Friday, 6 July 2007

My kids your kids!

Concerning our respective children, perhaps I look for differences in the way they are treated or who my husband prioritises, his child or my child, but I know they are not all in my head. This weekend has been a good example. I know I haven’t had my stepdaughter visit for the last two weeks as she has been on holiday with her mother, but last night she persisted to chase my young daughter around the chair and after several attempts asking her to stop, she continued completely ignoring me. Had this been my own daughter my husband would have told her to stop expecting his request to immediately be carried out.

I have been witness to the preferential treatment my stepdaughter receives from her daddy, my daughter is disciplined with a distinct tone, my stepdaughter receives a much softer tone making the request more of a gentle statement. The bed-time routine causes the most problems. My daughter has a bed-time routine of 8.30pm my stepdaughter 7.30pm. My daughter being four years older gets the extra hour. When my stepdaughter arrives on Saturday at 6.30pm, her bed-time is often overlooked, my husband’s excuse is his daughter has been in the house an hour, then he’s packing her off to bed, so 7.30pm often creeps on to 8.00pm. My daughter, quite rightly, requests the extra half hour as it seems quite fair to her to have her bed-time extended alongside my stepdaughter, but this doesn’t happen, 8.30pm on the dot, my husband insists bed-time.

My daughter looks heavily towards me to defend her after all, what’s good for one is
good for the other. It’s taken a while for my husband to accept how important it is to not show any favouritism, even though to him, he is not.
We have had an incident concerning a watch. My daughter has a watch with a very distinctive strap, blue with little pink dolphins embroidered on it. It has been well worn so is far from new. A few weeks ago while my daughter and stepdaughter were playing in my daughter’s bedroom. My stepdaughter asked if she could wear it and was told ‘of course you can but I don’t want you wearing it home okay.’ My daughter was more than happy to let her wear it while she was here as in the past hair bobbles that are used to tie up my stepdaughters hair are never returned and I spend an absolute fortune on them. If they’re not in one of her dollies hair they’ve found their way to the bottom of a drawer never to be seen again.

Monday morning while getting herself ready for school, my daughter commented she couldn’t find her watch. I told her not to worry, I was sure it would turn up. A few weeks later on one of her visits my stepdaughter walked into the house wearing a watch identical to the one belonging to my daughter. Unable to find my daughter’s and not wanting to point fingers I commented on the watch my stepdaughter was wearing and she told me her mummy had bought it for her recently. It was certainly far from new, quite grubby and worn in fact and as my daughter was clearly upset over the loss of her own, I decided the only fair way to handle the dispute was to confiscate it from both children until the second one turned up. I wanted to treat this situation as if they were both my children as I didn't want either child to think I was favouring one over the other.

After my husband dropped his daughter home he received a text message from his ex wife demanding the return of her daughter’s watch. The week leading up to my stepdaughter’s next visit, along with my daughter, we turned her bedroom upside down but to no avail. My daughter’s favourite watch had simply disappeared. This dispute went on for a few weeks. My husbands ex wife put her ex husband in the picture on how upset his daughter is and that I had called my stepdaughter a liar. My husband asked, ‘exactly how did you handle the episode?’ I felt he was questioning the way I dealt with the situation but one thing I will say for my husband is we can be brutally honest with each other and he knew how I intended to handle the loss because I had discussed it with him prior to talking with the girls. He told me he needed to know just in case he had to defend me to his ex wife.

Communication is the key to our relationship, apart from the obvious, something that was lacking in both mine and my husband's former marriages, my ex husband assuming any problems I had were brought on by 'that time of the month.' Being honest is the key but becomes difficult when dealing with each others children. How do you tell the person you love, 'can't stand your child.' Its not quite so easy to love me love my kids. My husband collected his daughter the next weekend along with a message from his ex wife. She had purchased an identical watch for her daughter the previous year because my stepdaughter liked it so much but unfortunately she had mislaid it. My stepdaughter had discovered it behind some books in her bedroom and was over the moon that she had found it again, roughly about the same time my daughter had lost hers. So I am thinking, what a coincidence, perhaps she 'replaced' her own watch with my daughters, frightened she may get into trouble. I felt I was under suspicion myself so to keep the peace, gave my stepdaughter the watch, leaving my own daughter without hers which, incidentally, we have never found.

