Does being a stepmum EVER get easier?!

(37 Posts)
Lucyjm84 Wed 24-Jan-18 01:21:11

Hi Everyone
On here really as I feel like I need somewhere to vent where I can be honest about how I feel as telling my Husband all this would probably hurt him and cause an argument.
Although from reading some other threads, I'm fully prepared I may not get much support and am more likely to be told what an awful/ disgusting human I am as that seems to be what stepmums are branded as as soon as they have any negative feelings! I do see though, that I'm not alone in how I feel and that lots of stepmums seem to struggle with similar issues.

I've been with my Husband 7yrs (married for 5) and he has a son from a previous relationship who was 4 when we got together. I keep waiting for step parenting to get easier and maybe enjoyable/ rewarding at some point but it feels like it only gets harder as the years go on. I feel like surely, after having a relationship with this child from such a young age and spending a LOT of time with him (he spends 3 weeks with us, 3 weeks at his Mum's due to my Husband's job) that there should be some sort of bond or closeness but at the moment I'm struggling to even like him.
I used to find it slightly easier before I had my own children but the shift in how I feel since they came along is huge and I don't know how I'm ever going to get over it. Having my own children who I absolutely adore and would do anything for has only made it glaringly obvious that I don't love my stepson and recently I'm becoming more and more resentful of him.
This isn't me just being some nasty child hating (other than my own) bitch because he was the result of a previous relationship of my Husband's. I realise that at the end of the day I'm the adult and he's only 11 and I need to try and overcome this but he has some behaviours, that of late, I'm just finding unbearable.
As he's getting older he's becoming more and more sneaky, dishonest and manipulative. He's totally unappreciative of everything he gets and is basically spoilt. He whinges and moans about everything and is a total crybaby/ drama queen for an 11 year old (eg. Scraped knees etc). He also wants all attention on him all the time. He's always performing and showing off, making sure all eyes are on him and it's exhausting.
I feel like I can't leave him alone with my 2 year old as he's constantly winding him up. I'll be out of the room for 2 minutes and my son kicks off crying and when I go back in and ask what happened (he can't quite vocalise it yet) I get indignant, wide eyed claims of "I didn't do anyyyyything!" all the while with this cocky grin on his face because he knows he's got away with it.
We've never treated him any differently since my 2 came along. He has his own bedroom here FULL of toys and gadgets. We spend time with him, we play games with him, we talk with him but it's all taken for granted and I'm sick of it. I know kids are selfish creatures but it isn't easy to deal with when it isn't your own child. I'd challenge anybody to live with one of their friends kids for a while and see if they found it straight forward trying to do everything right all the time, being their cook, cleaner, carer all the while having it thrown in your face and at the same time feeling like your own children are suffering due to their bratty behaviour.
I've spoken to my Husband about this many times but I feel he has some sort of a guilt complex because his son's Mother is a bit lazy with parenting/ mothering and doesn't spend much time with him and is rubbish at all the practical things like keeping their house clean etc. She does however spoil him rotten with whatever food/ treats etc he wants so it's not like he's a deprived child.
Recently, just having to have my stepson and his Mum (and all the crap that comes with her total lack of parenting - there's a lot more to this and how annoying that is but that's another story!) in my life is too much and I dread him coming back.
My Husband works away, 3 weeks away, 3 weeks at home and we have stepson for the entire 3 weeks my Husband is home except maybe 1 or 2 nights.
It's like being a single parent to my 2 children for 3 weeks and I can't wait for my Husband to come home but it's getting to the point I dread it now because with him comes my stepson and then all my feelings of resentment and anger come back to the surface.
At the moment I feel so negatively about step parenting that I would say to anyone thinking of getting involved with someone with kids (especially if you don't already have your own) to run a mile. It's totally thankless and just seems to be a long road of hurdles that you never anticipate when you start a relationship with someone with children.
My Husband is the best thing that's ever happened to me (despite how it sounds!) and is an amazing father and the worst thing that could ever happen would be for our marriage to fail but I sometimes wonder if it can ever really work because of all this. He's his son at the end of the day and I know he loves him (and our 2 children) the same as I love mine but I can't help how I feel and don't know how to snap out of it

