Stepparenting woes!! HELP!!

Danielle Elizabeth - posted on 03/13/2013 ( 34 moms have responded )

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Hello, I am asking you all how to handle a very tricky issue that deals with my stepdaughter and her mother. First of all I am a 23 year old stay at home mother of a 13 month old daughter and one on the way. My whole life revolves around my family and I have only left my daughter 5 times on her entire life for a few hours at a time , so needless to say I have not had very much " me time" for awhile now . I am totally fine with this though bc my baby makes me happier than anything and I know she is in the best hands when she is with me. My problem is my step daughters mom. Currently we have her every weekend and every other weekend we have her fri thru mon when I take her to school. Her mother also stays at home with the kids, but has an extremely differently mentality on being a mom than I do . She is willing to leave her kid with anyone and frequently does in order to have time to sleep, tan , shop , etc. she has recently started argueing that I should have her half the time , and I told my husband I can not handle that . I love her but she is not an easy child and the days I have her are very stressful and I feel totally overwhelmed . My husband owns his business so that means he works weekends , late at night , basically whenever he has to so most of the time when she is here it becomes my responsibility even though he tries to work as less as possible the days she's with us . I feel like it is my responsibility to make Sure she gets to stay here on the weekends bc if I wasn't here there is no way my husband would be able to keep her that much, but I do not think it is my responsibility to have her half of the time so her mother can have her " me time" especially when I never ever get a second alone . I feel like this woman has a lot of nerve to expect another woman to take care of her responsibilities and I am just not willing to do it . How should I explain this to her bc if I don't get some advice I might just go crazy on her and tell her being a mom isn't easy and she should have gotten fixed if she didn't want the responsibility . Oh and by the way before I met my husband he kept her one sat a month and came to take her places during the week , but he gets to spend way more time with her now that iAm here so its not like I am keeping them apart , I actually made it possible for them to bond more. Thanks!

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Sarah - posted on 03/18/2013

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As parents, step or otherwise, the most important thing to think about is what's best for the child. When the child is difficult to handle for whatever reason, it's even more important to think about what is best for them.

I understand your wanting the bio-mom to help out with caring for her own child, but it seems to be something she is unable or unwilling to do (or maybe she does a pretty good job of it in a balanced fashion, but you don't understand what that looks like so you aren't reflecting it here). I do think your husband is asking an unreasonable amount from you if he is not going to make himself available to help with his own child.

However, I also think you are enjoying quite a bit telling us all what a great martyr you are that you've never left your child more than 5 times in her life and never for more than hours at a time. I believe in the end you will find that you have crippled yourself and your daughter by not letting her interact with other people without you there. The goal of parenting is to raise children who can move out into the world without being traumatized by having (from necessity) to take care of themselves. That means when they are tiny, they spend almost all of their time with you, but as they grow, their time with you gradually diminishes and their time with others increases.

Additionally, you have left yourself in a constant state of exhaustion, and demonstrated for your own child that what mothers do is stop their lives entirely in order to be everything and do everything for their children. Is that the life you want to dictate for your daughter? That she MUST live an all or nothing life as a parent? I have gifts, and talents, dreams, and desires that have nothing to do with my daughter. And, sometimes, I follow them. I don't always because there are things my daughter needs me for. But, when I do find or make time for myself, I don't apologize for it, because I know I am setting a good example for my daughter that there are important things in my life that are worth taking time for.

Now, I am lucky because my daughter is 17 and I can look back on things I did when she was young, like having her in daycare 3 days a week so that I could finish college, and see that those things (while I sometimes felt guilty about them at the time) have benefited her as she has grown. She has always been a young lady who wanted to go to college and get a degree like her Mom did. She wants to be a parent and she knows that being a parent is a huge job. But, she also knows it's not a job that requires you to "entirely die to self", which is what you are making it and what you are modeling for your children.

I have a step daughter too. She was 14 when I got custody of her and she had been so badly neglected she couldn't even tell me what her favorite color was. She was in constant pain emotionally and physically because of the neglect. And, she was dependent on others to tell her how to feel and what to do at all times. But, I did what needed to be done for her and now she is a 26 year old young lady who lives on her own, goes to college, and takes care of herself beautifully. It was HARD work to do. And, it had a huge part in the destruction of my marriage because my then husband, her father, was not able or willing to help his daughter the way she needed to be helped.

