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matthall1701's picture

I'm very happy this forum was added. I hope that those of us who think co-parenting is important and are involved in trying to succeed in this arena can share our experiences here without the disdain for the idea that is prevelant in other forums.

I'm new to the step-parent world. My SO and I have been together for over a year. My job recently moved me across the country (luckily back to my home state). After 3 months and some rough patches, my SO was able to transfer her job here and she and her 3 children moved in with me. I had gotten to know her kids pretty well while I was dating her so it's not like I came into this blind. However, it has not been without it's challenges, some of them unforeseen. But we've lived together a little over a month and so far we are very happy.

She loves her kids very much as do I...and we are very much in love with each other. Our challenges have been in deciding how much of a father type role I should have. I wanted a bigger role that she wanted originally, but we have come to an agreement on that. I am involved in the rule making, delegating chores, watching them when mom is gone, picking them up from school when needed, homework time, etc. When they act up, I am able to get on to them, and deal out non-physical punishment (no spanking, just "go to your room", or "no xbox" type stuff...for now, mom is solely responsible for spanking if necessary).

Our challenges so far seem to be in where we differ on the approach we want to take. So I'm curious, those of you who do co-parent with your SO, what experiences have you had? What challenges have you worked through and how?

matthall1701's picture

Bio-dad is a typical deadbeat dad. He is not an active participant in their lives. He plays head games with their mom, uses their kids to make her feel guilty and without going into great detail is just an all around ass. no time, however, have I ever put their dad down in front of them, regardless of how candid I am with their mom about him. If he comes up when I speak to them, I try to build him up. They have been very angry at him for what he did to their mom and to them.

I do understand that I have no legal rights in the situation short of his parental rights being terminated and me adopting them. He still has his parental rights, but sole custody has been given to their mom.

So, it's not so much about the legalities of the situation as it is a trust and bond between me and their mom, and me and her children.

jumanji's picture

Well, It's a bit tough for him to be involved from the distance you describe.

I hope she got permission from the court with jurisdiction to move the kids...

Auntdi2222's picture

I think yal are doing the right thing, by sitting down with the kids, and telling them your boundaries! I was married to my now, ex husband , and begged him to do that , since my children lived w us 90% of the time. He never once worked with me on that! It was very difficult to raise my children under those circumstances. I have always believed that the bio parents,( if they can get along) should ultimately be the one ones to make the final decisions on their child's repercussions if need be, or medical issues, ect.ect. But , when the children live 90% with you , and your new husbands home , it very well should be discussed what you, and your husband have agreed on when it comes to both of your boundaries! Kids need structure, as well as us adults! Good luck!

MarselleB's picture


No it's completely wrong for exes to co-parent. They are exes and not living together. This is a old idea that doesn't work, and sabotages new relationships. We 86'd our ex out of the picture for many reasons, basically because of her interference in all of our lives. I have the best husband, we co-parented together when the child was with us. When he went back to the bm, she could co-parent with whoever, didn't really care. My husband did his own stuff with him, she could enroll him in stuff near her house. Everything was separate, and much less stress for the child, and happier for everyone. Once she realized we wouldn't allow her to bother us, she tapered off. As the child got older, he would call that same day to confirm the pick/up drop off schedule.

Also, the bottom line is it's your home to and you're are the adult so you have equal say in how they are disciplined, chores, etc. The bio dad doesn't have a say in YOUR home. As long as the child is in a safe environment, bio's don't get to dictates what goes on in each other's homes. This situation work out the best, and I always tell people, if they want a much better marriage to go this route. If you have a real intrusive ex like we did, only give them a home number, no work numbers etc. We simply stopped empowering her overnight, and the child was so much happier in the long run.

Mercury's picture

Thank you! Co-parenting is the worst possible thing you can do with your ex in cases where there was a high level of conflict in the divorce or when there are vast differences in core values. When a new spouse is in the mix in these cases, the problems are even worse

matthall1701's picture

Thank you MarselleB and Mercury! You're opinions are probably the minority in these forums as I've been "yelled" at a few times by people who are like "how dare you think you can tread on the bio-dad" sort of remarks.

For what it's worth, I agree that my SO co-parenting with her ex considering the distance and issues they went through during and after their divorce is a very bad idea. He has used his position with the kids to force his way into her life and considering his track record, he will do it again. It has never been about the kids with him, it's all about her.

