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.

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

thelionessrichie Sun 24-Mar-13 10:12:16

Noam you are coming at this all wrong. If anyone on here is as rubbish a person as you say then you are just as bad. Try a little loving kindness. Understand that people are different and that high stress situations make us act strangely sometimes. If you've nothing supportive or constructive to add then it might be best to put your mind to more positive uses.

fruitypie Sun 24-Mar-13 10:30:15

This post actually made me laugh out loud ;)

I'm pg with my first (after a traumatic stillbirth) with my actual fairytale dh!! A year into our relationship/engagement dh found out he fathered a child before we'd even met. Absolutely 'tricky' situation, however I couldnt be happier. I love my husband absolutely adore his little girl don't really know the 'ex' as never really had the opportunity to speak to or get to know her but have a lot of respect for her for raising a child alone. His dd has enhanced our life in so many ways, though obviously it was unexpected!! We cannot wait for her to meet her new little sister this year smile

A lot of negative feelings did crop up when I first found out that I was a step-mum and my dh being a first time dad but they got quickly pushed to the side. The way I see it there's a child that deserves love, stability and consistency in her life. If we sat there and focused on all these negative feelings, problems obstacles etc then we'd just feel weighed down.

Everyone has different family situations. But the key word is FAMILY. there are always going to be troubles but think some people need to appreciate that as f****d up as it may seem at times you have a family which is a lot more then some other people have!!!!!

allnewtaketwo Sun 24-Mar-13 10:37:51

The "clue" isn't in the name - don't be so silly

Roles are determined by peoples' behaviours, values and beliefs, not by a word originating from the 12th century. I know a fair few people who are "god-parents". None of them have any kind of significant role in the child's life at all, and indeed many of them haven't seen them for years. The "clue" is most definitely not in the name.

allnewtaketwo Sun 24-Mar-13 10:39:17

X-post fruity, my post was in response to edam, not you smile

Petal02 Sun 24-Mar-13 12:45:40

Noam, I wish you could meet DH's step mother; she's 90, she married DH's widowed father 20 years ago, and wasn't around when DH was growing up - but she's definitely the archetypal wicked step mother! maybe it's just old age but she pretends to have "one of her funny turns" if ever we visit, and will let us have coffee, but not biscuits, and we can't sit in the lounge, we have to stay in the kitchen.

Me and DH think its hilarious!!!

riverboat Sun 24-Mar-13 13:13:54

Honestly, the more I think about it, the quoting of specific threads in the OP is really low and misleading:

Just today, I've read a thread wondering why step-children need to sleep over at Dads

...well the point being made was that since everyone was asleep what was the benefit and wasn't it the 'conscious' time that should count. But even so, the vast majority of replies were hastening to point out why overnights ARE important, not just kowtowing to the OP as you suggest the board does generally.

...another questioning what to do when you hate your dsc because they remind you of the ex-wife who you also hate

I don't think the word hate was used by this OP at all. In fact the OP said herself that she felt guilty and bad for having these feelings and was looking for ways to deal with them and get over them. Isn't it a good thing that she posted? Isnt it what the forum is for? questioning why the ex-wife needs to see the kids on mothers day

I can't find this one, but I can find one from a SM about how she felt sad for her step kids that they wouldn't see their DM on mother's day down to the DM's choice

and finally one about arranging a holiday that excludes the dss and wondering why dh might be upset

...which again had a variety of supportive and non supportive replies, and ended with the OP and her family having happily and peacably made the decision to include the DSS in the holiday with her parents after all.


Petal02 Sun 24-Mar-13 15:46:56

Riverboat, I agree that just quoting one sentence from a post, without including the context is misleading and unfair.

billingtonssugar Sun 24-Mar-13 17:00:54

I was excited about the fact my dh had a dd. I only wanted to have one child so a ready made sibling for my dd seemed handy. His dd was very sweet and I looked forward to spending time with her and being a four when she was here. Their arrangement was that she spent half her time with dad and half with mum. All great.

