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Putting ourselves in their shoes

Ruby88's picture

Are any of you stepchildren yourselves? It is interesting when you do step back and look at things from the steps perspective. Took me a long time to be able to do that.

CajunMom's picture

I never saw in my childhood Step World what I've endured in my adult Step World. I would have been severely disciplined had I talked to my stepdad the way DHs kids have talked to me. The game playing, lying about others, stealing, etc. that I've had to endure were non-existant in my childhood step world. 

I am a VERY impathetic human and I have tried to see things from the SK views. Nothing...and I mean nothing....gives them or anyone the right to treat me or anyone the way they have. Shitty treatment of other humans for no damn reason is wrong however you look at it. Just my two cents.

Let me add. I came on the scene when DHs kids were 13, 15, and the other three in adult years. Today, they are all adults. Still acting like assholes until 4 years ago when I completely removed myself from them all. 

BobbyDazzler's picture

I put myself in my SS's shoes when I first moved in with my husband.  I was patient with them for years (thank God, neither of them live with us) but, now, I don't understand how rude they are to their father.  I disengaged from them several years back so any feelings of disappointment I feel from time-to-time surround the lack of relationship between them and their father.  Brava for removing yourself from their shit-headedness (not a real word but appropriate)  Smile

JRI's picture

My poor dad who adopted me, now that I'm on ST, I feel so guilty.  My own dad was killed in WW2 before I was born so SF came into my life when I was 2.  But from the start I was jealous of his time with Mom.  And, actually altho he had good intentions, he wasn't good with kids.  

Flash forward to my teens and he tried to enforce curfews and sensible things, like not letting a 15yo date a 22yo.  Poor guy.  Lol.  I was so resentful.

During my awful divorce, I had to move back home with my 2 BKs.  He was a brick altho Mom was on my case every minute.  Every day, he got up early to make sure my crappy car would start.

We grew closer in the later years.  Every Fathers Day, we'd go out to eat.  Mom told me later that he shopped ahead of time for a nice outfit.  When he was terminal with brain cancer, he shared some of his concerns about my sister.  I hope he was able to look down later and see I did what I could for her.

I have so much more empathy for him now that I'm on ST.

Elea's picture

I was a stepchild but like the poster above my childhood step experience was nothing like my adult step experience. I never would have dreamed of treating my SM the way my SDiablas treat me. I actually have things like empathy and a conscience and I am smart enough to know that just because my Mom didn't particularly like my SM didn't mean that I couldn't like or even love her. Being blatantly rude to my SM would have been shut down fast by my Dad. 
I do try to see it from their perspective but since they have adopted the mentality of their BM instead of exploring their own thoughts and feelings it is really hard to know how they feel.

stepmomnorth's picture

My dad remarried when I was in my early 30s, a few years after my mom passed away. She had also lost a husband. My brother was hesitant at their union, kind of there, went to their wedding but was distant. He was holding back for sure. Its kind of different because I was an adult when my dad remarried. I really liked her right off the batt and was very receptive to her. Id often go to their house for Sunday dinners. I didn't think of her as a mother or step mother. She was my dads partner... We were both ok with it being this way. I really enjoyed her company! She was a good fit for my dad. It was strange because my dad was never affectionate much with my mother but he was with her.

I was very open and loving with my dads partner. But my own steps never accepted me into their life. I think the crucial difference in our case being age. They are just very immature. Their upbringing on how to treat people /etiquette was also different than my upbringing overall. 

ESMOD's picture

I wasn't a stepkid.. but I still think I have the ability to have some amount of understanding of what it might be if I were in their shoes.  And being a poor little COD isn't a valid excuse to act like an ahole.. but it can be an explanation.. and a reason why skids do and act certain ways.

