Frustrated Stepmom, I think ? — The Bump
Blended Families

Frustrated Stepmom, I think ?

So, this will be a bit of a rant ! Also, my first post on this board.

My SO and I are going for a vasectomy reversal, risky ! My body is screaming baby. He already has two kids with his ex wife. I adore the kids ! I think I am partially frustrated because of the wait for surgery and wondering if it is possible for us for have one of our own. On the other hand, I am frustrated because I feel like a maid. SD is 9 years old, SS is 7. We have the kids 50% of the time. While they are with us I treat them as my kids. I feel as though I meet their physcial needs but when it comes to their emotional needs I am never needed. One evening my SO and I started talking about the surgery and how great it would be. He said something along the lines of not being ready to be the kids stepmom. My jaw dropped not only did it offend me but it hurt, badly. My approach was rather defensive. I do everything and more for the kids. My SD is extremely defiant. My SO let's her gets away with everything. Bedtime is at 8:00 but she rarely goes until 10:30 because "how can I make her if she doesn't want to?". I work from home so during the summer the kids are home with me - which is extremely difficult. I tried explaining to him that even though I work from home doesn't mean I am doing nothing. When it's bedtime I am ready for MY time. I know that sounds selfish and maybe it is but after making every meal, hanging out with the kids all day and evening, and cleaning up after all, I feel like having a schedule isn't too much to ask ! When it comes to rules and consequences I feel like there isn't any. I feel as though when bad behaviours happen my SO does everything possible to avoid conflict instead of punishing the behaviour. As a Stepmom I don't feel I have the right to say, "No, just because she wants the tablet at 9:30pm doesn't mean she can have it!" Or "When a 7 year old is taking a tantrum and saying your mean a thousand times shouldn't be rewarded by tickling and trying to make him happy".

Am I being dramatic ? Do blended families get easier ??

Me 27 <3 DF 44
TTC post VR Sept 21/16
SA 6 weeks post op 50.7 mil count 40% motility

Re: Frustrated Stepmom, I think ?

  • edited August 2016
    Hi and welcome! How long have you and your husband been together? Have you talked to him about these things? 

    I SO get where you're coming from.  I'm often counting the minutes until bedtime, and if husband comes out with "I told him he could stay up another half hour/hour since he doesn't have school tomorrow" I am NOT a happy camper. No school often means I'm home with him all day, so no break for me when I've been waiting all day for a few minutes to myself. I think it's totally rasonable to know when the kids will be in bed and to have some kid-free time when you can focus on your own needs and their father takes the reins. But, your husband needs to know your feelings and needs and he's not a mind reader. I love that I can rant like this to my husband, and he listens and takes care of it, at least taking over for the rest of the night so I can go off by myself, and usually working on a longer term solution for the heart of the problem. Can you tell him these things? Being a stepparent is different than being a bio parent, and he can't understand what you're going through unless you communicate it. Being a stepmom is probably the hardest, loneliest, most thankless, most draining thing I've ever done, and without my husband's support it would be unbearable. 

    I think you absolutely have the right to have a say in house rules (though the smoothest would be you and your husband coming up with expectations and consequences together and he communicates them with the kids) and "me time" after being nanny, cook, and maid all day. You said your husband avoids conflict with his kids... It sounds like he wants to be Super Dad, but does he also want to be Super Husband? Before we were married, both my husband and I were clear that God comes first, then spouse, then kids. Putting your spouse first really helps in these situations and isn't as crazy as some people think it would be. Trusting that your spouse is a kind, caring person who respects the bio parent's relationship with his kids and cares for or maybe even loves the kids and has good will towards them, you know your kids won't be neglected. 

    As to one of your specific issues,  you don't HAVE to be home with the kids all day while you work. What did your husband do with them before you came along? What would he do if you weren't there? Look into camps, playdates with friends, or other childcare options to give you a break. You are not their mother or their nanny. Going from single woman to insta-mom to school age kids is a huge life change and jumping into the deep end can be overwhelming. Everyone needs to lower their expectations of your role in the family and how long it takes to become a family. Before I got married, I did a lot of research and read that if you can make it through the first 5-6 years, it does get easier after that. I read another article last week that said for a child to see you as part of the family/a parental figure, expect it to take one year for every year of the child's age when you got married. So if you got married when SD was 9, it will take about 9 years for her to accept you, so she'll be about 18. It's a long road for sure! 
    Kbchavez23flashley-2klajo117
  • Thanks for your reply. 

