Struggling with step parenting

(160 Posts)
natalie49 Fri 02-Aug-13 15:20:20

Hi, I am brand new to the site, and this is my first post. I visited mumsnet to see whether anybody else had similar problems to me with regards to step parenting and associated struggles. Of course you do!

This is my story (bear with me as I am not familiar with the shortcuts you use to describe relationships etc).

I have been with my husband for 9 years, married for 4.5 years. He came with baggage, 3 kids (13, 8 and 6 back in 2004) and in the throes of a messy divorce, but we survived his angst and financial pressures of getting divorced, and the kids lived with his Ex, which meant that we could get on with our own lives to a degree. He saw the kids on an adhoc basis, but he always kept a good level of contact with them, and we had them to stay occasionally.

Time has moved on of course, but not for the better. Ex wife has mental health problems which did not initially get diagnosed when the kids remained in her custody. Last year she proclaimed that she could no longer look after the 2 remaining kids in her care, social services got involved, and we were left with no option to house the 2 now teens, girl who is now 17.5, and boy is nearly 16.

I have never been a biological mother, and have found the past few months extremely hard, adjusting to having 2 moody teens in our house full time, and it is not a large house. We had to convert a double room into 2 single rooms just to accommodate them, which has cost us an arm and a leg. I really resent having them here, particularly now it is the school holidays, and am wishing the years away. SD in particular is very 2 faced and thinks she knows everything. I have been seeing a counsellor recently as I need to channel my anger and pent up frustration, as it was beginning to affect a previously rock solid marriage. I could write loads more, but really am just after a bit of advice on how to cope with this intrusion of space, lack of privacy and most of all TEENAGERS! Thanks for reading.

ChinaCupsandSaucers Thu 10-Oct-13 19:05:26

cheesecake you might want to start a new thread - but I know exactly what you are experiencing; I have been there.

Although my DSD was estranged from DP for over 2 years (aged 13-15), I was very aware of what she was doing as her Twitter feed, Ask.fm account, Instagram etc were all public - anyone could see them.

I suggested, on numerous occasions, that DP might want to take a look; I told him she was posting her phone number, when she was home-alone etc etc. I gave him details free classes for parents to learn the skills they needed to effectively keep their DCs safe online.
He buried his head in the sand and didn't bother.

Eventually, after DD had re-engaged with us - she ended up receiving death threats, came running to Daddy for help and it ended up as a police matter. It was messy and upsetting for everyone involved.
DP has now attended the courses and monitors things a lot more closely.

If you are Social Media savvy and you're worried about your DSD online activity, I suggest you monitor from a distance. They might need your help when it all goes wrong. I only intervened once - when she published MY address (before DP and I were living together) online. DP dealt with it but if he hadn't I would have done.

cheesecake77 Thu 10-Oct-13 18:41:47

Hi all, I'm new to MN and looking for some advice and figured this would be the best place to get some honest answers!

My DSD used the iPad last weekend whilst staying over at our house for the weekend. She wasn't off the bloody thing all weekend. But hey, not my place to say anything. So she left herself logged into my twitter app on the iPad... I didn't mean to snoop and now I really wish I hadn't kept scrolling.

She comes across as sweet and innocent but she is a 15 year old girl and I remember what I was getting up to at 15 so her persona hasn't always washed with me blush. Anyhow, basically, her twitter has revealed her sexual appetite for want of a better description, she has a boyfriend, but maintains to her Dad, my DP that nothing has happened or will be happening any time soon and how much she wants to still enjoy her "childhood". Blowjobs, anal, girls, the lot. Through twitter there was a link to a Tumblr account, which I've never even heard of. I clicked on it. There are images on there of anorexic girls, female nudity, smoking, tattoos, drug use, suicide references and self harming. There are a couple of images of her smoking but the rest of the images appear to be just random pictures of other people, that could be found on the internet.

Now she has self-harmed in the past. She has been caught smoking in the past but allegedly that was all put behind her about 6 months ago. But the drugs, the lesbian and suicide stuff?!?!?!

I just don't know what to do with this. Do I tell my DP? It will crush him. Do I tell her Mother? Do I tell her directly what I accidentally found?

