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Support thread. For current step-parents.

(347 Posts)
brdgrl Mon 31-Mar-14 16:18:44

If you're a current step-parent with children who live with you at least some of the time, and fancy offloading or a rant or have a question you want to ask others who are currently in your situation and you want to do it in a safe place, and you don't want to ask a non-step-parent then why not ask in here.

ReadyisKnitting Tue 01-Apr-14 08:37:44

I'm sidling in, knowing this thread will be really useful! I'm really lucky in my dp. He's fab. Only Disney in our house in on the tv (he's first to the sofa when dd1- his dsd- sticks camp rock on!)

Russianfudge Tue 01-Apr-14 09:10:25

That is hard. We had a situation recently where older one (my dsd) behaved badly in a way that affected younger one (my dd). DH was cross with his dd but forgave and forgot almost instantly, leaving me reeling over how dd had been treated.

The reverse has happened before too.

I do love my dsd and I want her to be happy and protected etc. but it is nothing to the conditional love I have for my dd. Same goes for DH. I also feel he has much higher expectations of my dd even though she is 8 years younger. I see him telling her off for making a mess with the toothpaste and I think "ffs, your dd couldn't wipe her arse or even brush her own teeth at that age!!"

brdgrl Tue 01-Apr-14 10:05:52

Yay, nice to meet some of you for the first time!

My DD is much younger and my DSC (one boy, one girl) are teenagers, so obviously it is two completely different sets of behaviour. But I can honestly say that DH and I have higher expectations/more consistent rules for DD than for the DSC - they've had so many years in one way of life that making even small changes is such hard work...DH compares it to turning a truck around after driving it into a muddy field! I have known to use a different metaphor - basically, he (and his first wife, jointly) made huge rods for backs. On the plus side, I feel as though I have gotten a sort of preview and I definitely 'think ahead' more than I might have done, when it comes to making decisions about my parenting.

I often wish that DH and I had continued to live in separate houses for longer. We didn't even all move in together until my DD was six months old, but sometimes that still feels too soon. There are just so many issues around shared space and personal boundaries, and I also found that I lost myself quite a lot. I believe that many stepmums struggle with depression and anxiety, and I am certainly one of them. It is hard to maintain a strong sense of yourself when everyone has so many demands and expectations and you can become filled with self-doubt very very quickly.

I wasn't prepared for the way other people would treat me as a stepmum. Some people want to believe I must be a saint (which of course comes with the expectation that I martyr myself!), and some people (online, mostly, I have to say!) want to believe I must be a witch. And lots and lots of (well-meaning?) people who simply have no idea of the reality of being a stepmum to teenage kids and who invariably make things more awkward by presuming how we feel about one another or by ignoring the normal boundaries of family life. The worst are the people who think I am or should be my stepkids' "pal".

Kaluki Tue 01-Apr-14 11:24:53

Nice one brdgrl. About time we had a supportive thread on here!
In the early days with DP and the DSC this board helped me so much. I needed to hear that I wasn't the stereotypical Wicked Step Mother and that it was OK to not 'love' my DSC as my own. I had never heard the term 'Disney Dad' till I found MN and it was a true lightbulb moment to see my DPs behaviour explained and given a name grin
Nowadays the DSC are a delight (mostly) but my problems tend to stem from DP and his ex wife and their hatred of one another and the rigid contact order which must be adhered to against all odds (and disregarding all common sense!) Her attitude is "you wanted this contract now we will follow it to the letter no matter what!"

Lostlou Tue 01-Apr-14 11:43:00

I'm just getting used to the step-family dynamic. Moved in with DP in Oct having been dating since April. It's been a massive help.

Might be worthwhile for lots of you to look at The British Second Wives Club - new members are vetted and you can ask for an new member to be blocked if you think it's 'the ex' trying to get on.

Moggycat there is a thread on here somewhere about meeting up. I'm in Chesterfield and have already met up with another SM on here next lunch chat due next week. It's so refreshing :-)

brdgrl Tue 01-Apr-14 12:14:38

I would love it if we could all meet up in 'real life'.
I didn't know about Disney Dads either - I thought I was married to the only one. Ha!

alita7 Tue 01-Apr-14 12:16:04

Definitely agree brdgirl, other people's perceptions of your role can be annoying and upsetting. I spend a lot of my time making sure dsd as a consistent loving mother figure due to problems with her mum, and as DP is a typical man I do all the things he just doesn't, like wash her pe kit, maintain her shower schedule, do her hair etc. Yet I've had awful things said or implied by people who are meant to friends! A friend was very judgemental because I resorted to threatening no pudding when she didn't behave, as food in punishments and praise is wrong, and her daughter will do as sheshe's told from a simple look... we'll I'm sorry but dsd is a ready made human being who responds to no pudding but doesn't care about a 'look' and you've had your dd her whole life to build that up. It really upset me at the time as I put a lot of effort and time into dsd, she's been through some difficult stuff. People are so ignorant! Step parenting is difficult and we can't all he perfect, but I'm sure we all do our best!

