To be told its not a 'real' family

(37 Posts)
C1239 Tue 04-Jun-19 11:38:35

I live with my partner of four and a half years, he has two boys, who are 7 and 9, who we have 1-2 nights a week and more in the holidays.
I have a lovely relationship with them and seem to have fitted into the 'step parent' role well. So far its all being a very amicable situation with the boys Mum and i feel lucky to have the situation i have. I've never wanted to have my 'own' children, i like children but have always imagined myself more in the aunt or godmother role than mum so this seems to work well!
I'm about to turn 35 and recently social pressure and comments have made me doubt myself and made me wonder if i've been really naive about this whole situation.
Comments like 'its not really a real family unless you have children of your own', you will really regret not having your 'own' children, is step parenting really real parenting, what if you split up from your partner and loose your 'family'. I hadnt thought about it at all like this for the last four and a half years as its just felt right!
I dont know if its because i'm about to turn 35, it feels like an age i'm meant to have everything sorted or what it is but its a horrible feeling when i've always thought i've had a great situation!
Just looking for some reassurance really !

OP’s posts: |
Whoops75 Tue 04-Jun-19 11:42:34

It is real and sound great


It’s likely in the event of a break up you won’t see the kids.

Symbol Tue 04-Jun-19 11:44:28

Sounds like a great set up for you. If you don't have a desire to get pregnant don't do it just because somebody else has told you you should want to. The world would be a much better place if people stopped having opinions about how other people live their lives.

tisonlymeagain Tue 04-Jun-19 11:44:35

My DP always gets a bit narky with me when I say I don't feel like we are a "proper" family but that's for the reason @Whoops75 has said. If we split up, I'd have nothing to do with his children again and that doesn't say "family" to me.

Loopytiles Tue 04-Jun-19 11:47:17

Who is making those comments? Rude of them!

An issue - whether or not you decide to try to have DC with your DP - is that should you break up (and well over half cohabiting couples do) you may not get to see your step DC anymore.

Blueberry000 Tue 04-Jun-19 11:48:04

I agree that stepchildren are different from your own children (OP as you also mentioned, you see yourself more like an aunt or godmother role than mum). Also as Whoops75 pointed out, you may not be able to see the kids, especially if they are still young if you relationship breaks down.

However, any comment like 'its not really a real family unless you have children of your own' is utterly ridiculous. Many couples also choose not to have kids, does that make them not a real family as well? You may, or may not regret your decision when you are older, but definitely not for this reason!

Babyduck3 Tue 04-Jun-19 11:51:26

It is a real family, families come in so many shapes and sizes!
But the comments about not seeing the kids if you were to break could be true, it depends on your OH and the kids mum.
I'd never stop my daughter seeing her step mum if she was to split with her dad, she's been a huge part of her life for years so I would try to keep some kind of a relationship, but not everyone would do that!


HK2009 Tue 04-Jun-19 11:54:00

I have 3 brothers and 5 sisters.

1 brother and 1 sister are full siblings (of mine)
1 half brother and 1 half sister (of mine)
1 step brother and 1 step sister (my dads partners kids - we moved in with them when I was 5. Dad and his partner have never married but I've referred to her as my step mom for 18 years now so it counts!)
2 sisters who are my moms exes kids - my mom has parental responsibility

They are all my brothers and sisters and I have had numerous people in the past say ' well they're not actually family are they'
I tend to find these are the same kind of people who post pictures from the funeral of their great aunt Janice, who they haven't seen since they were two, on Facebook and cry about how much of a loss she is to their family, so tend not to pay much attention to their opinions 😆

C1239 Tue 04-Jun-19 12:11:35

I have grown to love the boys over time and feel i have a lovely relationship with them and their Dad. The thought of splitting up with them makes me feel horrible.
How do stepparents not worry about this when they grow close to the stepchildren and see them as family?!

