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What is the hardest thing about being a step-parent for you?

(66 Posts)
CaptainBinker Wed 16-Oct-13 23:11:53

I have been a step-mum for 6 years now and like most others, it's been an up-and-down journey, mostly up though, thank goodness. Although I feel that all the adults involved are really amicable and that the whole situation is good, there are still things that bug me sometimes...

1. Knowing that someone I wouldn't normally choose to be part of my life (i.e. not someone I'd naturally choose as a friend) has actually now got quite a lot of control over my life

2. Having totally different views on parenting to DSS' mum but having to go along with what she wants even though I am not in agreement with it.

I don't want this to sound like a moan but I know that there's probably very few step-parents out there who can say that having stepchildren is always (and has always been) 100% a positive experience in every aspect.

I just wondered if I'm weird to feel this way and is there any way to get through it?

cappy123 Fri 18-Oct-13 10:16:15

DSD is 13 and resident. Ex not problematic and sees her daughter daily. We're married now after 2 years dating. My challenges have been:

1. Too much too soon.
Usually you hear this about over eager stepparents. We did family things like camping, adventures & theme parks, cinema and restaurants. After initial wariness DSD openly initiated hugs of me in front of her grandparents, other parents etc, and was forever asking when we'd get married and the baby question came up almost daily. She was also elated to be my bridesmaid; and we've done make-up tutorials together and watched films etc together too.

But honestly, sometimes the pace and level of closeness from DSD and DH has felt overwhelming, like they both wanted a perfect family, which I knew from myself being a stepchild was unrealistic, esp with DSD's own mum being so active in her life. So now I've moved in after marriage (I was there 50% of time before) and DSD closeness has dropped off big time, but more suprisingly than I expected. Am wondering about school / hormones / what's going on in the other home e.g. whether mum is being supportive about us or firing darts...

2. DH communication and learning to step up and take the lead.
To his credit we are reading step family books together which feel like a life saver. I think he's still getting to grips with his pivotal role of leader, bad cop (when needs be), standing firm in our marriage so his daughter gets the best from us. Especially given point 1 above. She and I both need him to take the lead, it's getting weird when he's not at home for a couple hours; DSD and I will barely talk.

3. In-laws. They live in the flat below us and we rent from them the flat above! It's not a major problem, emotional independence from parents is a bigger factor for me, but just one to watch. DH's mum has seen hubby's past relationship trials and sometimes asks how we're getting on as a 'trio'. If things are going well I might say, but I keep my mouth shut if not. (We are saving to move out - DH seems keener than me on this front, so I'm not concerned, we'll get there)!

4. Grief. We all experience it but I still feel unsettled in the city I moved to join my hubby, and miss my friends, old colleagues, old home etc. Even when change is for a good reason (marriage - and I do love my hubby), it can remind me good things I miss from before.

FrauMoose Fri 18-Oct-13 11:11:57

I hated the wet beds. Both my stepchildren ended up with wet sheets nearly every night until they were in (more than) double figures. My stepdaughter would wake us in the small hours tearfully. My stepson slept through but would then occupy the (only) bathroom for hours in the morning having a nice leisurely soak to clean up. We didn't have central heating or a tumble drier and sometimes the laundry from one weekend/holiday stay etc wasn't done before the next one started.

It was all very well the ex saying they would grow out of it in their own time. She had the financial settlement, the modern house, the central heating and the tumble drier. We were skint, I had a new baby, and am a terrible sleeper.

It is a) a wonder that my marriage lasted and b) that I am on good terms with my - now adult - stepkids.

MsColour Fri 18-Oct-13 11:18:56

Oh and another one - the perception of the outside world. You either pretend you are a 'normal' family or have to explain the complications.

E.g. kids were playing out last night and dss had stopped to stroke dog (spoken to him about stranger danger). The owner asked if the kids were mine when I came over. Just said yes cos it was easier than trying to explain "well those two are mine, he is my stepson, well not really my stepson cos we aren't married, I'm still technically married to someone else..." and couldn't help wondering what she thought about these 3 children, two of whom look very alike and one who looks completely different all trailing after me. But had already explained my family at the school gate once that day.

Doesn't bother me that much but worry about people being judgmental.

Kaluki Fri 18-Oct-13 11:50:55

Here’s my twopence worth:
1 Our feelings for our dc are so different. DS2 passed his 11+ this week and although DP was pleased for him and said the right things, I know he isn’t as proud as me. I don’t expect him to be but I miss that connection you have when you share a child together.
2 The fact that DP and I can never go on holiday together without him having to take it unpaid because he has his dc for 4 weeks in the school holidays and that is all his holiday used up.
3 That everything we do has to tie in to ‘the contract’ so if we are invited to a wedding or family event our first thought is whether it falls on a weekend he has his dc, and if it does and they aren’t invited we have the drama about who will look after them because DP will die before he misses a contact weekend.
4 Never coming first. sad
5 Hardly ever getting time on my own with my dc.

