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4 huge problems with stepchild visiting that is affecting my mental health

Aigancho's picture

I did this on mobile then clicked something and my 30 mins of typing it all out was for nothing it deleted.  GRRR

Here we go again

Id like to start off by saying I am SO GRATEFUL I found this group.  I have felt guilty for so long but after reading a bunch of relatable posts I feel like I am just doing what I can to cope.  I have some major in my opinion issues.  Im hoping some people can give insight as this is gonna be a long one.  I will number each problem for easier reference.

My story:  Im a 38yr old single mum who divorced 3 years ago.  I have an 11 yr old daughter and 8 year old son.  Their dad is an ongoing idiot and has caused me PLENTY of problems and still continues to but that is for a different day.  I am mom AND dad to my kids.. I bring them structure and routine and discipline but paired with a ton of love and understanding.  My mother was a terrible person and I vowed to never be her plus I have gone to years of counselling to do exactly that.   I have complex ptsd meaning I have been abused since I was a baby.  A lot of mental, physical and emotiona abuse.  I left home when I was 17...ran away from one narcissist into the arms of another once and stayed there for 18 years where I endured more abuse plus sexual abuse.  Im doing therapy for this and currently saving up to change my court order with him.  I met my boyfriend 3 years ago this December.  I was slow to introduce him to my kids as I knew they would attach to him big time.  Things were great.  My boyfriend Ive gotta say is not good with kids and has no clue.  He has gotten better over the years however.  Fastforward to 2 years ago we all moved in together.  My kids go to their dads every weekend.  At first there was friction as no one knew their roles but after a good arguement it was established what is to be expected.  The kids arent to call him dad and expect him to do dad stuff.  I am the disciplinarian and only me unless I am not in the house.  he has issues with the kids he comes to me and I deal with it.  Occasionally he has issues and bypasses me then complains that he had to do that and I just remind him he has nothing to stand on and he can quit complaining.

His story: he is 40 and a single dad but I barely think of him as that.  His ex lives in the states and we live in canada.  They dated like that and he thought she was crazy and wanted to break it off with her.  He says she is bipolar and never has anything nice to say about her.  Ive read a lot of the texts that he shows me and honestly the shoe fits.  Anyhow the day he called her to break up with her was when she decided to announce she was pregnant with his kid.  Coincidence?  I think so.  No paternity test was done but the kid "looks " like him so therefore it must be his.  Queue the eye roll but whatever.  He tried to have a civil relationship with her but she wasnt having it.  At first he asked her to abort saying he never wanted to be a dad.  His own stupid mistake and it takes 2 to make a baby.  She decided to keep it obviously.  She also has a 9 year old from another similar relationship.  Anyhow he wanted to do counselling with her to get along with her and she wasnt having it.  The counsellor told him there is no point.  His dad and step mom came to visit him and they went down to the hospital where she was giving birth and she was even difficult then.  He lawyered up immediately and a parenting order and suppor order was put in place.  Mind you this is based on a baby.  The child is now 4.5.  While he was down there for a month his dad and step mom helped him with everything.  They paid for hotels food, and evevn helped out with baby.  He has never had to deal with his son one on one when he was a baby and that is likely because the ex was so involved.  The order as it stands says he has to see him every 6 weeks at her house.  THrough the years they have adapted it to be more flexible so he rents hotels to visit his kid because he cant stand staying at her place.  She is highly manipulative and honestly I dont trust that she wont try to do something to win him back for her benefit only to destroy him again.  Anyhow when he was almost 2 his son was allowed to come up to Canada for a week.  He has to drive down there, pick him up and drive him back.  The whole drive takes 18 hours give or take.  She refuses to take 3 hours off the drive and meet him at the border unless he give her money.  He has had to bribe her with many things to get her to be nice so he is totally wrapped around her finger.  Anyhow everytime he has come up to Canada since I have been there the entire time, so again he has had someone always helping him out.  The first time he came up we didnt live together.  I was visiting my boyfriend every weekend when my kids were at their dads so the plan was to have me stay at his place.  Here come the problems


