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Just a late night rant

Tananne's picture

Is it normal for my fiancé to expect me to love his children as if I birthed them? I like to consider myself a loving, warm, and compassionate person but every time my fiancé tells me that I am a mother figure to his children, it severely overwhelms me.  He expects absolutely nothing of me (ie doesn't ask me to carpool, make food, have any childcare responsibility, etc) but it feels like he's offended that I don't absolutely adore his children the way he does.  When he speaks of me as their mother, he's solely talking about the love I have for them as if they're my own.  That's just not reality.  It's the equivalent of being set up on a blind date and from that first meeting, you're expected to love and cherish that stranger as if he's your husband.  Um , no?

Im just wondering, is it appropriate to explain that my unconditional, sacrifice everything kind of love doesn't just appear over night?  That doesn't mean we won't eventually grow a strong, unique bond ... but to me, SKs are people. I'm selective with who I spend my time with.  Why does your child trump everything? Just because she's your entire world automatically means she has to be mine?

what I find interesting is that he once told me he would never adopt.  Now, I want to dig in to that... he wouldn't adopt because it isn't his own yet I am expected to absolutely adore this child that isn't mine, just because she came from him?

JRI's picture

On Steptalk, we often read about parents who want the new step to instantly love their kids.  This is a nice fantasy but it is unrealistic.  You are wise to see this.

I'm like you, I relate to my SKs as individual people.  So, I can't stand SD, love OSS and am neutral about YSS.  My SKs are all adults in their 50s and 60s now and I've had almost 50 years of relationships with them.

Your fiance has that blind parent love, that's understandable.  But he is kiddinng himself if he thinks a newcomer will feel the same.  Over time, you might develop feelings for them but its ok if you dont.  As long as you are polite and civil to them and make sure they are safe and cared for while with you -thats the most that's required.  Good luck getting him to understand this.

Rumplestiltskin's picture

I am like you, in that i relate to SO's kids as individuals. There are 4 of them ranging in age from 11 to 25, and the oldest two were raised by their BM in another state and the BM of the youngest 2 is very high-conflict. I met them only a few years ago so had very little influence on their personalities or habits and did not know any of them in the "little and cute" phase. These "kids" are all very different individuals and to be expected to treat them like or feel like they are a "package deal" is very simplistic. 

Kes's picture

Your fiance is displaying a severe lack of emotional intelligence and insight if he expects you to love his kids like you birthed them.  He speaks of you "as their mother"? I'd be inclined to correct him when he does that.  They presumably already have a mother somewhere. I think you should tell him what you just told us - and be plain about it.  His expectations are totally unrealistic and for me this would be a red flag in planning to marry this chap. 

tog redux's picture

Yeah, this seems to be a weird thing that some people expect of their partners - almost as if they can't separate your love for them from your love (or lack thereof) for their kids.

Some people do grow to love stepkids ... over time. And it develops organically, it's not forced.  It also depends a lot on circumstances, ie, how that kid behaves towards you, how their other bio parent treats you, etc.

The adoption comparison is good, but I bet he'll be flabbergasted - "but these kids are part ME!"

hereiam's picture

Im just wondering, is it appropriate to explain that my unconditional, sacrifice everything kind of love doesn't just appear over night?

Yes, this should be put out in the open and discussed. Aslo, that "sacrifice everything kind of love" may never happen, that is the reality.

The other reality is, you don't really know him all that well, you have only been with him for about a year. It takes time to learn all of the dynamics (and truths) that come with being with someone who has kids. For example, he told you that the divorce was amicable, yet, his ex wife is a narcissist and will be difficult just for the hell of it (from your first post).

 He expects absolutely nothing of me (ie doesn't ask me to carpool, make food, have any childcare responsibility, etc)

He may not expect you to do these things, now, but how long will that last? If he expects you to love them unconditionally, like he does, it's only a matter of time before he expects you to play a parent role (maybe he will wait until after you're married).

I think it's important to discuss these expectations before getting married. Don't let yourself be manipulated by him slowly slipping you into the "mom" role (physically or emotionally). Don't be afraid to let him him know what you will and won't be willing to do, regarding his kids, and that includes how you will love them...or not.

Some step parents do love their step kids, some care about them but don't love them, some just tolerate them.  I think the expectation to "love them like your own" is unrealistic and will lead to problems.

he wouldn't adopt because it isn't his own yet I am expected to absolutely adore this child that isn't mine

Yeah, pretty hypocritical.

