Being a step parent

Jeannine - posted on 11/12/2008 ( 49 moms have responded )

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Does anyone whos a step parent ever struggle with the fact that you try to love them equally but its just not the same as your bio kids

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Reena - posted on 02/01/2009

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I tried to have a good relationship with my steps from the very beginning. I stayed back and let them have time with thier Dad and gradually eased in to their lives. They were OK with but the EX has always been very bitter and made it clear to them that for them to like much less *love* me would be a betrayal to her.



Dh and I have been married for a little over 4 years and this has not changed. Last year we adopted our daughter and it is quite apparent the love and affection I have for her. I don't struggle with it-- I love my daughter with all my heart.



I care for my steps, love them, I would do almost anything for them -but it is not the same feeling of love I have for my daughter. I don't really understand why some people feel that it needs to be. You would never expect kids to feel the same about a step parent as they do about thier biological parent.

Monique - posted on 11/12/2008

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Hi, well its great to hear that Im not the only one. It is a very difficult situation being in a step family. I have a boy and a girl from a previous marriage and my husband has two boys from his previous marriage and we have a 19 month old daughter together. We only have his two every other weekend. We have been together nearly 3 years and still cop alot of grief from his ex. I think the way the childrens mothers are with their kids, makes it difficult on us step mums too. If the mother is always in their ear, manipulating their feelings it makes it hard for us to get close, then the kids already come with pre-conceptions....

Brenda - posted on 12/04/2008

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I haven't read all the posts, so appologize if any of what I have to offer is repeated.



I have a bio 12 daughter and two 6yr old step sons. Even having twin ss I find myself caring for one more then the other.....and then sometimes it changes. Sometimes depending on their behaviour! It's easy to love someone who easier to get along with!



Either way, I feel it comes down to finding the positive things about each of those children and holding on to that for dear life! When I catch myself feeling negative or refering to them in a negative way I start thinking up some of my favourite moments and talk about those.....try turn a frown upside down. And then let them know when I am feeling love toward them and use positive encouraging words.

[deleted account]

sara, i know what you mean about feeling guilty about feeling different about your bio. child! i am expecting in apr. and i know i will love my own child differently than i do my 2 step-daughters...i also know they love their daddy and mom more than me! it's life...it's human nature...too much pressure is put on step-mother's--we are human too!!

[deleted account]

yes, unfortunately, some moms will forfeit the well-being of their children for their own self gain. the same thing happens @ our house--we get them on sunday and by about wed. or so they are just becoming acclimated to us, our rules, and warming up to me! then they go home for 3 more weeks and the cycle continues. their mother has used them as leverage many times for her own selfishness...they have been too young to realize but they are getting older and they will understand better soon. they are going to see that their mother is not the sweet little angel she portrays to them. i am going to sit back and watch. to show her love, their mom BUYS her love for them by showering them with clothes, etc. she also always takes them to festivals and outings on weekends (where she can drink.) this send them the message that when they are with us, they should always get something at the store and that we should always go somewhere on the weekends.

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Sherri - posted on 12/11/2008

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I think there is a huge difference between loving them equally and treating them equally. How can I love a child equally that I have not carried in my body and raised for their whole life compared to a child I have only parented for 4 years. We have such huge expectations for ourselves don't we? Do I love him...absolutely, but it is different when they are not your own. I really focus on making sure that I treat all my kids equally in all situations and sometimes feel that I am much harder on my own kids sometimes. We shouldn't feel guilt because it is different, but it doesn't mean we are awful mom's or aren't parenting them properly. There are a lot more dyanmics and issues to deal with when it comes to step children and sometimes you got to be less harder on yourself. We are all human and doing the best we can!

Stephanie - posted on 11/30/2008

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I struggle sometimes. Mostly because she has one set of rules with her mom and another with us. It's not her fault. I think if she lived with us full time it would be easier.

Tina - posted on 11/28/2008

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I don't find it hard to love them all equally, but my stepchildren seem to have difficulty believing it. They are always accusing me of treating my biological children differently. The fact is my biological children are younger and I expect certain things at certain ages, so I don't necessarily expect the same things from the younger children as I do the older ones. I think that now that MY oldest is older, they are starting to see that this is true.

