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U signed up for this!!??

StepmomA20's picture

To all the step parents, why do people always say "this is what u signed up for when u got married." I cant stand this statement. This is not true to me. We are supposed to be there for our spouse to be loving and supportive not to be walked all over. It's like they say u have not choice but to be this or to do that. I dont understand why we are the bad guys in this situation when we stand up for ourselves and stand our ground. What do yall think?


tog redux's picture

I think people like that are ignorant. I didn't do any parenting of my SS at all, because my DH didn't think I "signed up" for anything other than to be his wife. 

If your DH thinks you signed on to care for his kid, then he's an idiot. 

ESMOD's picture

That's just another version of "you knew what you were getting into".

In some ways.. yes.. we did marry people with children.. so there is some reasonable POV to say.. we had to understand that the children existed.. would have needs and our spouses would have to meet those needs.. and that the children would be in our lives in some fashion.

But.. there is a difference between accepting that your partner has a child and an obligation from his prior relationship and dealing with a lot of the crap that stepparents are expected to take.  Sure, we understand we won't always come first.. (or we should).. but that doesn't mean we should be expected to always repress our needs.  We don't need to feel unsafe. or abused.  We don't need to spend our resources on your obligations.. etc.  

Anything done for the skids is through agreement.  If I agree to be a SAHM with my spouse.. it may include caregiving for his children.. to offset the salary I am giving up.. but these agreements should be transparent and bilaterally agreed to.. not foisted upon someone.

Iamwoman's picture


If they were giving that opinion as a professional, they would be fired. I once called 911 when HCBD was stalking me. He blocked me at an intersection and was threatening me. The 911 operator said, "Well YOU chose to have a child with him!" 

I don't know what her job is these days, but I know for sure that she is no longer a 911 operator.

People who say things like that are usually miserable with their own lives and it makes them happy to share their viewpoint of despair and lack of control over their own lives.

TwoOfUs's picture

Agree with ESMOD 100%. It is just another version of "you knew what you were getting into" or "you knew he had kids when you married him" and its only purpose is to shame and silence stepmoms so society at large doesn't feel obligated to expend any empathy on us. It's just a way to tell us to shut the eff up already.

Imagine saying these phrases to anyone else having struggles in their relationship and it quickly becomes clear how cruel and thoughtless it is. Your husband has Cancer? knew Cancer runs in his family when you married him!! What did you expect??!! Mother-in-law causing a rift in your marriage?? knew he had a mom when you married him!! And she was there FIRST!! Brother-in-law always borrowing money? I knew he had a scoundrel brother when you said "I do" didn't you? Are you really going to try to stop your husband from helping his OWN brother??!!

See what I mean? Phrases that would sound callous and insane when applied to any other situation are hurled at stepmoms all the time...


advice.only2's picture

It's a tactless way of trying to make you feel like your feelings on the situation are invalid. Usually said by a person who has never been in that type of situation and has not endured the amount of sh@t that is piled on daily.

StepmomA20's picture

Exactly! U knew what u were getting yourself into. No actually we dont. Sometimes we are blind sided and next thing u know u have his kids full time with no help from the BM. She just gets ghost and does whatever the hell she wants with no consequences. Only a phone call here and there. 

HowLongIsForever's picture

I can't stand this mindset.

Somehow it's all on the step.  For what? Not falling into line?

The "broken" family situation is entirely BECAUSE OF THE BIOLOGICAL PARENTS.  Nobody ever says "you knew...when you got divorced."

Super hypocritical to expect the rest of the world to put the no longer existing family unit above all else when the biological parents couldn't manage to do it either.

It's so odd to me that people can't grasp that concept.  Ugh.   


ITB2012's picture

What I knew:

I was a parent of a child about the same as as the skids, and the same gender, so I had experience parenting

I had been married so I had experience incorporating another adult intimately into my life

I was a home owner so I knew how to pay bills, keep an orderly house, do repairs, maintain things

I was an employee so I understood the time and demands of a job

I was a relative so I understood some of the give-and-take having extended family requires

I was related to several people in step-family situations, so I'd seen step-family dynamics (and how to act with civility)


What I didn't know:

That I was expected to be Mary Poppins without any of her authority

That my child would be the one to be assumed to be the one in the wrong regardless of evidence or even confession by others

That a husband could assume a host of bad intentions in any sentence, breath, look, or action

That I could do some decorating but suggesting any substantial change to the house (not my house, DH and BMs that I moved into) would be ignored or met with offense

That I'd be expected to be concierge and accountant

That I had to give thanks and apologies but expect none

That DH spending extra hours for his job was him being conscientious, but apparently me spending extra hours for mine is just me avoiding the family

That "the family" does not mean the people in the house where I live, and that even the little family I had with my son would not exist

That everything I had and did would be subsumed by DH and the skids

Oh, and one more: That in my husband's priorities I would be second to everything else: which means I'm dead last

Siemprematahari's picture

I'd love the opportunity for someone to tell me that nonsense. I'd send them straight to hell and tell them to go f@ck themselves.....straight and in that order!


Hastings's picture

My husband actually pulled that one on me a few weeks ago when I made a comment about step-parenting being difficult.

At the moment, I didn't have a reply. Now, if he uses it again, I have my answer.

"Oh. I guess so. Well, can you loan me your crystal ball, then?"

His imagined response: "Huh?"

