I hate being a stepparent

(77 Posts)
3GirlsMum Wed 02-Jul-03 10:50:34

The title says it all really. Yet again we are having problems with hubby's ex because stepson has gone home and told a whole series of lies which she chooses to believe!

I have gone out of my way to make sure stepson is included in our lives even though we live nearly 300 miles away. He is invited on holidays and has long stays in the school holidays, yet nothing I ever do is right for him. Everytime he has a problem according to the ex its all my hubbys fault, even though she has been in a very on/off relationship with an alcoholic for the past two years!

Stepson goes home and tells his mother that his father has given him no attention and that he is afraid to talk to him. This is so untrue and we are at a loss to understand why he is behaving this way (I should add that he is nearly 11 years old).

Ex refuses to believe that all the problems are in stepsons head and wants father to take a more active role but then cant be bothered to tell him when she has problems at school with stepson like she has recently. Hubby has suggested that his son has real problems at the moment and that they need to join together to sort this out, she doesnt agree, she thinks there is nothing wrong with him other than security because in her words he walked out on both of them.

I should add that I have been with hubby for 10 years now and he didnt leave her for me although we got together soon afterwards. We have three children together and they used to adore seeing stepson but now ask that he doesnt visit. They feel very resentful because when he is here he is rude and bossy to them and he commands all his fathers attention.

Whilst I realise he is still a child and it must be hard for him he has grown up knowing the way things are. He has turned into a really manipulative boy and I suspect this his mother has poisoned him against me because of how he reacts when he first comes to visit.

Sorry needed to rant but I wonder if anyone else has had similar experiences?

spikeycat Wed 02-Jul-03 12:15:19

I have the same problems really. I met my other half about 1 year after he had split with his wife - and she has been a total b***h to me all the way through, to the extent that her 5 year old came out with "my mummy says you are a sl*t" - which was nice! I try to rise above it and when this happened I said that I really didn't think it was nice to repeat what other people said about people as it can be nasty some times.
I try to have the best relationship that I can with my Sd's but it takes a lot of tounge biting....
She also sends them round with nits EVERY weekend for me to deal with - lovely when you are pregnant or have a new born!
(PS - am not a new person but have changed my name!)

3GirlsMum Wed 02-Jul-03 17:45:58

Like you I try to rise above it but the same thing happens year after year and is getting worse not better! Its so frustrating because I do the best I can and its never good enough for either of them!

SofiaAmes Wed 02-Jul-03 21:27:20

oh I so empathize with both of you. Spikeycat, I had 8 months of nit infested weekends until we refused to have the kids until they were nit free. Even then, she didn't believe dh until he went to pick up the kids (2 hour drive) and having checked their hair and found nits, he turned around and left without them.
Or what abou the time the ex sent the kids to play with their cousin who had chicken pox 1 day before sending them on a 2 week holiday with us, and I was 6 months pregnant and she didn't tell us.

codswallop Wed 02-Jul-03 21:28:25

werent the kids a little disappointed?

3GirlsMum Wed 02-Jul-03 21:42:02

Poor you Sofia....8 months of nits...yuck. Luckily that is not something I have ever had a problem with with my stepson as his hair is always kept very short anyway.

Slinky Wed 02-Jul-03 21:47:49


You don't have to tell me how b****dy annoying nits are, but I have to say how awful it must have been for your stepkids to have their dad turn back round and leave without them.

Had my dad done that on our access visit, I would have been distraught

SofiaAmes Wed 02-Jul-03 23:20:29

Unfortunately, before you think we're evil, we thought long and hard about it and made many attempts at other solutions, including having the kids for a whole school holidays just to have them long enough to get rid of all the nits (of course they came right back as soon as they went home), hair cuts (despite mother insisting that both kids had to wear their hair long and loose) and even bribery (offered her money to comb their hair every night). In the end we decided that it would be the only way of making their mother deal with the problem. And it ultimately was hurting the children, not just annoying us. My step daughter had large bald patches on her head from scratching the nits. And their activities were limited when at our house, to avoid passing the nits to my ds (1.5 yrs) and me (heavily pregnant). In fact, the children themselves were desperate to get rid of the nits and were thankful that we had forced their mother to deal with it. (they were too young to comb their own hair, but old enough to understand the negative associations with having nits).

spikeycat Thu 03-Jul-03 08:58:35

I have said to my dh that next time they are sent round with nits I will take them back and will go and pick on the following day - have never followed this through though.... Although I have also said I am sure its them that are taking them in to school and investing other children - Oh for the times of the nit nurse eh!

3GirlsMum Thu 03-Jul-03 14:17:15

We always found that stepson was sent around in his oldest clothes, and even now when he comes to stay we have the same problem. We did in the past buy new clothes for him then got told off by the ex because she would rather have had the money instead and our choice wasnt her choice!

SofiaAmes Thu 03-Jul-03 22:35:11

3girlsmum, I get the same with my stepkids. In the very very beginning I was dumb enough to buy them new clothes thinking they didn't have any. I soon realized that they had more new clothes than I did. I don't actually care if they aren't in brand new clothes, so don't worry about it any more. I'm sure it drives their mother crazy not getting a reaction out of me. And occasionally, if there is something with a really big hole or rip, I sew it. The kids love this (often beg me to sew non-existent holes), and it drives their mother crazy (I'm supposed to be the rich, snobby, b**ch who doesn't know how to do anything functional).

