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Famliy Arguing about kids - HELP

chadwick1875's picture

History: I am a divorced father and remarried. I have full custody of my two boys (age 7 & 10 – older son has ADHD) from my first marriage. The ex-wife see’s the boys every other weekend (we live 90 miles apart). I just had a baby girl (2 month old) with my new wife (married 2 years).

Currently we are having issues at home arguing mostly about the kids (my two boys). My wife is a full-time step-mom, which is fairly uncommon and you can’t find too much advice on that. The arguing comes from my kids not doing what they are told from time to time. My wife asks them to do things, they don’t do them and then she tells me and I talk to them about it. My wife does not know how to handle them when they don’t listen to her as they are not her biological kids and she doesn’t understand them. When she gets upset at them and punishes them I get on the defensive. This causes issues as she thinks I am undermining her authority. That is not the case at all.

Other issues are my wife kind of tattling on the kids. Coming to me and saying the kids are doing this, he has been in the shower too long, the kids aren’t picking up their shoes and so on. She could just talk to them about most of these things but instead insist to tell me what they are doing wrong. I agree that the kids need to take care of these things but the way in which she tells me sounds like she it tattling on them. It bothers me.

The last major issue is my older son’s ADHD. It is hard enough to have a child with ADHD in a normal marriage but having one with a blended family (full-time step-mom) is very difficult. He is on meds and it is not too severe but it is hard for him to stay on track with things and we have to tell him multiple times to do things. We may tell him things and then he goes and does them anyway. My wife may tell him multiple times not to take something to school and then he does it and lies about it. We find out and he gets in trouble. When he lies to my wife (step-mom) she can’t handle it or anyone that lies. I explain to her that he is only 10 and she doesn’t care. If we tell him not to do someting, then he shouldn’t do it and he should not lie. We then argue about this as I say it is his ADHD and get on the defensive. She says that isn’t it and he shouldn't be lying at all when we tell him something. She is always worried that if we don't take care of this now it is going to get worse in the future. It is usually small things like taking his DS to school or buying something at school when we told him not to. He then gets put to bed early, put in a corner, DS taking away or one of the many other punishments. However, the issue keeps coming back up. I completely agree he shouldn't be lying but she needs to handle it better, right?

So, as you can see this is not making for a very happy family. Don’t get me wrong, we all do have a great time together most of the time, have family dinners and do stuff together. But in the normal daily routine between school, work, kid’s sports, cleaning, homework, etc, the happy family gets lost and we end up arguing about things. Of course we all know where this leads too. Both me and the wife don’t end up talking for the rest of the night or next day. She says you can take care of your kids then (I then go the extra mile to do so). And then maybe we make up somehow the next day. It always somehow works it way out and we both know our relationship is a lot of work. It just gets lost sometimes when we have these disagreements and it blows up out of proportion. I am thinking about finding a Family Marriage Counselor for all of us to go to in order to discuss this. Any thoughts on this???

Please provide any feed back you have on this. I love my wife and my family. I just want it to be a happier environment for all of us.



Mommyto1Stepto2's picture

I am not a full time stepmom but I can relate. I do the same thing as your wife to my DH and he has told me that he feels like he is in the middle. I tell HIM because I feel it is his job to let them know when they are doing something wrong, because (1) They are not MY kids and I don't want to overstep my authority (2) If he doesn't agree then he'll be mad that I said anything (3) They don't listen to me anyways.

My DH are struggling with these same issues - we argue about all this little stuff and then we end up not talking as well. I have been in therapy for the last 10 months and we're going to be going together for the first time soon. I love my husband and family and also just want everyone to be happier.

One thing I do want to tell you is that it takes awhile for a stepfamily to adjust to their life together - I have read anywhere from 4-12 years. But I do think you guys will be able to work everything out Smile

Pantera's picture

I am a full time stepmom and my SS9 has ADHD. I know what your wife is going through. I had to check your name to make sure you weren't my DH, lol, this sounds alot like us.

If the kids won't listen to her, she has to tell on them, it really isn't her job to discipline, its yours. What else is she supposed to do if they don't listen? If she yells or gets nasty, you are just going to get defensive (am I right?). My husband has called me a tattletale before and it's hurtful. You need to make sure you and your wife are a united front. It kind of sounds like your children are trying to drive a wedge in between you (only saying because it happened to us before).

Is your wife fully educated about ADHD? I hate when DH uses the "SS9 has ADHD". It sounds like an excuse. Please don't use ADHD as an excuse for his behavior. SS9 is on meds and meds don't take away ADHD, it is supposed to help them focus. We went through the lying thing, and I think it's mainly because kids with ADHD cant control thier impulses. Once I educated myself about ADHD, I let up a bit. Maybe give her something to read on ADHD. We always point things out to SS9 that are a part of his ADHD and remind him to focus.