Our relationship isn't fantastic. Before me and DP got together he'd been single for 5 years so me coming along and "taking her Daddy away" has never really been forgiven but I rise above her sometimes underhand antics and keep the peace the majority of the time. We're civil aside from when she overdoes things in front of Daddy, conveniently.

I'm scared not to do anything about this in case she is in a bad place and is going down the wrong path with the wrong crowd, but I am scared in a sense to speak up because I should never have found what I did on the iPad.

Opinions and advice will truly be appreciated. I'm driving myself crazy with this and DP knows there's something up with me.

Thank you for reading.

Kate x

daisychain01 Sun 08-Sep-13 09:07:33

And if MrReluctant reads this, please try to see it from a different point of view and not stay angry but try to take a role in getting things back on track. Maybe arrange to talk together, in a neutral place, to take the sting out of things - it is possible, it just needs you both to talk calmly.

Good luck.

daisychain01 Sun 08-Sep-13 09:01:12

Reluctant I have only just returned to your thread after the post I made in early August and am so shocked and saddened at how badly it is going wrong.

I recognise that you are there in that terrible, oppressive situation (I called it a pressure cooker and that is definitely what it must have been feeling like) and that it is easy to make comments about "those poor kids" etc etc. i too would feel very resentful if, like you, I had worked hard all my life for a good quality of life, to see it going down the drain. Your DHs children have never had continuity of care, that is awful and has led to their beyond out of control and awful behaviour, their mother clearly hasn't been capable of caring for her children, and sorry to say it, but your DH isn't actually doing anyone proud, is he! He doesn't seem particularly committed to bringing proper discipline into their upbringing, and neither is he sticking by you, his wife. As they say on MN "he needs to grow a pair".

Heaven alone knows if you will even read this message, as your last couple of posts sounded desperately sad, that you were going to walk away from your marriage. Again, all that noise and chaos I mentioned in my other post, upthread, seems to have clouded the fact that you love your husband. If only you could find some resolution, to at least give your marriage a chance.

You are a strong woman, you know your own mind, you need to do what you need to do. I just didn't want to "read and run" having read your latest posts. If there is anything I can do to support you, send me a MN email and I will be there for you.

ReluctantStepMum Fri 06-Sep-13 20:17:23

I've cooked the supper, been told I'm not wanted, and the kids seem to have used the toilet downstairs 4 times in about as many minutes. I hear that as it directly below our bedroom, that I have consigned myself to. I am going downstairs now to get a glass of wine, and they can all fuck off. 5th time toilet has flushed. No wonder our water bill has shot through the roof! I am an alien in my own home.......I need alternative living space without this crap.

ReluctantStepMum Fri 06-Sep-13 19:02:17

My DH has said that he has been tracking my posts since I trusted him enough to show comments on here. He has over stepped the mark, and we have just argued big time about the fact he thinks I am angry all the time now, when in fact the only thing that makes me angry is having his kids 24/7. He has just told me to fuck off, so I will. Goodbye dear husband, you are blaming me for the breakdown of your 2nd marriage, when infact it is your first wife who has caused all of this by her incompetence at looking after the kids you chose to have in the first place. I have just made supper for your kids and I hope it burns. Hope you read this before I de register so that you can not keep a track on me.

fackinell Fri 06-Sep-13 13:36:36

Not IMO, petal. He is a gay male, perhaps old fuddyduddy drawers has a problem with that, although he always moans if I have people round. wink

Petal02 Fri 06-Sep-13 13:30:31

Fackinell - is there any earthly reason why you shouldn't be having a friend over today??????

fackinell Fri 06-Sep-13 11:16:08

I'm in Scotland, Reluctant, and I love JRs grin I am indeed SE.

Had a mini heart attack there thinking Brdgrl was in the same boat too!! shock

Well I got a kiss and a I love you this am but it's a coincidence that DSD is staying over tonight and he won't want an atmosphere....I was told his parenting style (?) was none of my fucking business last night and he's pissed off that I have a friend coming today while he is at work. This isn't a home for me, I'm a cash cow, end of. angry

brdgrl Fri 06-Sep-13 10:51:35

I have just told DH I am leaving, cos he won't listen to lots of things I am trying to tell him about.
Oh, dear. It's really awful, isn't it. I'm sorry.
Have you and DH spoken about it since?

