There are 4 kids living in our home, two are my bio kids and two are mine and DH's kids together. We are expecting another baby. My bio kids have no contact with their bio dad and they call DH dad though sometimes use his first name. They are in middle and high school and DH and I have been together for 7 years so they have spent close to half their life with him.
I admit they aren't easy kids. One has Aspergers, one has a severe anxiety disorder and can be really moody. Still I feel that DH is much more in tune with their problems than their strengths and I frequently feel defensive of them. Its like he only sees the challenges. His complaints about their behaviors compared to positive comments are probably 10-1.
Our oldest child together is almost 5 and I honestly can't tell if its the age thing or what but DH is loving and patient with him. I have never seen him be "rough" with him at all. I can't say the same about my older boys. I have seen DH lose patience and do thing that I am not ok with. Pushing my Aspergers child out of his way when DS doesn't notice he needs to move (a typical problem with kids on the spectrum). A few days ago same DS was trying to distract his crying half brother with a balloon and DH was annoyed by it and told him to stop and DS didn't notice but DH sees it as defiance and ignoring him so he grabbed a pair of jeans sitting near him and swung them at DS and hit him in the face. DH says he was trying to swat the balloon away. DS agrees that is probably what he was doing and he didn't feel DH was trying to hit him, but he did feel hurt because he was "just trying to help." DS has repeatedly got in our personal space when trying to deal with fussy little kids and it can be super irritating. He is trying to help but doesn't realize sometimes it doesn't help because he gets all silly and trying to distract them and then they aren't listening to us anymore and we are trying to get their attention back on what we are asking them to do, etc. I lose patience with him too, and I have done things I am not proud of in frustration so I wonder if sometimes DH takes those cues from me.
The thing is I know deep down I love my boys passionately and we have tons of positive interactions so that helps us get past the times that I lose patience with them. There is a foundation of trust there we have built. I don't feel that is there with DH and them so I feel like he needs to tread more carefully in how he deals with them. And not to have a double standard but their bio dad lost visitation due to abuse so its really important to me that the see a calm model of a man in their step dad, and I am really sensitive to him doing anything that resembles violence or being out of control. We have talked about this on many occasions and it seems to crop up again every few months where I feel he just isn't treating them very nicely. More often than not its just rude sort of snarky behavior that I think makes them feel like they are giant PITA to him and what kid needs to feel that way? I mean I make jokes about them giving me gray hairs and such but I am also affectionate and laugh with them, etc. DH doesn't do that so it feels like all his interactions with them, aside from a couple conversations here and there are negative.
We had an issue this morning and I need to talk to DH but I am dreading it because he either gets defensive or shuts down. We rarely have conflicts and while that is great, when we do have conflicts he doesn't handle it well at all. Anyway, DS (15) had a cross country meet after school and he was going to be gone late and he needed to pack a dinner. He told DH this (who got up with the kids to get them off to school so I could sleep in) and DH just told him he had plenty of food (DS had taken 2 smaller gatorade bottles and a few granola bars) DS (who remember, has Aspergers and is not the most articulate about making his needs known) said, "No. I need a meal. We are running a mountain trail and its mostly uphill." DH replied sarcastically, "Uphill, both ways, in the snow right?" So DS just went to school with his granola bars and gatorades. He was gone until 9pm. They ran a 3K in the mountains, plus training and warm ups after school, etc, and my baby just had granola bars and 2 gatorades. I am livid! Thank goodness I found out that DS's team had hot dogs and chips available so he did eat but he/we had no way of knowing that and sending him totally unprepared in those circumstances is so beyond ok to me. I feel like DH has no empathy for him at all. I guess that is one way I would describe their interactions, if not impatient or irritable he is indifferent or dismissive. And I have noticed neither child will try to persuade him because they have learned he isn't really approachable. This is not the case with our bio kids, with whom DH is very flexible and accommodating.
I hate to paint a one sided picture, I have seen DH take interest in them and want to be involved, attend parent teacher meetings and the like. Its just seems like I said I can count 10 bad interactions for every 1 good and the difference in how he interacts with his own bio kids (our together, he had none of his own before ours) is pretty startling. Maybe he won't be so patient when they are teens, IDK. I just know I am not ok with it and its affecting how I feel about him and I have told him this before and he still does it. I have done lots of educating him on their SN and I agree, they can be exasperating to deal with but I notice he has lots of thinking errors when it comes to them and views their behaviors as much more maliciously intended or manipulative than it is. I try to help him with that but it only lasts a few months and then I feel we are back and square one and I am in mama bear mode again.