Kids not accepting blended family - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 9 Old 09-23-2015, 05:12 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Kids not accepting blended family

I know this is mostly a place for stepmothers. But I'm a father who's struggling with helping his kids accept a blended family.

My first wife died six years ago when the kids were 5, 6 and 7. Now 11, 12 and 13, they are well behaved and well mannered kids. I remarried two years ago and have a 10 year old stepdaughter from my wife's previous relationship. My stepdaughter has no contact with her father and has never known him.

My wife and I both make an effort to spend 1 on 1 time with each child. We also do things together as a family. But those times are not very enjoyable, if I'm honest. My stepdaughter often feels left out when my three are together because they only include her when asked. Otherwise, we could all be home and the three of them would be in my 13 year old sons bedroom and she would be playing alone somewhere. Another day, my 11 year old daughter had a friend over and my stepdaughter looked upset that she wasn't included. This is hard because she has her own friends and it isn't always a problem. But she's told her mom and me in the past that she always feels like they don't want her around. We've had similar feelings. It became very obvious over the summer when the kids were home and mine were together and hers was alone. Of course, this wasn't every day because the kids all have friends, but it was something my wife and I noticed.

If the kids have a problem, they wait for me to come home. They don't go to my wife for anything. When my daughter was sick back in April. She was desperate to go into school, despite not being well enough to, because I couldn't stay at home with her. My wife looked so hurt when it happened.

Another incident was we were taking family photos (professional ones). My son (13) asked for one with just the four of us. My wife said to go ahead and she and her daughter would get one done. He only wanted that photo in his personal album and decided he wanted none of the others in them. He's the only one who has his own photo album, but I think my other two children would have done the same if they were interested in photography and memories/keepsakes like he is.

We've tried family therapy twice now (on our second therapist as the first was a disaster). That hasn't helped at all. We have no other alternatives near us, which is distressing. My kids have also started asking to go to their mom's grave more and always request that it just be us or them, not my wife and stepdaughter.

This is all so stressful. The kids don't openly disrespect anyone and they aren't rude. But they haven't accepted their stepmom and stepsister into their hearts either. Does anyone have any advice/experience with this and did it get better over time or does it stay the same?
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#2 of 9 Old 09-23-2015, 07:27 AM
 
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From what you wrote, I would suspect your kids are still grieving, and may feel like accepting the new blended family could be a betrayal to their mom's memory. Is the therapist aware of the possible grief affect, or are you just focusing on the blended family situation?

Stepmom for roughly 10 years to four fabulous kiddos: two boys and two girls. All of which are now entering adulthood.
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#3 of 9 Old 09-23-2015, 10:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by oldsmom View Post
From what you wrote, I would suspect your kids are still grieving, and may feel like accepting the new blended family could be a betrayal to their mom's memory. Is the therapist aware of the possible grief affect, or are you just focusing on the blended family situation?
She's aware and she has been working with them on that. Well, as much as she can because they don't really listen to what she says.
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#4 of 9 Old 09-24-2015, 07:24 AM
 
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That kind of thing takes time. It's not going to be easy. But I suspect it will get better over time.

Stepmom for roughly 10 years to four fabulous kiddos: two boys and two girls. All of which are now entering adulthood.
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#5 of 9 Old 09-24-2015, 09:33 AM
 
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My kids have also started asking to go to their mom's grave more and always request that it just be us or them, not my wife and stepdaughter.
I would let that one go. If they want that to be just you and them, so be it.

I say that because if you let that one go, you can focus on the other areas in order to bring more unity to the family.
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#6 of 9 Old 09-24-2015, 01:32 PM
 
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I think they are just not ready for it to be honest.

Yes, you and your husband found each other and you wanted a family together but they probably never asked for a new mommy and sister. That doesn't mean they have the right to be nasty but perhaps you need to focus on living together more than being a full family at this point. I get that your daughter feels left out but perhaps it is just not the right time to truly blend the family right now. If your daughter likes your husband let them focus on forming a bond and that he makes clear to his children that this is not something they have any right to interfere in. Whether they like it or not, he is going to work on a fatherly bond with her.
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#7 of 9 Old 09-24-2015, 02:10 PM
 
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Originally Posted by RyanL View Post
I know this is mostly a place for stepmothers. But I'm a father who's struggling with helping his kids accept a blended family.

My first wife died six years ago when the kids were 5, 6 and 7. Now 11, 12 and 13, they are well behaved and well mannered kids. I remarried two years ago and have a 10 year old stepdaughter from my wife's previous relationship. My stepdaughter has no contact with her father and has never known him.

My wife and I both make an effort to spend 1 on 1 time with each child. We also do things together as a family. But those times are not very enjoyable, if I'm honest. My stepdaughter often feels left out when my three are together because they only include her when asked. Otherwise, we could all be home and the three of them would be in my 13 year old sons bedroom and she would be playing alone somewhere. Another day, my 11 year old daughter had a friend over and my stepdaughter looked upset that she wasn't included. This is hard because she has her own friends and it isn't always a problem. But she's told her mom and me in the past that she always feels like they don't want her around. We've had similar feelings. It became very obvious over the summer when the kids were home and mine were together and hers was alone. Of course, this wasn't every day because the kids all have friends, but it was something my wife and I noticed.

