To be a step mum or not to be? Decision time for me?(45 Posts)
I have been with my bf for 2 years. He is separated with 3 daughters and I don't have children of my own. His dd's moved abroad with their mum after they separated which devastated my bf understandably.
The first 18 months of our relationship was amazing! We got on so well and we were very happy. I had finally found the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with and have children with. His DD's would spend their holidays with him (we don't live together) and I would come for dinner maybe 1 or 2 nights during their holiday in order to get to know them better. They were always pleasant and polite to me and knowing that this would be our future having the girls on their holiday sat very comfortably with me.
I was really looking forward to the future with by bf.... we were just about to move in together when one of his DD's aged 13, unexpectedly decided to come back and live with my bf as she couldn't settle abroad with her mum.
We were shocked by the unexpected turn of events but my bf is a good man and his daughter's well being and happiness had to come first which I respect him for. We both knew that this new change would effect our relationship as we used to see each other most nights etc. His DD had anxiety and phobia issues and needed a lot of attention, our plans on moving in together had to be put on hold. I didn't mind this as I felt quite daunted by the idea of becoming a full time step mother with no support of real mum around to share the custody etc.
6 months on and I cant believe how we have been so effected by all this...... I struggled with the lack of time together. For the first 3-4 months our time was spent with the 3 of us together due to his DD's anxiety issues. This irritated me and the frustration caused me to start being easily annoyed by DD. Most 13 year old girls can be hard work but when they are not your own it is more difficult.
Fortunately, as a result of bf's excellent father skills and good discipline, plenty of encouragement and a happy environment DD has improved dramatically and now is involved in after school activities and has made some nice friends who sleep over quite frequently so we get the odd night to go out, however, the stressful lead up to get to this stage has weakened our relationship as we argued a lot and my bf began to feel vulnerable and insecure about us.
When we are with DD I still get easily irritated by her demands, moods, pushing boundaries and arguments. She is mannerly to me but I feel that she feels threatened by me but Im not sure. Bf has said that she plays up more when I am present. I miss the way we were prior to DD coming back but I know that if my bf didn't do the right thing for his DD then what kind of a parent would he be to our future children? He is a very good man I just wish DD's mother was living in the country that custody could be shared some bit. Mother of DD wont even take DD for holidays out of resentment and to hurt my bf when really she is hurting her DD and fracturing their mother /daughter relationship further. It is no wonder why DD wanted to live with her dad.....
Now my bf wants to know am I in or out? He has every right to ask this as no one likes to be hanging on.... but the truth is I know it wont be easy and I ask myself am I making life difficult for myself? I am still quite young.... If I feel irritated by DD's presence now what would it be like if I lived with her?
I know she will be 18 in 5 years time and will probably go to college etc but thats a long time to wait and how will things be if a baby is brought into the situation? I just wish mother of DD was around to take some of the pressure and we could have a break every now and then.
Unfortunately for my bf hasn't got any relatives close by to support him and he doesn't want to be asking other parents for help as he feels he doesn't want to be a burden.
Everything he has done for DD has showed me even more of what a good man he is and I know men like this are hard to find but I struggle with the idea of living in the same house as DD??
Has anyone else (particularly those who like me don't have children of their own) experienced these feelings and what were your experiences like?
Any advise would be much appreciated.
I am a SM, a BM and have been a DSD several times over!
Personally, it doesn't sound to me like you're going to be able to handle this at all well I'm not criticising, I find step-parenting incredibly hard, and I have my own as well....
You can't just concentrate on waiting until she's 18 - what if she doesn't leave home til she's in her twenties? You can't just put your life on hold, it'll only lead to resentment.
Living with her will make everything worse, everything is intensified, and you'll struggle.
Could you not be together but live apart?
It is very hard work (and you can't really understand how hard it is until you do it). Do you want marriage/ babies/ living together? It sounds like his daughter has some issues (not really surprising given her relationship with her mother) and needs the majority of his attention right now. Can you cope with stepping aside so he can do that?
I've been there and couldn't do it and my stepson was from another country and couldn't even speak english - like you I thought happy families but the reality was completely different, it's very hard especially if the child has issues, past neglects etc, I wouldn't recommend it, we had to live apart but are now back together again and my stepson is lovely but he's nearly 18 now. If you don't have to, then I would say don't do it, your b/f may just be looking for that extra bit of help but tough, it's his child, not yours, you can stil be there for him. I never thought it would but it nearly destroyed our relationship.
