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I usually post on a step parenting board for issues with our soon to be blended family issues, but I wanted some outside opinions as well.
There is a TON to our story and I dont want to get into each and every detail, but I will try to be specific as possible.
My fiance was married for 16 years, been divorced for the past 5 years. He had a "rebound' after the divorce and they lived together for 2 years. We have been together for almost 2 years (will be in March) , engaged since last March and bought a house in June. (too good of a deal to pass up at the time). He has 4 kids; a son who is 19 and 3 daughters 20,17,13.
I have a son who is 7. Before my fiance, I was with my son's dad for 6 years and it was a horrible relationship; he lied, cheated, drank too much, etc. I was single for a year before I met my fiance.
When we first started dating things were good with the kids. I never pushed a relationship btwn my son and fiance. He has a dad and I didnt want my fiance to feel like I was trying to push him into anything. He is older and hadn't really been around small children for awhile and wasn't used to parenting a small child. Once we moved in together, he has become more active and closer with my son, but 90% of the parenting falls on me, which I am okay with.
My son can be challenging at times and I tend to baby him as he is my only child. I really listen to advice from my fiance when it comes to rules, etc with my son and take what he says into consideration. Usually what he says is right. Its just been issues with routines, earlier bedtime, less junk food, etc. Stuff that as a busy single mother, I developed bad habits and just havent thought about changing them until it was brought to my attention.
Our main issue and 80% of what we fight about is his kids. His son is okay. After the divorce his son has always lived with him and then us when we lived together, before graduating highschool and decieding to move in with his GF. It's his daughters. Now most people like to think of StepMoms as jealous, evil people who dont want the dad to have anything to do with his "first family" etc. I am not like that. I am a step daughter myself and love my step parents.
I envisioned this perfect blended family and that we would all do stuff together and it would be perfect, which it was until we got engaged. As time went on, I noticed that the kids only came over whenever they wanted. So there was no set schedule. So it felt like every weekend, I was just waiting to make plans or determine if we were going to have extra kids over. Usually they end up coming over if #1- they want money from my fiance or want him to buy them something or #2- things are getting stressful at their mom's and they want to get away from her and the other siblings. I feel that they try to mainuplate their dad against their mom and vice versa. Because I am an "outsider" I am able to see these things and because these are not my kids, I dont look at their behavior too kindly.There is a lot more, but that is the jist.
I have real issues that I feel that they use their dad. I am also tired of him shelling out money (on top of child support) to indulge these kids whenever they feel like it. I think it only encourages their bad behavior. I am all for meeting their basic needs outside of child support, but when they call just for a new pair of jeans and then he doesn't hear from them until they need a new sweater, that makes me see these kids as very spoiled and bratty. They will go weeks, months without calling their dad, but as soon as they want to come over, it's expected for us to just open up our home and drop whatever we are doing to accomodate them.
When they do come over; it is very stressful. I think one of my main issues, is that I have a hard time opening up my home and thinking of them as not just guests in the home, because they dont come around that often. So I just look at them as guests.
When they come over, I have to lock up most of my stuff because the middle daughter steals from me. I feel like I have to cook because even though they are old enough, if I let them cook for themselves, they will eat up all the food. Which really they do anyways, even when I cook. They whine, complain, the whole time they are at the house.
Then they leave our house and go back and complain to their mother about everything. Rules they didnt like, they didnt think I was nice enough, Dad didnt pay them enough attention. So then we have his ex wife sending nasty text msgs and phone calls.
I am always cordial to the kids when they are here. I used to be a lot nice and a lot more open to them; but it got exhausting never knowing if they liked me this week or not. And I finally got fed up of having to defend myself against teenagers who dont live in my house; I make the rules, not them.
Prior to their dad and I living together, they could come to their dad's whenever they wanted and just stay there, it was a 2nd home to them. However, now that we live together I am not okay with that. Mainly because of the stealing issues, but I work from home at times, and I dont need extra kids just laying around; especially if my fiance is at work or out with his friends.I am very adamant that if they are here for visitation, that their dad needs to be at the house. And honestly my fiance doesn't want them at the house alone either because on top of the stealing issues, they look through our stuff and may invite friends over while we are at work. However, I think they see "losing" their 2nd home as a main issue and hate me for it. I understand but at the same time, I am going to do what I feel is comfortable for me in my own home.
So all around I just feel like these are "bad' kids. Of course my fiance is used to their behavior. He tends to just ignore it, knowing that they are going to stop texting and asking for money if he doesnt respond or if they are over at the house causing trouble, they will be going home soon and he wont have to deal with them for a few more weeks.
