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Really struggling with being a stepmum at the moment.

(56 Posts)
needaholidaynow Sun 12-May-13 10:56:24

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

NotaDisneyMum Sun 12-May-13 11:46:26

If you and your DP are on the same page, then you've overcome the biggest hurdle - and it does get easier.

There is nothing wrong with detaching - sometimes it's the only way to save your own sanity; but it needs to be an emotional detachment, not just a physical one.

You should not be expected to love your DSD, or even meet her needs while she is in your home - if you choose to do those things, then try to remember that it is your choice, not something that she is entitled to or that you are required to do.

You sound emotionally exhausted; look after yourself and leave your DSD parents to worry about her, at least for a little while.

Celticcat Sun 12-May-13 11:51:03

Hi needaholiday. Have been there...
First, I really don't think it's about money at all. We were struggling a bit financially when we got together, and I always thought, like you, that mum and her family were preferred because they seemed to have unlimited funds to entertain and impress the dsc. Dsd in particular always went on about all the posh people and places she knows, how awesome she and her mum are, blah blah blah. In the end its all about being insecure, not knowing ones position in the new set up, etc. it has been easier for dss as he was never that spoiled, but dsd was the sun and her family the satellites so it is still VERY hard for her to cope, and sadly it looks like she never will. But she's 16 and has reconciled herself to view us with disdain.
How old is your dsd? As a child or preteen she may well come round to some acceptable degree. Getting on with dc helps. How is that working out? Xx

needaholidaynow Sun 12-May-13 12:10:48

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NewlywedUpTheDuff Sun 12-May-13 14:04:31

It is hard sometimes, I have a 5 year old DSD, but have you tried talking to your DP about how you feel? Maybe deciding what things you will and won't do with your DSD? Might make it easier if you both know what tasks you are and aren't prepared to do such as bathing, etc.

It's hard when they talk about their mums and other lives as such but I think on the other hand we can't expect them not to talk about their mum like they probably talk about their dad when they are not with him.

I wouldn't worry too much, but just remember that if you are in a good relationship she will probably be in your life a long time so best to get this sorted sooner rather than later or it could cause problems between you and your DP, especially when the difficult teenage years start! confused

Good luck, these feelings will pass smile

needaholidaynow Sun 12-May-13 14:56:28

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needaholidaynow Sun 12-May-13 14:59:40

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Primadonnagirl Sun 12-May-13 15:05:58

OP as a stepmum myself I can identify with a lot of what you are saying but please think again before doing anything that means you are treating your own children differently. of course you can't "just love " but she can't " just love" you either. And remember you and your DH had choices to make about getting together etc. all of your children didn't and they have to deal with it too. You are not being unreasonable to expect a fair share of parenting between her Mum and Dad but the minute you two got married you became another parent in the equation too and therefore you will always have to play a part..and it's often when you least feel like it! honestly not being judgey this is written from the heart as I have had to tell myself this many many times and even now when they are grown up.x

needaholidaynow Sun 12-May-13 15:14:22

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NotaDisneyMum Sun 12-May-13 15:51:25

the minute you two got married you became another parent in the equation too and therefore you will always have to play a part..and it's often when you least feel like it!

I could not disagree with this more - both as a Mum and as a step-mum.

I am not, nor ever will be, another parent to my DSC - they have two parents and if I had wanted to parent more DC's, I would have had more of my own!
My DD's SM is not a parent to my either; something I have had to remind my ex of on occasion - regardless of the nature of the relationship between DD and her SM, the various women in DD's life are not interchangeable (as he has sometimes believed) and DD's SM does not have a place at the table in parenting discussions between DP and myself, any more than I do in discussions between my DP and his ex about the DSC.

Parents cannot rely on the goodwill of their partners to absolve themselves of their parenting responsibilities. OP your priority is your own DC's - you are quite right that their needs should come first and no-one should ask you or your DC's to sacrifice your own relationship in order to fulfil a parenting role for your DSC. If you choose to do it, then that is different, but it should not be expected of you.

Primadonnagirl Sun 12-May-13 16:08:43

Well Disney we'll have to disagree on that one..I feel step parenting gives you loads of opportunities to add value to the children's lives in a parental role ..all I meant was there is a good side and a down side to it..but I really dont think treating children differently cos of their DNA is ever a good thing..

needaholidaynow Sun 12-May-13 16:28:30

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NotaDisneyMum Sun 12-May-13 16:39:32

Sometimes I do feel like I am an evil stepmum for deciding that I don't want to play a part in DSDs schooling, hobbies, and so on.

Embrace it! I openly refer to myself as a Wicked StepMum in front of all the DC's - in order to highlight to them all that I am not the DSC Mum, and that I have no obligations towards them at all grin

I think it is incredibly unhealthy to consider all the DC's the same in terms of your emotional investment - it is very rare for a DSC to consider their step-parent as an equal parent emotionally, and therefore by treating them as such, it generates a range of conflicting emotions for them. They may feel obligated to you in some way and begin to resent that, they may feel guilty about the relationship (particularly if the other parent is not supportive of the relationship between child and step-parent) and begin to withdraw or they may begin to make comparisons between the various parents they have in their life.

When you "parent" a child, be it yours or someone elses, your own values and beliefs come into play. IMO, that is overstepping the role of step-parent - just as it would be if a childminder, grandparent or family friend did so.

needaholidaynow Sun 12-May-13 16:46:30

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NotaDisneyMum Sun 12-May-13 17:25:11

That's an a awful lot of pressure to put on you - and it sounds like he's not considered what losing 'mum' would do to his DD.

