DEAR AMY -- I recently married the father of six wonderful children. So far, most of the kids seem to approve of me. However, two don't - they are 6 and 9 years old. They go out of their way to make me feel as if I am nothing.
I have tried many times to reason with them and convince them that I am actually the best thing to ever happen to their father and to them. How can I make them realize that they really do depend on me to make their lives as happy as possible?
So far, the 6-year-old has been the toughest to deal with, and he seems to enjoy calling me names and watching me cry. Both of these children have severely bratty tendencies, but he is the worst.
I do not know how to bring this up with their father, because he tends to be unresponsive. What should I do?
DEAR STRESSED --Six children under the best circumstances would be more than a handful. But you sound like an inexperienced mother who has been thrown into the deep end of the parenting pool.
I need to wag my finger at your husband for not giving you more support; you should never have to worry or wonder how to bring up a parenting matter with him. That needs to change. You should be partners in this venture, and he needs to take the lead.
You should not be overexplaining yourself to a 6-year-old and a 9-year-old. It is insulting for you to claim that you are the best thing to happen to them. Even if this happens to be true, it still puts them in a terrible position.
Nor should you rise to the bait that they set out for you. Have you never seen a Disney movie? Don't you know what mental torture young children are capable of? Don't go there. You can never win, so rise above it.
You need to start over with these two children. Focus on being the firm, supportive and mature adult that they need.
A book you should find helpful is 7 Steps to Bonding With Your Stepchild by Suzen J. Ziegahn (2001, St. Martin's Griffin).