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I need help/advice from step mums and people whose DC have them

(68 Posts)
MargotsGin Mon 30-Nov-15 13:07:53

Divorced for 5 years. Ex in a relationship for 3 years. Has just moved in with his partner 3 months ago. They have DC two nights a week.

No previous problems at all. We've all rubbed along nicely, we go to sporting events/school plays/birthday parties and get on fine, talk about the weather, pass the time of day etc. Although they have just moved in together his partner stayed at his house both nights when the DC were there so she is use to the children staying overnight.

Since they have moved in together she has suddenly turned into turbo charged step mum. Some examples.

I picked DD up for a birthday party at a skating rink. I had sent her with clothes to change into which she had picked out. She was in a different outfit. I said oh DD aren't you wearing the clothes you picked, SM says 'oh well I decided they would probably get very dirty and not practical for skating so she's wearing these instead aren't you DD (talking to DD and not looking at me). I said 'oh well it doesn't matter if they get dirty it will soon wash out' and SM (still talking to DD) said 'oh well she's changed now'. I just hmm and said oh no bother and took DD to the party.

She sent me an email after the kids had been for the weekend. She mentioned that she was very concerned about the DC use of bad language and wasn't comfortable with it. Could we all decide to be on the same page and teach the DC it wasn't ok and is offensive to some people. Bad language is Jesus, oh my god and crap (from the 11 year old). I replied to ex and said about the email and that actually i'm not concerned about their language and think that perhaps they need to pick their battles. He sent a very weak message back saying that 'yes but if we can stop them from saying it then surely that would be better'. DC are now coming home and saying they are on punishment for 'swearing'.

Step mum has put in rules banning them from watching certain programmes. Simpsons, I'm a celeb (the 11 year old), and the regular show because someone said crap off or something like that hmm. When DC came home and moaned I said that its not my house and i'm not interfering in their rules. Ex then phoned up and said they would appreciate it if I backed them up. Apparetnly step mum has explained to him that she doesn't think these programmes are ok and why and actually he agrees and its very confusing for DC to have different rules for different houses and didn't I think we should all be on the same page.

DD asked me to if she could do guitar lessons. I said no as 1) she already has 3 extra curricular activities, 2) the time of the lessons clashes with DS football, 3) the location of the lessons is miles away. Step mum then sent me a long winded email saying she thinks DD should be allowed to do them. It even had links showing how beneficial learning an instrument is to DC.

At the moment i'm just slightly bemused and giving her the benefit of the doubt that maybe she is just taking her step mum role very seriously and might calm down in a few months. On the other hand i'm very close to telling her to mind her own business when it comes to what goes on in my house.

Any advice to how to approach this in a way that isn't going to cause conflict!

MargotsGin Mon 30-Nov-15 13:22:29

Tiny bump

NoSmileToday Mon 30-Nov-15 13:24:21

Well done for keeping your cool, I am not so sure I could.

Best way to handle this is to follow what you told DC. You cannot inforce your rules/preferences in their (exes) home so that means they cannot enforce theirs in your home.
It is that simple.
Every email you get from them trying to convince and control you needs to be answered the same way. Thank you for the email and while I agree you are free to set your boundaries in your home I am also free to do the same in my home. Rinse and repeat.

Keep it polite and don't rise to them because once you do you will become the crazy ex and SM will love that. if she carries on emails you just ignore them. You have no obligation to reply to her at all.

Also your ex sounds weak and pathetic. Sorry.

MascaraAndConverse89 Mon 30-Nov-15 13:24:40

She might calm down after a bit. It might all be a bit of a "novelty" to her at the moment being a stepmum. After a while, when the reality of it all kicks in, she might step back a bit. Being a stepparent is hard work I'm not going to lie to you- she just hasn't realised yet.
As nice as it is that she's taking an interest in your children, there needs to be a balance and she just hasn't found it yet. She will though hopefully.