ReluctantStepMum Fri 06-Sep-13 09:54:03

Yes Fackinell, that sounds good, but where do you live? That is a major factor, and could your cat stand 2 Jack Russels? :-) I noticed on another post that you are SE, me too!

fackinell Fri 06-Sep-13 00:03:33

I have tea envy, Reluctant!! Sounds lush. Mine's being a cock too. Fancy a flatshare with me and my cat? smile

ReluctantStepMum Thu 05-Sep-13 21:14:28

And he pisses out of the lounge to go to bed. I am beginning to really hate him at present.

ReluctantStepMum Thu 05-Sep-13 21:09:21

I have just told DH I am leaving, cos he won't listen to lots of things I am trying to tell him about. Sad, cos its 9 days from the first time we met 9 years ago. I would rather live on my own than argue every night and always get pushed down and walked out on. I have really tried to be reasonable, but he never wants to listen. The kids can hear, I am sure. He blames me for everything, when I am the one who says lets go to joint counselling. He agrees then puts me down for various reasons. I used to really love him, even a week ago, but he has changed all that now. He can Sod off into the distance with his kids, I'll take the dogs.

ReluctantStepMum Thu 05-Sep-13 20:13:11

DH has gone out for an hour or so but I ended cooking a nice chicken, garlic and mushroom tomato sauce with pasta and garlic bread. Its never good enough, i might as well die and go to heaven. The little b's never appreciates
what you do and she is little miss righteous, I actually dont like her at all as she rises above her station all the time!

fackinell Wed 04-Sep-13 12:30:05

I have told my DP that he is creating a monster, by pandering. My (mostly lovely) DSD is 16 now and her standard reply to everything is, 'I don't want to.' I wish it worked for me!!

I've told DP that she will be unable to maintain adult relationships if he doesn't stop this now. Her standard issue reply may make him clean up after her wild party of spillages and damage to his property but it won't cut it with work or a real life partner. 'Get the people who made the mess to clean up,' was her response to me when I said she should be doing it. wink

Emptychairs Wed 04-Sep-13 06:08:45

No wonder youre so angry. Dh also used to pander to dsc, its called Disney parenting by some, all the time. I could have exploded with rage! Unfortunately I had not yet come across mn to vent... Common sense of course told me that dh was creating a catastrophic atmosphere for everybody concerned. In couple counseling he is having to listen to it from a third neutral expert party. Like you, I never said anything to the dsc, knowing how dh would react. Since the conselor has told him to create rules and boundaries to ensure his dc proper development he is v keen to do the right thing.

ReluctantStepMum Tue 03-Sep-13 23:31:44

Purple, DH seems to have different hearing zones. My comments are daily under fire and I have to constantly tell him not to criticise me. I love him but he is doing my head in, and I am becoming very depressed. To be honest I think he is too. We have just found out that we have to fork out £2500 rail fare just for DSD, whereas her mother used to get it for free. Makes you want to give up working doesnt it? £500 per month for 2 kids to finish their education in next year. Where's fair in that??

purpleroses Tue 03-Sep-13 23:00:03

Your DH thinks it's not your place to tell your DSS to shut up when he's making such a racket you can't hear the TV?

No wonder you're having such a tough time of it shock He needs to get his act together and lay down some basic house rules for them. And you as the other adult in the house have every right to tell them when they're out of order if they are.

ReluctantStepMum Tue 03-Sep-13 22:59:06

Oh I have just been locked out of home whilst sitting in garden with iPad by DSD who is not that nice!

