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Separate family

  • 10-11-2022 11:13am
    Posts: 0

    Heads wrecked over the ongoing issues with my partner and her kids from previous relationship.

    She has 2 kids and I have 1 from previous relationship, and we have a baby together. The older ones are similar in age 12-14.

    We are together 5 years now and at the start her kids got on well with me and everything was happy, they were seeing their dad but not very often due to him having issues with alcohol, OH never really gave out to them or punished them when they were being brats, would give final warnings like 20 times then nothing would change.

    My own child from previous relationship had issues with me living with them and was acting up and fighting with me but that had stopped somewhat in recent times. But I was always accused of letting my child away with more than her kids, all them are equally rude and ignorant towards me no matter how hard I try. For example I was a big presence in their lives the years their dad ignored them and missed birthdays and Christmas's. I never tried to be their dad but always made sure they never had to do without. Something that went unnoticed by the OH...I can support them financially but can never say they need to be corrected or punished.

    Anyways its been like this for last 3 years now, their own dad came back into their lives again and sees them for an hour every fortnight in our house. He has even spoken to them with how they treat me. When he says they are out of line with other stuff and that their mother does too much for them and let's them away with too much then she listens to him yet I've been saying it for years.

    It's gotten to the point I ignore them and some days they are in a good mood they will laugh and joke with me but never lasts long.

    Few weeks back one of her kids and my child were at the table and being outright rude to me. Insulting my looks and basically putting me down I ignored it but it didn't feel nice. Later that night the OH said my daughter was rude and I said they were and she claimed I didn't give out to them coz my daughter was involved. I said actually no I expect it from hers as its an ongoing thing, I intended to sit down with her when I brought her home and I'd expect her to do the same with her child. Her point was she wanted them treat the same way but wouldn't speak to her child(apart from at the time she said it that it's not nice but it continues)So I am very resentful towards my partner as usual she finds a way to not say anything to her child.

    There's loads of scenario's that are similar and it's always the same ending. Her sister has told her also that her kids get away with too much.

    Lastly, the other night her oldest said that I was such a great Dad to the baby(she always said I was great dad to my older child befor) and how she wishes I was nice to them like that. But the thing is I was like that with them but through the tantrums(yes tantrums at their age) and just bad behaviour towards me I have ended up just ignoring them. I know it sounds terrible but I can't deal with the resistance I am met with from them on a daily basis. Every time there is an issue in their lives with their dad or anything else I end up being the one to run and help them.

    Anyways sorry not sure what I'm looking to gain from here but I guess I'm looking to see if I should try fix the relationship or do I just leave and call it a day.

    BTW the kids are usually sweet and caring and helpfull most of the time. It's just their attitude towards me that is the issue.



  • Registered Users Posts: 235 ✭✭89897

    Im a little confused! Are you not allowed to speak to her kids when they act like this or whats the discipline set up?

    If you dont want to be disrespected like that in your home then do something about it and discipline them both. Also at their ages they are going to really try to test boundaries more than ever. The resistance will also only get worse if you dont sort out some sort of method of dealing with teenagers, ignoring then certainly wont work.

    If they are getting away with speaking like that at home lord knows what they are acting like at school and out with friends!

    You both need to sort out discipline in the house.

  • Administrators, Politics Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 25,947 Admin ✭✭✭✭✭Neyite

    A couple of immediate observations - there does not seem to be a united front and the disciplining /correction of children seems to be soley the responsibility of the bio parent. So your example where they are slagging you off - you ignored it and I think you expected that your spouse would address it. So neither of you did. And the behaviour will continue. So that needs you and your wife to sit and agree a united system. In that situation I don't care who the kid belongs to, if they said something unkind about my appearance I'd just pin them with my Look and say "That's a pretty unkind thing to say to someone"

    Secondly, they are teens. Even the nice kids turn into demons during these years so it's going to be tricky anyway without the blending in the house. But I think that at that age, they don't see you as a person with feelings. You're just step dad and it's probably not occurred to them that things they say or do can be hurtful towards you. So I'd say to find a moment, sit down with all of them and say it to them that you found it hurtful and unkind. It does sound like they do like you - or at least don't actively hate you, so there's something to build on there.

