The role of the Stepmother - Page 2 - Mothering Forums

View Poll Results: How involved should a Stepmother be in her stepchild's life?
I'm a Mother and I think a Stepmother should be as involved as much as possible. 10 11.76%
I'm a Stepmother and I think a Stepmother should be as involved much as possible. 12 14.12%
I'm a Mother and I think only when the Mother is not available. 8 9.41%
I'm a Stepmother and I think only when the Mother is not available. 1 1.18%
I'm a Mother and I think according to the children's Father's wishes. 2 2.35%
I'm a Stepmother and I think according to the children's Father's wishes. 3 3.53%
I'm a Mother and I think no part of her Stepchild's life. 0 0%
I'm a Stepmother and I think no part of her Stepchild's life. 0 0%
I'm a Mother and I think it should be up to whatever the child's comfort level is. 16 18.82%
I'm a Stepmother and I think it should be up to the child's comfort level. 20 23.53%
Other 13 15.29%
Voters: 85. You may not vote on this poll

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#31 of 43 Old 10-21-2007, 03:09 PM
 
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Originally Posted by aricha View Post
I guess I am confused by what is meant by "disciplining" because I have read a lot that it is not the stepparents' job to discipline the children. I most definitely "discipline" my 5yo stepdaughter-- I set boundaries, enforce rules, decide when and what she can watch on TV, etc. I stay at home with the kids, and it wouldn't make any sense to me to adopt a "wait 'til your father gets home" attitude for her (and not for her two siblings) or to expect that her mother would play a part in imposing some sort of consequence for something she did while at our house. I parent/teach/guide/discipline in the moment with logical consequences... I am at a loss to imagine it working some other way. Maybe I am misunderstanding what people mean by "discipline." I really am imagining that I'm being told that if my stepdaughter pushes her little brother over I am supposed to call her mother or my husband to deal with it...

I'd love some clarification... Can I have some specifics on what disciplining step-parents shouldn't be doing?
ditto
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#32 of 43 Old 10-21-2007, 05:45 PM
 
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I'm a mom. I stand by my current thought that the stepmom should fill the role of a "favorite aunt". Oriole hit the description on the head.
I agree with Oriole, too. Favorite aunt is a role I'm comfortable with. It was a little more when his mom was out of the pic, but now that she's back, I did have to step down just a bit. I also deal with all school/teacher issue, because I'm a teacher and dh and ex are a bit uncomfortable with school stuff.

I also give advice about friends and girl, do the clothes shopping, try to help out and be a nuetral presence when there is tention betweend dh and the ex.

I do the day-to-day, "stop pinching your brother" kind of "discipline" but the big talks/issues are dealt with by dad.
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#33 of 43 Old 10-21-2007, 05:48 PM
 
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Yea, I shouldnt have commented on this as I actually have no idea what I am talking about. I come from an intact home, and my dh and I currently reside in an intact home.

:
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#34 of 43 Old 10-21-2007, 05:51 PM
 
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What I mean by dh doing the discipline (we had dss full time when he was little, and I was home with him): dh and I agree on basic boundaries/rules. Dh presents them to dss. I, of course, was the one home during the day, so I did the reminders or even some enforcement of the little things. I never said, what till daddy gets home. Dss just felt that Dh was his parent, they were dh's rules (though, of course, we came up with them as a team) and just as babysitter might enforce parent's rules, dss didn't have trouble listening to me, because they were dad's rules (too). If there was on ongoing issue (grades, back talking, etc.) dh would be the one to sit down and hash it out, though I might be in the background nodding my head and commenting. Dh took the lead. This felt right to us as parents, and dss didn't do that "you're not my mom," or "I don't have to listen to you" thing.
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#35 of 43 Old 10-21-2007, 05:54 PM
 
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I'm a Bonus Mom.

I hate the term step mother.

:


I like the term bonus mom.

So does my step son.

I'm very involved when he's here because his dad is usually at work.

I feed him, play with him, help him complete his chores, talk with him, explain things to him, discipline him, help him feel involved with his bonus family,remind him to take his meds.

His mother and I get along.

His father and his mother usually don't get along.

I don't criticize his mother or his father.

I don't let him suck me into discussions about why his mom or dad do this or that wrong. I just don't respond to that.

I encourage him to stand up for himself, I teach him about honesty and accountability, I show him all emotions are ok when expressed in a safe way.

I guess I'm really involved, but I keep that involvement out of his mom's house. She keeps her involvement out of my house. We respect one another's space that way.

