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TherapistJen
TherapistJen, LCSW, CPC
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 2909
Experience:  Licensed Clinical Social Worker.
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I understand that a step parent may not have the same loving feelings that a biological pa

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I understand that a step parent may not have the same loving feelings that a biological parent has, but how much does that excuse? I am currently seperated from my second husband because of his relationship with my two children. He and I were married 7 years ago when my son was 13 and my daughter was 11. For a few years it was ok, although he had "house" rules that I did not agree with. However, starting about 2 years ago he stopped speaking to my children and even refused to sit down to eat with us if they were at the table. He says he does not have to like my children, but I find his behaviour unacceptable. My children are good kids/teens (not perfect but very good). They get good grades, have jobs, don't drink, smoke, swear, talk back etc.. He does not think they are good kids. I feel guilty for staying as long as I did, but I do still love him. How do I explain to him that he doesn't have to love them, but this is unacceptable?

CoachJenK :

Hi. Welcome. I am a Licensed Master Social Worker with more than 20 years experience working with individuals and families on a variety of issues.

CoachJenK :

A step parent may absolutely develop feelings of love even if biology isn't there.

CoachJenK :

It does not make sense to me that he would remove himself from the family time and not make every effort to engage your kids and get to know them in his own way and forge relationships based on some shared interests.

CoachJenK :

Step parenting can be hard as well as he may struggle with what is his acceptable place and not fitting in.

CoachJenK :

Here is a wonderful book on the topic. http://www.amazon.com/Stepcoupling-Creating-Sustaining-Marriage-Blended/dp/0609807412/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1344473044&sr=8-3&keywords=step+parenting

CoachJenK :

do you want to get back together? Are the kids feeling more relieved now that you are separated?

Customer:

So am I wrong to find it unacceptable that he now refuses to interact with them in any way? The kids are much happier apart. I just love him, but would feel very wrong towards the kids to get back together


 

CoachJenK :

No I dont think you are wrong at all. I agree with you 100%

CoachJenK :

I was just offering a possible perspective of what he may feel but you are correct that his treatment of your children is unacceptable.

CoachJenK :

And that is what is hard for you...you love him but in the end you are a Mom first and a good one as it sounds to me

Customer:

Do you think that there is any way to get someone like him to understand WHY even though he doesn't like them, he can't behave that way and is it even worth it? I have to believe he would have changed or even tried if he really wanted to.


 

CoachJenK :

If he has the desire to understand it all and make some changes then yes things could get better with a lot of work. Individual counseling for him and couples counseling could help

CoachJenK :

and now that you are separated does he show a desire to change things?

CoachJenK :

are you here?

Customer:

can't reply

Customer:

hang on

CoachJenK :

sometimes there are some issues in the chat. I am here no worries.

Customer:

i can't answer you

Customer:

everytime I answer it won't let me reply

CoachJenK :

are you in a computer or phone or ipad? if need be I will switch to Q and A mode....its not chat but we can still go back and forth with slight delay

Customer:

computer

CoachJenK :

ok well answers are coming through now

Customer:

he actually said to me today "your kids won't live with you forever", but I said " they will always be coming home". He refuses counseling. And I found his behavior towards them abusive

CoachJenK :

it sounds it and i must say Mom to Mom you are doing right by your children.

CoachJenK :

you are in pain and it is very hard and although your children wont always be at home, they are now and you are being a great mother cub

Customer:

so as much as it hurts i need to cut ties with him you think?

CoachJenK :

if it were me and someone treated my children in the way you describe i would move on and deal with all of the pain and anguish and know that in time healing will take place

Customer:

AND I want them to always feel comfortable coming back to visit any time


 

Customer:

I just feel guilty hurting him too. I can't win.


 

CoachJenK :

yes and you are protecting them from abuse....

CoachJenK :

sadly you are taking on his behavior as you are the one doing the hurting

CoachJenK :

he knew you came with kids

Customer:

but i know it will hurt him to lose me...


 

CoachJenK :

if I were telling you this about my life what would you counsel me?

Customer:

i know the rational side says, if so, he would change...


 

Customer:

right?


 

CoachJenK :

not enough that he is willing to do what it takes to make it work

Customer:

i would tell you to leave.


 

CoachJenK :

so why can you say that so clearly to me?

Customer:

because i would know that you deserve better


 

Customer:

but i know he really does love me in his own way


 

Customer:

and I know i am making no sense


 

CoachJenK :

I am sure he does...I dont question that but he doesnt treat your children well and wont do anything to change that!

