You are here

Is it ever worth it?

Tananne's picture

How many people on here can honestly say it was worth it?  Especially those who are child free coming in to a step situation.  Is there even any one on here who would do it again? Regardless if your DH is the best thing ever... why even put yourself in the situation to begin with?

I'm sure the very content/happy stepmoms and stepdads aren't regularly coming to this site but just wondering how many people here would honestly, genuinely 100% do it again

JRI's picture

I'm 77 so this is the long view perspective.  If you'd asked this question when I was 37 or 47, the answer might have been different.  It has been worth it for me but that's because the kids have been gone for 30+ years.  We have had enough time with just the two of us that the memories have receded.  We still have sick, unbalanced, dependent SD in our lives but its more manageable since I separated finances and disengaged.

I thank God for the years we've had and cherish each day.  We had the 5 kids (3 his, 2 mine, all within 6 years of age) here full time with no help, financial or otherwise from my ex or BM.  There were many, many days when I considered exit plans.

What kept me going, aside from just enjoying DH's company, was him plugging into the father role for my 2 kids.  He was more successful than I was with his.  If I had been childless, the SKs would have bothered me much more but in our case, his fathering of mine made me more tolerant.

So, I guess for me, it boiled down to what I was getting.  I had the man I wanted and his parental role canceled out what might have been a deal breaker, the SKs.  Sorry to sound so selfish but that's the honest truth.

Rags's picture

However, I have pretty much the unicorn SParent situation.  

DW and I met when SS-29 was 15mos old.  She and the Spermidiot were never married and she was a single teen mom.  We met at university. The last semester of my undergrad career and her first semester of university.

She and SS had moved out of state for her studies and she had full physical and legal custody. At that time there was no visitation ordered.

We married the week before SS-29 turned 2yo.

She and I aligned very quickly that as equity life partners we were also equity parents to any spawn in our family regardless of kid biology.  As it turned out, SS-29 is an only child in our marriage. He is the eldest of 4 all out of wedlock Spermidiot spawned half sibs by three different BM's in the SpermClan.

Two weeks after we married was the custody defense hearing when the SpermClan attempted to take custody of our son. They lost, we won. That set the stage for the next 16 years as we lived under a Custody/Visitation/Support CO.

SS was really not much of a problem. He was a very good kid with nothing more serious than the usual teen boy brain farts upon occassion. Though we did have some Spermidiot induced issues we had to address with SS his Sr. year of HS. 

My DW and I have been able to be mostly aligned on this our entire marriage. Our marriage and each other are the unequivocal priority. Raising the Skid was our top marital responsibility.

We made the three of us the core family and managed the SpermClan as peripheral to our family.  SS asked me to adopt him when he was 22yo. We made that happen.

These are two very different though related things.

It has worked well for us.

Our son is a truely good man, doing well in his adult life.  His mom and I are very proud of him.

lieutenant_dad's picture

I think it has been worth it so far. That doesn't mean it has been easy. I've just been in a fortunate situation where the problem was almost solely BM, and I can ignore her 98% of the time. I could have lived a DINK lifestyle with my XH, but I was completely miserable with him. His family and background were too "normal", and that just didn't fit me.

And I think that's one of the biggest reasons why steplife has worked for me. I came from a blended family, so stepparenting wasn't a foreign concept. Crazy like BM runs in my family, so I've learned over the years how to adapt. Mix that with a DH who does his best to treat me well and make sure his kids do, too, and it's manageable to enjoyable most of the time. 

If I came from an intact family where I wasn't introduced to some crazy characters, I could definitely see myself running for the hills. I wouldn't have the skills to deal and cope with steplife. If I'm really honest with myself, and I don't mean this disparagingly towards me, I'm probably damn lucky with the lot I have in life. I've got my own issues that my DH is great at understanding, accepting, and pushing me to change when needed because he gets it and has been there, too. I may deal with drama, but I don't want to drive my car into the side of a cliff like I did when I was married to my XH.

