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This Exchange simulates the original Couples Coping Support Group. It is designed to help persons with concerns in their relationships, family, marriage, seperation, divorce, etc.Offering a wide range of real world, personal experiences, information, knowledge, suggestions, & views from real people.
The kids are causing problems
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kristinmarie722 posted:
I have been with my SO for almost 7 months. We are perfectly suited for each other in every way. We would like to live together and get married.

Our only problems would be the kids.

I have a 6 year old son. Initially my SO had issues with the way my son behaved. I agreed to an extent that my son was a little out of control. I believe a lot of it, just dealing with having a new man around the house, etc. I feel that I have worked with my son and he has greatly improved. Him and my SO do have a good relationship. My only complaint with my SO and my son would be that I think my SO forgets sometimes that my son is only 6 years old. So when he is throwing a tantrum, etc. he has to remember that he is 6. But for the most part, things are harmonious.

Now my ex was married for 16 years (been divorced 4) and has 4 kids- 19,18,15,12. His oldest is in college out of state. No real issues there. I dont really know her that well and my only "complaint" is before she left the state, she would only call her dad for money. Annoying yes, but typical. The 18 yr,is his son and lives with him. He is a typical teenage boy. He has a lot of freedom to do stuff, but he is a good kid for the most part. Always polite to me, helps around the house. He is pretty self suffcient. He is a Sr in HS and has signed up for the Marines after graduation.
My main issue is with my SO's 2 youngest kids who live with their mom.
The 15 yr old helps around the house, is polite and sweet and we great along great but she is headed down the wrong path. Since I have been with my SO, she has been caught for shoplifting, sneaking out, stealing her mom's car, caught sneaking off with boys, 2 times. My problem is that my SO doesnt really address this as an issue. I do want to say that he grew up in a VERY hard life. He was doing things and seeing things a teenager, that is not normal. So I think he is a little jaded towards what is normal and what is not. However, I feel that he doesnt really address the issues. He has said "Well we have talked to her and she still does stuff. We have taken things away, doesn't matter. She is going to do what she wants."
The 12 yr old, is just a spoiled brat. That is the nice way to put it. She wants what she wants and when she wants it. She has no problem complaining about stuff we give her. She has no problem having an attitude when she doesnt get her way.

I feel that my SO spoils these kids and babies them way too much. I feel very resentful towards the behavior and I am getting to the point where I don't even want to be around them. I hate the fact that he does not set boundaries.

Moving forward, I cant imagine living my every day life like this. It's constant choas. If they dont like what their mom has told them to do, they call their dad and whine and complain. If they don't want to come to their dad's on their scheduled weekend, they dont come, but if the following weekend they want to come, he allows them, even if it messes with our set plans.

I need peace and harmony in my day to day life. I can understand typical teenager behavior, etc. But I think because at times it is 4 kids and all of their wants, etc. it becomes overwhelming for me.

Cont'd below.
Reply
 
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kristinmarie722 responded:
Cont'd from above.......

I had a hard time figuring out what the problem was for so long. But while I do think it's the kids, I think a lot of it is my SO's reaction or the way he handles them.

I would get really defensive when he would "critque" me about my son. So I dont want to do that to him. I apperciated his input into my son's behavior and really it helped me realize a lot of things.

But it does frustrate me, when he has a "problem" with my son's typical 6 yr old behavior, and he doesnt recognize his own kid's fault. And I dont want it to be, well your kid does this and that, etc. But sometimes I feel that way. Like who are you to say anything about my son when your kids are running around acting like brats too?

I have made it clear to him that until he makes some changes we can not move forward. And I would expect the same, if he felt that my son's behavior was something he couldnt live with on a day to day basis.

I hope I did a good job explaining the problem. There is just a lot to the whole situation.

I need help in dealing with all of this. I dont want to lose him, but I dont want to have to deal with out of control kids my whole life either. And I will say, it's the attitude and lack of respect, expectation of having everything they want, that bothers me the most. The babying of the girls.

Thanks for any input!
 
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queston responded:
I'm sorry to have to report that what you have described for the 12 and 15 yo girls sounds like pretty typical teenage behavior. This is not to disagree that the 15 yo isn't headed down a bad path--I agree that she is. But she has a lot of company on that path. And your description of the 12 yo describes just about every teenage girl I know pretty well, including my two 17 yos. Pretty much all teenagers will attempt to triangulate their parents (whether they are divorced or not.)

