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I'm tired of being a stepparent (VENT) - Page 6

post #101 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by JSMa View Post
I wanted to add that co-parenting can be done with more than just two parents... I don't know if that would be co-parenting squared or what? lol

But anyway... DP and I actually communicate a lot with his ex and her BF about different things with DSD. But we don't neccessarily do everything the same.

Violet said it best. DP, me and DSD are one family unit, and DSD's Mom, her BF and DSD are another family unit.

In both there are two parents, comprised of one bio and one step, but they work together to raise the child in their home, and the other set does the same... on drop-offs all four of us sort of compare notes on how DSD is doing and such, and if there are any big issues that we want to get more input on, we bring it up and discuss it.

In the begining I certainly did not have as much say as I do now... but over time my opinion became respected, and even DSD's Mother asks my opinion on things at times. We have always been civil to one another, which from what I know I should be grateful for. She does a lot of things that make my head want to explode, and certainly not things I'd do with my own children, but overall she is a good Mother.

But both DP and I do not bend to her rules for DSD because DSD's Mom lets her do whatever she wants and lets her eat McDonald's like every day, and lots of other things that we just don't agree with. Actually that was a big conflict in their marriage... they were never on the same parenting page.

DP and I are blessed that we think alike on a lot of things on how we want to raise the children.


So after all that... I think it is quite possible for ALL parental figures, step or bio to parent together, but not neccessarily defer or have to do everything the same, but still provide a balanced environement for the children in two functioning homes.
I agree with you on this. I see your example as an example of a very healthy ideal and one that is beneficial to all parties involved. Open and cooperative communication is essential to fostering healthy relationships of all types and is respectful to the feelings, impressions, and experiences of everyone involved.

I can see how maintaining the view that the new relationship/marriage is only temporary (without any real reason to believe so other than statistical anecdotes that may be indicative of issues not inherent in the relationship being examined) can serve as a roadblock to realizing that healthy ideal and might create tensions that don't serve any productive purpose.
post #102 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by violet_ View Post
Exactly!

So the success rate for second marriages *is* necessarily higher than first marriages for the people who have second marriages. As in, it's higher than zero. People tend to learn more what they want and need. And I bet a lot more would work out if there were fewer bickering exes and related step-drama. It all adds stress that first marriages don't have.
Yes. Unfortunately, because legal co-parenting relationships often last longer marriage, without the sort of routine forgiveness and generosity that marriage has, the exes will likely bicker. It might help if the next-spouses understood that the relationship that binds them is adversarial and long-term. We do our best to get around that -- at least many of us do -- but in the end, that is how the courts work, and the courts are ultimately in charge. I don't especially like continuing all the documentation nonsense, but I also know that my ex can pull me back to court at any time and accuse me of whatever he likes, so I had better be able to show how things have actually gone. For similar reasons, though about much less important matters, I keep receipts, documentation of tax-related phone calls, etc.

Although second marriages are more likely to succeed than the first marriages did, they still fail at a very high rate. I don't mean to impugn anyone's marriage, here. The stats just are what they are. And that's why it's not unreasonable for an ex to...well...not commit entirely to the idea that this new wife is a permanent feature, deal with the father on parenting issues, and not build up the new wife too much to the kids.

You do have to remember that we're the ones left helping the kids put themselves back together if the second marriage breaks up and they lose someone who may be very important to them. When/if my ex remarries, I'll be cautiously positive about her, but stress to dd that she has lots of family who love her and will always be there for her. Just in case. And if dd asks whether the new wife will always be there, I'll say, "I hope so." To say more would be dishonest; to say less would be discouraging.

Nikag, the ex has nothing to go on but stats. We don't know your marriage, nor should we. In the absence of better info, we go on best available, which is all anyone can do. I see no reason to sit down with the children and say, "Well, you know, the odds are their marriage will break up." You just stand ready to deal with it, given the odds, and do what prep you can.
post #103 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by mooninjune68 View Post
Wow, this thread has been thought-provoking . . .

I have an old friend who married for the first time in her mid-30s about 8 years ago. She's taken on the main role in parenting her sd, who was around 9 or 10 when the marriage happened. She's expressed that she has spent more time/energy than either parent in raising this child. She's also received most of the fall-out for that role (the girl has acted in a manner that I would describe as hateful toward her step-mom). If I were her, I would be angry at the dad/husband for putting her in this position. He got to go about his life, develop in his profession, have a lovely home, and have someone else parent his kid.
mooninjune, I guess I would say that she put herself in that position. I don't know how she gets out of it except by waiting for the kid to go off to college and fly, but I'm not sure too many new wives understand that it's possible to marry a person without becoming a parent to his or her children, and without giving the children the cold shoulder.