Russianfudge Tue 01-Apr-14 12:30:53

As brdgrl just said on a different thread - life changes. no one really knows what they're getting in to. If you look at a lot of the lone parent threads you see people who have had children with men they knew to be abusive and so on. I'd never tell them they "knew what they were getting in to" and my god I know it's not as simple as that at all but humans are notoriously bad at predicting the future where emotions are concerned.

Personally, I think it best to down play any agro with the ex at the start of a relationship. I certainly did as I didn't want to appear the bitter, angry ex, or be disrespectful to DD's Dad. When my now DH asked what my relationship was like with my DD's Dad I was respectful and rational and said something like "we've remained civil for her sake and he sees her regularly" He told me the same about his ex and let me make my mind up about her myself. By the time I realised what a loony she was, I was in love with him and it was too late smile - had he spoken badly of her to me I would have suspected him to be a twat!

brdgrl Tue 01-Apr-14 12:31:19

No, alita, when it is your own kids, people are happy to accept that kids have different personalities and challenges, but when it is a stepkid then their every behaviour must be a direct consequence of their broken home and probably your fault. Never mind that my DSCs personalities were pretty clearly established long before I came along!

On the other hand, there is a very good feeling when other people - especially friends/family of the DSC - tell you you are doing something right. I've had a few comments from DH's family and friends that have let me know that I am doing the right thing with DSC, and that really helps.

Russianfudge Tue 01-Apr-14 12:39:57

alita7 I think your experience is quite common in that the dad will expect Stepmum to really step up and do all the things he can't/ won't do that are traditionally "women's work".

This gives the step mum an over inflated opinion on her importance and rights etc. and she'll be thinking "hang on - I wash, clean, tidy, do homework, give lifts etc. all the things a mother would do - I deserve the same appreciation!" Which is Dad's fault really as neither the child, nor it's mother asked for any of that and would probably prefer dad to be doing it.

I've had all of that myself. Now DSD is older I don't really need to "care" for her. There's a lot less resentment on both sides, mine & hers. She says she used to hate having a third parent demanding she listen to rules etc. I explained that as I was often her main carer while Mum and Dad weren't there I had to discipline her. She wanted her Mum or dad and couldn't understand why this strange woman (who on top of everything else her Mum openly hated) had assumed a parental role in her life. And I felt like she and her Mum were ungrateful for all I did for her.

The bottom line is that step mums deserve respect like any other adult in a home, that should be encouraged by all of the adults, regardless of the past or agendas and emotions. But mum and dad should take the main roles.

alita7 Tue 01-Apr-14 12:43:01

Yeh that's true to, I got a lovely mothers day text message from dps dad thanking me which was lovely :p and it's those people's opinions that count. It's just a shame some people are horrible about it when I think most of us have made some changes or other to help make life better for dsc at their own detriment.

Russianfudge Tue 01-Apr-14 12:57:04

That was thoughtful of him Alita. My DH's sister often tells me what a good job I do. She said to me once that she fears for what DSD would have become had Dh not met me or had Dh stayed married to his ex and DSD had grown up with her as the sole female role model. Sounds smug I know, but I do feel it's true.

croquet Tue 01-Apr-14 14:13:02

Hello, I've found this board useful (if frightening!). I've got two DSDs (11 and 16). The older one is seriously off the rails and hardly ever visits. The younger is a golden girl. Me and DP also have a toddler.

I'm finding it ok but often feel sad because of all the negativity of their situation which is nothing to do with me/I didn't cause/have no control over. The DSDs parents don't really like each other and also the older DSD is so bloody naughty in such a mess.

benid Tue 01-Apr-14 14:27:52

Hello just dropping in to mark place.. I'll probably just lurk if that's ok as my situation is ok just now.
As pp have said, it's great to be able to get some perspective from others' experiences and also to hear from people who actually "get it".
I haven't had any horrible comments but when I got together with my DP one of my close friends said "how lovely - a ready-made family and you won't even have to give birth yourself".... (because that's how it works... right?) hmm

Russianfudge Tue 01-Apr-14 14:55:12

Oh yes, it's as simple as that!!