Problem 1- the unwilling mother

He is a very heavy sleeper. His kid could come in the room on fire and he wont wake up. He never learned that wake up immediately instinct parents get when they have young kids.  I did but my kids are older so Ive earned my sleep in badge.  However when his kid arrived...that bloody instinct kicked back in.  Heres the problem.  The first time he came down he refused to get up and get his kid back into bed.  I kept trying to wake him up and he ended up being a giant asshole.  He insisted his son sleep between us in the bed.  I sleep in the nude, I wasnt ok with that but there was a blanket barrier.  I had a toddler kick me all night and play and wake me up...while he slept.  His kid would come in the room and play a tthe end of the bed waking me up and I would try to wake his dad but nope...he wants to sleep and tells me to do it.  Fuck no.  It turned into an argument when I went and slept on the couch...or tried to but I was too red hot mad.  He woke up and acted like it was nothing.  The next time he came down it was the same crap but i spoke up and told him why Im not OK with it.  It was at his house so I bit my tongue quite a bit.  The next time he came down we lived together.  My bf slept in until 1130 while his kid was up at 6am.  Starving.  Every day he would sleep in while his kid had no food. I told him he could just leave some snacks out at least for the kid but nope...wouldnt even do that.  The next time he snapped at my kids because they didnt feed him.  My daughter flat out said we arent his parent.  Youre his dad so start dadding.  That didnt go over well but she had every right.  We were all fed up at that point.  Thats just the food issue.  I end up making most of the dinners and trying to follow a routine.  BF hates routines and literally fights them like a child.  He eats lunch when he wants or skips it entirely so so does his kid.  


Problem 2 - the babysitters

Boyfriend likes his video games.  I would think when his child comes down that he would be dedicating his limitted time with his son since he doesnt have interruptions from his ex.  Nope.  He would plant him in front of the tv and play movie after movie or sit him beside him and play video games.  One of the visits he was warned that I need time to study.  I was heading into finals with school and needed the quiet.  CONSTANTLY I had to keep this child entertained and monitored.  He was sneaky too but his dad had no idea.  A few times I lost it when they were messing around int he other room when I asked for quiet because I was writing a pre final exam.  Then he whined that they couldnt watch hockey and it was inconvenient that I was studying.  I nearly strangled them both.  Thats when my kids arent there.  most times my kids are around then they are expected to keep an eye on him, keep him entertained etc.  The kids would want a break from him too but nope.  Daddy wanted to go do what he wanted and the babysitters job was to watch him.  When it would get volitile and kids would fight my daughter would get blamed for not keeping them all quiet.  I stepped in and it ended up in a huge argument that he sure as hell did not win because what the fuck.  Because of the argument I ended up having a severe panic attack.  All the stress was too much.  Now he is coming down for a week starting tomorrow and all this begins...again.  Ive told him this time I expect him to get up with his kid and take care of him because we arent doing it.  My kids have school next week and they arent going to get sidetracked by a toddler that is unsupervised because Im busy getting them ready.. I dont need more work on my plate.  As I said this kid can be very sneaky and I dont want to have to always keep an eye on him.  

Problem 3 - the ex

the ex is a joke.  She refuses to plan anything and is a giant flake.  She never packs his bag properly when he comes up because she knows if she doesnt pack something he will buy all new ones and send it back.  We've learned that lesson, now whatever he buys stays here.  Any time he wants to talk to his son he has to beg her.  However when his son is here she calls whenever she damn well wants and we have to drop everything.  I feel that she has so much control in this situation and it really bothers me.  If I state anything that bf deems controlling or ordering he purposly refuses to do it or gets pissy, she does anything of the sort and he just lets her.  Im pissed.  There needs to be a boundary there.  For example.  Last year I asked bf if he would do a new years pary with me thisyear.  Ive been looking forward to it.  2 weeks ago i reminded him and he sent a text off to the ex to get the christmas vacation sorted out with dates.  She refuses to give him teh dates he wants, tells him he can have other dates.  It takes 18 hrs to drive down there and pick him up to bring him immediately back up here.  She wont even shave 3 hours off by driving him to the border.  He comes home a zombie and imo its dangerous!!!  Especially in the winter.  Anyhow he counters with different dates and she refuses to reply.  I asked him what happens if he can only come up during the week of new years and he told me his son is more important.  That just broke my heart and Ill get into why in a sec.  He still has no answer as of yet.  At first we thought his mom would be out of town and there would be no babysitter which means no new years but we have found out his mum is in town and he plans on forcing her ... yes forcing her to take her grandchild for new years.  Im not totally ok with that either.  Im getting shoved under the bus here because he words it that I want to do new years...not WE.  Any plans are never made.  Everythign is just spontaneious and I am expected to just adapt to it all.  Or his son comes down and then they do nothing except visit the occasional family....thats it.  If I didnt see my kids often and I got them on my terms for 1 month I would make damn sure to build some memories...which brings me to....

