Hello, new here...
It was hard to choose what forum to post this in because it falls under a few parenting categories... Blended famiy, special needs parenting, new baby...
First, a little about my family and situation:
I have two children (5 & 6) from a prior relationship. My partner has a 5 year old from his prior relationship. A month ago we welcomed our new baby. We both have split custody with our exes, and our custody schedules overlap so that we have all the children at the same time every other weekend. That's it- our respective children only see eachother at home two days every other week. To me, it seems like almost too little time for "step"siblings to bond and create a cohesive family structure and rhythm, but it is what we have to work with at this point. My 6 year old has autism. He is non-verbal and is not fully potty trained yet although he is almost there! He is typically happy, sweet, and non-harming... Although he can get pretty excited and manic, and is going through a phase of shrill short screaming (since the baby was born, and typically to get attention from an adult or when he's having fun). He keeps himself occupied a lot of the time.Our other 2 NT children behave like brothers more or less- miss eachother terribly, play well, and argue/fight/etc constantly. My partner is also amazing- he is supportive, loving, an amazing father and really good with my with my autistic child. we normally communicate and parent together very well.
Since the baby was born, they childrenhave all shown signs which I interpret as/contribute to the change and stress of having a new sibling, and in a blended family circumstance. My son with autism started the screaming/ attention seeking (and is having trouble following directions), My other son is being defiant towards me and my partner (whom he typically minds very well), and his other child has been more moody and defiant.
Since our baby was born a month ago my partner has been MIA a lot- he has taken on extra work trying to cover all of our expenses and needs while I'm not working for the time being. I still clean the house, prepare all the meals and drive the kids around for the most part, on top of caring for and nursing the new little one. They are in preschool and ESY part time, so I have them a lot this summer during the day, even on my "non-custody" days. Needless to say we are both stressed- the obvious changes, him having to work all the time and me trying to navigate life as usual with a brand new baby.
This weekend was rough. We had all the children, company, and all day Sunday my partner needed to work- so he mostly stayed in the office while I managed the household and kids. They were acting up a lot- it was a rainy day and they were getting ignored more than usual- and he periodically would come out, dicipline, and go away again. By evening I could tell he was really stressed (as was I), and I got way too in my head about it. Finally we talked about it and I am still struggling with his response...
He told me flat out that he was "having a hard time" with my kids right now. It hurt to hear, not that I couldn't tell but because he has never said that to me about my kids. I also feld indignant because he hasn't picking up much of the parenting slack with my children since the baby was born because of how busy he has been, although it is such a grey area of what he really is responsible to do becaue they are MY kids. We have never discussed co-parenting officially and have always kind of functioned by the seat of our pants and done relatively well at it. It also stunng because he didn't say anything about his other child... who has been equally difficult. On the contrary, after he said he was having a hard time with my kids he said it made him want to have our respective children on opposite weekends- and this notion is re backward to me- Shouldn't our kids be together as much as possible to help them build stronger relationships and bond as a family more? I feel like part of our problem already is that they have such limited time around eachother then have to be "brothers" for a few days every other week- what would it be like if they had NO days together, and a shared sibling on top of it? Sure they quarrel, but it's nothing atypical of 5 year olds! What do other blended families do scheduling their custody? I feel like things have gotten imbalanced lately with how my younger son is treated too- While he is having some challenging behaviors, my partner reacts to him a lot more strongly than when his own child has similar behaviors (I am the opposite, I tend to be more patient with his son than my own).
So now I am crushed, stressing out, and wondering what to do. The guilt and worry that resurfacenow and again about being a mom of an ASD child and a new partner taking on that parenting with you when it isn't their child. I am hurt because right now IS going to be stressful because we have a new baby and a blended family and all that goes along with those experiences. I'm not sure how to discuss this further with my partner or what sort of coparenting strategy to attempt. It would be good to know of any resources I could look into, or hear of anyone else's experiences and/or advice!
Raising a kid with autism has some rough moments. Adding a new baby to a family with 3 kids is a big adjustment. This is the first time you and your DH have tried to do the baby thing together. You are both exhausted, working your butts off, and doing your best.
What he said wasn't helpful to the situation, but he sounds like he is really trying and he is overwhelmed and stressed.
