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To think there's nothing wrong with "playing happy families"

(44 Posts)
bytheseawhereitsnice Thu 25-Jun-20 20:38:40

I have two young children with my STBH and he also has children with his ex wife. I have been in said children's lives for just short of six years now and of course I'm very fond of them.

Ex wife doesn't like me because I came on the scene a few months post split and she still thought there would be a way back for them (that was her hope, not his)

I am categorically not the other woman and I didn't know him when they were a couple. I met the girls for the first time after we had been together 6-7 months.

Mum has never warmed to me despite me making an effort to get along so I no longer bother trying.

Fast forward to now she still makes the odd remark about me "playing happy families" with her children and it makes me uncomfortable.

When the girls are at our house they are treat exactly the same as my own children by me in terms of kindness, being included and nice days out. I don't interfere with their custody arrangements or involve myself in discipline/telling off as it's not my place. I don't step on anybodies toes.

I don't refer to myself as their step mother (we aren't married yet) but I do think of them in that way. I'm not vocal about it and have never referred to them as my step children, not even to DP.

If I'm buying for my children then I will buy for the girls too because I think it is the right thing to do. If we are out and we take a photo of our DC then naturally the girls will be in the photo. I've made an effort to bond with them which should be the standard shouldn't it?

If playing happy families means having a good relationship with them and always making them feel welcome then I don't see what I'm doing wrong.

what I can do other than exclude them and make them feel unwelcome which I would never, ever do.

Surely you would want your exes new wife to be kind to your children.

What am I doing wrong?

OP’s posts: |
MoreCookiesPlease Thu 25-Jun-20 20:41:56

Nothing, you're doing nothing wrong and those children are very lucky to have such a gracious and kind stepmother. The ex wife is just jealous. Rise above it.

Destroyedpeople Thu 25-Jun-20 20:41:57

You composed this whole post because of 'the odd remark'?
If you are so sure you are doing a great job why would it bother you that much?

bytheseawhereitsnice Thu 25-Jun-20 20:45:22


You composed this whole post because of 'the odd remark'?
If you are so sure you are doing a great job why would it bother you that much?

Because when you have been hearing it for years it grates on you.

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ExpectingatChristmas Thu 25-Jun-20 20:45:48

I don't think you are doing anything wrong. I think she is feeling naturally jealous of you being with her ex and more importantly having to share her children.

I really don't think there is anything else you can do about this situation other than to try your best to not let her feelings bother you. In time once the children are older she may begin to feel differently.

HogDogKetchup Thu 25-Jun-20 20:47:45

You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

MrsTerryPratchett Thu 25-Jun-20 20:48:09

Because when you have been hearing it for years it grates on you.

She's renting space in your head. And the only person who can change that is you.

ButtonandPickle19 Thu 25-Jun-20 20:57:18

You’re doing nothing wrong... keep on as you are and ignore her

D4rwin Thu 25-Jun-20 20:59:00

Smile and compliment her children. Everytime. We are all so lucky they do seem happy, don't they? They make such an effort to be welcoming. They are so caring towards [your children] It really shows what lovely children they are? Etc etc. Let her be the snarky miserable bitch.

bytheseawhereitsnice Thu 25-Jun-20 20:59:26

It's not something I dwell on continuously, but it pisses me off when it happens.

I feel as though it undermines my relationship and by this point she should have accepted that I'm going to be a permanent fixture.

OP’s posts: |
bytheseawhereitsnice Thu 25-Jun-20 21:01:41

She doesn't like it when they go home and talk about me but it's inevitable given that I live here and participate in family outings.

If they have nice things to say about me (which they do because they're very sweet kids) that annoys her.

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Ellisandra Thu 25-Jun-20 21:02:45

This isn’t an AIBU, you just wanted a place to have a wee bitch about her. Which is understandable, and possibly justified. But it’s not a genuine question!

Mumoftwo12345 Thu 25-Jun-20 21:04:15

Rise above and be the better person. Keep on as your are. My Exh left me for the other woman, sure I loathed her at first, my daughter was just a baby. 5 years on, she loves my daughter. She gives her time, affection and spends money on her. My daughter adores her. My life is easier because of this, I don't know why you'd want to cause greater upset for yourself and your child.

