Author Topic: On being a stepparent  (Read 733 times)

luciep

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On being a stepparent
« on: January 25, 2019, 09:51:42 AM »
My goal with this post is to share ups and downs about being a stepparent. Probably to vent most of the time, but also to hear the perspective of other people on the matter. I know I can be strict and kind of a control freak.

Iíd love to hear about your experiences being a stepparent or a stepkid so that it opens up a bit my horizons.

I have lived with my boyfriend and his 10 year old daughter for 1.5 years now and itís been very challenging for me (and I am sure for them as well). We have his daughter half the week and the other half is spent with her mom.

We have agreed that he is the boss as far as how he wants to raise his daughter and I support him, but I can give my opinion if I think something needs some improvement. We have also agreed that I can treat his daughter like I would treat my own kid. He gives me feedback if I do something he doesnít agree with.

It seems that we have 2 different approaches toward his daughter: he wants her to be happy (even if it means letting her eat junk food all the time) and I want her to be healthy (even if it means doing things that she is not happy about). Watching the Swedish tv show ďBonus FamilyĒ on Netflix made me feel a lot better.

There are 3 main areas that create tensions: food, bed time and screen time.

1/ Food: When I met my boyfriend, he would not eat with his daughter. She was catered a sandwich (usually grilled cheese, PBJ, toast) and would eat by herself in front of TV, while my boyfriend would be on his phone eating something different in the kitchen. We now eat meals together at the kitchen table, with no tv and no phone, which is great progress, but I still have to push hard for us to eat the same food and stop feeding his daughter junk food while us adult eat a proper meal. Itís still a work in progress.

2/ Bed time: That part, I have given up for now. It frustrates me so much, that I usually go do something else. His daughter is supposed to go to bed at 8pm. But the long process can take up to 45mn. She drags her feet, and it takes her forever to brush her teeth and put on her pyjamas, and she gets mad when we tell her she needs to speed things up. Then she needs the light on in the hallway and she needs this and that. Anyway, itís excruciating to witness the back and forth between the little girl that tries to push the limits and the dad that tries to please.

3/ Screen time: My boyfriendís daughter is not allowed to watch tv during the week anymore. Which is fine by me. Therefore, on the weekend, she spends the whole weekend watching tv (here I donít exaggerate, from the time she wakes up until the time she goes to bed), becoming a bored irritable zombie by Sunday evening. She makes me think of an addict: she gets very upset if she is going to miss a few minutes of tv time or she gets mad at you if you bother her while she watches tv. However computer time is allowed anytime and it creates the same behavior as with the tv. That one I need to discuss with my boyfriend.

A few strategies:
1/ Food:
a/ I talk to my boyfriend ahead of time about the meals. We agree on what we are going to eat so that he is prepared to say no to her if she requests something else. We also let her eat what she wants every so often. Letís not forget that she gets to eat absolutely what she wants when she is at her momís, so her life is not that bad.
b/ I cut short all the negotiations. She argues all the time to get what she wants, but thatís not happening with food anymore. She eats what is in her plate and thatís it.

3/ Screen time:
a/ We have this rule now that she canít get out of bed before 8am on the weekend. Itís good for her, because she now sleeps until 8am and itís good for us because we get to sleep in.
b/ Every time we have her on the weekend, I look for free activities that we can do at the library or at one of the nearby parks. Even though I can not force her not to watch tv (because her dad is fine with it), I do force her to come with me and do some activities together. I donít ask for her opinion. I tell her what we are going to do and we go. It cuts her day a little bit, she gets out of the house and she learns cool stuff. That also gives us bonding time.
c/ When I donít work in the evening, I have shown her that I am available to play. This way she usually grabs me when I get home and we play together instead of her getting upset at some computer game. Again, thatís some great bonding time and itís a great way to wind down before bed.
d/ Every Saturday night, we do pizza night with a movie. So thatís tv time spent together, which is better than tv on her own I guess. We pause the movie a lot to answer the little oneís questions and we keep each other warm on the couch.

J Boogie

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Re: On being a stepparent
« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2019, 10:29:37 AM »
Oof. This is tough. I'm not a stepparent but I have the following to say.

I think some of your frustration ultimately comes from your tenuous arrangement and your being the type A to his type B of the couple.

If you were type B, you'd probably be just fine as a live in girlfriend co-parenting his child.

If you were type A and married or a biological parent, you'd probably be just fine calling many of the shots regarding routine etc.

