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Thoughts on family events in blended family

Chalky.hands's picture

Hello everyone,

Just wondering your views on attending family events as a step parent.

What are realistic expectations and boudaries as a step parent in a blended family ?

Is it your responsibility to blend the family ?

I sometime feel like all the pressure is on me but I shouldn't expect anything in return. But also if I stop trying I'm a terrible person but if they don't, it's fine. 

Is it okay for bio parents and stepkids to exclude step parents? I feel like as a step-parent you are EXPECTED to go out of your way to make it work but with no rewards.

When do you think it's okay for bio parents to play happy family and exclude their SO?

Does being excluded mean you are not considered family ?

I'm a bit conflicted. I understand kids (even adult kids) want both their parents to attend special events such as BDs and graduations but I've always struggled with being rejected from family events WHILE being told that I'm fully accepted as a stepmom. 

Is it okay to be excluded when the only reason is that BM doesn't like me ? Wouldn’t that mean that it's about her and not the kids ? 

Just some thoughts. Happy to hear yours. I know it's a lot of questions 



JRI's picture

I attended all the family events before BM died and I do now.  I dont have many expectstions.  I"m polite and civil to everyone and they are to me.  I realize I symbolize the death of their "happy family" so in their perfect world, I wouldnt be there.  But, there I am, for DH's sake.  Do I wish I never had another Christmas with SD62?  You bet.

Now that our 5 "kids" are in their 50s and 60s, our only family event is Christmas but thankfully now, most are celebrating with their own families so we see them more singly, plus some are out of town.  The grandkid weddings will be the next thing but so far, none on the horizon.

I hated the graduation parties, holidays, showrrs and weddings.  All I could do was look my very best, act decently and have a big glass of wine when it wss all over.

BM probably felt the same.  Her husband, Clueless, at one of these functions where all were on good behavior, said, :"We ought to get together and go out some time."   Before I could think of anything, BM screamed, "Oh, God, NO!"  Lol



Rags's picture

IMHO a SParent should be as involved and take every right that they choose.  No one including a mate, their prior family progeny, their X, or their family can or should be tolerated to interfere in any way with the SParent's engagment or choosing not to engage.

It is also the SParents choice to enforce standards of behavior and Standards of Performance including exposing the  bio parents and stepkids to excluding step parents.

IMHO of course.

Do not let them detract from you living your best life. They either contribute and participate in your best life, or purge them. All. Including an idiot spouse.

Also, IMHO of course.


Chalky.hands's picture

able to chose how much they want to be involved. In my case I have never been invited to anything. Once, SO and I planned to attend a sport event that we had to cancel because BM didn't want to see me there. She made it about herself but then she also blames SO on a regularly basis for not being there enough for the kids. The irony.

I was very disappointed that SO let her decide of our plans. 

Even though I'm not being treated very well SO would NOT be okay with me disengaging.

Rags's picture

IMHO, if your partner is invited, you are invited.  Do not complicate it beyond that.

He goes, you go.  Be radiant, be present, be together, be happy.  If that pisses anyone else off, bonus.


Chalky.hands's picture

I am NOT invited. SO knows I'm not invited and he is OK with it.

Is that a red flag ?

Chalky.hands's picture

Not let me in the car

Rags's picture

Not only a red flag, this is a complete deal breaker. Purge him and them from your life.

Do yourself that service.

Rags's picture

IMHO a SParent should be as involved and take every right that they choose.  No one including a mate, their prior family progeny, their X, or their family can or should be tolerated to interfere in any way with the SParent's engagment or choosing not to engage.

It is also the SParents choice to enforce standards of behavior and Standards of Performance including exposing the  bio parents and stepkids to excluding step parents.

IMHO of course.

Do not let them detract from you living your best life. They either contribute and participate in your best life, or purge them. All. Including an idiot spouse.

Also, IMHO of course.


CajunMom's picture

After 12 years of toxic treatment in StepHell, I complete disengaged. There is a SLOW return to reunification but that will not change anything for me in how I interact with DHs kids.

I do NOT attend any events for DHs kids. Granted, I was rarely invited to anything (neither was DH) but on the rare ocassions we were, I did not attend. DH and I have been together 19 years. I have come to terms with the fact he has  two with me and one with his kids. I do not feel slighted by not fact, it's a relief. Granted, there is no "big happy family" going on when I'm not around even when the BM was still alive....DH steered clear of her as much as possible. Still, I just got to a point I didn't care.

As i said, there is a slow reunification plan in place but that will not change my stance. I am civil and superficial with DHs kids, don't stay around long and will never attend any life events for those people. And I'm good with that. As long as they don't impact my life or marriage.....


Chalky.hands's picture

React when he realised you are disengaging ? Did he blame you for it ?

Did disengaging improve your life? 

CajunMom's picture

It's been hard on him but he also realizes he did minimal "work" in our marriage (in regards to Step issues) so he's reaping his own consequences. While he fully supports my stance (and all my boundaries came via counseling), it hurts him to have to travel alone and be without me for a week. Or not being able to see them in our marital home (another counselor approved boundary) when they are local. 

