How do people honestly feel about step children?

(46 Posts)
Bestlife18 Thu 20-Sep-18 12:27:05

Hello. I am looking for some advice. I am currently separated and one of the biggest issues my husband has was his relationship with my daughter (his step daughter). She was approaching 3 when we first met, now 7. We also have a child together who is only a toddler. He says he feels guilty about the fact that he does not love her. I think he is also very jealous of the very close relationship she has with her bio dad who is very present in her life. I am seeing counsellor but I wanted to find out from other step parents how they truly felt about their step child. During arguments, he would moan at me because I hadn’t told him and involved him in decisions around her or school sports days etc. But this past 6 months before breaking up, he behaved as if he wasn’t interested so yes - I didn’t bother involving him! He has a lot of issues of his own - abusive and useless parents, bullied etc. His actions tell me that he does care about her but I am at a loss as I can’t understand the situation. Any advice appreciated.

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Mrskeats Thu 20-Sep-18 12:29:13

My dh is fantastic with my grown up kids; better than with their dad really
I don’t have much to do with my husband’s kids. I have had some issues with his daughter so don’t really get involved.

Zampa Thu 20-Sep-18 12:37:09

I've known my DSC for 6 years and have had a proper relationship with them for 3.5 years (after DH took his ex to court for contact). I care about them deeply and I think they're pretty wonderful. However, I don't feel about them in the same way I feel about my biological children (their half siblings). For example, I don't think I'd see them if DH and I split up.

PeridotCricket Thu 20-Sep-18 12:41:50

I figure mine have got parents who are both v involved in their lives. I get on ok with them....but I'd never have expected to be involved in parenting decisions that didn't directly affect me.

Bestlife18 Thu 20-Sep-18 12:47:44

That’s really interesting feedback, thank you. I think his expectations are far too high of some perfect life!

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MrsBertBibby Thu 20-Sep-18 12:58:10

I have had my partner's boys in my life since they were 6 and 3, they're in secondary now. I love them but in a different way to how I love my own. They have brought so much to our lives. I talk with their dad about school stuff etc, but decisions are his and their mum's, period. I think my partner would say similar about my son, although my ex is a pretty hopeless dad, so there's more of a dad shaped vacancy for my partner to fill than a mum-shaped one for me, if that makes sense.

NewLevelsOfTiredness Thu 20-Sep-18 13:10:53

Hmm, I definitely love my step daughters, but then they live with me and their mum for 12 days out of every 14, so they're basically a day-to-day constant in my life. Their dad is pretty reliable for his weekend but doesn't offer any input for the other twelve days (doesn't attend parent's evenings etc.) so like with MrsBertBibby's partner there's more a unfulfilled hole for me to fit into it.

It IS hard balancing how close I feel to a 'parent' with not overstepping the mark - in your ex's case, OP, I suspect it would be that little bit harder given the father is very attentive and close, but I assume I'd work with it. As it is it's not overly easy to focus your life around them and yet be 'less' to them, but I knew that would be the case from the beginning. We've basically let the girls set the level of closeness themselves rather than pushed it. For example, I was never referred to as 'step-dad' - until the eldest asked if she could call me that herself on the way home from school one day. Day to day I'm very involved- helping with homework, signing to the 8 year old every night (I live in another country and she loves my 'English songs' even though she doesn't fully understand them!) etc.

My girlfriend is now pregnant with my child. Both girls are delighted. I'm terrified that I will somehow feel 'less' for them in the light of my own child. But I don't think that'll be the case. I think it might be something different, but it's something special all the same.


NewLevelsOfTiredness Thu 20-Sep-18 13:12:36

I meant 'singing', not 'signing.' - her hearing's fine.

Unless she's being told to hurry up and get dressed so we're not late for school, obviously.

Bestlife18 Thu 20-Sep-18 13:14:10

Thank you and best of luck for the baby! I think you hit the nail on the head - if her dad wasn’t so proactive it would be a far more obvious role for the step dad to play...

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hamabr86 Thu 20-Sep-18 13:22:03

I do love them but the total lack of control that your life takes on when you have step children is very difficult to deal with. With your own children you could have some say on what you do on any day of the week to some extent and plan holidays etc in advance, with stepkids your life isn't really yours.

You are also exluded a lot ie. I was very upset to be unable to go see DSD1 in her first nativity last Christmas but as stepmum I am an afterthought.

My DP also likes to plan things without mentioning things to me forgetting it has a massive impact on my life and they only way I can deal with this sometimes is to detach.

MadameButterface Thu 20-Sep-18 13:23:05

of course you will feel differently about other people's children than your own

but it sounds like he is being very difficult, feeling jealous of her dad, acting like he isn't interested then sulking because you haven't consulted him on parenting her. it sounds like he has a lot of issues, and hasn't really had anyone modelling good parenting to him in his life before he met you. maybe he should be getting some counselling of his own. it must be very difficult, but it sounds like you do a lot of emotional labour for him, and this just isn't sustainable long term, particularly if you have separated.

theredjellybean Thu 20-Sep-18 13:33:10

I love mine dearly.
But they were older when I met them, well into teens and busy with their own lives.
Think it helped that my dds didn't live full time with me and their father.
My Dd1 had her own flat, dd2 was at boarding school, dsd 1 was at uni and dsd2 was at local school when we moved in together.
Both ex spouses kept family homes.
So we bought a new big family home... And just treated everyone the same from day one.
My oldest dsd was tricky at times but we are past that now and I honestly feel like I have four daughters.
I certainly love them all and love their company and are involved in their lives.
My dsd recently asked me to go look at universities with her....