Tara Lee - posted on 11/28/2008

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We've had an up and down relationship with the kids bio mother...we all use to be friends when I first got together with my husband...until my step-son moved in with us at 13...then all hell broke loose...now after 6 years of problems and fighting, my husban refuses to even talk to his ex...even now with his 16 year old daughter living with us. It's very hard being in the middle. As a step-child myself, I know how it feels when you parents don't get along. My step-daughter hates to mention her mom because she knows her dad can't stand her(mom), but she LOVES her mom to death, and I see how much it hurts her to not be able to talk about her mom. I try to make a point of asking about her mom when he's not around, but I don't like her also, and she knows I'm only doing it for her. Anyway, they know I love them and I have a good relationship with my step-daughter. I just had my bio daughter 2 1/2 months ago, and was afraid my step-daughter would have a ploblem with that, but I made a point of including her in the pregnancy (she was even in the delivery room with us), and she just LOVES her sister to death. Thank God, 1 less problem to deal with.

Tara Lee - posted on 11/28/2008

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I'm not quite sure I know the answer to this question yet. I have 2 step-children, (16 years old and 19 years old), and a 12 week old. I've been in thier lives since they were 2 and 5. I love them with all my heart, I don't think I feel any different. It may be because we've had 14 years of life together before I had my own child. But no matter what, all the childern know they are loved.

Jeannine - posted on 11/28/2008

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Hi Jeannine (great name). I have two girls from my first marriage and my fiance has a dughter he adopted on his own. We have a three year old son together. It has been over three years and I still feel as if I have not bonded with his daughter. It feels like a competition most of the time. My daughters, ages 12 and 10, love me and their half brother, but stay with their dad more because they do not feel like things are fair when it comes to my fiance's treatmentand his favoritism towards his daughter. He is definitely not equal when it comes to the girls. I feel for you and I know how hard this is.

Katie - posted on 11/24/2008

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Analee and I have so much in common!!!! My husband had 3 boys when we met and he had guilt from the divorce that I had to help him with. He was letting his boys walk all over him because he didn't want his time with them to be a bunch of disciplining. Part of the reason I fell in love with him was that he was such a loving and tender Dad and yet he also enjoyed playing with them too. Now we have a son and daughter togather and we both are growing in our parenting. His youngest was just over 1 when we met and he was like my own, but I love his brothers too. God gave me a special gift to love children I think. I would give my life for any of our 5 children.

Analee - posted on 11/20/2008

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I have 3 stepsons and 1 of my own. My son was long awaited for me and loving him is the greatest joy of my life. I never thought that I would have stepchildren in a million years before I met my husband. At first, I loved his boys like a niece or nephew that I didn't know very well. After 3 1/2 years, I can honestly say that I love them as much as I love my own son, but I also love them differently. My husband used to be the Disneyland dad before I met him, but as we discussed our future I brought to his attention that when we had children together I didn't want them to think that somethings were only ok when their brothers were here, or that their brothers could get away with things that were considered breaking the rules otherwise. He agreed and we established some rules and made our house a very normal house that essentially runs the same (only with a little more chaos) when the older boys are here as when it is just the 3 of us. I make sure that the boys know that I love them on a daily basis. I now have a great relationship with all of my boys, and there is no doubt that they know that I love them just as much as I love their little brother. The other thing is that my son loves me different than his brothers do too, because I am his mother. The older boys have their own mom. When one of them doubted if I "liked" him, I told him that I married his dad because I fell in love with 4 boys--their dad and the 3 of them!

Kimberly - posted on 11/20/2008

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I don't have an issue with it. I love my daughters and my step-son. I think the only time an issue ever comes up is when he threatens my daughters safety, and I think even if he was my birth son, I'd react the same way.

Debbie - posted on 11/20/2008

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Hi I have 4 step kids and 4 of my own, the only time I see any difference in what I give to them all is at birthdays and christmas, because my kids have only me to give them presents and my step kids have their mothers as well, so I have explained this to them that my love is still equal but I just can't give them the same material things as then it won't be equal for my 4. If that makes sense? My 2 elder step kids lived with us (they have grown up now) they got more than the younger 2 who live with their mother as we were primary parents, they got more because their mother was not so much in the picture, she didn't give them much at all. In saying this I have also included this system in our wills, for the same reasons, my stepkids have their mothers will also.

Suzanne - posted on 11/19/2008

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My husband has his 9 year old daughter 3 weekends out of the month. I don't want to be that "evil stepmother" and I know he is grappling with the fact that he only has her a limited amount of time and wants to spend quality of time together so I try my best to keep out disciplining her. I have love for her, it had been a rough beginning as she doesn't want to share her dad but I have learned that by being a friend who helps to take care of her has helped her and my relationship. I have a 3 year old daughter who I have the majority of the time and I DO find I have a "different" love for her, but I try not to worry so much now about measuring the difference and just focus on my individual relationships with each one. I am my daughter's mother not my step daughter's mother but I want to ensure she feels loved and respected regardless. My role in my daughter's life is much different than mine in hers in many respects.

