My Fiance has Problems with my children

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-15-2003
My Fiance has Problems with my children
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Thu, 05-15-2003 - 7:20pm
I really hope this is the right board for this.I could use some good solid advice right now as I am at wits end with things here.Firstly,I have been living with my fiance for two years and although he has been good to my kids he has never really built a special bond with them and it shows and bothers me.Whenever he and I get into conversations about this he says to me "but they are not my children they are his"you see,my childrens Father does see them often but this should not affect their relationship in any way,my X and my fiance get along fine together.When he says this to me I get upset with him and say"but you and I are together and you should treat these as if they were your own".He tells me its lack of experience .He use to give my daughter of now 11 a hug before she went to bed at night,he hasn't done that in some time now.He does things around here without complaining but in a code of silence most of the time,he says he is happy but it doesnt show on his face.I see often the kids seem to joke with him about things and he doesnt join in the fun and laugh along with them.He seems to not know how to even take a joke as we as a family have always been a happy-go-lucky fun family!..also messing around and being silly but he never joins in.Anyhow,lately things have not been going so great between us and this problem with him and my children seems to not be getting any better.He tells me "I'll try" but how I see it,it's either there or it's not right?.Well two days ago I was really sick in bed and he told me to stay in so i did and he got up to get the kids off to school.All I could hear was him arguing with them

as if he was a kid himself!it was so pathetic I was starting to wonder just who was the adult and who was the kid,he even stormed off throwing a childish tantrum that could have won him the grammy!.He was pouting and behaving like a 5 year old and this isnt the first time I have seen him like this with them.My children are 14 and 11,a lot of the time they get along with him but I feel that my fiance brings a lot of the trouble he has with them on himself due to his lack of experience and his childish manner.Look please dont get me wrong,I stand beside this man many many times,he too is a very weak person in nature meaning,people tend to walk all over him but all I want is for him to be able to deal with these kids as an adult instead of squabbling back at them like a little child himself,the kids even comment about how he throws the tantrums.He has never had children of his own and wants them but I can see problems arising if that should happen,for one,he would treat them so differently to mine as he has never really got close to mine.I might add that when I met him he had a very special bond with his own family,they were extremely close,it's just a pity he can't have the same closeness with my children,his future step children.Please tell me what I should do here?I am almost ready to throw this two year relationship away :( Di


Edited 5/15/2003 7:34:41 PM ET by di_65

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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Thu, 05-15-2003 - 10:23pm
Having faced...or am dealing with...a similar situation, I thought I'd try to give you a little of the guy's perspective and answer some of your questions.

First, you have to understand that the ONLY thing he purposefully sought out was you and your company...NOT your children. He was attracted to YOU, he wanted to spend time with YOU...not spend his days at Disneyland. And if he's like most guys, even though they may know that you have children, they really aren't much of a consideration until your relationship becomes more involved. That's when the trouble starts. Now, maybe at the time the two of you began dating, all he really wanted was a casual relationship and sex...which wouldn't have entailed him giving a whit about your kids. But something happened and the two of you kept seeing each other...probably quite unplanned on his part and this "situation" simply grew out of that. Yes, he was aware of it and yes, he's responsible for his actions, but in reality...which is germane to his perspective...it wasn't part of his game plan.

*** I have been living with my fiance for two years and although he has been good to my kids he has never really built a special bond with them and it shows and bothers me.

And how often have you formed a "special bond" with your familyl's friend's or neighbor's children? They're not his, so why would you expect anything more than cordiallity and civility? Sure, it would be nice if he took to them like they were his own (which he has no experience with) and if they took to him like he was their parent (which they haven't done) but that's a pretty unrealistic thing to press on them, which you are by demonstrating your disappointment.

*** Whenever he and I get into conversations about this he says to me "but they are not my children they are his"

That's true...and there's no reason to expect him to demonstrate a "parent's love" for children that he didn't father. He wasn't there to form the emotional bond and wasn't there to raise them, hold them and love them. These are another man's kids...and in the wild, the male would quite probably kill them and start his own brood.

