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Family values

(42 Posts)
limitedscreentime Thu 25-May-17 06:28:32

I'm a serial lurker, but following on from another thread I had to post this....

Step parents please give me your thoughts!

I really feel that when you marry someone you take on their family. There may be other factors which influence that so just looking at children from previous relationships (who are innocent and a product of your new spouse), do you not feel any responsibility towards them? They are part of your family surely? I cannot see how people can be so dismissive of them when it comes to financial or emotional support, putting all the onus on the biological parents.

I honestly feel that if my husband had previous children I would want to support them due to my love for him. I know it can't be easy dealing with an ex, but can that not be separated from the children?

If my husband died, I would still want to support those children, maybe not financially if they are already well provided for, but I would still want them in my life as they are a part of him, and when I married him, they became part of my family. Obviously they might have half siblings too and I would want to maintain that relationship.

All this talk of 'not getting any of my hard earned cash', avoiding CM payments, stopping paying any CM when they reach 18 (not many 18yr olds can afford to be self sustaining and have any chance in life in the current climate) makes me so sad and feel like we have lost our family values.

Maybe I'm a bit pie in the sky as I'm not in a blended family but I can't see how people can separate their exs children from their lives so simply. FWIW, I also would take on his parents (assuming no back story) and responsibility for them in old age, either jointly with him, or alone assuming no siblings and his passing first.

nuttyknitter Thu 25-May-17 07:03:25

I couldn't agree more. The selfishness of so many step parents on here beggars belief and makes me so sad for the many many innocent children caught in the middle of these poisonous relationships.

Guitargirl Thu 25-May-17 07:12:05

I am not in a blended family either OP and I find your post all a bit hypothetical. It's easy to say what we would do without facing the reality of it. Every family is different and some family dynamics are so toxic I just can't see how you can say so blithely what you would do or not do in a generalised, hypothetical situation. There are too many variables at play. I know personally that I would not choose to enter a relationship with a man who already has children. But if DP and I split up and he met someone else then my DCs could end up having a SM and/or step siblings whether I am happy with that situation or not. Who can possibly say how they would behave in such a situation? What if the other half of the blended family are a total nightmare? You would happily rise above all that I suppose?

limitedscreentime Thu 25-May-17 07:29:07

No, I do appreciate that, and had thought I had addressed that in my post, both in saying that there could be influx incoming actors/back story and why I tried to contain it to children. Maybe that didn't come across clearly enough. But in a lot of these MN posts where such variables are stated and do not seem to provide barrier to it, there seems to still be so little regard for stepchildren as a part of the family and responsibility for them taken as a family.

limitedscreentime Thu 25-May-17 07:30:13

Stupid phone.

Influencing factors, an influx of actors clearly has no contribution here 🙈

Chasingsquirrels Thu 25-May-17 07:40:02

It good that you know how you'd feel in the event of a (hopefully for you) hypothetical string of circumstances resulting in your 2nd husbands death.

I am in such a situation, I had almost no contact with my husband children (he did) until his illness and then very little until the last few days of his life. Both of us would have preferred otherwise but as a result of this I have no relationship with them to fall back on and am struggling too much myself emotionally and with the impact on my own children to be able to offer much to people I don't know. I feel I should see his elderly mother more, but I know that if I go over on own (I pop over when her daughter is there) I'm just not going to be able to cope.

I actually agree with what I think is the intent of your post, but it is very easy to theorise about what should happen - real life unfortunately doesn't always work like that.

mistressofquavers Thu 25-May-17 09:18:32

I think virtually every step parent will go into the situation thinking exactly the same as you do OP. The vast majority will do their best to continue this. Sometimes though circumstances can throw up very unexpected challenges and the whole dynamic can be very difficult. Nobody goes into it thinking 'I will not accept this man's children or the financial commitment involved in raising them'. The aggravation that you sometimes get from the ex however can break your optimism over time though and regrettably some people have to give up and disconnect for their own sanity. There is a huge amount of rejection that is part and parcel of being a step parent as well as a lot of love if you are prepared to put the effort in. I think people ranting on a forum does not really reflect the daily contributions people make to their step kids and the relationships they have.

AnneLovesGilbert Thu 25-May-17 10:31:35

I know it can't be easy dealing with an ex, but can that not be separated from the children?

Bless, you don't have a clue do you?

I love my DSC to bits, I'm married to their Dad who I adore, they're with us twice a week and most of the time it's great.

I've never met their mother and probably won't. We have no relationship at all. She and DH barely talk so why should she and I?

While the DSC are young, currently primary age, my DH picks them up for contact and drops them off afterwards. If he died, I'd never be able to see them again. It would be awful and heartbreaking, but it's a fact.

DH has a life insurance policy which covers maintenance if he dies before they're 18. Will I still love them? Yes of course I will. Will I be paying their mother to financial support them, especially when I'll have no relationship with them? Don't be daft.