It's understandable that you feel put upon if your DP is giving you the impression that your value as a partner is based on your ability to parent a child who already has a loving mum and Dad sad

needaholidaynow Sun 12-May-13 18:12:27

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Celticcat Mon 13-May-13 06:56:10

My dh also made a big song and dance about us going to be a proper little family, I.e. ds, me and him. So that when his dsc came over regularly I felt impelled to treat them with the same or even more special care then my own ds, as implied by dh enthusiasm towards ds.
All hot air. It very slowly dawned on me that dh and I were giving and gushing all over dsc, and ds (and me) were being sidelined! E.g. i would be frequently pressed into helping with schoolwork, doing everyone's laundry, therefore cutting my own spare time and taking attention from ds. I just didnt see the same input by dh, felt he didnt want to be there for ds, especially in front of dsc.
I then detached diplomatically, I.e. no showdowns or anything, but consistently watch over ds wants and needs and let dh cover the dsc. all kids do their own laundry now, help preparing own meals (occasionally) and dcs do homework/ study themselves at last (just like mine btw).

Better, healthier and more honest all round.

BabyHMummy Mon 13-May-13 14:50:45 new to the step parenting lark but surely you should treat all the children equally?

Are "your dcs" also your dp/dh's?

racmun Mon 13-May-13 15:31:24

I'm a step parent and really empathise with everything the op had said.
I have withdrawn from going out of my way for my dss, it was a thankless task and I got so stressed out. I have told my dh to make his arrangements with his ex as if I'm not available to help out. There is a history of his ex being positively vile to me which culminated in her assaulting me for which she got a police caution. Thankfully my dh understands how I feel and is on board.

Obv when dss is here he is included in everything we do but I agree with op he has his own mother to go above and beyond and I certainly wouldn't sacrifice time with my ds for my dss.

I always found being a step mum really hard but genuinely thought it would get better over time. It hasn't and this really hasn't been helped by the ex's negativity towards me.

I often think if I known when I met my dh that I would still feel like I do about his child then I wouldn't have got into a relationship with him.

Being a step mum is v v v hard and you have to do what keeps your sanity. If that means withdrawing then do it for everyone's sake!

brdgrl Mon 13-May-13 15:37:13

Don't try and treat her as your own, it is costing you too much, and there's no reason to think it is what she needs, either!

I have two DSCs but their mum is deceased. The thing is, though, these issues are still there. They don't have "another life" to compare to, like you say - except for the fantasy one they imagine they might be in if mum had lived or dad hadn't remarried. But they still give me no recognition for the 'mum' things I do. They don't appreciate what their dad or I do for them, most of the time. Instead of "at mum's I don' have to...", I hear "no one else at school has to..." A lot of it is regular teenage stuff, but as a stepmum, when there are not other things coming from the kids to offset the hurt (like affection, respect, thoughtfulness), it is bound to wear you down into the ground. I read somewhere about the high rate of clinical depression amongst stepmums (much higher than among non-stepmums or even stepdads), and I think this has a lot to do with it.

My point though is that this doesn't just have to do with the mum, and what she is or isn't doing with/for her kids. Nor is our role as "stepmum" something that has to be defined in relation exclusively to that other person. As a stepmum, we each need, I think, to define that role based on what we can carry and what our own children need from us - first - and then what our stepkids need from us and what our relationship needs to thrive. If there is one thing are two things that are so obvious from reading the posts on this board, it is that 1) as a stepmum, you will never win by trying to live up to anyone else's expectations, and 2) your DP needs to be just as clear on what your role is as you do yourself.

Another thing...
To everyone (on this thread and others) saying "treat the kids equally", or "don't do anything for your kids that you don't do for your stepkids" - please step back. It's absurd, really it is, to try and prescribe this to every family across the board.
- Kids don't always want this, and it isn't always what they need, either. Some kids will welcome a stepmum in a parental role, and some will fight it tooth and nail.
- Some families can operate with one set of rules and one set of privileges for every kid - and some can't - it might be logistically impossible (as when there are two homes, or even three homes - imagine trying to "equalize" things like pocket money, curfews, screen privileges, acceptable levels of backtalk - between the stepmum's house, her ex's house, and her DP's ex's house!), In other cases, it doesn't fit the flow of life in their home. Or maybe the kids just have different needs. Within 'normal' families, all children are not always treated exactly the same and that isn't necessarily a bad thing - so what does "equal" even mean???

Sorry - bit of a rant there - sorry.

needaholidaynow Mon 13-May-13 16:02:27

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BabyHMummy Mon 13-May-13 16:45:47

I understand where you are coming from and you shouldn't have to or be made to feel guilty about time with your own kids. I am pg so some of your concerns I share as my dsc's can be little swines but my dp and I have strict rules here that all the children will follow. They are different to the rules they have at home where they get everything and are expected to do nothing in return. Here they earn their treats etc. They have consequences for their actions here which they don't have st home.

I intention of trying to be their mother or mother figure but whilst they are in my care (dp workd shifts so some weekends they are mostly with me) I do intend to parent them where necessary.

I get zero thanks from the kids but I do get the recognition from dp and having seen dss improve both his behaviour and social skills thru having a more stable structure is reward enough.

You and dp need to decide and define your role and the extent you have to be involved whilst Stoll giving you time with your other kids.

Primadonnagirl Mon 13-May-13 20:11:04

Brdgrl - I just think I would hate to be that little girl who saw she was being treated differently..maybe I'm being over sensitive

needaholidaynow Mon 13-May-13 20:46:51

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Primadonnagirl Mon 13-May-13 21:02:23

Me..I meant if I was that I'd be a little girl...if you see what I mean!!just meant I think if I was a step child I wouldn't want to pick up on a vibe that meant I was being treated differently...but I also appreciate that doesn't mean I'm instantly adorable!

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