The Family & Parenting ForumsFamily dynamics can be exactly that - dynamic! Post here about family related issues such as parenting, blended families, step-families, new relationships with children involved, family of origin issues, in-laws or sibling issues.
I have been divorced since '08. My ex is gay. We had two kids together. The fact that he is gay is not as hurtful as the fact that he didn't pay child support, and had to be sent to jail to pay up. He sees the kids once a week.
I now have a wonderful fiance, who moved in with my boys and I in January.
About once a week, or couple of weeks, he gets really moody and angry. I ask him about it, and he says it is because he cant talk to me about my kids...I get that. If he is upset with them, he doesn't feel like he can tell me, because I get upset.
Last night, my kid wanted to stay out until 9PM at a friends house. My fiance said he thought that was too late, and proceeded to have a little temper tantrum...saying that he has no say in their lives, and I don't include him in things about the kids. (but I do!) Then, I went to get my kid early, to appease the situation. When I son walked in, he changed the channel on the TV...My fiance didn't seem to be watching it, but then said "oh, don't worry, I wasn't watching anything" (sarcastically) My kid didn't catch the nuance, and said "ok, thanks!) My fiance said to me, "Well, it would have been nice to have him ask first"...
He said we need counselling. I agree. We have it scheduled for next week.
I don't know how to take all of this. I take it personally. I get really upset, and cry when he is like this.
Other things he has gotten mad at me about...he thought I was checking out another guy at a school function, he thinks I only cook for the kids, and not him (he is a bodybuilder, so only lean meat and veggies), I didn't have sex with him one night because I came to bed too late, and he was asleep...I just don't know what is going to make him mad next. Do you really think it is about me being too sensitive about issues relating to the kids?
He helps me a lot. He loves my family, and really likes visiting my mom, dad, brother, etc...He is very thoughtful most of the time. But these little outbursts are very upsetting to me. I have to walk on eggshells when he is like this...
Why are you allowing your fiance to usurp your parental authority when he's only been a member of your household for 4 months? You said you went to pick up the kids early "to appease the situation." This isn't good at all. Your kids are going to realize that you're handing over your control to this new guy (who, frankly, is behaving like a jerk to them at least part of the time). That's not going to make them feel secure.
They have enough to adjust to with the divorce, accepting a new person into their family, building a relationship with him, etc. right now. He needs to focus on building a foundational relationship with them at this early stage, not on being the disciplinarian. That's still primarily your job. There has to be a chain of command when it comes to parenting in a blended family. That chain of command goes: You and Dad > Stepparents > Kids. All authority he has comes through you. Even if he takes away a toy the kids are fighting over when you're not there, it should be because you guys have discussed what discipline you as Mom are comfortable with ahead of time and agreed on what he should do in certain situations.
I'm guessing by your description of his behavior that he has no children, himself, or at least not any he's had much experience living with. Your children might not notice the nuances now, but they will, and sooner rather than later. Kids are very sensitive to tones of voice and tension in the household. Pretty soon, they'll feel like they're walking on eggshells in their own home, too, and that will lead to all sorts of resentment that can ruin your family.
I'd nip it in the bud now. Sit down with your fiance and let him know that you want him to focus on building a relationship (not a Dad-type relationship. Just a relationship.) with the kids right now. Offer suggestions on how he can do that. Come up with an agreement on what your expectations for the kids are in the house, but beware changing them too much, too quickly...better to work on one small thing that annoys him at a time. Simple expectations are best. Ask him to play a supportive role and leave discipline to you when you're there. Ask him to agree not to argue about parenting issues in front of the kids. If a new problem comes up, he should discuss it with you privately and let you decide how to handle it. Of course, he can give suggestions, and you as his partner should consider his feelings on the matter. If you're not present and he's watching the kids alone, discuss and agree on how he's allowed to enforce the expectations.
There need to be clear boundaries in place. For the kids AND for your fiance. He will also have his own boundaries to enforce, as well, but they're going to have to be realistic ones if these are young children. He'll need to learn how to pick his battles. Hopefully, he'll grow to love your kids and vice versa, and in a few years, his relationship with them will be established enough for this to all flow more easily and organically. It's just finding the right way to mesh together all of these boundaries in a way that's fair to everybody.
Thank you for your replies! We talked the other night, and come to find out, he doesn't think my kids respect him, or me. He pointed out some discipline issues that he saw, and said he would have handled them much differently. He really wants to be involved, and said he has to get used to the fact that he is not an equal parent. I think I am beginning to understand!
Search, it's really hard to be the step-parent -- you constantly get the consequences of behavior, but you don't have a voice in correcting the behavior. I'm glad you guys talked -- cut him some slack.
It is interesting that sombody would be expected to be a co- head of houshold and yet not have full parenting rights. I can say from a mans perspective that it would be an immediate deal breaker. I have standards and live by standards. My job as a parent is to primarily (raise) the children. It IS your responsiblity. Otherwise you are simply a guest having sex with their mom. And will be treated as such. I have seen this rip families apart or eventually the guy writes the kids off and laughs as the mom basically raises them by herself with him in the house. It is a sad and stupid thing to watch.
That is the primary reason why is is not a good idea to introduce children to people until you know they are the one. The spouse sounds like he is mentally not ready to take over as a parent. Sarcasm (is not appropriate for yourg children). They are not prepared for the (reading into things). Especially given that they hardly know him. I am the most sarcastic person you will EVER meet but it was used sparingly and increased over time as the children get older and it is not used to convey thought of disagreement.
The healthy way to disagree with somebody is to be open and honest (especially with family) taking the time to explain why you do not approve of what just happened and then discussing it. The ability to talk to each other only when we agree is not effective communication.
It sounds like you are on the right track with taking the time to communicate together. That is your most powerful weapon. The other would be deciding what your goals are for the family as a whole and then doing something to live up to those goals each day.