Whaleshark Mon 30-Nov-15 13:31:45

Wow, she really is going way overboard isn't she? I think you have to very calmly, but firmly put your foot down now. They are your children, and your XP's not hers! She does not get to decide on the rules, or worse, insist that you back up rules she has imposed!

As you have all got on well up to now, it might be worth meeting up with them, and explaining how you feel. Hopefully if you put it to her calmly she will realise just how overboard she is currently going. If not I think that agreeing to disagree is the only way forward, and the DC will have to get used to different rules in each house, as there is no way you should be bringing up your DC how she dictates.

I say all this as a SM myself. I have always felt my role is very much a supportive one, and it is not my place to make decisions about what SDC can and can't do.

MascaraAndConverse89 Mon 30-Nov-15 13:40:47

I'm interested to know what a few people have to say about this, who said that when you get with a person with a child you become their "parent". Hmmmm....
I suppose this woman is ok to do all of this seeing as she's now the "3rd parent". hmm

Try not to worry OP. Hopefully she will back off.

MargotsGin Mon 30-Nov-15 14:17:26

I really don't want to make a 'thing' out of it at all and yes agree ex is very weak in the face of any opposition!

This is the man who happily let them watch Futurama and play COD with DS on the xbox not even a year ago hmm

MargotsGin Mon 30-Nov-15 14:18:19

I appreciate you replying whales as you are a SM. Yes I think she needs to find a healthy middle ground1

MeridianB Mon 30-Nov-15 15:06:42

Hi OP. I agree that you have been brilliantly restrained! Many mums would have flipped and that could make things more miserable for your children.

I don't think it's worth waiting until she calms down. Assuming she is doing this with good intentions, she may just get even more carried away.

Your Ex cannot wash his hands of this. Talk to him and ensure that all comms about the kids come through him. Not in a 'I'm not talking to SM' way but just that it makes sense for the parents to deal with things. You sounds very diplomatic so I am sure you find a nice way of saying it!

Of course she can still make suggestions - and even rules - in their house (assuming he agrees with them and is not just going along with things for an easy life).

Her interference over the guitar lessons is really unhelpful. Was she trying to win brownie points with your DD?

Although, FWIW, I would not want my 11-year-old saying 'crap' or the other things so I can see why she has picked up on that. But I'm possibly a fuddy-duddy!

MeridianB Mon 30-Nov-15 15:07:11

PS I speak as an SM, too.

purpledasies Mon 30-Nov-15 15:12:11

She does sound hard work. I'm a SM and would never do any of those things. Thankfully neither does my DC's SM.

Maybe try and get your ex to rise up to being their parent a bit more. He's their dad, it's him who's in charge of them and he's the one you should be liaising with really. He can talk to his DP to agree rules for the DC in his home, and leave you alone to work out your own rules. The DC can understand that there are different rules in different houses.

Bigger issues to do with choice of school, owning mobile phones, etc - are for you and your ex to discuss together.

steppingout Mon 30-Nov-15 16:24:13

As a SM, I do think she's being a bit heavy handed, although I kind of understand why. I do remember the first few months living with my SD being really tricky in terms of trying to work out how much responsibility I was supposed to have/how much I should be doing, and over a year in I'm still figuring it out, so she may well be feeling the same way. I know she's had a lot of contact with them before, but it feels different when you and OH live together. For me it mostly manifested in feeling like I had to play with/entertain her all the time that she was home, until I realised that it was unsustainable (I still play with her, just not every minute she's awake!). My situation is a bit different though in that DSD is with us most of the time, so I've had to take a bit of responsibility - having said all that, I'd still never email her mum directly about something like that as it's ultimately up to my OH to make parenting decisions/talk about issues with her mum. She may well calm down as things settle, but if not you could have a diplomatic conversation with your Ex - as MeridianB suggested. If she gets defensive, it's likely because she's not sure of her ground, but that's really for him to manage.

steppingout Mon 30-Nov-15 16:25:09

Also agree that children can handle different rules as long as each house is consistent - you can't remote parent on relatively little things/dictate activities that you're not taking children too!

hampsterdam Mon 30-Nov-15 17:04:44

She sounds abit strange. Fair enough to have rules about swearing and TV in her house but to try to impose them on your home is overstepping the mark big time.
I would just keep replying to your ex, don't even reply to her. Of course feel free to run your home how you see fit and I will do the same. The guitar lessons I would be asking if she's offering to drop off and pick up and of course pay.
I'm a step mum, there are certain things I really wish dss mum would/wouldn't do, nothing would possess me to email her about them.