It can't be easy to have new "family members" that you didn't ask for.  It can't be easy to be presented with another authority figure in your life that may have different standards and rules than your parents have had.  It can't be easy to have to shuttle back and forth between homes.. with no one asking what YOUR preference is.  It can't be easy to have parents who may hold a lot of bitterness towards each other.. and share that with their child.. creating confusing feelings and loyalty binds.  It can't be easy.. even when a step parent is a nice person, to have to hide that from your bio parent because they can't stand their ex has a new partner.  It can't be easy to have your parents have new kids with new partners and then have that new partner want to minimize your presence and wants just their little unit.. without the "old kids".  It's hard to see changes in your life you didn't ask for.. to have your parents split up.. to have to accep new people.. it's just a lot.. and kids don't have the mental toolbox to deal with a lot of it.. so it's even harder.  

I also think it's generally difficult for kids and even teens to see their parents as "humans".. that they are people with their own desires and wants and dreams.. I told my OSD when she got pregnant at 22 that maybe she would have more sympathy for her parents because she is likely to find that staying togetherfor th kids is harder than they probably thought when they were younger.

Evil4's picture

My dad had two girlfriends. It didn't occur to me to wedge myself between my dad and his GF. That's why I don't understand the mini-wife crap. Even as a tween and then young adult when my dad was with his GFs, it didn't occur to me to just show up at his house and help myself. I knew that there was a lady of the house and it wasn't me. One of my dad's GFs was very kind to me and I adored her because she loved animals and had goats when she met my dad. My dad's other GF later on was actually a bit younger than me and I think she'd give me the side-eye but she wasn't outwardly hostile to me or anything. Even though she was younger than me, she was still the lady of the house as far as I was concerned and it didn't occur to me to jockey for position like these mini-wives do. That's why I went insane over the years trying to analyze my SD32's insane mini-wife tactics. SD was at the point of actually dressing to expose her boobs and ass and would bend over in front of DH and pose. As a DD whose father had GFs, I just don't fucking understand wanting to compete with the GFs to the point of flaunting my bits to my dad. It grosses me out and I will never understand it. 

CLove's picture

I remember those stories. Gross. I was a step-child and then my SF adopted me, and we are actually closer that he and my mother, which seems fine with her.

I cannot imagine if he re-married, but I do know that I would be respectful of his choice and his lady.

Renewed's picture

I think it will be different depending on the SK's behavior and our own backgrounds. I was never a step-child. SD has frustrated me quite a bit. To an extent I struggle to understand her fears and sometimes childish behavior.

On the other hand...she first lost her mother when she was 13 and when she was 16 her dad started seeing the girlfriend who became the stepmother from hell. This woman wanted her GONE and to never return to the house, not even for a weekend, the minute she graudated high school. This woman tried to get DH to cut SD entirely out of his will (she was 18 at the time with no other parent and no family within 1,200 miles). This woman made her life hell when she did finally come for a weekend and moreso when she was sent home from college due to covid. She was truly awful, flat out cruel, to her.

I GET why SD had some trauma and is so unsure of herself, etc. I can put myself in her shoes because in some ways, my parents treated me similarly to how her SM treated her. 

I've also noticed that after the awful Thanksgiving and so-so Christmas, every time I see her, it seems she's doing better and better, growing up more, becoming more confident. I wouldn't say she and I are close, but I can see her growing up. I think for her part, even though her dad and I were seeing each other (so she knew me and we got along well at the time) before the SM from Hell, I think she's begining to trust that I'm not going to behave the same; that she's always welcome in our/her father's home just as my kids are.

 

Exjuliemccoy's picture

After years of strife, my parents finally divorced when I was eleven. In the span of six months the divorce became final, my mother remarried, and my father died. It was a lot, but my mother and stepfather would never have tolerated the poo we read about on ST. We did family and grief therapy (progressive for the time and place), but overall it was firm rules, a calm approach, and consistency that made me feel safe and secure. It's a shame so many parents don't grasp how they hurt their kids when they lack firmness and consistency.

