Who the H*ll Invented Stepparenting??

Updated on February 26, 2013
T.S. asks from Carrollton, TX
16 answers

In case it has not become clear my family is a blended family. When my husband and I married 5 years ago we each came into the marriage with a child. Our children are 9 months apart and are opposite sexes. I am not going to pose a question specific to my situation because we are not having a specific problem its just a general/normal issues in our house at this point so I pose just the general question of why are stepdads considered dad so easily but stepmoms have to climb mount Everest just to get a miniscule amount of respect?? Is anyone else encountering this problem/situation? How are you emotionally dealing with it? How are you and your spouse approaching/addressing it?

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So What Happened?

Thanks for the feedback everyone. To answer your questions: I has ''blessed" with a stepdaughter. My husband came into the marriage with a daughter and I came in with a son. So she and I are the same sex. Before we married he lived in another state and had her on weekends so he was not very hands. Once we married and he prepared to move to my state, her mom dropped for a weekend visit with signed, notarized termination of parental rights paper and said you can have her and that is putting it VERY nicely. So yes this is new for all of us, him included, he didn't expect to have her full time in our home. He just participated in the fun parts of life, weekends birthdays and holidays. Yes our problem is is lack of support for me and we are working on that too. We have always include her mom in our world, buying gifts for her to send to her mom and maternal family, keeping open communication with them. Her mom is supportive of me and tells her daughter to be. Her mom and I talk openly and she shares with me what the daughter says to her about me and according to her it is a bunch of nothing excuses because she does not want you with her dad, she never had to share her dad before. I trust the mom knows what she is talking about considering she is the one that raised this child full time, not my husband. I have backed off and stopped pushing, I have prayed, I have tried everything I know of, read of and have been told to try but in 5 years nothing. I back she tells her dad I am mean to her and nice to my son, the reality is she ignores me the first two-three times so by the time she is actually hearing me I am yelling, grrr! I am still trying to love her through her pain, but it sure aint easy and she makes you not want to love her or even life her and I am not the only one who says that about her, my husband's family has made the same comments to him.

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answers from Los Angeles on

You are so right. I think its because dead beat dads make it easier for a man to step in. Moms usually are not dead beat so a step mom's role is not crucial.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

She's a tween.
Her mom just gave her away.
There's nothing wrong with you, except that you're not Mom.

Be fair, be equitable, be respectful and be clear about house rules.
Slow and steady.
Be this girls rock! Even if she seems unappreciative, she WILL appreciate you later.
Trickier dynamic, I think, between stepdaughters & stepmoms.
This is a long term payoff situation.
Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Columbia on

I haven't encountered this. My daughter has had a stepmother for about 4.5 years and she got a stepdad last December.

We don't co-parent, however. I have full custody and her dad has visitation - and sees her a couple times a year. I actually think my daughter goes there more to see her step-mother than to see her dad and I am glad that she has one more person who loves her and makes sure she gets a meal and clean clothes. She now gets gifts that are wrapped from her *dad* (but we all know that step-mom did all the work).

She has also gets along well with my husband.... so no problems there.

I'm sorry you are having problems. You say the kids are opposite sexes..... I wonder if your step kid is your same gender or opposite gender? Sometimes it's harder for boys to incorporate a step-mom. however, sometimes it's harder for a girl to *accept* someone else in a maternal role.... especially if they already have a mom who is involved and with which they have a healthy relationship.

I also don't know what the "roles" are in your house. Do you guys have 50/50 custody? Are you trying to *parent* your step-kid as opposed to just being another responsible adult in the mix? that may make a difference. Does your husband support your efforts? Sometimes rejection by the step-kid is actually lack of support from the spouse.

