now a fulltime stepmom and having a hard time adjusting - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 8 Old 06-05-2006, 09:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My nearly 14 yr old sdd moved in with us a few weeks ago. Until this point, her visits were a week here and a week there. Three weeks was the longest she'd ever stayed at once. For the past three years she and I have had a pretty good relationship and I've been very pleased with how our relationship has developed. In the very early stages it was a rocky road filled with turmoil for everyone involved. Part of it is that sdd was living in a very unhealthy, sometimes neglectful/sometimes overprotective home- once of many reasons my husband now has custody.

But now she's here fulltime and I'm really having a hard time knowing hwere to draw the line on a lot of issues. I feel like I am walking on eggshells. If I question her or impose too many restrictions, my husband accuses me of not liking her or being happy about her living here now. If I complain to him about some of her habits that I dislike and don't approve of, he tells me it's up to me as the adult to adjust.

Well, I can't buy that. Some of her habits are just intolerable and unacceptable, IMO. For example, she drinks soda all day. Never water, never juice, just orange soda. 5, 6 or 7 cans a day. I hate this and told my husband it was best for her if we limit it to 1 can a day. He told me I was picking on the little things.

Another example, she chats in chatrooms and on MySpace for hours a day, sometimes sneaking in the laptop in her room and chatting until dawn. We've already caught her lying about her age once and I've caught her IM'ing with a man listed as a married 27 yr old. I think this is a very serious issue, a potential real danger. My husband thinks I am just "looking to control her".

Honestly, I am not trying to control her. I am only trying to do what's right by her. I don't think I am imposing rules on her that I wouldn't impose on my own bio children so I don't get why I am always accused of playing the role of wicked stepmother.

How do I do it? How do I take on the role of parent to this girl when her father debates me on everything. His objective- to keep her happy. Just keep her happy to keep the peace. My objective- to integrate her into the family and sometimes that will mean a few rules, even if she's unahppy about not downing a 6 pack of sugared soda a day.

I'm in tears. This is the most frustrated I've been in a long time. I feel like I can't win here. Either I battle my husband and do what I think is right as a parent or I back down and let her do as she pleases even though I know it's not anywhere near being good for her. :

This sucks. And what sucks the most is not being able to vent about it to anyone because as many of you know, the moment the stepmom says anything but "I just adore him!", they're pegged the evil, wicked step-parent and that's the end of that.


I would love to hear how some of you have managed to make it work.

TIA for letting me vent and the advice.
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#2 of 8 Old 06-05-2006, 10:13 PM
 
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IMO I would insist on rules that keep her safe, like monitoring discussions on chat rooms. Computers should be in community living space, especially during the teenage years for safety reasons. Eating and drinking different than you can be self destructive over time, but these habits may eventually change on their own. Certainly not anything that is extrordinarily dangerous. Talk over with your dh about a handful of safety rules that you both need to enforce and don't stress over anything else. Let your dh deal with any other issues on his own. Try to develop a loving, trusting relationship with your dsd.

I know it's hard to learn where to start and stop parenting step-kids. Raising step-kids is a learning experience. You will feel comfortable over time.

Good luck,
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#3 of 8 Old 06-05-2006, 11:23 PM
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that is exactly what I say to my dh when he tries to put in his 2-sense about my dd, his sdd. Our issues are a little different, he feels she can be clingy among other things - sometimes i feel like im walking on eggshells raising her around him. I guess if I am going to be honest with myself I can get too defensive when he brings things up about my daughter, but his delivery I feel ruins his message. So i guess I need to work on my defensiveness and he needs to work on his delivery. On the other side of things he has 3 ds - we have all four kids fulltime and I feel I constantly bite my tongue on things they do that I dont agree with, but you have to pick your battles. The last thing you want to do is be their authoritarian/ disciplinarian before you form a "good friendship" of some sort. His ds are teenagers - our issues are more texting all day and rated R movies, so the myspace chat thing I have to agree with you is a little scary! Maybe its your delivery, sprinkled with his defensiveness?
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#4 of 8 Old 06-18-2006, 04:37 PM
 
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i too am very shortly be going through the same situation...my husbands soon to be 13 year old daughter will be coming to live with us within the next month...she has had free reign with her mother in another state for the past 3 years...he talks to her almost every day and she has met me before she left..i will give you a hint at what im looking forward to she called her dad one day and asked how to blow the toilet up.shes the only child out of his marriage while i have three children back home ijn university so i have been through just about everything with a teen...but starting at 12 almost 13 i also think i will have my hands full....i know all about the myspace thing she has a website there and ...ok i admit im a sneak i check up her on it at times ...she does alot more than dad knows about and im not gonna tell him or her i know.....but i will be monitoring it alot more closely than her mother did...she gets up and i see her signed in on her msn from morning till midnight...what else she does who knows ...a little tip to you moms when you go on my space there is a part that says browse on the top and you can put in your zip code and it will show all kids that are over 18...sometimes kids put different ages in ...you would be surprised at some of the pictures these girls put on there...im no prude but geez im 45 and i wouldnt dare show some of the stuff they put on there plus the information they put mostly all have home town and enough info for any pervert to track them down if they want...all i can say is good luck im sure in time things will change...
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#5 of 8 Old 06-19-2006, 12:48 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LadyInfidel
How do I do it? How do I take on the role of parent to this girl when her father debates me on everything. .
You can't. Stop trying.

Stop buying soda if you don't like it. If he wants her to have soda he can make a special trip to buy her soda. They are not your teeth and not your problem.