    What you could suggest is to sit down everyone and collaborate on house rules. Things like name calling, or respecting each other's feelings/privacy. Everyone's thoughts on board. And if there's no real improvement, then maybe family therapy might be an option.

    Best of luck.

  • Registered Users Posts: 930 ✭✭✭TheadoreT

    OP it's sounds like you're being a bit of a pushover here, and also taking moods of kids too much to heart. Girls of any age will test you constantly, if your reaction is to get hurt and ignore them its not a fatherly trait and it's gonna be hard for them or your partner to respect you and hence ending up at the point where you are. This is purely on you.

    Her eldest literally told you she's craving that unrequited love but you chose to give up on them instead of stepping up and disciplining them when appropriate and being that unwavering masculine figure her own father wasn't.

    Moving on won't solve this issue, these are general life challenges that will crop up in any relationship and nothing unique to your own case here.

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    It seems that we set rules and punishments but when I go to enforce anything I'm the bad guy, both from the kids and their mam.

    And the funny thing is they only act up and speak bad to me and their mam, in school or anywhere else they are angels and everyone speaks highly.of them.

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    Well I ignored the insulting at the time coz I had a long day and was sick of having to speak to them. And discipline has always been an issue.

    Even when I'm not involved the OH only seems to punish the youngest and follows through with punishment. With the eldest she feels bad taking the phone away coz she has anxiety issues without it. So I'm constantly in arguments with her over this due to bad behaviour and I'm expected to listen to it sit back and say nothing.

    I do think they like me somewhat, one wrote me a Christmas's card last year saying she knows we have disagreements but she is proud to have me as a stepdad, that made me drop things for a while too.

    Thanks for your suggestion too I will try this again.

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  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    I let it go the last time coz i was simply fed up, I am usualy straight onto it when things get out of hand. But I always feel there is no back up from my wife. She always says pick your battles this isn't one right now etc.

    I wasn't exactly hurt by what they said i was more put out that our kids could say rude and nasty stuff to someone and laugh about it.

    I do understand what you are saying, I don't want to give up or walk away, I've tried to sort discipline out many times but I always end up the enemy. At what point do I say look if there's no changes Here I am out?

  • Posts: 8,856 ✭✭✭[Deleted User]

    You’ve probably relied on the bio parent being in charge of discipline for too long now- I appreciate how that happened but the reality is you’re all now living under one roof- I’m surprised your partner is not more supportive, especially in instances where you’re the butt of the joke,

    I think first step is being honest with your partner explain how you feel and that this is your home too, and that you will no longer take the disrespect you’re getting- it’s up to her how she takes this news and how she responds but I’d be very clear and assertive- you could also make suggestions as to how she might support you- then it’s up to her-

  • Registered Users Posts: 930 ✭✭✭TheadoreT

    It's never going to be easy, they'll always challenge you so I'm not sure what changes you're realistically expecting but in terms of respect you'll gain much more if you stop worrying about being the "bad guy" and be more resolute in your parenting. What happened with the mother of your first child? Did you think the grass would be green running away from that or are similar problems cropping up again?

    You've used the word resentment towards your partner a few times and I get the feeling this whole thread points to a bigger underlying issue that you're not mentioning. I think if a couple have a good sex life there's far more harmony and being on the same page, resentment tends to be a by product of effection lacking in that area.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,897 ✭✭✭Jequ0n

    I really don’t think it’s your kids that are the problem here, but you and your partner are. I’ll warrant a guess that they are quite confused by the total lack of stability and consistency.

    It’s hardly surprising that they don’t see you an authority or role model if you decide to just let things slide. Fwiw I think your partner is the real issue here because she refuses to engage on this matter and instead ignores the problems.

