Really need advice please
So I have decided to really make an effort to try and make this blended family work instead of leaving. I have two skids (SS14 and SD9) that visit every other weekend and whenever else their mom feels like dumping them on us. It is really difficult for me to endure the weekends when they are here, even though they really don't do much that is out of line. I don't have any kids of my own but I am very uncomfortable when they are in my house and I feel like they have taken over my whole life when they are here. They interrupt conversations between me and my husband, and pretty much every time anyone speaks, they will interrupt despite their dad telling them all the time to stop doing that. They eat up all my food (the little one eats round the clock) and they can't seem to figure out how to put trash in the trash can despite being reminded and admonished frequently, which pisses me off because I have dogs who could get sick from eating trash on the floor. I don't like having them around my dogs, who they love to play with and will not leave alone or be gentle enough with. They take over control of the TV and always say they are bored. And the oldest one creeps around at night messing around with our stuff, which really infuriates me. He eats a bunch of snacks and he messes with all the stuff we have on our shelves, like special collectibles. I have tried putting things away so they can't mess with them but our whole house has shelves of things like that all over and there is nowhere to put them away. The older one also lies all the time, usually about unimportant things like if his phone is charged or not, but he also sometimes tries to instigate problems by saying that his mom told him not to do stuff that we have told him is okay to do. He's also a know-it-all who knows a bunch of bull that he heard on TikTok that isn't even true, although he will argue you to death on it. The little one throws tantrums when she doesn't get her way, although husband gets into her for this. They just moved here recently from out of state with their mother, and I understand that they seem to be having some adjustment issues, so I am trying to be patient. But to be honest, their presence in my home annoys the everloving crap out of me. I dread every weekend all week and I can't bear to even be in the same room as them for more than 5 minutes because they annoy me so much. I really try to interact with them and ensure it but it's getting to the point where I am having trouble masking my feelings and my patience is wearing thin. I would really appreciate some suggestions on how to get used to this situation and how to deal with it without being so upset and annoyed. I had previously considered leaving my marriage because I was afraid of dealing with these kids forever but decided I loved my husband too much to follow through. We have a great relationship and really only argue about the skids. I am trying to give it my best effort but I really need some help as to how to be less annoyed and upset and angry and worried while they are here.
Don't stay for the weekend
Make plans for you and the dogs and get out for the weekend occassionally.
Or tell your DH to make plans with the kids to visit some where that is not your home occassionally.
If they are over every weekend and you get no down time from them and work it will drive you crazy.
I definitely would do that,
I definitely would do that, but we only have one car, so it's not really an option for me. Also I am so worried about SS stealing. He hasn't done it (that I know of) and I have put away what I can, but I just have this feeling with him poking around at night all the time that he wants to. Like I said, our whole house has shelves of collectibles all over the place and there is no way for me to put it all away. And I have no proof he would do it, just a feeling. I feel like I have to be there anyway to watch and make sure he hasn't taken anything. It's so stressful.
Nanny cams and document
Take pics of your stuff where it is.
Thank you! Genius idea. I
Thank you! Genius idea. I need to find some cameras that are small enough to hide because if DH knows I put them up he will freak.
As I read your previous blogs
As I read your previous blogs, someone mention that you have a DH problem more than a SK problem. I don't understand why you allow them to take over your tv. You must take back your power in the house and stop allowing these tools to have control. Why on earth you feel the need to 'get used to this situation' is beyond me.
I agree, DH is a lot of the
I agree, DH is a lot of the problem, which I have discussed with him. He is phasing out of the Disneyland dad crap and trying to ease them into living in a house with rules again. Apparently while they were living with their mom out of state for the past few years, it was utter lawlessness and no one was really making them do anything, this the SA failing out of school two years in a row. DH is trying to be understanding of the situation but he misses a lot as far as discipline and doesn't share my opinion on what consitutes misbehavior. I don't have any kids and I'm not used to them and they just drive me insane constantly.
Seems like there are a few
Seems like there are a few clear issues here. You guys have your house set up for single people not for kids. This is pretty understandable when kids are older and you don't have them all the time. When you have kids at least 50% of the time you naturally childproof things.