UC Tue 01-Apr-14 15:12:29

Russianfudge, I used exactly the same words when my DSS first challenged me when neither his mum nor dad was around and I was sole adult in "charge". Did we both read it on MN??!!

Russianfudge Tue 01-Apr-14 15:17:25

Quite probably UC!

croquet Tue 01-Apr-14 15:17:30

shock benid. What's the opposite of LOL? COI (crying on inside)?

WhisperingShadow Tue 01-Apr-14 15:20:02

Been with DH for about 8 years. DSSs 18 and 20. DD 2.4.

Just started with the bedroom rearrangements. DSSs rooms are filthy, so we have decided to give DD the biggest room and move DSSs into the smaller rooms. Still visit 50/50 and I can't see this ending. I don't care if they choose our house but get so fed up of arrangements. It means they can hide from responsibility and chores. Even Mother's day for both their mum and I was pretty much avoided. DH and DHEx spoke yesterday and both feel frustrated with them.

Just that really.

BigPigLittlePig Tue 01-Apr-14 15:20:24

Ah yes, a ready made family. Where you get to wash the dirty socks and do the homework, but can't actually make any decisions about their upbringing? Totally negates the need for having babies. Now why didn't I think of that? hmm

[sarcastic face] x 10

Petal02 Tue 01-Apr-14 15:29:58

Very true - you're allowed to help with all the domestics, the financial implications, the lifts/running around, but when it comes to any decisions about access or the wider household, you suddenly don't have any say in the matter ....... all very one-sided.

alita7 Tue 01-Apr-14 15:44:21

See russian fudge and UC there was none of that about dsds mum when me and dp got together- there was clear problems going on by then so as ss were involved and a court case had been booked around the time we got together, I knew what she was like.

Big pig, I'm quite lucky actually, I do get to make decisions about her care and upbringing, with dp of course. He treats me as another parent- which I think is fair, I do cleaning for the household, look after dsd 50% of the time, doing lots of the things she needs doing and he gets to share responsibilities. So I am able to tell her off as I feel necessary (he knows I wouldn't do anything he wouldn't), decide what treats she gets, go with him to important meetings like parents evening, take her to appointments if he's not available. Any big decisions we discuss together as he values my opinions.

Her mother doesn't take part in these decisions- when she had her, she didn't consult dp on anything and now she doesn't make any attempt to be a part of these decisions, she doesn't even do any of her homework with her when she has contact (visits her at her grandads), leaving us to do it all on one night. At a ss meeting she said she was worried she would loose touch with her academic progress- she was told by the teacher that she could arrange a meeting with the teacher at any time, but according to the teacher she has not done so since dsd came to live with us. She does not ask about doctors appointments or progression with anything, her father is the go between but he never asks about these things. Occasionally, we might pass on some info to the grandad as we feel it should be shared but other than that there are no questions. Dsd has ld and is not able to give an accurate account of these things so it's not like she hears it all from her.

My other 2 dsds live with their mother and dp doesn't really get much in put. She restricts access (its easter holidays for the next 3 weeks- dps mum asked if we could have them for one of the weeks and apparently she said 'but I've taken the holidays off work specially" when dps mum pushed she said she'd let us know, but hasn't. She does have 2 other children and 4 step children of her own to spend this time off with... it seems unfair to deny us one week, or even half the week!) But then they are more able to tell us what is going on in their lives, not that dp gets to make any choices or is ever asked what he thinks. One of them is unhappy their due to the step kids bullying her, we tried to discuss calmly the possibility of her living with us, as she had specifically asked several times, but her mum guilt tripped her, saying she'd be devastated and has several arguments on the phone with dp and the result has been that she refuses to listen to dsds feelings and dsd now doesn't want to talk about home at all, we have since asked if she is still unhappy and she changed the subject...

So yes a big contrast between the 2 situations!

Russianfudge Tue 01-Apr-14 15:54:06

I think to some of us with NRP partners, it seems like it would be a lot easier if our step children were with us all the time as that "right" to balance all the drudgery with actually having a say over their upbringing would be glorious. however having been on MN for a while, I've heard how things can be just as difficult on the other side of the coin and that the trade off can be not having time for yourselves at all (amongst other problems)

At least in my situation we do have occasions where we don't have any kids here and we can concentrate on each other

TheMumsRush Tue 01-Apr-14 17:36:36

Arrrrr I know anyone can post any where but why do I see the same posters slating SM's ? are they looking out for posts to jump on because I don't see lots pop up in active that much !?!?

Russianfudge Tue 01-Apr-14 17:57:58

We are very rarely in "active" but I think curiosity about how the "OW" (yawn, few of us were) think/ feel is too much to ignore.

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