In this counseling answer:
“If you are the only one “parenting” and the father is not participating in co-creating a family system with you, then you might have to back out/away and simply let your husband and the girls know that you are stretched as far as you can be stretched, and that they will need to figure out the rest. So that you can focus on the immediate tasks at hand, which are to take care of your baby and keep your job.”
Wa `alaykum as-salam dear sister,
I am glad that you wrote in with this subject, because there are many young step mothers with very similar problems, and they may benefit just from knowing that they are not the only ones experiencing this!
You certainly have your hands full. First, I would say that you are likely correct and your husband’s children probably are jealous. This is a natural reaction, but this is also a transition that requires effort on your husband’s part to help, so that the changes can settle into a more productive system where each member of the new family system can find their niche.
The absolute first step in this process is for your husband and you to stand united and to make it clear that you are adults with a union, and they are the children (even if adult children) who are benefitting from the strength of that union. Nothing is all about you or me, or him or her… never was, never will be; this is the illusion that we must break free from. So, presenting yourself as ONE to the children, and then regenerating each other as husband and wife will set the present tone for the future.
Check out this counseling answer:
Together, you and your husband will gain strength from Allah, give strength to each other and form a strong union. Your husband will want to spend some extra time initially with his children and address their feelings about the marriage. He then needs to show them that he loves them as a father; as a father who has a wife that is his other half. He needs to set boundaries about what his own personal life is and the part of his life that does not belong to his children.
He is the father, not their husband. This sounds harsh, but it isn’t. If he remains their father, they will always have him for protection, guidance and support, and if he has a wife, he will be able to regenerate so that he can continue to be a father with the ability to provide protection and guidance.
And now, the children born to your husband have another sibling; someone that they can embrace and love. They may initially be jealous of both you and the baby, but once they see that you are, indeed, a full family, they might overcome their jealousy, because a functional family system is the greatest source of support all throughout life.
This baby, who you share with your husband, may become a source of much comfort to her/his older siblings over time. Indeed, the older siblings are old enough to understand these concepts and should be proactively taught these concepts. God comes first, then spouse, then family, then community.
Naturally, working to serve your family and sustain yourself so that you can serve your family is also in service to God; so when using this formula for prioritizing, if you need to work, you keep your job, but make sure that you keep this formula in your mind; it will protect you. Blended families are always a challenge, but doable.
Begin with family meetings and teach your family the concepts of family, your values, and your new system.Have family meetings where you teach strict criteria and boundaries about family policy and procedure, and terms and conditions for privileges.
Get clear on who has what function and role, who has what responsibilities and privileges, what is whose business, and what is expected of each person in the family. Get clear and really map this out on paper with your husband first. You need to be consistent with rules, responsibilities, expectations, privileges, and what can be earned, what disciplinary system you are going to use, and what parenting/teaching techniques you are going to use. This needs to be consistent with both parents and clearly taught to the family members.
Let the tantrums flow. They will begin to lessen once the “children” realize that the new system is THE SYSTEM, and that this won’t change regardless of their tantrums. Don’t worry about tantrums, but don’t allow violence, property damage, or to hurt themselves or anyone else.
Remember, your baby needs both his parents too; spend one session a week co-creating your family system with your husband and then ask him to lead weekly family meetings if this is too much for you. Indeed, it would be very good for the family to see him leading the family in this way. But if he won’t, it still needs to be done, and you need his support.
When you work things out with him, including schedules and time to take care of yourself, and hopefully, some time with your husband, remember that you need time to take care of your baby, too.
With that said, I am most concerned about the 14 year old girl. This is a fragile age, and she may have a lot of difficulty with her father remarrying and having a new wife. She may feel like she is being replaced. Girls at this age almost feel married to their fathers as they are just beginning to feel their own womanhood.
The more time you can spend one on one with her and your baby, then with the older girl and the baby, the better. They need time right now, not new clothes. I’m not sure if you are working full time or part time, but if you are going to take on this much responsibility, you might consider working part time.
20 year old throwing tantrums can also get a job; it is time for this adult woman to write out her plan and goals, and to show you what she will contribute to the family system, how she is going to utilize your support to integrate into society and make a contribution to it. For example, is she going to college? Does she have a job? What are her future goals? What is she doing to make progress toward those goals?
If you are the only one “parenting” and the father is not participating in co-creating a family system with you, then you might have to back out/away and simply let your husband and the girls know that you are stretched as far as you can be stretched, and that they will need to figure out the rest. So that you can focus on the immediate tasks at hand, which are to take care of your baby and keep your job.
If this is the case, I highly recommend that you get family counseling without delay. It is always highly recommended for blended families even when both husband and wives are fully engaged, so please consider this. If you cannot get any cooperation with family counseling, then please consider going to counseling for yourself so that you can navigate through this and still take care of yourself. One Day at a Time.
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