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New Stepmom Creating Boundaries?

Posted by on Nov. 12, 2012 at 12:43 PM
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Hello all. I have been married one month tomorrow with one step-son (6) and one step-daughter (8). We actually have a very good relationshipe, and my husband is VERY supportive of me in the role of step-parent. He reinforces that they need to love and respect me, and, for the most part, we get along great.

My question is how to create normal and positive boundaries where my step-daughter feels loved. My DH (is that the lingo for husband?? I'm new to this forum stuff!) has created an environment in his house-hold where the children are constantly surrounded by him and played with by him. They do nothing by themselves, nor are they able to entertain themselves. We've had them for two weekends since marriage now (and two days during each week). Every weekend, I play pretend with them (separately) for an hour each day. I then play pretend with them together for a half an hour each day. I make up stories about a family character while we're driving places, before bed-time, and while they take a bath (they don't do that alone either). I color with them after that; we have coloring contests. I do 'chores' with them to teach them to clean up after themselves. Etc. etc. This starts at 6:30 every morning and ends at 10:30 when they finally get to bed. This is in addition to doing homework with them, reading books to them, having family time where we play board games, family eating time, praying together, etc. We recently went to my in-laws house, and I couldn't even talk to them because my SD monopolized my time. After they leave, I spend a day cleaning up the mess from the weekend. My step-daughter says I barely play with her. I approached how I could create healthy boundaries to my DH where I could tell her I need to do a few things for my own life, and he said that being a parent means you give up your own life. Essentially, when the children are here, I put my life on hold to interact with them.

I understand that being a parent is non-stop, and it is hard. I understand that I will have a hard adjustment. But is it normal that I'm not allowed to answer my phone when a friend calls because the children can't entertain themselves for a few seconds? Isn't it healthy to teach them to have a little independence for their own well-being? How do I do that and still create a healthy environment of love? I'm conflicted, because I love my family very much but I feel like we're doing a disservice to the children by micro-managing their every minute, AND I'm extrememly drained. How do I toughen up and/or set some healthy boundaries?

by on Nov. 12, 2012 at 12:43 PM
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by New Member on Nov. 12, 2012 at 1:53 PM
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I believe in quality or quanity!  My ss now 7 was the very same way.  When he was home I had no peace (and no time with hubbie).  The boys my ds and ss wanted to be to be with us all the time.  My ds knew better but this was a fun life for him so up our butts he goes.  I started with telling them ok I have duh and duh and duh to do.  If you will help me I can spend some time with you faster if not I need you to go play yourselfs so I can do it faster myself.  This showed ss that the world didnt revolve around only him that life happens.  Then when I was able to spend time with ss or ds or both I would tell them the time they had be it hour or what.  That whole time was only about the boys nothing else.  When their time was up I went back to chores or made my phonecalls what ever.  Just remember part of age is that it will get better in a year it will be different.  Plus right now you are their new shiney toy and they just wanna play with you!

by Member on Nov. 12, 2012 at 5:59 PM
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That's a tough one, especially with your husband's parenting style... and its not really normal not to be free to function so much as to have a few moments to yourself or to even answer the phone. That's not to say there aren't times when kids get under foot, so to speak, even then. His attention and involvement with them is wonderful - but independent play is necessary to healthy development as well, and without this essential milestone their attention seeking could lead to a breakdown at a point where it becomes impossible to meet their demands - possibly driving them as far as self destructive behavior in the attempt to satisfy that thirst for attention. (My 5 year old daughter actually has an attention seeking disorder where because of issues surrounding her relationship with her biological father, she seeks attention excessively and inappropriately, we struggle with helping her correct and cope appropriately constantly) I encourage you to look up the term "independent play" and see what the recommendations are for the kids ages, I'm sure you'll find something explaining how essential it is to development and studies showing the repercussions if this milestone is delayed - perhaps it would help to have something concrete as far as evidence goes to bring to your husband to show him your concerns are validated - hopefully to help offer a still respectful opening to a discussion of your concern for their well being? Maybe you could ease them into some individual independent play by challenging them in a fun way, for example you could say make your own pictures of (a castle for example, or an ocean scene, etc.) and keep them a secret until this time (start with twenty or thirty minutes and work upwards maybe) and have them hide like ten things in the picture for you to try and find later... Good luck and God bless.
by on Nov. 12, 2012 at 6:19 PM

Make some playdates with kids their age so that  you don't have to entertain them. 

by Member on Nov. 13, 2012 at 12:12 PM
I've seen families that do 'alone time' for the kids every day- they spend half and hour to an hour alone in their rooms playing or reading (usually, this starts young, when a child transitions out of naptime. ). Or Maybe you could let them be near you without having your constant attention. You could read a book while they color or do a puzzle. It sounds like you are going above and beyond and dont have any reason to feel like you don't do enough. I totally agree with what you're saying about independence.... And its ok to take time for you even with the kids around. Maybe DH feels like he has to constantly.entertain them because he doesn't see them very often??
With situations where I think a change needs to be made, I talk to Dh and let him know how I see things and let him do the same. Then, since they are his I ultimately let him make the decisions. And, no matter how that goes, it would be ok fr you to say 'i need to take time for me while the SC are here.' Burning yourself out while they're there won't be good for any of you in the long run.
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by on Nov. 15, 2012 at 4:01 PM
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Whoa, whoa, give up your life? Um, NO! Now I haven't read other replies to this and I hope I'm not too harsh. I am a stepmom to two boys who were 13 & 14 when I married their Dad. You are a woman, you are a wife and you are a stepmom. You sound like you spend a lot of quality time with those kids, both of them. I think you and your dh need to do some communicating. I have to say, my marriage has communication problems, so it's not perfect, but I believe you should have every right to your alone time AND your alone couple time. Counselors will tell you, the best thing you can show your children is the love you two share. Spending time with each other as well as the kids. And I can tell you from experience, if your husband doesn't show those kids his love and adoration for you, there will be trouble (especially from the girl) as they get older. So - yes, to the boundries needed! :)

by Member on Nov. 17, 2012 at 2:20 AM

Amen sister!  Sonshining, you are so right! 

by Member on Nov. 20, 2012 at 4:37 PM
Thank you, ladies!! All of you have super suggestions that I am implementing. I am definitely the 'shiny new toy' ;) BUT it was really nice to give them a direction in how to be alone while I do other things. I LOVE the idea of coloring hidden objects in their pictures, and as soon as I'm done typing, I'll google Independent Play. You all take care :) Happy Thanksgiving!!
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