Am I Doing Okay as a Step-parent?

Updated on September 29, 2019
M.Z. asks from Sun City West, AZ
19 answers

My fiancé(35y/o) and I(21 y/o) have been together for about a year now. He has two biological kids(Son:15, daughter:9) and one stepson(13 y/o). The stepson's/daughter's mother had passed away before I had met their father. The biological son's mother doesn't like me AT ALL. I'm way younger than my fiancé but we mesh really well.

I don't try to parent but I do try to help my fiancé out with the kids when I see him struggling with incorporating consequences and such. The kids get upset with me if I mention chores or responsibilities and they all try to argue with me about ANYTHING and EVERYTHING. Most of the time, I end up doing their chores for them because I get tired of being in a messy house. Their mother used to do EVERYTHING for them.

My question is: Am I doing okay as a soon to be step parent? Should I just mind my own business? Or do I keep doing what I'm doing? I'm really having a lot of self-doubt and I feel like I get walked over a lot of the time.

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So What Happened?

Everyone has been nothing but negative minus a few people and that’s alright. I’m with my fiancé who is a DECORATED DISABLED COMBAT VETERAN. I have also served for three years and still currently serving. Ive received my bachelors in public safety and emergency management and I’m going to school to be an esthetician. I don’t do this for “dick” as some women put it. I do this because I’ve always wanted to be a mother and I never got the chance to because I wanted to serve my country.

All I asked for was advice. Thank you to those of you who gave me advice rather than telling me to leave.

More Answers

B.C.

answers from Norfolk on

You're barely older than the kids and they probably don't see you as a parental figure.
This sounds a lot like Missy from Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure.
How would you like to be parented by someone who was 27?

Sorry but your fiance is going to have to do the heavy lifting in the parenting department.
In fact - it might be better for you and fiance to slow things down and enjoy a long engagement.
In 4 more years your brain will have fully developed (it's not complete until you are about 25), your fiance will hopefully have a better handle on raising his kids and a marriage between a 25 yr old and a 39 yr old is more likely to succeed if you have a bit more maturity under your belt.
In order for a relationship to work you both need to be on equal footing - at 21 you're just not.
Finish college, get a career going, travel, live a little before becoming anyone s chief cook and bottle washer.
After that then you can worry about doing ok as a step parent - though the small age difference between you and the kids will always make that difficult.

Additional:
You really can't see what's wrong with this whole situation?
You've always wanted to be a parent - and 'never got the chance' because you serve your country.
You are lamenting that you weren't a pregnant teenager?
Are you not coping well with an estrogen rush or what?
Your thought processes are just fascinating in a bizarre macabre sort of way.

So you're trying to step into a ready made family and poof become a step mom?
These kids don't want you - and they don't need you.

Sure their father wants you to do the parenting for him - it's a losing battle for you because he is the father, has the last word and he'll undermine every decision you make because he can't stick with a consequence (is he feeling sorry for his kids because he's disabled? - it would be a great topic for him to work through with his counselor) - so he gets to be the 'the good guy' while you play 'evil step mother'.
I'm not seeing any sort of 'living happily ever after' happening here for you.

You're going to be coming back to this site a lot to complain about your situation but this is the choice you are making - the situation you are putting yourself in.
You are making your bed and you are going to have to lie in it.
Self made martyrs don't get a lot of sympathy.

When you come to someone with a 'doctor doctor! It's hurts when I do this' situation and the doctor says 'well then don't do that' - besides being an old vaudeville joke - people are telling you that you are making a bad decision.

Where are your parents in all this?
Do they actually think the road you are choosing is a good idea for you?

I stand by my answer.
Take a few years to finish your own growing up before you take on the task helping anyone else to grow up - and by that I mean your fiance not his kids.

Original post:

Am I doing okay as a step-parent?
MommaZ asks from Sun City West, AZ on September 26, 2019

My fiancé(35y/o) and I(21 y/o) have been together for about a year now. He has two biological kids(Son:15, daughter:9) and one stepson(13 y/o). The stepson's/daughter's mother had passed away before I had met their father. The biological son's mother doesn't like me AT ALL. I'm way younger than my fiancé but we mesh really well.

