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Step parent boundaries....first ever mums net post....please be kind!

(26 Posts)
Smo2 Thu 27-Dec-12 09:18:48

Hi everyone,

I'm looking for some advice from step mums as to where boundaries should be.

I'm a parent to two kids, whose dad left me almost two years ago after having an affair for 5 years with this woman.

It's all been incredibly hard, but I'm really struggling because she and I don't get on ( unsurprisingly as she was cited in my divorce) and she insists on attending every concert, or medical appointment that my ex is invited to. My daughter is disabled, so there are regular appointments.

Last straw was her coming to a meeting between me and my ex to discuss contact...and speaking over everyone, telling me that she was a step parent to my children, and she had an emotional responsibility for them, and all sorts.

I actually feel things have gone so far it's crazy, I've suggested mediation to my ex, as I just want to discuss issues with the kids with him, without her there. He won't do it. So every month is an argument over contact, which needs to be flexible because of his job. I've suggested we meet once a month for 30 mins or so to plan out contact and discuss medical issues etc...but she absolutely isn't allowing this, unless she is there.

I don't want my ex back, in fact I've met a lovely bloke, and all is cool. But I just need her to back off a bit, as I need the space.

I could write for hours,as things are very bad, but what I'm looking for is advice, or if anyone thinks I'm being unreasonable,

Please be gentle!


xkcdfangirl Thu 27-Dec-12 09:30:13

this sounds very similar to the situation being experienced by the OP on this thread - you may find the advice there useful.

Bonkerz Thu 27-Dec-12 09:35:17

I may be saying something different here to everyone else BUT I'm a step mum. Met dh when dsd was 18 months old. She is now 12! To start with before we got married I kept out if everything BUT we married within 12 months and as it was me that became main carer when dsd was here I took over all arrangements. Dh had to work and I we saw dsd when dh had a day off it would have been very sporadic. We had a few years where it was difficult with dsd mum but for the last 6 years or so things are fine. From my point of view if your child is disabled and the step mum is a carer when your child visits her dad then it's good she knows everything medically TBH. I believe consistency is best for children and dsd has visited every weekend since she was 2 and has half of all holidays with us too. Life is so much easier if you can accept that this woman loves your child and like it or not she will be a part if her life and sometimes will be alone with your child!
Has she ever done anything to make you think she would treat your child badly? If not then surely it can only be a huge positive to have her in your daughters life. Not all step mums are evil. I love my dsd very much and she is as much a part of my life as my own three children.

Smo2 Thu 27-Dec-12 09:36:47

Wow, thanks there are some horrible similarities....mine also can't have children, thinks she can take to haircuts, despite being asked not too phones school to get extra tickets, etc......

I am reassured that there is someone crazier than mine!

Smo2 Thu 27-Dec-12 09:45:50


What you are saying is reasonable...I guess I feel that because of what she did to my family, I don't really want to see her. She also wrecked two other families before men before having affairs,which is why I cited her. Also, though my daughter is disabled, she has no learning difficulties and can speak for I'm not worried about needing to share information in that way.

I actually just do not want to be in the situation I was last week sat by my daughters hospital bed with the woman who spent 5 years sleeping with my ex sat on the end of the bed, making small talk.

Perhaps this is unreasonable, but I actually think I'm entitled to that.

purpleroses Thu 27-Dec-12 09:49:44

Accepting your DD's stepmum's role in her life is a different thing from co-parentng with her. I think you're being entirely reasonable in wanting to keep the discussions around your DC to you and your ex. If your ex is leaving DD in her DSM's care then it"s his job to pass on info to her or listen to any concerns she has. My ex and I meet up every couple of months to discuss th DCs. Neither his DW or my DP have are present. DP and I both consult each other first before we go into conversations with our exes about the kids and feed back afterwards anything. I think that's much the best way to do things.

But how to convince your ex of this? I think you're best talking to him rather than his DP directly to try and explain what you've said in your post. Or can you try to keep contact to by phone so it's easier to speak to just your ex?

Smo2 Thu 27-Dec-12 09:53:49

Thanks, I have accepted she is in my kids life. Phone contact with ex...she is always sat beside him! I think this is it really...I don't want to co parent with her...just ex! She never has them on her own, as ex only has them when he isn't working xx

As bonkers was saying,she is right in that she doesn't treat my kids badly, quite the opposite in many ways...which is great...I just need some space to parent with ex...without her involvement. The guy I'm seeing absolutely never gets involved. Xx

Madmum24 Thu 27-Dec-12 09:59:32

This is bringing back memories of my own childhood step parenting days............. I think these women feel the need to be in total control of the situation, which is a mask for wanting to control their partners. My stepmum would go ape if my dad so much as exchanged a few words with my mum. There are some fantastic step parents out there who treat kids as their own, but do realize that the children have biological parents and know the limits.

purpleroses Thu 27-Dec-12 10:03:15

Can you phone or email him at work? Maybe not regularly but as a one off effort to explain to him that you chose to have DC with him have never chosen to include his DP? I spelled this out to my ex once when he kept saying 'we think...' and he did seem to understand. You can also offer to email him prior to any discussion telling him what you want to discuss (dates of holiday, etc) so he can talk to his DP beforehand.

