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Struggling - new stepparent

saruhhh_04's picture

Hi All,

I am new to this site. This will be a long post, but I'm in need of advice. Here's some general background information about me: I have been with my current boyfriend for nearly 3 years. He has a 5 y/o son with his ex (they were not together when I met him). I met his son about 4 months after we started dating. Even though we are not married yet, I do consider him my stepson.

Although I have been in his life for over 2 years, I have not met his mother. She does not want to meet me. I have heard from several people that it is best to not meet her because she is simply "crazy" and unpredictably goes from one mood to another. Basically, in her mind I am  the "bad guy" and she won't change her mind about me. I am not looking to become best friends with her, but it bothers me that she won't give me a chance. When she found out that I had met her son, she sent angry messages to my boyfriend's mother - threatening to keep their son from them. She also claimed that I gave her a heart attack, when her son asked her about me. Ever since then, she has blocked me on all social media platform's and seems to purposefully avoid me. She rarely gets out of the car when she arrives to pick him up from our house, and if she does, I have noticed that she will hide or immediately go back into her car if she sees me. On his last birthday, she also decided last minute that she wasn't going to have a party. Which my bf found a little strange - his past birthday's have always had a big celebration. We eventually found out, she did throw a party with her family and current bf and did not invite us. Perhaps I am paranoid...I just cannot help but feel guilty that maybe she chose that simply bc she didn't want to be around me.

I love my stepson, he is the spitting image of his father. He's funny and caring. But he does have his moments towards me where he gets an attitude. These moments seem to happen whenever his father leaves the room. He lately has been mentioning about how I don't care about him, which is absolutely untrue! He mentions that a lot, and once again, I feel that it might be coming from his mother. He has a hard time listening. He is very good a manipulating people. He does not listen to his father or me. When he gets in trouble or put in time-out, he makes himself throw-up bc he knows that'll get him out of it bc then we're worried about how he's feeling. He talks back a lot, and does not listen. He disrespect me, and purposefully does the opposite of what is asked. Which I know is normal for a 5 y/o, but I feel like this is more than the average kid his age. My bf does not want to punish him too harshly, and let's a lot of things slide since he rarely gets to see him (he is not on the birth certificate, so she tends to keep him away until she needs something).

I have expressed my frustrations to my bf. It hurts when I am disrespected and to have nothing done about it. Everything is let go and I feel like it's getting relayed to his son that it is ok to treat me this way. He suggested that I could punish him, but I don't bc I know I do not have the right to do so. I do not have a child of my own, but I try to be a loving, parent figure when he's with his father. I do not let him call me 'mom', although he has tried to several times. I try to take him out and treat him to things here and there. But nothing changes. I'm frustrated. I give my all and try to show him that I do love him, but my efforts seem to go unnoticed.

Has anyone been in a similar situation? Similar problems with the child's other parent, or feeling defeated and underappreciated by the child themselves? None of my friends or family have been in my situation, and it's beginning to feel like I'm alone Sad

pinkb's picture

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but I think almost all of us have been in this situation at one time or another... and it doesn't get easier from here. 

The GOOD news is you probably have a decent chance on helping to possibly influencec better behavor since he's only five but that's IFF you and your BF/SO/Husband figure out amicably together how the *rules* and consequences for breaking them are going to appear.

START NOW. A best of luck to you.

notasm3's picture

Consider yourself lucky that BM wants nothing to do with you.  There is absolutely no reason for the two of you to ever have a relationship.  She is nothing to you.  And you are nothing to her.   Many women here would kill for a BM that ignores them.

And don't forget that this is not your child and will never be your child.  He's not very likely to ever appreciate you in his life like you think he should.   He might, but don't hold your breath. 

He's at an age where he needs to learn to respect authority figures like teachers, babysitters and yes even you.  But that's up to his father to teach him.

saruhhh_04's picture

I understand that a lot of people would prefer to have nothing to do with the BM. It just bothers me that she's saying negative things about me without even being in the same room as me. And I do not want her whispering things into her son's ear. Also, I don't want to have a negative affect on the events that my bf has been/should be invited to (like their son's birthday parties, school related events, etc.) I'm still understanding how to accept that this isn't going to be a perfect relationship - it's just tough to come to terms with that at times.

