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Old 07-21-2008, 08:34 PM
 
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I think the position of stepmom is a catch-22. If you act like a mom, you get "You shouldn't be disciplining/parenting/etc this child, you're not the parent" and if you say "I'm not the parent, I'm not doing this stuff" then you're a heartless b!tch.
I think for me, my definition of being a mom has very little to do with discipline at all, and a lot to do with loving and caring for children. I think my primary jobs are to love and to teach (and for me, teaching is a lot about setting an example, giving guidelines and then getting out of the way).

The difficulty I have with hearing you say you're giving up is that it's very unfair to your daughter. I feel like you made a commitment to her when you married, you knew what you were signing up for and the package included a little one to love and support. She didn't get to choose, but you did choose your DH and her. And, all kids are demanding, newborns are demanding, they demand love and care. But parents make sacrifices out of love.

I'm not a perfect parent and you're not a heartless bitch. You are going through a tough time and want to give up but that doesn't reap you any long term rewards.
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Old 07-21-2008, 10:23 PM
 
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think for me, my definition of being a mom has very little to do with discipline at all, and a lot to do with loving and caring for children. I think my primary jobs are to love and to teach (and for me, teaching is a lot about setting an example, giving guidelines and then getting out of the way).

The difficulty I have with hearing you say you're giving up is that it's very unfair to your daughter. I feel like you made a commitment to her when you married, you knew what you were signing up for and the package included a little one to love and support. She didn't get to choose, but you did choose your DH and her. And, all kids are demanding, newborns are demanding, they demand love and care. But parents make sacrifices out of love.
Teaching and caring for children IS parenting. As a stepparent if 'we' do too much parenting/caring/teaching and not 'allow' the parents to do their job we are taking away from an important part of the bio parents relationship with their children. There is a fine line between doing too much and not at all. Laggie, it sounds like you have to do too much parenting for your sd. She is resisiting that of course! Because you are not the mama. It is not unfair to step back and allow dh to parent and have a relationship with his own child.

When you married you didn't know how hard it was going to be. You signed up for a dh and his daughter. (I'm just making this up here. That's how it was for me anyway . . ) You probably walked in thinking how wonderful he has a daughter how much fun are we going to have. Then reality set in.

Love for ones own children and someone elses' children is different. The love is there but not the same . . . Sacrifice for one's own children is very different than sacrifice for others children.

Saying things like 'daughter' and 'mom' when the biology isn't there just makes it difficult because we are not 'the mom'.

back to our regular programming. . .
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Old 07-22-2008, 04:53 PM
 
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Teaching and caring for children IS parenting. As a stepparent if 'we' do too much parenting/caring/teaching and not 'allow' the parents to do their job we are taking away from an important part of the bio parents relationship with their children. There is a fine line between doing too much and not at all. Laggie, it sounds like you have to do too much parenting for your sd. She is resisiting that of course! Because you are not the mama. It is not unfair to step back and allow dh to parent and have a relationship with his own child.

When you married you didn't know how hard it was going to be. You signed up for a dh and his daughter. (I'm just making this up here. That's how it was for me anyway . . ) You probably walked in thinking how wonderful he has a daughter how much fun are we going to have. Then reality set in.

Love for ones own children and someone elses' children is different. The love is there but not the same . . . Sacrifice for one's own children is very different than sacrifice for others children.

Saying things like 'daughter' and 'mom' when the biology isn't there just makes it difficult because we are not 'the mom'.

back to our regular programming. . .
OK, maybe I don't understand, but in adopted families, the biology isn't there but the commitment is. So I don't think biology is what makes a family or a parent-child relationship. I think that attitude has a ton to do with it, and whether someone sees the situation and overall everyday ilfe as positive or negative. A 6 year relationship is a long time for people to be close
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Old 07-22-2008, 04:59 PM
 
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OK, maybe I don't understand, but in adopted families, the biology isn't there but the commitment is. So I don't think biology is what makes a family or a parent-child relationship. I think that attitude has a ton to do with it, and whether someone sees the situation and overall everyday ilfe as positive or negative. A 6 year relationship is a long time for people to be close
lol Good luck with the argument that Step-parents are like adoptive parents.... I brought that up once on this board and received an earful about how untrue it is because the children already have two bio-parents in their lives and as step-parents we should just be on the side lines.

