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(129 Posts)
Fianceechickie Sun 04-Sep-16 22:43:06

Aibu to wonder why women who aren't step mums... are even reading the step parenting threads let alone feel qualified to comment and give advice to women who are and who are struggling in very difficult situations? So much condemnation and lack of empathy. You can barely get through a whole thread without reading such comments. Makes me so cross. Anyone know if there's a Facebook support/discussion group original similar place to get non judgmental support from other step mums? If not I think I might start one!

paxillin Sun 04-Sep-16 22:46:44

Do they? I always assumed most of us here on stepparenting are, in fact, stepparents.

PurpleDaisies Sun 04-Sep-16 22:49:41

These threads show on active-interesting titles get you all sorts of readers. I'm not sure I've ever been on this board before.

I do have a step mum though, so I think that would qualify me to have a valid opinion.

ThoraGruntwhistle Sun 04-Sep-16 22:56:19

I think sometimes threads in this section get replies from people who aren't step parents themselves but whose children have step parents. This could result in some bitter and judgemental replies because their children's stepmother was the OW in their break up etc.

lookluv Sun 04-Sep-16 23:01:55

I lurked for a long time, as my DCS struggled with an SM. I read stuff that gave me a view from the other side and I read stuff that scared me witless.

When they came back with moans, rather than jump in I took a deep breath and thought twice on some issues.

My DCs were young I wanted them to be cared for, not treated differently from her DCs and if they need disciplining was happy with the naughty step concept but no withholding of food, sent to bed, violence.

Sadly they had nasty SM and over the last 3 yrs,eldest DC took matters into their own hands. Their DF was not disney Dad to them but Disney partner. Eldest took the i pad and filmed the verbal abuse they were subjected to when their DF or anyone else was around. It was irrefutable, awful to watch and hear but also cathartic as we could then move forward.

I am now an SM, I have learnt so much from just lurking. I have done things differently with my DSC because of this forum.

mineofuselessinformation Sun 04-Sep-16 23:03:15

That's a bit like saying that people who don't have arthritis can't comment on my moany threads, OP.
Of course they can.
It doesn't mean I have to agree with what they say.

paxillin Sun 04-Sep-16 23:11:06

I agree, lookluv. I think it is useful to hear from those whose dc have stepparents. Many of us have no more than the absolute minimum contact with our dsc's other parent. They are our current spouses' ex, so relationships can be difficult. I think the majority of us stepparents try to do our best. Nevertheless, I'd be really scared if my dc became somebody's dsc.

Fianceechickie Sun 04-Sep-16 23:23:47

I just feel so upset for some ops sometimes. Maybe I'm too sensitive! Some people can't possibly be considering the impact their words will have before they click 'post' I'm sick of seeing mean harsh words to vulnerable people in hard situations posted by people who have no idea what they're going through. It's only a minority but I do think there are a few mums on here who have dcs with step mums they dislike and use this forum to have a pop at step mums. Lost count of the number of times I've seen posters advised to dump husbands and partners because they have doubts about their kids. It's just stuff like that that bothers me! Anyway I think I take things too much to heart to be a regular mumsnetter!

swingofthings Mon 05-Sep-16 06:06:24

I'm not a SM but was a child severely affected by a SM who thought she was doing her best as such but actually caused a lot of emotional damage. We have worked through it as I became an adult and are now close but that took a lot of reflection about what went wrong and how things could he been dealt better so feel I can provide some insight.

I am also a mum who experienced dealing with the impact of a SM coming into the life of my then young children which didn't start on a good footing but again managed to work through it to the point where I am pleased my children have her as a SM and I know she lives and respect them much.

There are two reasons people come on forum about their problems, to moan and seek justification that they are victims of the actions of other people or come to try to understand why other people act as they do, why it impacts on them as it does, and seek advice on what they can do to make the situation better. I hope my situation can help the latter.

thepurplehen Mon 05-Sep-16 07:11:04

I think you have to have a thick skin to post on this board.

I also agree that some posters use their negative personal circumstances to give "advice" that reflects their own life.

There are good and bad step mums, just as there are good and bad Mums. Often there is the opinion on here that just because you are a mum, you know best. Unfortunately, sometimes that isn't the case.

MeridianB Mon 05-Sep-16 08:48:30

This is a very timely thread, Chickee. I think things have swung a bit too far into 'bear-baiting' on a few posts lately.

Totally agree that there are good and bad SMs, good and bad parents and good and bad posters.

Many people may have DH/Ex problems rather than DSC/SM problems.

