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I'm tired of being a stepparent (VENT) - Page 4

post #61 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by mama41 View Post

OK. Just know that you're likely to end up butting heads with her mom if that's the usual MO. If it were me, and we weren't custodial parents to the sd, I'd probably find out first how the mother likes to handle it, or maybe give a snack and then find out later whether that was OK or in line with how the birth parents want to handle it. That way, if it was a bad call, it'd be a one-time thing.
I would do that if I were babysitting, but in my own home my DH and I make the rules. He doesn't call his ex to find out if the kids can have cookies, and neither do I. It can cause trouble to defer too much to the other household, because then if you have your own kids you have to either raise them according to DH's ex's rules, or have 2 sets of rules. The kids know we are the no-soda, no-McDonald's house, and they are used to it, even though they get that stuff with their mom. I make our rules the same as hers if I have no reason not to or if it's better for the kids. For example, I do write their mom when we see them to see what the current bedtime is (DH would never think to do this.. ) or if she tells us to do something with them for homework and to make them do it, we follow those guidelines as well.
post #62 of 148
Mama41:

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.

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. Kids bond easier than we give them credit for. My stepkids have a very loving devoted mother with whom they are very close, and yet they are very comfortable bonding with me as a parent as well. There's room for both. DSS went through a phase where he really wanted me and his mother to be friends. It was sweet. So we smile and make small talk when he's around, and he likes it. And when DH and I got married, DSS's first comment was "Cool! Now I have two moms!" Both kids tell me they love me and both curl up in my lap and both come to me with questions and needs. They are very happy kids. When we haven't seen them for a while, I love to greet them at the airport, and see their faces light up when they see me. DSD (3) puts her arms up in the air and sprints (away from her dad and brother) over to me, yelling my name (the name she calls me) and then I pick her up and she wraps herself around me and beams, talking nonstop. It's very touching. DSS (7) is older and calmer, but loves to be scooped up and spun around there too, and is also talking nonstop to me when I see him. He also, even though he is in full dad-worship mode, insists that only I read him stories. It's one of our things. Their mom once told me "the kids seem to like you." Yes, they do. And it's better for her (apparently) if she doesn't admit to herself how much.
(Just writing this got me excited, as I haven't seen them in a few weeks, and I'll be picking them up from the airport in a few days! )


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. Second, it sounds like a great reason to never be a dad, as they have a lifetime of second place. Yes, there are times when I feel excluded, but those times happen less and less often these days. I will admit you have a point on that one, though, in that it's a terrible idea to see yourself in competition with their mother. I make it a point not to enter competitions like that that I am 100% guaranteed to lose. So I don't see it that way. I'm not their mom but I am a parent. That's the best way I can describe it. I don't encourage them to call me mom or any variant thereof, but I do have a special name/title. We also don't do Mother's Day with the kids -- their mom deserves her own day. I have my own, in July. (My husband invented this and it was genius!)

So, yes, being a stepmom at times sucks every bit as much as the descriptions on this thread, but most of that has to do with dealing with the children's mother and having her in our life, even if she's not a bad person. I just never chose to have her in my family and I underestimated how much time we'd spend interacting with her and worrying about her feelings. Most of the issues with difficult kids I've read about also have to do with parental conflict or bad parenting, not so much with the kids truly rejecting stepparents of their own accord.

Kind of like single motherhood, I guess. The issues I see more over there are money and exes. Same here about the exes. I've learned not to count the money.

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.

Last point: other people's kids.

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. Taking on a parenting role requires in some way the ability to find (somewhat) arbitrary kids interesting and lovable. I've always loved kids and I adore my stepkids, and PITA that the stepparenting thing can be at times, I can't imagine pulling away from them to just be "Daddy's wife."
post #63 of 148
when a stepchild tells you about how well she likes her stepmother and how well things went in her family, the best thing to do is probably to listen carefully for things in her story that might apply to your situation rather than call her stepmother uncaring and impersonal (that's a paraphrase i know). maybe YOU wouldn't do things that way but your stepchildren or children may or may not like it that way. parenting and step parenting is about the kids and that family seemed to find a way of making them happy. i had 2 stepfathers. i call the first one dad. he participated fully in my life even after the divorce and my son calls him paw paw. the second one is a nice guy who makes my mom happy. by the time he came along i was 13 and no in need of a parent or male figure. i was in need of someone to make my mother happy. age was a huge factor.
post #64 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by violet_ View Post
Most of the issues with difficult kids I've read about also have to do with parental conflict or bad parenting, not so much with the kids truly rejecting stepparents of their own accord.
Aye.

