Struggling to Step-parent his five kids and my biological son
I hope that I can obtain some useful tips because I do not know what else to do. My future marriage depends on a solution. My fiance and I have been together over 5 years. We are both divorced, he has five children from his previous marriage and I have one. He is 40 years old and I am 30. His children are 18m, 16f, 14f, 9f twins and my son is 6. I have an extensive background in child development, it is actually my profession. He is in IT. His ex-wife after 15 years of marraige decided she was gay and has remarried. We share his children 50/50 although the children openly admit they prefer to be with their dad because he was always more stable and put them first. My ex-husband has never been apart of the picture. My son has no idea who he is and has been referring to my fiance as dad since he was 2.
All of his children have been accepting of me for the most part except for his eldest daughter (16). She hated her mother and grew to have a distaste for females in general. She is your typical "mean girl". She is judgemental and insults people openly, including myself. She is attached to her dads hip and it is very obvious that they have an unhealthy emotional dependence on each other. My fiance is clearly afraid to lose the "hero" status with his children, so he rarely says no. The kids for the most part are great. They all try hard in school and stay out of trouble. My son has some hyperactivity, some people say that is because of his age. I was diagnosed with adult ADHD and would not be surprised if he had some sort of mental illness as I struggle from severe anxiety as well.
ALL of that being said (i feel background is important) my fiance and I will never argue about anything, EXCEPT for the children. We both confront each other as gently as we feel we can about an issue with the other's child. No matter how we approach it, we always seem to get defensive and then fight about it. The same fight will come back. I have tried to explain that I think he should take my view more seriously because I am not biologically connected. He strongly believes that he has mastered parenting when it comes to his children. He says he knows how he has to deal with them in order for things to turn out okay. I can tell you now, that is not the case. He is a pushover (i think due to the divorce) and he does not like to give away control.
One of the biggest problems is that my son did not have another parent so my fiance became his father figure. I told him I wanted him to treat him like his own child because I want my son to have a father. So my fiance will discipline my son when necessary and sometimes I feel he is too harsh. When I tell him I think he is being to harsh, he again gets defensive and says "fine I wont help, you can do it". I think my son gets confused because i DO NOT discipline his children. I feel it is not my place (unless it is severe) and I feel my relationships with his children are fragile. They tend to hold me to a high standard and when I do not reach that, it feels like they turn up their nose. All of his children are obsessed with him and he wants them to be. One of his daughters is reaching her teen years and has made healthy seperation from spending time with us and spends more time with her friends. When noticing she would rather hang out with friends, he immediately assumed something was wrong with her and he needs to spend more alone time with her. I assured him she is just being a teenager. His older daughter (who has an unhealthy bond) wont leave his side and he has come to assume that all of his children need to have that attachement.
It is very clear to me that he treats my son much differently than his own children. He will make excuses as to why but they never sit well with me. I try to tell him to put his own child in that same situation and then make a decision but it doesnt work.
Here is a petty example: My son will take a shower and will dilly dally unless told to hurry up. My fiance expects him to get in and out in under 10 minutes. Which is totally fine with me BUT when his 9-year-old twins take showers they get 30 minutes. When i confronted him about it, he said they need more time, I asked why because they all have the same shower routine. The girls might need a couple minutes more but thats it. He gets mad at my son for taking a while and will go into the bathroom and turn off the water. When his girls are taking too long he gently knocks on the door and says "are you almost finished?" and then will allow them 10-20 more minutes.
There are a lot of instances like that where he has an expectation for my son that he does not have for his own children. I know that it is irrational to think that we can apply the same rules to all of them. They are at different stages of their development, different genders, and personalities.
I think the part that has brought me to find unbiased help is that I HATE fighting with my fiance over this. I honestly take a step back and try to see it from his persepctive and try to justify his point of view. At the end of the day I cant justify his treatment of my son at times. My son is the only one I have and the only one I will ever have because we have decided to not have anymore children. I do not want him to grow up thinking he is any less than my fiance's children.
any advice would be so appreciated, I can give more details if they are needed. I dont know what else to do and I know if we cant stop fighting over the children, we will not make it.