Im a sm two dsd6 & dss12 and it is the hardest thing I have ever done. We moved in together quite soon into our relationship so didn't really get a chance to see what being a sm would be like. If I had, I think things may have taken a different turn. It's such a hard situation and I use to think our love was enough and everything would slip into place. Well I'm afraid love is not enough, tough as that sounds.
I am a SM and a mom but DH and I don't have any children together. If I had know what is was going to be like before I got with DH then not in a million years would I have ever have put myself or any of us through the stress and emotional trauma of being involved in a step family (and there is always something to stress over, even now years later). If I ever split from DH then I would never get with a man with children again. If it is not the kids then it is the exe's, the whole someone you didn't create or have any part of influencing most of your life and the ex that you were never with is the third wheel in your relationship. When put on paper it is most definitely a recipe for disaster.
However, as much as I say all that at this point in time - I can not imagine not having had my step children in my life. Even if you take their dad out of the equation I can say I love them in their own right. They are people with their own needs and personalities that sometimes make me laugh, cry, scream in frustration and they have helped mould me into the person I have become. Every now and there are moments that make all the shit worthwhile and I look at them and think yep - I helped you achieve that and am so thankful that I have had a chance to be an influence in their life.
I do agree though that love is not enough, it takes more than you thought you would ever have to give and certainly shouldn't go into it unless you are committed to changing everything you thought you knew about family life and even then acceptance that some things you can never change.
I am a SM to a 16 yr old. She was 11 when we got together. Its hard, very hard. And I have a good relationship with her - mothers day cards etc. We don't have her full time but because of our shift work I don't get much time with my husband on my own. I could say have her less often but that's not fair on her. I have had issues, a bit of playing me and her mum off against each other. Luckily we talk and know what she has done. SD is very young for her age and this year we have had a lot of problems, silly stuff like being thoughtless and forgetful which impacted on other stuff. I really did struggle with it but I just had to cope.
I know that she will start being here more now she's older and I just have to accept it.
In your situation I would really have to think about committing to this. You won't get a break from it.
If you have reservations now then I'd listen to them.
I'm out the other side, but bloody hell was it hard work. His DD will always, always come before you. In relationships where you have two parents and a child, the parents will (should!) back each other up and will put each other before the children if its needed. In my experience, it never happens in a step family and you will always come second.
If you find it difficult now, imagine how hard it will be without a get-out clause AND when she's in full swing teen mode.
p.s. If DH and I ever break up, I wouldn't get together with someone who had children again. I'd rather just get on with things alone!
I think you already know that you don't really want to do this. I was a sm to three teenage girls and I had no idea what it would be like. I'm divorced from their father now but stay in touch. It is so very hard. Imagine walking a tightrope whilst patting your head and rubbing your tummy. Pleasing everyone is not an option. Mostly you please no one least of all yourself. I had a bitter ex in the mix (with hindsight I totally sympathise with her now!) and the kids themselves fought like cat and dog, that is when they weren't playing their parents off each other. I really wouldn't recommend it if you wish to keep your sanity. I'm so sorry things have gone this way for you. If you commit to your bf (who I agree sounds lovely), you will have to accept that you come second and that is very very hard. In my case it was the other way - the kids came second to exh's desire to please himself. I found myself taking responsibility for entertaining the girls and present buying etc. It was an eye opener.
There's much in favour of your relationship with this lovely man. He was (to all intents and purposes a single man (albeit part time holiday dad) and your relationship began and flourished, in this environment. Dinner a couple of time weekly, at his place, when his daughters visited, is not the same as the situation you are in now. If he'd had a daughter living with him who clearly needed is full time love, support and attention when you first met him, would your relationship have gotten off the ground? Hard to say really but my guess is, it may have been difficult at best and I possibly, at worst.
He's clearly a good dad. That bodes well for any future children you may have together but, in my experience, I'd not go with this relationship. If you do, and there are (will surely be) difficulties and power struggles within this triangle, YOU are asking for heartache of such magnitude that it leads me to say, stop, right now!!