Spikeycat, we did a lot of threatening to send the kids back before actually doing it. I think that if you do follow through one day, it's probably important that if the kids are your dh's, that he takes them back, not you.

spikeycat Fri 04-Jul-03 10:12:59

I wouldn't tkae them back - I have never even met her! Which seems bizare as I would want to meet someone who played such a part in my ds's life.....She hates me!
Did laugh recently when she offered to have our ds (7mnths) while we went on holiday,I said I would rather myra hindley look after him - is she mad - I don't know her!

pupuce Fri 04-Jul-03 17:39:16

SofiaAmes you regularely how blxxdy awful your DH's ex wives are (living off benefits, badly behaved kids, spoiled on candy,...) .... why did he marry them.... and if I want to be cheeky why are you so much better What happened to himn that he "saw the light"????

3GirlsMum Fri 04-Jul-03 18:47:40

So does that mean anyone that has an awful ex is automatically going to look for the same type of woman time after time??? Pupuce do you hold a grudge or something, if not I think your comments are out of line.

pupuce Fri 04-Jul-03 19:30:21

3girlsmum... I specifically said I was being cheeky
SophiaAmes and I have been around mumsnet for a very long time.... I would think she knows me well enough not to take it like a mean comment.... however Sophia very regularely criticises her DH's ex (I don't think she'd deny that) - so I was wondering how awful are they really.... that's all ! Feel free to get cross.... It's Friday night I am not getting into a row....

sis Fri 04-Jul-03 19:55:59

Pupuce, I think that all the comments relate to ONE ex! - one woman with an awful lot of ill will to her children's stepmother!

sis Fri 04-Jul-03 20:04:31

3GirlsMum, nothing really helpful to say in relation to your original question but it just occured to me that if your dh's ex has had an on/off relationship with an alcoholic for the past two years, then badmouthing your dh may be one of the few guaranteed ways your stepson has of getting attention from his mum? As I said, even if this were true, it doesn't really help you ...

SofiaAmes Fri 04-Jul-03 21:49:56

That's ok, I don't mind pupuce asking. (do mind having my name spelled wrong! ).

As sis pointed out, it's really only the one ex that I have a problem with. (By the way, I am the first one that he has been actually married to). The other one is dumb, but harmless (does that sound condescending?...oh well).
But to answer your question, dh came from an extremely dysfunctional family. Both his parents were alcoholics. His father beat him regularly (he was hospitalized at 7 because he was beaten so badly). And he was put into care at the age of 12. Hence, he never had a role model of what a good relationship or family life should be like. He didn't know how terrible things were with the "evil" ex, until he met me and saw what a functional real family could be like. Although they had split up before he met me, it was because she was consistently unfaithful to him, not because he thought there was something wrong with the relationship. All he ever wanted was the happy family he never had growing up. Sorry if this sounds a little soppy, but it's the truth.

codswallop Fri 04-Jul-03 21:54:14

I feel really nervous reading this thread because i feel so sorry for the children ands I dread that One day I would become one of these awful ex wives...

pupuce Fri 04-Jul-03 21:59:33

See I knew Sofia (sorry about spelling ) would explain.... thanks

3GirlsMum Fri 04-Jul-03 22:27:02

OK Pupuce..being a newbie I didnt realise that

3GirlsMum Fri 04-Jul-03 22:28:27

I feel very sorry for my stepson..he is a very happy boy when he is with us and a very lonely one when he is with his mother. I think that this is part of the problem...he feels so guilty for being so happy with us and makes up stories when he gets home.

SofiaAmes Fri 04-Jul-03 22:40:30

Cods, we really only hear about the worst cases. (For example, I rarely talk about the ok ex, as there are really no issues with her). There are plenty of separated/divorced parents who get along with each other purely for the sake of the children. I think at the bottom of it all, it's important to remember that you have to love your children more than you hate your ex (Judge Judy's words).

codswallop Sat 05-Jul-03 10:10:18

I am sure I would not behave well if my dh binned me.. I like to think I would be angelic but I know I wouldnt be,,,

3GirlsMum Sat 05-Jul-03 10:25:09

At the end of the day though how is being bitter going to help..and surely the thought should be for the child?? What does it do to a child when a parent constantly runs down the other parent and their partner? Surely if the stepchild has a good relationship with the step-parent it can only be for the better.

codswallop Sat 05-Jul-03 10:35:30

oh i know - dont think logic comes into it.

aloha Sat 05-Jul-03 11:53:42

cods, but what if you binned your husband? That's the situation I'm in - his ex left him for a another man (a wealthy one) and I met him years later. She still hates me (even though she's never met me). She's been incredibly vindictive, tried to reduce his contact with his daughter to two days a month, tried to get our house.... told endless lies. And guess what? She's training to be a psychotherapist - with the emphasis on psycho, I think.

codswallop Sat 05-Jul-03 13:23:37

all the mental health professionals I have ever met socially have always "had issues"! except one actually who was very nice indeed"!