But if one thing is ceratin in life it is that things will change. Attitudes, dynamics, arrangements, and of course and children get older their needs change too. It's hard enough when this happens to children who live with you who you are the actual parent of, but when it happens to children who you are reminded constantly that you have no rights in regard to, but who live with youand become part of your family, it can be infuriating. And of course you don't have unconditional love that you have for your own children and that sees bio parents through the ups and downs.

I was very young when I became a step mum and I have grown up an awful lot through the process. An adult who suggests that someone "knew what they were getting in to" in the case of ANY relationship needs to look inside themselves and work out where they have missed the opportunity to grow and develop understanding becuase sooner or later it will become apparent that no one ever really knows what they are getting in to and when there is another woman in the picture who holds a lot of power over everyone concerned. It is never that black and white. The possibilty that the status quo may shift doubles. Then again for ach child, then again when Mum meets a new partner etc etc. Thinking you know how things will turn out is pretty precarious.

I have now learned to detach from the anger I had toward my DH's ex. I have learned to understand her little isms and I have also learned that my relationship needs to be built on trust and positivity if it is to stay strong. Not be assaulted every time there is something flung at us from the ex wife. But it's taken almost six years for me to get here. I'm very happy to lsten to anyone who is brave enough to come on here and reach out for some advice and support. Even if it does present as a rant initially.

SoWhatIfImWorkingClass Sun 24-Mar-13 18:09:19

It's pig ignorant when people say the following:

"You knew what you were getting yourself in to when you got in to a relationship with a man who has children."

Erm, no that is incorrect. Did I mention it is ignorant as well? PIG ignorant.

madonnawhore Sun 24-Mar-13 20:06:24

Step parenting.

Even if you think you know what you're signing up for when you enter into a relationship with a person with a child, there's no way you can reasonably know what to expect especially from the ex and ex's side of the family. You sign up to have those people in your life too, even if they're horrid. You have very little influence or control over anything and you're obliged to suck it up.

You're entering into a relationship where you will always be second best. Always. There's no honeymoon period where it's just you two and you're the centre of each other's universes. You enter into it as number two in the other person's life and you can't ever say anything about it or complain. Because that's actually how it's supposed to be.

You're expected to unconditionally care for this child that doesn't belong to you, yet walk the tightrope of staying in the background enough so that the ex doesn't get arsey. You never get invited to parents evenings or school plays even though you're the one practising reading and maths with them in the evenings and making their costumes.

No one ever says thank you. Even though, unlike a parent, you don't have to do it, you're literally doing it out of love alone.

In fact if you reach out and admit that you find it fucking hard and you couldn't have had any idea it was going to be like this when you entered into it and sometimes you don't like it very much, you get flamed.

A new bio parent would get sympathy.

I really think people expect step mums to be superhuman. As if a successful, happy family dynamic is entirely their responsibility, even though the break up of the previous family was nothing to do with them and they're just trying to manage to situation other people have created and they've innocently walked into because they fell in love.

End of rant.

Eliza22 Sun 24-Mar-13 20:48:28

Billingtonssugar oh yes, I was like you. Not young but with an only child of my own. I was literally thrilled and felt very grateful to have met a man with 3 lovely kids and who clearly put them first and was 100% there for them. My reasoning? If he could be like that with his own, maybe, just maybe, he would be like that with my son. He is.

How wrong I was. I have 2 x steps who I get on well with and one who refuses to acknowledge me. Hasn't seen us for nearly 2 yrs and is now a young adult. It's illogical, damaging and soul destroying. My self-esteem has plummeted.

As I said higher up the post, the OP knows nothing of our lives.

riverboat Sun 24-Mar-13 21:17:57

Yup, Eliza and Billington I was also happy with the thought that DP was a father. I could see that he was responsible, caring and more mature in many ways than other childless men I'd been with and those are some of the reasons I fell in love with him.