JaquelineHyde Fri 18-Oct-13 11:57:11

I am stepmum to my two beautiful daughters (6 and 8). I also have a son (7) from a previous relationship and my husband and I have just had our first child together (5 months).

My daughters don't see their birth mother, DD1 was abandoned at a year old and DD2 was removed at birth. DH has full residency of them both and we have been together since they were 1 and 2.

My biggest problems have been;

1, The knowledge that no matter what I/we do our DDs will, we expect, want to find their birth Mum and despite us knowing all the nasty stuff we know about the abuse and neglect she caused we will have to smile sweetly, support both DDs and just be ready to pick up the pieces.

2, The attitude of others when they discover you are only a step parent (both dh and I have experience of this) and then the utter contempt they hold you in when they find out that both DDs were subject to care proceedings. Step parent + social services = evil, nasty and untrustworthy to most people.

3, I am the only Mum they have ever known, they both call me Mummy, something they both chose to do and lead the way with. Other people are disgusted by this.

4, DH would say from his point of view as a step parent to my son that it is the competitive attitude of ds's dad and how he tries to belittle dh at every turn. Why can't he just bloody acknowledge that dh is the main carer for ds and is doing a bloody good job of it!

I have loads more, but apart from being able to wave a magic wand and just make all the children mine and DH's and no one elses, I wouldn't change a thing! grin

TwoStepsBeyond Fri 18-Oct-13 12:32:16

Mscolour, I know what you mean. You don't want to correct people as they feel embarrassed for assuming, and then you have to go into who belongs to whom, but equally you don't want the SDCs to think you're 'pretending' to be their mum.

I was really touched when we were on holiday with our 5 DCs and DP would just answer 'yes' whenever we were asked if they were all ours. Someone said to him once "I'm sure you didn't have this many children when I saw you last" and he just joked "we've been busy!"

TwoStepsBeyond Fri 18-Oct-13 12:33:19

Jacqueline, it sounds like you have a wonderful family, anyone who judges you or your children for the actions of their mum isn't worth thinking about.

flowerpotgirl12 Fri 18-Oct-13 13:48:34

I have a feeling I may come across as horrible but the main problem is not really getting along with my dsd, a lot of it is the way she's been raised but her attitude, her language (foul) the way she dresses (very provocatively, not yet a teen) and her general deemener in our home, smashing my stuff "by accident", knocking over stuff and pretending she hadn't noticed, so I have to clear up. She is also very spoiled by dh. I have tried so hard to get along with her but it's hard and very sad.

FrauMoose Fri 18-Oct-13 14:40:08

Although this isn't thread about the positives, sometimes people's negative assumptions have a more favourable side.

A lot of people have made very positive comments when they've seen me, partner, stepchildren plus daughter out together. They've commented on the obvious affection between my child and my stepchildren, and the apparent ease of communication between me and the two older children. Often there's been stuff like, 'We'd never have guessed they were your stepchildren'. Or 'you seem like a "real" family. And though I realised there was some stereotypical thinking behind such remarks, I was still pleased...

TeaandCakes1983 Fri 18-Oct-13 15:32:59

First post for me so be kind smile

I find it hard to watch the DSCs BM continue to emotionally upset and damage the children. To the extent that DSD told me the other day that she feels much more settled and safe at our house than at mummies house. That both she and her brother are argumentative and unhappy there and that their mum shouts at them a lot. It's very hard, by what can I do?

In the same respect I find it hard to send them back to BAn for half the time. We have 50/50 split childcare.

I find the attitude of other mums hard to deal with. Lots of them get very funny when they find out I am JUST a SM (I don't have children of my own) and therefore can't possibly know what I am talking about or possibly love the children or that the children could love me. It happens quite a lot.

There are other niggles like those that have been mentioned above like the dates and things like that.

Fortunately I have never felt second best with my DH but CNN completely see how this can happen. DH is very good at making sure we are a team and the fact that my relationship with the children is so good also helps too I would imagine

TeaandCakes1983 Fri 18-Oct-13 15:33:33

Can not CNN!!

FrauMoose Fri 18-Oct-13 16:04:13

Hi. Welcome. Or something. There are people on these boards who hate the terms Biological Mother/Birth Mother - which I suppose is part of the whole minefield that is stepmothering.

onlysettleforbutterflies Fri 18-Oct-13 16:10:13

I find it difficult having a very different parenting style to mine ffeature so dominantly in my life and home. I worry their negative things will influence my ds who worships them. On the whole though they enhance our lives so much, wouldn't be without them.

