Did I do more harm than good?


New Member
Okay, let me set the stage. My dad has lived with me pretty much my entire life. With my first marriage, not as much, when I was single, all the time and now again in my second marriage, he has officially let his apartment go and moved in. So he has helped quite a bit raising my 2 easy child's as well as been around for my 3rd easy child and been in the house with my 3 difficult child's since my husband and I married.

In the last few years he has been getting onto me for telling my husband when the difficult child's misbehave. The difficult children are my husbands from his first marriage, but I consider all of my children, my children. I have since day one. I only clarify our situation if someone gets confused and needs clarification. So, my dad thinks I shouldn't tell my husband when the difficult children misbehave because it just makes my husband mad and it makes him feel like a failure. I disagree, because he is my husband and I believe if I can't talk to him about what goes on in my day, this is bad for our relationship. I also feel like he should know what goes on with the difficult children. Especially since until I can legally adopt my difficult children, he is the one who deals with doctors etc. I go to the appointments as often as I can, but it means finding a sitter for the other 3. The psychiatrist office is the size of a loveseat, so you can't take 2 adults and 6 kids in there. 2 adults and 3 kids is already packed.

On a most recent rant of my dads, he said that "If you did more things with the difficult children they would want to behave better for you." Well, of all 3 of us, my dad, my husband and I, I take all 6 kids on more outtings than anyone. I like to go out with my kids. The only stipulation I have is that they behave before hand and during. Now you all know how difficult that can be with 1 difficult child, 3 is almost impossible. So while I do take them out the most of the 3 of us, this still ends up being once or twice a week at most during the summer. Those of you who have read the book also know what Mr. Greene says, rewards don't work on these children and they are already motivated to do right, they just can't sometimes.

Okay, now all this being said, my dad wants to take the 2 PCs to Florida for vacation. He did this last year. I don't think its fair to my difficult children. The second year in a row that they miss out, I think it stinks. Well, I told my dad this, but the conversation started with him and it was in front of the kids. Grrrr...anyways, he tells me "Well the easy child's deserve it. It's not fair to them that the 3 difficult child's don't behave so they miss out." So now, hes not taking the PCs either and my oldest easy child is needless to say, a tad POed at me.

Was I right in standing up for my difficult children and saying its not fair? Did I just make matters worse?


New Member
I need to add something before anyone thinks I was just trying to get rid of all of my kids. I offered to drive down there with my 3 difficult child's. I never once asked my dad to take all the kids himself. I wanted everyone to enjoy the vacation, not just my PCs. My dad told me that # 1, it was too many people to invite to families house and # 2, that the difficult children weren't invited.

Wiped Out

Well-Known Member
Staff member
I don't necessarily think separate vacations are a bad thing but from reading all the background, I think you did the right thing. I think the difficult children would be looking at it as a punishment if they did not get to go along.

We did take a trip to Chicago once without difficult child-he got to stay with grandparents and had a lot of fun while we did this with easy child because easy child needed some time away from difficult child.


New Member
Its not the seperate thing that bothers me really. Its that they continue to miss out (my difficult children) and I don't think its fair. The thing is, I also thing my PCs need a break too. So I'm just stuck in the middle. I also hate that my dad tells me I should do more and they will behave and then he says he won't take them because they don't behave. My dad is usually a very fair man, but this just doesn't seem right to me. His response to me saying this was "Ya, but I don't have to deal with them, you do." That makes me feel even more that its unfair to them and its a punishment.


New Member
I'd say your dad is right about it being too many people to stay in someone's home. He may be right about telling your husband about the misbehavior depending on the circumstances. Other than that, I think he is far off the mark.

No matter how the other kids behaved, all he is going to do is cause friction and hurt feelings by playing favorites. To bring it up in front of the other kids is downright cruel. Seems like it he should offer to take at least two of the other kids this time around unless it is one of those strictly blood relative type visits and then I would make darn sure grandpa took the other three on a special trip at another time even if I had to fund it.

