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-   -   StepMonsters and other scary second parenting issues (http://www.butchfemmeplanet.com/forum/showthread.php?t=2412)

Arwen 11-26-2010 11:52 AM

StepMonsters and other scary second parenting issues
 
I'm starting this for those of us who have or will step into the role of "the next parental unit". It's not easy. It can feel like you are stepping into a live mine field full of "so and so didn't do that" and "you're not my mom/dad" and "those are my kids!".

How do you navigate that? What are the rules/tips/tricks you've found for being a good stepparent?

Let's talk about the wins and the losses. I've had both.

One of my wins is my beloved son, KC. He's not mine by birth, but he's mine by love. He's 21 now and we are very close.

One of my losses is his eldest sister, Dv. We talk a bit but the relationship will never be more than that of casual acquaintances. KC is our link to one another.

Their mom and I do not speak except about the kids. We do not have a friendship at all due to choices we both made and behaviours we both exhibited. I regret that on many levels.

So, how about you? Who's a stepmonster out there?

*KC introduces me as his stepmonster. I love it.

Gemme 11-26-2010 03:14 PM

I am not a stepmonster, but I have one. I've had several step "dads" too. In general, the guys failed miserabley, one way or another and my one stepmom has been pretty decent.

Some of the things she did/does that doesn't irk and/or alienate me and makes her quite tolerable:

She tries, but not too hard.
She never tried to 'replace' my mom.
She's always been very thoughtful towards me (cards, gifts, writing letters).
She's always had open arms for me when I wanted to talk but never tried to push or pull me towards her.
She has always treated me like another person, not talking down to me or treating me like an object to be lobbed back and forth during custody issues.
She makes suck ass, hard as a rock and heavy as a stone biscuits but her bacon is usually right on and her gravy doesn't have lumps.

nycfem 11-26-2010 03:20 PM

I'm cross-posting what I just posted on Junie's thread. I never had anyone to talk to about this stuff and suddenly there are two threads for me to post on. I'm sure not complaining :)

I've often felt alone with this issue so it's great to have this thread and see I'm not.

When I came into the relationship with my husbutch, hy had two sons, one 12 and the other 17. Hys ex-wife of 18 years, M, is the biological mother of both children. M and BB are great parents in their own ways (as much as it kills me to say this about M due to my jealousy), so the co-parenting relationship is tight and very present. This is tough for me, as I often felt like a "ghost," an invisible member of the family. I wasn't exactly a real parent, and I wasn't a kid. I was the one who whispered my ideas to BB but didn't make the decisions. It's a really unusual role, with some benefits as well as frustrating aspects.

Now the boys are 18 and 23, so the intensity of step-parenting is lessened. The younger one, Jacob (lots of "Jacobs" on this thread!), reminds me of me. He is artsty, very emotional, strong willed, and a non-conformist. He has four women (i.e. two couples) with whom he splits his time when not at art school. He calls us "the mother network" and is open with his friends about us.

This is such an expansive and important topic so I'm not sure what else to say because there is just so much to say!

Here are a few of the harder parts of step-parenting that I've encountered:

1) BB will be on the phone with M (Jacob's other mother), and she will be difficult, and BB will put up with it, but then get off the phone, implode, and have the expectation of getting support from me. I will in turn get resentful of being put in this role, become tearful, and thus neither of us receives the support we are craving.

2) BB will ask me to discipline, and while occasionally I fill this role, I almost always say no. I strongly feel that when coming into the life of a child who is 13 or older, it's not good for the step-parent/ step-child relationship for the step-parent to be a disciplinarian. I think this is especially true when the child only resides with the step-parent part-time. My stance on this (not really all that relevant anymore now that Jacob is 18) was a frustration to BB, who felt exhausted by the need to always be the one who disciplined.

3) I always struggled with how affectionate to be. Jacob and BB are super physical, cuddly, back rub types, so in a sense it seems it would be easy to just jump in there with them. However, I felt that it was a bond they shared that I didn't want to interrupt. Also, since I was taking much more of a friend role with Jacob, I think I felt it seemed cooler not to go all huggy on him. In retrospect I don't know if it was the right way to go. Maybe it felt like a rejection, and we still aren't too physically affectionate. It's so hard to balance giving him space while showing how much I care.

Here are a few of the wonderful aspects of step-parenting that I've experienced:

1) Jacob's other 3 moms have raised the boys since they were young children and are also nearly 20 years older than me. They are used to disciplining and worrying and planning, etc. I, on the other hand, am closer in age to Jacob and don't have the more stressful parts of parenting within my role. Thus Jacob and I get to have a lot of fun together, and BB has said that at times he opens up to me in a way that he does not with his other mothers. This sure feels good to hear.

2) It's a fun family dynamic how Jacob and I have so much in common that BB and Jacob do not. Jacob and I are much more artsy, wild, and eccentric than BB, so there's a lot of playful teasing amongst us with Jacob and I unified in our commonalities. It's hard to explain but I love feeling that we have shared interests and ways of being, even though I did not raise him from birth. It's lucky, I guess.

3) Moments like this: One year Jacob gave me a very cute, touching birthday card. On the outside it said "Ever notice how in every family there's usually one person who's shockingly normal?" and then inside the card it said, "We should get ourselves one of those. Happy birthday!" Jacob wrote, "This is EXACTLY what our family is like!! But it is those quirks that I Iove most about you! You are a fun, funny, obsessive, artistic, queer femme social worker and that makes for some amazing cards in the mail and some 'on the spot' questions."

T-Rex 11-26-2010 03:49 PM

I have five stepmothers. Only one of them am I still close to. She was 27 when we met, I was 15. She used to get me high and taught me about decorating. We had more of a peer relationship because of our ages. She also taught me how to drive by giving me the keys to her 1975 Pinto and telling me to have at it (She was in the car, and we were not high).

I have one stepfather, he and my mom got married when I was about 6 years old. He was only 22 at the time, and not prepared in any way to be a parent. He spanked me for wetting the bed, creating a fear of coming home from school. He walked around in his tighty whities, which made me uncomfortable and he was never affectionate, always a disciplinarian to the point of physical abuse. I loathe him, and haven't seen him for many, many years.

My mother knew he was unfair to me, but chose to stay in the relationship anyway, which she admitted later. I had a really hard time getting over that, my grandparents on both sides knew and they supported and loved me as much as they could, but they could only do so much.

People should be parents first, perhaps my own experiences are what make me appear a little (or a lot) judgmental about this.

Starbuck 01-17-2011 07:23 AM

I'm a step mom
 
I've been a step mom for 12 years now and let me tell you, I have learned a lot!

I learned:
1. I found that as the step parent, I was more strict on my step child than I was my biological son and the bad thing was, they both noticed it. Not cool.

2. You can't change your territorial child's behavior, they're only doing what comes natural to them...loving their parent whom you are now involved with.

3. Patience truly is a virtue and is a great step toward winning their heart to you.

4. Praise your step child for EVERY positive thing you notice or good thing they tell you that they did in school, even for the little things. This will boost their self esteem and their opinion of you :) You will find this WILL bring you closer.

