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Any other step-parents out there?

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  • I'm sure I'm not the only step-mom here! How do your stepkids fit into your daily juggle? What special challenges do you face?
  • Hi Lylah! I'm a working step-mom too. I know there are a few others around here as well - come on out, ladies!



    I probably have it easier than some step-moms since my own child isn't around much - he's 23 and living on his own now. Also, my husband and I aren't planning to have children together, so we're just dealing with the ones we brought with us. My stepchildren are 13 (girl) and 8 (boy), and they're with their dad and me two nights per week and every other weekend. Their dad does most of the things that directly involve their caretaking, but we work together. My husband and stepson have a martial-arts class together on the weeknights that are "dad's", so I pick up my stepdaughter from her mom's and bring her to our house, but their dad gets them both to school in the mornings. My husband and I divide up the cooking and other household chores pretty well, and the kids are pretty well-adjusted (most of the time).



    The fact that we have weeknights and weekends when the kids aren't with us actually helps with the juggle, I think. I wrote an article about that for WIM earlier this year. But if we had other children in the picture full-time in addition to my stepkids, I'm pretty sure it would be quite different.



    I'd be interested in reading about other step-moms' experiences too.
  • Hey! I'm also a working step-mom. My step-daughter (8 yrs old) lived with her mom and only saw her dad every other weekend for the first 5 years after the separated. At the beginning of 1st grade, she started asking her mom (and us) if she could come live with us for a while. We live far enough away that we're in different school districts, but not so far away that switching houses is difficult. Her mom told her that she couldn't come and live with us so we just continued on as normal. However, during the summer between 1st & 2nd grade, her mom decided she could come and live with us for 2nd grade.



    So as of Aug 2007, she's been living with us full-time which has significantly changed my juggling! Even though I've never thought of myself as a particularly maternal person, I have ended up being the main parent at our house. I take care of getting her up in the morning, getting her ready and take her to school. My husband picks her up after school and takes care of her until I get home from work. Then it's dinner, homework, any special activities (gymnastics, church events, girl scout activities), and then I get her ready for bed and read a story.



    So, yeah. Before August, I could come home from work, watch tv, lay on the couch, do crafts in the livingroom. Now my entire evening until 9:30 is spent with my step-daughter. And I don't mind that, but it has definitely taken some getting used to. Sometimes, if work has been particularly stressful or if I know I'm grumpy, I have to stop my car on the way home and take some time to get in a better mood.



    Anyways, my one main special challenge of dealing with step-parenting is the fact that I'm a planner. I like to make plans. And my step-daughter's winter break from school is challenging me. I have some vacation time I need to use or else I lose. But I wanted to take days that I *knew* she would be with us instead of at her mom's. And I'd ask my husband to make arrangements with her mom as far as which days of break she'd be here and which days she'd be there. Due to weather, we couldn't get my step-daughter to her mom on her weekend so I figured she be spending a large portion of her break there. So, yeah, her break started today and I STILL don't know which days she'll be here versus there. Only that she's there Christmas Eve and here Christmas Day both of which are work holidays! Arrgh! I finally just had to submit my days off and hope for the best!
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Jenni on 19th December 2007
  • I didn't see this question get posted! So you all know I'm a step-mom. I have three of my own (they're 22, 18, and 14) and five stepkids (19, 17, 16, 14, and 12). My oldest and his oldest live on their own now. His second-oldest child pretty much lives with her boyfriend, though officially she's still living with her mother...



    The challenges are two, mostly:



    1. There are so MANY of them, and our home is small. I get claustrophobic at times.



    2. His kids have SUCH a different style to ours. They are used to much loudness, much racing about, jam-packed schedules, whereas our home is quiet, low-key and our schedule deliberately un-cluttered. They are often bored, and I both resent this (because I think their usual style is unhealthy) and feel like we're falling short (even though I disagree with the standard).
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by MaryP on 29th January 2008
  • Hi girls! I just joined WIM and saw this discussion. I'm surprised to see such few responses. I wonder if it's a shy group or if there really aren't that many step moms in the world? My step kids only visit every other weekend so it's not much of a challenge in terms of the daily grind. I am really only involved on the weekends they are here. My husband takes a big role in getting them dressed, fed, put to bed, etc. Still my challenges are many! Here are the top 3 that come to mind:

    1. Finding other step moms who are willing and able to provide a good support system, good advice.

    2. Knowing what is the right thing to do. I am already plagued with self-doubt by nature so I constantly second guess every decision I make.

    3. Building and keeping a good, healthy, strong relationship with my boys without threatending their relationship with their mother.
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Norma.P on 28th February 2008
  • Just joined - thus the late input here...but just so you lovely ladies know, there are tons of us out there. Stepmoms.

    I have two steps & one of my own & I love them all to death!

    I think I've had it pretty easy. I came into their lives when they were pretty young. As far as they remember I've just always been around. We have my daughter all of the time and his kids every other week & weekend. Of course there are the usual challenges of raising children that live in two households...our style of parenting is much different than the parenting they receive at their mother's house...but it's always consistent, so I think that helps. They know what is expected of them and the boundaries are clearly placed. Everyone is treated fairly and equally, regardless of birth status...there really is no "us & them" mentality.

    I guess hubby and I are able to dodge a lot of drama by following some really simple rules ourselves...

    -STICK TOGETHER...There is one parenting team in our home, not two individuals with different answers and expectations. My husband and I talk things over amongst ourselves before any major decisions are made or before we change any rules...We make sure that we keep our line of communication wide open.