I am having a hard time understanding though why he lets the behavior slide. And I am starting to get resentful about it. I let him help me parent my son, yet he ignores anything I say about his kids. I know it's partly gulity divorced dad syndrome, but he has been divorced long enough and I am not the first woman he has lived with since the divorce, so in my mind him and the kids should grasp the concept of the blended family a little better.
I am really having a hard time getting over all the stuff that his kids do. I feel that I have ben hurt and betrayed by them. We once had a good relationship and now I feel like no matter what I do, I am the evil step mom. I feel that the sisters and ex wife all bond over the common enemy (me) and they fed the fire and keep things going. My fiance tells me to get over the stuff they do and to move on, but I am having such a hard time with it.
I don't really have any advice, but having parented and foster-parented multiple teens, I would say that (aside from the stealing), their behavior is fairly typical teenage behavior. They are very self-centered and don't seem to naturally make the connection that their actions might effect others. (For example, the part about you planning your weekend, or having to get work done from home--forget about it. That's just completely off a teenager's radar.)
So, I know everyone is probably telling you all the time not to take it personally, but it's really about 90% not about you at all, I'm guessing. It's about spoiled teenagers being spoiled teenagers.
As queston mentioned, there are some common behaviors teenagers possess, and 90% of it is not created by you regardless of the blended family situation. Although, just because someone else can do this or that, or get away with this or that, doesn't mean it's OK, or put limits on the parents from parenting their child.
It doesn't sound as though your fiance is being very supportive or looking at the issues for the long term in raising healthy, well-adjusted adults. And as you mentioned - with a healthy marital blended family in mind. Have you addressed these to him in such a manner, like 'What are you teaching them?' or 'Are these the virtues you want them to have as adults?'? Whether either of you wish to admit it, your fiance did have expectations of you on how you parented your son, and still does I'm sure. How would things be between the two of you, and for your son and other children, if you thought nothing of your sons behavior so anything your fiance mentioned went in one ear and out the other? I'll bet that even before you became engaged it would've impacted your relationship and turned your fiance off from the relationship and he would be feeling as you do now. Regardless that you may be enforcing or parenting your son and not your fiance. I'm sure your son still has a level of respect for your fiance, just because and also as your fiance and an 'adult of the house'.
In short, you need to set some healthy boundaries and ground rules/house rules. These do not 'Only' apply to first families or biological families. Blended families undoubtedly encounter more strife in doing so, that is why most all of the programs or counseling for blended families instill that the two 'Adults' need to live and enforce a united front to the children, this includes shows of affection for one another. Can't play this one against that one sort of thing, just like biological families.
It's known that the immature, insecure, not well-adjusted, uninformed or not accepting the divorce and as you mentioned spoiled bratty ones cause the most grief. This is where the evil/jealous step-mom(or dad) also comes from(keep in mind there are some bad ones out there). Also some biological parents cross the line when it comes to what is happening in the others home, relationship -- and put aside some of the exagerations children often have.
Suggestions from blended family counseling and programs: Talk with your fiance and tell him that things don't and aren't just about him or his schedule anymore, to which he should be discussing arrangements with you anyhow. It's disrespectful and unloving of him towards you. Make your plans, if the kids call about coming over weigh out if you can or 'want' to alter your plans Or if the kids can JOIN YOU(if they don't want to join you then their arrival is delayed or they wait till next time). It's the same way with your own kids right!?! Same if someone's sick or just really busy/stressed. You can't buy love or Respect in any type of relationship. Well, not one you would want in your relationship. Put aside $30-50(or whatever amt)/mo for necessities for them(13, 17yo's) if they come over or need something, Keep track of what you buy and when you buy to help justify the expense. If it is not used that month it goes into a savings for a family vacation, college, 1st car, school supplies, or for you and your fiance. Don't know where you live or how you handle the monies, community property states what's his is yours and visa versa. You have a say in it. Plus, they are old enough to have jobs, even if they can't find a job look at what they'll be learning and growing up in filling out applications and doing the leg work. They need to have expectations or say chores while they are there. It helps solidify to them and you that they 'are' Family Members. And this is what life's about, their future adulthood. Cont'd below;
