to expect my boyfriend to make more of an effort with my kids?

(171 Posts)
Vikki88 Wed 13-Nov-13 20:33:35

My boyfriend has been living with us for 3 months now and generally it's gone well. He's a good guy, he cares about me, he works hard and I'm happy with how things are going.

However, the one thing that is bothering me is his lack of an effort to build any real relationship with my 2 kids. He seems completely disinterested in them at times and I can't help but think he sees them as a chore rather than something to be a part of his life. Don't get me wrong, he helps me out with them & he's never voiced anything negative about them to me (he knows what would happen if he ever did) but he doesn't go that extra mile.

I made a thread earlier about the behavioural problems I'm currently having with my 7 year old, both at home and at school. I'd love it for him to step up and try and play a part and help him as the 'male figure' in his life but it doesn't seem to be happening. I've raised it tentatively with him and he says the right things but rarely, if ever, acts upon them.

I feel like this is something that I shouldn't need to ask him and that he shouldn't need persuading to do - it should be automatic. I know he's not their father but that shouldn't stop him from being a father figure or male influence in their lives. I don't think I'm expecting too much am I?

Vikki88 Fri 15-Nov-13 18:34:44

Thank you for your words HoneyandRum, I’m just trying to do the best I can for my boys. I’ve not always been great at asking for help or seeking advice – I think it’s only natural to want to be able to deal with things yourself – but I do definitely appreciate now that sometimes you can’t do it all yourself and need to speak about problems/issues. I know I’m wrong, but I can’t help but feel a little bit that way about getting a counsellor involved. I’m his mum so surely it should be me who’s able to fix any problems? It doesn’t feel normal to me getting a stranger’s involvement – but I also know that I’m just being stupid; my parents have told me as much!

Your personal story is interesting and has got me thinking. Being a single parent, I’m used to having to try and be ‘Good Cop’ and ‘Bad Cop’ in one when dealing with any sort of bad behaviour. He’s never been as angry or aggressive as he is at the moment though & that’s part of what I’m hoping the counselling will be able to help with. Is it because of DP moving in? Is it some other part of his homelife? Is it his age? Is it something at school? Is it a little bit of all of the above? I’ve stressed to him his whole life that if he’s ever upset he just needs to talk to me, that I’m always there. This is the first problem we’ve had where I’ve not been sure of what is the right thing to do to fix it. I’ll continue letting him know just how loved he is.

You do have me feeling slightly guilty that I possibly have been too simplistic or short sighted when dealing with his bad behaviour, or more accurately the causes of it.

My parents were very supportive, obviously, and I mainly just opened up to them. They stressed the importance of letting DP know exactly how I’m feeling asap and addressing the stuff that’s going through my head. Once we’ve had that talk, at least I can stop overthinking everything in that aspect and we can work together to improve things, I hope.

OhForDucksSake Thanks… the one thing I haven’t let get to me on here is people questioning who my DP is. The people questioning how well I know him were way off. He’s such a good guy, I need him to be able to show that to my DC.

OHforDUCKScake Fri 15-Nov-13 14:00:26

Ok so you moved him in a little fast, but its not like you got him off the internet and knew nothing about him. You knew him first, even if you werent with him. So presumbaly if he was an axe murderer in his youth, you'd know about it.

You sound like a caring and concerned mum and seem to have a good idea what needs to be priority.

WRT to your actual question, I think its because its all happened so fast that theres been no build up with their relationship (boyfriend and children).

If he was that way a year down the line then perhaps make some gentle suggestions.

But for now, so long as everyone is getting along ok then you could be doing far wose things.

Good luck OP.

HoneyandRum Fri 15-Nov-13 13:31:40

You are a loving and responsible mum (and a brave one) to come on here and ask for opinions about everything that has been happening recently. Meeting with the counsellor sounds like a positive step as well, I would be very honest with her about your home life so that you can both work together to help your son. It's clear that you and the school have both seen some big changes in your son's behavior recently. It's also very hard for us as adults to really understand how young children experience the world.

