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I'm tired of being a stepparent (VENT) - Page 8

post #141 of 148
I do not want to be argumentative either... merely state my own feelings and what my own thoughts/opinions are.

I do not presume to be equal to DSD's Mother... but I do not feel any less of a parent... I know that may not make sense.

I do not want to take away the fact that DSD has a Mother. But I think we can both exist as Mother's in her life.
post #142 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by mooninjune68 View Post
With all due respect, to me there is no more hurtful comment than someone assuming she could mother my child 'equally' to me. Think about having the child your ttc, getting divorced, having someone else marry your ex and believe that makes her 'equal' to you as a mom. I haven't had to deal with this experience, thankfully, as the step-mom in my case has been very sensitive and respectful.

In the post that caused the intense reactions, I was speaking (and identified it as such) from my own feelings and wanted to explore how other people felt about the issue. I tried to identify that I wasn't debating or making an argument. As a biomom involved with a man who has kids (to whom I may become a stepmom), I am very very careful about the boundaries, to honor their history and, to me, unique bond. Maybe it's different than other's experiences because the kids have been raised by biomom since birth, and I'm coming into the picture when they are almost double-digit kids. I would NEVER presume to be equal to their mom.
I would never presume myself to be a mom to them either. Even though I met the little one before she was two. But I do consider myself a parent. This may be an odd way to explain it, but maybe more of a female dad. I've known them since they were little, I see them as much as he does and I care for them as much as he does, so I kind of feel on par with him. Not her though. Nothing replaces the whole birthing/feeding/primary physical placement thing. She's the primary parent in a lot of ways and I do try to respect that, and I've told her as much. I told her I don't think of myself as their mom, and I think she appreciated that.

Also, if the your DP's kids are nearing double digits, I can see it being a totally different relationship. I met DSD when she was so little. I've changed her diapers, potty trained her, and am still her primary in some ways when she's with us, so I feel very parental towards her. I also feel very parental towards DSS, who I met at 5, but that took a LOT longer.
post #143 of 148
Again, I have to agree with Violet. She found better words to express similiar thoughts/feelings of my own.

Obviously I know I cannot replace DSD's Mother... nor do I want to. But I do see myself as a full parent, and definitely on par with DP as a full team member to him in parenting when DSD is with us, which is half the week, and every other weekend.

I am very Motherly to DSD, as I have a ton of ingrained motherly instincts... I get that from my own Mother, and my maternal grandmother... we are just that way. My Mom was like this with all her daycare children too.

Plus, same as Violet... my DSD is only 3 1/2... I have helped/am helping potty train her. I bathe her, tuck her in at night, read her bedtime stories, take care of her when she is sick, somtimes I'm the one who stays home from work to take care of her. She trusts me, and so does DP and DSD's Mom.

There is no doubt in my mind that I am a parent.
post #144 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by mama41 View Post
Understand that doubting it is not the same as focusing a mind-driven beam of failure at it.
Applying this principle in reverse, why bother to encourage your children to succeed? If your attitude toward their success or failure makes no difference in whether or not they succeed, then why not just resign one's self to the inevitable statistical probability and encourage them to do the same?

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And again, I see no need to involve the child in the reasoning. If my dd asked why I didn't just deal with a new wife, I'm sure I'd say something like, "Well, I'm just comfortable talking with your dad, because I know him better," and let her be baffled about it, or decide I was somehow slow or deficient (being, after all, Mom). I don't give her open, adult answers for why I don't come along on trips to her grandparents', either. There's plenty of time for all that, if she wants to sort through all the viewpoints when she's older.
Understand that you may be the minority in this respect.

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Because it's an intimate relationship on which the ex has no business intruding.
If the intention is not to intrude, then why take a stance that it is bound to fail? Why take any stance at all?

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You're misunderstanding what statistics are and do. Stats don't cause failure; they predict failure, given past 2nd-marriage divorce rates. And the stats don't say second marriages are certain to fail. They say that second marriages are likely to fail. But they are in no way active agents in the marriage holding or falling apart. That's all up to you guys. You might liken it to your risk of, say, heart disease. You can improve your odds if you exercise, eat well, reduce stress, take statins if necessary, etc. And there are things you can do in your marriage to reduce the risk of divorce. But these are not things that the ex-wife is privy to, nor should be, I think.
I understand what statistics do. I do not believe that statistics cause failure. And in reality, statistics don’t predict failure. At the very best, they tell you a likelihood of failure. But knowing there is a 50% chance of something happening to you verses not doesn’t come close to telling you which half you will fall into. If statistics were truly predictive, they would.