No, you probably won't find many here who enjoy steplife or would want to do it again. That's an entirely reasonable, and probably healthy, perspective to have. I'm just not one of them, at least in the situation I'm currently in.

relationshipguru's picture

These people will drop you and replace you instantly the second you are no longer useful to them. All the years paying for them, helping raise them, teaching them, spending time together, bonding, watching them grow up, cooking and cleaning, babysitting, playing sitter, taxi, nanny, believing I was their parent, etc. were suddenly forgotten because I stood up for myself during crap behavior and closed my purse. And I was told the entire time I was their other parent. Yeah if you believe that you will believe anything. I was discarded quickly and replaced. It was a difficult lesson to learn. Don't do it. Close your purse and see how long they keep you around. I guarantee, not for very long!

StrawberryPie's picture

It is a grueling thankless soul sucking role. As a childless stepmom to 3 Stepkids w a HCBM, its hella hard. There are def days I look at DH thinking is what you bring to the table in my life worth the downside, worth the pain and hurt and lost time and energy for your kids?  Someone said once the step kids get what they need they drop you. Yup. True story. 

AlmostGone832's picture

I do love my husband but if I was to do it over again, I simply would have never gotten married. To anyone, kids or no kids. 

grannyd's picture

My husband was determined to make our marriage work. When his teen daughter’s behavior towards me became intolerable, DH expanded her child support payments then terminated the 50/50 access that had been in place for over five years. 

He was, in a word, heartbroken at losing his alternate week contact with the brat but understood that his daughter’s cruelty and spite were destroying our relationship.

The loyalty bind that had given rise to my SD’s vindictiveness was entirely the consequence of her mother’s resentfulness. When the ‘Great Bitch’ had become hoisted by her own petard, having lost her week of whoring and partying, she eventually convinced mini wife to apologize and to improve her attitude. Our home life made a 180 degree turn for the better.

Thirty-five years later, my SD and I are the best of friends; I am sincerely fond of her. In fact, I have a drawer full of her Mother’s Day, birthday and ‘just because’ cards that I greatly value.

I would, absolutely, marry my DH again! He is the dearest, most uxorious and devoted man that any woman could possibly wish for. Like Rags’ bride, I am respected and cherished. 


Rags's picture


When the stars align and the equity life partners prioritize their marriage, it can happen and the kids can thrive as well. At lease eventually.  I am glad to hear that SD figured it out.

Exjuliemccoy's picture

Not worth it, especially if you're childfree.

It was like pouring water down a hole, and if I could go back I wouldn't spend one dime or one minute on someone else's damaged, ungrateful offspring.

crystaloo's picture

Divorced parents and stepkids get what they need and drop you. They only care about themselves and what you can do for them. Do not be used. 

Stepgram's picture

If things ended up the exact same way then no I would not do it again. If things were different and I established clear boundaries from the beginning then yes I would do it again.  The boundaries I have in place now are working well and I should have done that in the beginning. 

Stepgram's picture

My SD had behavioural needs when she was younger and all work fell on me to manage and correct those behaviours. I have a background in social work and behavioural issues. I did all the grunt work while dh was off playing whatever sport or latest activity that he was into to. It was hard and tiring when you work harder than the bio parents.  I had all the responsibility but none of the authority.  I should have taught him the techniques and then coach him on using them.

SD is still a needy person but now I tell her no.  SD's husband suggested that he could leave their baby with us for a week. I said no.  When he persisted,  I clearly informed him that I was not providing childcare to their son and they were more than welcome to visit as a family but they would need to be responsible for his needs.  When SD calls to whine about something. I practice supportive listening and then say "wow, that's a lot on your plate. Who will you contact to help you with that?"  SD likes to complain how hard it is and that they need a break from the baby. They go on date night once per week plus she drops her son off at her mother's 2 weekends per month.  They have been doing that since the baby was 2 weeks old. DH suggested that we should take the baby but I told him that he would need to be 100% for him then.  My DH changed his mind as he finds his grandson needs to be watched all the time and that would interfere with DH's nap and other leisurely pursuits.  

In hindsight, I should have ensured that my dh did active parenting when his daughter was younger.  DH used to agree to things for SD and then dump the work on me.  When he tries to do that now I tell him to have fun doing xyz as I was not the one to commit to that. 

Stepgram's picture

I should have social worked my dh first. I started a bit late in the game but at least he is respecting the boundaries. I clearly told him what my bottom line was and that he would need to cater to his side of the family. That meant no more gift buying or travelling out of town to visit them if I did not feel like it. I no longer work harder than he does. 

failuretolaunch's picture

I often wonder why the hell I did it. I think it all just snowballed, I ended up having my own kids with ex and that was it really. PArt of me also thinks I was trapped. She is straight on to the next sucker after 3 months splitting. Poor bastard. He lives in a different city and I've basically done all the hard work. 