Spend more time reading here and you will understand that there is no winning when you are a step-parent... everything you do will be wrong, even with the best intentions.

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Old 07-22-2008, 05:44 PM
 
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Perhaps I'm an optimist but I don't see why step parents can't be like adoptive parents. I don't see why a stepchild can't be able to say, I have two parents and one or two step parents -- and they are all loving, supportive, and care about me. I'm so lucky!

I do see it as attitude related. I think there is a lot of stress between the estranged adults as being a major issue, but kids are there to be loved and supported unconditionally.

And I wonder what the "regular programming is" and it sounds like a lot of venting. OK, venting is healthy to a degree, but overall negative attitudes hurt families and people -- a lot.

Lastly to spin it positive, I think it's more important to focus on what you are in a relationship, and not what you're not. If you are not the parent, then, define what you are and focus on what you can do and give and offer to the family team rather on what you can't or won't.
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Old 07-22-2008, 06:17 PM
 
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KBecks, thank you for saying all you are saying.

I am not a stepmom, but I am a stepchild.

I had one stepmom in my life who was so great. She did not try to be a mom to me, but she was a great friend. Possibly the most important influence in my life for good. She was with my dad from when I was 5 to when I was 13. She was so patient. Never lost her temper, even though I tried her patience as best as I could a few times.

She was so fun. She just genuinely loved being with me. She wasn't like other controling people in my life, who would hand me a schedule and say, "this is what we are doing," but she was totally relaxed and laid back and we would sit and doodle with markers or take a walk and sing songs together. Just "boring" stuff. My grandma was always trying to take me to concerts and ballet shows and science museums and other educational cultural experiences and activities. Blah. Yep I complained and dragged my feet. Why do people think kids get no say in these "outings"? And then it's the kid who has the bad attitude.

Thank goodness for my stepmom. She and my dad are no longer together but we still have a very special relationship and that is the kind of mom I try to be today. This woman never once disciplined me. But you know what? She didn't need to. She always treated me with respect. My feelings and preferences were always valid to her. She was so sweet and genuinely accepting and patient that I couldn't help but fall in love with her.

I think it's sad that the OP has been with this girl since she was 3 and has yet to build a loving relationship with her. I think the OP is missing out. I think counseling might help her get past her control and expectation issues so that she could really begin to enjoy the time she has left with her step daughter. The 8-11-year-old years are SO magical and special and just FUN, but NO ONE likes feeling stifled, controled, or resented.

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Old 07-22-2008, 07:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Perhaps I'm an optimist but I don't see why step parents can't be like adoptive parents.
Um... step parenting and adoptive parenting have virtually nothing in common. I don't think that anyone has any idea how difficult this is until they are immersed in it. There is a reason why all of the books out there on the topic have at least a passing mention of the advice to stay the heck away from men with kids. Usually it's in the "words of wisdom from experienced stepmothers" section.

Maybe after you spend hours researching daycamps for your stepkid, take 1.5 hours off your workday to drive her to the best one in town (which you paid for), and then have her scream "She's NOT my MOM" when you go to pick her up, you'll have an inkling of what it's like. How about all the work of being a parent but with none of the love or appreciation? Sound fun?

As for what I want our relationship to be like, I'm pretty happy with being dad's wife. The stepmom thing mostly consists of me trying to do nice things for DSD and then feeling hurt when she doesn't appreciate it. Maybe that's motherhood, but I didn't sign up for being walked all over.

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Old 07-22-2008, 10:20 PM
 
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As for what I want our relationship to be like, I'm pretty happy with being dad's wife. The stepmom thing mostly consists of me trying to do nice things for DSD and then feeling hurt when she doesn't appreciate it. Maybe that's motherhood, but I didn't sign up for being walked all over.
I confess to having read your original post and then skimming the rest, so forgive me if I repeat, but to me, you should be dad's wife then. Sounds like dad should not expect you to do or be more than your comfortable with, and when he does, the resentment you feel is picked up on by your step-kid.

