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I know it's taboo, but can it really be because of the kids?

LakesideChill19's picture

Over the last few months, I've read quite a few posts, responding to a few, but I'm at a point where I'm in need to some perspective.  I've been with my SO for 3 1/2 years.  When we got together we knew that blending was going to be work.  It always is.  She has two children, a boy (9) and a girl (5) and I have a boy (11). 

When we got together things were pretty easy (it usually is, normal hiccups), but over the last couple of years things have gone from pretty easy to very difficult.  I've spent a lot of time soul searching on this and honestly, as much as I hate to say it, it comes down to the children, most specifically, the 9 year old.  In the last 12 months(ish) I've grown to really not like him and am finding every day single day he is here a struggle.  I find his attitude to be elitist and entitled and his attitude to be completely disrespectful.  He is not very nice to my BioChild and frankly not very nice to his sister.  We've had widespread issues at school where his mouth and attitude are not getting any better, in fact, are getting worse.  I've expressed my feelings to my SO on dozens of occasions and it is always met with the 'I hate conflict / want to be his friend' mentality.  She will 'discipline', but then goes back to coddling him.  The things that this child says to me and the way he acts towards both me and my son are just not ok.  Maybe I'm just old school, but I can't imagine ever saying 1/100th of what this kid says to me to my parents, because I still wouldn't be able to sit. Prior to all of this, I prided myself on my patience, but its nearly the end, if not there.  The straw came this weekend after I brought my BioChild back home, but we spent almost four hours, just the two of us, but when I got home, within minutes, it felt like a black cloud descended over me.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also put me in the position of having to be his teacher (as well as his sister who is on an IEP and mild spectrum Autism), because my SO is an essential employee, as well as his Father.  I'm still working, but only because my job didn't have to close because I'm a Designer/National Account Manager and have a home office.  That being said, I'm still expected to work as well.  This part has made the last six weeks intensely painful.   

I guess the long and short of it is, I'm not sure how much longer I can do this?  Nothing has changed in a year and I'm not sure how much more I'm willing to bend and compromise.  The part that sucks is that everyone tells you that it's not the kids, it's never the kids, but honestly... it's the kids.  No one can tell me what to do, I get that.  There are many of you that have dealt with way more than this, and I get that too, but right now, I'm struggling to keep afloat mentally and needed a place to put the words where someone might understand where my headspace is and offer a thought.

Thanks.

MurphysLaw's picture

It's not the kids, it's your SO...she's a crappy lazy parent.

Her sweet little baby boy will be a teenager in 4 short years...that's when the fun will really start.

LakesideChill19's picture

When we first got together (love is blind) I was enamored by how good she was with the kids.  They were a lot younger then and she really bonded well with my son.  But as time has gone on all that has changed. I'm not sure that I will be here by then, sadly. If it doesn't change, I can't see another way.

Rags's picture

A 9yo getting lippy and being a bully to an 11yo lends itself to an easy solution. Tell your son to not tolerate it from SS-9 and do what is necessary to defend himself and you be the adult and adopt the twisted ear march to the nearest corner when he gets disrespectful and lippy with you.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

And... point out to BM that her ill behaved lippy shit of a kid is entirely her fault and if she does not fix it, you will.  And probably more painfully, your 11yo will deal with her bully little lippy shit of a 9yo spawn if he continues to be a lippy shit of a bully.

 

LakesideChill19's picture

You're right Rags, I agree.  My son isn't perfect.  He has his lippy moments, but also knows when enough is enough. I rarely have to raise my voice, because he knows that when we've gotten there, that the line has been crossed.  The nine year old takes it as a challenge and keeps pushing, makes more wise guy remarks, continues to argue and behavior beyond anything that I have ever experienced.  And the odd thing is that no amount of push back from me seems to work.  I wish I could show the interactions through my eyes.  I've told my son that he is free to defend himself and that I have his back.  At the end of the day, as said just above, if my position isn't going to be backed up with consequences that have teeth, then what is the point? Right? It's becoming frustrating, especially in light of recent times and changes.

tog redux's picture

I'll echo - it isn't the kid, it's her parenting that's the issue. With a better parent, he'd likely be better behaved, or at least, the bad behavior would not be tolerated for as long.  At this point, you can't come in and be the heavy, it won't work - it'll just make you the Mean Stepdad to your SO's Nice Mom.

