How to help my stepkids understand..... - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 22 Old 09-24-2008, 09:49 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am having trouble with nicely, non-hurtful, ways to get my stepgirls to understand that I am entitled to not only my time alone but my time to have playdates with my girlfriend which happens to have a son that is exactly the same age right down to the birthdate without having to bring them along? I can't take my son for a walk without them hearing from across the house when I whisper "I am going for a walk" immediately they come flying out the back door and jump on their bikes assuming I wanted company. I do bring them obviously 90% of the time but when I request to go on my own I get the whining and the rejection card. The eldest even said to me today that I should have not married a man with 2 other kids. Because now I did say I feel like I have 3 full time kids not 1. They live with us by the way. I am severely overwhelmed with not being able to go the park, beach or anything for that matter without bringing them along. I just want to be able to shut that switch off from time to time no more than I would like for my own son but he is my responsibility and it is what it is. Any advice.

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#2 of 22 Old 09-24-2008, 09:57 PM
 
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i know this might sound anoying but i think its so sweet that your stepdaughters like you so much that they want to go everywhere with you! but i do think it's also nice to spend time with your son alone occaisionally. to do this you will need your partner's help and support. maybe you could have "date" night or day with DS and then another time have date time with each DSD seperately. as far as dsd saying the comment about marrying someone with kids i think shes just experiementing with grownup terms/ideas and seeing what kind of reaction she gets. all that being said, you DO have three full time kids. it's hard and it might be a bit of a culture shock for you but when we marry partners with kids we are committing to their kids as well, to be present for them and learn to love them and be a parent to them.
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#3 of 22 Old 09-24-2008, 10:02 PM
 
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Maybe when you want to go for a walk alone with DS you could have a code word with DH? Like "Triskadekaphobia honey." and just leave. That way he would know that he needs to entertain them. He needs time alone with them too- and maybe he needs to know that. Have you told him that you feel a little overwhelmed?

Communication is key- and it sounds like you need to have a family meeting to set up some boundaries. I think that you also need to realize that they WANT you. It could be WAY worse. Try to rememer that. Hugs- it must be hard and I agree overwhealming!!!

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#4 of 22 Old 09-24-2008, 10:09 PM
 
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If they live with you, then you DO have three full time kids and not just one. As an adult I can see how you would want some playtime for your son to interact with your friend's son without the older kids around, but I also remember when my dad and stepmom had their first baby when I was younger. I was 13 and dealt with it really well, but my sister was 8 and she went through all the same sibling jealousy that full bio siblings go through, only with a side of confusion and anxiety and guilt along with it. Dad loves this new person that isn't Mom, and now they have a new baby--does that mean they won't love me anymore either? Those are such confusing feelings that are very real and frightening in such young kids.

I think the fact that they want to be with you is a wonderful testament to the way they feel about you and the kind of stepmom you are--I wish I had liked my stepmom that much in the beginning. Maybe you could talk to your DH and see if he can engage the girls while you have these playdates with this other mom?

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#5 of 22 Old 09-24-2008, 11:07 PM
 
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Yikes ! Enough with the 'you have three kids so deal with it' guilt! Hugs mama. Three kids are a lot of work to take care of on a daily basis. Then add the stress of taking on the full time parenting job of someone elses' kids and it's a double whammy. Be kind and patient with yourself.

From your wording you make it sound like you don't always have to take them with you. A simple "You are staying with your dad today while we go out" will suffice.

The complications arise when 'we' feel guilty when we don't want our step children around all the time. Heavan forbid we turn into the evil step mother and don't want to be around our stepchildren. As women we are expected to be the perfect, caring loving, mamas to all. If we are not the loving nurturing mama . . . . ohhh the guilt. I think that's always hanging over our heads when we say 'no' to our stepchildren.

When I need a reality check I talk to a good mama friend of mine. She has four kids and they drive her crazy some days, she is overwhlemed and wants to get away without them too! She doesn't feel bad about it. She doesn't feel guilty when her children stay at home with their dad.

