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amylynn98
New Stepmom and Need Advice
February 23, 2013 at 1:00 PM

I'm new to the stepparent role, and I feel like a fish out of water.  I have two sons of mine from my first marriage, but I don't feel like I can parent my stepson the way I parent my children.  It's hard to feel like I'm being fair all the way around though.  How do I find balance?  How do I ensure that I don't overstep my bounds?  Even when we were just dating, my husband told his son and myself that I had my husband's blessing to discipline his son.  However, I also know that the ex-wife doesn't think to kindly of me at all.  (I'm hoping that will change in time, as it did between myself and my ex's wife.)  I don't want to create any trouble.

At the same time, my stepson is significantly different than my sons.  My sons are quite independent and self-sufficient for their ages - which is how I raised them to be.  They can take their own showers, trim their own nails, can do some cooking on their own, etc.  (My sons are 11 and 10.)  My stepson is 10 and doesn't do anything for himself.  He can't shower without someone getting the shower ready for him, he can't trim his own nails, doesn't get himself anything to eat or drink or pick up after himself - he expects it to be done for him, he can't tie shoes, etc.  He wets the bed every night unless someone gets up to wake him up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom.  (We've had times even during the day where he wets himself too; and the boy had admitted to knowingly doing it.)  I hate to say it, but it drives me crazy!  I keep trying to teach him how to be a "normal" 10 year old, but he sulks and spouts a serious attitude.  Often his father will get so angry that he ends up doing the things for his son, then carries on about how useless his son is.  I really can't stand that.

But I also can't stand the lies this child spins to tell his mother, which gets her angry at us.  He's even done it between his father and I, and to my sons.  My sons have even been witness to things that he's lied about, who have told the truth to my husband.  Sometimes, though, it's been turned around that my sons and I gang up on my stepson because of our telling the truth to his lies.

Unfortunately, it's getting to the point that I'm starting to resent my stepson... to the point where I'm starting to not like him.  What do I do?  How can I help him without crossing the line with his mother?  How do I stop myself from not liking him?  How do I repair the damage to my relationship with my stepson?

Replies

  • mcincotta
    February 23, 2013 at 1:25 PM

    It sounds like a very frustrating situation. I am fairly new at beeing a stepmom also. I have 2 teenage sons and my husband had 2 teeanage daughters. Tough ages to start a blended family and we're trying to figure out some of our issues, too.

    It sounds like maybe your stepson is having some anger issues that he has surpressed. Maybe his father and bio mom should seek out some therapy for him to help figure out why he is having such behavior.

    You and your husband should try to discuss the situation together and work on a plan to help with the whole adjustment.

    It's tough having a blended family, especially in the beginning. Try to work things out together and consider therapy.

    Good luck!




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  • sandeeyo
    February 23, 2013 at 1:29 PM

    Is your SS disabled in anyway?  Autistic?  Aspbergers?

  • flora367
    February 23, 2013 at 4:42 PM

    I can totally relate here. My SS13 still has issues with crapping his pants and my daughters 6 and 9 seem far beyond him in maturity.

    It's HARD.

    I've been dealing with my situation for about 8 months now and some days are better than others. Sometimes I wonder what the hell I got myself into.

    It's hard, but you have to have a lot of honest but gentle conversation with DH and it is HIS job to discipline, or step in for any help that the SS needs.

    The lies are all par for the course. It's part of the territory it seems unfortunately.

    Just remember that what you are feeling is normal. It's not your fault. Focus on your children and focus on the positive things the SS does. Otherwise you will drive yourself crazy.

    Communication is paramount. Don't keep it inside or you'll continue to grow resentful.

  • IloveElephants
    February 23, 2013 at 5:51 PM

    My step kids were 3 & 4 when I met my husband.  They are now 32 & 33.  My approach was different.  I wanted the kids to WANT to come out and see their dad.  I didn't want to be called "mom" by them.  I wanted to be their friend.  Yes, their daily routine was different than ours, but okay, I can work with that.  I don't know how long your visits are, but we just had them friday night through sunday afternoon.  Can't really train or change too much in that short period.  So...

    1) you have to pick your battles

    pick one thing that you want to be firm on and forget the rest.  The kid isn't going to make a bunch of changes FOR YOU in a couple of days.  He's still angry about the divorce and YOU are the reason.  Doesn't matter if you are or aren't.  That's how he see's it.

    Look at it from his point of view:  when he comes over he's an outsider.  That's tough.  Plan something that he will like.  What are his favorite foods?  What does he like to do?  I made sure that my step kids had their favorite ice cream sandwiches, sodas, I made them their favorite dinners.  We would go on late night ice cream runs to the store, we'd go camping, to the snow, swimming, whatever they wanted to do we did it.

    And remember this:  the ex-wife has ALL the power.  It is your responsibility to work with her not the other way around.  Your husband will wimp out..they all do.  You will be nice.  You will maintain a friendly relationship with her so that when you are all together your kids and the step kid will see that everything is fine and moving forward.  

    If I had to do it all over again, I would've run the other way from a divorced man with 2 kids.  It will always be there.  No matter what you do or don't do, you can't escape his other life.  Granted I have a beautiful daughter with him and I would never change that because she is the light of my world.  As for his kids, well we're left out of a lot.  We're not included in a lot.  And that had nothing to do with me.  Your husband needs to get on board.  Sounds like he's passive.  He needs to communicate with his ex on what's going on and together with her find a solution to the bedwetting and other behaviors.  Have the 3 of them talk to find a solution.  They're still his mom and dad.  If they do it together, maybe the son will  act out less.  Your husband needs to talk to her about the lies the son tells.  address each one.  You all need to be united on this or you are in for lots of pain, hurt, and trouble.

