Tuesday, 27 November 2018

In a no win situation with family

A fellow blogger and friend contacted me recently to ask to post anonymously on my blog. They are in a no win situation with their step son, their husband and his ex wife and would like some advice on how to manage the situation.

As step parents ourselves, there have been numerous issues over the years in regards to making sacrifices to not only accommodate the child, each other but the child's extended family and the other parent. It has caused tension, disrupted family life and caused arguments. However once our children reached 18, involvement with their other parent ceased as the kids were old enough to make their own arrangements and decisions.

But this blogger finds herself in an unusual situation, as her step child is a fully grown adult, who she had no contact with from his mid teens till his late 20's and is a virtual stranger to her, who is coming to live with her and her husband under an unusual set of circumstances and she would like your advice.

This is her story.

Our family consists of myself and three birth children DD1 DD2 and DS2. Plus my husband and his two children DS1 and DD3. I brought these children up along with their dad after their mum walked out on them when they were both quite young.
DS1 went back to live with his birth mum when he was fourteen and never spoke to us again for over fourteen  years, wanted nothing to do with us. Anyway she indulged him and let him away with murder through guilty feelings and he knew exactly how to manipulate her to get what he wants. He hates me and cannot be civilised when I am around. He is not a child but is a grown man approaching forty years old.
So anyway six years ago he was sent to prison for a crime he still says he did not commit, and due to events during the fifty three weeks after he was charged and before he went to court, I also believe he did not commit the alleged crime. But he was found guilty by the jury and given a heavy sentence as he would not admit his guilt.  He appealed his sentence and this first appeal was successful and this led to his sentence being reduced. This led to his right for a second appeal to get the rest of the charges changed to not guilty as well and make him a free man. Sadly the appeal system only pays for one appeal and so his second one is being done by a charity body but could take another five years to happen, and by then he will be out.
He is now due for parole early next year but will be released on licence as his full sentence has not been served. The idea had been he would go and live over three hundred miles away from here with his birth mum, a win win all round, he gets to live in a supportive environment while he adjusts back to what will become a new normal for him and he is away from the area the alleged crime was committed in. But as he is being released on licence the council who would be involved if he went to live with his mum say they do not have the staff to work with him and so he has to stay in the catchment area of the council he was with when the crime was committed, so this means he has to stay local to us. The faraway council will re-evaluate after three months, a process that will take a minimum of eight to ten weeks before they give their decision after the three months. 
Now I turn sixty next year and since all our children are grown and flown we are used to the house to ourselves I have to admit to being set in my ways to the point of being selfish as only I matter to me now. From being able to do what I want to do when I want to do it without having to worry. If I want to sit in my chair and sleep for an hour in the afternoon then that is what I do. Whether I make my evening meal at 4.30pm or 8 at night I do it when it suits me. If I want a long lie I can have one, if I can’t sleep and decide to get up and put the television on downstairs then I do it. I work twelve hour shifts at the weekends and want to come home have a shower eat my tea and go to bed without having to bother being overly civilised to anyone other than my husband.
The dynamics all change when you have other people in the house to think about. I work shorter shifts during the week and I am use to the bathroom being empty when I decide I am ready to go for a shower, be that  6.30 am or 8.45 -  there is no set time. I am going to have to consider he will want to use the only bathroom we have.
He likes to take up to three hours to make himself a meal dirtying every pan and utensil in the kitchen to do so preventing me being laid back and go with the flow. Having to clean up behind him before I can cook for us makes me not want to cook. He will not eat anything I cook and will not cook for us so there is not even that as  an option.  
I find it very stressful to have other people in my house. I can tolerate DD2 and her toddler daughter when they visit but the two or three days they stay is long enough for me, I like my space and freedom being just a couple allows us. I am glad to see the back of them as much as I love them. Other people make a mess, they move things, they dirty things and they disrupt my life. This stresses my husband much more than it stresses me as he does not have a job and therefore no escape from others being here. Him being stressed means I get the moans and complaints and he won’t do housework or wash or iron when other people are here which means all this falls back on me. I am use to him doing the housework while I am out, it works well for us. Means I do not have to find the time to do it.
When his mum had originally phoned to ask if we would take him in she asked us to take him for two to three weeks while she sorted him out a private rent. SHE then decided with no discussion with us that she was just going to leave him here for the thirteen weeks plus however long the council takes to make their decision.  No discussions no compromise no asking how we felt about it, just the decision she had made. To land him on us for months!!!!.  To say the least I am raging about it.
 But this is where it all gets messy and difficult. I know this makes me sound terribly selfish but for me it is not knowing an end date, it has gone from the two to three weeks we agreed to and now probably a minimum of six months or even longer because if the council in her area decide they do not have enough staff to deal with him then she says she will look for a job and move down here, and that will be even more months.
I could understand the two to three weeks as it is just after Christmas and she will have no money to pay for somewhere until the end of January. Even that will depend on him getting his own money sorted as we live hand to mouth week to week and I struggle for every penny that comes in so she is going to provide him with his money for his cigarettes, alcohol and food until his money is sorted and for all she earns more than me she is not rolling in it either. If it takes longer to sort out most private rented places are let for a minimum of six months so by the time money is sorted hopefully he won’t have another six months to be down here. So that is money she is not willing to pay out if he is going to be moving in with her.
I appreciate he is going to take time to settle to being free and the rehabilitation will not be easy for him so living with somebody will make that transition smoother. My husband (his dad) has said if son moves out then he will move out with him. I do not want to give up on a twenty five year relationship but I am not sure this is not going to drive a large wedge between us anyway as we will probably end up falling out over the stresses. Husband has said if I won’t have DS1 here then he will move out and borrow the money from his sister for a rented flat.
We live remote and I need our one car for work, but DS1 will not use a bus as his mother has indulged him all his days and run him everywhere he wants to go and does anything he demands at the drop of a hat. We had him for four weeks after the crime until his mum found him a property away from the crime scene and he expected us to indulge him in the fashion he was use to, and I refuse to as I don’t have the time energy or inclination. This caused issues with husband driving me to work and then taking the car. This works fine at the weekends, apart from the extra fuel costs which I cannot afford to pick up, as I work in one place but during the week I work in the community and can be at three houses in three different areas for my working day and not having the car there to move from job to job makes my day longer and makes me unreliable as I cannot give clients a time for my arrival. I do not see why I should change my life and make it more difficult to do my day to day tasks because his birth mum has a massive guilt complex.
DS1 refuses to be left home alone so anytime we want to go shopping or walk the dog then we have to trail him everywhere with us. There will be no “two of us time” always three of us. My time off is precious to me and I just want to go do what is essential when I am off and not trail here there and everywhere else as he expects to be able  to do while he is out anyway.. I appreciate this is all going to be strange for him and it is not what he wants either and the decision is out of our hands and that he needs time to settle back into life himself.
The other dilemma this leaves me with is DD2 lives over two hours away and is due a new baby in January and we were going to go north for a few weeks afterwards to help out, but I will have to go on my own as husband won’t leave DS1 behind on his own. It also means the house will not be big enough for her to come and visit so it could be months before I get to see my new born grandchild again after I come back. I cannot justify the fuel or time costs to go to visit with the two days off I have in a week.
So I really feel I am in a no win situation and cannot see any way out as it is going to be impossible to please anybody or everybody.
DD1 says she has work he can do, she has painting and decorating needing done that will help fill some of his time.
I feel it is going to be a long Winter, would be easier if the light nights were here and we could go walking the dog till late but not easy to do in the cold dark and wet.
I appreciate this makes me sound like a bad and selfish person but I truly am dreading it.


