Author Topic: Opinions, please  (Read 1440 times)

still_lost

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Opinions, please
« on: February 05, 2017, 11:00:07 PM »
I mentioned in another post that I was dating a man who was divorced with four children, and the oldest is 15 and lives with him. I was nervous about the situation since his ex-wife is very controlling and uses the children to get what she wants. She up and moved to another state, 8 hours away and left the oldest son with his father. Now she tells bf that the kids miss him and he should move to where she is. He says he can't just up and move with his son being in high school, sports, and he has a good job here. So she puts his daughter on the phone to ask why daddy can't just move...priceless!

So from what I was told by bf, ex-wife wasn't much of a mother or a wife. She stayed home despite their struggle with finances, she is an RN. He worked full time, and the four children were the ones who cooked the meals and cleaned the house every night. He didn't get off until almost 8:00. Ex wife would be on the computer or watching TV while the kids cleaned up and did laundry etc. The final straw for him was when mommy introduced one of her new boyfriends to the children whIle daddy was at work. Another time she came home with a different guy and told the kids to tell dad that she was going away for the weekend. Wow!! So the oldest son has been used to doing a lot around the house and taking care of his siblings. We recently went over to their house to hang out, and bf brought some things to my attention about my son. My son has some chores around our house. He keeps his room cleaned, does his own laundry, and he vacuums. Yes,  he does earn an allowance for unloading the dishwasher and extra things around the house. His son looked at me like I was crazy when I said that. So he remarks that he used to cook meals and do the house laundry when he was only 8. My son has chores, but he is not cleaning toilets and handwashing a sink full of dishes while we have a dishwasher. Nothing wrong with kids having chores and household responsibilities, but they did it only because their mother was lazy. No way am I letting my eight year old on a stove unattended. So bf told me that my son needed to learn how to do more around the house, and that is where we did not see eye to eye. I told him that I would not justify my decision on how to raise my child to HIS 15 year old. It's unfortunate that he really didn't have a mother whom he was close to, and their distance has made it worse. He said that I nurture my son a lot, and that is my role. So I felt like the two of them were in a sense ganging up on me, but they're only used to a woman who wasn't worth a damn selfishly allowing kids to raise themselves and that's not how it should be. I didn't want to seem overly sensitive because as my son gets older, so will his responibilities, but for now he will just be a kid. Bf, by his own admission was forced to clean his bathroom as a kid with a toothbrush. Mom was a single mom, so a lot was put on his shoulders at such a young age. I was raised by my grandmother sinice both of my parents were alcoholics. We had chores, but grandma was more concerned with us having a childhood after going through such trauma living with my mother and social services taking us away. I guess my upbringing has influenced my own parenting. Bf is a good father and a very humble man. I just know that I'm not going to change how I parent my child to appease his son. He doesn't know what it feels like to have a mother's love, so he sees me with my son as being spoiled, and that's definitely not the case. He has a lot of my time and attention because he is my only child. We go to museums and other activities on the weekends, while bf tells me that ex wife never did any of that with their children. Am I being overly sensitive here?
« Last Edit: February 05, 2017, 11:03:41 PM by still_lost »

momtokam

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Re: Opinions, please
« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2017, 06:27:55 AM »
No, you are absolutely not being overly sensitive.

Your son, your life. You are doing a great job parenting.
Do not ever let a man or his children tell you otherwise.

One of the reasons I ended my 1st post wid relationship was how the parenting was handled. He was a good dad and they were good girls but they had him wrapped around their little fingers and the ex was psycho and he gave in a lot. There was one final incident that made me realize that I did not want that around my life or my children.  We had dealt with enough and did not need thiat drama in our lives.

This is how I personally feel and I can't begin to understand your whole situation. Parenting style for me, is a huge part of a relationship. If I can't jive on this with my partner, I will not continue.

I'm so sorry you have to deal with all this.

