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I am certain I am doing it all wrong!!

AKD's picture

I am new to this site and am hoping to gather some advise and gain some knowledge.  I have been divorced for 3 1/2 years after 25 years of marriage, but estranged from my husband for a year before that.  I got involved with a younger man about 4 years ago, whose kids were 9 and 11 when we met.  I have 2 grown boys of my own and 4 grandchildren, so I have been through the stages of parenting that he is currently going through, but step-parenting is new to me.  BM (baby mama) is toxic in so many ways - from threatenig my SO that she is going to "K my A", and so on!  She continually tells the SS13 and SD16 that they do not want to come to our home any more - of which they have told my SO as much, because "I am mean to them," and they don't like that there are rules they have to follow in our home.  BM acts as if it is a game and if the kids decide not to come here she will have "won!!" There are so many more instances/issues with this arrangement that I can not talk about all of them at once.  Most recently, we made plans to attend my cousins' daughters' wedding and I had RSVP'd for 4 as it is on his PT weekend.  Turns out, the high school homecoming dance is that same night and my SO informed me he and the kids will not be going to the wedding.  After a pretty heated discussion about it, he informs me his kids will ALWAYS come first.  At that point, I let it go and will be attending the wedding alone.  I am angry about it and feel selfish for having these feelings.  Not sure if this will be an isolated incident or if this will continue from here on out.  BM has taught SD16 how to manipulate my SO into getting anything she wants and he feels bad if they do not have "fun" when they are with us.  I am guessing I am not alone in most of what I am experiening.  Just looking for some advise on dealing with it.

Shieldmaiden's picture

No, you are not wrong to want your spouse to support you and accompany you to planned outings, and not ditch you for his emotionally toxic kids. However, it will take years of disengaging and reinforcing good behavior (of said spouse) and withdrawing when he acts badly, to get him to change. And that is ONLY if he wants to change or realizes this is not the way to parent. So, you have a difficult choice to make. Are you over all this? Do you want to leave and live your life on your terms, or do you want to sacrifice most of yourself for him and his kids? It sucks, and I've been there, done that. 

I chose to stay, and its been very difficult. I have a therapist on call and I've almost left him a few times. He is finally seeing the light after 10 years. HIs youngest SD is 16. All 3 SD's act badly, and it hurts him but until now, he refused to give up on trying to please them, clean up after them, etc even when they clearly don't deserve it. I wish you luck!

Kes's picture

If you google "Disney Dad" - which you will see mentioned quite frequently here - you will see that this is what your SO is suffering from.  Terrified of losing his kids' love, he will act quite inappropriately, not set boundaries, indulge bad behaviour etc, in order not to alienate them.  I see that, like me, you are a grandmother.  Personally, I think that us grandmas deserve a little bit of peace in our lives and if you ever do get your SO to see sense - as some do eventually although it may take many years - it will be a long, difficult struggle.  I have had problems with step daughters and their narcissist mother for 20 yrs and it is still ongoing, they are now in their mid/late 20s.  If you can extricate yourself without too much difficulty and heartache, then I would seriously consider doing so. 

AKD's picture

Thank you for the awesome feedback.  I had never heard of the "Disney Dad" thing.  After I saw your comment, I did look it up.  This is exactly what my SO is suffering from.  WE need to be sure they are "having fun" or taking them places every time they are here - his CO states he has them every other weekend and the last full week of every month, and we follow that order.  He also tells me the reason he does not like to get after them for things such as cleanliness, behaviors etc, is because he "does not see them that much and doesn't want to spend the entire time he has with them disciplining them."  So, that is completely left up to me, and I am pretty particular about children showing respect to others and having a structured atmosphere.  I asked him "if we don't teach them the way of life and right from wrong - who do you think is going to, because BM has no idea how to do it."  The SS13 has no idea how to properly hold a fork and knife and we have had to teach simple things like this to him in the past year or two because BM allows him to act like a toddler.  It is so disheartening to see how she treats these kids.  As for being able to extricate myself from this situation, that will be quite difficult as we recently started our own business in 2020 and are co-owners and all that that entails.  I do love him, and, when his kids are not around, he is quite attentive and is a partner in every way in both life and business.  I guess I am going to have to find a delicate way to introduce the "Disney Dad" thing to him and see if he realizes that is what he is doing and how harmful it can be for both him and the kids.  Thank you for the information and advise.  I know it will take some work and sacrifice on both our parts, but I believe we both deserve that from each other.