In some ways, your friend was actually in a better position than many mothers are. There are huge social penalties for failing to be a nurturing mother (read: willing to sacrifice self and career for child, even if the man does not), but the stepmom has a grayer situation -- they're not her kids, the kids already have two parents, etc. They can get away with refusing that traditional role more easily. Of course, you have to know about that ahead of time, and resist the guy's expectation that you're a replacement domestic.
post #104 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spring Sun View Post
Hey, I think we are different here at mdc than maybe other places. I know I am committed to self growth, and I made a much better choice this time. I won't be the next dairy queen.

Would you mind clarifying if you are a stepmom, biomom, or both? I am just so confused why you are so negative. I just don't live in that realm. Let me rephrase that: I don't choose to exist there.
Well, I don't know about negative. It's possible to be an optimistic realist. I'm willing to accept that it's best to leave certain relationships alone. A new wife might be a perfectly lovely person, but I'd rather not be in the middle.

The dairy queen thing doesn't mean you're about to close. It just meant a certain frozen-in-time thing happens, frequently. If you're in your 20s this may not have happened to you yet. It will. I still slip and call that PBS show with Jim Lehrer the MacNeil/Lehrer Report, even though MacNeil's been off the show for...God, it's been 13 years. Anything after 1992, more or less, is "a few years back". So the new wife is permanently the new wife, until one day you visit and realize she looks like she belongs and has been there one hell of a long time. My town's small enough that I'm on the receiving end of it too, having only been here 15 years. This upset me until I got creaky and old myself and realized no harm is meant.

I also accept that custodial matters can be contentious; it only takes one person to make them that way. So I mind the Ps and Qs, and document, just in case I get more surprises in the mail. It matters.

I'm a mom, a daughter of divorced and remarried parents, and I took care of the children of men I lived with (when I was young and foolish). My XH has not remarried, and given his problems and standards I suspect it will be a while before he does. For myself, I see this period of my life -- the next decade or so -- as being mainly about providing a stable home for my daughter to grow up in. I'll likely have plenty of time for men again when she's grown, if I'm interested. Again, I think perhaps age is a factor in attitudes here. When I was growing up, few couples divorced. The adults were certainly miserable and I saw much more alcoholism, oppression of women, and bitterness than I do now. But I think the children actually fared better by having the stability and relative ignorance of adult goings-on, and probably by having the money. Nothing makes them poor faster than divorce.

As for divorce rates...we're probably not so different here. There's a thread a few lines down on this forum from a stepmom who's leaving her husband and trying to work something out so that she can still be part of her dsd's life, because she's been in it since the child was a baby, but it's not looking good. We're probably not as representative here as the Babycenter group is, but on the whole I'm don't hear much anti-divorce sentiment. (Actually there may be more of that at BBC because of the heavy religious contingent.) Something like 60-70% of second marriages fail, so even if this group is more stable than average, that still leaves room for a lot of divorce.

Understand that this is nothing I'd wish on my XH. Stability is good for him and dd; having more people around to care for him is good for him and dd (though possibly not so good for the wife). But between the odds and his patterns, I'd be surprised to see him in a marriage that went longer than 5-6 years.
post #105 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by nikag View Post
In terms of legality, he would be equally financially responsible to any children he has with other women as he is to any children he had prior. So far as I know, there is no sliding scale of financial responsibility based on birth order. In fact in the state where we live, my husband will be eligible to have his child support payments reduced after his new son is born.
OK. Not in mine, though. If he divorced after having another child, though, his c/s for that child would be reduced due to prior support obligations.

If he stays married after having another child, on the other hand, he's under no obligation to support that child. How married couples pay their bills is not something the state gets involved with. Which is why you get so many "hm, a big chunk of his money's going out the door, and I'm paying much more than half to support our family, and his ex has a big pool in the backyard while I can't buy school supplies" conversations.
post #106 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by mama41 View Post
mooninjune, I guess I would say that she put herself in that position. I don't know how she gets out of it except by waiting for the kid to go off to college and fly, but I'm not sure too many new wives understand that it's possible to marry a person without becoming a parent to his or her children, and without giving the children the cold shoulder.