However these are not toddlers these are older kids that should really know better and no not to destroy things or be slobs. That is a problem of parenting. The issue is your DH is not setting any expectations for them. Kids are totally fine having one set of expectations at home and another one at school and yet another one while at your house. This is not something that you can blame completely on BM. If you don't have the authority to discipline them and set the standards for your house then your DH has to do it.
My SD can be a slob too and whenever she was over at the same time that my in-laws were they would wait on her hand and foot and expect the same thing from DH and I. She would leave her trash everywhere and somebody would always quickly scoop it up so she wouldn't have to lift a precious princess finger.
She still acts that way when it was just her and my in-laws were not around to clean up after her. In that case I would tell my husband about the trash left everywhere and it was up to him whether he wanted to clean it up himself or make SD do it. He would usually just do it himself rather than ask her to do it.
If your skids are not going to clean up after themselves then your DH has to do it. I would make a very clear standard for him that the weekends they are there cleaning up after them is his responsibility. If he doesn't want to have that responsibility then he can have the responsibility of teaching them to clean up after themselves. And if he doesn't want to do that then he in the skids can't get mad at you for enforcing your expectations to clean up after themselves.
I know it is super annoying to have your space taken over and invaded every other weekend. At minimum I would have your bedroom set up as your sanctuary so when they've taken over the TV in the living room and wherever else you can retreat back to your space and they won't bother you.
As for all the knickknacks and things that they could break, you will have to put them away or make sure the skids face consequences if they mess with them. That's a tough way to live though when you feel like you don't even have control over the common areas of your house.
Thank you for the advice. I
Thank you for the advice. I guess I am having a hard time getting DH on the same page as me. He stays so stressed out all the time, especially when they are here, and I'm trying to be fair and understanding but he just doesn't want to hear me complain about them, he gets upset and it becomes an issue between us. I can call them out on the trash and other stuff but I feel like that's all I would be doing with no positive conversations. I am not a confrontational person and it's hard for me push people about things that bother me, especially when I know they are already upset and will get angry with me when I do so.
It's hard to disengage when
It's hard to disengage when the kids are in your home actively interferring and potentially destroying your belongings.
I mean... disengagement is kind of a "not my circus.. not my monkeys" kind of attitude.... but you can't just let them abuse your animals.. or destroy your belongings.
Unfortunately... these kids are old enough that their general habits and personalities may be somewhat firm... when his son lies what does your SO do? When his kids hurt your animals.. what does he do?
And.. you say you only have one car.. who does that belong to? If it is his.. why don't you have one.. and how do you manage to get to work etc?
The bottom line is he needs to step up and parent.. and if he won't.. then while your relationship may not be completely doomed.. certainly.. you will be dealing with crap every other weekend...
So.. you know what you have here.. at a certain point.. you either accept it or leave... you already have advice to be more scarce.. keep your valuables and important stuff locked up.. but if your SO won't respect your wishes.. is he really a good partner?
Exactly. I feel the need to
Exactly. I feel the need to stay vigilant while they are here so that I notice if something by goes missing or is broken. So it's hard to just disengage, which I know pisses my DH off. When SS lies, DH does not call him out on it, he just accepts what he says and moves on. He doesn't like when I call the kid on lies because he feels like I am nit-picking the child because most of the lies are not about anything important. I have pointed out to DH how often the kid lies and he recognizes it as problem but I doubt he will address it until it's a significant issue (to him). He has told the kids to stop messing with the dogs so much but they just keep on. I guess I will just have to nut up and start getting onto them about everything I notice that is a problem since he won't. It's just hard for me to do as I am not a parent and whenever I do try to do it, they don't listen to me (SS anyway). God I hate this.
He is a good partner. He
He is a good partner. He really tried with our relationship and we have a good one outside of the skids issues. We just view the situation really differently.
Also, I really try to pick my
Also, I really try to pick my battles with DH. He handled stress very poorly and is very stressed about me not getting along with kids and being irritated by them and he just lost his job and has been working a terrible fast food job until he finds something else. He stays really overly stressed all the time lately and when I bring up stuff with the skids, he just loses it. I feel everything is hanging in a delicate balance, and I'm trying to be sensitive to the others that are involved here, but I guess I am learning that I am just not a kid person and the having them in my house with a fiery passion.
Honestly.. the picture gets
Honestly.. the picture gets better here.
