You are here

Who Knew

frustratedbonusmom's picture

Who knew there was a site like this for us bonus paren'ts to vent on!

My SO and I have been dating almost two years we were engaged last month.

He has a 9 yo daughter who lives out of state so she only visits about 12-15 weeks throughout the year.

SO moved into my home, so SD stays with us when she is visiting. I went and painted a room for her (pink) and she decided she did not like it because her room at home is pink. Not sure why I am supposed to change the color of her room after spending the money to have it painted for her.

SD does not like helping out, everytime she is asked to do something she gets irritiated. If she does do something like set the table before she does it she states I am doing this because my dad told me to.


frustratedbonusmom's picture

LOL _ so after spending the summer of bringing SD to camp, and struggling each morning because she was mad she had to go to camp, and not a happy child when I picked her up. The lady at the desk at camp referred to me as mom, and I said no I am not mom, and explained. She then goes, oh you are Bonus Mom, you get to have all the fun! To myself I thought I sure wish I felt like Bonus Mom!

justmakingthebest's picture

For her room color: "Man, that stinks, you should tell your mom to paint that bedroom so you don't have 2 pink rooms anymore". When she says that her mom can't afford/won't/whatever- say, yeah, that's how it is here too.

As for complaining about chores... she's 9. She see's her dad very little. It is a vacation in her mind. I know it's irritating but honestly it's kind of expected. 

Keep her being responsible and accountable for her chores while she is there, but just know there is going to be push back. Even with bio kids there is push back with chores. 

Badger1986's picture

Also be happy she doesn't live with you! I had to tell my neighbor the same thing! My neighbor has a small chore chart and she signs her stepchildren up for sports when they visit. They are 13 now and they are already talking about not visiting as much. Due to the distance you probably won't see his daughter much in about 5 years when she gets friends. 

frustratedbonusmom's picture

Thank you for the input. Well I hope she will still visit her dad, and hopefully things will get better, but you are right it might be less as she gets older. 

frustratedbonusmom's picture

I agree somewhat with the chores and have tried to not let that bother me. But we do not ask her to do much at all expect maybe set the table or clean up after dinner, never both. Asking a child to do one thing a day I do not feel is asking too much, especially when she is always asking for something to be bought for her.  

Harry's picture

He moved into your home. Hope he's paying his fair share. More then 50%.  SD there 25% of the time so he should be paying 60% of cost of living there.

Sevond Red Flag. SD wasn't  told to say Thsnk you for her room   Who cares the color at home.  She should be made to help

You already see the future 

frustratedbonusmom's picture

I am having cold feet about the wedding only because of the dealings I have with her mom and his daughter.

On the plus side he is the first person I have dated where we get along all of the time unless it of course pertains to issues with his daughter. Since she is only here less than 15 weeks of the year i figure I can deal with it (hopefully!).

ndc's picture

Always remember that if something were to happen to the BM, you could go from less than 15 weeks to 52 weeks in a heartbeat.  If the daughter is a problem and your SO is not parenting her to improve that, think long and hard.  Usually the problems in step life are with the parents, not the kids.  Permissive dads who are passive and cowardly with regard to their ex-wives and kids are a huge problem.  Make sure he's not one of those.

frustratedbonusmom's picture

Thank you, he certainly is paying his share for bills and the house payment which I appreciate.

I figure the time she is here will hopefully get better!  

Badger1986's picture

This site has helped me for two years but I just started commenting this week. I started seeing the same things when I moved in with my wife, at the time just dating. Here's the thing, we love our spouses and will not let anyone stop us from being with them. You have two options either you disengage right now or you set some ground rules with your husband. I have to call my ss (9) out every week for only asking his mom can he do something. Sometimes they have whispering conversations and I call that out too! I've been around him for 5 years and I'm still not connected to him. It's just not natural to be connected to step children because we cannot love them unconditionally. We see the bill crap that everyone looks over. I told my ss once that he cannot treat me like a father when it's connvinent (money, taking him to school, etc) but then switch it if you're not getting your way. I am semi-disengaged, meaning anything that hurts my well-being, I intervene. If I spend money on food and he doesn't eat it, I never cook that meal again or I tell him to cook it himself. If he doesn't contribute to cleaning the house or does it half ass, than I don't clean his room. I haven't fully cleaned his room in years. I make him do it. 