It takes no additional effort and manifests no statistical error to behave as though the relationship you’re thinking of will be one of the 50% (or 40 or 30 or 10) that succeeds instead of one of the 50% that fails.

The attitude an ex exhibits toward a new wife or ex spouse, or the influences an ex exerts on the children involved can have significant effects on the fledging relationship. Regardless of whether or not that influence is negative, the very predicament of one half of the partnership being obligated to maintain a relationship with an ex for co-parenting purposes etc, adds a source of potential stress and conflict not present in other relationships. If the ex is abusive, alienating, unnecessarily controlling, pushy - then that effect is magnified and decidedly negative.

Like I said, there are reasons behind why the statistics are what they are. They aren't predictions handed down from on high. They are reflective of the average experience of the average person and that includes much more than just a tabulation of the final result of events. There are influences and circumstances at work beneath the numbers.
post #145 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by thebarkingbird View Post
it's because the laws do not come from a genuine place of concern for families. they just don't wan them on large amounts of federal aid. as long as the mother (or custodial father) is providing money through their new spouse the legal system is not concerned. that money isn't coming out of collected taxes. i think we have a terrible problem in this country with equating legal with good and illegal with bad. or legally complicated with immoral and easy with moral. i'm not saying you made that error. it's just that i think that might be the reason some people evaluate the situation in a way you find confusing.the guiding moral idea behind many of these laws is not that of protecting children but the idea that poor people are bad and that being poor means one exists in a morally inferior position. as long as people are able to meet their financial obligations without government help they will not be penalized.
Well, I agree that the laws aren't made for families (boy, was divorce law a wake-up. It's one step away from debtor's prison and other law for poor people). But I think there's more to it than moralizing. I don't know about you, but I don't want to pay extra taxes just because some group of people assume that I'll support their kids if they don't.

I used to be a real good pinko, giving and openhearted and all that, but a few years of close contact with serious mental illness and social services convinced me that a) there are such things as ratholes and entitlement, and it's best not to throw energy and money into them; b) social services employees are not in my corner; they're for the permanently or chronically broken, not for middle-class types temporarily down on their luck. Between the two, I'm much less openhanded than I used to be. Add to that a few years of living in Section-8 land (my whole building went Sec 8 a few months after I left the neighborhood, and I'm sure considerable chunks of the formerly-working-class neighborhood around were solid Sec 8), and I'm less sanguine about the prospects of lifting the kids out of poverty and into middle-class wonderfulness. Too much of the culture they come from weighs against it. Which is not to say there aren't exceptions; there are. However. While I'm raising my own child, I'd prefer not to pay for others' lack of foresight, arithmetic, and birth control. (Sigh) And having seen addiction and unmedicated mental illness up close, I'm no longer as offended by the idea of "clean needles for Depo shots" programs as I once was, either.

Violet, I think you're right, I think that income- and responsibilitywise, this board may be unusual. In my state, the average CS order is for $300/mo. (I can tell you that mine's higher than that, but well under $1K.) And people, esp. fathers'-rights groups, become apoplectic when it's suggested that it's inadequate. I've heard men and women become indignant when I've suggested that it's only fair for each parent to pay half the actual costs, which usually aren't that hard to determine, unless they come to some other voluntary arrangement. (Obviously you'd have to make some exceptions in there, but on the whole.) The court system does not really expect the father, esp. the noncustodial father, to remain significantly involved in the children's lives, either. The expectations of the men, all around, are so low that I had to fight with my own battleax-feminist lawyer to include stuff in the proposal that I thought important; she just thought it was a waste of time, and that I should lower my expectations. So yes, that may be a real difference.

