Need some advice(19 Posts)
Hi all, I'm not a step parent but needed the advice of some!
EXP has been with his new DP (for the sake of this we'll call her Claire) For a while now and they moved in together a few months back. He has form for dumping DS on whoever he can from his family and appears to now be using Claire as a live in babysitter. Claire is wonderful with DS and much better than EXP IMO - she does his homework and reading with him, takes him on days out, bakes with him etc etc, she's the best you could hope for in someone in a step parenting role to your child.
DS has been quite upset recently, he's only 6 and has always hero worshipped his dad but he's getting old enough to realise that he lets him down a lot and doesn't make a lot of time for him. He gets on well with Claire but she appears to be taking the brunt of this, just minor things like him constantly 'forgetting' to say please and thank you and being generally just a little bit difficult.
I explained to him how lucky he was to have somebody like Claire who was willing to do so much for him. She doesn't have children and I appreciate that this must be a lot for her to take on. I told DS that if he is upset about his dad always being at work/the gym/out with friends when he's said he'll have DS (and leaving DS with Claire) he needs to raise that with him, not be rude to Claire. I have raised it myself many times in the past but EXP just flies off the handle telling me that I'm clearly bitter and it's none of my business
In typical 6 year old style, DS raised it by saying "mum says I need to tell you I want to see you more, not just be left with Claire" which obviously went down like a lead balloon.
Claire is now quite frosty at pick up/drop offs and has text to say she'll be doing the next pick off and she hopes it's not a problem.
I replied saying of course it wasn't and went on to discuss details but I don't know whether to have a word with her and make it crystal clear how good I think she is with DS and how much I appreciate it or whether she'd see that as an intrusion and I should just leave it?
Any advice would be welcome, sorry it's so long!
I am the Claire in our house although not because dp is a twat just because he works nights and the original arrangement of having his kids the 3 weekends in a row he is off wasn't good enough for his exw (though had been for years) and I would very much appreciate you telling me what you have said here!
I'm a SM and I'd tell her. I know my SS's mum appreciates how much I love him and yes look after him. It's not always an easy journey but one based on mutual respect will always have a chance.
I think your attitude is quite refreshing OP. So many are are quick to say why should they appreciate or be thankful towards their children's stepmum.
My DDs step mum is in a similar position - and is very prickly about it when I express my gratitude, acknowledging that it's not her job to run DD around/cook/clean/babysit etc . She is at pains to reinforce that it is no trouble at all, she enjoys it, she wouldn't have it any other way etc etc
Her commitment to DD is a huge part of exH's attraction to her, and I suspect that she is worried that if there is any suggestion that she is anything other than 100% accepting, then it will impact on her relationship.
Sad really, because she's had to put up with DD through out her
horrible teenage phase without complaint or objection; I always hope she has got someone that she can vent to, but I suspect it would be too much of a risk in her eyes.
I'd talk to her so she knows it's not a criticism of her and is clear that you appreciate everything she's doing.
It's a shame that his Dad isn't listening to him - that will affect their relationship if it continues. Your poor Ds. Maybe Claire can have some influence there if she understands the full picture.
There are SP's who are very happy to do things for their Dsc Nnchange again. I am and so is dh and we are far from unique. We are a team so both happy to do the things you describe for any of them. Perhaps she is being genuine, and perhaps she's prickly because she senses you've assigned an ulterior motive to a genuine act.
There are SP's who are very happy to do things for their Dsc Nnchange again. I am and so is dh and we are far from unique.
Yes, there are. But there are very few parents who don't get exasperated and frustrated with their own DCs, which is when that unconditional love comes in and ensures that the relationship isn't fractured forever.
That parental genetic programming just isn't present in stepparents. If a DSC leaves their soiled sanitary towels for their stepmother to find, swears at them after a bad day at school, or 'forgets' to turn their hair straightens off leaving yet another burn mark on the carpet, the underlying emotion of a stepparent is not the same as that of a parent - no matter how much of a united front the couple put on.
Stepparents, particularly stepmothers, who have parental responsibilities for their stepDCs placed upon them rarely survive unscathed. The expectations of the parents, and the behaviour of the DC, create a fertile ground for the breeding of resentment. Parents who ignore that often find they lose all good will.
My dsd mum sent me a Mother's Day card this year, basically saying how grateful she was for the things I do and that she couldn't have hoped for better. Honestly? Made my bloody year! - and I have another 3dc on top
Tell her. 100% tell her
Debra I wasn't implying that she resented doing it, just acknowledging that it's a lot to be placed on her shoulders when she has no prior experience with children and EXP isn't around. I didn't want her to think I had a problem and make it even harder.
Thanks for the advice everyone, she text me this morning to tell me DS had been being sick all night but she hadn't wanted to call me when it was so late and wake me up in case it annoyed me. So I've had a chat with her and made sure she knows I think she does an amazing job with him and that he's lucky to have her and to not ever think she can't call me if EXP isn't available. She really appreciated it and I feel better that we've had that discussion too!
It is so refreshing to hear your balanced and generous attitude to your Ds stepmum. I cannot add any practical experience but l think you are doing a great job for your DS and between you and SM he will be well taken care of .
Shame about lazy dad, but you cannot change that, all you can do is explain to Ds that his dad loves him but is not very good about doing things with him. Reming him that both you and SM will always do his activities with him though.
Nothing is perfect but it must be lovely to know SM cares for him so well when he is not with you.
Claire sounds lovely and I'm so pleased your ds has another positive role model in his life. I'm glad you told her how happy you are with her involvement in his life. And hopefully explained that 6 year olds quite often have the tact of Donald Trump!
I don't understand your comment to me Cake, I didn't think you were implying she resented it at all. Far from it.
I'm glad you and she have been able to talk. Hope your ds is feeling better.
Debra - it was the bit that said "perhaps she's prickly because she senses you've assigned an ulterior motive to a genuine act."
I didn't mean for it to come across that way, that's all. I think the way DS put it across would have come out badly towards her, when actually my only criticism would have been EXP taking advantage of the fact she is so willing to do the things that he should be doing with her as an excuse to take a further step back.
I think the point of view I have probably comes from the fact my parents got divorced when I was 12 and both remarried. I'm really lucky because I have two fantastic step parents to the point I just consider it as having 4 parents, but my DM especially really struggled to accept my relationship with my SM. She saw it as some sort of threat and couldn't understand that me loving my SM didn't mean that I loved her any less as my DM.
While I appreciate being on the other side of it now, my growing up highlighted to me that it's nothing but a good thing to have extra people who love and look out for your child even if it takes some getting used to!
Oh I see now! That comment wasn't to you, it was to Nnchangeagain about her dd's SM. Sorry if that wasn't clear.
I totally agree with your take on things, it's exactly what I thought.
Tell her! You sound great. I would love to have you as my partners ex honestly, however your ex doesn't sound cracking so maybe not!
She probably doesn't want to feel like she's stepping on your toes, but sort of has no choice if your ex keeps leaving your ds with her.
OP I would have practically thanked you as an SM for this! It is not unreasonable at all to expect that when your child spends time 'with his Dad' - that he actually does just that!
It isn't fair or good for your child or this woman to be forced into too much parenting. And you also acknowledge that she is having to parent, which is something a lot of women imho seem to deny. And it isn't right or easy on your child, who is having to adjust to a new parental figure very quickly.
If you feel that there is any way Claire can be communicated with, I'd do that. Your Ex too if you can. Never be afraid to raise this, you have your child's interests at heart and it is too confusing at the age of 6 to be handling this himself.
You sound entirely reasonable. Wish you were my DPs Ex.
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