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I'm tired of being a stepparent (VENT) - Page 2

post #21 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by angilyn View Post

So when CS goes out, it is my money going out.

The courts an most reasonable people see it as the children's money. Now I think I understand my former spouse and his wife's attitude about braces, co paying medical bills and general bitching about money. It is not the children's money, it's not part of the income to support HIS family, not some pint sized stranger, it is YOUR money.


WOW WOW WOW sign me up for the newly enlightened club. I really understand now why my children are treated the way they are at their father's home. This is not a snark... I am grateful for the new understanding, as now I can help my children feel more at home there.
post #22 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by boobybunny View Post
The courts an most reasonable people see it as the children's money. Now I think I understand my former spouse and his wife's attitude about braces, co paying medical bills and general bitching about money. It is not the children's money, it's not part of the income to support HIS family, not some pint sized stranger, it is YOUR money.

Not to be difficult, but I don't think most "reasonable people" see it as the children's money. When you bring home a paycheck, some of which will go towards care of your kids, do you think of it as your money or theirs? I would say that if you think it is their money you would be in the minority. Further, if the money were spent as "part of the income to support HIS family," as you say, then we would be spending it, right? It would be spent to buy them food or clothing or transportation, health care, etc. It isn't. It gets sent away, not to support our family (our family includes the kids, and we have greater expenses than she does for caring for them, especially considering our visitation costs), but to support hers. The kids have two families, you know? Her family uses our money to put the kids in private school for a faith we don't practice. (among many other things that money covers) .

And, if my DH and I make the same income and live the same standard of living, then certainly it is reasonable to view that half of the money going out of our household in this way is "my money." To clarify, I think angilyn was referring to "my money" as opposed to "his money" not "my money" as opposed to "the kids' money." As in, we both contribute to the household, so it's my money as much as his. She was responding to someone who said stepmoms shouldn't be responsible for the financial aspect. But how can we not? It's our money too, you know? [Note: This is also why stepmoms can feel slighted when left out of parenting decisions and authority: we support them by parenting them in our own home, plus we pay for their care. So to be dismissed as "just the stepmom" can be infuriating.]

Having said all that, we don't bitch about paying it. We know she's entitled to it legally and she didn't write the law that says how much it should be, and we just send it along. We certainly don't hold it against the kids. Ever. We love them dearly and unconditionally. But that doesn't mean we see CS as the kids' money. It's a separate issue entirely.

Quote:
Originally Posted by boobybunny View Post
WOW WOW WOW sign me up for the newly enlightened club. I really understand now why my children are treated the way they are at their father's home. This is not a snark... I am grateful for the new understanding, as now I can help my children feel more at home there.
Wow, I'm glad you feel you're getting insight! Me too! That's why I like this community, where we can hear from all sides of these issues. I'm sorry to hear, though, that you feel your kids are treated poorly at their other family's house. Can I ask what idea this gave you that can help them feel more at home there?
post #23 of 148
Thanks Violet for supporting me. CS, like the rest of our income, is ours, not the child's, and is turned over to his mom willingly for his use. My Dss is not out earning this money, it is earned by us. When he is 18 we will no longer be obligated to turn our money over to his mom for his care, though I am sure we will help him in other ways. Like car insurance, college tuition, etc. I think when it comes to giving extra money, say for braces, we are already spread so thin with large CS, paying all insurance, half of copays and half or all of extra curriculars that sometimes we do balk when asked for money for other fees. I think, boobybunny, maybe you do need to have an enlightenment about the other side's view. I hope you were not being silly when you said you understood more now, but were actually trying to walk in another person's shoes. I do disagree that most people think it is the child's money. You are the first I have heard say that. Yes, it is child support money and it goes to the child, but it is not the child's to spend how he may, but for the CP to use wisely for his support. It is every NCP's nightmare that this money is not going to the child but is being used for the CP's whims, such as solar nails, or hair perms for herself, that is if the CP is the mom. The IRS considers it our money and we pay the taxes on it, not bio mom or the child. If we had a child in our home living here, the money for his care would be ours, not the child's. Where I live, all a child's belongings, including income from a part time job legally belongs to the parent until the child is 18.
post #24 of 148
Being a step-parent is hard. *nods* And no... you really don't know everything entailed when you get involved, and by that time you are too deep to just leave. You can't choose who you fall in love with.

