06-07-2022 05:20 AM - last edited on 06-08-2022 10:00 AM by Philippa-RO
I have been with my current boyfriend for quite awhile now and he has two kids from a previous relationship. We plan to get married and start a life together soon, which I am thrilled for. I love him very much and he is a great man with a good heart. I do not have biological children of my own, but would love to have an "ours baby" one day. My current struggle is with finding my place as a step parent, what my responsibilities really are, and if I am wrong in feeling frustrated and taken advantage of in my current situation.
My boyfriend has been out of work for 8 months. When he works, he makes great money. When he gets a lay off, he only gets unemployment insurance which is barely anything. I came into this relationship, owning my own home, working full time, and having a personal side business that I run. When we got together, I welcomed him and his two children into my home and tried to make them feel comfortable. I gave each kid their own room and tried to make it feel like the house was not just mine. But, it is getting to the point that my boyfriend cannot afford anything. He can't afford to feed his kids when they visit. He can't afford gas to drive them to and from their moms. He can't afford to buy them clothes to keep at our place. But, he isn't showing much effort to get out there and find work. I pay for the mortgage, all bills, all utilities, a good chunk of the food, my own car, my own gas.. all insurance, and I don't make a ton of money myself! It was okay at first to help him out when he was out of work.. but, now I feel like it is never ending and I am becoming financially responsible for him and his children as well. He doesn't ever want his kids to go home.. but he can't afford them when they are here. He wants them to keep coming over, but then I end up paying for everything. I feel like I am in a damned if you do, damned if you don't kind of place. If I tell him he can't have his kids over anymore if he can't afford it, then I look like a horrible person who is selfish and unwilling to help.. and it isn't the kids fault.. I don't want to punish them or hurt him and say "you can't see your children".. that isn't my place at all!!
But, if I continue to give money.. then I personally feel horribly taken advantage of and that my only "worth" in this family dynamic is to bring money and that is it while they get to sit at home and have fun together while I work my butt off for all of them. It is hard. I am getting hurt. And when I bring it up, he says he feels horrible and is guilty.. but nothing changes. What do I do. Is it unreasonable for me to say I don't want to pay for everything for his kids? Or, is this expected of a step parent and part of the deal of when you agree to a relationship with a man with children? I am genuinely asking. I feel like it is such a delicate topic.. and maybe I am in the wrong for believing that they are not my children (even though I love them dearly) so I shouldn't be expected to becoming financially responsible for them?
He also gets so overwhelmed so easily and then needs help getting their lunches ready, doing their laundry, making food, helping with homework, cleaning the house etc. But, I am already doing everything else.. there is a huge imbalance in this relationship and I am struggling to know how to correct it.
Step parents really have it rough and confusing. You are told "back off, you are not their parent so don't try to parent them... but then when it comes to money and being responsible for their well-being and every other thankless jobs that a parent does.. you are expected to just do it and give everything you have.. this is so hard.
06-07-2022 02:46 PM - edited 06-07-2022 02:47 PM
Hi @Stepmomtobe - welcome to the community and thanks for sharing what's been happening for you.
It sounds like you've put a lot of effort into your relationship with your partner and his children - I really admire the work you've put in to make sure his children feel welcomed and loved.
At the same time, it sounds like things have become really stressful for you and I wanted to say that your feelings are valid and there are no rules about what you should be okay with, or not okay with.
Relationships are based on give and take, so if something is making you feel uncomfortable, if something is crossing your boundaries, or if you're feeling taken advantage of, then those are things you are very entitled to want to address.
I'm wondering - have you been able to talk to your partner about how you're feeling?
If so, how open is he to discussing working towards a fairer division of finances, work and chores?
I'm not sure if it interests you, but I wondered if it might be worth reading through some information about healthy relationships to see if there are areas where your relationship fits well with what a healthy relationship looks like, or areas that might be worth working on. If that interests you, there are some articles here about healthy relationships, setting boundaries in relationships and also the equality wheel for relationships (this refers to domestic abuse because it's sometimes used for people in abusive situations, but the points are relevant to all relationships).
If you'd like to talk things through some more, we're always here to listen and support you.
06-11-2022 02:58 PM
Welcome to the parenting forum. I am mum to an 18 year old son and a 16 year old daughter. I am still married to my husband so do not have personal experience of blended families. However, my aunt was stepmother to her husband's kids from a young age and quite a few of my friends are divorced and dating.
You are clearly a very loving and compassionate person with a generous heart. However, you have concerns.
I guess my first question for you is whether you are absolutely sure he is the right guy for you as he and his kids are a package deal. That being the case, maybe think about some smaller changes to the situation may be like setting up a chores chart for the kids at your place and a reward system. This is easier said than done and our kids have fallen off the rails in this regard and I need to have the same conversation. Also have a think about what you're prepared to pay for when the kids are at your place and put in some boundaries. There are plenty of activities you can do together than don't cost a fortune. I love op shops and there's so much stuff you can pick up there and keep costs down. It's one thing to offer short term high level assistance but quite another for it to be ongoing. Maybe talking to your boyfriend in a supportive and compassionate way and encouraging him to get work would be helpful too. Maybe he's become a bit down and lost his mojo and could use some encouragement or to have a chat with someone. Check in with him too about his mental health. How is he going?
Hope that helps.
06-15-2022 07:21 AM