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Do you have to be a step-“parent”?

(68 Posts)
Winosaurus Sat 24-Feb-18 12:22:18

Having a discussion with my friend about this...
If you date/marry someone with DCs do you have to be a step-parent?
Can’t you just be with their parent and be around them, be kind to them etc but not actively take part in any parenting?
I take this view of my DP’s kids, I also have 2DCs but none together. I don’t want to parent his kids and I don’t particularly want him parents h mine... in fact I have no interest in it whatsoever.
I cook for them, or help them if they need me and spend time socialising with them but I have zero desire to discipline them or get involved beyond that tbh. And I know my DP feels the same about my DCs. We all get along and we’re nice to each other but when he has his kids I just leave them to it.
I love their dad and they’re nice kids but I don’t want to be their parent, they have 2 parents already. And I think the same about my 2... they don’t need or want him to behave like their dad.
How do other people live in this situation? Are we really odd? It seems to work for us all and the kids are happy

5BlueHydrangea Sat 24-Feb-18 12:28:03

If you don't live together maybe, but all in the same house some kind of rules/boundaries need to be agreed. In certain situations all children need to be treated the same, age appropriate of course.
It's a bit of a minefield whatever you do!

Winosaurus Sat 24-Feb-18 12:36:26

Yeah general house rules are fine but they’re not treated the same because we parent very differently. Him and their mum are very relaxed when it comes to parenting and how they allow their DDs to dress etc. I’m stricter when it comes manners and don’t allow my DD to wear make up and bra tops for example - his youngest and my eldest are the same age (8) and the only time it’s been an issue is when my DD said it wasn’t fair regardinv the make-up and I explained to her in private that she is my child and I have no control over what their parents allow/don’t allow but I’m her mummy so what I say goes when it comes to her.
She accepts this and that’s just how it is

lunar1 Sat 24-Feb-18 12:42:29

As long as you don't have any together you are probably fine.

Winosaurus Sat 24-Feb-18 12:46:19

Jesus I think I’d rather rip my ovaries out than have more kids 😂

steppingout Sat 24-Feb-18 12:53:08

Varies I think. My DSD lives with us and is at her mum's every other weekend which means I've inevitably taken on some parental type stuff. I consider any major decisions to be absolutely for her mum and dad, but I think doing all the parental grunt work without having any voice in how it's carried out might be a recipe for resentment.

AnnieAnoniMouse Sat 24-Feb-18 12:53:55

I suppose it depends on your definition of ‘parenting’.

You have an 8 year old each (plus others) they’ve still got an awful lot of growing up to do and it’s not going to be easy to ‘not parent’ the others child if you include manners, behaviour towards each other etc.

The things like make up etc are going to keep coming up and your daughter will probably be the one who is ‘not allowed’ to do things, that’s going to breed a lot of resentment. But as it’s very personal it’s very difficult to do much about. Unlike say a ‘house rule’ of ‘no tv before school’ but that’ll cause resentment if YOU are the one saying no, when their parent would otherwise allow it.

It sounds like a nightmare to me.

Winosaurus Sat 24-Feb-18 13:08:13

Behaviour toward each other - as in between my kids and his I would get involved in as it includes my children.
But if his children are arguing/fighting I leave them to it and ask him to intervene if he’s not aware it’s happening. If he’s there and sees it but does nothing then I don’t get involved at all because it’s up to him where those boundaries lie.
The make-up thing may breed resentment but she’s my child and I’m not going to go against what I think is right or appropriate for children because my DP and his ex have a different view. It isn’t something I could resolve because I’d either have to start letting my 8yo wear mascara and blusher or make his kids take it off in our house - neither of which is fair.
Luckily our DCs are very different and have very different interests so conflicts in parenting rarely come up

AnnieAnoniMouse Sat 24-Feb-18 13:14:27

How long have you been living together?

tootiredtospeak Sat 24-Feb-18 13:20:36

No you dont have to be but the way your spinning it sounds very negative. My DP has known my son since be was 6 hes now 16. Hes not his dad and he sees his dad a few times a week. But we all live together so to keep our lives separate would be weird. He hasnt ever been the msin discipline but hes backed me up. He is a role model for my son and a bloody good one. If he had been so apathetic about my kid it would have made me question how much I really liked him.

WhyBeDennyDifferent Sat 24-Feb-18 13:24:02

My step mum has never been a parent to me. She’s always been my dads wife.
I must say it was hard to understand as a child, this woman being in my life and making rules but not taking a parent role.

We get on really well as adults now though.

upsideup Sat 24-Feb-18 13:28:03

I dont think it is ideal having two children living in the same house who are treated so differently, there is bound to be more situations where one feels like the outsider or the favourite and in their little minds it will be unfair. Same as I dont think two adults who have competeley different parenting styles should have a child together unless both are willing to compromise. What if their dad wasnt there would you then intervene if they were being naughty?
With my dsd we had more of older sister/friendship relationship rather than me being trying to be her stepmum but that still meant meant me looking after her and correcting bad behaviour if neccesary.
I didnt have my own children untill she was a teenager so their wasnt the problem of step siblings getting treaded differently and when she was with us I went along with her fathers rules which to be fair I did agree with.
I think if you decide to have a relationship with someone who already ahs children then you are deciding to have a relationship with their children also, if you are not interested in being a part of their life then dont try and be a part of their parents life.