On the other hand, I know nice, responsible women married to nice, responsible men who remain involved in their children's lives...well, the women painfully aware of the c/s numbers, and of what it means their own children don't have, and there really is some element of surprise there. And great forbearance when it comes to pushing for a renegotiation of support and other obligations. Well, sometimes not so great. I think part of the problem is that we really don't talk about how much it costs to raise children if you don't live in a shack with a dirt floor and a doorknob for yanking out rotten teeth. (Apologies if I have insulted any sharecroppers on the board.) I had to do some pretty good digging, before I got pregnant, to find the numbers, and I had to add things up myself before I believed what I was seeing. The quiet is just part of the "raising children isn't important enough to talk about in a serious way" mentality.

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So refusing to talk parenting with another parent just comes off as petty and jealous, even if that's not the motivation. Case in point: my DSD just gave me an Easter card. She was so pleased with herself -- handed me the card in the envelope, saying it was a card she made for me. I opened it up, and she had drawn a picture on the front, and inside the card, in her mom's writing (DSD doesn't read yet) it said "Happy Easter Daddy!" It was just so silly.
Well, that strikes me as more than silly -- it strikes me as uncivil. (Unless the child had actually made it for her father, and told her mother it was for her father, and then, when the kid saw you, she decided it was for you instead. My 4.5-yo does that sort of thing all the time.) But pettiness and jealousy...yeah, I'd be willing to have the kid believe that of me for a while. Esp. through the tween-teen years, when any kid with a heart in her burns to fix the world by giving it a Coke and teaching it to sing in harmony. It's just part of the job.
post #146 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by mama41 View Post
Well, that strikes me as more than silly -- it strikes me as uncivil.
Unfortunately, it's not uncommon...
post #147 of 148
Nika, I don't think there's much point in drawing this out, so I'll make this the last one on this spur.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nikag View Post
Applying this principle in reverse, why bother to encourage your children to succeed? If your attitude toward their success or failure makes no difference in whether or not they succeed, then why not just resign one's self to the inevitable statistical probability and encourage them to do the same?
You're mixing up the mother-child relationship (where the mother is involved) and the spousal relationship (where the ex is not, or shouldn't be).

You also need to define "success" and "at what". My father had an unusual approach to encouragement, and when I was a kid and a young woman it made me angry, but around 30 I began to see that it was remarkably wise. He really didn't encourage much. He prodded, and tested, and sparred, and when I said I wanted to do something, he showed almost no reaction besides an all-purpose, friendly, noncommittal "OK," as if it wasn't his business and he wasn't all that interested. I knew he thought I was capable, though I didn't know what he thought I might be capable of. But he didn't offer much direction, and he sure wasn't a cheerleader.

Now I understand that he gave me a tremendous gift. He stayed out of my way and let me find my work. By not weighing in, pro or con, and not encouraging or discouraging, he let that discovery be my own, and didn't give me a chance to seek his approval by going in some direction he seemed to think was good. I know now that he wasn't at all surprised that I found the work I did. But he never let on, and even now he tends to stand back, even though he watches and listens carefully.


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Understand that you may be the minority in this respect.
It's possible. On the other hand, the MDC default -- be upfront with the kids about everything -- is not a universal. There's still a large part of the world that operates on You'll Thank Me When You're Older.

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If the intention is not to intrude, then why take a stance that it is bound to fail?
Again, that's not the stance. The stance is that it's likely to fail.

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Why take any stance at all?
Because of the potential for damage to the child if the marriage breaks up. If there's a likelihood of failure, given best available info, one wants to protect one's child as far as one reasonably can.

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And in reality, statistics don’t predict failure. At the very best, they tell you a likelihood of failure. But knowing there is a 50% chance of something happening to you verses not doesn’t come close to telling you which half you will fall into. If statistics were truly predictive, they would.

It takes no additional effort and manifests no statistical error to behave as though the relationship you’re thinking of will be one of the 50% (or 40 or 30 or 10) that succeeds instead of one of the 50% that fails.
You're correct about likelihood v. prediction. However, you forgot to put stakes in your reading of likelihood, and that sucks the meaning out of it. The failure rate for second marriages is 60-70%, so let's be generous and say 60%. While it's certainly possible that the marriage may stick, if you had to put a dollar on it and you cared about the dollar, you'd put it on "fail". I have something considerably more important than a dollar at stake. I have a child's psychological wellbeing at stake. So of course I'll be polite, and pleasant, and expect the marriage will likely fail, and prepare for that failure while hoping for the best.

