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AIBU to feel like I'm not really parenting?(21 Posts)
We have three teenagers who stay with us almost full time. With teenagers come teenage problems; drink, sex, drugs, school, college etc. My SD has come to me for advice on contraception, I've given her options and told her if she chooses an option I can help her but she will need to let her mother know what her plans are. Speaking to OH, his first reaction is "I need to speak to her mum first before we make any decisions". AIBU to feel like I deal with all the technicalities of the problems they have including sorting them out, only for it to be have to be run past his ex first for her seal of approval before I can continue? Is four years of parenting teenagers not enough to allow me to be a firm part of this decision and guidance? Should I just back out completely and leave it to her to sort herself without being able to guide because I'm not enough of a parent?! Will broach the subject with OH; just a bit fed up of feeling like the "extra" parent.
Firstly - how fantastic that SD comes to anyone in her life for contraception advice - something is going right!
Secondly - it’s great she is coming to you! Again - that’s great!
But, context is everything. Does her mother need to know? Well that depends on her age and her circumstances. And on dd’s wishes. Does SD feel she wants her mother to know?
If there are no safeguarding concerns for this SD I would leave it up to her who knows..
I think sometimes, dads forget their girls are growing up.... it’s a common enough phenomenon. But in the step mum scenario you are uniquely disempowered in that regard. It’s a tough gig (understatement of the century).
So in the absence of your OH bigging you up I say well done for being a great ‘extra parent’!
Echo what the above poster said. I’d also put it out that her mum doesn’t need to know... she’s clearly an age where she can make an informed decision as to who she speaks to about it. This person is she, she has chosen not to go to her mum and you to instead... that speaks volumes.
I don’t think your OH needs to speak to her to be honest..... it’s up to your DSD if she wants to speak to her mum... which she might not want too!
My 16 yr old DSS confides in me about a lot of things, some I tell his dad some I don’t.... I think as step parents we are in a very fortunate position where we are a “parent” however aren’t actually mum or dad so they find it easier to confide in us!
Thank you so much for those comments. I advised her that it's up to her who she tells and recommended she tell her mum and dad but leaving it in her court. OH obviously feeling a little left out. He likes to have big sit down chats about everything and I appreciate that he wants to hear it from the horses mouth. Also explained that she could easily go and do it by herself or, worse, not use anything. And if she's big enough and ugly enough (she's not ugly she's beautiful) to make decisions about having sex she's big enough to make these decisions by herself.
I'm pretty sure he won't be able to help himself and will find a way to "discreetly" raise it so that he's part of the chat!
He needs to back down - this is his issue not yours or your SD mum. It feels incredibly intrusive and controlling his need to know and be part of it
Context is everything. 13/14/15 yes she should be aware and going on contraception is a big deal for a teenage girl. So no I dont think you get to make that decision solo. No more than I would have handed my ss a box of condoms at those ages.
Older I think it is your sd decision to make but the route chosen may need to be considered. For example my dd doesn't take the pill and a fundamental reason was I know her well enough to know she would forget it between houses and end up skipping it and it would there fore not be reliable.
Agree with the above poster that age is critical here. 16+ definitely her decision and no reason for you to be telling her mum, or even DP if he won't keep it to himself. 13/14 I'd feel very uncomfortable keeping that sort of info from her mum and would try hard to persuade her to tell her mum, or let me do so, possibly even doing so anyway if I was really concerned (and thought her mum would be supportive rather than a liability) 15 is a grey area IMO and depends on her maturity, age of BF and type of relationship she's in, etc
But it's really good she can talk openly to you. I'd be very nervous to be betray that confidence by telling her mum unless she's happy about that.
You didn't provide details about why you're parenting them instead of their mother, maybe these details would explain better your husband's reaction.
As SM, we want to be important and the fact the your SD comes to you for advice is great, but if you put yourself in her mother's shoes, would you not have wanted to be part of these kinds of decisions? Ask yourself why does it bother you that your husband wants her to participate?
I have no say in anything related to SD and if my advice is taken by my DP, it's presented to the mother as his own, so I'm basically "nobody" as far as the mother is concerned. The only thing we can do is what's right. If you think it's the right thing to give advice, do it independently of your husband's actions and the mother's participation. If you see it as a competition, you will feel bad.
Sorry but I think YABU. You are the ‘extra parent’ and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s lovely that SD chose to speak to you and this particular issue does depend a bit upon her age, but in general no, being a step-parent for 4 years does not trump her parents in the pecking order. Her parents will always want to OK decisions regarding their daughter. It’s natural and normal.
As PP have said, how old is she? If she's 16 I wouldn't even tell DP if he'd respond how yours had. How embarrassing as a teenager having your Dad muscle in and insist you talk to him about contraception! It should be her choice who she talks to about it and there really isn't any reason for Mum to know.
I understand how you feel; I sometimes feel that I’m there doing a lot of the caring but then when decisions are made I’m not involved. I do get that as I’m not her mum but equally it’s a bit of an odd position to be in for me.
I'm an aunt who gets on well with some of her nieces and nephews. They have told and tell me things they don't tell their parents.
When I was growing up I had a family friend who was my confident plus much older siblings I could talk to.
Why is this relevant to your situation?
If you are an adult who is close to teenagers and young adults they will tell you things they either don't want their parents to know or are wondering should their parents be told.
This is not parenting. Many teachers, sports coaches and grandparents find themselves in the similar situations. It is part of growing up and using other adults you respect as a sounding board to check what you are thinking of doing, doing or thinking is not ridiculous or dangerous.
In your case with contraception you did the right thing in giving her information and advising your SD to talk to her mother. However it isn't a thing you should run by her dad, your husband, to make a decision on. He can be told but his reaction shows he doesn't understand his daughter is growing up so she can choose not to tell anyone about her sex life and lots of other decisions.
