DH is rude and impatient with his step sons/my bio sons. - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 6 Old 09-12-2013, 04:43 AM - Thread Starter
 
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There are 4 kids living in our home, two are my bio kids and two are mine and DH's kids together. We are expecting another baby. My bio kids have no contact with their bio dad and they call DH dad though sometimes use his first name. They are in middle and high school and DH and I have been together for 7 years so they have spent close to half their life with him.

 

I admit they aren't easy kids. One has Aspergers, one has a severe anxiety disorder and can be really moody. Still I feel that DH is much more in tune with their problems than their strengths and I frequently feel defensive of them. Its like he only sees the challenges. His complaints about their behaviors compared to positive comments are probably 10-1.:(

 

Our oldest child together is almost 5 and I honestly can't tell if its the age thing or what but DH is loving and patient with him. I have never seen him be "rough" with him at all. I can't say the same about my older boys. I have seen DH lose patience and do thing that I am not ok with. Pushing my Aspergers child out of his way when DS doesn't notice he needs to move (a typical problem with kids on the spectrum). A few days ago same DS was trying to distract his crying half brother with a balloon and DH was annoyed by it and told him to stop and DS didn't notice but DH sees it as defiance and ignoring him so he grabbed a pair of jeans sitting near him and swung them at DS and hit him in the face. DH says he was trying to swat the balloon away. DS agrees that is probably what he was doing and he didn't feel DH was trying to hit him, but he did feel hurt because he was "just trying to help." DS has repeatedly got in our personal space when trying to deal with fussy little kids and it can be super irritating. He is trying to help but doesn't realize sometimes it doesn't help because he gets all silly and trying to distract them and then they aren't listening to us anymore and we are trying to get their attention back on what we are asking them to do, etc. I lose patience with him too, and I have done things I am not proud of in frustration so I wonder if sometimes DH takes those cues from me.

 

The thing is I know deep down I love my boys passionately and we have tons of positive interactions so that helps us get past the times that I lose patience with them. There is a foundation of trust there we have built. I don't feel that is there with DH and them so I feel like he needs to tread more carefully in how he deals with them. And not to have a double standard but their bio dad lost visitation due to abuse so its really important to me that the see a calm model of a man in their step dad, and I am really sensitive to him doing anything that resembles violence or being out of control. We have talked about this on many occasions and it seems to crop up again every few months where I feel he just isn't treating them very nicely. More often than not its just rude sort of snarky behavior that I think makes them feel like they are giant PITA to him and what kid needs to feel that way? I mean I make jokes about them giving me gray hairs and such but I am also affectionate and laugh with them, etc. DH doesn't do that so it feels like all his interactions with them, aside from a couple conversations here and there are negative. 

 

We had an issue this morning and I need to talk to DH but I am dreading it because he either gets defensive or shuts down. We rarely have conflicts and while that is great, when we do have conflicts he doesn't handle it well at all. Anyway, DS (15) had a cross country meet after school and he was going to be gone late and he needed to pack a dinner. He told DH this (who got up with the kids to get them off to school so I could sleep in) and DH just told him he had plenty of food (DS had taken 2 smaller gatorade bottles and a few granola bars) DS (who remember, has Aspergers and is not the most articulate about making his needs known) said, "No. I need a meal. We are running a mountain trail and its mostly uphill." DH replied sarcastically, "Uphill, both ways, in the snow right?" So DS just went to school with his granola bars and gatorades. He was gone until 9pm. They ran a 3K in the mountains, plus training and warm ups after school, etc, and my baby just had granola bars and 2 gatorades. I am livid! Thank goodness I found out that DS's team had hot dogs and chips available so he did eat but he/we had no way of knowing that and sending him totally unprepared in those circumstances is so beyond ok to me. I feel like DH has no empathy for him at all. I guess that is one way I would describe their interactions, if not impatient or irritable he is indifferent or dismissive. And I have noticed neither child will try to persuade him because they have learned he isn't really approachable. This is not the case with our bio kids, with whom DH is very flexible and accommodating. 

 

I hate to paint a one sided picture, I have seen DH take interest in them and want to be involved, attend parent teacher meetings and the like. Its just seems like I said I can count 10 bad interactions for every 1 good and the difference in how he interacts with his own bio kids (our together, he had none of his own before ours) is pretty startling. Maybe he won't be so patient when they are teens, IDK. I just know I am not ok with it and its affecting how I feel about him and I have told him this before and he still does it. I have done lots of educating him on their SN and I agree, they can be exasperating to deal with but I notice he has lots of thinking errors when it comes to them and views their behaviors as much more maliciously intended or manipulative than it is. I try to help him with that but it only lasts a few months and then I feel we are back and square one and I am in mama bear mode again. 