He also has his own issues with dealing with reality = aka handling stress
He is unemployed.. and I'm just guessing this isn't the first time he has had employement/money issues. (having only one car between you is telling).
He isn't a great father.. he doesn't support you...
I mean.. what are you really trying to salvage here?
He works construction and it
He works construction and it always slows down in the winter. But yes, he handles stress and conflict poorly. However, as a couple, we have an awesome relationship and are comfortable enough with each other to respectfully handle disputes. It's ideal when they aren't around. That's what I want to salvage. I don't feel like my whole marriage and life has to be decimated because of the issues with these kids. It's not fair and I won't sacrifice it for them.
Maybe you need to try to have
Maybe you need to try to have some couples counseling.. he could learn to handle stress and conflict in a more healthy way. You could have a sounding board as to whether your concerns are valid or nit picky.
As for things that don't directly impact you.. like lying about charging his phone.. stuff that doesn't have any impact on you.. you do need to learn to turn a deaf ear to that... and don't get worked up about things that to an extent.. aren't your issue or monkey.
But.. if he won't work with you on boundaries.. maybe you need to insist he do visitation outside the home.. does he have family where he could go for the weekends with them?
I think therapy is an
I think therapy is an excellent idea. I think we all need it. At the moment cost and lack of insurance are an issue, but our insurance will be instated in March, so maybe we can do it then. DH is not in favor of that idea but I think I may have to press that issue because the way we are doing things now is ineffective.
I think you're right about the lying issue. It pains me to hear it all the time, but it doesn't do anyone any good for me to dwell on it or be upset about it. It just makes him look like an idiot.
Unfortunately he doesn't have anywhere to take them on a visit. We are super broke right now and can't afford a hotel either, which I doubt he would even consider anyway. He has been trying to get them out of the house more to go to the park and stuff like that, which I appreciate. But we can't really afford to do much else with them at the moment, nor are there many good options of things to do where we live.
If you are staying then it
If you are staying then it seems as if you are the one who will be doing all of the changing . Everything you do will revolve around his life with the kids. Especially if they are being dropped off whenever. I can tell by this your life wil no longer be yours. Maybe you are a person who can do this but not being a kid person doesn't help your situation. You still have a long road ahead. Good luck.
That's what I keep coming
That's what I keep coming around to. It's not going to change. I don't know how to get DH to understand where I'm coming from and get on board with me. Our parenting styles are different and he is more permissive than I am. I am only trying to be understanding of others in the situation and I am willing to compromise on some things but I feel I can't even approach him about kid stuff because he gets so pissed because of his stress level and inability to handle it.
You probably have said this
You probably have said this before but how long have you been with him? And how old are you? If I can ask
Both of us are 39 and we've
Both of us are 39 and we've been together for 5 years.
Set boundaries and protect your marriage
I'm older and maybe have learned a thing or two in the last 15 years that you haven't come around to yet. First, you deserve to be happy and feel at peace in your home. Second, your marriage should be the most important relationship to both you and your DH. If that relationship fails, the family fails. If your DH isn't willing to commit to that then I think you have a hard road ahead of you. Biological children and step children will benefit more from a loving, committed marriage than anything else in a home. They need to understand that they are NOT the center of the universe and that there are rules in society and rules in a family that must be followed or there are consequences. You and DH need to sit down, decide what is most important to both of you and write it down. Put family rules in ink on paper along w planned consequences. Discuss and POST the rules for all that live in the home to see. You should expect DH to deal w these rules being broken and to administer consequences. When the kids leave each week sit down together and discuss how things went during their visit. Decide what went well and what didn't and plan on how to fix anything that didn't go well. If DH is not willing to do this you have a long road ahead of you. These kids will be part of your life forever and if the boundaries aren't set now it just gets worse later.
Thank you, I appreciate the
Thank you, I appreciate the advice. We do talk after the kids leave about how things went and what we want to do differently next time. He is pretty open to that conversation and I try to remain respectful when I discuss things with him. We don't have a written list of rules but I could try to propose that and see how it goes. But I agree too that our marriage is the most important relationship and I think he does a good job checking in with me throughout the visit and trying to include me in things.
I fully believe that the
I fully believe that the bioparents get so stressed out when the skids are at their home because *there's NO structure!* This means it's a constant free-for-all for eveyone and with the stepparent trying to referee everything. If you can get him to understand this it could help and get him on board with rules, structure, chores, etc., but unfortunately it may be a losing battle.