[deleted account]

marilyn--what i have learned (i have two step-daughters) and we have them only ONE week out of the month) is that with time and perserverence, your 7 year old step son will know that he is loved, even though there is a separate set of rules @ your house. kids are incredibly resilient and with a little reminding, they quickly remember the rules at each house. it is of utmost importance that you and your husband are a TEAM, support each other in front of his son, and remain on the same page. it is damaging and confusing to the child when this does not occur.

Marilyn - posted on 11/19/2008

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I have 2 daughters to my first husband - they are 22 and 19. I now live with a wonderful man - he has a 7 year old son - his ex-partner lost sole custody and we gained joint custody, we still only see him every 2 weeks. Coming from his mother's home to ours is very different. His mother allows name calling and swearing, as this is her pattern. We do not and I did not allow this with my daughters. It is very difficult to discipline - any ideas?

Kathy - posted on 11/19/2008

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YES!!! every day ! 3 step kids, 1 bio from previous, and 1 together. HUGE difference in upbringing, till we got custody 5+ years ago, and STILL having issues with 'equality'. They are SO different, makes my reactions look like favoring my bio's behavior. ARG. Outside 'forces' (grandparents & bio mom) make things 10x more difficult. Pray for me!!

Bethany - posted on 11/18/2008

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I have one step-son and four bio kids. I love my step-son, so much, and I tell him that everytime I see him. We share custody with him and that might make it harder for me, but there is a difference. Whether I like it or not, there is. I think the best thing is to tell them we love them and mean it. Also, not to show love to your bio kids more, don't have a favorite. But I think you're totally normal to feel that way.

Wendy - posted on 11/18/2008

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I came into my fiance's life 9 years ago when his kids were 10 and 12 and mine were 3 and 6...now my kids are 12 and 15 and they are 19 and 21. Of course, earlier it was easier when they didn't live with us but after we moved to their area, they ended up living with us. I am a discipling parent and my fiance is not and it is very difficult to raise 2 families in the same house.

Jeannine - posted on 11/18/2008

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Thank you so much for your support! Its good to know that I am not the only one that struggles with this

Trisha - posted on 11/14/2008

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I have 2 children of my own and 1 step son, and although my step son doesn't behave as well as I'd like sometimes (he had no disipline before I came into the picture) I have never treated him any different from my other children. We have all 3 children full time and neither of the other parents are interested in their childrens lives, so for my husbands son I am mom, the only problem we have there is that my husbands mother tells my step son that I shouldn't have taken the attention away from him.

And although I don't quite feel the same for him as my bioligial kids, I love him, I'm just not bonded with him like the children I carried and have taken care of since birth.

[deleted account]

yes, claire--i feel that if there is longetivity involved in the ability to establish the relationship, the odds are far better in having a healthier relationship. we are getting my husband's kids full time in may and i feel very good about it.

Claire - posted on 11/14/2008

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I think the biggest difference is not if they are biologically yours or not, I think the difference lies in if they are with you full time or part time. My husband's son is only with us every other weekend and one night a week. It is very difficult to establish a routine with him. I have a 9 month old with my husband and I love both of the children but it is different for my step son. I know that he does not love me like he loves his mom. I have never tried to be his mom or replace her in any way. I just try to ensure that he is very loved by his mommy, his daddy and me. I do love him and while it is a little different from the love for my daughter I don't think it is any less. Just different. In much the same way that I love my nieces and nephews a little different than my daughter but that does not mean I love them less. Equality does not mean everyone gets exactly the same. Sometimes equality means that everyone gets what they need. And that's OK!

Sara Jo - posted on 11/13/2008

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wow! thank you for this entire conversation. it has really made me feel a lot better. i have a 10 year old step daughter and a 1 year old bio son. i do know that i love them different.. not more or less- just different. but i can tell you that i am MUCH more patient with my son than my step daughter... i know that i don't have the same "motherly instincts" with her as i do with him. i know that's natural.. but its hard for me to except it about myself.

