So this is the very first time I ever join some kind of forum like this. Still not even sure what I'm doing. Here it goes though: I have been a step-mother for over three years (since married) but have been with my husband over 5 years, so have known my step-daughters now for over 5 years. They are 8 and 7 and are an active duo. Problem is this: I tried very hard-gave it 100% for a long time. Unfortunately, their mama is a little crazy and she created much tension between the girls and I. Girls saying such things like "my mommy doesn't like you"; "I hate Spanish and I hate people who speak Spanish" (I speak Spanish obviously). Anyhow, at first I believe they genuinely liked me (especially the older of the two). As time passed and they became more aware of some of the complicated dynamics between their mom and dad, their dislike of me became more obvious. I have to admit I was pretty naive. I just kept thinking, I can do this. I love this man. Doesn't matter if he has kids. I love children and children generally like me. Well in retrospect, I should have listened to some of the people who tried to warn me (my mother, his mother, co-worker). I was too in-love to listen to sense at the time. Things have not become easier with time. Now my husband and I have a 2-year-old daughter. My step-girls actually adore her and can be very helpful with her. The older one overwhelms my daughter a bit by not giving her space and being on-top of her, but for the most part my daughter loves them both very much. Now here is where my feelings get hurt and I truly struggle. Tonight my husband and I went to Toysrus because my daughter turns 2 on Friday. While we there, he started to buy things for the older girls. It just made me sad that his energy wasn't entirely focused on our daughter. I feel like we were, after all, shopping for her birthday. The thought that came to mind, which has come to mind before, is that she won't ever be his first. He won't ever look at her that way. And, even when I would hope that she could be our focus she probably never will be. Maybe this sounds ridiculous and maybe it is. I've tried talking to him about it, but he becomes defensive and can't hear it even if I try to discuss it calmly and as rationale as possible. I didn't even bring up my feelings of being hurt tonight, bc I don't want to start a big fight. We also just recently bought season passes to Disneyland and have now gone twice. Again, my experience was such that my husband's focus is mostly on my step-daughters. First time we were there, I ended up in tears bc we didn't even get on "It's a small world" until the end of the night when she was asleep already, largely bc the older girls wanted to ride big kid rides. I did try to talk to him about this, which just led to a fight. I think at the heart of it is that sometimes I just wish she could be our everything and that it was just her. I know this sounds awful but I do. Other times, I wish I hadn't fallen in love with him or that I had listened to the people who tried to warn me about the difficulties ahead. I've actually fantasized about me moving away with my daughter and asking my husband to leave not come find us. He would never do that bc he is too good of a daddy, but the thought has crossed my mind. I would never do that to any of them but that's how hard of a time I have with all of this sometimes. I think that's enough for now. I probably sound way crazy and mean and apologies ahead of time if I have offended anybody. Thanks for reading and thanks for any help anyone can offer.
Hi and Welcome to Mothering! I am going to move your thread to Blended and Step Family Parenting. THey have a ton of really great folks over there, and you have written such a complete post, I would hate for it to get lost in the introduction forum.
I hope you get some great advice. :)
Adina mama to B 4/06 and E 8/13/12 (on her due date!)
I am a step-mother to a now-11-year-old daughter and have three biological children with her dad as well. I have been step-parenting her since she was a toddler.
I will tell you that being a step-mother is absolutely the hardest thing I have done. It is complicated, both emotionally and practically. And we do this extraordinarily hard work with virtually no guidance and no support. Because everyone's situation and relationships are unique, even if you know some other step-mothers you may not know any whose situations are at all similar to yours. So we are left to do this really hard thing, with no model, no guidebook, no advice (or advice from people who've never tried it themselves), and we are basically making it up as we go. The media either gives us Cinderella's wicked step-mother on one hand or Carol Brady and Maria von Trapp on the other as our "models" for step-parenting, and very few examples in between.
So for now I will just say welcome to our community. I think you will find that your feelings are perfectly normal step-mother feelings! And many things you've experienced as a step-mother are actually common step-mothering occurances. Many of us have, at one time or another, felt many of the same feelings you feel guilty about and been through the same things you feel bad about. One of the best part of this community for me has been discovering that I am not alone, that other people understand how I am feeling, and that I am not an awful step-mother or awful person for not always living up to this mythical ideal that I somehow have in my head. So, welcome. I hope we can be helpful!!
Hmmm, I can see why you're upset, but I have a few thoughts.
If they were all your biological kids you wouldn't want him to favouritise they youngest. It's coming a across like maybe you feel a little bit that way, but that probably isn't what you intend.
Being 2, the youngest hasn't been in a position of needing to be treated 'the same' for very long, but it is definitely time to start considering her wants a little more. An example: my youngest who is nearly 2 notices when they big kids get a treat, so she gets something now, too. A year ago if we went to the candy store, she got nothing and that was fine. Not anymore.