CoachJenK :

you are making perfect sense.

Customer:

WHY???


 

CoachJenK :

I am with you.

Customer:

if he loved me he would, wouldn't he?


 

Customer:

so goes logical thinking


 

CoachJenK :

we would think....but he seems a bit self involved

Customer:

but then logical thinking gets messed up by the fact that I KNOW he loves me but he WON'T change


 

Customer:

so i am stuck


 

CoachJenK :

its clear...

CoachJenK :

he loves you. he treats your children poorly. he wont do anything to make it better. he wont go to counseling.

CoachJenK :

you love him

CoachJenK :

you are willing

CoachJenK :

you will go to therapy

CoachJenK :

see it clearly now?

Customer:

should be clearer i am sure


 

CoachJenK :

no shoulds

CoachJenK :

I would sit down with him let him know you love him and want to be with him but his treatment of your children is unacceptable and what would he be willing to do to make things better.

Customer:

i know i did the right thing leaving. am i wrong in dating him? I won't get back together unless he majorly changed and I can't see that happening


 

CoachJenK :

if he wont budge then you know where he stands and you can make a decision accordingly

Customer:

<sigh> I did and that is why i bought a house


 

CoachJenK :

then why date him? to prolong your agony?

Customer:

but I am dating him which is weird and he talks like we will be back together


 

CoachJenK :

therapy...not negotiable

Customer:

i date him because I love him, but you are right about the agony. Unfortuately we work together...same department....same projects.....


 

CoachJenK :

ahhhh so that space you will have to negotiate

Customer:

yes, which I know keeps me there, along with the fact that i love being married and I can't imagine doing it THREE times


 

CoachJenK :

I know. i feel for you.

CoachJenK :

easy solution though...he gets to work no ifs ands or buts about it

Customer:

i think i do know the answer, i just don't want to admit it, and I can't wait forever hoping for a change that may never occur

CoachJenK :

it is within you...I am just reflecting back what I hear.

CoachJenK :

If I didnt have children it might be harder for me to get it, but I do. and i am with you.

Customer:

i know that patients/people like me must drive you nuts. I drive myself nuts!


 

CoachJenK :

not at all

CoachJenK :

I am here to support and listen and I hear your pain and dilemma

Customer:

Yes there is a small selfish part of me that whispers - your kids WILL have moved out in 4 years and you will be ALL alone. But I don't want to risk my future relationship with them and their kids....but I think of all the alone time too


 

CoachJenK :

matters of the heart are never easy or simple

CoachJenK :

yes and that is a relaistic thing to think of but I dont believe you will be able to put them in harms way...

CoachJenK :

lets play out a scenario...

CoachJenK :

you take him back...he moves back in and for a while things are okay...most people return to their "normal" and you see him treat your children poorly. now you feel sick to your stomach that you put yourself and them through it again.

CoachJenK :

you okay?

Customer:

yes, i know I won't do that, but what if I just don't make any decision and "date" him for the next 4 years and then my kids move out. We "date" more, maybe even move in together again. Odds are my kids won't come back home for visits. But what if i delude myself that they will and/or don't make the decision?


 

CoachJenK :

let me slow you down. we dont have 4 years from now...we only have right now!

Customer:

and right now I have moved out for them (and me) but I am dating him (movies, dinner) and maybe even going on vacation with him....


 

Customer:

i don't know that is healthy either


 

Customer:

I am so confused


 

CoachJenK :

and am i correct in thinking you are feeling guilty about it?

Customer:

yes guilty for dating him, but not quite ready to stop. My kids think it is weird and I wonder where it will lead since....


 

CoachJenK :

well what he has managed to do then is split you from the kids in that he doesnt have to share you. if he can date you and go on vacation he is doing all the great stuff without having to deal with REAL LIFE relationships

CoachJenK :

but I think you need to play this out until you feel clear one way or the other

Customer:

ok. I will keep working on it. Thank you so much for your time and insight.


 

CoachJenK :

it is my pleasure. you can come and request me anytime. I am here to support you

Customer:

how do I request you?


 

CoachJenK :

when you start a new question put for coachjenK only at the beginning and it will come to me.

Customer:

ok. Thank you again!


 

CoachJenK :

once you complete a rating of my work you will also get a copy of our chat so you can go over it whne you need to

CoachJenK :

*when

Customer:

ok. Have a good evening.


 

CoachJenK :

oops try again. sorry

Customer:
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