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#36 of 43 Old 10-21-2007, 07:08 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aricha View Post
I guess I am confused by what is meant by "disciplining" because I have read a lot that it is not the stepparents' job to discipline the children. I most definitely "discipline" my 5yo stepdaughter-- I set boundaries, enforce rules, decide when and what she can watch on TV, etc. I stay at home with the kids, and it wouldn't make any sense to me to adopt a "wait 'til your father gets home" attitude for her (and not for her two siblings) or to expect that her mother would play a part in imposing some sort of consequence for something she did while at our house. I parent/teach/guide/discipline in the moment with logical consequences... I am at a loss to imagine it working some other way. Maybe I am misunderstanding what people mean by "discipline." I really am imagining that I'm being told that if my stepdaughter pushes her little brother over I am supposed to call her mother or my husband to deal with it...

I'd love some clarification... Can I have some specifics on what disciplining step-parents shouldn't be doing?
Yeah, I'd like clarification, also. If my son is misbehaving when he's in my care, I tell him what's what. If my son's friends are misbehaving when they're in my care, I'll tell them what's what. If my niece is misbehaving while she's in my care, I tell her what's what. If my stepdaughter's friends or even the children in my preschool class are misbehaving, I'm allowed to tell them to knock it off, so why would it be a big deal or not allowed for me to, say, tell my stepdaughter to stop breaking something or to pick her socks off the livingroom floor or even to stop harrassing her brother, unless one of her "real" parents is there to tell her?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Abi's Mom View Post
I'm a Bonus Mom.

I hate the term step mother.

:


I like the term bonus mom.

So does my step son.
I love the term "Bonus Mom". I hate "Stepmom" and the implications it brings. I would love to be my stepdaughter's Bonus Mom". Unfortunately, in some cases, the Mother does not allow the child to have a "Bonus Mom", only "Stepmom".

Quote:
Originally Posted by Abi's Mom View Post
I guess I'm really involved, but I keep that involvement out of his mom's house. She keeps her involvement out of my house. We respect one another's space that way.
That's what's best all around, I think.

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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#37 of 43 Old 10-21-2007, 07:26 PM
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it's so different in every family. i think it has to do with a few things:

age of children, security of the relationship between spouses, ability of all the adults to be civil if not friendly.
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#38 of 43 Old 10-22-2007, 10:37 AM
 
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I voted for "I'm a Stepmother and I think a Stepmother should be as involved much as possible."

I'm sure you're all tired of hearing me lecture about my situation lol. I'm completely 100% the mother figure in our household. My DSD asked me at the age of 2 if she could call me mom. I discussed it with DH and he had no problem with it. We both realized that she most likely just wanted a mom since hers had not been around since she was 11 months old. Even before she called me mom I was doing everything a mother would do. Her dad worked and we lived together. Things just kind of flowed. Even if her mom was around I would still be heavily involved. Maybe not as much as I am now BUT I would still be the primary care taker here at our house considering DH has full custody.

I don't think the step parent should force their way in or monopolize the situation but I don't see any harm in a step parent who has good intentions being as much a part of things as possible.
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#39 of 43 Old 10-22-2007, 04:26 PM
 
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Earthly Joys, you got it the easy way, though.

As you said, you've had her in your life since she was 2.
(And she's a cute little girl)

My step dad married my mom when I was 3 years old.

I just call him my dad, and he legally adopted my older brother and I when I was 8.

It is so much easier to blend families when the children are under 5 years old.

My step son's mom married her second husband when her son was 4 years old.

So, his step dad has been in his life for a long time and he lives with him most of the time.

So, for me, and other step parents [oops, I mean bonus parents], who see their step [bonus] child only on weekends and holidays (or less) AND, most significantly, they didn't even know their step [bonus] child until they were over 5 years old, it is so much harder to bond to that child.

I didn't meet my step [bonus] son until he was 7 years old.
It's not been easy. He's now 10. I still don't feel about him as I do my own children, and I probably never will. I'm just being realistic here.
Sometimes I wish I'd met him when he was 2 or 3 and life would be so much easier for us.

But that's not the way it is.

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#40 of 43 Old 10-22-2007, 11:30 PM
 
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It is easier if the child is under five. Easier, but not necessarily easy. I don't even want to think of what it would have been like had I met DF when DSD was 7 or something like that. It would have been a whole different ballgame.

It sometimes floors me that DSD does not remember life before me. She was 2.5 when we met. We asked her casually this week if she remembered meeting me and she gave us the most confused look. Pretty soon we will be at the point where she has had me in her life more than she hasn't.

