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Husband is best friend to son rather than parent

(59 Posts)
sadlycindy Tue 05-Nov-19 20:14:48

We have a 1 year old and DH has a son aged 13 he sees every other weekend. I struggle to get to know my SS. He is very quiet but he idolises his Dad, so I feel left out a lot of the time when he is round. He’ll cuddle up to his Dad on the sofa, which I know is nice...but I feel like I don’t know how I fit in. My husband let’s him do what he wants so I feel kind of like he’s untouchable and don’t dare try to parent him - when I have before DH hasn’t been happy It almost feel like a celebrity is round when he comes round 🤷🏻‍♀️

My and DS visited family this weekend in Wales. When I got back DH has told me his son asked if can he play the PS4 all weekend like last time I went away. DH said yes. They had a diet of dominoes, burgers, fish and chips and super noodles.

I just feel like why would SS want me around when his Dad is so much more fun letting him eat what he wants and play fortnite all day every day.

I feel such an outsider in my own home.

Please be gentle with me, I am struggling with anxiety at the moment and low self esteem so please be kind in any replies.

OP’s posts: |
LatentPhase Wed 06-Nov-19 06:44:32

How long have you guys been together? Have you talked about it? I think it’s quite nice they get to have special no rules time on the occasional weekend, but I get a sense it’s not really about that. More about the regular stuff and feeling like you don’t have a place. EOW is not much contact.

sassbott Wed 06-Nov-19 09:04:24

Ok. I think you need to isolate what exactly is bothering you. And what would make it better for you.

The boys weekend? I think that’s very standard tbh. One of my siblings did this every year when his wife went to visit family. He and his son basically didn’t clean for a week, went to school/ work but lived for gaming and even tried to shower minimally (no I’m not kidding). Then a day before my SIL was due home was operation ‘clean up’. And I have plenty more stories like this. The reason I’m sharing it is because I actually think boys weekends (if occasional) like this are real bonding experiences. Your DH will see that his eldest son is becoming a young man, and as such will be trying to rebond on a slightly different level.
It doesn’t necessarily mean he’s not parenting him (if that makes sense).

What I’m sensing from your post is that it’s not what he actually did that weekend, it’s that you feel excluded when his eldest comes to visit. If you’re suffering from anxiety and low self esteem, that will magnify these feelings so much more.

Have you spoken to your DH about this? Have you told him how you feel? That you’re also suffering from low self esteem and this feeling of being excluded is difficult? Because as couple you could put steps in place to help with it. He in the main would need to make tweaks and potentially make active space for you and his son to bond.

Do you game? Could your DH look after the baby and you game with his son? There are lots of things that can be put in place but it starts with you having to be honest about how you feel.

I wouldn’t criticise the boys weekend by the way, he’ll just become defensive. Focus on how you are feeling and clearly tell him that you need him to listen and be gentle with you. That you’re finding this hard and you need his support.

anniemac1 Wed 06-Nov-19 09:13:37

The boy needs his dad and his mum.if his dad is building a good relationship and spending time with him let them be. If he needs or wants you you will know.dont drive a wedge between. Them. You intimate that you are mature so behave like you care and stop being jealous of their love for each other.the boy has a mother it’s not you

AhYesIHaveChild Wed 06-Nov-19 09:18:28

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

Froggledoggleoggle Wed 06-Nov-19 09:25:21

@anniemac1 that was a bit harsh. The op is just asking for advice to deal with her feelings of being unwanted when dss is around, not that she's jealous of the relationship between father and son.

@sadlycindy I would follow @sassbott's advice in your place.

Knackeredmommy Wed 06-Nov-19 09:29:05

I think it sounds fine. You don't need to be a parent, just be friendly. He's 13, I don't get much from my 14 yr old! It's lovely they have a good relationship, just show some interest in him and leave them to it.

WomensRightsAreContraversial Wed 06-Nov-19 09:45:03

Is he framing you as the boring rulemaker that ss can ignore?

Tbh I don't think the 'boys weekend' was great parenting - I can understand the gaming, but junk food all weekend, and has now been twice in a row while you've been away, so is that their ritual now? Sounds kinda disney dad-like and I bet his mother was the one who had to deal with the aftermath of a tired child full of junk food and wired after hours video gaming
not dad. I'm a bit concerned that this is the writing on the wall for who gets to be not just good but fun cop and who gets to be bad cop with your son too.

But as others have said I don't think you can criticise the boys weekend, it would go down like a lead balloon.

How about framing it to DH as you'd really love some time having fun with DH and ss, and ask DH if you and he can come up with some activities for all 4 of you that ss would enjoy? Board games? (Ok maybe 1 year old wouldn't!) - day trips out, geocaching, getting to know you type card games. Ice cream factory at home, maybe even see if as would like to bake a birthday cake with you for his dad?

