I just feel like giving up - Mothering Forums
Blended and Step Family Parenting > I just feel like giving up
julesdsm's Avatar julesdsm 02:12 PM 04-17-2010
I just feel so hopeless, and hurt and unappreciated.

My 5 year old Dss hates me. And I don't know why. We've lived together for nearly three years. I've spent more time with him than both his mom and dad during this time, being the stay at home parent with him when Dh was working and his mom was out of his life. I've done almost all the parenting at home, the only thing Dh does is put him to bed at night. I take him to the park, I bake with him, I do craft projects with him, read to him,play with him, buy him treats and presents almost every week and I tell him i love him everyday.

We used to have such a great bond. He used to be so affectionate with me and we had so much fun together. And now he won't even hold my hand. A couple months ago he started crying everytime Dh goes to the store for something, and its gotten worse and worse. The last two weeks have been horrible. He cries any time he is alone with me all, even if he knows dh is just walking the dog or getting something out of the car. And theres nothing i can do to comfort him, he goes into his room and doesn't want me around. A couple times I've heard him singing "no more (my name) in the house". And its happened a couple time when dh was at school and we were having fun playing board games together, and then his mom called to talk to him and suddenly he wouldn't talk to me anymore and just sulked around giving me mean looks till Dh gets home.

Last weekend i tried to talk to him about why he he doesn't want to be with me anymore and he told me that he just doesn't like me that much. I was devastated. I was up crying all night. I've always thought of dss as one of my own kids. Nothing has changed, there have been no incidents between us, nothing that I can thing of all.

I tried to talk to Dh about how I am feeling, and I asked if he could please take dss with him when possible since he's so miserable with me. I'm pregnant and emotional and I don't feel like I can handle it right now. I told him him how devastated and hurt i feel about the situation. And he told me that my feelings don't matter, that its never going to be about me, and is accusing me of not wanting be part of Dss's life, that I don't do enough for him, when really I want nothing more than that. I never said its about me, but i do think that if we are supposed to be a family than everyones feelings are supposed to count. But according to Dh i'm supposed to do all the parenting duties and act like his mom, and just suck it up. I felt more appreciated when I was a nanny.

Right now I have my bags packed, ready to leave. This morning dh went out to walk the dog and Dss asked to go with. Dh said no and was gone for about 5 minutes and Dss screamed the whole time. When Dh got back in I was on the verge of tears myself. Dh has school all day today and his parents were on their way to pick up Dss to go fishing. Dh was getting ready to leave and dss started screaming at the top of his lungs and i told Dh to please wait a few minutes till his parents got here. He said thanks so much for your help sarcastically and just walked out the door with dss screaming and crying and jumping up and down. I followed him into the hall told him that Dss is his child and he cannot just walk out when i am telling him that i cannot handle caring for him right now. He ignored me and kept walking down the stairs till I told him that I was going to leave with ds because i'm tired of just being treated like a live in nanny and not getting any support from him. He then came back and called his parents and asked them to hurry because I refuse to watch Dss anymore.

So now Dh is a school, Dss is with his grandparents and I'm sitting crying with my bags packed trying to figure out what to do. I don't want to break up my family, i don't want my kids to grow up with broken up parents, but i've been depressed for weeks and I just feel so hopeless and like maybe I just need to remove myself from the situation for a while.

Please give me some perepective. Am i being unreasonable to ask Dh not to leave Dss with me when he goes out and when Dss is screaming not to stay with me? Is it unreasonable for me to feel so hurt? Please be honest, I know my emotions get skewed when I am pregnant so maybe I'm not seeing this as it is.