But, I put my focus where it should be as one of her mothers, which was on what was best for her, not what was best for me, or her mother, or her father. And, that's what mothers do. So, find a way to do that. Be mad at her parents for not putting what is best for her first, and find a way between the 3 of you to do what is best for her as often as possible. For heaven's sake, take time for yourself and show yourself and your children that you are worth having some time for yourself. You deserve to have interests, dreams, goals, and joys in your life that don't come from your children. You will feel and be stronger as a parent because of the time you take for yourself and your children will grow even more secure in your love for them. Because they will see first hand that you choose to spend time with them and that you choose to enjoy that time you spend with them. They will learn from your example how to truly love themselves, and how to love others without sacrificing themselves as part of their love for others. And, in the end, they will be much healthier.

Jessica - posted on 03/17/2013

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You guys are poor excuses for parents. Being a parent means your life is no longer yours... You are now responsible for another person. Whether this child is your stepchild or biological child shouldn't matter. You are having your husband choose between his children with you and his child with her. I also have a stepson and my own biological daughter and I love them both more than anything in the world. I work full time because my family depends on my income but I would give anything to be a stay at home mom. We have joint custody of my stepson so he spends half his time with us and to be honest I wish we had full custody because his mother is a real piece of work. You should really think about how this disagreement will affect your husband and his daughter. If you handle it wrong you will have a Cinderella situation on your hands in which you are nothing more than an evil stepmother.

Natasha - posted on 03/26/2013

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It sounds like you justifying your decisions, to me it sounds like your husband is extremely lucky that he has such a caring wife who has his daughter as much as you do like you said he never had her as much before you so don't put any extra pressure on yourself to me it sounds like your doing a fantastic job and of coarse it is fare that you want some quite time with your own child

TIA - posted on 03/20/2013

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investigate other forms of help. if your hubby has enough money to pay all of his ex girlfriends bills but she doesn't want to work or care for her child...some adjustments need to be made. if she is willing to give up the money in exchange for personal time then ask your hubby if he would be willing to hire some one to help take care of the little princess.
also, i do not agree with allowing a hubby or wife to pawn off all responsibility in child rearing because they work. (even long hours). all the children are his, right? if he helped make them then why is he not helping raise them?
you mentioned she is a special needs child and the other mom leaves her with random people. ask yourself 1) is the child safe with these random people? 2) are you comfortable knowing she is with these people instead of you?
DO NOT compare yourself to the other mother. at the end of the day who do you want to be? your best you or her? if you have reached your max on responsibilities...TELL YOUR HUSBAND!

Kelli - posted on 03/20/2013

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I have 3 beautiful stepdaughter who are the light of my life! I have been with their dad since they were 4 and 6, they are as close to me as my biological children. I suggest you spend every moment you can with them and be supportive when possible. I know its difficult to never have time for yourself but its not about you or her mother, its about the child. If her mother will leave her with anyone how does she treat her when sheis around? This is just my two cents but I think if you develop this relationship now you will find that you are much closer, bonded, and more of a mother figure as she grows. My stepdaughters(who are only called steps when discussing a situation like this) they are my daughters and I love them; I am so blessed tohae this bond but I definitely remember when it was a struggle, Keep your head up and do what is right for your children, ALL of them!

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TIA - posted on 03/26/2013

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your welcome. i can be very blunt and honest at the same time. i am very happy to hear that venting to us has helped relieve some of the pressure and brought some clarity to the table. not being so angry when you speak with the other parents can really help everyone make some progress. At the same time, voicing your needs and your family needs with the other parents can prevent resentment from building up. Way to go girl! many of us are very proud of you for posting such a hard topic. Now for the hardest part...putting all the great ideas into practice.

