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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My dss is 9, he got out of school this past Friday. I'm a SAHM, and my SO has custody of dss, so obviously, I'm the main choice to watch him while SO is at work...

Dss and I clash from time to time. He's 9, can be lazy and is quite forgetfull and irresponsible. This doesn't bode well in my book, so it causes alot of issues with us.

Two weeks ago, i talked to my SO about how I was not prepared to take on dss full-time for the summer, and how we needed to make arrangements for him. I was under the assumption he understood this meant the entire summer, starting this week.

Well, apparantly he didn't think the first few weeks would be an issue, and just never got around to making arrangements for dss. I had dss yesterday, all day long, all he did was watch tv, walk around the apartment, and at one point (about 2pm) got undressed, unmade his bed and was 'going back to sleep'...

So last night I bring up again, gently, with SO that plans need to be made, and I cannot take on dss full-time right now. To no avail.

Today, it's an all-out war between SO and myself over this. He said he had faith in me that I could handle it and 'that won't happen again' (meaning, he won't have faith in me). I feel like he's being cruel and unfair to me. I clearly and politely expressed my needs to him regarding dss, and he dismissed them because he 'had faith in me', and is now angry at me that I cannot handle dss '2 days into summer vacation'..

What can I do? I'm miserable. I want to run away and leave dss here to fend for himself. I seriously have such a hard time being with this boy full-time, and just feel a nervous breakdown coming on. But my SO just does not understand and is getting so angry with me over this...

What do I do??
 

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What do you perceive your relationship to your stepson to be generally? Friend/dad's wife/third parent? How long have you been in his life? I can see how if you're both new at this and have not been put in a parental role with him to this degree in the past, it could be awkward. I can also see how your husband would feel weird about what probably seems to him like really negative feelings from you towards his son, and he may not understand why, if you're a stay-at-home parent, you don't want to include him. He could be hurt about that. Ditto for the implications for your stepson's feeling included in his dad's home.

That said, if you don't feel comfortable having him around the house in the summer, I'd suggest you be careful to at least put a positive spin on it so far as your stepson is concerned - wanting to find him fun activities so that he doesn't get bored being stuck at home all day with a much younger sibling would make good sense. Then the three of you can perhaps pick out some cool daycamps centered around activities he enjoys.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
My SO and I have been together for over 2 years, however, neither of us were very prevalent in each others' childrens' lives until last summer. We were living very far apart, and my dd and I moved in. After THREE DAYS of living together, my SO decided I was now my step-son's full-time babysitter for the summer. Of course, this was just thrown at my step-son and myself, and things went BADLY. Resulting in me moving out after only 17 days.

Anyway, we worked on things (again, long distance), and dd and I moved back in Oct, with the agreement that we'd work things out better before just throwing in the towel.

The first month was rough, but we got through it and things have gotten better and better with every day. But still, we've only lived together 7 months.

My step-son is the kind of boy who listens to noone, honestly. Not even his father. He whines and cries his way out of everything, and while that might work with his father, biomother, grandmother etc etc, it doesn't work with me. Which generally gets him angry and upset. When his father gets home, he cries to him but won't tell him WHY (as in, Jen asked me to put away my dish from lunch, she's so mean!), get the picture?

Now for a good while, his father would literally overturn ANY thing I said. He was completely undermining any kind of relationship between me and his son. We had a good long talk, and he's since become much more supportive.

But the thing is, it's only been recently that my SO has been this supportive, so this is all still new. IMO, I'm just not ready to test this out on a full-time basis.

Yes, I understand my SO is taking this personally as me 'not liking' his son, but no matter WHAT I say or HOW I say it, I will always be percieved as the 'evil step-mother'. It's hard...
 

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I think it depends a lot on the permanence of your relationship with your partner. If you expect the relationship to be forever, at some point you become a parent of your partner's children at some level. If the relationship is a temporary one then you are justified in feeling used.



