When this stepdad is frustrated with his parents, he asks Reddit:
I married my wife Gracie two years ago. Gracie was a widow with 3 young kids when we married. She was actually separated when he died. He also had a son who is now 17 who is not in the lives of my stepkids because his mother and maternal grandparents used alienation against Gracie's late husband and her children. This means the kids miss their dad and miss their brother.
So they struggle with the new blended family. They call me Robbie and say I'm married to their mom when others ask. They call mine and Gracie's four month old son their half brother. We have no problem with this because, well, it's true and they don't hate him or seem to resent him and we'd like to keep it that way. I know that forcing the issue of dropping step and half almost never ends well.
The kids are in therapy. We have dabbled in some family therapy but all agree for now individual is more important because they have a lot to process. My stepkids are now 11, 9 and 8. We have okay days and we have bad days but I feel like that's natural when they are grieving and adjusting to a new life and family dynamic and we're still a work in progress.
So I was in my son's position when I was born. Both my parents had failed marriages with kids from those marriages before marrying each other and having me and my younger sister. There was a lot of chaos when I was a kid and my half siblings hated each other (their stepsiblings). The house was crazy and when I was like 7 my parents decided we all needed to go to family therapy.
I stand by the fact it was a bad idea to include me in it because week after week, for months, I heard them cursing at each other, saying they didn't care about me or my little sister, that they wished we had never been born, that we would never be a family and sometimes they would yell so much at each other and get so angry that I was a little intimidated.
Honestly it left me feeling worthless and fearful that maybe something bad would happen if I was alone with them. It didn't. But I also remember my sister having night terrors of them screaming at each other. My parents always said they handled it the correct way but it wasn't enough. They don't acknowledge that it harmed my sister and I and that our half siblings have nothing to do with any of us.
Ever since my son was born they have been vocal about what I need to do and telling me I should not allow them to say half, that I should do this or not allow that. The other day I snapped and told them I didn't need their advice on stepparenting and blending families when theirs failed and they still believe they did everything perfectly.
Not to mention the trauma they left their younger two kids with from dealing with their decisions. My parents were offended and told me there was no need to be so harsh and I should always learn from those with experience. I told them I did learn. Just not the way they wanted me to. They told me I owe them an apology for speaking to them with such disrespect. AITA?
NTA, you know what your family needs more than anyone else does. It sounds like you're very empathetic and thoughtful about your stepkids' feelings and giving them the space to feel them. That's all you can do. Your parents will probably never stop telling you what they think tho, so just come up with a line to shut down the conversation and stick to it. 'We're happy with our arrangement thanks' and change the subject. If they persist, say it again.
NTA. If your parent's methods were so good, you would have already been using them. You have nothing to apologize for. If anything, your parents should apologize for trying to be backseat drivers.
As someone who was a step child and forced by my step mom to call her mom, and forced to pretend we were a family and that my mom didn’t exist - you are doing the right thing by being patient and understanding and realize the consequences of forcing things. You are in the right.