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The SM Struggle is Real!

TwoOfUs's picture

A fellow Stalker asked me to cut and paste this response as its own blog as a reminder of what we're dealing with here.

The general consensus or societal view of stepmoms is that "it's really not that bad" and we should all just "suck it up" if we're pushed aside, marginalized, or sacrificed on the altar of the first family. What's the big deal if our husbands go off to family functions or birthday dinners with their ex every once in a while? Surely we are "secure" enough in our own selves to not let a couple hours away from our DH bother us so much, right? Or are we really that "insecure" and "needy" that we have to "control" everything our husband does? 

Those of us who have the unmitigated gall to want to be treated like every other married couple can safely assume they will be treated...well, we clearly have problems with self-esteem.

Anyway. Response posted below. Poster I'm responding to is in bold. 

 

***

 

I find your marginalization of the civil rights struggle offensive. Denying a race of people their constitutionally guaranteed and protected civil rights, is hardly the same as some perceived  societal impression of step mothers . There has yet to be a step mother who was lynched or battered for being uppity or wanting a seat in the front of the church.

 

Huh? I mean...what? 

Idvilen isn't 'marginalizing' any civil rights struggles. What on earth are you talking about? She's simply referring to the very real phenomenon of stepmoms being made to sit in the back of the church for weddings, being pushed to the side for family portraits, left out of gatherings altogether...etc. 

Also. There has yet to be a step mother who was lynched or battered for being uppity or wanting a seat in the front of the church.

Totally not true. 

This stepmom was shot in the back of the head by her 11-year-old stepson for daring to get pregnant: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/no-new-trial-for-jordan-brown-pennsylvania-...

This stepmom was murdered and robbed by her 19-year-old stepson in a rage: https://www.9news.com/article/news/crime/stepson-arrested-in-burlington-...

Lizze Borden killed her stepmom with an axe...most likely. And got away with it: https://www.biography.com/crime-figure/lizzie-borden#video-gallery

This stepdaughter blamed her stepmatricide on a fictional clown: https://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/indiana-girl-12-killed-stepmom-la...

Stepmoms are at far greater risk of being killed by their stepchildren than biological moms...they are also at greater risk of mental, emotional, verbal, and physical abuse at the hands of the children. Meanwhile, despite decades touting a flawed study showing that the "Cinderalla Effect" makes stepkids more likely than biokids to be killed by a stepparent...more recent research shows this is not even remotely true.

In fact, analyzing the last three decades of reported filicides shows that stepparents killing stepkids accounts for 11% of all filicides...but stepchildren living with stepparents are 10-20 percent of the population. So the risk is actually the same or lower than would be predicted based on population percentage and no greater than the risk with bio-parents.

https://news.brown.edu/articles/2014/02/filicide

Children are at the least risk of all from stepmoms. From the study: 

The rarest instances were stepmothers killing either a stepson (0.5 percent) or a stepdaughter (0.3 percent).

That's right. Stepmoms are responsible for 0.8% of all filicides between 1976-2007. 

(Sidenote: I am irked that 99% of filicides by stepparents are actually committed by stepdads...yet we call it the "Cinderella Effect" in reference to a story about an evil stepmother. Go figure.) 

So...yeah. Stepmoms have been "lynched and battered" actually. They are, according to all statistics, the most vulnerable member of a blended family unit. And no one seems to care. 

Comments

ProbablyAlreadyInsane's picture

There was an article of a SM in Utah who was shot IN FRONT OF THE KIDS by the BM.

I just posted a blog about how SMs are honestly demonized this morning. LOL

I hate the "suck it up." Or "you made a choice." comments. yes I made a choice to marry DH. But I did not sign away my right to respect and happiness in doing so. I did not sign some contract to be the permenant martyr and sacrificer for the whole family, or sign anything that said "BM can walk all over me as she sees fit and I won't say s***."

People make all this even more exhausting that it has to be by believing that a SM apparently has no rights.

TwoOfUs's picture

Yes...no right to be treated as a spouse, certainly. Sit together at a wedding??? Be invited to the wedding in the first place???!!! Be included in a picture with your husband??!!!!

What kind of entitled monster are you??!!

ProbablyAlreadyInsane's picture

Oh the worst kind! I expect to be treated as the WIFE. When obviously I have no right! Eghad!

TwoOfUs's picture

lol. 

Whhhyyyyyyy can't you just "suck it up" for this one (hundredth) time??!! 

SayNoSkidsChitChat's picture

“Go shove it up your fat ass! I’m the wife! I come FIRST. My marriage comes first. Don’t like it? GTFO my life, Bitch!”

shamds's picture

just because you married someone with kids does not give the 1st family power and control over you. It doesnmt give skids the right to abuse and disrespect you... it doesn’t make you any less important.

MommyT's picture

I totally feel this way but I have a hard time explaining it to my DH. Everything we do in our family centers around his schedule with ss and BM. If it doesn’t work for me, it doesn’t matter because BM will pitch a fit and we don’t want to fight with her so just do what she wants. Ugh! Basically, he is saying that he would rather fight with me and hurt my feelings in order to keep BM and ss happy. What about me and the other four kids that we have? I think our happiness should mean something too. Oh wait! We are just the second family.

still learning's picture

That was a terrible story and hit close to home since I have ties in the area that it happened.  A little backstory, the dad and stepgirlfriend had worked at a bank together. From the timeline of events it appears that gf and dad had a workplace romance. There were several other incidents that occured before the shooting. Mother was extremely jealous and didn't want gf to have anything to do with her twin girls.  Gf had jumped right in and was doing daycare drop offs and was very hands on with the kids. Kids were at dad and gf's place making Christmas ornaments and biomom came over and shot gf in front of everyone.  

Not pointing out the alleged affair part to blame or demonize, only to warn women that it may be a bad idea to get involved with a man who has a jealous upset vindictive BM.  

tog redux's picture

How can you possibly know what the “general consensus” is of all people regarding stepparents? 

I honestly don’t get this feeling of victimization that keeps coming up. I’ve never experienced this so- called phenomenon. And your last statistic seems to show that stepparents are more likely to kill stepkids. 

ETA: May have read that wrong.  But still don’t get it. 

Monkeysee's picture

I don’t see it often, but it does happen. I’ve had people say things like ‘well if something breaks at BM’s place of course your husband would fix it for her. She has his kids’.

Ummmm, no? A) DH can’t stand BM & doesn’t step foot in her house. B ) she has a dad, brother, boyfriend available for things like that, or she could hire someone. Or she could do it herself. Her house her responsibility 

My in-laws have made all kind of comments of the things I *should* be doing, or accepting of, all ‘for the kids’, and none in my or my marriages best interest. The attitude of shut up & put up is definitely out there. I just happen to be a strong enough woman to simply say no, and from the sounds of it you are, too.

Jcksjj's picture

It does seem to be the inlaws alot of the time. For me MIL 100% acts like a lunatic about SD. FIL doesnt really say much either way but he has mentioned to DH that he never disciplined DHs half sister because she already had a dad. I actually got it alot from my own family at first also because none of them have any experience at all with stepkids being around in any capacity and they all bought into the "love them like your own" bs. Luckily my moms BF had a nightmare skid when he was previously married and so she gets it more now. 

Monkeysee's picture

I’ve gotten it from my family as well. Anytime I’ve told them about BM’s antics I’ve gotten ‘well she must bedoing something right with how well behaved the boys are’. 

Well, sure they can be well behaved, but they also have TWO parents, not just BM, and DH puts up with far less crap than she does. He expects discipline & respect, where she’s a permissive parent who believes ‘kids should just be kids’, never has consequences for bad behaviour, and as a result deals with far more tantrums & meltdowns than DH ever does. But yes, isn’t BM just the best mommee ever.

Gag.

Jcksjj's picture

Some kids are just good natured even with 2 crap parents anyway. My SD isnt that well behaved so I dont get that (although occasionally people will think shes just the sweetest thing in the world because of her extreme sucking up at first; most people are kind of wtf about her though), but occasionally theres comments assuming BM has her best interest at heart just because shes a mom even though her past actions clearly show differently. 

Ispofacto's picture

"Or she could do it herself."

This.

One side of the misogyny coin is overt: women are vapid, stupid, irrational, whores, etc.

The other side of the misogyny coin is the Infantilization of Women, by Paternal Men, i.e. The Patriarchy.  The myth that women are helpless and need men to do things for them, nurture them, build them up, take care of them.

Both are destructive.

 

thinkthrice's picture

which should be abandoned in this day of women now starting to out earn men.  The wage gap is only because many women (myself NOT included) elect to take extensive time off from work caring for their children while the man earns the bacon; this doesn't do wonders for a woman's resume, but I think it is a great idea;  just don't complain when you go back into the workforce that you're earning less than someone else who had stayed in the workforce.

Also because men work extermely dangerous jobs that most women would not even consider doing.

Petronella's picture

If you don't like someone's comment you are free to respond to them telling them what you don't agree with. If you think someone's comment is truly abusive or offensive in its language, you can report it to the site admin. 

Jcksjj's picture

Oh yes. BM tried to play that hard. The poor helpless woman that needed DH to fix her car still and was helpless because she was a stay at home mom for a couple years even though he made sure she was able to get on her feet before moving out and she had zero debt and GBM paying half her bills anyway. Luckily he was smart enough to tell her to call a mechanic and ignore that crap even before I came into the picture. 

beebeel's picture

You perhaps don't feel marginalized because you were mostly disengaged from the very beginning. Many of us have sacrificed for our skids, thinking that would be best for the family unit. Unfortunately, I didn't realize all those sacrifices would mean jack shit in the eyes of my skids and so many others until years later.

tog redux's picture

I suppose that's true, I never took on any parenting role. And DH would never go to dinner with BM or fix anything at her house. But neither my family nor his family seemed to think I was somehow mean because I didn't parent my SS or swoon over him, or whatever.  If anything, I got a lot of credit for hanging in there.

I think it's disingenuous to say that stepmothers are "the most vulnerable family members".  Children are and will always be the most vulnerable family members. They lack the power adults have. So a few have killed their stepparents.  Many more kids have been hurt in families than stepmothers. 

I  do understand being frustrated for many of you, but I do not believe stepmothers are "victims", and it is absurd to apply civil rights analogies to them.  Let me know when stepmothers have to ride in the back of the bus and maybe I will agree.

Also - many of you have issues with this because of the men you married and what they expected of you, and how they failed to protect your from their own families.  

I'm struggling a lot with all the victim language in this blog. All of us have made choices and if we choose to stay when we feel "lynched" and "battered", then that's on US, period, alone. 

Monkeysee's picture

I don’t feel like a victim, and I’m not seeing the victimized language that you’re seeing either. I’m seeing a group of women sharing their experiences with the absurd expectations placed on them because they’re SM’s, sometimes by their own families. 