5. Outlandish grounding for more than a day or two (depending on the age - time out may be more beneficial) is worthless because they forget what they've been grounded for! Seriously! Now if they are teens, taking away a cell phone for just a day sends them into orbit and gets your point across nicely. :p

6. You have to be willing to say you are sorry when you wrong them. It makes you look more human in their eyes and it teaches them to apologize when they have wronged someone as well. :)

sylvie 01-17-2011 07:54 AM


i am not, nor have i been a step-parent..
i have , however, had step-parents, AND have been in relationships where they've been a step-parent to my 2 children.. so i can relate with a lot in this thread..

i truly didn't understand how difficult it was for someone to enter a relationship with someone who already has children. it's taken some eye opening experiences to really get the giste.. i have never been a great disciplinarian, and now that my children are teenagers, it shows .. it's something i've been working on, as i'm too soft and have spent years of letting things go.. but, things have been much better this new year, it's been small steps with my children and tons of love to get things back to normal with some respect & lotsa love and just a better situation overall.. so once i am ready to get back into a relationship (which will be awhile yet) - things will be on a much healthier note..i can totally understand the pressures & stresses of being a stepparent - and will always be more mindful of it..

my parents separated when i was 8 years old.. i lived with my mother and seems i was always with a babysitter, day & night.. when she met my step a-hole (we don't get along) he moved right in.. she immediately took his side no matter how mean he was to me.. i was scared to even talk to him because of his outbursts, usually.. he woke up grumpy and was a bear right to the moment he went to sleep at night.. the emotional scars far surpass any physical scars he gave me.. eventually, my mother alienated me, i went to my father's when i was the age of 12.. my mother & i have never been close - and she has become so much like him, it's scary & quite sad, even.

i do have a stepmother , however that is very much like a mother to me, moreso than my own.. i've always known i wasnt 'as' important as her own two children, and i tend to not get included when they do their things, still.. but it's okay, now because i have a better understanding what its like taking on someone else's child.. and the love she does show me, is something i'm so appreciative of to this day.. i could always depend on her, i know this...

JustJo 01-17-2011 02:28 PM

I was raised by a single mom, but never had a step-parent....lots of boyfriends who hung around or lived in at various time, but no one with the title.

I also never exposed my son to a step-parent until now....and never was one myself.

Now I'm both...and it's incredibly challenging. I'm not ready to post yet, but I'm reading. :rrose:

JustJo 01-23-2011 07:02 AM

Just coming back to bump this thread...

...we're having significant issues in this area, and I'd love to hear more about how people have successfully blended families without tearing their relationship apart. :rrose:

Arwen 01-23-2011 11:05 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by JustJo (Post 270733)
Just coming back to bump this thread...

...we're having significant issues in this area, and I'd love to hear more about how people have successfully blended families without tearing their relationship apart. :rrose:

Communication that involves everyone.

I found that we had issues around what was appropriate behaviour and what was correctable behaviour. If I felt a kid needed correction, I did NOT do that myself. I told my partner who would then do the correction.

TO be honest, my steps were 14 and up and REALLY good kids. There was not much needed in that area. I was more the teacher in that I taught both the young ones how to drive and also did a lot of cooking with them.

It might be helpful if you shared what your struggles are.

jelli 07-11-2011 09:50 PM

Reposting from my Father's Day FB post...
 
"Happy T Day to my Tina. Almost 9 years ago I tried to tell her to run away and just when she thought it might be safe to stop running - run faster and further.

T: Well how many kids do you have?
Me: 5
T: (laughing)
Me: No, seriously. (It's hard to believe she took the role for better or for worse).

There's not a holiday that celebrates certain roles. I have this amazing partner in my life that 9 years ago accepted such a huge challenge of me and 5 kids. I don't really have the words for Tina. She has evolved ad continues to impress me.

The judge asked "who will support this woman and her children?" T stood up and firmly stated "I will Your Honor" Every day since she has done everything she said she would do. She works her butt off to support the kids and I.

Sure we have our moments like everyone else. We've had to compromise, change, and really dig deep for a better understanding of how certain families and relationships come together and in some cases not so much.

My T - I can not thank you for what you've done and for what you've also endured in the name of loving me. My children have not always been accepting, forgiving, understanding, and/or appreciative... and yet you are still there. There is great joy and yet sadness when I don't feel as if you're given enough respect for ALL that you DO. I wish I had words to tell you what YOU mean to me. ♥

I AM SO PROUD TO LOVE YOU!

I can't imagine loving and supporting kids that if push came to shove you have no laws to uphold any rights. You can't claim them as dependents for tax purposes even though you support more than 50%, and still have paid(when the law allows) to provide insurance. I could go on because I feel as if I am rambling trying to get my point across. I guess my point is I am thank for you on more days than this one."

jelli 07-11-2011 09:58 PM

Just a few tips...
 
Things we have learned over the years:

~You're either going to California or you're not. All in or all out.
~Changes and compromise are going to take place.
~ You have to give to get and even sometimes then you get the short end of the stick. Just make sure you're intention is coming from the right spot so you don't build up a lot of resentment.
~When it comes to older kids/teens - leave the discipline up to the biological parent.
~Mistakes are going to happen and here again is where hopefully you will learn and choose to make changes or compromise for the betterment of the family unit.
~Practice forgiveness.
~Don't forget to be an individual.
~Don't forget to be a couple.

bright_arrow 07-11-2011 10:32 PM

In a little less than a year, I will be entering the role as a stepmother, of sorts, I think :|

As it is now, I leave any disciplining to my partner. I don't feel it is my place at ALL, to discipline or even have a firm word. I am more of a de-stresser.. when things are tense, the kiddo is full of energy, and my partner is tired and just wants some breathing time, I take over. I find something that will turn Abby's attention to me, whether it be Sims or watching National Geographic or showing her how to make roses out of play-dough.

I grew up with both of my biological parents, so I don't have any experience with being a step- anything. I admit, this worries me. I don't know how to be a parent, especially when we only have her daughter twice a month for only a weekend.. We tend to let the little things slide, because we want our weekend together to be a good time.

So, I don't know :| I'll keep reading though - thank you for this thread!

Bard 07-11-2011 10:59 PM

Ok this is a Hard topic for me but sharing is healing..

My Bio Mother and my Dad split when I was 3 and my mom remarried to a man named Spike he brought two boys with him older then I and I just became in the way more so then normal Spike was just mean I had always wondered why my dad had stopped getting me and when I was older I found out. there was a day when my dad brought me home and I had a melt down I wanted my Daddy and Spike backhanded me across the room and my Dad almost drew his service weapon.
After my mother had died I was reunited with my Dad and his wife and neither was prepared to deal with the issues I had as a result of my mothers death and abuse I had suffered in my dad's absence. now Sandy did not want kids and it showed one time for a infraction her method of punishing me was to take a horse whip to me. Also while she taught me to ride and show horses I was never good enough EVER and if I failed to meet her standards I was belittled or worse. in the end I was shipped to a grandparents then to a foster home..

on a good note my dad divorced Sandy and met a wonderful woman who became my step-mom she healed my dad and with out realizing it our family
Jen has been more of a mother to me then I had ever known but she never pushed it She listens to me and let me come to her BUT by the time she came into my life I was 17 and most of our relationship has been with me as a adult but I see Jenn with my daughter and I know I wish I would have let her in sooner.

OK now my daughter who is the product of a broken home now as her mother and I have split. and now Desd is in the position of being a step-mom and that title was giver to her by Abby with out any encouragement it is just how Abby sees her
Abby knows no one can or will replace mer mother or I but she is gaining more family and she loves it
the rest we will take as it comes with communication I don't expect dead to have to discipline Abby but if it needs to be done and I am not there well I trust Desd
As always we will talk it all out and love each other I have seen examples of how and WHAT I don't want to be or ever expose Abby to so I won't
Sorry I have been long here
unfortunately there is much more to my story I glossed over parts btu again it showed me how I will never be to my child or should Desd and I be blessed children

Puplove 07-11-2011 11:07 PM

I can post in this thread now -- after a few years of pain, things have come full, happy circle!
I raised my daughter from 4 years old on. Legally adopted her when she was 8. Her mother and I were in a long, sad co-dependent relationship for 14 years. I was stuck in the caretaker role, always working for the "if only she knew how much I loved her...."

