To the Step Parents

Updated on January 28, 2011
S.G. asks from Tecumseh, OK
18 answers

do you like being a step parent? why or why not, did you ever wish you could have your spouse with out the step kids? how did your relationship start and how is it now? what was done to change for better or worse. is being a step parent harder/easier than you expected? would you do it all over again if you could? why or why not? how do you handle difficult times with the "other parent"?

if you've read my previous posts, please do not use that as what you say for your comments here...just need to know i'm not alone on certain aspects of being a step parent, you're comments will answer that question :)

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S.D.

answers from Chicago on

I am not a step parent myself, but my dad is my step dad. Not that I consider him to be that anymore. He and my mom got married when I was 5ish..? I used to see my bio dad when I was younger, but have not seen him in years. My step dad walked me down the aisle when I got married, did the father daughter dance together. I consider him my dad. My dd's also just know him as Papa. Not knowing he's not their bio grandpa. I think it was probably hard on him at first, but I love him, and can't imagine my life without him. Good luck, and sorry I don't have any better advice.

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S.W.

answers from Minneapolis on

I've been a stepmother for 24 years (I was 25 years old). I am now a stepgrandmother to 3! It was hard! and worth it and I would do it again. I am still close to my 28 and 25 year-old stepchildren. If I had a chance to do it again, I would "not sweat the small stuff and everything is small". I would avoid ever using the family court system or expecting that system to help or to be logical. I would realize that loving and caring about the children was the most important thing, not who had "custody" or exactly how the "visitation" schedule was supposed to look. I would never say a thing negative about their biological mother.

They grow up, and they realize who was there for them in all possible ways, and they learn how to be adults by what we do, not by what we say. I didn't wish for something I couldn't have (him without his kids). Sometimes I wished for things to be easier, but I didn't realize for years that I had the power to make things easier, by accepting and learning, and letting things go!

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D.P.

answers from Pittsburgh on

I'm not a step parent and don't envy anyone who is BUT I had the most wonderful stepfather in the world. We lost him to Cancer almost 5 years ago and I still miss him. :-(
What made him a great step parent was that he didn't expect respect--he earned it by being a strong, steady, calm influence in my life. He gave me away at my wedding and cared for my child (wildly in love!) like a pro!
I'm sure I wasn't always "nice" to him--especially the teen years--but in his quiet, steady way--he hooked me! LOL
He never disciplined and that's a tough line to walk. Good luck.

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M.D.

answers from Dallas on

I'm a step mom and love it. I don't see my step son too much, I get along with him and his mother and they both came to visit with us a few years back. We live in separate states and he lives with his mother. She has really been a single mother and wouldn't let him come by himself, he was 15 at the time. He's about to graduate high school this year. My husband for the most part has step aside, talks to his son a lot, but doesn't see him much. He's always left the door open, but doesn't interferes with how his mother raises him. He's an honor student that works part-time and is involved in a lot of activities. My husband feels when his son gets older they will have a closer relationship, and will understand his choices. I never wanted to take the place of his mother, I always wanted him to feel like he's welcomed and I'd do anything for him. He's a great kid and it's been wonderful watching him grow up to become such a remarkable young man. I tell his mother all the time that she's done a great job!

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S.H.

answers from Killeen on

I am a step-mom(my stepson lives with us fulltime). My husband is also a step-dad to my kids and I have to say it comes ALOT easier to him than it does to me. I never imagined it would be this hard for me. I do love my step son of course but his mother (the ex) makes everything so hard and she does it on purpose. Even though I feel guilty about it I have to admit I often wonder what our life and marriage would be like if he weren't here or if he lived with his mom full time. He does go there every other weekend and on those weekends my house feels peaceful. Most of the fights between my husband and I are either about my step sons behavior (and my hubbys reluctance to correct it) or about something his ex did or said to my stepson. I love my husband more than anything but if I knew how hard it would be I probably would hae thought it through a little better.I am glad you asked this question...I feel better knowing I am not alone in feeling that way sometimes :)

