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Maternal abandonment of my step-son

(36 Posts)
thefuturefords Sat 05-Mar-16 16:24:34

I have been with my DH for about 11 years. We met when my son was 2 an his son was also 2 (whom he had at weekends). We then had a son together as well. Our boys are 13, 13 and 9 now and we all live together and its a noisy but happy household. We have a successful business, a large house, lots of land, the boys are at independent schools, lots of animals, holidays etc. This is not to brag, just a bit of background. Our business is only 5 years old and before that we had no money and struggled to get by. But we have struck it lucky though our determination and sheer hard work.

Just over 2 years ago my step-son's mother decided that she had had enough of parenting and suggested to him that he live with us instead. He readily agreed - as terrible as it sounds he rather fancied the life of his brothers and what they had, which is fair enough. His mother lived in a council flat and spent what little she had on herself not him (she has been bankrupt twice as she has a chronic spending addiction). He was known to SS (for neglect) and was barely sent to school by her. He looked at the fun he had with us and thought how nice it would be to have that full time. We were also overjoyed, as my DH had been waiting for this day for all these years and I have always treated him exactly the same as my other sons, we are a family of 5 and always have been. Step-son was obviously sad to leave his mum, but genuinely thought that he would see her every other weekend etc.

What none of us knew then was that my step sons mother would basically clear off straight away over 150 miles, to live with a man she has met 2 months previously online. So since she has gone she has seen him a total of 6 times, 4 the first year and only twice last year. :-(

She calls him maybe once a month, but they have nothing to say and she just says how she has no money to see him. She doesn't ask about his life, schooling, sports etc. She is on FB however and he was able to see the partying she does every weekend, her platinum blonde hair with never any dark roots, her gel nails, her new clothes every week. Until he confronted her and she blocked him. He is angry at her and sad at the same time, totally gets that she has been a rubbish mum for his whole life (without us having to say much).

TBH I don't give a monkeys about her lifestyle, as my step-son has been so stable with us - in terms of schooling, his health, etc, But I worry for his future as a man. Surely this kind of maternal abandonment will have detrimental effects on him? Does it lead to a man with attachment and commitment phobias? Or a more needy man wanting to settle down and have a family very young? He is not much of a talker about how he feels, we tend to talk when he and I are alone in the car and not making eye contact. Should I be thinking about counselling for him? Or just leaving him to grow up whilst we take care of everything for him and ignore the lack of his mother issue? (My DH has lots of involvement, but I am the primary carer for all 3 boys).

Does anyone else step-parent a child who has had little or no contact with their mum? Especially older children like my step-son. Sorry its been really long, I could tell you 11 years worth of stuff but we would be here for days!

MarianneSolong Sat 05-Mar-16 16:32:03

I think the thing about being a step-parent is there are things you can do and things that you can't do.

I have two stepchildren who are now adult. Their mother has been quite volatile and changeable, though there's been no abandonment.

I've simply concentrated on being as stable and consistent as possible, and focused on trying to be a positive presence in their lives.

Oddly enough the one out of the two who seemed to have a more disrupted relationship with the mother is doing fine right now. Whereas the one who I used to feelfwas very much the kind of person who was good at coping, is causing me and the father some concern.

I think I would try and have faith that as long as we have some positive models of relationships and family life, there is always hope for the future.

Halftruth Sat 05-Mar-16 16:40:40

I was a kids home kid . he's got a better chance than some of not being to effected by this as he has obviously got someone who cares and supports him very deeply . i like these post not for the troubled child ,but for knowing there are people out there that are willing to give there love so freely to other's that so need it . i also think it's easier to fix a child than a grown man if you think he might need some extra help there are always counselling service's readily available to teenages. May look on line and see if there's anythink avaliable in your area .... Keep on loving him

Halftruth Sat 05-Mar-16 16:41:38



BoboChic Sat 05-Mar-16 16:45:34

Your DSS will probably be hurt and angry with his mother for quite a while. But, IMO, he will get through those feelings and realise how lucky he is to have a stable supportive family.

Bananasinpyjamas1 Sat 05-Mar-16 19:24:52

Yes but no one would admit it. DSD lived with us full time because her mum found her needs too great. My DSCs mum lives very near so they did see her fairly regularly, and so they probably don't realise the effect yet. She takes no interest in their school, finances, no parents evenings, no plays. No interest in their problems. Yet did insist on being treated like their main parent, as in every Xmas, anything she wanted her kids to be there, they had to keep scarce otherwise.