My ex was repeating the cycle of her mother and generations before her (where children take care of their addict mothers and live for them). but had to work MUCH harder at destroying things since I was in her life and kept staying.

I was always blocked from true parenting with the "you aren't her mother, you don't understand her" gig. But, I maintained the "sane, no-strings, consistent rules, love without condition and always be the one who believes in the child" stance my parents taught me. They gave love unconditionally and never made me feel I owed or had to take care of them; they were also great role models as foster parents for the most unlovable, difficult and unwanted children in the state system, and staunchly kept the "they have to have someone who will brag on them and love them for who they are" rule.

When my ex finally committed egregious enough offenses to force me to break the co-dependent relationship (actually a gift to me in retrospect), my daughter at 18 kicked me out of her life, saying "you aren't really my mom." I understood then that she HAD to take care of her mother, I was the bad guy for refusing to continue. I always hoped she'd come back, and always left the door open but did not push it or expect to see her again. It was a very painful, but secret loss.

Joy of joys -- she contacted me a few weeks ago. Asked if we could have a relationship again. She missed having a stable parent. So, my past presence made enough difference in her life that she could break the cycle finally and say "this isn't the way it should be."

From our first get-together a couple weeks ago, I started by saying "I completely understand, you don't need to explain anything. Let's pick up from here and celebrate." She did tell me how angry she was at me a few years ago because I wasn't stopping her mother from destroying her life -- for once, I wasn't stepping in and making everything right. She felt I destroyed her world -- she had to take care of her mother because I wouldn't. Luckily, she also knew from my years of influence that it wasn't right; after a couple years she broke free, moved into her own place, started therapy and then reached out to me.

Now, we can focus purely on enjoying our relationship. I'm still her mother. But, she is not a child or dependent, I am not responsible for her. And she's not responsible for me (what freedom for her!). It is wonderful to have an adult child who still wants advice but is responsible for herself. We don't need to feed each other. We can appreciate and love each other.

For years, I was the evil parent because I didn't play the guilt and co-dependent game with her, no matter how unhealthy I allowed my relationship with her mother to be. And, now I am rewarded. :)

Happy day! To me, I'm not a Stepmonster, I'm a lucky parent who gets to enjoy a person I had a role in shaping, who I can feel proud of, after all the rocks and woes and struggles with walking into a non-bio parent role. Hearing "you aren't her mother, you don't really know her" hurts. It hurts more to hear it from the child. But, in the long run, stable, unconditional love proves that "real" doesn't have to mean "biological."

jelli 07-12-2011 06:34 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by desdansmoncoeur (Post 377320)
I don't know how to be a parent, especially when we only have her daughter twice a month for only a weekend.. We tend to let the little things slide, because we want our weekend together to be a good time.

It is definitely a game of choose your battle. A lot of things T & I find ourselves asking "in the grand scheme of things how important is this current situation?". We look at what is going on, how serious is it, who is being affected, what we can learn from this, or perhaps if it is just better to leave it alone. With the facts that we know to be true at the time(and yes there will be tons of times you may not have all or even half the facts you need) we make the best decisions possible.

A motto that I have come to stand by: "Sometimes you make the right decision, sometimes you make the decision right." It's so important for everyone to see where they have been ineffective and/or wrong, take responsibility for that, and if need be make amends. Sometimes we learn from the kids too. :)

Some "wknd" parents will want their time together to be so much fun and will go above and beyond. It's important to find that balance. Don't strive to be the "good or fun" parent. Be the best possible parent you can be while raising a younger person to be the best person they can be.

Parenting really is the only job I know that gives you as much pleasure as it can heartache. I wish you tons of luck!!!!

jelli 07-12-2011 06:45 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bard (Post 377338)
Ok this is a Hard topic for me but sharing is healing..

My Bio Mother and my Dad split when I was 3 and my mom remarried to a man named Spike he brought two boys with him older then I and I just became in the way more so then normal Spike was just mean I had always wondered why my dad had stopped getting me and when I was older I found out. there was a day when my dad brought me home and I had a melt down I wanted my Daddy and Spike backhanded me across the room and my Dad almost drew his service weapon.
After my mother had died I was reunited with my Dad and his wife and neither was prepared to deal with the issues I had as a result of my mothers death and abuse I had suffered in my dad's absence. now Sandy did not want kids and it showed one time for a infraction her method of punishing me was to take a horse whip to me. Also while she taught me to ride and show horses I was never good enough EVER and if I failed to meet her standards I was belittled or worse. in the end I was shipped to a grandparents then to a foster home..

on a good note my dad divorced Sandy and met a wonderful woman who became my step-mom she healed my dad and with out realizing it our family
Jen has been more of a mother to me then I had ever known but she never pushed it She listens to me and let me come to her BUT by the time she came into my life I was 17 and most of our relationship has been with me as a adult but I see Jenn with my daughter and I know I wish I would have let her in sooner.

OK now my daughter who is the product of a broken home now as her mother and I have split. and now Desd is in the position of being a step-mom and that title was giver to her by Abby with out any encouragement it is just how Abby sees her
Abby knows no one can or will replace mer mother or I but she is gaining more family and she loves it
the rest we will take as it comes with communication I don't expect dead to have to discipline Abby but if it needs to be done and I am not there well I trust Desd
As always we will talk it all out and love each other I have seen examples of how and WHAT I don't want to be or ever expose Abby to so I won't
Sorry I have been long here
unfortunately there is much more to my story I glossed over parts btu again it showed me how I will never be to my child or should Desd and I be blessed children

Let me first say this: I am so sorry you were ever mistreated. Nobody(child or adult) deserves that type of abuse.

It warmed my heart to read a good(read: healthier) woman came int your father and your life when she did and you took a chance on letting her love you. Now you have another good woman to love you and your Abby. Props to Desd for taking on such a role. :cheer:

I don't know if you will ever experience it, but also be prepared for Abby to make attempts at putting you and Desd against each other. T and I thought we were solid, but have had many times where the rascals snuck in on us.

Communication is key. Sometimes we believe we have talk about everything possible and think we have a game plan... kids are crafty let me tell you. HAHAHA

Which brings me to another point - keep a good sense of humor. :thumbsup:


justkim 07-12-2011 07:42 AM

What a great thread!

theoddz 07-12-2011 08:47 AM

My parents divorced when I was 13 and my mother has never dated or remarried. I asked her why once, and she told me that she was "too busy raising children, going back to school (at age 40+) and working". I always remember Mother working and teaching adult ed night school. She was constantly busy and yet always made time to be a pretty good, loving and supportive parent. In that way, I can honestly say that I never missed having a stepfather or anything like that. Mother was "the package deal" and she was good at it!! My parents, though divorced, did a wonderful job co-parenting my sister and me and even with the bitterness they held towards each other, never let that leak through to their love and responsibilities to my sister and myself.

My dad, on the other hand, has dated several different women over the years and has had some pretty good luck with finding good ones!! He has never officially remarried, but the woman I call my "Stepmom" has been by his side and lived with him for nearly 20 years now, so if that doesn't constitute being his "wife" and our "stepmom", I don't know what does. She's very much a part of our family and she has been there 150% for both my sister and myself when Mother wasn't or couldn't be. Betty is a gem of a Lady (I have some pics of her in my gallery)!!! I can't say enough about how kind, loving, supportive and dear she is. Of course, by the time she and Pop got together, my sister and I were grown adults, so Betty has never had to fill the role of "parental unit" to us in a parent/child relationship. Before Pop, she'd been married 3 times and never had any children of her own. I just know that, when certain situations have arisen that have been "touchy" and maybe have inched over that line into a sort of parent/child dynamic with Mother and Pop, Betty steps back and doesn't "interfere", as she calls it. Now, if there's something that comes up with Pop, or if my sister or I have trouble reasoning with him, or bringing something up that's difficult, Betty will *very* gently "run interference", and have both appreciated her for that. She has never...ever, ever, ever said or even indicated any sort of hostility, anger, jealousy or animosity, or made any sort of foul comments about or towards my mother. In fact, my mother and Betty are friends, and when Mother comes to Las Vegas for a visit, she and Betty always manage to have lunch together, exchange little gifts back and forth, they send each other birthday and Christmas cards, etc. It's really a nice relationship that we all enjoy as a family unit. Betty is a true Lady and I've always called her a total "Class Act". I love her like a second mother and I'm very very happy that Pop has such a good woman by his side....and she makes him happy. She's a classic Lady of The Greatest Generation.