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J.L.

answers from Binghamton on

Hi
I have 2 step children who came to live with us full time 9 years ago when they were 6 and 8 - this happened 2 months before we got married. Their Mother is not in the picture and lives across the country.
I have often thought what my life and marriage would be like without them. It is much harder than I would have anticipated and at times, I would love for at least one of them to return to her mother.
The oldest is a girl and is now 17 - she and I clash terribly and there are constant issues with her behavior and academic performance. She has been to counseling to help her resolve some of her issues.
The youngest, a boy is now 15 and is a great kid... he shows respect, is a great athlete and does well in school. He is a pleasure.
The other issue is that my husband and I now have 2 children together. Their older sister is rotten to them.. I believe she is jealous and lashes out to hurt me. Their brother on the other hand loves them to death.
If I had to do it over again, I would reconsider becoming a step parent, at least a full time one.

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S.R.

answers from Kansas City on

First off, I haven't read any previous posts, so no influence there.

I am a step parent, but consider myself their parent also - I'm just the third parent who has a class b vote (behind Mom and Dad who have class a). Hubby has always acted in such a way that the kids know that what I say goes just as much as if he said it.

I knew that when I married hubby, he came with 2 kids and a m-i-l who would eventually live with us or near enough to us that she would be in our lives daily.

My main frustration is their mother and her choices. It bothers me that she puts her own needs before those of the children. I tell both of my kids that even tho she drives me crazy, I would not give up having them in my life just so she wouldn't be in it too. I can't imagine my life without them in it anymore than I can without hubby.

Since we got married, one of the two kids has come to live with us and the other would like to also, but (a) doesn't want to hurt mom and (b) is half-way thru high school.

Both kids have said to me that they're glad they have 3 parents because each of us has strengths they can use depending on their needs (cooking, relationships, schoolwork, etc). Also, I am also a bit more of a 'neutral' party so they are more likely to come to me about some stuff.

I think it works to my benefit that their mom lives 1500 miles away, because it means she and I aren't in competition - one of us is the mom there and the other is the mom here.

Don't know if this helps or not, but it's my story anyway.

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B.M.

