Help! I have a 12-year-old daughter and a 9-year-old son. My fiance has 3 daughters (ages 15, 13, and 9) and a son (12). My fiance is planning on moving in April 1st. He has his children every other weekend from Friday till Sunday. My daughter and son grew up in this 4-bedroom house and each has their own room. The plan is to have my BF's two oldest sleep in the spare bedroom and have his youngest daughter sleep in with my daughter. The boys will stay in my son's room. My daughter is having a very hard time with the idea of this. She's always had her own space... I guess there are some ownership/princess issues going on. I want to be sensitive to how this change is hard for her, but I can't give in to her selfishness. My BF's children need to feel like this is their home when they are with their father. In his current housing situation, his girls all sleep in one big room together. My BF is insisting that my daughter be more welcoming and accepting, but she's just not there. This is a HUGE source of stress for all of us and I don't know what to do. I do not want my BF's kids to feel like visitors whenever they're here, but at the same time, they have their own spaces at their mother's house and do not have to have their space "invaded" every two weeks like my daughter and son will experience. But would giving my daughter her own room be seen as favoritism? We have plans to buy another house in 6 months to a year, but there are no guarantees that this house will have more than 4 bedrooms... and then we're back to the same situation. Any advice would be appreciated.
Sleeping Arrangements for Step Kids
Does your daughter have a preference for any of his girls, or they for her? Does it have to be the 9 year old that rooms with her? Everyone has to share a room anywyas, maybe if it was the 15 or 13 year old who was going to be sharing with her, she'd accept it more readily. I could see part of the resistance being because she's getting stuck with 'the baby' instead of being associated with the older girls.
That could be part of the problem... but I really think it's the fact that she has to share at all that is the issue for her. She's never had to share her stuff/space before. She's starting with the whole, "I never asked for any of this!" and "Why does he have to have four kids!" arguments. I've been trying to validate her feelings without promising her things I can't deliver on. I am both frustrated by her attitude, but saddened that she's hurting and angry. So much going forward is going to be make or break depending on how our kids gel. So far, his kids and my son seem to be handling it well... my daughter is the only hold out. I think that my fiancé is starting to think that I'm bowing to a spoiled brat when there are 7 other people involved in this. I think it's just that I can't help but want to make my daughter okay with everything.
I'm not parenting in a blended family, but I saw this on the new threads and wanted to comment. One of my parenting philosophies (actually, life philosophies) is:
Fair doesn't mean that everyone gets the same thing. Fair means everyone has their needs met.
So, I would encourage you think outside of whether everyone has the same thing and think about what each of your six children needs. Perhaps your 12 year old daughter has a need for her own space that is different than what your other children need? Perhaps some of your children prefer the companionship of a roommate? I would take the concept of "special treatment" out of the conversation; meeting needs is not special treatment.
I would also encourage you to talk with your fiance about how you think and talk about your children. Your fiance may not be happy with your daughter's behavior, but labeling her a "spoiled brat" (even just in thoughts) is disrespectful. If you fiance can articulate what behavior he doesn't like, you can likely have a far more productive conversation about how you together want to address the behavior and your daughter is more likely to be responsive if you address a specific behavior or set of behaviors.
Thank you for your response, HHM. I like your philosophy very much and it will be a helpful outlook to adopt as the parents of six kids! I need to talk with my fiance about this some more. It's a very sensitive issue for him... he'd like to have his children more than he does, so to have them feel that his home is as much theirs as their mother's, even in the limited time he has them, is very important to him. I can understand his perspective that if his three girls come to the house on the weekend and have to share a room while my daughter gets her own space, there might be some grumbling. On the other hand, I think that if it were explained to them that since they're with their mom most of the time, that's sort of the scenario where they have all of their space and stuff, and that my daughter needs that, too, they might understand. I just hope we can get somewhere with this... it has been non-stop arguing lately.
That is a tricky situation. When I lived with my ex, we had a 3-bedroom house and 3 kids (our two together + dsd from his first marriage). Dsd always had her own room, even though she was only there 30% of the time. I struggled with this at first, because it wasn't really "fair." But, in the end, I do think it was the right thing to do-she is 6 years older than dd, and needed her own space. So sometimes doing the thing that seems to make the most sense on paper (i.e. our two kids having their own rooms and dsd bunking with dd when she came over) don't work out the best in reality.