I have a friend who included her dsc in the wedding ceremony--as in exchanged rings and all. It creeped me out. The kid hates her years later, and she resents the heck out of the role she assumed she needed to take to solidify her bond to the husband. Bleh . ..
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Old 07-22-2008, 11:21 PM
 
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But what I don't understand is.... what are the qualities of the dad's wife relationship? So, if you describe your relationship to someone as "I'm her sister", that doesn't describe what the relationship is. You can have sisters that have wonderful relationships and sisters that never see or speak to each other.

So what is your goal for the feeling of this relationship?
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Old 07-22-2008, 11:44 PM
 
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Well, my dd is 5 and she's my bio daughter, and i can't say that i feel appreciated. I mean, granted she's 5...but i think expecting gratitude and appreciation from kids is a set up. Some do it and it's awesome, some don't until years later.

I'm a step kid, on both sides, and i second the be there, don't parent approach. I don't know if my step-mom *loves* me, but i didn't really need her to. She didn't come into my life until i was in high school and i was pretty cool with her, but i'm thankful she didn't try and parent me. She's rather irritating as a person and if she had tried to mother me, it would have been unbearable. I have a great mom, i didn't need another one. I might have liked someone a bit cooler, easier to be around though.

As a kid, i definitely picked up on the fact that she was always trying to win my approval though, and i would watch out for that. Even now as an adult, i'm aware that she isn't super comfortable around me... she gets offended easy...tries to impress etc...

I suspect that your dsd is aware that you are hungering for appreciation and gratitude. That could be driving her away. So, give up expectations. Give her the room to come to you. Be yourself... do what you need to do, even if it's some traditional "parent" roles like making lunch, etc.. but don't expect anything back. If she says "thanks" one day, then say "your welcome" and smile. Then let it go. Maybe she'll say it again, maybe she won't. If this relationship- between you and her dad- is to stay, then so is she. Having a strained relationship into her later teen and adult years is not worth it.

good luck. i appreciate what a hard job you have.

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Old 07-22-2008, 11:52 PM
 
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I was just going to post a long explanation on step parenting . . . what I have learned personally and from my counselling and my stack of books . . . The regular mamas here know what it's like. From all my reading and hanging out on this board. This is an amazing group of loving (step ) mamas who are doing a really good job, are positive and really loving.

I frequent some other step parenting boards and the negativity and upset is awful. This is the only place I come to where the step mamas are really trying to be the best they can be with their dh's children.

Breakdowns happen in relationships. This forum should be a safe place to come and talk about it without being judged or told 'we' should just be more loving. Being more loving is what us mamas are doing day in and day out all the while being sabatoged by exes and other factors that are out of our control.

Be kind.
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Old 07-23-2008, 10:12 AM
 
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[QUOTE=KBecks;11753544]Perhaps I'm an optimist but I don't see why step parents can't be like adoptive parents. I don't see why a stepchild can't be able to say, I have two parents and one or two step parents -- and they are all loving, supportive, and care about me. I'm so lucky! [quote]

I agree with you... I think that would be the most positive and healthy way to look at the situation... However, when I mentioned that on this forum before, a lot of the other Mother's quickly put me in my place and said I would better understand when I have my own child that it's not acceptable for someone else to parent your child.

As my child is not born yet... I cannot say if my mind will change then... but as of now, I'm also a realist and the situation is the child has two homes, therfore two families, and multile parents.

A tag line I saw here once and I wish more parents beleived... "A parent can love more than one child, why can't a child love more than one parent?"

But my ideal world would be to be loved as a Mother by my DSD as I do all the things a Mother would do for any child for her. I helped potty train her, I helped teach her to brush her teeth, I give her baths and make her dinners, kiss boo-boos, read stories, play with dolls and in the kitchen, have water balloon fights, stay up until crazy hours in the morning getting things ready for her birthday party, and to play Santa...

And then we are told we have no business doing most of that as we are not the Mother... I for one appreciate your optimism and wish more shared the same outlook.


Quote:
Lastly to spin it positive, I think it's more important to focus on what you are in a relationship, and not what you're not. If you are not the parent, then, define what you are and focus on what you can do and give and offer to the family team rather on what you can't or won't.
I think that is a really hard thing for Step-Mothers to figure out... our role is not always defined and it can change all the time as the child grows and their personality/needs/wants change. We don't have a set role in the house.

