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SO's teens refuse interaction with my 6yo

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 
Brand-spankin' new on here, but I'm at my wits end, so I'm jumping in with both feet!

My SO of two years has two teenagers, 16yo son and 15yo daughter, neither of whom live with us. I share 50/50 custody with my ex. My son is with us every other weekend and assorted holidays. In other words, not often enough! SO's kids have started refusing to come over on the weekends my son is here, refusing to participate in "family outings", and have requested that they don't spend their regular Christmas and Summer breaks at our house, as much of the visitation schedules overlap. I don't know who it upsets worse, my son or myself! My SO's attitude is "They are old enough to know what they want".

I knew there would be problems because of the age difference and I work hard to make sure that my son isn't taking up too much of their time or bothering them incessantly while they are here. I don't use them as free babysitters or watchdogs except when I am sleeping (I work nights). In fact, in the past year, I have actually spent more time with them on the weekends than I have my own son!

Am I being hypersensitive or irrational? How can I talk to my SO about this without coming off as an uber-b****?! I want us to be a family-unit, but this is about to tear us apart!!
post #2 of 4
It sounds like they don't feel comfortable with something. First, I'd try not to use them as free babysitters AT ALL, can't your SO do that? Second, make sure you do things that are fun for them as well, or give them opportunities to act their ages, doing things that interest them or are appropriate for their ages. Do you mostly just feel insulted, for your sake and your son's? If so, you've given them a lot of power over you...try not to take it personally. Is this something that happened just recently? Has there been a change then? Perhaps they are upset they don't get to spend time with just their dad...so why not cut down the emphasis on "family unit" and enjoy your smaller parent/child units when you have these rare weekends of overlap? If neither child gets to see their parent often, I think it'd be harder to lose that time of togetherness, so maybe try to keep things how they were before the problem started.

As far as talking to your SO, what makes you think you'll come off bad? By expressing your feelings and concerns? Is there some negative way you're thinking you'd phrase things you can change into a positive way? Also, everything I've read about blended families stresses that you can't have an "instant blended family" but should respect the fact that it takes time for everyone's relationships to develop. I would think 14 and 16yo would feel that internally and be pretty reluctant if they are expected to suddenly do everything with an 8yo they barely know and won't get much chance to get to know.

Just some thoughts, hope things work out!
post #3 of 4
I agree. Having your teenage stepkids watch younger step sibs is not okay. My DSD babysits when she feels like it and she gets paid as soon as I get in the door, NO IOUs!!!! When she is only at our house for a day or so, I won't even leave the younger one with her to run to the store. She is the regular like it or not babysitter at her mom's and although she's a respectful kid, she resents it big time!!!! And it shows in her srelationship with the younger sibs, not with her mom.

It's worth it to hire a sitter outside the house for while you're sleeping. You can pick him up as soon as you wake and start the family time then. Teenagers like to sleep real late anyway
post #4 of 4
I have raised one stepdaughter, who is now 26, and now am a newly-single mom with 3 boys, 13, 10, and 3. I would, if I were you, NEVER ask your stepkids to babysit your 6 yr. old. It is not their responsibility; it is your and your so's.

In the 6 years that I lived with my stepdaughter as a teen (13-18; then she left for college) I never asked her to watch her half brothers, who were babies and toddlers at the time--and whom she loved very much. But she was a teenager. Period. Teenagers do not want family time with a little kid, and there is no reason whatsoever that they should. I've read many, many books on stepparenting, and the one rule that has come up again and again is this: don't make the mistake of trying to make your new family into ONE big happy family. Respect your differences! You are the parent; and even teens need support and family; but mostly they need good role models, space, some guidance, and some very carefully selected responsibility. Ask them what *they* would feel most comfortable doing to help out the family. Is it doing the dishes after dinner? Would they rather help make a salad before dinner? Or just do their own laundry? Anything that gives them some responsibility, but does not make them resentful.

Taking care of a 6 year old is something that I personally, at 44, would never, ever volunteer for. Some people, and some teens, would love it. But obviously not these teens! So try something else. And yes, pay them if they watch your son. And don't worry!! Forcing unwilling teens to spend "family time" together is only going to make the problem worse. They may come around in time, but ages 15 and 16? I don't think so.

By the way, my now soon-to-be-ex stepdaughter absolutely adores her brothers and loves spending time with them now. She visits them every few weekends, takes them to movies, shows them funny restaurants she's discovered.....It's totally different now that she's an adult. Don't lose hope for a "whole" family. You just might have to wait longer than you expected. And your family IS whole, already.

I wish you luck! I really needed it in those years of blended parenting. It is so, so hard.
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