It was hell. 1 autistic, 1 emotional issues and a thief. I would NEVER do it again. I will be advising my kids to NEVER EVER EVER do it. Plenty of people out there without kids

I hated it, realised now I never wanted it but I triedmy best. I think holding the thought 'I don't really want your kids to be here' inside for a period of time really has an effect on a person.

hregal2011's picture

There a few things to think of-not having my SD would mean not having DH.  I love him to death..and he is so good to my 2 kids and our son.  I gave up a lot for my SD, I literally foreclosed on my house (market crashed and I couldn't sell for anything near what I paid, I wanted to wait and buy in a town I had grown up in)and moved states-leaving my kids family (thinking they would actually come visit-it's an hr from me to my family) and I had to start over career wise.  I think back to the times when I've told My kids to give SD a chance because she has a rough home life with birth mom and SD was always very needy.  Now I'm the devil and we argue over her.  I guess 'is it worth it' depends on how you can balance your experiences.  I have a lot of negative but most of the positive with and w/o SD overweight that-or maybe I Make it overweigh the negative.  I do know I am happier with DH (and by default SD) then without but I'm working on not letting SD not control my daily moods.  

JRI's picture

I've also struggled with not letting BM (now deceased) or SD60 (still here) occupy much space in my head.  It"s a challenge.  Once BM dumped off her 3 kids on us, remarried and went on her own way, her influence on my life diminshed.  SD60 is still dependent on us financially and dependent emotionally on DH84 so she's still a factor in my thinking because I'm on constant guard.  Sadly, there's not much chance of her relaunching into her own life, she's burned every bridge.  I hope you have better luck.

Tananne's picture

I do believe I'm getting the better version of DH than his ex did, and I really love us together, but it comes at a HUGE cost.  If at any moment DH stops treating me like gold then I'd pack my bags faster than I could say goodbye.

Sometimes I just wonder why I couldn't find this version of a man without kids so it probably boils down to a self esteem issue with me.  So far, everything is relatively good with SKs but after reading a lot on this site, that could change at the drop of a hat.  I just don't know if the heartache is worth it.  Bioparents always get way more out of relationships with their own children than many steps will with their kids, so either DH hit the jackpot with me because he gets the most out of all of this, or maybe I have the upper hand because he knows I could leave if I'm not happy just keeps him trying his hardest to appease me when it comes to house rules and boundaries I've set forth.

Rags's picture

No one should marry or stay married to a failed parent or continually failing or toxic person. 

Reading this entire thread is certainly thought provoking.

Marriage to a strong parent, with strong character, who is commited to and prioritizes their partner and their relationship can make SParenting  a very fulfilling experience.

Marriage is to be between two equity life partners.  By equity I am not referring to earnings.  Equity in this context refers to equity of commitment, equity of priority, and equity of effort.  

A partner who fails to control their children is not an equity life partner.  A partner that does not without exception prioritize  their mate and  their marriage/relationship is not an equity life partner.  A partner that does not demonstrate equity of effort is not worthy nor are they an equity life partner.

Without some extenuating influence, say a severe injury or illness, or career collapse beyond their control why tolerate someone who is not an equity partner?  Failed parents, failed adults, manipulators, etc,  who do not correct these choices and keep them corrected should have no place in our lives.

IMHO of course.

Tananne's picture

I truly wish every single parent had the outlook that you and your wife do. I always enjoy reading your posts because there is a lot of wisdom and a lot to be said for how you chose to truly step in and raise your son as your own.

What's hard for me is that my DH has this bond and love for 3 small people that I'm not sure I will ever have with them.  I can care for them, but I don't want to sacrifice my life for them like he would.  This major, all encompassing life event of having children is something we will never have in common (unless we have our own). So without becoming resentful, how do we have an equal equity partnership?  Does it just mean that he'll always have much more on his plate than I will?  He values my input, thoughts on discipline etc etc etc but going to 6 soccer games in a weekend is his priority whereas I'll only go if I have no other plans.  I don't get giddy talking about "cute" things they do like he does.  I just wonder if the imbalance is setting us up for serious resentment on either his side or mine.