Winterglow's picture

Ask him why he doesn't love his kids enough to teach them basic life skills. If they don't know how to be decent human beings how will they ever have any friends? Does he think that letting them run feral is good for them? Of course not but it strokes his ego that he looks like the good guy ... only no rules, no discipline and no cares make him look like the incompetent parent in the long run. Does he think they'll enjoy being called stinky because he didn't teach them to be clean? How wil they ever get and hold down a job if they expect every living moment to be fun?  Ask him why he cares more about his image than his kids and their future ...

Rags's picture

on the behavioral choices they make.

He needs to pull his head out of his failing parent ass and gain some clarity.

A parent does not "get after them" for anything but deviations from the standards of behavior and standards of peformance that the parent sets and demands from their spawn.

Sadly , as the Sparent/Mate, we often are the only ones in the mix with comprehensive clarity that is not clouded by the genetic rose colored glasses that so many breeders suffer from. We either provide that clarity, force our partner to remove their head from their own ass, and enforce the standards, or we choose to facilitate the behavioral and performance crap, over, and over, and over again ad infinitim. 

Good luck.

Harry's picture

It to turn your kids into normal adults.  Not feral, stinky, unemployable adults.  The kids needs.  NEEDS not wants come first   They don't need to all go to homecoming,  your BF is to support you.  He not BF material. He not parent material. He not DH material.  Time to leave 

AKD's picture

I do appreciate all of the feedback.  I should probably clarify one thing.  When I was referring to "cleanliness" in my post, I was not referring to personal hygeine.  I was referring to the skids cleaning up after themselves and having typical household chores to complete, ie emptying garbages, vacuuming, dusting, clearing the table after dinner, helping unload and reload the dishwasher and be functioning, contributing members of our family.

Rags's picture

Dump his child worshipping ass and leave he and his shallow and polluted gene pool in your rear view mirror.

Find a new partner that is not a failed father, failed partner, and failed man.

Enjoy your life.

Take care of  you.

reedle2021's picture

I agree with all of the above posters.  I just left a situation that was similar this in the way that my husband put his adult son ahead of our marriage.  I thought after his kid graduated high school, he would encourage/assist his son to launch and then he would start prioritizing our adult time together.  Never happened.  Things got worse.  His son became passive aggressive and resentful of me - he would lock the back door knowing I would be coming home from work, he told his dad I said and did things I didn't do - and his daddy believed him.  Anything I said to my ex SS was misconstrued and he ran to daddy about how I made him feel bad.  My husband told me, "my son will always come first."  Even when his kid was 21 years old, this meant that any activity we had planned would either involve his son or wouldn't happen if his son couldn't be there.  He would make his son's plate and bring it to him at the table.  He would make sure his son got the biggest portion of food.  He did everything in his power to baby and coddle his son, treated him like a toddler.  My ex husband even insisted we go out in the yard after I got off a long day at work (my days start at 0430) and play with his son "because he doesn't have any friends and he's bored." Not. Normal. He was definitely a Disney dad as well as enmeshed and codependent.  I can tell you from experience, it will get worse.  My husband was also somewhat more attentive when his son wasn't around, but he would obsessively check his son's location on his phone and pout when he wasn't there.  When his son would come back to our house, I would once again be treated like the roommate.  And my husband then kissed his son's a$$ and helicoptered around him when he did come back (he was usually at his mom's house).  It was gross.

There is hope if your SO is open to conversation, feedback and trying to implement changes.  I wish you the best and hope you can get him to recognize that his parenting style and what he is doing is not conducive to raising independent adults and it certainly isn't conducive to a fulfilling adult relationship.

Please keep us posted!  **HUGS**

Miss T's picture

"My son will always come first." He actually said--and this is a direct quote--"I worship my son."

I thought he was kidding, or exaggerating, or I had misheard, or something. Surely this man I loved so dearly could not actually, literally, have said such an asinine thing. Or if he somehow accidentally said it, he could not possibly have meant it.

Alas. He was quite serious.

SS was with us only on alternate weekends, and still the DIsney Dadding nearly drove me nuts. I've been venting here for the whole length of my marriage--15 years plus. The incidents that have driven me into a frenzy of bitching are here to be read if you can figure out how to use the search function. I know that life partners are valuable, but I also know that a man with spawn from a failed marriage is, to put it bluntly, damaged goods, and so are his kids.

But don't take my word for it. Read around this site. Read what everyone here has to say. We speak in different voices and say it in different ways, but it is the truth. Step life is HARD.

Pay attention to what Shield Maiden said upthread. Don't take this man on unless you have financial and personal assets to spare, because you'll need them to get through the years of fighting and hassling his child-worship will cause. He could very well end up being  more trouble than he's worth.

As Rags likes to say, take care of you.