MargotsGin Mon 30-Nov-15 18:28:12

Ex says the reason the kids are moaning about not watching certain programmes etc is because I still allow it. So it's confusing for them and undermining their rules

purpledasies Mon 30-Nov-15 18:33:07

That's not fair of your ex. It is absolutely not for him to decide what you let your DC watch at your house. If he wants different rules at his, that's up to him. He'll just have to deal with the moaning, distract them with something else or explain why he's suddenly decided they're unsuitable.

On a practical level you could offer to record any programs that you're DC are particularly fond of which are on when they're with your ex, which may stop them hassling him to watch them.

wannaBe Mon 30-Nov-15 18:40:51

Send her an email telling her that you've decided to become mormons/jw/<insert deeply religious movement of choice> and given you know she would like you all to be on the same page you feel they ought to do the same. grin

On a serious note though, while I am generally in favour of people being able to co parent their children to similar expectations, this goes out of the window IMO when the rules are changed unilaterally by one party who didn't discuss it with you first.

Tbh I wouldn't be happy with an eleven yo using crap and jesus etc and would be none too impressed if my ex was allowing this in his house. but I would be more inclined to go down the route of "well, what dad does in his house is his choice, that doesn't mean the same rule applies here.

Children do get it, and they do know what is and isn't ok and where, especially at that age.

Wrt the sm though I wouldn't respond to her emails and would let all your communications go through your ex.

hampsterdam Mon 30-Nov-15 18:42:03

Ha ha ha. So he actually wants to dictate which programmes you watch? No. It's not confusing for them, they are more than old enough to understand different rules in different houses. If this is a new thing they are moaning because he is being inconsistent and can probably tell it's coming from step mum and know if they whinge enough he might give in.
It's not as if you're letting them watch total recall on repeat.
You have backed them up by telling your dc you won't get involved and it's up to their father to make the rules in his house.

hampsterdam Mon 30-Nov-15 18:46:18

He just needs to say the same, well mum might let you watch (!shock horror) the Simpsons, (very unseasonable and irresponsible woman that you are) but In dad's house it's not allowed -anymore-.

SoupDragon Mon 30-Nov-15 18:51:28

Why does "being on the same page" mean "do whatever the SM wants"?

TBH, I'd want to tell her to fuck off.

SoupDragon Mon 30-Nov-15 18:52:34

I wouldn't though. I would just ignore her and carry on parenting my children as I saw fit whilst explaining to the children that different people have different rules

Helmetbymidnight Mon 30-Nov-15 18:57:51

Agree with pps.

Don't reply to her emails, send short, polite replies to ex. Thanks for the info, yes, your rules at your house, best of luck etc
Then ignore. Fingers crossed this is just a novelty for her...

wannabestressfree Mon 30-Nov-15 18:59:07

I would LOL all over the shop if my ex said what programmes I was allowed on in the my house...
I wouldn't even reply to her.... Send everything through the ex....

MargotsGin Mon 30-Nov-15 19:01:56

Soup, because we should "strive for the highest common denominator"

That's an actual quote

80sWaistcoat Mon 30-Nov-15 19:11:33

She sounds a bit crackers. And I'm a step mum. She'll probably calm down, or get a hobby. It is difficult to work out your boundaries as a step mum, especially when you first move in. I was a bit culture shocked at the parenting of my DH and his ex.

You need to get your DH to man up. I think you do need to say something, it doesn't have to be heavy, a bit of humour could defuse things. I'm sure it will settle down though. Or get them a puppy to obsess about.

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