-Angela
 

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I understand how it feels when you clash with a kid. My SIL is 9 yrs old and the poor kid just grates on my nerves even when she's not doing anything wrong. (I think it's an age a lot of ppl have issues with, yk? still kids but not little anymore....)
anyways, I wonder about a few things. It's pretty abnormal for a 9 yr old boy to want to go to sleep in the afternoon. Is he depressed? You say he is irresponsible, lazy, and forgetful- what expectations specifically is he not living up to? He's pretty young to be expected to do a whole lot.
I too would be resentful of a child I didn't like being around taking my energy and time, especially with your own to care for. But that's why I would have never married someone with a child from a previous relationship. I don't judge you for feeling the way you do, but I'm just a little concerned about the effect this situation could have on the boy. Kids are smart and perceptive and know when they're not wanted. I can understand your husband being hurt at you not wanting to be with his son. Maybe a compromise would be camp for a few days a week, and on the days that you do have him, try to plan some activities that you can do that doesn't require tons of 1 on 1 time, like having a friend over, going to the park, etc. I find it easier to deal with a kid I'm not particularily fond of when we stay busy.
I do think you need to realize that being a stepmother means a lot. You will influence this child's life- whether it's negatively or positively is up to you. I'm not saying you should have to be a SAHM to him full time, but your attitude about this situation seems unrealistic and you shouldn't view yourself as a "babysitter"- you're his family.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Well, here's the deal, his mother, plain out doesn't want him. She has a 'new baby' (born this past Feb), and has since not had much time for dss, she doesn't call often, she doesn't pay child support etc.

I do plan to be a permanent person in this child's life, but I will admit, it's hard when almost every other day I'm told how much he wants his biomom to come live with us, and that she had his daddy can share a room, and I can sleep on the couch. I understand these are his feelings, but OUCH! That hurts, nonetheless.

As far as having too many expectations. Okay, things he is irresponsible about:

not flushing the toilet after having a bowel movement.

Leaving his homework at school for an entire week (which, being summer, isn't an issue, but I was asked what he's 'expected' to do).

Leaving his jackets and socks everywhere, he then expects us to buy him new ones every other week (or about that, seriously, not exaggerating)

Not eating snacks before dinner/meals

Sleeping in until 10pm and then whining about why he has to STILL go to bed his normal bedtime, "since I'm not tired, why should I have to go to bed"

And things like that...

Are these really things that are 'too high expectations'? If they are, please let me know, but I hoenstly think they aren't too high at all.

As for the being depressed, because he wanted to sleep during the day the other day, I believe he was joking, as he only laid in bed and watched cartoons, laughing, having fun.
 

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Based on past history, your dh should have known better than to just decide unilaterally that it would be no problem for you to care fulltime for your stepson for the first few weeks of the summer. In any family, these decisions should really be made together and given that it has been a source of conflict in the past, he needed to be communicating better about this.

I agree with the previous poster that 9 is a challenging age - lucky you, you're getting a sneak preview and lots of useful experience for when your other child hits 9! 9 year olds tend to have a lot going on internally but not be very articulate about what exactly it is, I find. This seems to be the case with your stepson. There's been a lot of changes in his life lately, and now he's finding that he's spending all day with you, trying to sort out what exactly you are to him, and whose expectations he's supposed to be meeting. I'm also guessing that your dh didn't discuss summer plans with his son, either? Not a good idea by the time they're 9 - they may not be able to call it, but they really need some input.

Am I right that this is just for a few weeks and then he'll be doing activities? I would try to turn it into a positive, have the three of you work out what stuff he'd like to do during that time (and after, if you haven't signed him up for anything yet), and have a frank family chat about how this is new/weird for all of you, and what things each of you would like to see happen.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
mammastar2, thank you! You hit the nail on the head on a few things.

One, my SO WILL NOT communicate with me on this, it's frustrating, and really hindering a growing process IMO.