From just my own subjective experience I have found it quite eye opening to be parenting a son after two girls. From a very young age (i.e. a baby) my son has had different emotional reactions than my girls did at the same age. For example, if my girls were upset or tired they would get whingy and tearful while my son would get angry. In fact, I started to recognize that when he was angry and aggressive suddenly there was usually something emotionally wrong. This happens even when relating to his dad. My DH can be inconsistent with discipline, so DH will ignore most bad behavior and then randomly come down like a ton of bricks on our son. Even when our DS was 3 I would see him going head to head with DH, both of them getting very angry. I would have to pull DH to one side and say "Don't you see what's going on here?" because my DH saw our son as being belligerent while I knew our son was actually terrified! I could see DS was very emotionally overwhelmed my his (6 foot 2 inch) dad's anger and didn't know how to handle it so he just started yelling back at him. I asked DH to take it down a notch and not be so confrontational as he was scaring the bejeebus out of our kid.

Even now at 7 DS will sometimes get much more angry and aggressive than usual and I will look around for the emotional reasons (because almost always the aggression is happening because he is emotionally upset about something). Not that the aggressive behavior is not dealt with but I have found that almost all of his emotions can come out as anger when he is upset.

As I say, all I have is my own tiny sample size of one other 7 year old boy but when boys behavior gets very angry/violent/aggressive it can all be emotional. If a kid was sitting in the corner crying uncontrollably or maybe was sullen and very depressed we would expect that they were very emotionally upset. With excessive anger and defiance however, we can have a tendency to see it just as a behavioral issue and not as an emotional one too.

What did your parents have to say? Hope all goes well with the school counselor and your convo with DP.

Vikki88 Fri 15-Nov-13 12:52:13

HoneyandRum I did.

Tonight or over the weekend, when he isn't tired or stressed etc, I'm going to talk with BF and be blunt about what I'm feeling right now and the situation that has developed. I'm going to raise the fact that I want him to engage more with DC, it only has to be little trivial things to begin with - something that can at least be the start of something. His reaction/response to this will go a long way to deciding what I do next. I won't allow it to continue the way it is.

Me & DS1 also have an appointment with the school counsellor after his teacher recommended it. I'm not sure what to expect, but if it could possibly help then I am all for it. Again, whatever comes out of this will also be massive in deciding what happens next.

I don't want to rush into any decision and destabilise things even further.

HoneyandRum Fri 15-Nov-13 05:33:39

Hello Vikki, did you have a chance to talk to your parents?

Monty27 Fri 15-Nov-13 00:53:55

If the bf isn't the problem OP, who is? What is? Apart from the fact ds isn't happy.

Caitlin17 Fri 15-Nov-13 00:37:29

Your still not getting it. You're fretting about the idea of asking BF to move out as "he's not the problem" Actually, he is, albeit unwittingly because you didn't think it through.

Others have commented that, if anything, the fact he's not all over them trying to be daddy shows he at least understands you don't just slot a new daddy into place.

Vikki88 Thu 14-Nov-13 22:20:04

Thank you Pearlsaplenty, I will do some research into this.

Pearlsaplenty Thu 14-Nov-13 21:16:26

op maybe there is a book about how to introduce a new partner/step parents into a family? Maybe try asking in the step parent section?

It might be easier for your dp and you to understand the issues if it comes from a author who is an expert on the subject. This might also make it easier to have discussion with each other about moving out/ taking things slower etc

Junebugjr Thu 14-Nov-13 19:14:22

I don't think your boyf is the problem, and neither is your son, you are the problem. Well you and your unrealistic expectations. I mean this in the nicest possible way btw. Your boyf sounds quite sensible, refusing to push your children's boundaries by playing daddy with them. Why the hell did you decide to move a man they didnt know into their home?????
There's nothing that can be said that hasn't been said very eloquently by other posters such as Honeyrum. Your last post says it all really. You seem to be clutching at straws to try and rectify this, while still meeting your own needs. Even if this all turns out well for you, please try and consider your children's needs before your own in future, or you will end up with some very damaged children on your hands. No ones needs were taken account of in this situation apart from your own. Awful behaviour.

WooWooOwl Thu 14-Nov-13 18:59:30

I agree with lunar as well.