I don't try to parent but I do try to help my fiancé out with the kids when I see him struggling with incorporating consequences and such. The kids get upset with me if I mention chores or responsibilities and they all try to argue with me about ANYTHING and EVERYTHING. Most of the time, I end up doing their chores for them because I get tired of being in a messy house. Their mother used to do EVERYTHING for them.

My question is: Am I doing okay as a soon to be step parent? Should I just mind my own business? Or do I keep doing what I'm doing? I'm really having a lot of self-doubt and I feel like I get walked over a lot of the time.

Original SWH:

Everyone has been nothing but negative minus a few people and that’s alright. I’m with my fiancé who is a DECORATED DISABLED COMBAT VETERAN. I have also served for three years and still currently serving. Ive received my bachelors in public safety and emergency management and I’m going to school to be an esthetician. I don’t do this for “dick” as some women put it. I do this because I’ve always wanted to be a mother and I never got the chance to because I wanted to serve my country.

All I asked for was advice. Thank you to those of you who gave me advice rather than telling me to leave.

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J.C.

answers from Philadelphia on

You’re only 21 yo. Why would you get mixed up with a guy with 2 ex’s and kids practically your age? That would have been too much baggage for me to handle. Of course they will fight you and probably resent you. Don’t marry this guy.

EDIT - you’re 21, you still have a chance to be a mother. It would probably work much better if you mothered your own children. Why are you saying you didn’t get the chance? I know women that have had children in their 40’s. I’m afraid when you’re 40 you will have lots of regrets. Best wishes to you. I sincerely only wish you the best.

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M.6.

answers from New York on

But you aren't a step-parent? You aren't married to him . . . That makes you just the girl friend of the dad who has kids. Add into that the fact that there is less age difference between you and ALL OF HIS CHILDREN is nothing but a recipe for disaster.

Move out, move on, find someone your own age (or at least who doesn't have kids nearly your age).

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E.B.

answers from Denver on

Let's start with "mesh[ing] really well". One definition of "mesh" as a verb is to be in harmony. Nothing in your post says harmony. Your fiance is struggling to be a parent. The kids are upset with you and argue about anything and everything. So you do their chores out of despair. The one remaining biological parent dislikes you intensely. The house is messy. There are no consequences or stability. Where's the harmony?

These kids are still young teens/pre-teens, and they've already had two mothers in their life, death and divorce, and now there's another female figure in their home trying to assign chores and responsibilities and arguing. These kids need security and stability from their father, and ONLY from their father.

You can't possibly help your fiance with consequences. You aren't a mother, and you're very very young. The kids are just a little younger than you.

If when you say that you "mesh" well, you're referring to sex or parties or having a beer in the backyard, or that you like the same music, that is NOT enough for a family and for children's sense of security.

The answers to all the questions in your final paragraph are No, No, and No.

Move out. Get intense counseling with your fiance. Support him in counseling as he learns to be a father and an effective parent. Yes, he may be cool, and you might like him, but you do NOT belong in this picture at all.

My brother divorced his wife in a bitter battle, finagled and lied his way to full custody, and then moved the teenage babysitter in. She was 19 at the time, my brother was 40 and his oldest son were 15 and 13. My brother and the babysitter got married and had several more young children. His two oldest sons, now about 30, have not spoken with their dad in years and years. They felt as though they were being replaced in their dad's life. That's what you're doing - replacing the attention your fiance's kids need from their dad.

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D..

answers from Miami on

Oh my. I feel really bad for you. You are being put into an awful position. I doubt that you want to hear my thoughts here, but I hope you will listen to me.