answers from Cincinnati on

Hi S.,
I'm not a step parent but I am a step-daughter and I was hoping my point of view could help you out in some way and I asked my step dad to respomd to your questions at the end of this post also. My step dad has been in my life since I was 7, I am 30 now. I hated that man with the passion of the devil until I was in my 20's.
I can tell you that the reason I hated him so much was because of the hate my father taught me to have for him. He would constantly tell me and my sister that my step dad was a bad man and that if we loved our father we would be mean and hateful to our step dad. My fathers hate mongering goes on to this day. For example, if I call my step dad, my step dad in front of people and if my father hears me say this, he will go to my sister and say to her "why doesn't L. respect my wishes and not call him dad? That hurts me so much, why doesn't your sister love me? We are 30 and 37 now. I think that is pathetic!
My step father is a good man and I am blessed to have him, he picks up what my birth father can't or won't do for me but like I said before it took me 20+ years to feel that way and it wasn't until my own father betrayed me, and my step dad was their to pick up the pieces and help me, that I grew to honor and love him.
I do not want to discourage you from your relationship, I just want you to know from the kids point of view what they are up against when you come into their lives. They didn't ask to be born and human nature being what it is some of what went on and is still going on, in my life will be what is going to happen in your step kids life. I can understand you not wanting the kids around, thats normal. I think birth parents feel that way too.
Unfortunatly, I cannot offer you a remedy to help the kids accept you either.
I'm not a mean person and I regret everything I did and said as a kid and young adult to hurt my step dad. In my eyes at that time anything I could do to hurt him or dishonor him meant I loved my father. My step dad went through hell and still stayed and now our relationship is great but my sister still hates him. In fact I beleive if given the chance she would spit on his grave, the hate is that intense, its not her fault though, that is what our father wants us to do.
There is always a chance that the kids will come around like I did but it may take years and it could ruin your relationship with your guy if you are not strong enough to handle it.
Please remember this if nothing else from my point of view as a child; My world collapsed suddenly and all I knew was that my daddy upset my mommy so bad she wanted him out of her life. I still loved mommy and daddy the same but now I'm supposed to choose sides or I will upset the very people whom just abandoned one another who I witnessed not long before telling each other how much they loved one another. As a kid I thought that they would do the same to me and abandon me if I was bad or upset them. So I hated my step dad and made him miserable as my father asked so that I wouldn't be the next one abandoned. Just try to think of the kids when you make your decision cause it is no picnic for us either when mom and dad split.
You are not alone in any of the questions you pose. I think you are doing a great thing by asking the community for advice. I texted my step dad your questions and here is what he said:
On being a step parent, yes he likes it but he has birth children of his own and it gets very difficult at times to deal with the jealousy his children have for the time he spends with me now.
He would do it over again, not for me or my sister but because my mother is the love of his life.
He has never been alone with either his ex wife or my mom because both relationships had children involved but now that he is retired he is making up for all that lost time.
The relationship started as friends before my parents divorced but he said he loved her from the first time he saw her and he NEVER interfered and didn't even start dating my mom until mom was divorced a year and he was in the process of divorcing his first wife.
He said he did not do anything to change the relationship with my mom over the years, he said it was a roller coaster ride daily and he just hung in there!
Being a step parent is MUCH harder than he thought, but of course in my case my sister and I made sure of that! He said the best advice he can give to anyone thinking of dating or marrying into a broken family is to STAY OUT of any business that has to do with your spouses child/children. Be friendly but you are the outsider and getting involved will only cause you trouble and your spouse will end up resenting you and so will the kids.
He closes with that my father was a particularly bad "other parent" because he did not want to divorce my mom and my father tried everything he could to destroy their relationship and poison us kids against him but in the end he says sadly and with a smiley face, I, L. his step child, am the only child he has that spends time with him now and remembers to give him a fathers day card and to him all the past was worth what he has gained now.

We wish you good luck with your relationship and I hope everything works out.
Blessings, L.

M.L.

answers from Houston on

I'm not a step parent. But I had a boyfriend a long time ago who loved his step mom like his bio mom, if not more.

They were great friends and they respected each other, and had good family dynamics from his dad and mother. So, I think all of those factors help.

Anyways, can't help out anymore, just letting you know positive outcomes are possible, especially when the bio parents try and maintain the issue of respect as well.

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N.N.

answers from Huntsville on

Hi I am a step parent to a sd who will be 12 in December. She has a sister who is 13 (she is not bio my husbands but he raised her since she was 3 months old). Both of the girls live in a different state than us and we get to see the youngest as much as his work schedule will allow us too. As for the oldest we have no legal rights to her so the EX won't let us have much to do with her except when it comes to getting stuff like christmas for example. My hubby is also a sp to my 6 yo son. He and I met in November 06 dated until April 07 then moved in together and that was when I met the girls for first time. We all loved each other from the moment we met! Hubby proposed to me Christmas eve 07 and we were married July 12 08 and it has been great ever since! I do not try and take the place of their mother I just try to be their friend and love them at the same time. In the beginning the EX tried to make our lives a living hell even though she was the one who cheated on him and also was the one who left and moved 700 miles away! I have no dealing with her we don't speak at all and that's the way I like it! I love being a sp to girls and wouldn't trade it for the world! We r in the process of trying for a baby together but no luck so far!

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G.T.

answers from Salinas on

I am a future step-mom, and I have not been in this situation for very long (only a little over a year now). It was difficult at first, but I attribute most of my difficulties with my own mental approach than with anything the kids have done. My BF has a 4 year-old son and an 8 year-old daughter from his previous marriage. There is also about a 9 year age gap between BF and myself. I think that because I was so young and so unfamiliar with kids (I was not the babysitting type) it really unnerved me and I was constantly afraid of overstepping some invisible, unspoken boundary. Gradually, I became more familiar with them and much more comfortable with the idea of being their step-mom.

