The Great Divide - Stepkids vs bio kids

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-26-2012
The Great Divide - Stepkids vs bio kids
7
Sun, 08-17-2014 - 5:51pm

More to the point:  How are rules formed in your house when you have older stepkids who came with their own rules (or no rules at all) which you don't agree with...then you have biological children with their father?  Should everyone in the house be on the same rules or is that a fantasy?

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Mon, 08-18-2014 - 11:29am

I would really suggest getting some marriage counseling before your 2nd baby is born (and then you won't have time).  I can relate having been in a 2nd marriage--I didn't have kids with my 2nd DH but we both had kids from the 1st marriage and we had very different ideas about raising them.  I think that you have to establish house rules.  If he has his kids 1/2 the time, that is a lot more than a lot of non-custodial dads have--I could almost see not having household chores if they are staying at your house only EO weekend--that's only 2 days out of 14 but if they are there 50% of the time, it's also "their" house--they are not guests so they need to have household responsibilities.  I think it's easy to start with things like no one is allowed to eat any food in their room or everyone has to put their dishes in the dishwasher after dinner.  I agree that he is not doing anyone any favors by making them so dependent--our job as parents is to make the kids self sufficient so they will be capable of living on their own as adults--and they actually feel a sense of accomplishment when they do things on their own.  At 14 my kids were doing ALL their own laundry and we trained them to clear the table and put their dishes in the dishwasher.  I know many kids who did a lot more chores than mine too.

There are some things that might be more difficult to compromise on.  I agree that a 2 yr old should not be drinking soda since it's empty calories, but somehow I doubt that you will be able to now change the rules so that kids who have been allowed to drink soda all their lives must stop drinking it--but you could certainly say that they can't drink it for breakfast.  Your DH should also encourage them to cut down on the amt. they drink, just for health reasons.

You can't control what goes on in their mother's or grandparents' houses so just concentrate on what your DH does.  There is no reason for him to be a guilty dad if he is spending time with his kids, taking care of their needs and he has a civil relationship w/ their mom.  They will end up not respecting him if he is a pushover--and where does it end?  At some point, he will have to say no to something--I mean he's not going to allow them to smoke cigarettes or drink beer underage (I hope) so he needs to start practicing now before they get into big issues.

Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
Mon, 08-18-2014 - 9:04pm

I went back and looked at your previous post.  You've disliked his children from the get-go, and apparently things have not gotten any better.  I am sure your SO feels this also, and since his kids are with him HALF TIME, he feels he needs to make up for your lack of consideration.  So what if an 8yo wants his shoes tied and seatbelt buckled??  He's 8, not 28.  He's not a short adult.  He's had his life turned upside down, & his father taken away from his family.  Hugs and compassion should be the order of the day. 

When the 14yo says she doesn't know how to do something, she well may NOT know what's expected at YOUR house, if you've never bothered to show her, with LOVE.  Teens are tough to raise by 2 parents who've loved them since the moment they were concieved. On top of having her world turned upside down just as she was becoming a teen, treating this child like she's a lazy intrusion upon your life, for 6 months of the year, is playing hell with her self esteem.   

Since you "...try to stay away as much as possible (and) Of course, I take my bio daughter with me.." you are making the divide between your children and his children even WORSE.  And who's watching the older kids while you are visiting with your family, and touring the neighborhood??  This makes the older ones feel even more unloved. 

Even with your 2 year old, it sounds like you spend a lot of time issuing orders.  Kids learn best when working as a team.  Pick up their clothes WITH THEM.  Show them how to rinse a dish, then pick up a towel and dry while they rinse.  I am the FIRST one to say that kids need rules and structure, but you catch more flys with honey than vinegar. 

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-26-2012
Thu, 08-21-2014 - 12:16am

Musiclover, I agree that we need to get some counseling.  While being a stay-at-home mom has greatly reduced our income, I still think it's what's best for everyone if we find a way to make it happen.  Being a stepmother is hard. And I'm sure dealing with someone trying to figure out being a stepmother is hard as well.

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-26-2012
Thu, 08-21-2014 - 12:27am

Sabrtooth, I will NOT show a 14 year old how to rinse a dish.  She knows how.  And as far as "issuing orders" to my two year old, I'm not sure what to tell you there. Other than, I will teach her how to do things for herself.  When she doesn't know how to do something, I will of course work with her and guide her.  But she is smart and capable and I will teach her early not to feign ignorance to get out of chores.