You don't give your age only saying you are "young". I am 50. I have a ds from a previous marriage. My now DH has 3 grown up kids from his first marriage which was ended by his wife's affair. I love one of his daughters. I get on well with his son. His youngest daughter was 11 when we met. She's now 19. I'd have dinner with them on and off for our 4 year courtship (we made sure we were "sure" before committing!). His youngest detests me. It's caused much upset. I'm stuck with it for the rest of my days. Would I do it again? No. Absolutely, no !
It sounds really bad but this line says it all:
"If I ever split from DH then I would never get with a man with children again. If it is not the kids then it is the exe's, the whole someone you didn't create or have any part of influencing most of your life and the ex that you were never with is the third wheel in your relationship."
I don't live with DP but he has 50/50 custody of his DCs and I have my 3 most days, so the opportunities for nights out on our own are few and far between. He seems fine spending time at mine on his days off but I really struggle when we're all together at the weekends and I actively avoid going to his when I'm on my own as I find it difficult with his DCs there.
I don't consider myself a SM per se as I don't live with them, but even so, it is really hard and I feel your pain. Its a constant juggling act, trying to please his DCs and mine without anyone feeling offended or left out, trying to enforce rules that he doesn't believe in and constantly feeling the presence of the ex, DCs talking about her, photos of her in their rooms (cuddled up with him), texts and calls from her while we're in bed etc.
I have realised I could never live with him as the pressure of having someone else's DCs in your home is just too much. In fact after nearly a year I am scaling back the amount of time I spend with them to give myself and my DCs some breathing space.
If you have even the slightest doubt I would say don't do it. You'd be better parting ways now on reasonably good terms than getting into a step parenting deal and having your own DCs with this man and then having it all break down due to the stress anyway. If he's not prepared to consider any alternatives (shit or get off the pot, I think is the rather unromantic phrase!) then I'm afraid I'd be cutting my losses. You're still young and have no ties to him. Its sad, but you need to protect yourself and any DCs you have from future misery.
This thread has really helped me too! See my aibu re dps dd . We are 2 years together next month and dp wants me to move in. Ive been dragging my feet.
Now I know why. I wouldnt want to drag my kids or his dd through it.
Sorry meant to say good luck op for the future
This thread had also really enlightened me and put in writing some of my concerns. I have been with DP for 19 months, we are engaged and planning to move in next spring. He has 2 DCs, 7 and 10, from his marriage and I have two DCs, 5 and 3. Although he is wonderful to me and amazing with my DSs, he has told me on many occasions that I will always come second to his children. I know that, of course, but it's somehow hard to be told that. I think it's a good point that when you're with the natural father, it's right and proper that you put each other first but in a "blended family" your first loyalty is to your children and it's very easy to end up in two separate camps. As much as I love DP I am already pessimistic about how it would work with us all living together. He has his DCs 50% of the time - it sounds awful but I find myself wishing he had them only at the weekends or alternate weekends which would be so much more manageable rather than them being here part of the week every week. I think it's good to realise that you do have a choice. I love DP and had always thought that we will just have to find a way to make it work but I now see the huge potential for things to go wrong. It also seems that most people who have done it regret it.
It's a terribly hard thing. I was stepmum for 10 years, kids mum also lived abroad.
It was the biggest emotional drain I have ever encountered, for no thanks or reward and I would never ever do it again.
You really need to think about this very hard, and selfishly too.
Gangle, I'm so glad its not just me! I feel like I'm being selfish or childish for being resentful that his DCs will always come first. I know that's how it should be but I would never voice that to someone - its kind of taken as read really isn't it, having it forced down your throat is a bit much. DP said last night that if they wanted to live with him 100% he'd be happy for that to happen, because they're the most important thing to him - I just heard nails in the coffin of our relationship!!
My DCs are important to me too, but sometimes I put my happiness (which includes spending time with DP) above theirs because I'm not a total martyr. If I get the chance of an extra night without them (I only get one a week) I would take it, because they know I love them, I spend plenty of time with them and I have a life too.
OhTiger, would you honestly not do it again? It's so hard because I love DP so much but that doesn't mean that us all living together is going to work, does it? There are already tensions, with his DS being a bit jealous, to financial issues about who is going to pay for what even to who is going to have which bedroom. I can see it rapidly becoming a nightmare and me being paranoid/upset in my own home. Would your advice be not to live together?
