Episode 9

Step-Parent Traps

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It’s all about balance when it comes to the slippery slope of step parenting. Who gets custody of school or sporting events? How do you provide a stable environment when everything is changing?  If you have any good advice or interesting stories, share them with me. 

Your stories

  1. She doesn't want me here!

    by Amelia
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  1. Raising someone else's children

    by Jennifer I have been a stepparent for over 18 years. If I had to do it all over again. I would not. That is not to say it is because of my kids. They are awesome. I could not have asked for better children as my steps. The bio mom was not too much of an issue either. You will never be the important one in their life. It is hard when you put your heart and soul into something and no one sees it. I don't know how many times I was there for the kids and gave them my all only for the bio mom or dad to reep the reward. With your own bio children you do the same and in the end you are the one who gets the smile or that hug. My steps are all grown and on their own now. I love them and miss them, but I don't miss raising someone else's children.
  2. She doesn't want me here!

    by Amelia My stepchildren's mother has not liked me since day one. She has done anything and everything to make my life a living hell. She would talk negatively and call me names in front of the children which always gets back to me when they come home. We finally had a confrontation in which there was no harm done to either of us, but she files a domestic violence protective order against me. The order was granted because, of course, it couldn't be proven that she wasn't afraid. She still continues to do what she's done before, and I just don't know what to do anymore.
  3. Step Parent Traps

    by Bunny I married a man with two little girls. Their mother had a problem with alcohol. My own father abandoned me and my little sis. Grew up in a crazy family and left home right after high school. Coming from a divorced family I understood how hard it is for the kids. By mutual agreement, my husband and I decided to not add to our family. I supported the girls mother and helped out in any way I could. Kids were here before me and we decided that we wanted them to love both parents. They lived with their Mom but we saw them almost daily. They came first. My husband, his ex wife and my youngest are now deceased. My relationship with the oldest is so close you would need a crowbar to come between us. We love each other to the moon. I remarried five years after becoming a widow and am still Nana to 5 Grands. and the holidays are great. Giving birth does not always make one a mother. Considering marriage to a man with children. Do your homework. It is not all about you.
  4. Step means take a step BACK

    by K10 I love when Judge Judy tells stepparents on the show, "you have nothing to do with this. Stay out of it." It's true. In situations when children have two biological parents, the only thing a stepparent can provide is noise. I support my husband's decisions regarding his children, I don't need to have a relationship with his ex-wife (as she wants none with me) and I don't become more emotionally invested in an issue involving his children than either of their parents are. We are a unified front when it comes to marriage and home but parenting his children involves his decisions, not mine. I can control only myself by modifying my expectations and clearly communicating my boundaries. And it's absolutely natural not to love your stepchildren like your own, because they're not. Stepmom Magazine is an awesome resource for any woman struggling with this very difficult dynamic and Judge Judy's recommendations often reinforce the stepfamily experts' words.
  5. Getting Along

    by Jackie I am only 10 years older than my step-daughter, so I didn't try to take the place of her mom. I had respect for that. Now when she became a teenager, it did become hard not to fuss and I did fuss some. But as for me and her mom, she was my step-daughter's mom and I knew that. When my husband's ex-wife came to visit their daughter and I was cooking, I would invite her to eat with us. I wasn't hateful or rude because why should I be, wasn't any sense in that. As of right now, my step-daughter is 25 and has a daughter of her own (she calls me MeeMee), and as for the ex-wife, when we see each other, we talk as if we are friends and the ex-wife's mom and dad they treat me with kindness, as I do them because all three of them know that I love my step-daughter and grandbaby very much.
  6. A Step-Parent's Role

    by R. I am a step-child and now I am a bio mother and step mother. What my step mother taught me was that biology has nothing to do with parenting. When my own mother became a vile and hateful ex-wife, it was my step-mother who stepped in a disciplined me without fear, told me how to be a good woman and stood by me when my father died. Those were skills I would later need when I became a step mother and found myself face to face with a bio mother who would stand in the path of her own children's success, as she achieved her own success. I'm not referring to the little stuff, I mean teaching her kids to lie and steal. It was very hard to get the anger of my step kids when I stood up to that behavior in them, but I would do it again every day. I would tell any person who is about to be a step parent, get with your partner - define rules - stick to them - and love fiercely with expectations for excellence. Don't avoid the hard stuff - and remember that the teenage years are temporary.
  7. Bonus kids - not

    by Lori When my husband and I got married 17 years ago we had 5 kids between us, ages 21, 20, 17, 11 and 9. His boys (21, 20 & 9) their mother was not in their lives and mine didn't have a father in their lives. Growing up I had always wanted 5 kids and I actually got my wish when I met my husband. We dated for almost 2 years and did not live together until we got married in order to give them them all a chance to adjust. My son (age 12) when we got married, went to his school and changed his last name on his own to reflect the new name. After he left the military, he legally changed his name. He has always called him Dad from the moment we were married. The others call us mom and dad respectively . I dislike the word step, I always considered them my bonus kids! When we married we had a united front so they couldn't play us against each other, but boy did they try! I love my bonus kids as much as my own and they get along so well - we take family trips together, now with grand kids!
  8. Trying hard!