OP’s posts: |
Magda72 Tue 04-Jun-19 12:44:10

Hi @C1239 - of course you are a real family smile, but I will reiterate what others have said that if you ever spilt up your chances of maintaining a relationship with your sdc are slim (bar you split up when they are adults and could see you independently of either parent).
As it stands you would be at the mercy of their parents deciding if they could see you or not & that's before any new partner your dp might have who would also have opinions & input.
I know if dp & I split I would never see his kids again. Mine would definitely suffer & would probably wish to see dp but I'm honestly not sure I'd encourage it as if he met someone else & was back to juggling a new relationship & his own kids I know my kids would be the first ones to get dropped - not through lack of care but through logistics.
It's a tough place for sps to be in but that unfortunately is the reality of stepparenting. As many on here say: you get all the responsibility of parenting but without the unconditional love & security.

lunar1 Tue 04-Jun-19 14:49:55

You are a real family, my stepdad is as much my family as anyone I'm biologically related to.

There is no protection for you within the family though. The rug could be pulled from you in a heartbeat and you wouldn't have any legal recourse to maintain a relationship with the children.

That isn't reason enough to have a child of your own, but you should question what else you have in your life. If you see yourself in the auntie role, do you have nieces and nephews?

If you do, have you formed the relationship with them you would have without the step children, or have they become the focus. I would try an make sure you have friendships and family connections, even hobbies that they are not a part of.

You are equally as important as anyone within your family and need to have things protecting you so that of the worst happens you have other things important to you remaining.

ffs74 Tue 04-Jun-19 15:00:50

Is it because they are with you less than with their mum? I
only say this because I know that people regard my dh very much as my dcs 'dad' (he isn't) but we have lived together for many years and sadly my dc see very little of their actual dad.
Dh does all the ferrying around, attends school events, drs appointments etc so I think over time people just see us a 'normal' family.

C1239 Tue 04-Jun-19 15:06:13

I have never not seen us as a family it is just throw away comments that have been said recently by people at work that have made me over think things.
I see myself as their step mum, i'm really hands on with them (their dad is too but happy for me to be as involved as i like), i help with homework, have some day trips out by myself with them, we have family holidays etc. Their Mum has said to my partner she sees me as their step mum. By the aunt/godmother comment i just meant growing up that has always appealed to me more than full time mum role if that makes sense.
Its just horrible thinking i have been silly enough to think of us as a family and treat them like my own when one day we could split up. I feel like i've thrown myself into it 100% and got great relationships with them as a result but have been a bit naive?

OP’s posts: |
ffs74 Tue 04-Jun-19 15:10:00

You've possibly been a bit naive but you sound like a lovely stepmum!
To be blunt, what would be the likely situation if you separated? In my situation, even if dh & I had new partners, their stepdad would very much still be in their lives. He has lived full time with them for over 10 years and so both dc see him as their other parent.
It's tough! Do you want dc of your own?

C1239 Tue 04-Jun-19 15:19:23

No i dont think i do want dc of my own.
If we split up i think the children are at an age now (7 and 9) that they would be asking questions about where i was and wanting to see me etc. I get on well with their Mum and their Dad is very sensible and would do what is best for them but the realisation that maybe i shouldnt be as hands on with them as i am is horrible?! I've always just thought of us as a family until now.

OP’s posts: |
ffs74 Tue 04-Jun-19 15:28:52

I don't think you should be as hands on as you are, it sounds like they are lucky to have so many caring adults in their lives.
It only becomes complicated if you split, as new partners etc would mean a totally different dynamic. You would have no rights to see the dc, the same position as my dc but they are older and he's very much the other main parent in their lives.

Whoops75 Tue 04-Jun-19 15:44:03

Blood is thicker than water

As long as you’re with the dad ye are a family.

ffs74 Tue 04-Jun-19 15:58:39

Sorry, just read that back shouldn't, not should!

BlingLoving Tue 04-Jun-19 16:03:52

This is ridiculous. Yes, there IS a chance that if you and your DP split you might not be able to see the kids. But that is worst case scenario x 2 - that you will split and that he/his ex will be so vindictive. I hate this attitude so much.

