stepfamily trouble

missnNovember 18, 2010

My husband and I have been married almost 1 year (in 2 weeks it will be our one year anniversary), but we've been together for 4 years.

He has a little girl and I have a little boy. They are both 9 years old and go to the same school with the same teacher.

My son has not seen his real dad since he was a year old. So the only "dad" he knows is my husband, his stepdad. My husband does not want to be a dad to my son, he wants to be my sons "friend" and this really breaks my heart.

My husbands daughter lives with us 50% of the time and with her mother 50% of the time.

We both are very protective over our own kids. He is really loving towards his daughter, always giving her lots of hugs, kisses and presents. I am exactly the same with my husband. But neither of us does that for each others kids.

My husband lets his daughter get away with behavior that my son would never get away with. If she does something wrong, like lies, behaves disrespectfully or hits my son, then all she gets is a five minute lecture on how that is not nice. So, she does it on a regular basis because there are no consequences. When my son behaves that way, I pull him aside, have a talk with him and there is a consequence. He knows that lying or being rude will not be tolerated.

When I ask my husbands daughter to do something, she'll look at me and walk away, most of the times she pretends I'm not there, ignores me, says rude things, and hits my son alot, she has thrown a rock in his eye, a book in his face and punched and kicked him countless of times. Every time I get so incredibly upset, because I don't want violent behavior in my home. Both my son and I are not accustomed to that.

My son is way to passive to do anything back, and when she threw a rock in his eye, he just cried. He doesn't have the heart to hurt her back. I was so angry, because all my husband said is " don't do that, its not nice. My sons eye was swollen and red and he cried for about 15 minutes nonstop. There was no consequence to her behavior.

I've tried so hard for the last 3 years to make this marriage and family work, and now, I don't even care one bit. I've taken her out, I've bought her presents, and spent tons of time with her, I even tuck her into bed, hugging her, and telling her I love her, while my husband has never done any of that towards my son. In the last 4 years, my husband has not even told my son he loves him once.

My husband sees how I don't interact much with his daughter and he is very quick to discipline my son with extra chores & apology notes if my son ignores him or doesn't do what he is told.

Since then, I've become really closed off towards my husbands daughter and my husband when it comes to "family time" or "family" anything. I can't even call her my stepdaughter. In my mind, my son and I are a family and my husband and his daughter are family. My poor son feels very left out when he sees his "stepdad" and "stepsister" hugging and playfighting together. He says to me, why doesn't he love me? Why can't I have a REAL dad that loves me and does things with me? All he ever cares about is his daughter, and he doesn't care about me at all. I wish you never got married to him, because I was so much happier when it was just you and me. And on many occasions, I feel the same way. I've contemplated leaving at least every 3 months in the last 4 years. It doesn't seem to get better.

I don't know what to do anymore. I love my husband. I can't stand my stepdaughter. My stepdaugther is cruel to my son. My son resents his stepdad.

The whole thing is a mess. Any advice would be so much appreciated.

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I am so sorry for you and your son. I am in kind of the same situation but my stepson is 9 and my son is 2. Besides that I want you to know that it is your husband not you. I guess it's hard because no matter what your son will never be your husbands real son. Your husband acts differently towards your son than his daughter because you cant feel the love for someone else child like you do with your own no matter how hard you try. At the same time I think that your husband should not say that he wants to be friends with your son. Just like you accept his daughter in a way he has to accept when he married you ...he took on a role of being your sons step father. Which is being a parent not a friend to him. Just like you and your son your a package him and his daughter are and you should be a family not divided. It's funny in my situation I feel the same way. It's my son and his father and then me and my children. As far as her getting away with bad behavior your husband should not tolerate that. It sounds like he needs to stop being friends with his daughter and start being a parent and she needs to start having consequences for her actions. She also needs to start respecting you. Your his wife what is that teaching her ? and what respect does your husband have for you if he's letting her disrespect you like that. You and your son should be 1 not #2 and not to be rude it sounds that way. You need to lay it out flat with your husband tell him what you feel and there needs to be change if not. You have to do what is best for you and your son.Otherwise you will be miserable from now on until that girl is 21. If anything do it for your son. If your husband loves you and understands he will make an effort. She has to learn that you are her step mom and an adult you are part of the family and just like she listens and respects her dad same goes for you and your son. My ? is was your husband like this towards your son before you got married to him and if so why did you marry him? Just a ? I wish you the beat of luck with everything.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2010 at 10:00PM
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Your husband & you need to be on the same page if you are going to be a family. You can't be two single parents living under one roof because it's not working out. Resentments will continue to grow & it will be miserable for everyone, if it isn't already. I wonder why you would marry him if these things weren't ironed out first?