I’m here because my DH has my back, and he’s a good father who prioritizes our marriage. I’m no ones victim, certainly not BM’s or skids, and I don’t allow my husbands past to dictate my present or future. 

Unless im interpreting TwoOfUs’s research incorrectly though (which could be the case, I’m definitely not scholarly), SM’s have a higher chance of being attacked by a skid than a skid does of being attacked by their SM. Which would make the SM the most vulnerable position in a blended family.

TwoOfUs's picture

Yes...you are interpreting it correctly. 

And, again, the person bringing in the victim idea and the "Civil Rights" comparison was NOT any of the stepmoms discussing what it feels like to be left out of weddings or made to sit at the back while their husband sits up front with the first family. It was a commenter basically telling them that none of them have anything legitimate to complain about because it's not like "they're being lynched or battered." 

I was just saying...sometimes they are. And, also, who cares if they aren't? You should still be able to expect spousal treatment from the world at large...but that's not the case for many, many stepmoms. 

Also, stepmoms are the most vulnerable because they have the most to lose in terms of their resources and time...not the kids. They spend money on the kids...never the other way around. They deal with harshness and unrealistic expectations from multiple sides...never the kids. Etc. They are the most at risk for depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues...not the kids. Yet we only ever see society focusing its empathy and concern on the kids...never on the stepmom. 

beebeel's picture

I certainly don't feel like a "victim" and the only one using that terminology is you. 

I agree, it's not on the same level of civil rights. But let's not pretend like there isn't a pervasive marginalization of SMs in our society, that we aren't misunderstood by those close to us, and often misrepresented in the media. Let's not pretend that an individual's bias against SMs doesn't personally affect many of us.

tog redux's picture

"So...yeah. Stepmoms have been "lynched and battered" actually. They are, according to all statistics, the most vulnerable member of a blended family unit. And no one seems to care."

Really? Waaaaah, no one cares about us, doesn't seem victim-y to you?

I'm not buying this whole "everyone is against stepmothers" thing.  Some of you have it tough, for a variety of reasons. But there is no conspiracy against stepmothers in society, that's absurd. 

Petronella's picture

So the fact that dozens and hundreds of women here on this site, have very similar experiences to share, that's all just random coincidence?  None of us has anything in common with the others on this site? The links that the OP provided showing studies on family violence and who is more likely to be the abuser and the victim, those are untrue? 

No one but you has used the term "conspiracy."  No one is claiming there's a purposeful conspiracy. 

Not sure what "victim-y" means in this context. But if someone gets hurt by someone else, the first person is the victim in that scenario. It's not a moral judgement or calling them weak or helpless or whiney or going Waaaaaaah, it's just a fact.

tog redux's picture

There are not hundreds of women on this site. And how many millions of other women do you suppose are stepparents that aren't on this site? This is a self-selected group of people in difficult step situations. 

Victim-y means, to me, whining about a false scenario of how everyone is biased against stepmothers. 

ProbablyAlreadyInsane's picture

I don't know that EVERYONE is against SMs. But I do think there's a very real bias against them in the world as well.

I've met plenty of people on the flip side who understand as well.

But as many as I've met that are understanding and nice, there are those that are the opposite as well and truly believe SM should lay down and roll over as told. Or if there's an issue that SM is the only one to blame.

bananaseedo's picture

YOU are absurd to think that there isn't a huge bias against stepmoms in society.  You are blind, naive, arrogant OR ignorant.  I can't determine which.  That is crazy!  Starting by name changes requirements, move on to wage gap, moving on to states restriction abortion...most people in this country hate women period...you think it's a stretch that stepwomen especially don't get the short end of the stick with in-laws, their own families, husbands, the kid, society in generall.  It is the most absurd comment of the decade on steptalk to pretend we aren't and there is no conspiracy.  They most certainly are so many times victimized by society at large (damn take a look at almost every Disney movie-we shape our children to abhor stepmoms).  I really try to figure out what world you live in most of the time.  

Crap in fact I see you advocating for divorce of stepmoms/stepfamilies all the time....tell me who doesn't hate stepmoms/stepfamilies......you have this trait and don't even realize it most of the time in how you comment.  

TwoOfUs's picture

lol. 

TwoOfUs: 
Reply to a comment by someone who literally tells SMs to "quit being so needy" and to just go along with it for the (adult) kids' sake. This poster makes fun of SMs by saying it's not like it's a Civil Rights issues or like any stepmoms are being harmed. 

Reply to this comment by saying...yes, there are ways in which they are being harmed but no one wants to talk about these ways. Instead all of the societal focus is on how stepkids may be harmed by living with stepparents. We even have a name for it. 

 

Tog:

"What bias?? Where? I don't see it..."
 

Jcksjj's picture

I dont feel like a victim either. I feel pissed off when people who have no clue what they are talking about insert their opinions that are way off base into my life. 

Jcksjj's picture

It's not all of society no - and it's not like were a persecuted group, but I definitely think there is a cultural stereotype/bias that majorly plays into where these stupid comments and expectations come from.

SecondNoMore's picture

To even bring up civil rights is crazy. Civil rights are for groups being discriminated against because of characteristics they can’t typically change, such as skin color, age, national origin, gender. You can choose to leave. No one forced you to be a SM and you can walk out the door. I’m tired of ‘I didn’t know what I was getting into.’ If your eyes are open during the dating phase, you’ll see it. And if you didn’t know it before and you know it now, then speak up, tell him changes need to happen or you’re gone and follow through on it. 

TwoOfUs's picture

Please reread the blog. The bold/italics parts are not my writing. 

The "Civil Rights" analogy was brought in by another commenter who I was responding to...not by the SMs explaining how they feel. She essentially told them to "pipe down" about it all because it's not like any stepmom has ever "been lynched or battered." 

I was simply pointing out that...yes...some stepmoms have been lynched and battered for being stepmoms. In fact, they are at greater risk for harm than stepkids on multiple fronts. 

But also...the idea that you shouldn't be allowed to have a concern about something (like being disinvited from a family wedding that your husband is expected to attend without you) because other groups have had it worse...is just absurd to begin with. 

tog redux's picture

But you aren't invited to the wedding because of your particular family dynamics. Not because of a bias against stepmothers.

Petronella's picture

that just happens to be replicatd over and over, in different parts of the country, with different stepmothers who've been with the father for different periods of time? It's all just coincidence? None of these events have anything in common with one another? 

Jcksjj's picture

Yes, but it's more the issue that people find it more acceptable to exclude a stepmom than they would in other situations. Theres definitely an attitude towards stepmoms and I think second wives also (which I dont have to deal with since I'm not luckily but it still looks that way to me) have less valid feelings are expected to put up with more crap. Alot of people seem to think "well it's what the kids want" and dont even see the rudeness to the stepparent because its ingrained that "the kids come first" and that's all the further thought anyone on the outside puts into it.

TwoOfUs's picture

Of course it's because of a bias against stepmothers. 

Can you think of any other married couple who wouldn't be invited to participate as a couple? Where one spouse would be invited and the other spouse specifically uninvited to an event that couples are going to

Because I can't. But it's seen as normal and acceptable when it's a SM who is involved. That is societal bias. 

TwoOfUs's picture

I  do understand being frustrated for many of you, but I do not believe stepmothers are "victims", and it is absurd to apply civil rights analogies to them.  Let me know when stepmothers have to ride in the back of the bus and maybe I will agree.

Um...the only one who tried to make any kind of "Civil Rights" analogy was the commenter who I was originally responding to...no one else. She made that strange connection, not the person she was replying to. No one made any claim to victimhood, either. This commenter essentially told SMs that it's ridiculous and "needy" to complain about being disinvited from a wedding or separated from her husband at a wedding...and that it's not like they're "Civil Rights" victims. 

Which is kind of like saying...none of your concerns matter at all because "it's not like you're being lynched or anything." Yeah...OK. 

Again. No one claimed victimhood. One poster went above and beyond with a ridiculous comparison to explain why we're not victims...as a way to attempt to discredit legitimate concerns. 

ProbablyAlreadyInsane's picture

I've gotten it from my own family. I look at career options and get it all the time. I was looking at one that would possibly be more money and I could potentially work fewer hours during the week. I was excitedly telling my mom about it. To which her response was "oh perfect! Then you can spend more time at home bieng a mom!" Ummmm no... I love the skids... But maybe I want some more time for myself??? Same with any other career choices it's been: "well you can't because DH works 24 hour shifts, so you need to work around the kids since he can't." Also no...

I've also gotten the popular "well she was here first." When refering to the ex overstepping boundaries. Like I'm just supposed to roll over and let her do as she pleases because she was "here first."

Oh also Psycho managed to convince most of the moms of SD's softball team a few years ago that I was a "home wrecking mistress." Didn't come around until she was already living with druggie, divorce papers done and signed, just needed to be filed, AND they had been seperated for quite a while. Also at that point DH and I were MARRIED. But sure...

I get it all the time.

beebeel's picture

When we were struggling to conceive and I had just endured a miscarriage, my mom said, "Well, you will always have the skids." As if two shitty teenagers who aren't mine could ever make up for my loss. People suck.

Jcksjj's picture

Omg. No. I had a miscarriage before YDS was born and having the skid around made me feel worse, not better. And I had 1 bio child already too. What a dumb thing to say. 

ProbablyAlreadyInsane's picture

I'm sorry beebeel. It's true though. People really just don't understand and say the stupidest things. Especially when you're feeling vulnerable like that.

Lots of hugs!

Monkeysee's picture

Omg.. I’d lose it if my mum ever said that to me. The last thing I wanted was to think of or be around the skids when I had my mc. I’m so sorry she wasn’t more supportive. What an awful thing to say.

TwoOfUs's picture

Parricide = the killing of a parent. 

21% of parents killed by children are stepparents, even though between 10-20% of kids live with a stepparent. 

Filicide = the killing of a child. 

11% of children killed by parents are killed by a stepparent...on the low end of what would be expected based on the population of kids living with a stepparent. Of this 11%, .08% is attributable to stepmoms. 

Yet, for years, it's been argued that stepparents are far more likely to kill stepchildren than bioparents. That simply is incorrect. And this fake phenomenon/danger has a name: "The Cinderella Effect" which refers to an evil stepmom...even though 99% of all incidents of stepparents killing stepkids are stepdads.

If you don't think that calling a nonexistant phenomenon "The Cinderella Effect" when stepmoms are by far the least likely of all types of parents to kill a child in their care is indicitive of a deep-rooted societal bias against stepmoms...then I don't know what to tell you.

tog redux's picture

Just because a stepmother doesn't KILL her stepkid doesn't mean she's not horrible and mean to them.  We hear those stories ALL THE TIME. From people on here who were stepkids, or whose bio kids have a horrible stepmother.

Yes, men are more likely to murder than women. But the idea that just because stepmothers don't murder their stepkids means that they are all lovely women being falsely accused, is a ridiculous logical fallacy. 