Rags's picture

regarding being equity parents to any children in our home whether, mine, hers, or ours.  Ultimately SS is an only child in our marriage.

I fully recognize that my experience is  about as easy as being a SParent can get.  One skid.  A baby when we met, not yet 2yo when we married.  DW was the sole legal and physical custody  CP, and we never lived nearer than ~1200 miles from SpermLand.  The visitation schedule for SS with the SoermClan was long distance and encompassed 7 weeks per year (5wks summer, 1wk winter, 1 wk spring). For the 16 years of the CO there were a number of years that they never took visitation.

DW already had her parenting style locked in when we met.  And... the Skid was a mutant.  Mellow, quiet, engaging, pleasant, etc...  For the first month or so we dated SS watched me like a hawk.  He had a very discerning hairy eyeball on me constantly.  He watched how I was with his mom, and how I was with him.  Then, one day he decided I must be okay and called me Daddy.  We were the three musketeers pretty much from the beginning and have been ever since.

His mom is the lynchpin of my SParenting success and of our blended family.  There is not a doubt in my mind on that.

To keep things as simple and direct as possible we enforced the CO to the letter.  They hated it, but for us they didn't matter.

Maybe a talk with DH about the visitation schedules and preserving the non Skid time for your marriage would work.  BM can deal with sports, etc.... on her time.  DH can do so on his time.

If not, the SParent journey at best might be excruciating and at worst might end the marriage. And maybe it should end it if your partner isn't living up to the equity criteria.

I hope that you and DH can figure it out.

skell76's picture

As Rags said if my DH wasn't supportive, strong, didn't have like minded parenting/boundaries for HCBM it would be different.  I am so very thankful that my DH and I are a total team, supports me.  He stands up for me when I'm being told I can't enter a conference or pick SD up from school. However it is so very tiring dealing with her from the large 3 year trial to the simple things of she had SD's ONLY dress shoes and ONLY pair of tennis shoes and refuses to give them back.  Everything with her is hard and with that, I wonder is this worth it - she's only 7 we have a LONG way to go. I am so tired and I've raised my kids.   I've been at it for only 4 years (SD was 3) and she's almost 8.  What we had a conversation about is I just told him I hate this life, I love him, our marriage but this life sucks  After he told me the see you next tuesday dance moms were so rude to him when he took SD this weekend. Or he gets snubbed by the PTO board at a workout facility because they are friends/work with with HCBM when he's just super nice and says hello.  I hate this life so much for us, for him, for SD. I was married almist 18 years and I know what it was like to have a nuclear family, sport friends, school friends everyone chats and hangs out. We are always odd man out because we don't have SD all the time so friends outside of school don't always include us if we don't have her and it's a family activity. SD is the only one not paired for her golf league because her HC mom refuses to let her participate any other day so she doesn't have relationships with any kids / families close to us.  I could go on and on.....

I hate this life where I'm horrible just because I'm the SM, I can't be true friends with women that might be interested in friendship because I can't trust their relationship with HCBM or the women that flat out treat me like shit because our family is strong and I'm strong as a SM.  SD talks about my girls and my granddaighter as her family. Every single school journal entry is about myself, DH or my girls/grandbaby. A lot are just of me or her and I doing something.  Not a single one of her mom or boyfriend or his daughter that HCBM tries to force as her "sister"   HCBM runs her mouth non stop and you would think folks at a certain age would be smart enough to realize there are always two sides and somewhere in the middle is the truth but what I've learned....people are idiots. HCBM lost everything at trial including decision making for her daughter but in her tribe it's oh the judge just sided with the dad or something stupid. Not the fact that it was a fair and proper ruling.

I miss strong friendships/couple friendships for myself as well as my husband.  He's a great dad that doesn't deserve anything nasty that's been thrown his way because of HCBM. Is it worth it....I'm 50/50 right now. 

Rags's picture

benefits of a long distance visitation schedule.  We never had these struggles primarily due to never living nearer than ~1200 miles to SpermLand followed by a complete lack of interest in SS's life by the SpermClan.  They were manipulative, toxic, etc... but... we only had to deal with it periodically rather than constantly as you and DH have had to.

