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Am I doing this all wrong?

DogMomOnly's picture

I don't say hi or bye when SS10 or SD14 walk in the door or leave to go back to BMs. I honestly cannot stand when they're here. They don't clean up after themselves and DH rarely makes them do chores. I secretly cheer for the other team when I have to go to their sports games.

SD14 wants her room painted. I told DH she needs to earn it before I do such a thing. That was a month ago and she hasn't done anything to earn it. Does no one teach their kids about responsibility any more? I know her BM doesn't. She gives them whatever they want. Shopping weekly and living in your parents basement at age 40? These skids are doomed.

DH and I get blamed by the skids for eating healthy. We "never have food" in the house. Or we just never have junk food and they can't understand why. I'm so sick of trying to make the right choices and getting zero respect in my own home! Do I just continue to disengage and clean up their messes?

moeilijk's picture

Personally, I think greetings and goodbyes are just common courtesy and I wouldn't allow myself to behave rudely. As to the rest of your post, you can let your husband - their parent - do all the work of raising his own children. Including meal planning, preparing and grocery shopping. And room painting. And omg, the only hell worse hell than watching kids' sports games is when the only kids you know, you do not like! Skip them, sit on the couch and enjoy the peace and quiet, go out with friends, go run errands. Life is too short for that crap.

Sparklelady's picture

Yes, please check out posts on disengaging - you should NOT be cleaning up after them or painting anybody's room. Don't go to sports games if you don't want to be there. Take care of you, and all these things will be easier to manage.

DogMomOnly's picture

I guess I should explain a little more. I used to say those things to them, but never really got anything in return. When I walk into my own house they don't say a word to me, but they do to their dad. Why should I have to say it every single time? They're old enough to know better. Lately SD14 will say "good night dad" from the top of the stairs knowing damn well I am right there next to him at the bottom of the stairs. Last night my DH finally said something to her about it. She said "oh sorry", but still didn't say good night. I did and then she muttered it back. I'm not interested in doing anything half assed. So I guess I took the disengagement a little further and just gave up all together. SD14 is exactly like her mom, a liar. I cannot stand liars. She looks exactly like her, sounds like her, and of course acts like her. I've never wanted children and I certainly don't want someone else's. But when they're in this house, they need to know the rules and respect me. But only being here 3 days at a time makes it hard to enforce anything and make it stick. I clean up after them because I cannot stand the mess. DH and I spent a lot of money and sweat on updating our kitchen and I will not let it look like crap because some ingrates don't understand that they're mommy and grandparents don't follow them to this house to clean up after them. I've tried leaving the mess, but it literally doesn't get cleaned by anyone except me. And DH and I have had THAT talk too many times.

moeilijk's picture

Well, almost all of what you posted here is a problem between you and DH. It's easier to blame/take it out on the skids, but the parenting of kids who don't greet you or who leave a mess is on him... and IMHO, he's hugely disrespecting you by allowing his kids to behave this way. I don't know how I'd continue a relationship with someone that enabled others to treat me this way.

But part of it is - set your own boundaries. Your contribution to this situation has been to allow it to continue. I know it's extremely challenging to see where you can set and enforce boundaries, but I'd start with getting in those kid's faces to insist on common courtesy.

ODAAT's picture

In many ways, you have described my life. Although I agree with others that it's partly your husband's fault, I don't always agree because part of marriage is helping each other out and working together. To tell him to go grocery shopping or clean up is rude, even if it is for his kids. I wish my husband would stand up for (me) in some of these instances, but is it really realistic to expect that if I cook dinner every night, I'm suddenly going to stop when the kids are home because they're "his" kids or because "he is their parent".

I believe that a step-parent is a parent. If your spouse is not home, someone needs to do things for the kids. I could never imagine telling my husband he couldn't go to work because I refuse to stay home with the kids - as many people suggest as part of the disengagement process.

The kids need to be respectful of ALL adults, regardless if they're a parent or not. They should be taught this by many people: parents, grandparents, step-parents, aunts, uncles, teachers. Why does it matter? It takes a village, right?

On the sports topic - I have often silently cheered for the other team (horrible I know). There are many people that have told me to stop going if I'm miserable and don't want to - but then I'm missing out on time with my husband. I'd rather be sitting with him doing something I'm not thrilled about than be by myself running errands.

I don't know how often you have them, but I have often verbalized my frustration with the three days at a time thing. I'd rather have them all the time - three days feels like I have visitors in my house that I need to entertain. I would keep focusing on what's important to you. Focus on your husband. Take care of your house (mostly because it will fall on you anyway). I wouldn't do anything above and beyond. I don't know if what I do is right - many times I feel it isn't, but when I do things that seem to be for the kids (like soccer games) I constantly (subtly) reinforce that I'm doing it for my husband.