I tested my SF initially, but he shut it down and we became very close. He and my mother were on the same page, and I liked the consistency and discipline he created in our home. Honestly, he was a much better father than my BF had been. SF did a great job of filling a void and providing much needed stability in my life while my mother was still dealing with my delinquent older sister. We only had my SF eight years before losing him to illness, but I'll always be grateful for the love he showed me. He truly made a difference.

I feel my own positive step experience made me a bit of a Pollyanna. I was raised by older parents with solid values, then married into a very "young" family that had no boundaries or structure. I also didn't know how difficult the SM - SD dynamic can be. I don't think my DH's kids got the parents they deserved or were given the expectations that would have made them more successful. As Cajun says, the two step experiences were very different.

Sometimes a kid needs a parent to look them in the eye and tell them to straighten up, but that wasn't done with the skids. They grew up in chaos because their teen parents were poorly reared kids themselves. Then, DH was away in the military, then working graves and swings as a cop, so the skids didn't get enough time with him. Instead, they grew up on a diet of anger and PAS, taught that men are wallets.

KC is not the stepmother's picture

Oh boy this may be long.

My parents divorced when I was 14, and it was a 2 year fight before it was finalized. My dad was having an affair with my mom's friend. She's a cheap whore. Her son-in-law recently contacted me to ask me about some information to get her approved for government aid for dementia care. I told him he seemed to have me confused with someone who'd piss on her if she were on fire. She and my dad were married for about a year and a half. Did I mention she's a whore? 

Yes, I know how this makes us sound, but during the divorce her oldest son was killed. My mom knew and babysat him since he was a kid, she stopped by his dad's house and took some flowers, he invited her in for coffee and to talk. He eventually asked her to dinner. They've been married almost 40 years. 

He's the stepdad every teenager would wish for. His #1 job was to keep my mom off my back and he was great at it. He taught me to drive, repaired my car, walked me down the aisle. The night before he and my mom were married he told me that he didn't believe in step parents unless the parent was dead but if I'd let him he'd always be my Andy. Love you Pop. 

 

 

Rags's picture

Basic decent behavior should be demanded and upheld regardless of the myriad and virtually infinite variables that could be in play in any blended situation.

Blended  familes and related situations are invariably the result of some combination of tragedy, failure, and/or crappy decisions on the part of any number of people.

Except for mine course.

Wink

Granted, Skids do have more angst and emotional content to  navigate than non-skid kids. Generally speaking. That should not wave compliance to standards of behavior and performance.

Having some empathy for those extenuating situations is important but I'm not putting my feet in the shoes of the cloven hoofed toxic manipulative morons of the SpermClan.  
 

Fortunately my son did not inherit their crap.  He is truly blessed to have won the mom lottery and her dedication to raising him with standards have allowed him to build a life far advanced to that of all prior SpermClan generations amd his three younger also out of wedlock Ed half sibs comb.   I am proud to have helped.  He is a good man.
 

He also is not cloven hoofed or evil.  Besides, his feet are much larger than mine and the clown shoe look with his boats flapping around below my ankles does not appeal to me.

Dirol

 

 

Movingonisbest's picture

I essentially agree with Rags. I'll say this, though, just because people's parents split up doesn't mean that they have to end up being toxic. It's been said time and time again that it's better for parents to split up than stay together for the kids.  Staying together in a toxic and or loveless marriage typically does alot more damage. 

At some point regardless of what people have gone through in life, they have to take accountability for themselves. I think alot of these toxic stepkids have personality disorders,  some other type of mental illness, or that they learned poor behavior from one or both of their parents. Some are just entitled, selfish and lazy. Even if their parents had remained together, I think alot of them still would have possibly ended up with toxic ways. 

I have said it before, and I will say it again... alot of  these stephell situations aren't just because BM is toxic. Alot of these fathers are toxic too. If the fathers weren't toxic, they would parent their kids appropriately and implement consequences for poor behavior. If the fathers weren't toxic too, then they wouldn't tolerate crap from BM or their kids, which infects their new family.

Most of us have had some problem with our kids at some point in time. Some of the problems may have been major, some may have been minor. But definitely problems nonetheless. So how many of you would allow your kids or adult kids to treat you and your partner the way these men allow their kids or adult kids to? 