But obviously it was a while before I met DSS (4 at the time), and even longer before I started to spend long periods of time with him. By that time I was hugely in love with DP and our relationship already felt quite serious. I had no children of my own, neither did any of my friends and there were no young children in my family. I was completely unprepared for the realities of having a child in my life on a permanent basis, and sharing my home with this child. I had forgotten what it means to be a child and behave in a childish way. It was a big shock and I had a period of probably two years where I was wondering if I could really deal with this forever, or if I should leave - I just didn't know if my expectations towards DSS were reasonable or not. Finally, and largely down to some great advice I read on mumsnet, I managed to deal with a lot of my issues and now I feel much happier in my relationship with DSS and much more able to deal with being a stepmum.

And all this was without even having a particularly 'difficult' DSS, and with having a great relationship with DP's ex and no problems on that score! Compared to some other posters here, I know I had it easy. It just didn't feel easy at the time and I certainly had no way to 'know what I was getting into'...

NotaDisneyMum Sun 24-Mar-13 21:23:46

The problem with the "you knew what you were getting into" principle is that life throws low-ballers when you least expect it.
An amicable, low-conflict co-parenting relationship between ex's can transform overnight if the NRP is made redundant and can no longer support his DCs to the same degree, for instance. Faced with the prospect of a reduction in standard of living in order to continue to meet the DCs needs, many RP lash out at their ex, and any family they may be living with.
Similarly, a new half-sibling can create fear that the first DCs will be neglected/ignored and when a mother is fighting for her DCs, woe betide anyone who gets in her way.

Of course there are also bitter, jealous ex's who can't move on. It's so common that there are businesses which target exactly those women - if it was as unlikely as the OP have us believe then they wouldn't have been identified as a target market wink

mumandboys123 Sun 24-Mar-13 21:24:06

and you have no idea what it's like to have you give your children to some woman who thinks she has a 'right' to make your child's school play costumes; who believes that your child is in some way neglected or abused because your parenting styles are very different; who believes that you should stand at the back of the queue at parent's evening whilst she discusses your child with your child's father and teacher; who judges every item of clothing you dress your child in (supermarket clothes and you're obviously spending the maintenance on vodka, designer clothes and you obviously don't need the maintenance); who has contact with people who previously counted as friends and tells them all about how awful your children were dressed last week/how you forgot to send your child with a fancy dress costume to school/how you still haven't bothered to potty train your youngest; who posts 'happy family' pictures of herself and your child on your child's Facebook wall stating 'me and my son'; who tells anyone who will listen that you're a bad mother/whore/both because you deign to have a night out with friends twice a year (forgetting that if it's OK for her partner to have 'moved on' it must logically be OK for you to move on too); who calls you a bad mother/whore/both because you ask your ex to look after your child whilst you have a few nights out with a new boyfriend prior making sure you get to know them properly before you introduce them to your child; who comments that you're a bad mother/whore/both when you have no choice but to introduce a new boyfriend to your child earlier than you would have liked because your ex refuses to have the child more than one night a week and to be able to enter into a proper relationship, you quite literally need to mix 'business and pleasure'; who calls you benefit scum because you struggle to find a job after being a SAHM for years when with your ex; who calls you benefit scum when you work part-time in an attempt to balance your children and work; who calls you a bad mother when you work full-time and suggests to your ex that he should 'fight' you for 'custody' because she could do a far better job than you're doing; who has children...and much, much more.

I didn't ask to have a step mother in my children's lives any more than many of you asked to fall for a man who already had children. It works both ways. I have yet to meet a 'step mum' who is able to say anything vaguely positive about the ex and yet every ex I know is someone trying desperately to get on with their lives as best they can.

madonnawhore Sun 24-Mar-13 21:33:56

Of course it works both ways and everyone's circumstances are different.

Stating the bleeding obvious but it bears repeating.

NotaDisneyMum Sun 24-Mar-13 21:41:09

My DDs dad tried very hard to replace me in my own DDs life with his DW, who was a willing participant - so I am very aware of both sides of the coin.

To DDs dad and his DW, I am the unreasonable, bitter exW that I see in my DPs ex, yet I'm not starting MN posts slating all SM's; it's the OP who did that, so maybe she hasn't walked in both pairs of shoes like many of us have? wink

riverboat Sun 24-Mar-13 21:42:30

mumandboys, I'm sorry that you are being called a whore, I don't think anyone on this board would say that is right.