In some ways, your friend was actually in a better position than many mothers are. There are huge social penalties for failing to be a nurturing mother (read: willing to sacrifice self and career for child, even if the man does not), but the stepmom has a grayer situation -- they're not her kids, the kids already have two parents, etc. They can get away with refusing that traditional role more easily. Of course, you have to know about that ahead of time, and resist the guy's expectation that you're a replacement domestic.
I hear you. From my perspective, she's gotten the short end of the stick but has chosen it based on some unexamined pressures from her own history and the outside culture. She was "in a better position" from the outside . . . but chose to sacrifice much anyway. I suppose this is noble to some, but I get 'old school'-feminist angry when I think about it.
post #107 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by mooninjune68 View Post
It seems like there are so many variations, no? I think of co-parenting as involving the biological parents only (maybe because it's how I was introduced to the term in all the divorce literature I read). I also wonder if there's a difference in experience when the step-parent has no biological children. I would have a hard time, I think, if someone who had no children of her own came into my son's life and assumed a strong parental role simply because she and his dad decided to get together. I'd imagine it would be harder for this person as well to know where she fit with no experience to draw on.

*shrugs* I have no biological children but I know I will one day. I think it's a bit unfair to say a step-parent shouldn't be a parent because they have no experience... with the stage DSD is at right now, her parents have no expereince in it either... she is their only daughter, they are learning right along with their partners. All four of us are learning together, and gaining experience together.
post #108 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by mama41 View Post
OK. Not in mine, though. If he divorced after having another child, though, his c/s for that child would be reduced due to prior support obligations.

If he stays married after having another child, on the other hand, he's under no obligation to support that child. How married couples pay their bills is not something the state gets involved with. Which is why you get so many "hm, a big chunk of his money's going out the door, and I'm paying much more than half to support our family, and his ex has a big pool in the backyard while I can't buy school supplies" conversations.

Wow... I don't understand why a first obligation would be held in such revere? Should not the parents have EQUAL responsibility to ALL their children across the board??
post #109 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by JSMa View Post
*shrugs* I have no biological children but I know I will one day. I think it's a bit unfair to say a step-parent shouldn't be a parent because they have no experience... with the stage DSD is at right now, her parents have no expereince in it either... she is their only daughter, they are learning right along with their partners. All four of us are learning together, and gaining experience together.
Yep.

First time biological moms don't start out as experts either. Unfortunately there are no road maps or instruction manuals when it comes to kids. I can't see any really good reason to come down on another woman for just beginning the journey of motherhood/step-motherhood.

Quote:
OK. Not in mine, though. If he divorced after having another child, though, his c/s for that child would be reduced due to prior support obligations.
That's interesting. Do you have some kind of link with that info? I'm curious now. That's something I've got to see first hand to believe.

Quote:
Nikag, the ex has nothing to go on but stats....In the absence of better info, we go on best available, which is all anyone can do. I see no reason to sit down with the children and say, "Well, you know, the odds are their marriage will break up." You just stand ready to deal with it, given the odds, and do what prep you can.
Giving the benefit of the doubt can work wonders toward creating a positive experience for oneself and others. Doubting something for no other reason but to doubt it....what's the point?

How are population statistics the best available information when the couple themselves are a just a phone call, conversation, or a visit away? Stats are best used to get a glimpse of something you don't have direct access to - they aren't really good at explaining real time experiences and not only that can be easily tweaked to suit just about any ideological purpose. There's absolutely no way of knowing where something will fall on the bell curve...And besides, using statistical data from the non-specific experiences of strangers fails to take at least one pretty important factor into account: your unique ex-ly influence over the situation. There are reasons behind why those statistics exist. It's more than just numbers. It seems silly to me to go into a situation with the steadfast assumption that failure is certain, and then blame statistics for the failure.
post #110 of 148
[QUOTE=nikag;10813626]Yep.

First time biological moms don't start out as experts either. Unfortunately there are no road maps or instruction manuals when it comes to kids. I can't see any really good reason to come down on another woman for just beginning the journey of motherhood/step-motherhood.



That's interesting. Do you have some kind of link with that info? I'm curious now. That's something I've got to see first hand to believe.

QUOTE]

Google 'prior obligation' and 'child support' to find a ton of info (it's a state-by-state issue).

In terms of the the previous point about step-moms with no bio kids, my position is based on feelings that aren't really debate-able. I can't explain the way being pregnant, birthing a baby, nursing that baby for over two years has changed me, but I dare say it's given me knowledge that has nothing to do with any manual. Believe me, I have been schooled in 'biology is not destiny' rhetoric but learned a new bottom line for me.
post #111 of 148
My bff didn't end up with much childsupport because the father already had several children. I get the rational for it and so did she. The income percentage a man pays has a ceiling -you can only take so much- and the courts would not reduce the amount due to the children the man already had. I guess they thought that people should think twice about having children with a man who is already supporting as many children as he can afford.

