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.
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