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#2 of 6 Old 09-12-2013, 05:06 AM
 
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I get you. My story is a long one but suffice to say that the only time my BF has shown any compassion or patience is with our child and his youngest son from a previous marriage. That child can do NO WRONG. My son whom has Asperger's and ADHD gets no understanding at all. The good thing is he doesn't have much interaction with him except on our weekends with him and lemme just say I dread those weekends. My BF seems so angry and uptight that I look forward to Monday's when he is back at work. He's not a hateful person or even a bad person, but he refuses to listen to me about his behavior. He thinks he isn't doing anything wrong, but he will micromanage every single thing. I don't know that there is an answer for those dad's that just get defensive. Lord knows I've been trying for years. He refuses therapy, blames the bahvior on the kids."Why are you getting on me and not them?" I can't count how many times I've said they are the children and you are the ADULT!

 

I'm glad you posted this thread and I am also interested to hear what others have to say. Sorry I couldn't be more helpful.

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#3 of 6 Old 09-12-2013, 05:43 AM
 
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I wish i could write a long response but i have a sleeping babe in my lap...i cant speak to your situation as a parent, but rather as the child. Without getting into too much detail, cuz believe me this is a long twisted family mess lol, my mom remarried when i was 12. Her husband has never been the "fatherly" type, not even to his own son. But i always felt he married my mom for her and didnt want much to do with the whole family dynamic. HIS family never accepted my sister and i as being a part of their family. I distinctly remember when we were younger, they were taking a family picture and my sister and i were asked to step out because we arent blood. Then there were xmas' where our bro (their grandson) would get a new game console and my sis and i would get a $10 check.

Our situations are very different but my point is that inequality toward children can be very damaging. I resented my mom for a very long time for bringing that man into our lives. They are unhappily married 17 years later and as an adult i guess i can see why she stays with him and i dont hold it against her, but i still feel that relationship has done more damage than good.

So again, as the child inthis situation, just make sure you think long and hard about whether the good he brings to your life out weighs the damage that is no doubt being done to your own bio children. Im sorry you are in this terrible position :/
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#4 of 6 Old 09-12-2013, 06:50 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for your responses. 

 

I do worry about the long term consequences on their self esteem. The thing is they are somewhat socially "unaware" so I don't know if they pick up on the nuances in the same way I do, if that makes sense. DH calls them his boys, and he never separates them from our younger kids when introducing them to people. His family has been accepting of them. DH is a really fun person and when we were courting and in the first few years, they adored him and he was good to them, played with them, taught them things, etc. My family thinks he's a saint because they know first hand how freaking hard these kids can be. But that makes me feel kind of like people think he is doing me some favor by "putting up with" my special needs kids and I need to be extra grateful somehow. I don't like feeling like I need to be indebted to him for it. It just is. We deal. Life has all sorts of unforeseen challenges. 

 

I wanted to put out there that we have been under a lot of stress, especially financial and I think DH is started to crack under some of the pressure as a sole provider. He went from being a pretty free roaming easy going bachelor to a father of a large family in pretty short time. He was also recently diagnosed with sleep apnea and we think that can account for some of his general crankiness and a shorter fuse. I think he sees these boys as a big factor in MY stress level (which lets be honest, they are) and he is really protective of me, especially when I am pregnant. I have noticed on his days off we get more meltdowns because he is on the boys' cases all day long to "do this, do that, don't forget this, did you remember to that, hey pick up your this, get out of that", etc and when I have told him he needs to ease up he says he is just trying to support me and make sure they follow through on the instructions and rules *I* have set. He thinks they take advantage of the fact that I am busy and just ignore me, so he sees it as something he can do to help them be more accountable. I have to tell him though in the end that increases my stress because then I have tantruming kids to deal with, and that they need more gentle reminders and more time to comply and that they process things slower. He sees it as them being defiant and I don't. Honestly these kids are good kids and nearly always comply when they clearly understand the directions and aren't overwhelmed with too many instructions or too much sensory input at once. I can't get him to see that though. I makes mistakes too but I catch myself. I see my anxious moody kid's subtle signs of impending meltdown but DH just keeps at him. I feel like I am constantly in referee mode and trying to be a buffer between them. 

 

One other issue I have is that he seems to be unnecessarily restrictive with their food. He gets annoyed with them if they come in to fix themselves a snack. He will comment on how many bowls of cereal they eat in the morning and stop them if he thinks they've had enough. If they don't eat what we make for dinner it bugs him to no end if they eat something later (sensory issues with food requires accommodations but he has a hard time accepting it) I don't get this as he has told me stories about some friends who came from a big family and didn't have enough to eat and one time they slept over and had pancakes at his house and were amazed that they could eat as many as they wanted. He said it was so sad because even though DH was poor too his mom always cooked plenty to eat and they could have as much as they wanted. He never went hungry as a kid. So why is he restrictive with his DSSs? I have reminded him of it but again it only changes things for a while and then he reverts. I honestly think they just irritate him and so he gets nit picky about stupid things. Which is the LAST thing you need to do with autistic or anxious kids. Pick your battles for heaven sakes! I don't care if they eat 3 bowls of cereal. I care about teaching them social skills and getting along with people. I don't care if they make a quesadilla mid afternoon. I care about them managing frustration in a healthy ways and making efforts to talk to us rather than scream or stomp or slam doors. And the more he nit picks at them the more their truly big issue behaviors come out because their stress level ratchets up. I can't get him to see the connection. 