Smo2 Thu 27-Dec-12 10:13:31

She works with him (hence the very lengthy affair! ) and he does a job where I can only contact him when he's not working, I have repeatedly told them this...their response is that I am trying to manipulate and control everything...

Many women in my situation wouldn't have allowed him to have flexible contact, but it just isn't if I ask him to have the kids...he won't. Or he won't reply for weeks.

Boxing Day....I asked him to meet me halfway for him to collect kids, and he refused...he insisted I drive all the way to his house to drop off the kids...there is just no compromise, they want it all their way. sad

theredhen Thu 27-Dec-12 11:08:18

This isn't about her co parenting with you, this behaviour is because she knows your ex is capable of long term cheating and she's insecure and I suspect she's clingy and demanding in other aspects of their lives together too.

A good step mum knows when to step back, doesn't try and take over but provides another positive role model in the child's life. This lady is not doing this and it must be awful for you and not really good for your dd either.

I don't really have any practical advise apart from trying again to get him to go to mediation.

Perhaps if you understand her and her motives it might help you deal with her. hmm

Xalla Thu 27-Dec-12 11:18:23

Very much agree with RedHen - she knows he can't be trusted because she watched him lie through his teeth for 5 years - hence she's insecure - hence she feels the need to control.

She is overstepping the mark in many ways. Like Bonkerz, I'm a stepmum and when my DSD7 is here (50% of the time) I often end up doing the majority of the 'caring' so it's handy to know if my DSD has say, had a dose of Calpol on the day she arrives here BUT the reason it's me specifically that needs to know, is because I'll be in sole charge until DH gets home. If as you say, your DH is always present during contact, I don't think she needs to be involved in each and every discussion / medical appointment / school function. She is overstepping in my opinion.

Is there an SRO / contact order in place?

Xalla Thu 27-Dec-12 11:18:54

Sorry just realised I repeated myself there....Xmas hangover is lingering...!

VBisme Thu 27-Dec-12 11:42:42

I'm a stepmum, and I keep out of discussions between DH and his ex.
I don't always agree with her choices, but she's their mother and its not up to me to bring up her children.
I wouldn't go to hospital appointments, or parents evenings but I do try to attend school plays.
I think she's very insecure, and I expect that's to do with their affair.
You need to tell your ex to explain to her how this is going to work in future. She is definitely crossing the line.

Smo2 Thu 27-Dec-12 12:25:47

Thanks, I have been very firm, but they constantly tell me that I am wrong and they are right.

There is no contact order in place, I am desperately trying to avoid it and keep contact flexible due to his irregular work patterns and tours away from home which is why I'm happy to be flexible within reason. He enjoys the luxury of never having to pay or organise childcare as he I'll only ever have them when he isn't working, I work 4 days a week and organise and pay for all childcare, he simply won't assist me.

I actually think now a contact order is the only way forward but I'm scared as a) if he's working, I would rather have the kids than them be at childcare b ) they go one night a week ( if he isn't working, he takes on alot of self employed work over and on top of his job on the agreed day he's supposed to have them...this is a bone of contention, as his job is well paid and really I think he should put kids first and keep routine as much as possible) ...I'm actually scared he might get more than one night a week c) I'd like to keep it so he can ring and take kids out for tea in the week on the off chance, things like that and d) I don't want to drag kids through the court process

Thanks, your thoughts were interesting!!! xxxx

Thisisaeuphemism Thu 27-Dec-12 12:38:23

It's outrageous overstepping.

DS has a lovely step mum, she would not dream of doing things like this. I think the problem is with your DH who for whatever reason has delegated the parenting to her. Pathetic.

Perhaps go for the contact order, but let him know why? Maybe he would listen to you then.

susanann Thu 27-Dec-12 12:53:29

My kids stepmum is awful. I had no axe to grind, she wasnt the other woman. But shes very insecure. She has driven my children away on purpose, they were late teens then.She wanted to erase everything from exh past life I think. We had got to the point, prior to him meeting her, where we were back on a friendly footing. We used to exchange birthday cards and christmas cards and a small gift at xmas. One birthday ,after he met her, I got no card from him. I was a bit hurt (stupid maybe, and no i dont still love him etc!) so I texted him. Got the reply its not appropriate now. Clearly her speaking, things have got worse and worse since then. Worst example being when my son was meant to go live with them (long story) and she said to my ex if he comes to live with us im leaving you! She makes Cruella de Ville look lovely! lol.

