You are here

Any advise for new Step mother role?

AlwaysSmiling's picture

I am very new to this group. I found when I was searching online for advise and such.

I am new to this situation and hoping for advise from others that have been in similar situations. (Although we are not married, I will refer to him as DH, and his daughter as SD- hope that is acceptable to all).

I have two daughters that are in their early twenties, both away at college. And I have a son, 16 in high school.

I started dating a long time friend, and after a few months, we decided that we would 'blend' (He moved in with me and my son). He has a daughter (she is 7 now), that visits him every other weekend. Up until the time he moved in, we really didn't see his daughter very much, as that was always respected as 'their time'.

I only see her about once a month, as I am away visiting my other kids during one of her monthly visits.

Now, it's been a year. A very frustrating year, I might add. DH treats his daughter like a princess, acts as if she can do no wrong, and enforces very little discipline while she is here. He buys her a present EVERY single visit. Yes, every visit. He brings her to the store and lets her pick out her gift (which is usually around $50). He takes her out to the salon to get her nails and hair fixed. He loves getting all dressed up in matching outfits, and the two of them going out together to 'show her off' like they are an actual couple sometimes. But he and I rarely go out, as he always has an excuse (too tired, no money, etc). He takes her out to eat, and caters to her every whim. For example, we had to leave a restaurant the other day and find somewhere else to eat, because after she looks at the menu, she decides that they didn't have anything she wanted to eat (We were at Subway- nothing outrageously weird). Heck, at the beginning, he was allowing her to wear pull-ups because she "didn't feel like stopping all her fun stuff to go use the bathroom" (she was six years old!). His life revolves around her. It's 'all about her' all the time. I know that your kids should come first, but I've never met anyone that took it to this extreme.

I have had such a hard time dealing with the way he spoils her, and this has been the cause of many heated arguments. Most of the time, he just says that I am acting like I am jealous of her. Sometimes he caves and says he realizes that he went too far. Like with the whole letting her wear pull-ups until she was six years old- we had conversations about how unhealthy that was and he started making her use the bathroom (at least during the day). He's not opposed to hearing my points, and at times he does talk about changing some things, but it all seems like just talk.

Any advise from others that have successfully dealt with similar situation would be greatly appreciated!

hereiam's picture

Too late for my advice, which would have been get to know him before letting him move in. I mean REALLY get to know him, which includes the kind of father he is and the kind of dynamic he has with his daughter. Disney Dads (and lazy dads) are hard to break. You will always be the bad guy who hates his kid.

strugglingSM's picture

If your SO doesn't see any problem in how he treats his daughter, his behavior won't change. You'll become the problem and he'll only retreat into spoiling his daughter further just to show you that you're wrong, not him. There are two things at play in that: 1) he feels as if you're criticizing his precious little cherub, who can do no wrong and is completely perfect in every way; 2) he feels as if you are criticizing his parenting and he probably already feels insecure about that since he's a non-custodial dad.

Unfortunately, your options seem to be end everything because things will only get worse from here on out; or decide you're not going to let how he treats his child bother you.

My DH and I still go back and forth over things that should be non-issues - like his kids picking up trash, clothes, and toys that they've left in common areas - because of those two dynamics above.

Being a SM is a very difficult place to be in when the bio parents are not actually parenting. You're expected to hold your tongue, to not have opinions on things, and to act as if the children are a total blessing in your life. That might sound a bit jaded or over-the-top, but I've found that it's not. You have to have a certain level of comfort for being disrespected, disregarded, and judged in your own home. You will never be the child's mother, so you can't possibly offer any useful parenting advice and you also have to feel bad for everyone else in the equation, because according to society's read on the situation, you "knew what you were getting into."

Peanut575's picture

'You knew what you were getting into' is one of my absolute most hated phrases on the planet. In no relationship should it be 100% on one person to make things work.

strugglingSM's picture

I always reply, "well, DH knew he was marrying someone without children who wasn't all that interested in children, so he knew what he was getting into, as well."

melpatt1216's picture

You couldn't be more right! Being a SM is hard even with the bio parents ARE parenting! You're still expected to act as if they are a blessing in your life, make effort to bond all the while being treated like you don't exist.

"this is what you signed up for" is another good one!

IslandGal's picture

Google mini wife on this site cuz thats what you will be dealing with in your future. Your DH sounds like a disney dad..and they rarely, if ever, change, I'd also recommend getting some advice from a counsellor who specializes in blended families.

