Step parent issues please help

posted 9 months ago in Family
Post # 46
Member
6340 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: April 2016

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@Stepmom77:  You say these are new behaviors for you. Did you two just recently move in together? How long have you been together? 

Post # 47
Member
1240 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2019

If you parent differently this might not be the relationship for you. I don’t think it’s fair or reasonable to think he will change how he parents.

That being said parenting an 8-year-old girl and a 13-year-old boy are very different. They are developmentally at different stages and as such there are different expectations. They most likely have different interests. Children are very unique and some need more attention and time than others.

Also if one child isn’t at the home full time of course things are different when they are around. I think it’s also normal for parents to parent a child they only have part-time a little differently.

I don’t see anything wrong with a once a week campout in the basement. You sleep with him 6-nights a week. If your son isn’t interested in joining their campouts you could turn that into a mother-son date night and have a movie night, game night with him ect. Or if your son isn’t interested in hanging out with you have your own self-care night. Additionally, you could have a whole family fun nights. And a date night once a week.

I think it’s important for parents to stay connected to their children and I think it’s great that they have a good bond.

I would seek counseling if I were you to deal with your own childhood issues and better understand why you feel like there is a competition between yourself and a child. You shouldn’t be dictating your significant other’s relationship with his daughter in ANY way. Also, I got undertones of you thinking she’s manipulative or a liar… don’t marry someone unless you genuinely love their child. It’s not healthy for a parent figure in their life to not like them or think poorly of them. You said in time her dad will see what you are talking about, almost as if you are hoping to turn him against her… That might not have been what you intended but it struck me as odd.

If you don’t love your stepdaughter don’t marry her father.

Post # 48
Member
2546 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: October 2016

If your son lives with you full time but his daughter only has access to her dad part time, then, of course there are going to be differences. She does get to be more the center of attention while she’s there – that’s natural. And, of course, it’s harder to consistently discipline a child that is only there part of the time. You’ve been careful not to answer questions regarding how often she’s there- which leads me to believe that its likely only on weekends and probably not every weekend. 

Post # 49
Member
9 posts
Newbee

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@jannigirl:  “center of attention”? No, she gets to be a part of the family and enjoy spending time with them. You get to be the center of attention on your birthday or when you achieve an accomplishment; not just for simply existing at the other parent’s house. When kids catch on that they’re the center of attention, they tend to take advantage of that… which seems to be part of the issue in this case. And that’s not to say dad and daughter can’t do small 1:1 activities. But kids need to learn how to exist within a (family) unit. That translates to life skills as an adult. 

Post # 50
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2546 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: October 2016

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@justmebee:  yeah. No. Have you had step kuds and are you a parent? Having raised my kids & step-kids, I can tell you that, yes, when the kids are there, it is about them. They don’t have to pretzel themselves up to try to fit in to dad’s new famiky like an outsider. Nope. The least dad can do is spend time & attention ib his daughter when she is there. 

Post # 51
Member
9 posts
Newbee

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@jannigirl:  Yes, I’ve had step kids, have my own kids and was a step kid myself growing up. Your comment was that the poster’s step daughter should be the “center of attention”. Why? She’s part of a family unit. Not a princess on a pedastal. Also, no pretzeling to be done. It’s really basic. Come over and spend time with the family. I also mentioned dad should spend a little 1:1 time with her. But “center of attention” doesn’t work. It’s about blending the families; not being hyper-focus on one individual. 

Post # 52
Member
699 posts
Busy bee

Was their dynamic this way before his original separation? 

 

I only ask because your fiancé could be feeling really guilty and because of that not informing boundaries enough with his daughter. 

A wonderful emotionally focused therapist would be so able to help you all through this transition. Nobody has to be wrong. It’s not about wrong. It’s about finding solutions based on triggers and emotional trauma and family dynamics. It’s a mouthful but is so helpful for families.  

Post # 53
Member
3503 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: March 2017

It is very important that you and your fiancé are on the same page before you get married. I have raised step-daughters with my husband. Fortunately, we had similar ideas about child rearing. I think limits are important in terms of behaviors. I also believe that it is important to spend lots of time with the kids and we used to do lots of things together as a family. Do you join in with any of these camp outs? It’s hard to know what you mean by the kid running the house without examples. 

Post # 54
Member
764 posts
Busy bee

I wanna preface by saying I don’t know your interaction with the 8yr old and I’m not saying you’re a bad person, but please be careful how you respond to her behavior, discipline through voice and actions needs to be from her father. Most of my childhood trauma stemmed from my mother. For instance she chose favorites, didnt support me and I felt like I truly didnt matter (also abusive household). My longest/closest female friends growing up (childhood bff and my teen/20s bff) were pretty toxic for me and actually resembled my mother. Psychology I was seeking and wanting her love and approval. Be cautious how you react towards her, your childhood trauma isn’t her fault. I’m sorry you’re struggling with that and I hope you can seek help for your unresolved issues. I hope counseling can help strengthen your relationship and your Fi can learn how to move forward with his daughter.

Post # 55
Member
7902 posts
Bumble Beekeeper

Your updates change things. It’s hard to know how much of your response is based upon your own experiences and how much is due to your Fi’s failure to parent. Google “Disney Dad”. 

I hope you will pursue individual counseling to address your past traumas and couples counseling to address shared parenting. 

Post # 56
Member
738 posts
Busy bee

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@justmebee:  

As someone who grew up as a step kid, all I can tell you is that that point of view is awful. 

