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About to be a step mom (Introduction)

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
Hi My name is Bridget. I'm a 30 year old woman living in Arkansas. I've been in a serious relationship for a year and a half. He is currently going through a divorce (I know, I know... they've been seperated for nearly 3 years living in different states) and there will finally be some sort of ruling on visitation for his son. He will be getting about 6 weeks in the summer, spring break, half of Christmas and every other Thanksgiving. His son is 5 years old. I've never been a stepmom but I had one growing up. She wasn't very nice to me so I know I'll never be unkind to his son. I would never want a child to feel the way I did.

I don't have any children of my own who live with me. I have two children who were adopted by my family 8 years ago but that is another conversation for another time.

Right now, I'm a little nervous about how to handle the role of step mom. I have never seen his son. He lives about 3 states away with his mom. I keep feeling like he's going to cry for his mom when he comes to visit and am not sure how to comfort him or whether I should just let his father. I want to be a part of his life and want him to love and trust me. I also don't want to confuse him or make him feel like I'm trying to replace his mother. I don't have any contact with his mother at this time as there is a lot of tension between her and her soon to be ex. She doesn't really like the thought of him being able to visit his son. She has a new man in her life and would like to totally forget about the real dad and pretend her new guy is her son's real father. (Told ya it's messy)

How can I develop a relationship with his son and the mother if possible? What should I look out for? Any suggestions are welcome.
post #2 of 10

New StepMom

Congratulations. Since you are a stepchild, you have a head start. I would suggest following his lead. Be yourself, let him have his relationship with his Dad, and give him time to adjust. My experience as stepmom was a disaster with my husband's daughter but she seems to have difficulty with all the parental relationships in her life. However, I have a great relationship with my stepson. She has "mother issues" and cannot seem to have other relationships without feeling guilty about them. My stepson didn't fall into that trap and has a great relationship with his Dad and myself. I feel bad for him though because he makes it known that his relationship with his bio-mom is difficult and it comes with a lot of strings. He actually does his best to avoid her. The little boy coming into your life is going to be pulled in many directions. Try not to pull, just love him and be there for him if he reaches out. Don't take negative behavior too personally...as step-parents, we sometimes get dumped on alot, especially if they real safe with us! My husband gets hell from my oldest daughter sometimes but she loves him deeply. That doesn't make it right but it's hard for him and that's where I come in as his supporter and her reality check. It's not easy but it doesn't have to be a nightmare either. As far as having a relationship with the boy's mom, I hit a wall with that one. I was a threat and the kids got that message very early. Reach out, make the initial attempt and see how it goes. Otherwise, don't make yourself crazy. Respect her for who she is (the little boy's mom) but don't do backflips trying to impress her. Take care of yourself and your family. Good luck.
post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thanks so much for the advice. Right now I want to be prepared as best I can and any knowledge I can obtain I'm most grateful for. Thanks again!
post #4 of 10

Kind of Silly but Helpful!

Believe it or not, in an act of desperation, I bought the book "Step-parenting for Dummies"! It was on sale in B&N and it had some pretty good advice. Unfortunately, there aren't too many helpful books on this topic but this one had some helpful hints.
post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 
I'll have to look into that. I would like to know if you or anyone else can answer this question. Should you treat your step children as though they're your own or is it healthier for the child when there is a clear line that says you're not their mother. What is the difference other than biology between a step mother and the birth mother? His mom will always be in his life which is the way it should be. How do you deal with the "you're not my mom" thing? How can you care for a child if they intentionally disobey or are rude? He hasn't said anything like this to me but I have noticed he gets in foul moods often where he wants everything his way or he wants nothing to do with you.
post #6 of 10
Your question is a tough one. Referring to the Dummies book, it recommends that all discipline come from the bio-parent, especially in the beginning. You're just in the beginning stages of establishing a relationship with him and it's very fragile. Be supportive, be loving but don't be a doormat, set boundaries for yourself and him but be sure your partner is there so everyone is on the same page when boundaries are set. Maybe a weekly family meeting would be helpful (during dinner time, something informal). You can all share about the good/bad things that happened in your life, he can share, his Dad can share and this will open the door for communicating. He is struggling with a lot right now. He doesn't know who you are in his life as much as you don't know who you are in his life. You are an adult and he needs to respect that but pushing yourself into some kind of mother role right now could be detrimental. I approached it in the beginning that I was a mom "figure"...I showed them that I would do mom things for them like I did for my own children. I didn't punish them, I let Dad take care of that but I enforced any punishments as Dad's partner.....in my case their bio-Mom was very threatened by me so they were basically told I didn't matter, I wouldn't be around too long (15 years ago!) and they didn't have to listen to me. It was hard and she created a lot of confusion in their lives. As a matter of fact, my 32 sdd has major "mother" issues today! I wasn't perfect but I didn't understand at first why they were so defiant but they would get "drilled" when they went back to her and de-programmed from the way our blended family chose to live. Go slow and remember you're not in this alone, his Dad plays a HUGE role in helping build this relationship.
post #7 of 10
Thread Starter 
Once again, thanks for sharing your experience. I have a feeling this is going to be similar in some ways. The first interaction I had with the bio-mom was an attempt to break the bio-dad and I apart. That was over a year ago. I've made strides to get to know her but she never returns any emails or anything. Her mother talks to me and is pleasant most of the time. I'd rather it were her though.