 

Tananne's picture

Fortunately the hours I've spent on this site (have been a lifesaver) but also have given me the insight and ability to set very firm boundaries and expectations upfront.  Without sounding like the biatch I can be, I've made it clear that these are his kids and his decisions he made to procreate with another woman well before he even knew who I was. Because of that, they are his responsibility 100% and I am not here to replace their mother no matter how awful we might think she is.  I respect a mother-child bond and I'm not going to interfere.  That said, I do things that I WANT to do - I.e. for a birthday, I'll drive around town to find the perfect gift because I WANT to.  If fiancé wants to have a few hours to himself when we have the kids, that's too bad because I NEED a few hours to myself so I get to be the 'selfish' one and do my own thing for the day.  These are the reasons I've chosen to be childless because I value my peace, independence and free time so I'll take it exactly when I want it.  Fortunately, he respects those boundaries and expectations that I have.  Unfortunately, he'll inevitably always have that blind fatherly love for children that I've only known for a relatively short time and his ultimate hope is that we can be a happy little family.  Sounds nice but it's not a definite! Maybe we won't be? Maybe we will? Who knows.

I just hope that my resentment won't get the best of me for him to have 3 beings whose needs have to come first and I hope that he doesn't eventually resent me for not feeling a certain way about his children that BM has from the very start.

hereiam's picture

Fortunately the hours I've spent on this site (have been a lifesaver) but also have given me the insight and ability to set very firm boundaries and expectations upfront.

Smart girl! I'm glad that you have set your boundaries, a lot of people don't, for whatever reason.

Just be aware that sometimes people don't show their TRUE selves for awhile (or their resentment); don't rush the marriage part.

tog redux's picture

I think a lot of men want their GF to "love the kids like their own" so they will take over parenting them.

Rumplestiltskin's picture

The blind date analogy is good, as is the adoption one. Your SO may be so blinded by child-centeredness, though, that nothing will get through to him. As Tog said, he may have trouble separating himself and his kids in his mind ("these kids are part of ME!) It's weird, too, because this kind of person also seems to have trouble separating your feelings from theirs (if I love them this much, my girlfriend needs to love them just as much!) It's a lack of boundaries somewhere. 

Rags's picture

These parents need clarity  that if they want their partner to love their failed family progeny that they, the partner in our lives, has to raise their spawn with standards of behavior worthy  of our love. Love is not the warm fuzzy feefees that so many feel it is.  Love is action. If your DF wants you to love his kid then your DH needs to ensure his kid is behaviorally lovable.

Ill behaved Ill raised spawn are not only  unlovable, they are not even likable.  The breeders in blended marriages need clarity on this early or not only will their spawn not be loved or liked, their presence may not be tolerated at all.

Good luck,

Tananne's picture

I could not agree more.  I always remind him that I'm watching him and his response to disobedience more than I'm necessarily watching them.  The demise of our relationship wouldn't be so much about the kids themselves but rather a lack of discipline.

a whiny 4 year old is annoying as hell but a teenage brat that throws a fit if they can't borrow the car (random example) is simply intolerable and I wouldn't let the door hit me on the way out.

so yeah, loving or even liking someone comes down to how they treat others, respect, generosity, etc.  Its not automatic by any means.  Just my opinion.

Loxy's picture

I think we all come into these things with idealistic (and unrealistic notions). My DH also wanted me to view the skids as my own and intially I tried to get on board with that but over time have pulled away, especially when it comes to SD. In the end it's a bit of a half, half situation. I think of SS mostly as my own. I mean I know he's not mine and he has a mother but when I think of my family I think of DH, my son and SS. I most definitely do not think of SD as my own and in fact am very grateful she's not mine as I would be so dissapointed to have a child like that. 

Although I think it's been hard for DH to accept, he does undersand it's not the same thing to parenting bio kids but it's a process. Counselling really helped us to navigate those unrealistic expectations and I would recommend for you and DH too!

 

Tananne's picture

Yes we are actually meeting with a new therapist today!  We've spoken to some but haven't found the right fit yet but definitely a goal to find someone we can meet with weekly.

To your situation, it seems like step moms overall just have a much harder time with step daughters than step sons.  I'm sure the whole Oedipus complex plays in to that and the fact that many step daughters grow up to be spitting images of BM (as if it isn't hard enough dealing with a BM, now you get two, or more, of her)

Kerrywho's picture

Hold up....

 

Not even married yet and already going to couple's counseling? THAT'S a problem. This is supposed to be the time in relationships where you're on cloud nine, not sorting out deep seated issues of a relationship that's barely gotten off the ground. If you need couples counseling now, a year in, you won't make it to marriage. And that's coming from a woman who's been there done that. Not a place of judgment. 

 

And to further the honest train, seems like you have an issue with the kids too. And that will just keep compounding. It doesn't get easier. It gets worse. One really has to be okay with taking a back seat, in all ways to have lasting power in a relationship with a single dad. And it doesn't seem like you're okay with assuming the back burner role. God knows I wasn't. 