But you have the unfortunate combination of being, in the eyes of your stepdaughter, someone who could leave at anytime yet wants to enforce new rules.

As unhealthy as some of her habits sound, I don't think your current relationship gives you enough skin in the game to be type A about house rules. To be honest, I don't think you consider your boyfriend the type of father you'd want to raise children with. I'm not saying break up with him, but first things first - how committed is your relationship? Does it have permanence? I've seen stepfamilies like this (type B bio father, type A stepmother) work out quite well but they were married.

Do you want to marry him? Does he want to marry you? Not that marriage is the solution to these problems, but I think it's best foundation for families as it creates a strong sense of permanence for all.




Boofinator

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Re: On being a stepparent
« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2019, 11:04:25 AM »
I concur with J Boogie's response. I'm a stepparent to 3, so have a bit of skin in the game.

We have agreed that he is the boss as far as how he wants to raise his daughter and I support him, but I can give my opinion if I think something needs some improvement. We have also agreed that I can treat his daughter like I would treat my own kid. He gives me feedback if I do something he doesn’t agree with.

This is the part that I'd have a very tough time with. Reading this, your boyfriend does not treat you like a parent (or is a control freak). To me, to be treated as 'not the boss' to children you're helping to raise after 1.5 years, would be a signal to get out.

By the way, I agree wholeheartedly with all of your parental approaches. My family uses many of the same strategies, especially with screen time (no screen time during the week, 2 hours per day on the weekends, must have 3 hours of outside time on those days and chores done before screen time, etc.).

Good luck to you.

Kris

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Re: On being a stepparent
« Reply #3 on: January 25, 2019, 11:19:33 AM »
Being a stepparent is hard. I've been there for sure. A lot of what you say is familiar to me, though I don't have kids myself.

I think that men/dads who only see their kids part-time often have a hard time with discipline, because they want the kids to feel like their time with Dad is "fun." Please note that I'm not saying this in a sexist way, at all. The thing is, Dads tend to get the shit end of the stick in custody battles, and culturally, we tend to give the impression that Mom is the "main" parent, the essential one. Part-time dads often have a fear, conscious or unconscious, that their time with their children is somehow at risk -- that the kids will lose interest in seeing them, that if they discipline too much the kids will stop wanting to come over, that if the kids go back and tell Mom, "Dad did X" and Mom is looking for an excuse to find fault with Dad, he'll end up paying the price with less time/access.

I have seen this with my own husband, and with the husbands of many of my other stepmom friends. And frankly, sometimes these fears are very justified, unfortunately.

I don't have specific advice to give, really. I just want to add this piece of the puzzle as something to help explain some possible dynamics. I went through a period of time with my husband where I was very frustrated because I felt he was allowing his kids to do stuff I wouldn't have allowed in our house, but because I was the stepmom I didn't want to do the disciplining because unfortunately, being seen as a "stepmonster" is often just a couple of tense exchanges away. I think it's a good idea to let him handle the direct discipline, but to try to come to an understanding with him behind the scenes of what kind of behavior is to be expected. If you have a child yourself, there's an added layer of complexity because often, it causes stress when the kids of one member of the couple see the kids of the other member of the couple "getting away with" more, having more lax rules, etc. If that's the situation with you guys, that might be something else to calmly discuss with him and ask him for help figuring out. If it isn't, but you plan to have kids sometime soon, it's something to be talked through now, because this has implications for your own future children.
« Last Edit: January 25, 2019, 11:22:47 AM by Kris »

Jenny1974

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Re: On being a stepparent
« Reply #4 on: January 25, 2019, 11:31:31 AM »
As a stepmom of almost 20 years, I've had to take a long hard look at myself when issues arose with my stepkids and honestly assess what was driving my reaction.  What I learned early on is a lot of my reaction to various parenting issues had more to do with my inability to deal with a situation where I wasn't driving the boat.  I read the books . . I knew how it should be done . . . and everyone should do it my way.  Who were these little humans in my presence . . . IN MY HOME . . . who weren't doing things the way I wanted them done???

Then I had my own kid and that was an eye opener.  Sure, I didn't want my kid glued to a screen or eating crackers for dinner but sometimes that's exactly what happened.  Funny thing was, it didn't bother me as much when I was the one making that call.  This little human was mine and not a direct link to my DH's former relationship.  DH and I parented this one together and I didn't have to sit back and watch as my DH did something as intimate as parenting a child with another woman. 