There are some days you go out alone. There are some days you take only your child. There are some days you take everyone. There are some days you go out with just your step children. It doesn't mean you don't love them it means there are some days when it doesn't work for you ( it doesn't matter the reason) to have everyone along !
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#6 of 22 Old 09-25-2008, 12:56 AM
 
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If they live with you you DO have 3 kids full time! Your time to do things without them is when they are in school or at their mom's. Thats just the plain truth!
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#7 of 22 Old 09-25-2008, 01:15 AM
 
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I completely just wandered onto this thread and have NO expertise here, but it occurs to me to wonder if they are bored and just want to jump on the chance to have something to do? In which case making sure that their dad offers them something to do first, and then you and your son can exit withouth them feeling like they are missing out? When you are planning an outing might be a good time for their dad to initiate a board game or some other more "big kid" activity.

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#8 of 22 Old 09-25-2008, 01:20 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Montana Mom View Post
If they live with you you DO have 3 kids full time! Your time to do things without them is when they are in school or at their mom's. Thats just the plain truth!
Most "intact" families don't do EVERYTHING together, all of the time, especially when the kids are as far apart in age as the OP's. My friend has children 10 years apart, and she'd often go places with one or the other but not both.

But it even worked that way in my family, and my sister and I are 2.5 years apart. My dad and I sometimes went to book signings or cooking classes (yeah, I was/am a book nerd) without my mom and sister. Sometimes my mom took my sister or me shopping without the other, or my dad took my sister to a sporting event, and I didn't go.

Honestly, to the OP: You say you do 90% of things with your stepchildren and son. Great! I think you're perfectly entitled to a break every now and again, either by yourself or with your son. It's great they want to be around you so much, but sometimes, yeah, there is such a thing as too much "together time."

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#9 of 22 Old 09-25-2008, 01:28 AM
 
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"DS and I are going to have some baby play time with his friend, and when we get back we can all do something together!"
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#10 of 22 Old 09-25-2008, 01:57 AM
 
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If they live with you, then you DO have three full time kids and not just one.
This is the truth of the matter. It is also true that - like another poster mentioned, I have three biological kids and require a break from my house quite often!

I don't think you should feel badly for needing a break, but I think you should do it (as much as possible) without ANY kids. To take your son but not your stepdaughters (when they want to go - which I agree with other posters is definitely a positive statement about the parenting you are doing with them)seems to be too clearly stating that you somehow prefer him over them, and to the extent that you don't even want them to come. Not saying that is the truth - just that it might be how they perceive it.

If your friend has only that one young child your son's age, you could argue that they would be bored without anyone their age to play with. If it were an activity for a particular child (ballet?) or a birthday party invite to one child in particular, then I think taking one without the others is fine and appropriate. But for a walk, I think they all should get to go if they want.

To promote a good relationship between your son and his stepsisters, I'd first not call them his stepsisters but just his sisters, and secondly try not to do things that would make them think you prefer your son over them.

Hard thing for me was when my kids were going through the absolute HARDEST phases, and I was willing to chew my arm off to get a break, was when they really needed MORE time with me. There were moments when I honestly didn't think I could handle another minute, but if I found a way to spend more time, their need for my time actually decreased quicker. A need met I guess.

Unless they have a history of misbehaving at your friend's house, I'd let them go if they wanted to. Then go out to dinner - just you and your friend without any kids - another time.
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#11 of 22 Old 09-25-2008, 03:04 AM
 
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It is possible that the reason your DSDs are pulling the rejection card on you is because they are feeling rejected. I'm not sure if what's going on is normal clingyness, slightly extra clingyness, or extreme clingyness possibly due to their feelings about the dissolution of their bio family. As much as possible try to explain that doing something with just the baby is not a rejection of them. Maybe even try to do some things just with each of them.
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#12 of 22 Old 09-25-2008, 08:32 AM
 
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This may be rambly, and it's to help gain some perspective in my own future as well... so forgive me, please.


I have seen on these boards soooo often how important it is for parents to set up one on one time with their kids... this seems to be what OP is trying to do, but then immediately she is called out that she is rejecting her stepkids... I don't think that is it at all... but perhaps just wanting some one on one bonding time with her son, which is highly advocated from what I have seen and have been called out on for not letting DH spend enough one on one time with his daughter.