For example, my Aunt... she raised my cousin from 1 years old after her Mother walked out on them.... the Mother came back into the picture more and more, and by time she was a pre-teen, my cousin decided she only wanted to interact with her Mother and wanted absolutely nothing to do with her step-mother. It killed my Aunt. She had been raising this child as her own for years, and as soon as Mom was back in the picture she was brused aside like yesterday's trash.

Also... if you are given a certain role by your DH but the ex is constantly in the child's ear bringing you down... the child doesn't respect that role anyway...

So, it really isn't as easy as you say it is...


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Maybe after you spend hours researching daycamps for your stepkid, take 1.5 hours off your workday to drive her to the best one in town (which you paid for), and then have her scream "She's NOT my MOM" when you go to pick her up, you'll have an inkling of what it's like. How about all the work of being a parent but with none of the love or appreciation? Sound fun?
Precisely... it hurts. And in my own opinion, none of the parents should let the child be that disrespectful. Teach them tact and respect.

I spent hours cleaning, cooking, decorating, getting ready for DSD's birthday party... was up ridiculously late, while being pregnant too... Did it matter? Nope... DSD didn't even want me to sit by her that day and then complained about not having enough presents.

I come from a large family and have been around tons of kids, as well as remembering my own childhood and that of my sisters.... I cannot recall a child ever not letting a parent sit next to them on their birthday... usually they are thrilled and happy...

I continue to love DSD, and continue doing things for her.... I have learned to accept that anything I do is crap and anything her Mom does is the only thing that really matters... but I am a Mom in this house and I will continue being that way. *shrugs* But that doesn't mean I don't have my low moments and that it hurts like heck at times.

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Old 07-23-2008, 11:50 AM
 
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Is it possible this issue is more related to DH than DSD? An honest question. I mean, if he backed you up, would she get the message pretty quickly what's ok and what's not? Seems the issue is more about DH, to me, and he's pretty happy with the status quo and is working to maintain it while you and DSD are suffering (DSD is sufferering since she's going to such lengths to try to change the situation).

Resigning as step-mother might be a reasonable step if done with love and care. Would be curious to read updates on how that goes.
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Just for the record:

She's 9.
She has no memory of her parents ever being together.
I've been in her life since she was 3.

I dunno... I guess my instinctive default is to look at how I was raised, and I would have never been allowed to go around with hair in my face or to wear winter clothes on a hot day. I know that a lot of people here have a different approach but it's a huge shift in thinking for me. It's true, I am being kind of a jerk. But really this stuff is a small part of our interactions. Some days it just gets out of hand, but... in spite of all of the 'perfect moms' on here, I'm pretty sure everyone has those days.

DH is involved, but yes, he prefers to just coast and leave things up to me. Normally I'm the one who plans dinner, and buys groceries and makes sure DSD has clean clothes and sunscreen and a bathing suit and so on and so forth. And really there is no reason at all why he can't do these things. He *should* do them and I think that DSD would like it better if he would. And he is. Well, not the dinners. But he's certainly doing more and I don't think that's a bad thing.

And I did not say a word all last week about clothes or hair.

I think the position of stepmom is a catch-22. If you act like a mom, you get "You shouldn't be disciplining/parenting/etc this child, you're not the parent" and if you say "I'm not the parent, I'm not doing this stuff" then you're a heartless b!tch.
First Laggies, stepparenting can be SUCH a challenge. I've often said to myself or DH: I'm done, no more caring about DSD-17! But I've never stopped.

I put laohaire's quote in there because I think she's on to something, and then I bolded something in your response that seems to me to be key.

How DH and you parent her together is every bit important to your stepparenting of DSD. Maybe you need to really spend time working with DH and his involvement and perhaps even consider counseling for this issue. You seem really stressed by the relationship with your DSD, and really your biggest partner in this seems to be taking the sidelines. Maybe start with DH and figure out some sort of way to get him more involved.

Some of the things you're doing, can very well be redelgated. For instance a 9 year old is certainly old enough to pack her own lunch. But this is something that, being a new "chore" to do, will need DH"s support, if not his instating of this new rule.

Stepparenting is hard work. Often times being the stepmom is even harder because moms are often assumed to be the one doing everything, so stepmom should too. It's a hard hard role to play. Lots of work and very little recognition. Plenty of reminders that "you're not my mom!!" along the way...

