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.

flurp Fri 22-Mar-13 11:31:28

Noam - what a nasty post. Have you actually read those threads???
Some of the OPs who posted those threads have been given a pasting by a lot of us step mums!
To answer your question about why we got together with these men, apart from the fact that we fell in love with them, in my case it was a double edged sword. I wouldn't have wanted a man without dc as I don't think he would have understood that my dc are everything to me and maybe felt jealous and pushed out. So I wanted a man with dc. When I met DP one of the main things we had in common is our kids. We both agreed from day one that they come first etc and it seemed perfect.
But he was a Disney dad, his kids were spoilt and horrible. He was scared to say no to them or even tell them to do things so they ruled the house. They told him what to do, when to get up, when to go to bed, what to cook. If he tried to discipline they would ring their mum up crying and she would come and get them, delighted that he had failed!!
This was four years ago and after a lot of hard work, tears (mine) and tantrums (theirs) I am pleased to say that now they are great kids. They have thrived on discipline and boundaries and DP says that meeting me saved them all.
His ex wife thinks I am stuck up, she hates that DP isn't struggling any more and that her kids have a life with me DP and my kids, she is full of resentment and spite but that's her lookout.
We are a long way from perfect and their are times when I wonder why I bother but every year things get better.

nenevomito Fri 22-Mar-13 11:39:19

As already stated above, people don't come to support boards to post about how wonderful things are and lots of people on this board post here for support and advice rather than let it out in RL.

Are you a name changer <tilts head> if so you are rather cowardly for posting this rant under a new name. If you are new, one could almost question your motives for coming and starting this thread.

Petal02 Fri 22-Mar-13 15:07:12

Noam, I'm having a few challenges with step parenting this week, and did not find your comments helpful.

Eliza22 Fri 22-Mar-13 15:28:25

Hi Petal02, it never ends, does it?

I agree. We SM's don't need criticism from someone who appears to have no actual experience, first hand. I wonder also, why there are so few stepdads posting? Why stepmums have such a hard time? Just a thought.

ladydeedy Fri 22-Mar-13 16:14:21

This is quite an entertaining board is it not? Seriously, why do any of us live and breathe?

My stepchildren are not evil. One decided to come and live with us a few years ago. My DH is a darling man and a good father, not a disney dad at all.
My DH's ex though, if you were to ask her for her view, would say the following (and I quote some of her email correspondence here) :

He is a really cr*p dad who doesnt care a jot about his kids, who tries to undermine her at every occasion, who "gave her cancer" by causing her to be so stressed. Who will live to regret his life when she surely dies of said cancer, who has caused her to live a life of misery by not giving her more money than he does. I on the other hand am a bitter and barren woman who wants to steal her children from her, I am mentally ill (allegedly) and attention seeking, I bully the children, I flaunt my riches in front of her in order to taunt her (that'll be me parking my car outside the house to drop kids off then...).

(NB she left him for someone else. I was not the OW).

yadiyahdidah. Frankly I couldnt give two hoots about EXW. We are fine. Kids are fine.

Stepmooster Fri 22-Mar-13 19:42:38

Oh ladydeedy my DH ex wife is just as bad. She left my DH for her now DH. 3 years later DH met me a woman 15 years younger than her (she's older than DH). She changed overnight towards DH. I've never spoken to her or had any contact. She refuses to look at me and the only time I met her she turned around so her back was to me when I dropped DSS off once when DH was at work.
She had agreed prior to this that I could do drop offs if it made it easier.
DH gets emails too, I was too young apparently (I'm in my 30's) and she likes to give DH advice on our baby.

I don't get how ex wives think they have the right to dictate who their ex partners have relationships with and how they are somehow allowed to comment on what happens in our home?

I never badmouth her god knows I try to see things from her POV. But sometimes I just wish she would let go of whatever it is for sake of DSS. If I didn't get the chance to vent here I would probably have done something stupid like give her a piece of my mind by now.

NotaDisneyMum Fri 22-Mar-13 21:15:12

The hostility that many if us face from exW is quite evident elsewhere on MN - it seems common practice for exW's to refer to their ex's partner as 'the OW' even if the relationship started years after their marriage ended. It's caused me no end if confusion when I've read threads which state "ex got with his OW two years after we divorced".

When faced with that level of possessiveness, it's highly unlikely that an amicable relationship will ever be possible.