You have a wonderful relationship with your DSC. And clearly you've got the balance right to create your own unique family of the four of you, with some input from their mother too. Please don't withdraw your love and enjoyment of this relationship with them because of something that is not necessarily going to happen and for which you are working to ensure it doesn't.

I don't understand this attitude. I lost count of how many people told me not to let DH be a SAHD in case we split up an the got custody. Yes, of course, that is in fact a risk. But for pity's sake, I'm not making my current parenting/relationship decisions on the assumption that my relationship will fail. I'm doing everything I can to make sure it DOESN'T fail.

Lllot5 Tue 04-Jun-19 16:09:22

Perhaps if you were to get married you might feel more permanent.
I wouldn’t like my children getting too close to my ex’s girlfriend.
But I struggle massively with that anyway.

Magda72 Tue 04-Jun-19 16:15:54

@C1239 - I think @lunar1's advice is excellent. I think you sound lovely & very caring but you are unprotected. Don't pull back at all but as lunar says, ensure you have a full life outside of your dp & sdc.

Magda72 Tue 04-Jun-19 16:30:56

@BlingLoving I know that if my dp & I split & if I chose to not let my kids see him it would certainly not be out of vindictiveness but out of care for my kids. And this would be (as I said upthread) because it would be very likely that dp would eventually meet someone else, who may live elsewhere or who may have kids of her own & if dp was trying to juggle this, & his own kids & contact with mine, then naturally enough contact with mine would be the first casualty. This would harm my kids in the long run.
I think a lot of parents would feel similarly.
For eg if the op & her partner split, he would possibly worry about what would happen if she met someone else, moved away or had kids of her own, & in order to protect his kids from further distress he may choose to phase out contact. That's not vindictive.
The other scenario is that he may meet someone who he wants to move on with & he may feel his kids establishing a relationship with his new partner would be compromised if they still had a relationship with his previous partner.
I'm a dm & a sm so I see both sides & the harsh reality is sp's are family until they're not.

scruffybarnsley Tue 04-Jun-19 17:28:47

This is my situation too. I have a wonderful step daughter (16) who lives with us basically full time. I am as hands on, if not more, than my partner (due to work commitments) and yet I know members of my own family (eg my parents etc) have made comments about step children not being 'real', them not having grandchildren etc

I say let the haters hate. You're happy with your life and that's what matters. I don't want children 'of my own' either and that would be the case regardless but my relationship with DSD is a wonderful gift I wasn't expecting in my life. People will always judge - even if you did get pregnant with your 'own' child, you'd then get them asking when you were having another etc etc. Smile and nod and feel grateful for your lovely family.

I do sometimes idly worry about the 'what if we split up' scenario but equally like many other people have said, worst case scenarios are not the reason to make decisions especially as that wouldn't change my own decision about wanting to get pregnant now - my DSD is a blessing, but she's not my replacement child as I don't want a child 'of my own'. We have our own relationship - step mum and step daughter, not mother and daughter. You sound like you have a lovely family set up that you're happy with and you're a lovely step mum. Families come in all shapes and sizes.

overdrive Tue 04-Jun-19 21:11:34

I don't think it's vindictive not to let a SC see an ex. That can become an extremely messy situation as people move on and start again, and it is ultimately the kids who don't understand and feel rejected.

When my ex split with his gf, he let her have contact with the kids. I didn't agree with it, but it was done without discussion. But I know she was missing them, and I can't fault her for that. Luckily they got back together and got married, but it's not something I'd have wanted to continue at only 8 years old.

But I hope it all works out for you, OP. Don't hold back, just take each day as it comes. If the worst were to happen, you want them to remember the love you had for them, not that you went cold on them, even through fear of losing them.

overdrive Tue 04-Jun-19 21:13:23

Having said all that, my DC is 14 now, so it would be up to him from here on in if things ever went pear shaped at dads/SM's.

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