*** you see,my childrens Father does see them often but this should not affect their relationship in any way

Of course it does. Your fiance is the odd man out as far as the kids are concerned. They have a "Dad" and your boyfriend isn't him. He doesn't get the love and affection that "Dad" does or, quite probably, the respect...yet you expect him to give more than he gets. The only reason the kids tolerate him is because he's your BF...and they probably let him know it in ways too subtle for you to perceive...but he does. They call him by his first name, don't they? They give him flack or when they don't like what he's said they go to you or to "Dad" don't they? Without your prodding or reminding, would they think to give him a Father's Day card? Birthday card? Or even just a kiss before going to bed?

*** When he says this to me I get upset with him and say"but you and I are together and you should treat these as if they were your own".

Again, TOTALLY unrealistic. They AREN'T his own and they never will be. These are not "your kids" with all the fluffy, 1950's, Ozzie and Harriet BS that that implies. These are "people"...independent people with established personalities. It's just as ridiculous for you to insist that he love these children as if "they were his own" as it would be for him to insist that you love his mother as much as you do your own...or love his friends as much as he does...or love his dog as much as he does...or any other equally silly scenario you'd care to mention. You have utterly unrealistic expectations of this situation.

*** He use to give my daughter of now 11 a hug before she went to bed at night,he hasn't done that in some time now.

Maybe he did it as a way of trying to connect with her...and maybe he got tired of it not being returned or when she hugged him back as a matter of rote. It's tough to keep giving when you're the only one doing it...and getting berrated when you don't.

*** He does things around here without complaining but in a code of silence most of the time,he says he is happy but it doesnt show on his face.

So now you're a mind reader too? Not only does he have to physically put himself out, but he has to be "happy" doing it or get grief from you after playing 20 questions?

*** He seems to not know how to even take a joke as we as a family have always been a happy-go-lucky fun family!

If things were so "happy-go-lucky" why isn't "Dad" still there? And why are you trying to shove this guy into your pre-formed mold of who he's supposed to be? You apparently liked him enough to move in with him...so why are you harping at him all the time and trying to get him to change?

*** ..also messing around and being silly but he never joins in.

Maybe he doesn't feel like he's a "part" of that...and maybe he's "made" to feel that way by you and the kids.

*** Anyhow,lately things have not been going so great between us and this problem with him and my children seems to not be getting any better.He tells me "I'll try" but how I see it,it's either there or it's not right?.

No, that's not right. Relationships take time to build...particularly between adults and children as the children are usually selfish and selfinterested, and probably resentful that "Mommy" has tossed "Dad" out the door and brought in this "other guy" who "Mommy" says we have to be nice to...but we won't because we hate him for making "Dad" go away.

*** Well two days ago I was really sick in bed and he told me to stay in so i did and he got up to get the kids off to school.All I could hear was him arguing with them

as if he was a kid himself!it was so pathetic I was starting to wonder just who was the adult and who was the kid,he even stormed off throwing a childish tantrum that could have won him the grammy!

How very supportive of you. I wonder how "pathetic" you sound when you argue with an 11 year old? Obviously your kids weren't showing him the least amount of respect...but at least he left it to arguing with them rather than giving them the whack on the ass that they deserved. This was the time that YOU should have stepped in and made sure that they heeded him in the same manner that you would expect them to heed you...but you didn't, you'd just rather derride him for not being able to control your little brats.

*** all I want is for him to be able to deal with these kids as an adult instead of squabbling back at them like a little child himself,the kids even comment about how he throws the tantrums.

Kids will only listen to you if they're afraid of the consequences if they don't...so you'd rather he make them listen by resorting to force? Maybe he doesn't feel that it's his place to discipline the little darlings...SINCE THEY'RE NOT HIS!!! Why aren't you stepping in to mediate this situation instead of having such a ball ridiculing your fiance with your kids? They're your kids, so you should be the one who disciplines them, not pass it off to him. Your lack of responsibility and parenting skills are the thing that's causing the problem here.