I respect step-mothers and I was kind to the kids dads gf when they came around but she was in no way their mother and although I would have expected my kids to follow their rules and be polite and would have had words had my children not shown respect I do not think this makes them a parent to my children. Time and care and love could make them a parent but not the same kind of parent I am. All the morning sickness, late nights, years spent nursing, love, wishes, devotion....we are not at the same place because the age is new. There are many exceptions for every rule and different situations but this is my general feeling about it.
post #112 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by mooninjune68 View Post
In terms of the the previous point about step-moms with no bio kids, my position is based on feelings that aren't really debate-able. I can't explain the way being pregnant, birthing a baby, nursing that baby for over two years has changed me, but I dare say it's given me knowledge that has nothing to do with any manual. Believe me, I have been schooled in 'biology is not destiny' rhetoric but learned a new bottom line for me.
Everyone starts somewhere.

It'd be pretty tragic if every new mother had to contend with someone telling them point blank that they can't be trusted with children due to a lack of experience.
post #113 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by nikag View Post
Everyone starts somewhere.

It'd be pretty tragic if every new mother had to contend with someone telling them point blank that they can't be trusted with children due to a lack of experience.
I'm curious. Do you have your own biological (or adopted young) children?
post #114 of 148
Nikag, scratch my previous question. I get the sense we speak vastly different languages on these issues, and in the spirit of maintaining less adversarial thread, I'm going to disengage from this discussion.

Cheers to all!
post #115 of 148
i took some time to mull over the bit about the high failure rate of 2nd marrages. i am DH's 2nd wife (no kids with her) and i had two long term relationships (lived together for more than a year had a kid with one) before we married. certianly one would hold great hope for every newly married couple. i know that i did for my mother when she married my step fathers. the third time seems to be a charm for her and she's 13 years into a pretty healthy marrage now. the thing is, divorce/parental seppiration is very different for cildren. families might be different in style but the one that holds for almost all families is that children are not the ones choosing the split. they have no agency. an adult can choose to make a point of building a second healthy, long lasting marrage but a child can only hope. of course it takes longer for the kids past a certian age to think of the new wife as anything but "new". they cannot choose to make her a perminant fixture in their lives. i chose DH for myself and my son. it's working out ok. the thing is, i know that my marrage is not nesacarialy perminent. we have not been grafted together at the hip. there is no force feild. the choice to commit is all that holds us together. as long as we actively choose it keeps going. the person who has no power to choose simply has to wait it out and see if it looks like it's working.

actuially that might be something to hold in your head for a while. chidlren often become frustrated in blended families for the very same reason "new" wives do. there are huge portons of your life over which you have not controle. child support, someone else's idea to move the child you love (or at least like) accross the country, leaving your partner depressed and missing his child. my second stepfather was very aware of this. he knew i was just as frustrated about my lack of agency in some areas as he was his.
post #116 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by mooninjune68 View Post

In terms of the the previous point about step-moms with no bio kids, my position is based on feelings that aren't really debate-able. I can't explain the way being pregnant, birthing a baby, nursing that baby for over two years has changed me, but I dare say it's given me knowledge that has nothing to do with any manual. Believe me, I have been schooled in 'biology is not destiny' rhetoric but learned a new bottom line for me.
It's true that your feelings aren't debatable. Clearly, you feel them. But honestly, do you think that maybe coming onto a board of women who are stepmoms, many of whom did not have biological children before becoming a stepmom, that just maybe some of us might be a tad insulted by your argument? I could also go on the single mom board and talk about how I think women should be responsible enough to only bring children into stable relationships. I could back this up with my own decision to not get pregnant with my first husband, as I knew we needed to work that out before bringing children into the world, and that is what led to me being a stepmom with no biokids. I could say people with the maturity to decide what I decided are the ones who make the best parents, step or otherwise. And I could say my feelings aren't debatable, since if you've never deprived yourself of something you desperately want because you are deeply serious about the consequences then you aren't mature enough to be a parent. But, of course, I don't believe all of that, and I'm not a flame thrower.

Before you get upset, realize that I'm fairly sure you didn't intend to be insulting either (I am guessing from your more typical measured and empathic posts), so I'm guessing you didn't think about how deeply cutting of a comment it is. There are women on here who are full-time SAHMs to stepkids whose biomothers skipped out on them. And you're essentially saying the biomoms have some deeper parenting knowledge by virtue of having given birth. I am not writing this example to offend you (as I'm not stating any of it as my actual view), or to argue with you. I'm only pointing out that you may have offended more than a few of us with your argument.