Mummoth's Avatar Mummoth 07:33 PM 04-17-2010
It sounds like he wants more time with his dad, and rather than blame him for going away, he's blaming you for being there... he thinks if you weren't there, his dad would have to stay and take care of him. I don't know what the solution is, or how you can fix it... but try not to be hurt by what DSS says, it isn't what he really feels, he doesn't know how to ask for what he needs.
neonalee's Avatar neonalee 08:26 PM 04-17-2010
Originally Posted by Mummoth View Post
It sounds like he wants more time with his dad, and rather than blame him for going away, he's blaming you for being there... he thinks if you weren't there, his dad would have to stay and take care of him. I don't know what the solution is, or how you can fix it... but try not to be hurt by what DSS says, it isn't what he really feels, he doesn't know how to ask for what he needs.
I agree, though I haven't dealt with that age. The worst couple of months we've had here were when DSD (at 9) went through the "I hate you stage". Since she's 11teen now I'm trying to mentally gear myself up for another round that'll last a few years this time I don't have any advice for you, but my gut says it's a stage that can only be worked through with patience love and time s
Lolagirl's Avatar Lolagirl 09:37 PM 04-17-2010
Originally Posted by julesdsm View Post
Please give me some perepective. Am i being unreasonable to ask Dh not to leave Dss with me when he goes out and when Dss is screaming not to stay with me? Is it unreasonable for me to feel so hurt? Please be honest, I know my emotions get skewed when I am pregnant so maybe I'm not seeing this as it is.
I may be totally out of my depth here, but I couldn't read your post and not respond. Honestly, your feelings don't seem unreasonable to me at all. It really sounds to me like your husband is not giving you and his son the time and attention you both deserve. Dss is obviously going through a hard time right now and he needs help from both of you to cope with it, his father walking away and acting as though everything is fine (or worse yet, like this is all your fault) is only making things worse.

I obviously can't help you with the blended family stuff, but I would definitely recommend that you try to have a calm conversation with your husband about this when dss is not around. Try to explain to him that you feel like both you and dss need him to pitch in more at home and to be more of a stable and positive presence. You and dss deserve to be heard and to be taken seriously by your husband, and he needs to acknowledge that and do more to be a parent to his child and a husband to you.

Hope that helps.
julesdsm's Avatar julesdsm 11:44 PM 04-17-2010
I don't think that the issue is that he doesn't get enought ime with his dad. We have him here at least four days a week and Dh is currently unemployed so the only time he is gone for long periods is on saturdays when he is at school from 9- 3:30. Although i generally am the one that takes care of stuff like baths, food,getting him dressed and stufflike that, Dh does spend alot of time with him just playing. I didn't mean to say in my post that dh, doesn't help, I just meant to show that i am a pretty active parent to dss too.

I have tried not take it personally from dss, but its really hard when to when he only cries with me. He is fine at school, or at his grandparents. He doesn't show or take affection from me anymore, doesn't want me doing things for him and generally just acts like he doesn't me here.

I feel hurt by this, but Dh's lack of support an concern for my feelings makes it so much harder. And yes the fact that he does blame it all on me only enforces whatever negative feelings dss has towards me and i am sure it is making the problem worse.

I do hope its phase, cause I just have no idea how to make the situation better and it just feels like everything is falling apart.

Thanks everyone for the kind words, and encouragement. It really does help so much.
VocalMinority's Avatar VocalMinority 12:44 AM 04-18-2010
Oh, I would give you a big hug, if I knew you! Please stick it out!

Your feelings are not at all unreasonable, esp. considering you're pregnant! But the 5-year-old's feelings aren't necessarily unreasonable, either. That is a significant age, for feeling attached to Mommy. And evidently he has enough contact with his Mommy to know you are not she... yet his Mommy doesn't spend as much time with him as you do. How confusing! To further complicate the matter, it sounds like his phone conversations with her leave him feeling guilty about his attachment to you. Poor little thing! If you weren't the unfortunate one hoping for reciprocal affection from him, I'm sure it would seem clearer to you that he has confused loyalties and needs to see that YOU are not going to fade into the background, like his "real" Mommy, or even his Daddy, who (presumably due to work?) is not around as much as you are.

My step-son is 10 and lives with us and I experience a smaller amount of the same thing. Sometimes, I seem to be his favorite person in the world. He emphasizes that his favorite songs are the same as mine; he likes to do the same things I do; he jumps at the chance to go places with me; he pointedly agrees with everything I say. Then, for example, he spends spring break with his Mom in California (where she lives) and, for a week or so afterward, he wears his CA T-shirts all the time and takes out his photo books from vacations with her every night before bed... and he'll tell me he secretly has always hated the songs that have been our favorites together; or he'll opt out of going to the store with me when he has the chance; or he'll remove from his backpack all the special little things I've bought him, at his request, and leave them on his desk.