None of that matters, though. What matters is ME. For TWELVE years, I tolerated abusive toxic behavior at the hands of DHs ex and his adult kids. Add in the adult kids impacting the two youngest and you can imagine the dysfunction I had to tolerate and manage. Think major deep depression along with physical ailments brought on by the excessive stress. It took me near 3 years to get my life and health back. I'm not going backwards.

The marriage? Of course it improved. The "toxic" went from full force to a minimal drip. DH and I rarely argue these days. Looking back, 95% of the arguments were about his kids' behaviors and him avoiding conflcit or ignoring their mess. As mentioned, we are on a slow reunification process, where I plan to be cordial but nothing more. And if "toxic" tries to sneak in the door, I have no issues tell said adults to excuse themselves from my home. DH knows it. They know it. My game playing days are over. 

Sadielady's picture

I don't think there's a right or wrong answer here. It depends on your particular situation and the personalities of the players. As step-parents, I think we need to sacrifice a little to male it work. But so does everyone else. If you're truly being invited in, and that means some discomfort from time to time, you might want to try and the discomfort may pass. The thing to be clear on, and I think many of us (definitely me included) get "invited in" when it works for the family and excluded when it doesn't. And I don't think that works for too many people.

Chalky.hands's picture

I've never been invited to anything. Even a simple birthday dinner that falls when we have custody I'll be excluded from. 

None of SKs ever greet me first and SD won't ever talk to me. 

And I'm still trying but losing my sanity at times. They make me feel like I don't matter at all

Rags's picture

If your mate is invited, you are invited.  Go, be present, be radiant, be together, be happy.

If that pisses anyone off, bonus!

Canceling because it has been too long since BM has been layed is not an option IMHO.  Let her suffer.

And... enjoy her suffering.  She has earned it.


Rumplestiltskin's picture

If you are asking when it's ok for your husband, his ex, and their adult kids to go out or have parties together, excluding you....come on. You KNOW it's not ok. Also, if your husband, his ex, and their adult or near-adult kids are having a party or outing together as a "family", and invite you to come watch.....still not ok. You either are or aren't your husband's partner. If decisions are being made amongst your husband, his kids, and his ex, but not you, you aren't his partner, they are. 

Chalky.hands's picture

They tried to make it look like it's okay and just for the kid. So I'm questioning myself. Do I set unreasonable expectations?

I think I'm too avoidant in general so I won't stand up for myself. SO even said to me I'm naive.


Dogmom1321's picture

We don't do family events. Period. DH prefers it that way. The only thing I can forsee is high school graduation (HOPEFULLY) that we would probably all attend. But that's it. 

MorningMia's picture

In 18 or so years, I have attended one event--a wedding. And we were treated like crap, something that was denied later (as usual). The skids knew that if they wanted their father somewhere, they needed to invite "us." But things were so hostile for so long that I never attended. No graduations, baby showers, etc. DH would go (I kind of felt bad about him going alone) and was always the odd man out. He never stayed for the parties after the graduations, etc. 

With grandchildren now in the picture, there is more of the pull from SD to be a big happy family "again"--her lifelong fantasy, which I knew would happen (picture Mia in a circle with a red line drawn diagonally...ha!), so I feel those awkward moments, but what's done is done. So so much damage so long ago and I have no control over anyone but myself. I know BM harbors deep bitterness about  DH (he had the audacity to move on), so it's not like back in the old days when she was acting like she would be Wife #1 and I'd be Wife #2.  Odd--the whole thing. 

If people can get along, I think SM should attend events. It's when the events have that exclusion feel to them that there's a problem, in my view. And I don't think it's on the SM to plan any events like that. Hope this makes sense. 

Chalky.hands's picture

To invite you as well. But it must suck to feel excluded in such events.

Is it getting better now? 

MorningMia's picture

I was only invited because they knew DH would not go if I was not included in the invitation. But the ex and skids didn't  want me there and I didn't want to be there, so I didn't go. It worked out for everyone. 

For graduations, I sent gifts along with DH, and I'm sure they all got trashed. After several years, I did attend a wedding. We were looked at and treated like dog crap someone scraped off their shoe. It was so obvious that all friends and family had been told that we were ogres...Mama had to keep up her tangled web of lies that DH abandoned them (she had had an affair). DH actually wanted to leave before the ceremony, and I told him he could not. Not only would that have caused hurtful drama, but it would have fed into their narrative about us. We did not stay for the whole reception, though.

It's  a different story when your partner agrees with the ex that you should not be included, though. They should be putting on their big girl and boy panties, admitting that they chose divorce, and recognizing that people often date and remarry after divorce. Your SO should also feel empathy for you. He should be concerned about your feelings vs. being led around by some insecure imbecile. 

