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Merging families - advice on how to and whether to please

(19 Posts)
ninah Mon 03-Aug-09 09:02:47

Hi, I used to post on step-parenting a few years ago when helping bring up my ex's ds. We had a good relationship, he's now all grown up and at uni! ex and I parted our ways and I am lone p with two dc.
A year ago I met a lovely man, also lone p, who has two dc. Mine are 4 and 7, his approaching teens. Recently we spent a lot of time together and it has raised a lot of questions about the future. Basically, it confirmed we love each other as partners, but that there will be serious issues with the dc, my ds in particular who has been resisting the situation with lots of bad behaviour and unhappiness. My partner's dc are becomine more relaxed but are v used to having their dad to themselves, are naturally wary of change, and also a lot quieter and more conservative than my family. This week we are spending time apart with our dc and I need to do some serious thinking, as I don't know where it is all going but I do know the horrible consequences of family break ups and also that sharing other's dc is challenging as well as rewarding. Any advice would be so much appreciated! thanks

BonsoirAnna Mon 03-Aug-09 09:11:27

I haven't blended two families, but I have two DSSs (14 and 12, as well as DD (4.9), who is their half-sister.

All three children adore each other, but it is no good expecting them all to fit in and do the same thing all the time! That is in large part due to age differences, and if you decide to go ahead and live with your new partner, you must, IMO, be sure to give everyone enough personal space. Don't set your sights too high for how much time you can all be under one roof and doing the same thing, and you will all be the happier for it. And you will all need to look at your habits and be prepared to make amendments in order to make your family function.

ninah Mon 03-Aug-09 09:33:56

Point taken. Accept that interests will be different, and space is an issue, and that this will be ongoing. It is definitely hard work atm, and I can't imagine how we could live together. On the other hand I can't imagine keeping up a commuting between two houses relationship indefinitely. Love is one thing but pragmatism becomes equally important given our circumstances. I didn't really intend our relationship to become so serious I suppose, as the combination is so unlikely. Having said that my partner is committed to making an effort and has been nothing but supportive as well as sensible. I feel my ds would find it difficult to bond with any new man and possibly I should consider staying single until he is a lot older to give him the security he needs. On the other hand I feel this man could be a good role model and friend to him if he could learn to accept him. My dd has had no troubles at all but since she is young the break up with her father did not affect her in the same way. Thanks for your sensible input. Had a sleepless night over all this.

BonsoirAnna Mon 03-Aug-09 09:36:49

I do think that if you want to blend families, do it sooner rather than later!

My DP had an appointment with his divorce lawyer last week and they talked about the problems she encounters on a daily basis. She said that children not wanting to see new partners is one of the most recurrent issues, and that, the older they get, the worse it is!

ninah Mon 03-Aug-09 09:50:42

I see! yes, it could be quite an issue, and my ds is only 7! luckily partner's sons have been welcoming on the whole, though it is difficult for all of us.
It never occured to me that if I gave ds longer on our own he'd find it even more difficult to share (supposing I met someone as lovely as the bf again). I have a week on my own with dc and then a week with bf on hol, so hope to gain some clarity over that time about where it's all going, or not. A nunnery sounds tempting atm!

BonsoirAnna Mon 03-Aug-09 09:58:49

Have you thought about having a baby with your new DP? Babies can be great for bringing families together and making you all blood relatives!

ninah Mon 03-Aug-09 10:02:45

Jesus Anna I'm 42 and he's had the snip!
blush but yes I have thought of it ...
I think it will have to say as a thought. I am sad I didn't have a family with him as I think if we had our dc together we would have stayed together for sure. We are very close and loving as partners.

Hassled Mon 03-Aug-09 10:05:15

Is there any way you could get your DS's father on side? My DD hated my DH to begin with - they had a terrible relationship and I was really in despair. DS1 was fine, oddly. Even after DH and I had DS2, it was still hard work - and of course she became jealous of the new baby (she was 9 when he was born).