"Your crystal ball. Obviously you must have one. Because you must have known exactly what you were getting into when you decided to become a parent. You must have known exactly how it would feel and how it would end up when you married BM. Or when you took your current job (which he hates). Or when you married me. You knew all of that so, I'm assuming you have a crystal ball. Can I borrow it?"

You can "know" what you're signing up for without really knowing what it will be like and how it will feel.

People who say that are extremely ignorant, in my opinion.

CLove's picture

And he is technically my stepfather who adopted me, and who has been in my life since I was about 6-7 years old (he should know better!).

So, for him its like he is saying "I told you so". Well yes he told me there "would be problems" (understatement!), and the children "were from a broken home and would somehow blame me" (way off!) So when I complain to my folks, its just another way to say "talk to someone else about your issues because we told you so..."

Ive had DH state this, but he doesnt think of stepparenting as "hard". Because he and HCBM are both active parents, each with 50/50. He doesnt accept the reality of all that I do and have gone through, because hes gone through more and does "more". This from the man who can spend every weekend fishing, leaving me with Skids. Its better now because SD13 is more independant.

Its just another way to invalidate what we steps do for the skids.

Bex_S's picture

Ugh I hate that. Yes I signed up knowing DH had a child. I DID NOT sign up to fill in the cracks in BM'S awful parenting, for a child who wouldn't blink if I got hit by a bus. I did not sign up to being disrespected and being made to feel unwelcome in my own home, by a person whom I have no say in whether they can come in my house. I did not sign up to be verbally abused by DH's ex and have all the associated "first family" bullshit. I did not sign up for my children to be constructively disinherited and resented by another woman's child. I did not sign up for my husband's ex having the power to make decisions that affect my family, life and home. I signed up to be with the man I love. That's it. I certainly didn't sign up to be judged for raising a child to the best of my ability, to the same values I'm raising my bio to, despite being treated like an evil SM for doing so. I didn't sign up to be judged because I didn't have love magically spring eternal for someone else's child, who I'm not related to, have nothing in common with, and whose behaviour, attitude and personality makes it difficult to even like them.

It's such a weird dichotomy that's it's ok to dislike your partner's relatives, but it is unacceptable to not like their child. I'm not going to automatically like someone just because they're under 18! At the end of it all, that child is someone else's child; you either like them and get on with them, or you don't. Like any other person. 

Kelly_thestepmum_in20s's picture

Real talk. In real life, people will always talk no matter how good or bad you are.

For instance, society will still have a problem with you being a 2nd mom/ step mom to the skds (as you're mostly doing what BM does for them or not all) or when you treat them as your nieces/ nephews. 

LuluOnce's picture

I believe that this statement comes from people who get "poked in their axiom" on their own parenting practices. To them a family is a family, the single most important unit in society, with the children at the center of it! Divorce ruins that to some extent, but remarriage -- entry of a stepmothers -- really shakes their foundation. The stepparent represents a cautionary tale of what can happen in these people's own lives, in their own marriages and with their own children.

With stepmoms specifically, I think our existence and activities in our skids' lives, whether we are very active or completely disengaged, really screws with people's beliefs about "the cult of motherhood". That I, lowly not-the-REAL-mother, am acting in place of THE MOTHER (from their perspective) is terrifying to some women, and probably some men too. 

I don't know any step-dads at all, other than a few on this board, so I cannot speak to step dad's experiences. But I think people say "You knew what you signed up for" to stepmothers solely because they want to demean the stepparenting role and elevate their own position as THE REAL parent. Even if the person who says it thinks they are saying it in a well-meaning way, I just hear that phrase and think "Ohhh, I am getting close to knocking over your carefully built belief system" and chuckle to myself.

That statement is so much more about the person who says it than the person they say it to.






StepmomA20's picture

It's always the in laws, specifically mother in laws, that want to put there 2 cents in but dont do a thing to help out. Just want to judge from a far. Especially the ones that are supposed to be "christian." Just like Bex_s said we didn't sign up to be judged for trying to raise our stepkids do the best we can or the BM having power to affect our home because she cant get herself together for her child. Or that we dont automatically love them the same as we love our own. It's a didnt kind of love. I remember my MIL told DH she didn't think I was "motherly" enough to SS. WHAT!! Smh. It's just crazy what we have to go through and all we try to do is do the best we can.

strugglingSM's picture

I knew that DH had children and knew that, that would complicate matters. I did not realize how dysfunctional DH's family was and how they would not accept me as someone who had a voice in my own home. 

I did not realize how truly toxic and dysfunctional BM was. I knew she was dysfunctional, but did not realize the lengths she would go to to try to marginalize and diminish DH in the eyes of his children. 

I did not expect a mother (BM) to use her children as a tool to exert control over and seek revenge on her ex-husband (DH).

So, no, what I got was not what I signed up for. What I got was something that no one in their right mind would have signed up for. 


LuluOnce's picture

After reading another blog post, I think the people who say "You knew what you signed up for" are using the term the exact same way HCGUBMs use the term "coparenting".

What they mean is, "You knew he had a child so I expect you to rearrange everything about yourself and your life to fit to our exact specifications, which are most likely unreasonable but which we will still use to manipulate you into doing exactly what we think you should do and is more comfortable for us, and if you don't you are an evil woman who doesn't even deserve to have children!"

It's just manipulation, right? Like "coparenting". *eye roll*