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"you knew what you were getting into when you married a man with kids"

post #1 of 64
Thread Starter 
I find the argument of "you knew what you were getting into when you married a man with kids" to be SO BOGUS.

First of all we never really know how something is going to be until we experience it for ourselves.

Secondly, things change in unforeseen ways when new baby to wife #2 is born. In our case, DP started spending a lot more time with DSD after DD was born bc he didn't want her to feel marginalized. When I got pregnant we had her 2-3 days out of the month. Over time it increased to every weekend. Now, he wants her to live with us. Does she deserve the best possible childhood and parenting from both her parents? Of course! Did I see this coming? Never. Nor did I imagine a whole range of other feelings I'd have- like sadness that DP and I arent "becoming parents" together or frustration that he considers himself an expert on all things baby-related because he did it before (in a totally non-AP way.) It also has forced me to examine my control issues as I notice how uncomfortable I am with ways DSD is that I would never let my own child be. (like watching lots of grown up tv shows or eating candy all the time.)
Sometimes I feel like I don't count and like I'm the one being marginalized, not DSD. And when I see how DSD's mom spends lavishly while we struggle to pay bills, yes, I feel resentful that DP pays child support.

Even if we do know what to expect, that doesn't make it less hard! The "you know what you were getting into" argument is totally uncompassionate and unreasonable. My situation is great in many ways (DSD loves me, her mom is really cooperative and non-competitive, she and my DP get along, etc) and it's still the biggest and least-expected challenge of my life. Should my feelings and struggles be dismissed because I "knew what I was getting into?"
post #2 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by MeloMama08 View Post

Should my feelings and struggles be dismissed because I "knew what I was getting into?"
No, of course not.
I hope that you find some peace with your situation.
post #3 of 64
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Daphneduck View Post
No, of course not.
I hope that you find some peace with your situation.
Thanks! I meant that more as a rhetorical question but I really appreciate your support. I talk to my mom a lot about it and she is reallllyy helpful at helping me to see how my issues with DSD are really my issues with myself. (and sometimes with DP.)
post #4 of 64
I absolutely agree... I made a very, very thoughtful decision about becoming a permanent part of my step-daughter's life, and I did have some idea what her mother's co-parenting was like and took that into serious consideration in making that decision. But there are so many things I would have had NO way of knowing without having already been throguh it myself, and so many things that have changed that I would have no way of predicting.

One reason that I come to this forum so much is that I hope I can help other step-mothers by giving them the benefit of my experience. There is still no way I could prepare anyone for what they are going through, or make the journey smooth and easy... but it was so amazing to me to find this community where there were other step-moms who really GET IT, who HAVE been there... if I can give back a fraction of the support and wisdom that I have gotten from others here, I will feel I have done something worthwhile.

And my hope is always that those who are NOT step-moms or whose situation are otherwise different from mine can share with me their perspective in a way that is respectful and that can give me insight into other points of view that might help me on my journey.
post #5 of 64
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by aricha View Post

And my hope is always that those who are NOT step-moms or whose situation are otherwise different from mine can share with me their perspective in a way that is respectful and that can give me insight into other points of view that might help me on my journey.
YES YES YES! The antagonism on this board is very upsetting to me. I want compassionate perspectives, not harsh criticisms.

I just want to add that daddy having a new baby with new woman is also hard in unforseen ways on the dad and the "first child(ren.)" It's not predictable. It's hard on everyone. Hard on mommy #1 too.
post #6 of 64
I just wanted to send hugs. I just had a new baby as wife #2 and have some similiar feelings as you sometimes. It certainly is not easy... and no, even though we had an "idea" of what it may be like of what we were getting into, when hooking up with a man with children... there definitely is nothing that can prepare you than actually living it. And no matter how much you read/research/prepare, life will always still throw you a curve ball.

Just know you are not alone, and everyone's feelings are valid. We are all human, just because we are adults does not mean we should be sub-human and stuff all our feelings or not have any. We need to deal with the situation in a healthy manner as well.
post #7 of 64
I think wording it should be more "when you have a child with a man who has kids already, you have to accept that things WILL change and wont be exactly as you thought or had hoped". Now that can be said for all parentingn situations, be having a willingness to take on what ever extra comes with a man with kids is something that many people really need to take into consideration and many don't.
post #8 of 64
It's funny, isn't it?

