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Why do Bio-parents spoil their kids?

Posted by sarabera (My Page) on
Sun, Jan 13, 13 at 20:40

I've lurked on here a long time, I've read books about step-parenting, other forums, and I still don't understand this basic issue. I'd say 80% or more of the postings here involve a bio-parent who is not able to set boundaries and keep them. As someone who has never had a bio-child, I just simply do not get this. Why would you let your child be disrespectful, lie, manipulate you? Why would you think that any one else in the world is going to tolerate a terribly negative attitude? Don't you want your child to mature into a healthy, happy person, find a great spouse and have a good marriage? Don't you want them to be able to work hard, hold a job, have friends, treat people well? I'm just beating my head against a wall, because I can't wrap my head around this seemingly simple problem that is so ubiquitous. Can someone on the other side of the issue please explain this to me?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Why do Bio-parents spoil their kids?

I ask myself these questions constantly and, in my case, I believe that my husband (biofather) is afraid that he will lose his kids if he fails to pander to their every whim. His son is socially isolated, eats with his hands and usually smells bad. I am constantly amazed that my husband chooses this life for his son, but it seems that he'd rather appease him than raise him.

You are right that most of the postings here are about bad parenting. Many stepparents are dealing with the fallout of "crazy ex's" who are mentally ill or addicts. They've raised children who are damaged, neglected and often mentally ill themselves. Rather than help these children become well functioning memebers of society, the other bioparent often trys to become a "pal", abandoning limits rather than setting them. As a result, the kids become more difficult and they fail in many aspects of their lives. The atmosphere in the house becomes toxic, and the marriage to the stepparent becomes strained. It doesn't make sense, but this is the pattern that seems to be followed in many cases.


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RE: Why do Bio-parents spoil their kids?

We all bring our unpacked baggage from our own childhoods into our adulthoods. Most step-families today are made via divorce and then re-marriage, so all the unresolved issues from the first marriage get added to the unpacked baggage and are brought into the new marriage. Adults can � with lots of help, unpack this baggage and deal with it. I'm speaking very frankly when I say that most of us who divorce actually don't qualify emotionally as adults. I'm not saying we don't have the potential to grow up; I'm only saying that an awful lot of divorce reflects a maturity level that's better qualified at dealing w/wants rather than needs. Being able to deal effectively w/one's own needs so as to be able to love maturely is a hallmark of adulthood.

Families most likely enter new marriage arrangements while still grieving the loss of the original family. Children from the marriage don't have their grief covered up by the excitement of a new relationship, new hope, new marriage. In fact, their grief is compounded by re-marriage. When you marry someone w/children, you are, to some real extent, marrying his family. And it's not a part time venture.

We bio-parents, for better and worse, are affected by our children's grieving and often respond destructively to their real needs w/guilty appeasing. It's not because we don't love our children; it's because we truly don't always know what else to do. Our families have been torn asunder � not by strangers � but by we, their parents. We know that what our children really need, and have not been given, is two bio-parents who love each other maturely for life. And so we feel so much guilt due to our inadequacy to provide this primal need of our beloved children. Of course, they don't need the guilt we offload on them; they simply need us to be their parents - no matter what.

I'm only describing the more than average mature divorced parents. Most of us are even more infantile and dismiss the causes of our guilt � focusing on our new found "freedom" and the fix we think a new relationship will bring us.

Now, I'm not saying that some divorces are not necessary. But I am saying that the vast majority of divorces (mine included) are unnecessary. And I'm not saying that growing up and learning to love maturely is impossible for divorced people. What I am saying is that it takes a terrific willingness to commit to a committed, healthy marriage - which means coming to terms w/our ex in a mature way. This kind of growth is not easy for anyone involved.

It's probably best to keep in mind that divorced people are not the only ones who may need to learn to love maturely. There are lots of job openings in the learning to love maturely department available for childless, never before married people who marry into a step-family :).

Best wishes and I hope something I've said may prove helpful.


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RE: Why do Bio-parents spoil their kids?

Thank you both for your responses, and especially the deep insight from ...daisy. I was, of course, feeling incredibly frustrated at the time by my role as a stepmother, and my lack of power to change things that are detrimental to my stepson. A lot of anger at my husband for "never listening to me". It is still very difficult, but we are starting to talk a lot more (it's like trying to pry open a clam) and that is very helpful. Apparently there is a lot of conversation between him and his son, behind the scenes, that I am not privy to, and a lot of it is now about the breakup of the marriage. (I am getting blame though I had nothing to do with it).So I can see that he would be feeling especially guilty now about the pain that his son has. But that is not an excuse in my mind to allow behavior that is detrimental to his son, and detrimental to the relationship between his son and me. All I know for sure at this point is that being a step-parent is really, really hard, even for those of us who thought we had a good situation.


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RE: Why do Bio-parents spoil their kids?

