Need advise

hoakie2601February 20, 2008

I need some insight on an issue we are having!

We have an extended family in our home. My husbands step grandkids from his deseased wife lives with us. Actually we are the guardians of them.

My husband works in the evening and only gets to see the kids on the weekends. Other than kissing them good night when they are already sleeping and them kissing him good bye in the morning on the way to school. If they are lucky they will see him maybe an hour or 2 throughout the week! (no one day for a couple hours but total of a couple of hours)

The kids are 10 and 11. I stay home with them. I quite my job to be a full time guardian to them. Are are always on the go. They dont walk to school I take them and pick them up. We have to go to counseling and other activites with them almost daily.

Here is what I need help with!!!

My husband wants to go to a race on the 16 of March which will mean him traveling to TN from FL. He will be gone for 3 days. Sat thru Mon. I dont have a problem with this. I have asked him to see if his daughter can watch the kids for one of the evenings.

Than he came to me today and said his sister wants him to drive her UHaul to OK for her on the 1st of March. Which again he will be gone for 3 days.

I am having a problem with this because Im the one always home with the kids. It takes a lot out of me to take care of them! I am still young! Im only 41 but still, they are high energy. I have health issues that make me tired all the time. Fighting with each other all the time and they dont respect me like they seem to him.

His sister has another in law that is willing to help her drive the truck to OK. But she wants my husband to do it. He tells me that I am being selfish by not wanting him to do it. He tells me that all I think about is myself. It all me, me, me. I see it other ways. He was the one that wanted to fight to get the kids here. But I am the one with them all the time. Him and I have not had any time to ourselves in well over a month now. But he wants to abandon us and run all over the US..

Please tell me if my feelings are wrong. I see it as he needs to be here for the kids and to help me out. He tells me that I can get a job and he will stay home with the kids. But I will never find a job making the money he makes. Which would mean we would loose everything. I feel that he wants his cake and eat it too! Have his step grandkids with him, but not have to responsability of being with them. As much as he can anyway!

Thanks in advance for your input!

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Not sure I understand about "step grand kids by his first wife now deceased" mean that he and his wife had a child and these are the children of that child? Where are the children's parents?
And 10 and 11 year old kids don't need "staying at home with". Go get a job....get out of the house....there are lots and lots of women 41 who work and have kids that age. Hire someone to come in after school to look after them, or have them go to an after school place.
Yes I think you are off base wanting your husband to stay home when someone else needs him and when there is a race he wants to go to. Why don't you find a sitter for the kids and go with him?
Linda C

    Bookmark   February 20, 2008 at 11:31PM
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I think you're a saint.... raising someone's else kids mainly by yourself.

I think your husband needs to take way more responsiblity for "his" grandkids. I think instead of your husband helping someone else move (when they don't even need him), I think you should go away for a spa trip that weekend just by yourself to relax, and leave the kids home for your husband to take care of.

I find it funny how some men don't think their lives have to be rearranged by taking on responsibility for children.

If those kids have any outside activities (which most do at that age), I don't think it's as simple as you being able to get a job and just put them in after school care. What do you do when they are off school, sick, baseball practice gets rained out, you need to stay late to finish a project, or come in eary for a meeting -who drives them to karate class or to see the counselor? Of course, you can work and still arrange it, but I think working will just create more stress, not less since you are still going to be the repsonsible one for them. Those kids are not young enough to raise themselves and won't be for quite a while.

Your husband and probably some other relatives really need to pitch in more. I have a feeling you probably don't have anyone that would watch the kids for a long weekend while you both go off. And, I'm guessing your husband won't allow "just anyone" to watch them for such a period, so you're stuck staying home with them while he does his trips. Again, try leaving him home alone with them, and he may change his mind.

You do need a break; a big break and with more breaks planned. Your husband doesn't need to be helping other people (who have other options) when he's not even contributing at home. His first responsiblity is to you and those kids and he's fallling way short.

If he's expecting you to more or less be these kid's mother, then he needs to take more responsbility and act like a father to them. He should probably be doing a lot more since they are his blood relation and not yours. Wow, if you didn't sign on for this, you really are doing way more than your fair share. I wish you the best.

