I'm tired of being a stepparent (VENT) - Page 5 - Mothering Forums
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#121 of 148 Old 03-20-2008, 05:46 PM
 
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Originally Posted by PoppyMama View Post
This I can understand and I feel for you. I can believe that step-moms deserve a safe space and that venting is good....and I do...but as a biomom (and it's weird for me to even have to use that word) I live in abject terror of these feelings. I know that some of the single moms have a small private board that only single moms from MDC are allowed on to and I wonder if something similar for step-moms might help. Not that I don't think this is the place for stating honest feelings but it's hard to read this and not post.
You don't have to use the word "biomom." You are the mom.
When I find it hard to read threads or forums here, I make the choice to just stay out them. Or if a particular poster is causing me angst, not because of UA violations, but just making me uncomfortable, I've found that using the ignore button keeps my sanity intact. Not saying you need to do that, but if our posts and feelings are striking terror in you, it might be time to step back. (And if you could hear me, I'm saying this gently and with complete understanding.)

We are all struggling through things. My issues with my family situation aren't going to be resolved through something you do, anymore than your particular situation will be changed by what I do, or what I feel. None of us have done anything to hurt any other of us here, but i think we still seem to take things personally. Human nature, I guess.

I thought about pm'ing the person who started the single mom offshoot to see how they did it. It does seem like a nice idea. Thanks.

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#122 of 148 Old 03-20-2008, 05:57 PM
 
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I thought the Blended and Step Family Parenting board catered to both step-mothers and biomothers dealing with blended family situations. If I am wrong please let me know so that I can take myself back to the single-parent forum where I can be free to be an irresponsible subpar parent who should have waited instead of getting knocked up.

There are situations where the step-parent is the primary care provider but in most other situations I do think that "original" mom does have the most insight and aptitude to care for her child.
I was giving an example of something that might offend.

I did add the disclaimer, "But, of course, I don't believe all of that, and I'm not a flame thrower" at the end of the first paragraph (included in the part you quoted), but I guess I should have put it in bold font to draw attention to it.

I don't think all single moms are screwups. Far from it. My point was that telling stepmoms that they aren't up to par if they haven't had their own kids is outrageous and offensive, so I tried to simulate a statement that would draw ire from another group. Clearly, it did.

I think some people are naturally better with kids than others, and I have seen no evidence to suggest that that quality changes after giving birth.

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#123 of 148 Old 03-20-2008, 06:04 PM
 
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Couldn't there be a stepmom subforum and a biomom subforum? It seems like there is not a ton of understanding between the two groups here.
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#124 of 148 Old 03-20-2008, 06:05 PM
 
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I'm curious. Do you have your own biological (or adopted young) children?
It's OK. I feel comfortable answering this question.

I had my own biological child and I am pregnant with my second.

What I mean by 'had' is, that he died just before his first birthday of a rare and incurable disease.

Now, this question is strictly for the sake of argument and not intended to ruffle any feathers...This is taken from my personal experience and I am comfortable with using my experience to ask difficult questions...

If I were to use similar logic as stating that a woman with no experience being a biological or adoptive mother has no business attempting to help raise someone else's child - would it be fair then to say that since my first and thus far only maternal experience ended in the death of my child, that I too have no business helping to raise someone else's? Should my negative experience be seen as even more threatening and/or dangerous than a lack of experience? Or is it safe to say that it truly is essential to get to know a little more about the individual you are referring to, before concluding what their personal strengths, abilities, and limitations may or may not be based on surface information?
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#125 of 148 Old 03-20-2008, 06:08 PM
 
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Wow... I don't understand why a first obligation would be held in such revere? Should not the parents have EQUAL responsibility to ALL their children across the board??
Well, I'd say so if you're talking about a single family (although, again, nobody is going to step in and say "You have to spend as much on Child #2 as you spent on Child #1, you have to love her as much, you have to give her the same opportunities, etc.").

Child support seldom pays half the actual cost of raising a child, even though it can be a lot of money. Thanks to various add-ons in my decree -- which my ex didn't have to accept -- and thanks to the fact that his income his much higher than median, he does pay almost half of the difference between my supporting myself alone, and my providing a home for me and dd. It's not a very exciting place, but as single motherhood goes it's pretty good -- a small, well-maintained 3br house with a yard in a safe neighborhood near a good school. She has health insurance; once a week she has gymnastics and violin. By the time she's ready for college she should have her tuition taken care of, in-state. I pay just over half of all that, doing work that allows me to pick her up from school without fearing I'll lose my job.

That's a fairly remarkable deal for a single mother.