Thanks for your kind words. And yes, absolutely .. enabling detrimental behavior is very destructive to the child and all relationships involved -present and future. Yes, also, to the truth that "being a step-parent is really, really hard, even for those of us who thought we had a good situation." I'm convinced that all positions in the step-family have their intrinsic difficulties. And, there can be real enduring love.

It's still challenging for me, trust me. One boundary I'm grateful that I set in the beginning w/my husband is that I would never - ever - say a bad word about his children's mother. I've kept my word (except for the occasional slip w/him - but never w/or near the step kids). I've kept that promise w/my sons too.

I also let him know - in no uncertain terms - that I would have a very difficult time respecting him if he spoke ill of his ex-wife (or me!) to his children. Kids who hear their parents trash each other get deeply wounded (after all, both parents are part of the child!). So, I bit my tongue - lots. Admittedly, quite often more out of self-preservation, than immediate concern for them: I didn't want to feed them any excuses to turn on me. Moreover, I have had genuine concern for their well being.

My step-family challenges have been almost insurmountable w/the sudden death of my beloved son (3 1/2 years ago). There is no loss for a parent equal to that of a child; most simply - it's the worst loss - catastrophic, in fact. In order to honor my grief, I needed to drop any over-reaching attempts to stay connected to my step-children. All 4 are young adults who basically have no interest (or capability) in staying connected to me. I haven't been able to fill my old role (bringer together of family) w/them since my son's death. And they have been incapable of stepping into their adult roles - not only w/me, but pretty much across the board. Yes, enabling immature behaviors can cripple people. I find it too emotionally taxing to be around them much. And so, I'm not. I've let go of all expectations of them. And that's truly been a good thing to do.

Over time, I've been able to see that there was a season in their younger lives that I was able to be there for them as a kind of hostess providing opportunities to allow them to connect w/their father. We had lots of good times together. In retrospect, I recognize it would have been better to let my husband figure out how to stay connected w/his kids .. or at least, not to have done as much as I did.

Death rearranges everything. My step-kids have backed off and while it's a loss, frankly it's a loss w/benefits. I don't have to be in the midst of their sad power plays for attention. Not only don't I have to be, I would not be able to withstand it emotionally. It's better for my relationship w/my husband to have less to do w/them - at least for now. I have my younger son, also a young adult, whose life has been devastated by the loss of his brother, I have my son's widow and my beautiful 4 year old grand-daughter in my life. I'm blessed. There's tremendous love between us all. We are all adjusting to life w/out our loved one, each in our own way. And, like so many people who have suffered catastrophic loss, it's better for us not to have to interact w/people who suffer arrested development. I choose not to associate w/drama junkies, but w/people who are capable of sustained respect for themselves and others. My deepest connection is w/God.

Maybe they'll come around. Maybe not. One thing is for certain: I will not be chasing them. And that's okay, I trust that the choice to grow up, or not, belongs to them alone. Hopefully, they will choose what's in their best interest.

Thank you in advance for reading this. It helped me to simply write. And again, if something is helpful, please take it. If not, go ahead and leave it :) Wishing you the very best in your marriage and family.


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RE: Why do Bio-parents spoil their kids?

Daisy,

Condolences to you on the loss of your son. You are right that a loss rearranges everything. It also puts the preciousness of life, and of loved ones into perspective.

We had some crisis moments in our family, which forced me to realize that I had to focus on my child, and dissociate myself from the stepkid drama. Also, a positive diagnosis of my stepson from a psychologist helped me realize that there was nothing I could do to end the drama, no matter how hard I tried. I also regretted that I had done as much as I had in the past. However, it's hard to see that when you're trying to do your best as a caring stepparent.


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RE: Why do Bio-parents spoil their kids?

Daisy,
First, I am sorry that you have suffered the loss of your son. Although I have not lost a child, I experienced this type of impact because i have seen my mother struggle with the loss of her daughter, my sister. It is devastating. My sister was in her 40s.
Your words were extremely profound. In fact, I am copying what you have written into a file for me to refer back to as you are a model of maturity. I need to remind myself that my hopes and wishes are sound and that my thinking is sane. I believe that "we" can have mature and loving relations but all parties must want this and if they do not, I need to act in a mature manner. I have not always and to be honest, I am embarrassed it took me so long to understand I was acting inappropriately to crazy making, aggressive behavior because I was subjected to crazy making inappropriate behavior BUT this does not absolve my responsibility. I entered into therapy when my sister died and I have built a healthy sense of myself and have begun learning how to set limits without being aggressive (slamming the door when I leave, etc.).
I FELT the wisdom in your words. I wish I had understood the hopelessness of the situation of being a stepparent sooner and I am trying to forgive myself as I did the best I could. I realize I was a bit naive. A bit more than a bit really. I tried to manage what was unmanageable and I have let go of any expectations I had left regarding my step children. I am not saying that all step-families are or will be like mine has been. What I am saying is that I realize now that I have been operating in a family that is systemically dysfunctional, and that I must acknowledge that I joined in that dysfunction when I married my husband. I am not willing to participate in the dysfunction ON ANY LEVEL any longer and have gotten the support I need to take care of myself I am learning to set assertive boundaries and to take care of myself. I have no expectations that his children will not continue to mistreat me.