It's not fair to burden your son with having to make decisions and give reasons that he is to young to understand properly.

You are the adult here and it's down to you to make these choices on behalf of your children, and to make amends for any mistakes you make.

Your son needs to believe that you will put him first because you love him and because you are capable and responsible. He does not need to know that you will put him first as long as he tells you what to do. That sort of responsibility and power over your number one adult is very overwhelming for children and will lead to them feeling insecure.

I stand by what I've said..I do feel sorry for the op dc.

All too often I've seen kids lives fucked by the actions of their parents including moving boyfriends in before everybody is ready. I include my mother in this as she moved my dad in before I was born and before my half brothers were happy. My dad and my brothers did not get on..he resented them and told my mum he only wanted her and later on me. My brothers were affected badly and ended up in care.

it doesnt sound as if any of you are particularly happy about this and for the sake of your kids and your partner I seriously would think about moving your dp out.

I am not a perfect parent by anymeans as previous threads of mine are to go by but your situation is a bit of a sore point for me.

goldnsunsets Thu 14-Nov-13 16:13:57

sorry op. i dont want to add to what others have already written. it does sound to me as though you've put your own feelings and what you imagine a happy nuclear family to look like above the reality of the situation that you have.

i do think your son's needs take priority and if he is having problems with his behaviour at home and school he needs stability and to know he is loved within consistent, loving boundaries in a stable home. good luck. life sounds hard at the minute but im sure it will all come right.

Squitten Thu 14-Nov-13 15:37:51

I would ask him to move out temporarily.

You may have known him forever but your kids don't. The reactions of both of them, i.e. him and the kids, suggests that none of them are ready for what you are trying to do here. If you force the relationship, you could end up breaking it entirely.

If your boyfriend is a decent guy, he should understand this and be more than willing to step backwards in order to ultimately go forwards. If he can't put your kids first, then he's not ready to be in a family.

Move him out and then take your time to build the relationship between them all - slowly. I think the only crime here is undue haste and it's fixable.

What if you were to say to your boyfriend that you love him, and want this to work for the whole family. Explain that maybe you rushed things a bit in your excitement to build a family. Let him know it has been too much too soon, and rather than loose everything, you'd like to take a step back, and work on building this slowly.
If he moves out, but you keep spending time together, with the kids too, he has a chance to develop a bond with them. It gives your son the space he needs to sort his feelings and behaviours out.
It gives your boyfriend time to learn how to parent, to lead, and to bond. Those things don't always just happen instantly.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to create a full fledged family, but it takes time to make it happen.

monicalewinski Thu 14-Nov-13 15:17:55

I can sort of see where you're coming from and I agree with the majority of posters on here with regard to how you've rushed and forced things (but I understand it's quite blunt and must be hard reading it).

If things are good between you and your boyfriend, then it would be worth having a long conversation with him about how things might have been rushed - he may feel the same, perhaps he didn't fully think through the whole parenting side of things?

It would be for the best if he could move out, but on the understanding that your relationship isn't over, just being slowed down a bit. You'd also need to have a good talk with your son, explaining that your bf hasn't left as such, just not living there anymore and that it has nothing to do with him and not his fault in any way.

Hopefully you will be able to do this, then you can enjoy a 'courtship' (as old fashioned as it sounds!) with your bf and slowly introduce 'family' outings and interactions - hopefully building up a bond between your children and bf so that eventually everyone is ready to be a family.

KerwhizzedMyself Thu 14-Nov-13 15:16:28

I agree with lunar. A seven year old is so young. Too young to know what is affecting his behaviour and too young to have the pressure of knowing his answer could make the bf leave or not. You should be sitting your son down and telling him you think you've rushed moving bf in and that he's going to move back out for a while so that you can all get to know each other properly.

lunar1 Thu 14-Nov-13 15:11:03

Please do t ask your son. There is no way to do it without adding pressure. You need to make the adult decisions.

ElkTheory Thu 14-Nov-13 15:06:23

If I were in your shoes, I would certainly ask him to move out. It clearly has not been good for your son. That little boy is showing you in the only way he can that he is very confused and angry. Bringing a new man into his life who is completely uninterested in him, who views him as a chore and makes no effort to get to know him will only intensify your son's emotional turmoil.