Boy, that really changed things for me.  I realized I was letting my own control issues an insecurities get in the way of developing a positive relationship with my stepkids.  It really didn't matter how great the kids were otherwise, I was going to find something to complain about because I needed to be in control; I needed people deferring to me. 

Fast forward to today.  I am SO glad I let go of a need to control things and just focused on developing a personal relationship with my SDs.  I was trying too hard to assert myself as an authoritarian in my home that I almost missed an amazing opportunity to have a special relationship with my stepkids.  I can now look at them and feel a strong sense of pride knowing they turned out to be such good people.  I'd like to think I set a good example for them (once I pulled my head out of my butt). 

Don't make every indiscretion a hill to die on.  If you feel that strongly about something and it really impacts how you see your SO as a father, well then maybe you should move on.  But really take the time to evaluate what it is that gets your stomach all in knots about these things.  Is it really that you just can't live with a child eating PB&J when you've cooked steak?  Or is it your frustration with not liking it and have no meaningful way to change it unless your SO defers to your "expertise"?
« Last Edit: January 25, 2019, 11:33:30 AM by Jenny1974 »

luciep

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Re: On being a stepparent
« Reply #5 on: January 25, 2019, 11:48:32 AM »
Thank you for your input J Boogie. It feels like you are right on spot with this type A/B personality. I am a control freak but I also donít want to overstep, because she is not my child, so I hold back a lot and thatís when the frustration comes in. I try to be a good stoic and remind myself that if I canít control something, I shouldnít worry about it. But it doesnít always work.

When my boyfriend and I met, we both wanted to have children, but then we realized that we completely disagreed on how to raise children. I still wanted to have kids, being ready to compromise, but he didnít. Then I came to appreciate my life and freedom the way it is and the desire for children faded away. He did a vasectomy and we donít talk about it anymore.

Luckily, my step daughter is mostly ok about me enforcing rules (at least it looks like it). She hasn't rebelled yet. She even told me one day ďI am glad you are not my step mom, otherwise you would boss me aroundĒ, which is funny because I do boss her around. But she does make a point to say that I am not part of the family, because I am not married to her dad. I am her ďfriendĒ.

When we talk about life, we plan on spending some time together, until we grow tired of each other. We do not care for getting married, unless we have to (for health insurance for example).

My boyfriend is more laid back than I am. If his daughter goes to bed 15mn late, itís no big deal to him. Whereas I am worried about the impact it will have on her sleep. He also approaches life differently. I have to spend my life productively, he spends his life leisurely in front of tv while being on his phone.

Anyway, thank you for your input because it makes me reflect on my relationship with my boyfriend and I have much to think about.

luciep

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Re: On being a stepparent
« Reply #6 on: January 25, 2019, 12:15:18 PM »

We have agreed that he is the boss as far as how he wants to raise his daughter and I support him, but I can give my opinion if I think something needs some improvement. We have also agreed that I can treat his daughter like I would treat my own kid. He gives me feedback if I do something he doesnít agree with.

This is the part that I'd have a very tough time with. Reading this, your boyfriend does not treat you like a parent (or is a control freak). To me, to be treated as 'not the boss' to children you're helping to raise after 1.5 years, would be a signal to get out.



Boofinator, maybe I didnít express myself properly. I meant I am not the person that makes the decisions as far as how she is being raised. Because she is not my child, she already has a mom. I can only make suggestions. I donít see how I could be considered as a true parent, because ultimately, I am not the one deciding of her fate. Itís kind of hard to find my place, especially considering that I am much more strict than my boyfriend (and he is even more strict that his ex-wife). However, even if I am not the one deciding at what time she goes to bed, I am still an adult in the house and tell her what to do (like have her take care of her laundry).

I also try to see it from his point of view. He had lived as a single dad for a few years before we met. Then I came into his life and I started to make all those suggestions on how to raise kids. He would get very upset at first, to the point that I dreaded talking to him (and still do). But in the end, if I make those suggestions, itís because I care.

Boofinator how did it go for you to become a stepparent to 3?

luciep

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Re: On being a stepparent
« Reply #7 on: January 25, 2019, 12:24:12 PM »
I think that men/dads who only see their kids part-time often have a hard time with discipline, because they want the kids to feel like their time with Dad is "fun." Please note that I'm not saying this in a sexist way, at all. The thing is, Dads tend to get the shit end of the stick in custody battles, and culturally, we tend to give the impression that Mom is the "main" parent, the essential one. Part-time dads often have a fear, conscious or unconscious, that their time with their children is somehow at risk -- that the kids will lose interest in seeing them, that if they discipline too much the kids will stop wanting to come over, that if the kids go back and tell Mom, "Dad did X" and Mom is looking for an excuse to find fault with Dad, he'll end up paying the price with less time/access.

