school problems

Valerie - posted on 03/20/2009 ( 16 moms have responded )

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OK, so i have a question - should step-parents be involved in all aspects of their stepchildrens life (school, sports, clubs, etc) ? I guess my main question is where is the line drawn - at what point are step-parents "over-stepping"? please help!

16 Comments

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Franny - posted on 03/26/2009

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I dont know if you can really over-step have to be respectful. We are having problems being involved at all. BM is going completely against settlement agreement does not inform us of anything and we have to go behind her back to the school to get info. We do not know when or if she is in school activities. I am the step mom and i am very respectful to the BM even though I do not agree to what she is doing to her child as a mother.

Valerie - posted on 03/25/2009

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thank you all for your help!  it is truly amazing that so many of us feel the same way and are put in similar situations - here is my tip to all of you -  view the ex as "an object in a museum" something you can look at, talk about, and move on - I am trying so hard - that we have turned our object into a "terd"  LOL  she is now a terd in a museum!  and we laugh about it a lot!

Ashley - posted on 03/25/2009

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She actually had the nerve to call and leave a message and say Heather needs to take A to the dr.


I've had this happen. LOL! It is annoying/angering in a hilarious kind of way.

Heather - posted on 03/24/2009

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I am the only one that goes to parent teach conferences. My husband doesn't even go. I do boyscouts. I am the one that got my step son to do any kind of sport. i take him to church. I eat lunch with him at school. I take him to the dr. She actually had the nerve to call and leave a message and say Heather needs to take A to the dr. I am more involved in his life that either of his parents.

Kelli - posted on 03/24/2009

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Amusingly when we went to parent/teacher conferences I held back and didn't ask the things I wanted to as much as I wanted to and when we left the BM turned to me and said, "Why didn't you get on her?"  She was waiting for me to ask more questions and kind of force them into things but I didn't want to step on her toes.    The other thing though, is our BM calls me whenever there's a problem but I have to walk a thin line of telling her the truth and being kind.  BUT if I disagree with her or mention something to her when she's not ready she gets angry.  Too bad!

Manon - posted on 03/24/2009

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well I'm not sure because I know I'm 100% involve in my step kids life more then there mother. I believe your step children will let you know if your there too much for them.

We are there for the kids not the Ex.

Ashley - posted on 03/24/2009

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My older SS goes to high school next year and they had an orientation a few months ago. It was the same night as scouts so me and DH had to split up. I chose to go to the orientation just because I know how much being with BM drives my DH crazy and he also never gives me enough details about these things. However, we are not nearly involved enough in the boys' school life in my opinion. So, it was me, SS, and BM together going from class to class. Awkward, definately as BM did feel a threat and acted goofy as a result. However, I'm still glad I went because we got a lot of valuable info.


We do this ALOT and I really think that as a result, things have been a lot more in the open and easy. I try to never miss a orientation night. It is your opportunity to show a presence to the teachers/coaches AND show BM that you are not acting as the mom. She may have been acting goofy but as long as you introduced yourself as the stepmom and made a big deal about not being the mom, it reinforces her need to "be the mom" and your need to just flat be informed. It really has worked for us. In fact, just two weeks ago, I went to a baseball orientation with BM, her new boyfriend and my SS. My DH stayed home with our toddler. I made sure everyone on the coaching staff knew that I was BM's backup and nothing else. But, it was really nice to get the info first hand. That said, it has taken an evolution to get to where we are and it takes a lot of maintenance to keep it civil. But, it is very helpful IMO.

Megan - posted on 03/24/2009

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Valerie, These ladies are correct! It is all about the mom and how she feels and if she is not threatened then its fine and if she is then its not. There are some things I do regardless. Attend School Plays, spelling bees, etc. However, I have never attended a conference even though I would love to just to hear how the kids are doing from an objective perspective. If you have the children a lot of the time, which it sounds like you do, then I think you need to at least know very clearly what goes on in the conference. Does your husband give a good summary or does he do a 1 sentence recap of a 20 minute conference? I mean, you're helping with homework, etc. so you need to know if he/she is flunking math or needs help with reading.



