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#1 of 21 Old 07-24-2006, 02:51 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I've never posted on this forum before - I've lurked a bit, but never really felt like we fit here. My dh has been in my son's life for 11 of his 13 years on earth. My ds considers dh his dad as he has never really known his bio dad. In the beginning, part of the reason I fell in love with dh was because of the way he treated ds - they played, wrestled, read books, hugged, etc...

Fast forward, 2 kids later and many years - things have changed. The relationship that my ds and dh have is horrible. They don't yell or fight (we're not that type of family) but hardly anything is said between the two. DH treats his dd's differently and I don't know if its the biology at play or because they are girls, younger, etc...But whatever the reason, I have always kept my fingers crossed that ds didn't notice (I know - super dumb to think he wouldn't notice).

Today ds got in trouble for not picking something up - no biggie. ds stomps up to his room and after about 30 minutes I poke my nose in to let him know lunch is ready. He was sobbing. Sobbing like I have never seen him sob before. The kind where you can't talk or catch your breath. I sat on the bed and asked him what was wrong (I knew it couldn't have been from gettin gin trouble - cause he really didn't). In between gasps he began to tell me that he didn't think his dad loved him and that "the only way he communicates with me is by yelling at me or telling me what to do." and he's right. He goes on to tell me that he thinks other dads like him more than his own dad. That his dad treats his siters different and that he can tell he loves his sisters. He told me how he wished his dad would hug him and .....98% of what dh says to ds is negative insome way

I cant even think about this without crying. This is my son that is in pain - becasue of my dh. And I KNOW that everything ds said today is true - hell, even dh agrees that it's true. I am married to a really good man - but I feel as though I am sacrificing my son for the rest of us....

I just don't know what to do.............
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#2 of 21 Old 07-24-2006, 02:53 AM
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Is your dh willing to mend his relationship with your son? Does he realize how he is hurting someone you and his daughters love?
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#3 of 21 Old 07-24-2006, 02:58 AM - Thread Starter
 
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He does know how much this is hurting ds. But he tried to blame it on "that's just the relationship we have" - but its not ds - it's dh....DS is one of the most caring affectionate kids around. The ONLY relationship that he has that is like this is the one with dh. I think, ultimately, dh doen't know how to mend it. He has NEVER been one to be good with showing his feelings, tlaking about them, etc....
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#4 of 21 Old 07-24-2006, 03:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dukeswalker
He does know how much this is hurting ds. But he tried to blame it on "that's just the relationship we have" - but its not ds - it's dh....DS is one of the most caring affectionate kids around. The ONLY relationship that he has that is like this is the one with dh. I think, ultimately, dh doen't know how to mend it. He has NEVER been one to be good with showing his feelings, tlaking about them, etc....
My step-dad did the same thing to me. My mom told him he had to spend one evening a week with just me and him or else he had to leave. It was very tense at first, but then we really bonded and even though my parents divrced, he is still a part of my life. He is the only grandpa my kids know.

I am not sure if the ultimatum is the way to go, though. I think there are definitely gentler ways of helping your dh reconcile his relationship with your son.
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#5 of 21 Old 07-24-2006, 03:07 AM
 
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I could have written your post. I'm sorry for your son. I'm thinking about having another talk with DH myself. It's not worth it to me to have my child grow up thinking there is something wrong with him, when it's really his parent that has the problem. :

To your baby.
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#6 of 21 Old 07-24-2006, 04:06 AM
 
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If your dh agrees that it isn't true and he isn't prepared to work on it, for me, this is a dealbreaker. My dh agrees that he's treated my boys differently since having his own daughter and is working (hard) on it, and trying to be a different parent to the way his dad interacted with him.
No advice- other than, perhaps, to see if you can help your ds to say this to his dad. That could be the point that shows your dh that this is not ok with half the people involved in the relationship.

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#7 of 21 Old 07-24-2006, 09:08 AM
 
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Our biological father (who was married to my mother and lived with us) treated my brother this way, and me to some extent. But it must be devestating for your son to think that this man who he has known as his father doesn't love him, especially as he grows into his own man.