She works, got 80% of their house when they split so has barely an mortgage and is financially well off. While DH is alive and working he pays child support and spousal support. Should he die or be out work both would stop and no, I wouldn't be paying them.

And how nice to hypothetically agree to "take on" his hypothetical elderly parents, should they hypothetically survive your husband and his siblings. Lucky you to have limitless time and money to hand to be able to do so.

I'm not sure what the point of your post is at all. Other than to try and shit all over people living a life you cannot begin to understand as you have no experience. Jog on.

mumofgirlspandb Thu 25-May-17 14:25:13

Agree with the last poster. What is the point of this post, if not to make some step parents, most of whom are actually working extremely hard in difficult circumstances, feel worse than they already do?

Sometimes step kids don't want you to take them on, and reject you, sometimes their mum/dad doesn't want you in their life. There are all sorts of circumstances, and do you know sometimes, actually, even when you really want to love the child, you just can't, the same way that you don't love every adult you come across.

I have yet to meet a step parent who doesn't want to have a great relationship and work hard for their step children.

Your naivety is sweet, but the post is judgemental. You'll next be uttering the well used phrase "you knew what you were getting into"... and I can't even tell you how missguided that is.

Faithless Thu 25-May-17 15:11:55

Life is complicated and so are people and relationships. I love my stepchildren and I know they love me and we are very much in each others lives (they live with us full time). I loved my Stepdad, he was a good man. However, sometimes children get manipulated by adults, there is a clash of personality etc. There are a lot of biological families who treat each other terribly, become estranged and have clashes of personality and it's naive to assume this won't be replicated in step families, particularly with all the additional inherent complications.

WannaBe Thu 25-May-17 17:10:53

It never ceases to amaze me that as a rule all this negativity towards "family members" seems to only apply between women and step children.

In fact, the more I read MN, the more I conclude that actually, very few women are cut out to be step parents. Likely a lot of men aren't either, but IMO whereas most women won't tolerate a man who won't take on their children, men are less forceful and are more likely to put their partner above their children, children who they often don't see as regularly as women see theirs anyway so it's much easier to compartmentalise these things.

In a first marriage you generally consider your partner's family to be your extended family, inlaws, nieces, nephews, grandparents etc. It seems that this division is only reserved for step children and to be blunt, generally only between women and step children.

And it seems that it's always either the ex or the children to blame. Never the woman who has decided to distance herself from these children who didn't ask for her to enter into their lives either or provide them with siblings they most likely didn't want because they get to live with their parent full-time whereas the DSC do not.

SaltySeaDog72 Thu 25-May-17 17:17:12

Also if you meet a man with kids who is so wracked with guilt that the blended family dynamics become difficult. It's not all about the Evil Ex Spouse. Men often feel pulled in many directions. Many situations and many shades of grey. Women have more expectations heaped on them in these situations, though. As always, it's about the quality of relationships. And the Relationships board is a good indication of how straightforward thatis...

swingofthings Thu 25-May-17 17:32:35

Once again, totally agree WannaBe! Of course women are more likely to open up about their feelings, but as a whole, men seem to be able to deal with becoming a step-parent so much better than women, even though they often are expected to take on much more of the duties that come with it and for many of them, that giving isn't returned any more than it is for step-mums.

Saying that, I think that your views OP are very much one sided, ie. it's about SM taking on SC in their lives, but doesn't seem to consider that the reverse isn't always the case. You can't assume that because you are prepared to be a happy family, your SC will be so. It can then becomes much harder to be as open as you suggest when you don't feel the sentiment is reciprocated.

And I think that there lies the issue: Women, as a generalisation, tend to want to please/give/do well but then expect in return appreciation/acknowledgement/attention, and when they don't get the latter, they become frustrated, whereas men, as a whole just don't give as much to start with and therefore don't expect as much in return.

Before I met my OH, I always assumed that if I'd become a SM, I would be a fantastic one. I did date men with children before and it always went well, but that was before being fully committed/sharing my life with them. Having been with my OH for 8 years now, I can be totally honest with myself and say that like most SM, I expect I would have found it much harder than anticipated to be a SM. Not because of the ex or the children themselves because children don't have to be perfect for me to appreciate them, but because of having to share my OH love and adoration. I do have to do so with his mum, who he does adore and see weekly, but it doesn't come close to the love of a father for his children.

I am confident I would have adjusted to it and learned to find contentment in my marriage and family, but I can now totally appreciate how lucky I am than my man came child free (whilst he had to accept and take on mine).

As it's been posted above, I really don't think it is as black and white as we think it is until we found ourselves in that situation. Principles are much easier to preach than to apply.

SaltySeaDog72 Thu 25-May-17 17:50:55

Do men take on more of the duties associated with step children?

