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If you knew then what you know now

AliceHuff04's picture

Hi all, new here and so grateful to have found you. I've been in a relationship with BF for a year and a half (forgive me, I haven't really learned all the acronyms yet so I may get them wrong!). He makes me happier than I've ever been and we communicate really well, we've both been to therapy following our individual divorces and are committed to getting it right this time. So far, so good.

I have two childen, OS16 and YS13. They are great kids, their dad and I have worked hard to give them manners, a strong work ethic, and sense of independence from early on. People tell me all the time how impressed they are with my boys. I know they are absolutely not perfect, don't get me wrong! But we've been hard on them and are now reaping the benefits. They are both thoughtful, respectul and laid back. They enjoy spending time with BF and have been around his children a handful of times with no issues. I swear I'm not being obnoxious - they are really good kids. Their dad and I have maintained a good relationship and always put them first. 

BF has three children, (F for future skid, hopefully) FSS16, FSD14, and FSS6. They are good kids and have welcomed me with no problems to this point. However, we have very different parenting styles; his kids are spoiled and have no responsibilities or consequences. Luckily, they haven't turned out to be terribly obnoxious, but things do bother me at times. For instance, when he's playing short-order cook and making them a fourth dinner or snack at 11 pm becasuse they didn't like the previous three things that were made, which they didn't clean up, because why would they? Or when FSD14 calls him stupid, tells him to shut up, or tells him she hates him; to me, that's not ok. They do no chores, can't make a glass of water on their own, and the oldest two are never, ever asked to babysit FSS6, because that just wouldn't be fair to make them do that (insert eyeroll here). They are messy and think nothing of throwing something on the floor and leaving it there, stepping around it for days, then throwing a fit when they can't find it. I think he was harder on them in the past, but the dad guilt kicked in with his divorce and now he's become a pushover. 

We are beginning to talk about moving in together in the next six months to a year. I think we both understand what a challenge this will be with 5 children, his crazy ex-wife (that's another post entirely), and different parenting styles. I feel good about our communication and commitment, but when it comes down to it, how do you tell someone their kids are spoiled brats, and things have to change if we are going to live together? I don't want this to end or ruin our relationship, but I'm very worried. I get a feeling in the pit of my stomach every time I see his kids do or say something I know my kids would be held accountable for. On occasion I say, "Wow, you're so much nicer than me," or "They are lucky you're so easy on them," or "I guess I really am awfully strict." All he ever says in return is that I have really good kids.

So this is my question - if I'm feeling this now, before we move in, before any problems begin, where do I go from here? If you had known back when you were at this point in your relationships what you know now, what might you have done differently, or wish you had known? How do I bring this up with BF without making it seem like an attack on his parenting, or his kids? How do I make my boys have chores and responsibilities in the same home where his kids have none? I really want to give this a chance and get it right, but separate households until the older kids are out sometimes seems like a smart move. Is that crazy, to think postponing making a home with him is worth it to prevent the problems I anticipate? Let's hear it.....

Tried out's picture

"On occasion I say, "Wow, you're so much nicer than me," or "They are lucky you're so easy on them," or "I guess I really am awfully strict." All he ever says in return is that I have really good kids."

I don't mean to sound antagonistic, but you know you don't actually mean this, so why are you saying it? His kids aren't lucky; in fact, he is doing them a great disservice by not parenting them. I very seriously doubt other people don't also notice their poor behavior and think less of them because of it.


AliceHuff04's picture

I totally get what you're saying. I honestly don't feel great when I say that stuff; sometimes it just comes out without meaning to, and other times I say it because I don't know what else to say. I acknowledge it's not the right way to bring it up. 

SteppedOut's picture

Given our differing parenting styles, I think we should wait to cohabit until our children have launched. old do you think his will be when that happens? They have not been taught anything they need to know yet! 

If you move in with him before the kids launch, it will destroy your relationship with your bf...and quite possibly your kids. 

Wicked stepmo.'s picture

You sound like a great mother who has spent a lot of time investing in raising your your two boys. My biggest regret to this day was exposing my son to the dysfunction that is my stepkids and Thier father's lack of parenting. Add in having a BM issue and that's a whole other set of problems. 

I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I saw red flags a 12 year old with poor social skills, a 10 year old with behavioral issues and a father who acknowledged Thier problems but completely lacked the parenting skills to address the behavior as well as the mindset that it was only a phase and they would grow out of it. 