Danielle Elizabeth - posted on 03/23/2013

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Thank you Sarah , im so glad I asked this question to all of you! I knew I wasn't handling the situation in the best way but I felt so angry and taken advantage of that it was hard for me to remember that I need to do my best for our children. I really do love her and I am glad I found a solution to where she can be with me more and I can preserve a some of the sanity I have left lol . I Just wanted to thank you bc you really helped me and you did it in a helpful and caring way and no I would never speak of certain things in front of her I know that would hurt her n I never would want that

Sarah - posted on 03/22/2013

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And, there it is!! When you start to look at what the child needs, and what you need in the situation, you find a way to make it work or to pinpoint what it is you need to have happen in order for it to work...
If mom is asking you to have the child for more time, then mom is going to have to accept less money in child support. Any judge would agree on that point! Also, if the child is going to be in your household for more hours, then she needs to also spend some time in a therapeutic setting with people who are trained to help her learn to manage her ODD. Because honestly, she needs that anyway! She will grow up and this kind of behavior will not fly when she's an adult. So, helping her learn how to manage her ODD is the best solution for her, it's what she NEEDS!!
This is the kind of thinking that needs to go on!! I'm especially proud of where you said this: "Her father is also going to have to put in some extra time at home and let me run to the grocery store by myself just to clear my head. I think if both of her parents compromise I'd be willing to also." THAT is how you co-parent with other people!!
Lastly, and I'm pretty sure you know this but I just want to say it just in case. Please don't have these conversations about who will have the child for how long and how much money will be paid by whom in front of this little girl. She's going through a lot, and it's really not any easier on her to have ODD than it is for you to deal with her having it.
I think you are making good progress already!! :D

Danielle Elizabeth - posted on 03/20/2013

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Thanks tia your response helps me and we have a child together and he has one child to his ex . She really needs To be in the hands of someone who is familiar with the disorder bc I mean could you imagine watching a child and telling her it's time to clean up her toys and she pulls down her pants and pees on the floor? I don't think just anyone is capable of handling that. I think I'd be willing to compromise if her dad and I looked into a program for her that would not only help her but also give me a break while she's here . I also don't see why we should totally foot the bill for her mom if I agree to take on more responsibility. Her father is also going to have to put in some extra time at home and let me run to the grocery store by mysf just to clear my head . I think if both of her parents compromise I'd. E willing to also

Danielle Elizabeth - posted on 03/20/2013

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I also think people see the situation differently bc she's not my biological daughter . If I came here and said that I felt overwhelmed bc my daughter had this disorder and I didn't have any help with her , I bet your opinions would be a little different . Im not trying to push her away nor am I mean to her , she loves me very much bc I put a lot of hard work into her and kids appreciate that, and her dad isn't the least bit resentful bc He gets to spend way more time with her now than ever , my husband also pays all his ex girlfriends bills so she could stay home with his daughter hence the reason he works so hard . I just want her to do her part bc if you always are willing to do someone's job for them they will never step up to the plate

Kelli - posted on 03/20/2013

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Okay, I am not suggesting you be a door mat but when you married you knew his situation. I would not stay with anyone who wouldn't accept or do for my children as they would ours. I am a step parent and understand the struggles.....

Danielle Elizabeth - posted on 03/20/2013

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I guess I feel sometimes too that there are certain things I like to experience between just my daughter and I , it makes it very hard for my little one to get the attention she needs when her sister is here bc the disorder causes her to act out so much and my attention is constantly occupied as is her dads when she's here . I enjoy taking her places just one on one or with her dad bc then we both get to enjoy our daughter and she gets to have her parents in a calm environment . We do plenty of things as a family with all of us but those times when it's just the three of us are important I think for not only my daughter but for both me and her dad .

Ashley - posted on 03/19/2013

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I haven't read everyone else's response so I'm not sure if someone has already said it but if I were in your situation I would take all the time I could with your step daughter. Especially if she is having problems. Sure she might be a handful but shes still a child and maybe some of her problems stem from the fact that her mother doesn't seem to want to spend much time with her. Perhaps if you were there for her as a mother rather than just having a "step mother mentality" she will respond to that and maybe you can be a good role model for her. Not saying to overstep any boundaries but apparently her biological mom doesn't seem to mind you playing mommy.

Building a better relationship with your stepdaughter could be good for you also. If you are a stay at home mom I know it's difficult being with a young child all day. Yes you always have someone there but if you're anything like me I like having full meaningful conversations rather than just baby talk all day! You could share with your stepdaughter stories of your younger years and maybe even about her father. Children aren't often defiant without some underlying cause which I assume has a lot to do with the fact that no one seems to want to be around her not even her own mother and thats disheartening.