    It’s telling that other people have noticed and commented on it, but that she choses to ignore them too, not just you.

  • Registered Users Posts: 235 ✭✭89897

    I think you need to move on from feeling like the bad guy and discipline them when its appropriate. But more importantly you need to be straight with your partner that things arent working and you need a united front on this. Even if she wont be consistent in her approach you need to be. Jequ0n hit the nail on the head when it said they are confused by the last of stability and consistency and apart from that this is a very very confusing time in a young persons life and they really do need that stability.

    Its good to hear they are well liked in school and with friends and i suspect they dont act out here because they know it wont be accepted and that there would be consequences. Something there currently isnt at home.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 3,930 ✭✭✭spaceHopper

    I think they do it to get a reaction from you, not sure what kinds of a reaction they are looking for. If they are been little sh1ts to you, give them a choice, stop, or if they continue then either they leave the room or you do. That way they get further enjoyment from it and will cop on.

    As for your OH, some people are afraid of been the baddy to their kids so never follow through on punishments. She's one of them, she isn't going to change. So again give her a choice, she deals with it or stays quite about you dealing with it in your way, aka she has no better way so can't complain about your way.

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    With mother of first child we always tried to be on the same page and we have been alot lately.

    I used the word resentment because she always turns it around on and downplays the carrys on in the house. Maybe I have less patience for than she does, actually no maybe about it she just doesn't seem to like to discipline, much like her father ever disciplined her.

    There's no bigger issue I'm hiding this is just the biggest issue that's playing on my mind. Although I have turned down sex because of how I'm feeling at the moment.

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    With her eldest I stopped trying to sort out altogether because she goes into a sulk and brings up something she is upset about with her dad.

    1 more example of how things go in the house. To show why it's a losing battle for me:

    Few weeks back we had been cleaning up after dinner and her eldest came in and was teasing the baby(this is the only thing me and OH are strict on and made sure she stops it)and was being rude to me then demanded I hand her something from the press. I rolled my eyes and asked what happened to having manners?

    Of course I get abuse back then she started to say something but decided to mutter it instead she often does as she isn't that brave. Now this just got under my skin so asked my OH to pull her up on it and ask her to repeat it.

    She turned around and said she didn't hear what she said, told her daughter to get an ice cream and left it at that.

    Again I'm more annoyed that I have no back up rather than how she speaks to me.

  • Registered Users Posts: 13,268 ✭✭✭✭Dial Hard

    Why didn't you just ask her to repeat what she said yourself??? You're trying to outsource being the disciplinarian to someone who has no interest in it. That's only ever going to go one way - nowhere.

  • Registered Users Posts: 669 ✭✭✭Housefree

    Your being a doormat, her listening to her ex and not you is telling, stop financially supporting them, their father is there now, let him do it, enjoy your own time and do nothing for them, focus on yourself, new hobby? Get to the gym? Find ways of getting outta the house ALOT

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    No? Well I did ask her what she said but she knows when to stop and she ignored me. Her mother was there and said we didn't hear what she said so no one should say anything to her?

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    Also I tend to do what you suggested and be out of house alot. Gym for 90 mins most days lately.

    You say the father is there now, they won't talk to him when he gives out to them. They have built up this idea in their heads that no one can give out to them, one of them will block him and not speak to him if he says anything at all.

    I know the issue is my partner but I can't raise it ever because she refuses to believe she is too soft on them.

  • Administrators Posts: 13,407 Admin ✭✭✭✭✭Big Bag of Chips

    Teenagers are generally selfish, self-absorbed a-holes! I have 3 of them at the moment and although I love them, I have periods where I don't like them. At all. My daughter is 15 and we have brief moments of happiness and laughter and appreciation, but the attitude is generally sullen, dismissive, rude.

