Step mother good – ex wife bad – children evil

(105 Posts)
noam Mon 18-Mar-13 13:26:07

I'm quite prepared to get some rotten tomatoes flung at me for this, but I've been lurking for ages on this board and I've now reached breaking point.

Okay, here goes.

Why did so many bitter, resentful (and sometimes just plain nasty) step-mums on this thread ever get together with a bloke with kids if they are so unhappy being step-parents?

I am just so sick of reading threads about saintly step mums who are battling 'evil' step children, feckless 'disney' dads or money grabbing ex wives.

Just today, I've read a thread wondering why step-children need to sleep over at Dads, another questioning what to do when you hate your dsc because they remind you of the ex-wife who you also hate, one questioning why the ex-wife needs to see the kids on mothers day and finally one about arranging a holiday that excludes the dss and wondering why dh might be upset.

It's as though the only version of step-parenting that's acceptable is one where it's just assumed that the step-parent is marvellous and in the right, the step-kids' mother just wants money/a weekend off (and why shouldn't she?) and the dad is Disney (because loving your kids and wanting them to be happy must be ridiculous.)

Maybe, just maybe, the step-kids are badly behaved because you make them feel unwelcome? Maybe the ex-wife needs maintenance because she's raising the kids on her own and knows every penny sent her way is resented by you? Maybe the dads are 'disney' to counterbalance your negativity and hostility?

There just seems to be so much hate and resentment and anger on this board. Why live with/marry a father if you resent the reality of his children so much??

Rant over.

You can start chucking the tomatoes now.

There are lots of lovely step mums here as well noam, I love dss, he has a lovely mum and step father and we all get on just fine.

But, I think your going to be mauled alive grin

theredhen Mon 18-Mar-13 13:38:20

I would say that most step mums go into their relationships hoping to be a happy successful step family where everyone is treated fairly and everyone gets what they want.

The reality isn't always like that.

There are some truly nasty bio mums out there, just as there are nasty step mums and nasty dads and step dads.

The dynamics in step families are soooo different to biological families and speaking as someone who has been in a bio family, a lone parent and a step parent (several times over) I will categorically say that being a step parent is harder than being in any other parenting role.

Any of our own insecurities and issues tend to come to the surface because of the intensly stressful situations that step parenting can throw at you.

Blending families is intensly difficult and fraught with far, far more problems than anything you can find in a bio family. You get the bio family issues plus then a whole more thrown at you and you don't have the bio bond with the kids to get you through it all.

It's no wonder more blended families split up than bio families.

In my opinion there is a massive lack of advice and help for step families and it is badly needed. One in three kids are brought up in a step family and yet there is so little support out there. The kids often end up as piggy in the middle of bio parents fighting and learn how to manipulate and dictate and can display all sorts of negative behaviour as a result of their parents break up, the step parent has to try and live with this, often on a daily basis.

Step parenting is bloody HARD, and we don't all get it right all the time. Sometimes the frustrations and double standards just seem to much and we all need a rant sometimes and that's what this and other support boards are for. As I said before, there are so few resources for step parents, this is one of the few that there is.

I do see some of the points you are making.

I am a step mum and love my DSS to bits, he is fully involved and my 3 DC call him brother. Luckily i get on with his mum now and we manage to all go out together at times e.g. birthdays

It wasn't always like this, his mum hated me to start with but over time and with compromise we have got to a good point. But this has been because we all want to get there.

At times i suspect the step mums have been the OW so yes the ex will dislike them. At times they have overstepped maybe on what they should be involved with, and at times the ex will just be bitter.

All situations are different and all through the years new issues will arise, you just have to approach and deal as adults.

But yes if you resent the step kids you should not be with their dad. Children alwas come first in my book

and agree with redhen it is hard work, but the results are so worth it

wilkos Mon 18-Mar-13 13:40:55

unless you are or have been a step parent, you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about.

have one of these biscuit

LtEveDallas Mon 18-Mar-13 13:46:02

Because by the very nature of support boards, you will not have posters coming on to say "I am a step mum and everything is hunky-dory" or "I love my DDs Step-Mum, she is a wonderful person"

People don't post when everything is great, they post when they need advice, or when things are going wrong. They post to see if their views are unreasonable or for help when they cannot see what they can do to improve things.

