new partner/stepfather issues

gal-lellyJuly 22, 2013

My new partner and myself live with my 3 kids (15,11,10) full time. I split from the kids father after 21 years..Obviously at first,things were hard,but we are happy in the main,and my new partner is very good to me and the kids. The only issue is my middle child. She has always been a very demanding child,moreso than my other partner hates the way she treats me sometimes,he says I give in to her every demand,I can't say no to her etc. The thing is,he has a fiery temper. It takes a heck of a lot to make him lose his cool,but once he does,his gruff manner is genuinely upsetting...he will blow his top,but will apologise shortly after and usually all is forgotten. He has lost his cool on several occasions with my daughter,and she usually sulks in her room,but last night,she asked if she could have a shower at 11.30pm. I saw no problem with this,but she maybe took a bit longer than was necessary,so when she came out,my partner lost it and bellowed at her,whereupon she and my younger son were in tears and this reduced me to tears too.She said she "didn't like him" and she "missed her dad" I think there is a way of speaking to kids,and think he does go over the top sometimes,if I find his bellowing frightening,what must a 10 and an 11 year old feel?..the atmosphere was frosty all evening after this,he said he had had enough of the way "she walks over you",he likes my kids the same,but feels my middle child has a "hold over me" that he can't figure out. Like I say,he is great with kids (he is a great father to his 19 year old daughter),and is kind and at their level,I admit I may be too soft at times and he is the strict one when it's needed,but I am finding difficulty with these losses of temper on occasion,and resent my daughter being spoken too in a manner which I would never employ. Apart from this,they have settled in better than I thought,although ultimately,you never really know how a child's young mind works.Does anyone think I should toughen up like he says,or should he calm down like I say?...I am clueless as to how to handle this.

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HeâÂÂs probably losing his temper because you are too soft to your children.

IâÂÂm not saying blowing up and losing his temper is right, but I have a feeling heâÂÂs getting fed up with you letting your daughter âÂÂwalk all over youâÂÂ. I wonder many times has he asked you to stop letting your daughter getting away with things?

It sounds like you never raise your voice to your kids and they arenâÂÂt used to being yelled at - so of course your kids are going to burst into tears when he yells. You say you find his bellowing frightening. I think itâÂÂs all a matter of perspective. In some families they yell all the time. My exH used to yell, and I didnâÂÂt like it, but when I got around his family I saw that they all did it. That was how he was raised and nobody saw anything wrong with it.

You need to have a conversation with your BF about your daughter. I bet he's been biting his toungue about a lot of things, hence the reason why sometimes he blows up. You and your BF need to agree on rules for all the children and YOU need to make sure to enforce them.

Don't let your kids walk all over you. Whatever guilt you have about their father or other things in the past, don't let that lead you to spoil your children. Really, you aren't doing them any favors by being lax on them.

Tell your BF youâÂÂll be more firm with your daughter if heâÂÂll agree to reduce his volume and control his temper better.

I have a feeling if you toughen up on your daughter, there wonâÂÂt be any reason for your BF to get so angry.

ETA - you mentioned he blew up because your 11 year old took a long shower at 11:30pm at night. Do your kids have a set bedtime? I have to say, 11:30 is extremely late for an 11 year old to be up, even if she doesn't have to get up for school, and I'm sure she didn't finish her shower until after midnight. My 14 year old's bedtime is 9pm during the week and 10pm on the weekends.

This post was edited by Amber3902 on Mon, Jul 22, 13 at 12:32

    Bookmark   July 22, 2013 at 9:33AM
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'I saw no problem with this,but she maybe took a bit longer than was necessary,so when she came out,my partner lost it and bellowed at her,whereupon she and my younger son were in tears and this reduced me to tears too'

This is downright frightening.

Toss him back.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2013 at 6:42PM
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I see this as two separate issues.

1) It is possible you are not assertive enough in disciplining your daughter. (I am not speaking of Marine Corp drill sergeant but of having reasonable rules and holding her accountable.)

So it may well be regardless of whether or not your relationship with this partner endures, you need to get some spine before your daughter loses all respect and becomes uncontrollable.

It does sound as if on some level you do realize you've been too soft and are being manipulated.

2) Your partner's shouting. That is a whole different thing. When two of your children are frightened and crying, that's abuse. ABUSE is totally unacceptable.

If your partner can't get a handle on his behavior and find a more humane way to interact with your children, regardless of the issues, then I'm with the previous poster:

Toss him back.

