The other two counselling sessions have gone ok; neither of us has really got cross, or said anything the other didn't know about.
Tonight was different.
We discussed in depth, that sticky subject – parenting. It’s where all the problems originate. In a nutshell, he wants to parent my daughters, and I don’t want him to. They have a lovely (if too soft) Dad and a very strong Mum; they don’t need an overbearing step-dad. They need a friendly step-dad. I know the role of step-dad is not an easy one; but I think I’m doing ok as a step-mum – I don’t try to parent his daughter; instead, I take the role of big sister, or aunt. After all, she already has a Mum.
Coupled with this, our parenting styles are very different. I think I’m firm but fair. He’s firm but firm. I love to spend time with my daughters, talking about their day and listening to their chatter at mealtimes. He likes peace and quiet, and mealtimes for grown-ups only. Weekends are a constant battle between time for us, and time with them. I like to divide my time equally; he wants me all to himself for the weekend with no kids at all (except his of course).
I have asked him repeatedly over all the years we’ve been together, NOT to try to parent my daughters. He persists in doing so, making us all (including him) miserable. Now it was the counsellor’s turn. She told him to try not to parent them unless it affected him directly, for example if they were being noisy. He said he didn’t want to stop parenting them. I said I would never accept his style of parenting and I wanted him to stop. She told him again to stop, but he said he would find it too difficult. She asked me which I would prefer – him to carry on parenting and us all live together, or would I be happier if he moved out. I replied without hesitation: “If he does not stop trying to parent my daughters I don’t want to live with him”.
As we drove away, he said “well done – you’ve won”. He packed the car and left. Only for the weekend, but it’s a start. A weekend of freedom is ahead of me and it feels great.