What if you don't get along with your partner's kids? - Mothering Forums

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Old 10-15-2006, 06:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm struggling with my partner's two and a half year old. She's very high needs, very difficult. On top of that, I think she's really struggling with the breakup of her parents (tho she was very difficult prior to the breakup) and she gets poor parenting at her dad's (TV all day, horrible food choices, she's in charge, etc).

How do people deal with this? My former MIL told me that the one thing that really breaks up blended families is disagreement over the kids, etc.

I'm just wondering how people handle this.

I'm totally at a loss. I find myself frustrated and gloomy when it's our turn to have her in our home.
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Old 10-15-2006, 07:14 PM
 
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2 and a half year old? I think it's just the age. Just try to be a gentle loving parent.

I'm Andrea - I have three boys - 12 year old twins & an 11 year old

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Old 10-15-2006, 07:22 PM
 
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Are you assuming a parental or authoritative role? I think that makes a big difference. I can't really say anything without knowing that much.
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Old 10-15-2006, 07:28 PM
 
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What does your partner say about it?
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Old 10-15-2006, 08:37 PM
 
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I can offer you some sympathy, it is hard! My stepdaughter is 2.5 and a handful sometimes, but she is a good natured easy but strong-willed kiddo. So if your challenges are multiplied by dumb daddy and inconsistencies, my heart goes out to you.

Good luck!

Bridget, wifey-to-be to Rich (10/21/06) Mommy to my adopted Abby (4/15/04) : FT social worker while hubby finishes grad school, plotting a SAHM transition and starting with a : revolution while TTC #2 : and up a storm
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Old 10-16-2006, 08:05 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'd love to think it was the age, but she's been pretty high-needs from day one.

I've been through the two, three and four year old trials before with my daughter. This is something far different.

I dunno.

What do you need to know to help me out?

Sadly, we spend nearly every single day together and have for the past year and a half. That is part of the issue. I don't know that we're meant to spend 24/7 with our partners and kids. *gasp* do I get kicked out of the MDC club now? She spends four nights a week at her dads and one full day every other weekend. The rest of the time she's with us.

Seriously, I'm looking for ways to get out of the house all the time just to avoid the noise, chaos, whining and freak-outs that occur. I think I need to get a part-time job or something.

Has anyone dealt with this? We're talking differences in parenting, etc. I'm sure there are people here that have dealt with this. Help. I'm so ready to throw in the towel.
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Old 10-16-2006, 08:37 AM
 
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Wow, a two and a half year old that has four nights with one parent and three with another? Maybe THAT is the problem!!! Two year old's need stability, security, consistency, attachment!!! Geez, a lot of people think that children shouldn't be with anyone but their attachment figure until age 3. Is she verbal, does she talk about how she feels? Who decided the schedule, and based on what?

Maybe you should consider checking with a child psychologist, to see really HOW this child is doing and how everyone in her life can help her meet her needs.

It makes me sad just thinking about a two year old with such dramatic changes in her life, and I've got a two year old I'm about to send off for a week with her dad, but it's a rare thing and I know she can handle it since her sister is with her, who she's almost as attached to as she is to me. But every week! She'd be exhausted to switch that much, emotionally, physically, even nutritionally if the diet is really bad with her dad!!

As for whether partners should live together (another issue entirely, but maybe relevant if it's your feeling) I DO think partners need their space, and need time to themselves. Not so much maybe that they need separate households, but enough to get recharged and appreciate their time together. So I understand where you're coming from a bit...but it really sounds like your step-daughter's needs are a casualty of this situation, and I'd hate to think that you'd leave because a tiny little two year old is two hard to deal with, rather than help resolve whatever's causing her distress. This is the prime age for attachment disorder to become a problem, and it will only get worse for this child if there is a connection between her behavior and the lack of a secure bond in her life. Attachment disorder is a life-long problem if it becomes real, my ex's family basically sent one of his nieces off to long term therapeutic foster care a few states away when she was an adolescent because of attachment disorder (she'd been adopted as a Russian orphan when she was 3 or 4, and the experience of losing her mother at a little less than two then being in an orphanage destroyed her psyche long term).
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Old 10-16-2006, 11:20 AM
 
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You're lucky to be able to start this with the child so young. My dsd was 5 when I becasme a part of her life. It was awful for a while. I knew during the first weeks of my marriage why so many marriages break up that involve step kids. With all of the temper tantrums, feelings of being a free babysitter, extra cleaning and meals, my dsd acting like she was scared of me in public, I wanted to throw in the towel too. But I stuck with it. It was a huge struggle, but it worked out and now almost two years later, I couldn't ask for things to be better. It was weell worth the struggle. Sometimes (rarely) my dsd still pulls some stuff that really hurts me and/or makes my life really difficult, but my DH supports me completely and we stop those behavoirs very quickly.

I don't think you can compare your child to your step child. Every kid is different. Your step has a lot of changes going on in her life right now and what she needs is love and patience. I agree with a prev post that you should take on a parenting role. I wish I had done that from day one with my dsd, it would have helped with our transition to marriage I think.

What you are going through is very hard. No one gives step parents enough credit in my opinion. Your feelings are perfectly normal.
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Old 10-16-2006, 12:09 PM - Thread Starter
 
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What if her behavior is very similar to before the breakup of her parents?

I think essentially I cannot tell her mother to parent differently. I cannot tell her that she needs full custody with less visitation with her ex. That is not for me to decide. To do so would turn into a huge battle with her ex-in-laws (who her ex lives with) and possibly mean that her ex would wage a war for full custody of their daughter.

