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New and losing my mind

DaranL's picture

Ok, I guess I am still pretty new to the whole stepparenting thing. I have been married to my wife for 10 months. I have 1 daughter, 8; she has 3 daughters, 14, 10, 8 and 1 son, 7; and now we have a son together. my main issue that is driving me crazy is that although my daughter is primarily with bm, I make it clear that I will support my wife in anything she tells my daughter and that it is more important to listen to her than to me. However, the other way around, I feel like almost everything I say is shot down by my wife, even if it is a direct quote that she has said. She tells me that I am too hard on the kids and too strict with them. After hearing the stories of what their bf wouldn't put up with, I am confused about that one. She also regularly tells me that I am sick of her kids and that they know it, but the only thing I am sick of is having no authority in my own home. I was raised in a family where being the adult had certain priviledges, but now I am always told how unfair things are if my wife or I gets anything that the kids don't. Sorry I kind of went into a second topic there, but I needed to vent a little.

DaranL's picture

That situation sounds very familiar, but I've tried the private thing too and that's when I get the "you're just sick of my kids" comments. I'm starting to feel like I just need to accept that I have no authority.

Enuffsenuff's picture

Looked up on-line parenting/discipline tactics for parents--and let my BF read them. WE have gone through the same issues and sometimes the only way I can get through to him is to have him "see" for himself that I"m not out there in space--but that there are "better" ways of handling things then how we often have.

IMO it is soooo important to work together on discipline. If you don't the kids will not take one or the other of you seriously and they will inevitably walk all over you. The first six months BF and I lived together was a nightmare. It was like a kids birthday party that never ended. I finally blew a fuse so to speak and then did some research and came up with a plan. BF and I sat down together and made a list of house rules. I then transfered them to a huge poster board--we held a family meeting and went over our rules and consequences.

So when one of the kids broke a rule we both knew exactly what the consequences are and since we had already agreed and told the kids in advance there was no going back on it--you have to say what you mean and mean what you say.

This not only worked for us--but it opened up communication for "new" issues with the kids.


DaranL's picture

It is so good to know that I'm not the only one to go through this. I have tried similar things to that, but I think I see what you are saying as far as having it written down and I think that I will try to approach it again. The next question becomes how do I differentiate that it is the job of the parent to correct the child instead of the other way around or am I looking at it wrong when I am told by the kids that I need to follow the rules that their Mom has set down for them?

Anne 8102's picture

I think this might be my husband typing in as someone named DaranL! Wink Okay, not really, but I'm afraid I have been the wife in his situation.

I have definitely accused my husband of being harder on my son/our daughter than he is on my skids and, honestly, he is sometimes, but that's because we get the skids so rarely and we have our kids all the time. Our kids get on his nerves more (and mine!) because they are ALWAYS here.

Anyway, instead of focusing on your kids vs. my kids, we decided to come up with a set of house rules, along with a set of punishments. Typed up, agreed to by both parents, read to the kids and stuck on the fridge with a magnet for all to see. As long as everyone sticks with the program, it works out fine. After we did this, I discovered that neither one of us was being very consistent and the kids had figured out when to approach whom for what.

Now, we have our top ten house rules, along with punishments that we both agree upon, and if you break one of the rules, then you get one of the punishments. Rule One is children shall treat parents with respect. Failure to abide by Rule One will result in your being punished. As for parents following the rules, our response to that has always been, "I am a parent in this house. You are a child in this house. Parents have certain privileges that children don't have because we also carry the resonsibility of certain burdens that children don't have. When you are an adult and have your own children, then you get to set and enforce the rules. Until then, you will respect me as a parent in this house."

The key is to get your wife on board with setting the rules, because once you've done that and have them posted, there's no arguing about it. It's "in the book," so to speak. Maybe you pick your top five and she picks her top five, then you come up with appropriate punishments together to use for if/when rules are broken. But get it in writing and posted for all to see, that way there can be no surprises. It's hard for either person to be totally objective, that's why agreeing to the rules up front and posting them visibly is so important. You don't have to worry about being objective, the list does that for you. It takes all the opinions out of it.

~ Anne ~

P.S. I had to remind my husband a million times to use the "I am the parent, you are the child" line with my son before it really sunk in for both of them. I had to really encourage him to think that way, to think as a parent and not as a stepparent and it also took time for my son to get that my husband was going to be his dad. It took a lot of years. We married when my son was three and my husband eventually adopted him, so they are good now. They are as father/son as it gets, just as if my husband were his biological father. But it is hard for a mother to let go and let someone else share in the parenting, even when it is your husband. Just keep reminding yourself that YOU are a parent, whether step or bio, and reminding them that THEY are the CHILDREN.

Enuffsenuff's picture

Do the two of you not agree on rules? Is that what you meant by the kids saying you need to follow the rules their mom set. Sets for you or them? I'm a bit confused.

If it's that you two don't agree--you'll have to get past that to a compromise that works for all of the kids--that's where you sit down and write it all out.

If your wife is undermineing your say then I would look up some parenting sites and let her read--there are not many sites you'll find that will say------"The best way to ensure your children listen and respect you is to undermine the authority of the other parent." NOOOOO! It will say that if you disagree with how the other parent handled something to wait and talk about when your alone--not in front of the kids. You have to back each other up--support one another so the kids don't play you against each other.

DaranL's picture


Beyond the fact that they live here, we have many differences. For example, I have always cooked with onions and told my daughter whe can eat it or there will be another meal tomorrow. She, on the other hand, has almost completely stopped cooking with onions. That really sums up the situation if you read into enough. I have always been an enforcer with mine and she has always been a pleaser with hers. We don't see eye to eye on those issues, but I think we are learning to give each other a little bit of breathing room. No, that doesn't mean that if we are shopping and she wants me to cook, she buys onions, but it does mean that if I buy an onion, she doesn't harrass me about cooking with it and usually she will tell the kids to eat it.

The thing that I have found is that my wife rarely stands her ground with the kids. If she does, they are good about listening after all the whining, but they also know that if they whine enough, she will give it up if its not a big deal to her. So to use a metaphor that someone once told me, the kids are like cows, always pushing against the fence to make sure it hasn't moved.

A prime example of this is our shopping experience today. It is her birthday and we were out shopping. She said she didn't want a cake, she wanted a pie. When we got to the pies, she figured out that if she got one, she wouldn't want to share it, she would want it to herself. Completely reasonable in my eyes. However, my response was that she better not get it then because the kids would ask for it, I would tell them that it is only for Mom, and she would say it's ok if they have some. Her response was that there is nothing wrong with her saying that. Being the situation that it was, I had no desire to damage the enjoyment of her birthday by pointing out what was wrong with it, so I dropped it.

Anyway, I didn't intend to go into all of that, but I am working on getting together with her to make the written rules and consequences as suggested. I think that idea will be a huge stride in the way things are around here.


Thank you for your comments also. They are very helpful. I've always felt that there should be some kind of dintinguishing factors between children and parents, but could never find such an eloquent way to say it. I will use that statement.