Legislators know perfectly well that child support does not pay half of the cost of raising children, and that a good chunk of it is never collected. They are reluctant, on the whole, to interfere with the system in a way that makes children poorer. Mainly because they don't want to support the kids on TANF, food stamps, Medicaid, etc. If men paying child support have more children, but cannot afford to support those children while meeting their prior obligations, they view the men as irresponsible. And because they view policy as carrots and sticks, they tend to look at a redistribution after more children as an incentive for the men to have kids they can't afford. In part because it gives new wives and girlfriends some incentive to have children with the man. And they don't want the fella spreading his seed, so to speak, unless he can actually pay adequately and reliably for all the babies.

So it's not reverence, JSMa. It's taxes. If reverence were involved, non-custodial parents would keep much less money, and deadbeats would be rounded up/garnished/repo'd at a much higher rate.
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#126 of 148 Old 03-20-2008, 06:24 PM
 
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Couldn't there be a stepmom subforum and a biomom subforum? It seems like there is not a ton of understanding between the two groups here.
Yeah, I've wondered this, also.

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Legislators know perfectly well that child support does not pay half of the cost of raising children, and that a good chunk of it is never collected. They are reluctant, on the whole, to interfere with the system in a way that makes children poorer. Mainly because they don't want to support the kids on TANF, food stamps, Medicaid, etc. If men paying child support have more children, but cannot afford to support those children while meeting their prior obligations, they view the men as irresponsible. And because they view policy as carrots and sticks, they tend to look at a redistribution after more children as an incentive for the men to have kids they can't afford. In part because it gives new wives and girlfriends some incentive to have children with the man. And they don't want the fella spreading his seed, so to speak, unless he can actually pay adequately and reliably for all the babies.
With all due respect, mama41, shouldn't the same rules apply to Mothers, also? If they can't afford to support their child, why is it considered okay for a single Mother to remarry and have more children if she wants, but looked down upon if a divorced Father does the same? (Not trying to be snarky, I'm asking a serious question.)

And as for incentive to have children with my Husband (I'm his "new" wife), I would like to have children with him because I love him and I wish to have a family with him, not because I want more of his money and I can't be the only one with this mindset. For the record, my Hubby and I won't be having more children because we can't afford it, but what's wrong with wanting children with your Hubby, whether you're his first, second or eighth wife?

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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#127 of 148 Old 03-20-2008, 06:34 PM
 
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That's interesting. Do you have some kind of link with that info? I'm curious now. That's something I've got to see first hand to believe.
Well, I don't give out geo info online, but if you check state child support support units, you should be able to find the info.

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Giving the benefit of the doubt can work wonders toward creating a positive experience for oneself and others. Doubting something for no other reason but to doubt it....what's the point?
Understand that doubting it is not the same as focusing a mind-driven beam of failure at it. If your small child wants to cross a busy street alone, you know he might get across just fine, but the odds are that he'll get hit, so you say no. In the same way, a mother has a job of protection to do when it comes to seeing her child become involved in a marriage which -- odds are -- will fail. In that case it doesn't mean saying, "No, you can't go," or "This will never work," or "Oh, this woman's going to leave your family," all of which would be harmful. But it does mean being prepared to see the child lose another relationship, another family, and help the child through. And part of that means being very cautious about placing parenting weight on the wife, rather than on the father, whom the child can't lose.

And again, I see no need to involve the child in the reasoning. If my dd asked why I didn't just deal with a new wife, I'm sure I'd say something like, "Well, I'm just comfortable talking with your dad, because I know him better," and let her be baffled about it, or decide I was somehow slow or deficient (being, after all, Mom). I don't give her open, adult answers for why I don't come along on trips to her grandparents', either. There's plenty of time for all that, if she wants to sort through all the viewpoints when she's older.

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How are population statistics the best available information when the couple themselves are a just a phone call, conversation, or a visit away?
Because it's an intimate relationship on which the ex has no business intruding.

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It seems silly to me to go into a situation with the steadfast assumption that failure is certain, and then blame statistics for the failure.
You're misunderstanding what statistics are and do. Stats don't cause failure; they predict failure, given past 2nd-marriage divorce rates. And the stats don't say second marriages are certain to fail. They say that second marriages are likely to fail. But they are in no way active agents in the marriage holding or falling apart. That's all up to you guys. You might liken it to your risk of, say, heart disease. You can improve your odds if you exercise, eat well, reduce stress, take statins if necessary, etc. And there are things you can do in your marriage to reduce the risk of divorce. But these are not things that the ex-wife is privy to, nor should be, I think.
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#128 of 148 Old 03-20-2008, 06:45 PM
 
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Wow, I am just glad that my situation is nothing like what you all are talking about. When I said I thought mdc mothers were different, I meant that they might not fit into the stats for second marraiges. We are more self aware and thoughtful about how we raise our children, imo. Orelse what are we doing here and awhy are we making ap choices that are more work for us but bebefitour children tremendously?

All four of the parents involved in my situation are very ap. Dp was never married, but has a beautiful son with a beautiful woman. Ex and I were married, but I was too young and just wanted a baby. I would never marry again unless I was sure, and I was not sure with ex. So, I know that I will do fine.