I have seen this with my own husband, and with the husbands of many of my other stepmom friends. And frankly, sometimes these fears are very justified, unfortunately.


Thank you Kris. Luckily, we donít have to worry about the mom. She has never done any drama and my boyfriend has a good relationship with her. But he has the mindset that his daughter should be happy and enjoying herself when she goes to his place.

When he lets her go to bed late, he thinks about how he is cool dad for letting her enjoy herself a few more minutes, when I think about how grumpy she is going to be the next day because she wonít have enough sleep. We have different priorities.

weston

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Re: On being a stepparent
« Reply #8 on: January 25, 2019, 12:24:55 PM »
Being a stepparent is hard.

While  I might be a special case, I have found being a stepparent no harder than being a parent. They are both incredibly hard and they are both incredibly rewarding. I have been (technically) a stepparent for almost 4 decades. I would estimate that about 1/2 of my friends have no idea that my two oldest kids are actually my stepkids because it really is the most irrelevant fact in the world to the 3 of us (and to my wife and 2 biological kids). Looking at it from that perspective I guess the best advice I could give is to not assume that any challenge or problem is the result of any "step relationship" but more likely just the result of the fact that raising kids is really really friggin hard.

Kris

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Re: On being a stepparent
« Reply #9 on: January 25, 2019, 12:33:47 PM »
Being a stepparent is hard.

While  I might be a special case, I have found being a stepparent no harder than being a parent. They are both incredibly hard and they are both incredibly rewarding. I have been (technically) a stepparent for almost 4 decades. I would estimate that about 1/2 of my friends have no idea that my two oldest kids are actually my stepkids because it really is the most irrelevant fact in the world to the 3 of us (and to my wife and 2 biological kids). Looking at it from that perspective I guess the best advice I could give is to not assume that any challenge or problem is the result of any "step relationship" but more likely just the result of the fact that raising kids is really really friggin hard.

Sure, very possibly. But I'm not a parent. And I actually have a lot of parent friends who say that being a stepparent is way, way harder than being a parent. I think a lot depends on external factors, many of which are out of the stepparent's control.

I really like both of my stepkids and always have. The difficulties were never because I disliked them. Or never really about them, exactly. The difficulties were because I entered into a situation where the dynamics and routines were already established between the parents (some of them quite dysfunctional), and the ex-wife very much disliked that I came into the picture. Finding my place within the whole mix was hard, and I felt very isolated, too, because at the beginning I didn't have any other stepparents to talk to. I questioned all of my emotions, and didn't quite know what to do with some of them.

Almost thirteen years on, we've all come out the other side, my stepkids love me, and it's all good. But that doesn't mean it wasn't incredibly stressful at times at the beginning. Thankfully my husband is a great guy and a wonderful listener and communicator. I've seen a lot of second marriages break up because the relationship couldn't handle those stresses.

J Boogie

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Re: On being a stepparent
« Reply #10 on: January 25, 2019, 12:36:16 PM »
Thank you for your input J Boogie. It feels like you are right on spot with this type A/B personality. I am a control freak but I also donít want to overstep, because she is not my child, so I hold back a lot and thatís when the frustration comes in. I try to be a good stoic and remind myself that if I canít control something, I shouldnít worry about it. But it doesnít always work.

When my boyfriend and I met, we both wanted to have children, but then we realized that we completely disagreed on how to raise children. I still wanted to have kids, being ready to compromise, but he didnít. Then I came to appreciate my life and freedom the way it is and the desire for children faded away. He did a vasectomy and we donít talk about it anymore.

Luckily, my step daughter is mostly ok about me enforcing rules (at least it looks like it). She hasn't rebelled yet. She even told me one day ďI am glad you are not my step mom, otherwise you would boss me aroundĒ, which is funny because I do boss her around. But she does make a point to say that I am not part of the family, because I am not married to her dad. I am her ďfriendĒ.

When we talk about life, we plan on spending some time together, until we grow tired of each other. We do not care for getting married, unless we have to (for health insurance for example).

