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stepgrand children and my obligation to them

(54 Posts)
heidi1234 Wed 04-Nov-15 11:28:37

I was wondering if there is anybody out there who could help, or may have a similar 'problem'. I have been with a new partner for nearly 7 years now. He was a widower. His sons, who do not live very close(luckily), visit and stay. I have been a single mother in my previous 'existence'. I find my partner's adult sons spoilt. The eldest son's children(2) are just the same. I have always been welcoming to visitors. The younger son now has 2 small children - a 4 year old and a baby.
My partner does not want a rift so he says they will never change, so 'as we don't see them very much lets just give them a nice time', kind of approach. I am a good cook so when they come, such as at Christmas, it is all lovely. I have never had a word of thank you in the last seven years. I think people are wondering why I do it, and now I suppose I have put 2 and 2 together. The eldest grand children were 'booked' in for holidays here, but now they are in their teens so that is over.
The main problem is with the younger son, partner and their young children. When they come they just do not take any responsibility for their children. I end up cooking picking up after them and entertaining their 4 year old. They just sit and do nothing/watch tv/read books/drink, just ignore their child. I have raised the issue of cooking and perhaps they can help, but I am informed that it is enough just looking after their child! The mother's mother, the real grandmother does everything for her daughter, so I think that they haven't had to make any shift to being parents.The subject of the 4 year old coming to stay now has just arisen(like his cousins), and I am sorry I just can't contemplate this future situation.
I have 2 little grandchildren of my own(my daughter's children), and when I see them I actually get looked after and I do a bit of childcare - but nothing to the extent of for these others. I am lucky to get a cup of tea if we visit them(resentfully). We are always forgiving them and their behaviour. What is going on?
It is not that I don't want to do anything or for example can't stand the little boy. It is just expected of me, not appreciated and what's more, I think they regard me as a 57 year old joke(uncool) somewhat!
Nobody knows yet but I am going away on my own for Christmas...

Luckygirl Wed 04-Nov-15 11:42:42

If it were me I think I would let it all wash by and just get on with it. There are always differences of opinion in families (and step-families) about child rearing and there is nothing to be done unless you wish to cause an active rift, which would help no-one.

Sorry, but I think your OH is right..... "as we don't see them very much lets just give them a nice time."

kittylester Wed 04-Nov-15 11:51:30

I agree with Lucky. Nor do I think you can not have the next two children unless your circumstances have changed. I should think that you are all finding it difficult to understand how each other works. 7 years isn't very long to be in if you don't see them often.

And, going away on your own at Christmas just seems to be asking for a huge falling out. So, I wouldn't do that either if you want your marriage to survive.

Sorry to be so blunt!

Luckygirl Wed 04-Nov-15 11:59:17

Yes - I am sorry but I agree with kitty over the Christmas thing too - relationships can only function well on trust, and this action is underhand and a breach of trust.

gillybob Wed 04-Nov-15 12:36:21

Whilst I totally sympathise with you heidi1234 I am afraid that this may just have to be one of those "put up and shut up" kind of situations.

When you got together with your partner you knew he had children. Whether they are spoilt, nasty or ungrateful they are HIS children whom he obviously loves dearly. You on the other hand don't have to love them or even see them very often but you will try your best to keep the peace if you love your partner.

When you talk about the 4 year old coming to stay are you talking a few nights? A week? or six weeks? Maybe you could use the visit of this small child as a new start. A building of bridges and who knows you might actually fall in love with him or her a tiny little bit.

When I visit my DS and DiL I would only get a cup of tea if I got up and made it myself ! It doesn't make me love them any less though. smile

As for the going away at Christmas without telling anyone. I think this could be a recipe for disaster and could put your long term relationship in jeopardy.

Welshwife Wed 04-Nov-15 13:11:14

I am in a similar situation although we have been married for twenty years. Apart from one of OH's sons all the other children were adult and married. i treated everyone the same - children and grandchildren - one of the DiL actually said to me how they had noticed that I treated everyone the same. The youngest son was only 14 and lived with us - we had a sticky few years but I just continued and now we get on really well and for him I am his first port of call with any problem. (His mother had passed away before OH and I married). Whatever I felt over anything I carried on as normal and it has paid off.
I think going with the flow is the way forward and do as much preparations as you can before any visits. Also I always aimed not to moan to OH about any of them. I know we are welcome to stay with any of the children when we return to UK but I am happier sorting myself out in the kitchens of DD and the youngest son of DH - he has a partner who is very happy for me to do whatever I like as I do most of the meals when I am there - she is young and as yet has not learned enough basic life skills - which I am aware is far from being her fault. She is an absolutely lovely natured young woman and a very good mother - she is happy to be shown things and learn and I can see her confidence in other things growing. The fact she loves my stepson and the babies is enough for me.
I agree with the remarks about Christmas - unless you and your Oh decide you would like a Christmas being pampered in a hotel together! Personally I would not like that as I enjoy picking at the turkey bones and eventually making soup!

soontobe Wed 04-Nov-15 13:13:17

It does seem to have come to a make or break situation for you. I am not from the doormat way of doing things. I dont agree that anyone should live like that.

