Here's the backstory...
My fiance is a widower with three children. His girls are 13 and 5, his son is 9. Their Mother died pretty suddenly three years ago, and it took a while for my fiance to get back on his feet, especially acclimating to being the sole caregiver to three children, plus running a household. When I first met my fiance, over a year and a half ago, he was literally all over the place- crazy messy house, no discipline at all for the children, children eating anything they want (think along the lines of 10-12 little restaurant containers of half-and-half for dinner and nothing else, etc.), children literally up watching movies, running around the house, blasting music, etc, all night long, and then missing every other day of school from exhaustion, etc. The kids were WILD, writing all over their apartment walls, tantrums over the tiniest things, (even the then 11 year old) fistfights between the children constantly, etc. Don't get me wrong, he's a good Dad, a very loving Dad, but for the first year and a half after his Wife died, him and the kids... everything was NUTS. He was lost on what to do about the children, and it was getting to the point where he was so exhausted from the effort that it was easier to give up and give in.
I met my fiance a year and a half ago, and for some reason, I didn't run as fast as I could the other way- lol. My fiance has gotten much better in most these areas, and has been willing to let me help him learn some of the finer points of parenting, plus, he's not so exhausted and overwhelmed all the time now, because I'm here now and we've made a good team taking care of our 5 combined children, so probably 90% of the time, things are not at all crazy like they were a year and a half ago. (though that other 10% of the time is always when I'm not there to help.)
But here's a complication...
My future in-laws are lovely people- I really adore them. But I don't think they have faith in him as a parent or respect him. His Father kinda just goes with the flow, but his Mother pretty much runs the show. Don't get me wrong, she'll present her argument in a respectful manner, but SHE'S got final say with the children, pretty much. For example, the oldest girl was packing for summer camp last summer, (which the grandparents paid for and signed her up for), and she actually sent my fiance's father to my fiance's house with some of the camping supplies, and a list of what to pack (not just "shorts", but "the this color shorts that are this length long"), where to put the name tags on them, and which bag to pack each and every item. Because I was there, she completely bypassed him, and gave me the instructions (which I didn't mind because I love taking care of the kids and getting them ready for things, but I'm not the parent here, not yet). Another, more recent example is, the grandparents are homeschooling the two older children this year. They live about a half hour from my fiance's house, so the kids go up to their grandparents' house Monday morning and come back home Friday evening after school. The grandparents are paying for the homeschooling material, plus doing the actual teaching, plus feeding and caring for the two children 4 1/2 days a week, so they do have some serious involvement and investment in the children, I'll give them that. But, they completely planned the 9 year old's birthday party for him and THEN told my fiance when and where it will be. They actually gave him an invitation. My fiance is not a planner, but the know I'M on the ball with that. And the week before the 9 year old's birthday, the 9 year old was sick during the week at his grandparent's house, and my fiance was told that "they're not sending him home this weekend because he needs to rest and have his own space". That particular comment there made me REALLY uncomfortable.
And here's the problem...
My fiance... yeah, I know, he needs to take more initiative with his children and with his parents. Working on that. It's been established already, so you guys don't need to hash that one out... but I'm gonna be his Wife someday and the children's Mother someday. If I'm to be the adult female figure in the family, I need to be able to have some say in the children and in what goes on in the household. I'm more than capable of taking care of the children, plus my two. My fiance's parents have seen my house (clean, not cluttered, well run) and have seen how I handle the children (all five equally and fairly, well taken care of, clean, well fed, on time for church, etc), so there's no reason for anyone to not have faith in me as a parent or respect for me as a parent. Basically, I don't like how my fiance's parents treat him (even though I do believe it's out of love for him and his children) and I feel like the children will not respect me or know they can depend on me if my fiance's parents treat me like that, or continue to treat him like that once we're married and a "unit".
My fiance... I suspect is a little intiminated by his Mother, he already feels like the black sheep of the family, as his two siblings are literally perfect in every way, and as of yet, lacks the confidence to overrule ANYONE who parents his children. But... if I'm being brought into the family as "Mom", I expect to be treated and respected as "Mom". I know they are the children's grandparents and they have put alot into helping raise those kids, but there is becoming boundary issues and if I'm to be their second parent, wouldn't it make sense that I'm not overruled or expected to do things my inlaws' way, but as me and my soon to be Husband's) way?
Also, I have two children of my own and my fiance plan on having more together, which I WILL have final say in raising, so it would make even more sense for all 6 children to be raised the same, not with varying rules, and certainly without me giving up rights to raise MY children the way I want.
*In case anyone wants to bring up the part about me being "Mom" to my fiance's children, even though I'm not technically Mom, this is a mutual decision between me, my fiance and his children. They know who their biological Mom is, they miss her and they love her, and talk about her in Heaven, but they also need and want a Mother hear on Earth. The girls and now my fiance refer to me as "Mom" or "Ma" half the time, and the boy doesn't call me that yet, maybe he never will, and that's okay, but he says I'm "a Mother to him". I love my fiance's children so much and I plan on doing my very best to raise and love these children the way they need and deserve.