But you also need to take some time to yourself! I know how it is not wanting to let your kids out of your sight, I can be a real helicopter parent at times but every day 24/7 gets overwhelming. I have a 17 month old and a 6 week old and it does get difficult. Try to take at least one day a week just for you. Even if you just go in the other room and watch a movie and relax while your husband takes care of the kids, it will do you a world of good!

Good luck and I hope everything works out for the best!

Danielle Elizabeth - posted on 03/19/2013

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I didn't mention the disorder but said she wasn't an easy child , I didn't want to define all of her by this disorder bc she is a loving, compassionate , gentle hearted little girl and is not "bad" bc she has something that is out of her control , it is still overwhelming none the less . The symptoms include rage, argumentative with adults , and vengeful to name a few. Everything is a process and simply getting her to put on her shoes leads to two hours of tantrums with spitting in my face , knocking over furniture, she will pee on the rug when mad. It's a lot to handle people believe me I'm just very tired and her mom doesn't work and has no other children and has family to help so I kind of expect a little more from her right now

Rochelle - posted on 03/19/2013

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You're not wromg or selfish. I deal with the same thing except its a ton worse. Put you're foot down now because its harfer once they get older. My husbamds daughtwr now 14 is so out of control now shes not allowed in my home or around my children all becuz her mom shipped her off all the time. These kids get power from this at a young age.

Danielle Elizabeth - posted on 03/19/2013

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Listen guys Im not perfect but I do my best , I got her involved in dance classes , I am actively involved in her school , I cook special meals with foods that are supposed to help with her disorder , and I'm not saying that's anything special bc I know she deserves that but I have no help from her dad with my bio child or her when she's here. No one can possibly understand the stress of the situation unless you deal with it , and I never said I didn't want the child bc I do I just need a little extra help from her mom at this point in my life and I really don't think that's too much to ask of jet

Emma - posted on 03/19/2013

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I hope this doesn't come accross as nasty but its not the childs fault if you have your hands full, she should have as much acceptance in your family as your natural children do. maybe if her dad took over the care of her she wouldnt be the handful you claim she is. her mother seems selfish but in a way you do too. I wish people could see it from a childs perspective - people fighting over who shouldn't have to have you must crush a little soul :(

Jess - posted on 03/19/2013

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Ok, the disorder puts a whole different perspective to this situation which I cannot find you mentioning in the original post. I think you need to discuss this, make sure you and your hubby are on the same page with it, then sit down TOGETHER with his ex and explain that considering the circumstances, the arrangement that you have is all that you can possibly offer at this time. Keep in mind, when you came into this family, she became your family, and this could cause resentment, even with best intentions. So tread carefully. Also, the mom of your step child may be feeling overwhelmed dealing with this and being able to put herself in your shoes.

Danielle Elizabeth - posted on 03/19/2013

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My step daughter does feel excepted and she knows she's loved , she has a disorder called oppositional difiance disorder , and I am just being honest to tell you all that it's exhausting and overwhelming . Her mom has help from her mom , from friends , and other family members, if I had her half the time I wouldn't feel comfortable asking for help from my family only bc of the disorder and it takes someone that is familiar with her needs To be able to care for her. I just don't feel capable of doing anymore right at this moment considering I'm pregnant and have a toddler at home that I am always responsible for; if I know I am not mentally or physically capable of doing it isn't it better for her to be in the hands of someone who is ?

Jess - posted on 03/19/2013

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One thing I urge you to consider is that by taking care of yourself and giving YOURSELF a break once in awhile, you leave yourself energized and taken care of. My son had kidney failure last year, it took a lot out of us as a family and my boyfriend and I just about split because we hadn't kept ourselves in good shape. If you're this stressed before the baby comes, you're not doing yourself or your child any favours by not getting some time apart. Just my humble oppinion, based on experience. Since I "let go", I find I'm a better, more patient mother, partner and person. Everyone has benefited from time apart, to grow, learn, and rest. :) Good luck!