I know one of my biggest things to deal with is the fact that I will never have the "perfect" little family I always envisioned. I love DSD with all my heart.. but I will never have a full say in how she is raised because I'm just the Step-Mom... forget the fact that I do contribute to raising her with money, time, love, care, everything!

It is a tough place to be.
post #25 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by JSMa View Post
Being a step-parent is hard. *nods* And no... you really don't know everything entailed when you get involved, and by that time you are too deep to just leave. You can't choose who you fall in love with.

I know one of my biggest things to deal with is the fact that I will never have the "perfect" little family I always envisioned. I love DSD with all my heart.. but I will never have a full say in how she is raised because I'm just the Step-Mom... forget the fact that I do contribute to raising her with money, time, love, care, everything!

It is a tough place to be.
Indeed--the hardest thing I've found about being a stepparent is the lack of control over many facets of my own life. (Not that having biological kids is all about control, but you know what I mean.) When I "signed up," I knew I wasn't going to just be able to go away for a week, or even a weekend, with my partner without first clearing it with a third party. I knew the "honeymoon" period would be different--there would never really be a "just the two of us" time. I knew there would be expense. I knew Mommy would be lionized when SD was here, and I knew SD would at times wish her parents had never split up, even though she liked me and on some level knew I wouldn't be in her life if her parents were together. While all of these are challenges, they haven't been too problematic because they were expected.

What I didn't know was that someone not living here would declare a room in my house "too sparsely furnished" (SD's bedroom--all of the bedrooms in our house are tiny, it's a city flat, and to furnish it more would create a fire hazard; SD has plenty of toys, games, and a desk outside her bedroom so I don't see the problem), and not only send over some awful plastic crap, but blow a gasket when we didn't actually use it.

What I didn't know was that my choice of laundry detergent (Trader Joe's hypoallergenic) would be a topic of discussion with someone who does not use or wear the laundry. I didn't know the fact I was entering a profession that pays well would be a source of tension with someone who neither lives here nor is supported by my income.

What I didn't know was that I would have to watch someone who does not live here threaten to move a child I'd begun to think of as my child (different from "my own," but again, you know what I mean) clear across the country, away from her dad and away from me, with proposed visitation of a week at Christmas, a week in Spring, every other Thanksgiving, and two, two-week periods in the summer (because a little girl used to seeing her dad 40% of the time now only needs her dad 12% of the time because "mommy isn't happy"?), and there wasn't a damn thing I could do except hold my partner and say "I'm sorry honey."

What I didn't was that someone I hardly talk to would have this much power over me, if even in my own head.
post #26 of 148
Protolawyer, I'm sorry about the proposed move.

On the other hand -- welcome to having children. And that loss of control isn't just to do with stepchildren. Unless you go to a sperm bank, there is always the risk of your husband divorcing you and filing for custody, of having to move or give up careers to stay near your child, the involvement of courts, the hostility of grandparents, and the appearance of stepparents you don't know when you have a child. These things happen depressingly often. Having children means ceding tremendous control over huge parts of your life, even when the children are healthy.

(And had I mentioned school? Yeah, control, not so much.)

All that said, I think you guys do an incredibly tough job. I have no intention of remarrying while my daughter's under 18, but even later on, I don't really want to deal with a man's children. Their parents are bad enough. Their grown children would have to be solvent and exceptionally nice, with sane spouses. I won't even go out for dinner casually with divorced men who start telling me about their children. I don't want to be involved, and I sure don't want to meet the kids, even as an honest-to-God friend.

