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Am I Really Being Unreasonable?

(73 Posts)
SadSam Tue 28-Jun-05 07:50:41

Im sorry, but after yet another argument with DP last night I felt that I had to ask your opinion on whether I am being unreasonable as my DP seems to think.

We have had a horrible time recently with BM, Solicitors etc. We have just had eldest ss stay with us for a week and one of my grouses is that I dont even get asked if he can stay with us. I just get told by DP that he is coming to stay and I have no say in the matter. If I have anything planned then I have to cancel it! On top of this we have been told by BM that we have to have ss and sd for 2 weeks during the summer holidays and take them away for at least 1 week. We also have been told we have to have the children from Boxing Day to January 3rd!

My issues is that as some of you may be aware, my DPs children and parents live nearly 200 miles away and my only family (parents) live over 160 miles away in the opposite direction. When we had his eldest son I had already arranged for us to visit my parents for the weekend, but had to cancel it as we couldn't possibly cancel his son.

The same again for Christmas, when am I supposed to visit my parents at Christmas? I am working Christmas Eve so all I have is Christmas day before the kids come and it is expected that if I want to see my family that I drive 160 miles on Christmas Eve evening just to come back Christmas Day evening! Again, it is just assumed that I will accept Christmas as I have for the last 3 years, I dont get asked it is just expected of me! I know that a father should be with his children at Christmas, but I have even suggested that he has the kids and I see my family this year, but he starts whinging that he wants me to be with him and the kids.

We already have the children once a month and although we would love to have them more, it is just not possible with the travelling, petrol costs etc. We are having them for 2 weeks in the summer holidays aswell and this means that we have no holiday left for me and DP to have a holiday on our own! Dp says that we will still be spending time together albeit with the kids and that's all that matters, but he doesn't seem to understand that when they are not your kids and you receive no respect from them its not that easy or enjoyable!

Please please somebody tell me am I being unreasonable? All I want is occasionally to be asked rather than told what I am doing! I have over the last 2 years cancelled visits to my parents 5 times all for his children. I have never asked him to cancel his plans for my family and to be honest he never would even if I did! If he says we are having the children and I say but you know we are going to see my parents, then it is just expected that I have to cancel my arrangements as he cant let his kids down!

Sorry to ramble on, but please help!

Nightynight Tue 28-Jun-05 08:12:55

Hi Sam, Im a stepmum, and also an ex, and er...I'm afraid in this situation I'd put up with it, actually I find it pretty normal. Sorry if that's not what you want to hear! I understand that its annoying at times.

Nightynight Tue 28-Jun-05 08:13:47

should read I was a stepmum to my ex's children. Still think of myself as their stepmum

colditz Tue 28-Jun-05 08:14:11

This doesn't seem to be about the kids so much as the power base in your relationship. he doesn't have the right to tell you what to do. I strongly suggest you tell him what you will be doing. You are entitled to see your family.

Tell him that him not letting you see your family is like someone not letting his kids see him at Christmas!

Freckle Tue 28-Jun-05 08:15:18

Sounds to me as though you need to have a more formal arrangement wrt visits. None of this "you are having them when I say" from the BM. If you plan the visits for a year in advance, you are less likely to have clashes with any other plans.

Having said that, I don't think you are being unreasonable at all. Everybody's needs should be considered, not just the children's.

Frizbe Tue 28-Jun-05 08:19:11

Sadsam, we have a similar arrangement, one year we have ss from school break up until boxing day am, when we take him back to his mum n her partner, the next year, we pick him up boxing day until school starts. We have to fit this around our various parental visits of our own, could your parents not come up to stay with you? this is how we've gotten around it with my parents, they now treat ss as their own grandchild (and as we now have children of our own also they get to see their actual grandkids too!)

Squirrel3 Tue 28-Jun-05 08:47:52

Sam, could you do both at Christmas? Maybe your parents could come to you and get to know their step grandchildren a bit better or maybe you could all go to them. I know that there maybe a problem with finding the room for all of you but it might be worth 'squeezing in'.

It would be nice if your parents could look on them as part of the family, I know that my children don't even get a mention from dp's parents, its like they don't exist but I am expected to include the step children in everything, it would be nice if my children were made to feel like part of the family.

