I'm doing the "right" thing but I feel trapped and resentful.
February 12, 2014 8:58 AM Subscribe
I am watching my stepson's daughter every other weekend and I don't want to anymore.
posted by cherrybounce to Human Relations (37 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I work full time and have 2 kids, 7 and 15. I have also been watching my 25-yr-old stepson's ("Tom") 4-year-old-daughter ("Allie") for over a year now and don't see an end to that for the foreseeable future.
My stepson and his wife are divorcing. She lives in another state and Allie has probably seen her mom for a total of about 6 months over the last 3 years. He took a job that requires him to work weekends. I did offer to help watch Allie; it was kind of a general offer, but somehow it has turned into 10 hours a day, every other Saturday and Sunday and every Friday afternoon.
Watching her is stressful. My kids were always good at entertaining themselves but she isn't. She and my 7-yr-old fight like cats and dogs. over everything. I keep thinking that will change, but it hasn't. I think he is jealous of her. She tells on him constantly for everything (he touched my hair, he left the light on, he is looking at my doll.) If I walk out of the room she follows me. If I take a shower she wants to sit in the bathroom. If I sit down she wants to sit in my lap or as close as she can. She wants or needs something from me about every 15 minutes. I realize all of this is her needing attention and a lot of this is normal 4-yr-old behavior. I know some of this is about not having her mom around and I try to give her attention, but it is exhausting.
My stepson's grandmother watches Allie the weekends I don't. I don't know what other options he has if I don't do it. Money is tight for him. My husband (who works himself most weekends) says I should just say no, that it is Tom's responsibility to take care of his daughter, but I feel that if I am available to watch her, it is wrong to just say no, I don't want to. It would probably also cause bad feelings. I think I'm probably also resentful because we have been dealing with Tom's problems for years (bad grades, bullying other kids, stealing, cheating at school, expelled from school, drugs, arrests, money problems, kicked out of the army, etc.) and this seems like me just having to pick up the pieces from another "bad" decision - having a child that he is not ready to take care of completely on his own. That said, he has been doing well the past 2 years.
I feel terrible even complaining about a sweet, practically motherless little girl. Aren't families supposed to help each other? But I just don't want to give up half of weekends for the next several years.