I hope things work out for your family.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

Hey fellow stepmom! I agree blended family life is challenging. I think part of why there can be discrepancies betwee stepdads and step moms is that bio moms often are the gatekeepers. If the bio mom wants stepdad to be a dad, then I think in a lot of circumstances she has the power and influence to make that happen. Also, I think bio mom's can have a lot of influence on how the child sees stepmom. Some bio moms are really supportive and others are not. Just hang in there and have faith that you will eventually develop that bond if you keep doing right by your stepchild. Please try and remove any expectations that she treat you as mom. I speak from experience. I try and let my daughter define how she sees me. Some days I am mom and other days she calls me by my first name. It is not always easy because her stepdad is always Daddy. I try to take my ego out of it and just love on her. Stepmom is rarely a role with glory or appreciation but I believe it is forcing me to grow in ways I never would have. I pray a lot to keep my outlook where I want it to be. Some days are better than others but in the end I find the blessings outway the headaches.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

The reason we stepmoms have to work so hard for respect is several-fold. We demand too much of ourselves. We think we have to love those stepkids as if they are our own. We try to offset the jealousy or resentment of the mom by being perfect. And women compete with each other instead of cooperating for the wellbeing of the child/ren. We don't value each other, and we don't value ourselves. And a lot of us bio moms resent the stepmom and feel that, if our children love another woman (never mind if our ex-husbands love another woman), it's a reflection on or a threat to us. A lot of ex-husbands tell the stepmoms that the bio mom was a terrible person and we're so wonderful, we'll just be perfect in this job. Then they go to work and abdicate all parental responsibility, especially if they if they weren't as hands-on in the first marriage.

We ALL forget that, if we put away our egos and realize the more people who love and embrace the children, the better off the children will be.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

Who ever your are climbing Mt. Everest I'd say back off. Maybe the problem is that you are pushing to hard. Just hang back and let yourself slowly grow on the child.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Since the kids are young, how about getting all the parents together to hash it out and figure out your roles. I would rather that then have to keep climbing Mt. Everest to get any leaway.

I don't have any stepkids but that is what friends have done and it worked well.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dover on

Although this not always the case and I do realize it is changing, traditionally stepdads tend to be in the daily lives of the children (because typically the kids are with mom and stepdad) so they are a "dad" on a daily basis. Stepmom tend to be with the child on the weekend and are part of the weekend/part-time "Disney Dad" experience. Therefore the SD parents while the SM gets to be fun. Also, like in Cinderella and Snow White, the stepmom title tends to have negative conotations (not always deserving).

In your specific case, you are dealing with a little girl who never had to share her daddy before and for a "Daddy's girl" no one is ever good enough for "Dad" (sometimes not even Mom). This is even more true when Dad has always been the "weekend parent" who tends to have fun and not really parent and is now the fulltime parent....she views you as the reason that the relationship is different.

In fairness, your son probably feels a bit jealous of sharing you with SD too. Little boys can be very protective of their moms too.

My son's stepmom is great but never really tried to "parent". She was young and until my son was about 12, she wasn't a mom herself. She did initially insist that Dad be more involved but since they lived 2 hours away, it still wasn't a lot but was more than before they first got together. She never tried to parent but helped provide for him while he was there visiting. In her case, it was never a negative relationship but she really didn't try to mother. Not a bad thing but not a nurturing one either. Whereas my husband has always been "dad" on a daily basis...provided for, loved, played with, coached, etc.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

do you really think this is personal, about YOU? i think family counseling is called for here. it seems to me like you are very frustrated and taking her issues VERY personally, when it obviously isn't personal - this child has had a REALLY rough road. if you can't understand that i can't blame her for wanting nothing to do with you. have some empathy and put yourself in her shoes. and get family counseling. no question.

no matter your relationship with the woman who abandoned her (which to a child = hates her, thinks she is trash, etc) you guys need outside help. this is beyond normal step-parenting.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

As a stepchild, I really wanted to comment. My parents divorced when I was 7, each remarried, divorced again in my mid-teens and both remarried in my 20s. Needless to say I have had an array of stepparents.