"Moving forward, I cant imagine living my every day life like this. It's constant chaos"


Yes--that is an excellent description of life with teenagers. Parenting does get less manually intensive as kids get older and more independent, but it sure as hell doesn't get easier.


The only thing I can say is that if you go forward with this, know what you are getting into. You will never overcome that feeling of chaos as long as you have teens in your household. There will be moments of temporary reprieve, and you need to learn to savor them, because they are few and far between and don't last nearly long enough.
 
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kristinmarie722 replied to queston's response:
I guess for me, what makes it so hard, is that there are 4 kids with different wants, needs,complaints, etc that I have to deal with and that is hard for me. It's like someone always needs something.

And with the 15 yr old, yes what she is doing is somewhat typical. To be honest, I was doing a lot of the same stuff at her age, I just wasnt getting caught. My main issue though, is that my SO isnt really adressing these issues with her. And it's something that needs to be discussed. He cant allow her to continue these behaviors because it's only going to mess up her life. Instead it's like it's easier for him to not deal with it or push it aside.

And to me, I know teenagers can be snotty, but to me have some respect for your parents. I even knew that as I kid. I never would of talked to my mom they way they talk to their dad at times. I apperciated each and every thing that my mom and dad did for me. I was grateful. These kids just seem to expect everything and give nothing in return.

I guess it comes down to, what I can and can not handle.

 
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alaska_mommy replied to kristinmarie722's response:
"I appreciated each and every thing my mom and dad did for me. I was grateful."
Can I say that is definitely not typical for a teenager? I feel like I was a pretty good kid myself, but I know I pretty much just expected food, clothing, fun, etc. I never thought about the pains Mom or Dad went through to get it for me. Not until closer to early 20's.
 
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queston replied to alaska_mommy's response:
Also, I would add that there is often a huge disconnect between what teenagers think is rude/ungrateful/etc behavior and what an adult would think.

This was my first thought at the sentence you quoted: Yeah, maybe she thinks that, but I wonder of her parents would have a different story. I was by and large a pretty good kid as a teenager--I didn't cause my parents any major grief (didn't get arrested, get anyone pregnant, etc). I was probably mature for my age as a HS kid in some ways. But looking back, I can see now that I was tremendously self-absorbed and had a huge sense of entitlement with respect to my parents, like pretty-much all teenagers. I guess I appreciated the things they did for me, but I'm not sure I ever really expressed it to them.

I'm stunned sometimes at a pattern that repeats itself over and over: one of our teens will be incredibly rude and demanding and self-centered, and then when a parent eventually becomes annoyed, they'll say something like "you don't have to be so rude about it." ARRRGGGHHH! They can be so self-absorbed that they don't even see how rude they are to others.

And we were all probably the same way as teens.
 
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kristinmarie722 replied to queston's response:
I guess to me, it's okay to act that way to your parents, but what about other adults? Should I just accept it because that is how teenagers act? I am asking in all seriousness.
I have to expect my son to accept my SO and behave better and adjust some of his behaviors to suite everyone's needs and make things more enjoyable for all of us.
Am I wrong to expect the same thing for his kids?

And to me, it's not typical stuff. Yelling up the stairs to her dad "I AM READY TO GO HOME NOW! WHAT IS TAKING YOU SO LONG!" while he was upstairs getting his keys to take her home.
 
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FCL replied to queston's response:
Oh wow, queston... You paint a bleak picture. Never mind, at least I read it in time. Mine just turned 9 last week. That should leave me just about enough time before they hit their teens to divorce and ensure that their father gets custody ...
There's nothing inherently dirty about sex, but if you try real hard and use your imagination you can overcome that.
 
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kristinmarie722 replied to kristinmarie722's response:
I do want to follow up and say. I try to understand that they are teenagers. And we do have a lot of enjoyable time together. And I care about the kids.
It's my SO's response to thier behavior. He blows it all off. He truly babies thems and spoils them.
I guess my issue is, what is the best way to approach it and work on it so we can come to an agreement and continue to move forward?
This is the man I want to marry and spend the rest of my life with. But the way he is with the kids, makes me really question it. And maybe I am just not suited to be a step parent. But I want to at least try.
 