Every hsehold has budgets and rules, live within your means-teach them. Plan your meals, you can cook or let them 'for' the family scheduled meal giving them the items for the meal preparation. For the extra snacks use the saved $'s, or not. Their visit was impromptu and unplanned so you could not prepare. Teach them the courtesy, responsibility and respect of privacy. Not to mention that some things like specifics about family budget, how much life insur or beneficiaries, etc... is too much for them and none of their business. Your work area, bedroom, private bath, sons room, hsehold bills, obligations, correspondence/invites area are off limits. Age appropriateness. It's the same as with your son mostly I'll bet. Not knowing your hsehold set up, you'll probably have to lock your work things up in a desk drawr(maybe you need a desk with locks), get a toiletry/vanity bag to take your things in & out of the communal bath during visits-it's up to you what you want to share with them, get a lock on your bedroom and office(if the office is a room, not out in the open), keep the hsehold bill-obligations and such in your desk. And basically, life is not a 'free for all', no pun intended-nothing in the home(unless it's theirs) nor is the home free for them to put in their pockets and take with them. Some things just can't be avoided so yes, you'll be put out alittle-hopefully this won't last long and they will mature. Your fiance can pitch in on some of these if he is unwilling to respect you and not parent You're not their biological mother, they know this and play on it, crossing boundaries and being disrespectful. Your not their doormat and don't want to be treated like a bug. And your fiance shouldn't either or allow it. You and your fiance 'are' the 'Adults' in that home and they the children. It will always be that way no matter how old they are. When they get a place of their own they'll expect the same or similar 'respect' that you do/are. Stand your ground(s)(fiance included), let them whine, complain and have temper tantrums like 6 yo's. Do you give into your son's tantrums, whinning and complaining? What are you teaching him? You could say to them "I thought you were more mature than this' or "Given your age I'd think you would be more mature about this"or "My son(just use his name maybe) is ___yo, given your age,I thought you were more mature than this". When they return to their mothers and if she calls, texts or whatever due to the ground/house rules or respect, it can simply be explained by 'That is not how it is or didn't happen like that and this is not your house, it is ours. They are teenage girls exagerating. They need to move past this and mature. This conversation is over'. Don't please her by accepting more calls, texting back or whatever. It's in the childrens best interest(and your future together) that 'your' fiance get over it(guilt) and move on. He's doing them more of a disservice and harm(short & long term) how things are currently.
Take these suggestions with a grain of salt, adapt them more specifically to your needs. I know these suggestions may sound harsh, and under different circumstances they probably are. What does that say to you about your circumstances?
PS Long morning. Blending isn't always easy. Not lessening the bio-family struggles.
All the suggestions can be done and handled in a very loving way, even discretely where notice will be taken yet not thrown in faces. And whatever is done needs to be in the best of 'all' persons involved. It can be balanced out.
If your fiance isn't on board with your concerns or maybe not all, you can still assert your 'personal' bill of rights and set boundaries to protect yourself and your son. That would be called self respect without disrespecting him. Then let it go - leaving your fiance to clean up whatever type of mess is left behind, including putting the hsehold back in order for the everyday/week to week life you have when his children are not there(that's holding him accountable and it's not gender specific-2013 just around the corner) If that doesn't work for him then you can take the helm, why have someone at the helm/wheel if they don't know the course or how the steer. We can't control people, it's up to them, and if they don't respect you/us, why are you giving what you are not receiving.
You (and your son)can still carryout the scheduled plans that were made. You can still protect 'your' private information(let your fiance handle the rest and/or deal with the repercusions) and belongings including your space and place within the home. You may not be their bio-mother, you are an 'adult' in that home, caring for and providing that home for them, not just their dad doing it.
Set a good example for them. Lead by example. You're a woman, you know what a woman does and goes through in life and career. Teach them, even by hard knocks with your self respect, personal bill of rights, and sharing your experiences with them.
Have game nights or something keeping some fun in life that all the family 'will' participate in. Don't let them just sit around on their phones, in front of the TV, on the computer, etc.... , get them involved.
Well, with this, i can come at you with the step childs point of view.
First, i really dont think that how often his children come over should ever be an issue as long as he is there. I understand you dont want them stealing, but for the short period of time that they are over there, you might just want to look things up.
I no longer live in my dads house, i live with my husband and my little brother lives with us. My brother has had a very bad issue with stealing, but when my brother is at my dads house, things are in their room locked away.
If i EVER go denied going to my dads house because my step mother did not want me there, i would freak. I am my fathers daughter and I enjoy spending time with him.
But then again, I am not always asking him for money/stealing.
Honestly, I would try and talk your husband into to "caving in" and getting them everything that they wanted. Pretty soon, they would be going to the house to spend time with him, rather than get things from him.
That last part shoudl read "Honestly, I would try and talk your husband into to NOT "caving in" and NOT getting them everything that they wanted. Pretty soon, they would be going to the house to spend time with him, rather than get things from him."
I am a step child myself on both sides, so I do understand what it is like being a step child.
I would love for them to come over more to see thier dad and not just when they want something.
I have seen good in these kids, so I do hold out hope that in time things will get better. I def. plan on letting go of a lot of things and stop focusing on the negative little things. Normally that is out of character for me, I am normally very good about foregiveness and moving forward, so I dont know what it is about them that makes it so hard for me to move on from the stuff they do.
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