I Will Not Treat My Step Kids Like My Own

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Yes, I said it. I will not treat them like my own and the sooner you stop telling me and other parents too, the happier we will be. It’s a hypocritical statement and adds further pressure to an already strenuous situation.

I was raised in a blended family. I assumed all blended families were like ours. In our situation my mom and (step)dad were very much able to practice the “treat them like your own” mindset. Why? My mom’s first husband was completely out of the picture minus the random phone call once every couple of years. My (step)dad’s first wife, though a little more involved, never desired or asked for custody. She was fine with the occasional holiday and gave my mom the reigns and full “go-ahead” to raise her children like her own.

This raising resulted in my mom’s children calling her new husband “dad”, and my (step)dad’s son called my mom “Mom”. It irks me to even have to put (step) before his name just for clarity here. They were Mom and Dad, they had all the say, they handled everything. If they made us angry there was no “I’m moving to Mom’s/Dad’s”.

I assumed this was the natural order of blended families. When I became a step parent at the age of 18 I learned I was very much mistaken. My girls aren’t all that much younger than me for one. Something I thought would be a big problem, but turns out, the older they get the more I can appreciate that. My step son was 7 when his father an I got involved. 7 years old boys don’t care about much other than what were doing or where we are going so it seemed simple enough.

Here’s where I became confused. Their mom, his ex wife, was very very very much involved with her children. She had full custody and he had them every other weekend and holidays. I had heard of these schedules from friends but had never experienced them in real life.

A few years go by and all the children move in with us for a while. At which point I have given birth to my own bio-child. I began to see the backwards suggestion of “treat them like your own” at this point. Over the years of having them around I would just notice little things they did that would be deemed disrespectful by my parents or my own standards. I would think to myself “Do I say anything? Maybe their mom doesn’t see it that way?”

Once they moved in it all fell apart. The girls were entering the teen years, those extremely volatile drama filled teen years. I was only in my very early 20’s myself. They would act like I didn’t know anything when in fact I very well knew because I had JUST been in their shoes. One particular morning we had a knock down drag out fight over them intentionally missing the bus for the 5th day in a row. We yelled, we pointed fingers, we nearly came to blows. An inlaw showed up to diffuse the situation and she made the comment “If this was your child you wouldn’t talk to them like this” She was right. I would not be yelling like this because if it were biologically my child, I would have had the parental right to drag him by the hair of the head to bus stop. He would know better at this point than to miss it intentional or even accidentally. I decided I would never treat my step kid like my own at this point. Not because I didn’t want to, but because I was not allowed to.

Even now with another one teen still under my roof I have to remind myself everyday that there are lines. The world doesn’t seem to see them though so they just prefer to point the fingers. When the school calls to tell my bio-son has been disrespectful I can punish him any way I deem fit. You all will hail me a good parent, a caring parent. When the school calls to tell me my step son has been disrespectful, I then integrate a equally age appropriate punishment on him then I am the evil step mom, I am playing favorite, I am bullying him. I have to walk such a thin fine line to know what is ok. Will this punishment cause problems between us? Will he get angry and pull the “I’m moving to mom’s!”. Will he try to cause problems between his father an I? All these things have to be considered with a step child, yet my own child nobody has any say and deems me wonderful for doing anything.

It’s hypocritical. I love my step children. I value how open they are with me. They can freely discuss things that most wouldn’t with their own biological parents. The girls are grown now and I love our relationships. They admit they were a bit rough on me in their early teens, but God has blessed them each with daughters of their own so I’ll just give them time to get their payback.

The step son and I get along wonderfully. I enjoy spending time with him. I truly truly love him. However, I am always one wrong disciplinary action away from being shut out. What can I do? Ask his dad to handle it? Hahahahahahahahaha……gasp…. Hahahahahahahaha. My husband has zero discipline will power. He’ll take your ps4 and cell phone today, then give it back tomorrow and treat you to a shopping spree to say “sorry”. I love that about him though really, he’s a softie. It wont affect our youngest because I’m all the backbone they’ll need, but doesn’t seem fair to his oldest.

In the end my step children will always be treated BETTER than my own. Never less, never equal, but better by the views of others.

Don’t you dare sit there behind our computer screen and go on about, “My house my rules” either because this is not MY house. This is our house. I don’t want war in our house. It’s not worth the turmoil all for the sake of being deemed “boss”. There is so much more to a blended family.

Please just stop telling step parents to “Treat them like their own” because the minute we do you’ll all be crying abuse. Those of you who yell it the loudest are the same ones who bash your exes on Facebook saying things like “His new girlfriend isn’t allowed to touch my child!” or “I hope she ever hurts my child’s feeling. It’ll be then end of her!”. Get off your high horses and walk one day in our shoes.

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8 thoughts on “I Will Not Treat My Step Kids Like My Own

  1. andreA wiggins

    You are awesome!

  2. Lucee

    Thank you for your honesty! I also entered into a relationship with a man who, at the time, had a 16 year old daughter living with him and a 12 year old son with a visitation schedule. The daughter was resentful of me and our relationship from the get go. Many times she attempted to drive a wedge between us and more times than I cared to I bit my tongue. I couldn’t discipline her, I couldn’t accuse her when she stole from me (he believed she would never do that), and my attempts at friendship were rebuffed. I was neither a parent, step-parent, nor a friend. I was “dad’s girlfriend” or “dad’s baby mama”. Six years later I have now attained “dad’s wife” status and when she is trying to make a good impression “my stepmother”. Unfortunately hubby & daughter have a strained relationship. Three years ago she began treating him exactly as she had treated me all along, nice only when she wants something. There is no real handbook for the blended situation and every one is as different as the people involved. As for the son, I pushed for custody, completed most of our legal work & won. We have had him for almost five years. Despite his sisters many attempts to persuade him to dislike me, he has come to realize that he is my step-son, like my son but with a different biological mom. I am lucky to be in a position where I can discipline him but still walk a line with the hubby. In my case its a give and take, I think my hubby feels like he has to walk a line with the son we share and I’m ok with that.

