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New to this parenting thing and about to lose my mind!

Posted by on Aug. 19, 2013 at 11:52 AM
  • 37 Replies
My boyfriend has three kids, one of whom lives with us now. Another is going to college, but still has a lot of demands. The youngest visits often and is, quite frankly, a brat who has learned that if he pitches a fit, he gets his way. (Not with me, though!) Please, don't get me wrong, though I am going to come across as resentful and angry - I do love the kids. The problem is that I am losing myself in the process of learning how to do this parenting thing.I don't know where to draw the line between "I love you and want to do things for you" and "I am not your mother!" I had a meltdown Friday and stayed in bed crying from 2 p.m. until 9 the next morning. Phillip and I talked and when he asked what he could do to help, I asked him to help me define my role in this new dynamic. His response was to ask me what I want my role to look like. It was a good question and one I don't have an answer for. I know what I want is for the child who lives here to clean up after herself, to stop asking where I am going every two minutes, to ask her mother or father for new clothes, to stay out of my room when I am trying to sleep, to get out of my office when I am working (I work from home, which no longer seems like a great perk of my job), to stop acting as if I am her personal entertainment arranger, and to stop obsessing about food because she is eating us out of house and home. Honestly, at this point, I just want the little boy to go away. He is beyond challenging and I am starting to resent him deeply.He whines. He cries. He sulks. He has no respect for rules. He breaks things all the time because he can't stop climbing on things. This is MY house and he is a guest here. I know how that sounds, I do, but that is how I feel. I do not want to feel this way. I love his father beyond imagining and so I need to work this out. I will never ask Phil to make a choice between his kids and me, EVER! Not only is that just wrong on all levels, but I would lose. I have been making calls to therapists trying to find someone to talk to because I need to learn some coping skills. I am slipping into depression. I don't necessarily want my old life back when I could do what I want, when I want, and how I want, but I need to learn how to define boundaries and limits, what is mine, what is theirs, what is ours. I am angry, seriously broke, unhappy, but willing to do what I can to make those feelings go away. Please, someone out there must know more than I do about this! Please help! Kiki
by on Aug. 19, 2013 at 11:52 AM
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packermomof2
by on Aug. 19, 2013 at 11:59 AM
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You're new to the situation - don't try to be a parent when they have two already.  take your time, dont' force the issue on anyone.  Kids don't need three parents, but they can respect you as they do any other authority figure.  Let dad handle discipline.  If your husband lives there he probably views it as his kid's home as well, not a guest. 

SMInProgress
by on Aug. 19, 2013 at 12:08 PM
1 mom liked this

First, you need to get yourself together.  99% of us have all been there at the beginning.  You need to take yourself out of the situation for a day or two perhaps at a friends? family? a weekend getaway?  You need to collect your thoughts because this isn't going to change, you will have to change for it to work.  If you don't want to change, then you should consider an exit. If you want to change, then you need to arm yourself with more information.  Since you're new to this, I suggest reading "StepMonster". It's a short cut way to understand what you just got yourself into.  Then get therapy to help you cope. But then seriously consider if this is what you want for your life, remember you're not married yet.

I also work from home a good portion of the time, that is how you & I wanted it for ourselves.  Good job right?  Well even now, I still have your same probs.  Good luck to you :)

baparrot2
by Platinum Member on Aug. 19, 2013 at 12:12 PM
3 moms liked this

Life with kids is difficult. Period. Maybe you weren't aware of just how challenging raising children could be? This is life for most of us with kids in the house. If its not the problem you are having its something else. No one promised us that being around kids 24/7 would be easy. It's not. And if you are not a mom yourself, it is even harder to understand, that THIS.....what you have today may never change.

spicy0425
by Silver Member on Aug. 19, 2013 at 12:23 PM

They live in your house, you;re mot married ==> it's not a parenting issue since you have no legal rights nor legal responsibilities. I have to say, I would never allow a man with kids to move in with me without a permanent commitment. You're putting yourself in a difficult situation. Now, you;re in a depressed situation, wait until you become the wife (if that day ever comes at all). Things don't get better if you can't manage it by now.

rocknmom85
by Silver Member on Aug. 19, 2013 at 12:36 PM

Just to clarify, who lives in your home and who visits? How old are they and how often does the one who visits come? Does the child living with you ever go visit his/her mother? how often? This will help us be able to give better advice. There is no denying it though, living with kids that you help care for is not easy, whether they are your own or not. There are ways to cope though and things can get better.