susanann Thu 27-Dec-12 12:55:25

I should add that my ex needs to grow a pair, cos he backed down and made my son homeless and he had to move in with me in a small 1 bedroom flat. DS was about 18 then.

lunar1 Thu 27-Dec-12 15:27:36

Not helpful I know but it really makes my skin crawl that you have to put up with this piece of trash in your life. Your ex is vile piece of scum for what he has done over such a long time, and its bad enough that you have to put up with the creepy liar never mind its partner in crime. I hope you get something sorted out op.

prettyfly1 Thu 27-Dec-12 15:37:39

I was a single mum and am now a step mum, albeit one with lots of issues at the moment. FWIW I fully agree that she is hugely overstepping - we all do it accidentally at times but she is consistently and regularly refusing to accept that you. are. his. mother. I dont agree with dhs ex rules quite frequently but I never, never go against them or step in, I wouldnt dream of attending mediation and docs appointments/ parent teacher evenings etc are absolutely none of my business. You are not in the wrong here.

Xalla Thu 27-Dec-12 17:13:55

Smo2 I suggest you first email your ex stating quite simply that you are no longer prepared to tolerate his partner (wife? because if she isn't, she isn't technically your kids' stepmum either) attending doctor's appointments, schools functions, meetings surrounding contact etc.

Offer mediation, if he refuses make it very clear that you'll be applying for residency order and a contact order.

At this point, I would be surprised if he didn't back down and agree to attend mediation - he (his partner) must realise that she has no justification, legal or otherwise for attending / involving herself in such matters. Especially as she is never in sole charge of your kids.

If he doesn't back down - go ahead and see a solicitor. Make sure your ex refuses mediation in writing and take that with you.

I also want to reiterate; you're in the right here. I can't imagine Cafcass or the courts thinking the above is OK when you're so clearly against it.

You could also state in your letter that you're planning on contacting the school and making it clear to them that only you and your ex are to be invited to attend school functions. She doesn't have PR presumably so the school don't have to accept her presence I don't think - may be wrong on this though - anyone else sure?

SoWhatIfImWorkingClass Thu 27-Dec-12 20:18:16

I am a stepmum and wouldn't even dream of overstepping the boundaries. I mean things like getting involved in conversations between OH and his ex, going to medical appointments, parents evenings, putting photos on Facebook or assuming I am a "mummy figure" when I'm not.

DSD is very much part of our family. Therefore when she is with us (again those decisions about arrangements are nothing to do with me), I help my OH as much as I can to include her in the family. Some people might not agree with me here, but she is in family photos, she comes on family holidays, I have bathed her, made her tea, taken her to school/ picked her up, helped her with her homework, etc... Not to try and like I say, "butt in" and take her Mother's role because I do not want to be seen that way. I am a friend, or role model who happens to love her father and we have given her a little brother, with another in the way!

Some boundaries are ridiculous though. Like not being able to brush step children's hair or cook their tea. Those boundaries to me just spell Pettiness with a capital P. However, the issues raised in the OP i completely whole heartedly agree with and I know a lot of other parents have to deal with similar difficult people being involved in their children's lives. There are good and bad step parents.


SoWhatIfImWorkingClass Thu 27-Dec-12 20:27:56

I have also been very straight with my OH that I do not want cards/ presents for Mothers Day off DSD and that the whole "you're like a mum to me" cards make me cringe. My OH's ex bought a card for her daughter to her partner for fathers day and I just don't agree with it at all. My OH wasn't happy and wanted to get me one for Mother's Day just for the principle she bought one for her partner, but I told him straight I do not want it to happen.

ratbagcatbag Thu 27-Dec-12 20:31:12

I'm probably a step mum that is massively involved, which would be overstepping to what some people expect, my DH ex always rings me to sort out contact as I've got a pretty good memory for stuff and my DH isn't so good however mostly it's routine, it's only like Xmas week and hold where much different happens. We are really good friends and get on well, however I have never attended parents evening, or medical stuff unless was directly requested by mum ( eg she's working away and it's dentist which makes my DH faint) so mum asks me if I'd kindly do it. I'd never ever assume anything though. I have been to school plays etc when they've been on, but also made sure that gen an event is happening for DSS for something we do with him, eg footy, I always get mum and step dad tickets so they're not excluded.

SantaJaxx Thu 27-Dec-12 22:29:50

I was always massively involved in DSD's care and contact arrangements, (I'm also a stepmum). But our circumstances weren't exactly "normal". Her mum wasn't a good mum like you OP and we had many a drama over the years that led to DSD living with us (still does).

In your situation though I think she is very much overstepping the boundaries. She very much needs to step back and I agree with other posters who say it is because she doesn't trust him at all. I hope you can sort something out.

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