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Custodial Step-Mom v Bio-Mom

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 
My husband and I have been married for 2 years. I was not involved in the breakdown of his former marriage in any way and moved from a great distance away to marry him (we had known each other many years ago and were back in touch). DH's ex had walked out on him and their daughters, then ages 11 and 14, for the 2nd time in their lives. The first time, the girls were 6 and 9 and she was gone for over a year. DH got custody, although there was no fight for them. EX had been having numerous affairs, etc. and moved into a 1 bedroom apartment. I moved here a few months prior to our marriage, with the blessing of the girls. (My children are all grown and on their own and very supportive).

The girls were angry, out of control at times, one was and is very immature, and yet they are also loving and sweet. The older of the 2 is now 19 and a month ago just moved in with her mother because we wouldn't buy her a car, although we had bought the younger one a used car. (The older one doesn't have a license and wouldn't study the book!) We had agreed that I would stay at home rather than work to give the girls some stability and it did make a difference. Unfortunately for me, discipline, permission, care, etc. was left to me by both bio parents. Then bio mom discovered that the older one was calling me mom also, and the proverbial crap hit the manipulative fan.... Bio-mom started calling on their cell phones at bizarre times and telling them to go outside so no one would hear the conversations, etc. We don't know what bio-mom started saying to the girls when she had them every other weekend, but we saw the results of it. Older daughter began lying and posting on line in her public journal what a **** bit** I was, etc. I don't really discipline. I lecture a bit and explain why the rule is what it is, and have continuously explained to both that we want them to grow up to be happy, healthy, productive adults that make good choices. And that is what we want.

The younger daughter is now in counseling and her rages are all but non-existent. My problem is that the bio-mom has told the girls that she left because dad was abusive (it is most definitely a lie), and has said that she left them there so he wouldn't get depressed, etc. She does no parenting - simply takes them to the mall when she has them. She has allowed the older daughter's boyfriend to spend the night when daughter was a minor, etc. In other words, she is the "cool parent" that "understands me", etc. Now the older daughter isn't talking to me and DH at all. We have told her that every poor decision has a consequence, etc. and I know that we're doing the right things without a doubt but I'm beginning to second guess everything. I love her so much, even if I don't always like her, and I hate that it's like this. The younger one and I get along well (as far as I can tell) and I can't bear the thought of bio-mom corrupting this one too, although she isn't as easily manipulated as the older one.

I'd love some advice of any kind before I explode. I've tried being nice to bio-mom. Invited her over for coffee when I first moved here so she would know I wasn't some ogre or drunk. Invited her over last Thanksgiving so the girls wouldn't feel guilty about having a good time while mom and her married boyfriend were in a dinky apartment (they came!). She's hurting them. They just don't realize it and I'm upset! Please help me figure this out!
post #2 of 4
Hugs and supportive thoughts coming your way. There are lots of things I am thinking about that could be helpful. You certainly have a lot to deal with, sounds like a stressful situation.

Here are a few things that I am thinking of:

1. Be on the same parenting page with dh (discipline etc.)... there needs to be a clear message about expecations, boundaries, etc coming from BOTH of you (for many reasons... ).

2. Be good role models... make sure you and dh are NOT saying anything negative about the ex....there might be enough bad things to fill many novels, but sometimes it's just best to zip the lip--they will learn from their own experiences what kind of mother they have. I"m not sure how I would handle the ex's lies about the abuse stuff... I would leave that for a family therapist to handle.

3. Keep and make your boundaries to minimize the chaos. If the ex is threatening the stability of the girls, then don't go out of your way to include her in what your family does. I'm sure there are good reasons for wanting to do this, but consider what things you coudl limit or change to improve the day to day chaos that arises. You don't have to act like the family is one big happy family when it's not... I think it's great what you've done, but it doesn't sound like she's going to return the favor.

4. Be realistic about what is within your realm of control... you can't make up for what the other mom did to the girls by leaving. You can't make up for how she behaves now. You CAN be yourself--a loving, nurturing, caring step mom who models healthy, mature behavior.

5. Get the courts to help if they are able... it doesn't soudn like there is much time for the courts to be involved in this situation with the younger girl and the older one is already matured out of custody. SOmetimes the courts could mandate a parenting class, or something that could be useful.

6. GET SUPPORT--I think you are doing the right thing to come here to MDC... I'm sure you'll find lots of support. Check out any local resources in your area... there are usually parent resources available through a variety of non profits or churches or hospitals... maybe they have one for step parenting... or at least parenting teens.

Hope some of this is useful... this isn't my area of expertise, but I have had some experience in this area. Good luck, and I would also try posting in the parents as partners forum or the parenting teens forum for suggestions about any specific questions you have.
post #3 of 4
Thread Starter 
I appreciate the kind words more than I can say. To clarify something though - DH is completely on the same page as me. All of us, girls included, are aware that parenting is not his expertise and that he also dropped the ball in his previous marriage. When youngest is upset with him, I tell him to go up to her room and talk to her and when he asks what to say, I generally give him a guideline of where to start. Sounds pathetic but it works for us and I've had lots and lots more years of kids and parenting than he has. Since I'm a stay-at-home mom, I'm the one that allows or doesn't allow after school stuff, etc. and he is completely in agreement with whatever I do. The girls know and have agreed that this works best for our family. It is too late for the courts. DD goes to counseling and I take her for every visit and have participated with her on occasion, although it's never been concerning an issue with me.

How horrible would it be to confront the bio-mom with all of her lies the next time the opportunity arises? (Not in front of the kids). And we NEVER have said anything negative about her. I always say to have fun when it's her weekend, ask what they did when the girls return, listen to stories of "mommy" and bite my tongue hard!
post #4 of 4
I wanted to give your thread a bump...
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