ChicPea Tue 29-Jun-04 01:57:38

3GirlsMum, it sounds like your 11 yr old Stepson really needs a father and a good role model. He is about to or is going through puberty and is probably longing for his father. He is a child and doesn't know how to deal with these feelings and just misbehaves.
I'm not saying that it's not hard for you because clearly it is. My DH has two sons from previous marriage and one was 16 when we got together and the other one was 9 and no doubt it was hard for them. The ex did everything she could to stop DH seeing children, poisoned their minds (I was not around when they split) and tried to make life as difficult as possible. I was just nice/quiet/non-judgmental and it seemed to work. I could see and still do now that it is important for them to spend as much time with DH and I encourage it. They have never stayed overnight though as ex won't allow it, will allow them to go on school trip to Iceland or Russia though!
Your stepson needs to be reassured that he is very loved and then maybe your DH can start to work out the problems.

gettingthere Tue 29-Jun-04 02:08:07

well...I am an ex!! I have just started another thread about my children's new step mother, and how difficult I am finding it. I don't think I am a bitch, but the bottom line is I don't trust her with my children. I don't make life difficult for her, I don't dislike or like her, but in our case the way she has approached things has meant that I cannot warm to her (although I will never say anything negative about her to the children). I am very interested, though, to hear the other perspective - I wonder if she thinks about me like some of the ex-wives described?

mummytojames Tue 29-Jun-04 02:53:05

i was the stepmother to a 2 and 7 year old and trust me they can be manipulative at that young a age i think your hubby needs to do what i got my ex husband to do tell his mother when he is in your house or around your family he will be treated the same way as they are no special treatment because they are divorced and i think you and your husband need to sit down with all the children all four of them and tell them how its going to be because they could start feeling resentment if they see he is getting special treatment

Twinkie Tue 29-Jun-04 13:37:02

3 girls mum I haven;t read all of the thread so sorry if I repeat anything but it seems as though he is unhappy being with her and maybe feels guilty for being happy with you - maybe he has had a rough time and now feels the resentment that your children are feeling towrads hi too - tyhink it is a huge problem for step kids but you have totell them that he is their fathers son and so their brother and he has just as much right to come to your house and be part of the famiyl as they do - and you wouldn;t turn your back on one of them if they were going through troubles so you are not going to to your step son.

And maybe if he is having a shit time at home he needs a bit of extra TLC from his father and as tyour kids have their father their all of the time they are just going to have to swallow it!!

soapbox Tue 29-Jun-04 13:51:42

Just ignore the ex - whylet it bother you if you know the facts are different. He's just trying his hardest in his teenage way of trying to please her by mouthing off!

As for your children - they have the luxury of their father being around all the time - he doesn't so if they feel a bit put out when your SS is about tough luck I'm afraid. Explain to them why its the way it is and let them know that they get the best deal anyway.

Is it possible for your DH and SS to go away together for the weekend or for a little holiday. It may just be the one on one attention that your SS needs right now.

Looking at the length of time you've been together and your SS's age and the fact that your DH left before you got together it would seem that he must have left his ex when she was pregnant with SS or when he was a tiny tiny baby. I'm afraid most woman would hold that against their exh's for a very long time indeed. I know I would

stevensmum Wed 30-Jun-04 01:58:04

Hi, i also hate being a step-mum, i ahve helped bring up dh son since he was 2 and a half. Battle of wills and have recently wanted to give up and go it alone with other two kiddies by dh, but couldn't do it to dh. He dotes on the younger two dd and ds 22 months and 8 months.

why does being a step-parent have to be so stressful????

charliecat Wed 30-Jun-04 02:03:35

Havent read the whole thread but here goes, At dds swimming lesson when we were getting dried a little boy of about 6 was complaining that he was being dried too hard, didnt look like it to me. Lady didnt say anything and boy then said "Your not my real mum anyway, my *real* mum doesnt do it like that" and I just thought OMG poor poor lady. I sympathise with you all.
The step-mum always takes him to his lesson, and ive never saw her be anything but lovely to him.

stevensmum Wed 30-Jun-04 02:26:05

It makes it harder when you are in public and they throw a strop. letting everyone know you are not there real mum. When you take them to school every day, feed and cook for them, buy them toys and show them love, only to have it thrown back in your face when it suits them. but kinda nice when they do show some signs of love.

eddm Wed 30-Jun-04 03:06:06

I was thinking the same thing Soapbox; not surprised stepson wants 3GirlsDad's attention. I know this is hard for you 3GM but your stepson has never had his daddy all to himself, has he? That's very sad. And 'he has grown up knowing the way things are' sounds really harsh. I grew up knowing my daddy wasn't around much (working away from home and then divorced) and it didn't make it hurt any less, believe me, especially when he re-married and had another baby (although I have always adored my youngest sister). He's still a little boy and he wants his daddy. Don't be too hard on him; imagine how you and your girls would feel if your dh had left when one of them was a babe in arms.
Good news is, I now have a very good relationship with my father so it may well work out for you all in the long-term. Hope so.

eddm Wed 30-Jun-04 03:08:42

Just a thought, when you said he'd grown up knowing the situation, you also knew that your dh had a baby right from the start; and you are a grown-up who can rationalise and take responsibility for your actions. Not having a go, am sure I'd also be very fed up in your situation, but please don't be hard on him.

