I don't have the greatest perspective on this, so please bear with me as I try and organize my thoughts.
I grew up in a family of six. Four kids, two parents. My parents are still married after all these years (their 50th wedding anniversary is this summer). As a kid, there were many times when I hoped/insisted that I was adopted, and many times that I wanted to trade my parents in for others. Pretty sure they felt the same way about me and my siblings. Lol. Such is life. For better or worse, we are family and we are stuck with each other.
Needless to say, I have not had to endure a divorce. I have not experienced my parents dating or marrying others. I can't even imagine what THAT is like. Not easy. Not easy at all. But I know all marriages don't work, and families often break up. Such is life. These things happen.
My boyfriend was married to his ex-wife for many years. I think eleven years. They had three kids together. Their marriage ended several years ago, and it wasn't easy on any of them.
When the boyfriend and I first started dating, the fact that he had three kids made me a little nervous. But the boyfriend was brutally honest with me from the get-go -- he told me I would never be a mother to his kids -- they already had one. Gulp. True enough. But his kids are great, and we seem to get along and genuinely LIKE each other, so that has been good.
The kids' mother has a boyfriend. The same boyfriend she has had for several years. I hear things about this man, but I don't know him. The things I hear are not always nice (the kids don't seem to really LIKE him), but they are coming from my boyfriend and his kids. Who knows what is really true -- we all have skewed perspectives.
My own skewed perspective is that this man took on a lot. He accepted a woman with a couple of failed marriages under her belt, and her three kids. He bought a house, and the girlfriend (my boyfriend's ex -- god this must be confusing) and her kids moved in with him (the kids are there part-time -- my boyfriend and his ex share custody 50/50). To me, he made one hell of a commitment. He has lot of pressure. He took on an instant family with baggage. And lord only knows what kind of baggage HE has.
This guy also knows he will never be considered a "father" to these kids; they already have one. I hear he is strict. Sometimes not so nice. Sometimes mean. I am not sure what to think since I am not directly involved in the situation. I'd like to give the guy the benefit of the doubt, but my loyalty lies with the kids. But I still want to be fair. You know? Not an easy situation, but one that millions of people have to deal with.
I would imagine that things get awkward when the mom's boyfriend tells the kids what to do. Or when he tries to discipline them. Or when he and their mom fight. Or when he tries to show them love. It all must be so awkward. He must know that he is not 100% accepted, and that the kids talk shit about him, and that the kids oftentimes resent him. That can't be easy.
I see the kids most weekends. I am friendly with them. No pressure. I try to make them laugh, and they definitely make me laugh. It is an easy relationship, but perhaps not a DEEP relationship, or one that has great meaning to them. I think they like having me around, but I know they don't tell me their deepest/darkest secrets. I don't try and boss them around. I tread lightly, as I think their lives are already complicated enough. They probably see me as a sidekick. But at least they don't see me as any kind of threat. At least I hope not.
Last year I was watching an episode of Keeping up with the Kardashians (shameful admission, I know) when Bruce Jenner (at least I think it was him) said that being a stepparent is a thankless job. Sadly I think that is oftentimes true.
Last night there was an incident between the kids and their mom's boyfriend. Mom's boyfriend was angry. Kids were very upset. My boyfriend got a call in the night from crying kids and had to pick them up. Nothing terrible or abusive happened, but there definitely is tension in that household. And when these kinds of things happen, the kids worry their mom's boyfriend might kick them and their mom out if he decides they are too much to deal with.
Do you have any experience with this? Any perspective on it? This is basically yet another post without a point to it -- just thoughts that are swirling around in my noggin' giving me a headache. And I'd love to get the perspective of others.
Side note: A friend of mine (aged 43) lost her father a few years back to illness. My friend's mom lived alone after her husband passed away, and did not date for several years. She randomly met someone, and they hit it off. Really hit it off. He asked her to marry him, and she accepted. My friend and her brother recently met their mother's new husband, and really didn't like him. Not much. Not much at all. Their new step-dad must be seeking approval, and he may not ever get it. So far, he doesn't have it, but the kids want their mom to be happy, so they are just trying to let things be. Afterall, this man won't be raising them or telling them what to do. But what a situation. The whole thing makes me wonder how I would handle it if my parents decided to date another person someday. Yikes. Yikes, indeed.