How many weekends have you had with the whole gang there since the baby was born? It can't have been very many.
but everything has pros and cons
Oh gosh..I dont' have any BTDT advice really. If this is out of the ordinary for your partner (which is sounds like it is) I would try not to take it too personally-hard I know. It sounds like was just having a really stressed moment and blurted out something he may have been thinking but wouldn't ordinarily have said. That added to you probably being more sensitive than usual might make this a bigger issue than it needs to be. Does he seem apologetic?
What you are talking about sounds totally typical for the situation/ages and I definitely agree with you that switching weekends so they never see each other would be counterproductive. How strange for them to know that the other kid(s) are living in the same house but they never see each other! I would give it some time. I took us more than a year with each kid to resume some kind of normal routine, and your situation is much more complex.
BTDT more than once! I have 5 children and have been married 4 times. My third husband and I divorced over his 'MIA' status and his favoritism toward his son that is the same age as my special needs son. He also got to the point where he just couldn't deal with my special need son. It never worked because we never saw all the children as our children, it was always mine and yours. When we had the baby together he just defaulted to one of mine, it was like I had 4 children and my ex still just had the one. Fast forward to my current marriage- it has been rough at times but a good marriage counsler has made all the difference. My husband and I have one child together but he sees all the children as his children and his responsibility. It was a lot of work through some of the harder times but it was so worth it. You should both go to therapy. I think your husband may be depressed but it's great that he is telling you how he feels even if it is negative. That is so much better than just keeping it in and building resentment. I don't think it will hurt to change the visitation schedule for a little while if he needs a break from the chaos of having all the kids there at once. Therapy is great place to talk about co-parenting issues. Once my husband and I got on the same page things got a lot better.
~Patti~ Momma to three girls and three boys , First mother to one girl
Certified, card carrying member of the IEP Binder Club
That's tough. Maybe it was just a stress reaction on his part? Thinking that everything is too complicated and he is too overwhelmed and that his solution would simplify things? The only thing I can say is that I think it's really important to consider the kids all "yours" not "yours and mine". I assume you don't want the kids to differentiate and treat you all differently based on their biological parentage. My DH and I share parenting of my 2 boys (one of whom is on the spectrum) and they are not MY kids, they are OURS. He is the father in our household and he owns that responsibility. I think that's what it boils down to- you have that responsibility when the going gets tough, whether you fathered them or not. Maybe it would help to just have a heart to heart and really define what the parameters for that look like to each of you, so you can get on the same page. This is the kind of thing that can affect all aspects of a family relationship- not only the dynamic between him and your kids, but between you and him, and your kids and the two of you as a couple. Hugs!
Natural mama to DS Gavin age 11, DS Liam age 8, married to Brian and expecting baby Ronan March 13, 2014!
I'm ***4***8***12***16***20**24***28***32***36***40 weeks pregnant
I hope it helps you to know that this is pretty normal. If your baby came about a month ago, this is right on schedule for your partner to be feeling a bit distant and unsure of his place in the family, and for each and every kid to feel the same way--and for you to feel that way, too! It's about figuring out what each of your roles are, and being validated in those roles by the rest of your family.
Think about this: when your partner resents your son's behaviors but not his own son's, it could be because acknowledging those behaviors as equally bad in his own son means (to him, consciously or unconsciously) that he is acknowledging his own contribution to those behaviors. His son is 50% him; if he recognizes flaws in him, he is tacitly recognizing flaws in himself. And right now, when your family is blending and you've just had your first baby together, ego might simply be too fragile to risk damaging. It's a delicate place. You both are under stress. He's displaying his in a way that is bringing you anxiety.
I'll refer to what Pattimomma said, and that I have also experienced and endorse: a good marriage counselor makes all the difference. There are lots of resources, and most places have free or reduced fee family services that you can take advantage of.
Other than counseling and knowing that it's normal...what about making a good opportunity for your partner to spend lone time with his son? He might miss one-on-one time with him and not feel comfortable telling you. It would give your sons an opportunity to spend time with you and the new baby, and it could help your partner satisfy what he interprets as a desire to separate the children long-term.
Sending hugs and well-wishes your way. Congratulations on your new baby, and congratulations on your blended family!
Doula and freelance writer , married to the best man I know
Stepmother to DSS (9)
8-9-12 and planning on