This is probably no consolation, but if you want a stepmum who has positive things to say about the ex, I am one. As I said above I hugely respect my DP's ex and appreciate the good relationship we have.

NatashaBee Sun 24-Mar-13 21:42:32

^^Even if you think you know what you're signing up for when you enter into a relationship with a person with a child, there's no way you can reasonably know what to expect especially from the ex and ex's side of the family. You sign up to have those people in your life too, even if they're horrid. You have very little influence or control over anything and you're obliged to suck it up.

This. If someone had tried to explain the complete loss of control I'd have over my life when I became a step parent, I'd have laughed at them. It's very difficult to picture how the situation will actually work, until you're in it. If you're someone who generally approaches meeting new people with the thought that they are reasonable and trustworthy until they prove otherwise (as most people do, I expect), the way you have to deal with some ex-partners is completely alien to most people, I think. And of course most people would choose to cut someone out of their life if they behaved as badly as some step-parents/resident parents do, but it's not that easy when you have to have some kind of relationship because there's a child involved.

Yes, the division between ex wife and stepmums is ridiculous - not least because as not a disney mum says, many step mums on here are ex wives too.

DSs stepmum has become one of my best friends so I hope she would say nice things about me!

Many of us can see both sides of the story, unlike the op whose post was goady and devoid of compassion or experience.

edam Sun 24-Mar-13 22:56:29

It's nice to hear positive stories, like yours, Thisisaeuphemism. Obviously there must be plenty of step-parents who have good relationships with step-children and exes, we just tend to hear less about them. And people clearly react more strongly when there's a controversial thread.

I think people tend to say 'you knew what you were getting into' when there's a stepmum posting in a nasty or unfair way about her stepchild - as in, you had far more choice about the situation than the stepchildren, who had none. I don't think it implies massive expectations that you had perfect foreknowledge of how your relationships as a family would develop - because who the hell has that?

Eliza22 Mon 25-Mar-13 08:20:45

Natashabee and Thisisaeuthemism I'm with you there.

Yesterday, my son (12) came back from his weekend at dad and stepmum's. We all stood around and chatted for a bit "isn't it freezing/what did you get up to/how's her new job?/thanks for the home made cupcakes (they'd made that morning" Etc etc. Now, whilst we're not big buddies, I'm aware that my son is very lucky to have this woman, in his life. She seems nice, they get on, he gave her a big kiss and cuddle, when dad and SM left. I'm happy that since I'm an older mum and won't live forever, she is much younger than me and I think, will "be there" for him, with his dad. I love that. Selfish, I know.

My step kids and dh's ex are a very different kettle of fish. I can't go to anything she (rightly, as their mum) goes to, or she refuses to be there. She has blanked my hello and looks past me, even when we are sitting 4 feet from each other. Her youngest (the one we haven't seen for 2 yrs) is now permitted to ignore me. She's now 19.... Not a little girl. The other two, I have to say, are lovely with me and ds.

Sometimes, the stepmum ends up with a situation she couldn't have imagined. I certainly didn't. And I agree NatashaBee, if dh's daughter were just "a person" and NOT his daughter, I would never have put up with her antics. I'd not have been nasty....just would have cut the relationship, loooong before it began to upset me as much as it did.

Eliza22 Mon 25-Mar-13 08:22:58

I was not the OW. Dh's ex had a 2 yr affair that ended their marriage. I met him 3 yrs later.

NotaDisneyMum Mon 25-Mar-13 08:37:53

Some women do appear to re-write history though - whether it is because they are too ashamed/guilty to take any responsibility for their part in the ending of their marriage, or whether underlying personality traits/disorders mean that they can't see the link between their own behaviour and the subsequent consequences.

Sometimes it is just unrealistic expectations - my DPs ex had an affair, neither wanted the marriage to end but whereas he wanted to work at making things better, all she offered was 'trying to be nice' to him. She refused marriage counselling and referred to DPs desire to 'fix' their marriage as unreasonable when they mediated over child arrangements.

