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OT-children from previous marraige

Is there some way to handle children from a previous marraige? My bf and I have been together almost 3 years and we have a great relationship. He has custody of his girls (5 and 7) every other weekend. Normally I would see his kids for a short period of time on the weekends he has them. Lately we have been talking more and more about moving in together/marraige. So he has been bringing his kids around more. They have poor manners (don't wash hands after eating, don't say excuse me, jump on furniture, and yell at eachother and fight). He does try to teach them but because he only has them every other weekend they feel like his rules are mean. Also they are far behind in their schooling (can't read, write, do math) but he feels there is nothing he can do about it because he only has them every other weekend. They stay up until midnight and have a hard time going to school the next day and learning.

Has anyone had a similiar situation? How did you handle it? I don't want to sound like I am putting his ex-wife down or their parenting down but the kids need much more structure. I don't know if moving in together or marraige is a good idea because his kids are so out of control.

Sun. Sep 2, 10:57am

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I think the best idea is to just bring this up with your husband. Even begin it with a disclaimer (Look, I don't want to put down your previous marriage or your ex wife, I'm just trying to help) and tell him that if you guys were to move in together, you wouldn't know how to handle it. Possibly suggest that he calls his exwife to speak to her about it (even if they don't get along that well, maybe they can come to an agreement for the sole sake of their children) If all else failts, you might want to suggest asking that he takes sole custody of teh children since his exwife isn't doing anything good for them

I mean, 5 and 7 years old and can't read? That's blatant disregard from the parents. Also, suggest to him that he might want to sit down and talk with his children and explain that you also can set rules when you guys live together, and they have to listen to you.

Those kids need some tough love - lol if only I could fed-ex my own mother to you lol - she puts boot camp to shame and those kids would be straighter than a rod in a day lmao XD

Good luck!

Sunday, September 02, 2007, 1:00 PM

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Please if there is anything I could suggest more it is compassion. These girls did not choose this lifestyle or to be from a broken home. They may not be yours but they deserve as much love and time with their father as possible. Love, understanding and compassion are what is required in this situation. Do what you can to teach and show love without judging and punishing them for the life their parents have chosen for them.

Monday, September 03, 2007, 11:44 AM

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They may not be hers but they need to learn some respect and manners. If they aren't being taught at their mothers house then you BF needs to step up and instill still rules. If you are planning on moving in or marriage you become an instant step mom and there is no reason why these kids should be listening. Fighting between them you probably won't be able to do anything about siblings fight, but the other stuff you can help with. Sit down with your BF and talk to him, find out what he wants your role in his kids lives to be, tell him what you think and discuss the manner issues. You don't want to end up making yourself the bad step mom but you also should have some respect. Why in the hell are these kids up so late on school nights? This your BF needs to address with his ex.

Monday, September 03, 2007, 10:48 PM

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I think that it is important for you to consider that when you move in with (or marry) this guy, you are getting his baggage too. THis includes his ill behaved children (and his ex-wife). Even though he only has custody every other weekend, these children are his, were in his life before you were, and he has a responsibility to be a father and parent 24/7...not just on the weekends when he has physical custody. This is especially important to think about if you want children of your own with him.

I would advise making sure that conversations about his children are a MAJOR focus of your conversations about living together/getting married. I hate to sound unkind, but IMO he has major responsibilities to the children BEFORE putting his interests/life, a new partner, etc. into the mix. He can be more involved and a better father and parent w/out full custody, even with a difficult relationship with his ex. This is the LIFE ALTERING responsibility that comes with the decision to have children. Any excuses from him otherwise are just that, excuses.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007, 10:44 AM

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as i understand it, he is referring his lack of involvement with his children's well-being to his custody arrangement. this shows a real knack for avoiding taking responsibility for his children and blaming other sources: the courts, the ex-wife...but not himself. if he was more concerned about their welfare and not his ego, by way of keeping the children "happy" albeit out-of-control when they visit and not imposing "mean" rules, he could invest some time in providing them with much needed manners to start...for example, you could host a formal-style dinner when they visit and explain the intricacies involved: napkin on lap, proper utesnil use, how to indicate if you don't like something being offered to you politely, how to excuse oneself before leaving table, clearing plates of elders once everyone has finished their meals...then move on to proper etiquette when you are a visitor in someone else's home. have each child pretend to be the hostess. have her explain where things are kept (towles in linen closet, dirty clothes in hamper, comforter in chest, etc.) and also have them detail their expectations regarding who does the dishes after dinner or who vacuums or who makes beds...and you can follow up with asking them about their expectations when they are the guests...what activities would they like to participate in when visiting? what new foods would they like to try to prepare with you and their father? do they want to go to macy's and try on clothes one day? i think by teaching through example and showing interest in their likes and dislikes, you will see more results that have a longer lasting effect than if you try to teach them manners and such in a formal lesson format. and you will learn more about them as individual children rather than just unruly might-become step children who burden you emotionally with their needs that have remained unmet as of now.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007, 12:33 PM