My boyfriend is more laid back than I am. If his daughter goes to bed 15mn late, itís no big deal to him. Whereas I am worried about the impact it will have on her sleep. He also approaches life differently. I have to spend my life productively, he spends his life leisurely in front of tv while being on his phone.

Anyway, thank you for your input because it makes me reflect on my relationship with my boyfriend and I have much to think about.

Thanks for being so receptive! I was a little hesitant to offer any advice as someone who hasn't lived this reality before. Plenty of great advice from others as well especially the ever insightful Kris.

Were you happier in life and your relationship before you moved in? My gut feeling is that commitment and cohabitation go hand in hand when it comes to romantic relationships.


Kris

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Re: On being a stepparent
« Reply #11 on: January 25, 2019, 12:38:16 PM »
I think that men/dads who only see their kids part-time often have a hard time with discipline, because they want the kids to feel like their time with Dad is "fun." Please note that I'm not saying this in a sexist way, at all. The thing is, Dads tend to get the shit end of the stick in custody battles, and culturally, we tend to give the impression that Mom is the "main" parent, the essential one. Part-time dads often have a fear, conscious or unconscious, that their time with their children is somehow at risk -- that the kids will lose interest in seeing them, that if they discipline too much the kids will stop wanting to come over, that if the kids go back and tell Mom, "Dad did X" and Mom is looking for an excuse to find fault with Dad, he'll end up paying the price with less time/access.

I have seen this with my own husband, and with the husbands of many of my other stepmom friends. And frankly, sometimes these fears are very justified, unfortunately.


Thank you Kris. Luckily, we donít have to worry about the mom. She has never done any drama and my boyfriend has a good relationship with her. But he has the mindset that his daughter should be happy and enjoying herself when she goes to his place.

When he lets her go to bed late, he thinks about how he is cool dad for letting her enjoy herself a few more minutes, when I think about how grumpy she is going to be the next day because she wonít have enough sleep. We have different priorities.

I'm glad for you that the mom has never caused any drama. That is absolutely huge, in my experience. Count your lucky stars.

Kris

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Re: On being a stepparent
« Reply #12 on: January 25, 2019, 12:38:52 PM »
Thank you for your input J Boogie. It feels like you are right on spot with this type A/B personality. I am a control freak but I also donít want to overstep, because she is not my child, so I hold back a lot and thatís when the frustration comes in. I try to be a good stoic and remind myself that if I canít control something, I shouldnít worry about it. But it doesnít always work.

When my boyfriend and I met, we both wanted to have children, but then we realized that we completely disagreed on how to raise children. I still wanted to have kids, being ready to compromise, but he didnít. Then I came to appreciate my life and freedom the way it is and the desire for children faded away. He did a vasectomy and we donít talk about it anymore.

Luckily, my step daughter is mostly ok about me enforcing rules (at least it looks like it). She hasn't rebelled yet. She even told me one day ďI am glad you are not my step mom, otherwise you would boss me aroundĒ, which is funny because I do boss her around. But she does make a point to say that I am not part of the family, because I am not married to her dad. I am her ďfriendĒ.

When we talk about life, we plan on spending some time together, until we grow tired of each other. We do not care for getting married, unless we have to (for health insurance for example).

My boyfriend is more laid back than I am. If his daughter goes to bed 15mn late, itís no big deal to him. Whereas I am worried about the impact it will have on her sleep. He also approaches life differently. I have to spend my life productively, he spends his life leisurely in front of tv while being on his phone.

Anyway, thank you for your input because it makes me reflect on my relationship with my boyfriend and I have much to think about.

Thanks for being so receptive! I was a little hesitant to offer any advice as someone who hasn't lived this reality before. Plenty of great advice from others as well especially the ever insightful Kris.



Awww! <3 You make me blush! Thank you!

J Boogie

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Re: On being a stepparent
« Reply #13 on: January 25, 2019, 12:43:37 PM »
Being a stepparent is hard.

While  I might be a special case, I have found being a stepparent no harder than being a parent. They are both incredibly hard and they are both incredibly rewarding. I have been (technically) a stepparent for almost 4 decades. I would estimate that about 1/2 of my friends have no idea that my two oldest kids are actually my stepkids because it really is the most irrelevant fact in the world to the 3 of us (and to my wife and 2 biological kids). Looking at it from that perspective I guess the best advice I could give is to not assume that any challenge or problem is the result of any "step relationship" but more likely just the result of the fact that raising kids is really really friggin hard.

