Should a stepmom/dad have a say?

Brittney - posted on 09/25/2014 ( 6 moms have responded )




I'm not technically the stepmother yet. I've always thought that step parents should have a say in the childs life. I don't mean that their opinion should be before the biological parents opinion. But that they should have some say. If a step parent has no say in the childs life then the child won't respect them. My stepsons mom is always asking my opinion on things then when I give my opinion she says I have NO say whatsoever. I know a lot of kids that have step parents. And they all say that their step parents have equal say in their life as their real mom and dad do.


Sarah - posted on 09/09/2015




Dayna, you may want to open your own thread as this original post is almost a year old. You make a lot of great points and you have some good questions. Go to "my profile" and you will see a spot you can start a conversation. You could probably copy and paste your post. i think you will get more advice and feedback

UnknownAlex - posted on 06/28/2015




Hello Brittney,
I kind of struggle with this at the moment actually.
Legally, no as a step-parent (yes I know since we aren't married this isn't a correct term) I don't have much to do with the matter other than my income helping the child since he will be in my home often.
The BM has said in the past she doesn't want me to discipline her son (which I understand), they make decisions involving the child without me and I'm told what will happen. At the same time the BM wants me to go to court with them to show that I am part of the family (as she and my boyfriend have said I am as much part of his life as her and my boyfriend are).
As step-parents it's really up to us to support our partner with whatever he or she needs, be there for the child (without seeming to replace one of the parents), somehow take care of our-step child(ren) as our own, yet at the same time leave the disciplinary actions to the bio-parents (and apparently not get too physically close to not piss off the BM family).
It's a very tricky thing to be, and you kind of have to figure it out along the way, I've found it best to talk to both the birth parents, there will always be a few times when you'll step on the ex's toes because something wasn't brought up or feelings changed so a "boundary/rule" was changed.

In the end, its really up to the three of you to decide where you stand.
I say all, rather than just the parents, because if everything is only up to them, than how is that child supposed to respect and view you as a parent (the parent they've said you are) when it's so easy to see you like a close, live-in baby-sitter/house keep by the way the parents tell you act with the child.
Gosh i hope this came out right.

I do have a lot to learn, and if you oppose my views please don't be afraid to say so.

Angela - posted on 09/26/2014




OK this is how I see it - I'm not giving the LEGAL viewpoint, but the moral one.

If a step-parent is living with the child's natural parent and the child also lives in that home there needs to be some ground rules, some expectations made clear and evidence (from EVERYONE) of simple courtesy and good manners.

If a step-parent is employed earning money which goes into the household where the child is living, then I feel that the step-parent should have some say, some influence on anything (including behaviour from that child) which impacts upon this.

If the step-parent is expected to care for the child, and/or for the home surroundings where the child lives, cooking food, doing laundry, shopping, gardening etc, etc .... then again the step-parent should have some say & influence on how the child's behaviour or presence impacts on this.

Many children harbour a dream of their natural parents re-uniting - a step-parent is a stumbling block to that dream - even though many step-parents only entered the lives of the fractured family AFTER the natural parents had split up anyway!

The old response of "You're not my real mother/father" is never uttered by a child whose step-parent cooked them a meal, helped them with their homework or gave them a car ride somewhere they needed to go! They say it when they're told off, been disciplined or reminded (even very tactfully) that their behaviour or actions were unacceptable!

Boundaries need to be established and the natural parent to whom the step-parent is married should present a united front with their partner. The other natural parent should also support them.

All of the above also applies when the child is NOT living with the parent & step-parent but may visit there or stay for weekends etc ...

When I married my first husband, I become step-parent to a little boy of 7. I got on OK with this child and my greatest support was his mother - she was actually more supportive than my husband, the boy's father!