Perhaps you could suggest counseling for your husband and son, separately and as a family also.
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#8 of 21 Old 07-24-2006, 09:26 AM
 
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I second the guys night out recommendation. My husband and I have four kids (all bio, so may be a little different), but we have a date night once a month to help strengthen our bond with our kids individually.

Rebecca wife of Megan...moms to six crazy kiddos! Seth (15), Madison (13), Zachary (12), Trevor (12), Alex (10), and Nicholas (9)
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#9 of 21 Old 07-24-2006, 09:36 AM
 
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please do something! I grew up with a stepmother who made it quite obvious (to me) that she didn't really like me and it was so obvious her feeling towards her and my fathers children!
Do you know what it's like to have your own mother not want you and a stepmother who doesn't like you and a father who didn't stick up for you?
Not trying to make you feel bad but it has affected my life till this day. I am the most insecure person and my dh can attest to that!
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#10 of 21 Old 07-24-2006, 12:30 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Canadianmommax3
please do something! I grew up with a stepmother who made it quite obvious (to me) that she didn't really like me and it was so obvious her feeling towards her and my fathers children!
Do you know what it's like to have your own mother not want you and a stepmother who doesn't like you and a father who didn't stick up for you?
Not trying to make you feel bad but it has affected my life till this day. I am the most insecure person and my dh can attest to that!
No , this doesn't make me feel bad. It's he truth. WHile I have never been in that position - I can only imagine the devastating effect it must have on a child/adult. My dh does feel very badly about this - and we've been talking about this non-stop since ds and I had that conversation.

I would agree that this could be a deal breaker - but then I live with the knowledge that my two dd's would be devastated. - It just sucks! I love ALL my kids. My dh provides a very nice life for us all and is a good husband and a good dad (to our 2 dds) but this almost cancels all of that out.....

I even called my in-laws and asked for their help in the matter. Surprising y, they said they've been concerned with that relationship for awhile. They thought that perhaps it was dh's way of "toughening up" ds (whatever) as ds IS a sensitive kid and they both sort of "fear" for him being in the "real" world among "men". But they both love my ds like one of their own grandchildren and don't want him to be hurting like that. They have both agreed to have a talk with dh when we're on our family vacation next week.

Dh and I decided that perhaps, for awhile, dh will not do any of the discipline stuff - so atleast the negative interactions will be eliminated. As far as encouraging positive ones - I think they need to find some common ground - but they have next to nothing in common. They realy are almost polar opposites.

I am going to look into family counseling and I'm headed to the library to see if there is a "magical" book on the shelves somewhere. (any suggestions?)
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#11 of 21 Old 07-24-2006, 06:34 PM
 
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i'm interested to hear how you solve this. Dss and I have been rather distant as he gets older. We used to have so many things to do together when he was younger (arts/crafts, trips to ice cream store, playground) but now that he is a preteen boy, I feel like he speaks a different language (WorldofWarcraft-ese). I'm sure he will assume that it is because he is my stepson, not my bioson, but I don't think that is the whole story.
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#12 of 21 Old 07-27-2006, 12:34 AM
 
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I think one of the major problems here is that when your son was young, you wanted to believe that/act like your husband was his father, and you encouraged your son to think of your husband as his father. Well, he's not.

If the boundaries of a "step" relationship had been maintained I think your son would have an easier time negotiating his differences with your husband because both your husband's and, more importantly, your son's expectations of the relationship would be different. I would suggest you look at re-drawing the relationship more around the "step-parent" lines and see if you can make it more healthy. In fact, by having only you disciplining your child I think you're making a great move in that direction already. I wish I had more good suggestions on how to do that -- but maybe someone else here does. Does your son have any relationships with his dad's side of the family (paternal grandparents, etc.) that you could deepen/encourage?
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#13 of 21 Old 07-27-2006, 11:41 AM
 
