How do I avoid being the Mean Step-Mom?

Gina - posted on 12/03/2009 ( 20 moms have responded )

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I've got 2 step-daughters (7& 10), when they come to visit it's a battle over everything! I have 2 other children, so when I ask them to do their daily chores, I expect them all to help. Well, my visiting daughters don't help because they have a maid back home! They fight all the time with my other 2 kids...I"m not sure if it's a battle over "love" or jealousy, but it's killing me & making me feel like the Mean Step-Mom when I have to reprimand them. Help...any suggestions on how to build a cohesive family!?

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Alison - posted on 12/03/2009

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Is your husband on board? If the two of you are firm, you can win the battle. Be sure to treat all of the children the same, with the same rules, the same expectations, the same love an affection. Think long term, not what the girls will think today, but how this will form their characters 20 years from now.

Your concern should be to treat your children fairly. Whether or not you are perceived as mean is irrelevant.

Tammy - posted on 12/03/2009

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Hi Gina, I had a 2 step-daughters and it isn't a walk in the park, plus I had three of my own and we had one together. So i had a big family and at times i just wanted to hide. It is very hard but remember then are a part of the family and this is how you run it. It is very to be the step parent. You will always be the bad people, but treating them the same as your own makes a big differents and there father has to play a big part of it. There is something they don't want to hear from you, it is about balance. You just keep telling them that there isn't a maid here and this is how we run our family here, and that there a big part of this family. You stay strong, they will give in and love you because they will see that you want the best for them. It is harder to be a step parent then a parent. You always stand your grounds and if your not for sure go over things with there father, so you have back up. They are very jealous because the other kids and you have there father full time:(. Good luck...

Sharon - posted on 12/03/2009

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ouch!!



Yeah that sucks.



1. Sit down with all 4 kids. Spell out the rules & consequences. There is no debate, no second chances.

2. Implement the rules. Don't feel guilty.



Be fair and just and you shouldn't feel guilty about anything.

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I like Iysha's Comment and Very much disagree with Krista E.'s. In order for any child to respect you, you have to discipline them. I tell my SD, that maybe at BM's house she can get away with all that stuff, but I am not her mom, and this is not Mom's house, this is Dad's house and at Dad's house she follows dad's rules.

Iysha - posted on 12/05/2009

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Sit alll the kids down and tell them that You want them all to get along. They don't have to like eachother but they WILL keep peace in the house and on family outings. Explain that in that house, you all work together to get things done...there isn't a maid there so everyone helps so that there isn't just one person doing everything. Have dad there too to lay down some rules and regulations and let them know that he agrees with everything.

Krista - posted on 12/05/2009

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I've never been a stepmom, but I have a stepmom who I love to bits, and a stepdad, who I also adore, and I think the biggest thing is this: let the biological parent do the disciplining. No matter how gently you put it, kids will always chafe at being reprimanded by a step-parent. It's not fair, but the only way to avoid being the mean step-mom is to leave the discipline to their dad. You'll have to talk to your husband, and let him know that you're really going to need his help and his support on this.

And I second Gwen's suggestion. Your husband needs to make it clear with the kids that the two of you speak with one voice -- anything coming from you is coming from him, and vice versa.

Veronica - posted on 12/05/2009

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Hi,
Yes being a step parent is VERY hard and at most very stressfull. Does your husband help with any of the actions in you home when the kids are there?? My step son who is now living with us full time was kinda like that and I just sat him down with his dad and explained that things are going to be different in this house. He is expected to help with chores and the household stuff as the others are. Yes they are probably trying to get the attention and probably not liking the idea that they have to work also, but thus is life. That is what I try to tell both my boys. Life is not about what you can get for nothing its helping the people that you love and respect as it is not given it is earned. I do not envy your position at all but totally understand. You just have to kinda put your foot down it is your house and your rules. As I have said thus is life and it also will teach the step kids to take responsibility for themselves when they get older. You are probably always going to be the bad guy so to speak but as long as you know you are doing your best for them and mean it, that is all that counts. Good luck and hope this helps a little.