How is the child's father with him? Does he manage him any better? If so, she should give him to the father full-time, if she wants him to have a shot at a normal adulthood that doesn't involve jail.  The fact that he does it at school too means that he's got some major issues developing. Does he have a therapist at least?

LakesideChill19's picture

BioDad is a good enough guy, but he's a drinker / screamer / threatener, so Son and Dad are at each other all the time. He has no patience, and can't stand this behavior either, but it's not hard to figure out where some of this came from after being with the two of them for about five minutes.  The Son does not have a therapist, but should. I've suggested it, which fell on deaf ears. Discussing the Dad brings another reality into play as it pertains to my relationship with SO.  BioDad is here all the time. She will let him stay for Dinner, do his laundry here, come back on the weekends that he has them early to hang out.  I've been clear that I am happy that he is involved and that they can sort of co-parent in a friendly manner, but that I don't really enjoy the whole arrangement where I have to play host to her ex as often as it's happening.  The last conversation ended badly.  So the reality is that we have my SO that wants her career, kids as friends and no conflict with BioDad and a BioDad that is a tyrant / screamer and me... I'm not Super Dad and rarely amazing; I have my flaws too, but I'm as firm as I am fair and expect respectful children, because I know that I have earned it with all that I have given.  I hate to give up, but I just see this improving or ending well...

tog redux's picture

Wow, yeah - this points even more to your SO being the real problem here. She's sorely lacking in boundaries.

Winterglow's picture

I don't know how things are where you live, but here the schools have been kept open for the children of essential workers ... don't they have that there? Working from home isn't easy to start with and you really don't have the time to babysit and be a teacher to someone else's kids...

tog redux's picture

Are in the U.S, just curious? Here, parents are having to work and watch their kids/help with school at the same time.

Winterglow's picture

No, I'm in France and we're not the only country doing this, Canada, New Zealand, Australia (don't know it it's only some provinces or the whole country for the latter two), to start with. I've heard there are parts of the US too.

LakesideChill19's picture

We are in the US.  This is an unprecedented time and it requires unprecedented measures, I understand that.  But even in times like these, there needs to be balance and we are severly out of balance, both in workload and vision.

ldvilen's picture

Can it really be the kids?  I’d say yes, IF this is true:  If  you have a "supportive" bio-dad, and by supportive I mean one that doesn't PAS their kids against their mother nor step-dad, a bio-dad that is capable of or has moved on, and one that gives the children "permission" to have a relationship with step-dad.  AND, if you also have a DW that is able to parent (or co-parent with bio-dad) her own children, make sure the kids know that she and her husband (or SO) are partners and will run the household as such, and is able to put her foot down with her own kids and not feel guilty for it.

If you’ve got that, then, next all of the nuances of each and every child comes into play.  So in that case, even with bio-dad, DW and step-dad being huggy, kissy, touchy, feely, it is possible to have a child (or more) that contributes less to the good of the household and to the bad and ugly more-so.  In that sense, I’d say under rare circumstances, it could really just be the kids.  Yet, how often is it that a blended family is going to have the truly supportive  bio-dad, DW and step-dad?  Maybe 10%?, just guessing, if even that.  And from what I can see (don’t know about bio-dad), it looks like DW is failing on the last sentence of the 1st paragraph.

ldvilen's picture

That’s your problem right here:  "BioDad is here all the time. She will let him stay for Dinner, do his laundry here, come back on the weekends that he has them early to hang out."  “So the reality is that we have my SO that wants her career, kids as friends and no conflict with BioDad and a BioDad that is a tyrant / screamer and me.” 

This is yet another big problem, bio-parents that still want to be all-out “friends.”  So, the poor children of this marriage have to watch BM and bio-dad act like chums, but chums that are in it mainly for their own conveniences, appearances and chums that seem to have no problem dating or even living with other adults, that the children also have to deal with and try to integrate into their new normal.

Truth be told, if I were a kid and my parents were acting like that, I’d be super-pissed and acting out too.  Mom and dad get to still be “chums,” but what about their kids?  They have to sit there and watch, what to them, appears to be a group of selfish adults all screwing around with whomever and doing whatever.  Meanwhile, kids don’t understand why mom and dad still aren’t together if they can get along that good after the fact.  They start to figure it must be them and wonder why.  (Of course it isn't, but they don't know that.)

Kids need to see and know and be told that mom and dad divorced for a reason—a good reason—one that explains why they can no longer be together as a family.  It is going to be very upsetting to a child, as it should be, if mom and dad divorced just for their own “convenience.”  That is not putting a very high price on your child’s welfare.  Everything about BM and bio-dad hanging out with each other after the divorce screams a divorce due to CONVENIENCE rather than a divorce because it was really that bad.