Any woman who believes she is so desirable that her DH should tolerate whatever relationship dynamic she dictates is not the kind if person I want to exchange the time of day with. Her attitude is now the same with the DCs - she tells them that they are 'lucky' to have her as mother, so they should accept their lives as they are, not seek to have a relationship with their Dad as well.

Targetpractice Mon 25-Mar-13 10:48:42

Nadm we seem to be living in a parallel universe. Dh has come to his own conclusion that exw is a narcissist and that his daughter is being heavily influenced to turn out the same.
Luckily dss is the lesser loved child and is moving in with us half time next week.
As dsd basically does all in her power to get her own way, I was upfront with dh and told him dsd could only live with us, even as a remote possibility for now, if she and I went for some counseling. He agrees, because he's a doting dad but no longer blind to his dc faults.
But as Eliza said, no matter how good the other dcs relate to you, if one child hates you it can be devastating to marriage and self esteem.
Sorry, mumandboys that you're having such a rough time. Thankfully my ds sm is really nice and supportive, we're not best friends but getting there perhaps. Ds is so happy we talk and invite both dad and sm to school functions etc. I feel proud to be appreciated by my ds in this way, it gives me the strength to deal with dsc mum! Xx

billingtonssugar Mon 25-Mar-13 10:54:15

Mumandboys, sounds like you have been particularly unlucky. No one would argue with that.

I don't think in the five years that I've been on this board I have ever seen a stepmum refer to their stepchildrens mother as a whore. You don't deserve to be called that.

I don't want to suggest that anyone isn't welcome here but I wonder about the merits of someone like yourself being on the step parenting board. You don't seem to offer any constructive advice to us stepmums (which is a shame as you must hold a lot if experience and wisdom), and get very angry a lot of the time. Is it a good thing for you emotionally? Maybe being here gives you the opportunity to lash out at us, in a way you wish you could lash out at your children's step mum. That is understandable. But I still don't think you are doing yourself any favours.

We need a place where we can vent so that we can be happier and more relaxed and ultimately, better partners and step parents. There must be a safe place where you can vent too?

billingtonssugar Mon 25-Mar-13 11:04:31

Also, just to lighten the mood, are there really mums out there who object to stepmum making play costumes!? Jees, I'd PAY for someone to make my DDs wink

In fact her stepmum sewed all her beaver uniform badges on for her last weekend as theyd been sat on my to-do pile for weeks. Dd (6) teased that I was useless and if she wants something like that done in future she'll ask her step mum. Score!! I hate that crap grin

Beamur Mon 25-Mar-13 11:16:15

Most of what I would have said has already been said now!
Gross and unfair generalisation OP - have a tomato from me.

dignifiedsilence Mon 25-Mar-13 11:19:00

Yeah being a step parent is soooo hard especially when the said mother has tried to interfere with my life so much. Never spoke a word to the woman and after her behaviour I never will...not EVER!! What she has done to me personally was certainly not in her childs best interests let alone starting and stopping contact because she feels like it. I have kept quiet and bit my tongue because quite honestly I know that is killing her.
I've been bashed on a similar thread for saying what I truly think based on my own personal circumstances but you cannot judge until you've been there!
To me the whole step parenting thing is relative to an individual and we shouldn't judge or lambaste someone for coming here to vent. Instead we should be supporting each other with the knowledge of our own circumstances. IMHO if you don't have experience then either give a balanced opinion or don't comment at all.

NotaDisneyMum Mon 25-Mar-13 12:01:03

billington you only have to read threads elsewhere on MN to see that mums object to their DCs Stepmums doing the most inoccuous of things - I've seen posts where a mum has ranted that their DCs SM has dared to wash clothes or even made the DCs meals - insisting that is their ex's job and that his "OW" (who was never on the scene when they split) is trying to steal her DCs.
My own DSC have been conditioned to object to me driving when they are with us - asking why I drive them when DP is in the car too, and they think he should drive, not me!

That's not to say some SMs don't 'overstep' and it is a fine line to tread - but generally, if a SM posts here about it, other SM's advice will be to take a step back. Most of us are at the 'detach, detach, detach' stage and so are criticised for not being involved enough - we really can't win! wink

SoWhatIfImWorkingClass Mon 25-Mar-13 12:24:02

Oh NADM that is so ridiculous! What a silly woman. If step mums DIDN'T wash their step children's clothes or make their tea then they would be classed as evil and not interested in the children's basic needs being met!

