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Hard on step parents

(33 Posts)
Matilda2013 Sun 16-Aug-15 19:30:30

This forum has made me a little wary about what people expect of step parents. I am lucky to have a partner who does not expect me at any point to have his daughter as it is my duty. I do however love spending time with her and feel as though now that I live with him we should try and do things fairy between us and that I can look after her if he has to work/ has football/ has a night out (even if I do claim the occasional long lie). Unfortunately though people always seem to have an opinion, whether it's on here or its friends or family on what Step parents should or should not be doing. Even dps mum suggested I should not be staying in the house with a sleeping dsd (dad put her to bed) and whilst he goes to the pub for an hour and I watch a movie even if he very rarely goes it at weekends as we have her every weekend as apparently "I let him away with too much".

Do other step parents get opinions from everyone???

sootyx Sun 16-Aug-15 20:24:12

Me and my DP both do the work with DSD, I'm currently not working and he has a different shift every week so its hard on him to see DSD especially during school days, so some weeks she stays at home with me and I put her to bed and then when he gets home from a 8-8 shift he can go up and see her for 5 mins, he really appreciates it and I love doing it. DSD's Mum doesn't mind me looking after her on my own either, I've had criticism from "friends" telling me I'm trying to take over the role of Mum and I'm really not. I'm trying to make the best of a crappy situation, DSD's Gran (her mums mum) once brought me some flowers and chocolates for looking after her whilst DSD's mum was working away and apologised profusely and said all this shouldn't of been put on me, that kind of felt like a slap in the face. I LOVE looking after her, she's so well behaved and well mannered I literally couldn't complain. I think if the parents are okay with it and you are then it shouldn't matter what anyone else thinks tbh! grin

Matilda2013 Sun 16-Aug-15 20:30:09

Yeah I get that too like you should get a medal for putting up with such things!! When in fact I love spending time with her and her parents are both fine with it. In fact his mum commented just the other day that it's a shame we haven't had time to ourselves to "properly get to know one another". I have no idea what she meant by this but I think putting someone in these conditions with kids and ex partners etc is probably a faster way of getting to know them!

ThatBloodyWoman Sun 16-Aug-15 20:33:24

I didn't to be fair.
It surprises me on mn,all the argy bargy.
I just cracked on with it,and enjoyed it,and just kept out of decisions that were up to dh and his ex.

wheresthelight Sun 16-Aug-15 20:37:04

I think it is less about the expectation towards the step parent and more the low expectations of the parent. A lot of dads will sherk their duties regardless of whether in a relationship with the childs mum.

I think there is still the old fashioned opinion for some not that they admit it that women raise kids and so as a step mum you are expected to fill that role in the dads house iyswim

My situation with dp is slightly different, his ex never allowed him to have any input in raising their kids (told to me by her when we got on) so when he then had to parent them alone he had absolutely no clue and they had absolutely no respect for him. He has had a stiff learning curve over the last few years. At first I just left him to it but when I found out I was pregnant I refused to have a two tier system for discipline etc.

However, I mostly share care of dscs with him. He works nights so I facilitate contact by having them when he is working and during the day when he needs to sleep. I cook/clean/ wash clothes etc and buy most clothes as he is crap at it!

He will have a huge shock from next week as he has all 3 Judson his own while I work. My house is gonna look like a bomb has detenated!

Matilda2013 Sun 16-Aug-15 20:42:45

Yeah I leave things that are up to them to them and after that we work with the best we can. Try to avoid being to involved with dsds mum although that's hard as we all four FaceTime most days to speak to dsd wherever she is. Sometimes she can be selfish and sometimes I just have to realise it's how she is and that's okay smile and I mean in regards to dsd not us.