Problem 4 - Part time father aka the stranger

My bf has not worked since Feb.  he had a great job but there were layoffs and he took a layoff package.  They paid him out for 2 years so technically he can sit at home and do nothing.  The plan was he would go to school and have money to support himself.  He got lazy and didnt want to do the upgrading.  he only recently just started looking for a job.  a month after he was laid off he went to visit his dad in South America.  A month!!!  Then he came back and we went to Greece for 10 days.  That was June....July his kid came down for a month.  That was the ONLY time he spent with him.  He is supposed to see him every 6 weeks.  Now I get how this isnt really viable anymore.  If my bf was working spending 500 dollars every 6 weeks to visit his child and not interrupt him during preschool or school doesnt work anymoe.  He needs to change his court he would get guaranteed times with his child in the summer, Christmas etc etc.  He refuses to do this.  Says its a pain and its complicated.  Its really not.  He has the money to go down to the states for a week and get a new order drafted for guaranteed visitation but does he?? No.  He has all the time in the world to call his child EVERY WEEK....does he?? No...partly because she refuses to answer or he just doesnt want to deal with her.  Thats always the excuse, I dont want to deal with her.  I see it as take her power away and get a godamn court order so she cant refuse.  He was paying her an additional 100 dollars a month so she could go on date nights.  He thought he was earning points to get through to her and boy was he wrong.  That stopped after I pointed out the obvious manipulation!!  Both of them are terrible in encouraging their child to engage in video phone conversations.  He is just incredibly rude.  I have no issues with him video calling anyone when im around but its always the excuse that he is shy.  He is 4.5 now and its quite obvious he just couldnt be bothered.  I never allowed my kids to be so rude.  He is allowed to not say hi to people, not thank them for things.  Drives me nuts.  Anyhow the big issue here is my bf has allllllll this time to see his kid if not at least talk to him every week....he simply doesnt.  its fucked up...


So in conclusion Im literally dealing with a man who is great when his child isnt here otherwise the few times he does come down I get to deal with a lazy ass boyfriend who thinks his son is made of gold and can do no wrong and he is a wonderful parent.  He has no idea what he is doing and doesnt make an attempt to really know either.  I suffer for it because I have to step in to keep peace with my kids and to actually get things done.  Im the one who suffers with having wonderful things planned and having to change my entire routine and life because he cant follow routines and wants to do whatever he wants.  His word becomes more important than mine.  He makes decisions without me and his ex runs it all in the background.

Not sure if I mentioned.  Yes I will be going to counselling with him in regards to his emotional immaturity and communication issues.  Underneath that crap he is truly a great guy but his parents with their lack of parenting reaaaaaaaaaaaally messed him up.  If that doesnt help, yes I will leave him.  I lived in hell for 18 yrs with the last one and Im not doing it again.

JerseyGirl1970's picture

But I think that you got yourself another narcissist.


SecondNoMore's picture

Your BF is the crux of the problem. I almost stopped reading when he put the kid next to you in bed... while you were nude. 

If you are as strong a parent as you say, this man's behavior should turn you off to the point where you can never be turned on again. I think you need to be alone and focus on yourself and your kids.

Aunt Agatha's picture

The ex, the kid, nor anyone else causing problems. This is all on your SO.  He didn't want to be a dad?  Then he should have prevented that by wrapping it up.

Now that he is, you need to move out and stay away (permanently would be ideal as this kid is sadly likely to grow up to be an unparented mess) at the very least until he pulls on his big boy pants and learns to stop using literally everyone (including your kids!) and take care of his son.

As long as you are in the house with him, he won't change.  Why should he? He gets to sleep in, lounge about while you and your kids (!) do all his dad related care for him.