DullAndOld Sat 24-Feb-18 13:30:53

my stepmother made it very clear that she was not going to be any kind of parental figure to us soon after my dad had left to set home with her...smile

Somerville Sat 24-Feb-18 13:39:29

Of course a partner of a parent doesn't have to take an actively parental role. Amongst my own friendship group I know 'successful' blended families of various types, ranging from a relationship based on friendship, to gaining PR and actively parenting. As long as the relationship is friendly and respectful then it's how the needs of the children are best served, surely?

Where step-parents become another parent to step-children its most often because the kids don't have another parent who is alive or interested.

kittensinmydinner1 Sat 24-Feb-18 13:47:43

No OP not weird. I and DH have patented in this way for over a decade.
I have 3 he has 5. Now in late teens early twenties. . I am my dcs parent. DH for his. His DC 2&3 lived with us from 13/14 yrs.
His are terrible bickerers. Mine have never said a cross word to each other. His are very physical with each other even now. (14-21) mine have never laid a finger. DH is a shouter . I'm not. He is a bit of a helicopter fuss pot parent who wouldn't let them on a bus until they were 16. Which is fine if he wants to be their taxi driver.
I parent by benign neglect and mine were public transport experts by the end of year 6.

Our DCs are so different and our parenting style so different . It would have been impossible to have even tried to jointly parent - not that I have ever had the remotest desire. They are his kids and his responsibility. As are mine.
I am his wife. I am very fond of my dsc but don't have any desire to be anyone else's mother.
I made this very clear when his ex thought I would be her child carer. when they were little. not happening. They have two parents to sort that out.
Luckily DH feels the same.

Winosaurus Sat 24-Feb-18 15:01:55

tootired why do you think it sounds negative? It’s really not, we spend lots of time together I’m lovely to them but I just don’t actively parent them - that’s for their actual parents to do.
I’m more like their friend, I’ll help where I can but I don’t tell them off or discipline them, I leave that to their dad. They are rarely times I’m around them without their dad being there too and even on those occasions it’s for a short time, no more than an hour.
I don’t so pick ups or drop offs, or their washing etc their dad does and I do all of that for my kids.
It works well for us.
Dull that’s a different situation though and I don’t think my SCs want or need me to be a parental figure, they have 2 parents already they don’t need me getting involved.
Upside I do have a relationship with them, they’re my buddies. It’s just not a parental relationship. I don’t want to act like their mum. They’re nice little people but they’re not mine to parent

Winosaurus Sat 24-Feb-18 15:03:27

Kittens that’s how we’re doing it, it works well I think.
I try not to get too involved and just happily coexist if that makes sense?
I try not to question what he does with his kids and he doesn’t with me. It’s more out of respect than anything

kittensinmydinner1 Sat 24-Feb-18 15:48:47

Same as OP. !
The upside is that as a 'non parent' I am able to be a friend.
but in a unique position as I live with them - so know them very well. This has meant that they increasingly turn to me for advice on subjects they don't want to discuss with parents - or want a non-parent view on.
I like this role and consider it an honour to be regarded as a trusted counsellor.

Winosaurus Sat 24-Feb-18 16:01:36

That’s the same with my! Eldest SD is 13 and thinks I’m cool and talks to me about things like a friend

tootiredtospeak Sat 24-Feb-18 17:47:01

Fair enough your first post felt a bit like that to me...kind of not my kids not my issue. But clearly thats not the case. I think whatever works for you is fine. If your happy the kids are happy and your DP is happy then thats all that matters.

SandyY2K Sun 25-Feb-18 00:08:17

An 8 year old wearing mascara and blusher! I'll reserve judgement on that.

It might be just coincidence...but it always seems to be that 'his' kids are badly behaved and 'hers' are well behaved in these set ups.

Winosaurus Sun 25-Feb-18 08:56:08

They’re not badly behaved (well no more than any other kids... including my own!) but unfortunately the make up is true. Full face of foundation last time we picked her up! Half of 8yo’s presents at Christmas weee make-up including MAC eyeshadows and a contouring kit, I kid you not. You don’t have to believe me @SandyY2K but it’s the truth 🤷🏼‍♀️
They do danceshows where they have to be fully made up, but it’s spilled into everyday life now and Mum and dad have no problem with it so it’s up them I guess

Winosaurus Sun 25-Feb-18 09:01:30

I’ve posted before about my concerns with the kids wearing make-up and skimpy clothing all the time, it isn’t something I particularly like or want my own daughter to do - which is hard at 8 because she wants to be like her Ssis and thinks she’s in Little Mix 😂
But it’s one thing I will not bend even a little with. 13yo wears a full set of acryllic nails and has done since she was 11. Different strokes for different folks

MsGameandWatching Sun 25-Feb-18 09:09:18

I think your way sounds ideal OP. I think the insistence that incoming "steps" need to be allowed to "parent" their spouses children can create a lot of unnecessary resentment and I think for some it's about their own need to control and their resentment that they don't have much say rather than an actual need for them to get involved in parenting children that are not theirs.

NorthernSpirit Sun 25-Feb-18 12:29:14

No, I don’t think you ‘have’ to be a step parent.

My OH has 2 kids (9 & 12) they spend EOW with us and half the holidays. I’ve known them for 3.5 years and their dad and I have lived together for 18 months.

I let my OH parent the kids when they are with us - that’s his job they are his kids. They have a mum and i’m careful not to cross the line. I was introduced by my name and at Christmas the kids announced that they call me ‘SM’ to their friends (which I did find sweet as me or my OH have never pushed this). My OH and I have agreed he does the discipline and if needed we do back each other up. The key is to respect each other.

I haven’t got kids of my own and we won’t have kids together. It works for us.

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