Magda72 Wed 06-Nov-19 13:02:41

@LatentPhase & @sassbott have given you great advice but I'm a little with @WomensRightsAreContraversial with regards to the boys weekend as I've been the dm who got cranky, wired, spotty kids with tummy bloat back on a Sunday night & it's very tiresome dealing with that as ex skips off town the driveway. Imo a boys weekend doesn't have to be about junk food & gaming & letting everything go - it can be about activities/days out/different experiences & I feel the former approach, once again, places any woman be she a dm or sm in the sexist role of nagging bad cop - ie "we have to shower & clean up BECAUSE she's coming home", not "we have to shower & clean up" because it's basic hygiene. That's just my opinion.
Otherwise @sadlycindy I can only speak from my own experience. My exdp's youngest would actively push me out if I was in their company; would refuse to be alone with me, literally sat on top of dp all the time; was never overtly rude but corrected me non stop. Now - a lot of his behaviour was subconscious - he was just a kid who wanted to be with his dad, but the issue was that exdp didn't tackle it & it culminated in a holiday this summer whereby dp was literally at his beck & call all holiday & if said kid didn't get his own way/lost at a game there would be floods of tears & major sulking. At this stage he was 131/2 & a little too hold for this level of clinginess & behaviour (imo).
As others have said - don't criticize the boys weekend but do talk to your dh & try explain that you can all never blend unless your dh loosens his grip on his son & encourages some non exclusive behaviours - don't expect dss to do this as he doesn't know how, he's only 13 & needs to be led by his dad.
Is dh your baby's dad also?

ColaFreezePop Wed 06-Nov-19 13:27:45

OP would engagement do your baby son and the SS have together?

Lots of children including teenagers I've met are excited to have (another) sibling particularly when they are toddlers and the toddler starts engaging with them.

AmIThough Wed 06-Nov-19 13:42:18

Have you spoken to DH? Is it because he feels guilty he's not there for his son all the time. This is quite normal for a NRP (the guilt not the behaviour).

Slappadabass Wed 06-Nov-19 13:43:32

Jesus, He sees him twice a month, let him spoil him and stop been the fun police. If you saw your DC twice a month wouldn't you try to make it count and make it as fun as possible?

It's your OHs decision on how to parent him, not yours so let them have fun and if you feel left out then join in.

Magda72 Wed 06-Nov-19 13:47:31

@Slappadabass - nrps have to balance spoiling with actual parenting!
Otherwise the rp is left as the sole disciplinarian & the nrp is the 'fun parent' - bad for all concerned & often leads to kids playing one parent off the other.

GrumpyHoonMain Wed 06-Nov-19 13:52:26

With teens healthy parental relationships should evolve from an authoritative parental role to one that is more friendly / engenders trust between the child and parent. Especially when a parent sees their child as little as your DH does. I don’t really see a problem in them doing boy’s nights etc. Disciplining him or being strict is counter-productive at this age and this level of contact, and even if someone does do it, it should definitely not be you. You aren’t the parent.

ShadowOnTheSun Wed 06-Nov-19 14:32:52

I don't get why you're making this an issue. The boy is HIS son, not yours. You're not his mother and have no right to 'parent him'. They see each other twice a month only. What he feeds him and what they do is between them. Why do you want to be involved? The boy has mum and dad, and they're taking care of him as they see fit. It's not your business. You can find some other things to do on your own for two weekends a month.

IfNot Wed 06-Nov-19 16:27:38

I think your husband is being a bit of a dick. Just because he barely sees his son doesn't mean he shouldn't be the most basic kind of parent. Going "oh boring stepmum is going away let's game literally all weekend and eat shite" is actually making you out to be the "fun police" even if you're not.
I would resent being put in that position.
Really, it should be more the other way round; I am the rp for my dc, my partner is not their dad. He is the one more likely to be relaxed about gaming and eating greens, not me as I'm the parent. I let him be the more fun one as it helps bond with the dc.(but he will enforce boundaries if need be)
I HATE this bullshit about "boys time" having to mean just abdicating the parental role, especially as you just know there is a mother in the background who HAS to be the grown up all of the time.
I think I would talk to your husband OP and maybe see if he can suggest ways to get closer to your step son when you are there. Maybe get dss involved with rhe baby? Maybe he feels pushed out now?
You can't rush it though-it will take time for a relationship to naturally establish.

sadlycindy Wed 06-Nov-19 17:08:44

Thanks everyone for your replies. A mixed bag. Some of you think a weekend with no rules is fine; others, like me, feel like it’s making the Stepmum into the boring one - the one who enforces going outdoors, eating well and being tidy.

He sees him every Tuesday for tea as well as every other weekend.

My DS is my and my DHs. DS and SS have a fantastic relationship. They both adore each other.

I really think my issue is just feeling like I don’t fit in. We’ve been together for 5 years so it’s not like it’s a recent thing. What is recent is that they are becoming closer and cuddling on the sofa, staying up playing PS4 after I’ve gone to bed, which is great for them. However, I’m just feeling a little lost in the middle of it all.

I wonder if I need some counselling to deal with. I get very anxious when SS is coming over. As I said, it makes me feel like it’s a celebrity coming over who isn’t a just my husbands child, as my husband never likes to tell him off for anything and doesn’t like me to. He doesn’t like tell him to brush his teeth even. So I feel like I have to be someone else, I can’t just be myself as I worry that he’s not going to be interested in what I’m saying/offended if I ask him to do something/ignore me and just talk to his Dad.