ESMOD's picture

I think if we look back at a lot of things.. we might think how we would have had things go differently had we made different choices in partners.  Not to be callous about it.. but my DH has had health issues that have been quite expensive for us to weather... and he has had some fairly mixed results in his earnings over the years (running his own business and working for others).  It's not for lack of try.. but sometimes life just conspires against us eh?  The trials and tribulations of being with a man with a toxic ex and two daughters when I had none.. I guess I could have saved some of the headaches.

But.. in the end... I am not sure I would have not made the same choice in partner.. but maybe would have made some different choices within the partnership in hindsight?

In the end.. I have a great relationship with my YSD.. and a civil one with her older sister.  Ex is still crazy.. and for this reason.. when my YSD does her life collages of pictures.. I'm usually not part of them.. because her mom is such a horrible person she would block her daughter.. and I honestly get that YSD is totally in an awkward place there.  But.. she calls me for advice.. tells me she loves me.. and is a great travel partner that pays her own way.. so I just take our relationship as it goes and don't put demands on her that would be emotionally difficult to navigate with her mother.

But.. Yeah.. I think I would do it over.. but if I knew how some things turned out?? I might have changed a few things.. haha.

Loxy's picture

I read a lot of SP books in the early days and one piece of advice that resonated with me is that if you look to your SK's for the prize (ie what makes it worthwhile) then you will always come up short. The prize/reward (ie what should make it worthwhile) is your partner. However, I would say 90-95% of the partners of the SP's on this site are pretty awful so it amazes me how many people do stay in such difficult situations for so long. 

I am lucky and do have that solid partner unit, ie we parent together, mutual respect, love etc and yet if it wasn't for my BS3 I can honestly still say that it hasn't been worth it and I definitely wouldn't do it again. I absolutely hated the first 5-6 years, I felt depressed and trapped and this is with a very supportive partner. It slowly got easier and I did bond with my SS over time and end up loving him but it will never compare to how I love my BS. As for my SD, I just never bonded with her, no one could I reckon as she's just not a nice person - likely on the sociopath/pychopathy scale. 

I ended up disengaging/disconnecting from SD about 18 months ago and that has helped but I long for the days when she no longer lives with us and I can minimise contact with her. Feeling like you just need to survive someone you share a house with is not a nice way to live and SD is the sole reason why I wouldn't have gone down this path if I've known what I was in for.

However, if you took SD out of the picture I would happily say that although it was hard I'm so glad I did it as I view my SS as part of my family along with DH and my BS but I have no interest in SD. 

ESMOD's picture

It really seems like the BIG difference in whether a situation works well is the bio parent/partner... and sometimes to a little lesser extent the step parent.  It's not the toxic ex.. not the feral kids.. it's whether the partnership of BP and SP is healthy.. whether the BP supports the SP as a head of the household.. whether they have realistic expectations.. whether they back up their partner.  With the SP it often requires someone who can be flexible, pragmatic and selfless (or at least not selfish).

I'm not saying the toxic EX and feral kids can't make it a challenge.. but it's the partners' ability to manage those challenges that separate the wheat from the chaffe.

nappisan's picture

nope wouldnt do it again.  My son is 20 and launched so im pretty much childless these days ,,, HELL NO would i ever get involved with anyone who has a younger child or even an adult child which hasnt launched.  i spent years being at the bottom of someones priority list because of the SS and previous failed relationship,, never again would i even dip my feet in the waters of someone with young children and divorced daddy

failuretolaunch's picture

On the flip side. I am newly single and I would never put somebody in that position of being a step parent. My kids are great so far but they are my responsibility and knowing what I know and how I felt they will NEVER have a step mum and a women will not be my priority until they are at least 18. I will never live with a woman again or at LEAST for 10 years. I will protect a women from being an DP and I will parent by myself.

like another PP, I feel used but I was called the selfish one when I helped raise her kids, dealt with her and all her problems and ailments and an ex husband, autistic boy, a thief, raised my kids.

What the he'll was I thinking come to mind.

You can never have the same bond with step kids and I just wouldn't expect anyone to even try.

Exjuliemccoy's picture

I wish more single parents thought as you do. Focus more on the kids, raise and launch them properly, and only then get back in the dating pool - imagine all the grief that could be avoided for everyone.

Someoneelse's picture

I think it's worth mentioning that I notice the step DADS are the ones I notice saying it's worth it in the end... I see step moms saying it's not worth it, I could have missed some (as there were lots of comments) but it is funny to see that.

