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Question for all of you stepmoms...

post #1 of 73
Thread Starter 
Are your feelings towards your stepkids pretty stable, or do they change? I really go back and forth on my feelings towards my bf's 4 yo daughter (she lives with us 50% of the time now so I am essentially a stepmom). I really care about her, but sometimes I feel like I am at the end of my rope. She throws a lot of tantrums and is very crabby and rude a lot of the time.

I think that part of the problem is that I can't picture myself letting my son get away with what she does when he reaches that age. However, he's not here yet, so maybe I will change my mind by then? Maybe it is easier to cut your bio kids some slack? Or maybe I am just going to wind up being a more strict parent than bf is.

Either way, I feel guilty because although sometimes it is great having her here, sometimes I really wish she was back at her mom's house. Sometimes I think she is a really sweet kid, other times I think that I just don't like her very much. Anybody else feel this way?
post #2 of 73
All the time. . . It's up and down. At the end of the day I don't have the same affinity for step kids as I would my own and I do my best not to beat myself up for that. Both of dh kids live with us. SD is 15 and SS is 11. Some days I just want them to go to their mothers house and stay there. I hate the guilt I know the kids are always in the middle however love doesn't appear out of nowhere for these kids that already have two parents that love them. I'm not their mom. I also don't call myself a stepmom. I hate that word. I am ( insert step kids name here ) dads wife . . these are my husbands children ( insert names here ) etc. Sorry to go on . . .
post #3 of 73
I am back and forth quite a bit too... ultimately I do love DSD but I find as a step parent it's too easy to want to be the strict disciplinarian. I know my stepdad was like that when I was growing up, too. Not that I blame him for it, he was/is a great dad to me. But strict compared to my mom.

It's hard because the child will always feel guilty for loving you, the step parent. And they do tend to behave poorly when going back and forth a lot, imho. We always get the blame for DSD acting up when she gets back to her mom's house - it must be our fault for being bad parents. But she does the same when she first gets here, then it levels off.

On the other hand, I think bio parents can feel "at the end of their rope" too. It's just that you feel so much guilt about it when it's your stepkid, or you take it so much more seriously. Just like, if your biokid says "I hate you" it's just a normal tantrum, but when a stepkid says it, it's more personal. You might believe it.
post #4 of 73
Up and down here too. For all those reasons and more. It is hard. There just isn't that same maternal bond. I know even with my biokids, my feelings are up and down but it is very subtle because of the strong maternal bond. But there are definitely some ages and stages that I just do not like and some days when I just want to pull my hair out over one child's behavior or another, even with my own kids. But with the skids it is a lot more intense and there is a lot less I can do about it. They aren't my kids, I can't fix what ails them or heal their broken spirits or provide them with the stability they badly need but aren't getting. I can't be what their parents aren't. With my own kids, on top of the maternal bond, I have the ability to just FIX IT, take care of it, make it better. So I think a lot of the up and down comes from that. I want to make it better but can't. And sometimes I feel so much love and compassion and sadness and empathy for them and other times I just feel angry. I try to channel that anger and frustration and resentment where it belongs (their parents) but as long as they are being yo-yoed back and forth from parent to parent every other day, their lives will be full of chaos and instability and problems that I can't fix.
post #5 of 73
I am up and down with my SS age 5 all the time. He is a very challenging little boy, very hyperactive and he has a lot of control issues with things like food and his environment. It makes some days very hard in my home because of it. I wish I could just give him back to his mother but then I realize how boring our lives would be without him or any of my SSs for that matter.
post #6 of 73
I am glad for this post. I have a bit of guilt over this - like I should be this great loving angel step mom - but I get annoyed quite a bit.

I think some of it is that dss lives with mom who has a very different set of beliefs than we have - and when he comes over it is always a bit awkward. For example, me breastfeeding around him was a "big deal" at first (he is 11, I should add, so age does nothing to help) because him mom isn't a nip (though my home is not public!) kind of woman - and very prudish about bodies...anyway I just felt annoyed at him when he acted all out of sprts about it. It wasn't really fair to him, but it just got to me....that kind of thing. Also, it seems just when he is getting comfy here and we are all jiving, it's time for him to go home and we are back where we started. He sort of disrupts the flow of our home. Not his fault at all, but it can be nerve wracking. I love him, but not the same way as my own kids. it's hard not to feel bad about that.
post #7 of 73
Stepparrenting is such a rollercoaster.

ok, I just wrote this huge long thing and then I just deleted it because I was just rambling about it, but ya, its a huge emotional roller coaster, but I think its also very rewarding and well worth it. pinksprklybarefoot, your feelings are totally natural sweetie.
post #8 of 73
My girls have been in my life since they were babies, and for MUCH longer than my biokids, so my situation is probably a little different. As such, my feelings for them are quite stable. I fluctuate a bit, but no more than with anyone else in my life. DH drives me crazy some days too.