Dp's mom had her second marraige to a widower with four girls, and she only had dp. They had one more baby together. They divorced 15 years later, and she still has a relationship with the girls and grandchildren. So that is a norm in their family.

I just think every situation is different, and for me, I know the risks involved with lovinghis son too much. But niether dp or mom would ever do anything to harm their son, so I am trusting in the good of people for now.

So, who is going to start a sub forum? I think the two sides are just so different. I will be a part of both since I have a bioson too, but I am not getting good feedback from moms that are not stepmoms so far. Just to be honest.
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#129 of 148 Old 03-20-2008, 06:46 PM
 
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Also, I think that the forum does a fine job of supporting both parts of the blended family, but a thread might be geared towards one or the other. For instance, a thread about the feelings about being a stepparent is probably a good place for stepparents, and if moms in blended relationships want to talk about their issues with being in a blended family, maybe starting another thread to talk about that would be good. Or if people want to discuss child support guidelines, they could start a spin off.

We have a whole forum here. Let's use it.
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#130 of 148 Old 03-20-2008, 06:47 PM
 
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My son spilled water on my keyboard, fyi, for anyone that wonders about all the errors in my posts :0
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#131 of 148 Old 03-20-2008, 06:52 PM
 
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With all due respect, mama41, shouldn't the same rules apply to Mothers, also? If they can't afford to support their child, why is it considered okay for a single Mother to remarry and have more children if she wants, but looked down upon if a divorced Father does the same? (Not trying to be snarky, I'm asking a serious question.)
Er...not to put too fine a point on it, but you may have noticed that most legislatures are still run by men. Most of them middle-aged or older. There's still considerable sexism (and I say that after having worked in legislatures and as a state news reporter). The man gets the lion's share of the blame for knocking up women with babies he can't pay for.

On the other hand, a single mother who has more children without marrying a man (who's presumed to be a breadwinner) -- that brings down unbelievable wrath. And calls for involuntary sterilization programs.

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And as for incentive to have children with my Husband (I'm his "new" wife), I would like to have children with him because I love him and I wish to have a family with him, not because I want more of his money and I can't be the only one with this mindset. For the record, my Hubby and I won't be having more children because we can't afford it,
Ah. That's what they like to hear at the statehouse. Well, they like it better than, "We can't afford it, but we're having more kids anyway."

You would think that the whole "economic incentive" thing would be dead by now, because not too many people really sit down and say, "Gee, if I have a kid, I can get $2,384 next year from EIC, plus $1K from the CTC, and take the exemption, too -- and, hey, I could get WIC for five years." They have kids out of love, or obligation, or out of indecision, or, in some cases, lack of access to abortion clinics. But as it turns out, when you look at masses of people -- which is what the legislators do -- people actually do respond to economic incentives and disincentives.

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but what's wrong with wanting children with your Hubby, whether you're his first, second or eighth wife?
Nothing wrong with wanting. As far as the legislators are concerned, there's no problem with doing either, if you can support the kids after H pays his child support. It's when he comes back looking to reduce c/s on the previous kids that the lawmakers start getting edgy -- again, because you're increasing the likelihood that those kids will end up on some form of welfare. And again, the ones they blame first are the men. They're just counting on you to protect yourself from men's randy "populate the universe" ways.
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#132 of 148 Old 03-20-2008, 08:22 PM
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Yeah, I've wondered this, also.



With all due respect, mama41, shouldn't the same rules apply to Mothers, also? If they can't afford to support their child, why is it considered okay for a single Mother to remarry and have more children if she wants, but looked down upon if a divorced Father does the same? (Not trying to be snarky, I'm asking a serious question.)
it's because the laws do not come from a genuine place of concern for families. they just don't wan them on large amounts of federal aid. as long as the mother (or custodial father) is providing money through their new spouse the legal system is not concerned. that money isn't coming out of collected taxes. i think we have a terrible problem in this country with equating legal with good and illegal with bad. or legally complicated with immoral and easy with moral. i'm not saying you made that error. it's just that i think that might be the reason some people evaluate the situation in a way you find confusing.the guiding moral idea behind many of these laws is not that of protecting children but the idea that poor people are bad and that being poor means one exists in a morally inferior position. as long as people are able to meet their financial obligations without government help they will not be penalized.
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#133 of 148 Old 03-20-2008, 08:27 PM
 
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Understand that doubting it is not the same as focusing a mind-driven beam of failure at it. If your small child wants to cross a busy street alone, you know he might get across just fine, but the odds are that he'll get hit, so you say no. In the same way, a mother has a job of protection to do when it comes to seeing her child become involved in a marriage which -- odds are -- will fail. In that case it doesn't mean saying, "No, you can't go," or "This will never work," or "Oh, this woman's going to leave your family," all of which would be harmful. But it does mean being prepared to see the child lose another relationship, another family, and help the child through. And part of that means being very cautious about placing parenting weight on the wife, rather than on the father, whom the child can't lose.
I can see your point here. This makes sense. However, what the mom doesn't realize sometimes (usually) is that the bond between the stepkid and stepmom can be very strong, whether she encourages it or not. So refusing to talk parenting with another parent just comes off as petty and jealous, even if that's not the motivation. Case in point: my DSD just gave me an Easter card. She was so pleased with herself -- handed me the card in the envelope, saying it was a card she made for me. I opened it up, and she had drawn a picture on the front, and inside the card, in her mom's writing (DSD doesn't read yet) it said "Happy Easter Daddy!" It was just so silly.