Trying

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Re: Opinions, please
« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2017, 06:54:57 AM »
What a sad situation for your bf's kids.  I'm sure that part of his son's reaction is that it hurts to see someone being "mothered" in a loving way that he was not.  It's easier to say you are doing it wrong than face how wrong she's was. 

I wouldn't argue about it, just kindly state that it's ok to have different parenting style.

I agree with momtokam about parenting style being a big part in a relationship and unfortunately messy situations with an ex, especially one who uses the kids as pawns, can make for difficulties in a new relationship. 
You will forever be my always.

serpico

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Re: Opinions, please
« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2017, 08:58:41 AM »
I wouldn't say you're being overly sensitive, as I know it is difficult to hear criticism on your parenting methods from anyone, much less a 15-year old.

But I also won't go so far as to tell you not to let anyone 'tell you otherwise'.  Maybe your son does need to do more around the house - without knowing the specifics I have no idea.  Maybe there is a kernel of truth to what your boyfriend is saying, and maybe he's way off base - none of us here really know.  My point is that we aren't always right 100% of the time, and I don't think it hurts to consider different points of view, even on something as intensely personal as parenting.
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still_lost

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Re: Opinions, please
« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2017, 09:49:22 AM »
Thank you all. It's going to be an adjustment for me since I've done this on my own for seven years. I'm open to criticism, but I won't allow a child who only has one perspective, to tell me that nurturing my son is wrong. He has never had a mother to do things for him, so he's not used to it. Bf and ex wife allowed him to be involved in a lot of their business, and I'm not used to that. At one point, bf told my son to do something, and I walked into the kitchen for a drink. His son said "I bet I know what my father is telling him to do." I told him he didn't need to be concerned with that. So I let bf know that I have an issue with his child correcting my child. It's one thing for bf to do it, but his son needs to worry about himself. I realize that he's used to being in that role as an older brother, and having to play dad when his father was away. Their mom left all of that responsibility on him.

I also let bf know that my son knows what's expected of him at all times. Our house is tidy because I'm a bit of a neat freak. He can't chastise my son for leaving one cup on the table, but his son has dirty laundry strewn about his room, and dishes still left under his bed, it doesn't work that way. He's looking at it like my son hasnt had a father figure around in a long time, and I honestly think that he's trying too hard to find things. His kids all love to eat large meals, okay. My son is 8. He eats like a normal 8 year old. His son kept commenting on how my son is weird because he doesn't go to the buffet and eat 4 plates at a time. Everything is a comparison between my son and how he and his siblings are different. I have noticed bf chiming in on some things as well. Not a huge issue at the moment, but it will become one if my son gets uncomfortable. It'something that I have to keep my eye on.

MrsDan

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Re: Opinions, please
« Reply #5 on: February 06, 2017, 11:05:09 AM »
I sent you a pm about this but I just wanted to add that I think that how much input and participation someone has in the raising of a SO's child needs to be careful, measured, and at an appropriate pace. My BF and I have been together over a year and I've only recently become comfortable with letting him gradually become involved in dealing with DD. While I do think we should all be open minded about parenting and listen to other perspectives, when it comes to a SO, I think it needs to be handled with sensitivity. And I get it; not only have I been doing this on my own for pretty much her entire life; Dan's death and have created reverberations that I have to negotiate that another parent not in this position could never possibly understand.
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Abitlost

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Re: Opinions, please
« Reply #6 on: February 06, 2017, 11:12:19 AM »
SL,

You asked for opinions, so here is mine: I don't think the household chores and expectations placed on BF's kids are inherently bad, regardless of the mother working, being on the computer, or what not. The domestic responsibilities a parent chooses to place on their kid does not mean that parent is neglectful, asking too much or leaving the kid to fend for him/herself. Chores are a way of priming kids for independence. It is unfair to judge or draw correlations into BF's ex parenting based on that.