This man should not have chosen a 20 year old to date in the first place. His children should have come first. Instead, he thought only of himself, his wants and needs. He is supposed to be the mature one. Of course his kids don’t want you there. His poor son is only 6 years younger than you. He probably feels that his dad is a dirty old man. The relationship with you will ruin his relationship with this boy for a long time. Maybe forever. Perhaps you might think that’s a good thing for your relationship in the family, but after the shine has worn off in a few years, this man will blame YOU for his son not caring about him.

I am not trying to blame you for this. I blame this man. You are so young still that you can’t see the forest for the trees. He doesn’t need a wife. He needs a maid and a babysitter. If he wants a girlfriend, she shouldn’t be living with him. And a girlfriend only 6 years older than his son is a slap in the face for these kids.

As far as you are concerned, you will end up LAST in the family line up. The kids will treat you like the interloper you are, and he will not care once you’re married.

This isn’t Cinderella turning into a princess with her prince. This is an older man who wants the fun of a young woman without being responsible for his children and his relationship. You will be Cinderella instead. Instead of thinking you are helping him, you need to look at the fact that you are being taken advantage of.

Life’s too short for this. You need to move out and take yourself out of these kids’ lives. There is a better life for you than this.

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B.A.

answers from Minneapolis on

You sound sincere about wanting to help but honestly you are not the parent here, merely the girlfriend of the parent. Since you posted the question here, I assume you are looking for advice. My advice is to take a giant leap in the other direction and live somewhere else while your fiancé copes with his children. You can’t fix the situation by doing chores.

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S.G.

answers from Los Angeles on

No. You're not doing a good job. You're doing their chores for them.

You're NOT a step-mother. You're the girlfriend. You're so close in age to the oldest child, they don't see you as a parent. Your boyfriend doesn't help by not standing up and having his children do what they need to do as a family unit.

You're 21. You have MANY years ahead of you to become a mom. There are THOUSANDS of active duty women serving our country and being moms. Give me a break.

While I thank you both for your service to our country, I call BS on the "never got the chance because I wanted to serve my country". That is a complete and utter cop out. You CHOSE the military. You're not some conscript. You're 21. Not 40 something.

That "self doubt" is your brain telling you this is NOT a good fit for you.

If you and your boyfriend truly "meshed" this post would have never been written. As it stands, you KNOW there are problems and NOTHING will change. The children aren't going to magically love you should you and your boyfriend, their dad, get married. The children won't magically start calling you "mom" or listening to you should you and your boyfriend, their dad, get married.

Your boyfriend isn't parenting. He's trying to be their friend. YOUR WORDS "he struggles with incorporating consequences" and "I get walked over a lot of the time". This is NOT GOING TO CHANGE. If this is your life right now? No wedding vows will change this. This will be your life.

And if he doesn't want kids?? I can tell you it WILL be a bone of contention. You may not feel that way right now? But yeah. IT WILL BE A HUGE OBSTACLE. He will end up resenting you for it or you will end up resenting him.

If this is what you want your life to be? Marry him. Continue being the maid the and door mat. Continue knowing you will never have kids of your own. Continue on the path of deluding yourself that you and your boyfriend "mesh" really well. I'm sorry. You don't.

To be honest, this situation reminds me of the relationship in the movie "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" where the young girl. Missy, marries Ted's dad the police officer, and she's not much older than Ted.

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Your original post
My fiancé(35y/o) and I(21 y/o) have been together for about a year now. He has two biological kids(Son:15, daughter:9) and one stepson(13 y/o). The stepson's/daughter's mother had passed away before I had met their father. The biological son's mother doesn't like me AT ALL. I'm way younger than my fiancé but we mesh really well.
I don't try to parent but I do try to help my fiancé out with the kids when I see him struggling with incorporating consequences and such. The kids get upset with me if I mention chores or responsibilities and they all try to argue with me about ANYTHING and EVERYTHING. Most of the time, I end up doing their chores for them because I get tired of being in a messy house. Their mother used to do EVERYTHING for them.
My question is: Am I doing okay as a soon to be step parent? Should I just mind my own business? Or do I keep doing what I'm doing? I'm really having a lot of self-doubt and I feel like I get walked over a lot of the time
]So What Happened?
Everyone has been nothing but negative minus a few people and that’s alright. I’m with my fiancé who is a DECORATED DISABLED COMBAT VETERAN. I have also served for three years and still currently serving. Ive received my bachelors in public safety and emergency management and I’m going to school to be an esthetician. I don’t do this for “dick” as some women put it. I do this because I’ve always wanted to be a mother and I never got the chance to because I wanted to serve my country.