Are your bf's 3 girls opposed to continuing to share a room, or is it your bf who is concerned that they will feel unwelcome if asked to do so? If they truly want or need more space, then yes, your daughter might have to find a way to share her room, which will be hard. Is there a way to separate her room with a screen or curtain so she could still have space to herself that was off limits to whomever shares with her? Does she get along well with the 13-year-old? That would seem like the natural choice for room sharing since they are the closest in age and perhaps might share more interests. Or perhaps you could relax the rules about maybe watching a movie in her room with headphones on when her step-sisters are there so she can still get some privacy, etc. I would also suggest that they each have space for their own things-i.e. separate dressers, desks, etc. if possible-I'm not sure how large the room is!
Wouldn't your daughter have that, though, during the time that your step kids are with their mom? It sounds to me like, every 2 weeks, all the kids will have their own space for 11 days and then share for 3 days, is that right?
I understand the perspective of "fair" not always meaning "equal" -- I'm a fan of that philosophy from the Faber/Mazlish books. I think in this scenario, however, when you're in the initial stages of blending families, maybe it's better to err on the "everyone is equal" side, and then over time as varying needs become apparent, adjustments can be made.
Depending on the size of the bedrooms, i think this might be the most obvious solution. The three girls share a room so that their stuff stays untouched when they arent there, they can close the door or whatever. Whereas if one of the girls shares with your daughter, she's basically going to have to have half of her room go unused much of the time OR the other girl will need to deal with "her half" of the room being used when she's not there. Seems easier to avoid all that by having a totally sep. room for all three girls that is totally "theirs." You might need to get creative with the beds for three kids, maybe a trundle under bunks or something.
Does your daughter just not want to share at all or not want to share with the youngest? Maybe sitting down with all the kids to get their input? they may come up with a solution you havent thought of.
Thank you all for your feedback. I tried discussing this again with my fiance, but it didn't go well. He is adamant that my daughter is trying to manipulate the situation to get what she wants and that his kids will feel shunned if she gets her own bedroom. He said that if I talked to his kids, they'd probably do whatever I suggested, but that's because they're kids... that by giving my daughter her own room, I'm giving into her bad behavior. I think it's more complicated than that. I honestly don't know how to come to some resolution with this situation when we're on such different sides of the fence.
I don't think that's bad behavior at all. I think it's really reasonable honestly. Your fiance might just be feeling defensive of his girls, which is understandable, but he has to see that is just makes sense for your daughter, who lives there full-time, to have her own space. It's not about her being selfish. It's about her stuff being together and his girls' stuff being together and separate. I think you should talk to them and get their input. If you approach them honestly maybe they'll just be honest back and not feel like they need to oblige just "because they're kids." Maybe talk to them first and have him have a personal follow up with them so he can feel assured that they're either okay with it or they're not. If your daughter only has to share a few days, his daughter's things could just be kept neatly in their own place, they don't need to spread out into her room.
You can't force her to change her feelings, and stating how you feel is never bad behaviour (some of the words you use can be, but they're easy to avoid most of the time, ha ha!) If you make her share her room, won't she just take it out on her stepsister? And then the other two and their brother will come to their sisters defence, probably.
On the other hand, the 3 girls seem like they are willing to go wtih the flow. If you let her keep her own room then at bedtime she is going to be alone and probably hearing the muffled sounds of other 3 giggling and talking for a bit before they go to sleep. Once she feels more comfortalbe with them, she's going to want to be part of that. She will probably be having sleepovers in their room, or inviting one or more of them to sleep in her room. I'd be more inclined to let that happen, than create a situation where people are going to polarize themselves.
I'm sorry this is so difficult!
I wonder if this is more of an issue between you and your partner, and not so much an issue about your children? Could it be that you have different approaches to parenting in general? Could it be that he has fears about how this move will affect his children and wants to make sure they are welcomed, but has a rigid idea of how that welcoming should happen? Does he fear you do not value his children as much as your own? How does he usually interact/parent your children? Can you meet together with a therapist about this issue?
I see great potential for a lot of fun weekends with the ages of kids that you have! I would plan some fun activities that include all of you and give time for bonding before moving in together (if you haven't already done that).
We sometimes share "onions and orchids" or "roses and thorns". It's a sharing where people can say what they want (without name-calling or other attacks) and everyone listens without commenting. It's just a quick go-round. This could be a way for both parents and kids to feel heard and to realize the broad spectrum that each of you bring and enrich each other's live with.
Another thought: Could you let all the kids write anonymous notes about how each of them would like to see the rooms arranged?
He's just not budging. He says her attitude is selfish and that I'm letting my 12-year-old call the shots. He thinks I should just tell her how it's going to be or say she can go live with her father. This is hopeless. By advocating for her he feels like I'm not aligned with him.
This would be my cue to end the relationship.