It's something that mums are just going to have to accept. If their child has a step mum then that step mum is going to be doing these things for the child when the child is in her house that she shares with their father. Doesn't mean for one second that she is "trying to take over." It just spells bitterness to me.

Obviously there are certain cases where step mums have indeed over stepped the mark, but this is very few and far between and so shouldn't be applied to all step mums.

billingtonssugar Mon 25-Mar-13 12:25:19

That's the funny thing isn't it. We don't really know what the rules are - until we break them. I think most secure developed adults make their boundries known so that people are equipped to choose to disrespect them or not. It seems in my expereince as a step mum that there were a whole host of rules and boundries that I knew nothing about and was then punished each and every time I broke one of them. The rules also had a lot of caveats... for example: No putting make up on my daughter or having girly pamper sessions with her because she is too young and those kind of special moments should be saved for Mum and daughter. But when she hasn't packed the make up that she needs (either because she forgt it or because it wasn't allowed to leave mums house) you must give her complete and full access to your make up and hair accessories because that's what a mother would do confused

billingtonssugar Mon 25-Mar-13 12:30:11

Luckily I can't generalise about all bio mums being stoopid like that, being one myself !! grin grin

flurp Mon 25-Mar-13 15:01:29

DSD was in tears yesterday because she couldn't find the knickers that her mum sent in her bag with her clothes to wear home!
She isn't allowed to wear any of 'our' clothes home and her 'home knickers' got put in the wash by accident. I had to dry them on the radiator and send her home in them (slightly damp). In all the chaos DSS forgot his fleece and we got a text from her accusing us if stealing it and demanding that DP gives it back "or else"
Now you tell me that is normal rational behaviour!!

Targetpractice Mon 25-Mar-13 16:35:40

Flurp, we had similar situation. Dh used to have to collect dsc and carry a big hold all of clothes backwards and forwards (we can't afford car) until I put a stop to it. Dh had to get over the idea that he had to follow exw exact orders or he wouldn't get to see dc, when it was clear that she wanted rid of them as much as possible.
I realize dh was in a panic about a lot of things concerning exw and dc, but there comes a time when one has to take charge of ones life and not allow a third party to take over. A marriage of three is just not possible.

flurp Mon 25-Mar-13 16:44:03

I have tried and so has DP but the children are so frightened that she will tell them off that they will follow her ridiculous instructions to the letter.
DSD is not allowed to have her hair up since we gave her some pretty little hair bobbles for Christmas and she accidentally left one in when she went home.
She loved them at the time but now refuses to have her hair in a ponytail because her mum doesn't like it.
Stupid thing is I don't care how she has her hair, neither does DP. The only person who cares is DSD but she is too scared to go against her mum.
So so sad sad

Petal02 Mon 25-Mar-13 16:46:13

DH had to get rid of the idea that he had to follow the ex’s exact orders, or he wouldn’t get to see dc, when it was clear she wanted rid of them as soon as possible

I could have written that post. Even now, DH still has a tendency to toe the line (as far as the ex is concerned) “to avoid rocking the boat” but we all know darn fine that the ex would NEVER withhold contact, quite the reverse in fact !!!!

Eliza22 Mon 25-Mar-13 18:04:40

Flurp.... That's emotional abuse isn't it? God knows what it's doing to her daughter in a psychological sense. Ludicrous and a bit mad, if you ask me.

NotaDisneyMum Mon 25-Mar-13 19:13:30

eliza Both my DSC bear the scars of that particular form of alienation - yes, it is a form of emotional abuse and recognised as such in the USA, but here the overriding belief is that mothers always do what's best for their DCs.
There are a few organisations in the UK bringing alienation to the attention of policy makers - but there is a long way to go, and in the meantime, a lot more DCs will suffer.

