unofficial stepmum- help!(9 Posts)
I've just got engaged to my partner, who has a beautiful 2 year old daughter who he sees every other weekend (we'd absolutely love to have her more, but he works full time and I don't think her Mother would want me looking after her in his absence sadly). She's a joy to be around and I love when we spend time together, so my nerves aren't in any way caused by her.
I don't have a child myself, and I'm only 21, whilst my partner is 27 so he is a bit more experienced etc. I don't call myself her stepmum, but not sure how else to describe the relationship. My partner's child will be the one to decide how she views me when she's old enough and I'm married to her Dad, I'd never want to foist a label on to her!
I feel quite apprehensive in my role, as obviously I don't know what to expect, particularly as I'm child-less myself. Could anyone give me any tips/wisdom/advice of how to make thing as easy as possible for her, whether that's now or when she's older? I feel quite lost and out of my depth and unsure of what to expect in general. Is there anything additionally i should prepare for? I want to have involvement in her life but I'm so scared of doing something wrong. I don't want to step on her Mother's toes either, because although she hates my Partner, she still does a great job.
Congratulations on your engagement. You're off on a good start by being enthusiastic towards your partner's child and positive about her mum.
I'm a stepmother, a mother, a step daughter and my DCs dad has a partner. Based on this experience, my advice would be:
Be kind and supportive to your fiancee's daughter. Also have clear boundaries regarding what you feel is acceptable in terms of demands on your time. Talk to your fiancee ASAP and draw some lines if there are conflicts about this.
Assuming he knows what he is doing, take the parenting lead from him and her mother around day to day things like rules about bedtime and treats and stick to their routine.
Think about a really kind and supportive person in your family or close network (e.g. a nice Aunt) that you are really fond of and model your role on that person, rather than thinking of yourself as an extra parent .
Always be positive about the little girl's mum in front of her, even if you have to bite your tongue sometimes.
Be prepared for lots of hard work and some conflict, but that's family life no matter what!
Faithless (not sure how to reply directly on here as I'm new!)
Thanks for your advice! My partner's ex dislikes me too and I have a feeling she really won't let me have any involvement. As time goes on I hope this will change, but currently she harbours real resentment towards me and my partner, even though she herself has a new partner.
I deal with conflict quite well, but I often wonder If i'm capable because I worry what will happen if we have kids, but I'm just being silly I suppose!
the fact you have come here to seek advice speaks volumes about you and your dedication to the situation. that little girl is lucky to have someone so caring coming into her life.
Be her friend, follow your Fiancé's lead and speak to him about your worries. You BOTH need to be on the same page with what your responsibilities etc are.
Just so you & your dp are aware - any childcare arrangements he makes for his dc on his scheduled contact time have nothing to do with his ex. she has no say in them and cannot veto them.
Contact arrangements will probably change as she gets older and has the routine of school etc.
I'd do this via the legal system if i thought she would make things difficult.
if you're serious about being together longterm then you also need to build your own relationship with his dd as she grows older.
How are you supposed to do that if you're 'not allowed' to spend any 'unsupervised' time with her?
You need to discuss this with your dp properly - don't fall into the trap of taking the responsibility of a parent without any of the 'authority' (for want of a better word).
I was mid twenties and childless when I got together with my now DH, he had 2 kids aged 4 and 2 at the time. I had no experience with children at all so I very much followed DH's lead in the early days and Faith has it spot on about not trying to be a parent to them, more a friend. I think you just have to be kind, do fun stuff with them and let the relationship develop naturally. I vividly remember DSS asking me (when he was still quite little) whether I was 'his Hiding' which I eventually worked out was him trying to put a name to what I was to him. So he had a Mummy and a Daddy and a 'Hiding'
My DSC are grown up now and we have a really lovely relationship, I like to think they know how hard I tried to be a positive person in their lives growing up. I always saw my role as supporting DH to be the best dad he could be to them, I knew he had kids before we got together so I went into it knowing they would always be his priority and was prepared to make them mine too as our relationship progressed. They still come for tea twice a week (they're 18 and 20!) so we can't have done too bad a job
I won't say it's always been plain sailing, I've struggled at times with stuff like all our weekends being devoted to them (being totally honest and hoping I don't sound like a selfish bitch ) and their mum hasn't always made things easy but I knew what I was taking on so the tough times never lasted long and overall I wouldn't change any of it. I think it's probably easier when the DC are as young as your DP's DD is, my two don't remember a time I wasn't around really so our relationship has always just been normal to them.
I hope it works out as well for you as it has for me, I seriously doubt I would ever have gone down the road of having my own DD if my DSC hadn't made me realise how brilliant kids can be.
Thanks everyone for your support and kind words! I had a chat with my partner last night and we resolved a few things. I think I'm lucky in the sense that he's not the type to be a 'pleaser' so, he won't pander to his ex.
He's very level-headed and as a child who's step siblings always got preferential treatment, he's determined to make sure all of our kids and his daughter get treated the same which I'm glad of. It's a shame we don't get to see his daughter more but his work doesn't allow it, but hopefully this will change!
Thanks again everyone, this has really reassured me that I'm not doing as badly as I think I am.
Good luck OP, I really hope it works out well for you
If there's tension amongst the adults then you can bet your stepdaughter will pick up on it and eventually start responding to it. Please remember, at every instance, at every new development stage, at every difficult bit of behaviour you face: she is still just a little girl, even when she acts like she's older.
I grew up in a blended family and now have a blended family of my own and the main thing I've learned is that children in blended homes need ALL their adults to be loving and understanding. One of the key things is to make sure DSD knows she's not being treated unfairly or differently to anyone else. I have a nephew who is not much older than my DSD, who I have been like a second mum to. I treat the two of them exactly the same, which has always been useful in helping DSD to feel comfortable and like part of my family (unfortunately her dads family live far away, her mothers family are estranged and her stepdads family show no interest in her).
You sound enthusiastic about this relationship with your step daughter, and that's lovely. Make the most of your time with her!
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