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step parenting changes after a new baby

(11 Posts)
cornflake Thu 20-Jan-05 09:18:47

My stepson has lived with me and his dad since he was 3 and he is now 14. His mum could not care for him and he stays with her fortnightly. Social services and the courts were involved to make the decision that he came to his dad and there have been numerous worries over her care of him over the years. We pick up the pieces every time he lets her down. It's me he talks to ont the rare occasions he lets his guard down about the situation when he was upset. Recently he was in tears because his mum was threatened with eviction (again) and his step dad was likely to go to prison. I have just had a baby (6 months) and I don't want him even aware of these worries as a child never mind trying to cope with them as my step son does.
The hardest thing about being his stepmum is that I have looked after him as best as I could, even researching psychology and support from other parents to try to get it right. Despite this I always feel second best. His mum doesn't even send him a birthday card and he'll spend ten minutes telling me why she couldn't and accepting it. Yet if I didn't do a birthday cake, cards, presents, a treat with his mates, he'd be up in arms. Nothing me and his dad do is as good as the tiniest crappy thing his mum occasionally does. This must sound like sour grapes and I do understand why his mum is so important to him and why he feels he has to justify her letting him down.
Mothers day is hard as although I don't expect anything from him, I parent him all year round and have basically raised him but there is no acknowledgement of it from him.
in recent months we've had lots of teenage stuff, smoking, lying, stealing etc. I feel like he's doing it all because I'm his stepmum and my efforts to keep him on the track don't matter. It's only me he steals from as I've talked to his mum about it. It feels like a slap in the face and all my cooking, cleaning, support with school, listening, affection, organisation etc is totally taken for granted.
Since my own son was born, I already feel like he's got more care for me through his smiles and and babbling to me. I hope he is more affectionate and shows a bit more acknowledgement over the years. I recently decroated the whole of my ss's room but I've not had a word of thanks. No thankyou for his christmas presents and he's not been brought up like that.
I feel bad for feeling negative towards him. His stealing from me and lying makes me so angry like I'm being punished because he'd rather his mum was doing everything he needs from me. He knows he can totally depend on me, but I do get tired of the amount of effort it takes to care for him with few rewards.
His dad has similar feelings that nothing we do is good enough, but he has his son's automatic loyalty and family links. I have to work damn hard at it!!
The whole situation is getting me more and more down. He's not bad as teenagers go but I am so sad and upset that there is not a more affectionate bond from him. He will accept affection if I offer it and I make a point of taking his little brother, dog into his room to hug him goodnight.
It's so hard being a step parent. I hope this message doesn't bore everyone to tears. Is anyone in a similar situation; having to be a mother figure without actually being mum? It's got it off my chest a bit anyway!! Any comments gratefully received.

Caligula Thu 20-Jan-05 09:37:08

CF, you sound like you're doing an absolutely fantastic job of raising him. Don't give up on him now, hang on in there, you've invested so much time and energy on him and it will pay off when he's older.

The fact that he feels safe enough to not show you any appreciation, in a funny way is a tribute to how secure he feels in your affection. He can't do this to him Mum and he has to make excuses for her, because he doesn't really feel as sure of her as he does of you.

When he's an adult, you will reap the rewards of having been a good stepmother. I know that seems such a long way off now, but hang on in there and don't change now, or when he's older he'll say that you were great until you had your own baby.

You're doing a fantastic job, if all stepmothers were like you there would be very many more happy children around.

iKnowHowYouFeel Thu 20-Jan-05 09:41:04

I'm a regular poster but have changed my name for this as a member of my family knows my chatname and this is something I have never discussed on mumsnet.
I know exactly how you feel.
I have a teenage stepson who I have brought up as my own and he has no contact with his mother, although he does see his Uncle and cousins.
Over the years I have showed him love and affection, care and attention, but for what? he does not return it and shows little respect for me. It's too much most days for him to even speak to me. TBH I've got to the stage now that I think 'whatever'. Everyone, even members of dh family say that they don't know how I've put up with him and that they couldn't have done it, so I know I've done something right IYKWIM. I live in the hope that one day he'll look back on his life and realise what I did for him and that I did a good job at being his Mum.
I also agree that it is very difficult when you have children of your own, I have two others now.