Harry's picture

Not birthday type of party where BM. the ex, the kids, her family. Cousin,,, SIL,BIL.  That ended with the divorce, you can have a small birthday celebration yourself.  But be prepared for major events,.... graduation,...weddings... GK..   I would not let my SO go without me.  I am the most important family member.  Not SK..NOT SO.   I am the one who has to deal with all the disfunction in life.   I will not be excluded, unless I don't want to be there. That's my choice not others.  

Rags's picture

I'm a go to everything and lord my presence over everyone person.  Be with the mate, look happy, be  happy, and be present with a clear glint in the eye challenging anyone to say something.  Be that couple. Together.  Be happy together, at each other's side, and enjoy that.  No one else really matters except for the quality people present.

Set the example of a quality happy successful life and partnership to the kids, and everyone else for that matter.

No one should let "those" types of people detract from their lives. Our job is to live our life out loud and make it clear that shit people are what they are.  Shit.  No need to verbalize that unless they make the mistake of trying to toss their diarrhea life's slurry in our direction. If they do... game on.


Be the person that the quality people present at the event gravitate to, and the person that the shit people present avoid and talk about in the dark roach filled corners.  Be radiant, be the light that sends the roaches scurrying.




Rags's picture

I really do not care about me getting an invitation. If my spouse gets one, I go with her.   If I get an invitation, she accompanies me.  She would never block me from attending and for sure would not block me from getting in the car.  Neither of us would even think about doing that to the other.

This reeks on so many levels that the stench is palpable. 

I am so sorry you are cursed with this asshole and his shallow and polluted gene pool in your life.

Rags's picture

No. I really do not care if I am directly invited. If my bride is invited, I go with her.  No one gets to say otherwise and for sure they do not get to try to prevent it.

If it is a family or couples event.  A baby or bridal shower, I might not attend if it is not a couples format.

BethAnne's picture

We now live several states away from BM so it would have to be a wedding really for there to be any prospect of both us and BM attending. Nothing else would really rise to being important enough to travel in my mind. I though have vowed to myself to never knowingly put myself at any event that BM will be at. I am only too happy to miss any future wedding of my sd16. I do not mind if my husband attends on his own. 

When sd was younger, our relationship newer and their divorce fresher and we lived in the same town, I was continually excluded. First was the birthday party for sd (when she was 5?). It was going to be in the park, obviously a public place. BM got my husband to pay for the food, she made invitations and I was on an invitation. I was nervous but prepared to go. The day of the party, BM changed her mind, told my husband I was no longer invited and he insisted that I didn't attend even though I pointed out it was a public park and I could turn up if I wanted.  He was annoyed at how BM excluded me last minute and apparently she didn't act in the best way at the party either. Swore he'd never do a joint birthday again. That fall they went trick or treating together...he was worried that BM would just be chatting with her friend and not interacting with their daughter - the happy family out together, that upset me. The next summer rolled around and with sd's birthday coming up he decided he was going to pay for a bowling party that BM was hosting...apparently this didn't count as a joint party as it was only bm's family/friends invited. I was very upset with him about this one after he'd sworn a year earlier that there would be no repeat. This is when I learnt that I couldn't trust his word when it comes to what he will and will not do towards his daughter and his ex. Well, yet again he was upset with how BM behaved at the bowling party and felt she ignored the kids. (Of course I was not invited to the party, not that I would have wanted to attend anyway). 

Luckily the next year we moved across country so it hasn't been an issue since. That move was the best thing for us, putting thousands of miles between us and BM majorly reduced the stress in our relationship and avoided many dramas with  - not that we were completely free of them, just we only had to deal with the big major stuff not the weekly minor crap. 

MorningMia's picture

Geographical distance is a lifesaver. I don't think I'd be married to DH if we had ever lived in the same town as the cult of BM. 

Rags's picture

A long distance visitation schedule is one of the primary elements of our Unicorn blended family experience.  If we had lived locally to the SpermClan, it would have been so much more contentious, expensive, and acrimonious. 

Elea's picture

Most divorced couples are required by court order to live in the same county as their ex. Move-aways, even for good reason, are typically denied.

Rags's picture

DW was never married to the Spermidiot. As a single teen mom she was awarded full physical and legal custody at birth.  Paternity was not established until SS was 1yo when the initial CO was issued establishing paternity, awarding $110/mo in CS, and documenting full physical and legal for DW.  She had graduated a few months before the initial CO was issued.  No establishing paternity on his original Birth Certificate probably supported DW's status as full physical and legal CP for the durantion.

Just before SS's 2nd Bday we married and were in court defending a custody attempt by SpermGrandHag on behalf of the Spermidiot.  Full physical and legal for DW was upheld.  She had moved out of State for university just after SS's first Bday.

DW never asked about moving out of state for University. She just went.  With 1yo SS on her hip.  It never was an issue.  The initial was done without a hearing. Her attorney put together the paperwork, the Judge signed, then the attorney promptly retired.  

If we were going through all of that now, likely it would have been far more difficult to take SS out of State.

DW never moved back to SpermLand.  She left when SS was a baby.  SS will only go there extremely hesitantly. He will only go if his mom and I are visiting my ILs.   Even at 31yo. It leaves a bad taste in his mouth.