If anything what he has shown you that if you are particularly worried about any of your step-children you should contact their mum directly as he will make a big deal out of things that are sensitive. Obviously tell him you have mentioned the thing to the child's mother but don't go into details as you need to respect the child's confidentiality and the child can talk to him themselves if they want to.
I think that it's great she feels she can come to you and ask your advice and guidance.
If she's of an age where she is legally able to have sex then there's no need at all to inform her mother. A doctor wouldn't and she'd be able to get contraception from a go with no guidance from an adult, I believe from around 15 years old.
If she's quite young, say under 15, then maybe that's a conversation you need to have with her. Ask her why she hasn't told her mother and see what she says.
Just because she wants contraception it doesn't mean she's having casual sex. And even if she is, at least she's being sensible and has confided in you to get support.
As another poster has said, I wouldn't necessarily call this parenting in the traditional sense - teachers, support workers and many other adults offer support and guidance in the same way.
I wonder why you feel the way you do towards his ex... Without context it's tricky. I think if you "just back out completely and leave it to her to sort herself without being able to guide because I'm not enough of a parent?!" then you'll potentially destroy the (clearly great!) relationship you have with your step kids.
Maybe you need to talk to your other half and ask why he doesn't feel you can make decisions for the kids with him... Bear in mind how you might feel as the mother if you weren't told something about your child who was being looked after by someone else. Maybe you would feel that they went behind your back and would be angry.
Ultimately it should be your step daughter's decision as to whether she tells her mother.
She is 15. And I'm delighted that she is having these conversations with me. She has told me she is scared to talk to her mum and I've advised her that she should. It's her decision, her body, and it's courtesy to tell her mum.
My concern was that OH immediately jumped to "I can't make a decision until I speak to her mother". 1 - there is no decision for any of us to make, it is hers and 2 - she came to me and asked for advice and I felt, and often feel, like the bi-product of a decision and discussion to be made by her parents hence not knowing where my place is.
Regardless of that she is safe and happy, has choices and can engage. That's my priority.
Thanks for all your inputs and advice. Very much appreciated
Well I wonder whether what you’re feeling is less that you are ‘not allowed to parent’ (pp is right, being a sounding board isn’t necessarily the same as being a parent). Maybe it’s more that these discussions are taken out of their context and twisted into ‘a decision he and her mum have to make’. Your OH isn’t respecting the space you’ve shared with your dsd. I can see how if you really care for her and have that bond with her that that would annoy you and leave you confused about boundaries. It would annoy me! And I would say it’s a conversation you need to have with OH about respecting this conversation for what it was. And respecting dsd and her choice as an adolescent. Anyway you sound like you’re doing a great job and really care about her..
15 is under the legal age of consent so I agree with your dh.
Deciding to go onto contraception isnt as simple as her body her choice at 15. There is a whole other emotional element to it and why she feels now is the time to make that decision.
So if she doesn't tell her mother and your dh doesnt in line with your wishes, what next? Is sex in your home allowed?
Teenagers are vulnerable and I think co parenting even more difficult when you making big decisions. Things like views on alcohol, discussion on drugs, parties and boyfriends in bedroom.
I cant stand my ex but these are all things we have discussed and tried to agree as much as possible to provide consistency.
None of what you said included her being under the legal age to have sex. So I think her father is right on this occasion.
I'm not sure if you expect total finality to any conversation you have with her, excluding her parents. 4 years doesn't make you an equal parent and I don't think any amount of time does... she has 2 parents and you are clearly someone she feels able to talk to on matters like this, because you aren't her parent...which is really good for her to have.
Tbh, I'd be a bit worried that with the resources and internet access available these days, that she isn't savvy enough to research contraception herself.
I don't know. I think if she's nearly 16 it should be up to her who she tells and what's decided.
I spoke to my mum about being on contraception at that age and we dealt with it together but I'd have been very upset if she'd told my Dad. No way did I want him to know that information, I was scared of him knowing and would have hated being forced to talk to him about it.
I think your DH should respect that his daughter is becoming her own person who wants to make her own decisions. She's being safe and has discussed options with a trusted adult i.e. you. That would be enough for me as a parent.
You should encourage her to talk to her parents but really I think it should be up to her at that age whether she actually does or not.
If your SD went to her own GP to ask for contraception there is no obligation for the doctor to contact her parents. So the whole under age thing isn't relevant. Your sds parents can have 'their big conversation ' all they like but if they say 'no' - it is still irrelevant. As she can still make this decision for herself.
My own SD came to me at the same age with exactly the same questions. I encouraged her to discuss with her mum but she was adamant that she wouldn't get advice - just screamed at.
Discussing with dad equally impossible. (As still believes she is about 5yrs old).
So I gave her the practical advice requested and suggested she go and speak to the local Brook advisory clinic , which she did. I did not discuss this with anyone because she didn't want me to. A 15yr old still has a right to privacy.
OP for years my niece has come to me for third parent advice and I do it - as in this situation, the thought of her pregnant and dealing with that is far worse than being third parent! She is now 19 and I know has been on the Pill since the month before she was 18- her mother, my sister on the other hand does not. Not my business to tell her.
Fast forward 3 teenage DSCs and I have adopted the same approach - works well with 2 mediocre with the middle one. I know the topic is difficult when one of them collars me and goes Aunty Parent, can I....
Some things their parents should be sorting out but I would rather help than not.
OH and his EX criticised me once - they get on well but are abit impractical at times!
My response was - well if you both managed to parent a bit more and paint a bit less then Aunty Logical would not be needed.
( both are artists and live in cloud cuckoo land -I on the other hand am grounded in the realities of the NHS!)
Not had a peep out of them since!
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