I am a SM and have two DC with DH. Being a SM is hard. Really hard. And it will never be easy. One issue replaces another. You'll never be his priority. I have to say, knowing what I know now, about actually being a SM, I would think twice about DH. And I say that as someone with a very good relationship with DSD and her mum.
It is very, very hard. And if she is living with him full time they come as a package and she will always come ahead of you. That is only right, but it is incredibly difficult to maintain.
My DH has brought my DS up since he was a 2yo. His dad was, and is, still around, but DS came with me, and that's the way it's been for 23 years. That was the easy part.
DH had a DD and she has never been a full part of our lives. Her mum took her to live abroad and when she was 12 she decided she wanted more contact. I am sad to say it never really worked out. The DD was fed fairy tales by her mother who was an alcoholic, drug addict, hugely manipulative and it caused us to almost split up. It caused huge ruptures between our own DC together and the poor SD had so many issues because of her mums problems it was an uphill battle.
We have an uneasy truce now, many years later. SD is a grown woman with her own DC. There are so many things I would have done differently but there is no happy ending.
DonutForMyself, I feel exactly the same!! I actually end up feeling really hurt by him saying it and ended up saying to him, it is taken as read that we both love our children but I don't feel the need to constantly say that to you. I later asked him, what do you mean when you say your children will always come first? Does that mean in every situation regardless of the circumstances, because if it does then I am not sure that I CAN live with that. I love my children more than anything but at times they will come first and at times he will come first. I think DP feels very guilty about the breakdown of his marriage (he had an affair) and leaving DCs so makes himself a martyr. He says all the time that he misses them and wants to spend every minute with them which also rankles and he already has them 3.5 days as week and gets to pick them up from school every day whereas I work full time so don't get that amount of time with them. I just wonder if he can ever really be happy without living with them but then it was his choice to leave. Very difficult.
I could not do it personally, watching how difficult it has been for my DH with my sons over the years - and they liked him and vice versa.
However now I'm in the situation where my DH is so upset that my (our!) youngest is grown up and will shortly leave home. He's been his father and his friend. He has a better relationship with him, than he himself does with his own father.
It's difficult, very difficult. But it can be brilliant!
I was a stepmum for 9 years to 2 boys, and had my own DS halfway through that time.
I would never be a step mum again. You and your child always come second to the step children.
In my case I was taking care of two boys who although tiring at times I very much loved, for no thanks. One was asked who I was once and replied "Oh that's no one, she's just my dad's girlfriend". It still hurts years later. I would wipe their tears and snotty noses, hug them, chat with them, get out of bed early and fix them breakfast, soothe sibling squabbles, dealt with the stresses of CSA and a bitter ex, take them on holidays and days out, buy all their birthday and xmas presents, sacrificed having a friday or saturday night out for years etc yet to them I was no one.
OP your partner sounds like a good dad to his DD. I think you should part ways. Let him focus on his DD and you keep looking.
YourHand.... That's so sad.
I agree OP, leave now, move on and let him devote his life now, to his daughter. He is not fully available now. I love my DH but I wouldn't wish my situation with one of his daughters, on anyone. And yes, it is endless.
OhTiger, would you honestly not do it again?
Honestly, I wouldn't, I nearly left due to SC issues many times, but loved my H so didn't. I wish I had, I think we all would have been happier.
I've been single for a few years now, dated some in the last year, but deliberately only dated childless men. Have now decided not to bother at all, as I can see myself repeating mistakes with my own DDs. I wont put someone in the situation I was in, and I don't want to feel torn between my DDs needs and that of a man who I may like, but is nothing to them. So no partners for me until my children are grown. I find this sad, but the safest decision for them and me.
I don't really feel able to advise, as such, as every situation is different, and I didn't make a very good job of mine. Also, much depends on your DP, and his attitude to your 'blend'.
As you are already feeling wobbly (or you wouldn't have posted) maybe it would be best to delay moving in for a while. Just enjoy the fun bits of having a P without the stresses and strains of blending a family. If you can afford to have two homes, that would be what I would do.
On a another note, this is actually heartening reading. That it was not just me, and I'm not a horrible person to have found step-mumming nearly impossible.