Did you not know that? Really?

HerbyVore Mon 18-Mar-13 13:48:57

Some stepmothers are bad

Some mothers are bad

Some Ex's are bad

Some people are bad

I think a lot of people everywhere make a lot of assumptions and generalisations.

I'm sure there are plenty of 'blended' families getting it right all the time for everyone involved but here's the thing - if they are getting it right and everyone's happy they will have no need to come and post here for answers to their questions or to vent will they?

To perhaps you are getting a skewed view of step-parents from the posts on this board?

HerbyVore Mon 18-Mar-13 13:49:35

Ha, x-post you you LtEve wink

FrauMoose Mon 18-Mar-13 13:57:51

When you start off going out with somebody who has children, it is very difficult to know what you are getting into.

For example I never dreamed that my partner's ex would - seventeen years down the line - still refuse to cross our threshold or to speak to me. (And no, I wasn't responsible for the end of the relationship.)

I really, really did not know what I was doing. It is a steep learning curve. The internet wasn't really around when I began stepmothering. So I just read some books.

The specific issues that troubled me most - for example prolonged bedwetting, one or two other behavioural issues - are the sorts of things that trouble parents in 'non-blended' families. The frustrations may get greater because your influence as a step-parent is not so great - you often just have to do your best to cope with the consequences of other people's decisions!

HerbyVore Mon 18-Mar-13 14:05:47

Actually, I think that coming onto a step-parenting board and start a ranting thread aimed at step-parents with hugely unfair generalisations about step-parents is a bit fucking goady and stir-ry.

Just as it would be if you were going on to Lone Parents and asking them why they resent their ex's so much or why they detest the thought of sending their children to stay with them and a new partner.

Or onto Teenagers and have a pop at parent's who are ranting/venting about difficulties with their teens 'you don't sound like you event like them - poor kids'

How d'you like them tomatoes?

noam Mon 18-Mar-13 14:08:26

I do realise that only step-parents looking for advice or to vent would use a forum like this - I'm well aware that the happily blended are off being happily blended and not venting on mumsnet.

But for all that, I'm still shocked by the intensity of hate and resentment expressed here. The vast majority of posters seem to look for advice convinced that they have behaved well, and everyone around them (including, often as not, very young children) are blatantly in the wrong.

I see very little genuine attempts to see the situation from the others' point of view. And very little evidence of people being prepared to accept responsibility for their own part in what has gone wrong.

And, for what it's worth, I'm a bio-mum, a step-mum and married to a step-dad. I'm not living in Walton mountain.

Despite the number of step-families out there, there really is a serious lack of resources available to stepparents to help them cope. I have come across literally two books that have been at all insightful. Family - especially if your family hasn't really experienced divorce (like mine) - can't always help you. Friends are more likely to have perspective as a step-child (if any at all) rather than a step-parent. And then some moms just feel threatened if you are a step-parent with any confidence or opinion about a child you didn't birth. So, a lot of us come here, and this is the place it all gets let out. If you look closely at the content of a lot of threads, they usually start from a place of guilt or frustration, which usually stems from trying to balance a child's needs with an adult's. In a step-family, those needs are not one and the same and sometimes compete against each other. I think that is the key difference, compared to "together" families.

SoWhatIfImWorkingClass Mon 18-Mar-13 14:22:48

As others have said, a lot of step parents can't see in to the future as to what being a step parent will be like. All you know is that you have met a man who you love, and that he has children. You don't know what it will be like months, years down the line or what rubbish you will encounter as a step parent.

It can be a very very hard, thankless, stressful job that can be so depressing at times.