An overwhelmed stepmom gets "well, you knew what you were getting into when you partnered with a dad..."

A stepmom without kids of "her own" expresses an opinion on anything and gets, "you really can't know/understand until you have children of your own."

An overwhelmed stepmom who has a baby gets, "well, you knew you were having a baby with someone who already had a kid, you should have known..." (Never mind the previous comment. I know one person IRL who has told me the former and will surely tell me the latter should I reproduce.)

And an overwhelmed mom (without disclosed stepkids) who expresses, well, anything about anything, short of "I beat my kids" gets "oh, mama, hang in there, this stage is so hard."
post #9 of 64
Wow I know how you feel. I suppose I should introduce myself around here. I've been a lurker for a very long time and have learned so much from you wise people. Im C and I have been with my dp for 2 years, he has 3 kids under the age of six.

First of all, I am so sorry op. I totally know how you feel and trust me you have every right to feel neglected at times (at least I think thats how you feel). When a new baby or some other circumstance changing event happens it can be so frustrating on everyone. When my dp and I were dating for the first year, he had his children a few nights per week for a few hours. Then, we moved in together and all that changed. He decided (along with me at the time, not knowing what I was getting myself into) that it would be a great idea to have them 50% of the time. He suceeded and I went from a full time student who got to play with them a for a few hours a week to a half time bonus mom. Needless to say, my feelings were thrown all out of whack, some for better and some for the worse. I don't have kids of my own yet, so I'm sure your situtation is different tho.

Just hang in there. For me at least, it did get easier. Feelings still come up and not all of them pleasant, but dp listens to me and we work them out together. Remember that both babes are a blessing and just take a few breaths whenever you get frustrated!!!

Hugs mama!!!
post #10 of 64
Amen!!

No where else would that argument be acceptable. Can you imagine it being ok to say
- You knew what you were getting into when you decided to have children with a man who had a drinking problem (to a mom who is suffering through a separation and custody battle)

- You knew what you were getting into when you decided to have 3 embryos emplanted (to a mom whose babies are in the nicu)

- you knew what you were getting into when you decided to continue a pregnancy after finding out the baby had XYZ disorder (to a mom who is having a terrible time with her child's needs)

- you knew what you were getting into when you decided to get pregnant (to any mom posting here about crying, sleeping, breastfeeding, parenting issues, etc. etc. etc.)

Hopefully any comments to step-moms about "what did you expect?" or like that are being reported to Mods as violating this section of the UA:
Quote:
Through your direct or indirect participation here you agree to make a personal effort to maintain a comfortable and respectful atmosphere for our guests and members.
and possibly this section:
Quote:
Do not post in a disrespectful, defamatory, adversarial, baiting, harassing, offensive, insultingly sarcastic or otherwise improper manner, toward a member or other individual, including casting of suspicion upon a person, invasion of privacy, humiliation, demeaning criticism, name-calling, personal attack, or in any way which violates the law.
post #11 of 64
I did know what I was getting into...I was getting a husband I loved and a stepdaughter I ADORED. The rest of it has been a learning process. It has been more work and heartache at times than I can describe. But Mona also taught me love beyond all measure. I love that child. I have since she was a year old. Has it been work? Absolutely. We went from using a safe exchange and visitation center because my DH and DSD's mother could not be in the same room, to where we are now, going to parent-teacher conferences together, communicating and understanding. I am honored to be a stepmother. It is a badge I wear with honor. I got what was coming to me, and so much more...and I mean that in every positive way possible. Thank you to the OP, this is a great thread.
post #12 of 64
Actually NO one knows what they are getting into, regardless of the situation, step or non-step. I can get pregnant today and assume I know what I'm "in for" since I've gone down this pregnancy road twice before but as we all know, nothing is a given. There are way too many factors and possibilities. Nothing is within our total control. Knowing that my dh has children and even having a relationship with those children prior to marriage is totally different than trying to blend a family, become an active, committed step-parent, incorporate all of the changes that go on with the other parents in their lives...there is just too much we can't anticipate. So no, we don't know what we are getting into.

All we can know...all we *must* know is that we love our dp's unconditionally and they us, that we are committed to them fiercely, and that we know that life will throw us all sorts of curve balls we can't possibly see coming. And when that happens we'll do the best we can.

And anyone who wants to criticize me can bite it! ;-)
post #13 of 64
I am not a step-parent, but my DH is.