Of the few conflicts we have faced with DSD as a blended family, all have been a product of having to manage mom's insecurities and how they affect DSD's outlook on the situation. I've been with my husband since DSD was a baby. If she had been older when we got together, this probably wouldn't apply. But children when they're young, have a pretty large capacity for love. However, when they are being influenced by an insecure and/or destructive parent, things get complicated. Kids will act out of guilt and out of loyalty to their parents. Kids will feel guilty about the relationships they have with step parents generally because they're made to feel guilty about them. A lot of times, kids will act out toward a step parent as a way of protecting a bio parent's feelings (unbeknownst to the step parent) or defending the feelings bio parent has expressed in private.
post #65 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by violet_ View Post
Mama41:

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.

Quote:
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.

Quote:
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.

Quote:
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.

Quote:
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.
I agree.
post #66 of 148
wow I KNOW how you feel
post #67 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by mama41 View Post
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.
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.
post #68 of 148
Quote:
Anyway, if you know of a way to make all this less of a surprise, I'd like to hear it
i think that falls on the person with the kids. they need to say i will pay cs for years. it will impact how much money i have to contribute to financial advancement. it is not our money, it belongs to my children. i look like i make more money than i do. i have a complex family situation that could change with very little notice because of my ex and the places i live could be limited etc, etc.

it really is the obligation of the spouse with kids to formally explain the particulars of that situation before they become a spouse. you can't ever _really_ know but at least you won't be blindsided.

i thought i'd done a good job of that but DH is still surprised by things now and then.
post #69 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by mama41 View Post

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.
I understand that perspective, but bear in mind that the dad is a parent, too. So my DH has every bit as much claim to setting those standards as she does. And in our case, they had 50/50 custody until fairly recently (he had to move due to his job), no neither party was primary in that sense, even though she felt she was primary and she was entitled to CS.

Also, I had those good intentions you mention at the start -- find out what the baby's mom wants! It sounds so logical and compassionate, right? Until I was forcefully told by her not to email or contact her in any way (this was in response to an email telling her I'd be in town, so she didn't act blindsided when her son mentioned having seen me). So she cut off that goodwill fast. Our relationship is much better now, but we're not in the habit of discussing things like that at this point.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mama41 View Post
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.
I know what you mean here, and I have no desire to become their mother. I love them dearly, but I know I cannot feel for them as their own mother does. But then, a father doesn't feel for children as a mother does, and he's a parent, just not a mom. As far as pushing them goes, that's part of parenting them at times. After a while it just comes naturally.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mama41 View Post
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.
This is certainly true.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mama41 View Post
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.
Hmmmm.. I knew about all the money stuff ahead of time. And I bought the house by myself, so I was prepared in that way. I like the concept of a warning label, but mine might go more like this:

"CAUTION: DANGER: !PELIGRO! I am a parent with a living ex-partner. While she may be perfectly sane, reasonable, and in fact a pleasant person in every other aspect of her life, she will instantaneously develop an irrational, unprovoked hatred of you. She may be prone to wild fits of irrationality immediately prior to and during any visitations. She may decide to call me every five minutes. She may make unreasonable demands of us during our holiday time spent with family. Regardless of which one of us has the children on major holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.), the other parent will be expected to call, so we will have to speak with her on every major family holiday. She may be expected to call at any and every inopportune moment, including on our wedding day, for no reason at all. Even though you may be as involved as I am in parenting the kids (or more), she may insist on dealing only with me for any and all matters concerning the kids, so that she can feel superior to you. She may purposefully or inadvertently communicate this disdain to the children, convincing them that you don't count in some fundamental way. When you lovingly suggest on our quiet evenings at home that we call the children, you will be rewarded for your devotion by hearing her tell them "Daddy's on the phone," and pretending you aren't there.

