Mum isn't accepting my step-kids?

(22 Posts)
caraway Sun 30-Sep-12 15:51:37

I'm a new step mum to two lovely children-a five and four year old. I'm also adoptive mum of six and a bit years to a seven year old. DSD and DSS have limited contact with the mother. DH divorced their mum three and a half years ago, and I married DH a year ago, having been his partner for about two years, and I knew him as a friend for about ten years previously. I am the two children's godmothers. When the divorce was intensified and DH was worried about the effect on the kids, I looked after them for a few days, and when DH and his ex were both in hospital (bad virus, they stayed in for ten days each), I looked after them.

My Mum's birthday is coming up. She'll be sixty four. She's invited my family to come over and stay in a little B&B along with her sisters and my brother's family. She's paying for the rooms because she knows that we're a little hard up- we've paid for much-needed repairs recently and our car broke down so we've had to get a new one. For a small period of time, a month, ending last week, DH had no job, which was a bad period, though he's now found a job as an aeronautical engineer in our nearest airport, so we're hoping to pay her back. My job covers small stuff like clothing, the weekly shop and gas and electricity, so basic needs, but things like school trips (we can't afford many of them), repairing our house, getting a new car or a TV is a bit beyond us. The bit about us not being able to afford the cost is important.

She asked how many beds- so I said one double for DH and I, and three singles for the kids. My Mum hasn't shown any sign of not accepting them before, but then we weren't in much contact last year as she had moved to France (and then could afford to move back) and is now the other side of the country. She didn't rush out to meet them just like she did with my adopted daughter. But I didn't especially notice. Anyway, she then mentioned that she thought they might stay with a relative, or their mum. They live with us full time, but see her for two hours a week, and on special occasions, they will have a party or whatever at their house- as well as one at ours.

I need her to accept that they're a part of my family- they've been a part for a year, and if you include the time we were partners, for even longer. They stay with me a lot and though they don't call me mummy (they call me by my first name, as I told them to), they are a large part of my life. She was very accepting when I adopted my daughter, so I don't see why this should be any different.

We could stretch our budget and not get a car for a few more months, and live without a TV for a year (it's fine having no TV obviously), and have no family holiday or any spare money for stuff like school trips, new shoes or whatever for about six months or so, until I get a promotion (and this isn't just me hoping, the person with the post is leaving, I've been told that when she leaves, I will be promoted to her job) or we can stay behind and have a family holiday elsewhere- something cheap, like camping or a hostel. Or I could leave them behind, but I really can't do that. What should I do?

fusspot66 Sun 30-Sep-12 15:57:12

Maybe she just hasn't thought it through?

fusspot66 Sun 30-Sep-12 16:01:10

If you think she knows now exactly who your family unit includes, she may come up with a booking for all 3 of your children. Hopefully just thoughtlesness

caraway Sun 30-Sep-12 16:54:48

No, when I explained about how they're a part of our family, a big part, and they're the same as my adopted DD or any biological kids, she just said 'but- you're not their mother'. With DD she was fine- because I was becoming her mum, but she seems really intolerant with this.

VBisme Sun 30-Sep-12 17:00:37

Rather than 3 singles can you get a family room with zed-beds? It's awful when your family don't accept the stepkids. My parents do (closest thing to grand-kids they'll ever get), but my brother doesn't, as far as he's concerned they're not family. sad

tittytittyhanghang Sun 30-Sep-12 17:05:41

If she won't change her mind about how she feels re your step kids, i personally would consider not going. Ds1 is my dp's stepchild, and had any of his family treated ds1 different to ds2 then i wouldn't have actively involved myself or any of my children with them.

DontmindifIdo Sun 30-Sep-12 17:09:09

You don't go. You can quietly make your point by just backing out, you can't make her be more generous, you can withdraw your whole family.

I would explain to her that you would be devistated if your DH said that he didn't consider your DD to be his responsiblity because she wasn't his birth daughter and he hadn't decided to adopt her in the first instance, so you would equally be insulting him to say you don't consider his DCs to be your family. Therefore as she has put you in a straight choice position of insulting your DH (and stepDCs) or insulting your mother (by not goig to her birthday party), you'll pick insulting her.

