Things you did and didn't appreciate about your stepparent... - Page 3 - Mothering Forums
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#61 of 73 Old 01-01-2009, 12:01 AM
 
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A question for stepkids-do you think it's easier to adjust to a stepparent when you're younger? I would think it would be more difficult for a teen, but I don't know if that's true, since I've not been a stepkid myself.
I've had four Stepfather's as well as a Father who left before I was born. My first Stepfather, Nelson, came along when I was about two or a little younger. I'm told I adjusted well and for years, I thought he was my "real" Father. He was gone by the time I was 3 1/2. My second Stepfather came along when I was about four. I remember I adored him and was devastated when he left, when I was 6 or 7. My third Stepfahter came into my life as my Mother's friend about a year later, but didn't marry my Mother until I was almost 13. He was my favotire of the bunch and I adjusted pretty well, all things considered. (Mom completely turned over all parenting issues to him upon marriage and 13-18 were extremely rough years for me in other ways.) My last Stepfather, the one I consider my Dad, came along 4 1/2 years ago. I consider him my "real" Dad, the one I should have had all along.

My son got his Stepfather, my Husband, when he was 6 and I married his Stepfahter, my Husband, when he was 8. He adjusted very well.

My stepdaughter had me in her life since she was 13 months old, and I married her Dad when she'd just turned four. She adjusted very well, considering her Mother spent alot of her energy trying to turn her against me, my Hubby and my son.

I think your question should be "Do you think it's easier to adjust to a stepparent when you're younger?" and "How much is the other Bioparent involved?", because that may play a big part, if not the biggest part, of the child's adjustment.

(Sorry. One too many Apple Martini's tonight and I'm feeling philisophical and speaking from personal experience.)

I pray for the day Family Court recognizes that CHILDREN have rights, parents only have PRIVILEGES.  Only then, will I know my child is safe.
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#62 of 73 Old 01-01-2009, 12:16 AM
 
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I think your question should be "Do you think it's easier to adjust to a stepparent when you're younger?" and "How much is the other Bioparent involved?", because that may play a big part, if not the biggest part, of the child's adjustment.

(Sorry. One too many Apple Martini's tonight and I'm feeling philisophical and speaking from personal experience.)
No, I don't think it's the martinis. I think that's valid. I think a lot of our problems stemmed from interference and too much forced togetherness. The bioparent can't just dump the responsibility off on the new stepparent and expect it to work, especially if the situation is hostile to begin with.

It's like they don't even know their own kids, or they're in serious denial about the effects of a broken home and starting a new relationship.

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#63 of 73 Old 01-01-2009, 12:33 PM
 
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A question for stepkids-do you think it's easier to adjust to a stepparent when you're younger? I would think it would be more difficult for a teen, but I don't know if that's true, since I've not been a stepkid myself .
I do think it's easier, but I also think puberty is the court in which any cracks in the relationship will be tried. My sister was 9 when my father started dating my Stepmother and it didn't bother her half as much as it bothered me. HOWEVER, when my sister was a teen, she and my stepmother had major fights and other issues (not sure what, I was living in another country then.) They are still not "close". Oddly enough, I think she feels my step mother gets in between her and my father now, and she's 25. (And single, so she hasnt' moved into the phase where she's more interested in her own family yet.)

Also would like to remind people that not all step families are a result of divorce. While I'm sure my stepmother felt like she was being haunted by my mother's memory for a few years, she never had to deal with things like shared custody.

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#64 of 73 Old 01-01-2009, 04:50 PM
 
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Also would like to remind people that not all step families are a result of divorce. While I'm sure my stepmother felt like she was being haunted by my mother's memory for a few years, she never had to deal with things like shared custody.
In our case, my ds's bio-dad signed off his rights and he has never met him, and dsd's mom killed herself, so we mistakenly thought it would be easier with no exes to deal with. Boy, were we naive. After nearly 5 years every now and then dh still surprises me with more details about some of the insanity dsd was exposed to when she was very young.

I don't care what the details are, it's never going to be the Brady Bunch when you're dealing with baggage from 2 different families.

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#65 of 73 Old 01-01-2009, 08:46 PM
 
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I don't care what the details are, it's never going to be the Brady Bunch when you're dealing with baggage from 2 different families.
:

And what you said about always being kind and patient because 'you' are the adult really hits home. It's emotionally exhausting to always have to bite my tongue and smile and pretend it doesn't affect me when the behavior gets really hurtful/bad.