There is so much pressure on women to be 'maternal' to everyone, not just our own biological children, and many stories of wonderful stepmums that made me feel inadequate. I felt less of a woman and often like a selfish unfeeling bitch for the way I sometimes felt, despite doing my best to love and care for the SC, to whom, like yourhandinmyhand I was nothing but a domestic appliance. What a waste of time and effort.
Another thing to consider OP.
Whilst I was a stepmum "we" couldn't afford for me to have a 2nd much wanted child, as it would have been DP's 4th. It was the right sensible decision, although the boys didn't live with us full time they were part of every financial family decision we made.
I am now single and desperately broody with an often lonely, only child.
If I'd settled down with someone who hadn't already started a family I might have had the family that I wanted for myself, and for my own DS.
YourHand I notice you're only young..... It may yet happen, love
YouHand that's exactly me right now I would love for my ds to have the sibling relationship I enjoyed with my siblings and indeed, DH had with his sister. But we can't afford it now. DH says ds has dss and dsd but even he can't pretend it's the same. I see the way they play together and it hurts to know ds will never have that
emilyeggs you'll never be in the position to afford a 2nd child. Knowing what I know, at 50 and with an only child, I'd move he'll and high water to have another, whilst it was till possible. Just saying.
Just like to add myself to list of sm with the one child.
Dh had a vasectomy during first marriage and was not prepared to raise another child after dd and ds. I would have been 43 and a sibling for my ds, who dearly wanted one, would still have been doable.
There is not a day goes by I don't regret remarrying a man with dc. The sacrifices have been pretty much all on my side. Ds and dsd and ds get along fine, but the bond between dsd and dss is unshakable and something ds will never have...
emilyeggs looking at your situation with hindsight I would say sod it and have another, even if it means they are piled to the rafters and you are all living on smartprice beans on toast. Just do it. I can't empathise enough how much I wish I had let heart win over head. Too sensible for my own good at times.
Eliza thanks. I am 30. I guess I might meet someone, but they would have to be willing to take on my autistic ds (hypocrite, me?!), and I don't get out much to meet people.
feelingbetter - yes it is all one sided sacrifice isn't it. That just sums it up very succinctly!
I know what you mean about the sibling bound. DS's two big brothers from his dad's first relationship do care about him but it's not the same bond at all. I grew up as one of 3 and do feel sad for DS. Me and him lost out.
I think it depends.
I married a man who had 3 young kids when I was 26. What with various issues with them/their mother, when I left him I said "never again".
Then met DH, who had a son of 9. Never had a single problem, think the world of him and he gave a lovely speech at our wedding last year (he's now nearly 24) which made me well up
It helps massively that his mum, DHs ex is now one of my best friends.
The situation with exDH was incredibly complicated and although I blamed myself at the time for "not being able" to cope I really think anyone would have struggled. Whereas with my now DH it was just all so straightforward and easy.
OP there is no shame in deciding this sort of situation isn't for you and TBH it doesn't sound promising.
OP what if his other DCs want to come and live with him? Could you cope? I am married to a wonderful man who has DS, now 18. But was 3 when I met DH. It has not been easy but I love DH enough to make it work.
So the question is ... Do you love DP enough to have an uncertain future with ready made issues??
My XP had children and I vowed I would never get involved with someone with children again. I was always third place behind his children and parents.
It will be hard and does he really want another child (or two) when he already has three? You really need to put yourself first I'm afraid and work out what is right for you.
I was a step mum, well actually i still am as im still married and living with their father.
When i met their father, i didnt have children of my own. At first it was fine, 6 months down the line it was hell, everything they did irritated me.
Their mum was a big pain in the arse, everytime a text alert went off, it was dh ex partner trying to cause a row.
The kids were naughty, disrespectful, and had some filthy habits. I started to hate them. Over night visits stopped after 12 months of being with dh as i could only cope with them for short period of times.
Dh no longer has contact with his children. He hasnt seen or spoken to them since our dd was born 9 months ago.
Never get in a relationship with a man with children, its too much hassle and your setting yourself a lifetime of misery.
Goingup, how very very for everyone concerned.
It isn't always like that.
I think I must be in the minority because I don't regret marrying DH. BUT I made it very clear on our first date (we'd known each other years) that I wanted a family and not just one. DH also agreed.