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I'm afraid that I don't have any firsthand experience but I wanted to tell you that I feel for you and your family. It is possible that this is a "guy thing" more than it's a "step thing" - hopefully that's the case - because there should be, then, lots of information out there. I'm reading Raising a Daughter by Jeanne & Don Elium (who also wrote one on Raising a Son...I've never read that one so couldn't recommend it - and am only 1/4 of the way through this one, but do find it insightful) and something they say is: "...little boys are more often 'made to tow the line' and to accept responsibility for their actions much earlier than litle girls. Girls, expected to be sweet and compliant, 'get off the hook' more often than not through their charm and wit." (This was a discussion about disabling girls by "rescuing" them...while empowering our sons by being harder on them.) I know I frequently see this first hand - often from fathers...being tougher on the boys to turn them into "men." Perhaps your husband is doing this inadvertantly.

It sounds to me like your DH is a great guy and if I were you I would really encourage him to either change his approach - or educate himself (through reading or counseling) on why he should change his approach if he doesn't think he needs to. It might help to point out to him that if he, ds, you, and his parents all see it - so do his dds...and how healthy is that? Also, unlike many others (in and outside of MDC), I think it is wonderful when kids have "real" - as opposed to "step" relationships with the parents willing to "step up to the plate and be a parent." (My ex lives 3,000 miles away and chooses to see the children, on average, about 13 days a year. How sad it would be for my kids if that was the only paternal relationship they had.) I think it is well worth it for your child to have the relationship he yearns for with your dh...and your dh will never regret it. Good luck!!

Mrs. S - Crunchy child of The King, Wife to my best friend, and Mama to my many blessings.

 
 
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#14 of 21 Old 07-27-2006, 04:46 PM
 
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I agree with MrsSuplus - it was actually my first thought. His family is seeing the same thing too, so, it might be something to look into...

Good Luck!
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#15 of 21 Old 07-27-2006, 08:36 PM
 
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I agree w/ MrsS too. I would encourage your DH to change his approach and brainstorm ways to regain his bond with DS. This sounds like normal parent-teen issues. I wouldn't jump to the conclusion that it's a "step" issue. Strained relationships between teens and parents is a fairly normal occurance. Some parents relate better to younger children and it's hard when your "baby" is suddenly a teen and your relationship has to evolve.

I'm having issues with my almost 9 year old because it seems like our relationship is changing and I don't quite know how to respond to it. That could be what's going on with your DH and DS. I know I catch myself "favoring" my younger son. Is it because I love him more? NO
Is it because I prefer squishy giggly toddlers over surley preteens who mouth off and say you're making their life miserable because you asked them to wash their hair...... maybe

I know there's a debate in this forum on what the ideal "step" parent role is, and I don't want to go into that too much. I will say that the two blended families that I've been involved in (both as a child and as a parent) have followed belief that everyone in the house is "family" - no labels, no "half" and "step" and "bio".

The truth is that your DH is the only dad your son has and after 10 years, it's more likely this is a "teen" thing than a "step" thing. It sounds like he's having a hard time creating a new, more grown up relationship with your son and using the excuse of "that's just the way we are". I would encourage him to find something that will bring them back together. Do they have current interests in common that they could focus on? Do you think a "guy's weekend" would help?

I hope you guys can find a way to fix this. to you and your family.
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#16 of 21 Old 07-28-2006, 12:17 AM
 
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I agree with this not being a step-dad issue. I think one should expect a child to get along better with one parent than another and you should count yourself lucky if you even have 1 parent during the teen years. my dd and I argue way more that her and Dh (#1 she around me way more and and big #2 is that our personalities - me introvert, her extrovert- can make it hard to see eye to eye).
I so thing an organized "he and me" trip would be great for them (through a church, camp, scouts, etc) I'm involved in scouts and we do lots of "he and me" and "she and me" and we only require the he or she be parent approved and over 18, no matter how they are related.

mom to 14yr dd and 4yr dd
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#17 of 21 Old 07-28-2006, 12:18 AM
 
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belief that everyone in the house is "family" - no labels, no "half" and "step" and "bio".
thats what we do here too.
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#18 of 21 Old 07-28-2006, 01:26 AM
 
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I want to say more but I'm short on time right now. For now, I'll say that I couldn't agree more with the following comments -




Quote:
Originally Posted by bczmama
I think one of the major problems here is that when your son was young, you wanted to believe that/act like your husband was his father, and you encouraged your son to think of your husband as his father. Well, he's not.