Recently, Betty has been battling throat cancer. She was diagnosed last fall when a nodule appeared on her neck and it was found to be malignant. This shook our family to its core and we've all rallied behind her. I can't imagine Betty not being a part of our family and we've all stood with her, as her family, to take care of her and get her through this ordeal. She's 87 now and her health is fragile, and I think that the fact that she's had to undergo something like this has brought it to all of our attention just how much we love and adore this good Lady.

Incidentally, Betty has completed her course of radiation and chemotherapy and has been deemed officially cancer free!!! She's still weak and tires easily and is still having to use the PEG (stomach) tube for most of her nutrition as her throat heals from the effects of the radiation, but she's on the upswing now and that's what counts!! Pop stands steadfastly beside her, doing her tube feedings for her every 2 hours during the day and scheduling his life around her schedule. He's so devoted, patient and loving with her, and couldn't be any more so, had she been his "legal" wife.

So, yes, I've got a stepmother in my life and she's a wonderful person and Lady. I couldn't be luckier.....or more thankful to G-d for having this lovely stepmom in my life. :winky::heartbeat:

~Theo~ :bouquet:

Medusa 07-12-2011 09:27 AM

Blended!
 
I have had a step-mother and 4 step-fathers.

One of my step-fathers is still in my life. Here's why:
* When my Mom married him, I was 4. He got in the floor and played Barbies with me and took me to museums. He showed an interest in me having a good childhood. Even as a child, I could feel that. He cared!

* When he disciplined me, it was firm and fair. I rarely screwed up with him because I loved him so much and respected what he asked of me. He never spanked me, hit me, or called me names.

* He refused to argue with my Mom in front of me. That made me feel safe.

* He hugged! A lot! And it wasn't creepy!

* Even after they divorced, he made an effort to be in my life. He is my Brother's Dad so when he would come pick my Brother up for visitation, he would ask my Mom if he could take me too so that "the kids can be together". She never allowed it but he did try. He also sent gifts to me at Christmas. When I was old enough to drive, I would go to see him about once a month and he was always overjoyed to see me.

I think it takes a lot of courage and patience to co-parent a child who isn't yours and applaud those who are doing it (and doing it WELL!)

MsTinkerbelly 07-12-2011 12:51 PM

I had both a step-dad and a step-mom beginning at the age of 15; both are no longer in my life.

My Step-dad died in 2007 after he and my Mom had a love/hate releationship for 32 years. He was AMAZING to my sister and I, and loved my daughter like his own. Unfortunately he was a bastard to my Mom, and that colors my memories of him.

My Step-mom was WONDERFUL until my Dad died in 2000; then it was as if she never knew us. They were married 21 years. While I understand the pain she felt when she saw us, my child couldn't understand why she lost both of them....and THAT I cannot forget; although for myself I forgave her long ago.

After finding me on Facebook, she has tried to "get together" a couple of times. Ummmm, no.

My Kasey is a great step-parent to my child...one more reason to love her!

jelli 07-12-2011 06:22 PM

One day our son, G, got really angry about something and stormed off saying, "I hate being here!"

Cruel responded, "I know you're angry, I still want you here and I'm still going to love you."

Always a lesson to be learned or shown...
:hangloose:

Bard 07-13-2011 09:14 AM

This is a very thought provoking thread both bring up the good and the bad .. I want to thank all for the support my childhood was rough but what I take from it is how I will never be to my daughter or make her feel not wanted or loved. Desd and I know it will not always be easy but we give Abby all the love we have yes I have to watch not being the FUN parent all the time but I want her to grow up strong and secure in who she is and that she is loved..it is wonderful to see how abby is with Desd and her family and she knows Desd is not trying to take the place of her mommy but in adding to our family. and Desd makes me see when I am being to hard on my goose. I expect a lot from her and she is a awesome kid smart loving in a way Desd balances us out lol Abby is just as hard headed as I am and she is MY daughter. to see how abby bonded with Desd's dad is amazing he is her BFF and she follows him all over and he loves it. we talk we laugh we cry but we do it together and that is the key. that and I never put down my ex in front of my child whatever the ex and I have between us is just that between us Abby loves us both and I will not cloud her thoughts just because her mommy and I dont get along:rrose:

oblivia 07-15-2011 04:27 PM

When Sparx and I got together, She'd been doing the single mom thing since the boys were 3 and 4 respectively. They were, then, 12 & 13 ... oh.. and both gifted. These were uber-intelligent boys. They were (and still are) smarter than Sparx and I. So it was scary stuff. I was TERRIFIED.

Coming into their lives just when they were entering the most tumultuous, confusing, conflicting, craziest years of their whole lives? And... they're smarter than me? AND... they've had their mom all to themselves for basically their entire lives? WAS I INSANE?

Thankfully, no, I wasn't.

For starters, there were several things working in my favour...most importantly - Sparx had been doing an AWESOME job raising them.

She had raised them with a very open-door policy and also raised them to have a great deal of agency and say in their lives and what happens in them. Because she was a single mom in a small town with few resources, she raised them with honesty, and respect. She had a few very hardcore parenting rules that she told me about up front - and I thought they were all fantastic. The fact that the boys were so well mannered, mature, and respected her so much were testament to the fact hat they worked.. so I followed her rules and learned a LOT about what "healthy parenting" could look like (having a very poor example from my own childhood... I needed to defer to someone who had a better outlook).

I came into this whole step-parenting thing ready and eager to learn from someone with a better idea of parenting than how I'd been raised - so I was content to be a bit of a follower - and it paid off big time. In return, Sparx made it very clear that I was a co-parent... not less than... and had equally valid input into all parenting decisions. We had a LOT of trust going into this.

So here are the rules, or more accurately the parenting "principles" she swore by.

First, if the boys ask "Why?" when we tell them to do something, they ALWAYS get an answer. Sometimes the answer might be "I am really not up to talking about it right now but I will later". But the answer is NEVER "because I said so". And Sparx expects anyone who is a part of their lives to respect this (family, friends, babysitters etc)

This was totally foreign to me. It wasn't how I was raised. And sometimes this was frustrating because sometimes.. you just wanna say "because I said so". I had to learn that sometimes I have to say "I'm frustrated and will end up sounding angry if I talk about it right now, so let's talk about it later" (or some version of that) - but usually once I explain, they understood and it was easier to get them to do what I needed them to do. AND... maybe more importantly... sometimes... when I explained, they were able to provide a convincing and mature rebuttal for why they couldn't do what I asked or would rather do something else and sometimes I would discover my request was unreasonable - or needed tweaking - and that was okay. So our respect for each other grew a LOT through my learning to accept that they were people and deserved an explanation when they wanted one. And to their credit - they RARELY 'demanded' one.. they almost always asked in a genuinely curious and/or polite way.

Second, We do not lie to them. Period. The only allowable exception is the good kind, or removing extranneous or non-age-appropriate details that are inappropriate, but They are always to be told the truth to the best of our ability (within the limits of what they could understand). By the time I came around they were old enough that that was pretty much the whole truth.