Petal02 Fri 22-Mar-13 21:27:59

The last two posts have been particularly interesting; as DH and his ex split up (she left him) two years before he and I met. I'm 9 years younger than DH, and 12 years younger than his ex wife - and she's rewritten history by telling everyone that DH left her for a younger woman. I've never met her, but her stance amazes me.

flurp Fri 22-Mar-13 23:21:59

I find it strange too that DPs ex hates me when she left him for someone else years before we even met.
She thinks I'm 'posh' and 'stuck up' but she's never met me and knows nothing about me. We have no mutual friends and come from different towns 20 miles apart.
DP says she is jealous of me but I'm only with him because she left him so that makes no sense!
I have given up trying to understand it all. She obviously is a very bitter unhappy woman sad

Targetpractice Sat 23-Mar-13 09:29:58

ExW has always tried to treat me as the hired help, as they actually had an au pair for years. Also conditioned her kids to treat me like this too. This lasted about 2 years until I felt dh was secure enough his kids would visit regularly and did not despise him for leaving. Again I was not OW, met years after their divorce. She is now with much younger boyfriend and makes a point of it! Yet still extremely jealous and controlling regarding my dh, sc, etc.
Only difference now is I'm no longer doormat and my self esteem and general health has greatly improved.

ladydeedy Sat 23-Mar-13 15:42:06

I think in our case it's a bit worse because DH's ex, although she left him for someone else originally, 14 years down the line she is still on her own. Her initial relationship didnt work out and she thought she could just hotfoot it back to DH. She has had a few boyfriends over the years but no-one who stuck around more than a few weeks, it seems.
DH and I got together fairly soon after his divorce but she will tell anyone and everyone that we must have been seeing eachother before then - not true but frankly I dont care what she thinks or what she tells people. She is a sad lonely and bitter woman. I met and married the most wonderful man and we have been very happy together for the past 12 years. That's what she cant stand. Tough.

flurp Sat 23-Mar-13 16:21:45

I often wonder if DPs ex regrets what she did. She was already having the OMs child when she left so she really has burnt her bridges.
I don't think the grass is greener for her like she thought.
DP is the kindest loveliest man and she was a fool to leave him but she did and that's her problem and her loss is my gain sad

edam Sat 23-Mar-13 16:35:07

I think the OP does have a point about some threads on this board. You do get OPs who are astoundingly self-centred and downright nasty about their step-children. It hasn't occurred to them to think about it from the step-child's point of view at all. Or to limit their expectations to what is reasonable for a child of whatever age. The ones with younger kids who resent older stepchildren and expect them to behave like adults I find particularly upsetting.

There are probably lots of other lovely stepmothers doing their darnedest in what can be a very thankless role as well.

DizzySometimes Sat 23-Mar-13 17:20:26

You do get OPs who are astoundingly self-centred and downright nasty about their step-children.

And parents are NEVER self-centred and downright nasty, right edam? I think the point that I would make, on this and other threads, is the fact that stepmothers in general are no better or worse than parents, and yet NADM is right - on other parts of MN, stepmothers are villified for some really astonishing reasons. Yes, there may be some stepmothers who were OWs (which, of course, isn't morally right), but there are an awful lot who aren't; despite this, the generalisations based on the assumption that most SMs were OWs continue. What people find difficult to face is that mothers can be the instigators of some shocking behaviour too, as evidenced in the Stately Home threads in 'Relationships' (to name a few). However, if a stepmother happens to have experience of a mother like this, the assumption from some posters is that the father must have done something wrong for this behaviour to occur, and how dare the stepmother have an opinion, or want to try and help.

When stepmothers come up against mothers who are inflexible or not willing to accept that stepmothers have rights in their own homes, I don't think it's that surprising that the feelings that result can cause resentment towards the stepchild. I'm not saying it's right - it's not, and often is a result of the SM being powerless to do anything and with a DP, perhaps, who is scared of the children walking with their feet. These feelings need to be tackled with DP, obviously, but that can be tricky too; it can be challenging to raise issues you have with someone else's child - imagine how much more challenging when that person is the one you care for above all others who is going to, naturally, want to defend their child, despite the fact that the issues may not be in the SM's head!

KoalaFace Sat 23-Mar-13 17:26:43

If you started a thread asking for people's step family stories you'd get tons of examples of people getting on, loving each other and being supportive (with normal family ups and downs of course).

But as it is, people only normally post on these boards at their low points, to vent, get advice and sometimes to just hear that they are not alone in their situation.

Don't judge too harshly!

NotaDisneyMum Sat 23-Mar-13 17:40:26

edam The point is, that threads all over MN comment on the behaviour/development/manners of other people's children- be they nieces and nephews, neighbours, friends, colleagues and the posters aren't berated for 'not seeing the DCs POV"
Why is it that the expectations of SM is so high?

Hopeforever Sat 23-Mar-13 17:51:26

noam thanks

I've been lurking on this board as I've a nephew living with me and trying to support my sister in her relationship with the OW

Many threads show loving step parents who really are at the end of their strength but want to make things better

But there is the occasional thread where I want to hug the step children and protect them from selfish step parents.

I see this as a step daughter with a step mum who made my relationship with my dad very strained

NotaDisneyMum Sat 23-Mar-13 18:15:39

Is it OK to begin threads in other parts of MN that slate the target audience of those boards?
Can I go into the LP board and start a thread that says how appauled I am that so many posts are about loser Dads - and that LP should have been more careful about who they chose to father their DCs?