    Sometimes we pull her up on it. Sometimes we operate the "least said soonest mended" technique. Teenage years are difficult. For everyone. I wasn't a particularly pleasant teen! I was a very definite street angel, house devil. Living with teenagers now, prompted me to recently apologise to my mother!

    All you can do try to communicate better with your partner. I have a bond to my children because they're my children. So I am probably willing to tolerate more from them than if they weren't blood related to me! Try go easy on each other. You and your partner I mean.

    The children do appreciate you. They've said as much. When they're adults they'll appreciate it all even more. It's just a hard few years to get through to get to that point.

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    I hear ya! Each of the kids are different. Mine also.

    I think it builds up on me and I end up arguing with the partner over something that isn't that and I let it get on top of me.

    Last week again I came back from work and her eldest was talking to her mam in the corner saying that she was threatening her with telling her dad about her behaviour and she felt its not right because she only sees her dad an hour a fortnight and she doesn't want him to speak to her about her attitude during that time.

    So as you can see my OH does sometimes try and speak to them and discipline but it's only ever on her terms. I have often argued that if they stabbed me in the eye then she still wouldn't think we should do anything.

    I will try communicating better with everyone when am back from work in a few days.

  • Administrators, Politics Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 25,947 Admin ✭✭✭✭✭Neyite

    Do you see that your OH outsourced the discipline she should have been implementing to her ex in that example? Still not doing any lifting on it herself. Look, you can't change her, and it sounds like she's an utter pushover, my sister would have made mincemeat of that as a teenager.

    So your options are to work on improving the relationships (to an extent, Chips is correct, the next few years are Teen Hell). Is there any one-on-one hobbies or interests you could do with the step kids that can help them get to know you - the guy, not the step dad version. You aren't looking to be a strict disciplinarian or to have them all hopping around doing your bidding but you are asking them to return the respect and compromise that you show them - and that's not a lot to ask for. So maybe doing more things together or one-on-one it can foster some sort of improvement.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 24,108 ✭✭✭✭Sleepy

    Sounds like some family counselling with a focus on parenting lessons for your other half wouldn't go ahead.

    Being a parent means having to be the "bad guy" when the kids actions warrant it.

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    Yeah I bring the younger one swimming quite often and two of us go cinema together to, she is not always as bad as the older one. But the older one has no interest in leaving the house to do anything nevermind going somewhere with me.

    I'll add that as bad as the eldest is with me, she has commented to her mam a few times that my child from previous relationship treats me badly and I do everything to keep her happy. Maybe I am just at fault as my partner.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,546 ✭✭✭rock22

    I might be going against most opinion here, but i think you need to step back a little and ask yourself who is the adult .

    Right now you have decided to wage a battle of wills with a couple of teenage girls. And somehow or another you think you might win. Sorry , but that is not how teenagers operate. i would suggest you try to accept that teenagers are going to be teenagers , and as Big bag of chips said, they can be a-holes. Personally , with your last example, I would have given her what she wanted from the press and then gently ask "What happened to please and thank you?" I know I would probably get a role of eyes but I wouldn't be wasting my time arguing.

    Clearly your OH has a different parenting style and i do agree with those who say you do need to sit down and agree the red lines for your teenagers. But they will continue to be a-holes for at least another five years and there is nothing either of you can do about it.

    My children are way past the teenage years . i can tell it gets better when they get to about thirty and hopefully move out!

  • Registered Users Posts: 360 ✭✭Xidu

    OP I can totally understand your situation but be prepared it will get worse as they are going to teenagers now.

    teens are the worst to deal with even with your Own child, even in a perfect normal family

    I am speaking of my own experience that my daughter is 13 and she is such a work for me and her dad already. Not that sweet little girl anymore.

    sometimes I think it’s better to not care about each cases too much. As long as you support them when they need.

    If my kids comment on my look and make me upset. I will tell them immediately that they hurt my feelings and it’s rude to comment others appearance like that.