xolisadawn Thu 31-May-07 12:39:48

I have a problem with my step son. I just for the most part dont like him. He goes to his moms for the summer and holidays, and she buys him everything he wants. While he is here she buys him whatever he wants. His grandmother has visitation on every other weekend, that we could change if we wanted to, but my hubby dont want to step on anyones toes, or make step son upset, and his grandmother spoils him rotten also, buying him everything he wants... His mother is buying him a car for the few months he is with her to drive, his grandmother is giving him a truck... They spend money on him left and right, and he rubs it in all the time. We have 3 other teenage sons that have to sit back and watch this and hear about it all the time... When they get in trouble for things hubby will raise his voice at them way more often then he does the step son, he will just sit him down and have a very soft spoken heart to heart with him... It gets very sickening... But hubby wont see it and says its all me of course... The stuff they buy him they wont let him bring here because they dont want him sharing with the other kids that live here, which is teaching him to be stingy also, and he lives here! And hubby wont say a thing to anyone on that side of the family because he dont want to fight with them, but he dont have a problem telling me I am wrong or fighting with me about my step son and all of this! Am I wrong?

xolisadawn Thu 31-May-07 12:43:34

Also, step son gets attitudes, can get mad, whatever, and get a little talking to, while the other boys when they do this get a lenghty lecture by hubby about it, or more punishment... The only times I remember step son being grounded for anything is when one of the other kids do something wrong along with him and they are going to be grounded also, not when he actually does something wrong and will actualy be grounded by himself for something he has done... God forbid he get grounded for something he has done and be grounded all by himself... I just resent him more and more every day and dont know how to stop it.

rooo28 Thu 31-May-07 14:19:40

i have read most of the posts here and am struck by how many people are struggling with their role as step-mum. I just want to say that i too have difficulties and issues, resentments that never go away and i have perfect sk's in the main. For me it is about accepting that in 'split families' there are much more complex and complicated issues facing us and it is about making that decision whether to cope and get on or not.

I admire and respect you all so much for caring about the kids so much - i too am a step-daughter.

i dont really know what to say to everyone today as for dh and i i think we have reached the end of the road as far as our relationship is concerned, but if i could do it all again i would get as much help and support as i could - go to couples or family therapy, admit so much more to those around me that i did not cope and not set myself up to try to be perfect in the eyes of everyone else.

barb23 Thu 31-May-07 14:30:39

Hi all, I'm not a stepparent but I am the result of some pretty scary step parenting.
I behaved many of the ways that I hear you talking about your stepchildren in this thread. I was angry and withdrawn. Ran away. Hid in my room. I never knew where I should be or what I was supposed to do to belong. MY step mothers way of coping was to cry and complain and ask my father to tell me to leave or to put me down criticize me, shame me or laugh at me for getting upset.
All I can say frommy own experience of how I wish things had been different, is that if you make your new children feel loved and accepted and that they belong no matter what (and they do become your Children after marriage) then everything will be okay. It takes time for a stepchild to find her place in a new family, especially if there are new family members such as new brothers and sisters, aunts and a mother or father to deal with. Theres a whole new dynamic to contend with- And Children are often too young to deal with it well.
Believe me, if you're having difficulties coping and you're the adult, imagine just how painful, emotional and challenging it is for the child.
Good luck.

SauerKraut Thu 31-May-07 14:44:37

I second that, barb. Life for the step-child can be absolute hell if he/she and the step-parent don't click. It's up to the adult to do their best to make the relationship work against the odds. There can be nothing worse than having a non-blood relative with no right lording it over you and taking over your real parent- that happens to a lot of children, and that is the way they see it.

rooo28 Thu 31-May-07 14:58:18

the last two posts were right - i had a fantastic step-dad and still do!!!

i think one of the main reasons he was so good is that he was just there always listening but never trying to change me or run my life.

I would also like to say though that i was a lovely step-daughter...or so i'm told and that i think the role of step-dad is perhaps less challenging than that of s-mum - this is a lot to do with how society views women and children i think. I also think that i being older (11 for me) makes a differnece in that your are less dependant etc and have formed your own mini personality and rules to a certain extent.

There is no getting away from the fact that it is always harder for the kids but as a step-parent myself knowing this puts you under so much pressure and we cant always be 'perfect' and remenber to behave appropriatley all the time - stpe-parents are human and often under massive pressure from differnet sources.

What i mean to say is that i think it would have helped me if people reminded me that its okay to feel really angry and resentful at my being a sp sometimes and that i am not meant to be perfect and will make huge mistakes.

I dont know if i am making sense today - sorry mumsnetters xxx

MrsTucky Sat 02-Jun-07 21:57:10

what an open and honest thread this is.

Quite often on here, I've noticed, is when people express their difficulties towards step children, they get hammered verbally. Lots of people DO offer good, sound advise, but lots just judge and critisize.

The thing is, as step parents, even tho we come on here and express our worries/troubles/annoyances/disatisfactions/heart-breaks/fights/heart felt thoughts etc etc etc, we obviously care about our step kids or else we wouldn't be posting here in the first place.