Do I like being a step parent? Most of the time. Sometimes it can be a little overwhelming, but I don't have any kids of my own, so that might be why. It's all new territory for me. I have to say, though, looking back on the last year, my relationship with the kids has grown by leaps and bounds. It's amazing how the smallest things can feel so rewarding (i.e. the boy wants to hold my hand when crossing the street). I sometimes feel hurt when people in the store tell me what a nice family I have, because I want to accept the compliment, but I don't feel that I have any right to claim them as such (yet?); I don't like that feeling.

Do I ever wish I could have my boyfriends without the kids? Well we don't have full custody of the kids, so I see him plenty without the kids around. However, I don't think I would be with my boyfriend if it weren't for the kids. I didn't know him before last year, but from what I hear he was not exactly a nice guy before his kids were born. Once he was a father though, he straightened out a lot and I think his perspective on things changed--for the better. I don't think that he would be the man he is today without his kids. Furthermore, I've come to care a lot about the kids. I miss them when they're not around, and I wish I could call them and find out how their day at school went. I know that I wouldn't have ever entered their lives if it wasn't for my relationship with their father, but we are where we are and at this point I would be heartbroken if they were no longer in my life.

How did our relationship start and how is it now? Our relationship began at a good, moderate pace. He was still very disillusioned with the idea of marriage after his divorce, but I am young enough that marriage isn't exactly at the forefront of my mind. We were very open with one another from the start, and we still are. I met the kids for the first time after about two months of dating. The first meeting did not go well at all. It was very tense and uncomfortable. As I've said, a lot of that was due to my perspective and it got better. My relationship with my boyfriend has only grown stronger. Whenever something with the kids makes me uncomfortable or upset, I tell him and we work out how to better handle it next time. I don't let myself sit and stew in my own paranoia anymore, because he has shown me that he responds to my concerns with real action.

Is it harder/easier than expected? I have no idea what I expected. I just decided to try it, why not? It's not easy, especially if you don't have anyone else in a similar situation to talk to. I didn't expect the women in my family to be so casual about dismissing my concerns or any "differences" between step-children and biological children. It's not so bad though. I think things could be a lot harder. The mother of the kids does not try to cause problems for my boyfriend or me, and she seems to be a pretty good mother. My boyfriend is also a very good father, and because the kids respect him they listen to him. Because he respects me, they respect me. So it's hard, but it could definitely be harder.

Would I do it all over again if I could? Well I don't have years and years invested in this, so I'm not sure what I would "do all over again," but I am certainly glad that I gave it a shot. I love my boyfriend and his kids, and I don't plan on going anywhere for the next oh, let's say 50 years.

How do I handle difficult times with the "other parent"? Well, like I said, I haven't come across much from her yet. For the most part, I let my boyfriend deal with her. I'm sure that there will come a time though that I will have to deal with her, and it might not go as smoothly as things have gone so far. I don't know yet how I will handle that. I fear it, I'll tell you that.

I don't have years of experience, but I do have my perspective. If you ever want to talk feel free to email me at [email protected]____.com.

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L.B.

answers from Saginaw on

I am a future step parent and, so far, I'm loving it! I do wish sometimes that I didn't have to deal with the drama of my boyfriend's crazy ex, but then I remember if he never got with her, we wouldn't have his wonderful daughter! Things are difficult sometimes, but most things usually work out in the end...if it doesn't, it wasn't meant to be...keep your head up!

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H.T.

answers from Atlanta on

I wish it could be my husband and my daughter and "our" daughter all the time. His son is a demon. I have raised him since he was 3 years old, he is now 11, and I hate him! If i knew it was going to be this hard I wouldnt have gotten married at all.