I moved in with ex SO when his skids were SD12 and SS11. SD12 was mini wife and before this, I had never heard of the term. I found myself in competition with a child and I was apalled and horrified. We went to counselling and we were told this.

Relationships are like an onion. The core can only hold the main 2 in the relationship i.e. the couple. Each layer signified boundaries. The layer closest to the core signified the children, next layer relatives..then friends..acquaintances and so on and so forth. No layer should be permitted to cross over. At that time, ex SO had himself and SD in the core. They were the most important. He had to push SD out andd keep her in her with her brother. If the 2 in the core werent happy..the onion would rot and the whole thing thrown out. In other words..boundaries had to be introduced and kept.

That woke up ex SO and he began to treat her the same way he treated her her Dad. Naturally SD lost the plot and refused to visit anymore she yelled at her Dad.."you treat him BETTER than me now!". BM of course backed her up and over the next 3 years successfully alienated her daughter from her dad. She completed the PAS by sending her overseas to finish school.

Unfortunately, I ended things with ex SO cuz I couldnt handle his gas lighting, whining and never ending doom and gloom with his family.

I hope things work out for you and I hope your DH snaps out of disney daddy mode and becomes a true parent to his child.

Kes's picture

As the parent of 3 older kids - you are in a good position to give him parenting advice - and if he sometimes dismisses this as your "jealousy" than this would ring alarm bells for me. It is such a bad idea for him to be spoiling her and infantilising her too, by the sound of it. Part of the father's role is to challenge kids to be more grown up, to take appropriate risks and to mature - but he is doing the opposite of that.

I would read "Stepmonster" by Wednesday Martin. If your SD is only in your presence once a month, maybe you can put up with it - but she is only 7, and you will be putting up with this s**t for a great many years.

MoominMama's picture

I got stuck on nails and hair fixed, at age 7 wow...

Yes, you will be dealing with a mini wife very soon if not already. Disney dad is not a good dad, he just knows how to give in, spoil and pander to a child. It is not good for her but I'm sure it keeps BM happy. That's what Disney dad thinks: either that it will keep BM happy and thus he gets less trouble from her (which is a fantasy) or that he is playing 'i'm the best loved parent'.

It spells trouble. The pull ups thing is just shocking. Why would you do this to a child? She is just being ruined and it's a real shame. Be warned, these type of fathers rarely change but if they do see the light you will then have an unholy amount of fall out from the child and probably the BM. Been through this so I know.

He needs to realise that the longer this goes on the worse the outcome will be.

thinkthrice's picture

I have photos of YSS, at the time stb 7 in pullups during the DAY due to sheer parental and skid laziness. And all of my skids are HUGE for their age. It truly looks like a 12 year old in diapers with nothing else on. :sick:

Aniki's picture

I got stuck on the matching outfits. :sick:

OP's DH is already married - to his mini-wife 7yo daughter. Time to cut bait and swim away.

AlwaysSmiling's picture

Not sure when the nail salon started, but it was before 7. She was 5 when we first started dating, and he was already doing it then.

Ispofacto's picture

Any change you will get from DH will be hard-fought and minimal. This brat will get worse as she gets older and have life-long issues, it doesn't stop at 18. Run.

AlwaysSmiling's picture

Thanks for comments! I have felt so alone in this and feel like you guys actually understand!!!!!!

I do have hopes that things will get better. They already have gotten much better. I hope the worst of it has already passed.

He is receptive to my advise and opinions, as he adores the type of mother that I am. I try to be patient and understanding with him, but at times, I just get so angry and blow my top! I've said things in anger that were too harsh. And the times that he told me I was jealous, are those times. When I keep my composure, and come to him rationally with specific issues, he responds in kind. I really feel like this is an addiction for him, an addiction that is hard to kick. If it wasn't rewarding to him, he wouldn't be doing it. The hugs and kisses he gets from her, as his little baby- I get that, any parent understands that you love your little baby. People tell him how cute they are together and he will get so many social media likes. He gets rewarded by his ex- she says things to him like 'ohhhh she's lucky to have you as her daddy' and she schedules things for him to do with her. That in itself is okay, but there needs to be boundaries, and at first, there were NONE!

To my benefit, the ex wife is a drunk. I say to my benefit, bc it was her own behavior that led to a boundary that I made. In the 2nd or 3rd month after he moved in, she would drunken call and argue with him. My boundary- this is my house. I will not allow her into my home and disrupt my peace. And this includes phone calls into my house. If she calls, she calls him during a time that he is not at home. SD calls every night- which is fine. No more calls from ex wife, though, not in my presence. I am fortunate that he enforces this boundary- a boundary that I made.