I'm totally and honestly crap with words so wouldn't be able to 'verbally fight my way out of a paper bag'...and after reading so many threads on here, I've noticed most are brilliant with words, and are able to get their points across. Something I am unable to do

katylui1 Fri 29-Jun-07 22:29:26

I have these feelings which I know aren't rational - or maybe they are! I am a mother - and a bloody good one as I work really hard at it. But I work loads harder at being a step mother and no-one but bloody no-one ever reconises it. I get the obligatory "your great with her" every now and then, but for most of the time nothing, except noticing her exceptional bad behaviour with a raised eyebrow to me (my 2 are brilliantly behaved and when not they hear about it from me - so I know it's not my parenting at fault!)
Her Dad isn't to blame for bad behaviour on her irregular visits to us, but if she's tired or nasty it seems to come to me (her BM is bloody useless, I've seen the foot stamping / handing over of 3 PACKETS of crisps in action - she's 3!). HOWEVER, DP is a stepdad - and a bloody good one (cos I have taught him a lot!!) and EVERYONE always notices and praises him for it. Sorry for ranting on this thread but it kind of felt safe. Thanks!

macdoodle Thu 05-Jul-07 21:58:20

These kids are in pain that is all really - you are the adults FGS they are the children just get over yourselves
COI I was stepkid prob from hell DB was worse - we were hurting not trying to hurt anyone

SauerKraut Thu 05-Jul-07 22:10:30

I think the decision whether or not to become a step-parent is one which needs to be examined under a coldly realistic light before being made. I really admire step-parents who are able to work at building a good relationship with their stepkids- and I also know I could never ever do it. The best of luck to all step-parents.

nuttyworkingmum Mon 03-Sep-07 01:55:09

As my DSS gets older being a stepparent ( weekend) only has began to get even more difficult. I went through a yr or 2 struggling as I could see my DSS moving away from me and closer to his mum. I think I wanted to be his mum for a long time and now realise I will never get the I love you from him, the hugs and love I would love to recieve. I have to accept he only see`s me as a person who lives with his dad and is the mother of his brother. I`m sure his BM stirs things up against me. So be it . I have now started to do a reward scheme/chart and he thinks it`s a really good idea!!. It means there has been no arguments this weekend as he has been excellent. I guess it`s because if he reaches his target he gets to choose a day out!! eek the purse strings. But if it means no more tension,shouting and general teenage beginings just yet I am feeling at ease after 5 yrs of being a SP!!!grin

sibble Mon 03-Sep-07 05:50:34

I havn't read all the posts but imo, having been one for 11 years being a step parent is one of the hardest things to be. Much harder than bringing up your own children and that's hard enough. Over the years I have had the full works from dss wanting to call me mummy which I said was lovely but he already had a mummy so could we find another special word to call me to now at 15 he doesn't even speak when he stays, not a hello when he arrives to a thank you for anything sad and it's not all to do with being a teenager. I've also experienced the complete range from dh's ex from sending dirty clothes every time he visited to being told 'they didn't need any more helpers at his 7th birthday party' (she needed me to look after him every weekend while she was out socialising not to mention when he had chickenpox) to wanting to catch up for drinks and a chat because he's gone awol!! hmm.

Our relationship is now non existent and dh and I tend not to talk about him as we argue. What went wrong imo - dh never sitting him down when he started to show behaviour like you are seeing and talking to him. At the end of the day he is a child who has to accept that certain behaviour is not acceptable, that there may be different rules in different houses, that's life. Often and I'm not saying its' so in your case but I know it was in ours, step children become indulged with each parent not wanting to be the 'bad one' but all they want are boundaries to be set, to know where they stand, that they are loved etc, no different from any other child. Sadly split parents do use their children to their advantage and withhold information either intentionally or not. So I would forget about the ex as much as possible and concentrate on working with your dss.

I'm starting to ramble cos there's so much to say. I should add that I speak from experience as a step child too. I know how the 'game' works and treated my step dad like sh** but at the same time knowing he was better than any blood father could have been. It's hard all round.

SAAS1963 Mon 03-Sep-07 06:10:37

I have 3 kids and am a step mum to 3 - they are all about the same age ie under 13.

All these threads seem SO familiar it is a amazing. Luckily all 6 get on really well most of the time.

The main problems we have are that the BM loathes me and does all the childish game stuff which I wont repeat because clearly a lot of people have already spelled out similar stuff - dirty clothes, constant criticisms bla bla bla.

It is too easy to say that we should get over as a SP.And totally unsympathetic. When one has a child there is no magic answer book for being a parent and certainly none for being a SP. Most good Sps KNOW that the child is suffering but it is damn hard negotiating our way round the child's needs, the issues of blending families without grief constantly dished out from the BM/other family memebers of the SChildnren.

Sing it loud for the good work of SPs!

nuttyworkingmum Mon 03-Sep-07 07:31:42

If only there was a handbook when you feel like exploding because your DSS BM has told him she couldn`t get him an easter egg because the whole town had run out of them!!!
If only there was a handbook when your DH bury`s his head in the sand re the way his DS treats you.
If only there was a handbook to tell you to stop acting like a child when you give 110% and
feel like you aren`t achieving anything.
If only there was a handbook to tell you how to be a Step parent !! alas there is mumsnet
thank you grin

fortunecookie Mon 03-Sep-07 07:59:05

I've only read your initial post, 3girlsmum but having been an awkward stepchild myself and a stepmum, I would try to imagine yourself being in your sds' position. How would you be feeling?

SAAS1963 Mon 03-Sep-07 08:11:13

I have just been helped by one of my close freinds who is in Human resources. She told me to draw a big circle called the Sphere of Influence. Outside the circle you write all the things you have no control over eg for this thread, things like cretinous exes/BMs (usually), and then you put IN the circle the things over which you have control.

Invariably there will be loads outsdie and very little inside. Inside mine was only "my ability to help my step childrens development when they are with me" (about 45% of the time).