Hugs, mama.
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#66 of 73 Old 01-01-2009, 09:43 PM
 
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:

And what you said about always being kind and patient because 'you' are the adult really hits home. It's emotionally exhausting to always have to bite my tongue and smile and pretend it doesn't affect me when the behavior gets really hurtful/bad.

Hugs, mama.
Thanks. It's the hardest thing I've ever done.

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#67 of 73 Old 01-01-2009, 11:36 PM
 
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Reading the negative on this thread is not always easy. Not the horrible, and evil stuff, I'm talking about the everyday stuff that made life for some step children unpleasant.

Everyday 'bad' stuff hapenned in my own family with my own parents. As an adult with my own children I see now how hard it is to raise children. I have a lot of compassion for both of my parents considering their own childhood history and how they overcame that, stayed together, worked hard, and raised us. (me and my 3 sisters ) My childhood was not perfect. The bad stuff: My parents fought a lot, my parents spanked . . . However, as I said above, I don't have any negative emotions around that anymore simply because I have the prespective of an adult and seeing my parents as human beings rather than 'parents' that owe me something. They are good people that did the best they could with what they had.

Which brings me now to the present day and step parenting. First, children go through the loss of their family. That is huge. If the stress level of the loss of divorce is compared to a death imagine how it is for the children.

Then, said parents go out and find a new husband and wife. All the children want is their family back. More loss. More pain. Got it. I really get it. I promise.

But back to being a step parent:

Generally speaking, step children want nothing to do with the new partner(s). As a step parent one is walking into a situation, in the very beginning, where they are not welcome by the children, and most of the time, the exes.

Double whammy. The ex talks trash about the new partner, the kids want to be loyal to the parent so they do their best to not accept the new partner. Even if there is no negative press from the ex the step parent is still seen as the interloper the 'new' person. Their dad's wife. Not a friendly aunt, second mom, another adult to love etc. Just their dad's wife/partner. Taking away attention and love from the child. Competition.

We are resented just because we exist in these childrens' lives and we haven't done anything yet! (Bio parents build up resentment with their actions over the years whatever that may be.) But as step parents we are resented the moment we walk in the door ( figuratively speaking) . Add all the other complications that come with 'blending' a family and it would make any normal person want to give up.

It's easy to blame the step parent for how hard the childrens lives are. The blame for the pain and loss in their lives. Heck, we are just the partner of their parent. There is no parental connection, no parental love. Just two 'sides' trying to get along. Yes, there is and can be lots of love I'm not suggesting there is not . . . it just takes time . . . please do not flame for that last comment.

I'm not sure if that came out right. I have a hard time articulating my thoughts and feelings . . .

Having a thread of 'what one didn't appreciate' about the step parent just brings up, for me anyway, the immediate feeling of inadequate stuff of being a step parent. I can't be perfect and loving all the time. I'm not perfect and loving to my own children all the time.

There is a lot less forgiveness and understanding on these boards. There is way too much talk about what and how step parents can be better or the flowery sentiments of 'why being a step parent is all roses and sunshine'.

That is nice but I have found in my experience, the roses and sunshine is the smaller part of my daily life of a step parent. But then, I can say the same of life with my own children, (see toddler/teen forum and how many threads start as: "My toddler/teen is driving me crazy!")

I guess I can go on and on . . . trying to figure it out analyse the complicated thing the the "blended" family is. I beat myself up enough for the days when I think I'm not being the 'good' step parent. The bad days bring on so much guilt and bad feelings that it seems there is nothing that I have done right in the past 5 years.

Most of the time we (as a family) are doing o.k. . But if I mess up I hear from my dhs' ex (many times) , his parents (rarely, but it has hapenned) , his children . . . I feel like I'm back at square one again. I can't come here for support because there isn't a lot of space here for the bad stuff. The hard stuff that a step parent goes through.

Of course it's about the kids. Isn't it always? However sometimes I (we?) need the oxygen mask too so I can make it about the kids again.
This was so honest and so real. Thank you. I don't feel so very alone here anymore.

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#68 of 73 Old 01-02-2009, 12:47 AM
 
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No, I don't think it's the martinis. I think that's valid. I think a lot of our problems stemmed from interference and too much forced togetherness. The bioparent can't just dump the responsibility off on the new stepparent and expect it to work, especially if the situation is hostile to begin with.

It's like they don't even know their own kids, or they're in serious denial about the effects of a broken home and starting a new relationship.
Yep, this exactly! I know this very thing just made me dig my feet in more. I really wish that more bio-parents would be aware of this. I think that would've changed a lot about how we treated/bonded with our step-dad.