Just be careful because bio-parents will take the side of their children ALL the time. Also, do not let your sd pull you into arguments or fights because they end up going to sleep or home and you and your spouse ends up arguing over the child. Believe me my wife and I argued a lot about my as but now I don't let him win. 

frustratedbonusmom's picture

Thank you! I appreciate your response. I would never expect him not to take her side, I guess the disappointment was that I did want a connection with her. I made sure she was signed up for camp so she had a fun summer, swim lessons, took her shopping but at the end of the day she is not happy about something whether big or small.

Stepdrama2020's picture

I would never expect him not to take her side

Hun you are newish at this. He SHOULD take your side. In fact you and DH need to be a united team, especially with teen years to follow. So taking your side, and not disagreeing infront of her is a biggie. Doesnt mean behind closed doors you can disagree , but never infront of SD. Otherwise SD will attain a false sense of authority over you.

ESMOD's picture

A couple of things that may help.  

First.. you are not a "bonus mom".. You are your husband's wife.  He has a child.. that confers the title of "stepmother".. but that does not mean that you should or can be in a position to "parent" his child.

Second.  correction without connection breeds resentment.  You should not be in the position of handing out chores.. corrections or anything else that could be percieved as parenting her.  She isn't your child.. she doesn't have that bond with you that allows that level of oversight.  She has a parent in the home. he needs to be the one doing all of it.  I might also try to understand how visits went BEFORE you were on the scene.  Did he expect her to pitch in and do chores etc?  if not.. it's going to be quite obvious that you may be driving this change.  If he truly thinks it's helpful for her to have some level of chores or pitching in.. he drives that 100%.  Otherwise.. the only level of chore I would maintain is a minimum would be her keeping her belongings and space neat.. and again.. her father oversees THAT too.

Third,  I know it was hurtful for you to think you have gone out of your way to prepare a room for her.  Unfortunately, she may feel she is getting no "choice" in anything.. not whehter her dad remarries. right down to what color room she is staying in.  Of course, dad should be shutting down her ungrateful behavior.  He should have zero problem telling her:  "Look SM was trying to do something nice for you by painting the room and decorating it in a way she thought you might like.  It's rude to demand she change it and I expect you to be nicer and more appreciative when someone does something for you.. even if it's not exactly what you might have wanted in the first place.  I expect and have raised you to be a nicer person than you are acting right now.  That room is going to remain the color it is because it costs money and work to change it.. and you have not shown that you deserve to have any changes considered".  In hindsight.. maybe asking what colors she would prefer might have been better recieved though.

Finally.. disengagement where you are a kind person.. receptive to her but not forcing things.. even if you think they are "good" things.  Do not overcompensate or try to mother this girl.. she is likely to resent that more than anything.. just be pleasant.. and if she has a poor attitude or is rude.. that is something your husband should be made aware of.. and he should handle it and explain that in his home he expects people to be polite.

frustratedbonusmom's picture

Thank you, the bonus mom was in reference to someone at her camp calling me this, so that is how I came up with the name. Because when she called me this saying you get to have all the fun with her.

Sometimes it is hard because he works long hours and I am responsible for taking her to camp and picking her up most evenings.

I know it is hard on her too, but at the same time if I responsible for her care, then I will at times have some expectations for her.

I have recently had her dad be the one to ask her to do chores ect. I just feel if you are in my home, offer to help a little. If my daughter was at someone else's house I would expect her to do the same. I appreciate the helpful suggestions in regards to disengagement. I guess I should step back and just not let it bother me. 

justmakingthebest's picture

Not that you should step back, more your partner needs to step up so that you don't have any "burden" with his kid. You should be just the "fun aunt" in the whole thing. Not a parent, it isn't fair to you to have the responsibilities but none of the authority. If it was your kid and they were being shitty about setting the table, you could easily tell them they are grounded, have extra chores, whatever. His kid, you just have to smile and play nice so that you aren't an evil step mother. So, his job is to make it so you don't have to be. 

ESMOD's picture

I absolutely agree with you that kids being part of a household.. pitching in.. is an important dynamic for them.  It makes them feel included.. part of the team so to speak.. it also teaches them skills.. and it teaches them an appreciation for keeping things nice and neat and taking care of their belongings.    From a very young age, I was helping my parents.. in the kitchen mixing salad dressing.. in the yard pulling weeds.. setting/clearing the table etc.. I was asked to do small things like go around and collect the trash from the small trash cans in bathrooms and offices etc..   As we got older.. the tasks could be a bit bigger or more complex.. but there was also the opportunity to earn extra money by asking to do extra chores too.. so that was also a motivator to a point.

