I think that your situation is much complicated by your husband's submissiveness regarding his son's behavior and the negative feelings your step son's mom has for you and what she might be telling her son about you. I think that what needs to happen first of all is to make sure you and your husband are on the same page when it comes to parenting. If you both cannot agree on the best way to raise your step son, you might need to consider marital therapy. Addressing your step son's behavior before making sure that you and your husband are on the same page will be difficult at best.
Children typically have difficulty accepting step parents as they feel that the step parent is trying to replace their parent. Their anger usually has nothing to do with the step parent, only the role the step parent now plays in their lives. If this situation worsens or becomes more problematic, you would be wise to consider individual therapy for your step son. It is best to address these issues when your step son is young as these problems could only worsen with age. You could even contact your step son's school counselor for this service.
A lot of stepmothers feel like the child of their husband's first marriage is "the problem," especially if they dislike their husband's ex. Unfortunately, that is not always the case, it has more to do with the fact that the stepmom is unconditional about her biological child but conditional about her stepchild. This tends to happen rather naturally -- you wanted a relationship with the dad but weren't asking for one with the child, so someone you don't know has to be in your life, and who wants that.
If you do take the son in for counseling, please also talk (privately) to the counselor yourself. Be sure to say the things you have said here using the same words, that you see the child as sneaky, manipulative, giving bad communications to your otherwise angelic child, demanding, lying to his mother who you dislike, etc. Because that is a very highly charged way of seeing things.
My son is 7 now, and he also wants our attention immediately, even if we are talking to each other. He also wants his dad's help with online downloads, and my husband may well answer our son more quickly than he answers me (I haven't noticed). But the difference is, this is my biological son too, and I'm delighted if my husband takes some of the load off of me of my son's (normal for his age) demands for attention. Sometimes we talk to him and come when he calls, sometimes we say we can't, and sometimes we just don't. But it isn't causing one of us to label our son demanding, sneaky or manipulative. He's just being a 7-year-old. And this is a kid who hasn't suffered the breakup of his parents as a couple and the family life he once knew, and the addition of a new baby into his dad's life (read: usurper) who his stepmom likes better and he is told to accept. That is a whole lot more of an emotional load on your 7-year-old's plate than there is in my 7-year-old's plate, and mine still does the things you describe.
We get so many stepparents on MedHelp who write to complain that their stepkids get away with murder and take away their biological parent from the stepparent, etc. And almost none write in saying "My stepchild is going through a rough patch or maybe it's just a normal stage but it is hard on us all, what can I do to better understand what he is going through and perhaps to be in better sync so he sees he has a friend in me?"
You obviously don't have a step child situation & your comments to me are not helpful at all sorry, in fact I found your reply rather attacking & defensive on your behalf... isn't this site meant for help?
I come from a step family so I was well aware of the implications of a step child although I do realize each child is differnt & handles the situation differently... some except & some fight against it. Both my mother & step father are councilors specialising in marriage & step parenting actually. Therefore I am highly aware of my situation thank you.
I also have an 18 year old son from my first marrige who was excited to have a step brother although my step son also ttied to get him in trouble at the start & now my 18 year old doesn't want anything to do with him because he fears he will just be trying to use him to get him in to trouble.
It's as if my step son thrives on getting others in to trouble so he can look all innocent, he doesn't do this to just my family but his cousins & friends too.
I felt sorry for the child when I met him as his mother was physically abusive & very manipulative to his father, screaming & hitting him in front of the child.
When I met my step son at first he told me how his mummy would sceam at him continually & that she was crazy. I had all these thoughts of loving this boy, looking after & caring for him. I was the one who set up his whole room to make him feel at home & made sure he had everything he needed to feel welcomed. & please don't tell me you can't love a step child like your own, again you have no idea what you are talking about. My step father loves me from the age of 6 & even loves my children like his own grandchildren... he is a wonderful father & grandfather, even better & unconditionally than other biological fathers I have seen out there.