I think that it was easier for my youngest brother to adjust for sure. He was only 3 so my step-dad is the only dad he knows. They have the strongest bond of all my siblings. My brother who was 13 at the time didn't adjust so well but I honestly think that was just him being a teenager. I'm not really sure that you could say his behavior was due to having a new step-dad. I personally think he would've done the things he did regardless. I'm just basing that on his personality really.

My middle siblings had an awkward relationship with him and still sort of do. It is much better then it was. They were 9 and 6. They never really treated him badly, it was more that their behavior totally changed for the worse.

I moved out as soon as it was possible for me too. I really only lived in the house with my step-dad for about a year and a half and most of the time I was gone as much as I could be.

My bio-dad and my first step-dad were close friends so there wasn't really any hostility there. Also, I have only seen my bio-dad 4 times since I was 6. I never had the influence of the bio-parent trashing the step-parent. I think that would probably make a pretty big difference.
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#69 of 73 Old 01-02-2009, 01:11 AM
 
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My bio-dad and my first step-dad were close friends so there wasn't really any hostility there. Also, I have only seen my bio-dad 4 times since I was 6. I never had the influence of the bio-parent trashing the step-parent. I think that would probably make a pretty big difference.
I can't imagine being a small child and having 2 parents telling you awful things about the other, how badly conflicted you would be. I can imagine how screwed up a 6 year old can be when aunts tell her not to like her stepmother because her dead mother wouldn't want her to, though. : People shouldn't play out their psycho-dramas using vulnerable young minds.

I remember dsd, whenever she wouldn't get her way (at 6) telling her dad mommy would have said yes. I don't know if she came up with that one herself or not, but I saw her say and do a lot of things to guilt trip dh.

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#70 of 73 Old 01-02-2009, 04:55 AM
 
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I can't imagine being a small child and having 2 parents telling you awful things about the other, how badly conflicted you would be. I can imagine how screwed up a 6 year old can be when aunts tell her not to like her stepmother because her dead mother wouldn't want her to, though. : People shouldn't play out their psycho-dramas using vulnerable young minds.
That's just really really sick. What in the world is wrong with people.:

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I remember dsd, whenever she wouldn't get her way (at 6) telling her dad mommy would have said yes. I don't know if she came up with that one herself or not, but I saw her say and do a lot of things to guilt trip dh.
I actually said something along those lines to my mom a couple of times. I was 18 :
Also right after step-dad walked out of her bedroom, for the first time, in the morning (in my defense none of us knew he'd spent the night) I ended up crying and screaming at her that my dad's side of the bed wasn't even cold yet. I said a few other things that are UAVs It really wasn't one of my more shining moments. It's no excuse but I just remember feeling so out of control and lost for lack of a better word.
The fact that the man stuck around is a testament to how much he loves my mom, that's for sure.

I wanted to add some other stuff but the baby is finally asleep.: I am off to bed myself.

FWIW those of you were feeling bad about this thread, I think you all sound like very caring step-moms and I'm sure your step-kids are very lucky

Oh and happy new year everyone.
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#71 of 73 Old 01-02-2009, 05:38 AM
 
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I actually said something along those lines to my mom a couple of times. I was 18 :
Also right after step-dad walked out of her bedroom, for the first time, in the morning (in my defense none of us knew he'd spent the night) I ended up crying and screaming at her that my dad's side of the bed wasn't even cold yet. I said a few other things that are UAVs It really wasn't one of my more shining moments. It's no excuse but I just remember feeling so out of control and lost for lack of a better word.
The fact that the man stuck around is a testament to how much he loves my mom, that's for sure.
In your shoes, it would be hard not to feel that way, though. Everyone felt like my dh got into a relationship too quickly also, but they made it worse by telling people we had been involved before his late wife's death, which wasn't true. : I don't know if dsd will ever stop believing it.

I am someone who is capable of being alone for literally years, but some people, like my dh and possibly your mom, aren't. Sometimes it doesn't matter how much time passes, either...my aunt has been gone at least 3 years and my mom is p!$$ed that my uncle remarried.

There were many times I thought about leaving and couldn't decide if it would be worth it to have my ds lose his dad or if it would be worse for someone else to walk out on dsd. In the space of a few years she's lost a great grandmother, a grandmother, her mom and an aunt, and according to our therapist this is the source of her attachment issues. So even though we didn't have an official diagnosis at the time I was ready to leave, on some level I knew leaving would be bad for her even when she was doing everything she could to drive me away.