    And my son is younger and sometimes they fight each other and telling me to blame the other. I always tell them what they are fighting for is nothing and they need to solve it between themselves.

    also very important to talk to your partner about the strategy to deal with the kids. Need to make sure you 2 are on the same line, same page, same rules.

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    Thanks rock22 and xidu for replies and advice.

    I dont feel like I want to win against them as you have put it rock, but you are right about thinking who is the adult.

    I suppose me and herself are too different when it comes to discipline, my parents were somewhat strict and hers let everything go. I don't exactly want to be as strict as my parents were but I turned out fine.

    For the record I know my last example wasn't the worst but its small stuff like that happens many times a day and more when my other child stays up and I ask when does it stop, she seems to be fine one day with the kids and then the next giving out to them about something minor. We both have totally different tolerance limits for it.

    Sorry I do seem to be dragging this thread out abit but I decided to open it because she claimed I wasnt treating them the same,as if to suggest i didnt give out to them in example 1 as my daughter was there(she doesn't even treat her own two the same so it made no sense) which just annoyed me more.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,162 ✭✭✭LawBoy2018

    Sounds like you're a great guy doing your best. Hope things improve for you in time.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,546 ✭✭✭rock22

    It is always going to be difficult when two parents don't agree on an approach. So i would start there and try to talk with your OH. If you think there is any truth in the claim that you treat them differently when your daughter is present, then deal with that too.

    But otherwise, i would try to reduce the times you argue with them over small things. It can really create an unpleasant home for the girls and you. That doesn't mean letting up on rules or discipline, just that sometimes it is better to accept bad manners etc. now and then rather than always calling them out on it. It is a balance. But if every interaction ends in a row then it gets toxic very quickly.

    Good luck with it. Being a parent is never easy, being a step parent even more so. But, believe me, it is worth it

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    No truth that I treat then differently of anything I have to speak to my daughter more. With her she just has issue with me and no one else, so if anything it's my OH who wants different rules for all 3 kids.

    I have tried your suggestion a few times but as I mentioned if I let a load of small things go it just builds up and I'll end up in a row with herself.

    I'll be raising it today and fingers crossed we get somewhere.

    Another thing I've issue with and have raised it befor with her but she said I'm imagining it. When we buy gifts for birthdays or Christmas for the kids we have went halves, she seems to always pick things that I get for my daughter saying she won't use it and it will go to waste or what ever. Yet I point out we got hers a dog and a gaming pc and both are practically ignored. When school fees are due I give her halve then send half yo my other child's mother and my partner seems to have issue with giving her money as she gets back to school money. I can't seem to win but both issues I've spoke about here are have a common ground that while we are together she wants us to be two separate families rather than one.

    I know I'm painting her in a bad picture but thats not my intention at all. I am far from perfect and probably have alot of stuff I do wrong or bothers her.

  • Administrators Posts: 13,407 Admin ✭✭✭✭✭Big Bag of Chips

    Of course you don't treat them the same. That's pretty much impossible. I have 4 children. All mine, all full siblings, and I don't even treat them all the same, because they are different people. And the approach that works with one won't work with another. You are dealing with different personalities and you are also dealing with children from different families. Your partner will treat her children differently to how she treats yours.

    You should not be paying half her children's expenses. She needs to chase their father for appropriate maintenance. Birthday presents and stuff ok. They can be from both of you. But any expenses relating to her children, school, Christmas, tours, extra curricular activities etc are the responsibility of the children's parents.

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  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    When I say treats them differently, she has no problem taking the phone and tablet off her younger child, the older one does same thing and worse and absolutely will not take any punishment like a phone being taken off her.

    Regarding getting money off the kids father he is useless, pays half of the court ordered maintenance and stops when he feels like it. I wouldn't see them do without or have my partner struggle to pay them. Which is never an issue but once I mentioned their attitude or try disciplining them she has a go at me.

    Anyways I'll raise it all today and update if it's a success in a few days or weeks.

    Thanks all