This is why marriages with minor children from previous relationships have such a high rate of failure. His child should be his number one priority. Put yourself in the kids place, how would you feel? I'm assuming your not married and just his shack-up honey.
I know that will be unpopular, bring on the red thumbs! The outspoken majority here is all about themselves and their right to do what they want. Some times the consequences of your actions (choosing the wrong parent for your child) suck but then it's not about you when you've had a child. If you chose to involve yourself with someone with a child realize that the child will mostly resent you, god forbid you have a child of your own with his dad. Dad will always consider the child his, and your opinion won't matter. Oh, and just wait until they are a teenager, then the fun really begins. So if your willing to be the bottom of the pile, with your wants and needs coming behind him and his child, then stay there enjoy, or not, the ride.
Please keep in mind that how you feel will inevitably affect the child -- who is probably feeling uncertain and upset about his/her life and the arrival of a new person who is competing for their dad's affection. My parents divorced when I was 13. My stepmother entered my life when I was almost 16.
It was clear from the beginning that she was jealous and resentful of me, but not so much of my brother (8 years younger). She was petty, critical and territorial. I don't think she wanted to be a stepmother to a teenager and she made that pretty clear. I'm sure I wasn't thrilled to have her around either -- she was 12 years older than me, but seemed much younger.
She made my teen age years hell in many ways (she had issues with alcohol that made her particularly volatile) but what was most hurtful to me was how she tried to keep me from spending time with my father. My brother and I lived half the time with each parent (six months of the year we lived during the week with one and spent weekends with the other, then switched).
The end result was that I spent much less time with my father when I became and adult because I couldn't stand being around her. She also alienated my grandparents and my aunt with her behavior. While I still spoke to my father frequently and recognized that he deserved to be in a relationship, I spent as little time in his house as possible. She was much more nurturing toward my brother and he had a better relationship with her than I did.
When I turned 30 she apologized to me for how she had acted and admitted that her insecurities drove her to behave in ways that she now realized were cruel. While I appreciated the gesture, it was really too little, too late.
Two years ago she died. My father met a very nice woman last year and for the first time in a very long time our family enjoys our get togethers without tension.
On the flip side, around the same time as my stepmother came into my life, my mother married my stepfather who is one of the nicest men possible. My brother and I had and still have a great relationship with him. He always made us feel included, partially by coming up with activities that we all enjoyed (we played a lot of poker and other card games, for example).
I think those people who advised counseling are very start. Blended families bring their own set of challenges that are wrapped up in emotions. It can really help to have a neutral third party bring some perspective.
I wish you luck and think that it's great you are asking for advice and shared experiences. It can be hard to become friends with a child who sees you as an interloper to the family but if you can create a situation where you have shared experiences, you may find that it's quite rewarding.
This is why I would never date anyone with children from a prior marriage. I had no desire to be "second", or deal with a lot of drama in my personal life. I am so thankful that it worked out well for me, didn't want any kids messing up things, especially someone elses! To each his own.... I don't think its bad to feal resentful of your SOs time, I don't know how you wouldn't feel that way.
Thanks LM. Definitely giving it time. I think part of the issue is that SO is relatively unwilling to budge when it comes to his time with child. SO states that because he "sees me more than child", I should be accommodating. This hurts my feelings sometimes because while I 100% appreciate that child needs him, we should be working through this together as a team, not as separate entities.
OP, I have a stepson that I met when he was 12. Angry, sullen pre-teen boys are no fun. It's a credit to his dad that it worked at all. My DH worked overtime to make sure he did things with his son, and that I was respected and treated fairly as a partner, not a third wheel. However, there were times I was completely miserable, felt like a failure and thought I would go crazy. I went for long walks and occasionally checked into a hotel when I had a lot of work to do. It passed.
The simple fact is that young children going through divorce have special needs. They can't drive, can't be left alone (until a certain age) and often have insecurities and anger about their world falling apart. Three is always a difficult number regardless of the circumstances - home or work.
As a step-parent myself, I have to say I kinda of agree with your SO, even as I see your point of view. If you want to be in a long-term relationship with him, you will have to come to terms with how you feel about the child. You don't have to love the child, but I think you must accept that child needs dad and dad doesn't have much flexibility with how things play out. IOW, dad can't tell child he's there for her, and then move the schedule around to spend time with you. Kids see right through that!