About money and whose it is: Both child support and most of the money I earn are for my daughter. I maintain this house, yard, car, lifestyle for my daughter. I sure don't need it; I used to live happily on about a third of what this life costs, but a scroungy writer's life in a tiny apartment with no play space and a crummy local school -- not so good for kids. General savings are for her summer camp, music lessons, trips to cities with decent museums and theatre, her inevitable expensive career (please, please don't be an artist), plane tickets to visit relatives I'd quite happily lived without seeing for years, and other extras that may do good things for her. The money I save in college and retirement accounts is for her. The college money so she isn't crushed by debt the minute she walks out of school; the retirement money so she isn't obliged to support me when I'm old and she's trying to take care of herself and her own kids.

People aren't tremendously good with money in general, so it doesn't surprise me when they marry and have children without thinking the money through carefully. But it does seem to me that if there's any hint that you might resent the state's counting your income towards child support, you shouldn't marry a guy who owes it. Live with him, do as you please, but don't oblige yourself legally. No good can come of it.

If your state doesn't count your income, of course, then it's probably wise to view yourselves as being independent people incomewise, or to understand up front that he's poorer than he looks on paper, because he has a prior longterm obligation. So he pays it out of his own income, and the rest he puts into your family pot. If you begin to look at the child support money as "that should be partly mine" (which is what you mean by "ours"), you're going to be unhappy. Understand ahead of time that you're marrying a guy who's got a 10-, 15-, whatever-year income reduction, just as if you were marrying a guy with tremendous student loans, or a guy who works a poorly-paid job. The income isn't and never was available to you or your family with him. It's what he owes.

That's true even if the ex-wife has enough money to take care of the child herself and then some. If I were suddenly making enough to cover everything, I'd put that CS away for dd, and then she'd have a fund for grad school, house down payment, health insurance post-college, whatever. (Many single mothers do just that.) The father's financial obligation to the child doesn't go away just because the mother can carry everything herself, or has married another man. That's an ethical matter as well as a matter of law.
post #27 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by angilyn View Post
I have a *really* hard time with those who can't empathize with those of us who honestly didn't know how hard it would be to become a stepmom and have a little stranger in our home. I had no idea that the stress would be so much or that the ex was so horrible. Others can tell you about it, but until you experience it yourself, it doesn't seem so bad.Yes, I knew he had a child, but I didn't know that child was a thief, a liar, an expert manipulator and violent. I also didn't know that the mother was borderline personality and dishonest. I didn't choose these problems, I chose a man. How could I choose those problems when I didn't even know they existed? I respected my DH because he didn't "badmouth" either one of them. I had to learn their difficult natures on my own.
angilyn, I understand this; I had no idea about the severity of my ex's mental illness when we married. I was under the impression that he was just kind of depressed sometimes, and that's annoying to live with, but nothing unusual. I certainly wasn't expecting delusional, disabled, mental-hospital-visiting, etc. Nor was I expecting to be a caregiver and amateur psych nurse. Nor was I expecting to deal with in-laws who did all they could to avoid seeing their son's problems, blamed me for the problems when they were forced to see them, and got mad when I asked them to help out.

I stayed married only because we had a child, and by that time I was convinced that the stability of an intact family was very important for children, and that I could find other ways of making myself happy. But if you haven't got that sort of situation, and the marriage is making you that unhappy, may I ask why you don't step it back down to a two-household, non-married situation? Say, "Sweetie, I love you, but I can't hack your ex and your kid, and I'd like my money back, so let's undo the legal part and I'll get a nice little place of my own down the street"?
post #28 of 148
My marriage is not making me unhappy. In fact the exact opposite. I adore my husband and he, me. He can't help it if his ex wife and son make problems. He does the best he can. His presence and love are more imortant to me than what they do. I did not know the level of stress I was marrying into, but I have accepted it and try to help the situation through retreats, counseling and classes with DSS, DH and the ex.

