New Stepfather Having Trouble with Stepson
Hi, I'm not a typical web forum poster anywhere so please excuse my lack of net etiquette and use of the abbreviations I have seen.
Some background: This is a second marriage for both of us and we both have kids from the previous. Two daughters (10 and 12) for me that I have roughly 40% of the time, lots of weekends, weeks off from school, and most of the summer. A son (5) for her that lives with us about 80% of the time with a semi-involved father (not quite every other weekend and only part of the weekend) I was married for 14 years out of an 18 year relationship, she for less than a year out of an 2 year on again/off again relationship. We dated for a little over a year before getting married and have lived together for about a year now.
My feelings about my stepson are so mixed, I honestly don't know how I feel. I don’t know if I love him or even like him most of the time, since I have come to feel anger and resentment most of the time, but I do care for him and have good feelings about him as well. There’s just no consistency to my feelings even within a very short period.
I realize how silly it seems to have anger towards a 5 year old, and having had two children of my own I do understand phases of growth and the difficulties that accompany them, but my experience with him is so incredibly different from that with my own children that I feel like I am lost most of the time and being consumed by the anger I feel.
His behavior is simply defined by his refusal to listen, to me, to his mother, to his grandparents, to anyone. He does whatever he wants and has full expectation of getting what he wants with zero consequence. Part of this is his age and part is his learned behavior from his mother overcompensating as a single mom for several years. I don’t blame her, I know how hard parenting can be and I didn’t have to do it alone at these young ages so I’m sure I would have given in more from exhaustion too.
But it continues now with the circumstances being very different. My wife seems to have a block when it comes to discipline. There are threats of punishments like time outs and toys being taken away, but they are just that, threats that are never followed up on and he is a very smart child and clearly knows that there will be no consequence for his actions so he continues – usually seconds after that threat is made.
I have attempted to discipline with timeouts and such, the same techniques I used with my own children as I don’t believe in yelling or any corporal punishment, but when I have done this in her presence she looks at me as if I have knocked him across the room and is angry with me.
I realize that I will never get my wife to fully understand my feelings when it comes to her son. She will naturally side with him, but I cannot stop being angry over her lack of discipline and inability to see how this behavior is harmful to us and ultimately to him too and needs to be corrected.
The end result is that I am now becoming angry at the very sound of his voice when comes home from school. He is having issues with me in that my presence takes focus away from him from his mother, and as a result he tells me (in many variations) to go away because he wants his mom to himself. Something I also understand the psychology of, but I’m still a flawed human and being told to go away, die, move out, etc. on a near daily basis takes its toll emotionally.
I am also resentful of the weekends he is here when my daughters visit. They get along very well, and both girls have taken a more maternal approach to him due to the big age difference so it works for them, but I cherish what little time I have with them and feel constrained when I am balancing all three of them at the same time, due to him wanting them to play with him all day long and not do the activities they like to do with me. I end up looking at my custody calendar with longing for the weekends I get them alone.
Right now, I am typing this while all three children are upstairs (my wife works weekends) and I feel like a guest in my own home (they moved into my house) with no choice but to let him rule the roost despite several conversations and fights with my wife over this issue. I am resenting his presence here and finding myself wishing to avoid him altogether. This is not how I want things to be. I have spent a great deal of time with him and have tried very hard to be a good part of his life. I am outwardly patient and calm with him – even when he tells me in so many words to go to hell.
I’m new at this, just a year or so, but it feels like I’m drowning sometimes and I am definitely unhappy in this life that I’ve admittedly made for myself.
I apologize if this post rambled some, I have a lot on my mind.
Any advice or shared experiences are welcome. Thank you.