 

You can present all of this as you're learning to establish boundaries and yada yada, but I can see right past that because I pulled that card too. But in reality the resentments I felt were already well established and the only reason why I didn't acknowledge that was because of how much I loved my ex. How could this wonderful man be attached to such a spoiled, rotten, demon seed? That's not fair and I refuse to see it! 

 

But yeap, we as flawed human being have to see things through to the bitter end. I get it. 

Tananne's picture

I understand where you're coming from in terms of accepting a position in a relationship with a man who has children being TOTALLY different than if he was without - and those are tough, unchanging circumstances.

However, I am a firm believer in pre-marital counseling.  In my opinion, it's about being proactive in how to handle situations down the road and preemptively addressing the inevitable challenges that every marriage presents, regardless of if kids are involved or not.

I was previously married and I can now finally take accountability for where I went wrong, and some of that was having idealistic expectations of what marriage should be and then becoming disappointed because our honeymoon/cloud 9 phase didn't trump the issues we dealt with 5 years in (and neither of us had children)

I do agree it's a red flag if you need therapy in the beginning to sort through current fighting or behaviors, but for us, the purpose of counseling now is to continue to make sure we keep bringing our best selves to marriage.

Rags's picture

It is unchanging only if it is allowed to be unchanging.

As for premarital counseling, absolutely. And absolutely to ongoing marital counseling if it is effective for you.

Though interestingly my XW and I did premarital counseling through her church and we remained married for 2.5 horrific years.  My DW of 27+ years and I have never had counseling and we are happily kicking ass in life together.

Probably not insignificantly due to the extensive therapy I went through when my XW and I were seeing a marriage therapist that I kept seeing for months after my XW walked out of session when the Doc said after 7mos of weekly sessions "Now we will start to work on the intimacy issues in your marriage".  With a resounding "I do not have a problem with sex!" my XW left the session and never returned.  She moved out of our home a few weeks later and in with one of her several fuck buddies from the 2.5 years we were married.  She had no problem with sex outside of the marriage but she was the ice queen within the marriage.

A few hours after she and my XFIL were hauling her shit off to her fuck buddy's place, I had a date. The locksmith van passed them as they were driving down the street. The next day, late in the AM, I was awakened by a pounding on the front door. I opened the door wrapped only in a towel, I left the glass door locked.  My XW was ranting about how  she owned the house too and I could not lock her out. Umm, yes I can and I did. You left. You don't live here.  Then she went dead silent when she saw the beautiful blonde wrapped only in a bed sheet standing behind me.  When she lost her shit at that point it was epic.  My then STBXFIL stood  behind her with tears in his eyes as he had just helped move her into her geriatric Fortune 500 Executive Sugar/Baby daddy's place.  I liked my then STBXFIL.  It was sad to see when even he realized that his daughter was a characterless, moral-less POS.  His eldest daughter broke his heart. As she did mine. I did not wait around to start my recovery.  I was no longer stuck with XFIL's toxic spawn.

A few months later I went to the last session with the therapist. She fired me that day.  She told me that if anyone would have told her that the young man with energy and a child like zest for life before her that day was the same sullen defeated man that had walked into her office 10 months before she would have never believed them.  She then told me I could keep coming back or step out and live my life.  We hugged as I left that day. Never to return. I do update her periodically on my life, my incredible bride and marriage, and to thank her for the help and support she gave me 31-ish years ago.  A good therapist is worth their weight in gold. Sadly, they are exceptionally rare.

Of course the fact that as SParents our mates have prior failed family progeny is unchanging. However, that does not mean that how those facts are managed is unchanging.

Take care of you.

Tananne's picture

What a story!  I think the most hurtful relationships just provide context to how good it actually can be.

Maybe I should've clarified the situation is unchanging because kids are in the picture, but you're right in that HOW it's managed can definitely be changed.

Also, I think no amount of therapy can help a couple who just don't value and respect each other and are overall wrong together on so many levels. 

My approach to counseling with my current partner is not "he did this, he's an asshole, change him!" But more about me.. I.e. how can I continue to be self-aware when conflict arises and not misinterpret him or how do I make sure I'm properly articulating myself in the heat of the moment to not do/say something detrimental" etc etc 

I resent the fact that he has such a long history with another woman, a shared bond of 3 children, etc.  However, I do recognize that I'm getting the best version of him likely *because* he went through all of that.  It's just that my insecurities of sharing love/attention/priority of 3 other beings simply get the best of me sometimes.  At least I can acknowledge it?

Rags's picture

You have arrived at a place that most SParents never reach.  I would not change a thing about my life before we met, nor would I change a thing about my brides life before we met.  All of those experiences are what make me the best DH I can be to her, the best dad I can be to our son. SS-29 who I raised as my own from before he turned 2yo. He asked me to adopt him when he was 22. We made that happen.  And all of her experiences are part of what make her so incredible.

