No where to turn, please advise, SD issues

tinman44February 10, 2011

Me and my girl both have previous marriages and are divorced from those and have been together for over a year. I moved into my girls house where she and her kids (10 girl/11 boy) lived around four months into the relationship. My boys visit every other weekend(4 boy/6 boy). There are some issues with me and her kids that aren't getting any better.

My girl has been with some real losers and there has been no real father figure in the picture. She prefers to be a friend to her kids where I prefer to be a parent to mine. My girl also has talks with her kids on occasion regarding life in our home, an opportunity for the kids to air their feelings with no influence. She describes me as the best man she's ever known and blessed to have me in her life, even sometimes feels undeserving of me. I do concentrate on our happiness as a family and do whatever I can to make life easier.

Recently the children's real dad has noticed the kids taking a liking to me and that his ex-wife was really in love. He lived one state away and wanted to get back into the children's lives. He requested that he be allowed to stay on the couch for a few months so that he can get settled in town. As much as I didn't like the idea, the chance for us to help him do right (many chances later) was one we felt we needed to afford him. We had clear rules he had to follow; no changing of rules, help out on the chores, no diminishing our authority on the kids. Their dad has had very little to do with these kids over the past few years and as far as me and my girl were concerned was pretty much a dead beat dad. Things started out rocky and chaotic. My girl begged me not to walk away from her during this trying time and promised if there were any problems that he would be the first to go regardless of the issue.

We decided a few months ago that she needed to work on her relationship with her kids and consistency with rules and attitudes. Probably due to the children's real dad putting things bluntly and leading her to believe she was a bad mom regardless of my support. I say we, more she decided but I agreed it was very important. Along with this decision it was decided that I would need to go. The day the kids found out (they were with grandparents so it was about a week after the fact) they told their mom she was crazy and we just needed to marry and get it over with. She pretty much had an epiphany as a result and through much talk we decided I should move back in. I was and am pretty much already a father to them and a husband to her we just haven't had the paperwork done.

Things have been better than ever between me and my girl and I honestly did not believe a love like this was possible, the words to describe our love are almost nonexistent but best described as the best that god could ever have graced, our circle of friends and family are inspired by our love.

Their father was abusive and her ex of eight years following her and her ex-husbands relationship was chaotic. He was very dishonest, cheated for years, exercised no discipline, shared things with the kids that no kid should know about their parents relationship. Terrible stuff, so to say she has been with losers is almost an understatement. In contrast I am a saint though my actions speak for themselves, honestly I'm a better man because she's in my life.

With all that said her kids have made comments implying that all they have to do to have me removed is tell mommy that I'm mean and they don't like me. I don't believe that will work but they do. I believe her son loves me and would prefer me over his real dad if he had a choice. Her daughter has made comments that she has everyone wrapped around her finger and only needs to make a sad face to get her way. That's not too far from the truth either. Whenever they are in my care and she doesn't get her way she only has to call mommy or daddy crying. And when I say doesn't get her way I don't mean I don't let her watch TV I mean I can't take her to her friends because I have to leave for work. Or I tell her she has to do her homework and chores that her parents have asked me to have her do when she gets home from school. I very rarely impose any authority and when I do it is for things you would think to be obvious like; stop running on the armrest of the couch, stop throwing the football in the house, stop hitting your brother with whatever is heavy and nearby, put my six year old down just because he's smaller doesn't mean you should walk down the stairs with him he weighs as much as you.

Today was one of those days. I had to leave for work and I couldn't accommodate her. I was apologetic though would not allow her to talk over me. Both of my girls children will talk over adults to negotiate a resolution to their benefit. She abruptly started the water works, started screaming at me and slammed the door to her room. A few seconds later I hear her son yelling "no he didn't say that stop lying to mommy) he then comes out of his room (adjoined to hers) to tell me that she is on the phone with her mom telling lies and goes on to say that she made the comment she will never do anything I tell her to do even if I do marry her mommy.

So my girl calls me to find out what's going on after she made arrangements for her daughter to have her way. After I explained the situation she let me go and got back to work(I don't like explaining myself I don't feel trusted and it's childish to have such an exchange, I prefer she back me and not do whatever it takes to make them happy when I can't accommodate their wants) About an hour later I hear the door knock and I open it to find her across the house hiding behind the couch pillows mumbling "sorry". I accepted and returned to my task. A few hours later I received a text from my girl that she doesn't understand how I could expect things to be different, they are only children after all. And that I am not the parent they've spent their life with and they are used to an easier way. She then went on to say that she is not looking forward to my children reaching her children's age because she would have to then deal with my kids treating her in such a manner. She then went on to say that it was too bad this had to happen this day as I seemed to be in a bad frame of mind. She did apologize as well and said she would talk to her, though this has happened before and I can't say that I'm optimistic that this is the end.