    My SO and I are not married. We both have been and we plan to be. His divorce is currently being finalized. We have been together three years. Just bought a new house in February. He is my best friend, but sometimes I feel pushed to the side I guess. Like I am trapped in situations I am not comfortable or don't agree with. Maybe that is a bit of an overstatement but I am sure you get where I am coming from !!

    I do see a counsellor on a regular basis as I think it's a healthy get away. It helps but you're right. He will never understand until I discuss what is bothering me. He came home from time away with the kids last night. We pay for a recreation program that they are suppose to be attending from 8:30-2:30 everyday to make it easier for me to work from home without distraction. When they arrived home he had told me that he discussed with the kids that they did not want to go to recreation today. My response was "I have a really busy day tomorrow and it would have been nice to be informed of that decision before you made it with the kids." He didn't say anything of course, avoiding conflict, but he never seems to agree with me.

    Even with the same problems the entire situation is tough. I feel like regardless of how I feel about situations he may say "yeah, I agree" or "I never thought about it" but he will never listen to my concerns, needs, or feelings when it comes to the kids. Like I have told him, I love the kids and I love watching them grow. I came into this relationship accepting them. I just feel like he needs to make adjustments for me as well or I will continuously feel like an outside or a maid ! 

    Me 27 <3 DF 44
    TTC post VR Sept 21/16
    SA 6 weeks post op 50.7 mil count 40% motility

    klajo117
  • edited August 2016
    That's so frustrating, I'm sorry :-( It does seem like you two really need to get on the same page, definitely before you get married and get yourself into this situation permanently! 

    Another strategy you can try (I'd recommend talking to your SO about it before implementing it, though, not being passive aggressive about it): step back from the role you've taken on. You're not the maid, nanny, or mother of these kids. They are not your responsibility. If he decides with the kids they won't go to the rec program, think to yourself "not my problem" your response could be something like "OK. I have a really busy day of work ahead. Will you be bringing them somewhere for child care or will you be taking the the day off to spend with them? If they'll be in the house I'll be sure to plan to work at (alternate site, Starbucks, etc)." If he wants to avoid conflict, he can figure out childcare. If he wants to then address it, there's your opportunity to set some good boundaries for yourself, starting with "if there's a decision that involves/affects me, we, the adults, make the decision before telling the kids or giving them choices."

    Feeling like an outsider is a normal and sucky part of being a stepparent that I think everyone feels a little bit regardless of how great the situation may be. But this and your other issues will only get worse with time, and even worse once you're married and you feel even more obligated to take on a parental role. This is some of the stuff that destroys second marriages, so it's really important you two to work on communication now
  • That's so frustrating, I'm sorry :-( It does seem like you two really need to get on the same page, definitely before you get married and get yourself into this situation permanently! 

    Another strategy you can try (I'd recommend talking to your SO about it before implementing it, though, not being passive aggressive about it): step back from the role you've taken on. You're not the maid, nanny, or mother of these kids. They are not your responsibility. If he decides with the kids they won't go to the rec program, think to yourself "not my problem" your response could be something like "OK. I have a really busy day of work ahead. Will you be bringing them somewhere for child care or will you be taking the the day off to spend with them? If they'll be in the house I'll be sure to plan to work at (alternate site, Starbucks, etc)." If he wants to avoid conflict, he can figure out childcare. If he wants to then address it, there's your opportunity to set some good boundaries for yourself, starting with "if there's a decision that involves/affects me, we, the adults, make the decision before telling the kids or giving them choices."