Elaine - posted on 11/13/2008

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I don't believe anyone here can give you a "right" answer. I have a step daughter and 5 boys of my own. I think I probably will never have the same feelings for her as I do my own children, but who says we are suppose to. She has a mother and a father of her own, we can only offer ourselves to help guide our steps the best we can. It will never be up to us to "lay down the law" with them as we do our own, like I said, they already have parents. We can offer our love and encouragement, I think much the same as a favorite aunt, or family friend. I will admit it's hard to stand in the background some days, but I think of how I would feel if another women was trying to be my kids' Mom. Everyone's life is different, feelings are different, ways of life are different. If you leave your love out there for them to grab, you'll be giving them and you a great friendship throughout your lives. Take a deep breath, relax and enjoy your life.

Monique - posted on 11/12/2008

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Yeah I think each step-families dynamics are indeed different, but also have a llot of similarities from those women I've spoken to. You're very lucky Danielle, that your relationship with your stepson is so great. I wish I had that. I guess because he's young too, he will be growing up with you, and wont know any different. It also makes a huge difference when the child is "allowed" to make their own judgements, rather than being told or having it instilled in them by their other parent. If I was able to get close to my step-kids I would love that more than anything...

Danielle - posted on 11/12/2008

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I'm going to respond to the original question - rather than the thread.. because honestly my stepson is here right now and I don't have the attention span to read it all! Hehe. Four year olds are so energetic.

i do know what you mean, Jeannine. I am pregnant with my own, and have a wonderful stepson. I love my stepson to death, absolutely... but there are things about your own child that I think are different. You carried your children for nine months, labored, nursed.. they are a physical part of you. That will never be the case with your stepchild.

I know I'll love my child differently. Not more - just differently. It's instinctive as a woman. The point is how you ACT on these things. Treating a stepchild differently is unacceptable and would only cause problems. I make sure my stepson knows I love him - I do the same things with him I plan with my own baby - bedtime stories, games, cuddles, all of it.. and he has his own very special place in my heart.

It can also be more difficult if you have a difficult stepchild - I'm blessed with a stepson whose biggest issues are booger wiping on the sofa and super-hero obsessions. Not everyone is so lucky.

Kim - posted on 11/12/2008

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Not really...but I think it's becuase my step-child is boy and his dad and I had 2 girls. You just show your love differently with boys and girls. I feel that my step-son is the son I never had. I would do anything for him, just like my girls.

Monique - posted on 11/12/2008

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Yeah, it does sound similar hey. My husband too, would never admit that his eldest boy is his favourite, and I too cant stand my husband ex, she is a manipulator and a liar. And unfortunately his eldest son is becoming the same. Well you do have a challenge there, just as I do every fortnight! I would love to not get emotions involved, but whereas I also have another two children, who are not my husbands, the unfairness can sometimes be too much. My husband and I have also agreed to put each other first in our relationship. We feel that if we are happy, our children will be happy, but I can tell you, much to the disgust of his ex. She thinks its all about me getting my own way!

Id love to chat more, catch up with you another time! Good luck!

[deleted account]

wow! our stories are very similar! his oldest is clearly his favorite (he would NEVER admit this) and she is just like her mother--very manipulative. this makes it tough b/c i do not like his exwife and what she represents. what i have learned from others on this forum is to stand your ground, with discipline at all. that is YOUR house too! my challenge is to take the emotion out of it and to remain neutral when giving my opinion. this is a work in progress!

Monique - posted on 11/12/2008

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Its the same with my husband, with his eldest, you can tell he is the favourite. And it really bugs me, because he is the one who is most like his mother! I can see it, but for some reason my husband cant!! Im getting there with my husband, with the discipline, but I'm forever pointing it out to him, he cant see it on his own. I feel like a real nag!!!

[deleted account]

i haven't had as much luck with my husband seeing the manipulation part--especially by his oldest. my husband has a hard time with consistency in many parts of his life--including his parenting...it can become SO frustrating!

Monique - posted on 11/12/2008

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I agree, I have never spoken about the childrens mother in front of them, its just not me. They are already subjected to that at home. My husband and I have had countless discussions about how to discipline his children, at one stage and still sometimes, my children are disciplined for something, during the week and then his kids come and do the same thing and he's blinded! It is extremely frustrating. I didnt want to be the one to do the disciplining in the beginning becoz they are laready told to hate me, so I didnt want to give tham anymore excuse. But I'm trying to find the courage to start disciplining them now. If he wont do it, then I will, but he's starting to see through them now, and knows when he's being manipulated.

Monique - posted on 11/12/2008

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Hi Rhonda, I hope everything works out for you when you et the girls full-time. I always say to my husband things would be so much easier if his boys lived with us, but thats something that would never happen, not to mention be totally chaotic!lol. Their mother tries to be the Disneyland mum, spoiling them and taking them places and then they expect it when they come to our house, and we just cant do it with five kids! Its very hard because thewy kind of adapt to our household by the end of the weekend and then its time to go home, and everything we've discussed with them is turned around when they get home and they are questioned about everything that went on at our house. Its just not right, these kids are going to be basketcases....