I was blindsided by what would eventually become my reality. Both girls were so welcoming and wanted to spend time with me. They were always on Thier best behavior when they were just with me. So I say to myself this isn't so bad. With a stable home, a good female role model and some structure and stability they will come around. 

I have never been so wrong in my life. I could never possibly understand the phenomenon of "being a steparent" until having actually experienced it for myself. Once the honeymoon period wore off I was left with the nightmare that is my new reality. Picture the most toxic environment imaginable. Be prepared to be scapegoated by your stepkids and eventually your partner for everything, be disrespected on a daily basis, having your partner be secretly angry with you for having well behaved kids, and having the attention placed on every single thing your kids may not do perfect to take the attention of themselves. 

Adding in a toxic BP is whole other blog it itself.

Do yourself and your kids a favor don't move in together until after your kids have launched. 

Gimlet's picture

Hah, I gave this advice to another poster yesterday and it wasn't right for her but it might be helpful for you.

We waited until my DD went to college and his OSS stopped visitation.  I don't regret that for a second.  They don't like each other and honestly, I didn't want to live with OSS and I wanted to be able to enjoy my DD's last years of living at home without living with the skids.  So it was for me as much as it was for them. 

We are different parents too, and we have very different kids.   BM here was also high conflict and living apart helped me to avoid the the majority of her vitriol, which burned down more into a cold bitterness later on. 

Something I thought about yesterday on another thread was how important peace and autonomy in the home are to me.  My home with just my DD was peaceful and I was in complete control of how life worked there.  I didn't have to worry about what other people's kids or exs were doing and it allowed him to spend his CO time with his kids and (blessedly) not me, at least in the earlier years, and DH could hang out with us drama free when he didn't have his kids, which was nice. DD and I have a lot of great memories from that stupid little duplex.

I do love my DH and my home with him, but YSS is not adjusting to being an adult well (which I predicted) and that's been a struggle at times. We did go to counseling together and set some ground rules, so I know he won't be here forever, but that is also something to think about.  Your kids sound like they will make it into adulthood just fine (mine did) but lots of these skids don't. 

Finally, I would be ready to have honest conversations.  If you can't have them now, it will be so much worse when you're living together and the fights erupt.  Make sure you two have open communication and you feel comfortable being straighforward with him (in a tactful way of course). 

AliceHuff04's picture

Thank you for that. Your words hit home with me. Having peace and autonomy at home are extremely important to me. I really don't want to give that up. BF's home is more chaotic and that can make both me and my oldest a bit anxious. I don't want to get into a situation where I dread going home, or my son doesn't want to come over.

You all are making me realize it will be important to talk to him about this stuff and develop rules and a game plan before anything becomes a real problem, but I'm also seeing that it is probably inevitable.

The BM is going to be a problem, so that's another reason to keep my own space. I've been exempt from most of her craziness so far, and it would be nice to stay that way. Another pro for separate homes, for sure!

My thought all along has been that if and when we do try to blend families and move in together, it should be a new home (new to all of us) so it's neutral territory and a fresh start for all. I think moving either family into the other's established space sounds like a recipe for disaster. Has anyone found this to be true?

Dave02Dad's picture

My advice...and sorry to be harsh...don't move into together.  Blending will be a nightmare because of your different parenting styles.  Your kids seems well adjusted and well behaved.  His kids sound like spoiled brats.  The issues you have with his kids will only be magnified 1000 times once you move in together.  And their attitudes will without question affect your kids.  They will wonder "what did Mom do to us"?  And when you try to talk to your BF about his kids, I guarantee he will get defensive and mention something negative about your kids.  Not blaming him, but that's what parents do....think their kids do no wrong.  If you love him, maintain separate residences if financially possible until his kids are out of the house or have matured (probably won't happen though).  Trust me, my STBX had 2 kids and I had 2 kids.  Blending put so much stress on the marriage, we are headed for divorce. Lost the love of my life because of it.  Look up stats online...the divorce rate is already high as is.  But add in blending families and it goes up another 15-25%. 

Dogmom1321's picture

Don't move in together. I wish I had taken time to actually "date" DH instead of jumping right in with SD responsibilities. I wish I would have just kept it to weekend date nights and whenever he didn't have his kid. I definitely wish we had more one-on-one time at the beginning of the relationship. That way we could have actually gotten to know each other without the distraction of a crazy BM or spoiled SD. 

Rags's picture

What is appealing about a failed man and parent who would allow his toxic spawn to call him stupid and insist that he be their beck and call boy short order cook chore bitch? And he agrees to it?


Find a better partner.