Ours is a story of love, respect, conflict, tears and pain.......judging from other stories here, fairly typical.
This is the second marriage for both of us. She has two kids, a son now 9, and a daughter now 11 (soon to be 12). I have 3 daughters, 8, 11, and 13. Her kids live with us for all but one day a week, mine are here 50% time.
For the most part, the kids get along pretty well. There are the usual squabbles, but nothing we haven't been able to address.
We have been married just over a year after dating for over 2 years. The first year felt like 10 years sometimes. We bought our first house together last summer, and all but her son share a bedroom.
My daughters adore my wife, or at least seem to. I have never heard them say a negative thing about her in my presence. I wish I could say the same about her children. It has been a very difficult transition, even though we lived together for several months prior to marriage.
The blending of two different styles of parenting has been very challenging. I grew up in a strict household with very little physical affection. She grew up in a more tolerant household with lots of affection. I've been strict, but loving, towards my daughters. I tell them I love them almost everyday I see them. Even when I have difficulties with them (usually the younger ones), I try to tell them I still love them.
To say I butt heads with her son is an understatement. It's more like a never ending war. I struggle with his lack of discipline, disrespect and sense of entitlement. He is even disrespectful to his mother, which is a huge boundary for me. This is due in part to how my wife's ex-husband treated her. I expect my children to be neat and pick up after themselves. And while they don't always do it, I continually work on it. her children are very messy and do not like to pick up after themselves. we have a rotating chore chart for all the kids, and try to divide up the chores equally as much as possible. My daughters don't like the chores, but they do them when asked with little resistance(most of the time). Her children, on the other hand, do everything possible to avoid the chores. Her son thinks he shouldn't have to do any chores..that we should do everything for him. It's a huge battle ground.
My wife and I have discussed this many times over. We were both divorced for at least two years and in between how we raised our kids was very different. I tried to maintain similar rules etc. She on the other hand, did everything for her kids. I can remember visits to her apartment and her kids room was so messy you could not see the floor. At the time, I let it go since it wasn't my house and I felt I had no right to say anything. She admits pampering her kids mostly out of guilt because she had to work. It has caused a lot of trouble for us now, even though I try to be patient and even resort to closing their room doors so I don't have to look at the mess.
I really would like to have a relationship with my step-children, but its so hard sometimes. I want to praise them and I try, but sometimes it seems they do little to praise. I am at wits end over the disrespect they show me and their mother. Last night I literally almost bit my tongue off while listening to her son be disrespectful to his mother.
We are currently looking for counseling resources for all of us, because I really fear the tension and conflict with the children can and does come between us. I am told I am too critical of her children and to not compare them to each other. I really try not to. I often ask myself if its too much to expect children to respect their parents, and do as we ask.
We are both believers (I'm newly so) and try to instill Christian values in our children. My daughters have been receptive, her children a lot less so (their father is not a believer). I realize I am far from perfect, but I work on it every day.
Thanks for listening.