I know how you feel about the 2 weeks holiday, its the same here and as dp is self-employed if he doesn't work he doesn't get paid so we have to find money for the holiday and the money for the two weeks that he doesn't get paid. All that and we don't get to spend any time together on our own, but this year I have insisted that we buy a smaller tent for us so that when the children go home the following weekend we can go away on our own, not much I know but at least we will be on our own and of course, the tent is there for other weekends away without the kids.

ninah Tue 28-Jun-05 09:03:07

I agree it's v annoying to be told rather than asked. Personally I don't mind compromising but I'm a lot more willing to give if I'm treated with respect. The way things are I end up seeing my family more on my own than not, the logistics are impossible otherwise. How would your dp feel if you told him you'd planned XY and Z ... and went ahead and did it?.

Monkeysmom Tue 28-Jun-05 09:08:35

SadSam, I don’t think you are being unreasonable at all. It is very hurtful not to be able to have a say. It sounds like you are in a very difficult situation.
You should stick to your position regarding Christmas. You need to see your parents just as much as stepchildren need to see theirs. For our parents, we will always be children regardless of how old we are and I think it is not fair to deprive your parents of seeing you at Christmas .

emily05 Tue 28-Jun-05 09:13:22

The problem seems to be mainly with your dp. It is his responsibility to make sure that he is a good dad, but also a good partner to you.

I think that he should see his children as much as possible, especially over christmas. At the same time he shouldn't expect you to drop everything at a moments notice. It is all give and take really. I would have a word with him about it. If the times that the bm comes up with are not good then he needs to renegotiate with her and come up with a compromise that is best for the children.
good luck

Squirrel3 Tue 28-Jun-05 09:14:58

And yes, your dp should consult you more, having the step children should 'fit in' with all of you not just BM and your dp.

Actually I'm really looking forward to the holiday with the step children, we seem to get on better and bond more as a family when we are on holiday (and the added bounus is that they are not wrecking my home and we all pull together as far as cleaning up goes, at home its usually me that does all of that).

I remember the first time we were arranging to go on holiday together, the thought filled me with dread, 24/7 for 2weeks, I really didn't think I was going to cope. I nearly cancelled several times and nearly told dp to go on his own with them. I must admit the only reason I did go in the end was that my friend told me that every single woman in the camp site would make a B-line for my dp, and I couldn't have that could I? So I went, and we had a great time. I guess what I'm trying to say is go on holiday and have a great time and try to spend the following weekend together.

emily05 Tue 28-Jun-05 09:16:21

by the way - if you arrange to go to your parents and you dp has to have the children, could they just not fit into your arrangements and come with you?

edam Tue 28-Jun-05 09:32:41

Agree with Colditz, the problem is your partner who arranges your life without consulting you -possibly just goes along with his ex, I don't know. But he needs to show you more respect and at least say 'I know this is short notice but ...'.

Do you know if actually it's your partner's ex who tells him when he's having the kids at short notice, or is that just what he tells you? I mean maybe she orders him, but maybe he has a conversation with her and jumps at the opportunity to see his kids without thinking about consulting you - but doesn't explain this to you? Gives him a great excuse for bouncing decisions on you, if that's the case 'oh, it's ex, she's insisting it's then and I won't see the kids if I don't go along with her.'

I may be wrong about this, of course, but it's possible. If the problem is him, then you need to have a serious conversation. If he's just jumping at what she suggests, he needs to respect you by discussing with her that of course he'd love to have the kids, but actually you've already arranged to go to your parents and could he have them the following week o something. Even if she is telling him when he can have the kids, he should at least try to negotiate. If he tries this, and it doesn't work, and he's afraid he won't see his kids at all if he argues with ex, then I'm afraid you are stuck. But could maybe insist that either you take step-kids with you to your parents, or actually he'll have to have them on his own because you can't let your parents down again. Does he want you around because he doesn't want the responsibility of looking after his kids on his own, or because he really wants you to be part of a family group with him and his kids? Does he know how much this gets to you? He's got to work with you to attempt to find a solution; if there is no solution then at least he's tried on your behalf and shown some respect for you.

It must be very frustrating to come second in this way - to deal with the fact that he puts his kids first sometimes. But I'm afraid I think that's the reality of being a step-mum. Cold comfort, I know. But if you had children together, and God forbid, you split up, you'd want him to put your kids first over any future partner, wouldn't you?