When we began getting serious, I flat out told him that my boys were my first priority. He said that he wouldn't have it any other way.
post #14 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fianna View Post
Actually NO one knows what they are getting into, regardless of the situation, step or non-step. I can get pregnant today and assume I know what I'm "in for" since I've gone down this pregnancy road twice before but as we all know, nothing is a given. There are way too many factors and possibilities. Nothing is within our total control. Knowing that my dh has children and even having a relationship with those children prior to marriage is totally different than trying to blend a family, become an active, committed step-parent, incorporate all of the changes that go on with the other parents in their lives...there is just too much we can't anticipate. So no, we don't know what we are getting into.

All we can know...all we *must* know is that we love our dp's unconditionally and they us, that we are committed to them fiercely, and that we know that life will throw us all sorts of curve balls we can't possibly see coming. And when that happens we'll do the best we can.

And anyone who wants to criticize me can bite it! ;-)
That's kind of what I meant...that the one thing I DID know I was getting into was my love for my stepdaughter. I had to learn the rest of it.
post #15 of 64
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by phrogger View Post
I think wording it should be more "when you have a child with a man who has kids already, you have to accept that things WILL change and wont be exactly as you thought or had hoped". Now that can be said for all parentingn situations, be having a willingness to take on what ever extra comes with a man with kids is something that many people really need to take into consideration and many don't.

I don't think that changing the wording changes the meaning. Either way it means "if step-parenting is challenging, you should have already accepted that it was going to be hard when you married him." You say that many don't take into consideration the "extra" stuff that comes with it. What I'm saying is that the "extra" stuff can't be predicted- it comes up along the journey. Being flexible is a great thing to be in life. Going with the flow, rolling with the punches, however you want to put it- it's a useful skill in all of life. I just don't think that the challenges of step-moming should be any different than any other challenges in life--- we face them head on, we try to be compassionate and fair, and we don't look back and say "I'm such an idiot, I should've seen this coming." That's all.
post #16 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by MeloMama08 View Post
I find the argument of "you knew what you were getting into when you married a man with kids" to be SO BOGUS.

First of all we never really know how something is going to be until we experience it for ourselves.

Secondly, things change in unforeseen ways when new baby to wife #2 is born. In our case, DP started spending a lot more time with DSD after DD was born bc he didn't want her to feel marginalized. When I got pregnant we had her 2-3 days out of the month. Over time it increased to every weekend. Now, he wants her to live with us. Does she deserve the best possible childhood and parenting from both her parents? Of course! Did I see this coming? Never. Nor did I imagine a whole range of other feelings I'd have- like sadness that DP and I arent "becoming parents" together or frustration that he considers himself an expert on all things baby-related because he did it before (in a totally non-AP way.) It also has forced me to examine my control issues as I notice how uncomfortable I am with ways DSD is that I would never let my own child be. (like watching lots of grown up tv shows or eating candy all the time.)
Sometimes I feel like I don't count and like I'm the one being marginalized, not DSD. And when I see how DSD's mom spends lavishly while we struggle to pay bills, yes, I feel resentful that DP pays child support.

Even if we do know what to expect, that doesn't make it less hard! The "you know what you were getting into" argument is totally uncompassionate and unreasonable. My situation is great in many ways (DSD loves me, her mom is really cooperative and non-competitive, she and my DP get along, etc) and it's still the biggest and least-expected challenge of my life. Should my feelings and struggles be dismissed because I "knew what I was getting into?"
My Husband used that line on me once, a long time ago. He said, "You knew what you were getting into when you decided to marry me." My response? I, as calmly as I could manage, asked him, "Really? How many men with children and an exWife have I ever been involved with?" I think it drove my point across- he never said it again.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtoLawyer View Post
It's funny, isn't it?

An overwhelmed stepmom gets "well, you knew what you were getting into when you partnered with a dad..."

A stepmom without kids of "her own" expresses an opinion on anything and gets, "you really can't know/understand until you have children of your own."

An overwhelmed stepmom who has a baby gets, "well, you knew you were having a baby with someone who already had a kid, you should have known..." (Never mind the previous comment. I know one person IRL who has told me the former and will surely tell me the latter should I reproduce.)

And an overwhelmed mom (without disclosed stepkids) who expresses, well, anything about anything, short of "I beat my kids" gets "oh, mama, hang in there, this stage is so hard."


Quote:
Originally Posted by fek&fuzz View Post
Amen!!

