Feel guilty about stepson's involvement in family - FamilyEducation
Feel guilty about stepson's involvement in family
11/17/2008 at 18:28 PM

I'll try to keep my post brief, but need to get a little bit of history in first. :)

My husband and I have been married for five years. He is my best friend and we are very happy together.

I have two sons from my first marriage, ages 10 and 11.  My husband has three kids: two girls, ages 19 and 17 and a son, age 15.  We have also just discovered that we are expecting our first baby together.

Until just recently, my husband's kids all lived out of state with their mother. They would visit for holidays and most of each summer. Because of this arrangement, I was able to maintain a very friendly relationship with them without having to become a disciplinarian.  While certain things about their behavior have bothered me, it has been easy enough to overlook because they were just "visiting".

My ex-husband lives within 20 minutes of us, so my boys see him frequently.  They stay with him every other weekend and one night a week. This arrangement has worked for us as well.

All of this changed a couple of months ago when my 15-year-old stepson decided he wanted to move in with us.  I have been outwardly supportive of this.  My husband has been very supportive of my kids and treats them as his own, and I feel that I owe him the same.  I was very involved in getting my stepson enrolled at school and getting his room ready, etc.

My stepson is a good kid.  He's immature and has a tendancy to lie, but I keep telling myself that he's just a 15-year-old boy, so what more can we expect.

My problem now is that I don't like the new dynamic of having him in our house fulltime.  My husband and I don't have any time alone anymore.  And I have been thrust into a parenting role with him, after five years of being a friend only.  We are both struggling with this process.

The other feeling that I'm struggling with that has caught me totally offguard is a feeling of guilt toward my own sons for the time that my stepson is in my house and my boys are not.  I almost feel like I'm being "unfaithful" to them by spending time with him, cooking dinner for him, etc.  I know this sounds silly, but I can't really describe it any other way.

I find myself dreading the time my kids are gone and my stepson will be at home with my husband and me.  I dread even more the time we are in the house alone.  I am polite, but cold.  I stay in my room and let him fend for himself.  I obviously am feeling some feelings of resentment toward him.

Has anyone else been through this?  I would like to say that I want some help on how to overcome it, but I'm not sure I do.  I feel that the closer I get to my stepson, that it somehow minimimzes my relationship with my own children.  And I don't even like the kid.  I want to like him only for my husband's sake.  Is that enough?

No, liking him for your husbands sake is not enough. Like the alcoholic who does not want help you state that you do not wish to change either. This is a 15 year old child who needs his father, and you would rather push him out to suit your own selfish wants. Most kids are pretty good at picking up on peoples attitudes toward them. I have no doubt that this child has you pegged for what you truly are. I only hope his father is observant enough to recognize that his wife would rather have his own son out of his home so he can continue raising her children. He has sacrificed for your kids, but you wont even try to sacrifice for his. Do you feel that he is cheating on his son when he spends time with your kids? I seldom say this on here, but you need to get some counseling. Hopefully a professional can help you get over yourself.

It could also be that your own emotions are heightened because you are dealing with pregnancy hormones. I hadn't considered before reading your posting that the mom's hyperprotectiveness of her "own children" is partly because she is nesting. A lot of stepfamilies just go bad when a new baby enters the picture. The yours and mine which had functioned pretty well often cease to function when the ours get born. Were you planning this baby?

Thank you for your reponse. No, we weren't planning the baby, though we were still happy when we found out. I hadn't considered that the pregnancy hormones could have been a contributor, although it makes sense since I don't remember feeling these feelings before then! :) I have never felt this way during visits from my husband's kids and had attributed them only to my stepson because it started when he moved in (which just happens to be when I got pregnant). I can see how SnglDad made the conclusion that he did. And, although I don't think I need counseling to overcome the problem, I was hoping to find some help on this board from people who have been through the same thing. I'm just being honest about how I'm feeling and realize as much as anyone that I appear selfish and uncaring.

I totally understand your feelings about the guilt. I am 'there' for my stepdaughter more than her mom and dad put together, at times, particularly in the summer months. And there are times I've had to put off doing things with my son because of HER schedule. It is a constant juggling act. But it can be done. Just remember your first priorities are to your children, but his are a CLOSE second. Once I got that priority straight, it helped that 'overwhelmed' feeling immensely. Something else that helped was, as far as the discipline goes, I put myself in the same role as an 'aunt'. As a child you go to your aunts, and she has rules and you go by them. But for the BIG issues, its primarily up to mom and dad and YOU are there to support their decisions. Obviously everyone has to be on the same page. Hope this helps. Good luck.

I admire your honesty because it invites criticism and that's not always easy to take. One thing you should realize is that children follow your lead. Kids more easily accept step-siblings if you do. I'll bet your kids don't feel "cheated" because you attend to this kid when they are not even there. I believe these are your feelings alone and they don't even worry about what you are doing when they are at dad's house. You owe it to your yourself, your husband, your children and the unborn SIBLING of this boy to make peace with this issue. You set the tone for your household. Make your home a loving and nurturing place for EVERYONE and you will all benefit. I think you could use some help coming to terms with blending a family. That does not mean you are unbalanced. Blending a family is a HUGE undertaking. This boy deserves as much love and attention as anyone else. Treat every family member with the same respect and love whether he/she is your bio child or not.

