Question about being a stepmom

chris70x7July 26, 2010

I am looking for some advice on this situation. I have a stepson who hates me (seems this is the norm for stepmoms). He thinks I am the reason for his parents not being married although I wasn't even around when they got divorced and she was married before I was dating his father. We have been married for ten years, and have 4 boys together. I think I have tried just about everything to make things better. I have tried to make him feel welcome in our home when he comes for a visit. I have tried making sure he has deodrant, tooth paste tooth brush, socks underwear (just normal things you would need when coming and staying at someones house that you don't go to very often). I have tried just laying low to stay out of his way and I have tried the opposite. I think anything I do is an offense to him. Anyway, it isn't the fact that he doesn't like me, I can't help that but what it the difficult part is the tenseness that it brings to our house for the short time he is here. So I am wondering if this would be a better approach I know that this boy only wants to be with his dad. I think he is jealous of his brothers that get their dad all the time. So I an wondering if it would be best if we should save money and every once in a while when we have enough saved, my husband go spend the weekend with him in his own town instead of him coming here. I understand that until he is probably about 30 years old he will probably be angry with me and I am wondering if I wasn't around for him to constantly looking for something to dislike me for if it would be best. He could have his dad all to himself, and not have to share him. I know this isn't normal but I am trying to find a way to keep his relationship with his dad, and not have a strain on our marriage and difficulties with the other children. Although this boy has never said anything to my face, he goes home and tells his mom. He cannot even be in the same room with me, when I walk in he leaves, he is almost 16 years old. We have tried to talk to him giving him a chance to say something but he will not. It would be easier if he would just come out and say he doesn't like me, then at least it wouldn't be a secret anger towards me. What I am wondering is if this is a good idea or if it is a terrible one? Should we just let him come when he wants and suffer through it when he comes, causing strain on the rest of the family or what? Also for a few years now it has been his decision if he wants to come we haven't pressured him. We know it would be terrible to have him come when he doesn't want to be here, we have been surprised that he has been coming on his own. His mom also knows this since we have talked to her about it. I hope this makes sense, I tried to condense the 10 years into a short summary

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I don't know how other SMs would handle this but, based on my experience as a kid, I think you may be on the right track. I know that both parents houses are the kids' homes, etc. in theory but in reality, when you're a teenager and you are going to visit your parent in a different city/state, it's often not really your home. "Home" as a teenager is where your friends, school, job and activities are as well, not just your parents.

I remember going to visit my father in the summer and the trouble that we'd have - Dad and SM would go off to work and tell us we were free to go "play" with our friends - what friends? All of our friends were in the city where we spent most of our time. Young kids can go to the playground and make new friends in two minutes - high school age kids tend to make friends at school, work, church youth groups; all those places that your SS is not going to be at for long if at all when he's at your house.

So the trouble is that while you may want him to feel like he is "at home", it's very difficult at his age for him to really feel that way if he's not there that often. Additionally, he may feel like he should be getting special attention because he's not there much - whereas, if your house is truly his home then he would not be getting special attention.

At any rate, I'm not sure that basically banning him from your home is going to send the right message at all. But what if, when he comes to visit, he and his Dad go off for the day by themselves? Even if they go off for the weekend, I really think it would be better if they start and finish at your house, even if it's only for an hour or two. That way, if there is still tension, you and the other kids only have to deal with it for a brief time, but SS does not feel like he is excluded from your whole side of his family.

As an aside, I used to resent my SM because I felt that she was being fakely sweet. Try not to worry too much about that part of it; I bet that it gets better as he becomes an adult.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2010 at 1:16PM
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When my stepson was that age, DH and I were dating but not married. He reported all kinds of stuff to his mother and sister. It was so uncomfortable for me and for him.

As my relationship with now DH became more serious, we went public and SS saw us together. I still feel that it would have been better had SS been with his mother during those times when we were together dating.