Based on what you've written, my guess is that you and your wife had full or nearly full custody of your two oldest. Is that the case? I would imagine things are probably different when the kids' time is split between households.

Boofinator

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Re: On being a stepparent
« Reply #14 on: January 25, 2019, 12:45:55 PM »

We have agreed that he is the boss as far as how he wants to raise his daughter and I support him, but I can give my opinion if I think something needs some improvement. We have also agreed that I can treat his daughter like I would treat my own kid. He gives me feedback if I do something he doesnít agree with.

This is the part that I'd have a very tough time with. Reading this, your boyfriend does not treat you like a parent (or is a control freak). To me, to be treated as 'not the boss' to children you're helping to raise after 1.5 years, would be a signal to get out.



Boofinator, maybe I didnít express myself properly. I meant I am not the person that makes the decisions as far as how she is being raised. Because she is not my child, she already has a mom. I can only make suggestions. I donít see how I could be considered as a true parent, because ultimately, I am not the one deciding of her fate. Itís kind of hard to find my place, especially considering that I am much more strict than my boyfriend (and he is even more strict that his ex-wife). However, even if I am not the one deciding at what time she goes to bed, I am still an adult in the house and tell her what to do (like have her take care of her laundry).

I also try to see it from his point of view. He had lived as a single dad for a few years before we met. Then I came into his life and I started to make all those suggestions on how to raise kids. He would get very upset at first, to the point that I dreaded talking to him (and still do). But in the end, if I make those suggestions, itís because I care.

Boofinator how did it go for you to become a stepparent to 3?

I think I have been very fortunate in having a wife who has allowed me to have a parenting relationship with the stepkids. My wife and I do our best to reinforce each other in trying to make the best decisions for the children, and compromise when needed. I can't express how invaluable it has been to our relationship that we generally see eye-to-eye on many things and trust each other to make decisions that we feel are in the best interest of the children.

I apologize for being too blunt, but it doesn't feel to me that your relationship is on solid footing. Is it possible that your desire to have children faded away because you would not like to have children with the person you're with?

I have been in an unhappy* relationship (of 3.5 years) and know how difficult it can be to get out of. I don't want to assume this is your case, but if it is, know that you have my sympathies.

*Unhappy in the sense that we didn't really see eye-to-eye on much stuff and consequently didn't really love each other. Funny that I think of it, she didn't want kids either, until after we broke up and she got married and shortly afterwards had a kid. I'm happy for her that she found happiness, and want to point out that a loving relationship (though not the easiest thing to find) will help to alleviate any pain from a breakup, if you choose to go that route.

weston

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Re: On being a stepparent
« Reply #15 on: January 25, 2019, 12:50:41 PM »
Being a stepparent is hard.

While  I might be a special case, I have found being a stepparent no harder than being a parent. They are both incredibly hard and they are both incredibly rewarding. I have been (technically) a stepparent for almost 4 decades. I would estimate that about 1/2 of my friends have no idea that my two oldest kids are actually my stepkids because it really is the most irrelevant fact in the world to the 3 of us (and to my wife and 2 biological kids). Looking at it from that perspective I guess the best advice I could give is to not assume that any challenge or problem is the result of any "step relationship" but more likely just the result of the fact that raising kids is really really friggin hard.

Based on what you've written, my guess is that you and your wife had full or nearly full custody of your two oldest. Is that the case? I would imagine things are probably different when the kids' time is split between households.
Nope. Nothing approaching full custody.

weston

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Re: On being a stepparent
« Reply #16 on: January 25, 2019, 01:14:46 PM »
Being a stepparent is hard.

While  I might be a special case, I have found being a stepparent no harder than being a parent. They are both incredibly hard and they are both incredibly rewarding. I have been (technically) a stepparent for almost 4 decades. I would estimate that about 1/2 of my friends have no idea that my two oldest kids are actually my stepkids because it really is the most irrelevant fact in the world to the 3 of us (and to my wife and 2 biological kids). Looking at it from that perspective I guess the best advice I could give is to not assume that any challenge or problem is the result of any "step relationship" but more likely just the result of the fact that raising kids is really really friggin hard.

Sure, very possibly. But I'm not a parent. And I actually have a lot of parent friends who say that being a stepparent is way, way harder than being a parent....


Again, just my experience but when we were raising our older two I would occasionally think that a lot of the issues we were having were the result of me being a stepparent. If  our two younger ones hadn't come along I would probably still be thinking that.