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Old 07-26-2008, 01:17 AM
 
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I think the position of stepmom is a catch-22. If you act like a mom, you get "You shouldn't be disciplining/parenting/etc this child, you're not the parent" and if you say "I'm not the parent, I'm not doing this stuff" then you're a heartless b!tch.


AMEN, SISTER. Been there, done that.

I'm sorry you're having issues. It will pass. Hugs to you. stoyou:

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Old 07-26-2008, 01:47 AM
 
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just wanted to give you a hug. I'm sorry it's tough right now

BTW I was that ungrateful miserable mean spirited stepchild way back when... your post makes me want to call my "dad" and thank him for loving me and apologize for being a troll(what my parents called me back then).

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Old 07-27-2008, 12:25 PM
 
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We are the grownups in a stepparenting relationship. Yes, it is hard. It sometimes feels unfair. But this is the situation that we, as the adults, have chosen to create. If there are parenting conflicts that need to be worked out between you and your husband, by all means, work them out - between yourselves. Having resentful or frustrated feelings sometimes is only natural. Indulging and acting out your resentful feelings toward your stepchild is not okay in my world.

I would not say that you need to be Mom - there are ways in which I as a stepmother definitely don't attempt to step into a mom role. But if you have for all intents and purposes acted as a parental figure for the past six years, to suddenly withdraw that and "go on strike" strikes me as incredibly punitive and hurtful to a child. I don't know if it's orthodox "stepparenting theory" that this kind of thing is okay to do, but I'm not buying it.
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Old 07-27-2008, 04:35 PM
 
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Indulging and acting out your resentful feelings toward your stepchild is not okay in my world.

I would not say that you need to be Mom - there are ways in which I as a stepmother definitely don't attempt to step into a mom role. But if you have for all intents and purposes acted as a parental figure for the past six years, to suddenly withdraw that and "go on strike" strikes me as incredibly punitive and hurtful to a child. I don't know if it's orthodox "stepparenting theory" that this kind of thing is okay to do, but I'm not buying it.
Please Be kind
please read the rest of this thread
please be kind
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Old 07-27-2008, 07:36 PM
 
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Please Be kind
please read the rest of this thread
please be kind
I did read it. Really, it only got uglier. what about being kind to this 9 year old child?

Nobody signs up to be walked all over, that's not what a parent is looking forward to when they give birth to or adopt their sweet little infant. But it's part of life. If you signed up to be part of a family with children, there's a duty there, whether it feels good or is easy or isn't. The details and boundaries of relationships are constantly negotiated. But effectively cutting off a member of the family (refuse to have anything to do with them) is a pretty serious rift, especially when the member being cut off is a third grader.
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Old 07-27-2008, 08:45 PM
 
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The details and boundaries of relationships are constantly negotiated.
Right. That is what the OP was talking about. Renegotiating the 'boundaries' of her relationship with her stepdaughter.

If one were to take the OPs' vent at face value I guess you could pass all sorts of judgment however if anyone were to take the time and read other threads and posts by the OP one would know that she is one committed and loving (step ) mama.

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I did read it. Really, it only got uglier. what about being kind to this 9 year old child?
The ugly part? The love and care the the OP has shown her stepdaughter? Then being treated like she's a doormat and nothing is done about it?
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Old 07-27-2008, 11:21 PM
 
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Originally Posted by newmainer View Post
Well, my dd is 5 and she's my bio daughter, and i can't say that i feel appreciated. I mean, granted she's 5...but i think expecting gratitude and appreciation from kids is a set up. Some do it and it's awesome, some don't until years later.

I'm a step kid, on both sides, and i second the be there, don't parent approach. I don't know if my step-mom *loves* me, but i didn't really need her to. She didn't come into my life until i was in high school and i was pretty cool with her, but i'm thankful she didn't try and parent me. She's rather irritating as a person and if she had tried to mother me, it would have been unbearable. I have a great mom, i didn't need another one. I might have liked someone a bit cooler, easier to be around though.

As a kid, i definitely picked up on the fact that she was always trying to win my approval though, and i would watch out for that. Even now as an adult, i'm aware that she isn't super comfortable around me... she gets offended easy...tries to impress etc...