DontmindifIdo Sun 30-Sep-12 17:11:42

and don't pay for them unless you can afford to pay for everyone, withdraw from the party.

Long term it's more important that your new step DCs see that you are on their side than your mother who is being rude.

(I assume if they only see their mother 2 hours a week then I guess there's a huge back story there, not normal access for a non-resident parent, I guess she's let them down already, don't be the next person to make them feel unimportant)

halloweeneyqueeney Sun 30-Sep-12 17:21:10

I think you should either not go, or decline the offer of 3 out of 5 being paid for and you should pay for all of you

I do not think you should accept for 3 of you to be paid for but the 2 step kids not, and paid for you instead - that would be taking part in distinguising them IYKWIM

ratbagcatbag Sun 30-Sep-12 17:25:24

Don't go, if you don't make it clear and draw the lines or it will only get worse, my dss doesn't live with us, we have about 40% shared care, everyone of my friends and family include him in all invites, f they don't we politely decline.

BizarreLoveTriangle Sun 30-Sep-12 17:31:44

I really think you have to side with your step-kids. If there is any way of going - camp beds, getting her to give you the money she would have spent and staying somewhere near but cheap, or seeing if other family members would chip in - I'd try that so that your mum could get a chance to see how much your ste-children mean to you.

I took my step-children to my dad's house at Christmas. He hadn't been expecting me to bring them and he objected as they weren't family so shouldn't be part of our Christmas. He didn't mind dp coming, though hmm. By the end of Christmas, however, he had seen that I had completely accepted them as my own children so he did the same. Perhaps your mum just didn't understand what your family structure is and thought that your step-children really were one removed.

MsHighwater Sun 30-Sep-12 17:39:54

I couldn't agree more with everyone who is saying everyone goes or no-one does. After all, 64 is not a really important birthday but you only have this one chance to out your step kids first and prove to them that they re as much a part of your family as your adoptive child. Your Mum is an adult and she is in the wrong on this. Her generosity in wanting to pay your accommodation does not justify this.

caraway Mon 01-Oct-12 18:23:44

The problem is, we're considering moving to France next year. This could be our last family meet-up (Christmas is spent with DH's family- all very lovely and all very excepting).

I agree that we shouldn't go, but I feel like I should make it up to her- and we can't afford much. I could pay for them to go, and then we can spend most of the week walking, I could take them rowing, they can go see the castle and go to the playground and local theme park or the local safari park, and generally have a fun time.

It's true- she's let them down a lot. She had an affair first of all, and ran away for a month with her new lover, before coming home to a divorce. She clearly doesn't clear for the kids, and I really do, they're both lovely and intelligent and beautiful. I don't want to let them down, and I can't tolerate my mother's behaviour, but I want to find a compromise- by paying for them to go too. But I'm worried she might make them feel unwelcome. I know they're part of my family- they're a very big part. When I adopted DD, it was like having a biological daughter and though I've missed the first few years of their life, DSD and DSS feel so important. Everything I ever wished for in a child, those three have, and I don't want to make any of them feel sad.

But a big part of acceptance is meeting them face-to-face. She hasn't had that chance before. If she met them and saw how lovely they are- and more importantly, how big a part of my life they are, she might realise. Without every properly meeting them, she won't change her opinions.

halloweeneyqueeney Mon 01-Oct-12 19:30:18

I still don't think any of that means you should go along with it!

going along with it and paying for DSCs but getting Adopted DC paid for is condoning her attitude

and its not an all of family meet up if two very important parts of your family aren't fully included/welcomed in the same way as everyone else

if you end up going, it is because of HER not you!

HecateHarshPants Mon 01-Oct-12 19:32:09

Tell her. Be very straight about it. These children live with us and I am their stepmother. They are an equal part of my family and if you cannot accept them as such and treat them fairly, you and I are going to have a problem.

Take time to think about it and let me know what you decide.

caraway Mon 01-Oct-12 20:22:01

Thanks everyone. I don't want to condone her behaviour, but this is one of the last times for a proper family meet up. All the rest of my family are very excited that it's the first time that my step-kids will be part of it, and I know it's only my mother. Thanks Hecate. I need some help with how to talk to her- I just feel really nervous inside.