SteppedOut's picture

Most divorced/split couples do not have joint birthday parties... your SO can have a party for SS and invite his family and SS friends from your neighborhood.

School events... he should be involved with your son's education and obtain his own info on events...he does not need to attend with BM as they are not a couple.

Your SO is not on the birth certificate and worries about visitation? Why hasn't he established paternity and fought for court ordered visitation. He should look into that unless he wants to remain at the whim of his ex. Why on earth would he want that?

You or your SO can not control what BM says to SS about you... sounds like she is petty and has...and she will continue to do so. The only thing you can do is prove her wrong.

saruhhh_04's picture

I understand where you're coming from. She hides a lot of details regarding where their son attends schools - and she moves around so much. One day she is 5 minutes from my bfs house, then a month later she moved 2 hours away. 

He has offered to go through a lawyer with her to create a visitation schedule together. She plays with that idea and will admit to him that she needs help raising him and she needs a break, and then goes on the defensive a few days later claiming she won't meet with a lawyer bc she 'isn't signing over her rights' (which he has never asked her to do). My bf looked into attorneys on his own and most have told him that in our city, after 4 years, it's very hard to prove why you should be on the birth certificate that long after the birth, so he's essentially at her mercy now. Idk how solid that fact is, but my bf claims that is what the lawyers have told him. 

SteppedOut's picture

Idk, I think he should try a different attorney... I don't think it's ever too late.

Does he pay child support?

saruhhh_04's picture

That was what I was thinking, but I was never 100% sure. I'll recommend looking into a different attorney.

No, he does not. But he does give her money to pay for their son's school needs, clothes/necessities, as well as paying for someone to watch him when my bf is unable to. We do not know whether the money is used specifically for SS or not. He does what he can for now.

SteppedOut's picture

Any money he pays her should be going though your state's child support office. Do you know some states will allow "back child support"?

What I mean by that... if you live in a state that allows that... she could file for child support now and could be awarded a sum for the previous "X" amount of time... 

The child support office will establish paternity. 

If it was me, I would not pay anything further until a child support order was in place.


saruhhh_04's picture

I will definitely mention that,as well!  I know he would love to be on the birth certificate, that way he can have some sort of say. And that way she couldn't just pick up and move several hours away without him knowing, again.

We'll look into whether our state allows back child support.

SteppedOut's picture

If they allow back support or not, I'm guessing if he stopped paying until a child support order was in place (and therefore paternity established) it would get taken care of QUICKLY. That may be the easiest (and cheapest) way of establishing paternity. Without paternity established your BF (and YOU) will cater to the whims of BM. Doesn't sound like the life I would want; you may be different. 

Harry's picture

of a happy family of you, so and SS is not going to happen.  BM will always be there to screw thing up.  This is not going to change.  If you want a happy family you better have a baby with SO. Because SS is going to be a lost cause 

Kes's picture

Welcome to the site!  The BM in my life, said bad things about me to her 5 and 7 yr old daughters, before I'd ever met her.  What sort of person you are doesn't matter to them at all - it's just your very existence they hate, and the fact that you're with their ex.  

I had a similar problem to you in that my DH was a "Disney Dad" and wouldn't discipline his daughters properly for fear that he'd lose them.  They came to us every other weekend until their late teens. I think that this is the thing that you should tackle with your boyfriend while his child is still young enough for it to be effective.  He needs to be a good role model for his son, and put rules about behaviour in place - if he doesn't - the kid will become an obnoxious little dictator before you know it.  

Don't bother trying to change your relationship to the BM - you'll never manage it and will waste a lot of your time and energy.  

saruhhh_04's picture

It's comforting to hear someone else has experienced something similar to what I'm going through. I don't know why the BM has been bothering me as much as she has.

My SS's mother has been dating a guy for about a year. He picks him up and drops him off occasionally. Lately, when SS talks about this guy, he refers to him as 'his daddy'...and it breaks my BF's heart bc he didn't choose to be excluded from so much of his son's life and now another guy has been living with him after the BM and him were dating for a short time. It just seems like a double standard to her. She is allowed to move on and have a new man who is not my BF into her son's life and there's not problems...but when it comes to her son's father moving on with me, she is so against this idea and having SS spending time with us.