She told me that when they came together and confronted her (sadly, at a very young age) and told her that they'd been talking it over and had figured out that she was Santa... and the Easter Bunny... and the Tooth Fairy... she admitted they were right. And while it took some of the fun away for HER, they were so proud of themselves for having figured it out - and she wouldn't lie to them... but she did explain to them that it would make it not fun for other kids if they shared the secret, so they felt very important and responsible by "protecting" the secret when it came to their friends (and younger kids).

To date, the complete honesty that we share with them, makes it easier for them to be honest with us. They're teens now, they have secrets... and the youngest REALLY didn't like us being on him about his schoolwork and went through a few years of lying to get us off his back - but he is a terrible liar - we knew he was lying... he knew we knew he was lying... so there was some mutual frustration... but we were able to work through and get past it.

Third, ALWAYS be willing to admit when you're wrong, and apologize to them if you've behaved badly, lashed out inappropriately or otherwise screwed up.

This is... also huge. So many parents think that they can't or shouldn't apologize to their kids. If I've made a bad decision, or Sparx has or we've snapped at them undeservedly or whatever and we come to them later and say "hey, sorry about that, that was uncalled for", they respect us so much more... and it makes it easier for them to apologize when it's their turn. I was not raised this way. I was the only one in my family (and I mean that quite literally) who had to apologize for anything, ever. Not cool.

Fourth, Involve them in decisions that affect them!! Always give them input and take it into account. Children are people too and they sometimes have remarkable insight into a situation.

This meant that they got input into EVERY decision that affected them... including when it was time to let certain people in their lives (extended family members) go because the relationships had gotten unhealthy. They had full say on the matter, even when they were younger than ten.

Another example....
If she couldn't afford to get them something they wanted and she would have liked to - she owns it, and has since they were very young. The result of this particular one is SO noticeable because they truly are not superficial as a result. They were not "poor" growing up, but they certainly had very little money.

She told me that sometimes she would give them choices when it came to big purchases. For example, when it came time to pick out birthday or christmas gifts, she said they could have a new video game, but only one because that was all she could afford *OR* they could have two or three USED video games. They always picked used, and they felt important being a part of the decision making - and it shows today. They are not hung up on whether stuff is new and shiney and they always appreciate the things they do have - and they never whine/beg/bug for things they know we can't afford... they really understand and appreciate the financial decisions we make day to day - this is HUGE.

I can not describe in words how important this was. The boys really get what it means to make choices based on capabilities. When money is tight and they were growing fast, they got new jeans or coats from the thrift store and didn't care... in fact... our youngest's current coat was a thrift store find and he LOVES that coat... loves it. A workman's jacket with a removable inner lining. He raves about it and appreciates it more because he knows we would never have been able to afford to buy him that kind of coat brand new at the time.

Now that they're almost adults, it feels good knowing that they understand how to live well, and happily, with less. They don't care about new vs. used, or name brands vs. generic. The eldest is more social/popular and trendier but still scoffs at designer label prices and finds ways to get his "look" without spending more than he thinks is realistic. I know that when they finally go out on their own - they'll be able to manage their finances without hardship.

And it's not just about money. If we have to make hard decisions, they're a part of those decisions. They never have to worry that we will just dramatically change their lives without their input. As a result they feel safe and secure. If we're even THINKING about moving.... or making a big financial decision.. we bring them in on it. We discuss and work through things as a family.

Fifth, Own your headspace. Be self-aware.

This means that if you come home grumpy because work sucked, you admit right up front that's what you're feeling... take responsibility for it... so if you end up snappier than you intended or accidentally take something out on the kids (er.. or the wife *blush*) they know it's not personal and it becomes a LOT easier to deal with. This one was super-ginormous for me. It taught me to be more self-aware of my moods, headspace, and the way these things affected the people around me. I appreciated when the boys were able to say to me "Yeah, in a bad mood so gonna hang out in my room" because they had learned how from their mother. I appreciated when Sparx would tell me up front when she was grouchy so I knew not to take it personal. So it was with gratitude that I learned to do this for them as well.

Not only did this do WONDERS for my relationship with the boys (now man-children), but it did wonders for me learning how to have a healthy and fulfilling marriage.

Anyways - I've been writing forever. I just feel like this was a HUGE learning curve for me and I feel so grateful. I got lucky in a lot of ways. The boys were being raised well. Their biological father had been out of their lives since they were very small.. there was no other parent for me to deal with. They took me seriously because Sparx had not brought any other woman into their lives as other than a friend before me. And most importantly - she consulted them before our relationship could get off the ground. She asked their opinion the whole way through. She wanted them to know they were a part of the decision to let me in. And she told me this up front - because she trusted them to be mature about this responsibility even at 12&13. They wanted me in their lives. If they hadn't, Sparx and I may never have taken the next step in our relationship. They came first. I knew that from the beginning.

But they did wantme... and so Sparx and her boys moved from Ontario, 3,000 miles away, to Vancouver, BC - a place they'd never been before, so that we could all make our home here together. I moved from the Puget Sound in Washington. We all had to trust each other a whole lot and communicate even more to make our little family and such a big move for all of us, work. And so we did.

There's been a lot of challenges... but as cliche as it is - a lot of communication was the key to making it all work.

And I have to say, being a step-parent has been one of the greatest gifts of my life.

Tcountry 07-31-2011 07:54 AM

Not sure I am fully ready to share...but here goes nothing...
First...(not bragging, just saying) I have great parents. They married young, raised us well & are still happy & very much in love to this day. (i wanna be like them) I learned a lot from them.
That said...I have been a part of a parenting team.
I say team because 1) I was not considered a "parent" & 2) the girls' mother was in the same house & their father in the same town...
BUT...
The biggest thing I learned was BE CONSISTENT...not only you but as a team with the other parent. Have the same consequences...follow through with them...& if you don't like something your partner did, discuss it in private afterwards(change it next time, don't second guess them in front if the kids).

There is a reason why after 7 yrs we are not together...& there is a reason why whenever I actually get time with the girls they still listen to me. Lol
.......that is enough for now.......or too much....but, yeah
Some things we learn the hard way

luv2luvgirls 07-31-2011 08:26 AM

wow a great thread...now for my two cents

im a stepmonster have been for for so long now it feels like forever....ok here goes...might be TMI but I feel so comfortable on here you all have really made me feel welcome and I need threads like this, other perpectives and experiences if you will :)

I had a best bud met at work we were co workers,he had a son that was about 14 or 15 at the time..just trying to find his place in his dads life as they had just met. well the kid came to work with us and attached to me..when I hit 28 29ish I made a choice I wanted a child so I asked my best bud and he agreed to it,so as a result his son calls me his step parent we have a great relationship,after my friend passed,I was the only family my stepson had so he asked to move up here with me and his lil sister...he is about 30 now just got married and has a kid on the way...yeah I think im now going in the grandparent role soon :|

now on the other side of it I have been my childs only parent...she knew who her "father" was of course because of my stepson,and Dave and I (that was his name) had an understanding...im the only parent listed on her long story,but my choice.I didnt want to have all kinds of people in and out of her life...so I didnt date or do a thing the whole time...now im kinda ready to want to find someone who makes me happy and is a good fit in my life but im worried about the whole process,you know having to get to know them what if it doesnt work out ...I really dont want to show my child a crazy life at the age she is ...she is almost 10 now. any tips out there?

ReDo 07-31-2011 08:32 AM

Oh my goodness where has this thread been?????