Moneywise, I am happy that I help support DSS. He is the only child of my much beloved husband. I would not want him to be a deadbeat dad. But the truth is, I do help support him. The new house we are moving in will be mainly paid for with my savings. The reason we are moving from my current fully paid for home, is to have a bedroom and gameroom for DSS. That is the only reason we are moving. I knew and understood the money situation completely before we even discussed marriage. I knew huge chunks would be going out, and got more work to counterbalance it. But will my DSS own this room and gameroom in the new house, no. Will he own this house, no. Will he own the furniture and other things in the room, no. Will he inherit this house, he will only get one fifth of it as I have four other children. Do I constantly think about how I spend my money is for my children, no. I do like my children to have nice things but I have never considered my money, their dad's or my current Dh's money to be anything other than the adults who have earned it and their spouses who sacrificed for them and worked along side them. It is our choice, duty and joy to share in the family bounty/riches with all the children, but it is still our money. When the children earn the money, pay the taxes on the money and take responsiblity for the money, then it becomes theirs.
post #29 of 148

Ah . . .

If I had a dollar for everytime I heard or read about someone's 'borderline ex," I would leave the child support behind permanently for complete freedom from all this drama. Child support covers only a small fraction of child-rearing expenses. For the stepmoms who have never been single moms and who believe that because they are married to the man involved, they are giving 'their' money away, will you feel the same way when your marriage dissolves and your current hubby decides to find someone else (be ready for how quickly it will happen and how soon you'll find yourself labeled with previously undiagnosed disorders that the poor man had to suffer living with in silence)? Will you walk away with your child and not expect that he follow court guidelines to establish some kind of equity between households?

It's a major red flag for me to hear a man talk about 'his crazy ex.' It means he is weak and unable to see his part in the dissolution but prefers to project blame and relies on female sympathy (and the awful competitiveness we women have all internalized against each other, particularly when in comes to our status in relation to a man).
post #30 of 148
My ex didn't label DSS's mom as borderline, I did, after observing her behavior throughout my marriage and courtship period. My ex said very little about her at all and I respected him for that. I feel our CS payment of $1,000 a month and insurance, half of copays and extracurriculars is more than generous. Bio mom started the divorce process by leaving DH and taking his son and his stepdaughter who he had raised as his own for ten years so I feel very little empathy/sympathy today for any of her problems. She has tremendous debt that she has racked up and won't even pay for a haircut for DSS because she must have her own enjoyments such as the tanningbooth and expensive vacations. Her most recent fiascos include lying to DSS's teachers and hurting our credit by opening up and maxing out a credit card in DH's name. Just yesterday a creditor called our home looking for her. She has a decent job.

And by the way, I was married previously and did suffer financially from the divorce. My children still do even though they are grown. Been there, done that, survived it and overcome it without child support or alimony. I usually like all people, female and male, regardless of race, religion, color. When people are cruel to others, are cruel to our loved ones, do we have to like them just because they are our same sex? I was prepared to like and respect DSS's mom but her actions and words have prevented me from doing so. It has nothing to do with competitiveness. I also think that any lumping together of one group is uncalled for, such as a man talking about his crazy ex is "weak and projecting blame." Sometimes there is male bashing on this site and I don't care for it, no more that I care for female bashing. Both are uncalled for. There are crazy ex's out there and I don't blame anyone if they need to vent about their experience with the craziness. That is very different from someone lumping all men together or all ex's together. There are some on this site who have great relationships with their skid's moms. That is wonderful and something I wish I had.

Now the thread has been derailed and I for one am not commenting on this any more except to say to the OP that she is not alone and that many of us stepmoms feel the same way. Just keep up the good work with your step child and hang in there as we are there for you.
post #31 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by mooninjune68 View Post
It's a major red flag for me to hear a man talk about 'his crazy ex.' It means he is weak and unable to see his part in the dissolution but prefers to project blame and relies on female sympathy (and the awful competitiveness we women have all internalized against each other, particularly when in comes to our status in relation to a man).
This is the funny thing in my situation--my SD's mom was never the "crazy ex" --my SO always framed their divorce in "we had a hard time getting along" terms -- until she actually became the "crazy ex" in front of me (or on my answering machine).
post #32 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by mama41 View Post
Protolawyer, I'm sorry about the proposed move.