OP’s posts: |
user1493413286 Wed 24-Jan-18 08:11:45

It strikes me reading your post that it must be really confusing and unsettling for your stepson to live one place for 3 weeks then another for 3 weeks. You’ve said that his mums parenting is very different to yours so he’s having to move between two different sets of expectations and boundaries constantly and be away from each parent for quite a long period of time. I say this kindly but how would you feel if you were moving between two houses with different people every 2 weeks?
I think some of his behaviour is likely just being an 11 year old child but I wonder if some is that he doesn’t have a constant home. I understand that these arrangements are based on your husbands work pattern but are they still in your stepsons best interests?
For all the criticism we get as stepmums there’s no getting away from the fact that it’s very difficult to love a child as your own when they aren’t your child. Im lucky in that my relationship with my stepdaughter is very good but having my own child has opened my eyes to the fact that my love for her is different to my love for my own child and i cant control that, I can only control how I then act.

swingofthings Wed 24-Jan-18 09:29:37

I think you need to separate all the different feelings you are going through to assess your situation.
Firstly, you admit yourself that everything changed about your feelings for your SS when you had your own children. This is totally normal and does happen more often than not. It is what it is and you can't change that, and shouldn't feel pressured to do so. However, you do need to appreciate that your feelings towards him as a result are not HIS fault. His behaviour is challenging, but if you didn't have that shift of emotions after having your children, you would probably feel differently in terms of his behaviour too.

Secondly, this is your first experience of parenting a kid that is going through the first stage of teenagehood. You might not have so many close friends of children that age. If you did, you would probably be exchanging moans about what little shit they become at that age, and that coming from their own parents. I really struggled to like my kids at that age (and other stages of teenagehood). It's normal to feel they are treating you like a doormat, with sudden disrespect, aggression, lazyness etc... What you have to try to remember is that it is not directed at you personally, and even less at you as a step-parent. They just go through these stages that just makes them very much less likeable. Whether a parent or step-parent who gets involved in their everyday life, you have to face it and manage it as much as you can take. Of course, as a SM, it's even harder because as per the above, you don't even have that maternal bond towards them.

You're probably exhausted and convincing yourself that your life would be so much easier if he wasn't around. That's probably true, but at the same time, don't brew on your feelings that your life would be perfect otherwise because you cannot assume that you won't experience exactly the same with your own children. I brought mine up with discipline, limits, teaching them respect and gratefulness. My kids were bound to become those teenagers who ask how I feel, if I need help with anything, who actually do enjoy spending time with them mum and understand how hard I've worked to give them the best.... what a shock I had when they became teenagers!

thethoughtfox Wed 24-Jan-18 09:56:07

I couldn't be a step mum. I know that. The issue is that it takes an amazing person to take on another's child and love them. It is made so much harder because the child isn't there constantly to allow them to become truly part of the household and for the step mum to really be a mother figure. It must be so hard dealing with another woman and her child, the different way they parent and the negative ways it impacts on the child and on your life. To love someone else's child as much as your own, I would imagine would be quite rare. And the poor children who have more than one home are often mixed up, confused and desperately seeking consistency , reassurance and love which often manifests as negative attention-seeking behaviour. Don't be so hard on yourself, OP. People are hard on step mums here because the thought of their child being away from them and being with another woman who doesn't care about them or may mistreat them, is most women's greatest worry.

Lucyjm84 Wed 24-Jan-18 10:15:01

Thanks so much for your responses. Really sensible points of view that have made me think a lot.

I do think that going between the 2 houses is part of it. I don't know that the length of time is necessarily an issue. He's been doing it like that since he was 2 and seems pretty settled about that (he often wants to stay with us longer and never makes any noises about missing his Mum much while he's with us) Maybe it's something we should talk to him about. Although when he does go home for a couple of nights during those 3 weeks you can see he's dissapointed and would prefer to stay with us. Maybe that's the issue! I know there's nothing to worry about at home with his Mum, he just seems to like being here with us, which makes me feel even worse about how I feel!

I definitely think the difference between homes and expectations is a huge problem and one of my main resentments. I HATE that he comes back here with certain habits from his Mum's house because of her different way of parenting (or total lack of in my opinion). I know there's nothing we can do about that though and it isn't his fault. Because I know what his home with his Mum is like and I genuinely believe he prefers it at ours (just a bit more of a homely/ stable family unit) I suppose I want him to show some sort of appreciation but maybe I'm expecting way too much of an 11yr old.

