show no matter how much you convince yourself otherwise. Kids are kids, they are self-centred and entitled at times... they’re also your partner’s babies and they deserve all the patience, live and understanding it takes from the adults in their lives to make them feel safe and help them to flourish. If you can’t be that person, do them all a favour and walk away.
I don't think I understand what you want to do? And what you described was our holiday this year, which I described to dsis, who said it was her holiday last year, and my best friend and others all said the same highs and lows and ungratefullness and everyone having a great and awful time!!
@Cloudyyy Are you a 'step parent'? If not then you can't understand the dynamics here.
Whenever I see them (which is as often as their Dad) I always genuinely make them feel loved, safe and cared for. I am just at my wits end with the ungratefulness.
I think what you've said about kids being self-centred is what I needed to hear. I don't have children of my own so I guess I don't understand that aspect of them.
@stayathomer Thank you! It's reassuring to know this is 'normal'. They are generally very good kids so it's nice to hear this is just a kids thing.
It's all the planning and money and 'we have to have a good time' from both parents and kids-pressure on everyone until it goes kablooey!!!
The other poster is right this is often typical behaviour of dc on holiday step or not. You got to deal with stress of travelling, different time zones not to be mention exhaustion from full on days.
A lot of kids tend to come across as selfish ungrateful brats tbh. I don't think it has anything to do with you per se. That said, it's a lot harder to by default just love them and overlook their flaws indefinitely when you're the step parent I'd say. Especially if your DP just turns a blind eye to it because he's worried about offending the kids.
How long have you been a part of their lives?
Thanks so much for the replies. I really appreciate it.
I've only been in their lives about 18 months. Like I've said generally they are so good but equally I see them for two days a fortnight so a full week is a lot more time I guess.
Whenever I see them (which is as often as their Dad)
Maybe this is a problem. When do they get Daddy time without new SM around?
To be honest, a lot of kids are like this on holiday. My own have driven me to despair at times and they are good people. Children don't do change or expectations that something is wonderful!
Whether it is your own dc or dsc all you want is a little bit of appreciation and it's bloody frustrating when you don't get it - especially when what you've planned is more for the kids benefit than your own.
It's basis respect and manners in my book whatever the relationship.
All kids can be ungrateful brats and this is MEANT to be a safe space where you can vent in private so feelings don't spill over into real life situations, but as ever, because you have dared to criticise your dsc you will be massively judged!
The others are right- lots of children behave like this on holiday because of the new routine, more junk food, excitement etc Could it be that there were too many treats and child-centred activities because if you keep on doing special stuff all of the time then the treats become more expected and normal iykwim.
I actually think I would step back a bit OP, purely from the perspective that DH needs to parent his kids himself. The DC need that, he is their parent and they need to know they can rely on him. And I think you need it too, step parenting is a learning curve (huge understatement!) and standing back a little may well help you understand the dynamic and where you fit into it better than trying to be fully involved just yet.
18 months is still really early days, especially when you don't have kids of your own so it's all new. I think you need to cut both yourself and DSC some slack tbh, you must all still be adjusting and figuring out the new dynamic so it's no surprise there are still teething troubles. To be blunt it's your DH who's letting the side down here, he should be the one managing the situation and helping things run smoothly, and just generally taking responsibility for the fact that he is the reason you're all together and it's in his interests to make it work.
So yes I would step back, not for spiteful reasons but because there's a good chance you will end up feeling resentful if it's you making all the effort. Have a think about what level of involvement you're happy with for now and then explain to DH that you want to try a new approach to hopefully avoid some of the problems you've had on holiday. Be clear about the things he will need to take over so there's no confusion.
That leaves you free to build on your relationship with DC without you feeling unappreciated because you're running round organising everything. It also means DH has to step up and be more than a Disney dad, something both he and DC will be glad of in years to come. Time with just their dad is really important too imo, I still make myself scarce sometimes so DSC can have DH to themselves and they're in their 20's now
It's a really tricky job, step parenting, I've been doing it for 18 years now and I'm still learning. I did have the advantage of DH already being an involved, engaged, responsible parent before we started though and that's going to be your biggest hurdle, getting your DH to stop being a Disney dad. I guess if you step back he will have to step up though, which will be why he's not keen on the idea
I feel your pain and sympathise. Had a similar experience on holiday with stepson. All I was looking for was a little bit of appreciation for all the thought that had gone into planning the holiday and making sure everyone had a good time. Kids can be ungrateful sometimes, and it's not unusual. It doesn't make it any easier to bear though! Take deep breaths and let your partner discipline them. Continue to be kind and remember that most kids are very self centred - it's not personal!
I think PPs are right that this is typical child behaviour but as a step parent the dynamics are slightly different
If they were your children, you would probably tell them if you weren’t happy about something. Because they’re not, you are probably relying on him to do the parenting, but then he has to parent them and teach them not to be rude.
My kid were brats on holidays too. I think it's because it's a much bigger deal to us than to them. We've worked hard and saved to afford it. We waiting desperately for that break. We wa. T to make the best of every minutes of it. Kids don't see it like that.
