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To think maybe women find it more difficult being step parents?

(27 Posts)
Strangeday Wed 28-Sep-16 11:58:33

I know of course this won't be the case for everyone but it just seems so in my experience.

Thinking of all the people I know, families with step dads mostly just seem to just get on with it. Perhaps it's because the mum does most of the parenting, but I've rarely heard step dads complaining about their stepchildren and more often seem to play good cop when the kids are acting up.

I've got quite a few friends that are step mums, they all have massive issues either with the kids or the ex.

It's always that they resent how much maintenance their partner pays, or they resent their partner putting his children first as in prioritising time with his kids. Or they have issues with the step children's behaviour (which to me always sounds normal), or they accuse the ex of taking liberties of having too much of a nice lifestyle, or they say their partners access time rules theirs lives and so on.

There's the old stereotype of the wicked stepmother isn't there.

Is there anything in it? Or perhaps men sit back too much and play piggy in the middle?

All I know is I've seen usually lovely friends turn into horrible stepmothers.

MitzyLeFrouf Wed 28-Sep-16 12:01:24

Perhaps it's because the mum does most of the parenting

That's about the nub of it I suspect. Society defines women more by their parental status. Far more than men are defined by being a dad.

notinagreatplace Wed 28-Sep-16 12:04:08

I've noticed this too. I think a lot of it is down to the fact that children usually primarily live with their mothers. So, if you're a stepfather, you pretty much just have to accept them as part of your household or it isn't going to work.

Whereas, if you're a stepmother, your stepchild isn't around all that much so it's a lot easier to see them as not really part of your household - you may not like having them around very much but you think "hey, it's only EOW, I can grit my teeth and deal with that" and then it turns out to be harder than you think but you're now committed to it.

I think, for the same reason, women tend to be a lot more assertive about insisting that their new partners take on responsibility for their kids - you see loads of threads on here where posters will say that anything other than a stepfather being fully willing to financially provide for stepkids is completely unreasonable, whereas any suggestion that a stepmother provide financially for her stepchildren is met with total horror.

Mozfan1 Wed 28-Sep-16 12:46:39

If you're a step dad, you're seen as noble or whatever for taking on a woman's children.

If you're a step mum, you're seen as wicked/ controlling/ tearing up the family quite often.

I am neither a step mum nor have I had a step mum, just observation/a lot of women get a lot of stick on mumsnet when they are step mums and complain about their situation flowers

Mozfan1 Wed 28-Sep-16 12:48:09

Sorry that didn't scan very well- meant to mean

If a woman who is a step mum complains about the tribulations of family life they can get flamed at times

Cocklodger Wed 28-Sep-16 12:56:00

Step dads- Brilliant men, stepping up to the plate where another man has failed (Which is an insult in itself if the dad is a very good hands on one!)
Step mums- awful interfering bags that are controlling and probably the reason the family split up.

Teahornet Wed 28-Sep-16 13:00:20

Yes, what Mitzy and Moz said.

The two visibly happiest step parents I know are a stepfather who has been around since his stepson was very small, and said stepson's biological father no longer has contact (for excellent reasons) and a very cool young stepmother who came into her stepchildren's lives when they were teenagers but who is not in any sense a hands-on parent-figure to them, and who has no children of her own or any desire to have them.

Bobochic Wed 28-Sep-16 13:03:23

Being a stepmother is extraordinarily difficult logistically - DC come and go and need huge amounts of extra logistical support due to living between two houses. Routines are much harder to establish and you don't, as a stepmother, have the same authority and control over DSCs' agenda that you do over your own DCs' agenda. Tasks that all too often fall to the woman of a household, such as catering, take on a whole new dimension when catering for DC who have not been brought up with your own food preferences. Boundaries/manners/expectations all need to be renegotiated and mothers, rather than fathers, all too often take responsibility for those things (often by default).

expatinscotland Wed 28-Sep-16 13:03:26

YANBU. I always ran a mile from any man with kids back when I was single and childfree for that very reason.

Mozfan1 Wed 28-Sep-16 13:05:36

Really sad, step mums get a fucking hard time a lot flowers

Mozfan1 Wed 28-Sep-16 13:06:21

Yes cocklodger!

AGruffaloCrumble Wed 28-Sep-16 13:08:06

I agree. My DP has been around since DD1 was 6 months old and it has all just gone on naturally from there. He has just got on with it since day 1 and we have never had any issues to be honest. I think stepmums get a much harder rap to be honest. I do worry about who ex-p chooses to have in DD's life but would never give them a hard time.

Ledkr Wed 28-Sep-16 13:09:39

I agree op.i posted this ages ago and got a little flamed for it.

Quite a few of my friends have non resident step kids and the vitriol fir the ex and sometimes kids really amazes me. Resentment about money being paid or the ex shock horror asking for help or a few quid towards shoes. One friend was ranting about her dp giving his dd some money for a Mother's Day card shock

My step dad was not fret but ok but dh has never resented paying towards my dd and has put up with a fair bit of crap on top of her father being very disinterested in her. Dh even recognised that she needs to see her dad more and facilitated it.
Men don't seem to be threatened by the ex in the same way as women often do.

