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4yr old manipulation or attention? - New stepdad HELP!!!!
And_0 posted:
I have been seeing my girlfriend now for several months and we just clicked - we get on like a house on fire and fell deeply in love with each other and decided to bind our relationship tighter by moving in together. She's a childminder and looks after several children as well as having 2x girls of her own to a previous relationship (19months and 4 yrs old) and I have two girls who are 11 and 13 - who live with their Mum. (so I've been a dad before! )

Whilst I have parented my own children clearly.....becoming a step-dad to two young girls has presented some challenges. But I'm struggling....I'm really beginning to struggle with some of the things that are beginning to tear me and my girlfriend apart.

The words "no" and "stop" are words that the 2x young girls, don't like, don't want to hear, and neither does Mum or the girls grandparents. It's as if the kids have parents and grand parents wrapped around their little fingers.

If the 4 yr old wants something, she will shout from the next room, or even if Mum is outside, for Mum to come running to her for attention. The causes can be (the lid of a felt tip pen won't come off - or the wrong channel is on the TV). Yet each time the 4 yr old calls, Mum comes running (even if me and mum are in mid conversation)

I have tried explaining to the 4 yr old that its OK to come and find Mum and explain what's up - but I get that look of "who are you - telling me what to do expression". The new trick is to completely ignore me..... It's just as if I don't exist. When I point this out to Mum, I get a sheepish 4 yr old mumbling sorry - only for the very same to happen the day after. I sometimes feel utterly invisible.

However there seems one point where Mum and I cant agree on - and that's the 4 yr old coming into the bedroom.

3, 4, 5 times a night the bedroom door would open and it's the toilet, or I want a drink, or the bed covers are in the wrong place....anything, time after time after time....

I jokingly said to Mum - "right - I'm getting a door stopper - this can't continue"

The trouble is when I say "bed" I just get stared at....I can say it 5x times sometimes and it will have utterly no effect. I've tried saying it nicely - strongly and almost shouting (as I sleep the nearest side to the bed) but it has little effect.

Mum replied - no your not, they have always been able to come in my room and that's how it will be.

However - as things progress - so does the upset.

The other evening I was fast asleep, only to wake in complete shock and horror as the 4 year old had entered our bedroom and put her nose literally on mine to see if I was asleep - hoping that she might sneak past undetected. This morning she was crawling on her hands and knees to try and get past. It's almost as if if she can get past me and to Mum's side of the bed she knows Mum wont send her back to her bed.

Within our room we have a TV - and I'm not adverse to the girls coming in the room and spending sometime with Mum. However - when a 4 yr old tells me to "get out of the way of the TV" as she can't see when I'm getting dressed - I think to myself - who's in charge here?

There are other times I have had to take my clothes and get dressed in another room as being half naked and trying to get ready in front of the kids is what i would deem "inappropriate"

Unfortunately - All this has come to a head, and even when i have tried to explain to Mum my feelings and being ordered out of the way of the TV in my own room, I'm classed as being "too strict" or "barking orders" at her kids.

I dearly love my girlfriend, but her boundaries are virtually non existent.....and in the belief she doesn't spend enough time with her children, she lets them (in my opinion) rule the roost.

I just see everything the 4 yr old does now as a boundary push, every time......and the 19 month old is starting down the same track.

I feel "UN-heard", I'm viewed as being over critical and my feelings are not valid.

Has anyone been through the same?
iocasta responded:
Honestly, you and your partner need to have a heart-to-heart and set down some mutually agreeable parenting ground rules. If they aren't achievable, then you need to assess the situation for yourself as to whether you are willing to live this way for the long term. What you shouldn't do is threaten to leave to get the parenting ground rules that you want. As it will only create resentment, which is never a good thing to have in any relationship. Before going into this discussion, think about the things that you are willing to compromise on and the things that you are not. Good luck.
mrswhitecastle responded:
I am going to try to be tactful, and please remember that this advice is to help you understand the girls' perspective.

You have been dating your girlfriend for several months. How long is that -- 2 or 3? I am assuming (hoping) you didn't meet the girls right away, so they have known you maybe a month or two? You have already moved in with their mother and them. I can understand the girls not wanting a stranger living with them and telling them what to do. How many other man have they had come in and out of their lives? They may just see you as another one of those.

I think you need to tread lightly. Perhaps back off on the discipline and so forth until you have a better relationship with the kids.

At this point, if the mother wants to raise them a certain way, I don't think you have much say over that. A calm, honest conversation with your girlfriend is probably your best option.
Emily (7) Elizabeth (5)
And_0 replied to mrswhitecastle's response:
Thank you so much..... I've known the girls Mum for 10 months now and moved in a month or so ago. My understanding is that Mum has no introduced different men into their lives at all, but they do have a very very disruptive father whom Mum is divorcing. Discipline sounds a very harsh word - but what I'm looking for is a sense of - let me get dressed in a morning without you telling me to move out of the way of the TV, and in the first instance, if you want to watch TV, then there's one downstairs etc......

Mum's ground rules are almost none existent.....only this afternoon I was on the phone to my girlfriend, and the 19 month old was talling her that the sweets she had just taken off her .... the 19 month old was telling her - she wanted and was going to have the sweets again.

It feels as if the roles of parent and child have been reversed, yet explaining this to Mum and I'm told to "chill out".

I'm not a drill instructor, but surely "no" means "no" to a child and "stop" means "stop" ??? I find it so hard that these two children completely manipulate Mum and grandparents with great skill and effect.

I feel totally helpless sometimes - yet love my girlfriend dearly

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