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#134 of 148 Old 03-20-2008, 08:38 PM
 
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Er...not to put too fine a point on it, but you may have noticed that most legislatures are still run by men. Most of them middle-aged or older. There's still considerable sexism (and I say that after having worked in legislatures and as a state news reporter). The man gets the lion's share of the blame for knocking up women with babies he can't pay for.
Exactly. It's all based on this old-school sexist notion that women can't take care of themselves.

Actually, in our case, I know if DH had other kids and there was a CS order, it does reduce the amount the first kids get. He said his lawyer said it even reduces their take a little if I have a baby, but I need to read the documentation myself before I'd believe that. And it was a tiny reduction anyway -- certainly not worth reopening it in court.

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#135 of 148 Old 03-20-2008, 08:47 PM
 
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I urge you all to re-read Violet's post. She was not saying those things about single Mom's... she was giving examples as to why a comment may be cutting to a step-mom in an analogy. She was not actually saying those things as things she thought, and said this a few times in her post.

I think her post was very eloquent and diplomatic, if you read it carefully and all the way through, it has a lot of insight.


I just want to say Step-Mom's sacrifice a lot for their (step)kids too. Not just bio parents stay up late nursing fevers and cleaning up vomit, and love and bonding and sacrificing getting clothes to ensure the kids have the best and so on... Yes, I did not birth DSD or nurse her... but either did DP and he is still considered all knowing of his daughter, correct? As a bio parent? So how is it so unfathomable that a Step-Mom can build the same kind of bond, similiar to what a Father builds?

Neither have the chance to bond through carrying or nursing the child, but both do build bonds.

Also... take into consideration natural maternal instincts. Many women have them. You know the ones... just seeing them giving care and teaching children, the baby-sitters and teachers that you know will be an amazing Mom!

I just don't think it should be ruled out that a Step parent could never be a "full" parent or the same as a "bio" parent... there are no other more hurtful words than that statement. I give 100% devotion to DSD and being the best Step-Mom I can be. I plan on doing the same for my future children... if this doesn't make me a parent simply because I did not birth DSD, then I guess my DP isn't a parent either because he didn't birth her???

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#136 of 148 Old 03-20-2008, 09:22 PM
 
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Child support seldom pays half the actual cost of raising a child, even though it can be a lot of money. [...]
That's a fairly remarkable deal for a single mother.
Sounds like you do have a good deal. Hubby's ex is also doing quite well.

One thing about this forum: if you think about it, the type of woman who marries a man with kids and takes on a motherly enough role to go to this particular board to post about it is, in all likelihood, not married to a deadbeat dad. Either financially or emotionally. Our guys pay up, and they are involved in their kids' lives. And many of them pay a lot. Many pay more than you might think and a lot pay well over half the child costs. The low numbers quoted on the single mom forum often make me gasp, as they are often woefully inadequate. Over here, not so much.

So, I feel like much of the venting by moms on the single mom forum and here are venting about a completely different set of men than the stepmoms here are married to and know about. So there is some of the disconnect, perhaps. The guys who fathered children and then left them high and dry are not marrying women who grow to love the kids and go to an AP board to refine their interactions. So we hear that venting and wonder where the moms are coming from. Then the moms, who in many cases have unreliable exes, are very unlikely to trust their ex's judgment in picking another parental figure, and they also know that guy who left them with no support is likely to have another failed relationship. So maybe that has at least a bit to do with our sometimes wildly different perspectives?

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#137 of 148 Old 03-20-2008, 09:43 PM
 
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Another wonderfully thoughtful and insightful post, Violet!!

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#138 of 148 Old 03-20-2008, 09:44 PM
 
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Another wonderfully thoughtful and insightful post, Violet!!
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#139 of 148 Old 03-20-2008, 09:47 PM
 
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Sounds like you do have a good deal. Hubby's ex is also doing quite well.

One thing about this forum: if you think about it, the type of woman who marries a man with kids and takes on a motherly enough role to go to this particular board to post about it is, in all likelihood, not married to a deadbeat dad. Either financially or emotionally. Our guys pay up, and they are involved in their kids' lives. And many of them pay a lot. Many pay more than you might think and a lot pay well over half the child costs. The low numbers quoted on the single mom forum often make me gasp, as they are often woefully inadequate. Over here, not so much.

