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No Bonus Mom Here

Elite2020's picture

I have a friend who doesn't seem to understand that I don't have a "Brady Bunch" relationship with my SK's anymore. We tried and BM did her best to interfere. The important thing is DH maintains his relationship with his children, which he does. 

However, for the last few years on Mother's Day my friend will send me text messages which will say something about a Bonus Mom. I am far from that. SK's don't rely on me for anything nor do they reside with us. I made/make no contributions to their upbringing. If I attend anything regarding their extracurricular activities it's merely to support DH. Trust and believe if his parents and siblings resided in the same state I would stay home or find something else to do. 

You would think the giveaway would be that I never voluntarily bring up SK's in conversation. 

Does anyone else have a similar experience ? If yes, how do you handle it? 

I just don't say anything because some people simply don't understand. 



Cover1W's picture

I have a friend who really didn't get it either. She was just like, why don't you do this, or say this, or take them here...etc. "Erm, I can't because I am not a parent...have no legal rights (to some of the stuff she was suggesting)...they have a mom..."  She's come around, but I typically don't talk with her about SDs much at all and keep in brief if so.

Elite2020's picture

I get the same thing too. I sometimes just wish my friend wouldn't make any suggestions or comments. She can't relate. I know she means well, but it just annoys me. 

Elite2020's picture

Lol. Now that made me laugh out loud literally. 

Liza89's picture

I vented once to my friend and haven't since. She suggested things like 'You are so soft. If I were you I would not let BM get away with that, and say this and that to her. I wouldn't hide from the kids what a mean mum they have.. blah blah' and I have to roll my eyes and say I can't do that. Not only would I be going behind my husbands back, but kids are involved and I don't speak to BM. 
Thankfully one of my best friends is a SM now too, and we vent to each other. I think some people try and help but they just have no idea. 

Elite2020's picture

I had one friend who was a SM, then she divorced. Now she is acting like she was never a SM. 

You are doing right. I don't say anything negative about BH to SKids. I wait until they are not in my house and vent to DH. 

You are lucky to have a friend that understands. 

Evil3's picture

I tried venting to an older friend who has been married four times. However, none of the marriages involved SKs, so she just couldn't understand what I was going through. All she could say was, "just love her to death" when it came to my SD. Another friend said about SD "just keep trying. She'll come around and she'll love you for it."  I tried a third friend with whom I was very close to. I would vent about SD and the idiotic things she did in her young adult life. No matter what heinous behaviour of SD's I would describe, including how my SD committed fraud, my friend would come up with a justification about how perhaps SD is doing... and I just don't realize it. Perhaps SD actually does have a job and is paying for her own ... Perhaps SD applied for grants and didn't commit fraud on her student loan applications. Perhaps SD has a second job and is paying someone to cook for her. OMG! I couldn't stand it!

I never vented to friends again.

Elite2020's picture

I can relate. I had to learn to not vent to friends. The things they say really irritate me. The same friend would say, "how can BH not want an extra person to love her kids?" Easy...she doesn't and that is the way it is. 

susanm's picture

Explaining to people what it is like to be a stepparent is like expecting someone who only speaks Chinese to understand what you are saying in English.  You can try using very descriptive words, waive your hands a lot, and even shout.  But they are never going to comprehend a thing that comes out of your mouth.

Liza89's picture

And the worst comment they say when you are venting about step parenting is 'When you have one of your own you will understand'. It makes my blood boil. If I had a $1 every time someone has said the to me I'd have enough money to spend on a holiday without these people in my life lol. 

Dogmom1321's picture

That's why so many of us have to come here. I personally don't know any other SMs in real life, that I am close friends with. It is so easy for someone to say what "they would do" when they aren't in it. 

Once I was venting to my sister about SD10 and her ADHD, Depression, and Anxiety with no medication, therapy, follow up, NOTHING. She didn't understand why I just didn't take SD to the doctor myself. Um, because they are not my decisions to make. Sure, I have an opinion about what I think is right, but that doesn't mean I can do anything to control it. Thankful for sites like this!

SeeYouNever's picture

I'm not a "bonus mom", she is just "my husband's daughter."