SteppinOut, I appreciated your comments and think your idea of trying to take on a sort of "aunt" role with my stepson (at least as it relates to discipline) is a great idea. I don't want to take the place of his mother, but do want to be able to enforce his dad's rules and have him respect me. I also think what you said about putting him in a very close second makes a lot of sense. My husband has been there for my kids from day one, but has never had the biological bond with them since birth. I think this is even harder to gain when you are dealing with a teenager. It's hard for their biological parents to stand them through these years, let alone someone who didn't know them when they were a cute and cuddly toddler! :) I appreciate you sharing your experience and suggestions.

Thank you, tamz. Luckily, my boys absolutely adore their stepbrother. The three of them are very close and my stepson is very good to them. This is something I am very grateful for and thank him for often. You're right though, I'm sure, that my kids probably do not feel cheated at all when I spend time with him when they are not around. I hadn't considered that. There are high emotions sometimes when they go to their dad's because they don't want to go, and perhaps I've let my guilt and feelings from that bleed over. You're right that my stepson does deserve the same love and attention. I do want to resolve this situation (and realize it is up to me to resolve) before the baby is born. I appreciate all the great feedback on this forum. Yes, the criticism is hard to hear sometimes, but if I need to hear it to really change, then I accept that. Thanks again.

As a couple of other forum members have mentioned, you truly are very strong and brave to state such bold truth about what you are feeling right now. it is a bit easier, though, when we can say things like this almost anonymously. I understand exactly how you feel. I have been going through this for almost 3 years. I have a daughter who is 13, and he has a son who is 12. they were born on the same day. cute coincidence and nice conversation starter. from the very beginning i found it hard to connect with his son. I just never felt that genuine, adoptive maternal instinct. I harbored many feelings of deep guilt for quite some time. Until recently. Now it has gotten to the point that I cannot stand to feel his presense in the room. it is that bad and it is almost intolerable for my entire family. let me just say, though, before anyone gets in a tizzy...that i have TRIED and TRIED. we both have. however, since this is a forum about "Step" issues, this is relative. When I became pregnant with our son in Jan. 2007, i knew it would be a possiblity that my stepson would come to live with us. My husband always talked about it, and wanted it to happen. Once we had our son, and were able to get a bigger house, the timing was there. I was able to maintain my aggravation and my discipline for quite some time. I don't know that I even said a cross word, or raised my voice to him in any manner whatsoever for probably a year and a half. Believe me, the boy has issues..brought on, unfortunately by my husband, and by mainly his Mom, so it was really hard to bite my tongue. I just never really wanted to come off the wrong way, and did not want to be made out to be the Evil step Mom!!! long story short...it has gotten so much worse since he has moved in. I have been reading so many stories about families and marriages going Kaput after a blended family finally has a baby. the yours, mine.....it's all fine. it's really a bit easier. but then you blend the "ours," and it's a totally different story. i am not sure what it is, but it really has been an entirely different world. BUT--you say that your husband's boy is a good kid.....I am not in that position right now. he is bad. bad at school, bad at home, bad outside of the house...lies and is violent and curses at the kids at school. I want to send him to reform school, but his Dad does not. that is really how bad it is. Not to mention, he is not allowed, yes i sald NOT allowed to move back in to his Mom's house because he is not welcome to live there anymore. so my situation may be a bit different...but the preganancy, i empathized a bit because i, too, have had that recently. I was not able to gain a connection with him prior to the pregnancy, and now all he feels is anger and jealousy over the baby (and me and my daughter--especially since she is an honor roll student and she has bonded all of these years with his Dad). be prepared, though, that even though he is 15, that this may happen. you said he is immature? that is my step son's man issue. he is extremely immature, and because of this all of these environmental changes, it is very hard to take in. good, thing, though....you have some time to adjust while you are still pregnant. not that the pregnancy makes it easy to deal with emotions! lol i really do wish you the best of luck. you and your husband continue you to remain strong. that is the most important thing. As soon as you feel that his involvement starts to cause negative energy in your household, stop it. don't let him come between you. Hopefully, you are still at the point now, that you think this could never be a possibility. Unfortunately, my husband and I did not have that kind of time before our families blended to be able to build a strong enough foundation (I thought it was, but here I am). Now, we are at the point that there is a huge wedge between us, and I don't know that it will ever be repaired. Please remember, your husband must stay on your side at all times if conflict arises. if he doesn't, then you will wind up where I am....and believe me, you do not want that at all if you love your husband. I wish you the best of luck :)

Lost1975, I was so glad to read your post and know that SOMEONE out there is going through almost exactly what I'm going through. So many of the things you said are so similar to my situation, it's almost as if I wrote them myself. Thank you for taking the time to respond! I would love to be able to email with you, as some of the specifics I'd rather not have on the public post. Do you know if this site offers private messages or the ability to send email to each other?

Are things getting better for you? I hope so. I have tried contacting the mediator about emailing you and I have had no luck. I even tried posting a message with my email address, and it wouldn't let me. my email is scorpioncat0117. my domain is yahoo. see if this works. best of luck to you

Lost... I sent you an email to what I THINK is your email. :) Please let me know if you don't get it.