"If I turn into another, Dig me up from under what is covering the better part of me" -Incubus

TheWife's picture

Honestly, I tel my DH a lot of stuff because I feel like it is HIS job to parent his kid, and she will respect it more coming from him (she does).

Would you be so defensive if they were your Biokids together and she was saying the exact same things? Probably not.

My DH just came to the realization lately that I am not picking on his SD, I say the things because she SHOULD pick up after herself, make her own cereal, get her own clothes together, etc...

I find that many bioparents jump on the defensive when it comes to their kids, when it;s really the stepmother isn't saying anything a good biomother would say. They assume the stepmom is picking on the kids, but she is just parenting.

~*~When you kiss ass, your breath smells like sh*t~*~

CadysMommy313's picture

I understand where you are coming from. My SD11 comes to my and DH's house on Thursdays from school and stays til Sunday at 7 every week. I understand that you love your kids and having a child with ADHD is extremely difficult, and I feel that your wife should be understanding about that.

At the same need to understand where she is coming from too.....1)You said you have a 2 month old baby girl...that right there is a lot of work and honestly your wife's hormones are probably still a little out of whack from the pregnancy...2)Regardless of full custody or not, the boys are still YOUR kids not says no where in the marriage vows that because she married you that she is now completely responsible to take care of them (please don't take that the wrong way I'm really not being a b***h) I simply say that b/c DH and I have fought about the same thing b/c for about 2 years when SD11 was here 4 days a week I was the sole caregiver...I did the laundry, I cleaned her room, I helped with her homework, I cooked, I cleaned, I took her to/from activities, I picked up/dropped off friends to spend the night...all while trying to take care of my own child who is not even 2 yet...his argument was that he worked (Mind you he works 12's 4 maybe 5 days a week and very rarely does he work on the days that she is here)....Where I'm going with this is if she feels like maybe you aren't contributing as much to "taking care" of them as she thinks you should (regardless of whether that is true or not if she feels that way without getting to talk about it she is going to feel that way)......About her "tattling"...I have talked to several family counselors and child psychologist and all of them have said that with blended families the discipline should come from the biological parent NOT the SP b/c the skids will only begin to resent the SP for it. Discipline is more meaningful when it comes from BM or BF...............I really hope you don't think I am criticizing you because I am not by any means....Hope things work out the way you want them too...

soverysad's picture

With all do respect, I think you're being unfair. You're asking your wife to be a full-time mom to your kids. You get defensive when she gets upset and disciplines them for not listening, but you don't won't her to tattle. So basically, you want her to shut up and suck up the fact that they don't listen? Yes, they're kids, but kids don't learn to do the right thing unless they're taught to do the right thing and that means discipline for not listening! I understand there are additional issues with ADHD, but it sounds like you're excusing his behavior. Find a way to work with him and handle it and then she won't be in the middle. Don't ask your wife to take on all the crappy parts of being a mom, take away her authority, and then get pissed at her because she doesn't do it the way you want it to be done. She's right, if you don't like that she disciplines and you don't like that she tattles, she should dump them in your lap and let you handle them, but that means you cook, clean, transport, shop for, etc. when it comes to them and she focuses on your daughter.

"A pessimist complains about the wind, an optimist counts on the wind changing, a realist adjusts his sails"

chadwick1875's picture

Hi All,

I am the step Mom that Chad is referring to. While I was initially upset, I read what he wrote and it is nothing that he hasn't said to me before. NO I am not upset that he posted this I thank you all for your well thought out responses. There is alot of great advice for my Husband and I. Really I was afraid to read these posts because I thought that "evil" would be put in front of Step Mom. Smile

I am happy that I am not alone in the Step Mom abyss. Being a full time step mom is a lonely place. NO ONE can relate to me. It would be easier if I was an adoptive Mom then people would understand. But being a step Mom is a whole other set of rules. I am a full time professional and I just had my first biological child and I am helping raise two boys. Its alot of work but I wouldn't trade it for the world. For your curiosity sake I will tell you their Mom just didn't want to be a wife or a Mother and she left. I can not relate to that at all and after being with Chad and the boys for four years, nothing could drag me away from them. As far as my relationship with her, I am friendly with her and she is more than fine with me raising her kids. Odd isn't it?

Pantera, thanks for the nudge. I do know alot about ADHD and I do EVERYTHING I can to help my SS deal with it. No pop, fresh fruit, fishoil, talking to him to help him understand it. I am well informed on the shortcomings of a child with ADHD. One major problem is not the just ADHD it is his maturity level but as much as my Husband and I try, we can't help him with that and it is really frustrating because he is such a smart kid. If you have advice on that I could use it.