Ellisandra Thu 25-Jun-20 21:04:20

I was confused by your post at first reading though. I’ve only ever seen STB... used to mean STBXH. STB husband - you have a choice of boyfriend and fiancé. Or H2B, on some sites grin

Dominicgoings Thu 25-Jun-20 21:05:09

How do you know she doesn’t like it? Are the children telling you this? Or your DH?

Ellisandra Thu 25-Jun-20 21:08:40

She should never let anything show to the kids. But don’t underestimate that it can still grate, years on, seeing your kids be a family with someone else. She had them - presumably - thinking that they would have one family, with her, and their dad.

I’m a stepmum, and my child has a stepmum - who I like. Honestly, when that family do nice things together, 99% of me is so glad it’s worked out that way. And 1% of me is still disappointed, annoyed, sad - that I should never have not had my child full time. It’s hard.

bytheseawhereitsnice Thu 25-Jun-20 21:10:20


This isn’t an AIBU, you just wanted a place to have a wee bitch about her. Which is understandable, and possibly justified. But it’s not a genuine question!

Fair one grin

Though i did want to know whether anyone thought IWBU to be so involved with the girls, buying them things etc

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Wearywithteens Thu 25-Jun-20 21:12:43

I think you sound like you are doing the best by these children. Good. The situation is not their fault and you are treating them fairly.

However I do understand why the ex is bitter. I would be bitter about family breaking up no matter how perfect the new partner was.

You sound like a decent person with a happy life. Can’t you just allow her her bitterness? Ignore the snide remarks. It’s not really about you. It’s her issue that she lives with and she needs to deal with it.

Ellisandra Thu 25-Jun-20 21:13:56

I don’t think you’re unreasonable being a good stepmum to them. I appreciate it from my own child’s stepmum. And I meant it - that she shouldn’t say anything to them. But honestly - you have two of your own. You have NO IDEA what it is like for them to have a family that isn’t you, their own mother. I don’t like it at all.

bytheseawhereitsnice Thu 25-Jun-20 21:16:20


How do you know she doesn’t like it? Are the children telling you this? Or your DH?

She has been making direct comments for years, a recent example being said in front of all of the children (theirs and ours)

Her eldest was telling her about what we had done on the weekend and her reply was "that's lovely, like one big happy family aren't you"

She has also made digs via Facebook memes, so I no longer have her on social media. She only ever added me to be nosy and took umbrage with me posting photos of the children together, with their dad's permission obviously.

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BertieBotts Thu 25-Jun-20 21:17:29

She is jealous because she wanted to be a happy family with your DP and her children and that didn't work out, for whatever reason. Now you have exactly what she wanted. Of course that hurts her on some level, especially if she's found it hard to meet a new partner perhaps due to DC. You haven't done anything. But it's natural that she would struggle with it, perhaps making barbed comments is how she copes? It could be worse I would think nothing of it.

Ellisandra Thu 25-Jun-20 21:18:12

Btw, I have made “happy families” snide remarks - never to my daughter, but to my own second husband. They’ve not been promoted by my XH’s second wife - but by him! I do see him doing stuff with their new family, when he didn’t with ours... and feel pissed off. Those nice days out you have? My XH has those - never showed any interested in doing stuff with our child when we were together. I think it’s a little bit an age thing - I’ve seen other men kick in as better dads when kids are older. But it grates that he “plays happy families” now, when that was what I do desperately wanted when I had a baby with him. XW probably more cross about him, than you!

bytheseawhereitsnice Thu 25-Jun-20 21:19:47

I made allowances for the comments and snide remarks for years for that reason alone, because I understand it will have been difficult seeing somebody else spend time with her kids and her ex husband who she wanted to reconcile with.

That is why I made the effort to be understanding and was always nice to her, friendly and talkative. I was hoping she would warm to me eventually but 6 years on nothing has changed and it's getting really old.

I'm pretty sure the children have got the gist that she doesn't like me, she doesn't go out of her way to hide it.

OP’s posts: |
BertieBotts Thu 25-Jun-20 21:20:24

I also misread as soon to be ex and was confused at first! Fiancé or DP would have been easier to understand smile

bytheseawhereitsnice Thu 25-Jun-20 21:23:19

Sorry for the confusing terms, he's my fiance

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