Honestly, a part of me, in the back of my mind, thinks that her interaction with him has been about 60/40 in favor of making a statement to him over the well being of the kids. She will tell me that it's all business anymore and that she has no more personal feelings about how he treated them and cheated and kicked them out of the house...but it was recently that she became upset over a picture of him with his girlfriend together with their family over the holidays. We are now engaged, but since he has been coming back into the picture again, there is a small voice in the back of my mind that says not to trust her. That there are still feelings of anger and resentment there. We are faithful Christians, so her desire to keep communication open with him she says is entirely for the children's sake and because she thinks it is her Christian duty.

We are now officially engaged and I've been waiting to see if there is going to be any backlash from him. I just wish he would go away. He doesn't really care about those kids. He senses that he is losing her again and just wants his control back. He hasn't made his next play yet, but he will.

MarselleB's picture

Trust your instincts. Our ex only used the poor kid to try and stay in my husband's life. She actually thought they would always be in each other's lives. Early on we even had to have our lawyer send a certified letter stating that we only wished to have a relationship with the child NOT her. In fact, for awhile my husband was getting the child from the aunt's house, and she would rush from work to try and see him. A total nut, so we changed that and spoiled her plan.

I would consider having a nice talk to her about your future, and co-parenting together. Distancing yourself from this dad. And I mean her too. Fyi, we typically picked up the child together, and dropped him off so she wasn't able to talk to my husband. This drove her nuts in the beginning, but it showed her we were a united team.

I don't know what your arrangements are, but I would make changes. She shouldn't need to go through him except for child exchanges. Those could even be discussed in your joint email. I think a good plan before your married, should be discussed and agreed upon.

Ollie996's picture

I totally agree. My SO and I co parent and he was wonderful about supporting me in all aspects if my relationship with SS. If you're sharing your home, time, and resources, you should absolutely have a say in the parenting of a child. It's the only way, I feel to have a real relationship with the child. Being able to do fun things with the child as well as discipline is what builds the relationship on a deeper level and you gain respect and you won't feel as hostile or "left out" which is something I still struggle with (as selfish as that may be).

Auntdi2222's picture

Matt! I in the long run, it is MUCH better for the children to be co-parented by the bio parents. I have been doing it for years, and I can tell you, my daughter is so grateful daily, that she can love me, her stepmom, and her father openly, without me getting upset, or them getting upset! I realize I have a unique situation, but I am to this day so thankful ! My ex was very, and I mean very , unfaithful to me sexually, and I realized he had a real problem, that I could no longer live with,so, I divorced him. His new wife was so respectful to me about our child, and all of her needs , when she was with them. I thank god for her daily. my ex, has always helped me financially (child support , and much more) We all, have a great relationship for my child! One more thing, I'm very glad I left my ex, cause he still cheats on my new friend( his wife) to this day! I love her dearly, I think she stays , because they have 2 children together. What I'm trying to say ultimately, is, you both got divorced for some reason, but it is not your child's fault, and your child will never love your new wife, or my new husband, more than they love their own bio parents! We will someday be at their wedding, birthday parties, and we WILL , hopefully have grandchildren! I grew up in a divorced home, and went through years of my parents struggling to be nice to eachother, and also wishing I didn't have to go to 2 different homes for Xmas, thanksgiving, , have 2 different b-day parties for their grandchildren. Today, my parents are together with their new spouses, and , guess what! We may not do Xmas, and thanksgiving together, but we always do my b-day, my brother, and sisters b- day , and their grandchildrens b- day, as a family! It is AWESOME!

Rags's picture

IMHO a Sparent is an equity parent with their spouse to any children in their home regardless of biology. That includes all aspects of parenting including discipline. Equity live partners = equity parent status. PERIOD!!!

If the other half of the Skid's blended family is reasonable and both sides can work effectively together that is the best scenerio in a blended family situation. However, a Sparent is just as much a parent as either BioParent is and should have equal say to their partner in their own home and a far superior position to the non resident BioParent regarding parenting of Skids when they are in the Sparent's home.

As a Sparent I would tolerate nothing less.

So, I say parent and discipline as you see fit. If your SO does not like how you parent then she can step up and get it done before you have to.

Good luck.

