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About to become a FT stepmom to a 12 yr old girl who's mom just passed.

Shadytree's picture

A little background....

My boyfriend has a 12 year old daughter.  He was married to her mom for 17 years.  They divorced because the mom was an alcoholic (long story short, in and out of rehab, trouble with jobs and law).  They had been divorced a few years when I met boyfriend.  

Boyfriend and I have been dating 1.5 years.  The mom didn't like me (more on principle than anything personal, she wasn't over him and was jealous) and didn't hide it from anyone, including their daughter.  I tried to get along with the mom but she wasn't having it.  The daughter liked me fine though.  I like the daughter, too.  She's a good kid, sweet, smart.  

Boyfriend has custody, mom had visitation a couple nights/week. 

Boyfriend and I started planning to move in together this summer, when the school year ends.  Daughter seems ok with it, other than nervous about a new school, making new friends.  But otherwise likes me and likes the idea.

The mom passed away last week.  We found out she was still drinking and was rushed to the hospital a week earlier.  She died of liver/kidney failure and complications.  

I'm just super nervous about having a full time stepdaughter and how that will go. And how will it affect everything that her mom just passed, how will that affect our relationship?  I don't know what to expect. I'm worried she will feel loyalty to the mom and how the mom didn't like me.  Will she feel like she is betraying the mom if she lets herself like me or love me?   I just want to be prepared.  


MrsStepMom's picture

I'd say she needs counseling right away. Just to be able to deal with so much. Losing mom, a new home, new school, new step mother, all that. That would be a lot/too much for anyone let alone a tween (god I hate that word) dealing with all the insane emotions of puberty as it is. It likely will be really hard in the end but if you start her of right it is the best you can do.

Shadytree's picture

Thanks, ladies!  Great advice.  I was planning to be more the "friend" than the "mom" before the mom died but now that has to shift a little I guess.  Although I will say I am very lucky and glad that my boyfriend is a very hands on dad and will handle stuff like homework, chores, etc.  So I won't be thrown right into having to be the "bad guy" I hope.  I'm more than happy to be whatever she wants/needs to be....and in my heart I do hope that we can be close but I don't expect that overnight.  I'm taking her for mani/pedi this weekend and then bra shopping so that should be a bonding moment LOL.  I mentioned counseling to my boyfriend and he thinks its a good idea too.  Trying not to hear anything about teen years lalalalaaaaaaa LOL Just kidding I do hear you on that, I raised two kids myself, they are ages 24 and 20 now (not at home anymore) so at least I have a little experience being a mom.  Smile

MrsStepMom's picture

Sounds like a nice weekend and good on the counseling. I truly believe even most adults would struggle with all that. Those are major life changes all at once. They say moving, death and births are the most dramatic moments in peoples lives, and she is dealing with more than one at a time. I would make sure she knows that she isn't going because anything is wrong just because just like I said "this is so much for anyone, I would be struggling too SD, and we just want you to have a safe, comfortable place to talk. If you don't want to talk about everything, that is fine, but we want you to know we love and support you and will do anything to help you during this time, which we know is difficult for anyone of any age."

Shadytree's picture

Wise words.  So very true, my heart absolutely broke for her losing her mom at only 12 years old.  I can't imagine it.  And to throw moving and new family dynamics in too.  It's a lot. 

We are waiting until school year ends and trying to make everything as nice and smooth as possible.  I moved when I was in 7th grade and I hated it so I have a lot of empathy for her.  I did eventually make some wonderful friends though and I know she will too.  She's a very sweet girl, people will naturally like her.  


justmakingthebest's picture

I agree that counseling is a must. I see that she is 12... that is a tough age. My daughter is almost there (few more months). Hormones are crazy! The other day she just lost it into a heaping sobbing mess on the floor infront of DH and I and was so upset over everything- she even through out that she didn't know why me and her dad divorced! We divorced when she was 2! She loves Dh and she loves her SM. She was just this irrational crazy emotional person. We all felt so bad for her that we had to do a video chat with DH, Me, SM  and ExH to calm her down.  She wasn't ugly about anything just so sad for some reason. 

I can't imagine what your SD is going through losing a parent at that age on top of everything else changing. I would honestly think that if staying in the same school is possible, that might be a avenue worth taking. On the other hand she might want to move and start over. A counselor would be able to help everyone weigh the options here.

Hopefully you guys can settle into a solid friendship/ Auntie type relationship. Teens are the worst but they aren't horrible all the time, you raised a couple yourself so you know! Just  be there for her and hopefully she can open her heart and find a place for you that makes her feel like she can still love the good times she had with her mom but still allow herself to move on to happy memories with you too.

Shadytree's picture

Thank you for such a thoughtful reply!  Unfortunately staying in the same school isn't really an option.  I know it's the worst timing on everything with what has happened to the mom.  At least we are able to wait the 3 months until school ends this year and she will have the summer off to hopefully settle in at the new house and with me, before school starts again.  So many changes!!  I have seen the teenage girl meltdown with my own daughter, the crazy hormones!  oh my!  :D  I love the "Auntie" reference, that is a good way to look at it.  Not mom but a motherly figure and a friend.  I have my moments where I'm very nervous about how this will all work out but I talk it out with boyfriend and he's such an amazing supportive guy and father, I really hope we can all find peace and make new happy memories together.  Your reply was lovely.  Thank you.

justmakingthebest's picture

I was raised in the south so we grew up knowing you don't mess with your Aunts but they are also the fun ones. That is the roll I try to take with my steps. My bios on the other hand get full-on-Mom'ed. It can be tricky when raising them all together in the same house but we have a pretty good balance and I am lucky that my DH is such a great dad and backs me up 100% of the time without question. 

MrsStepMom's picture

I think you guys are going to do alright. You seem to truly care about her well being and understand the challenges. Heck, I broke down the other day over pizza. Hey, it never really stops right. haha. I wish you the best.

Rags's picture

If you and her father are equity life partners that makes you both equith parents to any children in your home regardless of kid biology.

The deceased BM can be both a blessing and a curse.  The blessing is that she has no active influence on either your marriage or your Skid.  The curse could be that the facts of her being a crappy mother and an addict will be overshadowed by the myth of the perfect angelic deceased mother.

The facts of her addiction, lack of support, and minimial interface with the kid need to be kept in play, and the primary fact is that you are now her mother.  Be sensitive to her grieving process but do not tolerate any deviation from standards of reasonable behavior that you and her dad set for your home.

Being a FT SParent is a challenge.  But... if you keep the adult relationship as the priority for both you and your SO you should be able to partner as effective parents for this young woman.  She is going to need both you and her dad as she works through the loss of her mom, her preteens, and all of the major life events that are on her horizon.