I  wouldn't look at the skids perspective because there is no way I would tolerate it. Better to move on than be miserable.

Missingme's picture

What you'll usually find with nasty, dysfunctional skids is a permissive, dysfunctional father and a nasty, dysfunctional BM that takes advantage of that. The SM walked in to a web. 

Rags's picture

Absolutely brilliant Movingonisbest.

My mom has long held the position of…. Regardless of what baggage we all may inherit from our parents and family at some point it all becomes our issue to solve.

We all inherit something.  It is up to the individual to solve it and to not pass it on to our own kids.

To not do that is just embracing an excuse rather then solving the issue.

Missingme's picture

We all are responsible to act like kind, loving human beings. Humanity is going downhill fast with everyone focusing on self and not on others. Not to sound like negative Nelly, but things will continue to get worse, so this website will continue to expand.

Ruby88's picture

I feel that the step parents often play a role in the amount of angst that goes on. Every step mom on here describes themselves as being incredibly loving and accepting and all that. And I'm sure to some degree it's true. But we're not perfect and blameless. If you can't handle somebody's children in your life you shouldn't marry someone with children and in some cases but not all I feel like his relationships would doomed from the start just because these kids exist also I find it funny how everyone describes their bio children as being perfect

SeeYouNever's picture

People love to blame the stepmom but it's the Biodad's that wanted to remarry so so maybe the phrase should become stay single for the kids. 

stepmomnorth's picture

Is easy to come on here and pass judgement. It's another thing to live the ins and outs and complexities of blended families.  All of us have to deal with some pretty horrible behavior and even abusive behavior from our step kids. Pass judgement if you wish.. Unless youre in the situation it's easy to do so. 

Mamabearof3's picture

Honestly when I first got here I thought a lot of the step moms were mean. Like why don't you love your step kids as your own? I genuinely loved my SD as my own. And it about destroyed me. So yea I get it now. We do twice as much to get half the credit IF we're fortunate. It's usually way less credit if any and oftentimes blame that's unwarranted even. So yea I get it. Skids suck much of the time.  It's the parents fault of course. But sadly we don't learn till it's too late. 

Ruby88's picture

I am in the position. I went through lots of trouble with my steps but made it through to the other side. And I didn't do it by blaming them for everything. Sometimes you have to step back and see that you also play a role. And I have no doubt based on some of the comments that I read that sometimes the steps are a part of the problem!

Ispofacto's picture

With few notable exceptions, SPs who come here to vent are the ones who are "doomed for existing", and the skids are effing brats.  And yes, it is the fault of the BPs for making their kids into brats.  But that doesn't mean they aren't toxic or I want to have anything to do with them.  Enough is enough.  Children don't live in a vacuum, and as they grow older they become increasingly more responsible for their own crappy behavior.

 

sandye21's picture

From https://www.gotquestions.org/Bible-stepparenting.html:  Jesus said, “A house divided will not stand” (Matthew 12:25). So wise parents will agree on boundaries and consequences before trying to co-parent the children. A stepparent entering an established family structure can find it overwhelming and may be tempted to bow out of all parental responsibility. However, if the biological parent will take the lead in establishing a healthy relationship between the children and the new parent, it is easier for everyone to adjust to the new roles. Any disagreement or confusion about parenting rules and discipline should be handled behind closed doors so the children always see a united front.

Rags's picture

In many new blended marriages there is little structure prior to the arrival of the new spouse/SParent.  I think that frequently is part of the issue.  The free range parenting and lack of structure end and the defense of mayhem commences.

Which often alienates the new mate.

Exjuliemccoy's picture

Plus, over and over we see posts from SPs whose "partners" jumped into a new relationship too soon. Many haven't even finalized their divorce or custody agreement. They haven't taken the time to let things calm down, learn how to successfully parent solo or make sure the kids are adjusting well before adding an outsider to the chaos. Is it so surprising that things are volatile?