Or perhaps I could go to the relationships board and start a thread that questions the judgment of women who forgive their partners affairs?

Why is it only on the SP'ing board that threads like this are acceptable? I think I know the answer to that one - on other boards, threads like this would be reported and deleted - but SM are so used to the criticism and abuse that we are more thick skinned!

edam Sat 23-Mar-13 19:48:31

I don't think the expectation that step-parents treat children decently is particularly high, tbh. Every adult should treat children with kindness and fairness, whether or not you have a biological relationship with them. Especially someone in a parental role who has a great deal of power over them.

riverboat Sat 23-Mar-13 19:54:07

I guess I can see what you mean about some threads coming across as very pro the stepparent from the off, without really questioning their rationale. But IME that is sometimes because the OPs backstory has not been re-stated in that particular thread, but is known by long-term readers anyway. I can see how reading some of those threads without knowing all the backstory might seem a little strange.

I can think of one or two threads where the general concensus has swung in support of the SP, where I myself haven't been completely in agreement with that. But there have ALWAYS been posts in those threads disagreeing with the stepmother's point of view. If there have then been some stepparents hotly defending the OP, I think this type of 'closing of ranks' is sometimes understandable given the negative attitude towards stepmothers that can be seen on other parts of mumsnet. I was quite upset by a thread on AIBU this week asking posters to agree that most mothers would 'hate' sharing custody of their children, and 'hate' the presence of a stepmother in their kids life. By a poster who wasn't even in a blended/single/step family, just conjecturing about how she would feel in the future should this happen and repeating over and over how unequivocally awful it would be and urging others to agree for no reason other than a 'poll'...

Further, as other posters have pointed out, there aren't many threads started by stepparents who feel that everything is going well in their stepfamily. For example, I joined mumsnet lookinig for support in being a stepparent because I found some aspects of my relationship with DSS challenging, and posted about that. And I've got smacked down for having unreasonable expectations at least once! OTOH, I have never started a thread about how much I respect my DP's ex, how much I appreciate my good relationship with her and her DP, how well we all get along together, how much I appreciate all the birthdays and other special occasions we all do together as an extended blended family...for the same reason that people don't generally start threads on the relationships board about how fantastic their relationships are...

The way you summarise the problems in the sample of threads you quote is deliberately ignoring some of the nuances in those situations. IMO stepparenting and blending families IS hugely complicated to get right, and when you boil things down as simply as you do of course the answers seem obvious, but that is just not the reality in every case.

edam Sat 23-Mar-13 20:00:23

If anyone thinks it's only on the stepparent boards that people are critical they clearly haven't investigated many other areas of MN... try feminism, there's always some men's rights activist on there having a pop at the uppity women who dare to object to domestic violence (even when the conversation about DV is sparked by yet another poor woman being killed), or claim that poor ickle wickle men are the victims of evil women.

NotaDisneyMum Sat 23-Mar-13 21:11:07

edam many of the stepparents on this board have less 'parental influence' over their DSC than any other adult in their lives including the postman!
The fact that you believe that is the role that all stepparents play in their DSC's lives indicates how little you understand about what some of us experience.

ivykaty44 Sat 23-Mar-13 21:18:44

i do think step parents come here when things are going wrong - so mn sees more than its fair share of step parenting when it is in trouble - people don't come here andshare the good things and say everything is fine and dandy

step parents a lot of the time do get caught up in the middle, they are trying hard but seem to be getting slaughtered even when doing a fine job

there will always be a few exceptions

edam Sat 23-Mar-13 21:23:14

You have no idea what my experience is, Notadisney, because you haven't asked. Step-parents DO have a parental rule, the clue is in the name. The nature of that role will vary between individuals. I appreciate that it's tough, especially negotiating boundaries, and if you are in the kind of relationship where your partner is walking on eggshells not wanting to upset his kids, but it's always far tougher for the children in the family, who have never asked for any of this.

Being a parent can be enormously challenging. Being a step-parent can be just as challenging and then have very complicated family dynamics on top. Most people, I'm sure, start from the point of view of wanting to make it work. Sadly there are a few who have very little insight or are self-centred, just like in any other area of life.

NotaDisneyMum Sat 23-Mar-13 21:28:47

My DSC were forbidden from referring to me as a stepparent for years - so the 'clue' you refer to was absent - as was the parental 'rule' you refer to.

You cannot possibly know what the dynamic of every stepfamily is - so you can't assert that all stepparents have 'parental rule' - I for one can assure you that it has not existed in my relationship with my DSC until very, very recently. Today i experienced the rare occurrence that DSS spent time in my sole care - a normal situation with someone with parental rule - and it has already caused no end of issues sad

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