Likewise I have no problem if she calls me "My Dad's wife."

ESMOD's picture

As a SM with no bios like you, I think that it is probably a bit more of a separation from the "mom" role than for people that may already have kids of their own.  I'm not saying that SM's with kids don't have their own set of issues, but it is kind of a foreign land of children when you never had your own Bios.  I was assigned 5 and 9 yo girls when my husband and I met.  They are now both adults and it pains my MIL, to this day, that I will still claim that "they aren't my children and the great grands? I am NOT a grandmother"  Ohhh the horror.. how terrible I am not fawning all over those little bebeees.  Lady, get a grip.. I never had an infant or toddler, never (well only once) babysat kids under age 5, didn't have a sister or brother who had kids until I was in my late 40's and they don't live locally.  I did not have a friend set with small children.  They are alien to me, I don't have a strong maternal drive.. I don't know what you expect?  But, I was good to them.  I did help my husband with their care.  I did help guide them and help them to grow up to be good adults.. I have a good relationship with both.. a great relationship with the younger.  I care about both of them.. as people and as my husband's children.. but they are not my kids.  I was a mentor/role model/caretaker.. many things.. but I was not their mother.

Maybe it would be good to gently explain THAT to your friend.

"Hey, You may not realize this but different people have different kinds of stepfamily dynamics.  I know you mean well when you are wishing me a "happy bonus mom".. but honestly, I am not in that role with my husband's kids.  I don't have children, my husband does.  He is a great parent and is capable of caring for them when they are with us.  I'm sure you didn't realize it can be frustrating to be a stepmom because there can be a lot of underlying expectations by others that you are filling a motherly role with your spouse's kids, but for a variety of reasons, that is not always the case.  It is not the case in my situation and while I don't hate his kids, they already have two parents and don't need me to fill that role. So, if you could back down on the Bonus Mom stuff that would be great, I know you didn't mean for it to be a bad thing, but it does make me uncomfortable.'

SeeYouNever's picture

I had my bio kid after being a SM. I wouldn't say I'm super maternal either but it kicked it up a notch for me for ANY KID OTHER THAN SD. I can be free to do kid stuff with my friend's kids or neices and nephews in a very different way than interacting with SD. any interaction I have with SD is so scrutinized by either my husband, BM or my in-laws that it's almost not even worth it to try. I will do a few things with her like we bake together or start a campfire in the backyard but that's about it and it's because I wanted to do those things anyway. I have so much more fun with any kid other than SD because I'm not being watched and judged and scrutinized when I'm being an aunt or a friend. Being a stepmom is such a different dynamic that I think the smartest thing to do, as many of us here have realized, is to just opt out and disengage.

ESMOD's picture

I think society and many bystanders (family, friends, coworkers) have these preconceived notions of how a SM should behave towards their SO's children.  My MIL has vapors that I don't consider them "my" kids.. even though, I will admit that I think I have had a great influence on them.  One time, I was defending my YSD because they were trying to claim she did something wrong.. that I wasn't so sure was true (misplaced a borrowed item).. I was trying to explain that she was not the only one with access etc... and my MIL who loves to try to "mock" you by saying "Haha.. you sound just like a mother protecting her child"... I wanted to say.. "NO Beiatch.. I am not her mother, but I do see the blatant favoritism that you display for every other grandchild but her because she intimidates you.. because she is smarter than you.. because she is more ambitious than you.  You are always cutting her down... hating on her clothes.. telling her that she looks a mess when her hair isn't "done".. tsk tsking when you think she is "dating" too much (as a young adult.. she has had maybe 4-5 BF's total).   Always comparing her to her older sister who is so "poised" while YSD is a vibrant, loud, not always ladylike pistol of a person.  Her older sister has poise because she is insecure and self conscious and literally looks anorexic now because she is so worried about what other people think... that is not Poise.. that is her being painfully self conscious."

But.. yeah.. I did not birth them.. and the more pressure that people put on me to "treat them like my own".. the more awkward it is.  Shoot.. I DO treat them like my own.. I don't have any .. lol.. 