I suspect that your dsd is aware that you are hungering for appreciation and gratitude. That could be driving her away. So, give up expectations. Give her the room to come to you. Be yourself... do what you need to do, even if it's some traditional "parent" roles like making lunch, etc.. but don't expect anything back. If she says "thanks" one day, then say "your welcome" and smile. Then let it go. Maybe she'll say it again, maybe she won't. If this relationship- between you and her dad- is to stay, then so is she. Having a strained relationship into her later teen and adult years is not worth it.

good luck. i appreciate what a hard job you have.
I find this post extremely helpful. I always learn the most from former step kids of the blended families.

I think the hard part to accept as a stepparent is the "don't expect the thanks" (granted, it also applies to the kids of your own, but it's a bit more challenging when you are a step parent). Truly, from the heart, if we don't expect the "thank you" it doesn't hurt when you don't get it heh, and feels THAT much more amazing when you do.

To the OP:

** I think letting go of control is one of the most helpful things we can do (as step parents, and in certain situations as parents).

** Your husband has to be on the same page with you on this parenting plan though, no matter what, if you are to let go of some of the responsibilities, he HAS to pick up the ends, and it can't be an argument in front of your dsd when the lunch time comes, it has to be a planned out parenting decision "HE is the one who is making lunches from this day on", kwim?


Good luck.

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Old 07-29-2008, 06:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by ccohenou View Post
But effectively cutting off a member of the family (refuse to have anything to do with them) is a pretty serious rift, especially when the member being cut off is a third grader.
A fifth grader, actually. She's almost 10. The last week was better but then the weekend was so-so. Actually, things are better when I interact with DSD as little as possible, because she goes out of her way to dislike anything I suggest. Really, it's to the point where it's ridiculous.

I don't agree with the posters implying that children have a God-given right to have both parents in one home, and that therefore any misbehaviour should be excused. Kids don't ask for their parents to separate - sure, but they also don't ask to be poor or Catholic or any number of other life circumstances that they are born into - but that's how life is.

There is one other aspect to all of this though... I'm surprised by people's descriptions of what their 9 year olds can do for themselves. Honestly, DSD is not self sufficient *at all*. I can't imagine asking her to make her own lunch. She gets upset at being asked to put her dishes in the dishwasher. I don't know if she's like this at her mom's house, or only with us, but "I Caaan't" is a constant refrain.

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Old 07-30-2008, 10:06 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Laggie View Post
I don't agree with the posters implying that children have a God-given right to have both parents in one home, and that therefore any misbehaviour should be excused. Kids don't ask for their parents to separate - sure, but they also don't ask to be poor or Catholic or any number of other life circumstances that they are born into - but that's how life is.
:


I could not agree more with that statement.... I see that feeling a lot on this board. I agree it is likely not a pleasant situation for a child to go through... but so aren't many other situations that children live through and don't pull as an excuse for misbeahvior their whole lives.

My Father was a severe alcholic until a few years ago... when I was a child my Mother would drag us out all hours of the night looking for him bar to bar... as soon as I was old enough to stay home and watch my sisters, she went alone... I beleive this happened when I was about 9...

I think I would have liked it better then if they had split up to not have to live that sort of scary hell everyday....

But I certainly did not act up, life was what it was and I dealt with it... even when my Mother left when I was 14 years old and gave me all the credit cards and insurance cards and said she couldn't do it anymore... she came back in a week... but I would say that is a pretty tramatic experience for a child to go through too.


I don't think babying children because their parents divorced will help them later in life at all... treat them like all the other children... but I don't think divorce should award them any special privilages or a free pass to disrespect other adults in their home just because they aren't their "real" parents.

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Old 07-30-2008, 12:52 PM
 
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Well said.
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Old 07-31-2008, 09:09 PM
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Have you seen the disengaging essay that makes the rounds around the internet?

http://www.stepfamilysanctuary.com/2...ing-essay.html

I would also let dh read this: http://www.stepfamilysanctuary.com/2...of-rights.html

Bottom line for me would be no respect, no nothing. (that would go for hubby and his child, lol). If I get respect and consideration, I will show the same. If I get treated disrespectfully, then too bad for the person treating me that way cause they lose. I don't do anything for anybody who treats me badly.
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Old 08-01-2008, 12:00 AM
 
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Laggie, how's it going? I've been checking back for an update. I wanted to send you some (((((hugs))))).