The whole thing has taught me not to be too quick to jump to conclusions about someone else's relationship, if nothing else.

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#72 of 73 Old 01-02-2009, 03:47 PM
 
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In your shoes, it would be hard not to feel that way, though. Everyone felt like my dh got into a relationship too quickly also, but they made it worse by telling people we had been involved before his late wife's death, which wasn't true. : I don't know if dsd will ever stop believing it.

I am someone who is capable of being alone for literally years, but some people, like my dh and possibly your mom, aren't. Sometimes it doesn't matter how much time passes, either...my aunt has been gone at least 3 years and my mom is p!$$ed that my uncle remarried.

There were many times I thought about leaving and couldn't decide if it would be worth it to have my ds lose his dad or if it would be worse for someone else to walk out on dsd. In the space of a few years she's lost a great grandmother, a grandmother, her mom and an aunt, and according to our therapist this is the source of her attachment issues. So even though we didn't have an official diagnosis at the time I was ready to leave, on some level I knew leaving would be bad for her even when she was doing everything she could to drive me away.

The whole thing has taught me not to be too quick to jump to conclusions about someone else's relationship, if nothing else.
I can't believe that your dsd was told that her dad was involved with you before her mom died. That is so wrong to do to a child. My God. What a head-trip to lay on a 6 year old. Jeez. I have a friend who I've known since childhood who says really crappy things about her ex in front of her son. I've always cringed and tried to change the subject asap when I've been around for those gems. Sadly she's a bit selfish and I think that she really doesn't think about the damage she's causing.

What you said about it being worse if you left I think is very true. I know for sure that my siblings and I were afraid to get attached to our step-dad for fear that he'd leave too. It took me a long time to get over my attachment issues. I made a lot of bad choices in my early 20s because of that as well. I really wish my mom had gotten us all into family counseling because I think that would've helped a lot too. Of course it's always easy to look back and say if only we'd done this or whatever.


I wanted to add something positive about my step-dad that I forgot to add earlier. I grew up in a very small town in WA and when I was 19 I decided that I was going to move to LA. I had saved a lot of money which I'm not sure if my mom knew about or not. I didn't tell my mom or step-dad but my brother ended up telling them. So my mom just shrugged it off in a placating way (my brother told them a week before I was going to leave and she didn't really think I would do it) but my step-dad came to me and said that he knew I was serious and he wanted to give me something. He gave me this big box of maps (he was a truck driver at one point) and then sat down and showed me where the good neighborhoods were in LA. He also gave me his dad's number (he lived there) and he told me that if I decided I didn't like it he hoped that I would come home before moving somewhere else. The fact that he didn't try to talk me out of it and that he really believed that I was serious was a very big deal to me. I still have those maps I think of that as sort of a turning point in our relationship. Oh, and he made me tell him the steps to changing a tire.
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#73 of 73 Old 01-03-2009, 01:15 AM
 
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The key things they did right, regardless of the ages I knew them, were:

- they were reliable adults; I felt safe and secure in their care
- serious disciplining was left to my parents
- my parents were my parents; my steps were extra cool adults in my life
- I felt their ways of reaching out to me and loving me were genuine
- they actively encouraged my interests through participation, verbal encouragement, thoughtful gifts, etc.
- inclusion in their family
- they spoke positively or remained silent on the topic of their partner's ex (my other parent)
- remained neutral regarding issues between me and my parent unless absolutely necessary
- acted with respect for me as a human being

More feel-good bits about my steps below...

I knew my stepfather from age 8-16 (when he died.)

My favorite memories of him:

* picking me up and swinging me around * snuggling reading books * watching him work on my very first treehouse * making him cool, ice cream drinks while he worked outside in the summer * going with him to pick out movies; he always let me pick out a couple kid movies! * jumping off his shoulders at the lake * pointing the motor boat into the wake and jumping the waves * putting up my swing * telling me jokes to cheer me up and make me laugh * big hugs * cooking hot dog omlettes * learning to hook up electronics * waiting to see if he was going to be able to come home for the holidays; we always waited to see!!! So excited! * fishing together * skiing together; he'd hold me when we came off the lift, because I was scared to do it on my own * massive bear hugs * goofy jokes and funny voices * trips to the used bookstore * long walks in the woods with our dog * singing in the car * family inclusion * unconditional love and support *

I knew my stepmother from age 15-25ish.

My favorite memories of her:

* beautiful cards and notes for holidays and just because * fun chats * family inclusion * generosity * understanding * unconditional love and support *

I was lucky to have them in my life.
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