*** He has never had children of his own and wants them but I can see problems arising if that should happen,for one,he would treat them so differently to mine as he has never really got close to mine.

Of course he'd love his kids more than he loves yours...that's a parents bond...but it doesn't mean that he'd treat them any differently, and I can state that from experience. I actually go out of my way to make sure that things are as equal as I can possibly make them. What's really telling is that you're apparently willing to withold from your finance the opportunity to experience his own children because he hasn't innately grown attached to your brood. That, in my mind, is entirely SELFISH and I would hope that you were honest with him so that if he does want kids, he can go find someone more giving and understanding with which to have them.

*** I might add that when I met him he had a very special bond with his own family,they were extremely close,it's just a pity he can't have the same closeness with my children,his future step children.

And have YOU formed a "very special bond" with his family as well? No? Interesting. Well, what's wrong with YOU? And since you've stated that he does, in fact, have the capacity to bond closely with other people, then perhaps he's not entirely to blame for the circumstances of his relationship with your children? It sounds like you're more interested in being derrogatory rather than supportive as far as his relationship with your kids is concerned.

*** Please tell me what I should do here?I am almost ready to throw this two year relationship away

Well, considering your antagonistic approach to dealing with this situation I would almost recomment you do that...just for his peace of mind. You'd rather pick at him for not being more saintly than Christ himself rather than be grateful for a guy who gives so much of himself to YOU and YOUR family and appreciative of the incredible effort he puts in and who gets apparently little in return.

Whatever your "wishes" may be, these are NOT his children. You're the only one suffering from that delusion...he doesn't feel that way and neither do your kids. But with your support, he may establish a civil, and maybe one day, a loving relationship with your kids. These kids are "people"..."individuals"..."roommates" of yours that he accepted when he asked you to marry him and move in with him. Accept that affection and generosity and help him and the kids work towards having a "good" and "supportive" relationship. That is the best you can hope for...but hey, miracles do sometimes happen and maybe you'll get lucky...or maybe he'll just get fed up with your harping and lack of appreciation for the sacrifices he's making and throw in the towel.

Mac

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-09-2003
Thu, 05-15-2003 - 10:40pm
It is a no brainer - If your kids are suffering in any way - chuck the guy.

This man dosn't sound mature enough for marriage and all that it means.

Why are you with him again??????


iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Fri, 05-16-2003 - 12:10am
Wow, what an extreme misread on the situation!