    by Tracey I love the statement, "Love your kids more than you hate your ex-spouse". The problem is my son's step-mom is very bitter and will not even accept my invitations for coffee. My only intent was for everyone to get along for my son's sake. I have given her birthday cards, Christmas gifts, and she will not engage in conversation with me. I kind of give up.
  9. Step parenting sucks

    by Sarah I am a very maternal person, but I don't seem to like my boyfriend's children. I know this is a harsh thing to say but after five years, I still can't take to them. When they come over which is quite alot, all they seem to do is tell me their mum wouldn't do it that way or mum won't like that or put down what I'm doing. I now keep my distance from them which causes problems with my partner. I have two children and he does try to be a good father figure to them but sometimes I think he wants them to be to perfect. I try and tell him that at home his kids aren't as well behaved as they are at my house and their rooms will be a mess and cups, plates, school bags etc will be left lying around. When he moans to me about it, I feel like he's questioning my parenting skills, because they are a lot different than his ex wife's views on parenting: everything by the book whereas I'm more relaxed and let them make there mistakes.
  10. Parenting Comes First!

    by Cheryl I was married for ten years and had two wonderful children, a girl and boy. After seven years of being single, I remarried. I said to my new husband, this is how it has to be, my kids and my ex are going to be in my life, are you okay with that? and he said sure. However, all that time I co-parented with me and my ex and my New husband. We went to everything together. It was for OUR children not us. My daughter actually said to me one day, "why can't you and dad be like normal divorced people and hate each other?" she was a total instigator and used to try to play us, but we would just pick up the phone and call each other and ask, Did you say that she could blah blah blah? and she would freak. The whole thing worked great. My daughter is now getting her Masters and then is going to Law School. She used to sit and watch Judge Judy when she was little and say " that's what I want to do!".My son is in his third year of honors college and doing great. My children were worth it!
  11. Step parenting works for us!

    by Anna Judge Judy, I am 35 years old, and I have two boys from my previous marriage. They are now ages 16 and 12. I recently remarried and my boys really like their step father. I have a unique situation. My ex husband and I still get along very well together. We have a parenting plan and child support order, however he has always paid his child support without wage garnishment and we work together on visitation. Never in over 10 years have we had any problems. My new husband does great with my children. But he also came into their lives at a older age. He parents them but he is also a friend to them. I never wanted my boys to feel that my new husband was trying to replace their dad but that he was always there for them in any way. This has worked wonderfully for us and our family. I know most divored families do not get along so well but we are very lucky that we can all attend important events and that we all get along and we always remember that it is about the kids, not us.
  12. All Get Along!

    by Cindy My husband and I have been married for going on 7 years now. He has 2 children with his ex and I have 2 children with my ex. The secret is GET ALONG FOR YOUR CHILDREN'S SAKE. No one should have to explain that to you. We all go to the graduations, family functions, and wedding. We all behave appropriately. We don't trash each other. We are all adults and have now adult children and we are all ok. The advice I can give is this, on your child's special day, whatever that is. It is about them. Put your petty differences aside and don't let personal drama between ex's mean that your child can't have you both. 
  13. Give it Lots of Thought!

    by Alan I have been married for 27 years to my wife. Her son was 15 when we got married. Despite our best intentions, step children lack the bond to step parents that they enjoy with their real mother or father. Such is the case with me. I've been a good husband to my wife, and a good father to my step son, but in all of these years, I've never received even one birthday card from him. When you put in lots of effort and receive so little in return, it hurts. It's hard to watch my wife receive nice gifts on Mother's Day and then when Father's Day rolls around, I don't even get a card. I am finally losing interest in this "family" of mine.
  14. A Step-Mom's Role

    by Kristina More often than not us step-moms feel we have a say in our step-child's situation and I laugh when Judge Judy says "Sit down" we don't matter in child support, custody, he said she said situations... Etc. As harsh as it may sound, she is right. So what is our role? I look at my step-daughter and think my only role is to "Love" this child. Not touchy feely love but love with action. She and I can sit in the hall together while "mom and dad" duke it out. What does that mean?... I don't have a black and white answer... But maybe day to day I can see what love is by... sending a text to mom to make sure she does have nice shoes for school and if not, getting her fitted for some even though I secretly hated mailing the child support check just today. I think if we just look at our step children (who are children with broken hearts) with "how can I love this child today" we can stay away from "step-parent traps". Maybe the only true trap is us getting involved in the fight and getting bitter.
  15. Know your role...