Two, my step-son has gone through ALOT of changes within his family (not only did my dd and myself become a part of his family in the last year, but his biomom had a new baby in Feb, and he has 3 other future step-siblings who he only JUST met last week) He's still having ALOT of issues with their divorce, but my SO really believes he can handle things on his own, so won't look into counseling, and of course, I don't have that say-so with his son, although I feel he could benefit from it.

Three, step-son does have plans coming up. As a matter of fact, today 2 cousins his age flew in from Arkansas to stay for 2 weeks. So step-son will most likely be MIA for these 2 weeks...lol During that time, we've also got many large family plans made that we're all doing. (trips to the beach, Legoland, Sea World, a baseball game etc etc etc)

One of my biggest problems, which if I'm hoenst, I was too worked up the other day to verbalize, is the fact that no plans are made. I don't like not knowing what's going on in my day/week. I like having a weekly plan made by Sunday, and knowing who's going where, when, etc etc. I don't like getting last minute phone calls 'dss is going to my mom's in 15 minutes'.... Does that make sense?

My SO is a fly by the seat of his pants kinda guy.... So yeah, it causes issues.

I also want to touch on the fact that someone said I need to stop thinking of myself as the babysitter. I want to, I really do, but honestly, I feel like I've been treated as the babysitter.

I watch him during the days, and when SO comes home, anything I said/did or anything goes right out the window. It really seems like my SO treats me like temporary 'help' and not a permanent fixture in his son's life.

I know I sound like I'm pushing the 'blame' off on everyone else, and I do accept my part of any of my bad feelings. I more posted the other day to let off steam, and get some support that maybe it's OKAY to not want to be a babysitter, or feel like a babysitter...ya know?
 

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The wishing his parents were back together is hurtful but normal. Wishful thinking is a major thing that goes on with kids in blended families. My stepdaughter frequently would wish that her parents had never broken up and mommy and daddy still lived together, sometimes quite angrily. She agreed that she and her dad both benefitted from having me and her new half-sister in their lives, but figured that a perfect solution would be for her dad to just visit me and the new baby on the side! He needs to know that his feelings are normal and understandable, but that (gently) this is not realistic. It must be very hard for him not to get the parenting he needs from his mom, and frustrating for you that he idealizes her when you're the one doing the grunt work! Really, he's dealing with grief, and he's only got a 9 year old brain and 9 year old emotions to do it with.

Most of the behaviours you describe sound pretty typical 9 year old. He's old enough to be guided towards 'solutions' - "what would help you remember your homework? let's set up a system" - and to deal with natural non-punitive consequences for things like losing the jackets/socks. This probably requires all of you to work together as a team - no good cop/bad cop with you and dh, and figuring out what your role is exactly (if you can't quite take on 'parent,' then maybe 'team member' would do, because you're definitely not his babysitter!)
 

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Didn't get a chance to read your last post before submitting the one above. I agree your feelings are totally legit. Obviously if you're expected to/going to be responsible for him, you need input, information, respect, and a clear role. What you're describing would drive me nuts too. I made lots of changes for my stepkids' schedules when we still lived in the same city, including banking overtime for months so I could help care for the older one during the summer. The difference is that I was involved in figuring out how things would work, choosing the activities and so on, I had them in the calendar and knew what was going on, and I felt like we were all making decisions as a family.

I'm sorry your dh won't go for counselling for your stepson. I remember reading that basically all kids who go through 'family reorganizations,' if you can call them that, come out better at the other end if they have the opportunity to have some therapy/counselling. Some cities also have great support groups for kids dealing with divorce or family transitions.
 

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I know you said there were no plans, but...

how about basketball camp? How about summer school? How about karate intensive workshop once a day?

How about a computer geeks' two week programming course?

What fun and very structured things can he do after the cousins leave?

It sounds like he's a miserable little kid and he's taking it out on you. He needs some friends and some activities and a reason to get up in the morning.