Also... it is HARD being a full time mother to kids who are not yours... they know it, and they often make it known, and it can be very stressful...

Plus, there are feelings of missing out on ever experiencing what it would have been like getting to really revel in the time of being a first time Mom.

Myself, I will never have that. I was sort of thrown into mothering DSD at the age of 3... I will never have just one child to bond with and learn with and revel in the whole new Mommy baby phase... and that is a lot to take in and deal with and I think it's something that warrants a bit of empathy and respect.

OP, be kind to yourself... you have a right to have some one on one time with all the kids... and if you need a break and need DH to step up and parent more, then request it. You never got the years and infancy to gradually slide into a role of parenting 3 kids all at once... I think a lot of non-step mom's can't understand this... we don't exactly get a transistion time, and that adds a lot of stress and many other things to work through.

Take time if you need it so resentment doesn't build, talk with your DH to arrange bonding time with everyone, so no one can feel left out, but it is important that you get a chance to have at least sometime of experiencing the new Mom and baby life.

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#13 of 22 Old 09-25-2008, 11:49 AM
 
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Originally Posted by anitaj71 View Post
Yikes ! Enough with the 'you have three kids so deal with it' guilt! Hugs mama. Three kids are a lot of work to take care of on a daily basis. Then add the stress of taking on the full time parenting job of someone elses' kids and it's a double whammy. Be kind and patient with yourself.

From your wording you make it sound like you don't always have to take them with you. A simple "You are staying with your dad today while we go out" will suffice.

The complications arise when 'we' feel guilty when we don't want our step children around all the time. Heavan forbid we turn into the evil step mother and don't want to be around our stepchildren. As women we are expected to be the perfect, caring loving, mamas to all. If we are not the loving nurturing mama . . . . ohhh the guilt. I think that's always hanging over our heads when we say 'no' to our stepchildren.

When I need a reality check I talk to a good mama friend of mine. She has four kids and they drive her crazy some days, she is overwhlemed and wants to get away without them too! She doesn't feel bad about it. She doesn't feel guilty when her children stay at home with their dad.

There are some days you go out alone. There are some days you take only your child. There are some days you take everyone. There are some days you go out with just your step children. It doesn't mean you don't love them it means there are some days when it doesn't work for you ( it doesn't matter the reason) to have everyone along !
:

I'm stepmom to 2 and biomom to 2. None of the kids live with us 100% of the time, but my stepkids are with us about 70% and my biokids are with us 50%.

It took a lot of soul searching and a lot of time for me to finally be comfortable with the fact that I need time alone (away from ALL the kids) and that I need time with only my biokids.

My stepkids are about the same ages as your step-daughters and I can say, unequivocally, that they are old enough for you to be able to be honest with them about your need for time to yourself and time with your son.

I spend time alone with all four of the kids from time to time. I'll take one out for lunch on Saturday and then take one to the park on Sunday and maybe the next weekend, take another to the museum. They all know that they'll eventually get their time, so no one gets too bent out of shape anymore when they're not included. They might be disappointed, but they don't take it personally.

Also, get your DH involved in all of this! He needs to be willing and ready to defend your need for time to yourself or time with your son.

I definitely wouldn't worry too much about what the older girl said to you about not marrying someone with two kids. She's just testing the waters and/or trying to get a rise out of you. When she says something like that again, you could respond with, "I'm so glad I married your dad because it means I get to have you and your sister in my life now."

Being a step-mom is HARD. Even moms with only bio kids need a break from time to time.

Hang in there!

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#14 of 22 Old 09-25-2008, 10:29 PM
 
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I find my time alone with dd when the boys are at school. During the summer, it was harder since they were around more. But they're finally old enough that they'd much rather be at home by themselves than drug along on some playdate. Are the girls in school?

