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Husband and stepkids conflict

savethedrama's picture

This is long, but please bear with me. I really need some advice!!

My husband and his children have always been very close until biomom moved back to town. We had them 75% of the time, however now that she's back, they are with her 75% of the time. They are older teenagers, so we allow them to make a decision about where they want to be (to an extent). One is 18, so he is able to make that choice himself now. Anyway, there has always been some parental alienation from biomom towards my husband, but I think they feel they have to show more loyalty to mom now since she's back, rather than to dad who is married with another child. The kids have always been very friendly towards me and their half sibling, so there isn't much conflict in that regard. And I don’t think biomom badmouths me, but she does often have the kids lie to my husband about stupid things, and tells them exactly how she feels about him, which again…alienation, and total immaturity. 

Another reason the kids prefer to stay with mom is because there aren’t as many rules, they get to do what they want, when they want, etc. Their grades have severely suffered and as much as my husband tried in the beginning to “fix”all of these problems, nothing worked. Even when we “forced” them to stay here 50% of the time, they would do what mom said…she would even call them and trash talk my husband for his rules on speaker phone, etc. It was ridiculous.  Anyway, my question (and concern) is that my husband has seemingly given up on much of his relationship with them. One, I think he struggles trying to balance “two lives”- which, it wouldn’t have to be two lives if we could all get on the same page. But two, I think he feels it is a lost cause and there’s not much he can do at this point. He doesn’t really put in as much effort to spend time with them because I think his feelings are hurt. However, it almost bothers me to an extent because I can’t understand how he won’t put in more effort to do things with them…. He thinks it will hurt my feelings to take more time away from us when the kids don't care about being around, but I’ve told him a million times that is crazy. I think it is just an excuse to almost be “lazy” in a sense…he has lost control and I don’t think he knows how to deal with it. Do I let him make this decision or do I keep trying to encourage him be more hands on? Obviously, he still sees them and talks to them…just not nearly as much as he used to. I don’t think he knows what to do or how to do it at this point. Is it wrong for me to be bothered by this? I almost see it as a major character flaw on my husband’s part…but maybe I just don’t understand his perspective on it? I do know that I am exhausted from worrying about it.

savethedrama's picture

Believe me, there is MUCH more to the story than this... It's been a conflicted road with BM for a while now. I guess it just breaks my heart that he is "losing" his kids in a sense.

Harry's picture

His kid will always be at BM the fun house.  They don’t have to do anything at BM but play.  Your DH does not stand a chance.  He has to try to have some type of relationship with his kids.  What may have to be a hands off type,  Where he see them and they play every now and again 

Kes's picture

You say that the step kids are "older teenagers".  IMHO, parental input at this stage of young people's lives has minimal effect - they are essentially cooked at this point and you have to leave it to them to shape their own lives.  I can only tell you what happened in the case of my two SDs, who are now 22 and 24 yrs. 

They were only with us every other weekend and some holidays, NPD BM did her very best to alienate them from us both - succeeded admirably in my case, but in the case of their Dad, they have seemed to realise in the last few years that he really did have their best interests at heart and tried hard to be a good Dad in very difficult circumstances.   They stopped coming over EOW around 2013/4 and since then it has been a case of him taking them out to lunch and occasionally coming here for a meal.  I do get the impression though, that they now really appreciate his input into their lives, that he has always been supportive etc even if only on the phone. 

My advice is to let your DH find his own level with his kids, it may not seem to you as though it is ideal, but they will hopefully fashion a good enough relationship from out of the chaos wilfully created by their mother. 

savethedrama's picture

Thank you all for your replies. I can tell this site is going to be very helpful!

I think what bothers me is that if the tables were turned and we were divorced, I would be very upset if he gave up time with our child the way he is doing with them. That being said, I would hope my child has better sense and more love in order to make an effort with him as well...

tog redux's picture

My SS19 was completely alienated from ages 15-18, and has been back in our lives for maybe a year. DH does spend time with him, but he's very disappointed in his character, and his lack of ability to influence who his son is becoming, thanks to BM's stranglehold on his psyche.  I can see that he loves his son, but he often doesn't like him very much.  I think that's reasonable when your kids are acting like BM-bots. Truthfully, it pretty much is a lost cause, unless they mature and come to their sense on their own.