I never suffered from the insecurities of my bride having shared such an intimate life event with the Spermidiot or of sharing love/attention/priority with the little guy that she brought to our marriage.  I am not sure why I haven't had those insecurities.  It just never entered my mind I guess.

Tananne's picture

It is encouraging to hear that and I want to keep my mind focused on the positive, and the present, etc.  Going down the rabbit hole of romanticizing their relationship is this self perpetuating pain and it makes no sense because IF it was so great, it wouldn't have ended in divorce and I wouldn't constantly hear from his family and friends how much happier he is with me.

Again, this goes back to why therapy is helpful for me and why it is also helpful for me to read your comments about how you've taken on your role with pride and the discipline you've enforced by truly becoming a United front with your wife. Rather than having a woe is me attitude which is pretty easy to default to when things get tough.

Rags's picture

Another thing I landed on during our blended family adventure is that the SpermIdiot and the toxic SpermClan had only my wife's past, and only part of it at that.  I am her present and future. The same applies to my XW.  While a formative experience for me, she has none of me any longer.  That experience is in my past.

Together, my DW and I navigate life and a future together.

Keep in mind that this is also the case for your DH and his XW.  Certianly SKids are part of that past and at some level they are also a part of the present and the future. Though as the future unfolds their presence and influence will naturally fade as they perpetrate their own lives with mates, families, etc... 

Hopefully the work that you and DH are doing will give you a positive future to experience together and even with your Skids as they navigate their lives.  

Our situation is about as simple as it gets for a SParent/blended family I think.   Only one kid in our family, SS was a baby when his mom and I met, my divorce was 3 years in my past at that time and 1400 miles away, she was engaging on making a life for herself and her son far from SpermLand where all of her past had occurred.  We just made it up as we progressed from there.  

Our partnership has always remained the priority for each of us. Even above the Skid. Kids are are always the top adult responsibility, but are not the priority over the adults and their relationship.

IMHO of course.

Tananne's picture

 

Another thing I landed on during our blended family adventure is that the SpermIdiot and the toxic SpermClan had only my wife's past, and only part of it at that.  I am her present and future. The same applies to my XW.  While a formative experience for my, she has none of me any longer.  That experience is in my past. Another thing I landed on during our blended family adventure is that the SpermIdiot and the toxic SpermClan had only my wife's past, and only part of it at that.  I am her present and future. The same applies to my XW.  While a formative experience for my, she has none of me any longer.  That experience is in my past.

I-m so happy Wow thank you, those are exactly the kinds of words that bring me out of my pity parties.  It is so true though and that is what the perspective should be. Thank you.

also, 100% agree on the following order of priority: kids needs, parents needs, parents wants, kids wants.  Marriage should always come first and that's what's ultimately best for the kids.

 

Tananne's picture

Regular maintenance of literally anything is always more effective than waiting until it's broken to try and fix

Rags's picture

I am a Reliabily, Maintenance, and Engineering leadership geek in my work life.  You are so right.  Maintenance is a systemic approach for delivering reliability in all systems. Electrical, mechanical, and human.

Now is when my bride gives me the look and tells me not to manage her or try to optimize her emotional relationships performance.

Unknw

CallMeCrazy's picture

You indicate he expects you to do nothing for them so he isn't expecting you to become his full in parent.

I don't think it's fair to think you should love them as your own, but I would never have been with a partner with my minor children who didn't feel genuine affection for them. I wouldn't subject them to an adult in the home who didn't care about them... but it seems it's very common for others to do so.

If you and he have vastly different expectations, I think an honest heart to heart is in order. Neither of you are "wrong" for your feelings, just may not be compatible.

Rumplestiltskin's picture

"I would never have been with a partner with my minor children who didn't feel genuine affection for them."

You say that, but what about in a situation where kids have treated their parent's partner in horrible ways? I mean ways like physically hurting them. What if these kids do things like hurt small children (such as your much-younger than them niece or nephew), or make false allegations to CPS?  No human can just look past that. If your child did any of these things to your partner, would you blame your partner for losing their "affection?" By your standards, you would dump your husband if he felt normal emotions in response to disgusting behavior. You truly don't know what it's like to walk in some people's shoes. I think if someone can be kind and respectful in their actions toward a person following something like this, they should be praised, not dumped. 

Rags's picture

You are good parent and would not let your BKs disrespect your mate.  Many good parents struggle to recognize that there are shitty parents in the world who ultimately raise shitty kids.

If a person was such a shitty parent that their spawn were so reprehensible  that their mate did not have any affection for the spawn then why would anyone be with that failed partner and failed parent and it really wouldn't matter that the mate didn't give a shit about the toxic spawn.