Another friend of mine, a fellow struggling stepmother, gave me advise on clothes. She told me that when the skids come for the weekend, everything they bring with them stays in the trunk. They have a wardrobe for the kids at her house and do not need anything from his ex wife. The only outfits that my SO had for SD were Disney princess dress up outfits. I went shopping with SO and we picked out several outfits for SD to wear while at our place (regular stuff like jeans, tshirts, shorts, tennis shoes, etc). We have a section in the closet that is all for her stuff. She wears the outfit home that she came with. This completely eliminated arguments that he was having with ex about clothes either being left or stained up. This was a great step for him also and gave him back a little more responsibility (no longer just looking at princess or dress up outfits). He is also responsible for her laundry, so he gets to deal with any pissy smelling clothes.

I began disengaging long before I even realized what that term meant lol. After the first time of SD refusing to eat what I cooked, I just don't cook on the weekends that she is here. SO is in charge of cooking on those weekends, or we will go out somewhere to eat. But that of course, has to be her pick- still working on that.

Since my daughters are away at college, I try to visit every month. I schedule one visit on every other SD weekend. This has allowed me to remove myself and my son from every other SD visit. It gives SO and SD back half of 'their' time. The weekend that we go, is the weekend that can be all about SD for them. Then the weekends that we are home are for family activities. This one thing has probably been the reason I still have sanity lol. Those weekends leave him exhausted, and me feeling rejuvenated, lol.

I am proactive in this, and have high hopes of making this work. I have certain things in my favor. I am well aware of what is going on. I was not at first, and the anger I had, was surely due to just not understanding what the hell! I was so confused, being mad that he was treating her like a baby, but then I'd get mad for him treating like she was his date. I also do not put any blame on SD for any of this. She is completely innocent here. I actually like her. She's smart, cute, artistic, and usually not a brat. When she misbehaves, it is SO's responsibility to well- parent. I try really hard to 'not parent'. That is not my job, but his. I refuse to discipline and told him that I am done disciplining kids. I will reward good behavior, though.

SO has been receptive to adapting and changing things up. But I have to be very loving and gentle in my approaches. If I get upset or angry, forget it. He will just chalk it up as female jealousy.

I've heard terms like 'disengage' and 'self soothe'. But I'm looking for more specific examples I guess. And although counseling might be great, not just from a counseling point of view, from a real world, this is what helped me, kinda stuff. My only other active step mother friend offered me the tip on clothes. She actually offered me lots of advise, but I take it lightly, as she is rather hateful towards the kids. I don't want to get to that point.

Do ya'll have any specific things that have helped?

MoominMama's picture

'she schedules things for him to do with her' That right there. It is HIS time with his daughter, not her extended time to use her ex as a puppet to do her will. This bodes even more trouble for you.

Good luck with this.

AlwaysSmiling's picture

The things she schedules are outside of his normal visitation. This concept is foreign to me, but I try to be understanding of the situation. I try and remind myself that this is her first child (and his) and that as a parent, you want your kid to have everything possible. So if the school is having a 'donuts with dad' day, I don't mind that she takes the initiative to try and involve him. I do believe that these types of things will slowly dissipate, as she has remarried, and has another baby.

My SO has recently changed jobs so his schedule can now involve more time for us. This has made it less of an option for him to just take time off work though. His new schedule has all of his off days on the same time as all of my off days. He also ensured that he is scheduled off on all of visitation days. The last time his exwife called to tell him about some play date thing that she scheduled for the two, he reminded her that he had a new job and couldn't take off. She told him that if he didn't want to be a daddy, that her new husband was willing to take over. Low blow. It hurt me to see the pain this caused him. But later that night, he talked to his daughter and she didn't seem bothered that he wouldn't be able to make that. I felt like I won, like I finally won. But I don't know what I think I was winning, it just FELT victorious.

Things have improved from what they were a year ago. I see improvements. I saw a spanking the other day. The spanking- gave me much more satisfaction than I'd like to admit. While in my head, I'm thinking, "it's about damn time!" Instead, I pulled him to the side, gave him a big hug, and told him, "I'm really proud of you. I know that was harder on you than her."

This type of stuff is what I'd like to see more of. I just don't know how to communicate that in a loving way- like "hey, you're great, you just need to realize that life doesn't revolve around your kid! And you need to hit your kid more! And be absent from her life more! And be a jerk to your ex more!" How do you communicate something that sounds so negative?