Eliza22 Mon 25-Mar-13 19:37:48

I could not live with myself if I ever put my (or anyone else's) child through that kind of tripe. Should be ashamed of herself.

theredhen Mon 25-Mar-13 19:47:16

Flurp, I had a similar experience. Dsd4 kept telling me I must plait her hair as mum said. (I was putting it in a ponytail). Mum won't speak to me at all and I admit to being pretty peeved that a 9 yr old was literally demanding I do what her mother said. I sent ex an e mail and she insisted dsd hadn't been "told" anything at all. I relented when I felt that perhaps it wasn't mums demands coming from dsd after all.

Funny enough after I started doing elaborate plaits in dsd hair, mum had dsd hair cut off!

Maybe it was a coincidence? Hmmm.

flurp Mon 25-Mar-13 21:40:29

It is emotional abuse. I'm sure that is part of the reason DSD is so clingy and insecure.
But I have to detach or it would drive me crazy. She's not my DD and I can't change anything.

mumandboys123 Mon 25-Mar-13 21:42:52

yes, maybe it was a coincidence. I personally find life is full of 'em! Surprisingly full of 'em!

For me, not assuming that a decision to cut hair or buy new shoes or anything else is because of your actions would be a good place to start. I don't personally set out to piss off my ex and any new partner by doing routine things like cutting hair or toenails or fingernails...I think it's more likely that when the children's hair gets long, you begin to notice it and then hey presto, it gets cut and you think it had something to do with you but actually, you just happen to have a similar tolerance of 'right' and 'wrong' and deal with it at about the same time.

NotaDisneyMum Mon 25-Mar-13 22:08:21

mumandboys You're, there could be a perfectly logical explanation for all our experiences, couldn't there? Is Your assessment of the academic literature and research that it is flawed and invalid? Is the USA justice system wrong to identify 'alienation' as a form of abuse, or is it only American parents who do that?

What about the distress of DCs when a step-parent inadvertently launders an item they have been strictly instructed to take home dirty (or in my DSD case, soiled)?

What 'innocuous' conclusion should I draw from DSD tears and apparent fear of being 'told off' by her Mum when I put the jeans she had a period-accident on in the wash rather than provide a plastic bag for her to take them home in which is what her Mum texted her and told her to do?

NotaDisneyMum Mon 25-Mar-13 22:15:09

Meant to say, you're right of course !

theredhen Mon 25-Mar-13 22:16:18

Dsd hair hadn't been cut in nearly 18 months. We weren't allowed to get it done despite suggesting it. Non working mum was "too busy" we were told. Dsd would also cry if we suggested taking her to the hairdressers saying she didn't want it cut, wanted to grow it and it didn't need a trim.

Dsd told me that mum was shocked at the plaits I put in dsd hair.

The next time she came she had 6" cut off her hair.

Why such a change of tune after a year?

flurp Mon 25-Mar-13 22:32:22

Mumandboys. It's no coincidence. DSD went from wanting me to do her hair to refusing point blank to have so much as a hair grip in it in the space of a week!
NADM shock. That is just cruel.
You poor DSD - as if that's not embarrassing enough for her!

It can be very hard being a step mum. I gave up as exes wife was a full blown nutcase. She used to accuse my DS of attacking her two year old, the reason being - my DS has autism.

It didn't matter that teachers etc.. Backed up that DS is a lovely, gentle soul. It was constant,she shouted and screamed in the street that my DS is a spacktard and told her two year old to "fucking beat the shit out of him." she made up so many lies it was a living nightmare. It wasn't as if I stole her husband from her,she threw him out,moved a new bloke in the next day. She claims to social services etc.. That new bloke is just a friend and doesn't live there.
. All this from the woman who stopped her ex husband seeing their son for 9 weeks out of pure spite until a court ordered access, 'fell'on her son when he was one and didn't get his leg xrayed for 3.5 weeks despite being told it looked broken - it was! Words fail me, yet when SS visited she put a bloody good act on.