What do you think will be the outcome if you go away on your own for christmas?
Have an open and frank discussion with your partner first is my advice.

TriciaF Wed 04-Nov-15 16:10:02

Heidi - I've had a similar situation recently , someone who has come into the family and has had a completely different type of upbringing. So we clashed.
But it cleared the air, and I'm a believer in stating my own viewpoint, you know where you both stand, then make a compromise.
So next time this person visits (hopefully) I'll be better prepared.
If you make a stand on one small issue - eg washing up - that will be a start. Don't give up!

heidi1234 Wed 04-Nov-15 16:55:38

Thank you for all the replies. I have been absolutely nice and generous at all times. I don't think it is wrong for me to go away(or any other caregiver) for a Christmas though. I haven't told anyone yet as they never tell me they are coming to stay until a day or two before they come. I need to give more attention to my daughter and less to these others - she comes out pretty bottom in this.
There are more things to this that I can explain here - for example money and the way my partner is to my daughter. Because I am living in my partner's house, his sons feel they have more right to it and visiting rights. I guess they feel it is their house and home and that if their father dies I will just go away(and something has been said to this effect). For them I am just a bit of furniture. I can understand this - who am I to Adam? - I am not their real adored mother.
Just thought other people would have some experience of these things, and thank you for the constructive comments.

TriciaF Wed 04-Nov-15 17:17:56

Heidi I can see now that you're in a much more disadvantaged position.
It's a question of priorites.

Luckygirl Wed 04-Nov-15 17:30:32

You need to talk over all these building resentments with your OH - it is something you need to tackle together. Does HE know you are going away for Xmas? If he doesn't, then that is a bit of a risky road to go down I think.

trisher Wed 04-Nov-15 18:10:16

heidi1234 I sympathise with all of you. Have you thought about moving house? Finding somewhere that will be yours and your DHs. His children obviously think of the house you are living in as 'their' home where they are entitled to revert to behaving like children and you are expected to be their replacement mother. Perhaps both you and your partner need to schedule time to be with your own children. If you go away for Christmas would you not prefer to have your partner with you? (If the answer to this is 'no' you also need to think long and hard about why you are in this relationship.) Good luck.

Coolgran65 Wed 04-Nov-15 19:42:48

My thoughts...... going away on your own at Christmas is asking for a huge fall out.
I have one son, DH has 3 sons. All married. One of DH' s sons has no children as yet. 4 grandchildren altogether so far.
All sons are looked upon as ours, even though they were all adult when we married. All different personalities and different ideas of child rearing. All grandchildren are treated as ours. It may be that we within ourselves have a slightly different feel towards our blood grandchild/children but it is unspoken, and all grandchildren are treated equally.

DH and I do not criticize the other's offspring to each other. We are married 10 years and together for 8 years before that, but each had our own home.
Keeping a smooth running life means sometimes letting things go over our heads... keeping it zipped.

Does your DH appreciate your efforts and does he help.

Is DH is your support through these feelings, and if all is good between you, can you and he treat yourselves to an away Christmas.

Or perhaps.... could all adults who share Christmas Day start to rotate the hosting of Christmas.

NanSue Wed 04-Nov-15 20:30:51

I agree with soontobe. Why should you have to "live with it"! it just encourages bad behaviour. If you keep quiet and say nothing it's like saying it's ok to treat you in this way. Maybe if you go off and have Christmas elsewhere they may appreciate what you have done in the past. IMO seven years is more than long enough to kept it zipped and to expect a little respect.
Obviously it would be better to talk it through with OH but if you can't find a way forward then may be trisher is right about thinking why you are in this relationship. I wish you the very best of luck.

heidi1234 Wed 04-Nov-15 21:20:37

Thank you also much for your replies and advice! Fantastic - gives me a lot to think about tonight. It is so much better than ruminating on my own.

TendringGran Wed 04-Nov-15 22:13:45

Don't know where to start. My partner and I have been together 20 years, although sharing a house for only about five. He has been close to my children (now in their forties) from the start and also to my grandchildren who came along later, whereas I have been the wicked witch of the west to his grown-up children. Things are only starting to thaw with a couple of his kids because of their children (OH's grandchildren) who seem to have taken to me and like to come and stay without their parents. I really don't mind the little ones who haven't any responsibility for their mother's behaviour. I have had from time to time insist on better behaviour- like if they're going to sit down to a meal I've cooked they can be polite and address me directly etc, etc.
could go on and on.....

rosequartz Wed 04-Nov-15 22:22:07

I think your OH needs to know how you feel, Heidi and he certainly needs to be helping you a lot when they come - helping prepare the vegetables for instance, even if you do all the cooking, and doing, or at least helping, with the clearing up after a meal, serving the drinks, making a cuppa.

