I need to vent

Kimberlee - posted on 06/10/2016 ( 16 moms have responded )

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I am a mother of grown children. I have two teenage stepchildren at home. This is my second marriage and my husband's third marriage. We have been married for over 3 years and together for almost 6 years. My husband and I have very different parenting styles - he tends to do most things for his children and believes in giving instead of earning rewards. I'm more about teaching independence and rewarding for achievements. The baby mama situation is difficult too. She was not really involved with the children until I came into the picture. Now she is ALWAYS in our lives texting and calling my husband. She even asked if she could hang out with the children at OUR neighborhood pool. I had to finally put my foot down and even though my husband told her no he still feels it would be ok as long as we aren't home. I COMPLETELY DISAGREE! My husband doesn't understand how hard this is. I actually didn't think it would actually be this hard. I would love to talk to someone who understands how hard it is to be a stepmom AND be the second wife. How do I do this? I really feel like my marriage is in jeopardy because of these issues.

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Dove - posted on 06/10/2016

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So you don't want the mother of your stepchildren to be able to spend time w/ her children at a NEIGHBORHOOD pool? That seems completely illogical to me....

As for how he treats his children... if he's been doing the same things for 6 years then you pretty much knew exactly what you were getting into. You can always try talking to him about it, but how he chooses to parent his kids is up to him and it's your job to support and back him up w/ them.

I'm sorry it's so rough for you, but there's a reason 2nd, 3rd, etc.. marriages have an even higher failure rate than first marriages. Perhaps some couple's counseling would be a good place for the two of you to discuss these things.

Kimberlee - posted on 06/10/2016

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I feel like a failure too. I'm sorry you have to go through it also. I'm trying to stick it out but it's so much easier for my husband to ignore than it is for me. Thanks for the encouragement and understanding.

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Kimberlee - posted on 06/10/2016

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Most of the time they don't even want to go with her. No, they don't want her at the pool but they're kids 14 & 13 and get bored at her house. They're home alone most days during the summer so I understand they just want and need something to do. My stepson asked his dad if he could come home early Sunday so they could go swimming (every week they ask to come home early so that isn't unusual). It was after he asked my husband that his ex started asking to come too. Keep in mind that my husband and I were already relaxing at the pool when she wanted to come. This is my problem. This is where the boundaries come in that I'm talking about. My husband has told her many times that she needs to build her own life, make her own memories with her children, not try to replicate everything that we do. The kids have a good time with us and want their life to be the same at their mothers house but the bottom line is that our households are different. It's just hard no matter how you look at it. I don't compete. She does out of jealously. She told my husband that she's jealous.

AnnaMia - posted on 06/10/2016

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Kimberlee -

don't give up! just wanted to show you support and i really believe this is just a crisis - you WILL get through this! you've been together for a long time now and have faith in your connection and love. take it easy, do not forget to put yourself first (!) and don't stress yourself over this - i am sure you're doing the best you can.

AnnaMia - posted on 06/10/2016

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i do think counseling is a good idea. i feel like different parenting styles are what is creating the most tension + the added stress of the children's mother being present.

and the counseling might show your husband how serious the situation is.

Kimberlee - posted on 06/10/2016

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I totally get it. I appreciate your input. I do believe that my husband needs to discuss boundaries with her but everything else I will leave up to him. Like I've said to him before I'm not the mother!

Sarah - posted on 06/10/2016

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I didn't get thru the whole thread but I do think the pool issue is petty. Who cares what her motives are in taking her own kids to their residential pool. It's a pool. The kids live in the neighborhood so why should they give up their benefit of using the pool just because it is her parenting time? The intention of what is best for the kids is getting lost.

Kimberlee - posted on 06/10/2016

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AnnaMia, you asked what she calls and texts about...what kind of Chinese soup does my stepdaughter like?, where do you buy the pizza the kids like, where is it that you take the kids crabbing? Yeah and I'm not kidding! My husband even was shocked when she didn't know her daughter liked wonton soup. It's a tangled web! Thanks for your input

Dove - posted on 06/10/2016

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Another thing... do the kids want her around? Do the kids want to see her every other week? Do the kids want to hang out w/ her at the pool?

Those are the questions that really matter as they are teenagers now and the type of relationship they do or do not have w/ their mother should be their call.

Dove - posted on 06/10/2016

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Well, she certainly has no right to enter your home, but the pool is just a petty thing to complain about.

I'm not saying that your husband's way of parenting is fair or even right, but they ARE his children. Your job as the stepmother is to back him up. You can certainly try and talk to him about it (like I mentioned) and you can certainly seek counseling to work through the issues (like I mentioned), but what else are you looking for? The only person on the planet that you have the power to control is yourself.

