Step parenting top tips?(15 Posts)
Hello! I'm 29 and don't have any children of my own, but I have a 2 1/2 year old step daughter. (My boyfriend and I have been together for a year and a half, we live together and he had separated from the mother of his child a good six months before we met).
We are very happy together and I always try my best to be a good role model and 'wing parent' when we have his daughter at weekends I do, however, feel a little out of my depth at times and wondered if anyone had any 'top tips' or 'golden rules' for being a good step parent?! (Any advice for dealing with the difficult Mum would be helpful too!)
First mistake I made was called myself a step mum, wish I had just been me, their dad's wife, not a replacement mum. Secondly I thought I should love them, I do now, but I've been with dh for 7 years, and the love I feel is not the same as my dcs. Thirdly I let dh discipline them and I support him, though I do say to him privately if I think he's overreacting.
I took a huge step back when I was just too involved in their stuff, and I used to tell myself 'not my child, not my problem'. I have 3 kids of my own and it all got too much, trying to be everything to everyone.
I used to be a bit resentful of the time he spent with them, but now I'm happy for them to have their dad to themselves when they do, it was a bit of a competition at one point, but his kids were only 10, 11 and 14 when they moved in with us and I was in my early thirties.
I've learned a lot and come so far. You will too, and actually you are lucky his dc is so young, she will grow up knowing you. Good luck to you, it's a nice role to have.
Oh yes and as for bm. She will inevitably hate you or be jealous, and if she doesn't you're lucky. Just let him deal with her, she's not your issue. Probably best not to exchange numbers.
Don't let people treat you like a doormat
Vim has it! or gin.
It sounds like you're trying hard and that's great but don't knacker yourself with it. Keep up your own interests, life, friends etc. It's nice if you can be a family unit but ultimately, you have very little control here, except over your own life.
My top tip is this board - I have found it hugely helpful and wish I'd found it sooner.
There's a good book called how to be a happy step-mum by Lisa Doodson, I think.
My advice for dealing with a difficult mum is.....don't! Leave DP to deal with her entirely and don't even encourage him to talk to you about any of the difficulties because you can do nothing about it. It's normal to want to be supportive of him but the cost to you is usually quite high, and who's going to be supportive of you? Not him, because he's part of the conflict.
Be prepared for negativity coming your way - sometimes you can't do right for doing wrong - but there are moments of joy too.
Is there anything specific you feel out of your depth with that you feel ok to mention?
I'm lucky to have a lovely DSD and DSS, and DP's ex is nice to me now & really appreciates what I do for them - it took us a while, but stick with it & hopefully you'll get there!
At first I tried to be like an Aunty to them, I suppose. Tried not to tread on mum's toes but generally do all the 'mum' things I could when they were with us. DP would usual back me up if I told them not to do something, but I never shout at them, just always explain why & this worked well.
The thing I really struggle with is if I say anything bad about the children to DP, he gets so defensive about it. I am always the one to be shouted down and get told "you knew I had kids it was your choice to be with me"... I'm always wrong if I get annoyed or frustrated by them - yet it's fine for him to moan about them to me!
You will never come close to their children in your DP's eyes & it does hurt sometimes. Sorry I have no advice on that one, other than you just have to accept it!
All of the above and a book Stepmonster is great too.
Just nurture your relationship with your partner when you don't have the kids and leave them to it as much as you can when they are there. and pick your battles.
My advice is don't try to act like her second mum and let time dictate your role rather than you trying to push it. Your SD is very young and any mum will naturally be over-protective at this age. Get involved with your SD, but take over duties that her dad should be doing, ie. bathing, putting her to bed/reading story, dressing her etc... She is there to spend time with her dad and her dad should be the main parent, with you helping.
It might not be the case at all in your situation, but I've seen and read of so many cases of father demanding regular visits with their young kids (and rightly so) to then happily leave the new partner take on looking after the child. There is no worse recipe for things to go wrong with the mother when this happens.
I wouldn't consider yourself a step mother at least until you're married.
Lots of wine, I had a chat with my dsd and explained whilst the term step mum is the norm I'm just me she has a mum and so she calls me by my name and refers to me to others as my name also.
I don't think their are any golden rules, I don't have my own dcs I have never wanted them and it has taken me a long time to get over some of the humps of being married to someone with a child.
Whoever says 'you knew what you were getting into' needs a slap, you don't know what you're getting into kids grow up and dynamics change bringing all sorts of challenges with it.
I don't parent my dsd as such I support my dh and we discuss stuff when dsd is at her mums never when she is around. Most of all I want her to know I support her, I will listen to her and I am fair with her however I won't be bullied or spoken to rudely.
Dsd is now a teen and surprisingly I am finding it far easier than I did when she was younger, I enjoy her company we have time together doing girly stuff and chats about issues she might bring up.
I get on ok with her mum, I don't see her often but she is dsd mum and so even if I don't agree with her way of doing stuff I have to respect her choices.
Your dsd has another person in her life to care and support her, it's not all bad pick your battles and always have wine!
You sound like the perfect step-mum lazySue!
I don't, Marmalade85. It was just the easiest way to explain my situation!
"I wouldn't consider yourself a step mother at least until you're married."
At least until you are married.....but preferably.....what? Married forty years?
We are not married, but we've been together seven years, lived together three (in a house we bought jointly, I didn't move into his home). We have no plans to marry, don't see why we should. You don't have to be married to be a mother so why do you have to be married to be a step mother?
I don't care if anyone here thinks I am a step mother or not - but dss lives with us 90% of the time. I work at home, or have breaks and don't work, so I do a lot of the household stuff. dss bought me a mothers day card this year.
Course, his 'd'm doesn't think he should call me step mother either. Not that I have ever asked to be called it.
Mind you, I'm not that interested in what she thinks, especially since the dp she lived with (for a shorter time than we have been together) was referred to as stepdad and despite still living with him she has a new bf who she has now told dss to refer to as his step dad and his son as his new 'brother'.
All just smacks of bitterness to me.
Anyway OP - I've always thought the best approach is to act like a big sister or trusted aunt. Not too soft, not too harsh, something in between who they can turn to, feel secure with but don't feel overwhelmed by or feel is in conflict with their mother.
Join the discussion
Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Register now
Already registered with Mumsnet? Log in to leave your comment or alternatively, sign in with Facebook or Google.
Please login first.