ReluctantStepMum Tue 03-Sep-13 22:55:37

Tonight is the first time that I have felt really assertive to dealing with my DSC's. DSS had supper early as was tired after the first day back at school. He retired at 8.40pm then proceeded to make a racket upstairs, a bit like a dog who will not settle down. I know, I have 2 JRTs. Eventually, when DH and I were trying to watch a recorded programme, I just shouted please could he just calm down and go to bed, after 1 hour of frustrating noise. He did, but DH took homage and argued with me that it is not my place to do so. I explained to him that I own half the house, and pay half the bills, so I can say what I want to. DH then continues to sulk until he then goes to bed. Although it was not a pleasant end to the evening, I feel better for having vented and received a result with DSS. I do think that half if not more of the problem is with DH who is not laying down rules in the household, and it is always me that is the bad cop. I am going to continue this now, as the kids need to understand we are not, well me, going to pander to their needs.

brdgrl Sun 01-Sep-13 22:15:00

Given my own experience of a boy this age, I think he's likely spending all that time in his room because he is wanking, sleeping, texting friends and playing xbox (or similar). Not necessarily in that order. Nothing really wrong with that (make sure your DH has a talk with him and gives him a box of tissues, so you don't end up with the laundry nightmare I had when DSS was 15). But when that time in his room is cutting into the other responsibilities he has - spending a certain amount of time being sociable, basic hygiene, chores - then it is not unreasonable to be concerned about it.
You can have boundaries and still be kind, like the above poster says. How about deciding with DH exactly what the expectations of DSS are? Does he have to eat meals with the rest of the family, and which ones? (DSS gets his own breakfast and most lunches, we all eat dinner together.) When do chores need to be done, or is it just open-ended? Does he get pocket money, and is that linked to chores and/or behaviour?
What about time that he is expected to spend with the family, or in activities outside the home?
When things were toughest with the DSCs, one thing that did work was (lame as it sounds) having some family activities - the kind that are quite structured (like a board game) or that provide an opportunity for everyone to interact, but also be focused on something else (like watching a film). Avoid the activities that provide opportunities for the 'problem areas' and find ones that also provide chances to slowly move things in a more positive direction. Movie nights were good for us, because we made them 'fair' - instead of DSD continuing to choose the film, grab the comfy chair, hold the remote and yell at everyone for talking while she herself kept up a monologue, we set the room up differently, so that all the seats had advantages, DH took control of the remote, we picked films by consensus (or by DH and I giving one or two suggestions for them to choose from), and made a point of asking the kids, equally, to do things like make a pot of tea while DH or I fixed a snack. It sounds both obvious and ridiculous to have put so much thought into even the smallest aspects of a night in - but it really did end up so that now we all look forward to spending that time together.
With DSS, I insist on him spending some time with us, and coming on outings, once in a while, even if he doesn't really want to. I don't want him to spend his adolescence in his bedroom, growing farther away from us. And like I say to DH - I've never met a grown man who complains that his parents made him spend too much time with them as a teenager.

theyoniwayisnorthwards Sun 01-Sep-13 21:57:19

Your DSS may be spending excessive time in his room because he is depressed (which would be a very natural reaction to the circumstances you say he has had to live through). He may be feeling unwelcome and uncertain, he may feel confused, angry and upset at his Mother or his Father and he may not have the tools to express his feelings and his thoughts in the way an adult would.

None of this is his fault. He is not doing you wrong by merely existing. He is 15 and he has the right to live with his parent, to act out and be a teenager and STILL be loved and valued through those years.

Yes, teenagers can be irritating, ungrateful and hard to live with. Yes, you didn't have kids so you didn't expect you would have to deal with one of the hardest phases of parenting. But you married a parent, and now you are an adult in this boy's life. That in itself means you ought to give a shit about him and consider his best interests. You can have boundaries and still be kind.

fackinell Sun 01-Sep-13 21:13:28

Fair play to your DSD for helping out today smile

Some of my DSD's friends trashed something of her Dad's last night. Fixable, but she left DP to sort it out. This was one of my rare battles I chose to pick and said I thought that was U. She knows this too.

It is not easy being a SP as you have very little say. Unlike like a parent you can't really tell them to tow the line as teens. I let a lot wash over me but I think it's unfair to turn OP into a villain. It's healthy to have a place to sound off do this doesn't spill over into RL.

ReluctantStepMum Sun 01-Sep-13 20:42:21

They now have burnt dinner because they did not monitor it. We have decided to let them learn by experience. At their ages, you would expect a little more common sense.

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