I don't know if any of this helps, but hopefully you'll realise you're not alone

Anchovy Thu 20-Jan-05 09:42:18

I just wanted to say when I read your post I got an overwhelming impression of what a great job you are doing - in your post there is no bitterness, resentment or self pity just the normal exasperation that I suspect comes with parenting teenagers. I loved it when you said you took the baby in to say good night every night. I agree with everything Caligula says - hang in there because it sounds like you are doing really well - and your DSS is very lucky (which of course he doesn't appreciate: its almost a point of honour among teenagers not to).

aloha Thu 20-Jan-05 10:50:38

I absolutely agree that the reason he doesn't treat his biological mother the way he treats you is because he is so very, very insecure with her - afraid she doesn't love him, desperately feeling rejected and unloved by her etc etc. He doesn't have all those uncertainties with you and knows he can 'test' you and you won't push him away, make him leave your home etc. It must seem dreadfully unfair that this in essence means you have a crap time, but he is a teenager and that's a really hard time for a lot of kids, and to be rejected by your mother is a devastating blow even to adults, let alone a child. It is harder to love a stepchild than a biological child - I think few stepparents who also have bio children would disagree with that, but I also suspect that once he has emerged from the emotional turmoil of adolescence things might seem very different.

aloha Thu 20-Jan-05 10:51:34

What I'm trying to say, is IMO the fact that he is mean to you is a sign that he feels more secure with you than his mum, and that's a real tribute to you and everything you've done.

Frizbe Thu 20-Jan-05 11:26:15

I agree with all of the above posts, your doing a fine job, so don't get disheartened, chin up, when he's an adult he'll be viewing it all in a completely different way, hell being a teenager is hard enough with all of those hormones, without all the the additional stuff this poor kid has ontop, your doing good.

galaxy Thu 20-Jan-05 11:35:49

cornflake. It sounds to me like you're doing a fantastic job and should be proud. I am a stepmum to a 12 year old boy and I often feel like you do when he is so loyal to his birth mother who left him when he was just 5.

It's really hard not to feel hurt when you do so much for them and they respond by letting you down isn't it? We're going through the moody, agressive attitude from ds at the moment but he can then also be really clingy and OTT at times. Both of which I struggle to deal with at times.

If it's any consolation, I have friends who's kids are the same age, are their own children and treat them appallingly. I think raging hormones, testing boundaries and exerting independence are major factors to what's going on.

It is hard and I do think my feelings for dd are stronger than they are for ds. I'm not embarrassed to say that and it doesn't mean I don't love ds - just that I helped to create dd and for that I can be extra proud.

Hope you can work at this together with your dh and see some light at the end of the tunnel.

beansprout Thu 20-Jan-05 13:16:06

I think you are doing a fantastic job too, and agree that his lack of appreciation just demonstrates that he feels emotionally secure around you which is huge, huge credit to you. That is probably little comfort on a day to day basis when you are giving him so much but he does sound like many, many teenagers and as such, I'm sure will come through it and you will enjoy your relationship more.

cornflake Thu 20-Jan-05 20:05:25

Thanks for the replying comments. It is helpful to be reminded how hard teenagers are to care for never mind all the baggage my stepson comes with.
'iknowhowyoufeel'. I think your situation is even harder because even though I think my ss has had too much contact with his mum, at least he has had her consistently see him despite the difficulties that go with it. SS has been fine with me today, no smell of fag smoke and has been talking about what we can do in half term. So he's forgiven (for now!) for the hassle of some of the other teenage headaches.
Feel a lot better but will definitely post on mumsnet next time I feel so upset and despairing! Thanks everyone.

Surfermum Thu 20-Jan-05 20:21:49

I just wanted to add some more support from another step-mum, Cornflake. It sounds like you're doing a great job and he's lucky to have you. I frequently feel like you do with dsd, and I've never looked on it that she feels safe enough to push the boundaries with me. Wise words from Aloha - as usual! I've decided not to expect any appreciation (although I do get some from time to time) from dsd until she is older/grown up and understands what I did for her.

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