ToastDemon Wed 28-Sep-16 13:10:23

It wouldn't surprise me. The role of stepmother seems to be a can't-win one, in a way that doesn't seem to happen to stepfathers.
One only has to read the responses to stepmother posting on here.
I would not have touched a man with children with a barge pole when I was single.

mixety Wed 28-Sep-16 13:14:46

I don't know...of the few "step" families I know IRL it is the one with a step dad that has the most problems. He is way too strict with them and its always causing issues.

I am a stepmum and have v few problems. Get on great with both DSS and his mum.

I am wary of this thread feeding into the wicked stepmother trope which does persist on mumsnet. Though I do get the theory of more pressure on women to be maternal and do housewifely tasks for their DSC which doesn't exist so much for men.

howtodowills Wed 28-Sep-16 13:22:46

I think women find it much harder to be step-parents because it is much harder to be a stepmother than a stepfather.

Research shows stepmothers get a harder time in society and in families from stepchildren. DCs are usually happy mum has found someone but do not want dad to find someone.

Alongside that ex Husbands are generally less bitter and poisonous than ex wives so tend to let the stepdad get on with it rather than ex wives who tend to get much more involved with what goes on in their child's "other" home.

So YANBU with what you say but you should probably give your stepmum friends a bit more understanding as peddling the "wicked stepmother" character doesn't help all the women out there who are just trying their best in very challenging circumstances.

BirdyBedtime Wed 28-Sep-16 13:22:49

My only experience of a step-situation reflects this. My friend married someone who had a child with a previous partner. The child was only a toddler when they got together but she never accepted the child as part or their family - she used to complain about money and time, never got involved in parenting at all, and when their own children came along she did pressure her DH to put them first.

I remember asking her once if the child was going on holiday with them to the response "why would we take her on our family holiday".

I couldn't and still don't understand why, but I suppose unless you are in a situation ......

The relationship with the child eventually petered out from EOW to once a month, and now she is an adult I don't think he even sees her, which I'm sure is not how he would have liked things to pan out.

Don't know any stepdad situations so can't comment

howtodowills Wed 28-Sep-16 13:24:55

In addition it's common knowledge that Stepsons are easier for stepmums than stepdaughters.

id be interested to know OP whether the situations which cause your friends problems are with SDs or SSs. I know in my circle the SSs are very low maintenance but the SDs..... Well that is where things are a lot more tricky

mumofthemonsters808 Wed 28-Sep-16 13:29:00

Ive also seen Stepdads live in the family home and have a relationship with the Mother but be disengaged from the children.HE does not see the children as his responsibility and his behaviour does not accommodate the children.The Mothers main priority is keeping him happy and her kids are sidestepped, he may live in a family unit but he plays the role of only Mum's boyfriend. Usually, they have a child together, instigated by him and only then does he step up, but it is very clear to the existing children that he does not hold them in the same regard. The kids tend to leave home early and leave the new family unit of three to it. It's very harsh, and I know it is not the case for all StepDads, but I've seen this happen many, many times.

R2G Wed 28-Sep-16 13:32:06

Birdy - that is really sad.

CozyAutumn Wed 28-Sep-16 13:32:33

Though I do get the theory of more pressure on women to be maternal and do housewifely tasks for their DSC which doesn't exist so much for men.

In a nutshell, this.^^
The stepdad is in a relationship with the mum, so the mum just gets on with parenting her children and doing all of the hands on stuff, chores etc... and she is fine with it because they're her kids.
The stepmum is in a relationship with the dad, who might not be so hands on and might leave the chores to her. She's expected to be maternal and a loving little housewife. And because she's a woman she might only work part time or not work at all in order to work around her own children being babies/school runs etc.. so is at home a lot more than the stepdad is as he's at work all day. So she does a lot more running around and caring duties for her dsc.

I think in summary, sometimes more is expected of a stepmum in terms of caring duties, running the children from A to B and housework than a stepdad, so I can see why it can be a more difficult role to play.

IceIceIce Wed 28-Sep-16 13:38:42

I think it is harder to be a step parent. The bio mum is always painted as a bitter psycho and the new woman is always a horrible slag who shouldn't be allowed near children.

Step mums are always told they should act like a parent but always remember they're not a parent and have no rights.

I hardly ever hear men ripping into each other this way and when they do its usually a more valid concern.

My ex is a bit of a twat and likes to pretend I have an issue with his wife. I don't know the woman well enough to have a problem. I had a problem with one thing she said once. Any problems I have are usually his behaviour nothing to do with anyone else. I actually offered to give her Parental Responsibility (cause I hate her obvs) but he insists on painting this little picture where I'm the spiteful bitter ex.

IceIceIce Wed 28-Sep-16 13:39:01

Harder to be a step mum*

reallyanotherone Wed 28-Sep-16 13:41:12

Also stepdads tend to live with the step kids. Usually in the family home, so the step dad integrates into normal family life, and the mum carries on with school runs etc. Rules and routine don't change.

It's a completely different relationship living with someone in your own home than visiting someone else's home every weekend. There will be friction as you have different ways of doing things, even the little things like eating in front of the tv versus table...

Meeep Wed 28-Sep-16 13:46:12

I often seem to hear about stepfathers being awful/violent to teenage boys, or sexually harassing teenage girls.

Kids moving out at 15 or 16 because their stepfather just made the home so unwelcoming and uncomfortable.

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