Asking your boyfriend to move out wouldn't have to be the end of your relationship with this man, but I would definitely slow things way down. I'd also lay out for him your expectations in terms of his relationship with your children, i.e. that you and they are a package deal and if he has no interest in forging a bond with them, it would be better to end things right now.

Good for you for recognising that you have made a mistake.

SweetSkull Thu 14-Nov-13 14:56:25

Good luck and all the best!

Vikki88 Thu 14-Nov-13 14:53:47

I was actually dreading checking this today after getting quite emotional with it all last night but the majority of the messages since are helpful, so thanks to those who were.

HoneyandRum Your message does strike a chord and make me look at everything from your angle. You make sense and I'm afraid that you could be right, but then there is also the possibility of putting 2+2 together and making 5 - making the situation worse unneccesarily. I think I need to have a 1 on 1 chat with my son where he doesn't feel like he can't tell me anything. I don't know why he would feel like that in the first place, but if he does then obviously it needs to be addressed right now.

I know how much it would hurt my bf to get him to leave; I don't want to hurt him if he isn't the problem. But even if he isn't, we need to have a serious talk about things. I know that, and we will. But even as I'm saying that, I'm thinking my kids come first... he'll get over whatever happens, I'll get over whatever happens. We need to talk. You're right.

Ghostsgowoooh Get off your high horse. My children don't need you feeling sorry for them in ANY way.

Sidge You're right, I'm 25 - he's 27. I am thinking that I've misjudged everything, I was already letting myself think like that and now the reaction I've got seems to have confirmed my fears - it's not easy admitting that to yourself. I've made such a mess of everything.

Sidge Thu 14-Nov-13 13:45:57

Whilst I don't subscribe to the "you must date for 6 months/12 months/ whatever before you even INTRODUCE a boyfriend to your kids" theory (what a load of bollocks, it's not that prescriptive) I do think there shouldn't have been such a rush to move him in.

How old are you both? Looking at your username I assumed maybe you were born in 1988 which makes you 25 (of course I could be wrong). If he's a similar age I think expecting him to step up to the plate as a stepdad of a 7 year old at such a young age is a pretty big expectation.

I understand the desire to have a partner and a father figure for the kids, as a single parent of 3 I really do. But not at the expense of my children's wellbeing and emotional security. Slow down, back off and ask him to move out whilst you take some time to establish a deeper relationship with him AND your children.

needaholidaynow Thu 14-Nov-13 13:33:36

I actually feel sorry for the poor bloke in all of this being pressured in to being a father figure.

Even years down the line, a Partner of someone with children might not want to be a mother/ father figure. I've been with my DP for 4 years now and I don't want to be pressured in to being a mother figure/ bonus mum/ whatever-mum because I have my own boundaries. I never called my mum's partner "stepdad" and he never called me his "stepdaughter" and that's the same thing I have going on with my partner' daughter, who I only refer to as DSD on here purely because it's easier.

Oh bless you.
Have a chat with your parents and get their take on the situation.
If I were you, I'd also have a long hard talk to the BF as well.
Tell him what you expect from him, in no uncertain terms.
No hints or maybe's - just plain facts about what you expect.
It does take time to build a blended family.
I really hope it does all work out for you.
Good luck.

RevelsRoulette Thu 14-Nov-13 13:16:40

There's nothing wrong with hoping to find a partner who will be a father figure to your children. Who will view you, him and them as a family unit. Of course that's what you want. You'd have to be a nut to want a bloke in your bed who didn't give a shit about your kids. Obviously you love your children and obviously you want love for yourself and clearly you want that person to be and to want to be a father figure to your children..

It's just not what you've got. Not with this man. And you can't deal with what you wish you had. Only with what you do have.

You've got a man who wants to be with you and is willing to put up with the fact that you have children, as long as he doesn't have to be that bothered with them.

I don't think that's what you want, and it's certainly not what they deserve.

Sad but true that not everyone is cut out to take on a parental role. Some people just for whatever reason can't do that. They should recognise this about themselves and not be in a relationship with someone who has children because it's not fair to anyone.

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