All I asked for was advice. Thank you to those of you who gave me advice rather than telling me to leave.

9 moms found this helpful

S.T.

answers from Washington DC on

you've been together for a year and are living together with the kids already?

yeah, i can see why there are stormy seas.

there are fewer years between you and your 'fiance's' son than between your fiance and you. is it a huge surprise that the kids resent you for trying to be an authority figure?

yes, mind your own business. stop mentioning chores and responsibilities altogether. if it means you live in a messy home, learn how to deal with it.

better yet, move out and just enjoy your relationship with your boyfriend without throwing co-habitating and parenting into the mix. in five years or so the boys will have moved out and you'll have had time to get to know the daughter better. maybe then will be a good time to move in together.

maybe not.

but there's no way you're going to be accepted as a mother substitute. your bf, who is old enough to know better, is a doof for thinking this would be a good situation. it was a dick move to his kids to move a young woman into his household before they even had a chance to get to know her.

khairete
S.

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M.S.

answers from Washington DC on

Sorry if this is unrelated to your question but I’m coming at this from a different angle. My husband and I are the same age. When he was 43 and our son was 8 he had a severe brain hemorrhage. I have been his caregiver for over 8 1/2 years and could be for the rest of my life. Odds are that eventually you may be in a similar role due to the age difference. I just want you to think long and hard before you walk down the aisle. “In sickness and in health” is not for the faint of heart.

And if the tables are turned, will he stick around for you?

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E.J.

answers from Chicago on

I don’t think it’s ‘self-doubt’. It’s reality knocking, telling you to exit a bad situation.

Time to move on to a relationship that validates your self worth and create a family that has the values and boundaries you want. Don’t be anybody’s fixer.

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D.B.

answers from Boston on

Step parenting is really hard. There are few rules, and those few are not always well thought out. I'm a stepmother of 2, and I know how it is.

Here's the problem - you cannot parent kids who are not yours. You have an even bigger problem because you are trying to do that to 2 teenagers who are very close in age to you. It's not going to work. Even the 9 year old is tough. And the bio mother of 2 kids has died? Yikes, they have had so much upheaval and loss.

Do not do their chores. Do not. Do not mention their chores either. There's no way they will ever do anything if you make it so they don't have to and so their dad doesn't have to face the reality either.

The mother hasn't helped them by waiting on them hand and foot, but you cannot change that. I'm not sure your boyfriend can either, but he's got a better shot at it than you do. And it's his job. You're only in the picture for the past year - your relationship is with him only.

Either relax your standards of a messy house and understand what life is like with 3 kids, or move out and just date him for a while while this family tries to find its way through divorce and death.

You are not their mom or their stepmom, and you are the new person in this group. I don't know what the child's mom has against you, but maybe it's the fact that you're trying to parent her child. I don't know. But you are overstepping your bounds and it's just not going to work out for you at all. I am very sure you mean well, and your post's title asking if you are doing a good job shows you care. But you need to work with a family counselor if you are in this relationship for the long term. Those kids were in his life when you met him, and his primary relationship is with them. If you didn't know that, you do now - moving so quickly to become part of a family might not have been a good move. But don't make it worse by taking on parenting responsibilities. Bite your tongue, as hard as it is, and recognize that the family dynamic has to be worked out first, and you step into it second.

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M.G.

answers from Portland on

I have friends and a sibling who are step parents.

What goes into being a good step parent in my experience is the same thing that goes into any good relationship, especially when it comes to children - being a good role model, having good values you can share (through your own behavior), patience, understanding, setting good boundaries, etc.