As a child, you go through so many emotions. It is extremely difficult to understand all that is happening. I did not see how old your kids were...

I think the best approach is to try and be the daughter's friend. Show her respect and she will eventually do the same. It will absolutely not be overnight. Stop trying to be her Mom. She already has one. I'm sure many will not agree with me. But it makes a big difference.

My sister and I had a good relationship with stepmom #1. She was young, we had fun together, and it was great. Also, my Dad clearly showed us that we were the most important people in his life. Kids need that kind of reassurance!!! Stepmom ended up not taking 2nd place too well, but it truly helped us as kids.

I would suggest letting Dad & daughter have some time together and be supportive of it! Plus you will get some time with your son. Also, after time you can start to do girl things with her (pedicure, shopping, chick flick) and build that respect & friendship. You can't just step in and be Mom. You have to take steps to get there (pun intended). Start with respect. Build a friendship. Then Mom will just fall into place.

That said, you and your husband must absolutely back one another up when it comes to discipline. What you say is as good as it coming out of his mouth. I know that you need to parent as well, but try and back off a bit if possible.

Hope this makes sense and I wish you the best of luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Cumberland on

This is a question for the child. ask them what you have to do to gain their respect so your home can be a pleasant place to be and you can help them to the fullest extent as they cross into adulthood. Some of this is their nature, their nurture and their age-and has nothing to do with you. Best of luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Moms are sacred. Stepdads are often seen as rescuing a single mom from, well, being a single mom, but if the dad remarries, the stepmom is often seen as taking over, taking her place, doing things people attribute to the mom and how dare she... When a man steps in, a lot of his role is financial. When a woman steps in, a lot of her role is the house and children.

Your spouse needs to insist that the children treat you with respect as an adult in the home. HE may do the heavy lifting with his own child but he can still back you up and vice versa. Generic household rules should apply to both children. You did not say how old the kids are now, but if they are 10 or older, you may also just have generic kid puberty adolescence things going on.

I have two grown stepkids and we have a daughter together. I absolutely get treated differently when I'm "the stepmom" vs "the mom" and when they find out that we were the custodial household that blows some people's minds. I try to just keep doing what I'm doing and not let it affect me. I am not as close with the sks as I am with DD and I am closer to SD than SS. I don't have a lot of expectation with my relationship with my SS, other than being treated civilly when he's here. We love each other in our own way, but it's never been an easy relationship.

If the stepdaughter was never in therapy for being dumped by her mom, she should be, IMO. For some children, loving a stepparent is disloyal to their bioparent and her behavior toward you, even if her mom supposedly encourages her to be nice to you, is probably a symptom of the circumstances and your place, not necessarily WHO you are.



answers from Dallas on

<--------- step parenting since 1994. Would never ever ever do it again..



answers from Baton Rouge on

A child that was dumped by the only full-time parent she had is going to be resentful of any parental figure. She may even feel that you are to blame for her mom dumping her.
It sounds like some intensive family counseling is in order.



answers from Los Angeles on

She's angry. Honestly, look up EFT (emotional Freedom Technique).....I've had a few friend's whose kids were super angry and it worked/works for them.

Wouldn't you be super angry if your own mom dropped you off and essentially didn't come back? Wow....not to mention how she feels about herself.

I "hung out" with a guy who had kids, but never considered allowing it to go any further than that. I never wanted to be a step-mom, so I have to give you kuddos. It seems to be an even more thankless job than parenting!



answers from Detroit on

I feel ya. My parents were divorced and both emotionally supportive-never spoke poorly of each other. I still acted out and tried to push buttons occasionally. Now I'm super step mom and all 4kids are giving me back SO much more than I gave out.
Counseling caused mine to regress. I'm staying strong and moving forward. They are all going to a counseling day camp next month and start soccer in the spring. It's not easy, but I hope when they look back they will see how much we do for them (as I did when I got out on my own).

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