Mac

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-15-2003
Fri, 05-16-2003 - 4:40am
For a minute there Mac I actually thought you were a half descent person until you opened slather on me not really knowing what this is truly about and taking small pieces of what I have said and turning them into your own evalation of things.In your opening statement you said "Having faced...or am dealing with...a similar situation, I thought I'd try to give you a little of the guy's perspective and answer some of your questions" well obviously you are one of these guys that us women are out there trying to find answers to for being like this towards our children!.I came here for "advice" not to be put down and insulted by you in any way shape or form!.I need support from someone "like myself" here not fighting on the opposite side of things.When you asked me had I formed a bond with my families,friends or neighbours children!I would say yes to family but no to friends due to the fact I am not around their children 24/7 so that really was a silly thing to say.I am talking about a man who is living in our home 24/7,the kids wake up to him,the kids see him before he goes to bed every night..THERE IS A DIFFERENCE!Do you honestly believe that " cordiallity and civility" IS enough?come on Mac I can be cordial to the kids up the road!!is that what your saying?that I should settle for this with my children?.He CONSTANTLY reminds me that they are not his children for Petes sake!I am copping the opposite to what others get in relationships like mine ,you hear of partners who are not the biological parent being constantly reminded that "your not the kids parent" I can't be so bad if I am wanting the man that I love and plan on marrying to be a Father figure to them!Ya know,it is possible for someone to love children that are not his own as if they were,I have seen this many many times!This old man I know always said to me "you take on the cow you take on the calves" mind you he was an old farmer but he is right in what he says!.Too often people get into relationships where there are problems with their partner and children and without thinking of the kids the kids basically have to settle for less often being mistreated by both Parent and partner.Your statement...*in the wild, the male would quite probably kill them and start his own brood.Wow Mac its no wonder your having problems!you say you think my guy should leave me,after reading how you feel about this is NO WONDER your partner is having problems of her own with her kids and you!.your statement when I said that the kids do see their Father and it should not be a problem..your reply was "your fiance is the odd man out as far as the kids are concerned. They have a "Dad" and your boyfriend isn't him. He doesn't get the love and affection that "Dad" does or, quite probably, the respect....you see there you go again speculating!..My kids Father hardly spends any time with them and in fact most things he does do is an effort!My fiance is not a jelouse man,in fact he hasnt a jelouse bone in his body!he loves and trusts me,he gets along fine with my X,the kids know what their Father is like so it's not like they come back from his place and treat my x like dirt all of a sudden,that doesnt happen,I think now your speaking of your own personal situation because Mac it's not mine.Who said my kids "tolerate" him??did I??heck no..my kids do love him!I can see that in many ways so once again speculation.When you say its unrealistic for me to want him to love my kids like that I dont think it is Mac and many others would agree because it does and can happen!.Even your remark that was uncalled for saying " if we were so happy-go-lucky why isnt the Dad with us??well that really is none of your concern is it?my post was about other matters NOT about the reasons why I am divorced.You also said to me how ralationships take time to build!!of course they do..everyone knows that but im talking about two years here not a month!..then you said as the children are usually selfish and selfinterested..hang on a second..what about adults?,dont you think in relationships such as mine there are also selfish and self interested partners?kids can also be victims here not just the partner!I had also said I was sick in bed,how could I be supportive if I was so sick I couldnt even get out of bed!It wasnt as if I was going to bounce right out of there and go "hey you kids cut it out"! I was SICK!.They were all harping at each other like little kids!more like brothers and sisters rather then adult and children!.He walked out in a skit slamming a door and heck no I dont carry on like that!You say my kids are bratts...which they are not!Just because they are my kids doesnt mean he cannot discipline them!we try and work together with these sort of things,if you just leave the discipline up to one parent then your going to find problems arising from that arent you?Then you said this Mac.."And have YOU formed a "very special bond" with his family as well? No? Interesting. Well, whats wrong with you??" ..hang on buddy woah there...ya know,I actually get along great with his family so where on earth did you come to this conclusion that I dont?You say I am being antagonistic...all I am wanting is the man I love and plan to marry to connect more to my kids!heck..people run off for councelling for all type of things!INCLUDING these type of issues..am I such a bad person to want this?.Then you ramble on saying I should break up with him for his peace of mind!!!Do you live in my home,do you see how we live,do you know what he and I are like together??of course you dont!so once again you are making statements I feel that are most likely related to your own problems and not mine.You know Mac apart from your opening line this one is the only one I can honestly say thankyou for!.."help him and the kids work towards having a "good"and "supportive" relationship" this is the ONE thing that you

should have said rather then the unecessary ones that you made if anything insulting me without truly knowing the facts here.I have realised after this letter that my problems are minor compared to the ones your having right now.
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-13-2003
Fri, 05-16-2003 - 4:46am
Totally agree with Mac - what do you want from this guy? He is not the father, just a man trying to do his best to get on with another man's children. You absolutely cannot expect this man to love them as his own, especially when there is an involved father on the scene, and it's not like this man has raised them since infancy.

As far as him arguing like a child - children are very frustrating by design, they test us to the limit and it's hard enough when they are ours, when they are somebody else's... I would expect that not having had children of his own, he's not well equipped to deal with bolshy teenagers or stubborn eleven year olds and acts out of frustration - this is the time for you to step in and offer support to all parties. You must realize that these are YOUR children and YOUR responsibility and your partner is more likely to cultivate a close relationship with them if he has your support and understanding as opposed to this unrealistic expectation that everybody should just love each other.

In a nutshell, I think Mac hit the nail on the head.