So, I feel like much of the venting by moms on the single mom forum and here are venting about a completely different set of men than the stepmoms here are married to and know about. So there is some of the disconnect, perhaps. The guys who fathered children and then left them high and dry are not marrying women who grow to love the kids and go to an AP board to refine their interactions. So we hear that venting and wonder where the moms are coming from. Then the moms, who in many cases have unreliable exes, are very unlikely to trust their ex's judgment in picking another parental figure, and they also know that guy who left them with no support is likely to have another failed relationship. So maybe that has at least a bit to do with our sometimes wildly different perspectives?
Could be, but from what I've seen, a lot of those moms are in the early stages of divorce and separation, when no one is at their best.

If you don't mind my asking, I've been wondering why your dp didn't fight it when his ex moved 2000 miles away with the kids. A guy I dated a few years ago had a terrible, drawn-out custody fight because his ex wanted to move the kids about the same distance, but ultimately he won because he proved that he had an established pattern of care in the area. When my ex and I were in mediation, we made sure we had a clause about relocating (which is why I commute 90 minutes each way--so my son can be close to his dad).
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#140 of 148 Old 03-20-2008, 09:59 PM
 
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I just don't think it should be ruled out that a Step parent could never be a "full" parent or the same as a "bio" parent... there are no other more hurtful words than that statement. I give 100% devotion to DSD and being the best Step-Mom I can be. I plan on doing the same for my future children... if this doesn't make me a parent simply because I did not birth DSD, then I guess my DP isn't a parent either because he didn't birth her???
With all due respect, to me there is no more hurtful comment than someone assuming she could mother my child 'equally' to me. Think about having the child your ttc, getting divorced, having someone else marry your ex and believe that makes her 'equal' to you as a mom. I haven't had to deal with this experience, thankfully, as the step-mom in my case has been very sensitive and respectful.

In the post that caused the intense reactions, I was speaking (and identified it as such) from my own feelings and wanted to explore how other people felt about the issue. I tried to identify that I wasn't debating or making an argument. As a biomom involved with a man who has kids (to whom I may become a stepmom), I am very very careful about the boundaries, to honor their history and, to me, unique bond. Maybe it's different than other's experiences because the kids have been raised by biomom since birth, and I'm coming into the picture when they are almost double-digit kids. I would NEVER presume to be equal to their mom.
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I do not want to be argumentative either... merely state my own feelings and what my own thoughts/opinions are.

I do not presume to be equal to DSD's Mother... but I do not feel any less of a parent... I know that may not make sense.

I do not want to take away the fact that DSD has a Mother. But I think we can both exist as Mother's in her life.

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#142 of 148 Old 03-20-2008, 11:29 PM
 
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With all due respect, to me there is no more hurtful comment than someone assuming she could mother my child 'equally' to me. Think about having the child your ttc, getting divorced, having someone else marry your ex and believe that makes her 'equal' to you as a mom. I haven't had to deal with this experience, thankfully, as the step-mom in my case has been very sensitive and respectful.

In the post that caused the intense reactions, I was speaking (and identified it as such) from my own feelings and wanted to explore how other people felt about the issue. I tried to identify that I wasn't debating or making an argument. As a biomom involved with a man who has kids (to whom I may become a stepmom), I am very very careful about the boundaries, to honor their history and, to me, unique bond. Maybe it's different than other's experiences because the kids have been raised by biomom since birth, and I'm coming into the picture when they are almost double-digit kids. I would NEVER presume to be equal to their mom.
I would never presume myself to be a mom to them either. Even though I met the little one before she was two. But I do consider myself a parent. This may be an odd way to explain it, but maybe more of a female dad. I've known them since they were little, I see them as much as he does and I care for them as much as he does, so I kind of feel on par with him. Not her though. Nothing replaces the whole birthing/feeding/primary physical placement thing. She's the primary parent in a lot of ways and I do try to respect that, and I've told her as much. I told her I don't think of myself as their mom, and I think she appreciated that.

Also, if the your DP's kids are nearing double digits, I can see it being a totally different relationship. I met DSD when she was so little. I've changed her diapers, potty trained her, and am still her primary in some ways when she's with us, so I feel very parental towards her. I also feel very parental towards DSS, who I met at 5, but that took a LOT longer.

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#143 of 148 Old 03-21-2008, 12:10 AM
 
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Again, I have to agree with Violet. She found better words to express similiar thoughts/feelings of my own.

Obviously I know I cannot replace DSD's Mother... nor do I want to. But I do see myself as a full parent, and definitely on par with DP as a full team member to him in parenting when DSD is with us, which is half the week, and every other weekend.

I am very Motherly to DSD, as I have a ton of ingrained motherly instincts... I get that from my own Mother, and my maternal grandmother... we are just that way. My Mom was like this with all her daycare children too.