Obvioulsy, a couple weekends trips aren't the real problem. You really need to talk to him about taking more responsibilty on a daily basis for these children. It really shouldn't fall on your shoulders, and he really needs to understand that and appreciate everything you are doing.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2008 at 12:18AM
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Lindac let me explain a little better. They are children from his second wife that is deased. They are not blood relations to him either. He is their step grandfather.

It is very hard for me to work. I have to pick them up from school and take them daily. They are not allowed to walk. We have counseling for 3 hours a week. One of them is failing at school, so I spend roughly 8 hours a week helping with school work to try to get his grades up.

We can not just leave these kids with anyone. Anyone that they stay with has to be checked out by children and family services. We only have 1 relative that has been so far. And she work full time and goes to school full time. I am not allowed to let them go to friends houses without me being with them, so most friends come over here. Parents are not willing to get background checks and be finger printed just so there friend can come over.

We have case workers coming over 3 to 4 times a month and the kids have to be here. And that is during normal business hours.

So if I could fit a job into this mix I would love too.

Going with him to these things is not possible. His friend is giving him a ticket and you cant get more. We would have to pay for me to fly back home from OK. We dont have that kind of money. All our savings has gone into getting the kids here and getting rooms ready and things like that. When they came to us they had nothing but cloths and most of those did not fit.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2008 at 7:49AM
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They are his step children....not grand children....unless they were her grand children.
And where is their father?
Seems to me you have pretty well eliminated everything from your life but those kids. That's not right...taking in children should not be that hard.
It's not right that you should bear the brunt of raising them, but it's also not right that there shouldn't be some time for play for both of you.
I don't know where you live in the inner city, very rural ro what....but children should be either able to walk to school or take the school bus.
But I do see a middle oif the day window for you to work 1/2 time.
Linda C

    Bookmark   February 21, 2008 at 8:46AM
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Most of the people I know with children, waited to get married and have kids, spending their 20's in career's and/or dating, and starting families sometime in their 30's...the point being that they are your age (and older) with kids the same age as the kids you have custody of.

So, in my eyes... even though you describe them as step-grandchildren, you are in the youthful age bracket of most parents. I know your health issues make it more tiring, and their problems perhaps make it harder yet, but know that you are in the midst of all that goes into bringing up children today, with the challenges and rewards, with those who are in your peer group, struggling right along with you, many with problems you may not see, like marriage problems, family issues, aging parents, or siblings with problems, etc.

I don't want you to feel overwhelmed, but comforted.

You are doing the right thing, and I know in the midst of the daily stuff, sometimes it all feels like too much.

Perhaps the counselor can give you ideas on how to stop the sibling fighting and bickering that is so exhausting. Also, my SIL told me about someone named Dr. Ray Guarendi (a parenting specialist) who she said has radio programs, and has written several parenting books. She likes him and his books.

On to your husband. If this is a rarity for him to be out of town, both the race, and helping a family member, then I would let it slide. If it is not a rarity, and he is always the one helping everyone else, "but you", then I would say he needs to get his priorities in order, grasping the concept that you and these children he agreed to take responsibility for, come first. Period. Men often like to be the hero, helping everyone else out so they feel appreciated, and needed. This type of man will often ignore the needs of those he should be there for, while being a great guy to everyone else.

Perhaps you can talk to him and make some changes. Just an example. On Saturday mornings, perhaps he gets time to himself. On Saturday afternoons, it could be your free time to spend as you wish. Sundays could be family time where you come up with fun things to do as a family, like bowling with another family, or roller skating, or laser tag, etc. With the sitter complications, a date night might be hard, but perhaps kids could be put to bed early every Saturday night, and you two rent a movie and have kid free time together. A family I know who does this, said they have pizza/movie night for the kids that begins early, so that their kids are in bed by 8:30, so it is not too late to start the parent kid free time because she said she and her husband fall asleep by 10:30. I also know one woman whose husband comes home for lunch every Wednesday while the kids are at school for their kid free time, and it seemed odd to me, but she said it worked for them.

Could you sit down with your husband and come up with a plan that works for your family, so that you do not become resentful towards him or the kids?

The kids are at and age where they should be able to help you, and together, you can work as a team.

