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Blended family issue or just normal father/son stuff?

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
I've never posted on this board so here's a little background. DH and I got married when my oldest ds was 9. He's 17 years and 8 months now. We also have two sons together, almost 5 years old and 17 months old, so a big age gap.

My dh is a wonderful stepfather. He has never missed a beat in talking about "his" son or "our" son. It's never been "her" son or "my stepson" except for legal purposes. They were very close when my ds younger. The trouble started around the time that ds started going through puberty. DH seems to be perpetually annoyed with or angry at ds. He doesn't have anything good to say about him. The only time he comments on ds is to say something negative.

I'm sick of it. I don't want to hear it. I'm tired of trying to keep the peace. I'm tired of feeling like I'm put in the middle. I've tried talking to dh about it. I've told him how I feel. He either tries to justify his behavior by listing all the awful things ds does or he makes himself a martyr or an idiot.

I don't know if this is normal stepparent/stepchild stuff or normal father/teen son stuff or just an issue my dh has with older teens. Since our other two are so young I can't compare the way he treats them to the way he treats our teen.

Any ideas, opinions, suggestions?
post #2 of 22
I don't have experience with a stepchild that age...


But I will say my teen years with my Dad were HARD. He threatened to kick me out just about everyday in high school for some reason or another. My Mom tried to talk to him and tell him he was the parent/adult and to walk away because him and I have the same exact personality so it made for very explosive conversations with all the teen hormones.

So wanted to offer the persepctive that it *could* be normal teen/parent stuff.

The teen years are so hard. And I hope I can remember that when my kids are there. lol I remember them vividily now, having graduated high school only 10 years ago... I hope I can remember the crazy turmoil.

Good Luck!
post #3 of 22
I'd like to blame some of it on hormones- teens aren't the easiest people in the world to get along with and it doesn't matter if they are your own or a stepchild. I think butting heads is also normal- your son is now a young man with ideas of his own . You've had almost twice as many years with your son than your dh has, so behaviors that may not be annoying to you may be annoying to your dh. I wish I could say all teens are rational , neat and respectful, but that usually isn't the case. Think back to when you were a teen- did you or your friends ever do stupid things ?
post #4 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jennlyn View Post
I'd like to blame some of it on hormones- teens aren't the easiest people in the world to get along with and it doesn't matter if they are your own or a stepchild. I think butting heads is also normal- your son is now a young man with ideas of his own . You've had almost twice as many years with your son than your dh has, so behaviors that may not be annoying to you may be annoying to your dh. I wish I could say all teens are rational , neat and respectful, but that usually isn't the case. Think back to when you were a teen- did you or your friends ever do stupid things ?
Well, yeah. That's not really my issue. My issue is that my dh doesn't seem to get that the way he's handling things (or not handling things as the case may be) isn't helping anything. He seems very resistant to see that it's just a lot of typical, annoying teen behavior. He gets very angry about things. He seems to only notice the negative stuff. He doesn't really make much effort to do anything positive with ds. I just don't understand why he would want to feel bad all the time when there are ways that he could feel good. Maybe I should post in the Parents as Partners board. I don't know. I can't figure out if this is just my dh's issue or a normal parent/teen issue or a couple's issue or a stepparent/stepteen issue.
post #5 of 22
A lot of times when we parent, when we hit an age that was particularly challenging for us growing up, people often default back to what they experienced or what they know.

It is possible that he's just doing what he went through with his father.

I'm not sure if a conversation with him about it would help or not...discussing how he felt with his dad, what he'd like the relationship to be with your son, what he envisions, etc.
post #6 of 22
I don't necessarily think it's a step parent issue. I'm dealing with that a little bit and I don't think it's because DP is not the natural parent but I do think it has to do with expectations. I've been trying to explain to DP that they will always get on our nerves with irresponsible and lazy behavior but that doesn't mean we should throw away the loving behavior because we might not be able to get it back. We need to be nice to each other and spend some time together where we just enjoy each other and put aside everything else. Without that "sweetness" the good feelings can die and nothing is worth that.
post #7 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PoppyMama View Post
II've been trying to explain to DP that they will always get on our nerves with irresponsible and lazy behavior but that doesn't mean we should throw away the loving behavior because we might not be able to get it back. We need to be nice to each other and spend some time together where we just enjoy each other and put aside everything else.
This is where I worry that the stepparent issues come in? It's a lot easier to forget about the loving behavior and good feelings when it's not your flesh and blood. KWIM? Or, at least, that's what I imagine.
post #8 of 22
It could be a step parent issue but I think in my situation it has more to do with mood and pet peeves. Sometimes I'm the one who is irritated and negative and DP is the one telling me I need to chill.
post #9 of 22
Thread Starter 
This is probably a question I'll never be able to really answer. I've tried talking to my dh about this. He just denies that there is a problem. He acts like he doesn't know what I'm talking about.
post #10 of 22
There is a really good book about communicating with your kids called, "How To Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk", by Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish.