I agree, though, it will cause a rift if you go away and I think a bright and breezy approach to the child and his parents, if you can manage it, would be best - eg 'not in the kitchen when I'm cooking, darling, it's dangerous - go and play a game with mummy and daddy, they can help you'.
They sound very lazy.

It's your home - don't be a doormat but try not to cause a row if you value your relationship with your OH.

Lynker Wed 04-Nov-15 23:01:39

Heidi, I understand how you feel as I am in a similar situation. I was a single parent for many years and met my DH when my children had left home. He had 2 married children at that time. 15 years later he has several grandchildren and both his children are now divorced with all the problems that go with it. I have found being a step parent/step grandparent very difficult and feel quite detached from them all... unlike the way I feel for my own children/grandchildren, who I absolutely adore. Wrong I know, but it's how I feel....... it is difficult to change how you feel.

heidi1234 Thu 05-Nov-15 10:38:16

Hi everybody what great advice - you have and have had difficult situations too I can see. I will certainly now do some of this advice.
I was wondering about this wicked stepmother syndrome business. I realise that I am keeping in line about not saying anything/taking action when they are here - is it because of this - I can be accused of being a wicked stepmother/grandparent? I don't criticise my daughter with what she does with her children - In fact she is doing it much better than I did. But, I will say something if child chucks food all over the place(obviously not baby) or anything like this, or to keep child safe. But I feel the others can turn around and call me this witch, that I upset their feelings(which I did once apparently). Has anyone felt like this?
Another thing - I am quite in to history - in the old days when a woman produced a child for man(in marriage) she was more secure perhaps - maybe both my partner's adult sons' partners feel they are entitled. Of course everybody is entitled to support. I have a link to the sons but the sons' partners the link is weaker. They don't make efforts to be friends or to talk to me - maybe when you are 57 'young' people think that there is nothing in your life that could possibly be of interest? That I am there just for the role of gran/stepgran. I do see myself a bit in these kids and their selfishness when I was in my teens/early twenties.
I am not sure about leaving partner yet - I certainly have no romantic notions about relationships now!

Luckygirl Thu 05-Nov-15 10:55:32

I am puzzled by your last sentence. I wonder if it is the lack of depth in your relationship with your partner that makes the whole stepparent thing seem more troublesome.

soontobe Thu 05-Nov-15 12:15:21

I have never been in a step parent relationship.
But at the very least, you are entitiled to basic respect and kindness from anyone in your home,whether you own it or not.
And I include your partner in that.

The thing I have beem most shocked about on gransnet is the sheer number of grandparents who are willing to put up with awful behaviour, so that they do not lose contact with grandchildren.

I dont have grandchildren yet, but I really cant see that I will put up with almost anything from my children, in order to have that contact.

I actually find it all quite sad.
And from time to time, other posters express the same incredulity.
about it all.

heidi1234 Thu 05-Nov-15 12:19:25

Thank you for your comments - very helpful

NanSue Thu 05-Nov-15 15:23:40

I also have no experience personally of step children. I realise it's not the same but can only compare it to the fact that I do have 3 grandchildren and I also have a step grandson whom I treat absolutely equally. I care for my granddaughter whilst my daughter works four days a week. I did the same for her son. My son lives abroad with his two and they visit for at least 3 weeks every summer and often at the beginning of the year. Sometimes this can all get a little bit on top of me even though I love them all dearly. I do put up and shut as to regards some selfishness and a few harsh words from one or the other now and then, however I most certainly do not and would never put up with what other posters are suggesting that the the OP should. I too find it incredulous that others would.

Many years ago my sister married for the 2nd time to a man with custody of a son roughly the same age as her youngest, she treated him as her own but when he got older he showed her no manners or respect and refused to work (he's still refusing and he's 27!) They had no choice but to tell him if he didn't at least attemp to get a job he would have to leave. He did leave and is now living with his mother. It has caused a few problems in the marriage from time to time but the marriage wouldn't have lasted at all if he had been allowed to get away with his behaviour indefinitely.

TriciaF Thu 05-Nov-15 16:17:17

My husband is my second, we've been together for 41 years and he brought his own 5 yr old daughter into the marriage. I had 3 slightly older.
There were many difficult times, when I thought he loved his daughter more than me, which he probably did, and he felt the same about me and my children.
But we stuck it out, I always thought, the children will go off and live their own lives, and we 2 will hopefully stay together.
We sometimes had family group sessions where grievances were aired.

heidi1234 Thu 05-Nov-15 21:02:42

It is so worthwhile to hear other peoples' stories