As a step parent, you don't actually parent the step kids - that's up to the parents still. You're not a friend either. You're their parent's spouse. It's a different kind of role. It develops over time.

My step parent friends and sibling have earned the respect of their step kids. I know their spouses never expected them to clean up after their kids, or to follow up with them on that sort of thing. What you describe is very foreign to me - from what I know. I'm just sharing what they've shared with me.

You've included your age, your background, his, and your schooling, etc. all here. Why that's relevant - I don't know. That doesn't make a step parent good or bad.

If you're questioning your abilities as a step parent - then that's not a good sign. It's like saying "Am I a good wife/friend/daughter ..". If you don't know, then maybe you don't know what makes a good one - so maybe figure that out before you take on the role.

No judgement here - I'm just saying, if you don't know if you make a good step mom, figure out what's involved first (fully) because it's a very tough job (from what my friends tell me), and then figure out if it's up your alley. Figure out if it's where your strengths lie. It's not the same thing as being a mom. My friends are also moms as well as step moms. They find being a step mom more challenging in many ways - because they can't just step in and parent as they would like. There's the whole spouse raises his kids his way thing, and then their mom does parenting her way thing ... and kids don't always respect step mom right off the bat.

It's not always easy. While I wouldn't say Are you sure you want to take this on? I would say, it's a lot more complicated and involved than just meeting a guy and starting fresh as others are pointing out. My friends find the hardest part of marrying a guy with kids, is the kids. They can be lovely kids, but especially when (and if) you have kids of your own, it can be very hard to blend families. It's not impossible and in some cases it can be wonderful - but it depends on the parents - all of them.

If it's hard now, it may get a lot harder before it gets easier.

As to having a lot of self doubt - then I think getting married and involved in all this, is not a good move (personally). My friends who are step moms are exceptionally strong people. Not saying you are not, but they don't have self doubt and don't get walked over. They are the kind who stand up to their spouses, their step kids and everyone. They are not doormats.

The doormats end up miserable in situations such as what you are describing. Hate to say it, but we get so many questions like that on here. They never stand up for themselves, and it rarely gets better. That's likely why so many people are saying that you're probably too young to take this on (self doubt can be a sign of not being fully mature) and greater things will likely come your way.

Sometimes we really do deserve more. Nothing against your guy - sounds like he's had quite a time of it. However, sometimes we deserve a simple, easy life as opposed to a hard, challenging one. What would you recommend for your sister or best friend? Take that advice.

Good luck.

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M.P.

answers from Portland on

Added after SWH First, you say your boyfriend is disabled. Does that mean you also take care of him? It took me years to understand I was happiest taking care of others. I didn't understand why others didn't appreciate what I was doing for them. A counselor suggested I read a book on being co-dependent. When I was o-dependent i recieved my sense of self when I helped others. Gradually, I discovered that I was happier when I also helped myself.

i, just like you, always wanted to be married and have children. Didn't happen so I adopted my daughter when she was 7 yo. Like the children in your life, she had had a very difficult first 7 years. The court terminated her birth mother,s parental rights when she was 11 or 12. My daughter did not make me feel the happiness I had expected. She was a big challenge because up until 7 she had no consistency in her life. We had some good times but life with her was difficult. Both of us had a lot of therapy. I learned a lot about myself and was helped to learn ways to parent her. The usual ways of parenting did not work. When she was in the first 3 grades she would do some chores. When she began to actively rebel, I stopped requiring chores because I chose to not die on that hill. We had other things to learn.

She never trusted me while a child and young adult. Once she grew up, around age 30, we were able to have the satisfying relationship I craved. Reaching a good relationship was difficult. We were both in counseling or we wouldn't have been able to become friends.

My granddaughter came to live with me when she was 16. Her mother was 20 when she was born and had a rocky life. My granddaughter's life was chaotic. She and we were close until she was around 15. She's now 19 and determined to be an adult who makes all the decisions for herself. Of course she is an adult.and should be making life decisions. I'm proud that she does.