As DH has 1 more child to parent than me we decided that he be all the children's main carer (he is the father to all) and I concentrate on being main earner whilst he works part time. We share domestic chores and I take care of DD at weekends etc cos I miss her and to give DH a break.
DH was a bit disney dad to start with but has always brought DS up to be well behaved and is a good disciplinarian. He demanded DSS respect me from the start.
Also I have the benefit of DH having been a stepdad for a long time so he can see things from my pov.
I think its important to be a team and support each other, even more so than other relationships.
If DSS wanted to live with us, I don't think I would have much of a problem with that (except about bedroom logistics). But that's because I know DH won't try to palm off the parenting to me so he can be fun dad.
Some blokes think women have to do the bulk of the parenting, and some women subconciously pick these roles without knowing it. But sometimes non-traditional solutions can make a big difference.
An important contributory factor IMHO is having a supportive partner who doesnt put anyone in priority position or make either the DCs or the DP feel like they are in any pecking order. Like it or not if the man is forceful in not tolerating bad behaviour from DCs XP etc it really makes a difference. For a start, just the fact that the DCs see their DF respecting their SM gives a strong message that they too must be respectful. In turn it becomes a blueprint for them to respect women in their future (esp the boys!). If boys see their DF treating any woman like dirt under their shoe its almost license for them to think 'thats the way things are'.
Call me old-fashioned, but it's the man who can make or break things - sooo many threads talk about Disney DFs who let the situation get out of hand, and MNs wishing they would "grow some".
Whilst I know full well, if an XW wants to make trouble, they will but actually they are sometimes vilified when the root of the problem is the man is a pushover who allows the situation to spiral out of control without even trying to stamp some authority on the situation. Every circumstance is unique but this is my observation after 7 years of my own 'hard labour' which has turned out Ok but not without huge effort, emotional sweat and toil!
Fellingbetter that's really sad for you. I regret massively, NOT having a second child. I have an older sister and she is like the other side of me. We know each other and she knew me, when I was little, growing up, going through romance traumas (when friends couldn't be close enough, emotionally). She is always at the end of the phone for me (we live 120 miles apart) and I can only say, she has been enormously I portent in my life.
Ds will never have that. He's old enough to express his sadness now, that he doesn't have a sibling.
Thanks yourhand and Eliza. Hopefully our contributions will let OP see how important her own needs are and will do everything possible to see them met.
Am now at a stage in couple counseling where I won't be 'shushed' anymore. Not that this was ever asked openly, but women are still expected to martyr themselves for the 'greater good' and I'm finally feeling strong enough not to accept any bullshit.
Honesty is the best policy, as hackneyed as that sounds, and dh and dsc have no problems expressing their wants and expecting them met, well now my needs come first and when dh respects that (and communicates that to dsc too) then I'm happy to indulge them all whenever I can.
It saddens me (late 40s) that young women today must still fight for this.
Stepmooster - I love your solution. I'm wondering how I can sell that one to my DH ;-)
OP I'm a SM to DSD7 and DH has her 50% of the time. We have two younger children together and another on the way. I love my DH and he's a good Dad. I do not enjoy being a SM most of the time. It took a long time for me to admit it but my experience of it has been that it's an utterly thankless and depressing task. I have thought about leaving my DH but I won't because my DC love their Dad and they love their half-sister. He's a not a Disney Dad and my issues are not with his parenting; they're with the behaviour of my DSD, her Mum's presence in our lives and the constant complications that arise with blended families.
If I'd known when I met my DH what I know now, I wouldn't have accepted that first glass of wine. I made my bed, I'd advise making yours more comfortable than mine. Good luck.
Im sure there are many happy blended families out there. I feel sad to say I didn't quite have the courage to take things to the next level with my ex. He had 4 dcs all under 15, one is special needs and an ex wife there too. I have my two which would have many 6 kids. I think we had a decent chance of working out OK if i 100% committed. But decided to give the bio father of my kids another try and walked away from the whole blended family thing. I don't know if i will regret things as the guy of 4 kids i was seeing, felt like a soulmate. He was wonderful and I walked away.
Reading this post has made me realisE how hard things can get in a blended family. I don't feel so bad but I do feel really sad about him. I miss him terribly.
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