On the other hand -- welcome to having children. And that loss of control isn't just to do with stepchildren. Unless you go to a sperm bank, there is always the risk of your husband divorcing you and filing for custody, of having to move or give up careers to stay near your child, the involvement of courts, the hostility of grandparents, and the appearance of stepparents you don't know when you have a child. These things happen depressingly often. Having children means ceding tremendous control over huge parts of your life, even when the children are healthy.

(And had I mentioned school? Yeah, control, not so much.)
Thanks--the move's off the table now; my SD's mom knows my partner will fight it tooth and nail, and she does realize her daughter would be devastated.

As for control--it's a different sort of loss of control with your own children than it is with stepchildren. At least with biological children, I can do *something*. If my partner and I split up, I can negotiate, or go to a mediator and the court and at least speak up. If school is awful, I can call the teacher or look into changing schools or etc. Yeah, I may not get anywhere, the court may award full custody to my ex's stepmother and let them move to China, etc., but at least I have the legal and social right to fight. To me, that's an important part of feeling in control ("procedural/process fairness," as my ADR book calls it)--feeling like I have a say and did what I could.

With a stepchild, all I can do is sit back and watch. If I vent at my partner, I'm venting at someone who's already suffering. If I vent here, I get support peppered with at least one, "well, you chose to get involved with a father, these kids don't choose to have a stepparent." I do vent at my partner and here to some extent, but that's really the limit of what I can do.

My "lawyer brain" can't shut off, either, which complicates things. It's hard as hell not to turn to my partner and say "you need to go to court and file this form, and plead this, and do this" when he has a perfectly capable lawyer -- one who is licensed, experienced in family law, and not emotionally involved (whereas all three of those work against me).
post #33 of 148

Amen sister

Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtoLawyer View Post
Thanks--the move's off the table now; my SD's mom knows my partner will fight it tooth and nail, and she does realize her daughter would be devastated.

As for control--it's a different sort of loss of control with your own children than it is with stepchildren. At least with biological children, I can do *something*. If my partner and I split up, I can negotiate, or go to a mediator and the court and at least speak up. If school is awful, I can call the teacher or look into changing schools or etc. Yeah, I may not get anywhere, the court may award full custody to my ex's stepmother and let them move to China, etc., but at least I have the legal and social right to fight. To me, that's an important part of feeling in control ("procedural/process fairness," as my ADR book calls it)--feeling like I have a say and did what I could.

With a stepchild, all I can do is sit back and watch. If I vent at my partner, I'm venting at someone who's already suffering. If I vent here, I get support peppered with at least one, "well, you chose to get involved with a father, these kids don't choose to have a stepparent." I do vent at my partner and here to some extent, but that's really the limit of what I can do.

My "lawyer brain" can't shut off, either, which complicates things. It's hard as hell not to turn to my partner and say "you need to go to court and file this form, and plead this, and do this" when he has a perfectly capable lawyer -- one who is licensed, experienced in family law, and not emotionally involved (whereas all three of those work against me).
post #34 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtoLawyer View Post
This is the funny thing in my situation--my SD's mom was never the "crazy ex" --my SO always framed their divorce in "we had a hard time getting along" terms -- until she actually became the "crazy ex" in front of me (or on my answering machine).
LOL, do we have the same "crazy ex"????
post #35 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by boobybunny View Post
WOW WOW WOW sign me up for the newly enlightened club. I really understand now why my children are treated the way they are at their father's home. This is not a snark... I am grateful for the new understanding, as now I can help my children feel more at home there.
Ditto that. Except it's not the father's home issue it's here with my husband.
post #36 of 148
This whole thread makes my heart hurt for my son and his step sister and my partner and my ex's partner (mother of stepsister).
post #37 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtoLawyer View Post
Thanks--the move's off the table now; my SD's mom knows my partner will fight it tooth and nail, and she does realize her daughter would be devastated.

As for control--it's a different sort of loss of control with your own children than it is with stepchildren. At least with biological children, I can do *something*. If my partner and I split up, I can negotiate, or go to a mediator and the court and at least speak up. If school is awful, I can call the teacher or look into changing schools or etc. Yeah, I may not get anywhere, the court may award full custody to my ex's stepmother and let them move to China, etc., but at least I have the legal and social right to fight. To me, that's an important part of feeling in control ("procedural/process fairness," as my ADR book calls it)--feeling like I have a say and did what I could.