Much to my surprise I discovered that I had the same sort of conflicts with the younger two as I did with the older two. Also, I had the same issues regarding how to raise kids with my wife with the younger two that I did with the older two. The fact that I couldn't pass a DNA test with two of the kids was never relevant to those issues. The problems really didn't change in type or degree between the older kids and younger kids. The only difference is that with the older kids we had to leave room for one more opinion in the form of her ex.

Kris

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Re: On being a stepparent
« Reply #17 on: January 25, 2019, 01:19:49 PM »
Being a stepparent is hard.

While  I might be a special case, I have found being a stepparent no harder than being a parent. They are both incredibly hard and they are both incredibly rewarding. I have been (technically) a stepparent for almost 4 decades. I would estimate that about 1/2 of my friends have no idea that my two oldest kids are actually my stepkids because it really is the most irrelevant fact in the world to the 3 of us (and to my wife and 2 biological kids). Looking at it from that perspective I guess the best advice I could give is to not assume that any challenge or problem is the result of any "step relationship" but more likely just the result of the fact that raising kids is really really friggin hard.

Sure, very possibly. But I'm not a parent. And I actually have a lot of parent friends who say that being a stepparent is way, way harder than being a parent....


Again, just my experience but when we were raising our older two I would occasionally think that a lot of the issues we were having were the result of me being a stepparent. If  our two younger ones hadn't come along I would probably still be thinking that.

Much to my surprise I discovered that I had the same sort of conflicts with the younger two as I did with the older two. Also, I had the same issues regarding how to raise kids with my wife with the younger two that I did with the older two. The fact that I couldn't pass a DNA test with two of the kids was never relevant to those issues. The problems really didn't change in type or degree between the older kids and younger kids. The only difference is that with the older kids we had to leave room for one more opinion in the form of her ex.

Ah, also, I didn't catch that you're a guy. This may have no relevance to your particular case (and not to imply this has anything to do with it), but there is some research that suggests stepmothers tend to have a harder time of it than stepfathers.

Just as an added bit about how context and circumstances out of a stepparent's control can influence how difficult the the situation is.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/stepmonster/201106/why-its-easier-love-stepfather-stepmother

weston

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Re: On being a stepparent
« Reply #18 on: January 25, 2019, 01:45:27 PM »
Being a stepparent is hard.

While  I might be a special case, I have found being a stepparent no harder than being a parent. They are both incredibly hard and they are both incredibly rewarding. I have been (technically) a stepparent for almost 4 decades. I would estimate that about 1/2 of my friends have no idea that my two oldest kids are actually my stepkids because it really is the most irrelevant fact in the world to the 3 of us (and to my wife and 2 biological kids). Looking at it from that perspective I guess the best advice I could give is to not assume that any challenge or problem is the result of any "step relationship" but more likely just the result of the fact that raising kids is really really friggin hard.

Sure, very possibly. But I'm not a parent. And I actually have a lot of parent friends who say that being a stepparent is way, way harder than being a parent....


Again, just my experience but when we were raising our older two I would occasionally think that a lot of the issues we were having were the result of me being a stepparent. If  our two younger ones hadn't come along I would probably still be thinking that.

Much to my surprise I discovered that I had the same sort of conflicts with the younger two as I did with the older two. Also, I had the same issues regarding how to raise kids with my wife with the younger two that I did with the older two. The fact that I couldn't pass a DNA test with two of the kids was never relevant to those issues. The problems really didn't change in type or degree between the older kids and younger kids. The only difference is that with the older kids we had to leave room for one more opinion in the form of her ex.

Ah, also, I didn't catch that you're a guy. This may have no relevance to your particular case (and not to imply this has anything to do with it), but there is some research that suggests stepmothers tend to have a harder time of it than stepfathers.

Just as an added bit about how context and circumstances out of a stepparent's control can influence how difficult the the situation is.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/stepmonster/201106/why-its-easier-love-stepfather-stepmother

Interesting point Kris. Never really thought about it. I'd be interested to see the age distribution of the kids in the study. It is my experience that pre teen and teenage girls generally tend to be harder on their mothers as well, not just their stepmothers. Again this is completely anecdotal, I don't have a shred of empirical evidence.

Kris

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Re: On being a stepparent
« Reply #19 on: January 25, 2019, 01:51:05 PM »
Being a stepparent is hard.

