Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: surrounded by testosterone
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I wouldn't advise you "Yes. Definitely leave!", but I can see why you'd consider it. You're not married to this guy yet. You can still choose not to marry him and to make a different life for yourself. And you are seeing things that aren't good for your own kids.
It is right, responsible and mature of you to be concerned about the things you've mentioned. Kids who are close to each other do pick up each other's bad habits. Kids who have been oversexualized - through no fault of their own! - will affront the age-appropriate innocense of other kids who are close to them. You're right: your kids' exposure to these things is something you can manage and deal with, if you need to, but it's not a healthy, desirable learning experience for them. The counselor sounds like she may be more focused on the needs of the most damaged kids in your home.
You're also right that a mom can't give six young children the same level of attention that she can give two, especially if four of the six (your BF's) are needier and more of a handful than the other two (yours). And your kids will be little for SUCH a short while. Especially if you're young (just starting your post-HS education?), you will have a whole life to live - and men to meet - after they're older and don't need you so much.
It sounds like your BF is a good person; that he could really use your help with his daughters; and that the daughters could really benefit from your influence. If you all love each other - and if you and your BF are equally committed to teaching his daughters appropriate behavior - then there is nobility in the decision to stay, despite the hardships and exhaustion. I feel certain his daughters will turn out better, if you do. And, if a large family has good parents, then the diminished individual attention can - in ways - be made up for by a sense of tribe; sibling support; and the responsibility that comes from everyone needing to pitch in (because Mom can't do it all!). You just need to:
* Have a no-tolerance policy, as far as the SDs' behavior that you don't want your kids to imitate.
* Be confident and authoritative in telling your own kids, "I know your stepsister does that. She has not been taught the proper way to behave and we're trying to teach her now. You have been taught what's right and you're expected to do it. Her behavior is no excuse for you to behave badly. No 'but's. No discussion. That's how it is."
But it's not wrong for you to leave, if you think you should! You will feel guilty. You'll feel like you're abandoning him and his kids when they need you most - and some people in your life will probably say that to you. Since you're already living together, it will feel like a divorce and a huge, scary, uncertain upheaval in your lifestyle. But:
* As committed as you may feel, you're not committed yet. You're not married, so you're not responsible for his kids yet. You're only responsible for yours. Plenty of people who love each other make the hard choice to walk away because the relationship isn't in their or their kids' best interest for some reason or other. And the reasons you've given are as sound as anyone's. Thought - not just feeling - should go into any life-long plan, especially marriage.
* All kinds of women in this generation and the last have found ways to manage single motherhood and getting an education, without relying on a man. It's harder, but it's possible. If he were abusive - and that's why you thought of leaving - you'd find a way, wouldn't you?
You should sort out in your own mind:
- When you think of leaving, how much of that is the exhaustion (which lots of moms with big families have and deal with and it's not the end of the world) and how much is concern that your own kids might become better people, without the influence of your SDs?
- When you think of staying, how much of that is the financial convenience and how much is a sense that this is the life you were meant to live and the people you were meant to live it with? I know you love them, but when you're not exhausted, do you feel like "This is my family. These are my people. This is my life. Even though it's hard sometimes, this feels like where I always should have ended up?"
- If you left, would the childcare arrangements you'd have to make for your kids so that you could work/go to school leave you with more time and attention to devote to them than you have now?
One woman in a house full of men: my soul mate:
... twin sons:
(HS seniors) ... step-son:
(a sophomore) ... our little man:
(a first grader) ... and there is another female in the house, after all