After reading all of this, I really think I need step Mom support.
I think that will help me not feel so alone and I might not try so hard to get my husband understand that it is so hard. I complain or tattle on the kids so that my husband will acknowledge that it is difficult. He is an awesome husband but will never understand my challenges. If that makes sense. It might to some of you other full time SM.

Here is my question. I want to know how you step moms feel and what are your challenges?


soverysad's picture

M - Sometimes all we're looking for is validation. Being a stepmom is the single most difficult family figure. You often get all of the work and day-to-day drag of being a parent without the rewards that bioparents get from their children. No matter how much you love his kids or how much they love you, you are still not the mom. They have a mom no matter how involved you are or how uninvolved she is. You're often stuck in a place of tremendous responsibility without the actual or perceived authority. You have a child of your own and you want to spend your energy and time with that child and suck up all the good stuff that comes with being the "actual" mom and sometimes resentment of the responsibility of skids creeps in even when you try to stave it off. That doesn't make you a bad person. It makes you human. My best advice to you (and your husband) is to give yourself a break on some of this. Not feeling the same for the skids as you do for your bd is normal. Wanting your dh to understand your feelings is normal. The fact that he came here looking for advice is encouraging. I might have been harsh in my response to him because his post led me to believe that he doesn't understand. Make him understand. He has memories of these children as innocent babies. His perspective is different because of that. You know what you see now, which is two kids who aren't listening and one who lies. That is a problem and you want it fixed. You want your daughter to grow up knowing it is wrong and you want consistency.

"A pessimist complains about the wind, an optimist counts on the wind changing, a realist adjusts his sails"

primin's picture

My DH has also asked me to deal more directly with his two kids vs. "tattling" to him. I respond all the time that I don't want to parent his kids, they don't listen to me and I am tired of feeling like a nag or the enforcer.

I'll give you a run down of my experience:
We have 4 kids all together, we each have a son and daughter. I have primary custody of my kids and he has his 50% of the time. We've been married for less than a year.

My SD and SS have some pretty serious issues that for the most part my DH recognizes but he also frequently misses (or chooses not to notice) the habitual lying and passive defiance.

Being in a new marriage, I don't want to be the disciplinarian, but I also don't want two sets of rules for the kids. For example, my kids brush their teeth morning and night. His kids breath smells like they have eaten dog feces every time they get close to you. I tell him both I and my kids find it oppressive to ride in the car with them and to please have them brush their teeth. I've literally had to roll the window down as they go for weeks without brushing. My DH has no sense of smell due to severe allergies so he doesn't notice. He immediately asks the kids if they brushed their teeth and they're like of course I did. Then he praises them for doing a good job. THEY'RE LYING... Hello!!!! I finally wrapped SD tooth brush and left it in her bathroom for 3 weeks without saying a word. I point out to my DH that it hasn't been used for 3 weeks and SD lies her butt off. I tell DH about the toothbrush being wrapped and he goes to brush her teeth with her (a 12 YO). He has a long conversation about hygiene (he's very clean) and pronounces it fixed. Fast forward for the next week, she's not brushing again. I don't want to tell him constantly, I want her to have friends, be healthy and learn personal responsibility so I feel like I have to say something. This is a daily thing in our life at this point over something (toothbrush is one of many examples). He doesn't step in enough and I don't want to discipline his kids so I go to him. I then become resentful that I've become the enforcer or the nag.

I am so tired of hearing my kids complain (justifiably) that I enforce rules, chores, personal hygiene and respectfulness while SD and SS don't have to live by the same rules. I want my DH to step up and see that his kids lie to his face, don't listen to me and have no follow through when asked to do something.

It is driving such a wedge between DH and myself. He's such a great guy but doesn't seem to have the stomach to push his kids constantly. They are master manipulators and really know how to work their Dad so there is not enough consistency and follow through. I honestly feel like he wants me to step in and help more, but I didn't raise my kids to be gross social misfits and I don't really want to step in and fix problems that I worked hard to avoid with my own kids.

Sorry for the rambling post, but I understand what you guys are talking about. I "tattle" because I want my DH to step up to the plate, acknowledge the problem and have some consistency for his kids behavior issues. My DH resents my "tattling" because I point out the behavior issues, vent too much and dump it in his lap to deal with. I tend to go on too much because I don't think he hears me and sometimes it's just more than what he can handle or acknowledge. He's terrified his kids are going to be antisocial like their BM. It's a tough place to be in for sure.