PS I'm not a stepmother but I was a step-daughter and I am a mother so my point of view comes from that direction.

anorak Tue 28-Jun-05 09:36:09

I'd like to point out that I've had terrible holidays with my own children - where they've been difficult and we haven't been getting along. It's not a problem confined to step-families. But you certainly ought to be able to see your parents, and you and your dh need to get some quality time alone together too. Sounds like your time is just too overcrowded to fit everything in, and that isn't really anyone's fault.

Easy Tue 28-Jun-05 09:40:21

As a step-parent myself, I do have every sympathy with you, I have felt like this all the 12 years we have been together.

I don't know why, but the ex-wife always seems to hold all the power in this type of relationship. It may be that the father feels guilty, or that he's afraid that if he puts his foot down she'll get more difficult about him seeing the children. I remember accusing my dh of being scared of his ex, and treating me badly as a result.

You need to get to the bottom of this with dh. Tell him, in no uncertain terms how you feel. Then try to hold the whip hand.

When you make arrangements to go to your parents, MAKE him inform his ex that you will not be able to see the kids at that time, before she asks. In other words, get your arrangements in first. Better still, do you have any dealings at all with the ex? If so, you inform her (tell him you have done so, I'm not suggesting you go behind his back), and make it clear that you cannot change the arrangement you have made.

As soon as this Christmas is over, make your arrangements with her for next year. That way it isn't a surprise to her.

She may well kick up a fuss the first few times you don't just fall in with her plans, but you and DH have to lay down the rules hard, and for that you have to have his co-operation.
Tell him, he's chosen to be with you, you have chosen to be with him, and you deserve as much consideration as his children get. If necessary stamp your feet and scream "It's not fair" until he listens.
Then set out a plan With him for the next 2 or 3 months as to when you don't want to have the kids. Make him let the ex know that certain weekends will NOT be available. If she doesn't fit in, and he misses a visit, then let it happen (can he chat to them on the phone between times?).
My guess is she'll miss her weekends off, and once she realises you mean business, she'll fall into line a bit more.

Finally you do have to come to terms with the fact that the kids will ALWAYS come first, and don't fall into the trap of being as difficult as the ex is, just to make your point (I nearly did that a few years ago, just makes you look petty).

Good luck

SadSam Tue 28-Jun-05 09:56:44

Thank you all so much for your advice.

I am in a very tricky situation whereby unfortunately I dont have the easiest mum in the world. I love her to bits and I am everything to her, but she is very overprotective too. She likes my DP but she has always been very disappointed in the fact that I got with a guy with kids and have been saddled with his "baggage" as she puts it. She has seen my / our money dwindle away, my life become controlled by his siutation and she just wants the best for me and for me to be happy. In the 3 years DP and I have been together she has never met the kids and has never shown any interest in getting to know them. They are not the best behaved children and a lot of what DP and I argue about is the fact that he wont discipline them when we have them and lets them get away with murder including sticking middle fingers up at people, swearing and generally being little sods! He wont discipline them as he feels "guilty" for not being there with them and refuses to tell them off incase they dont want to come and stay again. My mum is very much like me and cant tolerate insolence! She will speak her mind (as I sometimes do) and I can forsee problems!! I was with my ex partner for 14 years and although she has nothing to do with him now, I think she always thought we would marry and have kids of our own one day. She also knows that the situation with his kids and BM is stopping us from having a child of her own and she hates the fact that my life is being controlled.

On top of that she is a very heavy smoker and a selfish one at that which is the main thing we argue about. She smokes in her house, my house, anyones house and to be honest, being a non smoker I do not want the children being in that environment. I know that makes my mum sound really horrible, and trust me she isnt, she is very kind and loving and one of my best friends. She's just very set in her ways and a bit accentric! On top of that, I am their only family and my parents moved away 2 and a half years ago and I was going with them as I didnt have much to stay here for having not long split from a long term relationship. When I met DP, I fell so deeply in love so quickly that I knew I could not possibly leave this man. I think my mum is still a bit upset that he prevented me (albeit not intentionally) from moving with them.

Frizbe, I would be happy to take it in turns over Christmas, however BM will not let DP have the children before Boxing Day. He is not allowed to have them at all on Christmas Day unless he sleeps at her house with them!!!!! And that aint gonna happen! Squirrel with regards to the space, we have a tiny 3 bedroomed house, we have one bedroom, we have a small guestroom for the eldest boy and the tiny box room which you cant swing a cat in for the 2 youngest kids (on bunk beds). My parents (and their dog) wouldnt be able to stay unless they slept on the sofa and as they are in their 60s I couldnt expect that.