My third experience was as a step-mother. My stepson was 6 when we married. He resented my being there. His mother had died about a year before I moved in. His Dad was passive so I didn't get support from him.

My point is that I never' until a few years ago felt loved and respected by those 3 children living in my house. I suggest that the family you want will not happen with his children or any step children past the age of 2-3 because they have issues too serious to respect you. They never will. Maybe when they're adults with children of their own.

I have always loved my daughter and granddaughter. Because I loved them and saw that all of us were learning and growing I kept trying with them. I'm now 76 and am loved and respected by 4 other grandchildren. I now have the family I wanted. And......it's easier to be a grandmother than a mother.
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Even tho you and your fiance are comfortable together. That's good. However you're not comfortable with his children and the way your fiance parents. He is their father and should be making sure that they do their chores. He's been their father for years yet he still hasn't become an authority figure for them. He apparently expects you to manage his children for him. You said you're not trying to be their parent. You want the children to be a part of your family. They are saying no to doing the reasonable chores that a family should be. And.......this is important.....your fiance has not and continues not to be able to enforce reasonable boundaries with his kids. He's been their father for 9 years and hasn't learned to be effective in parenting. He lets his children to get away with not doing chores.

Have the two of you discussed what he expects from his children and how he's going to enforce reasonable boundaries? Have you told him about your difficulties relating to his children? What has he done to support you as you learn to live with his children? What is his discipline style?

You've been with him and his children for a year. You said you're helping him because he struggles with incorporating consequences. Has he asked for your help? Does he appreciate your efforts? Does he provide consequences with your help? Or does he ignore how his children treat you? Has he told his children what he expects them to do around the house and how to respect you? Were you present when he told them the rules and consequences? Is he able and willing to do that?

I am concerned that he will be unable to parent, make and enforce rules. He and his children have lived this way for 9 years. Even if he tries, his children won't change. The way children think of life and how they will respond is pretty well set in the first few years of life.

I had a marriage in which my husband married me to be a mom to his 6 yo child. His wife had died. He and I had been friends most of our lives. We were bot in our 40's. Even after 2-3 years of counseling nothing changed. My husband was very passive and was unwilling to do his part in keeping the house neat. He wouldn't make rules for his son. And at 6 he resented me. I felt much the same as you - stuck, angry and depressed.

Mamaz, you're in a relationship that isn't going to get better. Your fiance isn't helping you. He doesn't have your back. He does not respect you enough to tell his children to respect you.

You're 21. There will be other men who don't have the baggage this man has. Men who show appreciation for you and who you are. Men who will put you first in their lives, who will treat you as an equal, sharing himself with you. Making decisions with you.

You are young with time enough to meet more men among which you'll meet someone with whom to share life and love. Leaving will be difficult and so worth the pain. I suggest it will be less pain than you are having now.

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N.C.

answers from San Diego on

Men use women to assume their parenting duties and responsibilities because they can’t take care of their own children alone.

Once you figure out you are just a maid, chauffeur, babysitter, the whole stepmother thing becomes crystal clear.

You could actually get paid for doing the cleaning & chores.

You are so young, don’t waste your youth, time and energy on another women’s kids.
Your fiancé can get another StepNanny to be treated like the help.

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R.B.

answers from San Francisco on

EDIT after reading below: I think a lot of people are being way too harsh. Other than being quite a bit younger than your fiance, I don't think you wrote anything that deserves such harshness. However, I will tell you from much life experience that as time goes by and you mature, those fourteen years age difference might start to bother you a lot more than they currently do. And 21 is very young to settle down, although it has worked for some people, as has a big age gap. But in truth, you will likely change a lot over the next decade, and you might then find that you don't "mesh" as well with your partner as you currently do. But I couldn't stop my 22 year old from getting married (and then divorced), and all of our advice probably won't stop you from making the same mistake either. You really are much younger than you think you are. (You will know that when you are my age.) Meanwhile, I stick to my original post.