 

TwoOfUs's picture

But the idea that just because stepmothers don't murder their stepkids means that they are all lovely women being falsely accused, is a ridiculous logical fallacy. 

And one entirely of your own making as I never once said that. I have no idea where you're even getting that from. 

The idea that there is no societal bias against stepmoms is absurd and willfully ignorant in the face of overwhelming evidence, including first-hand reports.

And if you want to talk about "logical fallacies" arguing that stepmoms shouldn't air their concerns on a forum meant to give stepparents a place to vent...because "it's not like they're being lynched, battered" or "forced to sit in the back of the bus" might top the list of the weakest analogies I've ever heard. 

tog redux's picture

Your whole premise is that since stepmothers are only responsible for a tiny bit of child murders, they are therefore being unfairly vilified for nothing. That actual mothers are more of a danger to their kids (duh, there are more actual mothers parenting kid than stepmothers) or that stepfathers are more dangerous (yeah, men kill more, yep). 

You are free to promote your "all of society is against me, waaaaaaah" ideas all you want. But don't expect everyone to agree with you just because you have a Ph.D and quote some sources. Go ahead and air your concerns, I never told you to stop. 

All I see is people who want to blame their husband's failures on all of society rather than hold them accountable, or you know, LEAVE.

Petronella's picture

I assumed that those statistics and studies regarding child murders, were controlled to account for the greater number of mothers who are parenting children than there are stepmothers. 

No one here is saying Waaaaaaaaah. When you've posted about your frustrations with your stepson and the crappy child support laws where you live, would you appreciate it if others responded to your posts by telling you to stop being a victim and stop going Waaaaaaaah? 

tog redux's picture

If I were to say that society was against me, then yes, you are free to say that. 

There is a difference between complaining and playing the victim. This is just playing the victim, IMO.

TwoOfUs's picture

All I see is people who want to blame their husband's failures on all of society rather than hold them accountable, or you know, LEAVE.

Husbands have never once come into this discussion, so I'm not sure why people keep bringing them up. This blog is only about the societal view of stepmoms and statistics as they relate to stepmom vs stepchild welfare. 

That actual mothers are more of a danger to their kids (duh, there are more actual mothers parenting kid than stepmothers)

It doesn't seem like you understand how statistics and probability work...the fact that there are more biomoms parenting than stepmoms is accounted for in the probability equation. 10-20% of stepkids live with a stepparent full-time. Therefore, by the laws of probability, we should see 10-20% of murders involving a parent figure murdering a child to be committed by stepparents. The actual figure in the US is 11%...which is on the low end of what would be expected. 

Meanwhile, 21% of kids under the age of 19 killing a parent figure involve killing a stepparent...which is on the high end of what would be expected based on the percentage of kids who live with stepparents. 

Your whole premise is that since stepmothers are only responsible for a tiny bit of child murders, they are therefore being unfairly vilified for nothing. 

No...that is not my whole premise. My whole premise is that SMs do get hurt and battered in the stepfamily and that we shouldn't be expected to shut up about it because it's not as bad as what people involved in the Civil Rights movement endured. 

I then went on to prove that SMs get hurt and battered and to question why we have created an entire phenomenon around the idea that Stepparents are more likely to kill their stepkids...even though that's not true...but have no language to describe what stepmoms go through...even though they are more likely to be killed and abused by stepkids than biomoms are. That fact doesn't make any sense...and frankly the only explanation is an unfair prejudice against stepmoms. The facts are contrary to what people believe to be true. 

For decades, people have said that stepparents are "dangerous" to stepkids because they are "more likely" to kill their stepkids than bioparents are to kill their biokids. In fact, it was stated that stepparents are 100 times more likely to kill their stepkids than bioparents are to kill their child. This false probability statistic was from a flawed study that has since been disproven. 

However, the idea that stepparents are "more dangerous" and "more likely to kill" than bioparents has been so pervasive that we have a phrase for it...a phrase that references an evil stepmother. The Cinderella Effect. 

This is incontrovertible evidence of an implicit bias against stepmoms...people seeing and believing what they want to see and believe rather than looking at the evidence in an unbiased way. I don't know how else to say it or how much clearer it could be. 

You are free to promote your "all of society is against me, waaaaaaah" ideas all you want. But don't expect everyone to agree with you just because you have a Ph.D and quote some sources. Go ahead and air your concerns, I never told you to stop. 

There is no "Waaaaahhhh" idea anywhere, and I never portray myself as a victim. This specific comment was in response to someone who literally did tell SMs to shut up and suck it up because it's not like any stepmom has ever been "lynched or battered" for her identity as a stepmom.

I was merely pointing out that, not only is this statement untrue...there is actually an entire narrative that's been built around the idea that stepmoms are "dangerous" to their stepkids...as evidenced by a flawed study that's been cited thousands of times to support this narrative...and very little examination of how the blended family affects stepmoms or what their risks are. 

When I say "no one cares" I mean that quite literally...not as an "Oh poor me I'm such a sad, sad victim" but as a "No one has bothered to study this in detail but they sure have studied the heck out of all kinds of other family dynmaics." 

Petronella's picture

Those stats on who actually kills whom are very interesting! But I also love your main point, that society expects stepparents and especially stepmoms, to just keep taking it, just keep taking it over and over: “It’s just one day... one week... one game... one vacation... one Christmas...one wedding...” when it is NEVER just one thing that has the Sm upset. It’s a pattern of behaviour, an attitude, a family dynamic that is objectionable. I anyways look forward to your comments!

Jcksjj's picture

Yep - the small things can wear you down over time. Like subtle abuse. It might not look like much to anyone on the outside, but when its over and over its damaging.

TwoOfUs's picture

This study and the landmark 1994 study that first introduced the concept of "The Cinderella Effect" have both been proved incorrect. That's my point above. 

This study you've shared is from 2006 and analyzed only 378 cases. The newer study I reference above looked at over 16K cases over the course of 32 years. 

Yes...these parent/child murders are incredibly rare. About 500 per year in the U.S. And, again, only 11% of those are by stepparents...so about 50 per year attributed to stepparents and less than 5 of those 50 attributed to stepmoms... 

Doesn't that make it even more interesting that they bothered to create an entire name for the "phenomenon" of stepparents killing stepkids...and that they decided to name that supposed "phenomenon" after an evil stepmom? Literally the category of parental figure who is by far the least likely out of all 4 categories to kill a child in her care. 

If that doesn't represent bias, I don't know what does. 

 

Petronella's picture

Not to mention that when it's a stepmother killing her stepchild, that story is GUARANTEED to end up front page news all over the world. Meanwhile bio-parents abuse and kill their children every day, often while the family is known to CPS, and people mostly shrug. 

tog redux's picture

Oh please. Bio parents killing their children is front page news all the time. No one says ho-hum about that. 

SayNoSkidsChitChat's picture

I’d pay to see that ugly stupid whore get the same treatment she gave her poor son!

bananaseedo's picture

Really ? because I never even heard of it.  Yet I did hear of the stepmom getting death penalty for the Sd that was starved...while the FATHER got off with a lot less.....say again no bias?  

advice.only2's picture

I think they should do a study on stepmother's to see the level of abuse they are actually subjected to at the hands of their spouses, BM's, stepkids, In-Laws, society, etc.

I and my Aunt are the only SM's in my family. So when I would talk about the struggles of being a SM nobody could understand or relate to what I was going through. Instead I was always told "Spawn is just a child, you need to step up and treat her like your own." "Meth Mouth isn't that bad you need to try and work with her because she is Spawn's BM, and will be in your life forever!"

Jcksjj's picture

The thing is...people say this crap all the time and its not even necessarily what the kids want. Why does everyone assume the kids even want stepmom to act like mom? Pretty sure my moms boyfriend trying to act like my dad would just make me uncomfortable or feel weird. I definitely did not want my dads gf to act like my mom when I was younger. That relationship doesnt just magically happen. Everyone is just parroting what they've heard is the right thing because they have to have an opinion when they should just be quiet because they have no idea what they're talking about.

And then of course if you do love them like your own its inappropriate because "you're not their mom." Its lose lose.

advice.only2's picture

Exactly and when I would lay down rules I would get the whole "well she's not your kid, so if DH and BM don't agree then you need to back off!"

thinkthrice's picture

a study of HEALTH of stepmoms and how stepmotherhood is HAZARDOUS to SM's HEALTH!!   I myself have the beginnings of osteoporosis brought on by stress induced poor digestion/GERD.    Most notably the PTSD from having lived with guilty daaaddeeeesss and the shenanigans of the GUBM and skids.

SayNoSkidsChitChat's picture

Sad I can relate. StepHell is extremely deleterious to my psychological health, digestion et al.

TwoOfUs's picture

I would, too. 

There are studies that show stepmoms are at greater risk for depression and other mental health concerns. I'd like to know about overall health. I wonder how the reduced household finances affect the stepmom's ability to seek preventive care, for instance. 

Would be interesting to know. We get a lot of studies about college spending and health spending on stepkids...all implying stepmoms aren't doing enough, somehow. But I don't recall seeing any breathless, accusatory studies about the effect of blended family life on stepmoms.

TwoOfUs's picture

I would pay good money to see a study like that. 

Stepmonster does go into some studies about SMs that overwhelmingly show them to be the most vulnerable member of the blended family...but a long-term, comprehensive study would not go amiss, in my opinion. 

For example, I'd like to see a study on how much marital income SMs give up over the course of their marriage to a man with kids. That would be eye-opening, I am sure. I know in my case it has been significant...my DH's income and my own. 

 

STaround's picture

Is a book written by a woman who identifies herself as DR, when her Ph.D is in comparitive lit.  I do not regard as scholarly. 

Some SMs do suffer financially.  Some do not. 

TwoOfUs's picture

lol. 

OK. Well...my PhD. is in Medieval English Literature, and we are supposed to identify ourselves as DRs in professional contexts. What would you have her identify herself as may I ask? 

Comparative Lit is one of the best trainings in research and cross-referencing that you can possibly obtain...but you don't "regard as scholarly" a deeply cross-referenced book that was written by a literary scholar? Peculiar stance you've taken. 

What about the scientific, psychiatric, and sociological studies that she draws from and cites in her book. In your professional opinion...are those "scholarly" enough? 

I guess the stuff I write isn't "scholarly" either...but my research training makes it easier for me to realize that a 2012 study that analyzes 16K+ cases over the course of 32 years is likely more accurate than a 1994 study or a 2006 study that looks at only 378 cases. 

Do with that what you will. 

beebeel's picture

Right...there You are, ya old rascal! Only one poster in 10 years has had a tissue with this particular P.h.D. calling herself a doctor. Yawn.

Jcksjj's picture

She did her undergraduate work at the University of Michiganwhere she studied anthropology[7][9] and received a doctorate in comparative literature and cultural studies from Yale University. Her doctoral work examined early psychoanalysis and anthropology.