Not all children are resilient enough to recover from this kind of treatment. They don't toughen up, they crumble.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2013 at 9:11PM
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I agree with readinglady. Also it is best that your partner does not discipline your daughter nor criticize you in front of your children.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2013 at 2:08AM
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Thank you to all who was most helpful.Amber3902,you have it spot on. I AM too soft with my children,and re middle child-she has actually reduced me to tears on occasion with her wilfulness and moods when she doesn't get her own way. My partner is a wonderful guy,so kind,generous and treats not just me,but my kids so well. He is a great parent,and he and his daughter have a wonderful,close relationship. He loves my kids,and gets on great with them,but it's just these incidents when my daughter plays up that irk him...I am quite a sensitive person,and any unbalance and disharmony truly upsets me,so he can bite his tongue for so long. Incidentally,he isn't the only one who says that I'M the parent NOT my daughter. On these couple of occasions,after his temper cools off,he will go in and apologise to the kids and all will be as though nothing happened..but me being me will hold on to this for a while before I can forget it. My daughter has ACTUALLY said to a family member at one point, "I know that if I ask for something and my mum says No,that I will keep going on till she gives in!"...THIS is what irritates my partner ,the fact that my other 2 kids don't ask for much at all,but she is demanding. It is this behaviour towards me and I guess the disrespect that she shows at times that he can't handle. The guilt thing about leaving my partner is still an issue for me at times too. Not so much the fact that I left him...we had grown apart because he never did much with the kids and me as a family-I took holidays alone with the kids,at weekends,he would say he was tired with long hours etc...whereas my partner is the type to want to work at a relationship...always buying me flowers,little romantic cards,day trips to get away from the house,he is great around the house and doesn't mind doing housework etc. The guilt stems from the fact that I ripped a family apart. My ex has a new partner,and doesn't contribute much financially towards the kids and doesn't take them every weekend,it's sort of when it fits in with his life. When I am on one of my guilt trips,my partner will remind me that my ex has moved on and if he was a proper father,he would move hell and high water to see his kids,which is what he did. His ex and him split when his daughter was 2 and he made sure he saw her every Wed and every weekend,he says he never wanted to miss out on any minute of her growing up,which I reckon is why they are so close to this day. I know he is right,but sometimes I still cry for having taken the kids away from my ex,that I should somehow "pay" for my actions,and this is why I maybe spoil the kids a bit. Since this happened 2 nights ago,I haven't spoken to my partner. He sent 2 texts saying he loved me,I never replied. I never spoke last night on my return from work, I told him I was still too angry. I KNOW I need to toughen up with my daughter,but by the same token,i do not want his (rare) temper flare ups reducing them (and me) to tears.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2013 at 3:41AM
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Therapist, I suggest a therapist for you....and soon.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2013 at 5:58AM
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>>My daughter has ACTUALLY said to a family member at one point, "I know that if I ask for something and my mum says No,that I will keep going on till she gives in!".I donâÂÂt call that demanding, I call that disrespect.

You have taught your daughter not to respect what you say, but to keep on until you cave in. She does not know how to respect the word NO. What do you think will happen when she gets into the real world and someone tells her no? She wonâÂÂt be able to handle it.

What do you think will happen when she gets a job? Do you think sheâÂÂll respect her boss when he tells her no, you canâÂÂt have those days off for vacation?

Your daughter will have a hard time when she starts dating. You know for a relationship to work both parties have to be willing to compromise. How will your daughter know how to do that if she is used to getting her way all the time?

But it's not too late to change things. Next time your daughter asks for something and the answer is no, and she keeps on, this is what you do.

Say for example she asks:

"Mom, can I stay up 30 minutes late tonight?"
And you say "No, we have to be up early tomorrow."
"But mom, itâÂÂs only 30 minutes!"
"I said no."
"But mom, pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease, pleeeeeeeeeeease! I want to watch this new show!"

Say this in a firm voice: "I said no, this is NOT up for discussion. If you continue to beg, you will have to go to bed 15 minutes earlier."

âÂÂBut mom, I only wanted-âÂÂ
"Okay, thatâÂÂs 15 minutes earlier you have to go to bed"
"Mom, you are being so unfair!"

âÂÂThatâÂÂs another 15 minutes.âÂÂ
And follow through. MAKE her go to bed 30 minutes earlier, or whatever punishment you see fit.

You are going to have to be really hard on her for a while, because she is so used to getting her own way all the time. You should watch some episodes of the Nanny - she shows how to be firm but loving with your children, and has some great discipline and reward/punshment techniques. Another thing to keep in mind, how do you think your other two children feel when they see their sister getting away with things? It's really not fair to them.

Another thing - you don't have to "pay" for taking the kids away from your ex. How could you have taken them away from him if he was never around? You were married for 21 years so NO ONE can say you didnâÂÂt try to make it work. You did not leave him, he left you when he stopped doing things with you and the kids.

My exH was the same way as your ex, he never spent any time with me and our two daughters. I felt like a single parent even though I was married. I divorced him after 11 years and wish I had done it sooner. And during the divorce I found out he had been cheating on me.

I give you permission to forgive yourself. You need to stop punishing yourself about the divorce and concentrate on being a good parent to your children.

This post was edited by Amber3902 on Tue, Jul 23, 13...

    Bookmark   July 23, 2013 at 9:22AM
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Over-indulgence is not good parenting. It's a short-term response with long-term consequences.

I would agree that therapy can be very beneficial in helping you sort out your personal issues and separate them from the parenting/partner component. Right now you seem enmeshed in your own guilt and as a result are not able to apply the kind of consistent objective parenting your daughter needs.