 

One thing that made me sad for a long time was after work greetings. The little kids will run up and he'll get right down on their level and give them hugs and say hi in a lively way. The older boys would approach him and say, "Hi Daddy" and try to give him a hug and while he'd do it, there wasn't much feeling behind it. It was like a one arm, pat pat type hug. Now they are a little older and they don't try to hug him anymore, but they do greet him and he is still so much more curt with them than he is with the younger kids. No asking about their day or anything. I have seen them try to engage him in conversation and he is not super responsive. Then he will turn around later and criticize my DS with Aspergers for his lack of conversational skills! :irked


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#5 of 6 Old 09-12-2013, 02:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Just wanted to update that I talked to DH. I am glad I vented here first because I think it made me more calm and thoughtful in how I approached him rather than reactive. He listened and wasn't really defensive. He felt really bad about DS not having food and never intended to send him to a long meet like that without food. He thought he'd be home by 6 or so and could eat later and that DS was just being overly dramatic. As far as the rude comment about "uphill both ways" he says he uses sarcasm to diffuse tension because DS's constant chatter irritates him. He will roam around and talk incessantly while getting ready and he kept going on and on about this meet being long, hard, uphill etc. DH said he isn't sure when DS is talking to him or not because he will say things and then leave the room before you can respond or will start talking to you then walk away mid sentence. (this is a huge issue with him and TBH it drives me nuts too) so DH feels like a lot of times he has to tune DS out to keep his sanity. So he admitted he doesn't know when DS really needs help/attention and when he is just rambling. He agreed to try to tune in to his needs a little better. I also suggested that instead of tuning DS out, he should give some constructive criticism to help DS be aware of his behavior. This is what I do. Like for example, "J, your constant talking is annoying me. Do you need something or are you just talking out loud?" or even "I need you to be quiet, your talking is distracting me and making me irritable." I told DH he needs the feedback since he doesn't pick up on subtle cues. He listened to this and said he would try to be more aware of why J was chattering instead of just ignoring him. Another issue is that J complains a lot lately. So when he protested needing a meal, DH just filed that under the 14 other things DS had complained about that morning and sort of dismissed it. I agree that lately his running commentary has been pretty negative. So its hard to sort out what is just regular teenage complaining and when/if he really needs help. Again, I am so much better at this than DH but he agreed to try to figure it out as we do want to reinforce DS asking for help, communicating his needs and getting a response from a trusted adult. Part of that means teaching DS to use his words wisely. We have had lots of talks about why we talk and what its for and that when you talk others around you assume you want a response. So when he is always talking its wears on other people and they might snap at him or ignore him when he really needs help. Kind of like an Aspie version of the boy who cried wolf, lol. 

 

I did mention to DH that I think that I'd like him to consider rethinking how he views the boys and to try to keep in mind they really aren't being difficult or manipulative intentionally and that I recognize its harder for him to read them that it is for me. He agreed and added that he feels his interactions with the younger DSS have been pretty good lately, its just been hard for him to respond to the older DSS's needs due to the running negative commentary but he will try to be more proactive with him before letting it get irritating to the point he makes a rude comment. 

 

I think this will be an ongoing issue and I am going to need to continue to revisit it. DH is a good man but I think he kind of grew up in a home where good communication was not modeled well. I don't think his father was very nurturing or affectionate which may be the greater reason behind why his affection with the older boys seems forced rather than just not "liking them". When I see them there is a bit of me that still sees that baby I nurtured. He doesn't have that, they were all school age when we met. Most of us get a chance to practice communicating and building a bond with little children for a long time before we have to deal with teenagers which I admit challenges the best of us! He is doing great with his natural responses to the young kids but I think he just doesn't have the skills and intuition for dealing well with the older kids specifically since they are complex kids with diverse needs beyond a neurotypical child and require a huge extra measure of patience and understanding. I need to be patient with DH and give him the benefit of the doubt and continue teaching him and allowing him to grow as a dad. I appreciate this thread helping me vent and be more aware of my feelings so I could articulate them clearly with DH. 


Mom to DS(17) autismribbon.gif DS(15) autismribbon.gif DS(12) autismribbon.gif My gifted, quirky, wonderful teens!

Mama to Jack bouncy.gif11.08 and Liam  biggrinbounce.gif 9.11 and due with boy #6! stork-boy.gif  

Blissfully married to the love of my life since 8.8.8 partners.gif 

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#6 of 6 Old 09-15-2013, 11:56 AM
 
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A lot of your son's communication problems sound pretty typical of Asperger's sufferers. Would your husband be willing to read up on Asperger's to help him kind of know what to expect? I think that might help.

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