But.. if your SO has never expected her to do anything.. having a lot of expectations could be overwhelming and if it's only important to "YOU" and he would otherwise not care.. then it's going to be hard to make this a huge issue in your home.  I might also consider that with the sporadic time in your home.. maybe THAT is not the hill to die on.. but that he expects her to keep her own belongings and space neat.. and occasionally can ask her to help him do stuff.  I would highly recommend that you do zero direction of chores though.. it's only going to cause resentment and potential for conflict.  

I might say it's ok sometimes.. but with your level of relationship.. I don't think it will work well.. I didn't start doing it with my SD's until we had known each other for years.. and the relationships were much more ingrained as me being a positive person for them at that point.  

I just found that it worked a lot better when I wasn't the one setting expectations.. correcting.. basically parenting.  It's too easy for them to say mean ole stepmommy is being mean to me.. and then you gett BM mama bearing and giving your SO a ration of crap.. you get your SO potentially siding with his child AGAINST you.. then it gets to where the child realizes they can control things.. and things get even worse. 

That doesn't mean in any way that your expectations or ways you feel it's important to raise a child are wrong.. it just means that you aren't the best conduit for that with the child.  And ultimately.. you have to accept that the child has 2 parents.. and BM is going to have the most impact due to custody.. there is just only so much impact your household can have period.. and it's not worth driving yourself up a wall worrying about whether the kid is doing enough chores in your home when the come to visit.

So.. what are your hills to die on?  Is it that you don't allow kids to come into your bed/bedroom?  Is it that the child keep her "messes" in her own room.  That she not be rude to you?  What has to happen to not make you absolutely insane.. to not have your belongings/home destroyed?  Make it your SO's responsibiliyt to ensure that those hills are defended on your behalf.

And.. it's a great time to see how these conversations go with him.  How does he take any "constructive" input from you.  It is always uber helpful if you can phrase things in a way that it appears that your concern is for his child's benefit.  

"I know everyone has their own particular food preferences.. but it worries me when SD is so objectionable about food that she is served here.. I mean.. she has to learn how to politely deal with things she may be served that she does not like.  If she were at a friend's house and she threw her food on the floor.. wouldn't they end up not inviting her back?"

"I know it's hard to talk to people about stuff like this.. but if SD doesn't learn to keep up with her hygiene.. she is going to have a hard time making friends.. it will embarass her when she realizes she is the "stinky kid" "

"How do you feel about the grades she got this semester?  I'm kind of worried because she is such a smart kid and she should have better grades than that.. I wonder what kind of help she needs? because if she doesn't get the basics down now.. it's just going to be harder on her as she gets older... and I'm sure you want her to eventually go to college right? or at least have that option".

Any positives you can throw in.. any praise.. is she good at math.. art... sports.. find the positive and always highlight that.. and how any suggestions are things that will benefit her in the long run.

You can even suggest things like.

"you know.. I think it would be a really great chance to spend time with her if you were the one to take her to camp.  I think going makes her a bit anxious.. it would give you a chance to bond and reassure her"


ESMOD's picture

If you are responsible for her care.. imho that means that you make sure she is not DEAD or injured in your care.. lol.  That is your bar.   That time doesn't have to be used to "improve" her.. to teach her anything.. to have any expectations other than she doesn't burn the house down and doesn't injest poison... lol. 

Yes.. it would be "nice" if she had been taught by her parents to be more of a volunteer to help but she is 9 and it doesn't sound like either parent has had that expectation.. maybe her dad needs to have "the talk" with her.. about how families and homes work best when everyone participates and works to make it a success?  She isn't going to magically understand that any of the chores are for her own good.. lol.

But your job is to make sure she stays safe if you are "caring for her".. so you don't let her do dangerous things... and you don't let her do destructive things.. but otherwise? I might be pretty loose on my expectations during my babysitting time.  

I would work with the rules your DH has set.  If she is only allowed an hour on her ipad.. then you are fine telling her that her dad said she could only be on it for an hour.. and you can take the ipad after that hour with a "sorry.. your dad said I had to take it after the hour".    but otherwise.. you feed her at meal times.. keep an eye on her.. and that's it.. it's not your chance or obligation to direct her chore list.  Now.. I'm not saying that if she comes to you and says.. "Im bored".. you can't suggest she do that chore she has been assigned.. but other than that.. I would not concern myself with it.


ndc's picture

 It is incredibly difficult to have responsibility without authority.  If you don't have the ability to correct and punish, and to have your SO back you up 100% in front of the child (he can tell you he'd prefer you did something differently next time when you're alone), don't take on the responsibility.