Adjusting To Step-Mom

Miss - posted on 11/26/2012 ( 6 moms have responded )

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So I'm 24, full time student, and in an extremely hard program. I met my BF (soon to be fiance) almost a year ago. I met his 3 year old about 3 months in. Most of the time she's great with me, silly, and playful. Occasionally she'll have the "you're not my mom" tantrum or say mean things, but all in all I would say she's acting normally for a 3 year old who just doesn't understand why mommy and daddy live separately and where I come in.



My question is this: I love him. I am going to marry him. and at some point I have to figure out how to feel OK with being a step-mom. I love her, she's fun and cute and all-things three. My bf is super supportive and great with her as well. We have her 3-4 days a week. My issue is that it's really hard for me to feel like when she's there I'm completely ignored or forgotten. I know a bit of this comes with the territory, so what did those of you do to overcome this? I'm not willing to give up on him, just wondering what others did in this situation? Another recent issue came up when I recommended a trip next spring. I only get 1 week off every 6 months, and we don't have a day off together... but the child's mom said she won't let us take her for more than our 3 days. It's also her Bday and easter, so we don't want to just leave her behind - which means I feel like I'm the only one sacrificing.



I don't get to go to her school functions, soccer games, etc because child's mom refuses to meet me (i have a standing offer whenever she feels she's "ready", it's been almost a year now!) and if I go she's crazy enough for there to be drama... Between the child upstaging me (ugh that sounds so mean, but i guess that's kinda how I feel) and her mom ruling when we can go, where we can go, and for how long, I'm finding it hard not to resent their control on MY life! I know I'm not the only one, Solutions?!?!?

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Christina - posted 3 days ago

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That must be so difficult if the bio-mom isn't accepting of you. I never understood it when I had issues with my boyfriends ex until I read an article that helped me to see their perspective. (Bio-moms feel free to chime in here as I never want to assume).

The Bio-mom may feel like you are the new "mom" to her daughter. While she may have broke things off with her ex she is seeing him move on and create a new life without her. There is a territory that is being overstepped whether or not we as step parents see that. That is great that you keep an open door with her. She may be facing her own issues as a mother that we as step parents don't understand so give her time. I went through two rough years from the bio-mom of my boyfriends daughter. While it isn't as bad as I've heard from others, it wasn't ideal. My boyfriend had to talk to her to get her to understand that she was being unfair and in the end hurting their daughter. I believe over time that helped her see what her actions were doing. The coparenting relationship is so important for the child's success. It makes sharing special events (i.e. birthdays, graduations, holidays, etc.) so much easier.

Another concern you mentioned was feeling ignored. I felt that too early on in my relationship. The challenge is I didn't want to be selfish since my boyfriend gets her three days a week and they go by so fast. Once our relationship became more serious I spoke with him about it in a way I hoped he understood. Explained that I understood she comes first no matter what but to have a successful relationship with the three of us I need to feel included. It took some trial and error but I believe my relationship with his daughter has been so much better since he gives me and her attention and I give it back to them. Of course, she is a child, she needs the most. But to be recognized and not "forgotten" is important in this unique family dynamic.

You will never know if you're ready to be a step parent. You fall in love with a man (or woman) and this is what life presents you. It really comes down to the fact of, are you ready for this new life that is being presented? Do some research, see if there are friends or even bio-mom friends you can speak to about you situation. They will at least give you a glimpse to the mothers perspective and how best to tread.

Also, the book that helped me a lot was "The Single Girl's Guide to Marrying a Man, His Kids, and His Ex-wife: Becoming a Stepmother with Humor and Grace". I'm 27 and I met my boyfriend at 24, his daughter was 3. I don't have a community of people around me that understand my situation. This book helped me understand the various unique situations and gave me advice I really needed. Hope it helped!

Cristina - posted on 12/19/2012

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hate to be jaded here, but once you are married, you will BOTH be ignored by him haha-i have seen it every time, many times. you move in and the ring goes on and you are stuck with the step kid. i know you love him, but i'd recommend starting fresh with a guy without kids. start your own dream, don't ride on the coat tails of their past life together...

Miss - posted on 12/03/2012

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Thank you all for your advice. I agree that showing up to functions before biomom is ready will only hinder things between me and the child, and me and biomom... I am coming to terms with the realization that this is JUST how it's going to be. My fiance (official now!!!) and I have talked a lot about this stuff since I posted as well. It is definitely a balancing act, definitely a patience practice, and definitely a work of God haha! The girl has gotten more and more bitter and angry toward me over the past few weeks (we had a GREAT relationship initially, so we aren't sure where it's coming from - maybe biomom, but trying to give her the benefit of the doubt and attribute this to her realizing my place in her life and her daddy's life now)... I'm hopeful that if I continue to be patient and positive, she'll come around if she doesn't feel forced.