Melissa - posted on 03/19/2013

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All I can say is have you ever tried step parenting classes? I have been a step parent of my lovely daughter for about 10 years, and have been with her since she was 2! I made a huge commitment to myself, my husband, to my lovely step daughter, and to her mother, before we married , that I would promise to be helpful, loving, in sickness in health, when i married my loving husband, I then also made a commitment to my husband and my step daughter to love and to cherish them from that day forward to death! I was very serious about my commitment to him and her, and made a good relationship/ friendship between me and my step daughter mother. I found out with step parenting is not to different than parenting, ( if you view the child with unconditional love, like you would your child). You should all sit together, like grown adults and decide, what to do! leave this poor child and her actions out of this, this sound like an adult problem not the childs problem! Soon after I married my husband we noticed something strange going on at her moms, and I called and asked her mom what was going on, long story short, her mom needed our help to take my step daughter permently , for personal reasons I cannot disclose , I would never put her mom, nor my step daughters private information on blast in front of complete strangers on some internet site. At any rate, we have a very close relationship me and my step daughter do, I have another daughter as well, their very happy and their sister, not half sister is what they say, I think you need to build your relationship with her mom, and with your step daughter, this will help the communication and frustration, all frustration is , unmet expectations by someone else, and you not knowing how to deal with it. I would advise 3 things for you....#1 go to step parenting classes, 2# get a good relationship with the mom/ step daughter ( usually if the step child is acting up its because they don't feel excepted btw, talk to her ask her do i hurt you? or tell her you hurt me by your actions, please dont do that again! Is there anything I can so to help so we don't have to have strife in OUR home? 3# get a babysitter! Go out with you husband sounds like you both need a night to yourself, lol!

Amber - posted on 03/19/2013

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It's hard for someone on the outside to see your situation clearly. For example, I have a step son that I love like crazy and would love to have full time. However, my uncle has a son who has behavior disorders and his step m finds it difficult to take care of him. We can't think of our own, easily managed children when a different child is in focus. I do agree that once we marry someone their children are ours just as much as our biological offspring. Your husband needs to help more though. Your step daughter is at a difficult age and needs guidance from a parent who has experience with older kids.

Jess - posted on 03/19/2013

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I have briefly read this over, and it sounds to me like regardless of what anyone has to say, your mind is made up Danielle, that you cannot and will not take this child for more than what you currently are. I don't think that any of us can tell you what is right or wrong in your situation.

Being as your mind is made up, you need to discuss this with your husband and figure out the best way to approach his ex wife to let her know that with one very young child and another on the way, it is just not possible at this time for you to take on another child.

That being said, I think if you are this emotionally drained and exhausted, you need to take some time to yourself. Trust me, my son and I used to have terrible separation anxiety and I also thought I was doing what is best for us both (I was a single mom, battling cancer, with a son with some very serious health concerns) by keeping him close. The first several times of leaving him were extremely difficult on both of us. But as I progressively learned to trust in my care providers, I saw the remarkable difference it made in every aspect of our lives!

Take the time for a nap, or a massage, especially before you have the second baby. Being a great mom isn't about never leaving your baby's side...it's about preparing them for the world, and giving them the ability to live and think for themselves.

And keep in mind, this isn't just about your husband and his "other child", it's about building a relationship between your children and their SISTER. This extra time that you get helps build those relationships, which are ever so important. Who really cares how unappreciative the ex is. It's about the kids.

Danielle Elizabeth - posted on 03/19/2013

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I guess I take things to the extreme with not leaving my daughter because if the way I was raised , my mom made it clear that she had other more important priorities and I never wanted my kids to feel like that for one second . I don't expect this from other people or think others are bad moms for pursuing their dreams but honestly im happy with the way I chose to do things and it doesn't feel like I sacrificed myself for her bc I honestly wouldn't rather be anywhere else than with her . I think I need to work on my bond with my step daughter and push aside the anger I feel towards both her mom and dad bc it is truly getting in the way of letting me mother my step daughter. I really do love this child or I wouldn't be trying to fix things . I just want to be happy and make sure that I do the right thing as a step mom but at the same time remember my feelings are important too

Ashley - posted on 03/17/2013

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Great response Danielle. I just ignore ignorant people like her. Obviously she couldn't read and comprehend what we typed or she wouldn't have responded like that. Stay strong. My step kids are happier than ever because now their mama has stepped up to the plate, my daughter is happier because she has had time to spend time with and get to know me, and our marriage is stronger than ever. And i forgot to mention that I work full time, which had complicated things even more.

