Alicia - posted on 01/21/2015 ( 13 moms have responded )
"Step-Kids are apart of the package." We've all heard it. We all know it. This simple phrase is more of a reminder of how unequipped our modern family tool boxes are, than offering any new or insightful information. Let's go ahead an agree we already accept the following principles. Yes. The step-kids are apart of the package. Yes. Step-kids are in a difficult position. Yes. Step-kids are 'just kids." Do we agree? Great.
I have two step-kids. SS is nearly 14 and SD is 10. To add to the level of difficulty, I also live in Norway. I am married to a Norwegian and his children are Norwegian (as is their bio Mom). English is a pretty common language (TV, Radio, Advertising and School). I also speak Norwegian. However, I speak standard Norwegian (think, the Queen's English), and the Step-kids speak a regional dialect (think backwater Louisiana). Same language, but VERY different. The 10 year-old speaks fluent English now. So she is easy to communicate with. The 14 year-old understands English but is a patriotic Norwegian and very proud of his dialect, and refuses to speak English and thinks my Norwegian sounds, "Posh" and "Elitist." So, communication with him is difficult.
They are good kids. We have them 50% of the time. They are kind hearted and good willed. They rarely do anything out of maliciousness. They simply don't have as many rules as I believe children need. (Maybe cultural? Maybe because I am a HS teacher I think they need more....who knows?). The children are rude. When I used to make dinner, they would comment, "NO!! I won't eat this. This is not Norwegian. American food makes you fat! IT tastes weird! It doesn't look like food. This smells gross." So I stopped making dinner. It really hurt my feelings. I tried making Norwegian food but, "It didn't taste right."
While the kids are good hearted, they are rude. They just don't know how hurtful they are. The oldest doesn't say "hello" and "goodbye." He answers me with no more than a few words. He often does his best to pretend like I don't exist. I used to try. I used to smile, "GOOD MORNING!" "How are you?" "Do you need a ride home?" "Can I help you?" ... "NO." followed by eye rolls, a grunt of some sort and right back to ignoring me. It is almost like he is mad at me for breaking the unspoken rule that we should, "Just pretend the other person isn't there." ....BUT he loves my parents when they come to visit. He adores my brothers and follows them on Instagram. ....It is me.
I was recently crushed by his rudeness. I have been working on putting together an artshow for the past 10 months. The goal is to sell my paintings so we can have enough money to take the kids to the US for 3 weeks this summer. I was at the gallery, looking at wall space. I asked my husband to come by and take a look at the walls to help with thinking how to hang the art. He brought his kids. The boy just rolled his eyes, sighed, "Can we got home yet?" every 30 seconds. I suggested they wait outside if they can't be patient. Nope. They stayed and complained... more groaning and complaining. Typical teenage stuff. I then said, "Look. I don't ask you for much. This is important for me. I need to see that you care and support me by being patient for 10 mins. Then we can go." He was totally taken back. I had never been so direct with him. He picked up his stuff and left. The 10 year-old followed. They went out into the city to go stand by the car. I was crushed. I was hurt. I had been pouring my heart out on canvas, putting my things up for sale, to pay for him to go to the US. He walked out on me. ......This outraged his father, he told his kids he was disappointed. ....that was it. I had to pester my husband to go talk to his kids. To tell them.... I give up so much. I give them so much. I try so hard..... In this barren, frozen wasteland, they are the only family I have, and they walked out on me. ........ He made the kids apologize. But now they resent me. They glare at me. They ignore me. They've asked their grandmother to take them to school in the morning.
..... I am simply at a loss. I care. I want to make things work. I want them to know that I am on their side. I want to get to know them. I want our home to peaceful, stable and warm. I don't want to BE their mother. I want them to respect me. I want them to live with us like a family. I want them to trust that I do have their best interest in mind. .... But I refuse to be treated poorly in the process. I refuse to be insulted for the food I make. I refuse to let them stay up past midnight on the weekends. I refuse to let them eat like they've never used a fork before. I refuse to let them insult me verbally or through gesture. I refuse to let them walk all over me...... and they seem to resent me for it.
.....I feel like withdrawing. I feel like giving up. I feel like I've tried. I've given the best parts I have to offer and they have rejected me. Right now, I've told my husband that the rest of the week they are here, I don't want to deal with them, because I can't find the energy to be kind. I need some strategies. What has worked with your family? What hasn't work? How would you handle this situation? I care about them. ....But for my own sanity, for the harmony of our house, right now, I really want to just resign to being just wife, not step-mom. ........ I love my husband. I love the life we have together. We've been living together for 3 years now. My whole life is here. I can't just leave him. I'd have to leave my job, my home and leave the country. I wouldn't legally be allowed to stay. .... I married him to be his wife. I would rather just be that for a while. ....these kids have broken my heart. I am so tired of giving ...and having them just toss my love and care out. ...It isn't personal. They have ALL their family from both mom and dad in a 5 mile radius. They don't need me. The boy makes it quite clear.
(BTW part of Norwegian culture is xenophobia. The 14 year-old is a hardcore, anti-immigration Norwegian. The 10 year-old loves new things, and new people. The girl and I get along fine, but she is beginning to follow her brother in seeing me as 'the thing that doesn't belong.').