The two older kids don't have it easy...as far as having had to go through a divorce...which is why I have gone out of my way in several areas to make them feel loved, make them feel special..It has never been received well.  And while I was at my wits end both times I have posted on here, there have been plenty of times where I have reached out, hugged, and tried to just love.  But you can't always be some angelic martyr when you've been pushed to the limit.

Do you have an 8 year old?  Does he open the car door for himself?  Give me a break.

Thank you for your comment.  

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-26-2012
Thu, 08-21-2014 - 8:27am

Musiclover, I wanted to reply to anothe rportion of your post as well. We have definitely made sure that the kids feel that this is their home as well.  From the get-go, we initially had a three bedroom house and my SO wanted to have them share a room since they were only with us half the month...then our newborn daughter could have a room for herself.  But I said from the beginning that I didn't want that...it would make them feel "less than" when they came to stay.  It was only after all these issues starting creeping up that I became resentful of that decision.  Luckily, we now have a house big enough for all in our family to have their own room so that's not an issue anymore (they never knew it had become an issue to begin with...even while I was having resentful thoughts about it... I redecorated both of their rooms for their birthdays, exactly how they wanted them). But that being said, every time they used to refer to our house as "the house in _______ (our town)", both my SO and I would correct them and say "your other home".  They have definitely not been made to feel that this is just a stop-in point.  I hope we can find a way to get on the same page with rules/discipline.  I am feeling more forgiving towards him today than I was when I originally posted this thread.  He is a good person and a good dad.  It's just going to be really hard for him to overcome the guilt and do some of the things a parent should do fo rthe older two.  And I am going to try to be less watchful for a while.... I know I'm defensive because I feel that this will hurt my younger kids' if they see this divide.  But I think, for our relationship, I will try to be a little less on the lookout for a while.  It is sad to say but as anyone knows who's been in a difficult blended family, sometimes detachment (at times) is the best option.  And while the other poster on here seems to disagree, I don't feel guilty for doing that.  Sometimes, a stepmother fully engaging is only going to make matters worse and will not be welcomed.  Sometimes, you're just going to be viewed as an interloper no matter what, so there you go.

Again, thank you for your help and non-judgmental tone.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Thu, 08-21-2014 - 11:52am

I think sometimes you do have to detach if things don't affect you or your child directly.  Like if your DH wants to do everything for his older kids, fine, just as long as he doesn't expect you to treat them like babies as well.  I also think that kids can adapt--like most divorced parents do not have exactly the same rules and kids learn pretty quickly that in mom's house we have to do this, in dad's house, they do something different.  What I think is really traumatic to the kids is if the parents can't get along--if the parents are at least civil and don't talk badly about each other then I think they will adapt.  I am also curious about why your DH feels so guilty--was the divorce his idea?  If he felt so guilty about it, why didn't he stay married?  Otherwise, I think he has to let go because guilt is not productive--if he is supporting his kids financially, being nice to their mother and providing a home for them 1/2 the time, he should not feel guilty--but part of being a good dad is that he needs to be the dad, and assist them in becoming responsible adults.  Maybe you could find a book on parents and divorce and read it together so he can figure that out.

I also think that you don't need to be with them all the time because they are really there to spend time with their dad.  My ex has been remarried for 12 yrs now.  My kids have a good relationship with their SM (and I do too, although it's not like we hang out together) but most of the time my ex did things with the kids alone--she is a nurse so she might be working on weekends or nights.  One night a week dad would take them out to dinner and I don't think she usually went along, then another night they would eat at his house and they were also overnight about EO Sat.  They were expected to clean up after themselves and keep the house neat and they were only there a short time--much less than 50%.  I don't think they cleaned the house but my son did have to mow the lawn.  I think that they should be treated as a part of the family not like a guest who has no responsibilties--family members all should have responsibilities to help the household even if it's small things like helping with dinner and setting and cleaning the table.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-08-2006
Thu, 08-21-2014 - 2:29pm
I am speaking as the child of divorce, not as a parent. I think parents underestimate how difficult it is for children to have 'two houses' with different rules and rituals. It is ok if the kids are really small, but to live in two neighborhoods, with two sets of friends, different socializing opportunities, different stuff...imagine if every week you had to pack up your stuff and move someplace? To remember what is at each house? To wake up and wonder what bed you are sleeping in...where the bathroom is in that house...whether this is the toast and jam or cereal for breakfast house...children are expected to adjust to a situation they did not choose and probably don't want...sometimes divorce is the best answer, and involved parents matter, but is think the sacrifice that the children make is often overlooked...and I had the world's best stepmother and my dad visited us in our own home, helped with homework and put us to bed...a tribute to my mother and dad's ability to put our needs first...I feel so sorry for the children who shuttle between multiple homes...