Do you know what cultural studies and anthropology are? Furthermore, do you have a doctorate in ANYTHING, let alone from Yale? Kruger - dunning effect strikes again.

And she "identifies herself as a doctor" because she has a doctorate... so yes by definition she is a doctor. 

"I dont regard it as scholarly = I'm picking and choosing what information fits my agenda and leaving the rest out."

Jcksjj's picture

I'm curious now lol...

ETA...ohhh I was thinking she was someone well known from the responses 

advice.only2's picture

Right just the money aspect alone would show that without the help of a SM most father's can't afford the amount of spousal and child support they are supposed to pay.

Courts can't legally make a SM pay for their skids or the BM, but I can bet that when they request to see a SM's earnings they do factor that in to what a DH can then pay out of pocket and still be able to live.

STaround's picture

Don't know where you get the data that "most" fathers cannot afford to pay support (and I don't think most people pay more than temporary spousal support these days).  There have been SMs on this board who do not work outside the house.  They are not helping pay CS.  

beebeel's picture

You sparked my curiosity, so I searched for studies on how fathers fare financially after divorce. I couldn't find a single one. Seems no one gives a shit.

Jcksjj's picture

Well I saw something the other day about how I think around half of Americans (not sure on the percentage but it was a lot) spend at least half their income on housing. So if we consider that and that CS is usually like a third of your income, that doesnt leave much left to live on. Also I'm one of "those stepmoms on the board who don't work outside the home." (The horror, I know). We do 50/50 so there is no child support order. If there was there is no way I would be able to be a SAHM. My income would not be counted for CS though, so no I wouldn't technically be paying it. 

Petronella's picture

It is generally agreed that having a stay-at-home-spouse does enable the breadwinning spouse to focus on their career, work more hours, travel, accept promotions etc, thus helping them increase their earnings. So even a SM who doesn't work outside the house deserves some credit for contributing to her husband's ability to support his children. 

I agree with you that spousal support / alimony is pretty rare these days, although not unheard of. There are also many divorced families where the CS-paying parent is obliged to contribute to things such as daycare, medical and dental, tuition etc and these things go on for years and years on top of the CS. 

I have known many divorced fathers who could afford their CS + added obligations on paper, but at the cost of any reasonable standard of living for themselves. For example, they couldn't afford an apartment large enough to have their child for proper parenting time. 

Jcksjj's picture

^yep. DH has never had to leave work for a sick kid, he doesnt have to pick the kids up from daycare at stand certain time and he can travel and meet customers whenever they need him to. When I worked fulltime I had it held against me for having to go get kids from school or daycare and having less flexibility. Not to mention the lower stress level of having one parent with a ton of flexibility and the lack of daycare costs/lower taxes. 

STaround's picture

So do you support first wive getting alimony if she gave up years of full time work to support her DH?

Petronella's picture

I find it ridiculous and generally unnecessary. MAYBE if the wife literally didn't work for 20 years and has never even had a bank account or credit card in her own name. But overall I think Western society has moved past the need for alimony. Everyone's life changes after divorce, everyone's standard of living goes down at least temporarily, everyone finds themselves having to do things they didn't used to have to do. The breadwinning parent now has to take care of day to day childraising tasks. The SAHP now will need to get a job and generate some income. Both parents may have to deal with daycare for the first time.  I think in the end it's healthier to have this more equitable division of parenting responsibilities. 

And of course when I pointed out that the Stay at home spouse is helping their spouse's career, the obvious converse to that is that the working parent is of course helping the stay at home parent a lot too. They're feeding and supporting them, enabling them to have a less harried life. Both the working spouse and the stay at home spouse should be grateful to one another and acknowledge how they are supporting each other.

STaround's picture

That if someone has not had a job for 5 years, it will be easy to find another job?  

I think someon can pick up childcare skills relatively quickly.   

There is no way I would marry a guy whose wife had been SAHM and had not rejoined the work force.  But people do that. 

ETA -- unless guy had a LOT of money

Petronella's picture

who was still dealing with his former SAH wife and paying alimony to her. That's just too money going out of the house for me. 

I realize that childcare skills are pretty easily picked up but still it can be a learning curve for a working parent who formerly didn't have to worry as much about juggling work plus kids. Not saying it's impossible, or a reason to stay in a bad marriage. 

How easily someone can get back into the workforce depends on a lot of things - their educational attainment, their age, their former employment, their network, where they live. I think that anyone living in a populated area can find at least some form of paid employment even if it may not be their dream job. 

Jcksjj's picture

In most places you had to have been married for at least a decade and the alimony is temporary. I think if you had made an agreement as partners to do things that way and it was what worked out best for your family it's only fair. It does get tough when it comes to the amount finding a balance that doesnt screw the person paying either though. Also, I'd be concerned about getting rid of alimony laws altogether due to abusers commonly refusing to let a spouse work and using that to make it difficult for them to leave. My ex actually tried to get me fired from my job twice and BM did the same thing to DH when they broke up.

Jcksjj's picture

In most situations I think they should  temporarily. Might not be necessary if there are enough marital assets to split that both people can start over.

Petronella's picture

I would be very interested to see a long term study on financial outcomes for never-married women, vs. women with their own children but no stepchildren, vs. women who marry a man with children. Control for the same income and earnings, and see which category of woman ends up poorest in old age. Second wives and SMs are extremely financially vulnerable for sure.

Disneyfan's picture

But that vulnerability comes from the choices they make.

No SM is obligated to financially support their SKs.  No one is obligated to financially carry their husbands while he spends his money on his kids.  These are CHOICES SOME SMs make.

I sincerely believe that there are some men who seek out women who are looking to be saviors.  Men know which women they pull crap with and which ones they can not.

Petronella's picture

Blaming the victim as is your wont. Obviously everyone's outcomes are as a result of choices they make - to get married or not, who they marry, how many children they have, what work they choose to do etc. I wasn't applying a moral judgement to these possible different outcomes, or hypothesizing the reasons why a SM might end up poorer in the end than a BM. I was just expressing curiosity about a possible trend. 

TwoOfUs's picture

Quit being so logical!!!! 

Like...we never tell Cancer victims that they shouldn't have eaten all that sugar. We don't tell parents who are struggling that "that's what you should expect when you have kids." 

Nope. We offer support and encouragement. 

But somehow, when it's a stepmom...everyone is so eager to assign "blame" and remind her constantly that it's "her choice" that resulted in this outcome. 

Um...OK. How is that helpful at all? And why don't we regularly apply that same logic to any other difficulty that humans encounter? Or is it only stepmoms that need to be constantly reminded that they "knew he had kids" before they got married? 

The first time I ever hear: "Well, you knew you might get diabetes when you ate all those donuts" is the day I'll give any consideration to this line of argument against SMs. 

Disneyfan's picture

We read blog after blog here about the mess BMs and SKs end up in due to their poor choices. In most cases it is believed that they should take responsibility for the choices they made.  For the record, I AGREE with that line of thinking.

Why does this not also apply to SMs?

All adults should take personal responsibility for the choices they make in life.  

TwoOfUs's picture

I think the issue is that blended families actually expect SMs to pay for the choices they didn't make in addition to the ones they did make. 

As Idvilen often and so eloquently puts it...first families, and society at large, expects SMs to fix things they didn't break, pay for things they didn't buy...bear the cost of the divorce. They are expected to pay a greater cost for the divorce than the people who chose that divorce. 

So, yeah. I'll be all for applying that line of thinking when we also tell the first family parents: "You chose to divorce, so your life and your kids' lives will change now. Your standard of living may change. Your ability to make all the decisions regarding your kids and to call the shots may change some...especially if you ALSO choose to bring a new partner into the mix." 

But that's not what we see. We see everyone in society (and the courts) trying to act as though the divorce never happened, keep the waters as calm as possible...not disrupt the first family dynamics in any way...and then new wife is supposed to absorb all that and not say anything about it or else "who does she think she is" and doesn't she realize "the kids were there firrrrsssttt!!!!" 

I think that's what SMs object to...and I think they are right to object. Getting married to a guy with kids doesn't mean you're agreeing to pick up the slack from a first family, be put on the back burner constantly, or to fix a dysfunctional relationship. 

The fact that a SM can come onto a forum that is meant for stepparents who need to vent and be told that she's "just whining" and is "insecure" and "needy" and "controlling" when she expresses that she's upset that she was disinvited from her SD's wedding...is insane to me. That is a prime example of a SM being expected to absorb the cost of the divorce...and then being told that she's wrong to object. That doesn't fly. 

HowLongIsForever's picture

Why is it never...?

You knew you had kids before you got divorced.

You knew you were going to lower the quality of life by splitting one household into two before you got divorced.

You knew you were losing the ability to control your soon to be ex-spouse before you got divorced.

You knew you were going to have to relinquish time with your kids to their other parent and whomever that other parent deems worthy to spend time with them before you got divorced.

You knew you were going to lose the spousal aspect of your relationship before you got divorced.

You knew your child(ren)'s upbringing was going to change before you got divorced.

You knew you would no longer share a life with your soon to be ex-spouse outside of the context of co-parenting before you got divorced.

You knew that the life that you've built, life as you now know it and the life you've envisioned was going to irretrievably change before you got divorced.

Yes, I knew he had kids before we got involved. 

Yes, I knew there were going to be certain sacrifices, challenges, frustrations and disappointments before we got involved.

Know what else I knew? They aren't my kids, that wasn't my divorce and the collateral damage is not mine to mitigate, counteract or otherwise manage.

Pressure (in any form) from any other players in the game, or the peanut gallery for that matter, changes none of that.

So while BM can demand, MIL can suggest, SO (DH) can wish and John Q Public can speculate all they want, those facts still remain.  

I have experienced some SM bias and I'm not even married to NCP dad at this point.  I don't care, they can push and assume all they want. 

My choice to build a life with a man who fathered children before me doesn't magically strip me of who I am.  Nor does it magically saddle me with any bit of accountability for the prior, current or future fallout of anyone else's divorce.

Woulda, coulda, shoulda.

SayNoSkidsChitChat's picture

I’m middle aged and angry.

My response to “you need to work with Biowhore..” will be:

”NO THANKS! I didn’t marry, f*ck or procreate with that piece of shit hah! Not my ex, not my responsibility and if you ever say this stupid Shit to me ever again I’m done with you!”

 

 

Siemprematahari's picture

Thank you TwoOfUs! This information and the time you took to research and post this is very much appreciated. You are making people aware of the facts and regardless of what others may think of step-parents we are just trying our best to navigate this dynamic as best we can with the best of intentions.