Rags's picture

or partner shit behavior.

Most people put their best foot forward when trying to close the deal on a new partner. Many prior breeders get their kids in line to sell it as well. For the short term.  Once the deal is sealed, that is when reality smacks the SParent in the face.  Far more often than not.

I don't think the "you knew they had kids" perspective is even remotely applicable when engaging a SParent in conversation on ill behaved StepSpawn, an idiot X/BP, and/or a dumbass Disney Parent failed parent partner.  Few Sparent partners have visibility to the crap that they discover after marrying into these seemingly multigenerational/subsequent marriage shit shows discovered after the fact

I do not  think that it is about the kids existing, I think it is about ill behaved, ill parented, prior relationship progeny.

Just my thoughts of course.

sandye21's picture

When I married my exDH the honeymoon took place BEFORE the wedding.  On the night before the wedding SD's colors started to 'emerge'.  The 'real' DH came out two months after the wedding.  A lot of these preditors can spot a person who is insecure a mile away.  We should NOT be putting ourselves in their place.  Instead, we should get our internal and dysfunctional family problems resolved before entering into marriage.

stepmomnorth's picture

We do what we can.. There are a lot of factors and it's certainly not easy (on either end). 

strugglingSM's picture

I used to try to put myself in their shoes, but a) no one else ever does (every holiday is made miserable by MIL, BM, and BM's parents claiming they know "what is best for the children", when really, it's what each of them wants and usually puts DH in the middle and requires him to shuttle skids all over to accommodate everyone and violate the agreement he has with BM); b) skids now come to my home to cause chaos on behalf of BM, I'm sure they don't see it that way, but one or both is constantly texting BM to complain about us and she used to send DH a stream of nasty texts in response to each complaint, now she doesn't...they likely just all talk about how terrible we are.

I don't feel like I can help kids who only want to see one side and do their best to cause trouble. DH has corrected them and told them that there is more to whatever story their mother is telling, but they always tell DH he's lying. They don't come to our home to see DH and spend time with him, they usually just complain and insult DH. DH has told them that if they really don't want to come, they don't have to, and then they accuse him of not loving them. They are 16 (which they also point out to DH and demand to be treated like "adults", even though they act like babies), so old enough to know that everything BM tells them is not true, especially since BM has now divorced their stepdad, who BM told them was the best dad ever...and now they have no contact with him.

I can't fix the toxicity and dysfunction that has always existed in DH and BM's relationship (they are two people who never should have married and certainly should never have had kids) and I feel that ignoring toxic and dysfunctional behavior from my skids under the guise of trying to understand their perspective, just puts me smack in the middle of the mess. DH's family of origin is also a morass of toxicity and dysfunction and both MIL and BIL have decided they need to "step in" to "save" SSs...all the more reason for me to get out. I can't help SSs see that the adults in their lives do not all have their best interest at heart. DH and I had a heart to heart with them at one point about how their job when they were with us was to enjoy their time with DH, but we can't compete with BM telling them 26 days a month that DH is bad, that he doesn't care, that I'm evil and hate everyone, and that they shouldn't enjoy any time with us...but then insist that if DH doesn't take all his visitation time that he's a deadbeat dad. They are going to need to learn the hard way that BM is toxic...eventually, she will not be able to blame DH for everything and she will likely turn her ire on them, but I can't make them see that and neither can DH. They were in therapy (BM demanded that they go to therapy when she said that it was "traumatic" for them to come to our home, but after three sessions, she decided (on her own) that they didn't need to go anymore....likely, because she did not appreciate the fact that the therapist did not tell SS that DH was evil and bad). DH went to a session with SS and afterwards BM sent him a nasty message telling him that SS "volunteered" what they talked about and accused DH of lying to the therapist...when really, DH was talking about his feelings and said nothing about BM. I can see that it stinks for SSs to have to deal with such a chaotic mother and I can wish DH was more forceful in how he deals with Skids (he has told them that what their mother has told them is not true and any conversations or conflicts he has with BM are not their business, but he doesn't tell the off for acting like jerks), but that's where I have to stop because none of that justifies the ways that SSs act in my home and I can't take on that emotional burden for them, especially because they both view me as the enemy because they've heard for years from BM about how much I hate her (even though I have no contact with this woman). 

