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Disengaging from my stepchild when I have friends that are parents.

numb87's picture

I am starting my disengaging journey with my stepdaughter with varying levels of success. I'm down to one to two days of doing before and after school a week. I hope to make it one day a week permanently when the opportunity arises. I've made it known I am completely disinterested in hearing about any custody drama. I am getting better at feeling less guilty about spending time alone. Im focusing on my career not being the full time mum and breadwinner. It's all going well. 

But my friends have children and look at things from the birth parent point of view. I don't talk to them about my disengaging but there's often a "we should catch up with the kids" comment at the end of our coffee catch ups or brunches. I'm not completely opposed to this but I don't know how it works with disengaging. I'm trying to get my life back and my friends who are parents naturally assume I love being a stepparent. One of them actually said "I'm so glad you get to have this experience." Recently I reconnected with an old friend. She asked about my life and I gave her the update. She asked about my stepdaughter and of course I had some good things to say about her and I didn't go into how horrible she is to me. We talked about catching up more often and then there was that comment again...let's get the kids together next time. She has a boy the same age. They would probably get along - they seem to be into the same things. But I have to pretend all day everyday at home. Seeing my friends is an escape where I get to be me. Plus I think my closest friends would be able to see I am not relishing the role of stepmum. I've never told them I love it or made out it was wonderful - they kind of just assumed and I stayed quiet. I think the most critical thing I've ever said is that it can be challenging. 

I'm not even really sure what I am asking here. But there's something about this I don't quite know how to manage.

Rags's picture

Tell them the good things about your Skid.

"Good stuff. 1,2&,3"

Then share why you will not be including your Skid in your relationship with your friends and their children.

"While she has some good and sweet qualities she and her mom are entirely toxic and I have to keep them compartmentalized in order to protect my happiness and quality of life.  XYZ and LMNOP about my SKid is more than I am willing to include in my career and personal relationships beyond the relationship I share with her dad."

Lather............. rinse ........................ repeat.

Any questions they ask, answer honestly.

hereiam's picture

Just be honest with your friends because they have no idea what it's really like. It's not like being a bio parent. Don't let them continue to assume that it's a great experience for you, like having your own.

If they are really your friends, they will listen to you, support you, and not judge you. And they will respect your wishes of NOT getting the kids together.

skell76's picture

regardless unless someone has walked in your shoes they will never understand it. As hereiam said it's totally different than being a bioparent and not something one can wrap their heads around.


Rumplestiltskin's picture

Bioparents truly have no idea. I'll be the first to admit that i had no idea. Hell, i dated a man with kids before but the level of dysfunction wasn't like what leads one to this site. I had no idea until this relationship. 

lieutenant_dad's picture

If you don't feel comfortable telling your friends, come up with excuses why she can't come.

"Oh, SD has ball practice tonight."

"Oh, SD isn't feeling well."

"Oh, I'll be coming directly from work."

"Oh, DH and SD are having a daddy-daughter dinner to catch up and give me a break."

If they're that good of friends, they'll recognize quickly that there is more going on and will either continue with the politeness OR ask your directly what's happening. Then you can ease into the conversation about how stepparenting is difficult due to X, Y, and Z. Any friend who doesn't come to terms with it being a rough situation for you is not a good friend.

Loxy's picture

Why haven't you just been honest with your friends? If they are true friends, they won't judge you and will only support you! I have ongoing issues with my SD and all my friends (whether they have bio kids or not) have been very supportive.

While only another step-parenting could every truly understand how hard it is to raise someone else's kids, anyone who thinks it's the same as raising your own kids is unbelievably navie. 

The way I explain it, is to ask them to think of a child they don't like much (ie maybe a child of one of their friends or family that is just really annoying and unlikeable. No doubt they feel relieved every time they can walk away from that child. Well step-parenting is a lot like that. Yes the children aren't always unlikeable but most of us find them annoying at the very least and we don't get to walk away and we don't get that biological bond that gets you through the hard stuff. 

Rags's picture

With the possible exception of parents of severe problem children, BPs have no clue what being a SParent entails.

NotJuneCleaver3's picture

IMHO I think you should be honest as the others have suggested, and you don't have to give a lot of details.  I'm not sure if you are feeling the same but I often feel guilty for not liking my SD (I'm a bio mom of 3 and married to a BD of 3 - 2 I like, 1 I really don't).    It would make me exceedingly uncomfortable if friends made comments like yours as I'd always feel like I was having to make excuses and dodge their invites (exhausting!).    I'm sure your friends will be more understanding than you may think and you will be relieved in the end.