Elite2020's picture

Great advice and thank you. I will definitely take your advice. I think this will put things into perspective for her. 

shamds's picture

my daughter is not his sister and my son is not his brother despite ss living in our marital home we were still referred to as strangers to his dad which my husband was deeply offended because he loves me and my kids and we are family and not strangers.

sd’s know me as daddys caucasian Christian whore (thats what bio mum referred me as to anybody who would listen), that backfired when sd’s and found out i was born and raised in the same religion as them...

the fact all skids shun me, take cheap digs at me or my kids etc yet bio mum is bragging to inlaws how i love her kids like my own... ummm just no!!

Elite2020's picture

I definitely do not love my SKids as if they were my own. They are rude, no manners and have a sense of entitlement. 

shamds's picture

how can you love them like your own when they are rude disrespectful and so unpleasant. Any relationship being built between us depends on them not being such arseholes but since they are, no love.

i find it absurd that bio mum didn’t even want them or love them but yeah I supposedly need to love her kids more than mine

beebeel's picture

I have some well-meaning friends like that. Just recently during a girls trip, both of them were showering me with platitudes about how much I've had an impact on my skids. I just looked at them and laughed. I told them I appreciated their intent, but that the truth is far, far, far from it. They tried telling me how I loved them like my own and did more for them than their own mom. Which was true, but when I tried explaining that none of it mattered, they looked at me with blank stares. People just don't get what it's like to be a SM with a high conflict bm. Even if they are your best friend since middle school. I stopped trying to explain myself. 

SubstituteMommy's picture

Bonus mom? No way. I've been told by family, friends, my SO, and even SD9's teachers, that I am "her mom." She is with us for forty-five weeks each year. I am more present and active in her life than her BM is. I am expected to be the mom, even if I do not want that role/status. It's a lot of unfair pressure. It really sucks.

hereiam's picture

At one time, I really did care about and love my SD but I still didn't consider myself to be her "bonus mom".

If some step moms want to call themselves that, fine. If some step kids want to refer to their step parent as a bonus parent, fine. But other people do not get to designate that title, it's not their place.


Rags's picture

My college BFF and one of my closest friends to this day was one who did not get it.  He took exception to my standards based parenting of SS and it amazed him that my DW was on board and fully involved in that model.

Oddly for argueably the most brilliant person I know he was clueless regarding the relationship between standards based parenting and my son who he has always held as the best behaved kid he has ever met.  

He follows what he calls limit based parenting with his daughter which he describes as she can do whatever she wants within the limits/boundaries he sets.  The problem is, he never sets boundaries.  As an example, it starts with:

1. Here is your activity bag, sit at your place at the table, play with your activities, eat your dinner and behave.

2. After about 10mins she would be standing on her chair, flopping on the floor, under the table though always able to touch her chair.  He would make a couple of attempts to put her in her seat with miserable failure so the limit would be, okay, you have to stay where you can touch your seat.

3. Then the limit would shift to being where she could touch the table.

4. Then the limit would be that she could not go farther than 2 tables in any direction.

5. After any number of steps she was running and screaming through the restaurant with him trying to catch her.

At the end of meeting them at a restaurant for dinner we were all exhaused and he was applogizing left right and center as he tried to cram her in her car seat and buckle her in before she could run off through the parking lot.

I would point out to him how he had always appreciated how my SS was the best behaved kid he had ever seen and would complain at the same time that we were too strict.  And I would hammer home the point that because we practiced zero tolerance standards barenting with escalating consequences for non compliance was why my Skid was the best behaved kid my friend had ever known.

To this day, his daughter is now in Middle School, she is running amok at escalating levels and he is mortified and embarrassed by his daughter.  Yet.... his stubborn commitment to his abject failure limit/boundary parenting model is mid boggling to me.  He points out that his daughter is adopted and nature is overcomming nurture. I just call bullshit, point out that my kid is adopted and that his lack of spine and ineffective application of or complete failure of consequences is his problem.

DW and I stuck to our commitment to standards based parenting and called him on his protests against that model and I never let hi slide on pointing out how my Skid is a well behaved polite and pleasant man who performs well in society and his kid is a trainwreck.  He gives me the sheepish "I know, I know" then keeps on doing what he has always done regarding his parenting failures.