Ninah I agree, I would give more if there was a bit of give and take. I give and give and give and never get anything back in return. All I would like is for once in a while to be asked if I mind if eldest son stays etc. I mean it is normally at least a week if not 2/3 weeks at a time that he stays for. He is 16, left school and has not bothered getting a job!

I guess I have made myself sound like a real bitch of a stepmum again but Im not really, Im a nice person but Im just struggling after 3 years to deal with my life that has been totally taken over by my DP and his family requirements.

Squirrel3 Tue 28-Jun-05 09:57:18

I agree with Easy, get your arrangements in first! I learned that very early on, BM was always dictating when we had the children and lets face it sometimes it is just not 'workable' when you have other things planned. I know that the BM that you are talking about Sam is...well... lets say not the most reasonable person that God created, but your dp does need to stand up to her and try to make an arrangement that will suit all of you.

Have you been to court yet regarding access arrangements? I know that has been on the cards for you and your dp. Failing amicable arrangements you may need a more formal arrangement that even the BM can't mess about with to much, then at least you will all know where you stand.

Squirrel3 Tue 28-Jun-05 10:02:16

Posts crossed Sam, you are not a bitch, we all feel like 'the wicked stepmum' occasionally. You are just struggling with a very hard situation.

SadSam Tue 28-Jun-05 10:03:26

Thank you Easy, Anorak and Edam. Just thought I would add that as of the last few months we do not have any communication at all with BM she has decided to do everything through a Solicitor. We are now writing letters every other week via a solicitors (costing us a bloody fortune, but costing her nothing as shes on legal aid) just to arrange visits, phonecalls etc. We have tried arranging visiting dates from now until next year, but she takes so long to decide and then at the last minute we get a letter from the solicitor saying that the dates arent good enough and dictating everything she wants. Everthing is so hard work, writing to solicitor, waiting for a reply, getting a reply, writing again to agree/disagree etc. Its totally ongoing! We have insisted on no more contact from BM (unless a dire medical emergency regarding the kids) as she is totally incapable of being civil when she phones, is invariably drunk, shouts abuse down the phone, wont put the phone down etc. Sorry to go on so much but I am really struggling to deal with this at the moment!

Squirrel3 Tue 28-Jun-05 10:11:23

Ssm I feel I must also say, go ahead and have a baby, if you and your dp want a baby why let the b**ch of a BM stop you? Its your and your dp's decision wether to have a child not hers.

She can not legally stop your dp from seeing his kids because you have a child. He is their father and he child would be their sibling, no court would allow her to stop your dp from seeing them!!

Please don't let her rule your life so much, I've said it before, you will make a great Mum so just do it!

I hope this hasn't upset you but I do feel strongly that if you want a child you should be able to.

Squirrel3 Tue 28-Jun-05 10:12:45

Oh Sam {hug}

SadSam Tue 28-Jun-05 10:15:25

Thank you Squirrel, but at the moment I cant even envisage having a child with DP when I am feeling so unhappy! It wouldnt be a very good environment to bring a child up in.

If I am absolutely honest, for the first time in 3 years I cannot see DP and I spending the rest of our lives together and I long for an uncompliated life. All I ever wanted was to find the man of my dreams, get married, have kids and live happily ever after. I never realised it would be so hard! Is one out of 3 good enough?

SadSam Tue 28-Jun-05 10:17:52

Im reading my messages and cringing. I really sound so selfish! It sounds crap when you put it in typing!

Twiglett Tue 28-Jun-05 10:19:28

don't have step-kids so can't comment on that

but do you think you might be able to come to a compromise

eg .. you all go up to your parents for Christmas, then DP goes back home in time to spend some quality time with his kids from boxing day and you meander (train / drive) back when you are ready? .. after all you don't always have to be together do you and it sounds like you could do with the break

Squirrel3 Tue 28-Jun-05 10:21:45

That BM has got so much to answer for, grrrrr if I knew who she was I'd give her a piece of my mind gggrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!

I would love to be able to sit down and talk things through with her to ty to find out how her mind is working, am I right in remembering that the older stepson is from a previous relatioship to her? If so she must have been a step parent herself so surely she knows how hard it is... grrrrr

I really hope that you can sort this out, you deserve sooooo much better.

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