Your dh should be the one to tell him to flush the toilet, wash his dish, make his bed. Your status is too ambiguous at this point. My best friend married a guy with a daughter from a previous marriage and she basically refused this role...and it worked out! Her dsd grew up great with a loving, second adult in the house.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Great ideas!

Okay, to reply to some of them


Right now, money is tight, so we're having issues finding a day camp or summer type thing. Also, even if we had money, I do not drive, and there aren't things like that within walking distance, so it's hard to arrange that stuff. Also, if I drove I feel it would be ALOT easier on a whole, because the three of us wouldn't be stuck in our apartment or at the playground here all the time. We'd have more options. But that's not gonna happen anytime soon either


Umm, as for the toilet and putting away dishes, I try to let SO handle that. I let him know about what's going on during the day and the things I'd like to be addressed, but he seems to 'forget' everything also, or plain out just doesn't think it's important enough to talk about. (again with the communicating issue..lol) He doesn't have to deal with it during the day, so he doesn't think it's a big deal, ya know?

I also reallllllllllly want to thank mammastar2 for acknowledging something really big for me. That his biomom is getting all the love and 'great mom' comments, and I'm doing most of the raising of this child. Last year (Feb 04), I placed a child up for adoption, KNOWING that the summer of 2004 I would be taking on my SO's child as well as having my own. I made that choice (partly) based on the fact that I would already be going from 1 to 2 quickly, and wasn't prepared to jump to 3 so quick. And then his biomom goes off and has herself a new baby, and yet does NO work with dss, barely sees him, barely calls, makes no effort to pay child support. Nothing. And yes, it hurts, and quite hoenstly, on those 'bad days', I feel pretty resentful of just everyone regarding this situation. It's noone FAULT at all, and if anyone's to 'blame' it's most likely me, but crap it hurts just the same.

And yes, it hurts alot that my SO expects me to just jump in and be this new mommy to this little boy that I don't know all that well, ya know?

And, okay another STUPID thing, he's entering puberty...lol So, it's not a huge deal, but we're noticing ALOT of changes, and it's effacting his attitude alot, but he's still in this phase where he'll act much younger than 9, and yet wants to be older than 9 at the same time. (like, he wants to sit on his dad's lap constantly (even when dad's trying to eat dinner), and then at the same dinner, will ask why we won't let him have a cell phone! )
 

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Well, realistically, captain optimism, if she's going to be with this kid all day, she needs to be able to tell him to do that kind of stuff, without being the bad guy.
Heck, even if I hired a babysitter, I wouldn't do it in a way where they weren't able to guide the child's behaviour on simple day-to-day stuff. "Jimmy, when your father comes to pick you up, I'll ask him to have you stop beating on Susie" just doesn't work!
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Yes! My dd and him bicker over things (like alot of kids do), and well, just waiting won't help!

Or if he's doing something potentially dangerous, I can't just sit and 'hope for the best'. This child is in my care, and I'm responsible for him when I have him. I'm perfectly fine with that, and accept that. I just really wish I was respected in the long run, by my SO. If that makes sense...
 

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I am a stepmom-only, not a bio-mom yet. We have the kids for 80% of the summer and because I work from home, I have the kids the majority of the time. My 11yo dss has been a struggle this summer, but that's because he has a seriously bad attitude (I think in large part because of his hormones). The girls and I have had no problems this summer.

The reason it works is that I have DH's 100% support. Even with Ryan being unpleasant to be around, we've done okay. DH may not always agree with something I have a prob with or a consequence I've decided on, but he ALWAYS backs me in front of the kids.

I think the problem is not with your DSS, but with your SO (and obviously bio-mom, but you can't do anything about it). It's sounds to me as if he is looking for you to be a replacement-mom to his son. Obviously that is unreasonable and not possible. I honestly don't know how this situation can be salvaged if your SO doesn't realize what he needs to do, expect more of his son, and back you up. But, please, try not to take it out on your DSS. I completely understand how badly it hurts to be constantly compared to bio-mom and coming up short. My situation is not as drastic as yours, but the kids would honestly be better off if their bio-mom would go MIA. But I'm the evil step-mother because I won't let them sit in front of the TV eating junk food and stay up all night long.
 