I'm glad to hear that my feelings are normal, though. After looking online, I'm sure that not falling in love with your stepchildren is normal. I just have to do what I can to retain some sanity of my own. I wouldn't leave just because of issues with her, but to some degree, if it's that bad with her, it's not looking great elsewhere, eh?
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Old 10-16-2006, 01:04 PM
 
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It sounds like some of your concerns are really a matter of value differences: for instance, when you say it's a matter of her parenting differently. It's true you can't tell her not to parent differently, but seeing her parenting reflects on her as a person, and that can impact your choice to be her partner. Does that make sense?

For instance, I have a friend who's boyfriend has a 3yo child he's never met, never supported, and has no plans to make a connection to. She knows she'd never have children with someone who doesn't provide for or care about a child he already has in the world, but for now (while they're just living together) she doesn't see it as an immediate deal-breaker. But soon it probably will be...because eventually it will be clear that he isn't going to change.

So...about your partner...if she doesn't see a problem with the situation, yet it really upsets you that this child is receiving a certain kind of parenting, that tells you something about your compatibility. I think one of the nice things about dating parents is that we get to see how they parent...how they value children...and that reflects on who they are as a person. It sounds like you're faced with a decision in some ways about who you want to be with, and that is a matter of choosing not just a partner but a family.

Just out of curiosity, what is the parenting plan for the 7 month old? How do your foresee that working in the future? Will there be the same conflicts down the road for that child as well?

sounds like you're really trying to work it all out, and that's a good thing, even if it's hard. Good luck!
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Old 10-16-2006, 02:44 PM
 
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Part of it with parenting styles differring I think is picking your battles. That can be really hard. You have a child too right? I know with my DH and our paretning styles, I tell him a lot "That's not what we are doing with any children from my belly". And since I don't want to have two totally diferent sets of rules around the house or anything, I have been working on changing how he does things with his dd. Its a slow process, but it is working.

If the childs behavior was the same before the divorce, I still think it has to do with the toddler years. Frankly, my dsd is spoiled. She was before the divorce and she still is now. I love her, and she's beginning to change. I think most of that had to do with her gettng older and havng different examples around her (like public school kids and me).

Unless there is something really wrong with the DH I would leave full custody alone. That is really hard to get. That is a lot of moving around for such a young kid though which I agree is probably contributing to her behavior.

As far as retaining some sanity, there is nothing wrong with getting time to ourself. I plan daddy daughter days for my dsd and my dh so I can get away from the madness and have some time alone to read, knit, or watch a movie that does not involve cartoons. My dh is totally supportive if this and it gives him and his dd some great bonding time.

Statstically, relationships that involve blended families break up even more than first marriages and the like. It takes so much more work in a blended family, but I think its worth it. The child is young and it will get better. You obviously want t make it work which is why you are here talking about it, so keep working on it. There is a period of adjustment for everyone.
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Old 10-16-2006, 02:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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thanks for the words of encouragement. it is probably a moot point, since we're not going to be living together any longer.

I appreciate the words of love and wisdom here.
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Old 10-22-2006, 05:31 PM
 
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Im a STBSM to a 8 year old and I think that is harder than being with the child very young. He knows all about the break up of his parents and he resents me sometimes, although I have been in his life the past year and a friend in his life for the past 2 years.
He gets to the point where he is rude and it truly hurts my feelings, although I/ we talk to him when he gets this way, he wishes his parents were together and I wasnt around as much. We get along great with exceptions of times, I take him places, buy him things and everytime I am with him and he acts this way, I sit him down and tell him I am not your mommie and Ill never take her place but I love you and Im always here for you and will always be here to help take care of you and we need to work togehter as a team.
Seems to help......
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Old 10-22-2006, 05:36 PM
 
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Jster,
My D is on the same schedule, I have her S-W and every other Thursday. We have done this for the past year, starting after she turned 2, she is now 3 and seems to do very welll on this schedule. We made it the best we could and it works. I have been her primary care taker up till I left her D. He was around and a good day, but worked a 24 hour schedule, I was the one to put her to bed everynight and wake her up, I wish she was with me FT and her D on the weekends but I dont think that is a fair schedule for anyone.

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Originally Posted by Jster View Post
Wow, a two and a half year old that has four nights with one parent and three with another? Maybe THAT is the problem!!! Two year old's need stability, security, consistency, attachment!!! Geez, a lot of people think that children shouldn't be with anyone but their attachment figure until age 3. Is she verbal, does she talk about how she feels? Who decided the schedule, and based on what?

Maybe you should consider checking with a child psychologist, to see really HOW this child is doing and how everyone in her life can help her meet her needs.

It makes me sad just thinking about a two year old with such dramatic changes in her life, and I've got a two year old I'm about to send off for a week with her dad, but it's a rare thing and I know she can handle it since her sister is with her, who she's almost as attached to as she is to me. But every week! She'd be exhausted to switch that much, emotionally, physically, even nutritionally if the diet is really bad with her dad!!

As for whether partners should live together (another issue entirely, but maybe relevant if it's your feeling) I DO think partners need their space, and need time to themselves. Not so much maybe that they need separate households, but enough to get recharged and appreciate their time together. So I understand where you're coming from a bit...but it really sounds like your step-daughter's needs are a casualty of this situation, and I'd hate to think that you'd leave because a tiny little two year old is two hard to deal with, rather than help resolve whatever's causing her distress. This is the prime age for attachment disorder to become a problem, and it will only get worse for this child if there is a connection between her behavior and the lack of a secure bond in her life. Attachment disorder is a life-long problem if it becomes real, my ex's family basically sent one of his nieces off to long term therapeutic foster care a few states away when she was an adolescent because of attachment disorder (she'd been adopted as a Russian orphan when she was 3 or 4, and the experience of losing her mother at a little less than two then being in an orphanage destroyed her psyche long term).
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