I have been married to my wonderful DH for a little over a year now. He has two children from prior marriage, V - girl, age 9, and R - boy, age 6. I have a daughter from a prior marriage, S - age 7, and we have an infant son together. When we first started dating and later got married the family situation was fine. The kids were all actually excited to have new siblings and two houses. DH and I tried very hard to instill into the kids that divorce is never the kids fault, and that having step-families means there are more people that love you. However, his ex/BM (who had & has a boyfriend but is not remarried) was very bitter that DH remarried and was having another child, and she said a lot of awful things in front of and to the kids. She also moved 1 1/2 hours away, moving the kids to a different school and eliminating school-day visitation, so we only see the children every other weekend.
I have had concerns about the welfare of the children, and some things that go on are IMHO borderline neglect. The children do not receive a bath most days (V told me they take a bath every other day or sometimes 3 days), they have come over for the weekend with clothes that were dirtier than a child would make them in one wearing, V gives R a bath at their house because BM is "too busy", both of the children have been mildly sick (i.e. coughing) for months at a time before their maternal grandmother will finally take them to the doctor, and they sleep on a mattress in the living room floor of their grandmother's house (where they live with their BM). I investigated these matters and was told by social services that these are "parenting choices" and not neglect. But this is just background information so that you can understand the situation with the kids...
Both V and R have been lying almost constantly while at our house. I know all kids lie sometimes, but their lying seems to be on the verge of pathological. They sometimes lie to avoid consequences, but most of the time they are lying about things that really don't matter. Sometimes they will lie to have a "one-up" on someone else's story--for example, I was telling the family a story at dinner about how S climbed on top of the refrigerator when she was 2 to get some candy I had hidden. V then said, "Well I climbed on top of the refrigerator to get some jewelry my mom hid and I was only 1." Other times the lies seem to be a psychological trick to make the kids feel better about something--for example, R still wears pull-ups to bed, and he told his Dad that he didn't wet his pull-up when he really did. V also told her dad she was taking art lessons after school, and he found out she was not. This post would be impossible to read if I recited every lie they've told in just one weekend.
We try to do a lot of family activities, especially while they are here, but they are so competitive and such sore losers I dread playing Wii or a board game with them. They are both try to cheat at games and are very sore losers, but R is the worst, and he expects everyone else to let him win. I try to emphasize the point of playing fairly, being honest, and having fun whether you win or lose, but it never sinks in. When one of them lose, particularly R, it becomes a nuclear meltdown, with crying and tears and tantrums.
I don't know what to do about this behavior, particularly the lying. I don't feel like it's a good idea to go along with the lies, or to ignore them, but I don't want to embarrass the kids or make them feel even worse (because it seems like most of their lies are some kind of coping mechanism to make them feel better). But I also want to stress the importance of honesty and social skills to ALL of my children. My DH tends to just ignore the lie because they are only here every other weekend, and he wants them to have a good time while they are here. So do I, but I think they need to be accountable for their behavior while they are here. Can someone please help me?