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I guess since I'm new I should at least start out with an introduction and a little background of my situation. Well first off, my name is Amanda (as I'm sure you're figured out from my display name) and I'm expecting my first child in May. This is not, however, my boyfriend's first child. He has a 2 1/2 year old son from a previous marriage. He and his ex supposedly are co-parenting and each have equal time with Meyson, but that is far from the truth. The weekdays are supposed to be split in half and then each of them have him every other weekend. The truth is that we have Meyson much more than 50% of the time and there have been times when she has gone almost 2 weeks without seeing her son because she keeps requesting that we keep him extra days.
Now that you have a little bit of background, here's where I need advice...
The ex's requests for less time with her son combined with my boyfriend's work schedule basically is making me the primary caregiver and I hate to admit it but it's becoming a bit too much for me.
My boyfriend has a new job and due to high demand right now, he is working at least a 60 hour work week and he's on night shift which makes it even worse. Normally he gets home from work between 2 and 3 in the morning so he wants to basically sleep all day until he has to go back out to work. Now I know it is unreasonable of me to expect him to get up bright and early before the sun comes up, but this is basically making me do all the parenting at home. This is starting to overwhelm me, but I'm not exactly sure what to do about it. I'm not working right now so part of me feels like even though this is not my child, he has become my responsibility because I stay at home. Another part of me feels like I'm being thrown into the deep end. Before this relationship, I really had no responsibilties besides just basically paying for my own way and now at times I feel like a single mother of a toddler.
Another problem we have is behavior. I know there is no perfect toddler and they all try your patience from time to time, but I feel like a lot of the behavior problems we have stem from discipline problems. I guess my biggest issue is that I don't want to overstep my boundaries. Basically I don't want to tell my boyfriend how to raise his own kid. But at the same time, I'm with Meyson more so I've learned what seems to work and what doesn't. I believe that a lot of the times my boyfriend doesn't discipline enough and even he has admitted that he cuts his son a lot of slack because he's in a bad situation. I know he's just trying to do what's best, but I believe that this behavior is doing more harm than good. Then with his mother you have the other extreme, she definitely lacks patience and seems to only have time for her oldest child. This leaves Meyson in a situation where he is lacking attention and constantly being screamed at. I also feel really bad for the situation that this little boy is in, but at the same time all this giving into him is making him become out of control. I'm really at a loss of what to do. I want to maintain order in the house, but I don't want to overstep my boundaries and tell my boyfriend how to parent.
I'm getting extremely nervous as far as the new baby is concerned because if the situation doesn't change, I'm worried that I'm not going to be able to handle two children.
Sorry for such the long post and any advice, insight anything would be MUCH appreciated. Thanks!
You're absolutely right to discipline the child and set down rules. Kids NEED rules! I'd keep the discipline limited to time out or withholding of privaleges and the like and keep away from physical discipline but if you're expected to be the primary care-taker of this child you have GOT to be able to get control over him! He's got to understand what the rules are and know that there are consequences for misbehaving. Sit down with your boyfriend and set down guidelines for the child and then STICK TO THEM! Don't let him be the "good guy" always letting the child get away with things or you will resent that and it will prevent you from ever having a good relationship with your DSS. It's going to be hard and get even harder when the new baby comes--CONGRATULATIONS by the way! But you can do it. It may not be storybook but it can be good. It sounds to me like eventually you two are going to wind up with sole custody of the boy so you need to get things under control ASAP! (It also sounds like that may be for the best!) Above all else, keep the lines of communication open between you and your boyfriend. If you're feeling like he's undermining your relationship with the child by letting him get away with things too often, tell him and set a plan to deal with things like that. Let him tell you (away from the child's hearing or view) that he thinks you're being too hard. Keep working until you get it right....you can do this!
Thanks for the welcome as well as the encouragement.
We do eventually want sole custody, but I know that, even though she doesn't seem to want anything to do with the little boy, it's going to be World War 3. That's just the kind of person she is, she's not happy unless there is some sort of conflict and she does a lot of things just to push buttons. The worst part is is that she uses the only truely innocent party (her son) to do so. It's becoming very apparent that she is definitely doing more harm than good, which I think is another BIG factor in the behavior problems we're currently dealing with. Meyson's first day back from the egg donor (as we call her) is always the worst. He's always super clingy, whiny and sometimes he just spends the entire rest of the day crying on and off. Also, over the past few weeks when he comes home, for the first day he has a stuttering problem. The first time that I noticed this I thought that maybe it was just sort of a phase because I've seen kids, especially ones that are still learning to talk, have a little bit of a stuttering issue for awhile and then it just seems to go away. Then I realized that he only has the problem the day he's been with his mother. After he's at our house, it just goes away and only comes back after visiting with her. So this makes me think that it's some sort of nervous tick or something over there is what's triggering it. I just wonder what goes on when he's not with us and not only does the instability really hinder the progress with his behavior, it just really worries me.
My Dh has a daughter from his previous marriage. I was thrown into it pretty quickly. My DH was out on the road as a truck driver, so I became the primary caregiver in my house. That said, you must set up rules. If Meyson senses 3 people that will let him get away with things, he will RUN all over you. He needs to know who is boss. Figure out how you want to run your household. You can talk to your bf about the changes that will be made, or you can make the changes and let him see how things change. Children CRAVE direction. They are happier with rules. They thrive because they know that someone else is in charge and watching out for them. Take charge. Let Meyson know that you LOVE him but don't like his behavior. Give him clear rules and consequences. AND stick to it. Don't feel bad about giving him rules. Give him attention for all the GREAT things he does.
Here is a little background on my advice. Xmas 2005: DH and I were still new with each other and I was pg with our child( I mc in Feb). DH took my DSD to his grandmother's house for xmas. ALL of his family commented on how horrible DSD's behavior was (she was 2 1/4). Other children couldn't stand to be around DSD because she was bossy and mean. March 2006: The first time I took primary care of DSD. It was a battle for the first few weeks. She was still adjusting to me being in her life, but that didn't mean that I let her get away with behavior that I didn't want in my house. DSD was swearing, abusive, and ROYALLY bossy and had control...at her biomom's house. I never really saw ANY of that behavior at my house. I set the rules that were to be followed in my house. I set the consequences of breaking those rules in my house. I also set aside one-on-one special time every day. By setting up expectations, she THRIVED in our house. Xmas 2006: We ALL went to my MIL's for xmas. All the kids LOVED playing with DSD. She was sharing and caring. His whole family praised me for a wonderful job.
Dh saw how easy it was to uphold my rules and have a well-behaved child. We became a team in our household. There are behaviors that DSD comes to our house with. We try to understand that these things are taught at her mom's house. She is now 5 and we talk to her. We let her know that some behaviors that she was taught by mom are NOT appropriate for a 5 yr old (some are inappropriate for any ADULT). The lying problem we have now, was taught. We try very hard not to get frustrated. But we must stay strong about how things will go in our house.
Letting a 2 yr old get away with things because he is in a bad situation is not going to help him. Show him what a good home is like. Talk to your bf and let him know how you feel. Tell him you would like to set up co-parenting between you and him. As the primary caregiver you cannot allow yourself to be walked on. This will make you miserable, and as your pg progresses it will only get harder to handle. Above all else, remember to show both men in your life that you love them and want this to work. I wish you luck. Don't back down.