Originally Posted by violet_
It sounds like your dad and his wife found a system that worked for their family. It doesn't work for everyone's. I'm guessing if you were out of the house already that your brother was not a baby when she moved in? I think with older kids a much stronger argument can be made for staying out of parenting matters. In our case, I've been involved with DH since DSD was an infant. There is no "let's ask Daddy" when a baby is about to fall off a chair or a diaper needs changing or anything of that sort. And I'm not a second-tier authority in my own home. And I'm not the babysitter.
Yes, my brother was nearly a teenager by the time she came along, and he did his best to make things difficult for her. I was very impressed by how she handled it, and in the end he was too. In retrospect I think it was probably a mistake for my dad to have brought her to live with them as soon as he did, and it's one reason why I don't intend to do that sort of thing myself.
For me, of course, this is theoretical. But I suspect that if I had another woman's baby with me, even if she were noncustodial, I'd want very much to know how she did and wanted to do, and why. Not because I'm a babysitter, and not out of a sense of being second-tier, but because when a child's that age the smallest things seem so important to a mother, and may in fact be. I recall painfully how upset I was when my ex-FIL grotesquely overfed my baby dd from a bottle. (He seemed to think it was funny to feed her till she puked it all up.) I understand that it's not the same thing as having the children staying with you, but I am much more careful about that "how do you do ________" with other people's babies than I am with their older kids.
Maybe it's because I have no problem with the idea that I'm not a mother to other people's kids, even if that other person is a partner. Giving care, giving love, sure -- receiving love, too -- but the relationship is not the same. I doubt I'd push another person's kids the same way I push my own, either. It seems to me that's the province of the parents; I can't imagine feeling I had that right.
|And it's nothing like being with a close friend's kids. Nothing. The kids live with me in my home (part time in our case). That changes things immensely. Even if a friend's kid were to spend the night, it's nothing like when they live there. I am a parent to them. And I am not their mom. I have no problem with that. And they have no problem with that. Even their mom is used to that. I think the idea of many moms that their own kids could never truly bond with another woman as a parental figure is just nor borne out in reality.
(sigh) I imagine there are women for whom this is true. I do think this assumption gets overplayed, though. You see it in the childcare threads as well. Personally, I think it's obvious that many people raise my daughter. She spends as much time with her daycare people as she does with me and her father, and what they give her, teach her, and do for her is completely out of proportion to what we pay them. And she loves them. This engenders relief, not possessiveness. I know it's all in a day's work for Wendy to carry a new child around on her hip all day for months, and sit the child on the kitchen stool next to her while she cooks lunch to ease the child along, and teach sixteen other kids civility, fellowship, and respect at the same time, and somehow fit in braiding three girls' hair with fancy ribbons, but...well, we are very lucky.
|And I'm not worried about "a lifetime of 3rd place." First off, it's not a competition, and we don't ask our kids to rank us as caregivers.
Sorry, I hadn't meant it that way. I meant third in terms of power. Legally, a stepparent isn't in the running, and other factors contribute to leave the stepparent sort of boxed in and voiceless.
|Oh, and on money, I think your dad and his wife did well by keeping it separate. We try that too. It's tricky though, as I make as much as he does before CS, and considerably more when you factor in CS. So if we share a household and a standard of living, it's hard no to feel like I'm paying for the kids. If he made way more than me, then I think it would be easier to let it go. In our case, I just joke that I need to blow $1500 a month on random stuff and eating out, so that our household money is the same. I don't actually do this, but that's our joke, so if I'm taking an expensive class at the gym, for example, that's out of that money. In reality, I overpay my mortgage instead (plus I buy fun stuff for the kids). If funds were tighter here (as they will be if we have any kids together), then I can see how that CS money could suddenly seem more important.
I really wish there were a way to give prospective next wives a heads-up on this, particularly those who either don't have kids or who have significantly different goals and senses of obligation to their children. (I'd be surprised, for instance, if my XH married another Jewish woman; it's very unlikely around here, and he's not Jewish. The cost of Jewish religious education is shocking to most Christians (and many Jews); it's intensive and goes on for years. My XH is obligated for half of that, plus half the bat mitzvah. Thousands of dollars all told, plus a lot of time and considerable pressure on dd. I'd expect a new wife to be very surprised when the bills rolled in, and to feel that little of it was necessary -- even to be angry if their money were tight. However, there's no reason that it has to be a surprise.)
I almost think prospective spouses with children from prior marriages should come with a consumer warning label:
"ATTENTION: This man is obligated for approximately $450,000 to Other Child(ren) over the next 18 years, whether or not you think it reasonable, and whether or not you have children with him. Please reduce your idea of his annual income by approximately $25,000. This number may increase markedly should any of the children have significant medical expenses. His legal obligations may leave him unable to help you buy a home or save for college for any children you may have with him
. You are free to chip in to compensate, but you should understand that this will reduce your savings rate significantly, and may reduce your retirement holdings by as much as [very large number]
"If you live in a community-property state, please consider very carefully the potential financial costs of the marriage through your retirement before committing. There is no shame in protecting yourself. If you do not live in a community-property state, you may wish to prepare a prenuptial agreement to protect the value of your contributions in case of divorce."
Anyway, if you know of a way to make all this less of a surprise, I'd like to hear it.
|Most of my friends IRL never noticed or cared about kids at all until they had their own. And many of those therefore think their own kids are so unusually brilliant or exceptionally interesting simply because they never cared much about other kids. Those people would, I think, be better suited to a non-parenting role if they married a person with children. Nothing against them - it would just suit everyone better.