    -QUALITY TIME...Each child needs to feel special and individual, not part of a package deal...so we each take time to do special things with each child alone. Once a month my daughter and I have date night, dinner or a movie or a day getting our fingers & toes painted at the salon...something of her choosing. It's a great time to reconnect and slow down. My stepdaughter and I always do the same thing - dinner - she likes feeling like a grown up and eating at a restaurant "just us girls". And my stepson and I play video games together. It's his favorite pastime so I am happy to oblige - even though I have no clue what I am doing!

    -RESPECT THE CHILDREN'S LOSS...We always try to keep in mind that even though things are going well, each of the children have some pain and frustration over the status of their family. It's never ok to mistreat anyone or take this frustration out on eachother, but they are allowed to have their emotions and opinions. And we NEVER badmouth, crticize or make negative comments about the other parents. Nothing but nice! I believe that when kids are young they identify themselves through their parents - each of their parents making up half of who they are. If you go and say something hurtful about one of their parents you may as well be saying it about the child...they take it that way. So we only play nice and make them feel comfortable.



    I'm sure I make it sound much easier than it really is. Every day brings a new and different challenge...but I think that's true with raising children, period.



    Good luck StepMoms...yours is truly one of the hardest jobs in the world!



    S
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Sonia415 on 8th April 2008
  • Hi fellow stepmoms,



    My stepdaughter is turning 13 in July and she is the loveliest little blessing. She's wonderful with her little sisters who will be 1 in July and 3 in August, and she's just a joy to have around. But that's just it - she's rarely ever around! The court-ordered schedule is one evening a week and every other weekend, but that precious little time is constantly taken away (and rarely if ever given back).



    We recently moved to her township so we could still see her and take her to the countless activities ourselves instead of canceling whole weekends, but nothing's changed. It's still the 2 hours' notice voicemail from her mother: "oh she's not coming tonight because she has a Bat Mitzvah to attend in the morning" or "oh she's not coming this weekend because she's going on a field trip with me and her grandfather" or "oh she's not coming because one of Grandpa's friends is sick and we need to be there to support her." (Those are just the excuses for the past 3 weekends - there are more, trust me. And I wonder - why does a 12-year-old need to support a friend of her grandfather's anyway? All weekend? Huh? Is that even appropriate?) Anyway, it just goes to show you that we are last on the totem pole of priorities according to her mother and I guess therefore her too.



    It makes me sad. Here we are, wanting desperately to be a part of this little girl's life and her mother works against us at every turn. Anyone else out there dealing with this? How do you cope with the constant disappointment when your stepkids miss out on special family occasions because the other bioparent has no regard for your plans or the agreed upon schedule? It's just so rude. I know for a fact they don't find out about all these plans the day we're supposed to come get her, so why don't they at least let us know when they receive the invitation or make the travel arrangements so we can plan accordingly.



    Wow, I didn't mean to go on and on like that. I guess I'm just at wit's end over it!
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Caitlin on 22nd May 2008
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    Flag as inappropriate Posted by KristinaBond on 18th August 2009
  • One of the hardest tasks in the world could be the one as being a good step parents. There are so many folk stories, fairy tales or novels tell the mass that step parents are all bad, they would torture their step children as much as possible and it seems like they are the senior members of the poisoned witches association and wear the invisible bloody lanyard on which write the name of the association.
    Once I thought that if I love my step children from the bottom of my heart and devote for them wholeheartedly, they would feel my love and treat me as their original mother. But it turned out that I was wrong. I feel like as soon as I enter the door of my husband’s house, his two daughters have made up their mind to drive me out of their house. Everything there seems belong to me not, I am only a stranger in that house. Every night when we have dinner together, they will try their best to raise their father’s attention and prevent me to talk with their father everywhere with them. Soon after our wedding, as we came back from the honey moon, his little daughter, my step-daughter finds every excuse to sleep with us. I even do not have the private time and space.
    No matter what I do, I could never do it better than their original mother. And in their eyes, I am the one who destroyed their family. Their parents divorced not because they did not love each other anymore, but because of my attendance. I did not even know their father at that time but I have to bear their bad tempers and their criticism. I try my best to please them, I make their favorite biscuits, I cool their favorite dishes and when they want to buy clothes, I would chose the best one for them. If I had my own original children, I could not treat them better than I treat my step daughters. But they just do not accept me. I do not know what is wrong with me. Maybe the only mistake I have is being a step mother.
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by cjniya on 9th November 2009
  • One of the hardest tasks in the world could be the one as being a good step parents. There are so many folk stories, fairy tales or novels tell the mass that step parents are all bad, they would torture their step children as much as possible and it seems like they are the senior members of the poisoned witches association and wear the invisible bloody lanyard on which write the name of the association.
    Once I thought that if I love my step children from the bottom of my heart and devote for them wholeheartedly, they would feel my love and treat me as their original mother. But it turned out that I was wrong. I feel like as soon as I enter the door of my husband’s house, his two daughters have made up their mind to drive me out of their house. Everything there seems belong to me not, I am only a stranger in that house. Every night when we have dinner together, they will try their best to raise their father’s attention and prevent me to talk with their father everywhere with them. Soon after our wedding, as we came back from the honey moon, his little daughter, my step-daughter finds every excuse to sleep with us. I even do not have the private time and space.
    No matter what I do, I could never do it better than their original mother. And in their eyes, I am the one who destroyed their family. Their parents divorced not because they did not love each other anymore, but because of my attendance. I did not even know their father at that time but I have to bear their bad tempers and their criticism. I try my best to please them, I make their favorite biscuits, I cool their favorite dishes and when they want to buy clothes, I would chose the best one for them. If I had my own original children, I could not treat them better than I treat my step daughters. But they just do not accept me. I do not know what is wrong with me. Maybe the only mistake I have is being a step mother.
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by cjniya on 9th November 2009

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