Outside was all the stuff like - BM refuses any contact with me whatsover (which makes every interaction painfully difficult to doas it has to go through my husband), inabiluty to attend any school/social events in step children's life at their mothers house, any significant say in arrangemetns for them to come to us (she works and travels abroad often and I am the primary childcare solution for all tricky situations - she has no nanny and relies on us and a childminder) and any influence over the fact that we pay her almost twice the csa amount.

hey ho - it is a good exercise - it focuses you on what you can and cannot do. also - helps dozy husband to understand why i get worked up sometimes.visual aids are useful even for the best of men,,,,!

Anna8888 Mon 03-Sep-07 08:53:17

SAAS1963 - I am also a stepmother. My stepsons' mother works and also travels abroad for work, so I have similar issues to contend with.

You as stepmother should NOT be a free childcare solution for your stepchildren's mother when she is at work, as and when she deems it necessary. That is wrong. She should employ someone or ask a member of HER family to help out.

SAAS1963 Mon 03-Sep-07 09:00:52

anna - i totally agree but am on the floor laughing - because this will NEVER happen!

my husband splits all holidays 50/50 with her but he works abroad too and has a busy job and so can't always do the whole of that share of the holidays. i do not work and look after my 3 kids (their dad lives in another city most of the week and so mine never see their father in the week)most of each school holiday.

I would LOVE my husband to understand - truly understand - how bl**Dy irritating it is to be TOLD by her through him (becasue she refuses to have any contact with me) that the kids are coming on x,y or z. day.

Today he has had to go to work very early, mind are still with their dad (unusually) and i have the step kids till their mother gets off her lazy arse to come round here at lunch time to collect them.

I do not work so hey what else would i be doing......

thank you for sympathising. it is so refreshing! you have never met an exwife like the one in my life - although reading through some of these posts I can see theri are others.

what always amazes me is taht the woman is about to get remarried, she lives in the huge detached house my husband gave her, she works so has her own money, we give her a shed load of money ( much more than the legal requirememnt) and ontop of that we have the kids about 45%of the time.

even though all of this you would assume might make her vaguely contented she still behaves like a total old rat bag from time to time. less so recently but still enough to be a shock.

sorry for raving!

Anna8888 Mon 03-Sep-07 09:06:35

SAAS1963 - what can I say?

I would NOT be able to put up with the "child custody" arrangements you have.

My partner's ex also lives in the huge apartment they used to live in, and she has a full-time (and grossly underemployed) nanny paid for by my partner, a nanny who cannot have sole charge of the boys overnight shock.

I do not have any contact with my stepsons' mother (I have never met her) and all childcare/custody arrangements are made between her and my partner. However, as time has gone by, I have made it very clear that I wish to keep to a set arrangement. I am prepared to renegotiate a set agreement, but I am NOT a hotel keeper who has to keep her diary open at all times just in case it suits my stepsons' mother. I am also at home, not working, but that doesn't make me a service provider/enabler for my partner's ex-wife. I would not be able to bear that smile

SAAS1963 Mon 03-Sep-07 11:15:01

anna - you and i are clearly in the same boat.
my problem is that the ex is a total old bat. she was very difficult throughout their marriage (why left) and has continued in that vein since I was on the scene.
I was her friend from university which adds grist to her mill of hatred. I was also freinds with him - my now husband - and they were a couple since the mid 80s. No idea why he married her since he saw ALL the issues even then - but men can be young and foolish,

basically she bullied him emotionally and he finds it hard to stand up to her becasue seh used the children as a threat against him,
ie if he didnt agree to seomething then he wouldnt have them.

I have encouraged him to be braveer with her and more forceful which he is but also to get him to realise that her threats of witholding the kids are EMPTY threats as she is desparate for us to have them as childcare options and to give her free time.

slowly it gets better - but it has been a horrible 5 years,

SAAS1963 Mon 03-Sep-07 11:16:53

i should add that he did not leave her for me - they lives in america for 10years of their 12 year marriage so i cannot see that I was to blame for the collapse of their marriage - if anyone is trying to see her point of view!

Anna8888 Mon 03-Sep-07 11:22:09

Do you have a formal/legal arrangement about child custody?

My opinion, on my own circumstances (and everyone's are different), is that I am in a couple with my partner and that there are things I do for my partner, just as there are things he does for me, and we agree on what we do for one another.

One of the things I do for him is provide catering, laundry, household support for his two children when they are with us according to an agreement negotiated between us. In order for me to provide those services I need to know pretty much exactly when the children are going to be with us.

One of the things I do NOT do is provide catering, laundry, household support for his ex-wife. So if she has a work trip or any other diary arrangement and wishes us to have the boys on top of the agreed arrangement I expect (a) to be consulted a very long time ahead (b) to be able to say no if I have other commitments (c) to be thanked copiously (by him) if I do the "extra" work.

Anna8888 Mon 03-Sep-07 11:29:15

Incidentally, I would add that the firmer/clearer I have become about this, the less I think about "her" and the less I get annoyed about her shortcomings wink. And my partner also stops having expectations of her that are unrealistic - we have come to an informal arrangement whereby he deals with clothes, hairdresser, school etc, supported by me, rather than him just being annoyed that she wasn't buying them clothes or having their haircut or thinking about their education.

SAAS1963 Mon 03-Sep-07 12:03:06

hi! thanks for that. yes we do have a formal arrangement which specifies i think 10 nights a month. And does not address the holidays at all. It also specified an amount of money which was almost 3 times the legal %of his net salary (so we suffered!).