  • amylynn98
    February 23, 2013 at 6:39 PM

    Frustrating, yes!  And I'm fast learning what it was like for my mom and stepdad with my brother and I.  Wow... I have a whole new world of respect for them!

    My stepson was in therapy when I first met his father.  Unfortunately, his therapist left.  Even more unfortunate, neither his mother or father have made much of an effort to find a new therapist to continue with my stepson.  And, I'm just the stepmom, so I can only do so much to help.  The mom thinks it's the dad's job to do it since he carries the insurance.  I think they're both equally responsible to ensure my stepson's well-being.  Being limited to help him is frustrating too.


    Quoting mcincotta:

    It sounds like a very frustrating situation. I am fairly new at beeing a stepmom also. I have 2 teenage sons and my husband had 2 teeanage daughters. Tough ages to start a blended family and we're trying to figure out some of our issues, too.

    It sounds like maybe your stepson is having some anger issues that he has surpressed. Maybe his father and bio mom should seek out some therapy for him to help figure out why he is having such behavior.

    You and your husband should try to discuss the situation together and work on a plan to help with the whole adjustment.

    It's tough having a blended family, especially in the beginning. Try to work things out together and consider therapy.

    Good luck!




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  • amylynn98
    February 23, 2013 at 6:48 PM

    Thank you.  Knowing that there is another stepmom out there with a similar situation helps me to not feel so alone.  And I wonder the same thing somtimes - what have I gotten myself into?  But, like my mom put it, I expect my husband to treat my children well and love them - so I need to show that to my stepson as well.  My mom also told me that she feels I should leave the discipline up to my husband.  That's a tough pill for me to swallow when my stepson is being disrespectful.  I don't tolerate disrespect from my children, and won't tolerate it in my house. 

    How should I handle discipline, though, when my husband's not home?  He is an auditor and often works late.  He typically won't do an overnight audit if his son is with us - which is the right thing to do.  I don't believe in physical punishment, never have.  I usually take away TV and videogames and send my stepson to his room until my husband comes home.  Not an excuse, but waiting to let his father know what happened to finalize any discipline sometimes backfires on the poor kid.  After a long, busy day at work, my husband can become quite the ogre when he "has to come home to this."  And he can say such mean things!  I also want to protect my stepson from that.

    I know I need to get a grip somehow with how I feel.  Like my mom says, it's just not good.  I'm praying that being a part of this group will help.

    Quoting flora367:

    I can totally relate here. My SS13 still has issues with crapping his pants and my daughters 6 and 9 seem far beyond him in maturity.

    It's HARD.

    I've been dealing with my situation for about 8 months now and some days are better than others. Sometimes I wonder what the hell I got myself into.

    It's hard, but you have to have a lot of honest but gentle conversation with DH and it is HIS job to discipline, or step in for any help that the SS needs.

    The lies are all par for the course. It's part of the territory it seems unfortunately.

    Just remember that what you are feeling is normal. It's not your fault. Focus on your children and focus on the positive things the SS does. Otherwise you will drive yourself crazy.

    Communication is paramount. Don't keep it inside or you'll continue to grow resentful.



  • amylynn98
    February 23, 2013 at 6:50 PM

    It's possible he is, however his parents have never had him evaluated for anything like this yet.  I don't know how to broach the subject with my husband without causing a problem though.


    Quoting sandeeyo:

    Is your SS disabled in anyway?  Autistic?  Aspbergers?



  • MiddleAgeMess
    February 23, 2013 at 6:53 PM
    First and for most, remember he's just a little boy who's hurting. It doesn't mean no rules or different expectations, but it means you may have to give him more time, to adjust to the family period and to adjust each and every visitation, and time to learn to do the things he needs to do himself, like shower. I would let dh be the one to teach him these things though.

    It is ESSENTIAL that your dh get 1 on 1 time with him. Even if it's a drive to get pizza & fuel up the gas tank. I think also getting some 1 on 1 time with you could help. Maybe everyday of his weekend it's your treat to take 1 kid each day to get an ice cream.

    If it's possible, have Friday night game night. Something that causes the whole family to interact. My ss just turned 12 & he's beginning to get the teen attitude, so do what you have to do ASAP, before it gets bad.
  • kristinbugg
    February 23, 2013 at 6:53 PM
    Let the child's BPs parent him and act in a supporting role rather than a parenting one. Same goes for discipline.

    Stop comparing this child to your children. The children have different parents and are being raised according to their parents' standards....and that's okay.

    The way you portray the situation, I can honestly see where SS could believe that you and your sons gang up against him. Even Dad gets frustrated with his son. Does this child have anyone in his father's home who really enjoys him being there? You point out all of this child's faults but don't mention one good thing about him. It seems you could develop some empathy for this child.
  • bizebe
    by bizebe
    February 23, 2013 at 9:18 PM

    Well all I can say is , "Wow"  , you are not doing anything wrong and its very normal for you to feel the way you do most stepmoms would. From what you shared you sound like a very good mother n have raised your boys well! I would say at the age of 10 they should definitely be doing things for thereselves unless they have a disability ,but I can see why you feel fustrated ! I think best thing to do would to be to have a heart to heart talk with your husband about how you feel & think of way to deal with it together ! I wish you best of luck 

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