I have a nephew the same age and I’ve no such issues with him. I feel I can be myself.

OP’s posts: |
sadlycindy Wed 06-Nov-19 17:15:55

I should also mention that I resent the fact that DH thinks SS can do no wrong yet hardly has time for our 1 year old. He gets angry with him when he’s having a tantrum or being whingy. He’ll play with him for maybe 5 mins when he comes in and that’s it really.

He says to me that when DS is older he’ll
be able to bond with him better, he’s prefers older children. That really hurts me as our son is so funny and cute and is learning new words all the time. When we go out strangers always talk to him, yet his own father can’t seem to see how amazing he is. In fact he says “no” when my DH comes home.

OP’s posts: |
Loopytiles Wed 06-Nov-19 17:19:47

Sounds like your H is a “Disney Dad” during his limited contact dates with his older son, and not keen on/committed to the parts of parenting he doesn’t enjoy, with either of his DC.

You don’t seem to like aspects of his parenting - seems understandable.

Loopytiles Wed 06-Nov-19 17:21:38

I don’t respect men who say things like that about small DC - it’s one thing finding parenting a baby/toddler hard, and trying one’s best despite this, another to avoid your own DC or do things to make clear your annoyance to the DC.

sassbott Wed 06-Nov-19 22:01:57

To clarify. At no point did I say it was acceptable parenting EOW. I said occasionally. My sibling did this once a year. And once in a while, it really is no big deal to consume junk food for a weekend. It’s fun/ sickening. If you think your kids aren’t going to go through phases of this as young adults. You’re all in denial.

The gaming? This will come down to a split of who are gamers/ who aren’t. I’m a gamer and so, some of my best Sunday afternoons with my children, my nephews and my brother have been spent gaming. If you’re not a gamer (my SIL isn’t) then that becomes more challenging. But people enjoy what they enjoy. For me, as my nephews have grown into young men, it’s the one activity (to this day) that bonds us and level sets us. And after a while of sitting with each other playing this, is where conversations and bonding reoccur. I’ll never give that up. And nor will your DH with SS.

Your later posts actually show me that this isn’t about the boys weekend per se (as I expected), there are much wider issues at play. This is about parenting values (brushing teeth), how much you feel included, and how your own son is being treated vs how you see your DH treating your SS. It must feel awful to have anxiety before he visits.

Counselling for you will absolutely help I think. To help you with anxiety and low self esteem. It will give you a safe space to get this all out and hopefully get to a place where you can articulate to your DH what exactly it is you need.

Re the older/ younger child? That must feel hard to hear. Especially when it is your child. It will raise incredibly feelings of protectiveness and resentment. His reaction is not acceptable. Especially since he made the decision to have another child with you.

sassbott Wed 06-Nov-19 22:08:47

I should add. I say this as someone who has had counselling to manage anxiety. Hand on heart it is the best decision I ever made. And when I got to a better place, I would say that a lot of things that had started to bother me (anxiety can magnify issues), they didn’t bother me any further.

Anxiety is tough. Especially if not managed x

sadlycindy Thu 07-Nov-19 09:28:03

@sassbott I do like gaming, I don't like fortnite though and resent it being on the TV in the living room every saturday and sunday, unless I arrange something for us to do. DH is never the one to come up with days out ideas. He does have a PS4 in his room, but I don't feel I could ask him to play in is room, my own son/nephew I'd feel ok saying this to.

It is awful the anxiety. I end up getting feeling disconnected from myself (depersonalisation) as my brain just cannot cope with all my thoughts/worries, and yes like you say, the small things, that just don't matter when you are not anxious - such as how he'll show his Dad things and not think to show me it too. My brain is then going "oh no, you have no place here". Its awful.

Yes you are right in how hard it is seeing how good he is with SS compared with our own DS. He didn't actually want a child, he went along with it for me, as I had no children. So I always feel like he's my child who my husband helps out with now and again. I don't feel really able to chastise him for how he is, as he could then say "well, you know I didn't want another child".

I am glad the anxiety management helped you. What kind did you get? I have tried CBT before but found it didn't go deep enough, addressing reasons why I felt like I did, it was more surface level. Maybe counselling would help me then CBT.

OP’s posts: |
TheHumansAreDefinitelyDead Thu 07-Nov-19 09:36:50

Reading your update, I can see why you feel bad, and the way he treats his baby is not on!

I assume he really wanted this baby so he cannot just opt out of parenting by saying he prefers older kids!

As to the 13yr old, I am not sure that anything is wrong there. As a parent of teens, it is fun to loosen the reins a bit with regards to gaming and food,.... after a decade of organic rice cakes and carrot stickswink and strict screen time my teen boys are very appreciative of a day of gaming and movies and domino's! It's a quick way to bond with teens and spoil them a bit.

TheHumansAreDefinitelyDead Thu 07-Nov-19 09:37:53

Ah, cross post

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