Post # 57
Member
2138 posts
Buzzing bee

I think you need to visit a step parenting forum for better answers. You won’t find the ones you need here, mainly because most people haven’t been in the shoes you’re in and realize *all* of the landmines of step-parenting. What you’re experiencing, the frustrations of a blended family, are NORMAL. This is not a Disney movie, where everyone skips off into the sunset and lives happily ever after. Step parenting can be ugly, it can have jealousy, it can bring up past emotions you didn’t know were there, it can bring up huge issues between you and your partner. You can be a step parent and not agree with how your step child is being raised, and you have a right to voice those concerns if you’re going to marry this guy. Everyone treats step parents as if they should step in and shut up, and that’s just not the case. You see concerns right now, and it is coming through with annoyance, that is NORMAL. Not every step parent gets into the situation and sits back and goes, “hmmm the guy or girl I love has an inability to set boundaries and they consistently undermine me in my own home”– it typically starts like what you’re describing, a tiny insignificant event or routine starts to set you off and make you feel like something isn’t right. 

Because most step parents aren’t monsters.They’re people just like everyone else trying to make a relationship work. How much of a jerk do you have to be to not like a child, right!? Even starting to admit that a child might, gasp, annoy you immediately sends out the pitchforks and you get the step parent standard:

  • You knew what you were getting into
  • The kids come first
  • How could YOU be jealous of a CHILD

————-

In our family, my stepchild isn’t the center of the universe. The household doesn’t stop or start the minute they walk in or out of the door. Are we happy they are here when they are here? OF COURSE. Do we miss them when they aren’t here? Yes. But that’s not even the crux of your issue, it is that the parenting styles are completely different… and that’s a huge problem. Someone else mentioned it, but Google “Disney Dad”. I’ll give a snippet of what it is and dollars to donuts this is your Fiance:

“A noncustodial parent who indulges his or her child with gifts and good times during visitation and leaves most or all disciplinary responsibilities to the other parent”

Basically, the fun parent/house! As soon as their kid arrives, it is non-stop fun fun fun fun and give give give give until they leave. Dad doesn’t want to place boundaries because those are hard, those might “alienate” them from their child, they only see them part time, they don’t want to spend their whole weekend disciplining and quite frankly, it is just easier. It might look like when your step kid arrives, the first questions are always, “what do you want to do this weekend” and then the planning begins. Nevermind what the household has planned, what other people living there have to or need to do, the calendar now belongs to the 8 year old. And for the next 48+ hours it is ALL about what the kid wants. What they want to do, or eat, or watch, or not watch, or sit, or play with all their toys, or buy, or listen to, or go to bed or sleep… the list is endless. 

There’s nothing wrong with being a Disney Dad, many men choose this route because it gives them the ability to do what they want with the kid, and there’s little to no consequence. How many doctors appointments has your SO scheduled for his daughter? How many times did he coordinate the parent-teacher conferences for school? Or go through her clothes at his house and make sure she was still in the right size and plan ahead to make sure she had the correct items? My guess is, not many. His ex likely does all the hard parenting, does all of the actual parenting while he gets to play campout once a week and shirk that responsibility onto the ex and the almost married soon to be evil stepmom who is going to make boundaries because if not, you’ll go mad.

Again, nothing wrong with being a Disney Dad. It works a lot of times because their ex WANTS that control (because she’s “crazy” according to him, because she has the kids more more, etc), but it’s my very strong opinion that Disney Dads shouldn’t date or marry while they have young kids. They don’t make good partners and can’t juggle all the balls in the air when you add in a new wife and if that new wife has kids or you two have a kid– yeesh. It will be tough. They (DD’s) fundamentally have an inability to handle conflict and set boundaries, and you and your son will be the collateral in all of this. Because he isn’t going to change how he parents, because it is so damn convenient for him at the moment.

I’d really, strongly suggest at the very least counseling, one that specializes in blended families. And to get on a step parenting forum with other stepmoms going through this so you can get some real life advice on how to best deal with what you’re going to be dealing with for a very long time.

Post # 58
Member
1574 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: City, State

“Camp outs feel like it’s the only relationship in the house that matters”.  You are an adult who has the ability to manage your emotions and this is how you feel.  You can type on forums, read books, go to therapy and rationalize from a lifetime of experience.  You’re also a main architect of the situation.

  [Edited- the custody situation is reversed]

Discipline issues should absolutely be handled.  However, if you want empathy from your partner about how you feel, you’d better be willing to give a huge dose of it to the child who just wants to hang out with her dad in the basement. 

Do you or your fiance spend any regular one on one time (sports, etc) with your son?  If so, you should be extra careful about how you approach this with him.  Trying to put your foot down about his one on one time with his biological child when you or he spends regular one on one time with YOUR child would make lots of parents hit the roof.  I know I would. 

Post # 59
Member
2301 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: October 2010

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@fromatoz:  Not a step parent or step kid, or in a blended family, so thank you for taking the time to write all that out. That is really insightful to read. I suppose even in a perfect situation- the partner is supportive, the ex is cooperative, and the step parent and stepkid mutually like and respect each other- there are still going to be times when step parent gets mad at or frustrated or annoyed with the stepkid, and to admit it, even to just herself, feels like judgment. Whereas I certainly have no issues with and freely admit how much my kids annoy me at times. And I am sure even if all the adults are mature and cooperative, there are still going to be times when they strongly disagree with each other over how things should be handled. And that’s in the most ideal situation!

 

Honestly, I am not sure step parenting can be everyone’s bag. I don’t know that I could handle it myself. I know I couldn’t if the step child (or the ex) was antagonistic in some way.

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