Hope that's helpful! I can relate to your post in more ways than I'd like to admit!

moeilijk's picture

ODAAT, what you said really resonates with me. That's because I think you're like me, with a tendency to be a 'pleaser.' The problem with being such a nice and helpful person is that it's so easy to do too much for others and not enough for yourself.

I agree it's probably rude to TELL your husband to clean up, even if it's his mess or his kids' mess. But in any happy home, these things get talked about and resolved so that everybody contributes. If I was married to a messy guy who brought kids who make big messes into the home, I'd find it stressful... even if he DID tidy up at the end of the day. So if I also felt like I HAD to clean up after others... I'd feel angry, resentful and disrespected.

Before acting on those feelings though, rather than TELL my husband to clean up, I'd talk about it. I'd explain that I didn't cause the problem and I don't want to be responsible for the solution. I'd be willing to live with more mess than if I were single, but I'd still expect a certain standard be met. If my husband is not willing to stop making messes, and not willing to clean up, then either there's another solution (like hiring someone else to do the work) or my relationship is in trouble. How could I be happy married to someone who doesn't respect my home or my wishes and who refuses to work together to find a happy solution?

DogMomOnly's picture

I get your point about wanting the kids there more often for the reason of it would feel less like having guests. But I don't feel the same. A few months ago the skids said they wanted to be here less. It was more of SD14 saying it. She said she just wants to be with her mom more. No wonder, there are no rules and no chores with her. She gets to stay on her phone all night long and no one checks up on her text messaging or internet activity. We have rules here which includes phones staying on the kitchen counter at bedtime. My DH and I check text messages, social media activity and whatever else she does on her phone. We've gotten a lot of information about who she hangs out with and who she talks to on social media. She gives out so much information to people she doesn't even know, it's scary! We've also caught her in many, many lies too.

I've talked to my DH about cleaning up after his kids. We've discussed it on many occasions and I've also tried just straight up telling him it's his mess to deal with. But no matter what I do, I can't make him remember to either have them clean it, remember to think about the mess before I see it, or just SEE that there's a mess. Our definitions are clearly different.

While I do agree that yes, it is my DH's fault for his kids not being more responsible or respectful, I know his heart is in the right place. He tries very hard to make me happy. His problem is that he doesn't want to be the bad guy, even though he knows it's necessary. I get it. It's hard to see your own kids for only 3 days at a time, especially after they told you that's as much as they want to be here at once. They get here and before you know it they're gone. I get why he feels bad asking them to clean or do chores. I've tried explaining that all it would really take is up to 1 hour only 1 of those 3 days. The rest of the time would be spent as normal. He gets it, but following through is tough.

Parenting is tough. But this step-parenting thing is much harder. I don't feel like I have a say, only an opinion and input. My DH and I are a team and we talk about EVERYTHING. But life doesn't always work out the way you want it, especially when it comes to kids. My DHs family (mom and sister) have told me to back off because I'm not a parent. They've said some very mean and hurtful things to both of us and my DH has essentially cut them off. Even still it's hard to not have support from them, we have no idea what they've said to the kids, except the few text messages we saw from his mom. Kids don't need to be involved in these things but of course she had to say something negative about us.

Respect is learned from many adults in children's lives. We're against the majority I think. I feel like we're the only ones trying to teach them hard work will earn you a lot in life and you're not entitled to whatever it is you say you want. We have the support from my family, but SD 14 seems to be too cool for everyone right now (teenagers, I know). She seems to just not give a crap about me or my family any longer. Which really ticks me off because they've been extremely nice to her and involved in her life, more so than I have been (or have wanted to be).

SugarSpice's picture

agree with disengaging. if the skids are rude you are not obligated to be nice to them. step mothers often feel they have to suck up to their husbands children. this only hurts us in the long run as they will treat us even worse.

let dh clean up after his own off spring.

rotfl about bm in the parents basement. bm had an affair with a child hood sweatheart when dh was away overseas in the military. the man was married. they both divorced their respective spouses and married each other. almost 20 years later the second husband--newsflash--has an affair while married to bm!

bm divorced the man and moved across the country to live with her elderly parents at the age of 47! I never figured out why women cheat with a married man, marry him and then expect the man wont cheat on them. they think they are special.

epiphany's picture

A 14 year old with functioning arms and legs is old enough to decorate their own room. I think it would be a good way for her to express herself. But if she wants the paint she's gonna need money. That means chores. Stick by it.

Same with the food. Food costs money. That means chores.

They'll get the hang of it eventually.