No where else would that argument be acceptable. Can you imagine it being ok to say
- You knew what you were getting into when you decided to have children with a man who had a drinking problem (to a mom who is suffering through a separation and custody battle)

- You knew what you were getting into when you decided to have 3 embryos emplanted (to a mom whose babies are in the nicu)

- you knew what you were getting into when you decided to continue a pregnancy after finding out the baby had XYZ disorder (to a mom who is having a terrible time with her child's needs)

- you knew what you were getting into when you decided to get pregnant (to any mom posting here about crying, sleeping, breastfeeding, parenting issues, etc. etc. etc.)


Sometimes, it doesn't feel like I'm a "real" person, because I'm a StepMom. I have no rights and I'm expected to put up with things that would make most people cringe, and without complaint or I'm the one at fault.
post #17 of 64
So here's a question for you guys:

How would you give someone just getting into a serious relationship with a single dad a real heads-up?

I have a wonderful friend who fell in love with a single dad a few years ago; they're now parents together and bought a house recently. His kids from the first marriage both still little; the 3-year-old's got medical issues. The dad's got standard visitation and the kids live in a different town, in their old house.

My friend has completely knocked herself out for the two little boys and her guy, and I hear her struggling more all the time. Her guy turns out to've been financially irresponsible in many ways; luckily they're not married, but it's still a huge problem for them. She carries the bulk of the home/child work while trying to earn; she's been the one to make their home the boys' home, too. She's sometimes felt she gave them more time and attention than their dad did, but she's afraid to lean on her dh more; he does work a lot, he does get stressed. His job's safe, but they both need to earn quite a bit more to cover his debts and their expenses including mortgage, child support, their own baby.

Well, come to find out that when he left the ex, he really just basically chewed his leg off to get away, just couldn't handle the marriage anymore. Whether or not that weighs on her mind, I don't know, but I do hear her worrying a lot about whether he's too stressed or working too hard.

Back when they were still dating, I really worried about her. The relationship went really fast -- she met the boys quickly, nine months before they moved in and were more or less married, and she was pregnant in under a year. He'd been divorced less than a year and while he seems like a nice enough guy, great with his boys, the situation had all the hallmarks of "divorced guy goes a-hunting, finds nice woman, hands her a lot of his parenting work". She said the usual things about how he was too generous with child support (which also showed what a great guy he was), how the ex was kind of psycho, etc.

I really wanted to warn her, and say, "Look, there'll come a time when you resent the ex for child support that -- well, hon, it's a lot of money, but it doesn't touch these kids' costs, and she's not going to give it up -- and when you'll find you've also married this psycho ex, (is she, really?)...stop and look at the balancing act you're signing up for. He's only just gotten divorced. Does he know how to take care of himself, of children, or are you going to be doing all of it? There may be times when you guys are really struggling, and you're having trouble providing for your own kids, and you'll still be sending her those four digits every month. You'll want your guy to spend more time with your kid, and he'll be off with his other kids. Can you live with that? Can you do it without blaming others? What you're signing up for is hard, and it's not like other relationships where you can walk away, no harm, no foul -- you'll hurt those little boys in a serious way if they come to love you and you leave. Is this really what you want?"

But of course she was head over heels, and thinking about babies, and really didn't want to hear anything like that.

So what would you say?
post #18 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by ginger_rodgers View Post
So here's a question for you guys:

So what would you say?
Nothing, unless she asked my advice.
post #19 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by Daphneduck View Post
Nothing, unless she asked my advice. I know it's tempting, though.
ITA.

Nobody can tell you what to expect. Every situation is different.

Besides, who listens when they're in love?
post #20 of 64
Daphne, then how would you expect anyone to avoid the OP's problem? Of course if you go in without any knowledge of common realities involved with marrying a man with children, you're going to get blindsided. I can understand saying "I didn't know", but not if the MO is for others to stand back and let them stay ignorant.

When women take up with alcoholics or drug addicts, if the women have friends, they get a chorus of "girl don't date him". Friends will even yell at their friends to get them away from a man who can mean real trouble. Same if the guy is involved in some very dangerous form of work -- you can count on a girlfriend to say, "Would you make him stop when you have kids?" and "I wouldn't be able to sleep at night," and that sort of thing. But with divorced parents, I don't hear anything like that, even though it's a whole different show than getting involved with someone who's childless.
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