There are many more details but I wanted to get the basic setup posted.

Please help, I'm new to divorce, step families, and what can only be described as servitude.

Don't get me wrong, everything I do is for my girl and our kids but there are times when you have to decide, should I buy gas or toys, should I go to work or take the kids to that thing they want to do. I cannot stand drama and I prefer everyone to be happy or at least most of us most of the time.

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I'm confused. You moved out & the kids tell her she should marry you so you move back, but then when they don't get their way, they say even if she marries you, they won't listen to you? It also sounds as if the dad is not helping the situation.... though mom is pretty much set in her ways in how she has raised the kids so far.

To be honest, my opinion when I read the entire thing (along with wondering what you get out of the situation) is that you are not much more than an unappreciated unpaid babysitter. The fact that she would have a talk with you to find out what's going on, questioning your authority in front of her daughter, instead of telling the daughter that you are in charge & they can talk about it when she gets home... unless the daughter is claiming you are in some way harming her, mom should not be questioning your authority on her daughter's request. That tells the child that she is really in control because all she has to do is call mommy when she doesn't get her way & you will have to explain yourself. I wouldn't even do that to my paid babysitter.

So many things you describe are so wrong on so many levels.... I don't have enough time to give my full opinion. Ultimately, it's your decision to stay or go, but if you leave~ my suggestion is to pay close attention to how women interact with their children before you allow yourself to get serious. It's a very hard thing to help someone change... almost impossible unless the person wants to change and asks for your help. Thinking you can step in and change a dysfunctional situation into a functional one because you have lived your life differently & think you can apply that to their life, will almost always backfire. Kids will almost always resent some stranger, no matter how much they might like you or think you're a nice guy, coming in & trying to change their way of life... not that some won't like changes for the better like a better standard of living, but when it comes to discipline... good luck! If they have been raised without it, they won't welcome it from a stranger.

It was also probably a huge mistake to move in so soon. But it sounds as if the problem has existed long before you came along & are not going to get better without professional help. In my situation, even professional help has not made things better, but the first and most important thing is you and your girl getting on the same page. If you can't agree on what should happen, then the situation with her kids will never get better.

Another option if you stay is to have her find alternate child care. It is not your responsibility to care for her children and if she isn't going to at least give you the same respect any parent should give their childcare provider, then let her find someone else. and taking her kids to do things they want to do should be based on many factors... like do you have time? do you have money for it? and do they deserve it? If they are not treating you well, why would you reward them by taking time from work & spending your hard earned cash on them having fun? The least they can do is treat you nice, anything less & they are learning to be entitled, which is really not good for them (or you) in the long run.

That's my 2 cents for what it's worth.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2011 at 9:02AM
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Tin, it can be very difficult to navigate the relationships between children and their parents.

I think every stepfamily has similar issues in that one parent is more strict, the other is less, and the kids play one off the other (and this happens with bio-families too).

Ima had good advice, I just want to add that unless you and the mother are 100% committed to being PARENTS (that's plural) to the children you will not succeed. This means, like Ima said; the children have to know that you are a parental team rather than people to play off of one another.

If mom isn't willing, if mom isn't able... walk away. It's not fair to you, it's not fair to the kids.

There's a lot going on her, dad in the picture, staying with you... rules not being followed (running on the arm of the couch??? football in the house???) that tells me you all really need to establish some house rules and follow them.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2011 at 10:46AM
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I am on my lunch break so I had to read rather quick, so maybe I missed something. It appears that kids are out of control and are very demanding. Plus they learned how to manipulate adults.

You have too many responsibilities in regards to raising her children and even providing for them. It does not appear that you are being unreasonable: you want them to stop hitting each other or play football in the house, sounds reasonable to me.

I am not sure what can or cannot be done here. I think it is good that you are not married yet and i wouldn't rush into it. I am not sure how I would feel marrying or moving in with people whose chidlren play football in the house, and hit each other. and since they aren't your children, I am nto sure how you could change that?

My only suggestion is for both of you to see a professional?

    Bookmark   February 10, 2011 at 11:15AM
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Thank you for your replies. I can't say I know what to do about anything right now. I think the advice I'm going to take at this point is "don't rush". I'll check back in later if needed, though I prefer to work things out internally. Again, thank you.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2011 at 3:43PM
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