I have utmost respect for people who can continue being a step parent through such circumstances.

ladydeedy Tue 26-Mar-13 11:16:25

It is very very tough. I can cite numerous instances where DH's ex withheld access because she was "cross" or felt she deserved more money (usually when we returned from holiday as she felt she should also be able to afford to go on holiday, despite the fact that I paid for our holidays and she works part time).
Within weeks of withholding access she would be screaming down the phone at DH to come and collect the DSSs as she could no longer cope. One evening she just turned up and practically pushed them both through our front door with a bag and then drove off.
My favourite sad tale is when we had them with us for a week at Christmas and had arranged return date for them to return to her for New Year, as she had decreed. My DH got a text within hours of us arriving at our Christmas destination (at his DPs) to say she was at the airport, about to go on holiday and would be back in THREE WEEKS time. Could we tell the kids etc...?
Let alone the fact that she refused to allow me to pick kids up from house, despite insisting that they must be collected at 6pm prompt every other Friday. Even if DH working.. So how else could they be collected? She instructed kids to stand at the end of their road and wait for me there in the pouring rain and cold, rather than "allow" me to drive up to her house. She told them to tell me I had to drop them off at the end of her road also otherwise they would be "in trouble".
What to do with a woman who is so unhinged, seriously?

Targetpractice Tue 26-Mar-13 11:40:35

Unfortunately, our dh's are the enablers to the controling exws, and we in turn allow them to act like this. I've been reading a lot on controlling behaviour, and this link provided by a mn on another thread really helps me in my arguments with dh,, mrgoodbad.pdf.
In my situation, its down to me to say stop and be prepared to carry consequences.
Exw called the shots, dh complied, dsc confused, me miserable.
This worm turned and insisted on counseling, which isn't a miracle cure but gives objective third party input, guidelines for a couple to stick to when the wish to continue in a partnership is given.
I can honestly say my dh hates my getting him to man up, but in the long run there have been too many benefits all round to shut me up. Long way to go yet though...

JaquelineHyde Tue 26-Mar-13 11:56:36

I am a stepchild who grew up with one very good step parent relationship and one very bad step parent relationship (both parents re-married).

I am also now a step mother to my two beautiful DDs who live with us full time.

My husband is Step dad to our DS from a previous marriage.

My DS has regular contact with his Dad and his new parter who has now (after a reasonable amount of time) assumed the role of stepmum.

So I have seen this from every possible angle you can imagine, I like to think of myself as a step family expert grin

Based on that expert knowledge I can conclude that the OP quite clearly is a goady shite, with no interest in the reality of how damn difficult this can be for all people involved and just wanted to have a dig and then run away.

ladydeedy Tue 26-Mar-13 14:54:04

Ha, well said jacquelineh!!
Target, not all DHs are like this. Mine is not. Does not mean his ex is not a nutter though.

Targetpractice Tue 26-Mar-13 15:08:08

Brilliant Jacqueline, totally agree.
Lady, sorry for venting, I'm sure there are loads of reasonable dads out there.
I'm mostly mad at myself for not spotting warning signs early in relationship, like dh met ds quite soon and they hit it off, his dc were kept in the dark about me and this angered dsd a lot. I didn't meet them until our relationship was quite solid and so the combined hostility of nutty exW and dsd hurt but didn't drive me away. Dh now admitted it was him not exw that kept us apart because he was afraid I'd leave him. His relationship to dsd is very tricky, she felt more betrayed by him than the mother as marriage was long over and divorced before we met. This is the actual basis of our couple counseling need.

Jan45 Tue 26-Mar-13 15:20:21

Noam, you really do have no idea. What a narrow minded nasty person you must be to even write that down never mind think it.

I'm not even going to waste any more time trying to explain to you how difficult it is to be a step parent, it would just be pointless.

Jan45 Tue 26-Mar-13 15:21:43

PS: I wouldn't chuck a tomato at you, I would chuck a basket of common sense in the hope you would actually have a lightbulb moment.

brdgrl Wed 27-Mar-13 23:47:44

I haven't been around the boards much recently (only because horrendously busy with new job, etc etc) and when I saw this OP I nearly turned around and left - but I am so glad I read on. The OP aside, this thread is full of the sort of good sense and empathetic support which reminds me why this board is so important for us stepmums. And the OP reminds me why it is so necessary.

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