I'm starting to hate my stepson and I don't want to
I'm a stepmom of 3 children, and the youngest is 13. I have no biological children of my own.
My husband and the childrens' mother separated 6 years ago and the divorce was finalised 2 years ago. My husband and I met 4 years ago when he was going through court proceedings with the divorce. We have been married for about 18 months now.
The children are with us every Wednesday and every other weekend. My husband has a great relationship with the children - he is the fun parent and is always joking around and playing with them. The two older children are no problem at all aside from the normal teenager stuff like being grumpy in the morning or not wanting to revise, and we get along fantastically. I am very grateful to them both, as my parents are also divorced and I know that parents divorcing is difficult on any child. On a recent holiday we went on, the eldest told me that she likes me and she likes how I am with her dad, which I thought was very sweet.
Their mother was not happy when my husband started seeing me, and any mention of me is banned at her house. The children are also not allowed to bring any gifts from me or anything that is mine into her house. I understand how she feels and have explained to the children that she is hurt and bitter, and to say that it's from their dad or grandma if they need to take anything home that is from me (like headsets, clothing or sweets). They are obviously encouraged to talk about anything at our house including their mother, and I have made a concious effort to never ever disrespect their mother in front of the children. The two older kids said that they're sorry for me that their mother hates me so much and to not take it personally, because if their dad was with someone else she would hate that person just as much. This meant a lot to me.
HOWEVER. All this doesn't mean I'm always calm and collected inside.
The children's mother likes to spoil the children, especially the youngest. She tells him that his dad abandoned him, and says that she would never leave him because she loves him, and she wants to do anything to make him happy. The one rule at her house is that nobody is allowed to upset the youngest - if he gets into an argument with his siblings, they have to apologize no matter what. He is 13, and still sleeps with his mother, only eats white bread, plain pasta, green apples and sweets, and can't pour himself a glass of milk. He can't get dressed on his own. He is glued to his iPad from the moment he gets out of bed in the morning until he gets into bed at night.
This leads to a lot of conflict at our house, where we have a very different set of rules. The two older children are sick of eating the same foods at their mother's, so at our house we try to cook all sorts of different dishes, which leads to the youngest throwing temper tantrums because it's not what he likes. He says "That's not how Mom cooks." He sleeps on his own at our house but he has to have about 40 soft toys in his bed, otherwise he throws a fit and literally screams until he's hyperventilating. He refuses to do his homework and says "Mom does it for me if I scream enough," when we insist. I once asked him to help me unload the dishwasher and he said "Mom doesn't make me do anything like that." One morning over the weekend, he helped my husband and I in the garden, and then started crying sayng his mother would have given him $20 an hour for helping. He says his mother's house is nicer and her garden is bigger. I don't know why he says that, he just does, out of the blue.
He is a sweet, kind boy and is very good with sharing things or baking muffins with me. He is compassionate and likes animals. It's when he doesn't get what he wants that he is very, very difficult. He screams and throws himself onto his bed and will go on like that for hours. Afterwards he always says that if he complains enough no one makes him do what he doesn't want to, and that bothers me a lot.
I feel like if this was my child I would have a bit more of a say in how to raise him. I struggle with the "Mom doesn't make me do that" and also worrying about how my interactions with him might affect my husband's relationship with him. My husband says that his son needs to learn societal rules and grow up, and has rules down at our house that he sticks to, but that has led to his son saying "This is why I hate coming to this house", which of course hurt him a lot.
I would like to help him grow into a well-rounded, less spoiled person, but I don't know what to do. I don't agree with his behaviour but I am tired of the "Mom wouldn't make me do that" story. My husband and I have talked to him many times about how his dad didn't abandon him, and how he is always here for him, and we remind him how much his dad loves him, but it doesn't seem to matter. I am starting to dread the days he is at our house and I am starting to hate him. I know it's a strong word but I'm so tired of the screaming and crying and passive aggressive comments about literally everything I do.
If someone has any advice about how to deal with this, I would appreciate it so much. I know that marrying someone with kids means a lot more complexity than a normal hosuehold but this is so hard.