If you can make decisions about paying for internet you can cancel it. If not then you really don't have any options here. I would ignore it. It isn't something you can do and what is bothering you is that you are banging your head into a brick wall and that hurts.

I am sorry but when your dh is determined to make her happy rather than parent there is nothing you can do but realize it is a brick wall and stop banging your head.

If there is a way to encourage your dh to see your pov it would be to transfer the burden of things to him as much as possible like making him buy the soda.

If you have specific issues I can help you problem solve but basically you need to determine your spere of real influence and focus on that instead of what you can't control and if he won't let you parent or if she won't accept your parenting then guess what- YOU CAN"T PARENT. You can try until the cows come home but you will fail and be angry and it will upset everyone.
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#6 of 8 Old 06-21-2006, 12:34 PM
 
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I can relate to this, as my DH's oldest DS 17 moved in with us just days prior to his birthday, then DH immediately left to go driving over the road (trucker) so I was left to pretty much handle the transition and it was awkward. I am already a full time SM to his younger two, and have been for five years. (with everyone here we have 8, his, mine and ours) THeir mom is deceased a year and a half now, due to a drug overdose, so they aren't so much an issue now that her negative influence is out of the picture. But with oldest DSS it has been a little harder. My DH wanted to keep him happy until the courts changed over the paperwork, which took 8 months. So I basically had to look the other way with a lot of things, or tell my husband to handle it even long distance, and a lot of times he'd let DSS slide. Drove me nuts, and the other kiddos noticed the lack of rules, and weren't very happy either. I felt/feel it wasn't fair all around, but DSS is now in Army bootcamp for the summer, and will return in the fall for his last year of school, so I guess we'll just have to see what happens then. I can't say what to do, other than have your DH parent that child, and just step aside. It can be maddening, but what can you do?? If it's an issue of computer, I'd lock it up with passwords. My DSS was allowed free reign at this mother's, had a myspace (and she knew it!) but here he knows he's not allowed online without permission and for school work only. We may be overprotective, but with all the crap going on online, overprotective is better than grieving over something that could have been avoided.
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#7 of 8 Old 06-22-2006, 07:47 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LadyInfidel
Honestly, I am not trying to control her. I am only trying to do what's right by her. I don't think I am imposing rules on her that I wouldn't impose on my own bio children so I don't get why I am always accused of playing the role of wicked stepmother.
This is such a hard, hard place to be. There's a totally sucky truth that I didn't tumble to until I'd been a SM for almost 3 years: the wicked stepmother myth is not a myth. It's not that SMs are, in general, wicked. It's because we will almost always be perceived that way by others. It's like people assume we will be jealous and hateful, so that's what they see. There's more to it than that, though. Everybody wants to protect the kids from the unfairness of being the victims of divorce or shared custody or whatever other difficulties they've faced. All of that is well and good, but raising a child with no boundaries (rules, consequences, discipline, whatever you choose to call it) is no way to protect them from anything.

Quote:
Originally Posted by LadyInfidel
How do I do it? How do I take on the role of parent to this girl when her father debates me on everything. His objective- to keep her happy. Just keep her happy to keep the peace. My objective- to integrate her into the family and sometimes that will mean a few rules, even if she's unahppy about not downing a 6 pack of sugared soda a day.
I'm sorry to say it, but you can't. The only hope you would have of changing her behavior and enforcing some rules would be if your DH was 100% on board, backing you up, making decisions with you, and letting SD know, in no uncertain terms, that you are to be respected and obeyed. If DH won't do that, then your hands are tied. I know, it's terrible. I really, really know. My SS displays behavior sometimes that just shocks the sh*t out of me. I, too, would be extremely concerned about your SD's behavior when she's online. Scared senseless is more like it, but your don't have the authority to bring it to an end.

The best I can suggest is that you and your DH visit a therapist who has experience with step family life. I can almost guarantee that your DH is parenting from a place of guilt and fear, which is a weak way to parent because it hamstrings us. I'm divorced from my older children's father, and I'm a stepmom, and I've done it and seen it done and it's ugly. First, there's guilt over the divorce. Then there's guilt because your'e not with the kid as much as you'd like. And finally there's the fear that the other parent is doing it better, that the child likes the other parent more, that the kid will up and choose to go live with the other parent. Those are not emotional places from which most people are able to parent with strength, and laying out reasonable boundaries for children's behavior requires a fair amount of emotional fortitude, esp. with adolescents.

I'm sorry it's so hard. There are some great articles out there, written by stepmothers, about how to disengage. I don't have any to send you, but they're easy enough to find with a google search. It's a hard road, seeing what a child needs and being powerless to provide it, but make no mistake, you are powerless. As step-parents, out only power in the lives of our stepchildren is bestowed on us by the biological parent to whom we are married. Without that, I'm afraid, we got nothin'.

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#8 of 8 Old 06-26-2006, 02:53 AM
 
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Mommy-Mine is right.

You can't parent a stepchild.

It's a desperately hard situation and there is such limited resources for stepparents!!!!

I do make requests of her that have to do with my living space (like please pick up wet towel from the floor) because I feel that it's my house (I know lots of people disagree with this--no flames please). But other than that, any time I try then I end up being the bad guy with both her and DH.

So...I've come to accept it and just practice biting my tongue. Deep breathing. Patience. Zen Mode.

Good luck--keep posting and talking though. Who else can we talk to about this but each other, right???

--Adrienne
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