If the kids have a problem, they wait for me to come home. They don't go to my wife for anything. When my daughter was sick back in April. She was desperate to go into school, despite not being well enough to, because I couldn't stay at home with her. My wife looked so hurt when it happened.

Another incident was we were taking family photos (professional ones). My son (13) asked for one with just the four of us. My wife said to go ahead and she and her daughter would get one done. He only wanted that photo in his personal album and decided he wanted none of the others in them. He's the only one who has his own photo album, but I think my other two children would have done the same if they were interested in photography and memories/keepsakes like he is.

We've tried family therapy twice now (on our second therapist as the first was a disaster). That hasn't helped at all. We have no other alternatives near us, which is distressing. My kids have also started asking to go to their mom's grave more and always request that it just be us or them, not my wife and stepdaughter.

This is all so stressful. The kids don't openly disrespect anyone and they aren't rude. But they haven't accepted their stepmom and stepsister into their hearts either. Does anyone have any advice/experience with this and did it get better over time or does it stay the same?
Ryan, my marriage is much newer than yours (married 6 months actually) but I feel like I can somewhat relate. My husband and I are both widowed as well. Together we have a full family of 7!!! Seven kids in the same house all the time! Our kids are great overall but recently I am experiencing some resistance from his older children. We do our best to be sensitive to our situation, their grief and our own but it doesn't mean it doesn't hurt. At this point, I don't have any words of wisdom other than letting you know you are not alone. Hang in there!
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#8 of 9 Old 09-25-2015, 07:07 AM
 
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I know the forum is called mothering- but there are dads running around as well. I'm one! More fathers need to be involved in parenting, so I'm glad you decided to come here.

This is a very difficult situation for everyone involved, and I'm sorry you have to face it. I don't think that your kids are ready to accept the new family dynamic. When it's just a step-parent (no kids), the advice is usually to let the kids set the pace. They MUST be civil/respectful, as they should be towards all people, but they don't have to accept a step-parent any faster than they're ready. Your kids didn't ask for a new step-mother, after all. If it was just your wife, it might be easy enough to handle this.

Unfortunately- there's another child involved. And your step-daughter needs and deserves to feel loved, welcomed, and included in her own home.

Have you spoken to your kids about just their step-sister (perhaps just use her name, don't call her sister/step-sister)? What do they have to say about trying to get along with just her? Have you tried doing outings that don't include your wife? Or if she has any similar interests to one of your kids- try to get them both involved in a class together? It may be easier for them to accept their step-sister (or at least try to be friends with her) if they know they can do it without having to accept their new step-mother as well. I know that may be painful for your wife and you- but you two are adults, you should be able to handle the rejection. Your step-daughter should not have to.

If your kids absolutely won't try to warm up to her- that is a sticky situation. Ultimately, you need to find a way to reassure her that she is a welcome part of the family, even if your kids show otherwise. Having her own friends over is a really great way to help, but that isn't always going to work.

How does she feel towards you? Does she see you (or want to see you) as a father figure, or is she keeping her distance from you as well? If she wants a closer relationship from you and is amenable to it- I think it'd be worth trying to include a bit of one-on-one time between you and your step-daughter as well. You know your family situation best.


I also agree that letting the kids go to mom's grave without the step-family is a good idea. A lot of kids who've lost a parent have an INCREDIBLY hard time accepting a step-parent because it feels like they're betraying their parent's memory. They need to find a way to make peace with their mother's memory and figure out how to let this woman into their lives without dishonoring their mother. It's not an easy process.
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#9 of 9 Old 10-02-2015, 09:47 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm sorry I didn't respond before now! It's been a very busy time for us. I do take the kids to the grave, just us, and my wife understands that they might never want her there. It's like an intrusion, I think. So that does happen. But they want to go more often than they used to.

To answer sillysapling's questions. I have spoken to my kids about including her more. But they don't want to. They don't see her as their sister or as part of their family. I will admit, their responses were disappointing and I had hoped they would be more willing to accept her into their lives. As for classes together. My kids prefer reading and swimming as their activity of choice. My stepdaughter prefers being outdoors and doesn't like swimming very much. So it would be difficult to find something to get them to do together, even just one of my kids with her. I've taken them out together in the past. It was more awkward than fun and none of the kids wanted to repeat it after a few times. My stepdaughter and I have a pretty good relationship. She sees me as her stepdad, but comes to me for stuff and we spend time together, just the two of us. She has friends who've had bad experiences with stepparents in the past and she told me before she's glad I'm nicer than some of the stepparents her friends have had.

Thank you for all the support everyone! It's good to know we're not alone in this.
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