You don't seem to expect that you all would spend 1/3 of your time on the baby rides at Disney, but your youngest definitely could have been given a bit more consideration.
She's a member of the family and her wishes are just as important as anyone else's. Someone else just needs to speak up for her for now, because she's 2. She probably doesn't know what her options are, half the time.
Maybe point out to your husband that the little one will be finding her voice soon and starting to expect some of the same treatment the big kids get. It will be easier to adopt the habit earlier than later... the big kids are used to taking turns, I'm sure. The little one needs to get her turn in the spotlight too. Just a turn, not all the time. You will probably feel better when that happens.
~Teresa, raising DS (Jan. 02) and DD1 (Jun. 04) and DD2 (Dec. 11) with DH.
Your feelings are understandable. But I do think you'd be less upset, if you had older (biological) kids.
#1 - Many good fathers LOVE and are affectionate toward their babies and toddlers, but have an easier time relating to older kids. This is especially true when the baby/toddler has a mother around, to tend to his/her needs. Maybe your husband seemed more focused on his older daughters, when they were 2 or 3. But he was a single parent, then. He didn't have their mother around during his parenting time, to take care of things he found boring, or wasn't good at.
Even if your daughter were your husband's first child, he probably still would seem less interested than you are, in picking out gifts for her 2nd birthday. At that age, they're babyish gifts and not much fun for him to think about playing with. Plus, your daughter is still too young to fully understand the concept of birthdays. When she's 7 or 8, there will be gifts she actually wants (as opposed to you guys picking out what you want her to play with). Some things will be games or toys that seem fun, to your husband. By then, your daughter will be very excited, for weeks before her birthday. That will make your husband more excited, about preparing for it.
#2 - If the older kids were "yours", instead of your husband's, you would not be able to give the youngest the same, intense focus you had given the oldest, when she was two. But you would realize the youngest wasn't less important or less loved. You'd see that - in many ways - she seemed MORE important and MORE loved, in the eyes of the older kids. Younger kids get accustomed to being carted around to older siblings' activities and not always being the center of attention...but there are positives about being the youngest, too. She will grow up loving her big sisters and never wish she didn't have them!
If the older ones were "yours", you might feel more assertive, when you think the baby's needs should be moved to the forefront. At Disney, you might have said, "I'm going to take the baby to It's a Small World, before she goes to sleep. Let's meet back at this lamppost, after you take the older girls on the ride they want to go on." Yes, you might have felt disappointed that everyone didn't go together. But that's how it is sometimes, with several kids. Had you felt more confident about what you wanted to do for the baby - and less upset at the thought of your husband not doing it with you - he might not have argued, but just followed your plan. Or, he and the older girls might have thought, "Wow! If she's going to go WITHOUT us, let's put off our ride 'til later and do It's a Small World with the baby!"
As far as the negativity from your step-daughters... one thing that makes step-mothering so hard is that we expect ourselves (and we think everyone else expects us) to love our step-kids "as if they were our own". If your step-kids act like they don't like you, it REALLY HURTS, if you're trying to think of them as "your own kids"!
But they're NOT our own. And, like Aricha suggested, there's not one right way to be a step-mother. If you're OPEN to being "a second mother" to your step-daughters...and that's the relationship they seem to want, too...great! But if they're feeling defensive of their mother and aren't nice to you...step back and think of them as you would any other relative of your husband's who came to visit. Be as polite, kind and welcoming as possible (even if they're rude). But let your husband do the parenting. Let them spend time alone together. And keep in mind that your family life with your husband and your daughter will continue, even after the older girls go back to their mother's...and even in 10 years, when they're away at college and your baby is still home.
And just because they're rude to you now, does not mean they will always be that way.
Your feelings are completely normal, and it's easy for me to relate. I think the first step should be compassion for yourself, it's okay to feel the way you feel. The rough part is figuring out what you need to change internally to deal with the situation, and what you can realistically expect from your dh. I would try to find a good therapist asap. Blended families can be tough, and due to our emotions it is easy to have a discussion turn into an arguement. A good therapist can really help with that.
Many men, particularly if they do not have primary or at least 50/50 custody, do tend to do more "disneyland dad" type parenting because they feel that since they don't get enough time, they need to "make up" for it by spoiling the kids and putting more energy and attention into them. While this is understandable, it tends to create conflict, as you are experiencing, and also, it really isn't good for the kids, as they tend to feel "special" instead of a regular family member. Sure, being spoiled is fun, but when they don't experience realistic family interactions, like being expected to do chores, natural consequenses, etc, it sets up a dynamic of Dad as the "fun guy" but not really a parent, kwim? I'm tired so probably not explaining this well.
In any case, this can be overcome, it sounds like your dh is willing to listen and work with you.
"Have faith in yourself and in the direction you have chosen." Ralph Marston