My son never acted the way he does as if he ever attempted it he is shown the boundaries gently & is respectful of his home & others. As I was trying to express in my first post, my step son has no boundaries, & no respect. Even my own parents who are councilors specialising in step parenting are shocked just how manipulative my step son is to everyone & most of all how controlling he is over his father. For someone who as you say has "gone through a lot" well he sure has learnt how to get every possesion he desires, get all the attention he wants & control people with this. If you are suggesting this is normal, heathy & acceptable then I wouldn't call you much of a mother.
& yes i do love him like my own as i would never accept this type of behaviour from any of my own children ever.
& yes he is demanding... from 8am this morning till now 10:30pm at night my step son & his father have been playing video games. If my husband has tried to walk away for half an hour or so my step son has called him continually back. He even tries to say no & my step son will ignore him completely & keep calling or get grumpy & hang off his dad until he gives in. If I'm not allowed to call that demanding then what.
My husband & I have been seeing a councilor from the beggining of our relationship knowing how much more difficult a step parent relationship was going to be. We also wanted to get or involve our step son in this although his mother refused him to see any councilor at all.
I wrote on here to ask for any helpful advise, not to be virtually abused & criticized by someone who has no idea what they are talking about. It also helped me to read on this website aswell as other sites, that there are others who are going through the same type of thing & it helped to read their own stories & battles in the fight to find peace & harmony within a step parent relationship... therefore I would appreciate if you would refrain yourself AnnieBrooke from attacking people like me who make the leap in expressing their battle. Thanks
Oh my goodness. You do know some of this is totally 7 year old behavior, right? Why doesn't dad go DO something with him rather than playing video games? Perhaps he is calling dad into help because he is trying to actually interact with someone in the house??
I play with my 8 year old all the time. I play games with him, we do projects, we talk, etc. Lots of time each day we spend doing this. Kids of that age like parental interaction but it seems like what is desired here is that he either wouldn't come over or he just stays by himself, silently in his room.
It is very hard on kids going back and forth between two houses with two sets of rules. His father and mother need to work together for some consistency between households. It's kind of unfair to expect him to be a totally different person in one house than he is in the other, so his mom and dad need to be a team and work on it. You can help your husband with ideas, but his mom and dad need to come up with a plan for consistent video allotted time, rules on behavior, tv time, etc.
Kids of this age do have trouble with things like wanting to tell you something RIGH this minute. It feels really important to them. I politely say "please give me one minute to finish this conversation and then I'll listen to you." And then I finish whatever my husband and I were talking about and give my kids my undivided attention as does my husband. If I have to have an important conversation with my husband, we do it after we put the kids in bed on our 'own' time.
Now, regarding your husband playing games for that many hours with his son. Yikes. Is he the parent here? Why doesn't he take him somewhere or take him outside to do something? He needs to be the parent in that instant and come up with a better plan. I'd be worried about his interaction with your shared child if that is all he can come up to do with his older child. That is not the child's fault------------- that is your husband's fault.
A more interactive home allows for kids to find other things to do than video games. A seven year old should also be in some activities such as cub scouts, soccer, playing an instrument, etc. those activities require time (and yes, a parent to actually TAKE them there) that is active and away from the tv.
Oh, and I did want to say too that I understand that it is really hard on you. It is very hard to blend someone into the family and when you feel like you have no say over what the rules are for that person, it would be frustrating. I do think you should have some say in terms of talking to your husband. But I just wouldn't make the kid a bad guy here. He's really sounding like a product of the environment from his bio mom and dad and most kids of 7 that have divorced parents struggle a bit. They really do. If you treat him with a bit of empathy, it will go better. You can then problem solve the issues that are making homelife hard and hopefully make some progress in improving it.
I didn't want you to think that I don't get where you are coming from. good uck
His mother unfortunately will not have any part in sharing ideas in parenting. I was hoping to be on at least talking terms with her although she just seems to want to start drama when my husband tries to suggest boundries or routines to help the child feel more secure. I feel sad about this as I really dont have anything against her & wish we could all work together on how to raise him seeing we all have time with him. I dont understand why she hates me so much & why she is so set on hating me.
When he is with her he does nothing but play games with his own ipad, latest consol etc. she gives him everything & every game he wants. If I ask him what he's been doing in the school holidays, he says playing video games. Thats it.