DogMomOnly's picture

Sh*t hit the fan a couple weekends ago. SD14 has an attitude beyond belief. My DH and I are both police officers and with all of the recent officer deaths my DH made a comment to SD14 about the possibility of him not coming home. It started when she said she he doesn't spend time with her, but then followed that up with saying she doesn't ever want to be here anyway. He told her there's a possibility he could go to work and never come back and then she'd never be able to spend time with her. Obviously this is the short version of what happened, but he was saying this in hopes that she'd get over her attitude and take things seriously. After he said that she said, "I don't care".

After I heard what happened a few minutes later I said she can get out of the house. The disrespect is beyond tolerable and she needs to go. That turned into BM wanting a talk that we agreed to, though we knew it wouldn't help anything. That was a waste of 2 hours of my life. BM is a liar (has lied in court under oath) and I don't believe a word she says (plus she's a 40 year old woman with 3 kids living in her parents basement because she doesn't know how to pay bills off and doesn't understand the importance of a credit score). SD14 is a liar just like BM. It's been a couple weeks and of course not a damn thing has changed.

Now we're dealing with SS10 who thinks organic food and anything that's healthy is horrible for you and he pitches a fit about it. He thinks he gets to call he shots and tell us how things work. No matter how many times or different ways we explain why we make healthier choices for ourselves and them, he think he's always right.

I know my DH has a lot to work on, he's the most inconsistent parent I've ever met. He's working on it, but to be honest he sucks at it. I guess he feels guilty or like he owes them something because of the divorce. But all that does is create these monster children that grow up into these a-hole, entitled adults.

I've given up on trying to help anymore. In the past, I've given so much input and backed it up with parenting articles and research. DH appreciates it but has so much trouble following through. So I just clean the common areas, even when I don't make the mess. I try not to make a deal out of it and I repeat over and over "jot my circus, not my monkeys". Full disengagement mode and no regrets.

Gamergirl SM's picture

Lol I'd clean up the common areas and put it ALL on their beds to deal with or sleep with. And I'd tell SS that you are not a short order cook & this isn't a denny's. He eats what you cook, or he can go to bed right then & there. They will fight you at 1st of course. My SS13 is high functioning autistic with oppositional defiant disorder. NOT fun. BM had (REALLY REALLY REALLY WISH NOT) passed away from cancer almost 2yrs ago, so DF & I have the boys full-time. He will argue anything and everything with anyone, but most especially women in authority (same probs w/ teachers). What shuts him up when he refuses to do something is my threat to turn off the electricity. I've already proven that I'll shut off the internet, I can live without wifi. I can also live without the lights on for a few hrs if need be. I know which breakers to leave alone to keep essentials like fridge & heat going. And he has learned that I am WAY more stubborn than he is, and will not tolerate disrespect. He and his little bro were never held accountable for anything by BM, but I will not let him get away with disrespect towards me. It is most certainly something he can control, and DOES when his dad is home. I tried being nice at 1st, but this past summer break broke the camel's back, so to speak. They have a dedicated dirty underwear basket that DAD washes if he wants them to have undies for school, & I don't touch. I go around at night & take away all electronic controlers, and they don't get any electronics on the weekend until they have cleaned up their toys. And since they procrastinate like crazy, it means they play outside TOGETHER most of the weekend.

I started out like you, doing everything for everyone, but I have my own health issues and for my physical & mental health, I had to force my authority in my own home. It would have been diff had BM still been alive. If it got to be as bad as you have it, I probably would have made the decision to go visit my family on the weekends they came. And if DF didn't clean up their mess, then he'd be sleeping on the couch until he did.

There are things you have no say in when it comes to their lives. But you need to make it clear to your man that it's YOUR home too. And he had better respect your needs for a clean home or HE would be out on the couch amongst the mess until he did something about it. If they left the kitchen a mess & he didnt make them clean it or do it himself, then you should refuse to cook in a dirty kitchen.

Maybe I'm being too harsh, but I'm still in the process of fighting my cleanliness battles. The respect thing, for me at least, will take a loooong time with a teen w/ ODD, but I have hopes on the cleaning. Maybe it will work for one of us soon Blum 3

Mama Unicorn's picture

We have a "boggart" that lives in the house. It has a hidden "box" where it puts stuff that gets left lying around. If the kids miss the item and ask for it, they earn it back by doing a chore. If they never miss it...eventually it gets sold in a yard sale. I do give them the money for selling their toys. And the boggart gives them each a gift for item from the box!

When hubby notices they're running out of clothes, he makes them do a chore day to earn all the clothes back. They hate it but it keeps me from feeling like a house elf. Hubby was annoyed a few times about it himself, but I stuck to my plan and it wasn't long before he said to me, "So the boggart box is your way of making the rest of us feel the frustration you feel when you find stuff left lying around." Yes yes yes! He plays along now.

I love my boggart!