I'm not pregnant or hormonal, so I can suck it up and realize that it's awfully hard for him to balance his closeness with me - the person who's home and who takes care of him every day - againt his attachment to his "glamorous" Mom: Every time he see her, he's on vacation. Plus, she resents that he spends more time with me and she sends the message to him in all sorts of manipulative, subtle ways that loving me is a betrayal of her. I assume that he needs me to be consistently loving to him, regardless of his own ups and downs, where our relationship is concerned. Sometimes it's hard.

Of course, I don't know your husband. But some men react with outward anger when what they truly feel is fear. It's unusual for a father to have custody of a 5-year-old. So, either the Mom is really bad, or he's a really exceptional father. Is it possible he simply doesn't know what to do about the problems you're having with the kid - and he's afraid you'll leave him like his last wife did - and he's childishly lashing out... perhaps thinking if he can get you to take responsibility for the problems, then you will solve them and he won't have to figure them out? That's not a reason to leave, it's a reason to push for better communication... possibly with the help a counsellor. Men don't always have to be as good at communicating - or have the same instincts about children that we do - to be basically good men.

Please seek some help, before you leave. At the very least, how traumatic would that be for your poor step-son, to lose his primary caregiver, when he's lost so much already? He needs to know your love for him is stronger than his current testing. And your husband may be in almost as much pain as you are, not knowing how to solve the problem with the kid. Many people say stupid, insensitive things when they're upset or scared -that's not always the best indication of what's in their hearts.

Mama, you have my sympathy.
Oriole's Avatar Oriole 10:07 AM 04-18-2010
Oh, how tough!

Does your DSS know that you are expecting? If he does, I bet that's 1/2 of
your explanation for his behavior.

What do I think is the right thing to do? I think the right thing to do is:

#1. To write a letter, and explain to your husband that parenting is TWO people job. In successful blended families, the biological parent steps up in situation like you describe. I'm not saying you should just give up taking care of your son, but his father and your husband owes both of you WAY more caring and understanding than he is showing right now. It is almost always easier for a biological parent to comfort a child in situations like this, and to explain that the fears are unfounded, than it is for a stepparent.

Try to keep it simple: I'm your wife, I deserve to be listened to when I am in tears, sad and devastated that the child we are raising hates me. I deserver more than you snapping at me, and telling your parents that I don't want to watch a kid that I've done so much over the years (How dare he?!). Your son deserves to be heard when he is scared and upset, simply because he IS scared and upset, and not because there is danger.

#2.If sharing the letter does nothing, I'd probably keep the bags packed, and present one of two choices - we go to counseling, or I leave.

On a side note:

I think the problems you are experiencing with your DSS are partially due to pregnancy, and partially due to him realizing that his parents are not together, but his dad is with you. It will pass, if approached with care and understanding. I know it's harder to say than to do (I KNOW ), but don't take it personally, because he is just a scared little boy. I cried soooo much the first few years of our relationship, and DSD had a weird love-hate relationship going on with me. It's almost impossible to realize that the kid actually loves you, but just hates the fact that the parents are not together, and you just happen to take up the place that is meant for a mom. I've learned to notice that kids say similar things to their actual parents, and it doesn't seem as threatening as it does to stepparents. It will pass. I'm sure of it. You could also try gently to set up little bonding activities for yourself and DSS. Plan something fun for just the two of you to do, and when he is calm and receptive - take him out for ice-cream, or for a bike ride in the park, or just visit some place special. Choose a calm moment, and ask him "Do you want to do <insert something he'd have hard time saying no to>?", and allow him to make the decision. He might say no a couple of times, but he'll come around eventually. Don't insist on anything, just let it go. Maybe start a messy craft project, and invite him to join, or even without inviting him, watch him approach with curiosity. I did that a bit with DSD, and it worked well in getting us back on track.

However... While I'm sure that your problem with your DSS is fixable, and simply requires time and understanding (from his dad), which he is not getting at the moment, I'm not so sure that you can change your husband into a caring dad and husband all of a sudden. Maybe he is just scared, like Jeannine says. Maybe you should ask him about it straight-forward? Assure him that you want this to work? If he is willing to listen and change - I'd give him a chance. If not - then packing and leaving sounds like not a bad idea to me. This marriage thing won't work when one of the partners just doesn't care that you are hurt and struggling.