I actually raised my 18 year old with routine days & times he was allowed to play video games, never allowed on school nights only friday &; weekends for a few hours at a time including school holidays. My step son keeps saying he cant wait til my 20 month can play video games & I feel horrified as the last thing I want is this. I have told my husband continually my son wont be playing games like my step son. It is horrifying how much this childs whole universe is games, he talks about games & nothing else. The funny thing is my husband hates playing video games & doesn't touch it when his sons not here. Sadly we have such fun on weeks we dont have our step son as we enjoy the out doors, going on outings etc. etc. we try to do these things when we have my step son although he hangs on his dad & complains the whole time, has tantrums & does everything he can to make sure no one has a good time. I think my husband has given up & sees the only way to make his son happy is to play games with him. I also worry my husband is being manipulated by him when he says "mummy let's me play games, mummy buys me that game or that" therefore my husband tries to compete with this as he wants him to enjoy being with him as much as his mum & everything else we have tried has failed.
I don't think you realise or I am voicing perhaps just how badly behaved my step son is. I am in shock people are saying this is normal 7 year old behaviour as when my son was 7 I would have been completelt horrified if he was capable of such behaviour. Yes, I agree all 7 year olds are this & that although my step son is 10 times worse. When we first started dating I was warned by my husbands mother & sister that he is extreamly manipulative & hard to handle, at the time I thought they were so cruel to say such things about a child so young & I stood up for him.
I fear he has learnt to be this way due to the way his mother is raising him & he truly thinks no one can tell him what to do because his mum says so. I have witnessed how demanding & manipulative she can be & its amazing just how much he is the same. I also think he has been raised seeing how she treats the father & he seems to try manipulate & control him the same way. it is very sad, I feel angry at my husband for allowing this & not trying to set some boundries yet I see my husbands heart aching that he feels at war continually to please his son so he will love him & enjoy being with him.
My husband is a good man & a great father. I do agree he needs much guidance when it comes to stable parenting & he is very good with my 18 year old & our 20 month old where we have been given the chance to come together & agree on how we feel they should be raised.
I have never wrote on anything like this before & I don't think writing on this site was for me although i did want to thank MarkLakewood3367 for his advise & help. It was uplifting & helpful. Thank you
Well, you do seem caring. I probably mother more the way you do although I've realized since having kids that not all, no matter what you do, behave perfectly. And I think about my boys who have MY rules going to someone else's home and trying to just act like they do at our house. In my boys case, it would probably be okay as my rules sound similar to yours--- but you probably can see what I am getting at.
I feel bad for the little boy because if he has bad behavior---- it sounds like it is due to a crummy mom and being caught between two homes. That is a hard situation on you as the step mom as I gather you are feeling powerless.
My best advice is to see yourself as a 'coach' to your husband on parenting, a role model to this boy, and have outlets for your sanity. I think I'd come up with a couple of out of the house activities for your husband and your step son to do and introduce them. maybe they can go to a Y gym and play some basketball together, go to an indoor pool for a swim, get out a board game and ask them to play it together, sign them up for father and son karate class. Those types of options---- if your husband won't find them, make it easy on him and give him the options yourself. then it will help bridge the time a bit and a new boundary can begin to be set. I think it is okay to have a video free zone for a portion of the day. But the key will be that your husband interacts with his son during this time.
Sadly, it sounds like this boys mom has done what plenty of parents do which is allow the tv/games to be his best friend/ baby sitter. So, it is now very comforting to him. I honesty would try to see it as less of manipulation and more of just his way of surviving.
I think you can say to your step son that in reality, you do not foresee his sibling (your 20 month old) being that interested in video games as you hope to have him/her doing lots of other more exciting things.
I will tell you that the marketers of those video games are genius. Wow, do they get to the heart of kids and make those games almost addicting. Many kids are totally enthralled in them and you do really have to set limits.