Disagreements over parenting styles is a huge problem in marriage, whether it's a first marriage & all kids are from the same parents, but more so in stepfamilies because often there are multiple parenting styles (sometimes both bio parents don't agree.. then a step parent comes along with an even different style & more kids) It gets messy. Get on the same page with your husband about how to parent all the kids in your house because how is it going to work if together, you bring more children into this?

Discipline: Each should discipline their own child but the consequences should be clear & enforced consistently. He is doing his daughter a disservice if he doesn't discipline her.

You cannot force him to have a relationship with your child but it really sounds to me that both of you are taking out on the children, your feelings about each other. He gives your son a harder time when he's upset at how you interact with his daughter. You've closed yourself off from his daughter because of the way he treats your son. It's really not fair to either kid & the situation really calls for counseling for both of you. Parenting classes might help too.

and someone needs to protect one child from being attacked by the other child.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2010 at 9:45AM
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It sounds like a mess!! Your husband can not be disciplining your son, but giving you a hands off boundry with his daughters discipline. You need to sit down with him and think of rules for your home and consequences for breaking them. (ex:hands to ourselves, only saying nice things to people)Those consequences need to be given to whatever child breaks the rules, not twisted to accommodate one child and help up for another. It is not fair because they are the same age and should be capable of following the same rules.

He probably feels guilty punishing his daughter for anything since he only has her half the time, but he is not doing her any favors by showing her she can get away with things.

I have to agree with other posters who mentioned counseling. I think that a family counselor who could meet with all of you might be able to help give you strategies to cope with this difficult situation and improve it. THinking about leaving and arguing are not going to get you anywhere.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2010 at 9:56AM
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I think there will be house rules set and agreed by the H and W. Physical violence should be one of those rules.

About behaviors, I think the daughter is confused because she lives in 2 different households with 2 different parents. Furthermore, children (girls more than boys) are wishing for an intact family, so when they see another woman in their father's life, they don't quite accept that yet. You have to take that into account.

Love and bonding will take time to develop. You have had so much time with your S, from the time he was a helpless baby to now. There are so much trust and history between you two already. Your H does not have that history w your son, just like you have not had history w his D, so expect him to be the father figure NOW is quite UNREASONABLE and UNFAIR to him. You are setting your H up for a guaranteed failure of not meeting your expectation, to which he did as reflected in your stated feeling here.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2010 at 12:25PM
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Thank you everyone for your advice.

@mommy08: you are absolutely right about my husband not being able to have the same love for my son as he does for his daughter. To answer your question, was my husband like this towards your son before we got married? No... actually in the beginning he was really good with my son, and my son adored him. The problem started when they entered school (they were 6 at the time) and my son accelerated at school. He could read, write and was very articulate for his age. My husbands' daughter on the other hand could not read nor write and barely spoke. She even refused to visit her real mom and lived with us fulltime for almost a year. I raised her as my own daughter at this time, regardless of her difficult behavior. Now they are in grade 4. This year is the most challenging of all the years we have been together. My son is very vocal about how unfairly he is being treated, and on many occasions he tells his stepdad, why do you treat her so much better than me. If she did you wouldn't say anything to her, but if I do I get punished. You are not fair. My husband just says "quit arguing with me, i'm not going to listen to it". I just get so frustrated, and when I intervene, my husband and I get into an argument over it.