Sometimes when my son visits I feel my husband is constantly on his case. He is
expected to respect how we live and follow our rules of the house but regarding my step daughter, her behaviour is often overlooked because my husband doesn't want to confuse her. There seem to be rules for one and rules for the other. I loose my patience.
It is not a common occurrence but my stepdaughter knows how to tweak daddy's heart strings. Both she and my daughter were outside playing. My daughter came in through the front door but my stepdaughter came through the back gate and sat in the garden. After a short time she eventually came inside, appearing to be deeply distressed. My husband, rushing to her aid, asks what is wrong? She said she didn't want to use the front door because our daughter was asleep. I was confused as our daughter certainly wasn't asleep and my own daughter had walked through the front door with my stepdaughter right behind her. She can turn on the tears and my husband falls for it every time.
When my step daughter arrives on Saturday evenings, it is an awful time for me as I am trying to settle our young daughter to bed and all my step daughter can do is excite her. While I am trying to calm my daughter for bedtime, my stepdaughter is stimulating her. She continues to do this and daddy says nothing. Is it because my husband sees it as my job to tell her or his guilt preventing him from discipline? I have repeatedly spoken to her regarding this which hasn't impressed her too much as she tells my daughter how much she hates me and wants to go home. I feel for my daughter having to listen to a child slander her own mother and there is nothing she can do except listen to it. My stepdaughter is able to disrespect me to my own daughter then threaten my child with telling her daddy.

My daughter is told off by my husband for not sharing her things, but when the tables are turned and my stepdaughter refuses to share her toys, I advise my daughter that's it's ok. If my stepdaughter chooses not to share her things then fine, she cannot expect my daughter to share her things too and this normally makes both girls stop and think.
My daughter has a games console in her bedroom, and after a disagreement between her and my stepdaughter, my daughter took herself off to her room to play alone. My stepdaughter asked if she could come in and play her console. She shows little interest in the playstation but seems contented to watch my daughter. Her request was denied as my daughter wanted to be left alone, so immediately my stepdaughter sought out her daddy and told him my daughter wouldn’t let her in her bedroom to play the playstation so would he come and play on it with her and on that request he did. My daughter was distraught and came downstairs in floods of tears. She had gone to her room to be away from my stepdaughter and because daddy said he would play with her, my daughter’s space was invaded by the child she wanted to escape from. I explained the circumstances to my husband, much to my stepdaughters disgust, and they left my daughter’s room. My daughter relies on me to come to her defence, she has no one else all though there are times, incidents with lost watches, I just cannot.

I think I am quite a fair parent. I have three children so I've been here before with sharing and invading each other’s rooms. Children, at times, need their own space but my husband frequently undermines my decisions in favour of his own daughter because of his guilt and little possessions his daughter has while she stays. Over time, how we parent the children is becoming more agreeable to us both and even though I may have views on some things my husband has his, we always try to meet somewhere in the middle. But there are instances I have my way and he has his. The favouritism results in my daughter’s dislike for my stepdaughter, simply for turning on the tears and running to daddy all of the time just for her to have her own way, but I know sibling rivalry occurs in normal families, blended families seem to enhance it.

Any issues that are raised over the course of the weekend are often a hot topic for my husband and I to discuss when the children are in bed. We give our views or opinions then listen to each others responses which, hopefully, will enable us to try and find some common ground. But although my husband agrees on most issues I raise concerning his daughter, and his concerning my children, his emotions always get the better of him, leaving me the feeling of no way forward. It seems our whole house is turned upside down when my stepdaughter visits so after the recent scenario concerning my daughter’s bedroom, my husband decides, because of his daughters banishment from her room, toys must now be played with downstairs. What if I don't want the mess? Surely this is what bedrooms are for so this is not a solution. My stepdaughter will never learn respect for other people’s belongings and personal space, but my husband cannot bear the thought of her being upset so, once again, my stepdaughter and her feelings are put first.