Plus, same as Violet... my DSD is only 3 1/2... I have helped/am helping potty train her. I bathe her, tuck her in at night, read her bedtime stories, take care of her when she is sick, somtimes I'm the one who stays home from work to take care of her. She trusts me, and so does DP and DSD's Mom.

There is no doubt in my mind that I am a parent.

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#144 of 148 Old 03-21-2008, 12:36 AM
 
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Understand that doubting it is not the same as focusing a mind-driven beam of failure at it.
Applying this principle in reverse, why bother to encourage your children to succeed? If your attitude toward their success or failure makes no difference in whether or not they succeed, then why not just resign one's self to the inevitable statistical probability and encourage them to do the same?

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And again, I see no need to involve the child in the reasoning. If my dd asked why I didn't just deal with a new wife, I'm sure I'd say something like, "Well, I'm just comfortable talking with your dad, because I know him better," and let her be baffled about it, or decide I was somehow slow or deficient (being, after all, Mom). I don't give her open, adult answers for why I don't come along on trips to her grandparents', either. There's plenty of time for all that, if she wants to sort through all the viewpoints when she's older.
Understand that you may be the minority in this respect.

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Because it's an intimate relationship on which the ex has no business intruding.
If the intention is not to intrude, then why take a stance that it is bound to fail? Why take any stance at all?

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You're misunderstanding what statistics are and do. Stats don't cause failure; they predict failure, given past 2nd-marriage divorce rates. And the stats don't say second marriages are certain to fail. They say that second marriages are likely to fail. But they are in no way active agents in the marriage holding or falling apart. That's all up to you guys. You might liken it to your risk of, say, heart disease. You can improve your odds if you exercise, eat well, reduce stress, take statins if necessary, etc. And there are things you can do in your marriage to reduce the risk of divorce. But these are not things that the ex-wife is privy to, nor should be, I think.
I understand what statistics do. I do not believe that statistics cause failure. And in reality, statistics don’t predict failure. At the very best, they tell you a likelihood of failure. But knowing there is a 50% chance of something happening to you verses not doesn’t come close to telling you which half you will fall into. If statistics were truly predictive, they would.

It takes no additional effort and manifests no statistical error to behave as though the relationship you’re thinking of will be one of the 50% (or 40 or 30 or 10) that succeeds instead of one of the 50% that fails.

The attitude an ex exhibits toward a new wife or ex spouse, or the influences an ex exerts on the children involved can have significant effects on the fledging relationship. Regardless of whether or not that influence is negative, the very predicament of one half of the partnership being obligated to maintain a relationship with an ex for co-parenting purposes etc, adds a source of potential stress and conflict not present in other relationships. If the ex is abusive, alienating, unnecessarily controlling, pushy - then that effect is magnified and decidedly negative.

Like I said, there are reasons behind why the statistics are what they are. They aren't predictions handed down from on high. They are reflective of the average experience of the average person and that includes much more than just a tabulation of the final result of events. There are influences and circumstances at work beneath the numbers.
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#145 of 148 Old 03-21-2008, 12:52 AM
 
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it's because the laws do not come from a genuine place of concern for families. they just don't wan them on large amounts of federal aid. as long as the mother (or custodial father) is providing money through their new spouse the legal system is not concerned. that money isn't coming out of collected taxes. i think we have a terrible problem in this country with equating legal with good and illegal with bad. or legally complicated with immoral and easy with moral. i'm not saying you made that error. it's just that i think that might be the reason some people evaluate the situation in a way you find confusing.the guiding moral idea behind many of these laws is not that of protecting children but the idea that poor people are bad and that being poor means one exists in a morally inferior position. as long as people are able to meet their financial obligations without government help they will not be penalized.
Well, I agree that the laws aren't made for families (boy, was divorce law a wake-up. It's one step away from debtor's prison and other law for poor people). But I think there's more to it than moralizing. I don't know about you, but I don't want to pay extra taxes just because some group of people assume that I'll support their kids if they don't.

I used to be a real good pinko, giving and openhearted and all that, but a few years of close contact with serious mental illness and social services convinced me that a) there are such things as ratholes and entitlement, and it's best not to throw energy and money into them; b) social services employees are not in my corner; they're for the permanently or chronically broken, not for middle-class types temporarily down on their luck. Between the two, I'm much less openhanded than I used to be. Add to that a few years of living in Section-8 land (my whole building went Sec 8 a few months after I left the neighborhood, and I'm sure considerable chunks of the formerly-working-class neighborhood around were solid Sec 8), and I'm less sanguine about the prospects of lifting the kids out of poverty and into middle-class wonderfulness. Too much of the culture they come from weighs against it. Which is not to say there aren't exceptions; there are. However. While I'm raising my own child, I'd prefer not to pay for others' lack of foresight, arithmetic, and birth control. (Sigh) And having seen addiction and unmedicated mental illness up close, I'm no longer as offended by the idea of "clean needles for Depo shots" programs as I once was, either.