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ImMe26 replied to kristinmarie722's response:
Sounds like mis-matched parenting styles.

I will say it sounds like beef is with him and he needs to be an adult, parent, role model for his children.

I dont see any way this can continue unless he steps up.....sorry your going thru this.
Don't put off tomorrow, what you can accomplish today!! Procrastination is a KILLER!!--ME(26)SO(28)DD1(10yr)DD2(8yr)DS(2yr)SO's-DD(8yr)DS1(6yrs)DD(5yr)LUV THEM ALL ALWAYS WANTED A HUGE FAMILY
 
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stephs_3_kidz replied to queston's response:
I don't think it's that she doesn't understand that teenagers will pull stupid stunts from time to time, and be disrespectful, and can be ungrateful..but her SO is just letting everything slide and not really even attempting to discipline them for any of their negative behavior.

That'd be a real problem with me. I'd have to at least know he was TRYING to curb the behavior. If he was, I'd give him credit for that. But he isn't. That's why they keep getting worse and worse and pushing their boundaries as far as they possibly can.
 
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queston replied to kristinmarie722's response:
Well, you don't have to accept it, but you need to know that it is very typical teenage stuff, and your attempts to correct it will be largely unsuccessful. (That doesn't mean there isn't value in trying, but be prepared for failure.)

Any day in which "I AM READY TO GO HOME NOW! WHAT IS TAKING YOU SO LONG!" is the rudest thing said to me my one of my teenage daughters would be a victory in my mind! Trust me, it can get *way* worse than that.


Also, you're not just some outsider (whom they would be somewhat less likely to be openly rude to, probably). You're their Dad's SO, which makes you more of a parental figure, more part of the inner circle, and more of a potential threat.
 
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ImMe26 replied to queston's response:
Are we serious here.....?

That to me isnt typical teenage stuff (its a typical excuse for parents to use when they have no control), and if my teenage daughter, said that to me , she wouldnt be going wherever the heck it is im searching for my keys for. That is unacceptable behaviour, It gets that way when parents/authority figures let them talk out of turn like that. If they lay no line that doesnt get crossed there will never be one, thats the parents fault completely. Seems as if his kids have been let to do what they please and act how THEY see fit and thats bad parenting JMHO. Im not saying that doing all that is a for-sure-way for your teens to act right, just that there is more potential for drama,issues,behaviour problems, when left to their own devices KWIM??
Don't put off tomorrow, what you can accomplish today!! Procrastination is a KILLER!!--ME(26)SO(28)DD1(10yr)DD2(8yr)DS(2yr)SO's-DD(8yr)DS1(6yrs)DD(5yr)LUV THEM ALL ALWAYS WANTED A HUGE FAMILY
 
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kristinmarie722 replied to ImMe26's response:
Thank you. That is exactly what I am thinking. Could not of said it better myself.

When I posted a couple months ago about my son and his behavior I was told by every poster to get him help, work on his behavior, no one wants to be around a bratty kid, etc. etc. (And I took all of that advice serious, worked on it and things are better)
Yet, because they are teenagers it's okay to steal cars, sneak out, steal, demand things from your parent, yell at them? etc, etc.
 
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queston replied to stephs_3_kidz's response:
I agree that it appears that he's not doing much from her perspective. I just think she should be very careful about assuming that she sees everything. Maybe, for example, he only discussed these things in private, so as to not make them feel humiliated in front of an "outsider." (This would, in fact, be a pretty reasonable approach for a parent in this situation, as teens are extremely sensitive about being rebuked in front of others, and the potential-step-parent relationship is an especially tricky one.)

I'm mostly just trying to address her question of what's normal. What she's describing all strikes me as extremely normal teenage behavior, annoying as it may be.

As far as discussing it with her SO, a few cautions...

1. Be sure to acknowledge that he may be doing some correcting when she's not present.

2. Be aware that everyone tends to be very defensive when their parenting is critiqued.

3. This is especially true for parents of teens when the person offering the critique has not parented teens.

I'm not saying Kristin shouldn't discuss this with him--just tread carefully, and be realistic about how teens behave.


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