You have no authority with the skids unless HE has authority and grants you the same. Otherwise, remove and lock away/put away your valuables and either stop picking up after them/helping with cleanup or just pick the stuff up and put it in one area, perhaps on the dining room table, so it's not just in your way and people actually SEE it. (I've done all of this with more or less success in the end - my DH got really mad about the dining room table stack but I pointed out NONE of it was mine, but in my way, so now it's in YOUR way it's a problem? So trash pickup got better.). For possessions left arround the shared areas I have a 24 hour rule, it's out for 24 hours and walked by 100x then you must not want it - same rule for things left out when they went back to BMs.
For sure. He has told me to
For sure. He has told me to get onto them when I am bothered by something they do, but SS doesn't listen to me and goes behind my back and gets approval from unwitting DH and does it anyway. I really don't want to get onto them because A) they don't listen or go behind my back, I feel like he should be the one to do it, and C) I feel like that's all I would be doing while they are here. But I feel like that is my only option to make things change. It is so hard to get through to DH about these kids. He is just so happy to be able to see them regularly again and I don't want to crap on that, and I know that's part of why he doesn't want to give them a hard time about stuff unless it's important. But they really need the structure. In a major way, in my opinion.
Opinion shopping is a problem
Opinion shopping is a problem that i wouldn't tolerate.. and neither did my dH.
Ask one person... then go to another for an answer
You defer to your SO regarding requests from the kids.. or at least defer anything you would rather not agree to.. or say.. I'm going to discuss with your dad first.
kids asking one parent.. then asking another for a different answer.. were punished for it. what they wanted.. was automaticallly revoked... or some other privelege or future request denied.
I agree. It should not be
I agree. It should not be tolerated. But again, I seem to be the only one bothered by it because it keeps happening to me.
So ask him why he keeps
So ask him why he keeps ignoring your authority and why he undermines you all the time.
I wouldn't say that he always
I wouldn't say that he always undermines me. I would say that the opinion shopping happens and he is unaware that the kid already asked me and I said no. He has undermined me a couple of times but we discussed it and he said it is important for us to always back each other up and he would try to be mindful of that going forward and discuss it privately if it's an issue.
And that's where the line of
And that's where the line of "ask your dad" is so important - this worked wonders for me.
Bio Free. Terms.
For one thing - just FYI - you are not blending you are integrating these children into your life. You are like me - no bios and trying to get along. I too am not liking much in the way of confrontation.
SS14 - I keep getting told "teens all lie". Well, unless they experience consequences to their lies, and you stop believing them. I always remind myself when SD's lie -"ask me no questions Ill tell you no lies"... for example, if I were to be interested enough to ask about that Drivers Ed Permit online class I helped SD16 Power Sulk sign up for with her money, back in June 2022, she probably tell me some lie. But no, dont ask questions and dont care about answers.
I mentioned above - nanny cams.
I think that your husband is stressed from money issues. He probably has Child support, hates his job and with one car, feels a bit strapped. Money is a top stressor.
He needs to manage his stress and anger better. I too have a husband that deals poorly with both stress and conflict. "your just picking on my kids". So I disengage. If SD makes a mess, I go directly to her. If I dont feel up to it, I ask him to "please clean up your mess."
If these things cause conflict, well remain disengaged. If he does want you to step up, then he needs to back you up. You need to emphasize the need for you both to be on the same "team". Same page of same book. Or it wont work. Its not sustainable to be expected to be held responsible for kids that aren not yours, yet have NO real authority.
SO, you need to go into "train the dad" mode. You need to be on the same page, you need to be a team.
ANd do not let the kids get away with hurting your pets.
No expections. Take away their stuff. Turn off internet. Repercussions to not listening to you.
You are absolutely right. I
You are absolutely right. I have to start addressing things directly with the children. I am super uncomfortable with doing it but it's the only option at this point. And then disengage, as you said. Money is definitely a huge stressor due to the job and car situation. I work from home but I'm looking for another job to supplement the income. DH is really trying hard to please everyone, and he knows he doesn't deal with stress well, but he is trying very hard to make it all work and respond better, which is what has made me decide to do the same. I need to take more responsibility for addressing the issues that bother me instead of ignoring them and being mad or telling him when he's already maxed out. I've never really disciplined them before, just told them here and there not to do this or that, so we'll see how that goes. I just really want to try to make this work somehow.