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RE: Why do Bio-parents spoil their kids?

It's been so interesting and helpful to read what you, my 'sister step-mothers' have written. So much of it is about letting go of unreasonable expectations, isn't it? It's also about loving enough to (or, maybe trusting enough) not to set ourselves up as rescuers - as tempting as that may be - especially in a step-family! And - forgiving ourselves for coming to whatever openings into wisdom we go through in exactly the time we come to them. It's about detaching from destructive behaviors - and doing so lovingly! None of this is easy. It certainly can be daunting for me. Thank you again for your honesty; it's so helpful.


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RE: Why do Bio-parents spoil their kids?

I am so thankful for this website. I have gained so much support from knowing that I am not alone. Being a step parent is an incredibly lonely job and if the DH doesn't understand this, one's life is much more difficult. I have had to detach from my sc and it is the last thing I ever wanted. When they were small, I treated them as if they were my own, except for the oldest sd who had many many emotional issues when her father and I met. She was in her 20s and recently told me that she acted out toward me because she was jealous and she KNEW her father would not protect me. I am trying to forgive myself for tolerating behavior that is not tolerable and for not taking better care of myself. I should have left sooner. I am coming to giving my DH an ultimatum about us and I have already given him an ultimatum about his children. He has to accept that i will have no relationship with them until he is able to have compassion for me and to set boundaries with them. Of course, I support his having a relationship with them, but I cannot have a relationship with them. I have been physically and emotionally attacked. Even as I write this I am shocked at my denial. I was physically attacked. What was I thinking? Why didn't I protect myself? Why would I tolerate a man who would minimize his daughter physically attacking me? Well, life is complicated and looking back, I am beginning to see what I did and why. As I've said, the coming to terms with this is very painful. I have betrayed myself and I am embarrassed and ashamed.


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RE: Why do Bio-parents spoil their kids?

Thank you all again for your insight. I'm not near as eloquent as all of you. I understand why my stepson acts the way he does, and I can't blame him. His parents have let him down. I'm still working on finding forgiveness for my husband.


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RE: Why do Bio-parents spoil their kids?

Thank you sarabera finally someone is asking the question I am wondering too. I am on the end of this problem right now, being that the bio-mom thinks that spoiling her kid and letting him behave badly is going to affect me and the child father. She wants to be the "good" parent by giving in to his every whim and letting him make all the decisions. He is seven. It is so bad she does his homework for him, she lets him sleep in her bed every night, and he can't even tie his shoes. Let alone he is not doing well in school. She says that we are abusing him because when he is at our house we make him read and study and do math and spelling games. I think as a parent your priority for your child, is to make school number one. I am tired of parent sitting their kids in front of a tv and letting them play video games and buying them cell phones. They are children, they need to be playing with friends outside and developing social skills and a sense of responsibility. Of course he is going to want to be with her all the time, she lets him hit her and call her names, go to bed whenever he want and eat what ever he wants. She sees me and his father as the bad ones because we are trying to develop him as a person so he learns the skills necessary. I don't want him to grown up to be a degenerate. What happened to spending time with children and playing outside? Instead I see her just buying him stuff to keep him happy and letting him run everything. He is a child, he should not be making the decisions on how he is raised. Also parents need to reinforce learning at home. The school is there to teach the child but as a parent you also need to be a teacher and make sure they are applying themselves and truly understanding what they are learning. Sorry for all the ranting I am just so fed up.


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RE: Why do Bio-parents spoil their kids?

Thank you sarabera finally someone is asking the question I am wondering too. I am on the end of this problem right now, being that the bio-mom thinks that spoiling her kid and letting him behave badly is going to affect me and the child father. She wants to be the "good" parent by giving in to his every whim and letting him make all the decisions. He is seven. It is so bad she does his homework for him, she lets him sleep in her bed every night, and he can't even tie his shoes. Let alone he is not doing well in school. She says that we are abusing him because when he is at our house we make him read and study and do math and spelling games. I think as a parent your priority for your child, is to make school number one. I am tired of parent sitting their kids in front of a tv and letting them play video games and buying them cell phones. They are children, they need to be playing with friends outside and developing social skills and a sense of responsibility. Of course he is going to want to be with her all the time, she lets him hit her and call her names, go to bed whenever he want and eat what ever he wants. She sees me and his father as the bad ones because we are trying to develop him as a person so he learns the skills necessary. I don't want him to grown up to be a degenerate. What happened to spending time with children and playing outside? Instead I see her just buying him stuff to keep him happy and letting him run everything. He is a child, he should not be making the decisions on how he is raised. Also parents need to reinforce learning at home. The school is there to teach the child but as a parent you also need to be a teacher and make sure they are applying themselves and truly understanding what they are learning. Sorry for all the ranting I am just so fed up.


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