Yes, I agree that he should set rules and follow-through with disciplining when those rules are broken. I have mentioned this and he is, like your SO, scared to lose his son. And he doesn't want to confuse him bc he doesn't know what the BM allows in her house. My view is, SS needs to know what is ok at his mom's house and what is ok at his dad's house. So far, his approach to not enforcing any discipline and sticking with it, is not working. I dunno what else I could do to help him understand this.

Kes's picture

Not knowing what rules are in place at BM's house is a very poor excuse for him not having rules at his own house!  Even a young child is capable of understanding that Mum and Dad may allow different things at their respective houses.  I suggest you draw up a list of rules that you consider reasonable, then ask your DH to discuss it with you, and agree on it before implementing them.  

saruhhh_04's picture

That's what I was thinking. Especially at his age, he is smart enough to know that different places have different rules - and mom and dad's houses are no different.

So much misbehavior has been brushed under the rug, that he's now testing his limits and seeing how far he can push us. Again, I am sure this is typical behavior as my 4 y/o nephew does similar things at times. But this happens every day we see him, several times a day. When I try to put my foot down (I use a firm tone and nothing else), he laughs and continues to do it. When I go to my BF and tell him what is happening, he will talk to SS again, but then usually says something along the lines of, "we're going to let it slide, just don't do it again".

I am going to sit down with my BF and discuss this with him. I understand kids will not listen at times, but I do not like feeling like I have no say on the guidelines that are set in our home. Hopefully he agrees and we are able to agree on some rules together.

justmakingthebest's picture

Most of the things you mentioned are pretty normal. Irritating for sure, but normal... The one thing that stands out is that your BF is not on the birth certificate? Is he paying court ordered child support? Do you have a custody agreement? 

I would think the #1 thing he needs to do is get that birth certificate revised. Then go to court and get a custody agreement. You really don't need a lawyer for this- you can do it yourself but it will protect his time with his son. Without his name on the birth certificate things can happen quickly without you knowing.... like BM's current boyfriend suddenly being named as father. 

saruhhh_04's picture

That is correct. He is not on the birth certificate. He has tried to reach out to BM to go through an attorney/judge/whatever she was comfortable with, that way they could figure out a way to split SS's time between mom and dad's houses. She goes along with the idea for a bit and then comes back on the defensive and says she will not.

He does not pay court ordered child support, and there is no custody agreement. He has tried to speak with several different lawyers in the past, but has been told that it is not an easy process. I am going to suggest he speak to someone new. I know you mentioned that he could do this on his own. However, if for any reason they need the BM to be present for anything, it may be best to go through a third party since she has not accepted his previous suggestions.

justmakingthebest's picture

So, this is how I would start- go to the court house in your county. Request a hearing for establishing paternity, visitation and child support. When you get your hearing, the judge will ask about him not being on the birth certificate- he will order a DNA test and once that comes back he will be put on the birth certificate whether BM likes it or not. He will also be granted visitation after that as well as be expected to pay child support. You don't need a lawyer for family court. Don't waste the money.

saruhhh_04's picture

Thank you for the suggestion! I will bring this up to him. I honestly did not think it could be that easy, I always thought it would be a long, drawn-out process. But it sounds pretty straightforward.

justmakingthebest's picture

I am not saying there won't be lawyer battles down the road. However to establish paternity and start the ball rolling, you guys can totally do it yourself. When the judge asks why you waited so long, you simply tell the truth, to keep peace.

SteppedOut's picture

He's the guy that does what the kid's mom says, babysits for free when she needs it and gives her money. Nothing more. 

saruhhh_04's picture

He never took an official paternity test - but when you see SS and my BF together, they are identical. I know that is not an effective way to determine paternity at all, but everyone would be shocked if he somehow was not the father.

SteppedOut's picture

Legally, he is NOT the child's father. He has ZERO rights.

He is just some guy that gives BM money and babysits for free.