KidlessSM86's picture

In my opinion, if you are a full time or 50/50 sparent, what other way is there than to be a parental figure in a schild's life? If you're an EOWE sparent though, I would say don't waste the time or energy.
Speaking as a childless sparent, I can only say this from how I THINK I would act if I had my own kid. If my child's bio dad was a deadbeat, why wouldn't I want my SO to be a father figure? I would hope I'd be with someone that would be a good influence on my child, and to fill the role that the bio dad wouldn't/couldn't.
Now speaking as a full time SM, I feel that I do play the "mother" role. The kids have a BM that is part of their lives and that they love very much. She is their mom and always will be. But she isn't the one that helps with their homework, or taught them to tie their shoes, or teaches them courtesy and manners. I don't believe a child should be deprived a maternal/paternal influence just because bio parents can't or won't co-parent.
This isn't a perfect world. We all have to decide what works best for our specific situation. For me, it's choosing to provide my skids with a "mother" even when their mom can't be there. Raising kids wasn't meant to be a one person job.

Cover1W's picture

A big thank you to this site for existing.
I haven’t been reading for long, but I have already taken some good suggestions and put them into use in the last week and a half. And it works! I am less stressed already...and can’t wait until we have skids again because it will be easier.
Background: Been with Partner (DP) for 1.5 years. He’s a great man, super kind, fun, we get along famously and talk often. We also have the ability to discuss our emotions and frustrations without fear of reprisal from the other and that is a huge deal and huge in dealing with the skids. I call them the skids for simplification most of the time because that’s what they feel like to me even if we aren’t married. I have no kids of my own.
SD11 and SD9. Great girls overall and we have them 50% of the time. But they run over DP like crazy and know exactly what they can get away with...basically almost everything. He’s a great dad, but into passive parenting. He’s not a total pushover, but close to it. And I call him on it (in private) when I see it happening; oh boy do I ever sometimes. The skids are old enough for chores/allowance but he won’t do that because it’s hard to have them do it (no follow up/no expectations). So to save my sanity I’ve created some boundaries so that I am not doing much of anything from a parenting perspective. We have agreed on the following:

* I will not correct, discipline, admonish or give any correction unless skids are in direct refusal of something and DP is not there and it can’t wait (like backtalk) or if it’s dangerous (SD9 standing on kitchen counter in filthy sneakers).
* I will not leave the living room if skids are acting up and I am involved in something (book/movie); they will leave.
* I do not clean up anything but common areas of the house, and I will only remind/ask for things to be picked up. DP will follow up if they don’t do as I ask. And if this goes on too long, then I have a plan of collecting ‘discarded’ items and putting them away in the attic myself. The bedrooms are up to the girls to take care of and DP to follow up on. This means also that I do not wash dirty clothing that is not in their laundry basket and I do not change sheets unless don’t have to move anything or step on anything to do so.
* I put a lock on my makeup box and removed my more expensive toiletries from the bathroom due to skids ignoring the rule of don’t’ touch this stuff unless you get permission first (and reasons explained) multiple times and blatantly lying about not touching my things. Problem has already been solved there.
* I do not cook for skids any longer except to put frozen stuff in the oven while I cook real food. SD11 eats like a 5 yo thanks to both DP and BM. I gave up trying to help due to lack of support. Shared meals will only happen on weekends if I feel like doing it. No last minute food requests and I don’t provide snacks unless it’s fruit or something relatively healthy. SD9 is doing great with food so I’ll give her tastes off my plate if she’s interested. I do not make weekday breakfasts if I pack their lunches (SD11 will have to start making her own lunches this spring). I make weekend pancakes once a month only.
* I do not comment or ask about hygiene issues directly of skids. This is becoming a problem; lack of bathing, lack of teeth brushing (SD11), refusal to change/wear socks, refusal to change underwear (as a result I have resorted to just throwing them away if it’s too bad), wearing dirty clothes, etc. BM is really bad at teaching them about this and DP is clueless, but getting better. He’s asked me to keep a shared log with him about hygiene problems so he has a record of it since the skids lie about what they do and BM doesn’t seem to care.
* I do not buy any clothing/shoes for them unless I feel like it. If they need something they are directed to DP or I send DP a list of things they need.
* I do not assist with bedtime routine at all. Sometimes SD9 seems to want me around when she’s brushing teeth so I’ll be there if she wants that.

He also bought a Roomba for Xmas and that’s saved so much time. I hate to vacuum, he loves to run it so I really don’t have to vacuum any longer. That was a bonus.
He’s talked with SD11 very recently about her attitude toward me (sudden change just before the holidays) and there’s been a little improvement but I don’t expect it to last. SD9 adores her sister so there’s bleed over of bad habits from her older sister happening. I do have the sincere belief that this will work especially with the plan set – and I will not veer from it. If the skids don’t realize that I have nothing but the best intentions, am fun, nice, and very generous if respect goes both ways, then it’s their problem. DP knows this already and so we go on...