My DS just started working and earning money. He realised that he now will only have so many days in the year to have a break. He also start to understand the meaning of savings and how you wa t to be sure you enjoy what you spend your money on. He said that he can now understand why I was pressuring them to enjoy every minute of our holidays.
Kids are spoilt nowadays when it comes to holidays.
I agree with pp kids do not ‘appreciate’ (in the way adults do) amazing holidays, food in the table, laundry services. You name it. They will appreciate it when their time comes as adults to provide it for their own children! Doesn’t mean they won’t look back on it as fun though - they will.
18 months in I agree maybe step back and provide only what you are willing to provide without feeling resentful in the absence of a ‘thanks’ - just to give the relationships breathing space really. Step parenting is a marathon not a sprint. I think if you have been on two foreign holidays and are still together you’re doing good OP!
Think of this as a blessing. You've seen that your DP doesn't actually step up when it comes to doing any real kind of parenting (rather than just the disney kind) so you now know for certain that he is definitely not the sort of man you want to have children with.
If you want to have children in the future, you now know you need to start looking for a DP who will be a better parent.
If you don't want to have children, you can carry on with this relationship and take a huge step back from any kind of parenting role, as these kids aren't your responsibility at all, and they probably would prefer some more one-on-one time with their dad.
The holiday was a learning experience, if not a relaxing break.
Don't get too involved and I mean that. Do. Nice things but make you time.
We do a fmaily holiday and I will go off for a few hours alone for a few days with baby or without and the dc get dad time. He gets masisvly stressed sometimes with it buyt he chose to have 4 children and I didn't. So that's the way it is.
If you were not there op he'd have to do it alone so make him sometimes.
Let him take the three to the water park for the day and you go to a nuce spa and have wine. Perfect!
But yes it's normal for children to be ungreatful. It's annoying but very normal.
Great post from @Butterflyone1
There might be something in organising too much, because you think they’ll enjoy it, them getting worn out and ratty, you wishing you hadn’t bothered, they’d rather have done less etc.
An example was a couple of years ago we were away for a week over DH birthday. We had tickets to a show, went for casual lunch before then dinner somewhere nice that evening as a celebration. Within ten minutes of the meal they were sniping at each other, fussed about the food, one of them kept dropping cutlery, DH and I were starting to lose our rags (silently but you know...) and then of them nearly nodded off on the table. I could have cried, I’d made a huge effort to plan and spend a fortune on what was meant to be a really special fun day doing stuff we’d all enjoy. But that was on me! Back where we were staying taking deep breaths over a coffee with them tucked up in bed we realised it was just too much. We should have taken a picnic for lunch or gone back and had a takeaway after the show, or just done the show and had sandwiches for lunch and cereal for dinner. Our idea of a perfect amazing day wasn’t the same as theirs. Yes it was DH birthday but the kids were only little, got way over stimulated and would rather have played on the beach than gone to a nice restaurant. We swore we’d limit days to one “thing” and the next holiday was so much better.
I know I’m banging on but I’m sure at 18 months in I was trying too hard (though this was later), making too much effort, we both wanted days out and holidays to be exciting and special - the DC just like a change of scene, exploring the area, the odd takeaway, ice creams on the beach. We go self catering so it’s as relaxed as possible and if they fancy beans on toast we can rustle it up and they can have dinner in their pjs.
For us it wasn’t that planning a lot of things meant that’s what they expected and were ungrateful. It was more that on holiday what they really want is to chill and put their feet up some days, play with rocks other days, go for meals other days. I didn’t have my own when we got together and it’s easy to fall into the trap of being super fun step mum then resenting your efforts being unappreciated. As the adults that’s our fault and you could try going for a more “real life” approach to spending time with them.
My DH is the furthest thing from a Disney dad and that’s a whole other issue. But you can make your interactions calmer and less organised fun, be the casual fun one, let him take the lead on plans and parenting stuff.
I'd tell him you're backing off so he can parent them more, pulling up on behaviour and manners etc. When he's cracked it he can invite you back in 😂
You've seen that your DP doesn't actually step up when it comes to doing any real kind of parenting (rather than just the disney kind
You can't judge someone's parenting on a week away and intermittent days!! He could be trying to play it cool so there isn't stress etc around OP, or he might have been trying to have the best time/best holiday with OP there so everyone got along
You can't judge someone's parenting on a week away and intermittent days
Totally agree. When I go on hols and my kids are lacking on the gratefulness side, it's not the moment I step up the parenting, ie. disciplining because what is worse than dealing with the frustration of kids not acting as I want them to is to create conflict, more moods and my blood pressure going up with anger.
As another poster has said already, I've been amazed when my kids have come back from holiday when they seemed to not be much happy being there, and told friends/family with great excitement in their voice recalling the things I was excited about yet the appeared blaze about!
I learned not to expect them to act ex ited and happy on holidays, its not 'cool' to do so, but I know now they do enjoy themselves despite the moaning and scrabbles. Saying that, if I was a SM to my kids, I would encoirsge my OH to take them on hols on his own and then go just the two of us, even if that meant cutting down on other aspects of life to be able to afford it. Kids are happier, so is SM, and even though dad prefers 'family' holiday to share the load, it really is a time for them to bond as kids/father.