I know dp could do it all himself and would be happy to if I felt I didn't want to be involved. Very hands on dad but for our future together it's not practical for me to just not be involved until I have children of our own

yellowdaisies Sun 16-Aug-15 21:56:50

I think the problem is that there isn't really a very clear role to follow. You kind of have to works out for you as a household. Some people do seem to want to keep the parenting role very much as the parent's and not the step parents. But my experience is more like yours - that we work better and everyone is happier overall if we have some sense of being a team and living all together. I'd rather be involved in decisions about my DSC, and be a part of their lives than see them as some kind of "job" of my DH's

Matilda2013 Sun 16-Aug-15 22:24:50

Yeah life definitely works better if we just get on with it. always comments about how unreasonable it is that we have her every weekend but it's the only time we can have her and we would miss her otherwise. Obviously if we have something on like a wedding people will babysit but otherwise we want to have her... People don't always get that either grin

wannaBe Sun 16-Aug-15 23:03:18

I am not a stepparent, however I do have a dp and my ex has a dp who also has a dd.

Tbh, I find this idea that the stepparent shouldn't be involved in parenting in any way utterly bizarre, and even more so when they have children together. How can it be possible to have a harmonious household when each parent parents their own children and both then parent the joint children?

While I do think that the enforcement of the discipline needs to come from the parent, I do also think that in order for a new relationship to work everyone needs to be on board with the rules of the house, and that everyone should be in a position to enforce them.

When you get together with someone who has children there does need to be an acceptance that those children come as part of the relationship, and that as stepparent you will have some responsibility towards those children.

IMO a lot of the issues with stepparents come from the fact that they resent the dsc, feel that they have somehow encroached on their relationship, and that they are somehow responsible for the wrongs which happen within that relationship. I have even seen posts on here from stepparents who feel that they shouldn't have to take their sc to their family's house because that should be the preserve of their own children.

And ime the majority of this resentment and bad feeling comes from women. Personally I think that this is because women are far less tolerant, so if a man has issue with her kids she is more likely to get rid of him sooner, whereas for a man if the woman has issue with his kids he is more likely to bury his head in the sand and allow the relationship to continue regardless, esp if he is nrp and only sees the dc every other weekend so the issues only manifest during those times, iyswim.

YonicScrewdriver Sun 16-Aug-15 23:12:26

It's great you get on so well.

Not sure how old DSD is but if she's at school, I can see why her mum might be sad if she never gets a weekend with her? Every other weekend and some time mid week seems the more common pattern.

Matilda2013 Sun 16-Aug-15 23:12:41

Oh I don't understand why people wouldn't take their dscs to see their families either... Mine in fact are very disappointed if we don't have dsd and everyone is always seeing little toys or dresses etc and picking them up for her (have tried to discourage but hey what can you do??) and she loves them just as much as she appears to love the rest of her family! I'd find it very strange to suddenly only take her if she ends up having a brother or sister that is my dc.

YonicScrewdriver Sun 16-Aug-15 23:13:11

"Personally I think that this is because women are far less tolerant, so if a man has issue with her kids she is more likely to get rid of him sooner"

You say this like it's a bad thing?

Matilda2013 Sun 16-Aug-15 23:14:58

Oh and the every weekend thing was a set up until this year has worked fine as her mum was studying during the week and working all weekend whereas dad was working all week and off weekends. People thought it was unfair on me and him having to give up all our weekends to kids (even though this is what parents do...) obviously now dsd is at school and mum has finished university she may want a few weekends but for dad obviously he misses her and prefers to see her when he can... Sure we will figure it all out though

Matilda2013 Sun 16-Aug-15 23:16:13

Oh and her mum never seems particularly sad about not having her. Which I find weird but each to their own obviously

wannaBe Sun 16-Aug-15 23:22:51

no no YonicScrewdriver it is definitely a good thing, if my dp had had issue with my ds he would have seen the door without hesitation. However it is a bad thing that so many men put up with resentful women who end up becoming stepmothers to their dc, but is IMO the reason why there appear to be far more bad stepmothers than stepfathers, iyswim.

There is a definite trend of women who resent their dsc, and this attitude is met with understanding and cries of "it's so hard to be a stepmum," whereas the instant attitude to a man who displays resentment is (quite rightly) "why do you put up with that, ltb for the sake of your children.

