I’m opening the blog up to a friend today. She’s in the process of getting a divorce from her husband & has a sweet 19mo daughter. She’s in a relationship with her childhood sweetheart now & is trying to develop a good relationship with his two children. She could use any advice that you have in helping with this transition & helping the kids settle in to the new family dynamic they are trying to establish.
If you know the poster outside of my blog, please do not mention her name or any of the places you see her online regularly.
Have you ever had everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, in your life flip upside down? How about in under a year?
In one year, I’ve lost my five year marriage to my husband’s affair with a coworker (while I was home with our six month old daughter), found my lost childhood love a handful of months later, moved from the East Coast back to the Midwest that was my home for my first 21 years, started a new relationship with that lost childhood love, and am now helping him care for his two children as a pseudo-step-parent…all without becoming an alcoholic, huzzah!
Some days I am not sure how this all happened, but I try to make it work.
This is, hands down, the best relationship I have ever had. He is loving and compassionate, faithful and honest – four qualities that I value more highly than any. We are very good for each other, and I love him with all my heart.
My love’s children are 7 (girl) and 8-almost-9 (boy). My daughter is 19 months. He and his ex-wife split up about the same time my husband and I split, although his was not unexpected, where mine definitely was. He does not have a good working relationship with his ex-wife.
The kids live with his ex-wife at her mother’s house half the week, and half the week with him/us. I watch them for him 2 days a week while he works. It’s a strange situation, but we all live very close together and the families have both agreed that it’s in the kids’ best interest to see both parents as much as possible – mostly because their mother is not a good influence. No, I’m not saying that as the new girlfriend…it’s a documented fact. The kids’ grandmother does most of the care taking and transporting when they are with them, as well as throwing in lots of coddling and mediocre discipline. It’s natural, they are her only grandchildren. She’s only fulfilling her role as grandmother there. What I take issue with is the mother’s lack of involvement. She goes to school about 20 hours a week, and works about 15 hours a week. She is off of both 2.5 days, and yet still cannot seem to get her shit together with the kids.
The big kids are a handful, to say the least. The girl is mouthy and argumentative, and the boy has ADHD. They have sweet streaks a mile wide, but it takes a while to get them there. They are used to getting their way with their grandmother and mom their entire lives. They get everything they want, generally, and spend a lot of time going from one expensive activity to the next, not really learning how to just play at home and be content. The little boy is very hooked on video games, which in and of itself is not necessarily a problem. The problem comes in giving him limits – fits get thrown at our house often. Our rules are vastly different than the rules at their grandmother’s.
We have tried different ways to approach things with these kids in the last five or six months…from just letting them have the same routine and lifestyle they have at home, to the detriment of my daughter AND our wallets, to setting firm limits and giving gentle guidance, to timeouts and lectures from both their dad and myself. (I take care of them a large percentage of the time, I have to have SOME discipline role here.) Nothing has changed. They manipulate their father and grandmother into letting them go back home frequently (often as late as 10, 11pm when they are angry that it’s “bedtime”), they break all of our rules, throw fits, yell and scream at each other and wake up the baby at naptime, the list goes on.
Now, it’s not like this all of the time. We very often get little letters and cards from his daughter with “I ❤ you Daddy and *my name*”, and she tells us frequently how she wants us to get married “so that you can be my mommy and *my daughter* can be my little sister!” They know that their mother is a screw-up, and they know tremendously bad things about the divorce and their mother’s lifestyle-more than they should EVER know, but we can’t change that now. We try to shower them with love and affection and quality time to help curb some of the damage as best we can.
I do not know how to do this, though. I don’t know how much of their behavior I can affect or change, and I am afraid of their behavior being detrimental to my own daughter with her being as young as she is. Their dad is very hands-on, but he works so much that he still has trouble connecting with the kids sometimes, and most of the raising was done by their mother because he was working 60-80+ hours a week during most of their marriage. He’s certainly no stranger to the kids, but they aren’t as close to him as their mom and grandmother – the girl, in particular.
So, I need advice on how to handle this. I am just at a loss, and it is causing tremendous amounts of stress on me and their father’s relationship. When the kids aren’t with us, we don’t fight. Period. When they *are* with us, the house is in turmoil.
Save from ending this relationship, (and talking with the grandmother, already tried that and it got me nowhere!) what can I do?