I think we won't go as such. We'll stay in one of the hostels nearby- great reviews for families, and a lot cheaper- come to the party or anything really special planned, but otherwise spend a week longer than otherwise and have a really great family holiday. Because they're all very little, it will probably be going on the mountain railway, going to the few local farms and going on nature walks, going to the castles, the market, the old windmill, petting the horses at the horse sanctuary and just spending time together. I could see my mother, spend time with her, but also spend some great time with my family. I just can't word it right, when I tell her what I'm doing- I want to text it, but it's probably better to talk to her- I'm just not sure how.

DontmindifIdo Mon 01-Oct-12 20:27:44

have the conversation, you need to do it. Staying near by somewhere you can all afford to stay makes sense.

Mintberry Tue 09-Oct-12 16:05:00

Don't go- say you can't afford to pay for them yourself, and excluding them is not an option. I said this in a thread yesterday and I'll say it again - grandmothers are big girls now! You shouldn't be sacrificing the feelings of your step children or depriving your family financially just to keep her happy. You need to send out a firm message that this is your family unit and she can't pick and choose which parts of it to accept if she wants to be accepted herself.

fuckadoodlepoopoo Tue 09-Oct-12 19:07:37

I just wanted to say that you sound like a fantastic step mum. You hear so many negative things yet you sound like you completely accept them. Its a breath of fresh air.

I did wonder though how are the kids going to see their mum if you move to France?

Fairy130389 Tue 09-Oct-12 21:00:32

I have been though a slightly similar thing, my stepdaughter lives with us too, and sees very little of her mum, my mum has been brilliant from the start and completely accepted her as her grandchild - in fact I have to tell her off as she is desperate for DSD to call her Nanny and is a bit OTT!!! but she is very sweet with her. However, my M.I.L took a loooonnnggg time to accept me and the fact that we were a family, everytime I tried to insist that I get time to myself with my DSD to bond etc, she couldn't understand why I would want to spend time with her without my DH, often the phrase of choice was 'but she lives with you, you see her all the time' not getting that rushing around after work, trying to cook tea, etc, isn't the same. I also get a lot of the 'but you're not her mum though...' or another charming 'yes but you're not really bringing her up though are you?' (I've been living here for years, we're married, i do all the childcare, dr's appointments, school appoinments etc etc)

Anyway! Just wanted to say that it takes time for Grannies to realise that biology isn't the be all and end all - fact is, if a child is part of your family, be that full, or part time, they come as a package deal and it is important to project the 'we all love each other' message.

I think, these are your children. Explain that to her. Tell her that these children are as much yours as your eldest daughter, and any subsequent children that come along. Explain that you understand it may be hard for her to understand, (I have found that it's often difficult for people to get their heads around the concept of an absent mother/resident step mother) but she needs to include you DSC in any family plans. Whilst you are grateful for her kind offer, it's the whole family, or none of them.

Good luck!!!!

caraway Wed 10-Oct-12 16:20:26

The 'but you're not really her mum' makes me soooo angry Fairy. Why can't people understand that I think of them like my biological kid and I love them just as with my biological kid. Having adopted my first child, I've had a fair share of non-acceptance, but I can't believe it's my mum!

If we go to France (we're still deciding) then we will come back every holiday, for longer visits. Their mum doesn't really care about them, and in fact is very reluctant to visit or be visited by them, it wasn't the usual legal battle- it was more DH and the poor kids trying to get a larger amount of time to see her! We're currently talking with a lawyer about it, and she believes it is possible especially as their mum hasn't ever been fighting even for the 2hrs a week.

I've told her that we'll go but we're staying in the hostel and though we'll come and visit her on her birthday, the rest will be spent together because when the family is invited, it means the whole family- she can't pick and choose. Hopefully that means she can see them and meet them (and hopefully change her mind about them) but I'm not condoning her behaviour. Is it an okay plan d'you think?

Fairy130389 Wed 10-Oct-12 20:44:50

Only you know what will work in your situation - Will your mum keep her feelings to herself though? My only concern would be if the children felt unwelcome on her birthday. Sounds good to me though, there isn't really a right or wrong answer, to be honest. Hopefully once she meets them she will see you all operating as a family unit and understand.

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