It's good your DSS is stable with you all. Just keep an eye on him. People can react later on sometimes. Or get defensive of their mum.

jamtartandcustard Sat 05-Mar-16 19:28:18

Obviously your dss has and will have issues with the relationship. It will forever have an effect on him and alter his future relationships. Though how if affects these really depends on your dss's personality, it is impossible to predict. Hopefully, being raised by two loving parents, who have provided him with such security, he will want to give the same to his children and wait until older, married, and be the perfect husband and dad as he will never want to make his children feel the way his mum has made him feel. Maybe as you fear, he will never be able to commit or end up having a family young, you can't know. But hopefully it will be fine. You've done an amazing job.
I'm still in shock though that his mother blocked him on Facebook shock

NNalreadyinuse Sat 05-Mar-16 19:31:27

I am not a step parent so this may be a stupid question, but could you adopt him? I sm thinking that it would demonstrate that you are as committed to him as much as to your own children and he would have a mother who clearly wants him. Perhaps that would go some way to heading off the potential damage caused by his mother.

Sallyhasleftthebuilding Sat 05-Mar-16 19:35:05

Have you offered to help DSS to see his mom? Is he interested in that?

Whatever she is she's still his mother -

You are doing a grand job - but ask him what he wants or needs. He may not know!

queenofthepirates Sat 05-Mar-16 19:38:55

I'm a big believer that you don't walk around on a broken leg - you see a doctor. Likewise with something as huge as this, I would very much recommend you take him to see a counsellor so he can start to work through this. Maternal abandonment is huge and whilst you love and stability will go a long way to helping him, I don't think it's the cure.

When my parents divorced, they dropped me off at a counsellor once a week for months, regardless of whether I wanted to go or not, so as I had a safe space to work through my feelings. It worked well and I got a lot off my chest. When I complained, I got a uniform response from both of them 'this is way too big for you to deal with alone'. They were right.

Halftruth Sat 05-Mar-16 20:57:49

I'm still in pshycology, wishing i'd started earlier

EllieJayJay Sat 05-Mar-16 21:01:46

sally the "mother" left that child, she may be the person who gave birth but I'm rather tired of people posting in the step-parents forum saying "but she's their mother" the children must be responsible for making contact

If you read the post, over two years she has made contact to see her child six times - she buggered off 150miles to live with a new fella she had known for 2 months

I have two wonderful children who I did not give birth too and their 'mother' thinks she does a great job because she Skypes them every once in a while

EllieJayJay Sat 05-Mar-16 21:04:54

And OP, you are doing a great job! Not easy being a mum (or any variation off) don't worry about him from a maternal abandonment perspective he hasn't been abandoned he has you smile and you sound like a much more stable maternal figure in his life

TealLove Sat 05-Mar-16 21:09:47

Yes he needs to see a very good very specialised councillor. Maternal abandonment is a huge issue. She is the blueprint for all future relationships with Women.
You sound like an amazing woman and he's lucky to have you.

EllieJayJay Sat 05-Mar-16 21:19:49

Why is she the blueprint? And not the OP?

The OP has been in this child's life since the age of 2, the child is now 13

The child is stable from the OPs post she has done a fabulous job! And sounds like she has been mum and is now mum

I'm asking not to be argumentative but to ask why you think this?

I have two children who I love and adore, they have a 'mother' who is not around part from the odd Skype but they are happy children

TealLove Sat 05-Mar-16 21:23:33

Because as wonderful as the OP is and has been to him it is very naive to think from his perspective that softens the blow of being rejected by his own Mother with whom he grew up with and had the first bonding process with however disordered.
Sadly this is not going to just melt away for him because he has a lovely life now it needs to be addressed and expressed and worked out in his head.

May09Bump Sat 05-Mar-16 21:47:49

Ask him whether he would like to talk it through with someone, at 13 he will be aware of feeling "off". If he says no, then tell him the door is always open to chat about it with you or someone independent in the future.

My son's educational psychotherapist ask me a number of questions and sympathized about my childhood upbringing. This opened some emotional doors that had been shut for years. It made me vulnerable at a time where I needed to be strong for my son. What I'm trying to say is maybe he should be making the decision to open his wounds at a time he can cope with it. He may not wish to go through it ever.

You have modeled stability for him, since he was young - bonds and loyalty are sometimes stronger than some maternal connections. It's very sad he was abandoned - but people can move through it and it doesn't always cause problems. You are right to consider a therapist, but do not push it - let him lead.

Sallyhasleftthebuilding Sat 05-Mar-16 23:03:12

Mothers can't be replaced - good bad or indifferent they are still that child's mother - there is an attachment (otherwise the child wouldn't feel abandoned)

I was asking if DSS wanted to see his mother - would you as an adult be able to facilitate this?

It has to be child led - he has to be given a choice -

Haffdonga Sat 05-Mar-16 23:59:48

We've had similar happen in dh's family. (2 nieces were abandoned by their mum who came and went from their infancy. They grew up with grandma).