I have a friend who made it her mission in life to be miserable and hateful towards her stepmother who married her father when she was about 11. Now as an adult my friend admits that this poor woman did nothing wrong, she's still married to her father and she regrets being so nasty to her. They get on OK these days and are pleasant and respectful towards one another. But because of her behaviour as a child & teenager, they don't have that adult bond. This is very sad - and I'm sure that it might be the case for other people and their adult step-children. How many more step-parents have left their partners, reacted negatively to an unco-operative child and out of sheer frustration sealed that delicate step-parent/step-child relationship with anger, resentment and point-scoring?

Ground rules are very necessary - and the co-operation of BOTH natural parents will make the relationship smoother.

Good luck!


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Dayna - posted on 09/09/2015




This is the first time that I've actually expanded my support outside my friends and family, but I feel that I need some unbiased information from outside sources that are not close to me and my situation.

I have been dealing with this exact issue for almost 7 years now. I'm fairly young in comparison with my partner and he has 3 children from two separate marriages. I tend to say that I'm a glutten for punishment for knowingly entering this relationship with all the "baggage" that comes along with it. I've never been married and do not have children of my own, but the issue keeps coming up that I'm not a stepmom (as we are not married) and should have no say in the decisions regarding the kids. This is not the opinion of my boyfriend as we've always been on the same wavelength that we will discuss the situation between the two of us and come up with a plan before any decision is made. I'm not saying that he hasn't had his fair share of making rash decisions that completely tick me off because I wasn't involved and usually the decision comes back to bite him in the butt b/c he didn't think it through thoroughly. I have always treated these kids as if they were my own; bandaging boo-boos, putting them to bed; packing lunches; transporting to extracurriculars; and making sure they get to any appointments.

Recently, I'm having a hard time with the youngest child's mother as she continues to state that I'm not a stepparent, I will not be included in anything regarding their son, and threatens to throw me out of any doctors appointments or parent-teacher conferences if I show up. All of this has happened since the child has decided that he wants to be with each household 50/50 and has tried to discuss that with his mother. At what point is it okay to be called a stepparent, even if you are not married?? He preferes to call me stepmom because it's easier to explain, I've been in his life since he was 2 y/o and he knows no different, I provide for him as equally as his biological parents in regards to all his needs.

I personally think that my opinion should matter when dealing with these kids and especially a medical illness and therapy regarding it considering I'm around him equally and see things that sometimes his biological parents don't see. How do you get past this resistance and realize that you are doing what's best for the child and if they choose the title stepmom and want you at their appointments and events, then that's where you need to be.

Sarah - posted on 06/15/2015




I think it all just depends. There is no straight answer. What works for one family, may not work for another.

That being said, I do believe a step-parent should have some say in their daily lives. It is their house, too, after all. House rules are very important for establishing proper behavior from all parties. Also, respect is always a must. The biological parent should always enforce that the step-parent should at least be treated with respect, if nothing else.

Aside from that, your family dynamic all depends on what works for everyone. Start by having a conversation with the biological parent. What do they expect? What do they want, if it were a perfect world? Once common ground has been established, perhaps encourage the biological parent to speak to the child about what will be expected of them, as well as what the child expects from both parents, step or bio.

From there, just use your best judgement. If ever in doubt, put it on hold and consult the biological parent first. Eventually everyone will find their rhythm and what works best for all. Best of luck!

Ev - posted on 09/25/2014




1) Step parent should be treated with respect BUT they need to earn the respect of the children in their live not demand it. Actually that applies to all parents not just steps.

2) Step parents can have an opinion or thought on a matter but its ultimately up to the parents in the end even if it does not go with the wishes of the step parent.

3) Legally speaking, step parents have no say in anything. They can be given permission to do some things but not all things can be done those would include permission to take kids to the doctor, dentist, eye exam, school and pick up from school, taken to activities and such. Legally, you can not sign legal documents or give permission for things to be done unless you have that permission first.

4) Its up to the parents to decide how much a step parent can have a say on be it some or none at all. Its the paren'ts perogitive.

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