TwoStepsBeyond Fri 18-Oct-13 17:49:43

I have slightly feminist leanings while DP and his ex most definitely don't, so while I am trying to teach my DD that she won't be treated any differently from my DSs, the DSDs are very girly girls and DP finds my attitude towards my DD a bit odd!

Bonsoir Fri 18-Oct-13 17:54:03

The additional constraints upon our lives - undoubtedly. Though I have got very good at managing them!

mignonette Fri 18-Oct-13 18:05:42

I've never called myself their stepmother and do not refer to them IRL as my stepchildren even though at one time, they have all spent half the week living with us. We have a cordial relationship but I don't parent them per se although there are ground rules for all the children. They have all, in their time, been difficult but that is to be expected after divorce.

We refused to have a set one weekend om/one weekend off and moved streets away with the proviso that they children could come over whenever it suited them not their Mother and her delinquent BF. That irritated her no end but was better for the children who had their own lives/hobbies that didn't necessarily fit into a timetable that suited all of us.

I do find it difficult and so does DH. He is fabulous with my two children and tells people he has 5 children. He doesn't call himself a stepfather. My children call him Dadette and love him very much. He is the Father that my daughter didn't have in her original Father.

eslteacher Fri 18-Oct-13 18:36:51

I think it can ultimately boil it down to the fact that I don't have that huge all-conquering parental love for DSS, which makes all the inevitable annoyances and difficulties of having a child around so much harder to forgive and seem so much bigger than they are.

TeaandCakes1983 Fri 18-Oct-13 19:06:13

Fraumoose - thank you for letting me know. I won't use that again smile

JaquelineHyde Fri 18-Oct-13 20:18:53

I shall continue to use the term birth/biological mother because that is all she has ever been to my daughters. She does not deserve the title mother and in all honesty it pains me to call her any kind of mother.

I am sorry if that narks some people on here but tough.

TeaandCakes1983 Fri 18-Oct-13 20:37:38

J.H I think you are fully justified in thinking this and would hope that in your situation nobody minds

MadameGazelleIsMyMum Sat 19-Oct-13 08:43:25

Totally agree with other posters about someone else having that level of control. Different parenting styles and coping with behaviour/issues too - I'm a stepmum who is good enough to babysit but not to discipline etc. I don't feel the same way about DSD as I do my DC but I treat all the DC the same. I also sometimes lament the fact that DH will always have one more child than me. It's such a hard role, I had no idea.

TheMumsRush Sat 19-Oct-13 11:17:06

Interesting thread
For me I think it's the difference in parenting styles, not so much on my dh part but their mum and what she does/doesn't teach them. She's a great mum, but we just have different views.

Some of the things dsd (of primary age) wears I think are not age appropriate but I keep my mouth shut to keep the peace

CaptainBinker Sat 19-Oct-13 12:25:09

Wow, lots of replies, it's good to know what I feel is normal!

I've got a number 3 to add to my original's a bit controversial but you all seem lovely so hopefully you'll understand...

3. Knowing that whether or not I want any more children in the future, DH has reached his perfect number, so I'll never have more than one of my own sad

It's so hard not to blame anyone for this (in my head obviously, it's not DSS' fault that he happens to exist!) but I hate it when people ask when the next one is coming and I have to say "no, we don't want any more", whilst in my head I'm thinking "DH doesn't want any more".

He didn't mention this at all until dd was born so I had no way of knowing this beforehand. I asked him if she'd been a boy, would he have wanted to try again for a girl and he said yes he probably would.


Natanotherone Sun 20-Oct-13 08:10:07

For me it's the ex influence.

I hate that someone that is not a part of this family tries to upset the balance of it whenever she can seemingly just for kicks.

We ended up in court because contact was regular, then she would get annoyed and stop it... Then start it, then tell us we were bad parents. It got ridiculous!

Also lately I feel the bond I had with DSD has diminished (mostly due to cow bag mother) so now I find DSD irritating more than loveable...

glasscompletelybroken Sun 20-Oct-13 14:33:29

Lots of the above but also the fact that everything else I have done and been in my life means nothing within this role of step-mother. It's as if everything I have ever acheived and been proud of has been erased and I am now just a step-mother and therefore always wrong. I'm either too involved or not involved enough, say too much or not enough. I am wrongly accused of treating my dsd's badly and there is nothing I can do about it. Their mother holds all the cards - she just "wants what's best for them" so people will believe that I am bad. I'm really not.

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