Three families I know, but do not know well, are raising grandchildren, or neices/nephews with some of the same problems you mention. I wonder if there is a support group on line, or in your area, so that you can find support, or support others, on this worthy path you have been handed.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2008 at 9:18AM
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First off I want to commend you for what your doing! I know how difficult it is to raise someone elses children, I am raising my 3 stepkids. Their mom is out of the picture, except for a week or two of visitation during the summer and phone calls on occasion. She decided she wanted to move out of state with her boyfriend and have more kids with him and place these ones on the backburner! My dh and I both work full-time, but opposite shifts so we didn't have to deal with daycare expenses. I am a teacher so my hours leave me with the most responsibility for the kids. I also had one of my own before marriage. So, I am not even 30 yet and am raising 4 kids most of the time by myself! I know how it is not to have time to yourself! Luckily my husband spends all his off work time with us.

I think you need to talk to your husband and tell him how overwhelming it was for you to go from no kids to full-time parent. Reassure him that you love the kids and want to be there for them, but you also need breaks. Tell him that you won't argue about his going out of town for the races and to help his relative, but you expect some free time as well. Maybe plan a monthly night out with your girlfriends while he watches the kids! Or maybe you can line up the relative who is able to watch the kids so you and your husband can have a night out.

Most of my friends have kids so we often plan to get togethers for "movie and pizza nights" with them and their kids. The kids play and watch movies and eat pizza in on room while I get much needed adult time with my girl friends in the other! It is amazing how much kids can amuse themselves with their friends while you can actually have a conversation! I really find that inviting friends and family with kids over to our house is relaxing! The kids all play and the adults get to enjoy themselves.

I am not sure if you take vacations, but a lot of resorts have kids camps there. My husband and I love it. The kids get a few hours of structured activities with a responsible adult (maybe even children and family services qualified-you would have to check)while you and you husband can sit poolside and relax or have some adult time! Most times our kids have made friends with those kids so then they will all want to play together at the pool or something after camp and we are still able to sit by the pool and relax because they are entertained and in our sight!

Good luck!

    Bookmark   February 21, 2008 at 10:24AM
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"We dont have that kind of money. All our savings has gone into getting the kids here and getting rooms ready and things like that."

So how is it your husband can do all these other things for himself in addition to not being there? Seems like an unfair/unreasonable division to me.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2008 at 11:38AM
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Someone pointed out that men like to be the hero -
and that seems to be right on target in this case.

In his view, Dad stepped in and 'rescued' these children by gaining custody --

But what he isn't recognizing is that while 'winning custody' is a one-time accomplishment, taking care of them and raising children is a full-time job.
And he isn't doing it - you are.

It's the whole 'puppy' deal -- Oh, aren't they cute. I want one. But daily walks, feeding, house-training, barking, furniture chewing -- what a lot of work! Maybe I don't want a dog after all...

It's time for a long talk with your husband. By taking these children, he has volunteered you both to become parents, and he needs to 'step up to the plate' and do his share.

He doesn't get to be 'the hero' while you do all the work.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2008 at 1:20PM
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sweeby said it best.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2008 at 2:32PM
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They are step grandkids. Mom is in prison and dad is someplace. Not in the kids lives.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2008 at 3:36PM
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I can understand how you feel. I have felt like that about my own children !

Be more specific on how you want him to help out. Don't just say "I want you to help out more", say "Can you please take Boy to soccer practice on Thursdays?" This will get him into the habit of doing things with them.

I think you also need to plan a trip away, for yourself. He goes seems fair that you should be able to go away for a few days.

I think it is unfair of him to say you are selfish.

Just choose your words, set boundaries.

Sounds like you are doing a terrific job.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2008 at 8:14PM
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In my opinion, you're not being unreasonable at the least bit. He sounds like he's being selfish to me, and inconsiderate. As for the trips away? I'd be more concerned that he is finding reasons to be away, instead of the considerate soul he's trying to pretend to be. Just sounds fishy to me. If he wants to do all these nice things for other people, he should start by doing them at home, for those who need him the most.

Heck, I'd probably tell him that if he wants to go somewhere, he needs to take the kids with him, and give you time by yourself to "relax".... Geesh...

    Bookmark   February 22, 2008 at 12:55AM
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