As far as how long they were divorced, they were separated a total of 18 months and 13 months of that was after the official divorce, not sure it matters but she left him. I try to put myself in her point of view, and can imagine there's some hurt, bitterness, and maybe even envy (their relationship problems were definitely two-sided, which he's admitted and worked on)... I'm not at all saying I regret it, or that I don't want to share, but as a human being it is a hard thing to be so selfless. Certainly worth it, but there has to be a place to vent (why I'm here...)



I'm so hopeful in time that we'll be more like a family it won't be about sacrifice and work, it will just be natural. For now though, because she ISNT attached to me, DOESNT have a level of respect or even understanding for that matter of who I am and why her mommy isn't in my place, and probably has no reason to trust me from any other stranger, it's hard to enjoy the situation as much as I'd like to... (maybe I should note that she's great when I take her out for hte day or watch her for the day, but if it's me AND her dad she has some attitude...)



@ Tweety, thanks for your encouragment, and helping me confirm that I"m not alone and I'm not a bad person or unfit person for this role just because I feel this way. I sincerely hope she'll warm up to me, I just wish it were easier for us all! I love your ideas about taking a devoted time, even just 15 minutes, to really focus on each other. I think we'll give that a shot. I appreciate your feedback, tips, and suggestions! We have a lot of growing and learning to do together :o)

Tweety - posted on 12/03/2012

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I've only been a step-mum to 2 wonderful boys (10 and 7) for a short period of time (1.5yrs), but yes there has had to be a lot of adjustments and sacrifices made on everyone's part. And you need to make sure that you are committed to the situation - because there are many more parties involved in this situation that are impacted if it doesn't work out.



I do understand that you may feel ignored or forgotten when she's there. I felt that way a lot at the beginning of our relationship (and do get twinges every now and then). It was a combination of me getting used to having more than just my partner in the relationship and him getting used to having someone else he had to consider when they were around. Your soon to be fiance will need time to bond with his daughter and making sure her needs are met, you all need to bond as a family, but your partner needs to know that he can't just ignore you and your needs either - a balancing act that the 2 of you will need to figure out if it's to work.



It really helps me with my partner that we spend at least 15 mins a day just spending time where we are focused on each other. We may be talking about the kids, but I am his first priority for that time - it can be before we get up, or just before we go to bed, but it helps me feel important to him. You may need to find your own thing with him that makes you feel important to him and the family.



Dealing with the child's mum is often never easy and can be difficult to understand. Especially when you have no direct communication, everything is through a third party and you may feel she is being unreasonable. Give her some time - as she is probably going through a lot of emotions as well - although I do sympathize with you, as I still find it difficult to come to grips that a whole part of my life is out of my control. To get through it, I just try and breathe, and then count my blessings - I have found a wonderful partner I want to spend the rest of my life with, I am blessed with wonderful step children, things could be worse on the out of control feeling (and just remember they can get better, but usually only with patience!).



I agree with Mandy that says a step mother needs to be in many ways more selfless than a bio mum. But hopefully I will be able to confirm that one day when I have my own to compare to :)



Goodluck, it is a difficult journey, but can be so worthwhile!

Mandy - posted on 11/29/2012

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Where to start...well first of all the first reply of "just go anyway"....DON'T. All you will be doing there is creating more chaos and drama that is unnecessary and does not hurt anyone other than the child. It is too bad that bio mom can't get over whatever issue she has but there is obviously an issue. Which leads me to the question how long after the split between bio mom and dad did you two get together?

Second...if you feel this way about the child now then it will never get better and you are only doing him, her and yourself a disservice. It takes a very special woman to be a step mother (which you are not you are Daddy's girlfriend). She needs to be in many ways more selfless than a bio mom. She has to choose to be second, to love another person's child, to allow someone else to be part of your immediate family (and I am talking about the bio mom not the child). She will ALWAYS be there. She isnt going to go away.

Second, custody is custody. If there is a court order in place then it needs to be followed. If bio dad wants it altered then he needs to contact the courts and have it altered. It has nothing to do with you. That is an agreement between him, her and the courts.

And last I am sorry to sound like I am preaching but it sounds like at 24 you are not ready for this...remember if you two break up you are not just breaking up with him, you are breaking up with her as well...

Michelle - posted on 11/26/2012

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As far as going to the childs functions I would just go anyway you and your fiance sit in one place and mom can sit elsewhere. I would talk to a lawyer about the access as realistically you should have her for an extended period of time for holidays every once in awhile and talk to them about making it so that you guys only have to notify her of where you are going and when you are coming back and not needing permission to take her in the first place.

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