Miranda - posted on 12/04/2009

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Everyone here has given you a ton of great suggestions!! I think a good thing to explain to them is that being a family is being a team. You all have to work together to get things accomplished. It is a long truth in history that two is better than one. For example, when you take them sledding you are doing something they want you to do for time with you and for an opportunity to have fun. So it needs to be explained that in order for you to be a part of the mom and dad responsibilities it is also their job to take care of their room, clean up after themselves, etc and take care of their kid responsibilities. I have a 7 year old step-son and we have a great relationship but their is no doubt it can get rocky at times. Not so much because of the step part but because of the kid part!! Kids are really hard and their is no right or wrong way to do things. I am sorry the mom is bad mouthing you and I can understand how that would be incredibly unfair and frusterating. Have you ever called the mom and directly asked her about what's going on?

Renae - posted on 12/04/2009

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I come from a blended family. I have 3 step siblings and a step father on one side, 2 step siblings and a step mother on the other side, and 2 blood siblings. My mum experienced something similar. Before mum married my step-dad it was just me and her (my 2 blood siblings were older and out of home). I was raised HER way. I knew what I was and wasn't allowed to do and I knew what my chores were. The first day we all moved in together I was horrified to see my new brother and sisters jumping on the couch! I told them to stop because they would get in trouble, they just laughed. My mum came in and yelled at them and sent them to their rooms. That was the start of a battle that never ended. They were 12, 9 and 7 when my mum came into their lives and years later they were still getting in trouble for breaking mums rules, because my mum had much more strict rules than their mum. It always baffled me that they never seemed to learn.

The only thing that worked, and this goes for all 3 of my families (and I recently heard doctor Phil say it too!) the reprimanding must be done by the biological parent. In a perfect world where all is fair and equal maybe things would be different, but they're not. The ONLY way for your step daughters to behave is if their dad lays down the law and punishes accordingly. Sorry, you can't fix this, he has to.

Andrea - posted on 12/04/2009

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you and your hubby need to have a sit down talk with the kids!!! let them know that "everyone" in the family has to help eachother out! even if that means taken out the trash!!!! it makes it alot easier if you and hubby are on the same page about it!

Gwen - posted on 12/04/2009

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Tell their dad to take charge. They are ultimately his responsibility. If they are being mouthy to you, he needs to put a stop to it. My ex used to tell the kids "If Gwen tells you to do something, that is the same thing as me telling you. If you can't listen or behave for her then ..." Seriously, Dad needs to be laying down some rules about respect and responsibility.

Leslie - posted on 12/04/2009

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I never thought of that, but I can see them only doing the fun things and not helping with any of the harder stuff. If I am baking cookies the 14 year old will want to help, but as soon as it's time to do the dishes, she's gone. Then what?? When do they learn the reponsibility, that you can have fun but have to work to sometimes?

Leslie - posted on 12/04/2009

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Quoting Gina:

Thanks to all of you...we're really trying. Dad is on board. The crazy thing is that they've been a part of lives for almost 6 years now. Everything used to be "picture perfect". It's been this last year that the battle has begun & I think it's because of what is said about our family/me. The mother doesn't even acknowledge me when we pick up the girls, so I think they are beginning to act like their mother. I try really hard to make sure they are all shown the same amount of love & belonging. Thanks again...all thoughts are appreciated!



I am in the same situation, we get along until the mom calls to talk to the kids, then all attitudes change.  Or when the kids come home to our house, the first 2 days are really ruff!!  Asking to do any kind of chore is like being the wicked witch of the west.  I ask for the simplest of things, like pick up the clothes in the bathroom, or put dishes in the washer. Every day, and I mean every day i have to ask, or nothing gets done and I have to do it.  I think mom has told the kids I am the maid or something.  They all ways say, " no" i don't have to.  My children are 20, 21, 26.  His are 8,12,14.  so the rules don't quite apply to treating them all equal, but I try to the best I can with basic rules.  The middle child runs his mouth constanly.  I say up he argues and says down. I say turn the tv down, he turns it up.  I have tried to ignore the problem, thinking it's a attention thing, doesn't work.  I am at the end of my rope so any advice back would be great.  Thanks

Letitia - posted on 12/03/2009

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I have been a stepmother for the last 24 years, I never forsed my step children to do anything. I left them to do it on their own, if they don't help they feel left out them the problem solves it's self

Jo - posted on 12/03/2009

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A star chart always worked for me. With a reward on completion of required chores. That way they have a choice weather they contribute or miss out.
It is a fun activity to make the chart together and you can buy cool stickers for them to put on the charts as they go. When they acheive 10 stickers they get a big reward.
It keeps track off everybody and its out in the open for everyone to see. It also sets very clear boundaries, goals and consequences for the kids to learn by.