I do have one question -- if the PCs misbehave, do you mention that to your husband? If not, then I agree with your father that you shouldn't mention it unless it is something you would naturally tell no matter who did it. If it is something that should be brought up in therapy, maybe you could make an agreement with your husband that you will give a list for the therapist to see but it is not something your husband should do anything about because any consequences have already been doled out.


Well-Known Member
Separate vacations are fine if the ages are disparate (say, a 2-yr-old and a 12-yr-old) or if the difficult child is extremely difficult, eg., autistic and cannot speak. But, unless I'm misunderstanding, it sounds like your dad was playing favorites and trying to blame it on the kids.
It's okay if he has a favorite... but, clearly, he should not have spoken in front of them. At some point, someone should have said, "Let's discuss this privately."

by the way, I'm interested in the description of your difficult child 7-yr-old, in reg. to the reactive hypoglycemia. How strict is his diet? I'm hypoglycemic and it can make me very moody (hormones don't help, either! LOL). I didn't know what the problem was until after I was married. I'm thinking the ADHD may be allergy related. Maybe we could start another thread on the nurtrition board if you're interested.
If you've already covered this, let me know the subject title and I'll search for it.


Former desparate mom
<span style='font-size: 11pt'>From what I can tell, regardless what is right or not right, you made a parental call and it's not your dad's place to question it.
Separate vacations are inevitable with blended families, different age groups etc. Having them divided by behavior is a little like a scarlet letter on their chest.
If he took the kids that reached certain ages, or grade achievement or some measurable accomplishment there would be less stigma.
As far as discussing issues with your husband. Your dad is out of line. He may be making suggestions but it's really mettling. No matter how you put it.

in my humble opinion. </span>


Well-Known Member
I feel that if he's taking care of the kids as much as you are, and not getting paid (I'm assuming) it's inevitable that he's going to speak his mind. I think it's valid that there are too many people, with all the kids, to stay in one place. On the other hand, I feel it's up to you what you share with your husband about the kids. If it becomes too difficult, since your father is actually living with you and also caregiving, you may want to go to family counseling to all three sit down and set boundaries. You can't stop your father from favoring the two well behaved kids who are blood related to him. The only thing you can do is try to explain that he can't show it. There isn't a way to affect what is in his heart--often, sadly, easy child's are favored over difficult child's, even if they ARE blood related, especially with extended family members. Again, I think maybe therapy would help all of you. Remember, Dad is valuable to you. He helps a lot. in my opinion it's best to try to work things out to everyone's satisfaction and so that nobody is upset. JMO


New Member
Clearly your dad has a stronger bond with the easy child's as he has a stronger personal history with them and they are undoudbetdly easier to travel with. That said, to offer only the easy child's a vacation would only cause tension in your family as others have said. I think it was fair to the difficult child's to call off the trip for the easy child's and I am sure that the easy child who is annoyed with you will understand that the appearence of favoritism would cause problems for the whole family unit.

As others suggested, seperate vacation seem like a good idea as there are so many family members. Would your dad be willing to make the Florida trip twice at different points in time? As in, he can take the easy child's (maybe +1 difficult child now?) and then the other three kids on another date? Or if two Florida trips is too elaborate perhaps the family could plan two seperate trips with 3 kids on each trip? I'm sure with 3 kids (let alone 3 difficult child's) there will be less pandemonium and more quality time spent.

Let us know how it unravels.


New Member
Meowbunny-Absolutely I vent about my PCs. I vent about all of my kids, but not on small things, just things that have worn me out that day. Lately not so much because the schedule is working out well. I don't tell my husband every little thing about any one of my kids, but I do tell him if one of them kept at it all day. Also, when I volunteered to drive my difficult children, I gave my dad the option of us staying in a hotel or with friends that live there and I would pay for it. Still a no go.