~Siempre

Bonz281's picture

Thanks Two of Us for a well researched, great blog. I'm very careful around my stepchildren due to behaviours toward me that seem hostile and disturbing. I've had confirmation from family and individual therapists that have agreed that my observations are not dramatic or over the top. I have shared this blog with my DH who I know minimizes my concern thinking I'm "dramatic" or as SD has told him- I "overreact"...  In the past, I did do my own research and presented it to DH. Having information from other Stepmothers helps him to realize I'm not a neurotic nut... 

TwoOfUs's picture

I like to inflict all kinds of things on people. 

My Presence. Presents. My Thoughts & Ideas. My Food. My Advice. My Money. 

You name it...I may start inflicting it on you. 'Cause I'm an evil, evil stepmom. 

Disneyfan's picture

Sorry, but I think it is horrible to equate being a SM to race, the fight for civil rights or lynchings.    Being a SM is a CHOICE.  Yes, many SMs are marginalized and treated like crap, but many MAKE THE CHOICE to stay and put up with it.

Black folks couldn't set boundaries and walk away.  They had zero control over the situations that they were in.

We don't get to decide our skin color.  But we sure as hell get to decide how long we will ride the STEP TRAIN.

 

STaround's picture

You don't like how the kids or dad treat you, you can leave. 

Jcksjj's picture

I saw this as being more about the cultural bias than the dad or kids necessarily...I wouldn't be willing to leave my husband just because of that. Although I dont agree that it's the same as racial issues, your comment is very similar to telling adults who dont like dealing with racial culture bias that "they can leave the country then." They shouldn't have to, people should just mind their own business on things that don't affect them. Regardless of the issue - race, sexual orientation, family structure etc. If it doesnt affect you just MYOB.

SayNoSkidsChitChat's picture

Then you end up financially destroyed and slandered to ex in laws, on social media et al!

STaround's picture

If you are supporting your DH and his kids, how will moving out put you in a worse position?  You won't owe Child support, and minimal alimony if short term marriage.   Who cares about ex in laws, and stay off of social media. 

Disneyfan's picture

That intact family and a present father shouldn't put mom's self worth, mental well being....at risk.  How many SMs are on meds in order to cope with step life?  How in the world is that good of her children?

Petronella's picture

Totally agree that no marriage or husband is worth staying with if it's making the wife mentally ill, children or no children. I was responding to the person saying that a woman "can just leave" with no ill effects on anyone.

tog redux's picture

Seriously.  This is killing me.  We are equating stepmothers being supposedly vilified to people being murdered or treated as second class citizens for what they were born as and can't control. 

WTF. Get out, people, if you are feeling so mistreated. 

TwoOfUs's picture

It's killing you because you're misreading the blog. 

The person who made the comparison to the Civil Rights movement was someone telling SMs they don't have any right to complain about mistreatement because it's not like they're getting "lynched and battered" like people in the Civil Rights movement. 

Or, to quote more directly...it's no stepmom has ever been lynched or battered for being a stepmom. 

I was simply pointing out that assertion isn't true. There are, in fact, stepmoms who have been killed and abused because they are stepmoms.  

Also, I think if we apply the "you can't express this concern because it doesn't rise to the level of the Civil Rights movement" standard to all people...very few people would have any right to express concerns about anything...so it's just a ridiculous line of argument and factually incorrect any way you look at it. 

bananaseedo's picture

Yeah, I mean those that experienced marital, statutory or date rape should shut up -after all it wasn't a violent rape, pedophilia and sh wasn't killed....wtf get out w/the stupid analogies tog...seriously. 

Petronella's picture

To be fair, I believe the person who first brought of civil rights and lynching was not Tog but was the lovely Curious Georgetta. In the Forums - Adult Stepchildren - Not invited to SD's wedding or some such post:

https://www.steptalk.org/forum/parenting/adult-stepchildren/stepmom-not-...

"There has yet to be a step mother who was lynched or battered for being uppity or wanting a seat in the front of the church."

 

Jcksjj's picture

I agree that it's not the same as race and that's taking it too far. But I agree with the rest of the comments that stepparents have a bias against them and I dont think most of us had any clue what we were getting into. Yes, we could leave but that's not without any damage being done. Divorce sucks, can ruin you financially and if you have kids its splitting up a family again. Plus losing your life partner. Being pissed off about being misunderstood and cultural bias doesnt really equate to needing to get divorced for me.

tog redux's picture

I just don’t buy the cultural bias. This blog does not convince me. There are logical fallacies all over it.  

Monkeysee's picture

So when SM’s are told ‘well you knew he had kids’, ‘you knew what you were getting into’, ‘the kids come first, always’ etc etc etc, you don’t see that as a socially programmed mindset? Interesting.

Do I believe that being a SM is even remotely the same as being marginalized as a race or civil rights issues? Absolutely not. There is no comparison there.

But to say there isn’t a total lack of understanding of what SM’s in general should tolerate from their partners, skids or BM’s is really odd. This site wouldn’t exist if society had higher standards of what is acceptable & tolerable behaviour when in a relationship with a person who’s got kids. It wouldn’t be ‘poor COD for having divorced parents’, skids would be expected to be respectful & not get a free pass for crap behaviour. Parents would be expected to have their kids treat the new partner with respect. But that’s far more often not the case.

beebeel's picture

It's really not that hard to understand, and my education is a mere bachelor's degree in research studies. 

Two-of-us is not saying that because so few SMs murder their stepkids that all SMs are awesome. That would be a fallacy. 

She is pointing out the fact that our society has coined a term to describe SM-SK murders when in fact they are the rarest form of child murder. Why don't we have terms for the other, more common situations? Well, because we have this pervasive notion that having a stepmother is the worst. I can't think of anything worse than murder, so this strange phrase is likely a result of an inaccurate bias against SMs. 

thinkthrice's picture

Its like minority on minority crime is at the highest level (per capita) followed by minority on non-minority crime (per capita) then followed by non-minority on non-minority crime (per capita) and last but not least non-minority on minority crime (per capita).    But it all depends on the media and what they hype day after day--turn on the TV or look at the news on the internet and what makes the headlines?

TwoOfUs's picture

Thank you Beebeel. That's it exactly. 

It really isn't that hard. 

There are no logical fallacies (I think she may mean logical inconsistencies since logical fallacies only exist in formal argument...?) in the blog. But there certainly are poor reading comprehension skills on full display throughout the comments. 

The fact that there's a societal term for killing by a stepparent but not by a parent is evidence of the societal bias. The fact that "Evil Stepmother" is literally an archetype throughout literature is evidence. The fact that stepmoms are more prone to depression and less likely to get the help they need than biomoms is evidence. The fact that stepkids are more likely to contest their father's will if they have a stepmom than if they have a biomom is evidence. 

It's all around us. All you have to do is look. 

I also do think these perceptions and expectations are changing...but that is happening slowly. And it's only happening because stepmoms are expressing themselves more often now. Imagine if we all took the advice to just "sit down" and "suck it up" because it's not like we're the next "Civil Rights" movement or anything and it's not like any stepmom has ever been "lynched or battered" for being a stepmom. 

Jcksjj's picture

The will thing gets brought up here a lot and it makes absolutely zero sense to me why any kids think they are ever entitled to a will. You are not your parents partner. You are not a financial team with them. If you get an inheritance good for you, but you did not earn that money and therefore are not entitled to it. And even on here theres a ton of people that defended the kids getting it before stepmom. 

TwoOfUs's picture

Yep. 

That's why stepmoms need to be smart and protect their financial interests. Because you could be a stepmom for 30+ years and as soon as their dad is dead and in the ground they'll come after you crying: "She stole OUR inheritance!!!!" 

Entitled snots. 

tog redux's picture

Oh please. Your belief that "I feel a bias" means there must be a bias is a fallacy.  I know you think you are more learned than all of us, but just  - please. 

TwoOfUs's picture

I never said "I feel bias" means there is bias. 

Quite the opposite. I've fully demonstrated one very clear example of bias. You don't seem to like what the facts show, but that's not really my problem. 

Also, I have experienced bias...which is totally different from "feeling" like it exists. I have also read the first hand accounts of other stepmoms who have experienced bias. Read the common phrases and tactics that are used to keep stepmoms in their place...noticed the similarities. These experiences are also a valid form of evidence, particularly when patterns emerge. This is how social science is done. 

Have looked at studies and stats that demonstrate clear societal bias.

Your belief that "I feel there is no bias" means there must not be any bias is what's actually logically unsound.

I've done far more to objectively prove bias than you've done to disprove it...all you've said is that you disagree and don't think it's a real thing. Oh yeah...and that a whole book full of studies and statistics that show societal bias isn't scholarly enough for your tastes.

OK. You're welcome to your opinion. But that's all that it is. 

You really like to throw around the word "fallacy" but I'm not entirely certain you know what it means. 

tog redux's picture

What "book" are you referring to? In your blog, I see three links to articles about kids killing stepmothers and a bunch of statistics that you might have made up for all I know.

 

 

 

Jcksjj's picture

The blog is not why I think there is. It's because I've felt it and in all honesty also had the same POV when I was younger because of the cultural stereotypes. If you haven't felt it yourself congrats, but that doesnt mean it doesnt exist. 

tog redux's picture

But just because you HAVE felt it doesn't mean it's the "general consensus" of society. 

Disneyfan's picture

Sorry Jksjj, but I will take financial ruin any day over a the ridiculous living conditions many here endure.  No true life partner will treat you (general you) the way many SMs are treated.  

Some of these duds are doing nothing but preventing these ladies from finding a man that will truly love, honor and respect them.  

Jcksjj's picture

Again, this is about cultural views of stepmoms. Not necessarily the husband. If you're husband is awful, of course the marriage isnt worth it. Hence why I am not with ODS dad despite having a child together and the strain of being a single parent. My POV is about wanting to keep your relationship but dealing with crap from extended family or other people in your life. And sometimes complete strangers that feel the need to comment. 

TwoOfUs's picture

Oh good grief. 

For the UMPTEENTH TIME. 

I NEVER equated the two. Nor did anyone else. The only person who brought in "Civil Rights" was the person who used it as an analogy for why SMs shouldn't feel slighted when they aren't treated as their husband's spouse at family events. 

This commenter essentially said: "Well, it's not like any stepmom has been beaten or killed for being a stepmom, so I don't know what you have to complain about." 

I agree. It's a ridiculous analogy and one that I DID NOT make. I was merely responding to it and saying...yes. Stepmoms have been abused and killed for being stepmoms, in fact. 

tog redux's picture

You said at the end that they were lynched and battered. You don't think that's a civil rights narrative? You said it several times.

TwoOfUs's picture

Do you not understand what quotation marks mean? 

That phrase is being quoted directly from the person I was responding to. As I've said multiple times, she's the one who inexplicably brought in the Civil Rights movement...not me. 

tog redux's picture

I do understand quotation remarks!  Wow, other people have been educated too!  So you feel they have been symbolically "lynched" and "battered". 

That's BS.

 

TwoOfUs's picture

No...I pointed out that SMs have literally been lynched and are actually at greater risk than other members of a blended family. 