As for logistics with the school, like when a concert is being held, I rely solely on the school calendar posted on the website. This way we don't ever have to converse about when events are being held. Also, this might not be that easy but I have gotten to know a lot of my SS classmates since being his den leader in cub scouts. This kind of allows me to have my ear to the ground about what's going on without officially being present at school. I didn't do it to be sneaky. It has just ended up this way. But it might be good to try to forge some freindships with class parents so you have an independent way of info. gathering and someone to sit with at events! I did recently overstep but I felt strongly about it. My older SS goes to high school next year and they had an orientation a few months ago. It was the same night as scouts so me and DH had to split up. I chose to go to the orientation just because I know how much being with BM drives my DH crazy and he also never gives me enough details about these things. However, we are not nearly involved enough in the boys' school life in my opinion. So, it was me, SS, and BM together going from class to class. Awkward, definately as BM did feel a threat and acted goofy as a result. However, I'm still glad I went because we got a lot of valuable info.

Ashley - posted on 03/24/2009

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Valerie ~



I really agree with Jessica and Kerri. I also can commisserate with being in a strangely unstable situation (not knowing when she'll be interested or not). Basically this is the way that I look at it... I am not thier mother. But, the kids need one whole mom. Whenever BM is interested or available in filling the role, I back off (ala Jessica's example of letting BM get hugs first or give congrats first). When she isn't interested/available, I fill the gap (e.g. I have coordinated both of my step kids through braces... she doesn't even know their orthodontist's phone number). The bottom line is that I have NO CONTROL over how big that gap is. She does. Its her role to fill. But, I will fill the gap if there is one... and often there is. In fact, it has gotten to the point that there are some things that she has just labeled as mine (e.g. the teeth) and she just lets me handle it. But, there is often backlash working those things out and it takes years. Hopefully, things will get better for you as she starts to see that you are leaving her role alone and that she is in control of how much "mommy'ing" she wants to do. But, particularly when the situation is unstable (and THAT will never change), you have to remain as flexible as you can stomach.



As far as your specific situation regarding the email... you might want to consider cc-ing her on any emails you need to send to teachers. My husband does not do email and often asks me to email on his behalf. So, the email always comes from me on his behalf (and I word the email that way). CC-ing her lets her know that she is in the loop. It has helped with this specific kind of situation. But, that often ebbs and flows. Sometimes, I handle school situations entirely on my own depending on her level of involvement at the specific time.



Hope this helps...

Megan - posted on 03/24/2009

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Quoting Teresa:



I agree that it depends on your family's dynamics.






In my situation, BM is very insecure and won't allow me to attend parent-teacher conferences. He DH doesn't either, partly because they have 2 toddlers together and he has to stay with the kids.






A couple of years ago, she threw an unholy fit because I contacted SS's speech teacher to confirm an appointment. That's all I did, but OMG - by her reaction, she thought I was planning a secret meeting between me and the teacher or something.






I do attend other things though. SS usually wants me there and is disappointed when I can't go. A few weeks ago I missed his strings concert and he definitely noticed!






On a side note, if BM is really insecure about your presence at activities, try to find one that you do on your time only. We have scouts. My DH is an Eagle Scout and my SS has been in scouting since first grade. It's a "dad thing." BM says she's supportive, but she's really not. She never attends scout activities or award functions. We have always made sure she is invited.






 Teresa, I think you and I are living in parallel lives.  My kids BM says the same thing about scouts but never can seem to get to any events.  She wouldn't let me take the youngest to the annual "Mom and Me" campout because of the name "Its called Mom & Me, not Stepmom and Me" but couldn't take him herself!!  I have fantasies about my older SS Eagle Ceremony which will come in the next few years (God Willing) and her stepping in to be congratulated as the mom of an Eagle Scout.  I'm going to seriously lose my cool if she takes ANY credit.





 

Valerie - posted on 03/24/2009

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Funny you should mention contacting a teacher - this is how the whole situation has blown up!  Our youngest is in Kindergarten and the district calendar doesnt list when the spring concert is.  We want to make sure all family members can attend- so i sent an email not anything in particular about the child - just when is the concert - and signed it from both me and the dad.......well OMG it was a nightmare....