My children are not perfect and they have their faults. My son, a typical teenager, has many and I am subjected to constant criticism concerning them from my husband. I agree on the many points my husband raises regarding my son, taking them all on the chin, because much of the time I hate to say, he is right. My son can be an obnoxious teen at times, yet it is hard for me because I am not raising him, forcing me to relate to my husbands guilt concerning his daughter. I try to have as much input in my son’s life as I can but it’s not the same, as he is not living with me. Unfortunately any criticism I have of my stepdaughter is taken as a personal attack and then we have a my kids your kids debate.

If my husband passes comment regarding my son then I counter attack and pass comment on an issue I have with his daughter. It is my way of getting him to understand that he can criticize and punish my son when he messes up, but where his daughter is concerned, his pain and guilt because he is unable to share her life full time, gets the better of him. I don't have a problem with him disciplining my children, most of the time the decision is a joint one anyway, if only he could do the same with his daughter when required. I only have the one issue with my stepdaughter, my husband has many issues with my son; one of them ironically is the way he talks to me.

Mothers day and the weather is cold, damp and windy, quite depressing so doesn't help lift my mood. I wait for the post on Saturday but nothing except the odd bill. No card from my son. My husband spoke to him the previous day with a reminder of how important Mothers Day is to me, especially as we are apart. My son’s excuse is he doesn’t have the money to purchase a card, just like the excuses his father used to make, but instead he is working on a power point presentation for me. I assume this means I will be expecting something via e-mail, so this morning, I excitedly check the mail to discover... nothing. I cannot express my sorrow as my daughters have bought cards and presents and I must to keep my disappointment from them. My daughters, and their excitement about this day, have the desire to pamper me alongside my husband as he senses the need to compensate for my sons insensitivity. No doubt my son will contact me in due course to offer his apologies and as his mother, because I love him and miss him, will accept them.

So my husband offers a hug providing the opportunity to cry into his shoulder. Unfortunately I have to listen to my husband voice his opinions and how inconsiderate and selfish my son can be and how he is the one who is subjected to my depression brought on by my sons actions. My husband is sick to death of him continually hurting and showing such little respect for me but I know my husband's actions are purely out of love and his need to protect, but who's going to protect me from my husband when he is ranting this way about my son? He cannot shield me from my own child.

My protective instincts kick in and I temporarily detach from my husband. I sit and listen to everything he has to say but it is difficult. My husband can moan about my son and openly express his anger, but forgets how his own daughter, my stepdaughter treats me. My husband has to understand and accept, if I can forgive my sons behaviour, then he must too. Am I allowed to express my anger towards her? No and kids can be so selfish and cruel at times.

When talking to my husband, his daughter is a closed topic because the anguish and guilt of only seeing her one-day a week, always gets the better of him. How frustrating, but what annoys me most, is when my son comes to visit, he uses our shampoo, how trivial, but my husband will pass comment on how my son is using his shampoo and really should bring his own. Is this an indication for me to suggest to him that perhaps his daughter should bring her own soap and toothpaste? So you see how it gets? His daughter is a separate issue to my own children. My kids, his kids.

Diary entry

Monday 8th August

You’ve mentioned about the toiletries in the bathroom for my son. Well you moan when he uses your shampoo so I’m sure you would moan if he used your smellies too. We have things for your daughter to use every week so you see, they are out for her too use every week too, but because they are girls stuff, you don’t see it. This must really eat you up, but you forget, that you have your Daughter in the flesh every week. I get my son when he feels like coming. You are seeing things as though I don’t care about your daughter at all and all I’m interested in is my son. All I have lately is you verbally bashing me over events of the weekend regarding your daughter and what I’m not doing for her. I think I’ll just have to stop my son visiting and go see him in on neutral ground. Perhaps a hotel.

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