One thing this board used to be/should be is a safe place to vent without being jumped on. I'd like to see that return.

MumOfTwoMasterOfNone Mon 05-Sep-16 09:09:00

I agree that there are some very bitter and judgemental replies and I don't really think it's the point. Step-parents need support, I honestly think it's one of the hardest jobs in the world.
The critical people want a good rant and for everyone to see it from their POV (usually the mother of DSC). I'm subjected to one of these arseholes in RL so don't need it on here in all honesty, BUT I suppose they provide a different perspective and you can't stop them commenting.
I love being a mum and close friends and family tell me what a great mum I am (never planned to have DC and everyone was a bit worried that I'd be terrible). The hassle we have to go through for DSC because of DPs ex, makes me HATE being a step-mum. Sometimes the kids themselves make it hard too. If our children hadn't come along, I would be out the door, irrespective of how much I love DP, it's just too much hard work with very little reward. The fuzzy feeling your own children give you doesn't come.
No one knows what they're signing up for, but I appreciate some take very well to it and others don't (me included), but I hate it when people tell you that you know what you've signed up to. Erm.....no.

WannaBe Mon 05-Sep-16 09:21:00

I think that if a board is inhabited by one type of person only the risk is that it becomes a place where everyone's feelings (whether right or wrong) are validated by the fact that no-one challenges them.

I am not a step parent but my DS has a step parent. And TBH I have been horrified with some of the views expressed on this board over the past few years. Views where step children are held accountable for difficulties in relationships they had no choice about entering, where women, and I'm afraid to say that it is predominantly women, resent the existance of the step children and hold the ex accountable for every issue which exists within the relationship.

I've seen the ex blamed for poisoning the children against the SP when actually the children have learned to make up their own minds and form their own opinions, and where the step parents are upheld as victims as if they had no control over their part in choosing to become involved with someone with children.

And IMO the reason why there is often such hostility is because the same people expect absolute equal treatment of their own children by the incoming new partner, on the basis their children are a permanent fixture whereas their step children are treated differently on account of the fact they only enter the home on a part-time basis.

My view is that it's different between men and women because as a rule, women wouldn't stand for an incoming partner treating their children differently or making demands based on the behaviours of their children. Whereas men are less particular and more likely to embrace their new life with their existing children being expected to just fit into the mix.

IneedAdinosaurNickname Mon 05-Sep-16 09:25:56

I lurk here a lot because my children have a sm and I like to try and see things from her perspective (hard when she sends my child nasty texts saying " I don't think I want you in my house any more")
Also I have a step mum. And a step dad
And I hope my dp will one day next step dad to my dc and I'd like to be able to helphim adjust to that as best I can. So it's all about reading experiences from the other side.

CRazzyyAce Mon 05-Sep-16 09:29:20

I think it's interesting to get aspects from both sides op otherwise you would get a biased view point. I'm a mother and my DH is a step father so I can know hard it is another woman being in my child's life ) especially as ex left me) but I have the understanding of how it's difficult for DH and for ex. We all get on fairly well no issues if any concerns we communicate it. I like to think I can offer advice on the basis on how to maintain relations with step parents and parents.

Fianceechickie Mon 05-Sep-16 09:32:00

Indeed. There's women come on here who are honestly doing their best in some very hard situations who want a shoulder from a fellow step mum who has been there or a guiding hand from a more experienced step mum and instead they end up with the written equivalent of a slap in the face from someone who's not a step mum. I suspect most of us get that on the text from the RL mums of our dscs and if we wanted the advice of someone in that position we'd ask for it. In fact we get it in RL whether we want it or not. It's incredibly hard being a step mum. They say nothing prepares you to be a mum and there's no rule book there but crikey there's more preparation than being a step mum. Like the nine months you carry them, the natural bond, the fact that there's no other mum involved, the fact they live with you 24/7, the fact that they're s blank canvas. I could go on... I get the fact that some step mums might come on seeking advice from the other perspective but I think they would make it clear if they wanted to be told to 'have a word with themselves' by a non step parent. Too much reckless and irresponsible digs bring wrapped up as 'advice' on here. Too much assumption that posters are bad step mums or bad people because they admit to a struggle with their feeling towards a Dsc. Anyway I'm guessing no one knows of a more supportive step mums only forum? I run one on Facebook for parents of kids with ASD. We don't allow anyone other than parents in same situation and don't allow the kind of hurtful unsupportive commenting that goes on here. Be great to have same for step parenting!

NNChangeAgain Mon 05-Sep-16 09:37:49

Compared to a few years ago, the step parenting boards appear quite balanced to me! I've been around for long enough to remember the OTBT TAAT saga of times gone by.

