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I'm new, and need guidance, please. :)

stepmom2be's picture

So here goes,
I’m fairly new, and I think, (after reading over this for a couple weeks,) that I am very lucky compared to what others are experiencing. My heart goes out- because anytime something comes up, I’m reminded- I am not alone. And I’m very sorry- but this might be really long!

A little background: I’m a single mom of a 2.5 year old little girl toddler-monster. Her birthfather, (BF?) doesn’t pay any support as he and I both decided that terminating his rights when she was born, was a good thing to do. (He wanted nothing to do with her- and it worked out.) I hold a great job for a well-known company in the cities, and although I’m the queen of coupons- we’ve never gone without. I met a man, (a great man-) and as we got to know each other, he was very upfront about his stepdaughter and his divorce. The ex cheated on him, he said he was no longer in love with her, she said the same, and by all accounts- the divorce was somewhat amicable. I’ve met her a few times, we’ve talked and although I know her bad sides, she’s always been respectful and kind to my face, (and to his daughter’s, too.) So- really, I’m lucky – there. He proposed a month ago after picking out a ring with his daughter, (k.) and she’s taken to calling me- Momma. (Which is strange- but I told her she could call me whatever she was comfortable with. –My first name, would have been fine, too!)
We just bought a house and will be moving in together in 3 weeks. We have talked about everything from what his CS covers, to college tuition, and how we’ll be equal to both girls. He’s incredibly accommodating with my daughter, and considers her his own, as I consider K. as mine too. I really dig his parenting style- (we’re both fairly strict, and although I’d prefer K. have more manners, she confides in me, and she’s over all- a decent kid, (with exceptions of an 8 year old.) His ex- can be conniving, (as I’m sure all of them can,) but so far- nothing major has gone on.

She tries little stuff here and there- (K. needed school supplies and she wanted us to buy them because CS ‘wasn’t enough!’) Hubby-to-be stood his ground and explained that was what CS was for, and we used buying an extra outfit for K. as an award for being a helpful and good listener the last time we had her. (She has really taken to her ‘sissy’ – sister, as she calls her.) Recently, K. wanted to do soccer and her BM didn’t want to pay the extra fee. We explained that since her heart was set on soccer, we would willingly pay half the fee, and offer our assistance. (BM declined.) K. now talks about how mommy can’t afford anything, almost everytime we have her. (She’s told my fiance’s sister that her mommy was left with all the bills when daddy moved out.) The truth: BM demanded the house and car, and he had to move home to his parents to save. (I met him about a year after the divorce.) –Everything is paid off, thus we got a great home!

We’ve talked to K. several times about the impact of those words and how it could hurt Daddy’s feelings. We’ve offered to have her sit down with us and mom, to explain how everything worked, so that she didn’t feel like because she’s living with BM full time, (we have her on every other weekend,) that she’s NOT being slighted. BM is now telling k. that she’ll have to ask ‘us’ for things because she can’t afford her and the bills. (We’re crushed- because we started with a good relationship.) My fiance doesn’t know what to do- we’ve offered to sit down with her multiple times- but to no avail.

I know many are going through much worse- but I’m new in all this- and I’m deeply worried about the impact it will have on our lives if this continues. When we bought the house we offered K. the chance to decorate her very own room, (we didn’t want her to have to share with my daughter- as she needs her own space.) She’s very excited- and now BM is refusing to let us have ANY clothing or toys from HER home. (Which she didn’t work- fiancé did and bought it all.)

Any ideas or email buddies would be great. I’m worried.

(Nice to meet you!)

Colorado Girl's picture

I'm going to tell you what you already know. BM (Birth Mother) is jealous. Jealous of another woman mothering her child and possibly even jealous of another woman marrying her former husband.

And she is throwing a plain old fashioned temper tantrum.

My skids BM STILL tells the girls that she can't afford to buy them things. So you make the decision to either pay for it yourself or not pay. In the past I've paid for entire birthday parties or a season of teeball when BM was being moody about it. Sometimes she pays, sometimes not. In all honesty when she choses not to pay for an extra curricular activity, DH simply reminds her of this when she is asking for anything 'extra'...."Well I paid for teeball so why don't you buy them new tennis shoes...."