IMO SD will be a senior in high school next year, and I will see if I feel differently after she graduates, we wont be bound by the CO any longer and we wont be paying child support any longer... after that I think things will be different... but we'll see.

Jake's picture

I am lucky because I married the love of my life. I am still in love after 38 years.

Bio child free man with 4 stepchildren. I feel like I have been passed over. Very capable of fullfilling the parenting role. Did so for

20 plus years. They all took my love. support. respect and my kindness. I had the honor of paying for educations and weddings.

I have mostly felt like a outsider looking in. I am loved but as a favorite uncle not as a beloved father. I have no real bond with

any of my step children. Not for the lack of trying. I just do not fit the bill. Next time around I would want to be a father.

That is my only regret. I take what I am given and now only return the favor. I do not get involed in the drama.

I disengage.if disrespected.

Thanks for asking warmest regards Jake

Jojo4124's picture

your SO and you are a unit. NOT you, SO, and BM your home, you and SO are the rule makers, etc. My situation was not worth it because my dh put me 5th in line after BM and their adult kids. Not a win for me. Personally, I am a confirmed bachelorette now. But IF there ever was another opportunity, and the man was great, if he had kids I would be asking a ton of questions and observing his parenting and his relationship with BM over many many months if not years. To me, being in something toxic was not worth the battering I took mentally, spiritually, emotionally and even physically. If my dh chose me as number one, he would have respected me and would have expected his kids to respect me as well. It doesn't seem hard to do, but for some people who are enmeshed with and worship their children, it is near impossible to be unified with their spouse or SO. NOT worth that. Not worth giving up peace at all. 

why_bother_anymore's picture

I wish I could say it was worth it or is worth it. I have 2 kids ( were 8 & 4), he had 2 kids (were 6 & 3) then we later had our child. I tried so hard with his kids. They hated me for no reason. Their BM was jerking around DH prior to our marriage. She was having the kids beg she came along on outings, he did it. She was getting extra money, by telling him he was supposed to pay for their health insurance (she got free from welfare) so since he didn't he had to pay for her car insurance. 

Fast forward 9 years of marriage and 12 years together. Our kids are as follows: Mine 21 & 17, His 19 & 16, Ours 8 soon to be 9. His two daughters ignored, tried to break us up constantly. He pulled away from my kids as a father role of any type because his oldest when we first got married, told my daughter HE WASNT HER DAD. My daughter was 6 and called DH "daddy his name". We had close friends with my kids growing up that they called UNCLE and AUNT, who weren't related.

I thought we had gotten past all our troubles in June of 2021 when his oldest requested me to come to her graduation and graduation party.  For the first time, she called me Stepmom not my name or nothing. His youngest was spending time here and we were getting along. Apparently it was all a ploy to see how much they could get out of me and their dad. Once the brakes were haulted at buying each of them a vehicle, they have disappeared into the abyss again.

The part I really regret is having a child with DH, who will always be made to feel like nothing to half her siblings. His children do not give a shit about our daughter and never have. They do fake it well when they are here. I'm sure DH has seen the light on that one 8 years to late. 

I will never DO THIS AGAIN! I actually dream of a no skid life. Not being 2 or 3rd in my own life. It took SD19 stopping talking to him after he told her she couldn't borrow his truck when her car (the one that BM's StepDAD bought) broke down. He told her it had to go in the shop, it did and no there was no other vehicle for her to borrow. Did she need a part to fix it? Nope it was her plan to get his truck, which I am pretty sure he would never see again. 

The SD16 told me repeatedly prior to her birthday in march she would be getting a car from her DAD. Since that hasn't happened and we can't afford it. I didn't buy cars for my kids either. Both girls have decided he isn't worth their time. 

It's a awful situation, to which I don't wish on anyone. 

Oldrosie's picture

I wish every day I hadnt gotten myself into this situation. Very early on my DH promised it would get easier and it would be worth it. 4 years in and it is worse than ever and I now have the resentment and regret. 

They make my skin crawl and I hate just being around them. Im nice to them and give them lots but deep down I hate it. 

They are such hard work, they dont listen, they lie, dont do as they are told. All of the hard work makes me not able to enjoy them even on their good days. 

I have the 100% of the time - it was the worst decsion of my life.