Exjuliemccoy's picture

I can so relate.

Having empathy for skids is all well and good, but seldom helps when toxicity and dysfunction are part of the dynamic. It can be hard to have compassion for someone who's been weaponized to target you, especially when you've turned the other cheek repeatedly but are still getting hit by barbs and jabs.

Rags's picture

be more direct in solving the problems.

I have no desire to put my feet in those stanky, nasty, cloven hooved worn out, foot wart virus infected shoes that seem to be prominant with so many Skids, the toxic opposition, and spineless prior breeding blended family partners who perpetrate the pain.

I really could not care less about their perspective. What I care about is that they behave as respectful decent people.

Because his mom set and enforced standards of performance and behavior for my SS and she included me as an equity parent as well as her equity life partner, my Skid is one of my favorite people. While his gangbanger wannabe spermidiot, on the dole constant victim youngerhalf sister, his convict/prisoner younger half brother, and his youngest STB convict/prisoner youngest half brother are failing in life just as the rest of the SpermClan has.

While everyone has to navigate the baggage they often inherrit and carry, how they choose to behave is key.  Regardless of their perspective.

Just my thoughts of course.

stepmomnorth's picture

It all comes down to treating people with respect and dignity and kindness. Regardless of blood relations or not. 

Mamabearof3's picture

My mom and "step dad" never officially married but yea I had one. And several foster parents. 

Miss T's picture

He was my mother's rebound from a disastrous affair with a married man. Whole 'nother story. Mom was--dare I say this?--very foolish, but back in the day there weren't a lot of options for someone like her.

Anyway she married this dude and I loathed him from the first time I laid eyes on him. Turned out my spideys were right. I often feel sympathy for step parents and believe the stories I read here, but I don't regret a single thing I did to make that creep's life miserable and only wish I could have done more and worse.

Step parents, behave yasselves.

ImperfectlyPerfect's picture

I am *done* doing that. Truly. You can drive yourself insane trying to figure out what it is like to step in their shoes and get eaten alive. I spent an enormous time searching for this and understanding what has led them to behave the way they do. It didn't change what I have and will continue to be like in the house. It didn't make it right or justify the continued treatment over the years. These are damaged individuals who seek to inflict damage on the wrong person and misplace their anger and judgment. I will never be nasty, mean or rude but I am done with trying to step in their shoes and excuse the very poor treatment. Trust me the world expects WAY too much of stepparents already, their burdens are no longer weighing on my chest. 

AlmostGone832's picture

Oh everything would have just been ducky between us if I put myself in Little Idiot's shoes...

Lets see... I could have been more understanding by...

- realizing that LI doesn't need to ever work. In fact I could have taken care of her for the rest of her life . Let her live with us... pay for her food, shelter, car, insurance and spending sprees on expensive clothes and makeup. 
 

- realizing that she doesn't need to do anything to help around the house. Feel free to lay in bed looking at your phone or the TV all day! I will take care of the cooking and cleaning and bills. Don't even bother loading your dishes in the dishwasher (currently she's driving her boyfriends dad nuts by leaving her dirty dishes in the sink so it's not *just* me that got annoyed by it)

- playing the fool and believing every lie she ever tried to feed us with a smile on my face. Oh of COURSE you should drop that class, the teacher is an idiot and YES you should quit your 30th job because the manager is... again.... SO MEAN. And YES we know the only reason you didn't get through boot camp is because you can't count your laps and even though you haven't ran in TEN years, I just believe you when you say you're DEFINITELY going back in!

.....

 

sorry ...... but NO. I'm not doing it. Nobody ever bothers to put themselves in my shoes. F that.