VocalMinority's Avatar VocalMinority 03:28 PM 04-18-2010
Originally Posted by Oriole View Post
I've learned to notice that kids say similar things to their actual parents, and it doesn't seem as threatening as it does to stepparents.
That's a really good point! Not to belittle what you're going through - because it's not exactly the same - but kids DO say "I hate you" or "No! I dont want Mommy to come! I only want to be with Daddy!" and other hurtful things to their "real" parents and it's not as big a deal. You'll see someday, with your baby. When you have no competition whatsoever for the role of "Mom", you feel much more confident that of course your child doesn't really hate you. Of course he'd miss you if his magic wand actually made you disappear. Of course he doesn't REALLY wish he could trade you for Johnny's mom, who lets her kids eat Twinkies and play violent video games...
La Sombra's Avatar La Sombra 04:17 PM 04-18-2010
I'm going to chime in here to offer a few things, even though in my situation it's DP who is the SP and not me.

1) what PPs have said about your own children saying similar things is true! My dd, when she gets upset or when I tell her to do something she doesn't want to do, or tell her no to something she *does* want to do, will invariably cry for her daddy! Once I picked her up at her daycare and she was crying hysterically because she didn't want me, she wanted her daddy! Talk about hurt feelings and wounded pride! I am also her primary caregiver. But I try not to take it personally--nor do I try to begrudge her her love for her dad. I don't want her to feel guilty for loving him just because *I'm* the one who does most of the parenting. I recognize that that's the baser side of me, and I try to rise above it when I deal with her. Like PPs have said, I can see how in your situation that is even more complicated because you don't necessarily have the confidence to know that it isn't true.

2) Pregnancy TOTALLY skews our emotional compass! SOOOO true! I am pregnant now, too, and about three weeks ago I had this weird breakdown where I thought DP didn't want to be with me and I didn't even want to talk to him about my feelings I just wanted to up and leave him. Later that evening, I was already feeling calm and I looked back on that episode as being a MAJOR overreaction on my part and was able to talk to DP about my feelings and put things into perspective. My point is that, yes, pregnancy really can make you feel exponentially more sensitive, vulnerable and emotional than normal, and can really skew your perspective. In this case, I think you are ABSOLUTELY RIGHT to feel what you are feeling, but the intensity of your reaction does seem to me a bit out of balance.

3) Also think these things that Jeannine said are so true: your dh is probably scared, too, and doesn't know how to express it properly--that doesn't mean he doesn't need to be more sensitive to you and to step up a bit more during this time, but I also think he deserves a little understanding and compassion, too. I'm coming at this from the other side, like I said, but I imagine if dd were having bonding issues with DP and he said to me that he couldn't handle it any more, I would feel SO HURT and scared. I would be afraid that he didn't love my little girl, and that his love for me AND for her wasn't enough for him to have the patience to ride it out. I'M NOT SAYING THAT IS WHAT YOU ARE DOING. I'm just saying that I can sympathize with how it might feel for your dh, especially after going through whatever he went through with his X.

And similarly, your DSS is a child, and even though he still has tremendous power to hurt your feelings, I truly believe that if you are patient with him, that to the extent possible you don't take his actions to heart and that you continue to love him and respect his feelings and whatever he's going through AND continue to respect and nurture his feelings with his mother...you will be giving him the BIGGEST GIFT and I promise you he will thank you and love you for it someday. As much as my heart breaks for you and what you are going through now, I'm also sad for this little boy, who has so much going on in his life, so many scary changes, etc., and doesn't have the skills to express them all perfectly. Try to remember that.

I agree that your DH needs to hear you and respect your feelings and step up a bit more. But I think it would be fantastic for the both of you if you could acknowledge to him that you recognize his hurts and fears, too, and that you try doing some things to foster the patience that DSS deserves right now. You all, it seems to me, need to hear each other and respect what each other is going through--no one is really "right" in this situation and I think you'll all be a lot happier if you try to acknowledge that fact.