It is my first experience of kids this age (from a parenting point of view) and there's a big age gap between him and the 2 little ones. My Husband does say to me that ours will probably be the same when they're his age and that most of what he's doing is normal 11 yr old behaviour. He also doesn't just reserve it for me, he does exactly the same to his Dad (and his mum from what she tells my Husband). I suppose, like you say, it's harder to deal with and accept when you don't have that parental bond.

I think I do need to try and seperate all my feelings. I have a habit of lumping everything together and getting myself worked up about it. What makes it so sad is that I know my stepson is fond of me and none of this is his fault. I need to find a way of dealing with some of his behaviour better. He isn't a bad kid at all, just trying at times!

Thanks again for the replies. I need somewhere else to vent other than at my Husband all the time as I know it won't do us any favours if I'm always moaning about his Son.

OP’s posts: |
Magda72 Wed 24-Jan-18 10:16:52

Hi @Lucyjm84 - I agree with @user1493413286 re the three weeks on, three weeks off. My head would be melted if I'd to do that adjustment constantly. Sometimes divorced parents think both parents seeing the kids for equal time periods is in the kids best interests but in my experience it rarely is. Kids need routine & stability & moving between two households with two different styles of parenting must be very difficult for this kid. I'd really look at changing the access arrangements for his sake.
My kids go to their dad every Friday night, every second full weekend & one midweek overnight. My 15 year old recently said to me he wants to stop the single Friday nights as it's very disruptive to his social life & his study & he feels he has enough time with his dad as it is. My point is as your ss gets older moving in that manner between two houses will become even harder what with friends, hobbies etc.
Beyond that I think as @swingofthings says teens can be vile. Stuff that you will tolerate from your own kids (bad hygiene, messiness etc.) is stuff that in other kids makes you want to poke your eyes out. I'm laughing here to myself as if my kids forget to flush the toilet for eg., they'll get a lecture & bollocking from me but if my ss's or one of my kids friends do that it truly makes me want to hurl.
That's just the mothering bond & don't beat yourself up about it but you'll be feeling it all the more acutely now you have your own kids.
My dp suffers massive guilt as his ex is a very lazy parent in the emotional sense - kids are fed, bought designer gear & anything else they want but totally left to their own devices emotionally.
I often say to dp that even if he was still with their dm that he would still be dealing with these issues as she was this way before the divorce. I sometimes think divorced parents think the divorce has caused all the parenting issues but in reality those issues were nearly always there pre divorce.
Your dp needs to get the grips with the fact that his ex is the way she is re parenting & get his head around the fact that HE chose to have a child with her and as a result their child is going to be parented a certain way by his mother. His guilt over this is useless & is only going to make things more difficult for everyone.

Lucyjm84 Wed 24-Jan-18 11:01:24

Thanks Magda

To be fair I think my Husband has accepted his ex's way of/ lack of parenting. It's me that has a huge issue with it. He knows that he won't ever change it and can't dictate how things are done in her home and she won't change now but I suppose it doesn't make it any less irritating. For me especially! I feel that in all areas of my life I'm very happy and content apart from this one huge annoyance! To be honest I absolutely detest having to have her involved in our lives in any way whatsoever. She's not someone I would ever be friends with in normal life.

He also didn't exactly 'choose' to have a child with her. It was very very early on in the relationship and not planned (not on his side anyway! But then that's just my unproven theory because I don't have a paticularly high opinion of the woman). He says it happened before he ever really got to know her properly. Another month or 2 and I think he would have finished things and never seen her again but they got caught out. Although obviously it takes 2 to take precautions and make sure something like that doesn't happen so early on in a relationship!

When I say he has a guilt complex, he doesn't let that dictate how he treats his Son at all. He still disciplines him and treats all the kids the same etc but he's much happier when his Son is with us and he knows he's being looked after properly.

A few people have now mentioned the length of visits and maybe this is something we should think about but I'm pretty sure my Husband wouldn't want to budge much on that. Maybe that's quite selfish of him but I think it's more because he genuinely believes he's better off and happier with us and he wouldn't want to limit that time any more than it already has to be due to his work rota. We are both aware though that as he gets older it will change and stepson will probably be here less and wherever his friends are more.