Matilda2013 Sun 16-Aug-15 23:26:26

Not all women resent their step children...

YonicScrewdriver Sun 16-Aug-15 23:29:38

I see now, wannabe, thanks.

OP thanks for explaining about the weekends. She might not necessarily show sadness in front of you, of course!

YonicScrewdriver Sun 16-Aug-15 23:31:32

Practically speaking, where women are more often the RP, a "bad" relationship for the mother probably is more impactful than it is for the father.

Doesn't mean father should think that though!

wannaBe Sun 16-Aug-15 23:34:03

no of course they don't. But there are certainly some who do, and unfortunately they are often the ones who are vocal about it, hence why stepmothers as a whole are often regarded with suspicion iyswim.

ThatBloodyWoman Sun 16-Aug-15 23:38:50

I think its a clear path for problems when a step parent makes important decisions wrt their step child.
It worked fine for me to step back and follow my dh's and his ex's lead.
I always offered input when asked,but I knew my dh had a child,and I knew I would need to take eveything that comes with that on board,and that it wasn't about me,but about them.
Of course,trivia was something I did deal with,but big stuff wasn't up to me to decide on.
I've loved being a stepmum and have never been given a hard time,nor felt taken for granted.

Matilda2013 Sun 16-Aug-15 23:39:28

Iswym and that's probably a big part of the problem and the reason why people are surprised that we all get on and that I wouldn't change it for the world.

I understand she may not want to tell us if she is missing dsd but if this does happen due to us having her most weekends now that the situation has changed a bit I'm sure she will let us know. We just find very often at the moment that even when she is supposed to have her she ends up with grandparents etc while mum goes out.

K888 Mon 17-Aug-15 00:09:40

I think one of the reasons it can be a minefield is that a Step Mum is walking into someone else's family situation - and one that has split up - with all the possible tensions that may go with it. No one way suits as there are so many expectations already set up and an adjustment has to be made all round.

I'm a step mum and a mum - if I talk about my own DC e.g. 'He's driving me mad... ' I just get nods of acknowledgement from friends/other parents. But if I say about my DSD 'She is driving me mad... ' Then I find there are more challenging responses, like 'But it's hard for her... Or you'll just have to be kind'..

I'm not say these responses might not be right, it is just very interesting that it is very different.

And yes personally I never had problems with looking after DSDs without partner until it became 4 other them for a week at a time on my own... but that's another story!!

startagainonmonday Mon 17-Aug-15 10:57:28

I think another problem with stepparenting is the common assumption from those with no experience (myself included in the early days!) that as long as you do the right thing, everything will be okayish and if it's not ok then you must be doing something wrong/feeling resentful/treading on toes/were you the other woman etc etc.

I got on very well with all my DSC until last year when teenage hormones kicked in with one of them and she suddenly turned against me, her dad and her mum's DP. Weekends which I previously found okay became tense occasions to be dreaded. We read the help with teenagers book "Get out of my life but first take me and Alex into town" and it was like reading a script of what was happening to us all - however we did experience some accusationary finger-pointing that it must be something to do with our personal situation/relationships rather than a relatively common developmental stage of teenagers that needed tackling. Thankfully things are starting to settle down again but the prejudice you come across as a stepparent still gets me down sometimes.

Matilda2013 Mon 17-Aug-15 16:05:59

I've come to assume that my life with dsd might not always be this friendly and easy (although I'm praying it does). I'm sure she'll probably go through times of refusing to do as I say as I'm not her mum etc but at the moment it's good and I guess most parents go through difficult phases with their own children so makes no difference. As long as we stay friends(at least by the end) I'll be happy

fedupbutfine Mon 17-Aug-15 17:20:19

Oh and her mum never seems particularly sad about not having her

how sad would be sad enough? would it be better to upset her daughter by sobbing every time she leaves? Is it not OK for a parent to both want and enjoy time away from their child safe in the knowledge that the child is happy and safe with their other parent?

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