Sure, mom and dad can be and should be cordial to each other after the divorce, but everyone and all still hanging out together after the divorce. . . No.  It is just BM and bio-dad putting their own needs first, above those of their kids and their new partners.  Kids do not need to have it rubbed in their faces that given ½ a chance, maybe mom and dad could have made it or maybe, if it wasn’t for that other a-hole or two (BM or bio-dad’s new GF or BF), they would be getting back together.

LakesideChill19's picture

Idvilen, thank you.  I appreciate your honesty and honestly, I can't disagree with you, because I feel the exact way that you describe.  Now more than ever.  This has been an on-going reality for me and over the last 10-12 months is really starting to get under my skin.  The fact of the matter is that I'm starting to wonder what the point of them getting a divorce was and what the hell I'm doing here?  When he is here, it's all talk about stuff that they used to do and people that they know.  When I get irritated and disengage a little bit, I get the "what is wrong with you and why aren't you talking?", which should be a pretty easy question to answer. Thanks again.

CLove's picture

Interesting as I read your initial post (not sure where the taboo part is...) and then the ensuing comments/responses. Apparently there is more to the story! 

Yes, Mom and Dad playing "happy family" together and waltzing regularly down "memory lane" is bound to be VERY confusing to children. The lack of significant boundaries is not benefitting the kids at all. And NO WONDER you are upset! Being treated badly by the 9-year old, a child, in your own home and no repercussions for his actions, makes me think that she is not prioritizing you as her partner. And furthermore, the ex there in your face all the time, no matter how "nice" he is to you or how "nice" the parents are to each other - no - just no. Stop that.

I have a DH that tries to be civil to the ex. We were all "friendly" at first, but things got ugly eventually, shes a mean one, and a drinker, and she has no respect for boundaries or our marriage. So thats something that I have had to work on and its been almost 6 years.

I think that you can chalk this up to "experience" and knowledge for any new relationships. If you are this miserable and nothing is changing, your relationship is continually one-sided benefiting your SO and her "ex" it is definitely time to do some really difficult changes.

 

Keep reading and posting. It doesnt get better unless the parent is willing to parent. And create as well as enforce boundaries.

LakesideChill19's picture

CLove, I appreciate your viewpoint, very much.  The 'taboo' expression is from a lifetime of hearing that when you have a divorce or blended family that goes poorly and there is a break up that you make sure that the children know that it isn't their fault.  While I would never tell a child this, I just wanted to be clear about the angle my mind was at.

It's pretty clear that unless there is a willingness to change that things are pretty doomed.  There is always more to a story and I didn't want to cloud my post with things about the ex, but as we have talked it out, clearly they are more connected than I thought. 

Having the ex in my face all the time is and has been frustrating.  It came to a head a couple of weeks ago when he was basically here every hour of daylight on 'his visitation time', while I was unable to see my son for six weeks due to the COVID order.  That is a whole different story - non-issue now, because I don't need to hang out with my ex, just message and deal.  After a pretty intense argument, she made it pretty clear to me where she stands when she said "I just don't like conflict and I know how he is and I just don't want to deal with it.", which was her saying that she wasn't going to do anything to minimize the constant interaction and that I would be the one that was going to have to compromise.

Thanks for helping me push the two things together in a connected way.  It actually helps a lot.

Be safe.

 

LakesideChill19's picture

P.S. - - He showed up to get this kids tonight for his visitation time and "has to work early tomorrow" which has basically happened every other Thursday night for weeks.  Then he suggested that we could "just have dinner together tonight, and he'd buy."  The offer was accepted without discussion between SO and I... The more things change, the more they stay the same I guess.

ldvilen's picture

Nothing like being the proverbial 3rd wheel in what is supposed to be a romantic relationship between you and your SO.  Also, nothing like having mom and dad make a date for themselves, with you bringing up the rear.  That's why several of us here oft-times refer to SPing as feeling more like you are the bios' servant or be.atch more than anything else.

pwoodlson's picture

Can it be the kids? Absolutely. More likely it is the parenting and the kids behaviors are sadly a result of that. Living with a child who acts entitled, rude, snotty, etc. is not enjoyable. If one wonders why people do not want to become step parents this is the reason. No one can be faulted for not wanting to live like this.