Terry-I only know how the doctor explained it. In all my web browsing I haven't found "reactive hypoglycemic". Basically he can't have white carbs, dairy, sugar or even too much natural sugar or he'll go into a hypoglycemic state. I'd be happy to get into more detail with you if ya want. It has helped his behavior a bunch though. PM me if you want more info.

Midwest-he in no way is taking care of them as much as I am. He helps babysit every so often after bedtime, but thats rare. When I was single, he helped more, but still not as much as I did. He lives here, but comes and goes as he pleases. I am the main caregiver and my husband is the 2nd. Dad is basically just another adult in the house, but he doesn't tend to help raise at this point, just the fun grandpa. Also, to clarify, my dad raised me, but he is not blood related, he is my step dad. He will always be my dad though because he raised me, I am not close with my bio dad. My step dad and I have always been close though. So the PCs are not blood related, however they do have more of a bond than the difficult children, hes known them since birth and he considers me his real daughter as I do him my real dad.

EB-No, unfortunately my dad doesn't want to deal with the difficult children behavior. Any trip with them alone with him won't happen I'm afraid.

The older 4, 2 difficult children and 2 PCs are all within the same age range. However, my 2 difficult children aren't as mature. Its very difficult to make that distinction though because it causes hurt feelings. So when someone wants to do something with the 2 PCs, I feel they should also include the older 2 difficult children. My oldest difficult child is 1 year older than my middle easy child and acts about the same age, my middle difficult child acts about 1-2 years younger. Being raised by my step dad never made me feel like a step child, but being around my step mother and bio dad did. I don't want this for my difficult children. I want them to feel like they belong and it bugs me when something causes them not to. I feel by not asking them to go, they feel this way. And since he took the 2 PCs last year, I feel like its only fair that the difficult children be included on this trip.

Hound dog

Nana's are Beautiful
I dunno. It sounds to me like you and husband are working hard at blending this family into a single unit. It also sounds like you're doing a pretty good job of it.

Sounds to me like your Dad needs to have some boundries set. If it were me about the husband issue, I'd say thanks for your opinion/or back off which ever happened to apply. As far as the vac issue with the kids.... I personally would've made the same decision. I think your Mommy instincts were dead on with this one.



If your dad didn't live with you, I'd say it's perfectly acceptable for him to take only your biological children on a trip. But since he does live with you and is a fixture in the lives of ALL of your children, to routinely single out a couple kids out isn't fair to the others and is going to cause a lot of tension and hurt feelings. As far as what you discuss with your husband, I agree with the others: that's your prerogative.

If he's going to only take 2 kids at a time - not an out of line request as 6 kids are a lot to deal with - then he should take 2 different kids than he took last year and take the remaining 2 next year.

I'm sorry that he can't see how this affects the other kiddos - and you, as well.


New Member
I have to say that my first very humble opinion is that you did the right thing here. You are in an unusual situation that has got to be a tricky balancing act on a daily basis. I know that our easy child gets invited by friends and family on a more consistent basis because she is an easier child. Mostly, if I can't go and have both munchkins attend, neither goes - unless of course it is a birthday party for a easy child-friend, etc. If one of the kids is invited specifically to something for a peer they go.

The only exception to this rule for us is that my neighbor will sometimes take easy child along on outings which involve many children that are easy child's age. For instance, she took easy child berrypicking a few weeks ago - all of the children were aged toddler - 9 years old. Not something difficult child would have liked to do anyway, no one his age, and he had plans with wraparound services. And, because difficult child attends the extended school year program, we try to involve easy child in day camps, etc.

My mother does not live with us and frequently takes each one of the kids on a separate basis - but it is just a trip to McD's or overnight at her house - and she is as equitable with each as she can be.

You have the added facet of a blended family, but my gut tells me that you made the right decision here. I agree with Heather - if your Dad kept a separate residence, it might be different, but as a regular housemate, everyone should be on equal footing.


New Member
What about this... are there any times when the difficult child's visit with members of husband's ex-family? If so, you can take advantage of that time to travel with your dad and easy child's and give them the experience they so want. Just a thought...


