Any advice on how to help an 8 year old cope or deal with what may possibly be an overbearing stepmom?

Amanda - posted on 05/20/2012 ( 4 moms have responded )




My daughter just turned 8 years old. She lives with her father because he had a lawyer and I didn't when we got divorced. She has had a step mother for the past 6 years. Originally, I was thrilled. I lost my mother at a very young age, and I was comforted by the fact that she wouldn't be left alone if anything ever happened to me. Now...not so much. My ex has basically let step mom run the show. She does dr appointments, school functions, everything. Half of the time I don't even know these things are occurring. I'm starting to think this has give step mom the idea that she is mom...and I'm just the person that took care of the pregnancy and birth part.

The last time I picked up my daughter they told me that she was having behavior issues at there house. She wasn't listening and was being disrespectful. Along with lying. This came as a huge shock to me. I have literally NEVER had any behavior issues with my daughter. In fact, sometimes I worry about how good she is...haha. They told me that these issues have been going on for months...but apparently only in their home. They then proceed to give me a list that they made my daughter write. It was supposed to be an explanation of why she was mad at them, but it turned into a "why she likes my house" list. On it she had written everything from I get to watch I Carly to she never has to take a bath...(which is complete and total bs.) I was then informed in front of my daughter that everything "important" happens at their house, but that I need to make sure I'm keeping up with my parenting skills.

I talked to her about it and it seemed as if she and I had resolved it to some degree. Then I met step mom a dr appointment later that week. (Dad..who has custody...wasn't there.) She lied to me about what time the appointment was so that she could be the one to fill out the paperwork. She put herself first as the emergency contact...even above dad. Then when the nurse asked which of us was mom. Her response was "Well...she's the biological mom, but she lives with me." And...this is in front of my daughter!! She then refused to let me speak at all during the appointment. It was so bad that the doctor even came out after to apologize to me. I kept my cool and made a mental note to have a discussion with her dad asap.

As I'm putting my youner daughter in the car, step mom comes over to me and proceeds to scream at me for 20 minutes about how she's more of mom than I have ever been and how my daugther tells her all of these things about my home. All this in front of my younger child...and she left my daughter alone in the car while she walked across the parking lot to scream at me.

The next day there are facebook posts about how giving birth isn't what makes someone a mom...and allusions to the fact she considers my child hers...and not mine at all. There's the back story.

Here's my concern. My daughter is about as close to perfect as a child can get. She doesn't act out (often) and even when she does, it's so tame that you almost miss it. She doesn't lie to me. She's lying to them. She's telling them things like I don't have any shoes that fit her at my house, that she never has to clean her room, that she never gets her hair brushed. (There are 3 women in my and my the math and guess how many shoes are in that joint!)

I'm starting to get the feeling that she's being grilled for info and for some reason feels those things are what they want to hear. My daughter is somewhat reticent, so honestly she isn't likely to just volunteer all this information.

I'm hesitant to discuss this with her because I don't want to put her in the middle, but I'm getting nowhere with her dad and step mom. She's only 8 so I'm not sure she would even be able to realize why she's lying...much less verbalize it. In the past, I've just let the slightly less than sane step mom stuff slide because I know my daughter knows that I'm her mom. But now I'm concerned. When step mom steps in front of me at the doctor's office to sign a medical release form, my confidence that she understands who's mom waivers.

Does anyone have any advice on how I should approach this with my daughter? My mom radar is going crazy. I can just feel that something is off an not right. I don't want her to feel pressure from me because I think that 's why she hasn't been acting out in my home. She feels comfortable. But...I don't think the mama bear in me can just let this sit. ANY and all advice or thoughts would be much appreciated. Ultimately, I can continue to ignore step mom and grit my teeth, but I absolutely cannot ignore the idea of my child being stressed or struggling.


Michelle - posted on 05/20/2012




If you can afford it I would seek legal guidance as this woman is not legally responsible for your daughter and unless you have given up your rights she should not be signing anything for your child only you and your ex have a right to sign legal papers for your child. Based on the fact that step mom is trying to push you out of your childs life you most likely would have grounds to seek custody of her. I don't know if living with you is what is in her best interest but she has a right to love all parents without feeling like she has to love one more then another.


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Wow, there's a lot of stuff going on here. First, I would get some legal advice. I'm guessing that step-mom does not have the right to sign papers for your daughter, and that your daughter's dad and step-mom have an obligation to let you know about important events (school stuff, doctors, etc) so that you can be there. But I don't know that for sure.

Second, I'm wondering if the story step-mom has heard about your divorce is very different from the one you told. The best thing for your daughter is probably to have everyone get along. If you think they could be reasonable at all, I would talk to both your ex and his wife (with no kids around). Acknowledge the step-mom's role in your daughter's life - she is the one taking care of her on a day to day basis. But make it clear that you are not some kind of egg donor. Your daughter may not live with you, but you are a part of her life. You love her, and she loves you. They should not be undermining your relationship with her or your authority, and any issues between you and them need to be discussed without your daughter around. Who knows, maybe if you try to approach things reasonably with them, they'll listen.

I'm sorry that you are in such a difficult situation, and sorry for your daughter as well. I hope you can find a way to work things out, and maybe if you can all get along the supposed "behavior problems" and the lies about what happens at your house will stop.

Tina - posted on 05/20/2012




My mum and step dad use to play the same mind games with me in the end I just told them what they wanted to hear. I had an awful time with them when I reached high school I moved in with my dad. Although I called stepdad dad when i was allowed. I always new who my dad was. My dad had ground rules but the same his house was much more relaxed environment. Plus when you only get a short amount of time to spent with you kids you want to enjoy it. As long as your daughter knows that you are her mum and she can always come to you and talk to you that's important. I would be reminding step mum that she is your daughter and she is not to talk to you like a dog in front of your daughter or undermine you. I would possibly consider seeking a councellor so that she has someone who'm there is no emotional involvement to talk to and get stuff off her chest. You may find out more too.

Kaitlin - posted on 05/20/2012




I have absolutely no practical advice for you. I have no idea what to do or how to go about doing it. But I have to say, you seem to have a really good head on your shoulders. The way you wrote your story showed patience and genuine concern, not just crazy mom hormones (of which I'm very guilty of myself). I really hope everything works out for your daughter (and for you, supermom). Don't give up. Sending you lots of positive thoughts xoxo

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