OP’s posts: |


Lovely456 Wed 24-Jan-18 11:16:53

Its ok that you dont love him like your own kids, Its totally normal to feel that way.
I also agree that 3 weeks on and 3 weeks off sounds hard but I think you and your partner should discuss all of that with him as its him that has to cope with coming back and fourth.
Would it ever be a possibility that your husbands job would change where he was able to be home on a more permanent basis instead if having to go away for weeks at a time so perhaps he could come and live with you?

lastnamefirstfirstnamelast Wed 24-Jan-18 11:18:18

To be honest with you I'm having a difficult time being a step mum, Really difficult in fact. I do everything for my step kids and its just not appreciated,

DSD - 16 is a spoilt teenager and she had her dad wrapped around her finger.

DSS - 12 treats me like his personal waitress, never uses his fucking manners.

Even on saturday morning | asked him if he wants breakfast....
Me - "Dss, its 10am and you have not had breakfast yet do you want anything"
Dss - playing on xbox "yes"
Me - "what you like?"
Dss - "crumpets"
Me - "how many?"
Dss - "probably 4"

He ate 1.

He has a verucca too, I asked him to make sure he wore his socks/slippers around the house and step on the bath towel after a bath as i really wanted to prevent passing them on etc (dd is very athletic and dances a lot, anything like that can affect her). he moaned about that " I dont have to do that at my house".

He is very whingey and just so negative. I do love him, I'm just not sure how to go about all of this myself.

Lovely456 Wed 24-Jan-18 11:22:58

Lastname get him to make his own breakfast, Kids are generally quite moany at that age but he should totally be wearing socks regardless, veruccas are horrible.

swingofthings Wed 24-Jan-18 11:33:18

Whatever you do, don't focus on her and that if it wasn't for her, things would be better. It could be true, or it could be not, but whichever, brewing on this will only grow resentment and what thing you can be sure of is that no matter how skilled you think you are at not showing it to your DSS, he will definitely know. Step-children are trained from a young age to pick up on this because it's their biggest insecurities, so they are always on the look out for signs and they have learned to recognise them.

Try to look at it from a positive side: as a SM, you CAN opt to remove yourself from it physically and emotionally. You CAN tell his dad that from now on, he deals with the things that really annoy you, and you can remind yourself that ultimately, if he doesn't turn out a well balanced adult (he probably will be), it's not your problem to keep on your shoulders. It's hard to remove yourself emotionally when you are part of it every day, but at least you know that you can. As a parent, you don't have that option, you have to torture yourself mentally asking yourself if you are dealing with the issue properly and whether whatever you do/say/don't do/don't say will ruin their future.

Don't feel that you have to hide your annoyance though. Teenagers have a way of making you feel that you are being unreasonable for being annoyed about things you get angry about. That's really is one side of it. It is ok to tell them off however they respond to it as long as you also in a position to praise them when they do something good so it balances out.

Grrr, DS is 15 now, and yep, still didn't flush the downstairs toilet this morning (wee only but STILLLLLLLL). I haven't only told him over and over and over to do so, why is is so hard to do.... I do love him, I do, I do but gosh teenagers are hard to like!!

lastnamefirstfirstnamelast Wed 24-Jan-18 11:47:26

I know, I had them really really bad as a kid and DD maybe the same if she caught one, if she catches one from swimming then so be it but iat least i'm trying to prevent her from catching one in the home.

it just drives me up the wall, Dp and i will be having a conversation and he just constantly interupts

After 5 years its draining, i hope it gets better.
My stepmum was vile to me and i havent spoke to my dad for 15 years because of how much she made my life a misery and he let it happen.

I think i over compensate for what i went through.

Lucyjm84 Wed 24-Jan-18 12:57:51

Thank you so much for all the advice. Giving me lots to think about.

Lastname, I can relate to how you feel! I'm complaining about what I'm dealing with now but maybe I've got worse to come as he hits his teens!

There isn't any possibility of Husband's job changing in the near future. The role he does is based in one paticular industry that requires him to work away like he does. Although it's a hard life sometimes, it does have it's benefits and we feel that when he's home he gets a lot of quality time with the kids.