I actually think that a lot of the harsh/brutal comments do come from stepparents, or people with previous experience - who have lived it for longer. I know that I find myself typing responses now that say exactly the same as posts that I thought were mean and judgemental a few years ago.

Advice to cut your losses and end a relationship may seem brutal, but when you've seen dozens upon dozens of people ignore those gut feelings only to experience far more heartbreak and chaos later on in a relationship, it is often the 'best' if not the most palatable, option.

There is well established social research that explains "why" stepmums are vilified by society as a whole but as I say, I rarely see that here these days - it comes across as straight talking, which can be hard to swallow if what you need is sympathy of like-minded posters. But that's the same on any board.

CRazzyyAce Mon 05-Sep-16 09:38:09

Also it's not just step moms who can be nasty my ex's SD was vile during his childhood, he was given the littlest room in his house, couldn't make a sandwich after a certain time, couldn't bathe after a certain time, couldn't go in a particular room as it was his SDroom. He was made to call him dad at a young age and even tried to change his surname, my ex attempted to kill himself several times during his childhood, he eventfully got the bigger room when he got cancer in his teens it had been previously his SD gym. I know they have been physical with each other before. The man really gave me the creeps in all honesty there was something about him not quite right.

WannaBe Mon 05-Sep-16 09:43:43

There is no doubt that there are people needing support in difficult situations. But there is equally no doubt that there are people who need to be told in no uncertain terms that they are unreasonable and that no, this is not the way to be a step parent.

TBH when I split from my eXH I was of the view that it would be far better to get together with someone who already had children because they would at least share the empathy and understanding of what it was like to be a parent. But reading the step parenting boards as well as my DS' own experiences of being part of a situation where there are other children in the mix, I am now of the view that on the whole, blending families where there are children on both sides generally doesn't work.

And all too often these failures in blending families are blamed on the children who had no choice in the matter.

There is no doubt that there are good step parents out there. But that doesn't mean that the bad ones should be pandered to just because they're finding it hard.

Bananasinpyjamas1 Mon 05-Sep-16 10:15:56

Too much reckless and irresponsible digs bring wrapped up as 'advice' on here. Too much assumption that posters are bad step mums or bad people because they admit to a struggle with their feeling towards a DSC

OP I do totally agree with you here. Whilst I agree with listening to different perspectives, there does seem to be a tendency for posters on this step parenting board to be a 'weighing in' from women who have a gripe about their own kids step mum, or step parents. I've seen and experienced it a lot, and usually I have to say it is not someone who has actually read the original OP very carefully at all.

It worries me with step mums who are newly posting, who are at quite a low and desperate stage.

I was myself at this stage last year, I was really struggling and had an awful time. Mumsnet was the one place I hoped to be judged on my own situation, not just an excuse for others to vent and project onto me their RL grievances. It was then that some posts really upset me and made me question my sanity! I honestly didn't mind being challenged 'fairly' i.e. someone who had actually read my post. But really the reactions that were most aggressive were the ones who were talking about their own lives tbh. I can see that now, but it did hurt at the time.

Having said that, I also have had a huge amount of support on here. And I don't mean just agreeing with me. I have questioned some of my own motives and behaviour as a SM. But I have learned whose posts here are credible, reasoned, and who get me to think about what I am doing. I do think it is really healthy not to have people agree with you all the time, so I would have this board to be just a blanket - a SM is completely right all the time. Indeed I have found myself disagreeing with other SM and occasionally saying that I thought their actions were not good, or were adversely affecting their step children.

Some SMs are more selfish than others, just like in RL, I get that.

And now I am a bit stronger, I can use these boards with the same thick skin that I have had to develop as a SM in RL. And it's really useful. I can now gain even from the perspectives of non SMs who can be very biased, as I have learned to know where they are coming from.

However, I would say again, any new SMs who really are in a bit of a terrible state, very low, anxious, totally isolated. Let's lay off the weighing in by non step mums who only have their own axe to grind. I get that it's not as bad as some forums. But still, I would like to think that that we give each other as human beings the integrity of being listened to and retain our responsibility that just trashing someone is just trolling. Let's not do that!