The quotation marks aren't there to show that these ideas are symbolic...they're there because I am literally quoting what someone else said. 

The fact that you keep attempting to attribute the "lynched and battered" phrase to me makes me think you don't recognize quotation marks. It's not that I don't think you've been educated. I actually think you are letting your personal vendetta blind you to basic reading comprehension skills.  

I am quoting someone else when I say this phrase. I am responding to this person's assertion in her own language...this is the person who brought in the Civil Rights narrative. Not me. 

SayNoSkidsChitChat's picture

Remember when that step girlfriend was murdered in the front yard by ex Biowhore??? I f*cking remember!

Great! I’m even more paranoid, now!

Disneyfan's picture

You know what Think, sick demented people are on both sides of the step family coin. 

Kids are being killed at the hands of sick individuals.  Does it really matter if the killer was a step or bio parent?  Is the child any less dead when the "right" person is the killer?

This little one up, pissing contest trivializes the deaths.

Petronella's picture

But I think the facts and the real numbers do matter. With knowledge comes greater power to understand how these murders happen and how to prevent them.

TwoOfUs's picture

It only matters because we've developed a whole sensationalist language for how to talk about stepparents killing stepkids...complete with a name "The Cinderella Effect" for the nonexistant phenomenon/incorrect belief that stepparents are "more likely" to kill their stepkids than bioparents are to kill their biokids. 

So...yes. I do think that correcting that false narrative matters quite a bit, in fact. 

Petronella's picture

What is the possible downside to being aware of what the facts and numbers really are, and discussing them here? Why are we being told by a couple of members to hush up, stop complaining, stop noticing patterns, stop wondering about who is really killing children? This is a forum called STEP talk and we're being told to stop talking about step issues? Very strange. 

tog redux's picture

I don't hear anyone saying that.  I hear people disagreeing that there is some societal bias against stepmothers.  

Petronella's picture

who does the killing, that even mentioning the facts "trivializes" the murder. Implying that it's wrong or in poor taste to discuss it, that the topic is off limits. I disagree with that, I don't think stating fact trivializes anything. 

Disneyfan's picture

Wrong

I don't think the topic is off limits.  I think it is in poor taste to engage in a pissing contest about who is more likely to kill a child. Stating stats is one thing.

Playing the I BET YOU DIDN'T HEAR ABOUT THIS ONE game is disgusting and low budget.

TwoOfUs's picture

Well fortunately we don’t need to engage in any pissing contest because the stats are quite clear. 

beebeel's picture

Sorry to make another comparison, but I guess if Ben Carson can think Trump isn't a racist, some SMs can think there isn't a cultural/societal bias against SMs. *biggrin*

tog redux's picture

Or maybe we haven't experienced it because we made better choices in partners, or didn't take on a parenting role, or stood up to family.

You can blame society or you can look at your own choices. Nothing in the OP's blog has convinced me there is a "bias" against stepmothers, just a bunch of stepmothers who want to believe that. 

Monkeysee's picture

I made a good choice in partner, haven’t taken on a parenting role, and have stood up to friends, family, colleagues, and in laws repeatedly. And yet I’ve experienced the bias. 

You are ignoring statistical facts, which is genuinely shocking. I don’t believe SM’s ‘want to believe that’ bias, I think far more women get into this role thinking it’s going to be different for them, and they aren’t going to be stereotyped because of how hard they’re going to work at their relationships with skids & BM, only to find out the stereotype will be thrust on them regardless. 

We have even warned people looking into therapy to seek out therapists who specialize in step dynamics because even trained professionals give quack information to SM’s about what a healthy step dynamic should actually look like. 

There are SM’s from all over the world on this site, all different ages, marital status, bio kids & no bio kids, first, second, eighth marriages, length of marriages, and look at the trends on this site alone. Look at the patterns. Look at the similarities of the stories we see here, and yet that means nothing??

I am genuinely aghast at how all of this is meaningless to you. Having a choice to leave does not mean the bias doesn’t exist in the first place.

I, myself, was under the impression that I had to suck it up & cater to BM until I found this site, and I had just started the SM journey at that point. I am not & have not ever been a victim, but I myself was biased against my own situation!! I had the very same thoughts that I now realize are total bull because that’s what I’d been taught to think, and yet this cultural bias doesn’t exist? 

I don’t get your line of thought here at all. 

TwoOfUs's picture

So well said. 

I also chose well and have had support from my family and my husband’s family and don’t consider myself a  victim...

But I’ve also had a young woman literally refuse to keep talking to me after more than an hour of us hitting it off at a party because I mentioned that I was a stepmom. Like she actually froze and told me SMs are horrible and avoided me the rest of the night.

I’ve also been alive in the world for almost 4 decades now...reading books, watching tv and movies...reading Internet comments Lord help me...and I’ve observed it over and over again.

shellpell's picture

I also made a good choice and I wish everyday that I had met DH before BM. He is an incredible, passionate person and partner who prioritizes our marriage first, then our family unit. I also did not take on a parenting role. Standing up to family? Yep, did that, too. What did it get me? In-laws who believed the same old tired tropes about stepmoms. They thought I needed to be accommodating and “understanding “ when BM crossed boundaries (including inviting DH to stay at hers for a week a month when visiting SS). So I only deserve a 75% marriage, not a 100% one? That I should stand back when BM wants to play happy family with MY HUSBAND, you know, under the guise of coparenting. That I’m the second wife, so I get second best when it comes to marriage and family. Sorry, not going to do it. So because of this cultural bias which my in-laws participate in, I have been cheated out of “normal” in-law relationships. But if I would have sucked it up, they would have been pleased with me and maintained a relationship. 

beebeel's picture

So because I've stood up to those trying to invalidate my experiences, that means I haven't experienced SM prejudice? I thought you were a fan of logical reasoning? 

I "chose" to have my mother make stupid and insensitive comments regarding me being a SM? Should I have chosen a better mother, too? 

And look what happens when dozens of women stand up to you when you invalidate their experiences: big fat nothing. You will continue believing and saying whatever the hell you want because you're right and we're wrong. You don't think that is a common response when a SM asserts her feelings as valid all the freaking time? You are proving the entire point of the blog by insisting your view is correct and all these SMs are wrong and you will beat your drum until we agree, damn it!!! 

Our experiences aren't invalidated because a few SMs on this board don't personally experience prejudice. Your experiences aren't universal. 

ETA: to continue my analogy: Just because Ben Carson hasn't personally experienced Donald Trump's racism, doesn't mean Trump isn't a Yuge effing racist.

theoldredhen's picture

Beautifully said, beebeel!

All of the smug commentators, whose lives are perfect, cannot change the simple and undeniable fact of bias against SMs in our culture. 

SayNoSkidsChitChat's picture

My mother has dealt with a demon stepdaughter so you’d think she’d “get it” but NOPE! 

Jcksjj's picture

It's different if you dont have to deal with them on a regular basis, right? My mom took SD overnight once with ODS and after she brought her back said she has no clue how i deal with her and that she needs therapy because theres obviously something very off. And that she drove her absolutely nuts. This is coming from someone who ran a daycare and loves kids in general. But since she hasn't taken her again for a long time she seems to have forgotten that.

SayNoSkidsChitChat's picture

My mother banned her stepdemon from her home after the stepdemon was appallingly horrid. *shok*

lieutenant_dad's picture

I'm not trying to be obtuse when I say this, but how is this any different than anyone else dealing with a bad relationship for another reason?

Society doesn't understand abusive/toxic/unhealthy behaviors (and typically dismisses them) unless they are physical. If a partner hits you or cheats on you, that's tangible and people can say a hard "no, that's not okay!" But when it's financial? Emotional? Psychological? People in general just can't comprehend it.

I feel like step issues aren't any different than other bad relationship issues. The more issues you have, the more likely you'll end up with toxic, abusive, or deadly situations. Marrying someone with kids isn't much different than marrying someone with a lot of debt, mental or physical ailment, crazy family, etc. Step issues are stressors, as are the others, and it's up to the person bringing the issue into the relationship (the parent) to mitigate the problems it brings.

I also think, once you're married, people *really* don't like recommending that you get divorce and *really* push for you to stay together unless there is some physical, tangible reason to end it. Half the time, those same people add to the abuse/toxic behavior with their "help".

"Well, you have gained some weight, so I can't blame him for telling you that he's less attracted because you've gained weight."

"I think you misunderstood what she meant. She has done SO MUCH for you, and being your sister, I remember how much you push people's buttons."

"It's only money. It's not like you don't have a savings account and can't pay your bills. So what if they bought a motorcycle?"

Same sentiment, different issues. We suck at teaching people how to be good partners, and we suck at teaching people to identify bad relationships, and we suck at being okay with people leaving a relationship if things are bad.

If your spouse treats you poorly, or allows others to treat you poorly, or aids in abusive/toxic behaviors, then your two options are work with your partner to make changes or leave. Continuing to stay out when it's safe to leave doesn't make you a martyr or a victim. You can love someone deeply and be heartbroken that the relationship doesn't work, but that doesn't mean one should stay.

Staying when it's safe to leave is silent approval not only of the behavior, but of people's opions about the behavior. If we want to see social change, then we have to call out the awful behaviors and take action against it. If we don't do that, then we are being complicit in it continuing to happen. We need to practice what we preach.

Siemprematahari's picture

AMEN!!!

Petronella's picture

So naturally any general discussion will tend to be from the facet of stepparenthood. And I think Two of Us has very clearly stated in her OP why there are issues specific to stepparent situations, that do not carry over to non-stepparent situations. 

lieutenant_dad's picture

So vent your (general) issues, but the general advice will be the same: figure out what changes you and/your spouse can make to make things better, or leave.

There is no magical third option. There is no ribbon given for enduring decades of crap in a bad relationship that was created due to step (or any other) issues. 

If we want to change the dialogue around what it means to be a SP, then it means we as SPs have to practice what it is that we preach and make tough decisions to show that it WORKS.

I don't pretend with family that things are a-okay, and I've gotten better about calling crap out when it is said. Wanna know what happens when I am "brave enough" to speak up? Other SPs start speaking up in agreeance with me. They start making changes, or at least changing their attitudes.

But I'm tired of getting on this board and seeing people say "well, just ignore the posts that you don't like or tell you to leave because that just isn't helpful advice".

No - that IS helpful advice because it may be the FIRST TIME that someone has told someone that it is okay to think about leaving and that things really might be as bad as they are. I would have NEVER married the first time if my friends and family had told me *before* I got married that my XH was a toxic a-hole because I truly thought he was, but everyone telling me to suck it up just made me stay.

And the folks here who tell people "you don't need to leave" are doing that EXACT SAME THING people did to me with my XH. So how, exactly, are we going to make societal change if we keep harping the same BS of "just stay because he's a good husband/wife if you just ignore the kids".

