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The Light at the End of the Tunnel: Parity

JRI's picture

I'm the veteran BM & SM of 5 reflecting back on my steplife as I read the posts.

Parity was my stepparent religion.  Our kids were close in age & once we were all living here, parity seemed the wisest policy to prevent jealousy & envy.  At Christmas, I not only spent the same on each but made sure each had the same number of gifts to open.  I spent the same amount on birthdays and school clothes.  As they reached driving age, we handled each the same.  Lather, rinse, repeat for everything.

I extended this policy once the grandkids began to come.  I kept the amount of babysitting level across the families.  This seemed especially important where kids from different famines were close in age.

But parity is a utopian goal.  As time went on, the reality became apparent that the kids & GKs had differing wants & needs. We tried to respond to each situation as best we could but everybody had different needs & desires for our interaction.  I was often left with a guilty feeling:  if we did x for Child A, shouldn't we compensate B, C, D & E?  It was not possible or realistic.

So, I've decided that parity is good for behavior consequences, gifts and privileges but at some point it is not realistic or possible.  How do other SP feel? 


Focused_onourlife's picture

From going through all that without SGK's in the beginning or end,  I realize my SD's was just raised different from 2 BM's and it surely reflects on both SD's and their expectations and attitudes in your family home life. And more importantly how they were raised. My SD2 (YSD24 from BM2 ex wife) was raised to appreciate anything she receives and just have family bonds, to be respectful of her elders as OSD was raised by a bitter BM and learned  to alienate herself from our family, due to PAS. 

I just don't have time to be bending myself into a pretzel to appease the "difficult SK's no SGK's yet.  And my DH didn't know what to do and realizedI I wasn't a  typical SM who went overboard'.... Deal with them accordingly.  They will fall in line or not. If not, they will alienate themselves and your DH will know you're not going to take on his responsibility at the same time (as you shouldn't).  Just make sure you and your DH are on the same page, however you have to. And remember, you're showing HIM more then anyone....  And if your dealing with a DH who can't cope or get on board, aka, disney dad who just can't  get on board then you may have to leave or disengage. 

Your whole point is to show him that his baggage is his!! You can help ONLY if he allows it and/or support you. Learned that the hard way. 

Kes's picture

I didn't bother too much about parity.  My DDs were already late teens when I moved in with DH, my SDs were 6 and 8 or so.  My DH always spent masses on gifts for his daughters - whereas I couldn't afford to for my daughters, moreover I didn't think it appropriate either.  They were brought up in a home where money was tight and if they wanted extra they had to earn it - all the SDs had to do was shake the money tree!  About 7 yrs ago I stopped buying the SDs gifts at all, since they always ignored my b'day and Xmas, and weren't children any more in whom this behaviour could be excused. 

I have 3 grandkids and I have always been the one to buy gifts for them, DH doesn't.   I say they are from us both - so if the SDs ever have kids I expect him to do all the gift buying and say they are from me as well.  

JRI's picture

Many step-families have kids of varying ages so I see where that situation is different.  I guess parity was such a hot topic for us was because all 5 were so close in age and going through the same life events so nearly.

The_Upgrade's picture

My situation is that I'm the younger second wife of an alienated dad. Parity for me would mean my DD would be entitled to everything SD received while growing up. I already know that won't happen, partly because BM cleaned DH out in the divorce and the extras on top of child support until SD aged out, and because I don't want DD to turn out spoilt like SD. I'll be happy if she just leaves us alone and all the assets DH and I have worked for remain mine then DD's after DH passes down the track. 

JRI's picture

Our BM cleaned out DH, too, when she left.  Then we had the CS drain.  What we now have, we both worked for and built, starting in the early years when we began with all 5 kids.  Step-families are complex with the split loyalties, envy and the fantasies about the past.

beebeel's picture

My sks were 16 and 14 when our bio was born. My DH was 16 when SS was born. Parity was never a concern. I certainly wasn't going to deprive my kid of experiences because my skids' parents couldn't afford a pot to piss in. Thankfully, the differences in ages and the stark contrast in financial stability took care of the whole "treat them all the same" trap.

JRI's picture

You had quite the age differences!  My family is like that, too.  I'm the oldest from Mom's first marriage.  The next one is 8 years younger, then 10 years younger.  My youngest brother is 17 years younger.  

JRI's picture

I totally get why you feel that way.  My steps treat me ok, it varies by person.  SD58 is good to my face but a conniving individual underneath.  SS57 is a dear human being who isnt expressive but who visited my aged mother weekly before she was quarantined (hugs to him).   SS53 respects me but keeps me somewhat at arms length..