This has been a great read when dealing with both the preteen & teen years for both me and my DH.

Actually, my DH's ex-wife gave me a copy of the book when my stepson moved into his preteens.

It might be a good book for you to read and impart wisdom to your DH & son...innocently implementing change and pushing for cooporation through innocent suggestions...KWIM?

It really sounds like to me your DH is stuck in a cycle with your son and probably doesn't know how to move towards a more positive relationship...he may not really know how to bring about that kind of change. This could be a replay of his experience with his own father like a previous poster suggested.

It ALSO sounds like he really doesn't have a handle on how upsetting it is for you. It may be time to go off to a neutral place and talk - just the two of you.

It sounds like he needs to be made to understand that not only does this behavior in a grown man disturb you, but the relationship developments you see between your DH & your son really makes you sad, angry, doubt your relationship...whatever feelings you are feeling. Make sure that he understands that it is affecting your feelings for him.

This might shed some light for him.

Good Luck!
post #11 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thanks. I've actually read that book. I've also told my dh exactly how I feel about all of this. I'm not one to mince words or keep things inside. I've told him in no uncertain terms that, if I have to choose, I'll choose my children over him every time. He knows that and understands that. He doesn't get upset by it. However, he doesn't think he's doing anything wrong.

I think you are probably right that it's at least partly a replay of his teenage years, which he thinks were just fine, by the way. Very typical parent/teen interaction. My dh doesn't think there's anything wrong with any of that or that things could be better. He's one of those, "That's the way it's always been done...that's the way everyone else does it, so it's ok," people. While he doesn't mind AP, he also doesn't see anything wrong with mainstream parenting.
post #12 of 22

Temporary hi-jack

Quote:
Originally Posted by MsChatsAlot View Post
A lot of times when we parent, when we hit an age that was particularly challenging for us growing up, people often default back to what they experienced or what they know....
Thank you for this. I am having a rough go with my 14-year-old just now, and this puts it all in perspective for me. (14 was a heartbreaking age for me.)

We now return to our regularly scheduled thread.
post #13 of 22
If you have communicated everything to the extent that you truly feel that he gets where you are at with this relationship (between your DH and your son) and he just really doesn't comprehend what you are saying, then maybe it's time for some creative intervention on your part.

The holidays are coming up, which allows for a lot of family fun time. I know that with time off from work/school, this time of year affords our family at least a little more time to do things together.

Maybe you can set up some excursions for you and your family...some bonding experiences. Maybe you can set up some activities just for your DH, you and your son...because he is practically an adult now, there may be some activities you can bring about that leave out the younger kids that allows the three of you to share some positive experiences. You might even be able to think up a few things that your DH and son need to do for you.

The point is to bring them out of the house and together so that they are in a safe zone that they can share experiences with out their usual environment...KWIM.

Do you all put up Christmas lights? Is this something that your DH & your son can do together? I am trying to think of "manly" things that you can use as an excuse to bring them together.

Do you burn fires? Do you need to buy some wood that will have to be brought back to the house & stored?

Do you have family coming into town? Is there an outdoor project that just HAS to be done before someone comes over for the holidays?

Is there a food drive or clothing drive going on that they can get inolved with in your town?

Can they go shopping together for your Christmas presents?

These are just some suggestions of things my DH has done with my oldest stepson.

I realize that your DH will have to be willing to put himself out there...hopefully, he is willing to be the adult in the situation.
post #14 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the suggestions. Those are all great ideas. My dh is willing to put himself out there, do things with ds, but he does need a little push. He doesn't come up with things on his own. He has told me a few times that he doesn't try anymore because ds doesn't care or doesn't like him. I can understand his POV. I think it hurts him that ds does things to openly reject him and he deals with it by detaching himself.