It is easier when they are little because the potential to be a big influence is there. I get DSD up in the mornings. I get her ready for school. She, her little brother, the dog,the hamster and I all eat breakfast together. I pack her lunches. I shop for her clothes, assemble her outfits for school. It would not be this way if we had met when she was older. The wonderful opportunity I have to bond with her by doing these things would not be there, or at least it would not be the same.

Discipline is different when they are that young as well. Someone that young often needs to be corrected (for safety reasons, at a minimum). It often is the type of thing that isn't a good candidate for the "Wait 'til your father gets home" scenario.

So although things are not always easy, I know they could have been more difficult, and I am thankful for that.

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#41 of 43 Old 10-26-2007, 05:39 PM
 
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Oh goodness. I think about this a lot. My DSS is almost 9, I met him when he was 2, but DH basically met him when he was 18 or 19 months old. He lives exclusively with his mom and her fiancee, but we are all on pretty good terms these days.

We have no official visitation, and child support is not court ordered, but rather just what DH decided to pay (it's what our state would have ordered had this been done through the courts). We make "dates" to see him, and we do in fact see him most every week.

But since he has never lived here, and it's always been a date type arrangement, I have never really felt like he was MY kid. That makes me really sad - he's such a great kid - but I'm not even his favorite aunt, I think. Just an aunt he likes pretty well.

When he's here, I cook for him, I make sure he brushes his teeth, I ask him about school and soccer and guitar, but I mostly let him be with dad, since he loves that so much. We are very much "fun house". That's what he's comfortable with. I can't be his mom - he has a VERY involved mom, and he really doesn't need more, I guess.

You know, maybe he thinks of me fondly as his brother and sister's mom. FWIW.
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#42 of 43 Old 10-31-2007, 03:58 PM
 
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Originally Posted by ProtoLawyer View Post
I answered "other" because there are just too many variables.

I am a stepmother and I'm very involved in SD's life when she's here (mostly weekends), and will occasionally head to her mom's for things like birthday parties, recitals, etc. When she is here, my partner and I are a team -- he handles more of the direct child care, I handle more of the household stuff (with enough overlap that SD's not getting the idea that Daddy gets to play but Stepmom only cleans), but that's how the division of labor works, and it works for us. He's told her she needs to listen to me, so we both handle in-the-instant discipline, but he handles the big stuff (in conjunction with his ex, if appropriate). I'm better at remembering medication schedules, appointments, what time the pool opens, so I handle more of the schedule.

But when she's not here my involvement is limited to saying "hi" on the phone when she asks her dad to hand the phone to me, that sort of thing.
That's pretty much how we do things as well. She lives with her mother and both her parents are pretty involved in her life so it's not like she really needs another mother. I'm more like the "cool aunt". (I'm not really old enough to be her mother anyway...only a 14 year age difference). But she does respect me as an adult. If I ask something of her she will listen. Mostly I have to get on her about picking up after herself...in a humerous way. The "big" stuff is left to the her mom and dad. I don't go there.

Recently my husband wanted me to "talk" with her about her choice in clothing. She doesn't go out of her way to look "sexy" but she is "built" and her clothes can be tight on occasion (mainly 2 sizes too small tight...not sexy meant to be tight tight) and she's only 12. I told my husband he needs to talk with his ex wife about that. After all she is the one buying her the clothes (and she spends alot of money on them). I also told him that she is going to look older no matter what, when he does talk to her...don't do it in a way that makes her feel bad about her body or slutty. It's not her fault she looks like she is 16 (doesn't wear makeup either), but she doesn't have to wear short shorts and string bikinis. I even offered to take her shopping. I gave him my POV...but I'm not going to sit down and lecture her. I feel like that is stepping outside of my boundaries and I'm not comfortable with it.
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#43 of 43 Old 11-07-2007, 01:38 AM
 
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I am a Mom and step Mom both.

I am totally 100% involved in my SD life when she is in our home that includes discipline.

However we dont make any body changing decisions without talking to her Mom. Also I waited till her Mom bought her a bra before I did just because I felt it was a mommy moment however since SD needed a bra long before Mom bought it I bought her tons of tank t ops with shelf bras to assure my SD wasnt uncomfortable.

I also rarely call my SD home I let my husband call her as my involvement makes her Mother uncomfortable and I dont want my SD to be caught in the middle.

I love my SD dearly and after 10 years we have found a happy medium that works for us. I use to try to be involved in school and things to pick up where her Mom wasnt but it made her Mother hostile and she took it out on my SD so now I make sure my SD always knows I am here if she needs me or wants me involved. But I only stick my nose in when it concerns our house.
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