    Feeling like an outsider is a normal and sucky part of being a stepparent that I think everyone feels a little bit regardless of how great the situation may be. But this and your other issues will only get worse with time, and even worse once you're married and you feel even more obligated to take on a parental role. This is some of the stuff that destroys second marriages, so it's really important you two to work on communication now
    I can't agree with this enough. You are his partner, and it seems like he expects you to fill the role as a coparent, so as a coparent, the both of you need to sit down and discuss your needs, wants, and expectations of this arrangement and establish your boundaries as well. All decisions should be made between the adults before options are ever presented to the children as well. I agree with the Spouse, then children model offered above. My FI and I have been more on the same page due to us both having a child from previous marriages, and had we NOT been on the same page, I would not have wanted to blend our families and have children together until we both agreed on our parenting responsibilities and boundaries, and had a very effective line of communication open. Like PP said, he won't know any of the things you feel until you discuss them. And also like she said, don't be passive aggressive about it. Be straight forward and transparent with your wishes, and it wouldn't hurt to add that you are NOT trying to cause conflict, but rather you are genuinely trying to establish an effective plan and schedule because what you have now is NOT working for you and compromise needs to be found.
  • You ladies are so helpful. 

    I have kind of been observing situations and making a note of them so that I can sit down and explain things that are bothering me and try to work out a way to fix it. I am hesitant because I don't want him to feel as though I am telling him how to parent. I have slightly stepped back from the role I was filling as "the maid" and have been doing more things I enjoy and things that bring me enjoyment. That has been really helping. I don't feel so trapped. I know my SO has never expected me to fill the role but I felt like trying to be helpful and keep things running smooth I got pulled into the role and kind of felt as though I would disappoint or throw a curve ball into the routine. I'm glad I stepped back and literally got back on my horse. It's been helping relieve stress and is a great getaway. Of course, there are differences in our parenting which is why I am observing and seeing what would make me feel more comfortable as a Step Mom and then we will sit down and discuss how to compromise and make this work.

    Does this make any sense ???? 

    Me 27 <3 DF 44
    TTC post VR Sept 21/16
    SA 6 weeks post op 50.7 mil count 40% motility

    klajo117
  • I would die if my husband was that way with his kids. At first he was about the bed time thing but I told him no I'm the one caring for them they need to follow my rules. My oldest SD is 8 so same age and though I do not spank them I'm not above physically moving them. I'm sorry there's nothing wrong with that in my book. So my husband is out of town a lot so we got custody over the summer and I literally picked her up took her to bed and bear hugged her at 8 until she fell asleep. And it took a few nights but she realized I wasn't giving up and she will follow my rules. It's not too much to ask to have a schedule. And no they don't need the iPad at 9:30. Put your foot down. Just because they aren't yours doesn't mean they don't have to respect you. And if I were you I would ask your husband how he could possibly tell you you're not ready when he doesn't even parent his children. I would take the ipads as punishments for trantrums and bad behavior. I also make them do dishes for punishments. 
    klajo117
  • I feel you Flashley, but I would advice to treat the kids the way you could treat your. If a kid misbehave, you have to correct her. Do not play safe to please them as you might end up making them rude as they know mum wont do anything after all. 
    MY THOUGHT!!
  • hopeful207hopeful207 member
    100 Comments Name Dropper
    edited November 25
    First I will say I am not really a part of this section of the forum and am not a step parent, or parent at all for that matter. I did, however, largely grow up in a household with my dad, stepmom, sister, step brother, and half sister (a very blended family, you could say).

    I agree with what others have said, that you and your husband have very different parenting styles. This is of course more difficult because the children are not biologically yours, have their own biological mom, and were 4-6 years old when you came into the family (if my math is correct). I was 5 when my dad and stepmom got together so I understand how the transition can be difficult from the children's perspective, and it is common in all families but perhaps especially blended families for kids to just go to another parent if one gives them an answer or rule they don't like.

    There is one thing I have to add that I think you are aware of but I believe definitely merits significant consideration. Although much of the current issue comes from you being the stepparent, I believe at least as much if not more comes from the differences in you and your husband's parenting techniques. The important thing to consider here is that this will not necessarily be any different with a child you have together and which is biologically yours.

    This is definitely something to discuss with your husband and see if you can come up with any helpful solutions. Writing down your plans of action for things like who chooses the children's activities and bedtimes and punishments (and maybe a list of appropriate punishments you both agree on) could be very helpful. If you can find a common ground, great. Once you reach an agreement you can test its feasability on your stepkids. But if you cannot reach an agreement or if he refuses to uphold his end of the agreement, I would be extremely hesitant to have children with him with the intent of raising them together.

    Just my 2 cents. I wish you the best of luck.
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