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I know you don't drive, but what will you do when your biochild is older, bored and restless in the summer? Find something for them to do. I know your SO should be taking a lead in this, but I know we all go crazy when we are home all day with no plans.
As far as his irresponsible behavior-- my dss is 10 and is very similar. Example:
Went in kitchen to get jello, I walked in and he was eating it out of his hand. Why? Just didn't think of getting a bowl.
Leaves dirty socks all over the house.
My mom came to pick him up to go to the movies, walked out of the house without shoes!
If you ask him to get his stuff off the table, you have to check again and again-- get your papers, too, and the book, and your socks. . . .
Starts to put dishes away, then gets distracted, ends up on the computer, dishes lost somewhere. . .
Looses his allowance between the car and the entrance to Walmart. . .

I think it is just hormonal or something. Dh and I swap stories and bang our heads against the wall. I don't think it is on purpose. He just seems generally distracted and spacey these days.

The thing about wanting his mom to live with you-- dss used to say things like that when he was 5, and even then, daddy was in my room and his mom was in his room. Is he trying to hurt your feelings or just really unaware that that would upset you? If he is not trying to be mean, it is kinda nice that he actually expresses that. Many kids would feel that but not say it.
I used to say things, like "yeah, it stinks that your mom lives so far away. That would be cool if she lived NEXT DOOR or down the block. .. "
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
A few things I feel it's really important to point out..

I would *never* take these feelings out on my dss. I love this child. Seriously, I would starve to feed him, I would jump in front of a bus to save him. I love him with all my heart, and would NEVER take out MY feelings or issues on him.

The way I talk here is *venting* to virtual adult strangers. He is a child in my home. There is a BIG difference, kwim?!?!

Secondly, I fully understand that he in no way is saying things to hurt my feelings, (regarding his biomom). He is only expressing HIS hurt feelings. I said in one post that same exact thing, and some people who replied managed to skip right over the part where I said I understood he was only expressing his feelings. Understanding that doesn't void my own feelings, does it????? Again, I would never tell him that.

As far as what would I do when my child is older, and we're couped up etc. Well, one, I expect to drive by then, I won't be driving this summer however, because it's just something we've decided. Please do not assume that any issue I have in the now will be a permanent 'issue'.

Second, I feel comfortable enough with my daughter to talk to her when she's angry, or in a foul mood etc. With my step-son, I'm not qwuite certain where the boudaries are. When do I step in? When do I leave things alone.

If I hear him upset or anything, I *always* ask if there's anything I can do for him, if he would like to talk about it etc. But he is also not yet comfortable enough with me to discuss these things.

Our relationship is still new and growing. It IS growing well, IMO, I just feel my SO has been unfair to us by throwing this on us....
 

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I have a similar issue with DSS3 but he is only here for part of the summer (he is 12) and he is not responsible at all so we have him in a great day camp at the Y which works out well for all of us. DH does not expect me to be the babysitter and is very supportive and understanding it is a hard role for me as DSS is out of control and tends to disappear without telling anyone too! I think that is a reasonable compromise for our family right now and the camp structure has helped DSS too as well as lots of outdoor activities they have which he enjoys. Anyhow thats what we do for our family. DSS2 who is 15 is great and so he just hangs out here as he is much more mature and responsible. I dont know if DSS3 will be at that place next year (when he is the same age as DSS2 was) but also he may end up coming to live with us too. I dont think you are being unreasonable about this and hopefully you can come up with a compromise that works for all of you. Good Luck!
 

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I really have anything else to add, I just wanted to send
. I know trying to bond with a child that you haven't known is daunting, especially without support from your SO to help you define your role. I'm so glad that you're not taking this out on DSS. Unfortunately, there ARE women who would.
Just hang in there, try to show him that you love him, and try to get SO to be more supportive of you.
 
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