I will also say that I can 100% guarantee you that I am a better parent than the majority of women out there who managed to find themselves knocked up.
post #117 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by violet_ View Post
It's true that your feelings aren't debatable. Clearly, you feel them. But honestly, do you think that maybe coming onto a board of women who are stepmoms, many of whom did not have biological children before becoming a stepmom, that just maybe some of us might be a tad insulted by your argument? I could also go on the single mom board and talk about how I think women should be responsible enough to only bring children into stable relationships. I could back this up with my own decision to not get pregnant with my first husband, as I knew we needed to work that out before bringing children into the world, and that is what led to me being a stepmom with no biokids. I could say people with the maturity to decide what I decided are the ones who make the best parents, step or otherwise. And I could say my feelings aren't debatable, since if you've never deprived yourself of something you desperately want because you are deeply serious about the consequences then you aren't mature enough to be a parent. But, of course, I don't believe all of that, and I'm not a flame thrower.

Before you get upset, realize that I'm fairly sure you didn't intend to be insulting either (I am guessing from your more typical measured and empathic posts), so I'm guessing you didn't think about how deeply cutting of a comment it is. There are women on here who are full-time SAHMs to stepkids whose biomothers skipped out on them. And you're essentially saying the biomoms have some deeper parenting knowledge by virtue of having given birth. I am not writing this example to offend you (as I'm not stating any of it as my actual view), or to argue with you. I'm only pointing out that you may have offended more than a few of us with your argument.

I will also say that I can 100% guarantee you that I am a better parent than the majority of women out there who managed to find themselves knocked up.
I thought the Blended and Step Family Parenting board catered to both step-mothers and biomothers dealing with blended family situations. If I am wrong please let me know so that I can take myself back to the single-parent forum where I can be free to be an irresponsible subpar parent who should have waited instead of getting knocked up.

There are situations where the step-parent is the primary care provider but in most other situations I do think that "original" mom does have the most insight and aptitude to care for her child.
post #118 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by PoppyMama View Post
I thought the Blended and Step Family Parenting board catered to both step-mothers and biomothers dealing with blended family situations. If I am wrong please let me know so that I can take myself back to the single-parent forum where I can be free to be an irresponsible subpar parent who should have waited instead of getting knocked up.

There are situations where the step-parent is the primary care provider but in most other situations I do think that "original" mom does have the most insight and aptitude to care for her child.
It is for stepmoms and moms. I think some of the issues come up because single mom's have a "safe" place to post about their experiences, adoptive parents have a "safe" place, parents of children with special needs have a "safe" place, parents of gifted children have a "safe" place to post where they are never asked "what did you expect" or other unhelpful comments. Step-moms have no such place here on MDC, not even on a thread entitled "I'm tired of being a stepparent (VENT)".
post #119 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by violet_ View Post
I could also go on the single mom board and talk about how I think women should be responsible enough to only bring children into stable relationships.
Frankly, I agree with you. I'd add "where both partners want to be parents and have enough money, time, and earning power to support all the children, individually or together. Which includes helping them with education and saving enough for retirement that the children don't get stuck trying to support and care for three generations 40 years down the line." That's why I waited as long as I did to become a mother, and why I'm not having more kids. Had I understood the severity of my ex's illness, I wouldn't have had a child at all with him. However, once I did understand, I sucked it up to preserve the stability of dd's childhood. It's also a large part of why I won't consider remarriage while she's a minor, and why I live near my ex and his parents, instead of having an exciting career elsewhere, even though I have the legal freedom to take her and move.

I think you'd hear considerable sympathy for ideas like that on single mothers' boards, though of course you'd also hear other views. But they aren't unusual. We tend to prize stability greatly, on the whole. For a slightly different set of reasons, you'll hear those views on the working/student mamas board as well.
post #120 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by fek&fuzz View Post
It is for stepmoms and moms. I think some of the issues come up because single mom's have a "safe" place to post about their experiences, adoptive parents have a "safe" place, parents of children with special needs have a "safe" place, parents of gifted children have a "safe" place to post where they are never asked "what did you expect" or other unhelpful comments. Step-moms have no such place here on MDC, not even on a thread entitled "I'm tired of being a stepparent (VENT)".
This I can understand and I feel for you. I can believe that step-moms deserve a safe space and that venting is good....and I do...but as a biomom (and it's weird for me to even have to use that word) I live in abject terror of these feelings. I know that some of the single moms have a small private board that only single moms from MDC are allowed on to and I wonder if something similar for step-moms might help. Not that I don't think this is the place for stating honest feelings but it's hard to read this and not post.
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