I swear I have the worlds worst step daughter.... can't write about it right now but will come back later after trying to juggle bus tickets, grandmother, father, and everything else going on with her right now...

all I can really say is AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHh

I did not sign up for this

jelli 07-31-2011 09:16 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tcountry (Post 389181)
Not sure I am fully ready to share...but here goes nothing...
First...(not bragging, just saying) I have great parents. They married young, raised us well & are still happy & very much in love to this day. (i wanna be like them) I learned a lot from them.
That said...I have been a part of a parenting team.
I say team because 1) I was not considered a "parent" & 2) the girls' mother was in the same house & their father in the same town...
BUT...
The biggest thing I learned was BE CONSISTENT...not only you but as a team with the other parent. Have the same consequences...follow through with them...& if you don't like something your partner did, discuss it in private afterwards(change it next time, don't second guess them in front if the kids).

There is a reason why after 7 yrs we are not together...& there is a reason why whenever I actually get time with the girls they still listen to me. Lol
.......that is enough for now.......or too much....but, yeah
Some things we learn the hard way

Thank you for sharing.

I had my kids during a marriage and in that marriage I was the one that made the decisions and took physical and emotional care of them. I didn't trust the other parent to do so. Later when Cruel and I became partners, I was not thrilled at some of the lessons I needed to learn. It was so hard to change from the "control freak" about my kids. It was so hard to not play the "mom card" whenever I "felt" it necessary which wasn't always truly when it was necessary. We've learned a lot of changes, compromises, lessons, over the years and some weren't even painful or driving us to the doors of therapy. ;)


Communication. Consistency. Communication. Compromise. Communication.

jelli 07-31-2011 09:28 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by luv2luvgirls (Post 389199)
wow a great thread...now for my two cents

im a stepmonster have been for for so long now it feels like forever....ok here goes...might be TMI but I feel so comfortable on here you all have really made me feel welcome and I need threads like this, other perpectives and experiences if you will :)

I had a best bud met at work we were co workers,he had a son that was about 14 or 15 at the time..just trying to find his place in his dads life as they had just met. well the kid came to work with us and attached to me..when I hit 28 29ish I made a choice I wanted a child so I asked my best bud and he agreed to it,so as a result his son calls me his step parent we have a great relationship,after my friend passed,I was the only family my stepson had so he asked to move up here with me and his lil sister...he is about 30 now just got married and has a kid on the way...yeah I think im now going in the grandparent role soon :|

now on the other side of it I have been my childs only parent...she knew who her "father" was of course because of my stepson,and Dave and I (that was his name) had an understanding...im the only parent listed on her long story,but my choice.I didnt want to have all kinds of people in and out of her life...so I didnt date or do a thing the whole time...now im kinda ready to want to find someone who makes me happy and is a good fit in my life but im worried about the whole process,you know having to get to know them what if it doesnt work out ...I really dont want to show my child a crazy life at the age she is ...she is almost 10 now. any tips out there?

First of all I hope nobody, not saying you, feels like they have to justify how their family came to be. I have met many people that always feel compelled to explain as if there might be consequences if their family came about in any one way shape or form versus another. I, for one, was married to a man and had 5 children. I have no shame in that fact. I have been looked down upon for that fact. I still have no shame.Hope that made sense.

Grandparent? Me, too. Welcome to a whole new world. Do you get along with your daughter-in-law? My relationship with my DIL has been VERY tricky(even though she has lesbian aunts).

You don't want to bring craziness into your daughter's life? Ha! Good luck. We all have a bit of crazy in us. But as far as dating... so don't bring crazy around. I dated Cruel for months before she was allowed to even meet my kids. She knew of them(hell, I tried to convince her to run away from mine and my kids craziness...haha). She saw them on webcam running back and forth behind me while we talked. but we didn't do the sleep over, picnic date, "this is my friend so & so". You need time to get to know someone face to face not via the internet because if they are loons(you know we've all met a few of those) they can't hide it long. Set yourself a time line for dating etc such as 3mths. I know that might sound like ages in the lesbian life for some, but if you meet someone and they try to push that boundary -
red flag.

jelli 07-31-2011 09:30 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ToKissAgain (Post 389202)
Oh my goodness where has this thread been?????

I swear I have the worlds worst step daughter.... can't write about it right now but will come back later after trying to juggle bus tickets, grandmother, father, and everything else going on with her right now...

all I can really say is AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHh

I did not sign up for this

Is your step daughter the worst or is her behavior the worst?

luv2luvgirls 07-31-2011 09:55 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jelli (Post 389243)
First of all I hope nobody, not saying you, feels like they have to justify how their family came to be. I have met many people that always feel compelled to explain as if there might be consequences if their family came about in any one way shape or form versus another. I, for one, was married to a man and had 5 children. I have no shame in that fact. I have been looked down upon for that fact. I still have no shame.Hope that made sense.

Grandparent? Me, too. Welcome to a whole new world. Do you get along with your daughter-in-law? My relationship with my DIL has been VERY tricky(even though she has lesbian aunts).

You don't want to bring craziness into your daughter's life? Ha! Good luck. We all have a bit of crazy in us. But as far as dating... so don't bring crazy around. I dated Cruel for months before she was allowed to even meet my kids. She knew of them(hell, I tried to convince her to run away from mine and my kids craziness...haha). She saw them on webcam running back and forth behind me while we talked. but we didn't do the sleep over, picnic date, "this is my friend so & so". You need time to get to know someone face to face not via the internet because if they are loons(you know we've all met a few of those) they can't hide it long. Set yourself a time line for dating etc such as 3mths. I know that might sound like ages in the lesbian life for some, but if you meet someone and they try to push that boundary -
red flag.

It did and you gave me food for thought...I hadnt looked at it like that.

my DIL is a good person we get along well,her sister even added me on FB and likes to talk w/ me. They are all ok w/ who I am,after my stepson got his first place here he had a roomate that is lesbian,that was where he met his wife thru her.

lol yeah i know what you mean...we are crazy,funny you say that about ages in lesbian life lol.
im the one who might get crazy lol thats what im worried about :|

jelli 08-01-2011 12:30 PM

Quote
 
The foundational understanding on which the entire parent-child relationship rests is found in a careful balance between love and discipline. The interaction of those two variables is critical and is as close as we can get to a formula for successful parenting. (Dr. James Dobson, The New Dare to Discipline, p. 48)

luv2luvgirls 08-01-2011 12:34 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jelli (Post 390315)
The foundational understanding on which the entire parent-child relationship rests is found in a careful balance between love and discipline. The interaction of those two variables is critical and is as close as we can get to a formula for successful parenting. (Dr. James Dobson, The New Dare to Discipline, p. 48)

Nice! thanks for sharing it jelli

Ginger 03-11-2012 05:12 PM

I hope it's okay that I'm cross posting this; I just posted it in a thread about dating someone with a kid, then I saw this thread and started reading it, and realized my post really should have been placed here.

That said...


I'm the live-in girlfriend of a single mom, and here's what I've learned. Every situation is different but here's what works in mine:

1) Avoid ever taking a parental or disciplinary role. If safety is involved, of course, step up to the plate, and quickly. Otherwise, wait and report the behavior to the mom--but only if you think she'd want to hear it! And save your silver bullets. Don't go running to her all the time with troubling shit the kid did.

What I found works best in my situation is, that even if it's something little, like setting the table, I now ask the mom to ask the kid. I made the mistake in the beginning, of assuming I would be some kind of co-parent, or step-mom, and that caused all kinds of problems. So, I took it way, way down. Result? Peace. The kid is nicer to me, and the mom isn't bent out of shape at what she sees as my interference in her parenting.


2) Never fight in front of the kid. Did your parents fight in front of you? Mine did, all the time--and it felt awful. I don't want to put another kid in that situation. Besides, even if your partner is being an asshole, if the kid sees you fight, you're the bad guy, and that feels ever worse than the fight.