GlockMom
by Gold Member on Aug. 19, 2013 at 12:37 PM

You say this is MY house.  Did your DH and his child move in with you?

Birdseed
by Gold Member on Aug. 19, 2013 at 12:46 PM
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Quoting kiki1616:

Phillip and I talked and when he asked what he could do to help, I asked him to help me define my role in this new dynamic. His response was to ask me what I want my role to look like. It was a good question and one I don't have an answer for. 

The above quoted statement tells me that you have a supportive husband who is willing to work with you during this transition and THAT, my friend, is half the battle.  So that's good news.

Next, I think working with a therapist is a good idea.  May I make a suggestion?  Go to a marriage counselor who specializes in blended families.  You AND DH are going to want/need some tools to navigate through things and in my experience, you can grow much more quickly if you're both hearing the same thing rather than you just going to individual therapy and trying to relay info to your DH.  (I've done both.  I could've written your whole post myself a few years ago)

How do you feel about books?  One that was recommended to me here and by two therapists is called "Stepmonster" by Wednesday Martin.  Both DH and I got a lot out of that.  It was ESPECIALLY helpful to me because as a new SM with no kids of my own, it seemed like there were very few people out there in my shoes. 

If I were in your shoes, I'd sit down with your DH.  Pick 3 things that you need to change/create boundaries around that will make you feel better RIGHT NOW and between the two of you, work out a way to make those things happen.

From reading your post and based on my own experiences, these would be my 3:

1) Personal Space:  Bedroom is off limits unless the kids are invited in.  Your office is off limits unless you invite someone in.  These are your personal spaces.  Some adults are fine with the kids being in every nook and cranny of the house.  Some are not.  You get to have a voice in what works for you.  I'm guessing your husband will be okay with that.

2) Common areas:  For the child that lives there, talk to your DH about what might be workable.  For someone who has lived alone like you, the idea that I leave the house clean in the a.m. and come home to a wreck after work drove me crazy.  Like "I don't WANT to go home!" crazy.  It's ALWAYS going to be a battle with kids but it can be a little better if there are expectations outlined and followed through on.  So if what you need/want is for your SD to not leave a trail of wrappers, dishes, shoes all over, yada yada, then think about a common area rule.  

3) Food:  I had to laugh because this has been a huge frustration for me too.  I'll have all the groceries for the week and then without fail, the kids would eat something as an after school snack that I needed for dinner.  One thing that has helped for us is to have one of those plastic bins in the fridge that is filled with the stuff the kids ARE allowed to snack on. Or to put notes on things that were for a specific use.  Like if I bought a loaf of French bread for a dinner, I literally have to WRITE on it that it's for dinner, do not eat.  Else my eldest SD will eat the whole thing in a sitting.

Talk about your top 2-3 things with DH. See what you guys can come up with.  THEN sit everyone down together and let DAD explain to them how it's going to work.  Dad needs to have a plan for what he's going to do if it doesn't happen.  It can't just come from you.  So for example, if your SD isn't picking up after herself, then what's going to happen? Is DH going to do it?  Is he going to make SD do it?  Have a plan in advance.

With regards to the off limit rooms, I think someone just needs to have a conversation about this--your office is your work space.  They wouldn't go to Dad's work and plop down.  You need your work space to be YOUR work space.  Since school is starting soon, hopefully this office issue will get better pretty quickly.

Ultimately, I guess the best I can give you is that it will get better if/when you and DH can get on the same page and with time.  Everyone is getting used to a new situation.  As the adults though, it's our job to make sure that we're not negatively impacting the kids. (and no, I do not think that having kids stay out of a bedroom or clean up is a negative though some might disagree)

It sounds like your husband is VERY willing to try to make this more liveable for you.  So use him. Work with him.  