We started with 50/50 custody, which evolved to nearly all the time. I became the primary "mom" and though it was tough, we made it work because we chose to. I didn't start out to be a mom. I approached him as an older person who could drive, help him with things, who made his father laugh and treated him kindly. I figured he already had a mother (who married a control freak) and a dad. Plenty of parents. But maybe he could use a friend.
That worked. And now, 17 years later, I have a wonderful relationship with stepson and his lovely wife. I'm one of his moms. He still calls me (mostly) by my last name.
You are in a tough situation, no doubt about it. But .... your SO is in a tougher situation. He's in the middle.
My SO has a teenage son from a prior marriage. Some observations:
-50/50 custody sucks, unless the parents live very close to each other. It would be easier on the kid to have one "home" and visit the other parent. Shuffling back and forth so often is difficult for him.
-The kid is a bit spoiled because both parents feel like they need to give him 100% of their attention and almost everything he wants due to guilt about being part-time parents.
-The child should be a priority, but not the #1 priority. That's part of why he's spoiled. If the parents were still married, their relationship and maintaining their household would at times take priority over the kids, in a way. In a way that's not taking priority over the kids because the parents having a solid happy relationship and a solid household do help the kids in the long run. Priorities are a balancing act for people raising their own kids together and should be for people raising their kids with a step-parent.
The boy is 15 and has been acting out. I've actually taken a LOT of responsibility in helping my SO sort out how to deal with him. I've pushed him to stand up to his ex-wife and set joint expectations so that when the kid goes from one house to the other his entire world doesn't change. What they had done before is each dote on the kid and not communicate beyond what time to pick up/drop off. They ended up with a spoiled lazy little person who is actually basically a good person but has been taught that he doesn't need to be accountable or work hard, and that if he messes up in one house it's just a few days before he goes to the other parent with a clean slate.
My SO and his ex have always said they work well together raising their kid, because they never argued about him. That's because they never spoke. They've had a few very difficult conversations and "family meetings" in the last year in order to get on the same page and now I'd say they are parenting much more effectively.
I'm resentful that I had to push this. I hate watching my SO let his kid manipulate and walk all over him. We had some arguments about this at first because he refused to see that his kid wasn't perfect. Then the kid started flunking classes and outside parties pointed out that something was wrong and it went into panic-state.
I know nothing about raising kids but have trained many horses and dogs to be happy creatures with good manners mainly by reinforcing good behavior and not rewarding bad behavior. When I spoke to my SO about his kid's problems in this context it sort of made sense but he still felt guilty and wanted to give the kid whatever he desired regardless of whether he had done his homework, cleaned his room or even been polite.
We had a HUGE turning point when my SO was working with the kid on his chores. He was trying to figure out how to teach the kid to organize his homework and get things done on time. I suggested that instead of my SO shadowing his son when he works around the farm - like cleaning his dog run - that he should explain the work to him, leave him alone to do it, then check when he's done. The kid is not going to learn to be self-sufficient if his dad follows him around doing stuff for him or micromanaging.
The first time he tried this the kid came back into the house after 10 minutes and claimed he had finished an hour's worth of work because he is so efficient. My SO went out and saw that he'd done almost nothing and made the kid go do it over. His son said, in a whiny voice, "but Daaad!!! whenever I do crummy work you just do it for me!".
My SO said that was the best parenting lesson he ever had. Of course now he feels guilty that he's spent the last few years training his kid to fail. But at least he is working with him to reinforce responsibility instead of doing everything for him.
We've had long talks about the fact that I don't feel guilty, and I don't care if the kid likes me or not, so it's easier for me to see clearly when his son is bullshitting or to see that "helping" him too much is actually hurting him.
The part that I'm resentful of is having to put so much of my time and effort into helping my SO be a parent. I don't have kids, never wanted them, have a very stressful job managing a bunch of people that act like adolescents themselves and then have to come home to the teenager sulking and my SO all worked up and I have to sort them out too! Watching my SO try to appease his son who is acting very poorly makes me pretty upset. He just wants the boy to be happy. I've told him I'd rather have a miserable teenager who grows up to be a self-sufficient adult than a happy teenager that's living on his mom's couch at the age of 35.
Thanks for listening I went on and on way more than I thought I would.
FWIW, I have a pretty positive relationship with the kid, even though he knows I'm the one behind his life being more work right now. The boy and I have had some heart-to-heart conversations a few times when his dad had a meltdown and had to pass him over to me and he understands we have his long-term best interests at heart.