Kimberlee - posted on 06/10/2016

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We actually do talk about it and I actually decided a while ago that I would not parent them - that I would do exactly what you said and leave the parenting to him and the mother but he actually got upset about it. So I don't know how to handle it at all. The parenting time arrangement is week on week off. When the kids are with us they do whatever they want basically. My stepdaughter is a straight A student. My stepson has D's and F's in almost every class. They both stay up later than my husband and I. I just don't agree with things being a free for all. I guess I should be glad that overall the kids behave and there are no issues with that. As far as her presence...she's not my type of person. My husband and I don't party and then go to church the next day if you know what I mean. In fact, we don't party at all. Hanging out with my husbands ex is not my idea of a good time. My husband knows that having children with her was a mistake. Unfortunately it's a mistake he has to live with and I guess I do too. I'm at a loss. Thanks for your help.

AnnaMia - posted on 06/10/2016

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Kimberlee -

it isn't fair but parenting & stepparenting have never been about fairness - that's why being a stepparent is so hard. a lot of expectations, little rights in formal decision making - it is what it is. you must be respected - as a stepmother - and you get to make rules in your own household BUT decisions about grades, the way the kids will be raised, formal decisions and such... that is not up to you. that's entirely up to your husband and their mother and only indirectly you.

how do you feel these disagreements are affecting your marriage? is there a lot of tension, do you communicate, do you feel like your husband respects you, do you respect him...? would you be able to focus on your marriage and leave the parenting to him and the mother?

about the mother - she doesn't necessarily need to be jealous of you. maybe she finally woke up when she was another woman (mother) coming into the picture. maybe that was a wake up call she needed; that's not a bad thing and i think you're making a huge mistake when you're turning it into some kind of competition. if SHE wants to compete, well... let her; you shouldn't be phased by it. if she finally wants to be a good mother - why is that a bad thing? do you feel that position belongs to you and you're angry at her sudden presence?

Kimberlee - posted on 06/10/2016

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Dove, you'd have to know the entire history to understand. This is a woman who had little to do with her children before I came into the picture. She spent a lot of her parenting time in the clubs and spending the night at mens houses. Now she wants to have the kids every other week because she's jealous of me. Our neighborhood pool is private for residents. She is not a resident. I believe that our home with my husband (which she has been in when my husband and I were not home using the kids key) is off limits to her as is our pool which we pay to use. Prior to us living in this neighborhood she took the children to the local swim center. Why all of a sudden does she need to "hang out" in our neighborhood? There are boundaries. I believe that crosses boundaries. There are a lot of other problems like failing grades and video games going constantly. I've asked for there to be limits but the bottom line is they are his children and whatever he allows I have no say over? How is that fair?

AnnaMia - posted on 06/10/2016

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Kimberlee -

i just now read your full post. i totally understand the different parenting styles issues - i'm having the same problem BUT -- when in doubt... leave it to your husband and the children's mother. i think stepparenting is about support and creating your own relationship with the stepchildren rather than imitating the one you have with your own children. you, of course, need to PARENT in your own home - but if you cannot agree... then let your husband take the lead and follow his example. you do what you can from your corner; those are his kids and if he won't take your advice... well, nothing you can do about it. the thing about the children's mother - i don't think you should be worried about her; she is their mother and it would be great if you would encourage her to spend time with the kids. that's ALWAYS a good thing. you're secure in your own romantic relationship and marriage and no need to try to squeeze her out - focus on your relationship with the husband and children instead. also - the neighbourhood pool... not really sure why her hanging around is a problem...? especially if she does not live with the children and if your husband has sole custody; means she seems them less than you do. she texts and calls a lot - what about? these are teens so surely, she can communicate directly with them and solve problems with your husband without so much contact...? i do think you're being a little too hard on her; she will always be in your lives... not much you can do about that.

AnnaMia - posted on 06/10/2016

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you're welcome!

i hope other stepmothers with more experience will chime in! BUT you know what? i'm sure we are BOTH doing the best we can! are your stepchildren living with you full time? and may i get your advice - did you approach your hubby with this problem, do you think that's a good idea? sometimes, i feel like i'm suffocating my partner and he thinks i'm overreacting.

AnnaMia - posted on 06/10/2016

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hello, Kimberlee!

i understand you PERFECTLY! i'm so happy you decided to post - i'm in my very FIRST romantic relationship and my partner has a child and to be honest... i did NOT know this would be so hard! i feel exhausted and i feel like i'm doing everything wrong and even though my partner is understanding and encourages me... i don't think he knows how draining this is. i struggle with so many things + i don't have any previous romantic relationship and i'm just lost.

it is extremely difficult to be a stepmother and having to deal with the previous partner - even in the most ideal situations! i feel like a huge failure sometimes.

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