I'm blessed, I guess, in that I got to be a part of their lives from the get-go, and therefore don't have to deal with that animosity or clashes that can occur when older children are involved, I guess.

None of you are bad people because of these feelings...we can't possibly be expected to love everyone equally all the time. It's just not a reasonable expectation.
post #9 of 73
My feelings toward DSS are much more stable than they were.

Stepparenting, at least for me, has gotten easier over time. I'm really glad that since the stars decided I was supposed to be a stepmother, I was a stepmom BEFORE I had DD.

As a pp said, sometimes DH and/or DD get on my last nerve, so I think it's only natural if my feelings for DSS aren't rosypeachyperfectkeen all the time.

I am definately more than "Dad's wife"- I have a relationship with DSS that is between just us two. Should (God forbid) our marriage end in divorce, I'll definitely want to maintain my relationship with DSS.

DSS has a really good mom, so the hardest part was trying to convey that I wasn't taking her place. Especially since he's her only child, they are very close. And the mother child relationship is a special thing that can't be replicated.

I've gotten to the place where I'm peace with the fact that DSS is my son, even though I'm not his mom.
post #10 of 73
It's pretty stable. But, I am having this weird stepmom issue lately that is similar to what you describe. I have a 11.5 yo dss and 3.5 yo ds. Sometimes I'll be busy doing stuff and dss will say, "Will you make me a sandwich?" Now, I happen to think that 11 yos can make their own sandwiches, but obviously, if ds asked me, I'd make him one, he's just 3. I feel like if I say no, dss ASSUMES it's because he is my stepson and not my "real" son. I think he won't believe me that I won't be making ds's sandwiches when he's 11 until ds is really 11, and then he'll finaly understand! So, I have a bit of an issue. I expect more of dss because he is 11, and I think he feels like I expect him to do more because I am his stepmom. So, I make his sandwich . I was a stepmom before a biomom, too, so he really was my first little boy.
post #11 of 73
Flor~ I definitely have this issue both in my mind and in reality and both with my biokids and my skids. And for me, the solution is just to verbally remind them (before they have to complain) in a gentle way that they used to be JUST LIKE this when they were little. So for instance if I'm making my 4 year old a sandwich, I'd start a casual conversation with my 12 year old about what kind of sandwiches he liked me to make and how he liked his crust off and what shape he liked me to cut the sandwich and what age he started making his own, etc. If my little one gets away with a certain level of behavior and an older kid complains, I just point out that they got away with that and so much more when they were the same age and although it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking all things should be equal, that that is crazy and they got better treatment than that at that age too and that we parent according to age, need and maturity level and not equally and arbitrarily across the board.

For all I know, what they hear is BlahblahblblahYouAreUnfairblahblahblah but it does seem to appease them at least in the moment.
post #12 of 73
Yep, up and down. When they were younger (they are nearly 25, 23, and 21), as in teens, it was a rollercoaster. Then we had some years of stability that just ended this holiday visit. It was terrible.
post #13 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by KaraBoo View Post
Yep, up and down. When they were younger (they are nearly 25, 23, and 21), as in teens, it was a rollercoaster. Then we had some years of stability that just ended this holiday visit. It was terrible.
Oh no, what happened? I am holding out for the adult years. Don't burst my bubble! So what happened at the holiday visit? :
post #14 of 73
Such a good thread! I'm a new-ish stepmom to three kids and have no biokids. I definitely go up and down with my feelings toward my skids, even so far as wishing that they didn't exist at all. It's not so much that I don't like them (because I do -- I think they're fascinating and fun, and they've already added so much to my life) but just that I can see how much simpler my life would be without them in it. Of course, I do understand that simpler isn't always better, and I do recognize how lucky I am to have the opportunity to bond with these three people and do my best every day to influence them in a really positive way.

And that's where I thought that a comment mamanicki made was interesting. It's this one:

Quote:
Originally Posted by mamanicki View Post
They aren't my kids, I can't fix what ails them or heal their broken spirits or provide them with the stability they badly need but aren't getting. I can't be what their parents aren't.
I agree to a certain level, in that the situation (with the constant shuffling between houses) creates a lot of instability that is really hard for kids. My situation is terrible in that the kids' biomom is extremely difficult and tells them all kinds of bad things about me and their dad, grills them endlessly about what they do with us and basically violates all the rules about how to treat children of divorce. I've definitely lived through what another pp said about feeling like everyone has finally gotten settled and then having to return the kids to their biomom and the next time we get them, we start all over again at square one. That's certainly the experience we have, but at the same time, I feel very strongly that I CAN help provide a stable environment for these kids (with their father, obviously) and that I can offer things that their parents can't.