Stepson has actually told us on a few occasions now that he would prefer to live with us (even with the way his Dad works away). It's such a difficult situation though with my Husband's job. I don't know how it would work and understandably, I know his Mum would have an issue with it. There was a time when I was totally up for it and told Husband that if that was what stepson really wanted (and obviously his Parents agreed) that I was willing to take that responsibility on. Obviously there would be times that Husband was away and I would be doing some of the childcare on my own. The way I've been feeling about things recently though, I can't think of anything worse. I know that's so selfish but part of me thinks I have to put myself and my children first. It's hard enough on my own for 3 weeks with my 2. I think adding stepson into the mix (especially with how i feel at the mo) would just finish me off!

I know you're so right swingofthings (sorry, I don't know how to mention usernames properly!). I do struggle not to focus on my dislike for stepson's Mum and it ends up making me so resentful of the pair of them. I kind of lump them together as a package deal (they are I suppose!) but stepson isn't to blame for that.

I also know that he will be picking up on my feelings one way or another. Husband often says I'm on stepson's case a lot sometimes and he can't do right for doing wrong. I know that's so bad but I just get so irritated sometimes to the point I think I'm going to blow my top!

Thanks everyone! I really wish there was a support group for step parents of some sort that I could go to regularly. I really think it would help to be able to talk to people who can relate. I don't know any other step Mum's and it feels like no one can possibly understand how hard it can be. You've all been a great help and it was a pleasant surprise not to get ripped to shreds and told how horrible I am!

OP’s posts: |
Ilovetolurk Wed 24-Jan-18 13:27:23

I think you're not being ripped to shreds as it comes across in your post that you know what you feel is not necessarily reasonable but you can't help your feelings. I think you have some very good advice above.

If your 2 are very young you may find your feelings change as they get older and you feel less protective

I agree Dteens can be awful (my DS is another one who thinks there is a toilet flush fairy)

I did pick up though that you somehow want him to be appreciative for his home with you. To me that's not reasonable at all, no child should have to be grateful for having a decent home life. The three weeks on/three weeks off appears from your posts to be an outcome of your DHs working patterns, hardly the boy's fault

I think any child would be unsettled by the arrangement. As a PP said, imagine your life being split between two houses every three weeks. It sounds like my idea of hell personally

Unihorn Wed 24-Jan-18 14:04:14

I would have thought that 3 weeks on 3 weeks off works better than changing houses every few days? We have ours every weekend Friday to Sunday and I find it hard to get into a routine.

I'm following this with interest as since having my daughter I've found DSD a bit trickier to deal with. Hopefully things look up for you.

user1493413286 Wed 24-Jan-18 14:06:44

I also wanted to say I really emphasise with your feelings about having DSSs mums involvement in your life. When I go to together with DP I knew that DSD came as a package with him and I accepted/welcomed that but naively I didn’t fully realise that it also meant that his ex’s actions would impact on our lives and in turn the child we’ve had together

Ilovetolurk Wed 24-Jan-18 14:12:34

I don't know Unihorn

At least with your arrangement the home corresponds to the weekly schedule, so one house for weekdays and school, another for weekends.

Sparkcentral Wed 24-Jan-18 14:23:09

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Lucyjm84 Wed 24-Jan-18 14:25:03

You're right Ilovetolurk! I'll take that on board. It is unreasonable to expect him to be appreciative of the home we provide for him. It's what he should have and I know I didn't appreciate the home I had when I was a kid/ teenager. I suppose it just gets tiring giving all the time. It's relentless enough with my own children sometimes but there's that parental love/ bond there that helps. I don't have that with stepson.

I get what everyone is saying about the 3 week thing. I can't imagine being split between 2 homes like that. It must be a bit unsettling sometimes. All I can say is that he honestly does love being here with us those 3 weeks. Whenever he speaks to my Husband on the phone when he's away at work, he's asking when he's coming back etc. Don't get me wrong, the negative way I've been feeling, it would suit me down to the ground if we didn't have him those entire 3 weeks. That sounds terrible but I'm just being honest. I think it would give me a bit of a break and also some time just with my Husband and our 2 children together. However, I really think it would be more unsettling for him if he all of a sudden didn't spend that time with us. I think he feels like he's missing out if his Dad is home with us and he's not here.