Why are you looking for a second job when he is the one who is
Why are you looking for a second job when he is the one who is underemployed? I'm guessing part of the financial difficulties are because of him having to pay child support. If anyone should have a second job it should be him, not you. He should be the one supporting his children.
He technically has 2 jobs
He technically has 2 jobs right now, and he has been working overtime at the active one. The other job has been slow with no work lately but he will add that in as well when it starts back up. We are trying to get out from under a mountain of debt that has accumulated due to moving several time and a car accident, so that's why we're trying to work so much.
You say your relationship is great outside SK issues. Take it from me...you need to get these issues resolved NOW. If not, things will stay the same forever. Your SKs are being raised a certain way where "wrong" behavior within the home is acceptable. They WILL bring this into adulthood. Ask me how I know. Even today, with DHs kids being 28-42 years old, we STILL have moments of conflict. He is hard pressed to admit his kids are assholes to me and while he has changed over the years, our marriage was saved only because, in counseling, some serious boundaries were set. I have not seen DHs kids in 5 years....he sees them away from our marital home.
So, please don't fool yourself into thinking, once they are grown and out of the house (and that's if they even leave), things will change. You guys need some serious marriage counseling or you need to get yourself into counseling so you can set some boundaries and/or make some life changes.
I do agree that counseling
I do agree that counseling would be helpful for us all. There are already so many issues present that a third party is needed to help mediate and make suggestions. That's why I got on here in the first place, for a third party opinion.
Your DH is being a DuH
Why are you walking around on egg shells in fear of upsetting him and setting off his anxiety? His issues are his to solve. He should be worried about him and his children and other problems upsetting you. I'm sensing whiffs of DAVRO from your DH.
DARVO (an acronym for "deny, attack, and reverse victim and offender") is a reaction that perpetrators of wrongdoing may display in response to being held accountable for their behavior. Some researchers indicate that it is a common manipulation strategy of psychological abusers. An abuser denies the abuse ever took place, attacks the person that was abused (often the victim) for attempting to hold the abuser accountable for their actions, and claims that they are actually the victim in the situation, thus reversing what may be a reality of victim and offender. It often involves not just "playing the victim" but also victim blaming.
I have never heard this. My
I have never heard this. My SO definitely "plays" the victim. It works too. Last Night I was one sentence away from telling him I am moving out and he played the victim and I decided to wait for another day to tell Him because he was so sad about what we were talking about. I feel like I have a problem because I can sit here and see people need to get out and all of the issues they are having. But then I go to do it and I am a wimp.
I do tend to walk on
I do tend to walk on eggshells with him because he has a quick temper. I do this because, as much as I love him, I know how swiftly and intensely he will react to things at first, and since he has been extra stressed lately, I am trying to be considerate of that fact and his feelings. That doesn't mean that I don't address things with him at appropriate times, it just means that I am careful to choose when I do it and how because there is already a lot of tension present on this subject of skids.
You are overfunctioning for
You are overfunctioning for your DH. You're trying to protect him from his own stress and anxiety, and while that is admirable and understandable, he's still stressed and still not parenting his kids. You can't do that indefinitely without losing yourself to a mountain of resentment.
Why is he not trying to protect YOU from the stress of his kids? They're HIS kids. Ask him that. He'll probably get mad and gaslight you because he doesn't have a good answer.
If he won't go to couples counseling with you, go yourself. It will help you sort through strategies and decisions for your own life.
Good point. I do tend to put
Good point. I do tend to put others first and myself last, and maybe I am doing that a little too much here. I feel like maybe I am not describing the situation accurately though, because he does do a lot to help me deal with the skids, like he makes them be quiet and leave me alone whenever I'm asleep or need to disengage, he does most of the cooking for them and he takes them out when possible to give me a break. He does get onto them about stuff that he sees and I think he does a pretty good job, but he isn't always RIGHT THERE and that's when SS usually chooses to do something bad. He gave me the authority to discipline them, I just haven't done much of that because I'm so uncomfortable with it and the last few visits I have been disengaging a lot because I was stressed about other stuff on top of skids. We do differ a little in parenting styles but I think a lot of this has to do with me being really uncomfortable with disciplining them and SS starting shit when DH goes to the bathroom or is asleep or whatever. It's just such a tense situation and they are so needy and annoying that it suffocates me. I also get really mad when they act up, like when they don't listen to me about not messing with the dogs, and I'm afraid to say something to them again because I feel like I'm going to lose it and scream at them and overreact and then they'll tell their stupid mom and she'll give DH hell and then I'm the jerk. I have no experience with this and I don't want to become the problem.