Seriously, this guy isn't a catch.  At all.  You and your kids deserve better.

Curious Georgetta's picture

to become an essentially different person simply to become your definition of a good or effective parent. You are the parent that you chose to be, but you do not think that  he should have that same  right.

Your right in this situation is not to impose your parenting views and preferences on him, but rather to decide if you wish to live with this person as he is. You are not forced or compelled to live with this man.

It seems a bit absurd to make the totally elective decision to live with someone and to then complain about the person and their behavior.

Unless this man was duplicitous or in any way deceptive , you are living with the person that he presented to you.

Sometimes. we learn that we cannot live with or tolerate certain behaviors , at that point we should consider leaving  You have the right to live in circumstances that you deem appropriate. He has the right to parent in the manner that he deems  appropriate.

There is no reason to look for fault or blame. You are  simply 2 people with very different perspectives and expectations. Living together has taught you about your  significant difference, and  you now realize that living together is not a good fit.

Maybe, you can be lovers, companions, and friends without living together. Perhaps, you do not love the man as he is; instead you love the notion of the man who with your tutelage and role modeling that he might become.

It is easier to move on and to look for that man who fits your ideal rather than trying to reinvent this man who may have no desire to be anyone other than who he is.




tog redux's picture

The stepkid isn't the problem here, your BF is. Poor kid didn't ask to be born and now he's got a father who pretends to want to see him, but then spends zero time with him and dumps all of his care on you.  The ex may be difficult, but at least she wants the kid.  I'm not clear why he fought to see him?

I'm sorry you suffered childhood abuse - it has definitely broken your "picker". This guy may not be directly abusive, but he's not healthy for you, either.  Move yourself and your kids out and stay single for a bit until you sort this stuff out.

There is nothing great about this guy, with or without his kid around.

beebeel's picture

The man is a lazy waste of time. He has refused to work for almost a year!! Ignoring everything else, this is a huge red flag that this guy should be firmly thrown in the "nope" pile.

You moved in with him a mere year after leaving your abusive ex. That's not enough time to detox from the abuse and work on avoiding the same mistakes. It is important to allow more time to get to know someone before you move your children in with them. 

You are still in "victim mode" (evidenced by the fact you call yourself mom AND "dad" to your kids even though they go to their dad's every single weekend) and the fog of abuse is still thick around you. It's nearly impossible to make good decisions if you're still in the fog. If you were abused since childhood up until very recently, it can take a while before you're actually able to make healthy choices. Focus on healing and sorting out your trauma so you can do right by your kids. Don't hold yourself back with another loser.

Gimlet's picture

I'm always curious about posts that call the BF or DH a "great guy" and then go on to detail exactly why he isn't.  All the things you've listed here add up to not a great guy, OP.

Let's put his parenting aside, because I think the interactions with the child and the ex are taking over the space and they aren't the root of the problem.  Your boyfriend is a lazy, mean, and selfish person who is more interested is his own wants and comfort than he is in being a decent partner to you.  Now add in all the ways that he is doing his child a tremendous disservice, and what do you get?  

Congrats on going through all the counseling you've done and bouncing back to be a good mother to your children, despite how you were taught.  I would urge you to consider the relationship that you are modeling with your boyfriend.  How will your kids see this?  Will they see being a lazy and inconsiderate partner as being OK?  You should not have to step in and defend your kids because your boyfriend wants them to take care of his child.  Gross. 

You are only 38 and you are capable of standing on your own two feet as a single parent.  I imagine there are some repeating patterns in this choice and that you probably need more time to heal and center yourself before engaging in another relationship.  What's keeping you there?

hereiam's picture

Dump this guy, be with yourself for awhile, you will eventually meet a guy who really is great. This one ain't it.

Mertesr13's picture

I feel you on the court order crap. My bf and I are dealing with his ex being who she is (very similar to yours) and he swears up, down, left, right he will try to get 50/50. It took him a YEAR to ask the court one question (if child support directly affects state-aid health insurance) because he felt that his ex was lying about that (she says the only reason she wanted child support is because she was told she has to in order for her son to keep his health insurance). That was obviously false even though I tried telling him that in the beginning and now he feels like he's got a case to stand on in court. But we'll see when he actually goes through