The one thing I'd say is don't let it be brushed under the carpet. Don't feel that you need to be unconditionally positive about your dss's mother. Don't slag her off of course, but don't make excuses for her either. Let your dss know that you feel hurt, angry and disappointed on his behalf and that he is justified if he feels like that too. That way he may trust you enough to let you know how he really feels and less damage may be done in the long run.

I agree too that you have to do everything you can to maintain their relationship even if it means biting your tongue, you doing all the driving and paying for him to see her. Whether she deserves it or not, your dss deserves that effort to be made and however feckless she is, he will still want a relationship with her

The two girls in dh's family have grown up very damaged in completely different ways. One seems unable to form attachments at all with anybody and has cut all contact with her mum, the other forms attachments far too easily with all the wrong people, makes endless excuses for her mum and repeatedly gets hurt. But at the time they were experiencing abandonment, nobody ever asked them how they felt as they were too busy pretending that everything was OK and telling them how lucky they were to live with grandma.

Bananasinpyjamas1 Sun 06-Mar-16 00:08:35

An Ex of mine was the father to his eldest, in every sense. He wasn't her biological dad, had known her since she was a baby. Her 'real' dad did nothing for her. She got in contact with the Dad later and my Ex never stood in her way at all. The only thing that struck me about my Ex's 'daughter' is that she sometimes dumped a lot of her feelings onto my Ex, not sure if it was genuine hurt or playing up, she can basically get away with a lot more than her siblings as Ex is trying to still be the perfect Dad, make up for failures of her biological Dad.
Op thank god really the boy has you and DP. You could, like my Ex, adopt him, if he wanted, but it may be too early for him to know his .mind on this.

NNalreadyinuse Sun 06-Mar-16 09:47:43

Genuine question - does anyone think it might be more harmful to facilitate contact with a shit parent? It just gives them the opportunity to further hurt the child. I wouldn't want any of mine exposed to people who have no regard for their feelings.

thefuturefords Sun 06-Mar-16 10:06:08

Thank you all so much for your replies. We were out last night so I didn't get the chance to acknowledge.

A couple of things - we DO provide means for her to see him, have always met her half way on the journey or taken him all the way to her flat (she claimed to have a flat tyre, but it wasn't flat when DH got there...) But DSS actually doesn't really want to go there anymore as all she does is cry and go on about herself and her mystery "mental illness" that we suspect she has invented as a way of excusing her behaviour. We spent lots of time and effort emailing her, phoning, trying to find out a date when she might see him, to no avail normally, So we have come to the end of the road with that and are starting to think, 'If she wants to see him she will'.

We have never slagged her off, but I don't believe in lying to him. If he asks me questions about her lifestyle I tell him truthfully, but offering no opinion on it. He's asking a lot more about it recently. She is very heavily involved in the Northern Soul scene, alnighters and the drug taking that usually entails... He knows about all that and that his mum has never paid a penny towards him even though his dad paid maintenance religiously very month for 10 years.

This morning he has got up and given me a card (with Wonderful Mum on it) a box of Thorntons and a really pretty scarf with Jack Russells on it (we have JRs). :-) He's gone out with his dad and I went into his room and saw that he has obviously bought his mum a card too (but not posted it) saying "Best Mum Ever" on the front. confused Poor chap.

Anyway, I think I will ask at his school regarding counselling. Its a fee-paying school and they have things like that as part of the Learning Support centre I think. Its a good idea to ask him if he wants to first, so I will.

And yes, she did block him on FB and on Instagram as well! Its so he can't see the photos of her out at Alnighters every weekend. shock

Can I just scream this silently, just between us all, privately- SHE IS A FUCKING SELFISH BITCH, I HATE HER SO MUCH FOR WHAT SHE IS DOING TO THIS AMAZING BOY. SHE CAN GO FUCKING ROT THE STUPID COW. angry angry

There, I feel much better now! Composed once again and about to take my mum out for lunch. Thank you all for being lovely xxx

Halftruth Sun 06-Mar-16 10:06:48

Unfortunately you can't win with this one . no matter what you do someone will have something to say . all you can do is your best to support the child. I personally think in some circumstance thou no contact is proberly less damaging .

thefuturefords Sun 06-Mar-16 10:12:27

NNlreadyinuse - this is what I am starting to think. When he has seen her he comes back very odd, secretive, lying about what they did etc. It takes him a few days to settle back down again and look us in the eye. Selfishly I suppose, its easier for us if he doesn't see her, but perhaps not good for him.. I don't know. Its a tough one.... I wish he was more of a talker and we could know if he is odd because he is sad or hurt or guilty or what!?

Halftruth Sun 06-Mar-16 10:39:51

When i was in care i was taken to a place called August house . it was like art threapy i didn't understand why i was there at first . but it was the start of trying to break the family cycles . mental wellbeing it young people is really important .

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