3) Accept, and don't take it personally, that you will never come first with your partner. Well, maybe on a very rare basis you'll feel like you're the priority, but if you need a lot of that, you're in for a lot of disappointment. The kid comes first, and if you can't handle that, find a partner without a kid and stop torturing her with your whining--she will only resent you for it.


4) Hold on to your sense of self; don't abandon your own hobbies and beloved "grownup" activities; don't lose touch with your friends and things that aren't "kid friendly." Gradually, in an organic way, you might gel as a "family" with your partner and her kid/s, but then again, she might not have that as a goal (mine doesn't--and she tried to tell me as much, but I didn't hear it at first). Besides being clear about expectations before you move in, be flexible; once you do move in, go with the flow. It's not a predictable process and meanwhile, it's incredibly important to make sure you have your own life, that your own identify is intact and not dependent on fitting into some fantasy you thought would happen and isn't going to.


5) I guess last of all I want to reiterate something from that last point--be clear about your expectations, before you move in.

These aren't things I learned easily, and they aren't appropriate for everyone, so please don't take offense if they aren't right for you. Honestly if they spare one person the heartache I experienced, living under some very misguided expectations, it's worth the trouble posting it.

femm_cb 05-30-2013 01:16 PM

My childrens other mom
 
I was married to a bio-male and had two beautiful children. We divorced when my youngest (age 17 now) was a year old. He met and married a woman who is an incredible advocate for my children.

In the beginning of their relationship, there was jealousy on my part towards her. My kids loved spending time with her, she made sure his child support payments were on time, she arranged travel to spend time with them. She was amazing. After their summer visits, my kids spent weeks talking about "how great Ms. R is" I was pee-green with jealousy. But after a while, I took a step back and realized "Why am I getting so jealous over someone loving my kids? Isn't that what I want for them? Why am I so jealous over someone being good to my kids?" All those questions. She and I had a heart to heart on the phone one time and I discussed my insecurities. It wasn't her job to fix them. Fastforward 15 years. R and I have the best relationship. When I call my ex to discuss kid matter things, I call her directly. I often call her "My babies other momma" I make sure my kids call her on Mothers Day. She is, after all, a mom too! I could not have asked for a better parent for my children.

Now as I said above regarding calling her on kid matters, I do not exclude their father at all. When it's issues that he needs to be aware of first hand, I speak with him first. I don't ever put her in the role of making major decisions, but do value her opinion.

Scots_On_The_Rocks 09-30-2013 10:05 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Arwen (Post 235731)
I'm starting this for those of us who have or will step into the role of "the next parental unit". It's not easy. It can feel like you are stepping into a live mine field full of "so and so didn't do that" and "you're not my mom/dad" and "those are my kids!".

How do you navigate that? What are the rules/tips/tricks you've found for being a good stepparent?

Let's talk about the wins and the losses. I've had both.

One of my wins is my beloved son, KC. He's not mine by birth, but he's mine by love. He's 21 now and we are very close.

One of my losses is his eldest sister, Dv. We talk a bit but the relationship will never be more than that of casual acquaintances. KC is our link to one another.

Their mom and I do not speak except about the kids. We do not have a friendship at all due to choices we both made and behaviours we both exhibited. I regret that on many levels.

So, how about you? Who's a step-monster out there?

*KC introduces me as his step-monster. I love it.

The whole idea of being in a relationship with someone who had kids in the home always used to be a huge, "NO!" to me, and yet, something in me shifted shortly before I had my hysterectomy. Not sure what that was, but it did and here I am happily partnered with a woman who has a 11 (will be 12 in the next few months) year old. I was so afraid of being the "step monster" because we have all seen and heard the horror stories. And really, when I sat down with my partner and talked about my fears, and how I felt, we worked through much of the anxiety and reticence about it all and worked out a game plan.

What has been crucial in making a healthy and strong bond with my step-daughter has been the following tips, tricks and ground rules:

1. Assure her that I am not here to replace ANYONE in her life. Let her know that I am merely another addition to the family, like an extra parent, or a new uncle. And that with that I will never ask to be called Dad, Papa, or anything like that.

2. Even if I don't agree with kiddo's mom (or dad) on their parenting style, or discipline techniques; as long as they are not abusive, I must stand as a united front with them. Any disagreements about parenting style/discipline techniques can be discussed behind closed doors where the kiddo can't hear them, because believe-you-me, kiddo will exploit that divide like nobody's business.

3. Never, and I repeat NEVER badmouth her father (or mother) in front of her. This also extends to dad's (or mom's) partner/spouse.

4. If in doubt on how to proceed when kiddo acts out, make a note of it (if mom or dad isn't around) by calling their attention to the fact that it wasn't appropriate, and inform them that a conversation will happen when their mom (or dad) gets home where you ALL will sit down and discuss what was done and how to resolve it.

5. ALWAYS make the punishment fit the deed. You should be firm, fair, and consistent...but never be excessive in your punishment.




These have been what works for me and my partner as well as kiddo's dad and his new wife.

Hope they may be of help to any of you. :)

Scots_On_The_Rocks 09-30-2013 10:14 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by oblivia (Post 379864)
When Sparx and I got together, She'd been doing the single mom thing since the boys were 3 and 4 respectively. They were, then, 12 & 13 ... oh.. and both gifted. These were uber-intelligent boys. They were (and still are) smarter than Sparx and I. So it was scary stuff. I was TERRIFIED.

Coming into their lives just when they were entering the most tumultuous, confusing, conflicting, craziest years of their whole lives? And... they're smarter than me? AND... they've had their mom all to themselves for basically their entire lives? WAS I INSANE?

Thankfully, no, I wasn't.

For starters, there were several things working in my favour...most importantly - Sparx had been doing an AWESOME job raising them.

She had raised them with a very open-door policy and also raised them to have a great deal of agency and say in their lives and what happens in them. Because she was a single mom in a small town with few resources, she raised them with honesty, and respect. She had a few very hardcore parenting rules that she told me about up front - and I thought they were all fantastic. The fact that the boys were so well mannered, mature, and respected her so much were testament to the fact hat they worked.. so I followed her rules and learned a LOT about what "healthy parenting" could look like (having a very poor example from my own childhood... I needed to defer to someone who had a better outlook).

I came into this whole step-parenting thing ready and eager to learn from someone with a better idea of parenting than how I'd been raised - so I was content to be a bit of a follower - and it paid off big time. In return, Sparx made it very clear that I was a co-parent... not less than... and had equally valid input into all parenting decisions. We had a LOT of trust going into this.

So here are the rules, or more accurately the parenting "principles" she swore by.

First, if the boys ask "Why?" when we tell them to do something, they ALWAYS get an answer. Sometimes the answer might be "I am really not up to talking about it right now but I will later". But the answer is NEVER "because I said so". And Sparx expects anyone who is a part of their lives to respect this (family, friends, babysitters etc)

This was totally foreign to me. It wasn't how I was raised. And sometimes this was frustrating because sometimes.. you just wanna say "because I said so". I had to learn that sometimes I have to say "I'm frustrated and will end up sounding angry if I talk about it right now, so let's talk about it later" (or some version of that) - but usually once I explain, they understood and it was easier to get them to do what I needed them to do. AND... maybe more importantly... sometimes... when I explained, they were able to provide a convincing and mature rebuttal for why they couldn't do what I asked or would rather do something else and sometimes I would discover my request was unreasonable - or needed tweaking - and that was okay. So our respect for each other grew a LOT through my learning to accept that they were people and deserved an explanation when they wanted one. And to their credit - they RARELY 'demanded' one.. they almost always asked in a genuinely curious and/or polite way.