NOTICE OF IRRATIONAL GUILT: I will experience irrational guilt about the divorce and will intermittently and unpredictably try to overcompensate with the kids. This can be especially true if I am from either the Jewish or Catholic traditions. I may become very emotional about silly things concerning the kids, and no matter what you do or how many times I tell you that you are my full partner, on some level deep inside I will feel the need to protect them, even from you. And I will pull rank when you least expect it.

NOTICE OF DIFFICULT IN-LAWS: Since I was married once before, my old-fashioned parents may never accept you and will always prefer her, as she is the one who gave them grandkids. They may refuse to meet you for the first couple of years. They may keep old wedding photos in the living room that you will see when you are finally invited to visit, and they may talk about her admiringly when you are around. They may run errands for her, babysit, house sit, etc., and will always act surprised to find out that the kids are bonded to you, no matter how many times they see it."
post #70 of 148
Quote:
Even though you may be as involved as I am in parenting the kids (or more), she may insist on dealing only with me for any and all matters concerning the kids, so that she can feel superior to you.
in my experience dealing with ex's ex partner (they had a kid together and split up. she's no longer a part of our life directly but was for a while) i had to make the switch to only talking to ex about DS not because i wanted to feel superior (she knew who his mom was and was really only trying to be nice) but because i did not want to become involved in their relationship and did not want to allow my feelings of guilt and mild jealousy etc color those communications. i knew i was setting us all up for failure and did become frustrated when she refused to understand that i was not rejecting her but attempting to make a situation that was difficult for me to handle responsibly.

but yeah, those are good warnings
post #71 of 148
Wow, a lot of different points of view in this forum...
I was a stepchild and now a stepmom. It's a bit of a different situation though, we tried for 10 years to get custody of my now 13yr old stepson because he was in an abusive(sexually, physically & mentally) home. He's been with us since he was 10 and all of us have been in therapy. His father & I took Love & Logic parenting classes(which I HIGHLY recomend) mainly because we had insane amounts of crazy behavior to learn to deal with.
I love my stepson and I hate what he had to endure growing up, but I do need to vent now and then to close friends. Frankly, so does his father on occasion.
We have a very damaged kid on our hands and have to pour on the love thicker than normal. He has made great strides, it took him 2 years to open up to his therapist & us. He was doing great in school and fantastic at home until recently when the supervised visitations started with his mother. The uphill battle started over again and it SUCKS!
From an adults rational point of view my stepson should know that he is safe with us and that behaving, telling the truth and doing good in school holds a much more fun outcome for him. However, it doesn't work that way in his brain, he acts out, lies, steals, and is failing school because he is angry with his mother and afraid that she's gonna "get him back for telling".
All we can do is talk with him, continue therapy and hold true to the house rules. Unfortunately it seems like the kid is in trouble most of the time, it sucks. This too shall pass though, he is a brilliant kid and I hope that time and therapy can heal him.
His father and I, through the help of parenting classes and therapy, have been able to talk about my stepson without any defensive feelings and it has helped to keep us as a team.
post #72 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by violet_ View Post
I like the concept of a warning label, but mine might go more like this:

"CAUTION: DANGER: !PELIGRO! I am a parent with a living ex-partner. While she may be perfectly sane, reasonable, and in fact a pleasant person in every other aspect of her life, she will instantaneously develop an irrational, unprovoked hatred of you. She may be prone to wild fits of irrationality immediately prior to and during any visitations. She may decide to call me every five minutes. She may make unreasonable demands of us during our holiday time spent with family. Regardless of which one of us has the children on major holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.), the other parent will be expected to call, so we will have to speak with her on every major family holiday. She may be expected to call at any and every inopportune moment, including on our wedding day, for no reason at all. Even though you may be as involved as I am in parenting the kids (or more), she may insist on dealing only with me for any and all matters concerning the kids, so that she can feel superior to you. She may purposefully or inadvertently communicate this disdain to the children, convincing them that you don't count in some fundamental way. When you lovingly suggest on our quiet evenings at home that we call the children, you will be rewarded for your devotion by hearing her tell them "Daddy's on the phone," and pretending you aren't there.

