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Should I try harder?

Thirdtimesthecharm's picture

I have been with my DH for five years, married for one. He has two kids, SD7 and SS9, who have been growing up with me in their lives.
I am not a kid person, never have been. I never planned to have any children of my own, but was very happy to have these two little ones in my life regardless. My DH parents them in every way; I am not expected to unless I want to or need to. I had always been another adult who loves them and has fun with them. I was always one to plan things to do together, play games, do crafts, etc.
I don't want to anymore and it is causing problems. What role should I be required to play in my house when the kids are with us?
I ask because I have slowly stopped doing anything with them. The kids are great, but they only want to play video games while they are here. When I was still planning outings for us like going to the water park, it became all whining and complaining until we got back home to the TV or computer. I am not a gamer, so I retreat to my own space and do my own thing, typically read.
Because of this, I am now the bad guy and do not care about the kids. I have said very clearly to DH that I love his kids, and care about them very much. I retreat to my own space more often than not because it is where I am most comfortable. I am very much an introvert as well. He says that it doesn't matter because I am the adult and I need to be the one to continue to make more of an effort to engage them.
The four of us have dinner together every night that they are here, and that is the time when we all talk together without any screen time. It is an enjoyable time, but about all I can give some days.
This became a bigger problem this week because SD7 asked her dad why I don't like her. I was at work while they were at the house, so she didn't see me at all.
I asked DH what he said to her and he didn't say anything or ask any questions about why she may feel like that. I did get on her the other day for pouting because she wasn't getting her way. I'm not sure if that became an issue for her, and thought I didn't like her because of that.
I have explained to DH many times that I do with them what I can, and it seems to be never enough for him.
Is it enough and how can I help my DH to see that?
He also says that I knew he had kids and that I used to be very different with them. How can I get him to see that the "You knew he had kids" is crap as well?


Bojangles's picture

If you are alienated from them because of the amount of time they spend on games and tv, then maybe DH is simply not setting appropriate boundaries for screen time. If my children moaned to go home every time they were out because they wanted to be on a games console I would see that as a problem, especially at 7 and 9, that's very young to be getting addicted to screen based entertainment.

So my suggestions are:
Tell DH you like spending time with his children, but not in front of a screen all the time, and maybe if he could think about setting some reasonable limits it would create some family time where you could engage more with them
Try to think up some really simple low maintenance ways that you can convey interest and affection, because its in everybody's interest if you can maintain a positive relationship with them. Sometimes they need a signpost that you care. Some ideas:
Make a thing of making their favourite dinner
Do a special pudding as an occasional treat
Buy a token gift and leave it on their bed sometimes
Have a special family movie time where you do popcorn and sit with them for an hour or so (screen based, but can be nice family time)
Reinstate family outings but have DH take responsibility for organising so you don't take it so personally if it doesn't go so well

hismineandours's picture

I agree that that is sort of young to be addicted to the screen. However, I do not beleive it is YOUR personal problem to fix it. Wuoldnt it be lovely if dh arranged a family outing and invited you along?

I also feel-if they were a few years older-that this would be a natural progression and nooone would really question it. My kids are 15, 14, and 11. When they were much younger we were together ALL the time. I didnt leave the house without them-I sat in the living room with them all evening until it was bed time. We ate together, did chores together, shopped together, did everything together. Now, that they are older-not so much. My 14 year old son retreats to his bedroom to play video games to all hours. Unless we are specifically going somewhere as a family-which we do try to do every single week. We also have "command" performances-such as Church, weekly dinner at my parents-that the kids know they will be attending. Even my 11 year old likes to retreat to her room and watch stupid shows for hours on netflix. Last week my dh and the two oldest were on a church trip so just me and the youngest. I got her to come out to the living room with me and tried to put on a movie we'd both enjoy-she came out there, but put in her ear phones and continued to watch netflix! However, I also took her to a movie and an amusement park in that week. Maybe one on one time occassionally with each of the kids? Might be easier to swallow than both of them together and at this time their interests may be becoming quite different and perhaps they dont enjoy the all together family time as much anymore.

Also, from your 7 year old sd's perspective-your a female-in her eyes your supposed to be "like a mom" even if you arent technically a mom. If you are not as lovey dovey or what not as her mom-she might not always get that. Especially if there are not huge conflict issues-she will likely expect you to act similar to her mother-when you dont it confuses her. Im not saying you should act like her mom, but I think a talk with her is appropriate to identify what she is thinking-and also let her know that there all sorts of different relationships and different ways to show love and spend time together.

It might be nice if you could come up with some brief little ritual or routine that you do with each of the kids. Some special shared treat that you enjoy-makign ice cream sundaes, certain movies, some sort of shared activity. If you enjoy reading maybe you could turn the kids onto reading. Or take them to the library occassionally.

fakemommy's picture

I agree that screen time should be limited. The thought of children that young being so obsessed/addicted to tv/video games makes my skin crawl.
As far as you trying harder, it seems like you are trying, and as you get them disconnected from screen time, they will be more receptive. However, I think they are at the ages where it is natural for the parents and children to spend less time together. They should be becoming more independent and more interested in their own hobbies. You won't ever treat a 9yr old the same way you treat a 4 yr old. That just doesn't make sense (unless you infantilize the 9 yr old).