I have 2 step sons(15 and 17) and have posted not too long ago about part of my situation. The step sons are not terrible kids......no drugs.....no alcohol.......no trouble in school or with the law...........they are just typical teens I think. My problems is how to effectively operate our household with drastically different rules for the children. I leave the rules, discipline and consequences of the teenagers mostly to their father as I feel when it comes down to it the final decision is his so why cause friction. However, we also have a 5 year old together. I do not necessarily approach parenting/discipline/consequences in the same way he does. When it comes to the teenagers I back off as they are his children and not mine. When it comes to the 5 year old I do not feel I should back down. I also feel that I do not owe the teenagers any sort of explanation whatsoever for any difference they think there may be in the raising of the 5 year old and themselves. I have tried explaining to them that there are going to be different rules/consequences and expectations of teenagers than of a 5 year old. My thinking was that they would actually see how absurd it would be to expect the same behaviors from a 5 year old as you would expect from a teenager. But this was NOT the case. I find it actually made things worse as they felt they had different expectations when they were 5. I was around when they were 5 and this simply is not the case. I have learned not to bother trying to make them see this either. So I am not to the point of the 5 year old is MY son and I will do the parenting of him(with dad of course). Period. Not up for discussion. I do not want the opinions of the teens, I do not want them interupting. They do not make the rules, they do not vote on the rules and they do not enforce the rules! Is this too harsh? Am I being unrealistic?
I don't think you are being unreasonable at all.
I wish I had some good advice but unfortunately we are a mess sometimes too. We have a 2 year old together, I have and 8 year old from a previous marriage and DH has two children (11 and 15) from his previous marriage.
It is so hard. I sympathize with you!!
My older two (one step and one bio, but that doesn't really play into it) were upset this summer feeling like the younger kids got preferential treatment and that the got away with more and we helped them with more, etc. I told them that it is true they are treated differently, that what's "fair" didn't necessarily mean everyone gets treated the same, it means everyone's needs are met to an equal degree. But I also told them I would be willing to treat them all exactly the same... but before they decide they want that, they should think about all the privileges they get that the younger two don't-- they get to walk places on their own, have screen time instead of napping, watch TV shows and movies the younger ones can't watch, participate in camps and enrichment activities the younger ones can't. It opened up a discussion about the fact that different expectations for different ages means more responsibilities for the older ones, but it also means more privileges and more freedom. It turned out they didn't actually want to be treated the same.
I did ask them if there are specific needs they had that they felt weren't being met, and they did come up with a couple things, which I agreed to keep in mind. For example, they felt I was more likely to step in to conflicts when the younger ones were involved. They also felt I expressed more sympathy when the little ones were upset about something and they felt like they were expected to deal with their upset without any support. It did help to get them to figure out what exactly they were upset about, and to frame it as "unmet needs" rather than "being treated differently."
It is really tough....they all want to feel that they are treated "fairly" but the reality is that different aged children have to get treated differently...
I remember being jealous of my brother (and we didn't even have blended family)...."It's just not fair" was my common go-to remark. I remember my parents saying- "Well life's not fair!!" LOL. Not sure that is the best explanation...but I think you are handling it well and on the right track.
It really is tough blending....much more difficult than I would have ever imagined. I appreciate my second marriage so much more, and DH, he is so good to me, much better than he treated his ex-wife. They got married right out of college and I think he married her because that's what he thought he was supposed to do....I don't think they ever really truly loved each other. More of a marriage of convenience. They led separate lives....looked perfect on the outside but on the inside there was no intimacy. So in that regard the remarriage is like a second chance to do everything right that we failed at in our first marriages....but the children sure make things complicated. I get into mama bear mode when my step children aren't nice to my DD....it is not easy at all!!!!
Hope you can make some progress and hang in there. :-)