What worked in the end was that ex-DH, her father, made it clear that he liked DH, they became sort of friends, Ex started coming around for meals etc and it was obvious that DH had his full approval. I appreciate you can't force friendship on your new DP and Ex, but if the Ex could make reassuring "I'm fine with it" noises, it would probably help.

ninah Mon 03-Aug-09 10:12:33

Glad to hear your dd got through this hassled, I never realised how hard it could be (esp as my ex's ds took to me).
Ex lives a fair journey away and sees dc for a day once a fortnight. He was reaonably horrible at the end of the relationship and I never discuss my life with him now. It hadn't occured to me that he could help. But it is a thought. Dc are with him for a week soon. Ds is usually upset if he sees my partner when he comes back from seeing his father. I need to talk to ex about ds's behaviour anyway, so perhaps it could include this. I can't see the meals though! we get on Okish now but ex was abusive in the past and I am still v wary of him

msled Mon 03-Aug-09 10:19:30

Is there anything your ds loves to do that your dp could do with him, one to one? Fishing/sailing/playing a board game/cinema/playing football...?
Also, it might help to say very explicitly that your dp is not going to replace his dad, he will not see his dad less if you are together, you will not love him less if you get together, it is not being disloyal to his dad to like someone else, and you won't have another baby (if you won't, which does sound unlikely!). Also let him talk about being sad about not living with his dad if he wants.

ninah Mon 03-Aug-09 14:00:54

Yes I reassure him about his dad, I know this is a concern of his. He is afraid also that I will turn all my affections to nm and stop loving him. I have told him and try to show him I will not. Nm takes him out with his boys from time to time and they do boy stuff like airshows, trains which everyone seems to enjoy. Then ds will turn around and be appalling, almost as a way of putting back a barrier. He is hard to like at these times, and I am at the end of my tether.
I think he still hopes his dad and I will get back together, which is no more going to happen than the baby thing but in his mind nm is a barrier to this as well.
I am really hoping this week to ourselves and then ds having a week with his dad might help turn things around. In the meantime nm and I have to decide where it is all going and whether it is worth it.

msled Mon 03-Aug-09 18:57:22

I wouldn't give up your man if you love him and think he is a genuinely good person. I don't think it would be good for your son to feel he has that much power over you - too much responsibility. It will only raise his hopes that you and his dad will get back together and also, in later life he might feel guilty, especially if you don't find anyone else.

msled Mon 03-Aug-09 19:00:25

And keep repeating, 'I love you and will never ever love you less than I do now' 'X is not a replacement for your dad. Your dad will always be your dad' 'I promise I won't stop you seeing your dad. You can see him just as much as you do now' etc etc
I'm sure he is struggling with his feelings and he is still very young.

ninah Mon 03-Aug-09 19:15:33

thanks msled
hadn't thought of it that way, just feel awful that ds is going through this, is something I can't imagine and yes, he is so young. I just want to make him feel better and take the pain away even if it means letting dp go. I can't give him a family life with his dad and yet I can't help feeling guilty we let him down like this.
At the same time I am at the end of my tether with the bad behaviour so being as loving as I mean to be is a constant challenge.
Yes, dp is a good man and I love him very much, it is something I had not expected to happen and has gone way beyond the causual friendship I intended - I was a content single - at the same time I think we both have our secret doubts about the future. It seems all I am bringing to the relationship now are problems.
I will repeat these words to ds, but he really is v unhappy and he doesn't seem to hear them.

msled Mon 03-Aug-09 19:18:15

It's not your fault that his dad was cruel and abusive. You didn't let your son down. In fact youdid the right thing for your son when you split up (as well as for you). I think you do need to discipline bad behaviour as well as being loving. Bad behaviour is still bad behaviour even if he is unhappy.

msled Mon 03-Aug-09 19:19:57

I don't think you need to rush into living together. Enjoy your holiday, and stop feeling guilty!

ninah Mon 03-Aug-09 19:30:07

Thanks!
and I know there is no rush, but I am an all or nothing kind of person and find this kind of relationship is making me v edgy.
I will enjoy the holiday I'm sure I usually have a good time with him smile

msled Tue 04-Aug-09 09:21:25

Maybe your need to be 'all or nothing' is a big part of the problem? Why does it have to be 'all or nothing'? Isn't that cutting off your nose to spite your face? Why can't you enjoy what you have and take it slowly? What do you think would happen if you did that?

ninah Tue 04-Aug-09 09:42:36

I think I would end up spending another few years I haven't got in a dead end relationship and putting my dc and his through this stage needlessly. I would be more comfortable to drop back into a casual relationship seeing him less frequently with no expectations.

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