  3. Donna Miller

    I really wish i would have read this years ago.

  4. Carmen

    I’m so glad I found this and it is refreshing to know other people feel the same way I do. My husband and I have 4 kids, 1 is my biological child (she is 26 now) and he has 1 girl (24) and two boys (23, 19 from his previous marriage), we have been together for 11 years, lived together for 9 and married for 6. My household growing up was very strict, there was not talking back, or breaking the rules and if we tried, it was nipped in the bud immediately, which is how I raised my daughter, although we are super close and I let her slide with some things my parents were strict about (I was a preachers kid), but she knew who was boss, who had her back, and who loved her so she respects me and values my opinion (not to say she didn’t go through the typical teen years when she tried to test my authority).

    Not sure exactly how my husband and his ex-wife did rules in their house prior to him and I getting together, but he tends to let things build up and slide until he blows up days later or multiple incidents later, or like you mentioned in your post that the punishment thing wouldn’t last long at all. We recently had an argument regarding him feeling like I don’t treat his kids the same because I questioned the way he handled something with his son, and that just blew my mind. because if I treated his kids the same as I treat my daughter?…..well It probably wouldn’t turn out well (I have even found myself apologizing to my daughter for me being hard on her but not with the steps – in the same situations -and explained how it’s different and she understood). Like when you said you would have dragged your son to the bus stop, that would be me with my daughter (if necessary, no ifs ands or buts) but I couldn’t dare do anything that extreme with the step kids, and I was raised with a step dad so I get the step parent boundaries, especially when they have a mom, so him making that statement really hurt my feelings deeply.

    He always compliments me on how well I raised my daughter, how well rounded she is, and how she is very respectful, thoughtful, headstrong and responsible. So I sometimes forget and want to “offer” my two cents in how to handle a situation with him and his kids (since he thinks I have done such a good job), only to have him act offended that I am even suggesting a disciplinary method, then his offense leads to me having hurt feelings and of course a semi blow up. Things like that don’t happen often but often enough to where I sat down today and googled if other step parents go through the same thing….after all…..he is the person I want to grow old with. We are both in agreement to work on things so there are no hurt feelings or resentment between us.

    Thanks for this post and it’s nice to know I am not alone. Many blessings.

    • Your situation sounds so close to mine. I am a preachers granddaughter. I was raised very strict yet lovingly. Respect was very important in our house growing. My husband on the other hand had a very lax childhood. His parents are good people buy had very different methods for child rearing. We did both come from poor childhoods though which effected us entirely different. He believes in giving kids the things he never had while I believe going without is makes you a more grateful person. We butt heads but it’s so nice knowing I do have more say in our children together. He usually agrees with my advice for the step children but agreeing and putting into action are two different things unfortunately.

  5. MRS

    This was so enlightening and espouses exactly what I’ve tried to convey when I try to tell people why this line of thinking can be detrimental.

    We separated last year over what we called “issues with the kids” but once you take a step back you realize it’s all on you two. He’s long distance so my stepkids are with us twice a year at best which makes it so much harder. We are 6 years in and they are now 18 (mine), 17 (mine), 16 and 16 (his) 11 (his). Add to that the twins and the youngest have different moms. So we have all these different households, parenting styles, personalities etc coming together occasionally. Nightmare.

    I knew intellectually that the “treat them like your own” sounds good in theory but seemed virtually impossible to actually execute. Each of these kids had two parents. The kids weren’t tiny ones when we came into their lives, etc. I was not able to be a ‘stepmom’. I was told (sometimes) about things after he’d discussed/decided with their moms. Yet I was criticized should I involve my kids’ father in decision making. It was baffling. I was accustomed to raising my children as I saw fit and didn’t feel his decisions regarding my kids could possibly override mine.

    We fought and fought and unfortunately dragged the kids into our nonsense too. We know reconciliation will be a long, hard road but I think we’ve given up the illusion of blending. Time will tell.

    (Oh and +1 on the know-it-all people who have never been in a stepfamily situation knowing EXACTLY what you should be doing. And who want you (especially SMs) to toe the line between being some doting caretaker but having zero authority. It’s exhausting)

  6. Another step mom

    Oh my word. My life exactly. Two weeks ago, I chatted to my husband about this, he said he would like me to treat his kids like I treat my own, I said good and well, except I can’t only be there for the discipline stuff, I have to be there for the good as well, I have to be invited to their awards and celebrate stuff etc. I also suggested we have the discussion with the kids to hear what they want. I discussed it with my kids and we’ll they want equal treatment, because currently his kids can do whatever they want, get more nice things and never get disciplined, so they want me to continue disciplining but they want my husband their step dad to be nicer. Ok fine, let’s see how I can tell husband that. I have the same conversation with his kids – cos he ain’t gonna have it and well surprise surprise they want things to continue as they are- because why the bloody hell should they want me to ask them to do shit in the house like pick up their shoes, or pack the dishwasher or why should I discipline them. So here I am, frustrated that I have to guide my own kids and discipline and they think it’s unfair that the step sisters get better treatment. I’m going to be the one with adult kids who don’t want anything to do with me. I hope I raise my kids well to be successful, I hope they take what I say when they make decisions and I hope they don’t live by my example because I am setting a shitty example. I hope I die young enough not to suffer the consequences of my inequality in my treatment of these kids.

    • Your kids I promise won’t resent you. My step daughter’s are grown now and they tell us how much the appreciate the discipline now and they understand why it was a good thing

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