I was 19 when I met my DP. He was 25 and his daughter was 4 at the time. She's 7 now. I felt like I knew what being a step parent would be like and it would be easy, but now I know I was so god damn naive it's unbelievable.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing and I would have been blessed to have had it back then, so that I would have been prepared for the crap that comes with step parenting. I don't ever regret being with my partner as I love him and we both have two beautiful boys together.

exoticfruits Mon 18-Mar-13 14:34:36

It is like anything else-the good and the bad and everything in between.
There are mothers who get upset if the stepmother doesn't get involved, mothers who get upset if the stepmother loves them and has a great relationship. It is like grandparents-some complain because they are too'hands on' and those who complain they never see them. It is a great shame there can't be a mass swap! Unfortunately people are stuck with what they get. Step parenting threads are particularly bad because people read their own situation into it-even when nothing like.

FrauMoose Mon 18-Mar-13 14:41:08

I think there is also - at least sometimes - a lack of support for stepmothers from the wider family network. My mother will sometimes - politely, without any real interest - ask my partner about his two older children, my stepkids. But she will never ask me about them, despite the fact one of them is currently living with us full-time and I regard both of them as part of my family. She only wants to know about her own grandchild. One of my siblings is much the same - just the occasional token enquiry. (The other sibling understands that both the older two children are part of the family and is much more engaged with them.)

KirstyoffEastenders Mon 18-Mar-13 14:45:54

In my situation the only problem we have is that his ex thinks their child is her possession and uses her to punish him, which I consider to be child abuse.

bunchamunchycrunchycarrots Mon 18-Mar-13 14:54:36

I think there is also - at least sometimes - a lack of support for stepmothers from the wider family network.

I think that's certainly true from what I read on these boards, but the main lack of support tends to come from the OH/DH who doesn't necessarily behave like a disney parent, but who fails to actually deal with issues arising from an ex/their children. I've lurked over here on mainly to get a different perspective on things from my ex's POV and his g/f too. And tbh, I couldn't put up with the shite some of you do, especially from the one person who I placed most faith in i.e. my partner if I had one.

While I think the SP boards has certainly opened my eyes to what it's like from 'the other side' it's also put me off getting involved with someone with kids, or even someone full stop. I can't be arsed dealing with someone else demanding my time, and I'll probably grow old and lonely as a result grin But, I'm happy with that, 'cos a really couldn't take all the extra grief that can come with a relationship. My choice entirely, but I'm blaming this on SP board too wink

There is certainly an element of damned if you do, damned if you don't for SPs.

Frikadellen Mon 18-Mar-13 15:03:12

*unless you are or have been a step parent, you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about.*

I actually disagree there. It does depend on what your talking about specific but my parents divorced when I was 5 I have had 1 stepfather and 4 stepmothers in my life (the last not until I was grown up and children of my own)

I have a VERY good idea of what it is like to be in a step family.. & you know what

Sometimes I was the rotten spoiled step child.. I saw my father and siblings once every 3 weekends YES I wanted time with my father alone I didn't want to have to follow the to me foreign rules the step mother insisted upon ..

But sometimes it was HER.
Her precious daughter (who didn't live there either but with her father) who could do nothing wrong being rubbed into my nose

Her obsession with tidiness (I am not a massively tidy person but I am not messy either)

Her negative comments about my mother my adored grandmother my father's sister people I loved...

Sometimes it was my mother
Negative comments about my stepmother - I can see now encouraging me to dislike her
Negative comments about me when I returned " You're always so difficult when you return from your dad and his wife"

Stepmother n 2 & 3 (same person) utterly different kettle of fish and I look back on her with fondness and someone I care about deeply it is of deep sorrow to me that she when my father and her parted for the last time chose to cut both my father and his 3 children out of her life. I understand why but sometimes I would love to introduce her to my children and hug her and let her know how darling important and wonderful she was in reestablishing my relationship with my father that the "stepmother 1 relationship" had so completely torn to pieces..

Stepmother 4 I had 2 children of my own she never mothered me or parented me in anyway.. We got along ok.. She made my father happy and I am sad they didnt get more years together (She passed away7 years ago)

My stepfather.. I hate him I love him I adored his parents my youngest is named after his dad.. He has been in my life since I was 5 (he was the other H) it is a difficult relationship in many way but also a ok relationship he is not my father..