Violet, I think you're right, I think that income- and responsibilitywise, this board may be unusual. In my state, the average CS order is for $300/mo. (I can tell you that mine's higher than that, but well under $1K.) And people, esp. fathers'-rights groups, become apoplectic when it's suggested that it's inadequate. I've heard men and women become indignant when I've suggested that it's only fair for each parent to pay half the actual costs, which usually aren't that hard to determine, unless they come to some other voluntary arrangement. (Obviously you'd have to make some exceptions in there, but on the whole.) The court system does not really expect the father, esp. the noncustodial father, to remain significantly involved in the children's lives, either. The expectations of the men, all around, are so low that I had to fight with my own battleax-feminist lawyer to include stuff in the proposal that I thought important; she just thought it was a waste of time, and that I should lower my expectations. So yes, that may be a real difference.

On the other hand, I know nice, responsible women married to nice, responsible men who remain involved in their children's lives...well, the women painfully aware of the c/s numbers, and of what it means their own children don't have, and there really is some element of surprise there. And great forbearance when it comes to pushing for a renegotiation of support and other obligations. Well, sometimes not so great. I think part of the problem is that we really don't talk about how much it costs to raise children if you don't live in a shack with a dirt floor and a doorknob for yanking out rotten teeth. (Apologies if I have insulted any sharecroppers on the board.) I had to do some pretty good digging, before I got pregnant, to find the numbers, and I had to add things up myself before I believed what I was seeing. The quiet is just part of the "raising children isn't important enough to talk about in a serious way" mentality.

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So refusing to talk parenting with another parent just comes off as petty and jealous, even if that's not the motivation. Case in point: my DSD just gave me an Easter card. She was so pleased with herself -- handed me the card in the envelope, saying it was a card she made for me. I opened it up, and she had drawn a picture on the front, and inside the card, in her mom's writing (DSD doesn't read yet) it said "Happy Easter Daddy!" It was just so silly.
Well, that strikes me as more than silly -- it strikes me as uncivil. (Unless the child had actually made it for her father, and told her mother it was for her father, and then, when the kid saw you, she decided it was for you instead. My 4.5-yo does that sort of thing all the time.) But pettiness and jealousy...yeah, I'd be willing to have the kid believe that of me for a while. Esp. through the tween-teen years, when any kid with a heart in her burns to fix the world by giving it a Coke and teaching it to sing in harmony. It's just part of the job.
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#146 of 148 Old 03-21-2008, 12:58 AM
 
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Well, that strikes me as more than silly -- it strikes me as uncivil.
Unfortunately, it's not uncommon...
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#147 of 148 Old 03-21-2008, 04:26 AM
 
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Nika, I don't think there's much point in drawing this out, so I'll make this the last one on this spur.

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Applying this principle in reverse, why bother to encourage your children to succeed? If your attitude toward their success or failure makes no difference in whether or not they succeed, then why not just resign one's self to the inevitable statistical probability and encourage them to do the same?
You're mixing up the mother-child relationship (where the mother is involved) and the spousal relationship (where the ex is not, or shouldn't be).

You also need to define "success" and "at what". My father had an unusual approach to encouragement, and when I was a kid and a young woman it made me angry, but around 30 I began to see that it was remarkably wise. He really didn't encourage much. He prodded, and tested, and sparred, and when I said I wanted to do something, he showed almost no reaction besides an all-purpose, friendly, noncommittal "OK," as if it wasn't his business and he wasn't all that interested. I knew he thought I was capable, though I didn't know what he thought I might be capable of. But he didn't offer much direction, and he sure wasn't a cheerleader.

Now I understand that he gave me a tremendous gift. He stayed out of my way and let me find my work. By not weighing in, pro or con, and not encouraging or discouraging, he let that discovery be my own, and didn't give me a chance to seek his approval by going in some direction he seemed to think was good. I know now that he wasn't at all surprised that I found the work I did. But he never let on, and even now he tends to stand back, even though he watches and listens carefully.


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Understand that you may be the minority in this respect.
It's possible. On the other hand, the MDC default -- be upfront with the kids about everything -- is not a universal. There's still a large part of the world that operates on You'll Thank Me When You're Older.

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If the intention is not to intrude, then why take a stance that it is bound to fail?
Again, that's not the stance. The stance is that it's likely to fail.

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Why take any stance at all?
Because of the potential for damage to the child if the marriage breaks up. If there's a likelihood of failure, given best available info, one wants to protect one's child as far as one reasonably can.

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And in reality, statistics don’t predict failure. At the very best, they tell you a likelihood of failure. But knowing there is a 50% chance of something happening to you verses not doesn’t come close to telling you which half you will fall into. If statistics were truly predictive, they would.