@imamommy and mom2emall: "You can't be two single parents living under one roof because it's not working out." Wow, in one sentence you explained exactly how I feel!! To answer your question about councelling: We've been to see 3 different councellors and 2 of them have told my husband that his daughter might be Autistic or have ADD. My husband refuses to listen and says to them straight in their face "No she isn't" and that part of the conversation stops right there. Like I said he is very protective over his daughter. He won't even listen to why they might think that. The councellors suggested we each spend time with each others kids, get to know them and build a bond... while I've worked on my end, he hasn't. He makes plans with my son, and then breaks them. My son visits his grandparents on the weekends and doesn't look forward to coming home on Sunday nights. He spent almost all summer vising his uncles and grandparents because he did not want to be near my husband or his stepsister. This makes my husband upset, because he says "we can never make family time, because your son is not ever home" and "it's not fair that your brothers take your son camping and boating during summer and never invite my daughter." And he is very right, but it is because they refuse to put up with the little girls rude and disrespectful manners. I tried explaining it to him, but he thinks his girl is an angel, and doesn't see how her behavior is unacceptable.

@shakti2574l: You are absolutely right "I think the daughter is confused because she lives in 2 different households with 2 different parents". At her mom's house she can act how she wants, and her mom spoils her by buying her whatever she wants (I guess as a way to make sure her daughter still comes home - for a year she refused to see her mother, and would scream and kick if she had to go over there, telling her mother how she hates her.) When she visits her mom she never does homework, chores and most of the time she is left alone. Plenty of times in the past when her mother drops her off her hair was a mess, she didn't brush her teeth, her clothes were dirty... OMG, and I felt awful. I'd give her a bath, brush her hair, and get her dressed. I couldn't believe how much her mom neglected her. Now that she is older, she knows how to get herself cleaned up. Since she knows that her homework is never an issue at her moms house, she doesn't bring it home to us, and when we ask her dad asks if she has homework, she says no. My son has homework... they have the same teacher, same grade... but she doesn't have homework. She lies to her dad, and now she is so behind on her schooling, her marks are very low. I think my husband is jealous because my son gets a perfect report card ever year. He loves school and excels at it.
I can see what you mean when you say she feels confused. At our house, there are chores, homework and "rules"... at her mom's house its a playground, no chores, no homework, no rules.

I have so much guilt in my heart. I've always loved kids, and kids have always loved me. But I really dislike my own "stepdaughter" and I resent my husband for treating my son unkindly. I just want the household to be filled with peace and love. I'm not expecting everyday to be roses, but I want everyone in this home to fell unconditionally loved and that we all are a family, that rules apply to everyone and that we are all treated fairly and with respect.

I feel guilty because a very big part of me has given up on trying to make things work. I'm a walking contradiction. I want "it" to work, but am not willing anymore to do the work because for 3.5 years I've tried so hard and am still in the same shoes. Do you think its time to leave?

    Bookmark   November 19, 2010 at 6:10PM
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"I feel guilty because a very big part of me has given up on trying to make things work."

Sweetie, it takes two to make it work & it sounds as if you've done everything YOU can... if your DH is resisting & sticking his head in the sand, there's NOTHING you can do about that. You should NOT feel guilty whatsoever!

    Bookmark   November 19, 2010 at 6:25PM
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Guilt comes from the feeling that you should have done something but you did not. In this case, you have done all you can , given the circumstances, so let GUILT out of your mental process. Enjoy the victories whenever you can.

I guess that you are a perfectionist and an idealist. You will be much happier if you can dial back those expectations. If his D does not excel at school and her BF and BM are Ok with it, then that is her path or destiny in life. Let it be. You can only control what you can , in this case your BS.

Remember :LESS IS MORE.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2010 at 6:36PM
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I'm so sorry. For you, your little boy. I know how you feel, my DH and his kids always treated my son as a outsider and now, I have a very minimal relationship with his kids (all are grown now) I hated how he always refered to my son as "your son", the double standards. How *his* kids were perfect-even when they treated us like total crap. It's not worth it.

Granted our kids were in their teens when we got married but this stuff is just flat out painful & depressing as hell for the kids. I don't know why I didn't believe we could have so much more? Hindsight is 20/20.

I don't know that I'd have stayed if my boy was the young age that yours is and I honestly regret not leaving at that time. I think it set the wrong tone and I allowed it to continue.

You are young, your boy is young-why waste your life dealing with this? It's not a partnership, its a dictatorship and no man is worth it. Your son needs unconditional love and a happy mommy. (((Hugs)) I think you already know what to do. Life has so much better in store for you. I promise you that.


    Bookmark   November 19, 2010 at 10:00PM
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