 



as for the dynamics - we have the kids 4 days and she has them 4 days - so it is constantly rotating- we have complete split custody. 



 



bio mom is involved - when she wants to be - so that is the problem - we never know when she "wants" to be a mom and when she doesnt.......



 



she has married someone who is old enough to be the kids grandpa....so he isnt involved - and i think she resents me because i want to be involved............adn i think ulitmately she wants her new husband to be and he isnt....

Teresa - posted on 03/21/2009

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I agree that it depends on your family's dynamics.



In my situation, BM is very insecure and won't allow me to attend parent-teacher conferences. He DH doesn't either, partly because they have 2 toddlers together and he has to stay with the kids.



A couple of years ago, she threw an unholy fit because I contacted SS's speech teacher to confirm an appointment. That's all I did, but OMG - by her reaction, she thought I was planning a secret meeting between me and the teacher or something.



I do attend other things though. SS usually wants me there and is disappointed when I can't go. A few weeks ago I missed his strings concert and he definitely noticed!



On a side note, if BM is really insecure about your presence at activities, try to find one that you do on your time only. We have scouts. My DH is an Eagle Scout and my SS has been in scouting since first grade. It's a "dad thing." BM says she's supportive, but she's really not. She never attends scout activities or award functions. We have always made sure she is invited.



 

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If you want to be involved and they want you to be involved, then I believe you should be. I think if you limit your involvement then you are basically saying that you do not want to fully be a part of their life. It's true that the family dynamics play a big role, and you can tell what level that you all feel comfortable with.

Kerri - posted on 03/20/2009

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Valerie, I really think it depends on the family dynamics.  If the mother is very involved, the step-parent may need to take a step back and allow her to be the parent.  Same as with dads.  If the dad is really involved I think the step-dad needs to take a step-back and allow the dad to father the child.  Each situation is different. 



Sometimes mothers feel as if their territory is being taken over if the step-mom becomes too involved and this impedes their ability to parent without competing with the step-mom. 



However, some biological parents are okay with step-parent involvement.  It really depends on the person and their emotional maturity level.  I have found that parents who are truly over their ex-spouse are able to allow the step-parents to be fully involved without any issues. Also, the parent's self-esteem and securities come into play here big-time!  If they are insecure they will have issues with you participating for fear that you will overshadow them and their parenting abilities.  Some step-families get along great - others fight out every single detail of day to day life.    The ones who still have emotional attachment to the ex-spouse are usually the ones that cause the friction. 



What are the family dynamics involved in your situation?  How is the time split, etc?  Is mom mature or is there friction between the two households?   



 

Jamie - posted on 03/20/2009

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I agree I dont think you can over step your role. You are still a parent, doesnt matter that the child didnt come from you. I can understand where you are coming from though. I often find it hard to discipline my SS because Im not his mother, but I think it comes down to there are certain things that are expected and that are not ok in your home, and Dad may not always be there to handle things so you have to be tough and let you step child know thier behavior is not acceptable. If needed you can sit down with dad and the child and explain things to them. Step children, espeically older ones will often hold resentment towards the step parent. Just remember to remain firm and your the adult.

Jessica - posted on 03/20/2009

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I don't think you ever over-stepping, if the child wants you there, and you always make it clear that you are not the replacement, just a "bonus parent". Ask your step-child, "Would you mind if I came to your soccer game?" If they say that they don't want you to, respect that until they feel more comfortable, but if they are excited about it, then by all means. At certain events, get your husband to talk to his ex first. For example, parent-teacher interviews.... He can explain that you would love to be involved, but you will sit back, and be more of an observer and a supporter than anything else. I am lucky, because we have sole custody, and bio mom doesn't come to most events (she's not very interested in being a mom), but when she does, I always step back and give her the chance to congratulate my step daughter first, or interact with her first. My step-daughter sees this, and I think she understands that I am doing everything I can to be respectful and be on good terms with her bio mom (who I can't stand, but that's not the point right?). Hope this helps!

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