Danielle Elizabeth - posted on 03/17/2013

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And if anyone knows about sacrificing your life for your children it's me! I am 23 years old and have left my daughter 5 times in her entire life and gave up my job , my social life , and just being a care free 20 year old in order to take care of someone else's child, and this was before I was even married! Don't tell me about sacrifice . My daughter is an amazing, smart , loving child and that's bc I put everything I have into being a mom and someone with your attitude couldn't come close to the AMAZING mother that I am

Danielle Elizabeth - posted on 03/17/2013

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Woah there Angela , how dare you tell me I'm a poor excuse of a mother. How in the hell could you compare me to an evil step mother!? I have done more for his daughter than both of her parents combined! I have sacrificed more for her then most parents do for their biological children and show her love and affection but I WILL NOT be taken advantage of so her mother can have time to do nothing while I'm stressed out and overwhelmed ! I am the only reason why my husband and his daughter are as close as they are bc before I came around he couldn't keep her often with his work schedule. I never said I wouldnt do my part but I will not do all the hard work for her mother when she is perfectly capable . This is supposed to help people and support one another , and if you feel like there is a different way of handling things you should say it in a positive aspect , you act like I beat this child for goodness sakes. Don't be so nasty bc it really shows that you obviously have some issues with yourself my dear

Danielle Elizabeth - posted on 03/17/2013

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Thank you Ashley, it is so hard for anyone to understand unless they have lived it. I have been speaking my mind and her mother tries to tell my husband that I am being mean and tries her hardest to get him mad at me so she can have her own way. I realized that no one can force me to do anything I don't want to do, and I explained to my husband it was making me feel resentful towards him and affecting our relationship. He totally is supporting me now and telling her mom I am not a baby sitter and we are keeping her on the days that he can be here as much as possible to help. Thank goodness bc I really felt taken advantage of by her and that he was letting it happen and that's no good for our marriage!

Ashley - posted on 03/17/2013

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Omg Danielle, your situation seems very similiar to mine. Quick background.... We had my 2 stepsons full time for two years. During the second year, I had my daughter and was completely overwelmed because just like you, i had all three kids by myself most of the time because of my husbands work schedule. I felt taken advantage of and months later i finally decided to put my foot down. I was suppose to be helping with my stepsons not having them all the time by myself. My advice to you is to talk to your husband as soon as you can and definately let this mother know that her child is her responsibility and you are there to help your husband with their child, which you obviously are already doing. My stepsons went back to live with their mom. Once I told my husband how I felt and no longer bottled it in, i got more help. He would see if his mom could take them if they were scheduled to visit while he had to work. He now asks me my schedule and would I mind keeping them. If you do not demand respect and consideration now, it would only get worse. I had to let both of them know that i had their kids more for the last two years then both of them put together. Im telling you, i have been where you are probably even worse but things are much better now.

Danielle Elizabeth - posted on 03/14/2013

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I guess I just feel I sacrificed a lot for this child and I was there to help her mom out when she couldn't handle her daughter, and now that I am in a place where I need a little understanding and extra help her mom should step up to the plate bc that is her responsibility

Danielle Elizabeth - posted on 03/14/2013

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*anymore than I do . I do my best but I know my limits and I can not be unhappy everyday of my life to please someone else . The six months I had full custody of her were honestly the hardest days of my life and I cried myself to sleep! I don't take it out on the child bc it's not her fault but I need to think about myself tOo and make sure our agreement is fair so we all can be happy

Danielle Elizabeth - posted on 03/14/2013

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It is a little more comPlicated than she needs to learn our house rules which she is very accustomed to anyways. She has a defiance disorder and honestly I Just can not handle it anym

Michelle - posted on 03/14/2013

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How about instead of looking at it that you are "helping that woman" look at it that your husband gets to bond more with his child. If you have her more often and let her know the rules of your house she will get used to them.

Danielle Elizabeth - posted on 03/13/2013

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Ps . .. I forgot to mention that there was a period of six months that we had full custody of her and that is before I had a child of my own , so I sacrificed a lot to take care of this child . There was no more going out at night , I quit my beloved job bc it was important to my husband that she not be in day care .. I just feel what else could I possibly do for this woman and it's unbelievable how unappreciative she is!!

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