Active Member
It is a tough call for you but I do think you made the right decision. I do understand about the "too many kids" thing, but we have that problem because we have four kids. For a lot of family things, rather than dump ourselves on family we would book accommodation nearby. This also meant we had somewhere private to take the kids to when either they got too difficult, or they got too tired and needed to be given a break from family.

About your PCs needing some sort of space away from difficult children - we have something here, it might be worth you making some discreet enquiries. In Sydney we have the head office for Carers NSW, which is a non-profit organisation which works to support people who care for someone with a disability. In the last eleven years they have realised that they have to also include as carers, those children who help care for a family member with a disability. Initially they only considered kids who help care for a disabled adult (which let my kids in, especially easy child, because of my own disability). They hold holiday camps for these kids, so they can go and have fun, enjoying just being a kid and doing the stuff they often don't get to do because of family budgets or lack of a healthy adult to do fun family stuff with. Abseiling, rock climbing, canoeing - that sort of thing. It's also where easy child met BF1, as well as where easy child 2/difficult child 2 met BF2.
About eight years ago they expanded the criteria to include children who help care for a sibling with a disability, which is a doubly whammy for us. They also include siblings with a disability who still play some level of caring role - it can get very complex.
Although these camps are very much about the kids having fun, there is also a component of therapy and counselling, where the kids spend some time sharing their experiences and talking about how they feel, in an environment where there are other kids who understand. They also try to provide the kids with coping strategies.
The place to look for a service like this is any organisation with a caring role - ask them. Our network started up as simply. Many service clubs will volunteer time, accommodation, other services to these kids and the cost has always been minimal or zero. We always found our kids would come home from camp more relaxed, less resentful and recharged. They also would keep in touch with other kids from camp so the support network would continue.

To find out, you could ask your local Rotary clubs if they've heard of anything like this. I know a lot of Rotary clubs in Australia have got involved. There is a lot of info on the internet about them too.

Who knows? Maybe just by asking, you could start the ball rolling that could provide a valuable service to many more children.

Good luck with your kids in the holidays and good on you for making it clear to your father that playing favourites is not the way to improve problem behaviours.



Well-Known Member
Well Im chiming in late here but I think you did the right thing too.

My mom did her best to make my boys feel different from each other. She basically succeeded. My oldest boy is a half sib to the younger two. I left his father when he was less than a year old. She always wanted to "take" that child from me. Now the other two she couldnt have cared less about. She always referred to the younger two as "My" (Janets) kids and the oldest as "her" (my moms) kid. Now no one else did this. I certainly didnt. I said I had three kids. After I had my oldest son my mom didnt even claim ME!

My mom would do special things just for my oldest like take him places and buy him things. She would take him to water parks, miniature golfing, buy him toys and computers. She would buy the younger two a set of match box cars. It was so obvious the favoritism. It not only effected the younger two badly but the older one became used to this treatment and thought he should be treated this way. I still have problems with this. I still have lingering problems of him thinking he is better than other people. Thank you mom!


New Member
EB-No, there are not times they visit DHs ex. Her rights have been terminated and her family does not have contact. We want to keep it that way. We are waiting just a few more weeks for her appeal time to pass before we start the adoption process.

There have been times the difficult children go with my DHs family and we let the PCs go out with mine, thats okay with me. It just stinks that 2 years in a row the PCs are getting picked for a big trip. Plus, husband's parents don't stick to my youngest difficult children diet. Which now makes it much more difficult to let them go.

I think I really upset my dad by pointing out what I felt was obvious. I also think it upset him, that I threw his theories back at him that he so often likes to use on me. I was really upset with his decision to do this and to tell me that I couldn't take the difficult children myself becaues they weren't invited. Maybe I was too harsh in the heat of the moment, but its just so unfair to them. I remember feeling like a stepchild and it doesn't feel good. I hate that anyone I care about would make them feel this way. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe it doesn't bother them, but it would have bothered me if I were one of them in that situation.

Thanks everyone for the advice.