The issue I see in your situation is common in trying to blend families. You have your way of doing things and they have theirs. Neither is right or wrong. You have every right to raise your son the way you want without having to justify it to BF or his son. I don't think a 15-year-old pointing out things like how little your son eats is outside the realm of normal teenage behavior. However, you state that BF chastises your son for things like leaving a glass out which I find out of line unless you stated to BF that you could use some input/backup from him (it doesn't sound like that is the case so my feeling is he needs to lay off). Perhaps a few words to BF -- without getting defensive or pointing out contrasts --  about how you have chosen to raise your son is in order.

Edited to add: In regards to his son making comparisons of your son to his siblings...I'm thinking a 15-year-old doesn't have a lot of common ground with Dad's girlfriend's 8-year-old, so he reverts to what he knows which is his siblings...

abl
« Last Edit: February 06, 2017, 11:18:08 AM by Abitlost »

still_lost

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Re: Opinions, please
« Reply #7 on: February 06, 2017, 11:37:25 AM »
Abl,

I agree, about the chores and expectations. I grew up having to clean up after myself, and had regular chores around the house. She was neglectful in their case. If he was out of town for work, the children didn't get to school because it was too early for her to get up. Grandma had to come from across town because she didn't feel like it. Sitting on a computer all day, and spending money on games that you cannot afford is an issue. So the chores that were meant to to foster independence was just her way of getting out of caring for her children. Bf is out of town for work, and she brings home her boyfriend. She tells the oldest son to tell daddy that she's going away for the weekend, and leaves him in charge? So in this case, I'm not unfairly judging her. That is neglect, in my book.

Abitlost

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Re: Opinions, please
« Reply #8 on: February 06, 2017, 12:47:09 PM »
That sounds like a lot of dysfunction. In my past experience of dating a man for 4.5 years with constant drama and dysfunction in his life (of course it was all the ex's fault...not...) and thinking it would one day get better, I finally came to realize he had a fair share of perpetuating the dysfunction. YMMV.

abl

MrsDan

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Re: Opinions, please
« Reply #9 on: February 06, 2017, 02:44:27 PM »
I'll chime in on the chores issue. I think many parents here agree that chores are important for kids to have. But they should be age appropriate, and while I understand that there is a wide variety of opinions on this, I can say from experience when the line is crossed.

My mother suffers from a called Diogenes Syndrome. It is characterized by severe personal and household neglect. It manifests in ways that appear similar to hoarding, which is a type of OCD but is different in many respects. In fact I suspect that many of the cases of so called hoarding you see on TV are actually Diogenes.

Anyway my point is that it was very traumatic growing up in this household. As a result, my sister and I tried to stay on top of the mess. But we were just little kids. I remember spending entire weekends trying to undo the disaster that accumulated the week before. My parents didn't make us clean per se, but since that was the only way things would ever be clean, we really had no choice. We were never able to have friends over. One of the only things my sister and I fought about was cleaning because she couldn't stand living in filth, and well neither did I but I also wanted to play because I was a little kid. Chores are important, absolutely. But there comes a point when it ventures into neglect. I can say with 100 per cent certainty that had any type of government official come to the house, we would have been removed. And my parents didn't care. I mean they weren't stupid, it must have occurred to them that it was possible but they let us live that way anyway.

My point is that the boy's overstepping - well, he is likely dealing with some trauma (I agree with Trying that seeing a child be mothered might be triggering to him) and well, a 15 year old boy. In other words, it's up to the boyfriend to state in no uncertain terms to his son that his comments are neither welcome nor appropriate. From there the two of you can decide how much parenting input he can have. That varies by couple. But the kids comments, they have no place in the equation.
You are the Bear of my heart dear,
And nothing can take that away.

tybec

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Re: Opinions, please
« Reply #10 on: February 06, 2017, 03:25:06 PM »
Tough Tough Tough

Blending families. Never thought we would be here, right?

Communication, respect, honesty, all I have to go with. 