It all seems to even itself out. Before we had 50/50 visitation, we didn't buy school supplies either...and we stopped the whole clothes argument long ago. I just simply bought them enough clothes and toys to stay at our house, we just lost interest in arguing about it. She was never going to rationally discuss it and her only interest was to be a complete pain in my rump. If she feels the need to hold the clothes and toys hostage...let her.

My skids BM has over time simmered down quite a bit. Especially since we quit enabling her to constantly interrupt our household. DH rarely takes the bait when she's engaging in an argument and his favorite saying has become "I'm sorry you feel that way but I'm not going to argue this any longer. We are just going to have to agree to disagree..." My counselor taught me that one and it works like a charm.

Anyways, you sound like you have a lovely head on your shoulders and it's nice to meet you too!!! Smile
"For every ailment under the sun....There is a remedy, or there is none;
If there be one, try to find it; If there be none, never mind it." ~ W.W. Bartley

kathleen's picture

I have seen it before and it happened to me. BM seemed just fine before we got engaged, then all sh(*(*&t hit the fan. So I think that is normal for yours to be acting out like she is. But specifically to your questions...

I have learned to make everything clear and document. SO. have your fiance, work out his agreement with BM. For example, what is at her house stays at her house (if that is what she wants) and everything at your house stays at yours. In many decrees though, what belongs to the children is theirs and they can take them back and forth as they please. We struggled with this for a long time. Everything would migrate to BM's Only crappy clothes would arrive at our house and I would shop endlessly to keep the kids in nice stuff because it would return to BM's and never come back here. I learned that in fact she bought them lots of new clothes too, but didn't want any of them at our house. Go figure, send your kids off for a weekend in horrible, ill-fitting, worn out clothes, just great for their self esteem. More importantly though is the message they are sending to their kids. Don't want to go too deep down that road on this post though. Any way, once the "rules" are defined, stick to it.

Also, let your husband defend himself to his daughter. He should tell her that ex and he have different income levels but that her well-being is most important. Let her know that the courts have worked out an equitable plan where he pays child support and that any concerns that SD has should be left to her parents. She doesn't need to worry, these are issues too big for little girls and that sometimes adults say and do things that are inappropriate. He could also explain why he divorced her mom and that even though they are not together, he loves her. I'm sure this has already been said a million different ways, but I learned that you can never say it too much.

Okay so, my final thought is, you have to decide whether or not you can afford soccor or whatever it is. When SD wants something, if you think it should be split, talk about that ONLY with BM not the little girl. If BM refuses, or makes a big stink, you two decide if you can afford it. This is really what is in the best interest of the child. If you can afford it, I would try to think of it as if this were your child and do for her as you would your own. It doesn't matter what free ride BM is getting or whatever. If you go down that road of ticking off what she is spending or not, you will drive yourselves crazy and probably have a lot of fights. If BM bows out, and SD really wants something, you are within your rights to find a less expensive program or make stipulations about her commitment etc. Whatever you do, don't let the child be involved in the debate, discussion or anything involving money or pitting one parent over the other. The simple answer is, yes you can play soccor, or if neither parent can afford it, well "I'm sorry honey your mom and I can't afford it". If that is the case, this is a great opportunity to teach your child to find ways to earn money for herself, or understand the way to manage a household.

Also, start a file, because one day, if you find that BM is making no contribution and you have continuously tried to share financial responsibility and she won't, the next time you go for a modification of child support, you might be able to lower it, or get more decision making rights. Who knows.

Anyway. This is the way it will be for you. Step-parenting comes with a lot of good and a lot of bad. Sounds like the good for you out weighs the bad so you are in good shape. How you two manage things with BM now will determine many things about your relationship with SD and BM in the future. My best advice, tread lightly, be kind, put the children's best interest first, and let your fiance do the talking. Stay behind and smile.

stepmom2be's picture

Hey guys-
I am -so- nervous. We meet with the BM tonight and have 3 pages of 'questions and our answers' that are basically cementing in stone, what we will and will not pay for. He's very type 'a' personality, so everything is spelled out, 'to a T!' We are giving her a copy and keeping one for ourselves.

One big fight, (I know will happen,) is that SD is not allowed to bring her BRATZ dolls over to our home. (I think they are deplorable- Fiance agrees.) The mother dresses the 8 year old in abercombie and bebe- so I know it'll be an issue.

Thank you so much for taking the time to reply- Im glad to have found you guys!