We are taking a trip to visit family over the holidays. Hopefully, that'll give dh and ds some time to just hang together without worrying about the daily grind.
post #15 of 22
It's amazing how "time away from home" can take people out of their element and shed new light on old situations.

My husband and I used to take ourselves away to the ski slopes at least once a year (that was when we had the money for it) and it was amazing how care free we could be for just those few days away. All of the blended family, parenting and money issues just seemed to drift away.

I hope that the time spent with your family will at least give them a breather.

It will get better. They will get tired of the pettiness eventually...once they both grow up!

Ha, just trying to add humor.
post #16 of 22
[QUOTE=MarineWife;12637115] I'm not one to mince words or keep things inside. I've told him in no uncertain terms that, if I have to choose, I'll choose my children over him every time. He knows that and understands that. He doesn't get upset by it. However, he doesn't think he's doing anything wrong. QUOTE]

I could have read too much into this, but if someone told me in "uncertain terms" that I rated second, I would feel defensive. Perhaps DH knows this and feels hurt? You are supposed to be a team, and DH probably senses that push comes to shove, you will side with your DS, (as you said). So instead of talking to you about it, he continues to blame DS(becasue that is eaasier then confronting you about it).

I would bet that if your DH felt more "backed up" by you, he would back off DS a little.

BUT, I would make it clear that negative talk amongst the family, wont be tolerated. Thats just not fair for anyone.
post #17 of 22
Thread Starter 
Yes, I think you probably have read too much into that. That was something we discussed long before we ever got married. I had my ds before I had my dh. My dh can live without me. My ds could not. He was just a child. It had nothing to do with my dh being second. It had everything to do with who needed me most. I've seen too many instances where parents get remarried and their new spouses become more important than their children. I wanted to make sure my dh knew up front from the very beginning that I was not going to allow that to happen to my ds.

I cannot and will not back up my dh on things I don't agree with. If he can't handle being challenged about the way he sees things or wants to handle things, there's nothing I can do about that. He knew how I was before he married me. He chose to marry me just the way I am.
post #18 of 22
While everyone feels differently about "who comes first, spouse or children" I would make sure that your children do not feel that they can override your dh's wishes all the time, I have seen marriages fall apart when the children "drove away" the stepparent. If a child knows that they have the power to do this, it can be a very bad thing.Also, it is important for the children to see a good example of parents who are united on issues and are standing together.
post #19 of 22
Thread Starter 
My children don't override my dh's wishes. Our marriage is not anywhere near close to possibly breaking up. That's not what this is about. I'm talking about constant nitpicky, petty complaints from my dh about his sds with never anything positive to counteract that. He doesn't complain and nitpick about our other 2 boys. I don't know if that's because they are his bio children or if it's because of the age difference. My parents divorced when I was 4 and my brother was 7. My mother never remarried. By the time my brother was a teen he refused to visit my father and my mother let him. I have no experience with father/teenage son relationships.

When I told my dh I would choose my children over him if ever put in that position, that was in reference to what I would do if my dh was ever abusive or neglectful. That would be in response to very extreme circumstances. For example, if my dh got so angry at 17yo ds that he tried to kick him out (which I've seen and heard about happening many times with stepfathers and stepchildren), I would pack up all the kids and go. That is just something that is not acceptable to me. Maybe it's a military thing that's not common in the civilian world but it seems to happen a lot in blended families. Many of my ds' friends are in blended families and their parents let their stepparents abuse them physically and emotionally. That's the type of situation that would make me leave my dh for my children.

With the nitpicky stuff, I try to help my dh find ways other than anger to deal with ds so that dh will get the response he wants. He doesn't seem open to that, though. He just wants ds to do what he's told, which is not something that has ever happened in my family.
post #20 of 22
Do you think he may expect your son to do as he is told because your dh has a military background? If he is used to being in a position where he commands other men ( many not much older than your ds) than he probably wants him to just obey and not question. I didn't mean to offend you when I mentioned marriages breaking up, but I've seen parents who told their child that they did not have to listen to/obey the stepparent and the child's wishes were paramount. Perfectly understandable for you to chose to protect a child if a spouse were abusive/neglectful.
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