While  I might be a special case, I have found being a stepparent no harder than being a parent. They are both incredibly hard and they are both incredibly rewarding. I have been (technically) a stepparent for almost 4 decades. I would estimate that about 1/2 of my friends have no idea that my two oldest kids are actually my stepkids because it really is the most irrelevant fact in the world to the 3 of us (and to my wife and 2 biological kids). Looking at it from that perspective I guess the best advice I could give is to not assume that any challenge or problem is the result of any "step relationship" but more likely just the result of the fact that raising kids is really really friggin hard.

Sure, very possibly. But I'm not a parent. And I actually have a lot of parent friends who say that being a stepparent is way, way harder than being a parent....


Again, just my experience but when we were raising our older two I would occasionally think that a lot of the issues we were having were the result of me being a stepparent. If  our two younger ones hadn't come along I would probably still be thinking that.

Much to my surprise I discovered that I had the same sort of conflicts with the younger two as I did with the older two. Also, I had the same issues regarding how to raise kids with my wife with the younger two that I did with the older two. The fact that I couldn't pass a DNA test with two of the kids was never relevant to those issues. The problems really didn't change in type or degree between the older kids and younger kids. The only difference is that with the older kids we had to leave room for one more opinion in the form of her ex.

Ah, also, I didn't catch that you're a guy. This may have no relevance to your particular case (and not to imply this has anything to do with it), but there is some research that suggests stepmothers tend to have a harder time of it than stepfathers.

Just as an added bit about how context and circumstances out of a stepparent's control can influence how difficult the the situation is.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/stepmonster/201106/why-its-easier-love-stepfather-stepmother

Interesting point Kris. Never really thought about it. I'd be interested to see the age distribution of the kids in the study. It is my experience that pre teen and teenage girls generally tend to be harder on their mothers as well, not just their stepmothers. Again this is completely anecdotal, I don't have a shred of empirical evidence.

I have actually read that yes, the worst time for a stepmother to come into the picture with stepdaughters is around 11-13 years of age.

Which, coincidentally, was exactly when I met mine. :D

However, I actually never had problems with the kids themselves. Though I am sure it was hard on them because their mom did definitely try to make them feel disloyal by liking me. I'm just thankful her attempts to alienate them from me and their father didn't end up working.

J Boogie

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Re: On being a stepparent
« Reply #20 on: January 25, 2019, 01:53:28 PM »
Being a stepparent is hard.

While  I might be a special case, I have found being a stepparent no harder than being a parent. They are both incredibly hard and they are both incredibly rewarding. I have been (technically) a stepparent for almost 4 decades. I would estimate that about 1/2 of my friends have no idea that my two oldest kids are actually my stepkids because it really is the most irrelevant fact in the world to the 3 of us (and to my wife and 2 biological kids). Looking at it from that perspective I guess the best advice I could give is to not assume that any challenge or problem is the result of any "step relationship" but more likely just the result of the fact that raising kids is really really friggin hard.

Based on what you've written, my guess is that you and your wife had full or nearly full custody of your two oldest. Is that the case? I would imagine things are probably different when the kids' time is split between households.
Nope. Nothing approaching full custody.

It was only a matter of time before I embarrassed myself. I'm a rookie in the family game, I've got a 2.5 year old.

I'll quit while I'm ahead with the advice and soak up the wisdom of my elders :)

MasterStache

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Re: On being a stepparent
« Reply #21 on: January 25, 2019, 03:03:21 PM »
OP I have been a stepparent to my son since he was 2. He is now 14. He calls me dad and I call him my son. It's been this way for years now. His bio dad moved back to Texas roughly 10 years ago. He hasn't seen him in  5 years and he is basically non-existent in his life. It's a good thing, trust me. The funny thing is we have a great relationship with his biological grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. In fact we just spent Christmas with them along the southern Texas coast.

As he has gotten older it has gotten more difficult. We both agree we don't have much in common. I love outdoors, hiking, camping, sports etc. He loves knives, electronics, cussing and being a typical teenager. We do try to find things we both enjoy to enjoy them together. Sometimes that's a hilarious TV show. We both have a similar sense of humor as well. He unfortunately inherited severe ADHD from his bio dad. That makes things difficult as well. I think a lot of this is simply him being a teenager.

I am not sure what advice I can really give. It takes a lot of patience just being a parent. And even more patience being a step-parent. The great thing is that my son doesn't view me as a stepparent (no matter how much he hates me sometimes) and my wife has never treated me as anything less than a co-parent to him. I think that has certainly helped.
« Last Edit: January 25, 2019, 03:37:29 PM by MasterStache »