It takes no additional effort and manifests no statistical error to behave as though the relationship you’re thinking of will be one of the 50% (or 40 or 30 or 10) that succeeds instead of one of the 50% that fails.
You're correct about likelihood v. prediction. However, you forgot to put stakes in your reading of likelihood, and that sucks the meaning out of it. The failure rate for second marriages is 60-70%, so let's be generous and say 60%. While it's certainly possible that the marriage may stick, if you had to put a dollar on it and you cared about the dollar, you'd put it on "fail". I have something considerably more important than a dollar at stake. I have a child's psychological wellbeing at stake. So of course I'll be polite, and pleasant, and expect the marriage will likely fail, and prepare for that failure while hoping for the best.

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The attitude an ex exhibits toward a new wife or ex spouse, or the influences an ex exerts on the children involved can have significant effects on the fledging relationship. Regardless of whether or not that influence is negative, the very predicament of one half of the partnership being obligated to maintain a relationship with an ex for co-parenting purposes etc, adds a source of potential stress and conflict not present in other relationships. If the ex is abusive, alienating, unnecessarily controlling, pushy - then that effect is magnified and decidedly negative.
Welll, I disagree about what's going on here. Being polite and pleasant to and about the new wife, while dealing with the ex-spouse on parenting matters, rather than a new wife whom you don't know, isn't party to the decree, and may leave -- I wouldn't call that either abusive or alienating.

Now, if what you want is for the ex to be effusive about the marriage, encourage the child to see the new wife as a permanent figure, and behave as if the new wife is in fact permanent, all in the name of helping the marriage to stick, I think you're misreading where the interests lie. (Apart from the fact that I think this is an inappropriate and intrusive role for the ex-wife.) My interest, as the child's mother, is in making sure that the child is protected and well-cared-for. While it's great if the marriage sticks, that comes a long second to being careful and realistic about what's likely to go on in my child's life. My first interest is not in shoring up a minority chance of the marriage's surviving.

And yes, I understand that a solid marriage is better for the child. However, if it can be undone by a civil, polite ex who's not an active cheerleader for the marriage, who doesn't tolerate her child's being rude or disrespectful to anyone, who doesn't involve herself with the marriage, and who deals solely with the guy on parenting -- I have my doubts about how strong the marriage is in the first place.

Working at it from the other end, I'd say it's probably helpful to avoid sharing a husband's tensions with his ex. Given the nature of divorce and custody, it's very likely there will be significant tensions over the years.

Now obviously walking away from a partner's problems isn't an easy or natural thing to do for most people. But I find it does get much easier over the years & with experience. I don't listen much anymore to men telling me about their children, or their bosses, their wives, or ex-wives, or ex-girlfriends, and the problems they have with them. I feel, far more than I used to, that it's not my place, and I don't want to be drawn in so close to tendentious relationships that are about the guy and someone else. I might listen a while to give the guy a chance to vent, but I don't probe or become personally involved. If they go on talking about family woes I redirect them, and if that doesn't take I hand the problems back to them, and suggest that maybe they should consider talking to a therapist.

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Like I said, there are reasons behind why the statistics are what they are. They aren't predictions handed down from on high. They are reflective of the average experience of the average person and that includes much more than just a tabulation of the final result of events. There are influences and circumstances at work beneath the numbers.
Of course. But again, in my view, the ex-wife isn't and shouldn't be placed to know what those influences and circumstances might be, so it's reasonable for her to go by broad stats. Similarly, insurance companies are not placed to know that, say, you work out regularly, live a low-stress life, and have fantastic DNA. Nor should insurers be that involved in your private lifestyle and medical matters. So your rates reflect health risks that are unrealistically high for you, but are about right for a large pool. We make these compromises. (Your alternative is having the ex there in bed with you listening to your pillow talk, smooching, and fights. And I don't know about you, but I can tell you I wouldn't volunteer.)
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#148 of 148 Old 03-21-2008, 09:22 AM
 
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I started out by copying posts to add my :, but I had too many so I'm just gonna say, look at Violet and JSMa's posts and they pretty much say what I was thinking.

I think it's one of those things where you just have to be in the position to fully understand. My stepdaughter is my daughter. I'm not her Mother, but she is my daughter. I would die for her in a heartbeat. I've known her almost as long as both her "real" parents and I'm with her whenver her Dad has her. Out of all three parents, I'm probably the main primary caregiver. Her Mother kinda ignores her unless she has to pay attention and my Hubby lets me do everything because he knows it's the only thing I ever wanted to do in my life, the only thing that makes me truly happy, the only thing I do best- be a parent, take care of children. Just like Moms and Dads are like apples and oranges and shouldn't be thought of the same, Moms and Stepmoms are like apples and pears and shouldn't be thougt of or expected to be the same. You can enjoy apples and oranges and pears, right? Just because you like pears, it doesn't mean you don't like apples anymore, right?

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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