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The attitude an ex exhibits toward a new wife or ex spouse, or the influences an ex exerts on the children involved can have significant effects on the fledging relationship. Regardless of whether or not that influence is negative, the very predicament of one half of the partnership being obligated to maintain a relationship with an ex for co-parenting purposes etc, adds a source of potential stress and conflict not present in other relationships. If the ex is abusive, alienating, unnecessarily controlling, pushy - then that effect is magnified and decidedly negative.
Welll, I disagree about what's going on here. Being polite and pleasant to and about the new wife, while dealing with the ex-spouse on parenting matters, rather than a new wife whom you don't know, isn't party to the decree, and may leave -- I wouldn't call that either abusive or alienating.

Now, if what you want is for the ex to be effusive about the marriage, encourage the child to see the new wife as a permanent figure, and behave as if the new wife is in fact permanent, all in the name of helping the marriage to stick, I think you're misreading where the interests lie. (Apart from the fact that I think this is an inappropriate and intrusive role for the ex-wife.) My interest, as the child's mother, is in making sure that the child is protected and well-cared-for. While it's great if the marriage sticks, that comes a long second to being careful and realistic about what's likely to go on in my child's life. My first interest is not in shoring up a minority chance of the marriage's surviving.

And yes, I understand that a solid marriage is better for the child. However, if it can be undone by a civil, polite ex who's not an active cheerleader for the marriage, who doesn't tolerate her child's being rude or disrespectful to anyone, who doesn't involve herself with the marriage, and who deals solely with the guy on parenting -- I have my doubts about how strong the marriage is in the first place.

Working at it from the other end, I'd say it's probably helpful to avoid sharing a husband's tensions with his ex. Given the nature of divorce and custody, it's very likely there will be significant tensions over the years.

Now obviously walking away from a partner's problems isn't an easy or natural thing to do for most people. But I find it does get much easier over the years & with experience. I don't listen much anymore to men telling me about their children, or their bosses, their wives, or ex-wives, or ex-girlfriends, and the problems they have with them. I feel, far more than I used to, that it's not my place, and I don't want to be drawn in so close to tendentious relationships that are about the guy and someone else. I might listen a while to give the guy a chance to vent, but I don't probe or become personally involved. If they go on talking about family woes I redirect them, and if that doesn't take I hand the problems back to them, and suggest that maybe they should consider talking to a therapist.

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Like I said, there are reasons behind why the statistics are what they are. They aren't predictions handed down from on high. They are reflective of the average experience of the average person and that includes much more than just a tabulation of the final result of events. There are influences and circumstances at work beneath the numbers.
Of course. But again, in my view, the ex-wife isn't and shouldn't be placed to know what those influences and circumstances might be, so it's reasonable for her to go by broad stats. Similarly, insurance companies are not placed to know that, say, you work out regularly, live a low-stress life, and have fantastic DNA. Nor should insurers be that involved in your private lifestyle and medical matters. So your rates reflect health risks that are unrealistically high for you, but are about right for a large pool. We make these compromises. (Your alternative is having the ex there in bed with you listening to your pillow talk, smooching, and fights. And I don't know about you, but I can tell you I wouldn't volunteer.)
post #148 of 148
I started out by copying posts to add my :, but I had too many so I'm just gonna say, look at Violet and JSMa's posts and they pretty much say what I was thinking.

I think it's one of those things where you just have to be in the position to fully understand. My stepdaughter is my daughter. I'm not her Mother, but she is my daughter. I would die for her in a heartbeat. I've known her almost as long as both her "real" parents and I'm with her whenver her Dad has her. Out of all three parents, I'm probably the main primary caregiver. Her Mother kinda ignores her unless she has to pay attention and my Hubby lets me do everything because he knows it's the only thing I ever wanted to do in my life, the only thing that makes me truly happy, the only thing I do best- be a parent, take care of children. Just like Moms and Dads are like apples and oranges and shouldn't be thought of the same, Moms and Stepmoms are like apples and pears and shouldn't be thougt of or expected to be the same. You can enjoy apples and oranges and pears, right? Just because you like pears, it doesn't mean you don't like apples anymore, right?
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