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Help with a (Non-Wicked) Stepmum(4 Posts)
My Mum passed away 7 years ago, and my Dad has since found and married a lovely lady (SM) who (by and large) I get on very well with. As an aside, she's foreign and so they spend about half the year here and then half the year abroad (as she is still working). It is her first marriage and she has no children.
There are two main "issues" that I don't quite know how to deal with.
1. Mentioning my Mum
As DS is getting older, I often want to ask whether I did x,y,z as well (we do ask MIL too) just so we can see if he gets his traits from DH or me - or if he's developed them all on his own. (Eg his total lack of fear, or his apparent enjoyment of my DH's tuneless singing!)
Trouble is, it's very hard to do this without bringing my Mum into it - and I don't want to offend/upset SM. Language makes it more difficult too - so it's complicated.
Would I be silly to ask my DF to bring it up with SM to see she's okay with it.
2. Her slightly weird comments re child rearing.
"You shouldn't tickle/blow raspberries on DS' tummy - it's cruel" Eh?!
And EVERYTIME we change a nappy, she asks whether he's pooed or not. Now, my DS is very expressive and trust me, you know when he's pooed - and he takes after DH and is a smelly little boy!
How can I gently get her to stop being a bit... less weird? Or am I doomed to just smile and ignore it for all eternity (I think I am on this one!)
Could you not take SM out just you and her and talk to her, say you don't want to upset her by mentioning your father's wife, but that she was your mum and was very important to you, and will she understand this?
I think with the weird comments, that sounds cultural, not much you can do about stuff like that apart from smile and nod, or if it's really far out, say That's not how we do things here, it's fine they way we are doing it, but with good humour and grace. she is not a mum, and we all know that some people say the most ridiculous things about children before they have kids.
You sound as if you are looking for reassurance and encouragement, and yes, a mother would fulfill that role in telling you how good a job you are doing with her GC, but as she is not here, you will have to rely on your own self belief.
You are doing a great job, raspberries and tickles are what being a little one is all about! Be strong, be bold, be sure that you are a great mum and that your little one is happy, healthy and thriving.
You sound really caring of her feelings, which is lovely.
I think it will be fine. It's only seven years since your Mum died, it's not as if your stepmum brought you up and would feel pushed out of the stepmum role by your mentioning your DS's biological granny. Even if she did feel that, well, it would be tough really - it's too important! Your DS (and you) deserve to be able to have your Mum as a presence in your lives.
Ask your Dad to mention it to her. I bet it will be fine... then perhaps you could talk to her too, and say, I know Dad spoke to you, I'm glad we can speak about this, my Mum was so important to me and I need to feel that she is a part of her grandson. But YOU are important too, you are the step-granny he sees and loves.
I would then perhaps ask her if she has photos and stories of HER childhood. Bring her memories into the family too. Does she have children/grandchildren of her own?
All this could be good bonding for all of you now your DS is here.
Slightly different take on this, as I am a stepmum/wife of a widower; I have two teenage stepkids and a one-year-old daughter. My stepkids' mom died four years ago.
I think it is sometimes hard for the older kids to see me with the baby. I try to ask questions of my DH, in front of the kids too, to make it clear that it is not 'off-limits'. For instance, I will ask what DSD's first words were, or whether her mum was musical too - I think it is important to keep those memories alive. But I do try to keep the spotlight on First Wife as a mom, rather than inviting lots of stories about her relationship with DH, if you see what I mean! We have photos on the wall of First Wife with the kids - amongst many other photos of grandparents, cousins, etc - but we don't hang up their old wedding photos.
When/if my stepkids have children themselves, I know there are going to be some tough issues. But wanting to know about your mum is understandable and healthy.
My advice would be to ease into it - ask a couple of 'factual' questions (don't start off with anything like 'so, how did mum feel about becoming a mother?' or 'what was our best vacation as a family?' - these might invite intimate recollections by your dad - which is fine, but perhaps best to share privately when your stepmum isn't right there listening and perhaps feeling left out). See how your stepmum responds. If she participates by laughing in the right places, or asking further questions herself, or volunteering a story of her own - then you are probably on safe ground. If she goes quiet or excuses herself, she might be finding it hard to hear.
You shouldn't have to avoid every mention of your own mum, but it is thoughtful of you to consider stepmum's feelings, and a good investment in your relationship! And if you have time alone with your dad, make the most of that. I try to give my DH and his kids a bit of space to talk about First Wife sometimes - one night he got out a box of old photos and they sat around the tabel looking through them; I took a cup of tea and went to bed with a novel. It didn't bother me - but it is all in the approach, IYSWIM.
I think shoutyhamster makes a great point, too - bring your stepmum into the discussion; ask her questions too.
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