Maybe I'm overly idealistic and naive, but I really do feel that I will be making these kids' lives richer just by committing myself to being involved with them and to listening to them and to playing with them and being there for them. It'll be interesting for me to see how my feelings for them grow and ultimately compare to how I feel for any biokids I may eventually have.
post #15 of 73
Yes, up and down. And now that I have a child of my own, I find that any sort of stepping-over-the-lines SS (10, almost 11), does with my son, I get very angry, and it takes a bit for me to get over that, because I am protecting my child.
I have a few unpopular thoughts.
I don't think stepchildren are entitled to four loving parents. That sounds really horrible. But I think what I mean is that, he has two parents. I don't have to feel obligated to be a third. And I refuse to feel guilty because I don't feel the same way towards him as I do my own child. I don't expect this to change, and it is actually better this way. At the beginning of our relationship I wanted to be a motehr-type figure to him (not take his mother's place though) and it was difficult for me knowing that I couldn't be that for him.
So-- I don't have to be his stepMOM. I just have to be nice to him, and do what I want with him, and run my house, and lay down rules of the house. He likes me, and we have a good relationship. But this realization has eliminated any guilt.
And what a pp said is right in a sense-- I can't fix what is wrong with him. I think in our situation, where there are different values and lifestyle than his mother and her husband, the most I can do is be an example and hope he catches on (which he is).
Recently SS has been a handful and what has made me feel lots better is knowing DH feels the same way.
post #16 of 73
Thank you for this question that I have wanted to ask but was afraid I'd sound like the mean ol step mom.....

I'm two years in and have 2 step kids and 3 of my own. My feelings fluctuate all the time and I'm constantly guilty because my feelings for the DS
kids are not equal to my own.

They have a mom and they don't need me to be that for them. So we just try our best to treat them all the same and live our lives...
post #17 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by m00t View Post
Maybe I'm overly idealistic and naive, but I really do feel that I will be making these kids' lives richer just by committing myself to being involved with them and to listening to them and to playing with them and being there for them. It'll be interesting for me to see how my feelings for them grow and ultimately compare to how I feel for any biokids I may eventually have.
Well with a BM like you described I think you are being a little idealistic but seriously I do believe that any adult can make a difference in any child's life, including stepmothers. What I don't believe is that a stepparent can ever replace a biological parent as long as that biological parent is still in the picture. I think a pitfall that stepMoms routinely fall into is feeling as if they need to reparent or fix the problems that the skids have lived with in the previous marriage and now in the time they spend with the BM. And that love and good parenting skills - particularly for us AP/NFL parents, will be enough to bridge all gaps. But as long as they are missing something in their relationship with either (or both) parent, they will continue to seek that out in that parent. You can try to fill the void but it will probably just frustrate them and make things worse (it serves as a reminder of what they aren't getting with BM). It may make a difference down the line but it won't fix what they are missing, it won't heal their relationship with BM, it won't fill the void.
post #18 of 73
Definitely up and down. My step son is a great, sweet kid, but some of his behaviors are disruptive to our home when he visits. Also, I think some of the feelings are directly related to his bio mom. I'm sad to say, but it does really get to me at times. Overall, I love having him for visits.
post #19 of 73
Allow me to clarify . . .
Quote:
I am definately more than "Dad's wife"- I have a relationship with DSS that is between just us two.
. . . I don't use the work step mom because it means ( to me ) stepping in for the bio mom and I don't do that. I'm a supportive adult/friend and hopefully someone who will have a great relationship with skids as time goes on . . .


Quote:
I don't think stepchildren are entitled to four loving parents. That sounds really horrible. But I think what I mean is that, he has two parents. I don't have to feel obligated to be a third. And I refuse to feel guilty because I don't feel the same way towards him as I do my own child. I don't expect this to change, and it is actually better this way. At the beginning of our relationship I wanted to be a motehr-type figure to him (not take his mother's place though) and it was difficult for me knowing that I couldn't be that for him.
Thank you thank you thank you for saying that ! ! !
post #20 of 73
Well, I know that dss sees me as a parent, so I do need to be one for him. I think of myself as an "aunt" type figure. An adult you trust and enjoy and who loves you, but isn't the same as your mom. The longer I've been a stepmom, the more I've realized that it is important to honor/ or even help repair that relationship with the biomom in order to raise a happy kid. On the one hand, it wasn't my responsiblity, but on the other hand, I was in the unique postition of not being very emotional about the biomom. Dh still had anger. I was the one who could talk to dss about mothers, help him make cards and pictures and send to his mom, and all that. As much as I thought life would be better if she disappeared, dss really needed a relationship with her. He needed to figure it all out for himself. So, I consider myself a parent. I think the more parents the better. But just as his dad doesn't try to ttake the place of his mom, I feel like I can have my own place without trying to take anyone's place.
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