However he is a very hands on dad and has, right from the start, had them and wanted them for more time than that. So informally we have them at least 10 nights a month plus half of each school holiday AND for blocks of time when she travels to the US or on this occassion in December when she goes on her honeymoon for 2 weeks.

The kids go to school near her which is 20 miles from us so NOT easy.

We have reduced the money to a more manageable level (twice the legal %).

She constantly harps on for more - she asks for extras all the time. She sends the kids to school with no lunch money on their cards so we are often presented with the choice of having a fight with her on the phone or just sending extra money in for them.

when we have them in the holiday for an overnight stay they arrive at say 10am on a morning and leave 6pm the next day.however when she has them for a night we have to drop them no earlier than 6-7pm AFTER supper as she alwways insists and then sends them back at 10am often without breakfast.

the only satisfaction i get from this is that one day they will work it out. but then it waill be a sad day as they will inevitably be very hurt when they realise how she offloads them whenever possible.

she has a very cold heart, I spend a lot of time trying to ensure that they dont "feel" it - by being a very kind stepmother I hope.

Anna8888 Mon 03-Sep-07 12:57:53

Yes, I know the sort of thing, my partner's ex is not the maternal type either wink. She doesn't sound quite as bad as your husband's ex, but she offloads/subcontracts the children without a second thought.

I do think that having a very clear, formal arrangement that you agree not to deviate from for shared custody makes a huge difference both to you as stepmother and also to your stepchildren - my stepsons used to complain quite a lot when their parents harboured the illusion that "flexible" custody was "kinder". It's not. It suits working parents who need flexible childcare, but not stay at home parents nor the needs of children who need routine and stability, in particular when their parents are separated.

If I were you (and I'm not) I'd try to renegotiate a much less flexible arrangement. I don't think you should let yourself be used as free childcare to enable your husband's ex-wife's career, and, critically, I don't think your husband should treat you this way wink. And you might all be a LOT happier knowing where you all stand.

Anna8888 Mon 03-Sep-07 12:58:53

And you need to specify drop-off and pick-up times too - we have 6.30 pm drop-offs. On the dot wink

SAAS1963 Mon 03-Sep-07 13:52:28

quite right Anna - do you want to come over here from gaie paris and help me out??

Trouble is (and I have known the ex as I say for over 20 years) she is and always has been totally chaotic whereas i am as an ex lawyer the utter reverse. She lurches from one vague arrangement to another. Since my hubby often works abroad it is hard to stick to a fixed time plan UNLESS i agree to go the 20 miles to pick the kids up in the week - which when i have 3 of my own is pretty tricky. so the day they come in the week often changes from one week to the next.

SHE likes the haphazard nature as it works for her. I hate it. Not sure what the kids feel - certainly MY kids dont like it. they miss their stepsiblings a lot and are often disappointed to find that they are not coming today but tomorrow instead.

breakthrough! she just came to pick them up AND she came to the door AND she said hello! utterly amazing. she had no choice cos hubby is at work. clearly her 3 days without her kids suit her as her hair looked amazingly well groomed!

Anna8888 Mon 03-Sep-07 14:05:29

My husband's ex is chaotic, too - she is perpetually late for appointments, "pops out" for five minutes and is gone for three hours etc.

I agree that your situation is very complicated, more than mine. Can your stepchildren ferry themselves to and from your house or is that impossible? I never do pick-ups or drop-offs - if there is no-one to do it, then the boys take the bus (but admittedly it's not far at all) on their own.

I do think that you really shouldn't be the enabler for the ex-wife's chaotic lifestyle, and that your husband ought to be able to see that (though I know from experience that the most reasonable and loving man has a hard time understanding his ex-wife and second wife's dynamic wink). That really shocks me. There are plenty of people who get through life just because there are other people willing to pick up the pieces around them - do you want that to be your life? You should be in control of your own life ie your house, your husband, your children (when you have charge of them).

Have you tried writing down a description of what would be a better, more disciplined arrangement and sharing that with your husband? smile

I think it's really tough being a stepmother, and ex's are often more trouble than the children...

SAAS1963 Mon 03-Sep-07 14:40:42

daer anna]
i have spent the last 5 years going blue at times explaining exactly what you have just said to my husband! as you say - he is somewhat clouded in his vision of his ex. or rather - he knows she is utterly chaotic but since he now only suffers 10% of the chaos he once suffered cos he has left her HE feels that life is ok. whereas I have had huge added mess stuck into my life so it feels worse for me - AND because i have so little influence.

the oldest step child is only 12 and the other 2 are 9 and 8 so it will be a while till they can get here alone. that is the ultimate aim. but the school is 20 miles away so it will always be difficutl.

she has just booked swimming lessons for them eveyr sat monring (they can ALL swim well so why???) which now eats into every saturday when we have them. we will have to do round trips of 40 miles just to get them to their classes. they have PLENTY to do here but she still feels compelled to impinge on our time with them.

gotta to the dentists with the children. nice to tlak to you!

Anna8888 Mon 03-Sep-07 14:48:42

I don't mean to be rude... sorry if I came across that way wink

But I don't understand your child custody arrangements - how can the ex-wife book swimming classes for when the children are with you? How does that work? She can make unilateral decisions for her children for the times that they are with their father? That's just not right... She's behaving as if she's still married.

It must be driving you totally insane.

SAAS1963 Mon 03-Sep-07 16:23:28

uuuuuummmmmmmmmmmmmm yes! but then maybe things are different here in england? Am i right in thinking you are in France?