Pebbles

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-15-2003
Fri, 05-16-2003 - 4:55am
How can anyone misread you Mac?you came across loud and clear
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-15-2003
Fri, 05-16-2003 - 4:56am
in a nutshell I think you have no idea what your talking about either..
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-13-2003
Fri, 05-16-2003 - 5:17am
You are right - I don't walk in your shoes, so I can't know your situation the way you know it.

I do understand your desire to have your partner love your children the way you do (I am currently a single mother and have the same hopes you do) I just think it's unrealistic, given that this man hasn't been around *that* long. Your children were 9 and 11 when you started dating (am I right?) not babies who have known nothing but him - that's the sort of situation where you see a man loving another man's children as his own.

IMHO you have accept your fiance's limitations - he's probably doing the best he knows how to and acting like a child and arguing with your children is obviously done out of extreme frustration and not being properly equipped to deal with the situation. As people have stated over and over - there's no manual for parenting and it's even harder when you are trying to discipline children that aren't yours. Can you be sure that your children weren't provoking him with 'You're not my father...'. As the fiance and not the father, he might feel disempowered and ineffectual.

Perhaps if you have more realistic expectations -- that your children and this man get along, rather than him loving them like his own -- you won't be so frustrated by his shortcomings as step father. I would suspect if he's asked you to marry him that he's committed to you and is doing the best he can!

Pebbles


iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Fri, 05-16-2003 - 6:33am
Your kids are the priority here. Take their pulse on the situation. Chances are, since he's been around a while anyway, they may not want to see him leave. That would mean their relationship with him is reasonably healthy. If they are non-committal, or if they express ANY misgivings about him becoming a permanent part of the family, then your answer and your way is clear.

If you decide to maintain the relationship, get yourselves into some step-parenting classes - and see if there are any age-specific ones, for step-parenting teens. You will have to go too because it will be important for the two of you to know each other's expectations, and to make some rules for your own behaviors, responsibilites, etc..

Just to chime in on the controversy above, because your children have a solid relationship with their biological father, your fiance's role in the household takes on a different light altogether. However, he still needs to respond to them appropriately, needs to establish his authority within the house, and cooperate with and support the joint decisions you and your ex make about the children.

Lee M.

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-02-2003
Fri, 05-16-2003 - 8:09am
hi di! you will have to excuse me, I started but couldn't finish all the previous posts and replies (sometimes this board gets a tad tedious, but whatever). I will try to reply to your post and share some of my own experience.

there are two issues here - (a) your fiance, as a person (not as a step father or husband) and (b) your fiance as a step father

lets start with your fiance as a person- is he really someone you love, and respect? is he really someone you can count on? someone who is supportive of you? someone who works in and out of the house, and is responsible? is he mature? from my own (bad) experience with a second marriage --- DO NOT get a replacement father for your children. if you want to get married- only marry someone who is first and foremost suitable for YOU as a husband

of course, having said that, we move on to the catch-22 situation- he MUST be a positive, and emotionally-healthy adult, he must be someone who WANTS to be a step dad, because regardless of whether or not they have a relationship with their bio-dad--- he is going to be living with them in the same house. how is he going to do that - and ignore them? that doesn't work.

it is hard for an *outsider* to move into a ready made family. this is not to say that you are your kids are doing anything wrong, but in these type of situations (and I am in one myself right now) we tend to want to keep things in the *family life* as is, and let the *new guy* adapt. that doesn't work either. its also hard for a relationship when it starts with grown or semi grown kids already there. there is no *getting to know you better* period, the family is already in place

here is what I think: first, sit down and talk. its possible that your fiance is talking to you and you are not hearing. if he cannot/will not be a step father to your kids- then you do need to rethink the relationship. if he just doesn't know what to do and how to do it - then I would very strongly recommend you get some family therapy, which will give everyone a chance to voice their dreams and frustrations and see if you can work at getting along better.

one last note - regarding your daughter who no longer gets kissed at night? sometimes our darling little preteen/teens go thru periods where they don't want kisses or hugs. its possible that she is *growing* and feels uncomfortable about having a *male* (who is, in fact, NOT her father, or a blood relative) hugging her. who knows.

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