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just because he witnesses their behaviour only every other weekend is not an excuse for ignoring the areas with which they obviously need some guidance. like it or not, they will need to read and write to succeed in this day and age. has he met with their teachers for the upcoming school year? has he reviewed their curriculum and found out what lessons they will be working on during the weekends they will be spending at his house? this is easily done, if you do it. it's also easily ignored, and the children will suffer the most for it. he should try to make the most of the limited time he has to share with his kids, sure, but he should also be making the most out of the time he has to father them, whether by their side or from the sidelines.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007, 2:06 PM

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Even though he does not have full custody of his children, they still need him to be a parent. He should be giving their development 100%, regardless of how often he sees them.

I don't think you should move in with him or even marry him. His lack of involvement should be ringing your warning bells...though given your last comment OP, it sounds like it is already.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007, 2:26 PM

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OP here

Yes, there are warning bells going off. Mainly because he acts like a pushover to the kids mother. She has them in a school that is close to her house and the public school (which is much better) is further away. I have told him many times that he may need to keep the children with him in order to change the schooling situation (which is what I am most concerned about). When they are with him he tries to get them to read, buys them learning type books, pretty much everything he does with them involves learning. The type of school they are in believes in "learning at your own pace" and "learning what you want to learn". Sounds strange to me but I have not researched it enough. He has met with the teachers and does not like the school at all. The manners thing he gets upset about because they should know better but its things they are allowed to do at home with their mother. One other concern is that when they are behaving badly at home she will call him to "talk to them" about it over the phone. I think this is poor parenting and she needs to be able to discipline also and not make him the bad guy. Sometimes she will write the things down that they did wrong during the week and give him the paper when he picks up the kids on the weekend. To me thats even worse, by then punishing the kids for something they don't even remember is useless.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007, 4:45 PM

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OP sounds like red flags to me. One thing I know for sure what ever bothers you when you are dating will bother 10x when you are married.
Listen to your gut it never lies, it tells you when something is right or not, trust your instincts, it could save you years of heartache.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007, 5:27 PM

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It has got to be incredibly hard for divorced parents, no doubt. Let me say that right up front.

However, this guy has got serious baggage with these kids and ex-wife. And the ex, no matter how misguided the form may take, has a right to expect the father to be involved in the parenting...even when it isn't his custodial weekend. IF you live with him, or marry him, this will become your problem too...dealing with the kids and ex, and it may be really difficult...especially if the kids or ex are not down with the dad having a new relationship.

I'd try and get out of this relationship sooner rather than later, or take it REALLY REALLY slow. Frankly, it doesn't sound like his priorities are in order, but better to find this out now than when you are in too deep or have children of your own with him.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007, 9:23 PM

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RUN!!! I hate to be so negative, but why start your married life out in such a mess? So often we, as women, come into a situation like this with the best of intentions. The truth is though, this is a situation that your husband & his X need to figure out. It doesn't sound like they are ready to add a new family member. Once you are married, you will feel even more responsibility over the situation, but are not able to "make the rules". It is so hard to feel like you have any control over your own life when kids are coming in & out of the home & you do not have any real say in how to remedy the situation. I know that we all have our problems, but this one would be a deal breaker for me.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007, 10:57 AM

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Those poor, poor children. Their parents have handicapped them beyond what they could ever imagine by getting a divorce. Don't blame the children (or the school) that these kids can't read - blame the parents. These poor young children have their plates full of adult problems. It's no wonder they act like they do.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007, 12:50 PM

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OP - is the school they go to the "Montessori" program? The whole learning process of "learning at your own pace" and only "doing what you want - when you want" is pretty much the Montessori mantra.

If so, I wouldn't worry. Although sometimes the school looks "behind" in the earlier years, believe me, these kids end up being GENIUSES. I couldn't emphasis more how amazing that program seems to be - I'm jealius I never got to be in it!

I'm currently a senior in a "specialized scholar's school" and a lot of the kids in there went to Montessori. Supposedly, by not having a very "fixed" school shcedule, kids learn from a young age to really enjoy school. As they get older, they have "half montessori" programs, where these kids stil have to complete basic stages in the education (standardized tests, etc).

These kids do really well!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007, 9:06 PM

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