NO. Because if all of us SPs in disrespectful relationships actually left and spoke up to not only our spouses, but our friends and family and didn't let them beat us into submission, and weren't afraid to fight with our spouses, and didn't get married when the relationship was rocky, then single parents would HAVE TO step up their game IF they wanted a spouse.

Just like a cheater would have to stop cheating.

Just like someone with mountains of debt would have to pay everything down.

Just like someone who can't show emotion and shuts down when talking about heavy things has to learn to communicate.

We're all (most of us) here because we share in the same issue: step life is HARD. Sometimes we just need to vent, and that's fine. But a lot of times, we need to act. Sometimes the issues aren't step-related but manifest in the step situation. You think your boundary-crossing MIL would be any less boundary-crossing if it weren't for a SK? No. They'd have one less avenue to cross a boundary, but it's part of who they are and wouldn't change.

I expect my DH to protect me from the BS in his life before me, and he expects the same from me. I wouldn't have a step family issue if I weren't married. If I didn't want to deal with BM BS, I could walk away tomorrow and it would be over. Step issues ARE relationship issues because the thread that ties to you it is your spouse. No spouse, no tie, no thread.

So, we ALL need to be on the side of supporting each other even with tough decisions and stop acting like venting and being victimized is okay because we love our spouses or hate the idea of divorce or whatever. No situation gets better by letting a wound fester. It's fine to be supportive, but for the love of God, I emplore everyone to ACT.

TwoOfUs's picture

I agree with all of this but I'm unclear how saying stepparent issues are "no different" than any other bad relationship issues gets people to act? To me, that seems like a flattening statement that denies any differences...which do exist...and may actually make people think they should stay. Well...this is no different from any other marriage, so I guess there's nothing to be done about it. 

The initial blog is actually in response to someone who always argues that stepmoms shouldn't stand up for themselves. In this particular comment that I'm responding to, she went so far as to say that since SM issues aren't as bad as Civil Rights issues, they really have nothing to vent about. 

I thought that was absurd. Talking about these common issues is the only way SMs as a whole are going to learn they're not alone and learn how to stand up for themselves...it's also the only way society will start to correct its false narratives about SMs...by hearing from real women who are dealing with these unique issues in their relationship.  

Recognizing that SMs face unique challenges that AREN'T the same as any other bad marriage is important...recognizing that a societal stigma exists is important, too as that's the only way to begin to change it. 

lieutenant_dad's picture

Having unique challenges doesn't make "the struggle real". Every relationship has problems. The problems themselves are unique and require unique solutions. But that doesn't mean the struggle is more just because it's step related versus financial, for example.

Maybe I am misinterpreting this thread, but to me I'm reading this as "the struggle of SP can't be compared to anything else", and that's just not true. And not every step situation is a constant fight and struggle.

Maybe it's because I came from a relationship without kids and would take the situation I am in now over that marriage any day of the week that I'm just not getting "the struggle" part. I see the parallels every day between my former marriage, which wasn't step in any way, and many of the situations here, and the root cause isn't that much different. I feel like many, many times the issues don't spring up because it's unique to SPhood. That's just where it manifests.

Basically, as I think about all of this, I don't feel my struggles are related to SPhood. I don't think many struggles of others are related to the fact that they are a SP. They are related to having a disrespectful, weak-willed, non-boundaried, non-committal spouse. It may be that if the kids weren't involved that your spouse would be easier to deal with, or life would be less hectic, or whatever. But, ultimately, the issue is with the spouse not being able to handle the life they have in a way that is productive that causes the struggle. It's great to talk out ideas on how to fix that with them, or know when it's time to leave, but I don't want to act like the struggle is more real because I happen to be a SP. 

ETA: And having been in both types of step and non-step relationships, people don't seem any more biased when it comes to me being a SM than when I was just a wife. It's the same half-hearted attempts at encouragement or disapproval whether I was talking about my XH or my current marriage. The words are different but the sentiment is the same: you are married and should remained married because that's what you pledged to do and we (society/family/friends) don't want to deal with the fallout.

tog redux's picture

The point of the thread is to promote the idea that there is a societal bias against stepmothers.  The OP went so far as to state that she knows the "general consensus" of all in society, but I must not have been invited to that opportunity to vote on how we all feel about stepparents. 

TwoOfUs's picture

"General Consensus" does not mean "this is what everyone in the whole world thinks." What kind of moron would argue that everyone thinks the exact same way about an issue? 

"General Consensus" means this is the prevailing societal view...the majority viewpoint. And yes...that can and has been proven. I don't get your soapbox at all. 

tog redux's picture

Yes, I know what "general consensus" means. Please show where it has been proven.  MY soapbox? Project much?

Monkeysee's picture

TwoOfUs has given ample evidence of how & where it’s been proven, both in her OP & throughout this thread... 

TwoOfUs's picture

No one said anything about the struggle being "more" real...you added that. 

Again, the post was a response to a commenter who was literally telling a SM that she was "insecure and needy" for wanting to be included in a wedding celebration as her husband's spouse...and saying that "it's not like any SM has ever been lynched or battered" like Civil Rights protestors. 

I found the whole analogy absurd and pointed out that SMs have been...and that they are generally discrimiated against by society. This has been demonstrated in numerous studies. Again, I'm not sure where the thing about husbands came into this at all. That's a separate issue and conversation that doesn't really have any impact on the view that society has of SMs...or whether or not a SM should feel she has the right to object to being left out as a spouse....

tog redux's picture

It's much easier to just blame all of society than take action to fix your own shitty situation and choices. 

HowLongIsForever's picture

I don't put up with ish from anyone so there's no blaming anyone but myself for what I allow in my life.

I could be dense six ways from Sunday but what I get out of this post is that we aren't speaking in individual specifics which might be where some of the disconnect comes from.

However, I can provide an individual specific that I've experienced.

Single upper middle class female in my own right.  No children or legal dependents.

Meet single, divorced upper middle class father of two children who are his only legal dependents.

Both have existing estate plans that require updates to adapt to our current situation.

Mr. Recommended Lawyer Man agrees to meet with us for a consult.  Mr. Recommended Lawyer Man knows nothing about either of us personally.  He is made aware of our individual and joint circumstances along with our intentions.  Mr. Recommended Lawyer Man suggests to us that MY stipulations for MY trust containing MY assets should be revisited because in the event of my demise BM might object to what I've chosen to do with MY assets.  Similar suggestions are offered up for the JOINT trust of JOINT assets again because there are stipulations preventing 100% going to skids or their legal guardian(s) and BM may object.

Know which one he didn't have a suggestion for?  SOs trust of SOs assets.  I assume it was because that was 100% allocated for skids and not because of its current comparatively low monetary value.  I make this assumption because he suggests the other two mirror SOs.

By all accounts, including his own voluntarily offered anecdotes, Mr. Recommended Lawyer Man has no personal history or experience with divorce within his immediate or extended families.  Across generations.  Quite proud of that fact, actually.

Mr. Recommended Lawyer Man is a prominent authority/expert in his chosen area of law.  According to him, and it's reasonable to suggest he would be most knowledgeable here, there's no personal experience that might bring some misplaced emotion into his guidance.  He doesn't know us from any other people off the street.  He does know the relevant laws, statutes, case studies and precedents, though.

Mr. Recommended Lawyer Man was the only one of several very highly qualified attorneys we consulted who diminished my position as a client because I was not the biological mother of my SOs two dependent children and attempted to do so to the benefit of said children.

He didn't get my business.  Nor did he get SOs.  

The only thing I did to receive that metaphorical kick in the teeth was sit down to discuss my legal estate planning options with a qualified legal professional.  I don't seek to blame anyone for that experience.

I do completely, unequivocally believe that my specific experience was due to the simple fact that I am not the biological mother of SOs children.  Can't explain with 100% certainty where it came from but I can say it was not due to any personal investment in any of the parties involved (directly or otherwise).

Anecdotal I suppose but what I have considered to be bias solely because of my not-the-mother status.

I'm curious though, which decision of mine would you classify as shitty that resulted in that experience and how would you propose I fix it?   According to your statement above, I brought that experience upon myself because my situation is shitty due to shitty choices and there's no way that societal norms and expectations played a part.  

I'll be honest, it didn't feel good and I'd like to not experience anything remotely similar again so if you're willing I'd be interested in your suggestions or even just opinions.  

 

notsurehowtodeal's picture

My estate attorney did the opposite. He made sure that my trust from my parents was structured so that it could never get in the hands of skids/BM in the event of my death - and he brought it up before I did. Mr. Recommended Attorney Man is an idiot - but illustrates your point.

beebeel's picture

Yes, people are ignorant about domestic violence. They are ignorant about stepfamily dynamics. They are ignorant of the "other" and that creates stigmas, inaccurate stereotypes and prejudices. 

 

lieutenant_dad's picture

Also, I have a question. Aside from the fairly-rare occurence of SPs being murdered, what are the real and tangible consequences of societal bias against SPs?

Real question, not trying to be obtuse. Are SPs not being hired because of it like women of childbearing age? Or are they more likely to faced stiffer penalities in prison like persons of color? Or more likely to be dropped from routine medical care because they are trans or have HIV?

I'm not discounting that SPs deal with abuse and toxic behaviors in their own relationships that they wouldn't deal with if they left. But socially speaking, what are SPs experiencing that are impacting their quality of life that is outside their control to change?

That is likely my root issue with this. I won't argue that societal bias exists, but it's impact on a SP seems pretty mild and almost entirely in the control of the SP. It hurts, sure, and in extreme cases can lead to physical harm. But overall, the effects of societal bias against SPs is seemingly pretty minute.

tog redux's picture

Yeah, I don't get it either. So people supposedly think (unproven) that all stepmothers are wicked.  How does that affect them other than hurting their feelings and making them upset?  The examples I hear on here are just dysfunctional family dynamics, not evidence of harm due to so-called societal bias against stepmothers. 

Petronella's picture

a SM being discriminated against in employment (well maybe in smallish ways such as being more likely to be gossiped about or judged by coworkers). As far as I know it won't lead to lesser medical care or greater likelihood to be sent to prison. Although the financial effects of being a stepparent can show up in a SM having less disposable income in order to access medical care or preventative care, as TwoOfUs has mentioned. 

It leads to interpersonal hurt and emotional malaise.And years of wasted lives until the SM smartens up and finally "just leaves." At the age of 30 or 50 or 80, with or without her children, leaving behind all the time and money she's invested in her relationship.  Whether you think that is minute or not depends on your POV and level of empathy I guess. I think that so many people wasting so many of their resources does add up to an effect on society, but I appear to be more communally minded and less atomistic than some members here. I think that combatting that societal bias would have the good effect of making women less likely to enter into relationships that are unrewarding and the first step to combatting it is acknowledging that it exists. 

