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Why It's Easier to Love a Stepfather Than a Stepmother

Gigi82's picture

I know this topis was brought up on one of the forums the other day, but I don't know if this actual article was mentioned or not. I know someone mentioned reading a good article but I didn't see the thread again to see which one they were talking about. The author of Stepmonster explains why stepdads seem to get more love than the stepmoms, and why that is.

AVR1962's picture

Generally speaking,women are the nuturers and children pick up on that. Dads go out and earn a living but are generally by the book types, emotions don't invade their thought processes like with women and children are very receptive to all of this. Children target their anger to those who they feel more comfortable with. If they know dad is stern and will not accept their defiance they won't try it but many times moms/stepmoms have a softer spot. Women want to please and make things work, men lay it out as 'this is the way it is going to be.'

That's my 2 cents.

CrystalRE's picture

I read this article and forwarded it straight to DH. He always insinuated that the troubles with my SK's were all me. That HE could get along fine with my bio-daughter. I sure hope this knocks some sense into him!

hismineandours's picture

I really believe it is related to attachment issues. Your mother is your first and primary attachment figure in life. When a sm comes in and behaves maternally, the child may even begin to feel close to sm. Cue guilt feelings. Most children do not want to "replace" their mother and the loyalty conflicts this creates can be overwhelming for a child. The maternal acting sm threatens the bond betweem mom and child (at least in the child's eyes but often also in the bm's eyes and then alienating behavior begins)

I've often wondered if had I just been a crappier sm who acted as if I did not care about my ss if we would be closer today. Seems ironic. But I believe we would be. He has had a number of stepdad/paternal figures. He seems able to put up with all sorts of borderline abuse situations from them, as well as general disinterest, but will still talk about "liking" them. Me, on the other hand, he will not even cop to liking me. Even though I've been in his life for 12 years, he lived with us for 8, and I've bent over way backwards to be kind, helpful, and loving.

My dh is my kids stepdad. but you would never know it. He has been in their lives since ages 2 and 9 months. My son, who was 9 months, actually forgets sometimes that my dh is not his bio dad. If someone references it he looks confused and then is like, "oh, yeah, I had another dad along time ago". They dont seem to have any of these silly stepparent conflicts at all. Although I've often wondered if that is because it is easier for stepdads or if it is because their bio dad is deceased.

christag's picture

This is definitely true with my family. My biokids love their stepfather more than their own biodad, DH's kids don't even talk to me.

What I wish the psychologists would write about is what happens to a family when the stepkids see their stepfather as Dad and his biokids won't have anything to do with them. My husband considers my kids his kids, but his biokids don't acknowledge they exist.

NCMilGal's picture

This article really interested me - my SD15 (from what we can tell) is closer to me than to her stepdad. I KNOW that we have a backward relationship.

If these reasons hold true, my guess why is this: We're long-distance non-custodial. After my first "trying to save the world" sessions (and SD-then-11 didn't NEED saving) I backed WAY off. It took a couple years, but we have developed a decent relationship based on us. BM pushes her DH on SD15 - yesterday SD15 stated that BM would be happy if DH would just go away and SD15 would see her SF as her real dad. Of COURSE SD15 resents that. Conversely, I/we have ALWAYS encouraged SD15 to love BM - we don't want to create loyalty conflicts for her.

I have to admit, DH isn't the best at laying down the law AND enforcing it. BUT - being SO NCP, we were able to discuss our parenting strategy, and he's been pretty good at holding up the party line without me having to initiate being the meanie. DH has always been good at putting me firmly in the "adult in the household" role, and SD15 has accepted that from the beginning.

We're also pretty non-shockable and willing to listen, which is working pretty well on the trust and sharing front.

Done WIth It's picture

That was pretty crappy for SD to make that comment. Wonder what motivated her to "share" that information. Did she want something, so in exchange, she said something hateful about her mother in trying to get your confidence in her so she can use you?

My husband's kids were really really good at playing that game. "What can I say that makes the parent like me for what I'm telling them and what can I get out of it". Oh, did, and still does, does BM play that sick game.

NCMilGal's picture

Was that to me?

SD15 also told us yesterday that when she got through airport security that she looked back and saw her family, and all she felt was a sense of angels singing hallelujah - that she was getting away from BM for a month. That prompted a, "You know you don't need to say negative things about your mom to make us feel better." from me.

I also wonder what motivates her. She knows that we can't love her any more than we do. She can't be trying to angle to come live with us - we WANT her; it's just a matter of making sure SHE will stick to her guns in the face of BM's opposition. She can't want us to buy stuff for her - she doesn't ask for anything.

BM may feel better if SD15 bad-mouths us, but we sure don't, and we tell her that. We even giggle at BM's attempts to minimize us. We have been demoted to "my EX-husband and HIS WIFE" and it doesn't bother us because we're secure in our relationship with SD15. We want her to know that she does NOT have to defend us because it does NOT hurt our feelings when BM spews her bile.