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Blending Family Dynamics

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This topic contains 13 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by avatar LisforLeslie 8 months, 1 week ago.

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  • #749405 Reply

    Not sure exactly what I am looking for but I don’t want to overstep boundaries or cause more conflict so I guess I’d like some tips, tools, or advice on blended families.

    Background – my boyfriend and have been together for 18 months. We have purchased a house which he and his two children (13 and 21) are currently living in with plans for my kid (also 13) and me to move into in a few months. The 13 year olds seem to get on well with each other as well as with my bf and I but the 21 year old is having a seemingly more difficult time with me. While I feel as though I have been friendly and supportive of her and her goals, and while she is friendly enough to my face, she says some pretty awful things about me behind my back. I know this because my kid overheard her as well as my bf has shared that when they are having a disagreement (basically about her not contributing to maintenance of the household – ie chores), she brings up all her issues with me.
    While I understand that she doesn’t have to like me, I really don’t want her poisoning the relationship between me and her sibling* as they won’t have the ability to move out once we move in. There has been increased conflict between her and her father (who really does have my back) and I don’t want to add to that.

    How can I ease the situation or at least keep things civil when she and I do have to interact? I don’t want to come across as fake or insincere and I also don’t want to get too wrapped up in her drama.

    (Further context if helpful: bf is not her biological father but has parented her for 19 years; she chooses to live with him and not her mom due to her mom’s addictions/narcissism; her bio dad hasn’t been a major force in her life but she did live with him and his wife for a year a few years ago; she is very protective of her sibling* and feels like she is more of a mother to them* than bio mom)

    *gender neutral pronouns used as child identifies as non-binary

    #749407 Reply

    If she is 21, I imagine this will not be a problem for much longer since I assume she would be moving out on her own soonish. Either way, I would just continue to model appropriate behavior, since she never got that from her mom. I also bet she is feeling territorial about her “mom” status to her younger sibling. She sounds like she has had it rough, I feel for the both of you. Good luck!

    #749410 Reply

    Well, having kids, not being married and already buying a house together seems WAY too fast. I meant of course you both having kids already, not together. Your children should just now be getting to really know your BF not living with him. 21 year old will probably never warm to you. She knows everything, doesn’t want to share, etc. but like above, she won’t be around that much longer anyway so, oh well. Please tell me you have something financial in place (I don’t even know what exists) to cover your butt should this not work out as you have bought a house with someone you aren’t married to.

    #749411 Reply

    There has been discussion between her and her father about her needing to move out once she completes school in July – i really don’t want that associated with us moving in so that will likely delay the process but all the children know that that is the direction of our relationship.

    Remembering all that she has been through does remind me to maintain my empathy and to try to not take things personally but it is trying sometimes!

    Financial/legal agreements and a clear understanding of what will happen should things not work out are in place and fortunately we are in positions where neither of us will be financially devastated.

    #749416 Reply

    I don’t think that eighteen months is “way too fast” for them to blend their families. There are also often reasons in terms of alimony, child support, asset agreements, etc why divorced couples or couples with kids may not get married even as they move in together.

    #749417 Reply

    @jd, how is 18 months ( a year and a half ) WAY to fast for them to live together? I would think that at a year and a half is plenty of time for everyone to have met and know well enough about each other, and to be comfortable moving in together. Not being rude, i’m honestly asking because in my experience , the respectable amount of time to meet someones children from a previous marriage or relationship should be about 6 to 8 months…of course that’s only IF things are very serious and both are comfortable with it.

    #749423 Reply

    It is way too fast when children are involved.

    #749424 Reply

    Buying a house when you aren’t married is not generally advisable, especially if you haven’t been dating long.

    #749425 Reply

    Wow! You kind of dropped a bomb in your update: She needs to move out in July? Shortly after you and your kid have moved in with him?
    I feel like that’s a pretty big stressor right there.

    Being 21, she IS a legal adult, she’s still pretty young. She may want to stay (even if she hasn’t said this), so maybe you could suggest to your bf that she should be allowed to stay for some (low, but not insignificant) amount of rent if she so chooses. Just knowing that staying with her only reliable parent is an option might help her warm up to the situation.

    As far as what she’s saying behind your back, I don’t think you should address it at all. It’s almost certainly not about you personally, and more about her feeling territorial about her younger sibling, possibly her father, and her home. (which you’ve already identified) Regardless of how much you get along with her, she’s bound to feel at least a little replaced. I can imagine this is particularly painful because she’s been let down by SO MANY people. Bringing up things she’s said to her dad that have been overheard by your kid will just make your kid seem like a tattletale and give her more amo to use against you and your kid. If your bf has your back, you don’t need to do anything else about her or him. Reassure your kid that she’s upset about the situation, which is understandable. Your kid should still feel comfortable coming to you with stuff, should try to get to know their new stepsister, etc.

    It sounds like you’re being considerate and trying not to step on toes, so really just keep on keeping on. It’s awkward and uncomfortable just because there’s no other way it could be.

    Good luck!

    #749427 Reply

    Why is he telling you about what she says? That’s a dick move in my opinion. You know she doesn’t like you, you got info from one of the teens. Shut him down the next time. And he needs to tell her to either talk to you about her issues or stop using her issues with you as a deflection tool when she’s not getting her way.

    And I’m assuming the argument wasn’t that he was asking her to move out so that you can move in -because yeah, I can see why she’d have a problem with you.

    So what do you do? Kill her with kindness. If she says something mean or does something rude, say so – nicely, “Goodness 21, that really hurts my feelings. Is there something you’d like to talk about?” Do that in the moment, in front of everyone there. Model how to handle this for the kids and put the ball to behave better in her court.

    #749431 Reply

    @MMR – her moving out wasn’t what i originally wanted. I was looking forward to getting to know her better and did not want to make her feel pushed out which was why i was hoping she would stay after our move in. The moving out was discussed between her and her dad before these issues arose but has seemingly escalated recently. We were not ever planning to moving in before July.

    @LisforLeslie – the arguments haven’t been about her moving out – they are more about her messiness and unhelpfulness around the house (not coming from me). I really like the phrasing you have suggested and will definitely try to use it as i would like to just have an open honest discussion – just wasn’t sure if i would be overstepping a boundary or making things worse but trying to talk to her.

    #749446 Reply

    18 months is NOT way too fast when children, 1 who isn’t even a child, are involved..seriously?

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