    by Glory My husband and I have been happily married for 9 years - both second marriages. He has 2 boys and I have two boys. My boys live with us and his with his ex-wife. The biggest thing I can stress, especially being a step mom, is that you need to know your role. These kids have a mom, and it's not me. I am here to love and support their dad and them. I know that certain things are not my decision and yes, there are times that I would make different decisions for my step sons. I offer advice to my husband when he seeks it and I have teeth marks in my tongue from biting it on more than one occasion. I do not interact with my husband's ex-wife - there is no need to. If my husband has a concern, he discusses it with his ex. So far, this philosophy has worked well and hopefully it will continue to work in the future. Good luck to all of the step parents out there - it is a hard job!
  16. Loving the Child more than hating the EX.......

    by L. Our experience has been trying. When my husband & I met (both previously married), I had 4 sons (2 adults & 2 teens) and he had two teenagers. We agreed no negativetly in front of them and treat all the same except at times of different needs: school, etc. We moved over 300 miles within a few months of the marriage due to job but made every effort to go back monthly visits & tried to get kids as much of summer as possible. When my boys turned 16, they each wanted to live with their dad and I was OK with that, it's a man thing but remain close. After our move, my husband's ex told their kids "Dad left & doesn't want anything to do with them" then she remarried and moved with no forwarding address & told everyone not to tell us new location. When one of the children was 18, I found them on myspace and made contact. Their Mom sent me emails telling me to leave the kids alone but one of them responded and now has a little relationship with us (this angers his mom) but his other child wants nothing to do with Dad.
  17. Burned in the end

    by K. My husband and I supported his 2 daughters for the past 15 years. They are now 19 and 21 yrs old. What do we have now? Nothing. No relationship, no communication, nothing. We did everything right but it was never enough. My advice? Do what is right even when it isn't appreciated. In the end, that is all you have. My other bit of advice? Think twice about being a step parent.
  18. Stepmom, Real Mom

    by R. My parents divorced when I was 4. My dad married my stepmother soon after. She took the role and played it well. She was the only mother figure I knew, until I was in my early 30s. She prepared a home-cooked meal every day, stayed home to take care of her three stepchildren and the two she had with my father. Life was good. Then I had a falling out with the family, and spent 5 years not speaking to any of them. When I got back in touch with my father 5 years ago, my stepmother wanted nothing to do with me anymore. I found my real mom two years ago, and have had a wonderful mother-daughter relationship with her ever since. My stepmother gave me what I needed my whole life until I abandoned her.
  19. Keep Friends Close & Enemies Even Closer

    by Jeane So many times outsiders, even family court judges, will say, to a step parent, "you are not involved in this disagreement, because these are not your children". That's the most upsetting thing you can say to a step parent. The reason for divorce, quite often, has to do with, how one parent vs.the other, is monitoring or disciplining the children. In my experience, the future happiness of the children will rely on the mother, the father or a step parent. Since, mom & dad, didn't agree while married, a "step parent" can be that 3rd party person, a child can confide in. My step children told me once, they didn't want to be around, nor live w/either parent. 'Fortune' in these relationships, is the mentoring and understanding of a 'good' step parent. Some children, realize you have been chosen, over their parent's ex spouse & they understand. So, USE them, as a medium, to advise how to relate to the other spouse.It works;our 5,6,&8yr olds are now 23,24, & 26.
  20. Step-Dad Success

    by Tracy I was 20 when I had my son. His biological Dad left me when I was about 6 months along in my pregnancy, then quit his job so I couldn't collect support and health insurance. This literally has been the pattern for 20 years. My son turned 20 this year. To back up, I was a single mom and when my son was 9, I met my current husband. He has raised my son since and my son was actually along side me and my dad, walking me down the aisle, 10 years ago. My husband has helped put my son through college, on his 3rd year, when as a step- parent, it was not his responsibility, and has been there through high school graduation, girlfriends and just being a dad that he didn't have to be. There's been good times and bad. We have what we have and that's a family. My husband never took the place of my son's dead beat dad, he just picked up the pieces and till this day is proud to call him son.
  21. Wicked Stepmom