Many hugs and good luck.
pinksprklybarefoot 07:03 PM 04-18-2010
I agree with Oriole - I think that your pregnancy, if he knows about it, could be a big contributor here.

I also agree that in the situation that you described, it is you DH's job to help your DSS. We used to have moments like those daily, and I tried to stay out of it as much as possible. Heck, we had one this morning (though not quite so bad since she is 7 now, and the friend she had sleep over had just left, making her grumpy) and I just ignored it. DH was the one to deal with it.

The one thing that DH always did was remember that he was the primary parent - there are some things that a stepparent will not have much success with.

I don't blame you for being frustrated - I would be if I were in your shoes.

One other side note - I threatened to leave on an almost daily basis during some parts of my first pregnancy. Granted, we were much newer to the blended situation, but I definitely remember being more emotional about family issues during that time.
julesdsm's Avatar julesdsm 01:22 PM 04-20-2010
Thanks everyone for your input and advice. It really does help alot.

La Sombra I think what you said about what Dh might feel is true.I think if he actually listened to me he would realize thats not what i'm saying or thinking at all, but I think he assumes thats what I'm saying and so won't even give me the chance to clarify.

Oriele I think writing a letter to him is a great idea, that way I can word correctly and leave my emotions out of it, it might be easier to get my feelings across to him. I do also think that family counseling is something that we need to look into.

I am not going to leave, yes alot of my intense emotions when I wrote my original post i think was due to hormones. Actually just writing the post helped a lot, being that I don't really have anyone irl that I can talk to about such things. It does seem though that what happened on saturday did have some sort of impact on Dh, and he seems to be making much more of an effort to be more suportive, and sensitive to both me and Dss.

On a positive note we are having a very good day today. I heard Dh talking to Dss in the other room while while nursed ds early this morning and Dss was not the slightest bit upset when Dh left and we've been having a good time together all morning. It's been weeks since things went this well so I'm feeling very optimistic today.
Kindermama's Avatar Kindermama 10:47 PM 04-21-2010
I could have written this exact post back 5 year ago. Literally!

First, your feelings do count! I remember when it all came crashing down! Don't leave. Just breathe!

Here's my 2 cents: pass some of the parenting responsibilities onto your DH. I know exactly how you feel when you said you felt more appreciated as a nanny. But do remember, all moms (step or not) feel that way! The thing here is there are loyalty issues, guilt issues, abandonment issues, confusion, rejection....a big mess of emotions on everyone's part!

You will have to let go of your expectations...of yourself and of your DSS to like/love/appreciate you! As he ages, he will become more aware of the differences between you and his mom. It's so hard to love someone who totally rejects you. As humans, we want to leave and protect our hearts. But I say open your heart! Open it to new possibilities....follow your DSS's lead and ask for more help from your DH and let go a little! It will pass! It will get better!
nola79's Avatar nola79 11:14 PM 04-21-2010
Hang in there, mama. Your dss may be pushing you away because you're pregnant and he feels you may not have time for or love him after the baby comes. It is hard for most 5 year olds to verbalize their feelings. He feels safe with you, and it is easier for him to take his frustration out on you. Continue being there for him, he will come around.
My own son, he LOVES my husband, calls him a dad and best friend, but anytime he talks to or sees bio-dad, he shuns stepdad.
Please hang in there, take some time for yourself to destress, maybe a prenatal massage or pedicure. From how you described your relationship with dss, I think he does love you!
corysmilk's Avatar corysmilk 02:21 PM 05-05-2010
No one asked what the mother says to him during visits or on the phone. Is she trying to get him back? I don't have all the details of why he lives with his dad and not his mom, but he could be trying to please his mom, even thou shes not there. like by hating on you. she may have just said something in passing like, oh I hope you don't like her better than me????

just my thoughts when I read this

i hope it stays postive for you
mran's Avatar mran 03:01 PM 05-05-2010
In this instance, I'll stay out of the blended family issues, but I did want to tell you that my 4.5 yr old, who lives with both biological parents and has no blended family issues, SCREAMS bloody murder whenever his Daddy vacates the room/house/etc. And I am not exaggerating. After about 10-15 minutes, he's fine, but he very much prefers his father. This has been ongoing for nearly a year and happens multiple times per day, even when Daddy is just in the bathroom.