[deleted account]

monique--those kids, in time, will see that you are the better person when you prove their mother and her judments of you wrong in the way you interact with them. they will see who REALLY is the better person. i make a concerted effort to never speak badly about their mother in front of them and this has paid off!

and yes, that is the story of my life--my husband is blindsided about boundaries with his children--he can't see he is doing more harm by allowing them to run the show.

Monique - posted on 11/12/2008

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I agree with you Chantal, it is very difficult, and I too love my step-children because I love their father. Unfortunately they already have a picture of me painted in their minds by their mother, that is the whole problem, she cant move on, and therefore wont allow them to either. And I feel sorry for them also, having to be brought up with morals like hers. I understand a father not wanting to get mad at his kids all weekend when he doesnt see them often, but kids also need boundaries, and they are very smart and know that they can manipulate the situation.....

[deleted account]

yes, monique--my step-girls' mom is very different from me...she interacts with her girls as if she is their sibling, not mother. this obviously carries over to my house. the girls don't always know how to accept affection from me and if i want to do something for them such as make their bed (instead of sleeping in a bed with messed up bedding.) this is why when they are here permanently in May, it will be so much better. there will be longevity in our abilities to connect. being a step mom is an often confusing, roller-coaster, thankless role! it's a tough one!!

[deleted account]

i might not be the disneyland stepmom but my stepchildren know i care about them. it is my job as their step-mother to instill morals, values, rules, and guidance when they are at our house. we only have them, right now, one week out of the month. sure this calls for transition by all, but we all LOVE each other and tell each other. is it always smooth?...of course not...we are getting them full time in May and i am anxious for a positive future for all of us, including our new addition coming in april!

[deleted account]

yes, chantal! what is the deal here with others being so quick to judge?? this is a forum of support and advice, not harsh judgments! for those that want to judge, hit another forum--not this one!!

[deleted account]

my husband's girls know that if they are told to fold their clothes and when they are given a treat after dinner--that their dad loves them the same.

[deleted account]

seana--before you make quick judgments of others, your situation might be VERY different from others. no one is a bad person here. all scenarios and situations are different. no one is out to be mean or evil--different situations call for different reactions and dynamics. no need in trying to make your situation the only way that the step mom dynamic should be. again, no need for the quick judgments, as they are non-productive.

Seana - posted on 11/12/2008

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Ladies you need to understand that when the father is not allowed to be a part of the day to day decisions in raising their children they do act more lenient because they want their children to know that Dad does love them and wants them their. The time they have is so limited that they don't want to waste what little time they have arguing and worrying about trivial matters. Because the worst thing for a father to hear is his children saying that don't want to see him when he has that time for them.

Seana - posted on 11/12/2008

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Chantel - I have to say your answer is why we are given the title evil stepmother. Trust me, those kids know how you feel and I feel for them because they deserve love period.

[deleted account]

i love my step-daughters, but feel that i am not allowed to love them the way i would like due to differences in parenting b/w my husband and me. i am more about structure and rules where he is more about being their friend and being leanient. i know that i will be able to love my son on the way the way i want to love him--this is what differentiates the two kinds of love--and i DON'T feel bad about this!

Seana - posted on 11/12/2008

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My steps are not mine by blood but they are mine in my heart and we do have another child and I do not feel any differently towards the steps because of it. I think sometimes they are easier to love because they are not living with us and we don't have the day to day issues. But no matter what, they are all my babies and I don't think of them any other way.

Shannon - posted on 11/12/2008

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I totally agree with Ronda. My husband had two kids from his previous marriage & I had two from mine. Then we just recently had our 9 month old son together. They ALL live with us full time!!! lol Your always going to love them differently but I've learned that it's ok...don't feel bad & don't let anyone make you feel bad either! Especially if they aren't a step parent! It is definitely inevitable (like Ronda said). One more thing...just remember your family dynamics are never going to be like that of a non-step parent situation, no matter how hard you try. I had to learn that too & so did the rest of our extended family members.

[deleted account]

hi jeanine--yes, i think this is just human nature...i have two step-girls and one on the way. i love them but it is inevitable that i will love my own in a different way. i think this is OK--just life. i think there is a stigma related to step-moms in that we should feel bad for having certain feelings, ya know?

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