  1. Oh I wish I had some advice. Families are just so difficult sometimes. Some would say, he's an adult, let him sort himself out, his own place etc. But, it's always hard when it's a family member who needs help. I feel the same with my daughter, my life would be so much better if she just moved out and lived her own life, but I can't just throw her out, although some would. So, I'm not going to tell anyone else what to do. I guess that means the only thing I can say is that there will be a light at the end of the tunnel and although it all seems so stressful and messy at the moment, I'm pretty sure you will get through it all and come out at the other end and back to your peaceful life.

  2. Oh my. I can only say what I would do. Or, rather, what I would *not* do. Nearly forty? Hates me? He can look for help elsewhere. #triumphanttales

  3. You're caught in a trap with metal jaws - keep him and your life goes down the tube - refuse him and your husband leaves. I'm not really sure what I would do. #keepingitreal

  4. I am not sure solutions are being sought. The writer wants to be heard. There are no solutions without compromise – from all parties. And when you are compromising in extremis like this you are not living. This guy has to make his own way, but then the writer already knows this #Triumphanttales

  5. Hi Suzanne, I feel for your friend. I really do. It would take a very special person not to feel how she does. I am all for family, but there has to be limits to expectations. From what I read here it doesn' t sound as if DS1 is willing to adapt and he certainly doesn't sounfdlike somwone who is grateful for the help. In fact I'm not sure I'd even be prepared to try to help someone with an atitude like that (not prepared to clean up after himself and won't cook for the couple he's staying with? - Really?). We are talking about a fully grown man who doesn't seem to want to make life easier for the people who are helping him.

    Thank you for linking up with #keepingitreal and I hope DS1 is out of their hair very soon!

  6. Families are so difficult but I have to be honest. If my husband had a son who didn't like me and had no respect for me whatsoever and expected me to uproot my life to accommodate him, I wouldn't be having any of it. I'd be asking why isn't my husband being supportive and understanding of me? You are his step mother and if he expects to live in your house he should live by your rules, no matter what his age. If he needs to go somewhere he should use a bus - why should he benefit from your car when he has done nothing to deserve that luxury? It sounds to me like he needs to grow up. I'm sorry if this hasn't been useful. I am annoyed for you. I hope things work out. All the best.
    Thank you Suzanne, for sharing with #TriumphantTales.