One very concrete example I can think of whereby the societal bias leads to a tangible damage, is in the area of estates and inheritances, touched upon already in this discussion. I think it's very likely that stats would show SMs are more likely to be left out of their husbands' wills, or to have those wills contested by their stepchildren. 

TwoOfUs's picture

Yes...the stats do show that and more. Of course, the Forbes article that talks about wills being contested when a SM is involved is titled: 

"Stepmothers: The Cause of So Many Estate Battles" 

Again...laying all the blame for this tricky situation on one person. If I wrote the article, I'd title it: 

"Greedy, Entitled Children: The Cause of So Many Estate Battles" 

 

But yes, there are many, many ways this societal bias harms real women...tangible and intangible. The fact that second marriages with children are more likely to end in divorce than first marriages is just one example of the tangible effects this bias has.

I think Petronella's suggestion that talking about how real women feel about this role would be helpful to young women who haven't married yet...maybe make the expectations placed on women who choose to marry a man with kids lighter, give better context for what's reasonable to expect from these women and save a lot of heartache and wasted years...

Tomorrow I will bring some more research to bear on this question. 

Petronella's picture

who might be considering marriage to a man with children. The Dads themselves should also be given different expectations! Expectations such as they are expected to treat their second wives with the same amount of love and consideration that they treated their first wives! That their second marriages are just as real. That they need to curb their children. All kinds of things like that.

STaround's picture

It includes the following.  

 

Not an 'Evil Stepmother' Stereotype

I’m not implying any “evil stepmother” stereotype so familiar from fairy tales is related to probate litigation. Rather, my observations are merely indicative of the frequent conflicts in estate matters between stepmothers and stepchildren that I’ve come across. I’ve represented both sides, and I’ve seen how tensions in blended families can carry over into disputes over an inheritance, beneficiary rights to a trust or estate property.

I suppose that such conflicts are ancient in origin and grounded in the personal motives of each to resist emotional, physical and financial encroachment by the other. (To be fair, stepfathers are not immune to estate and probate disputes; it’s just that the frequency of stepfather disputes is a fraction of stepmother disputes.)

 

TwoOfUs's picture

No I agree that the article isn’t terrible but the headline definitely is...and clearly blames one person and one person only as the ‘cause’ of these disputes. 

Interestingly, too...the writer explicitly acknowledges the way the “familiar” evil stepmom stereotype plays into all of this.

So strange that there are posters on this site who think that this “familiar” bias doesn’t exist at all...

STaround's picture

You get a better understanding of the tiitle.   I would have gone with Second Marriages Create Estate Problems, but the article eplains why stepathers are less likely to create problem -- they generally don't outlive their wives.  Forbes readership is predominantly male (but not exclusive, about 60-65%) and over 40.  I think Forbes audience is typically people who care about their kids but want to be fair.  I doubt most of them want to disenherit their kids or their wife, even if second wife, but o not have an expecation that a second wife will be fair with kids from the first marriage. 

Petronella's picture

Yeah that was my first thought - stepfathers cause less problems because they don't live as long. SMs are more likely to outlive their husbands. Also, and this may change with the current generation, historically it was the husband who maybe had more wealth to argue about and his wife didn't have much of her own. I think we are going to start seeing women start to die with a lot bigger estates to leave behind and their heirs to fight about. 

Not sure why you say "even if second wife." A wife is a wife, last time I checked you could only have one of them at a time. When a man dies his wife at the time is his wife for all legal purposes. His first wife gets nothing unless he explicitly leaves her something. 

If a man is concerned that his wife may not be fair with the children of the first marriage, maybe he could have made more of an effort to facilitate a loving relationship between his kids and his wife, while he was alive. He should also spare a thought to the possibility that it may be his loving children who will less than fair with his wife after he's gone. I've heard of women forced from their homes, having their husband's will contested, etc. 

The whole issue of who needs the inheritance more, the aging spouse or the adult children, is a whole other discussion, maybe someone could start a new blog about it! 

STaround's picture

Was I don't think the Forbes readership or the author was advocating men be unfair with a wife.   I think that it is unrealistic to expect stepmom and kids from first marriage to get along.  I think the author would suggest people to plan ahead and come up with a fair  compromise.  

If the inheritance is only about needs, there may e more than enough money to meet needs.  Many people will not leave any inheritance. 

tog redux's picture

And why would a woman stay with a man who either openly was leaving her out of his will, or was not transparent about what was in his will? DH and I sat down and did them together.  Why would a woman choose to stay if a man said, either, I'm not showing you my will, or, I'm leaving everything to my kids.

Why is it always the selfish man and the kids who are to blame, while the woman who stayed knowing what was in the will (or not knowing) gets to be the victim?

tog redux's picture

Exactly. Of course second spouses cause estate issues, regardless of their sex. Because kids feel gypped out of their inheritance. Not because "society is biased against stepmothers". 

And men die first more often, so it's less of an issue. Plus, they are still often the higher earners, with more to leave behind to be fought over.  So kids are fighting over their father's estate, much more often than their mother's estate, at least for those who are dying now. That may change as more women are higher earners.

There are lots of explanations for everything, but it seems to all boil down to "stepmother bias" for some.

Petronella's picture

It's not just that the second spouse is fighting at the trough with the stepkids for the share of the dead person's money. Very, very often the second spouse has contributed to that estate! They've helped their spouse build his business, they've kept him afloat during lean years, they've put in unpaid labor, they've economized so he could maximize retirement savings and investments, they've sold their own property to throw in their lot with him. And the stepkids see none of that, they just assume it's all Dad's money and they're entitled to half of it.

tog redux's picture

Maybe. But then the kids have less to fight over and less chance to win.  I'm guessing many of the people in the Forbes article are wealthy men with second wives whose kids feel gypped out of an inheritance.

STaround's picture

Absent a post-nup, a spouse is entitled to the retirement money.

If the spouse helped pay for proprty, hard to envision that it would not be in joint name. 

And the kids may think their mom was the one who supported dad during  the lean years.  They may even be right.  

Petronella's picture

How would BM have supported dad during the lean years if she wasn't married to him during those years...? 

I can envision all sorts of bizarre and unfair ways to leave property. 

Of course there's always a need to plan and as Tog points out, the will shouldn't be a surprise to either spouse - they should sit down and do them together. 

However sometimes mistakes happen in the wording of wills, spouses die unexpectedly without wills, children or spouses can and do contest wills. Having to deal with this in your life doesn't always mean you're that loathesome thing, a "victim" who needs to "just leave." 

tog redux's picture

I'm not saying anyone is loathsome. Just that there's a lot of "poor stepmother" talk, without taking into consideration the choices that very stepmother makes herself.  Sometimes the choices are made for you, but sometimes you choose to stay despite full knowledge.

 

STaround's picture

Could be when the man is starting out?  Maybe even in Medical school, residencies?  Or before making partner at law or big accounting firm.  It happens.

Of course mistakes happen, and I think the article is tryhing to encourage people to plan ahead and avoid mistakes.  

Jcksjj's picture

Also, even with an ironclad will the skids have a right to challenge it. Which can mean none of the assets can be touched during that time and paying for an attorney/legal fees.

Jcksjj's picture

Anything "owed" to mom is taken care of in the divorce settlement and over and done with after that. Shes not entitled to anything further if dad becomes better off after the divorce. And even if she was...how does that entitle the kids to anything? They arent necessarily getting it handed to them when she dies, it could all be gone.

TwoOfUs's picture

Yes I have read the article many times. The fact that the article is more nuanced and fair doesn’t make the headline any less sensationalist, biased, or unfair. Especially in an era when we see “SHE ‘stole’ my inheritance!!!” fairly regularly from greedy skids.

The fact is, many stepkids contest a clear and fair will just out of spite...when they would never do the same to their mother if she were the surviving spouse. People would think that was cruel and horrible...but think nothing of it when it’s a stepmom, even if she’s been in the picture for decades. 

Just look at the Tom Petty fiasco. Read the emails those little ingrates have sent...and then how they’re trying to play it off as: “We’re just trying to do what Daddy would have wanted!!!” 

Disgusting. These kinds of estate battles certainly aren’t “caused” by stepmoms...the stepmoms are the victims.

STaround's picture

Becuase they have a reasonable expecation they will inherit from mom.  Does not always happen, but more likely with mom.

I don't know how you can state as a FACT that stepkids contest a will just out of spite.  Maybe you have data on that.  

 

Jcksjj's picture

So strange that there are posters on this site who think that this “familiar” bias doesn’t exist at all...

I kind of think that they just don't want to acknowledge that it exists because regardless of how disengaged they are they still fall into that looked down upon group and have the title of stepmom (and possibly second wife).

ProbablyAlreadyInsane's picture

NOt to fuel fire or anything... But I used to work at a place. And I needed a day off because of SD10's softball. Asked IN ADVANCE. I was told that I couldn't have it off because I'm "not a real parent." It was frustrating as heck. Took ages to arrange something else.

tog redux's picture

You wouldn't able to take it off if it were your niece you were raising, either - so is it that it's a bias against stepparents, or a benefit given only to bio parents?  Two very different things.  If that's the case, then it's also a bias against childless people, who can't take the day off for a dog, either.

 

STaround's picture

Becuase I am caring for my elderly mom.   i think good employers try to give flexibility to caregivers, and they may perceive a stepparent as not a caregive, as you said, more like an aunt.  

tog redux's picture

I would give my staff time off to care for kids, stepkids, nieces, nephews, dogs, or cats. But in her case, only bio parents could take a day off for a kid's event.  So it's a benefit for bio parents that excludes stepparents AND childless people.  If a childless person said, I need the day off for my dog's competition, the answer would be NO.

 

ProbablyAlreadyInsane's picture

Eh. I let them know upfront that I was raising them and was guaranteed I could "have any time off I need because it's great I'm caring for the kids." Until I actually asked for the time off. Then it was redacted.

Thankfully my current job is VERy different and understanding Smile They are GREAT about it. I've just seen both sides.

bananaseedo's picture

Anyone can take a day off to go seem whomever they like-she asked well in advance...the bias came in with the comment that was made and hence denying her time.  That is wrong. 

STaround's picture

Maybe where you work.  Other places have staffing issues.  

bananaseedo's picture

Oh Please- I work for a company with 80,000 plus employees- my team is only 3 people and we are literally the ONLY ones in the company to do this job- in fact of the 3 of us, one is almost never there (severe attendance issues)- only two of us (my boss and I)  do a part of the job that the 3rd doesn't....and even we manage to be flexible and work around time off for whatever we want.

If all of us were gone at the same time it would mean chaos (and we've many times just have one person working) Its just on us submit an ENTIRE airline schedule that MOST go out every week or turn into disaster it's a several day process.  We have not failed ONCE in the almost 10 years I've been in this group.  Doable...MORE then doable.  

Asking well in advance should the boss looks to accomodate her request? Yes. The 'reason' for denial is ridiculous.