We've already made the decision to let bio-dad do all the punishing. That's how it was with my mom and step dad. I guess more than anything I'm incredibly nervous. I'm sure it'll all work out okay in the end. Right now things are tough because we're all in the beginning stages of all of this. The entire family is a mess right now. Grandparents are involved and they don't really like me being involved. I'm limited my suggestions to my soon to be husband and let him deal with his parents and soon to be ex wife.
post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 
I just had something interesting happen. My fiance has arranged days that he talks to his son on the phone. His conversations with his son have always gone pretty good until today. Today, out of nowhere his son told him he didn't want to talk to him because he isn't his dad, his mother's new boyfriend is his dad and that his mother told him so. What kind of messed up thing to do is that?
post #9 of 10
I was unfamiliar with the stepmom "role" when I married dh, but I had been a daycamp counsler and a favorite aunt and those roles seemed most comforable to me with my stepson, especially at first. Like a camp counsler, or aunt, we played together and had fun, but it was clear I wasn't the mommy. I was a trusted adult who cared for him, like any other close adult relative. I also tried to show him that I supported his relationship with his mom, even though I did not feel it at the time. I would help him write cards to her, take him shopping to buy a present for her, take pictures to send her, hang up pictures of her in his room. Believe me, I was not feeling kindly towards her at all at that time (though, I do now) but I forced myself to do it and it seemed to make him feel less threatened (and she felt less threatened, too, since it was obvious from my handwritting on the envelopes who was sending her these things).
As far as the "your not my mom," thing, it never happened. It got close to happening once when dss was 5. He woke up in a foul mood, and said, "I love my mom. My REAL mom," and I said, "Of course you do, everyone loves their mom." That was my attitude all the time, of course I 'm not your mom, who said I was? Dh had laid down the law before I met him, that dss was to be respectful of all adults who were caring for him-- grandmas, babysitters, day care ladies, etc. so it was just natural that dss was expected to treat me with respect, too.

We've been married for almost 6 years now. I have to say that at first, I wanted the ex to drop off the face of the earth, we were fine without her. But as she has been more a part of our lives (our toddlers just spent the day playing at her house last week, I would have never imagined!!!) dss has felt so much happier and secure. As awful as I thought she was, dss needed her, and to feel like we were ok with her, too.

One warning-- it seems to come up a lot on this board, it is going to be hard for a 5 year old to be away from his mom for so long in the summer, regardless of howmuch he loves his dad. 6 weeks, I can't imagine !
post #10 of 10
Thread Starter 
By the time his son (I'm not sure what all the dss and other terms mean yet but I understand who you're talking about) comes to visit us for the summer he will be 6 1/2 years old. It's not going to be easy at all because he barely knows his father at all. He is a military baby. Dad was stationed one place, his mom is from another. She went back to the state she is from when they seperated and when dad got out of the military he went back to his native state which is very far from where mom lives. It hasn't been easy for him to physically stay in contact with his son and mom hasn't made it easy for him to do that either. She demanded he give her 2 weeks notice before coming to see their son and when he gives her the notice she leaves with their son so he won't be available when dad gets there. Now, she is teaching their son that her new boyfriend is his father. Not just teaching him to call the new boyfriend dad. Teaching him that he IS his one and only dad.

I definately think having a picture of his mom in his room at our house is a great idea. I'd already planned to do that. I also would never refuse her the right to call or come visit at our home. I am very upset with how she has acted but in the end the child is who really matters and it is best that he know who is mom and who is dad. I'm just not sure how much good it will do when it's only coming from our end. She has him very confused.
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