Second, We do not lie to them. Period. The only allowable exception is the good kind, or removing extranneous or non-age-appropriate details that are inappropriate, but They are always to be told the truth to the best of our ability (within the limits of what they could understand). By the time I came around they were old enough that that was pretty much the whole truth.

She told me that when they came together and confronted her (sadly, at a very young age) and told her that they'd been talking it over and had figured out that she was Santa... and the Easter Bunny... and the Tooth Fairy... she admitted they were right. And while it took some of the fun away for HER, they were so proud of themselves for having figured it out - and she wouldn't lie to them... but she did explain to them that it would make it not fun for other kids if they shared the secret, so they felt very important and responsible by "protecting" the secret when it came to their friends (and younger kids).

To date, the complete honesty that we share with them, makes it easier for them to be honest with us. They're teens now, they have secrets... and the youngest REALLY didn't like us being on him about his schoolwork and went through a few years of lying to get us off his back - but he is a terrible liar - we knew he was lying... he knew we knew he was lying... so there was some mutual frustration... but we were able to work through and get past it.

Third, ALWAYS be willing to admit when you're wrong, and apologize to them if you've behaved badly, lashed out inappropriately or otherwise screwed up.

This is... also huge. So many parents think that they can't or shouldn't apologize to their kids. If I've made a bad decision, or Sparx has or we've snapped at them undeservedly or whatever and we come to them later and say "hey, sorry about that, that was uncalled for", they respect us so much more... and it makes it easier for them to apologize when it's their turn. I was not raised this way. I was the only one in my family (and I mean that quite literally) who had to apologize for anything, ever. Not cool.

Fourth, Involve them in decisions that affect them!! Always give them input and take it into account. Children are people too and they sometimes have remarkable insight into a situation.

This meant that they got input into EVERY decision that affected them... including when it was time to let certain people in their lives (extended family members) go because the relationships had gotten unhealthy. They had full say on the matter, even when they were younger than ten.

Another example....
If she couldn't afford to get them something they wanted and she would have liked to - she owns it, and has since they were very young. The result of this particular one is SO noticeable because they truly are not superficial as a result. They were not "poor" growing up, but they certainly had very little money.

She told me that sometimes she would give them choices when it came to big purchases. For example, when it came time to pick out birthday or christmas gifts, she said they could have a new video game, but only one because that was all she could afford *OR* they could have two or three USED video games. They always picked used, and they felt important being a part of the decision making - and it shows today. They are not hung up on whether stuff is new and shiney and they always appreciate the things they do have - and they never whine/beg/bug for things they know we can't afford... they really understand and appreciate the financial decisions we make day to day - this is HUGE.

I can not describe in words how important this was. The boys really get what it means to make choices based on capabilities. When money is tight and they were growing fast, they got new jeans or coats from the thrift store and didn't care... in fact... our youngest's current coat was a thrift store find and he LOVES that coat... loves it. A workman's jacket with a removable inner lining. He raves about it and appreciates it more because he knows we would never have been able to afford to buy him that kind of coat brand new at the time.

Now that they're almost adults, it feels good knowing that they understand how to live well, and happily, with less. They don't care about new vs. used, or name brands vs. generic. The eldest is more social/popular and trendier but still scoffs at designer label prices and finds ways to get his "look" without spending more than he thinks is realistic. I know that when they finally go out on their own - they'll be able to manage their finances without hardship.

And it's not just about money. If we have to make hard decisions, they're a part of those decisions. They never have to worry that we will just dramatically change their lives without their input. As a result they feel safe and secure. If we're even THINKING about moving.... or making a big financial decision.. we bring them in on it. We discuss and work through things as a family.

Fifth, Own your headspace. Be self-aware.

This means that if you come home grumpy because work sucked, you admit right up front that's what you're feeling... take responsibility for it... so if you end up snappier than you intended or accidentally take something out on the kids (er.. or the wife *blush*) they know it's not personal and it becomes a LOT easier to deal with. This one was super-ginormous for me. It taught me to be more self-aware of my moods, headspace, and the way these things affected the people around me. I appreciated when the boys were able to say to me "Yeah, in a bad mood so gonna hang out in my room" because they had learned how from their mother. I appreciated when Sparx would tell me up front when she was grouchy so I knew not to take it personal. So it was with gratitude that I learned to do this for them as well.

Not only did this do WONDERS for my relationship with the boys (now man-children), but it did wonders for me learning how to have a healthy and fulfilling marriage.

Anyways - I've been writing forever. I just feel like this was a HUGE learning curve for me and I feel so grateful. I got lucky in a lot of ways. The boys were being raised well. Their biological father had been out of their lives since they were very small.. there was no other parent for me to deal with. They took me seriously because Sparx had not brought any other woman into their lives as other than a friend before me. And most importantly - she consulted them before our relationship could get off the ground. She asked their opinion the whole way through. She wanted them to know they were a part of the decision to let me in. And she told me this up front - because she trusted them to be mature about this responsibility even at 12&13. They wanted me in their lives. If they hadn't, Sparx and I may never have taken the next step in our relationship. They came first. I knew that from the beginning.

But they did wantme... and so Sparx and her boys moved from Ontario, 3,000 miles away, to Vancouver, BC - a place they'd never been before, so that we could all make our home here together. I moved from the Puget Sound in Washington. We all had to trust each other a whole lot and communicate even more to make our little family and such a big move for all of us, work. And so we did.

There's been a lot of challenges... but as cliche as it is - a lot of communication was the key to making it all work.

And I have to say, being a step-parent has been one of the greatest gifts of my life.

EX-fucking-ACTLY! You hit the nail on the head on so many topics of being a step-parent. I wish I could have articulated as well. Thanks for this.

JDeere 06-30-2016 07:52 PM

My gf has told me to tell her, soon to be 4 year old child, that I am her stepparent!

We are not even married just in a relationship. Does anyone else out there have any advice for me, regarding how I should manage telling this kid I am her stepparent, when I don't really know much about kids.

*Anya* 06-30-2016 08:56 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by JDeere (Post 1073349)
My gf has told me to tell her, soon to be 4 year old child, that I am her stepparent!

We are not even married just in a relationship. Does anyone else out there have any advice for me, regarding how I should manage telling this kid I am her stepparent, when I don't really know much about kids.

Why does she want you to do that? Does a 3- year-old, almost 4-year-old even know what that means (the word step-parent)?

Dos she mean that she wants the child to call you dad or...?

When my kids were young, I was so careful about the length of time I dated someone before I even introduced them and then, what my kids called my boyfriends (before I came out). I usually had them call them by their first name or whatever my BF felt comfortable with.

Step-parent implies a level of permanency. Kids get attached so easily.

Are you comfortable with the child feeling like you are his/her parent? If you have any doubts, don't do it!

I would encourage you to have some real in-depth conversations with your GF about why she wants this and understand where she is coming from.

MsTinkerbelly 06-30-2016 09:06 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by JDeere (Post 1073349)
My gf has told me to tell her, soon to be 4 year old child, that I am her stepparent!

We are not even married just in a relationship. Does anyone else out there have any advice for me, regarding how I should manage telling this kid I am her stepparent, when I don't really know much about kids.

Why is she asking you to be the one telling her child about your role in her life? Why is she forcing the issue since you are "just in a relationship"?

Is your girlfriend wanting more from you than you are wanting to give? Does she have problems setting clear roles and boundaries in her life?

It sounds like a conversation is in order to clear the air!

Best of luck (f)

JDeere 07-01-2016 05:28 PM

No I'm not comfortable at all with the step parent role. The kid calls me by my first name. I think my gf has boundary issues. I don't mind being there for the kid but kids get attached too easy and I don't want that kind of pain, for anyone of us.

I'm just lost.


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