I think your idea is on the right track. Don't do anything to sepaarate your ss from his father or his 1/2 brothers. However, be aware that the jealousy of "1st kids" towards "2nd 1/2 siblings" can be intense and very disruptive to everything and everybody. Letting your SS have his dad to himself on a regular basis may be exactly what he needs, takes pressure off of you, and nips the competition between this boy and your boys in the bud.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2010 at 2:03PM
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Thanks, I am glad that someone that was a stepson replied, for those are the people that really can understand what he is going through. My husband does do things alone with him, actually I would say quite often like for example he was here for a week the last time and his dad probably spent at least a couple hours each day, (since he had to work part of it) taking him to the skate park and other things with him. When he had a day off it was half of the day. So I guess we do the same, and try to not let the tenseness get to us. We have always been supportive of everything he shows interest in just like with our other kids. Another question then I have, is that it is worse when his dad has to work sometimes, he trys every hard to get time off but sometimes, life happens to not allow it and then the stress of that and the fact the SS is completely different when his dad is not around, which makes it harder. Does he go to the city with his dad when he has to work? My stepson really doesn't understand that his dad can't be here all the time, he has to work, his step dad at where he lives doesn't work he hurt his back so he got a settlement. It is almost as if he is angry that his dad isn't home, I try to plan out my days when this happens so we are always doing something, like going swimming or taking him to the skatepark, etc. It is hard and exhausting at times with 2 little babies, (2 year old and 1 year) plus two others under ten. If I don't constantly have things to do, there ends up being trouble and anger gets taken out on the other kids from him. So are you saying that there will always be tension? Are we creating a person that only thinks the world revolves around him? How to you make someone understand that just because you come over that life stops, cuz it doesn't things are going to happen, work is part of everyone's life. How to do make someone realize that it is selfish of you to not want your dad to have anyone else but you? How do you give a child experiences to be able to put themselves in someone else's shoes? How do you instill empathy in a kid in this type of situation? I think that if there was empathy, realizing that no one is perfect but the important thing is that we try our best in all things, it would be easier. Perhaps it is because we live in America where we don't have to really struggle like other countries do like making 1000's of bricks and only get paid 4 dollars. I guess being angry at others is because we only want what we want and we want everyone to change for us instead of looking on the inside and seeing how we can be part of the solution. I think the hardest part is knowing he doesn't really want a solution, he wants to blame so he doesn't have to take any responsibility for any of his actions. I wish we could teach him in some way that you will never mature if you always blame others.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2010 at 2:04PM
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I don't know your stepson but if he is like mine and most, he doesn't really expect his father's world to revolve around him, just his dad's attention when he's there. It sounds as though he feels very competitive and on the losing end of that competition with you and your sons. My skids, in particular, my stepson who was in his late teens when we married felt that way. Still does in truth although he is now 30+.

Sounds like your SS is still angry over the divorce. I found out after around 7 years of marriage that my skids mother, DH's ex-wife and my skids, believed/were saying that I had been a homewrecker and had an affair with DH while he was married to his 1st wife! The truth is I met him after he had been separated for 2 years and was well on the path to finalizing his divorce. That old homewrecker handle is an easy fallback and a tough one to combat no matter what the reality was. My DH had to publicly confront his ex-wife to clear that up on my behalf.

I think you are right to think along the lines of encouraging your DH to see his first son in a separate environment from your home and your children. That boy will get the focus he needs and deserves. They will have more "quality" time and you don't have to put up with his resentment and disruption in your home.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2010 at 8:45PM
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I completely agree with lamom. It's impossible for you to know what your SS believes, or what his life is like when he's not with you. He may have all sorts of reasons to be angry that you know nothing about.

Also, you have your hands very full with four young boys. You aren't in a position to keep an angry teenager occupied to prevent outbursts.

One option might be to have your get-togethers in a neutral location. For example, your DH could have weekend visits in your SS's town, but have a get-together with the rest of the family for a day at the beach or at an amusement park. That way, he could still see his half-brothers, but in a way that less stressful.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2010 at 2:34PM
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