If the boundaries of a "step" relationship had been maintained I think your son would have an easier time negotiating his differences with your husband because both your husband's and, more importantly, your son's expectations of the relationship would be different. I would suggest you look at re-drawing the relationship more around the "step-parent" lines and see if you can make it more healthy. In fact, by having only you disciplining your child I think you're making a great move in that direction already. I wish I had more good suggestions on how to do that -- but maybe someone else here does. Does your son have any relationships with his dad's side of the family (paternal grandparents, etc.) that you could deepen/encourage?

mama.
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#19 of 21 Old 07-28-2006, 07:52 PM
 
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Originally Posted by woobysma
I
I'm having issues with my almost 9 year old because it seems like our relationship is changing and I don't quite know how to respond to it. That could be what's going on with your DH and DS. I know I catch myself "favoring" my younger son. Is it because I love him more? NO
Is it because I prefer squishy giggly toddlers over surley preteens who mouth off and say you're making their life miserable because you asked them to wash their hair...... maybe


.
Exactly!! One problem in stepfamilies is that the children are often vastly different ages. I have trouble relating to my 11 yo stepson, but I want to reassure him that I am sure that I will have just as much trouble relating to my biological son when he is 11 and in to things like dragons, skateboarding and videogames! It seems like the kids often assume that the issue is step-ness, where as if the children were closer in age (mine are 3 and 11) it would be more obvious that this new teen-boyness is what is throwing me off.
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#20 of 21 Old 07-28-2006, 10:28 PM - Thread Starter
 
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You know, I grew up with divorced parents and had (several) step moms come and go. They never looked at me like a dd and I never thought of them as a mom. But I also had a mom of my own - my ds didn't. After 1 year bio dad had enough of the whole parent thing and up and split. I know that I did want a [B]dad[B] for ds. And I didn't mean a daddy type guy - but a man to help raise and be there for ds, someone he could look up to. And thankfully, dh came into our lives.

The more I think of it - the more I think this is more of a dad/son thing then anything else. He came from a tough, military family (dh's dad was a Col.) - dh has told me he never remembered getting hugs from his parents (not even at bed time, etc) and that they never verbally spoke about their affection. Dh never felt unloved - it just wsn't something they expressed. Dh's dad has even told me he regrets some of the ways they parented thier 2 sons. He wished that he had spent more time with them, hugged them more, etc....DH has a hard time communicating with me (an adult) and I have to actually remind him to hug me once in awhile - so you can imagine how things must be for him and a teenage boy.

Around the time when ds was about 6-7yo, Dh began to think that I was too easy on ds - that I let him get away with too much. I think this strained relationship did start out as a "toughening up" thing and it just ran out of control. To this day he still thinks ds will have a tough time later in life (you know, ds doesn't play/like football, hates to fish (it's inhumane), doesn't like violenece in any form, likes to read, etc... Not like "most" boys, in DH opinion) But regardless - neither of us want ds to feel this way. DH is going to 100% refrain from any discipline type stuff for awhile and he has plans to take ds to a scouting event this Monday and we're thinking about going to the movies - me with the 2 girls to see Cars and DH and DS to Pirates....Slowly, with baby steps....

Thank you for all your kind words/thoughts....
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#21 of 21 Old 07-31-2006, 07:15 AM
 
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One thing I would suggest -- if your dh does truly love your ds like a father (and as much as he loves his dds) and this issue is simply one of presentation -- that you might want to remind your husband that your son may need more reassurance of his love than your dh might otherwise think necessary/normal simply because your ds is not his biological child.

Additionally -- while it is very important that ds does not feel unloved or unwanted in his home, at a certain point there may be some necessity to realize that you are dealing with 2 very different personalities here. Not everyone in a family is going to be simpatico, just because they're family.
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