OP’s posts: |
Lucyjm84 Wed 24-Jan-18 14:39:18

I'm so glad I'm not alone in how I feel. Sometimes I read articles or see stories on tv about stepmums saying how rewarding being a stepmother is and how they love them like their own children! I know everyone's different but I just can't believe that's true. Maybe I'm wrong though.

User.. that is SO true! The amount of times someone has said, or I've seen written on here, "you knew he had a child, you knew what you were taking on".
It's so incorrect and SO unfair!
Just like no-one really knows what having your own children is like until you have them, the same is true for being a Step-parent. I didn't have a crystal ball that showed me all the obstacles along the way. I wasn't at all prepared for how the dynamic and my feelings would totally change once we had our own children together.
And I never knew that in a strange, indirect way, the way some woman (I don't paticularly like and would never choose to have anything to do with) lives her life would sometimes impact my family, children and homelife. It's VERY hard at times!

OP’s posts: |
lastnamefirstfirstnamelast Wed 24-Jan-18 14:55:59

oh god a step parent meet up would be a dream.

I've held my feeling in so much, its nice to know i'm on the normal side

swingofthings Wed 24-Jan-18 15:44:05

All your feelings are normal, so you can't do much about them. Your SS behaviour is normal, so even though there is room for improvement, you can't expect miracles.

On this basis, I think the only thing you can do to try to make things better is try to get some positive into your relationship. Now I know this is hard too because it is likely that initially, he is resistant to it, or at least certainly not forthcoming with excitement, and that will again make you feel that you are investing in him for nothing, but it's worth a try. Not talking about a special treat like taking him to watch his favourite football game, or even taking him shopping for stuff he really wants because that could be seen as opportunity to use you, but an activity that you could do together, where you could find yourself actually having a bit of fun together, maybe cooking, or a sporting activity. Might not be easy to come up with something, but it's worth a try.

Hermonie2016 Wed 24-Jan-18 16:11:28

I think it is tougher to love some children, especially if they are not yours.I have lots of children in my life through family and friends and some are definitely easier to love.I think it can be personality and/or parenting.
If his mother isn't nurturing his attachment may not be secure, added to a divorce situation he is likely to defensive.

I have always thought step parenting is way, way tougher than actual parenting as its all work for very little reward.

I think you need to give yourself a break and just ensure your parenting around him is "good enough".His dad should be the primary interface where possible, especially discipline.

Does your stepson have friends at school?

Magda72 Wed 24-Jan-18 16:22:00

I totally get what you're saying re your ss's dm & I think that could be where your main issue lies.
I too struggle with dps kids - mainly because there's no recognition. What I mean is that I see little of the man I love in them as they have a lot of their mother's personality traits in them which could be nature or could be nurture. Dss 1 looks most like dp & in truth he's the easiest to like - I don't think this is a coincidence!
You now have your own kids and you're seeing both you & dh in them. By contrast you probably see dh & his ex in your dss which is alienating.
My dps ex is also not someone I would ever know or be friends with in life & as a result his kids personalities are very foreign to me. I have a more natural affiliation with dps nieces & nephews than his kids, as his sisters & their husbands are people I have things in common with & people that I like.
Of course none of this is the kids' fault but I think facing up to this reality is half the battle. I think @swingofthings is right when she says step away a bit - for your own sake. At the end of the day the dm is his mother & is going nowhere & even if he's happier at yours he loves her.
I think my dps kids would be much better off at ours but even if we were to effect that it's only MY opinion as I think their dm's parenting is rubbish. At the end of the day she's their mum, she loves them & they love her even though it might not be the life or relationship I would want for me & my kids. But, without obvious neglect it's not up to me to dictate how any woman parents her children - she probably thinks my way is rubbish.
I think at 11 your ds is old enough to have different houses & different house rules explained to him. You and your dh need to sit and explain to him what is & isn't acceptable regarding behavior in your home & with his siblings. Acknowledge that things his mum finds acceptable you don't, & vice versa. Point out that there's pluses & minuses to both households & see can you get any feedback from him?

Battleax Wed 24-Jan-18 19:20:19

It completely depends on the people involved. You can find lovely or poisonous people in any of the roles.

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