Did I read that right? Is that true?

swingofthings Thu 25-May-17 18:03:43

Of course, this is a generalisation, but considering the traditional role, most SD take on their SC 12 days out of 14 and some, if not most or all, financial responsibility for them.

Even the law draws a difference. Non resident SP are never expected to financially support their SC, regardless of the situation. Resident SP are. If my ex and I lost our jobs and couldn't support our kids any longer, this will not affect my ex's new partner in any way. It would however mean that my husband supports them solely financially. If that's not taken on more of a duty towards them, I am not sure what is.

SaltySeaDog72 Thu 25-May-17 18:34:05

See what you mean there swing but I do think this might be offset, by the expectations of a SD being lower and also the burden of the logistics, planning, nuts-and-bolts practical and emotional care (all very time consuming) which still, by-and-large, falls mainly to women. In most households.

Generalising there, obviously. But you know what I mean.

Pallisers Thu 25-May-17 18:50:02

I would confidently assert that I would take care of DH's parents and siblings like my own, even if anything should happen to him. But we have known each other more than 25 years and are close.

I presume I'd feel the same about DH's children if he had any before he met me but sometimes I struggle to feel positively about my OWN children. Rearing children is bloody hard at time and the teen years can stretch you to the limit. I wonder how easy it would be to produce the constant support/love/forgiveness/money I do for mine if they weren't mine. I'd like to think I would but I can see why the step relationship can be a minefield to navigate.

MumOfTwoMasterOfNone Thu 25-May-17 23:13:29

I can put my hand up and say I'm not cut out to be a step parent. The last few years have been extremely traumatic, in part due to DPs ex. She will not stop harassing us. We have had to involve police, still today she is trying to find his new contact number 5 years on and she was the one that left him!
No I can't compartmentalise it. She sends her children on vile missions to enable her disgusting behaviour and threats. I am not allowed to tell her children to take shoes off etc in my own home and they tell me so, yet her family can call my children bastards. She steals, she threatens, she screams.
I can't stand anymore and yes, in my mind unsurprisingly, it affects how I feel about his children. I am not a saint and I have my own children to consider.

Apachepony Thu 25-May-17 23:19:19

It's terribly easy to say what you would and wouldn't do, when you're not in that position. It's like parenthood generally- I was a perfect mother - until I actually had children! And being a stepmother is more difficult than being a mother, in my experience.

swingofthings Fri 26-May-17 15:45:29

See what you mean there swing but I do think this might be offset, by the expectations of a SD being lower and also the burden of the logistics, planning, nuts-and-bolts practical and emotional care (all very time consuming) which still, by-and-large, falls mainly to women. In most households.
The difference is that she has the choice to say no, the SF doesn't have the choice to say 'sorry HMRC, not supporting that child financially, get lost'.

Personally, I think too many SM are way to forthcoming to take on the above duties. Why agreeing to it in the first place, unless of course the reason they are doing so is because it suits the dynamics of the family, ie. she is SAHM or works limited hours so she is more available at home, whilst the father works long hours to support the whole family.

Personally I don't believe in traditional roles at all but believe that each parent should be fully responsible for their children, wherever they reside. Whether SPs want to be more involved, assuming it is accordance with what the parents support should be up to them. A SP, whether SM or SD should not be forced to take on a parental role just because they decide to have a relationship with the mother/father. That doesn't mean they are not duty bound to act in a way to respect their needs but that's different to be responsible.

swingofthings Fri 26-May-17 16:02:21

It's terribly easy to say what you would and wouldn't do, when you're not in that position. It's like parenthood generally- I was a perfect mother - until I actually had children! And being a stepmother is more difficult than being a mother, in my experience.
The French have a saying that I love 'before I had children, I had principles'!! I think the same applies if we had 'step' before children! Add 'MIL in the mix too!

swingofthings Fri 26-May-17 16:42:52

What I have an issue is when I get the feeling that a SM considers that her needs should come before those of the SC. That's not specific to the step parenting situation. I personally believe that the emotional needs of any child should always come before those of an adult. That doesn't mean that they shouldn't learn to adapt and compromise, but ultimately, their need should be prioritise because they don't have the same level of skills, choices or independence to do so for themselves.

neonrainbow Fri 26-May-17 16:47:16

Seems like this post is designed to have a go at step parents, from a holier than thou standpoint when actually every step situation is different and ill hazard a guess that op isn't a stepparent.

AnneLovesGilbert Sat 27-May-17 16:02:21

She said as much neon as if it having acknowledged the fact meant she could continue down her path of mythical worthiness and sainthood.

Absolute codswallop.

Wdigin2this Mon 29-May-17 21:41:13

Nobody knows what it's like to accommodate SC in their lives....until they experience it! The OP can fantasise as much as she likes, she has no idea of the reality!

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