Are there activities in the house that are special that they can do when you go for a walk? Some computer time, or a special art project?
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#15 of 22 Old 09-25-2008, 11:37 PM
 
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Can you book a regular time to spend alone time with each of your daughters the same as you want to do with your son. Maybe they'd understand better if they also got the time alone with mom that little guy gets.

Just a thought.
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#16 of 22 Old 09-26-2008, 02:42 PM
 
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I don't think there is anything at all wrong with wanting alone time for yourself or for just you and your son (FWIW, I think you should also have alone time with your DSDs). However, how you go about getting that time is very important so that no one feels rejected. I completely agree that you should implore the help of your DH when you do not plan to take the girls. I would then plan something to do with them once you return.

I do not take my DSD to everything I take my girls to do. A lot of the things are inappropriate for an older child like her. Sometimes it will be a b-day party that she was not invited to attend. In those cases, I try to make sure DH has something planned with her so she does not feel left out.

Honestly, I do not think this is an issue unique to step-parenting. The situations arise with nuclear families, as well, where certain activities are only appropriate for specific kids. It IS a little trickier with blended families, though, because it can be easier to misperceive actions as someone not caring or loving another member and they feel rejected. That is why how you go about handeling it is so crucial to keeping the peace and eliminating guilt.

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#17 of 22 Old 09-26-2008, 02:57 PM
 
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Honestly, I do not think this is an issue unique to step-parenting. The situations arise with nuclear families, as well, where certain activities are only appropriate for specific kids. It IS a little trickier with blended families, though, because it can be easier to misperceive actions as someone not caring or loving another member and they feel rejected. That is why how you go about handeling it is so crucial to keeping the peace and eliminating guilt.


Very well put, Rose. I'm going to put this one in my back pocket.

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#18 of 22 Old 09-26-2008, 03:47 PM
 
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Originally Posted by ma_vie_en_rose View Post
Honestly, I do not think this is an issue unique to step-parenting. The situations arise with nuclear families, as well, where certain activities are only appropriate for specific kids. It IS a little trickier with blended families, though, because it can be easier to misperceive actions as someone not caring or loving another member and they feel rejected. That is why how you go about handeling it is so crucial to keeping the peace and eliminating guilt.

that:

I have to agree with that...

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#19 of 22 Old 10-06-2008, 05:39 PM
 
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Are the kids in school?

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#20 of 22 Old 10-07-2008, 12:24 AM
 
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Honestly, I do not think this is an issue unique to step-parenting. The situations arise with nuclear families, as well, where certain activities are only appropriate for specific kids. It IS a little trickier with blended families, though, because it can be easier to misperceive actions as someone not caring or loving another member and they feel rejected. That is why how you go about handeling it is so crucial to keeping the peace and eliminating guilt.
I, too, agree with this.

I have found it helpful to do things one-on-one with both my ds and my dsd. I am home alone with DS all day during the school year, so he gets plenty of one-on-one mommy time. I try to make a point to do things with DSD without DS in tow - big kid stuff, girly stuff. On Saturday she and I went to pick out her Halloween costume together and left the boys at home. It was really nice. She and I often have the best weeks when we start out by doing something together one-on-one.

You have a tough situation. Becoming insta-mommy to two children is *really* tough. If I were you, I would cut myself some slack about wanting alone time with my ds, but also try to get in some one-on-one time with each of the two girls. Hopefully your dh will be a supportive partner for this.

Lastly, try to get your dh to do something with all three kids at least once a week. You need some alone time with yourself too!

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#21 of 22 Old 10-08-2008, 05:23 AM
 
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I have to agree this doesn't just happen in step families......................


I have left my house leaving a mad child behind because they couldn't go. Cut youself some slack.
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#22 of 22 Old 10-08-2008, 01:16 PM
 
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I think the difference is that in non-blended families parents usually make an effort to spend one-on-one time with *each* child, and it sounds like the OP only wants one-on-one time with her DS, but not her DSDs. I can understand how that could cause them to feel rejected.

I've had to leave an upset DS behind when I'm going out the door to either spend time by myself or spend time with his little sister, but he knows that in a few days it'll be his turn to do something special with me -- I imagine he'd feel pretty hurt if his turn never came along.

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