Fianceechickie Mon 05-Sep-16 11:06:49

I completely agree there is room for both support AND challenge but in a nice, thoughtful way, especially as you say some are new and vulnerable. Bring a step parent throws up all kinds of emotions, not all of them positive and we do need to be reminded that we need to try to be more generous and open hearted at times. Step parenting is not an instinctive act. To offer that same love and support to other children as you do to your own needs us to override that and use our intellect to be the best parent we can to children who aren't ours by birth. To do that I believe we need support and encouragement. You do see the occasional post from someone who's clearly in the wrong and may be adversely affecting the child but not many and these are far outweighed by well meaning posts from people doing their best and just needing support and guidance. I don't understand why some people think it's right to advise total strangers about whom they know very little to, for example, end relationships when surely in RL we would he hesitate to do that to a friend we knew lots more about. I agree you need to filter out the nasty axe grinder posts but I find that difficult on other peoples threads not just my own. I'm incredibly fortunate with my dscs...they're fab but have so much empathy with others who aren't so lucky. To be fair, I feel there would be enough variety of opinion on a step parent only group because some would obviously have dcs with step mums too and be step kids etc as well as having or not having experiences good and bad.

NNChangeAgain Mon 05-Sep-16 12:07:23

* I don't understand why some people think it's right to advise total strangers about whom they know very little to, for example, end relationships when surely in RL we would he hesitate to do that to a friend we knew lots more about*

Oh, that's not exclusive to the stepparenting board - ending relationships is the MN go-to solution - that or a spa-day grin

swingofthings Mon 05-Sep-16 17:37:21

Mumsnet was the one place I hoped to be judged on my own situation, not just an excuse for others to vent and project onto me their RL grievances.
I'm sorry banana, and I hope I don't fall in the category of those horrible judgmental not SM posters, but I do find the above statement quite unfair. At least I don't feel it applies to me at all. I have no reasons to vent at all as I'm in a good position where I've made up with my SM and have now a good relationship with her and also now feel very positive towards my kids SM.

I have found coming here very helpful to understand better how my OH experience his role as a SD. Some aspects of it, I expected, but others I didn't but reading posts here has helped me appreciate better what it is like for him. Only a few days ago he opened up about it (which is a miracle in itself as not one to talk about his feelings) and we were able to have a very positive conversation even though we said things that we would have rather not wanted to hear.

I find it very sad that anyone would feel no inclination at all to listen to the experience of other people who have an understanding of the situation from the 'other side'. This is as a whole, not just step-parenting. The most frustrating situations arise because of lack of understanding how the other person feels and not being prepared to listen, more concerned being listened to.

I do totally agree that there are ways to 'challenge' someone's point of view without being nasty and I totally agree that jumping on the 'you should leave him' is not the way forward, but then it is exactly the same response you get on 'relationships'. I feel (but could be wrong) that emotional reactions arise when deprecatory words as used to refer to the mum or worse the child, which I don't think anyone can deny happens in some threads.

I find myself that I just about equally agree with some OP than not and I find it unfair that I should restrict myself to expressing my views, which is what forums are all about only when I do agree.

paxillin Mon 05-Sep-16 18:00:43

There are some new and stressed stepparents on here and they deserve a lot of support. There are also some threads purely for venting, which can be helpful.

However, I have seen some threads that could have been written by Cinderella's stepmother. Most stepparents will try and point this out gently, some parents whose children have stepparents might me more direct in such instances. And there are a few blended families on here that are terrible for the children (and often the adults), so LTB can be the right advice.

lookluv Mon 05-Sep-16 22:39:10

"And IMO the reason why there is often such hostility is because the same people expect absolute equal treatment of their own children by the incoming new partner, on the basis their children are a permanent fixture whereas their step children are treated differently on account of the fact they only enter the home on a part-time basis. "

Wannabe - such a fantastic statement and so accurate.

I lurked beacuse I could not understand how a woman who had known my DCS since birth and been lovely with them - ( I now understand why!!!) could turn into such a nasty bitch. There really was no other way to describe it.

This forum showed me that there were SMs who did what my DCs were talking about and they were not making it up. It showed me the reasoning behind such perverse behaviour and attitudes. It stopped me jumping in on a few occasions - until the DCS took matters into their own hands.

It has also shown me how much the EX gets blamed for stuff so much and how much the EX DPs tell shit about what happened before. I have heard stuff I am alleged to have done from friends since from both EX and his soon to be Ex DP, that just amazes me, from false face book accounts in my name ( I do not use facebook) posting shit on someones account - that one died a death when she posted whilst I was on a 10hr flight to Los Angeles and whilst I was under general anaesthetic - which was fairly irrefutable at the time, to faked phone calls, e mails text messages, letters etc.

I do not always agree with some posts, some are so fanciful I laugh - but most of the time I have learnt how to protect my DCS and teach them strategies to cope.

And now I am an SM!!!!!

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