Married to my best friend, expecting #1 6/09. Little angel came early- 4/10/09, 2lbs 5oz. Lilah Grace:
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Old 08-01-2008, 02:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Syn, thank you, that was a great read. I think it's very, very true for me.

However, I wasn't successful at disengaging this time around. (DSD left yesterday.) It's hard, with such sporadic visitation, to find time to have clear discussions about things, and I think that a big discussion and lots of follow-up is necessary. We overscheduled ourselves so that every day we were either working or traveling or doing some sort of activity.

Nothing really changed, except that I stopped reacting to the opposites game (well, mostly - it's not easy) and DH became aware of it.

Part of the problem, I think, is that a month is a long time for DSD to go without seeing her mom, and she doesn't ever want to phone her either. Which is probably wise, because her mom tells her all about how her baby brother is crying for her, etc, and it upsets her for days.

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Old 08-01-2008, 03:09 PM
 
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Miss Laggie, I don't have anything wise to add to this thread already full of so much wisdom. I do want to say, however, that you strike me as someone whose heart is in the right place and has the best interests of her family at heart. It can be very hard to face the tough stuff head on, and I think you've been very brave in accepting and exploring these issues. Be gentle with yourself. You deserve it.

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Old 08-01-2008, 05:26 PM
 
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"Bottom line for me would be no respect, no nothing. (that would go for hubby and his child, lol). If I get respect and consideration, I will show the same. If I get treated disrespectfully, then too bad for the person treating me that way cause they lose. I don't do anything for anybody who treats me badly."

Does that go for your own kids too? Do your own kids ALWAYS treat you with respect? I find that very surprising - if so you are very lucky. My daughter is wonderful, loving, mercurial, passionate and can also be oppositional, frustrating and, yes, disrespectful. I try to keep it to a minimum both to me and her dad and stepdad, but it happens. I don't then do "nothing" - I try to set limits and respond to the feelings behind the actions. I agree that the hard thing for stepparents is they don't always get the unstinted love and affection that balances out the hard times, which can be tough. Although my daughter definitely gives love and affection to my partner - not as frequently or abundantly as to me but it's there. But, just as an ex, last night my daughter decided to throw a fit b/c, horror of horros, my partner turned on the tv when she decided she wanted to read quietly in the living room. There was not much for us to do but for me to point out to her how unreasonable she was being and help her ride out the meltdown that was clearly induced by exhaustion, neediness b/c I've been sick and a hundred other reasons that have NOTHING to do with my partner. It really helped that my partner was able to recognize that it wasn't about him; I think it helped that I backed him up without having to tear her down.

I also have trouble with the concept of disengagement as it's been described although I have a lot of sympathy with the situation and feel strongly that the dad should be stepping up in this situation. I think unequal division of labor is at the heart of this conflict but somehow all of that is displaced on to the kid, who, if you step back from the situation, is just being a kid.
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Old 08-01-2008, 05:45 PM
 
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honestly as a stepchild I only WISH someone would tell my stepmother (still, to this day!) about disengagement and backing off and just being herself etc. Really, from the POV of stepchildren, I think the major issues related to behavior are directly related to what's going on with their relationships with their biological parents and a ton of that gets taken out on the step parents. I think the best thing stepparents (who don't live with the child 24/7, 365/yr) can do is back off and really allow alone time for the child with their parent, not putting a ton of effort into the relationship one way or another, and just going with the flow. I don't expect nor do I want, nor have I ever wanted, my stepmother to be a second mom to me. A friend would've been nice. A friend who let me have a conversation with my dad now and again without jumping in or always inviting herself along with us whereever we went would've been even better.


I really think you're on the right track. It's not fair for all of the hard work of parenting to fall to you instead of your DH and his relationship with his daughter (and, therefore, yours) will only improve if he takes care of her himself, with you there to offer a bit of support but mostly, you should relax and kick back. However you should always be able to stand up for yourself and not be a doormat to rude back-talk, either. I feel for you, this is a very tough age bracket for me personally and I think as she gets older, if she sees you're not trying to control her OR her relationship with her dad, she'll come around. Good luck!

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