BlueUggs Thu 20-Sep-18 13:35:37

I've been in my DSD's life since she was 4. She's now 20.
I split up with her dad when she was 15. I still see her about once a month. She doesn't see her dad because he doesn't bother with her.
I love her dearly as much as I love my son.

Whatsallthisaboutthen Thu 20-Sep-18 13:37:38

I’m a step child, rather than a step parent, but FWIW, I love my stepmum and consider her a third parent. We’ve never lived together and I was 10 when we first met. She’s brilliant in every way.

sunshineroo Thu 20-Sep-18 14:01:43

I think it depends a lot on whether the other parent is still around. I know someone who was a step child - her mother had died when she was 10 and her dad remarried when she was 12. She looked to the step mum to fill that void.

While the step mum did her best, and she did an awful lot, there were defiantly things slightly different about the way she treated her biological kids - it's that unconditional love. It ended up hurting my friend a lot as she desperately wanted that but it was something the step mum just could not give.

It continues to hurt now she is in her 40's.

Spanglyprincess1 Thu 20-Sep-18 15:21:24

Honestly op I get how your partner may feel. I love the kids, all of them but not being allowed a say but expected at the same time to contribyte financiall, motional stuff/running around is hard to swallow.
Tbh an invite to sports days, plays etc wouldn't hurt especially as the child would probably like both families to attend if they possibly could.
I've taken a step back from them now as I can't deal with the fallout over it - usually from the ex not from the children tbf.

InstagramPork Thu 20-Sep-18 15:31:29

Honestly, I really like my step kids but I can’t say I love them. I care about them and think they’re nice people but do I love them like my own kids? Nope. Not even close.
If this is the only reason you’re separating then you need to cut your DH some slack.
As long as he’s nice to her and treats her fairly then that may be all his capable of.
Your daughter already has two parents, why do you exlect expect someone who isn’t biologically related to feel that way?

You can’t expect him to play the role of parent without actually letting him be one. It sounds as if he disengaged because he’s kept at arms length anyway.

Italianshark Thu 20-Sep-18 15:47:54

I love my DSS. He's an absolute treat!

HerondaleDucks Thu 20-Sep-18 15:53:20

No I don't think his expectations are high. It's completely different when you're with the resident parent!!
As a step mum to my partners 2 we have them full time. So in many ways they feel like my own children as I play such a huge part of their lives. I like to be involved and help to make decisions or I would be a glorified lodger paying for the bills and kids clothes and general needs, cooking and cleaning but then having no say in anything. That's nuts. When you're with a resident parent there is a degree of shared care in there.
When you're with someone and committed to the "family" you should be considered part of that family too.
My step dad is my dad and his family are my family. That's how it's always been and it's how it's going for my step children.

NerdyBird Thu 20-Sep-18 18:21:14

I have two DSC and they live with their dad and me. I don't love them like I do my own dd but I think that's realistic. Obviously I still care about them and I do stuff for them. DH does involve me in decisions where appropriate so I don't feel totally sidelined. I think it's extra hard when your partner also has no experience of being a step-parent. My DH has no idea how hard it is because he's never done it. I think it's actually very complex and people don't talk about it for fear of being judged.

Bananasinpyjamas11 Fri 21-Sep-18 18:23:02

First I’d say it’s a two way street. Your DP has to build up a relationship, put the work in. It might be reciprocated, it might not. He can’t expect to feel the simple, clean instant feelings you get with your own baby. He will be feeling mixed. However if he can be patient, kind, respectful that’s a start.

I feel very wary, distrustful and fed up of my DSCs! But that’s because years of a possible relationship were rebuffed, so I was rejected.

flamingofridays Fri 21-Sep-18 18:30:27

I dont love dss like i love ds but thats normal. I still care about him. I think step parenting is a lot harder than most people expect.

If me and dp ever split up i wouldn't date someone with kids again (even though i have my own!)

cropcirclesinthefields Mon 24-Sep-18 08:35:46

I do love my dsd she can be hard work being a preteen but she's worth it. It helps when the parents work well and support the parenting and you have a good relationship with the mother.

Wheresthel1ght Mon 24-Sep-18 14:14:24

@bestlife18 it's difficult because you are expected as a step parent (more so as a step mum) to love your stepkids in the same unconditional way you would your own biological child. Unfortunately that bond doesn't happen in most cases.

I have been involved with my step kids since they were 6.5 & 9, they are now 15.5 & 13, they are here eow weekend, every week for 1-2 nights and 75% of holidays (and like this week whenever else their dm gets bored and wants rid). Their dad works perm nights on a rolling rota so they spend far more time with me than either of their actual parents.

I love them. In the same way I love my best friends kids, my godson and my sisters kids. I do not love them in the same way I love my own dd (their sister). I don't miss them when they aren't here, I don't worry about them if I haven't seen them for a couple of hours.

I care for their welfare, I go out of my way to buy thoughtful presents. They are included in every decision we make from the weekly food shop to which house we bought 5 years ago. They are not included in any of this with their dm and her partner. As such we have an excellent relationship.

That said it is not easy and it is made harder that my input in raising them is not acknowledged by either parent. And not being included in discussions about things that effect me really pisses me off.

If he feels like 4 years of helping to raise her has still resulted in him not being included in decisions then I can understand why he has withdrawn - it is possible he hasn't started it consiously. It may be that you have not realised that you have dismissed him until his withdrawal became more deliberate of that makes sense.

Bestlife18 Mon 24-Sep-18 14:28:52

Crikey sorry everyone for not acknowledging replies - only just got the alert! Thank you all for your comments, really helpful especially the last one. Thank you all so much. A very difficult situation being a step parent...

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