    by W. I had 4 kids (2 grown, plus 2 preteens) when I married my husband. He had adopted his granddaughter at age 3; she was 7 when we married. Granddaughter had been neglected and abused by her mother and has Reactive Attachment Disorder - means that she would 'target' any female authority figure with her original trauma-based hostility and anger, & not be capable of bonding with her. But we did not know this at the time, as it had not manifested yet. But a month into the marriage she told me she would "make my Grandpa divorce you!" and has waged war for 6 years, to wedge us apart, manipulate him to think I was 'being mean to' her, when I was only trying to implement Counselor's recommendations to maintain strict consistent rules & authority. She was disrespectful, hateful and caused my children to want to stay with their dad. She has lied, stole, snuck out, and got suspended from school repeatedly. Be careful who you adopt or marry (with kids), some things are dormant. Can make life hell.
  22. Equal time for both parents

    by Lorri I believe that both parents have to have equal time with the children; however, this isn't the case anymore in the society that we live in. One takes over and the other gets kicked to the curb. This is not right and the children end up living a very unpleasant life as they carry the burden of both parents fighting among themselves. Everyone who divorces need to think about children first; then the new boyfriend/girlfirend they bring home to the family. This is when everything begins to start.
  23. Step Child Speaks Out!

    by Marty I am not a step parent but I was a step child. Mothers, remember that I had a father. Just because you married him does not make him a father. That is a title he has to earn. You love him, I may not even like him. Don't bad mouth my dad. Keep your problems to yourself. Until I am an adult, you owe me your attention, support and love. If you can't love me and a new husband give my dad custody. The grief you save will be huge. As hard as the divorce/death was on you, it was twice as hard on your children. Keep the rules the same. Don't let the new guy totally change everything. Don't make me hide my relationship with my father. When you made the decision to have a child, you make a commitment to support, guide and love that child. We are not a puppy or a kitten you can take back to the pound because you found someone else to love you. I did not divorce my grandparents, I still need them in my life. Don't make me be the adult in this family. Act your age.
  24. Step parenting. I would have thought twice!

    by Shirley When I met my current husband he had a newborn and a 8 year old. I had a 9 year old and a 3 year old. If I had known how hard it was to bring two families together, I think I would have thought long and hard about getting married. It is the hardest thing I have ever had to do. My husband and I are great together but we certainly have different views when it comes to parenting. After many frustrating hours, we finally found that it was better to just let each parent, parent their own children. I mean, we had basic rules that applied to everyone, but individually, each parent set their rules. It was not always easy and I was so tired of hearing "but he doesn't have to do..blah blah blah." Our oldest are now 19 and 18. We also have a ten month old together. I'm not sure how parenting one together is going to be, but I think it has to be easier that dealing with the teenagers we had.
  25. Queen of the Manor

    by M. I want to share my story of my daughter's step-mother. I feel a person, especially a woman, should treat a child as they would their own. I feel that my daughter's step-mother doesn't do that. I think she is standoffish and very hands off where my daughter is concerned. When my daughter was about 7 or 8 she told me that "they don't appreciate me". She is 10 now and I guess used to the lack of affection from her. My daughter never wants to visit their home. I feel when you are a parent and you are charged with the responsibility of taking care of anyone's child, you treat them with love and care. You show them affection and attention. There is no talking to them because they seem to have all of the answers. I have even suggested family therapy for the sake of my child and they refused. I hate making my daughter go there but it is a part of the court ordered agreement. It's not like they are physically abusing her and I guess, not showing affection, is not a crime. However, it is sad!
  26. Top Two

    by Elizabeth First, know your place. There are some issues that should only be handled by your spouse and his/her ex when it comes to their children. You opinion doesn't matter and should only be voiced, if at all, alone behind a locked closet door in the middle of the Sahara. That's just common sense. The second thing is 'my house, my rules.' That is short for we will all show mutual respect in this house, pick up after yourself, no one will be run over or overrun,...like that. It covers a lot of ground.
  27. Mixing old and new families...

    by Betty

    When I grew up I was one of five children,and I was the only child between my mother and father. They both had previous marriages and children from those marriages, but never did I witness my parents arguing, fighting, or exchanging bad words between them, and never did I see that with my siblings parents either. We were never raised to be called half brother or half sister; those words never were spoken. We were brother and sister period. My siblings and I were all raised together in one home. We were all treated the same no matter who your mom or dad was. We all watched our parents get along and all parents worked together to raise all of us, and I can honestley say we all turned out to grow up and marry and to either have step children or adopt children of our own. Our parents tought us children are important, and what they see and are taught at ALL times matter. Never blame children for situations adult parents put them in. Children are innocent, and deserve love, and to see how love works in familys.