NOTICE OF IRRATIONAL GUILT: I will experience irrational guilt about the divorce and will intermittently and unpredictably try to overcompensate with the kids. This can be especially true if I am from either the Jewish or Catholic traditions. I may become very emotional about silly things concerning the kids, and no matter what you do or how many times I tell you that you are my full partner, on some level deep inside I will feel the need to protect them, even from you. And I will pull rank when you least expect it.

NOTICE OF DIFFICULT IN-LAWS: Since I was married once before, my old-fashioned parents may never accept you and will always prefer her, as she is the one who gave them grandkids. They may refuse to meet you for the first couple of years. They may keep old wedding photos in the living room that you will see when you are finally invited to visit, and they may talk about her admiringly when you are around. They may run errands for her, babysit, house sit, etc., and will always act surprised to find out that the kids are bonded to you, no matter how many times they see it."


Yeah, that's more based in reality. Well, my reality at least.

All true for me except for the in-laws bit.
post #73 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by nikag View Post


Yeah, that's more based in reality. Well, my reality at least.

All true for me except for the in-laws bit.
Yes, the in-laws part makes it seem like the poster was the "other woman" in the divorce scenario, which doesn't seem fair if that wasn't the case.

I am curious about all the need for validation. Why should the bio-mom have to say "Dad and Step-mom are on the phone"?

I guess I am puzzled in general because my ex and I co-parent our child with a great deal of interaction that never seems threatening to his current primary relationship. As long as my kid seems happy and well-adjusted, I don't get involved with what happens on his dad's time. If my son seems to struggle with anything, I talk it out with his dad on an "as-needed" basis. After all, we at one time chose to become parents with each other, so we can't say we don't respect each other enough to trust each other's judgment or to raise concerns appropriately when they arise. His wife has stayed in the background--although I know and am grateful that she loves my son--because he is the parent. She's given them the space to do their thing as parent and child, and to me, this indicates that their (ex and wife)relationship is stable and solid, which makes me happy because if dad's stable, son will benefit.
post #74 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by mooninjune68 View Post
I am curious about all the need for validation. Why should the bio-mom have to say "Dad and Step-mom are on the phone"?
I don't have any personal need for validation. I'm just trying to stay out of the poo storm that is created by mom's resentments and insecurities. That's frustrating enough. But it's no skin off my nose to sympathize with stepmoms who do.
post #75 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by nikag View Post
I don't have any personal need for validation. I'm just trying to stay out of the poo storm that is created by mom's resentments and insecurities. That's frustrating enough. But it's no skin off my nose to sympathize with stepmoms who do.
I was referring to Violet's post when she included the phone call part in the list of warnings.
post #76 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by mooninjune68 View Post
I was referring to Violet's post when she included the phone call part in the list of warnings.
I know.
post #77 of 148
Violet, I agree with much of what you say, esp about the H as parent. For me, again, that's still not much of an issue, just as lack of comm with the mother isn't much of an issue; it just means checking with the father instead of the mother. My dad's wife and my mother almost never talked. (My mother was convinced that the new wife broke up the marriage; fwiw, this had no bearing on our relationship with the wife, since it was pretty plain to us that she hadn't broken up anything, and besides, it was all in TMI-land, as far as we were concerned.) All questions just went to my dad, and if it was something he needed to discuss with my mom, he did, and then came back to his wife with "here's how to handle it".

About motives for the ex-wife's talking to the XH instead of the new wife: There are so many reasons for it that I don't think a drive for superiority needs to be read in. Though certainly, for some women, that may figure in.

I'm sure that I'd talk just to my X, too. For one thing, I know him; for another, he's known our dd since the moment she was born; and for a third, we have a legal relationship as parents to maintain. It's great when everything is going smoothly, but nothing is always smooth, and I'd want to be sure to cover myself legally wrt parenting communication with him, instead of playing Telephone. He, and not a new girlfriend or wife, is the one named in the decree, and if someday he takes me back to court, I'd better have reasonably good records of my communication with him.