Lian - posted on 12/03/2009

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ohh well if their mothers saying nasty things about u thats just making sooo much harder for u...Any chance of hubby having a talk to her?........maybe they just testing the waters, and maybe have a talk to them about how they feel when their mum says those things about u?....let them know how u feel about (without dissing their mum)......thats about all i can say........my hubbys ex is the same...lol....very stressful....but the main thing is the children....i hope this isnt putting strain on u & hubby

Amy - posted on 12/03/2009

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I agree with everyone else who've posted so far. A family meeting is a must. I saw you mentioned that the step kids have a maid back home, well I think you need to address that as well. Mention to everyone why you don't have a maid (and don't say because of money, but more so for responsibility....and every other reason kids need chores).

With the ages, you may also be able to find ways to make doing chores fun. If you google how to make chores fun I'm sure you can find some stuff. I found this from here(http://www.ehow.com/how_5388707_make-cho...) and it sounds like it may work with the age group you have:

"Turn on the TV.
Sounds crazy I know, but this works every time for my kids. We chose a TV show we all love and have family TV time. The challenge is to see if we can win by getting all the chores done during the commercial breaks. If we do we get a reward like an ice cream sundae.

This is definitely a special occasion incentive. Like Friday nights when I just want to get the chores over with and planned on doing something special for the kids anyway."

Granted my son is only 19 months, so I'm not really sure what would be fun for that age range, but I'm a HUGE fan of Fun Chores!

Gina - posted on 12/03/2009

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Thanks to all of you...we're really trying. Dad is on board. The crazy thing is that they've been a part of lives for almost 6 years now. Everything used to be "picture perfect". It's been this last year that the battle has begun & I think it's because of what is said about our family/me. The mother doesn't even acknowledge me when we pick up the girls, so I think they are beginning to act like their mother. I try really hard to make sure they are all shown the same amount of love & belonging. Thanks again...all thoughts are appreciated!

Gwen - posted on 12/03/2009

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As the others have said, you need to have a family meeting to review your rules and expectations. Don't be afraid to ask the kids for their input too. I hope their dad is on board with you. If you present the rules as a united team, the kids understand that the pair of you are in agreement. If you are firm and consistent, they will eventually learn the routine in your home. Also, it is very important that his kids be treated equally. No double standards. Good luck! It takes lots of time (as in months or years), love and patience to blend a family.

Lian - posted on 12/03/2009

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hi, i also have three step-daughters aged now 9 11 & 13yrs old........my house hold was the same. constant fighting & competion over their dads attention....I simply sat the girls down laided out some rules, these are the rules in our family in this house & if they were disobeyed there would be consquences & stated what they where......as far as disaplining them i never did that part until like 6mths later, after they had gotten used to me & we had all gotten to know each other a lot better...(i was on dads case to disapline as they seen me as an intruder, & being married to their father would have put an end to his children hoping their parents would get back together)......it took me like 4-6mths to gain their trust.....before they would even except my disaplininig, & it was hard, as i also had 3 children previous to marrying their dad.......so my household was constantly on edge lol, & the fighting was never ending.........

i just sat back as far as them fighting over their dads attention & affection, it didnt bother me as we had him 2 ourselves a lot more than his daughters did.....the fighting made me feel like i was going insane...but i dealt with the bad behaviour straight away, which at first felt like thats all i was doing...but it got easier as time went by as long as i was consistant....also we had family meetings when dad was home x2 a week (during school holidays) so it gave a sense of belonging & beening part of our family to the girls....we would discuss what we would like to do during the holidays, what we could all do to get the money toghter for this if it was an activity that cost money, what we liked about this week & what we didnt like...it gave us all time 2 reflect on ourselves & and the kids time to sit & think aboiut their behaviour during the week wether it was good or bad...it also involved dad who was then a busy man working..... i tried 2 include their dad as much as inbetween work would allow..............but mainly it just takes time, & i worked on being their friend first, or trying to anyway lol.....

i hope this helps u in some way....this is what i found helped with my step-daughters

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