NG is divorced, too.  Fighting with ex to get 50/50 shared time.  He is so great with his little guys .  His ex is a school principal, so claims expertise. He came from a divorced family, and he views my childhood life as a bit spoiled. We (NG and I) are really different in our backgrounds, life experiences and beliefs.  So, talking it out a lot.  I am hearing some things I need to improve with my son, and I get it.  In your own backyard, it is different than helping others.  But he has to be respectful, and he is so far. 

Good luck.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2017, 12:17:10 AM by tybec »

momtokam

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Re: Opinions, please
« Reply #11 on: February 06, 2017, 06:19:14 PM »
But I also won't go so far as to tell you not to let anyone 'tell you otherwise'.  Maybe your son does need to do more around the house -

Seriously? He is 8!
« Last Edit: February 06, 2017, 06:21:06 PM by momtokam »

Bunny

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Re: Opinions, please
« Reply #12 on: February 06, 2017, 07:39:13 PM »
Childless here, but I was once a child myself!

My mom was raised by a mother who relied very heavily on her many children to get things done around the house- 'what do you think I had kids for?' was her given reason. She was also quite taken with the whole spare the rod spoil the child school of discipline. (I do understand many people consider this style of parenting to be simply Old-School.)

Consequently, my mom disciplined without ever physically touching me and gave out fewer chores because she figured I should get to enjoy being a kid - afterall, I would soon enough have a lifetime of adulthood that would be filled with endless amounts of chores. Some people would say she spoiled me, but because she treated me with respect I gave it right back and was a good kid to my parents. My relationship with her now is Miles Better than the one she shared with her own mom as two adults.

I would most likely be highly irritated to get parenting advice from a 15 year old- though I do understand teenagers are prone to obnoxious behavior. But I woulda been super irritated that bf not only found it okay for his child to lecture his girlfriend, but backed him up on those lectures. Seriously, dude?! I get that the kid has had a hard knocks life, but he needs to be sat down and explained things like tact and respect and boundaries. Otherwise, he will find himself not always well-received by others throughout his adult life.

(Now, I admit I'm probably over-reacting on this part, but it just feels like two men trying to 'help the poor clueless widow' with how to raise her boy to turn him into a proper man. They BOTH need to learn that you catch a lot more flies with honey than with vinegar...)
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Adley

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Re: Opinions, please
« Reply #13 on: February 06, 2017, 08:25:30 PM »
Many have successfully blended a family. I tried and could not, in part because of some of the reasons you stated. I had 2 teenage boys in the house who were always under the influence of their dad far away. If there will be: hollerin, bossin, cussin, etc. then its just not worth it. If you and your new spouse are on the same page, then you could correct the bs and breeze on. But the 'us against them' (troubingly common)  situation is hell. Loving someone should make life better, not worse. Make sure you and NG agree on these matters. A responsible teenage boy should be capable of being in charge for a while, but has no business dictating orders. You MUST be on the same page with NG.
  My dad and stepmom did an awesome job of blending a family when we were all teens, but they backed each other up. A house divided. . . . It has to be YOUR way. As in your and NGs. If you can't agree on somethin, keep it to yourselves.
  I know its doable, but its hard. Take time.
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RobFTC

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Re: Opinions, please
« Reply #14 on: February 06, 2017, 08:34:23 PM »
Hi Still_lost,

I think talking about chores could be reasonable if approached carefully - and important for me - if the discussion centers around what would help the child develop and learn skills they were ready for.  It sounds like bf and his son overstepped in what they talked about and were using an unreasonable metric - bf's son - where comparison doesn't make sense.

We started the girls cooking simple meals when they were 8, backed off when their Mom got sick, and they might have been 11 before I started that up again.  They have mostly been champs in that department (I say while I wait for a meal plan for tomorrow from Miss R so I can shop :-).  And they started doing their own laundry at just over age 10.

I would say you could be open to brainstorming and experimentation about what your son can handle, but it probably needs to be clear that you're the boss.  If you move in together, more should be discussed.

Take care,
Rob T
There was something fishy about the butler.  I think he was a Pisces, probably working for scale.