I have a very good idea of what being in blended family is like.. Some people are better cut out to it than others.. I now have facebook contact with my stepmother no 2.. We write occationally I have accepted she was also in a place where she was unable to accommodate the needs I had as a child.. However I still dont understand a lot of the things that was done to "me" as a child by ALL the key parenting people in my life.

The only thing I can do about that is move on and do my hardest to ensure my children won't have that about their parents.

Good Bad the down right ugly and yet also alot of love and care...

I have a good idea of what it is like to be a step mother because I am a step child..

Doesn't mean I "know" but then only that step child can know what that step mother is like a step mother.. it is not a one fit all.

Frikadellen Mon 18-Mar-13 15:05:12

face book contact with step mother no 1 not no 2 (but her 2 children I do have contact with)

Dahlen Mon 18-Mar-13 15:33:32

I've been a SM and a bio mum, so I think I can discuss both sides although I can only talk in terms of my own experience and I do not feel that mine are representative of anyone else's.

I will admit that while I felt at the time that I was making a huge effort at being a SM with my first SDC, looking back on it, I wasn't. I was young, completely clueless about children and what they needed and had every right to demand from the adults in their lives. Don't get me wrong, I did everything I was supposed to do, but I didn't 'get' it.

I didn't get it until I had DC of my own.

I was very young at the time, and I wanted to believe that I was different to the X, better, nicer, etc. It took me a long time to realise that actually all the time I was supporting him against the bitter/money-grabbing X I was digging my own grave and reinforcing the idea that it was ok to behave in that way.

I think for some SMs (most emphatically NOT all), the X has to be painted as some sort of misguided/evil person because to do anything else leads to questioning their own relationship. It's a form of cognitive dissonance. FWIW I've been on the receiving end of this, as well as the person who fell into the trap of it.

While I see where you're coming from OP, I don't think 'disney dadding' is ever a good move, and can't be excused by saying that dad just wants to make up for not having enough time, etc. It's actively harmful to DC IMO. Children need consistency, rules, boundaries and to hear the word 'no'. All the parents I've known who have thought they can substitute love and time with expensive presents, excursions and lack of disciplines have ended up with children who are spoiled and insecure. Of course it's fine to have expensive presents and excursions, but only in a secure environment with firm boundaries. That's even more the case when there are other children involved (either from the SM, the XW or jointly with the dad), where it does children significant harm to see themselves treated differently to others in the family (whether better or less well).

Second families are always going to come with their own unique issues. I think one of the best ways forward is for men particularly to be more hands-on with DC from a very young age, so they are not thrust into a role alien to them when they split from the mother of their child. That would allow for much more consistent parenting that avoids a lot of the clashing between life with mum and life with dad. It then means SM is only dealing with one style of parenting, not caught between supporting her DP 'against' the XW's style. I daresay, however, that if this were to happen, a few of these step-families would not exist since the initial relationship may well have stood up to the challenge. wink

colditz Mon 18-Mar-13 15:37:44

You again? You keep posting this message, why?

Flixy102 Mon 18-Mar-13 16:01:04

Noam, do you have any words of wisdom to share, as both a bio mum and step mum?

Eliza22 Fri 22-Mar-13 10:35:07

All I know is this. I married DH 4 years ago. We went out for 4 years, before that. I was naive enough to imagine that because his 3 were older, we'd all get on. I never tried to be a step mum as such, they have a mum living 5 mins away. I welcomed them, was interested in them, was ecstatic that my young son (previous marriage) was gaining 3 steps and it never occurred to me, that one of them, for no particular reason, would resent my living and breathing to the extent that, we no longer see her.

I'm not a nasty person. I've tried (probably too) hard and my family and friends just say "leave her to it...." Because they too are appalled by how I've been treated.

OP, really, you have no idea.

I don't get what you are trying to say.

Why don't you go on the relationship board and say-

Why are you lot married to such losers?

Or perhaps you could go on the parenting board and say-

I'm sick of reading threads about your rubbish kids.

Nice work op. anyone stuck in a bad situation is going to feel really heartened by your empathic response.

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