There's also the matter of the ex-wife's status in the relationship. I know my ex well enough to know that nearly all his stories about relationships involve some sort of maltreatment at the hands of other people who don't appreciate him. I certainly believed XH's stories about his first ex -- why not? -- and I didn't begin to wonder until years into the marriage, when I noticed the pattern. So, frankly, I wouldn't really want to get involved in any kind of relationship with a new wife and her ideas of what I'd done to him. Simplest just to talk to him, and let him sort it out with his new wife at home.

There's something else, too, come to think of it, and it's that a lot of second marriages and blended-family marriages just don't stick. XH will always be dd's father, no matter where his romantic travels take him. But the new wife...well, I imagine I'd see her as provisional for a very long time. I do a little better than Vermonters, but I don't think it occurred to me that my dad's new wife wasn't new, and was in fact permanent, for over ten years. Which I'm sure is dismaying to next wives, but it's really just the same kind of impulse that makes people say, "it's next to the Dairy Queen" when the Dairy Queen's been gone for seven years. You're busy with your own life and you just don't notice it's been that long. So yeah, I expect it'd be quite a while before I stopped seeing a new wife of XH's as new and likely temporary.
post #78 of 148
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Originally Posted by mama41 View Post
There's something else, too, come to think of it, and it's that a lot of second marriages and blended-family marriages just don't stick. XH will always be dd's father, no matter where his romantic travels take him. But the new wife...well, I imagine I'd see her as provisional for a very long time. I do a little better than Vermonters, but I don't think it occurred to me that my dad's new wife wasn't new, and was in fact permanent, for over ten years. Which I'm sure is dismaying to next wives, but it's really just the same kind of impulse that makes people say, "it's next to the Dairy Queen" when the Dairy Queen's been gone for seven years. You're busy with your own life and you just don't notice it's been that long. So yeah, I expect it'd be quite a while before I stopped seeing a new wife of XH's as new and likely temporary.
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.
post #79 of 148
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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.
Hmmm . . . I never read anything 'negative' about her posts. I think they offer an interesting perspective. Why the need to label a 'position'? If she says 'bio mom,' then what?

If I am reading your post correctly, you (Spring Sun) seem offended by the "dairy queen" analogy for second spouses. I understood the poster's discussion of the 'wait-and-see' approach to second spouses from the perspective of someone who had witnessed these marriages fail and also has a sense of the general cultural understanding that they are less likely to succeed than first marriages. Of course everyone wants deeply for them to succeed--I want my ex-h's second marriage to succeed very much because my son will benefit from the stability--but would not be shocked if it did not. We're all here with the knowledge that sometimes, in spite of all good intentions and efforts, marriages don't work out.
post #80 of 148
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Originally Posted by mooninjune68 View Post
Yes, the in-laws part makes it seem like the poster was the "other woman" in the divorce scenario, which doesn't seem fair if that wasn't the case.
hmmm.... Honestly, I had never considered that. I thought it was because they are 80-ish and Catholic, so don't understand or have much experience with divorce. They've never admitted out loud having a problem with me. I wonder if they do think that was my role -- as I did come on the scene pretty soon after the separation. I do know that his ex used to tell lies about me (like the scenario you describe) to my coworkers in order to cause me trouble at work. Unbelievably, this actually worked and I did have lots of trouble for a while from a person who should have known better. I never really thought about her telling things to my in-laws, too. Something to think about.. Thanks for your insight on that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mooninjune68 View Post
I am curious about all the need for validation. Why should the bio-mom have to say "Dad and Step-mom are on the phone"?
I'm not sure that requesting basic politeness demonstrates a need for validation, but ok. How about she should say I'm on the phone because I am?
Why should she pretend I'm not? Seems kind of rude. Plus, in a more practical sense, the kids seem to react differently when she does that. And sometimes she'll let them just grab the phone and say "hi bye!" and then they don't even know I called at all. It doesn't ruin my day -- I just find it rude.
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