With a stepchild, all I can do is sit back and watch. If I vent at my partner, I'm venting at someone who's already suffering. If I vent here, I get support peppered with at least one, "well, you chose to get involved with a father, these kids don't choose to have a stepparent." I do vent at my partner and here to some extent, but that's really the limit of what I can do.

My "lawyer brain" can't shut off, either, which complicates things. It's hard as hell not to turn to my partner and say "you need to go to court and file this form, and plead this, and do this" when he has a perfectly capable lawyer -- one who is licensed, experienced in family law, and not emotionally involved (whereas all three of those work against me).
yeah, comments like "well, you knew he had a child" in this forum are about has helpful as comments like "well, you chose to have a child with him" in the single parent forum. Sometimes people need a safe place to vent. With people who understand that even if you knew he had a child - you had not the faintest idea what it actually entailed.

Anyway, my boyfriend has a daughter, and her mom has recently started some problems and I was feeling quite helpless and not wanting to vent to him, or here - both for the reasons you stated, so I started going to therapy. Because I can say to her all the things I want to say, and she helps me process them and feel better. And then I can be a better partner to him.

I'm a lawyer too, but not family law, but still I have lawyer-brain. So I pepper him with questions "is your lawyer doing this? Has she filed for this thing? Are you pursuing that strategy? What is her tactic?" He just says "I don't know." I want to call the lawyer and ask her, but since she charges $350.00/hour I just wait until he gets things in the mail from her and I read them.

He's off to court next week, out of state, with his mom and his sister. They tried to settle out of court, as DSD's therapist recommended, but her mom wouldn't sign the papers and then tried to blame it on the court. She doesn't have an attorney, so there's no one to talk any sense in to her. She seems to think that parenting is a contest and that you "win" by destroying your child's relationship with their other parent.

Anyway, I guess this is my contribution about feeling tired of being a step parent sometimes. I had lunch with a friend yesterday who has been a step parent for 10 years now, and her SD just came to live with them full time 4 weeks after my friend had a new baby. She says she still sometimes thinks "can I do this?" That was comforting to hear. Not that she wants to leave, but that doubt is normal.
post #38 of 148
I wasn't going to post on this thread again, but just have to ask JustVanessa exactly why the thread is making her heart hurt for the people she mentioned? Is it because it is happening to them, or are you worried that it might? Hopefully everyone you mentioned gets along and is happy, and considerate of one another.
post #39 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by fek&fuzz View Post
yeah, comments like "well, you knew he had a child" in this forum are about has helpful as comments like "well, you chose to have a child with him" in the single parent forum. Sometimes people need a safe place to vent. With people who understand that even if you knew he had a child - you had not the faintest idea what it actually entailed.
feck&fuzz, this might come from step-children or Custodial Parents, who are also members of this forum, and who think to themselves when the step parents in their lives have issues with the children/CP's "but she KNEW I existed, so what is this all about?!" I think that these comments are not to jab at you, but actually to ask what has changed (and I actually appreciate the well thought out answers to that question, because, as a step-child who was always resented, I have always wondered that very thing). I think that, in this forum lately, there has been a much better dialogue that way, and I appreciate it. I don't think that this thread has gotten snarky or catty, but has been honest and enlightening (esp. in the most recent posts, the originals are from some time ago).

SO thank you all for keeping it respectful.
post #40 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by angilyn View Post
I wasn't going to post on this thread again, but just have to ask JustVanessa exactly why the thread is making her heart hurt for the people she mentioned? Is it because it is happening to them, or are you worried that it might? Hopefully everyone you mentioned gets along and is happy, and considerate of one another.
I'm not JV obviously but I'd like to answer because my heat hurts as well. I must admit I'm just shocked that a stepparent would write some of the things in this thread. I mean these are children we are talking about here. It makes me really hurt for my kids to think that their step dad could relate to some of these posts. I really hope he couldn't relate to many of them.
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