Kona_California's picture

I hear what you mean. these days society expects parents to put kids before relationships and I just don't agree with that. The relationship coming first doesn't mean your child is neglected or unloved. It just means the kid has a bigger respect for boundaries, and sees an example of a solid marriage/partnership.

My BF has a son who's about to turn 6 and when I met him when he just turned 3. I felt like I could already see bad parenting. Even at 3, there was no consistency/follow through/consequences on anything, good or bad. The few times I saw BM interact with SS6 I noticed she could not say no, and couldn't get him to listen to her unless she said "I have a surprise for you!" I said to BF "since you're fine with accepting my day to day help with cleaning, cooking, entertaining, bathing, teaching, and loving your kid, then I will be parenting the way I think is responsible. Which means consistent consequences and follow-though." He was more than fine with it. Since he's young we have a positive bond. I sometimes get him legos and we put them together and he thinks the world of me. So when he does something bratty, I immediately use a stern voice and say If you do X one more time, you will get Y taken away. The second he repeats his bad behavior, I immediately follow through. I'm pretty sure I'm the only one in his life who does this. He gets all pouty and cries. But I leave him alone. After a bit when he cools off, I tell him in a serious voice how unacceptable his behavior is and tell him what to do instead. Then I suggest doing something fun and his attitude is much better. I notice he doesn't listen to his dad, or mom, but he listens to me and is respectful to me. I know he's still little but I think it's telling when SS6 comes to me to tattle on his dad LOL. I'm the authority when I walk in the room, above my BF. It should not be this way and it's unfair of my SO to put this on me. But it does make it better that at least I can enforce rules I want in my house.

What I would do if I were you is tell your SO since a lot of work is being dropped in your lap with her kid, then you have full permission to parent the way you feel is best. (Spanking is no longer acceptable... but there are plenty of other ways to come down and mean business.) Use your stern voice, take away his things, send him to a place to cool off (for a time out) and also tell him how he can earn his privilages back. Cleaning up his mess, helping with chores, telling you why he's angry, those have been really helping for me. Since he's 9 you can have hime write down how his behavior is hurtful and why he shouldn't do it. I know that the advantage for me is that I started when SS was very young and while he was creating a bond with me. 9 is more difficult, but I think he's still moldable. You just keep making the punishments more severe when he doesn't listen to you. But be clear on telling him how he can be successful, and that you want him to be successful. Every time the kid listens to you, really praise him and make a big deal out of it. 

I just can't understand these bio parents who expect their SO to do so much heavy lifting, but are not allowed to discipline... a very integral part of parenting. This is a child living in your home, with your rules. If your SO says no you can't, and she's the only I think you're allowed to completely disengage and tell her she needs to figure out something else for her kid during the work day. If it's just the kids putting a wedge in your relationship, having more control over discipline might help. Good luck Smile

LakesideChill19's picture

Thanks Kona and congrats on the solid bond you are forming. As I'm working through this on here, I'm finding myself becoming equally pissed at my SO as I am the kids, because you had me at the first sentence.  In addition to my becoming a third wheel in my own life (as you can see from my replies above), I've also been demoted in terms of relevance in the home.  I've had the types of discussions that you suggested and said, 'listen, if this is going to work, then I need to have some say in how things work'.  As soon as things started to get real, my consequences would go out the window and be replaced with lighter, less serious versions that ended to becoming a joke to the child.  Then they would become non-existent.  I'm tired of reasons like 'he's only nine' and 'oh, well he's just tired', because they aren't reasons, they are excuses.

blended4213's picture

I do agree that a lot of the problem is actually parenting and lack of discipline that makes stepparents resent their stepkids. I am still working on this with DH and also letting go of somethings. I have a hard time with all my stepsons but especially the middle one. He can be polite to me but I sense a lot of jealousy and think he wants his dad all to himself at times and I interfere with him having constant attention or getting away with certain things. He is manipulative towards high conflict bio mom and then she gets involved. I think he likes to cause drama. I guess part of the problem is still DH not seeing through certain behaviors, but I really think this kid doesn't like me and does sneaky, not so obvious things to upset me. So I think that yes, sometimes it is just the child  who tries to drive a wedge between a couple, and of course their parent loves them and can't see how bad their behavior can be at times. And I don't know the answer because constantly bringing it up to DH makes him defensive. Maybe just ignoring some things and showing you won't let it get to you? But the obvious things should be dealt with by the child's bio parent and they should support you in order for things to work.