"does do a lot to help me
"does do a lot to help me deal with the skids, like he makes them be quiet and leave me alone whenever I'm asleep or need to disengage, he does most of the cooking for them and he takes them out when possible to give me a break"
No offence, but you're looking at this the wrong way round. He isn't doing you a favour when he deals with the kids - that's his job, his responsibility. You are the one who is doing him a massive favour when you take care of his kids. It's all about perspective.
I guess I am just trying to
I guess I am just trying to understand if I am overreacting because I'm uncomfortable in this situation because I am not used to it, or if the situation itself is unreasonable. I don't want to be unfair to anyone and I am trying to be patient but step-parenting is so whack and I just hate it. I wish they didn't exist. I wish it were just me and DH. I wish that I had had a kid with DH instead because maybe I would care more and try harder than I am with the skids. Or, at the very least, I wish they didn't have these weird issues and that they listened the first time, but I know that's not realistic because they are kids and kids don't work like that. No one does. I swear, I feel like such a complete idiot for thinking that this would be nice and fulfilling and something I would be comfortable with. I would never try it again.
I think you need to step back
I think you need to step back for a moment and figure out what exactly YOU are ok discipling for and how you will do it. Only then can you set some standards for you AND your DH about what you will/won't or can/can't do - and what his clear role as the parent is. Having a child doesn't solve anything from what I've read on this site and may make it worse so if you don't want kids don't have them!
If they don't listen to you the first time, calmly and firmly repeat yourself or redirect them. If they are blatent about it, then maybe it's something your husband needs to address (that you are to be listened to and are an adult in the house with authority over minors). As for pets, I had ZERO problems enforcing my SDs and their friend's behavoir around them. Any abuse or teasing was not tolerated and I would come down on them like a ton of bricks the first time (i.e. you stop NOW or I will be taking you home - whether that be back to BMs or back to their own home if it was a friend), that tended to solve that issue quickly beause I would 100% do it.
Maybe pick up a parenting book from the library? There are some decent ones out there about pre-teens and teens.
Very good tips, thank you. I
Very good tips, thank you. I do get into them about messing with the dogs, but 5 seconds later, they're doing it again. I think maybe I need to be firmer about things and really let them know they had better stop. The younger one usually listens orettt well but SS14 is...willful to put it kindly. It's like telling him not to do something makes him want to do it more. Or he blatantly ignores me or goes opinion shopping with dad. I am going to try to be more firm with him from now on and if he keeps on, then I will yell and punish or tel his dad to deal with it. If that doesn't work then I guess it's time for some major changes. I don't know how this is going to go honestly because DH gets so mad every time I bring up issues with the skids, so I don't know how we're going to establish boundaries. I have been crying for the last hour thinking about if I can't make it work and having to give up DH. It makes me so sad. I'm getting really depressed on top of stressed out over this situation. It seems impossible.
"I will report you to the
"I will report you to the police for maltreating my pets. If you don't believe me, just watch. If you want a future, if you want a life, you had better not cross me."
I think I should clarify that
I think I should clarify that the children aren't purposefully harming the dogs. They both love the dogs and the problem is that they want to hold them, pet them, play with them and pick them up constantly. They call them over to them if the dogs aren't sitting right with them and they just aren't very good at picking up the dogs safely and carefully or in a way that is comfortable for the dogs. We constantly have to reinforce that they need to let the dogs go where they want and wait for them to come to them, then be gentle and stop picking them up. I am going to start getting more serious about it when I see it happen now and let them know that if they can't leave them alone and stop picking them up like I asked, then they won't be allowed to interact with the dogs at all.
They are old enough to know
They are old enough to know better. Sooner or later one of the dogs is going to defend itself.
Not soon enough.
Ask yourself why you make
Ask yourself why you make excuses for their bad behaviour?