  28. Have all the facts going in...

    by Laura Knowing that step parenting, in most cases, is a thankless job, going into it, is the biggest piece of knowledge when it comes to successful step parenting. Also, expect the worst, but have an optimistic out look going in. Kids will surprise you sometimes. The most important thing you can do as a step parent, is to reassure your step children, that you are NOT trying to take the place of their bio parent. Also, speak highly of their bio parent, show respect for them, whether they deserve it or not. Unfortunately I had to learn all of this advice along the way when my husband's then 5 & 7 yr old kids came to live w/ us unexpectedly. But they are 27 & 30 now, and call me mom, so I did something right.
  29. No More His and Her Rules........

    by Maria I was an immediate stepmother to a 5 year old the first time I got married. After having our children it became difficult; there were rules for our children to follow and no rules for the stepchild to follow because of divorced parent guilt. The rules need to be addressed well in advance to prevent any animosity or disaster for divorce. I did get divorced and now I will be marrying a wonderful man with two grown children that refer to me as “Bonus Mom.” My grown children know that their father will always be their father, dead or alive, and their “Bonus Dad” will be just that, a bonus! It is important not to ever place your children in a situation where they have to choose. Most of all, a couple needs to join forces and support one another. If you don’t have unity, you have problems. Remember at the end, after the kids are gone, there’s only you and your partner left.
  30. Step Parent Trap

    by Sandra I would never put myself in the position of being a step-parent. And I would NEVER, EVER "give" my children a step-parent. I'm done & single until kids leave the nest, period.
  31. Step Parenting nightmare...

    by R. Mine is a sad story. My teenage stepdaughter has been so poisoned by her mother and family, that she hasn't had her weekend visits with us in over two years. Last time we saw her was at her sibling's birthday party six months ago. It has been drilled into her head that daddy doesn't love or want her anymore now and that he has a "new family". No phone calls no visits, nothing. My husband is SO hurt. When he tries to talk with her, she is very rude and disrespectful, telling him once, " I'm busy. I don't have time for your crap"
  32. Rules for Step Parents

    by Jane When my husband of 34 years and I married, I had 2 girls, one age 15 and a 19 year old, along with her 2 year old son. I also had 3 married sons who lived close by. My husband had two sons age 16 & 18 plus a 14 year old daughter. He also had 3 married sons and a married daughter who did not live in the area. As you can see we were both very experienced parents. So, always be fair with all, never let children con you into an argument, treat all with the same respect that you expect to receive and always be there for them. It is not always easy but if you value your marriage you can make it. After all this time we are still one family even those that did not live with us except for my daughter who doesn't like me anymore. Oh well Can't win them all. We are still willing.
  33. Don't Make Children Choose...

    by Jovette I am a step mom to 3 children. One lives full time with us and we have 2 shared time. My husband works away for 10 days at a time. I also have a child with my ex husband and my current husband and I have a child together. In the beginning, we lived 6 hours away for about 5 years. Eventually we moved to where the children lived. When we first moved and tried to get shared parenting it was hard. Lots of anger and fighting; lots of money.. went to the lawyers. After getting shared parenting, things got a lot better. We now all do things together as a family. We even hang out without the kids. There is no awkwardness. I communicate with their mom and I have formed that friendship with her. I take care of the kids on our time when my husband is away. We find getting along instead of being at odds is better for the children. They don't feel like they have to choose and they don't play us because we are all on the same page. Some people think we are weird but this works for us. I love the way we are.
  34. 3 ex wives to deal with!

    by Amy My husband had been married 3 times before me and has a kid with each. We have no children together, and he is fixed. It's tough being a stepmom and dealing with 3 exes. I have no REAL experience being a parent.
  35. Being a good step mom

    by Stacy I was blessed with a stepson that moved in with us in his early teens. I was the strict step-parent, but before he could move in we all sat down and talked about the rules that he would have to follow in our home, and then gave him the choice if he still wanted to come and live with us. He only thought about it for a few minutes and said yes. I don't think those few rules are all that hard to follow. As it turned out, he never had a problem with our rules. I went to all his events as did his mother sometimes together and sometimes separate depending on our work schedules. I think that no matter what your differences are all parents need to put their anger aside when it comes to the children...no matter what ..
  36. It all begins at home...

    by Jaye Most difficult challenge in my life! We have his, mine, ours, AND theirs!! We've survived 23 years, but I can't say I'd do it again. No specifics, but I'm pretty sure I could write a book as well. Love Judge Judy for so many reasons!

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Step 2 of 2 - You!

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