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D.S.

answers from Jonesboro on

I married a man with a 6 yr old daughter. My step parent experience was a nightmare. Her mother did everything possible to turn her against both of us - even telling her that I was the reason they divorced (not true!). We would drive 25 miles 1 way for our every other weekend visit and her mother would come to the door and say she didn't want to go etc. She would take her to the doctor and put all the bills in my husbands name. Anything she could do to complicate our lives.....she did. My stepdaughter is now 30 and still will not speak to me or her Dad unless we speak directly to her. I thought that after she got out from under her mothers clutches that she would see for herself that her Dad and I are not bad people and we truly do want to be a part of her life but I was wrong. She came around during her wedding, asking us to pay for the reception (which we did) and then after the wedding she went back to her old ways. I grieve over this situation and spoken with my Pastor who says I just need to let it go.

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K.S.

answers from New York on

step kids can be manipulative

Updated

step kids can be manipulative

Updated

step kids can be manipulative

Updated

step kids can be a handful

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C.W.

answers from Santa Barbara on

Hopefully you are starting to mellow out and accept that you are a step-mother. It was less than three weeks ago that you wrote that it "Sux to be a step mom sometimes". You married a man with children, that's a package deal and it is awful to read that you were counting down the days until they graduate and are gone as well as you sometimes HATE being a stepmom. Sure it can be difficult sometimes but you need to rise to the challenge and be the best parent you can be.

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C.M.

answers from New Orleans on

When I step back and take account of my 6 years of being a step parent to my now 10 year old sd, I can say that I have liked being a step parent a lot more than the times I didnt like being one. And honestly, the times I didn't like being a step parent, I probably just didn't like being a parent, period. What parent doesn't from time to time? I think after 6 years, the biggest lesson I've learned is that it is dangerous, counterproductive and often times misleading to focus on the "step" part of the relationship being the source of all problems. My sd and I are very different as far as our fundamental personalities, but who is to say that I won't have a biological child with the same challenge? My sd is A LOT like her father, which his and my personality differences make our marriage more dynamic, but her and my personality differences make our step-mom/step daughter relationship infinitely more challenging for me (because I, as the adult, am responsible for guiding us to middle ground and have to force myself, no matter how angry/frustrated/indignant, to be more creative/patient/understanding to figure out the best way to parent this child in this particular situation). I am 9 months pregnant with our first child together and we plan to have one more, and do you know what? There are no guarantees that this child or the next won't present the exact same challenge to me. So biological or not, the best conclusion I've drawn is that parenting of any kind is really, really hard. Yes, vengeful exes can make things even harder, but if you have the support of your spouse, you can learn to limit the physical and emotional impact that has on you. I have made the choice that I am not responsible for the emotions/resentments/childish behavior of the other party, and I pay it no attention. I simply don't have time to give it, and it is amazing what just plain ignoring can solve. It also provides me no excuses- if sd and I aren't getting along, I look to myself and figure out what I can do to fix it, rather than throwing up my hands and blaming the other party for alienation. It makes me feel a lot less helpless and therefore less frustrated, and it really works. Taking complete ownership of my relationship with my sd has presented some intense moments, but it has helped us grow even closer. I dont fear rejection, I just take it as a natural step in the process and look for the next step after that. Even if I am being bad mouthed and undermined in the other household, I still have a lot of influence in this house how I am viewed and treated, and over time, actions speak louder than words, as many grown step children who responded to your question have confirmed.

N.S.

answers from Tuscaloosa on

I love being a step-mom. I love my SS, literally like he's my own. I was there when he was born and have been there his entire life, but only as step-mom for the past 8 years. (His dad and I were best friends for 13 years before we started dating, and then eventually married-- so I literally married my best friend!) Anyway, I sometimes don't like dealing with the ex-wife, but that is just part of it. They have been divorced for 14 years, and for 14 years she has done nothing but bad-mouth my hubby, and in front of their child! (They got divorced because she cheated on him.) Anyway, having to deal with the immature ex is just part of it and I've accepted that (but that doesn't mean I like it). And it doesn't effect my relationship with SS...he and I are close and he often calls me to do things for him that his BM won't do. He knows he can depend on me and I love that! Like I said, I love him like my own, and treat him like my own.

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