I mean she has primary care fo the kids and so she is entitled to organise stuff for the kids which if it happens to be with us menas we have to take them to stuff. I had a year and a half of doing that trip for the 2 girls dance classes on a saturday - since they are different ages they were in different classes so hubby had to hang about for over 3 hours every saturday afternoon.

you are dead right - she does behave as if she were still married! you have hit it on the head. since he loves his kids and wants them to have a nice life which is not too messed about because of divorce he wants to accommodate their activities. I agree in principal =-what i object to it sthe total unwillingness to consider how HER decisions for the kdis might work for us.

she takes the benefits of being a mother (ie making unilateral decisiosn , getting all the money from us for the kids) but shirks the tough bits of motherhood (finding and paying for childcare etc etc ).

ahhhhh - better go and htink about making supper.

ps you were not being rude!

Anna8888 Mon 03-Sep-07 16:55:18

Yes, I'm in France. My partner, his ex-wife and my stepsons are all French and French law applies.

My stepsons are resident with their mother. They spend every other weekend with us (Friday 6.30 pm to Monday morning when my partner drops them at school) and one night and half day a week, which has been Tuesday but is changing to Wednesday. They also technically spend half the holidays - that holds at Christmas and in the summer, but for the other holidays (Autumn half term, February half term, Easter, odd bank holidays) they generally spend more time with us as (a) my partner can take more holiday than their mother (b) he is more willing to spend money on camps, trips etc than she.

My partner also sees the boys at other times - he takes his younger son to school every morning, picking him up from his mother's, and he takes one or both of the boys out to lunch once a week. Their mother is fine with this.

The parents share parental responsibility jointly and equally. This means that neither can make decisions concerning the children without consultation and agreement from the other parent. Neither parent can make any type of decision concerning the activities of the children when they are with the parent.

Obviously as a stepmother one starts off being accommodating if only because one wants the best for the children and one is clueless and naïve as to what's in store wink. Personally I find it astonishing that the parent with whom the children reside can make unilateral decisions that affect activities when the children are with the non-resident parent - that in effect gives the ex-wife the power to decide the agenda of the new family shock. Are you sure that is legal in the UK?

Is your husband aware that he is still letting his ex behave as if (a) she were still married (b) she had unilateral decision-making powers over her children and your family?

You must feel very put-upon and out of control sad

Anna8888 Mon 03-Sep-07 16:58:10

when they are with the other parent

SAAS1963 Mon 03-Sep-07 17:14:20

you are dead right anna - sounds like french law is pretty similar to uk law re kids.
my step kids are with me abotu the same as yours are with you.

and yes the lack of control has been a definite factor in me feeling really really crappy at times. I used to be a lawyer as i mentioned (in paris!) and so have gone from being a person who likes and enjoys control to having a life where things go way out of control at times,

yes you are right - she does behave in a capricious manner and yes he seems to think it is ok and yes he tries to get ME to get with the programme. ie instead of HIM addressing how she affects our lives negatively he expects me to be accommodating. he says i am a nice persona nd a reasonable person and that therefore it should be within my capabilities to be accommodating. YES i can be for a good freind or someone i like who is stuck for childcare etc - but to do it for a total cow. he tries to make it ok by saying i am doing it for HIM. total crap! when he is away on business and i help with the kdis i am HELPING HER. he is not seeing his kids, they are not seeing their dad and much as they love me i am second best so clearly i am helping her not him!

we have had some really really bad times over htis. i am considering going to counselling - not because i think i need to chagne my views that much but for him to understand the impact of her ways on me. he knows she is a total pain in the arse but seems unwilling to lay down the law.

as i said - many years of beign under her thumb are hard to shake off. he is a very sweet and kind man and so i can see how it happened.

Anna8888 Mon 03-Sep-07 17:21:29

Yes, it does sound pretty bad. He is refusing to stand up to her (as he presumably refused to do during their marriage) and now expecting you rather than him to do the accommodating. So she carries on behaving as if she were still married and you get the shit rather than him.

Listen, you are being perfectly reasonable, you have my full support and understanding (just in case you doubt yourself and your analysis smile) and I would urge you to find a counsellor to discuss how you are going to address this going forward. And I'd see the counsellor alone in the first instance.wink

What kind of lawyer? I used to be a management consultant smile. I try to apply the same principles to my family when it gets tough grin

SAAS1963 Mon 03-Sep-07 20:10:59

hi - just taken hubby to the airport.i used to be a banking lawyer - Linklaters Paris. also inLondon and then Bangue Paribas in London. Haven't worked since first child was born 12 years ago!

thank you for your support - you have analysed it exactly as i see it, i think i d need to go to a counsellor as i feel too many friends see it quite clearly as you do and as i do but that he is not really accepting this point of view and keeps hanging on to the accommodating line.

i have questioned my sanity at times! we havea really really good relationship but this area is so ba that it threatens us at times to a very great extent.

do yu mind if I email you privately? i will send you a message with my email. it is perhaps tedious for all and sundry to read all my wingings. and i seem to have hijacked this thread in any event!

Anna8888 Mon 03-Sep-07 20:52:00

Sure, I'll email you as soon as I get your message wink

SAAS1963 Tue 04-Sep-07 08:04:13

thanks anna- i have sent it so look out for it!
first day at schhool for the kids so rushing off now.

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