ORIGINAL POST: You are really setting yourself up for an unpleasant and difficult time if your main interactions with your stepkids are in the area of chores, responsibilities and incorporating consequences. Those 3 things should be the role of their father, definitely not you.

Your role should be to be as loving and friendly to them as possible. Catch them doing things right and praise them for it. Have fun with them whenever possible. If they have chores, their father needs to be the one to make them do the chores, not you.

They will hate you if you keep doing things the way you have been. Based on what you have told us, I can understand why the one stepson hates you. Make changes in your interactions with them, beginning right NOW. What you are doing is obviously not working, and the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results, as they say. You need to be their mother figure/friend, NOT their disciplinarian.

There's a good chance that if you don't make these changes, your relationship with their father will be ruined over time, because there's nothing that can destroy a marriage like a bratty teen (and a bratty teen is almost always caused by incorrect parenting). I've seen a number of marriages destroyed by the teen years.

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J.C.

answers from Anchorage on

I think you are in a difficult situation because the children are closer to your age then your boyfriend is, if I was 15 I certainly wouldn't want to listen to someone who was only 5 or 6 years older than me, just barely out of their teens themselves. You are more their peer in age than a parent. If you decide to marry this man you will have to accept that fact, teens are unlikely to take one of their peers seriously as a parent, the best you can do is just demand they at least treat you with respect.
I am not going to say you shouldn't' marry him, you are technically an adult and can certainly make your own choices, (although I wonder about any adult his age that dates people so much younger, I mean brain development isn't even complete until our mid 20's), and I understand you say you want children/want to be a mother but you can not expect teens that close to your own age to see you as a mother, it is just very unlikely to happen. And you also have to accept how they might be feeling very grossed out by the idea of their father dating someone so close to their age, and that their feelings about that are their own and are legitimate, you need to be sensitive to how this might be making them feel and how it might be affecting their view of their father as well.

4 moms found this helpful
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R.L.

answers from Chicago on

Step-parenting is hard under any circumstances, but with your age difference and these kids' history of loss, it’s going to be really, really hard. If you decide to stay in this situation, you are going to have to choose to either live in a messy house, or clean the house yourself without feeling resentful. If he is struggling with parenting, he should seek help from a counselor. You should only be his girlfriend.

My suggestion would be to move out and go back to dating this man. He needs to learn to parent his children, or not, but this is his job, and you are never going to be seen as a parent to these children. It is possible you could become their friend, but that is a very different relationship where you stop mentioning chores and stick to enjoying their company, asking them about their lives, engaging in fun activities, etc. My worry would be that he is looking for someone to parent his children, and again, he is the parent and a good counselor can help him rise to the occasion himself.

Whatever you decide to do, please put some of your energy into you. Are you working or in school? What do you want for yourself in life other than marrying this man? You sound like a very caring young woman, take care of yourself.

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M.S.

answers from Oklahoma City on

Thank you for your service. This situation seems like the opposite of Cinderella. Instead of a wicked stepmom making the stepdaughter do all the chores, you are the girlfriend/ maybe one day stepmom that is being treated like a second class citizen. I think this will just get worse. Do you really want this for your life? You are so young. Don’t settle.

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C.T.

answers from Santa Fe on

You are the parent here...ok, step-parent. Stay strong! I would not do the chores for them. Their dad should give them their list of chores and tell them he expects them to do x,y,z. Then if they do not do them you should wait till their dad gets home and let him talk to them about chores and make sure they do them. Let him be the disciplinarian with his kids. You be the one who gives gentle reminders or don't even mention chores at all. Live in a messy house. He needs to be very black and white about chores and not give in each evening...my son used to argue about chores and put off doing them and we never gave in through all his theatrics and eventually he just got used to them being an every day part of life. He eventually just started doing them on his own...he is 15 now. It's like he had to get trained. Or he had to mature...not sure which. Also - don't give them too many chores. Come in, put your backpack/shoes/jacket where they go. Set the table. Load the dishwasher. Take out the trash. Let Dad handle it...not you. You should be more their friend...you have not been in their lives very long and they have been through a lot.

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