I would also say that your partner's wonderfulness to you and supposed success with his own daughter does not change the fact that he has been verbally abusive. Apologizing after the fact doesn't erase what's been said. Your kids move on but believe me, they don't forget.

It doesn't matter how obnoxious your daughter is. He's the adult; she's the kid. He doesn't get to shout and harangue to vent some steam.

But right now I think the problem is more you than him because there's a lot more in your reply about your own guilt and how great he's been as a partner than there is about how your kids are doing.

Parenting comes first. Your EX, your partner, your history, your guilts and needs come way down the line compared to the children. Kids first, kids first, kids first. That's the bottom line.

If that means tossing him back, so be it.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2013 at 5:51PM
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Thank you for the kind replies. They have been helpful and insightful. May I just say, that I was never married to my childrens father and have never been married. I agree wholeheatedly that I have been too soft with the kids-my oldest daughter is a sensible girl,and I have no worries with son is the youngest,and is a loving,sensitive,but strong middle child is the demanding one! They are very well looked after by myself and my partner,and my immediate family. I receive no financial help from my ex. Yesterday was "eventful" to say the least!.My partner had been texting me at work to sort things out (as I was still frosty),so I demanded that my partner have a chat with my daughter and re-iterate to her that it's her behaviour towards me that upsets him,not her herself. When I arrived home he had told me that SHE had actually gone to him first and apologised. He then went on to explain to her that when she treats me the way she does sometimes,it upsets me most importantly, and him. Apparently she nodded in agreement at all he said. She apologised to me too later on in the evening. My partner and I then had a chat. He said I truly have to toughen up with her,as it's not fair on my other 2 kids. He wants ALL of us to work as a family-but for this to happen I have to stop giving in to her demands. He also said that in all his years (we are both 48 btw) he has never seen a child manipulate a parent so much as she does with me. He also said everyone in the house is happy and HAS moved on apart from me (the guilt thing about leaving my ex). He reckons I have us beat before giving us a fair chance while this guilt thing still rears its head. I agree with all he said,it's just hard when you're not a tough/strong person to start with.......

    Bookmark   July 24, 2013 at 5:04AM
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It doesn't sound like the 2 of you had a talk;
it sounds like he laid down the law & you meekly accepted all responsibility.

Tape this on your mirror (maybe your car mirror), & read it aloud 8 times a day:

'Kids first, kids first, kids first. That's the bottom line.

If that means tossing him back, so be it.'

I wish you, and especially your children, the best of all things including luck.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2013 at 11:19AM
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As a stepfather myself i know how hard it is to step into an established family unit....... Never knowing if any or all the kids will accept you,or if my new partner will accept my style of parenting ,which in my experiance always differs ....... It sounds as though you,in your previous relationship,were left to do the majority of the parenting,which was unfair,and may also have led to you being lax in the discipline department...... Kids need discipline and structure.....sounds like you let them do as they please.... Re showers at 11.30 at night...... This has to be clamped down on.... Sounds like middle child can easily manipulate you.... Could be you are doing it for a quiet life....but its wrong....she is showing you no respect whatsoever ...... As for your new man shouting ...... I have always found that to be the best way of doing things,i don't see it as previous partners used "the hands on approach",if you know what i mean,which appalled me.... My technique was quickly adopted and had an immediate impact in way kids behaved,agreed it can be a shock....but it works...... As for the new man being all the things you say he never mention if you love him...... If you do... You relationship will be just fine....... I found after my very first shouting episode at kids,that i never had to do it again...... And that's because,at the end of the day,none of us like being shouted at...... I did it once..... And never had to do it again ......... Hope you are all happy together

    Bookmark   September 10, 2013 at 3:12AM
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Thank you Meanstreak65 for your very kind message. You actually reiterate everything my partner says about parenting! He never had to lift a hand to his daughter in her life-he doesn't agree with that-he only had to raise his voice and she knew to calm it down!...And shocking though the gruffness is...IT DOES WORK! has only happened on rare occasions I may add...and the kids don't dwell on it-neither does he-it's said,it's dealt with-move's me that needs to quit thinking about it. As for me...yes, I do things for a quiet life...wrong I know,but I am trying to toughen up!...I took my sons PS3 from him for a misdemeanour a few eeks back...something I wouldn't have did,but worked...small steps. Also personally,My partner proposed on Saturday on a beach,he did the whole down on one knee thing with single red rose in hand! Then...2 days later,we found out we got the house we were it's been a great 3 days! Kids are happy too...Im 48 years old,swore I would never marry...but it must take the right man to come along and change your way of thinking!....I do love him (which I neglected to mention before!) and everyone is pleased for now it's gonna be house move and wedding planning!!!!.....

    Bookmark   September 10, 2013 at 6:13AM
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great news...............we all love a happy ending

    Bookmark   September 10, 2013 at 3:27PM
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Im new to this site....but find it a good source of information...... Im a keen gardener...... But never realised the other forums exsisted .... Sure has been an eye opener...... Hope you are finding this site as useful as i am....... Wish you and your family all the happiness life can bring

    Bookmark   September 11, 2013 at 3:24AM
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