As for your role though...there are so many variations.  What works for one won't work for another or may not even be possible.  I think it can be difficult to be a custodial step mom because you just can't get a break and work on/enjoy your new marriage. You're just kind of plopped into a situation where lots of people have their own ideas about what you *should* be doing and they're often contradictory.  You'll figure it out though.

They don't hand out manuals to parents when kids are born either--so keep in mind that your husband is trying to figure it out too.  

I have known my SDs for about 4 years, married for 2 in 2 weeks.  There have been a LOT of changes for all of us and while trying to adapt to those changes, we're also trying to learn to live with/work with each other.  It's a journey, not a destination--there are going to be potholes and speed bumps and sometimes brick freaking walls that you run into.

I am by no means feeling like an expert on the topic btw...just as you figure out one thing, something else pops up that you didn't see coming.  It's a very fluid situation.

Get the help you need, don't be too hard on yourself, and understand that if you take a step back and take stock of the situation and then proceed with as much info as you can gather, you're more likely to create a situation that is positive for you and everyone else.

Good luck. 




DDDaysh
by on Aug. 19, 2013 at 2:28 PM
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I think working with a therapist is a good idea.  

Two things struck me in your post.  1)  You didn't know what you wanted your role to be.  2)  When talking about things, you listed a BUNCH of stuff you wanted other people to change that would fix your life.  

So, therapy is a good first step.  You need to know what it is your want to be.  Otherwise, how can you get there?  And how can anyone else know what to expect with you?  You also need to realize that these other people, they aren't going to change to make you happier.  If you need something in your life to change, YOU are going to have to be the one who makes changes in yourself.  By doing that, you may convince someone else to decide to modify their own behavior, or your may simply limit the damage their behavior has on you, but the first step is always for YOU to change what YOU are doing.  

It really sounds like you weren't ready for kids.  The things you're talking about, they're pretty much normal "life with kids" stuff.  So, find a therapist and work with her so you can get yourself ready for this new family life.  The only other option is to call it quits.  

Birdseed
by Gold Member on Aug. 19, 2013 at 2:31 PM
1 mom liked this



Quoting DDDaysh:

I think working with a therapist is a good idea.  

Two things struck me in your post.  1)  You didn't know what you wanted your role to be.  2)  When talking about things, you listed a BUNCH of stuff you wanted other people to change that would fix your life.  

So, therapy is a good first step.  You need to know what it is your want to be.  Otherwise, how can you get there?  And how can anyone else know what to expect with you?  You also need to realize that these other people, they aren't going to change to make you happier.  If you need something in your life to change, YOU are going to have to be the one who makes changes in yourself.  By doing that, you may convince someone else to decide to modify their own behavior, or your may simply limit the damage their behavior has on you, but the first step is always for YOU to change what YOU are doing.  

It really sounds like you weren't ready for kids.  The things you're talking about, they're pretty much normal "life with kids" stuff.  So, find a therapist and work with her so you can get yourself ready for this new family life.  The only other option is to call it quits.  


Just wanted to say that I agree...she has to make changes.  But the changes she may need to make might include asking for what she wants rather than just suffering in silence.


jules2boys
by Silver Member on Aug. 19, 2013 at 2:52 PM
1 mom liked this

This is your boyfriend who moved into your place.  His kids may not see the difference between it being your place and 'home' or their place being wherever dad is.  That's something you need to let BF work on with his kids, but YOU need to decide what it is YOU are ok and not ok with.  How are his kids to know what you are and aren't ok with?  If it's new to you, it's new to them too. 

How long has your BF been living with you? 

How old is the kid who lives with you?  Why are they living with you full time?  Did you know they might be living there full time when you asked your boyfriend to move in?  What did you and your boyfriend discuss about his kids prior to him moving in? 

How old is this 'brat', the youngest kid?  Could it not be that this 'brat' is simply acting his age? 

How do you expect others to know your limitations when you don't know them yourself? 

Perhaps it'd be better for you to keep dating this man while he is not living in your home?  It doesn't sound like you're quite ready for all that comes with him.  There's nothing wrong with that either!  It doesn't mean your relationship is doomed or that you're a bad person.  Maybe the timing is off and you need to figure out what YOU want and need before adding in the others that come with your boyfriend, for LIFE (not just until they are 18).  They're his kids... they'll be his kids for LIFE. 

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