Now, there are a couple of things that are good about gaming to say a positive. If you get into the programing end of it, it can be a cool thing. If he has a computer ---- you can begin working on programing with him. Logo is a good one and Scratch as well. This really is teaching skills that he can utilize down the road. There are a couple of pc games you can buy or download called Rollercoaster tycoon and Railroad tycoon. These are building games that require critical thinking and get into things like managing supplies, money, etc. There is Kerpal Space Program that you can download where a child simulates building a real space shuttle or plane and launches it/takes off. It introduces them to some engineering aspects of building and space travel. And of course there is mine craft which is very creative as well. If my kids do screen time, I look for things that make them use their head. Shoot em up video games are not my favorite.
Anyway, I'm glad you and your husband are doing counseling. Remember to patiently help him with moving out of this phase of limbo land where the child is controlling him rather than the other way around. truth is, most kids do crave boundaries and if he sets more of them, it will help his relationship with his son.
Thanks for sharing with us. I'm sorry you are going through this. I know how difficult this situation can be for everyone involved. Keep your head up. Things will get better for you.
You would love to see your step-son's behavior change but at the moment he's getting everything he wants. His behavior is appalling but its working for him. If you want to see a change, it has to happen on the parenting side.
Specialmom made a great point about your husband and his ex getting on the same parenting page. I think this is crucial to the success of raising the child well. Obviously, given the current circumstances it would be a pretty difficult thing to try and get them to start communicating better but I think it is worth a "continual" effort.
You may already be aware of this book but there is a great one that really stresses the importance of this very thing called "Co-Parenting Works" by Tammy Daughtry - It would be well worth your time to read it and share it with your husband. Good luck to you all!
I have the same issue with my SS and his Mum. I must watch him like a hawk around my children or he will hurt them. He is very jealous and if my child goes near her father he immediately starts attention seeking...getting into trouble or acting foolish. He lies tellin his mother that I am abusive. I treat him as I do my other children. Recently I have had to remind myself that he doesn't behave as my children do because I am not raising him. He will grow up to behave like his psychotic, manipulative and controlling mother. Its out of my hands. I dont try to teach him or correct his behaviour...I simply intervene when necessary and have his father step in or I remove my children from his prescence instead of sending him to time-out.
I know exactly what you mean...my SS5 is not that bad but this blended family thing is hard. Everyone thinks that when you say something about a child, you are horrible but I have read where step kids purposely try to ruin the blended marriage because they want their parents to be together and they feel threatened by the step parent and this new family that takes their father's attention away. God bless you and I'm praying yours and my situation gets better. I'm trying to come up with a plan with my husband so we don't argue every other weekend his children come but he avoids the conversation. He denial that step son is acting out due to his new wife... He is acting like is it just behavioral issues. He says the same things he does to me, he does to him and mommy...I sure haven't seen it. At one point, my daughter was trying to tell step kids things so they would like me because she noticed and daddy got offended. He feels like because they call me mommy means they have no problem with me. I'm not sure if I can stay in a situation where I'm not heard and my feelings are minimized. These issues need to be resolved, not ignored. Good luck!
Love and logic really helped/helps me.
They are great parenting classes you and your SO can watch and talk about.
Its helped us alot. I am a step parent also of two boys.
Best of luck!
It is really hard. I have a 7 year old stepdaughter. He is been growing up with manners or respect. So now that i take care of her most of the time and I make sure she does what a 7 year old has to do, she gets angry and call her dad all the time. she already has bad opinion about me because of her mom and now daddy not giving my place in front of her. so she manipulates him really bad. I really do my best to make her happy, I talk to her, take her to places to eat or play so she can be different with me. but it seems I'm doing it for nothing. I talk to her dad about our issues but he doesn't care, instead of help me or at least show her some discipline. what he does is give her everything and plus. I feel our relationship is going away because he is always on her side. He is a truck driver so must of the time he is out and who has the responsibility of the child, it is me. She wants everything to be done for her, even to dress her up. I like her, i care about her but i'm not going to be a babysitter when she is already able to do some stuff by her own. Now the times that is only me and her at home she eats, and she behaves but when her dad is at home, it is totally different, she cries for everything, doesn't want to eat, doesn't want to sleep by herself. it is really bad the situation. what i get from her dad is - you are just jealous of my baby-? really? Jealous of her, if i'm the one who is taking care of her. He doesn't discipline her at all, what he does is if we are fighting he likes to talk in front of her and make me cry in front of her.