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Jeannie, from Louisiana (submitted Feb '08).
Learning From a Good Stepmom

 

Name: Jeannie

Home: Louisiana

Learning from experience with having a good stepmom growing up, here is to all the step-moms that have their stepchildren every other weekend.

My stepmom came into my life when I was 6 years old. Now being 27 and being a full-time stepmom to my own stepson, I use lessons she taught me.

I think back over the years of living the stepfamily life - living in 2 different rules - 2 different houses 2 different ways of life. She did the special things for me and my sister that now we look back on and are so thankful.

I thought I would just share some of the things to help the stepmoms that get their stepchildren every other weekend.

- Every Friday night she would make sure that we had pizza to eat. We would all sit around the table and eat pizza and visit with each other. Dad would normally rent a movie for us to watch that weekend. She would step back and on some Saturday's, Dad would take us girls to the mall or to a movie - it was our special time with Dad.

- Holidays - she always had us a special Easter basket or a special little treat for the different holidays. She took the incentive to do this - Dads sometimes just aren't into the little things.

- Gifts, she would always find times to take us shopping to get Dad something special and arrange a time for him to take us to get her something special for Christmas gifts.

- Weekends - she normally made sure that they had one of our favorite snacks on hand.

Thinking back, these little things were things that stick with a child and make those every other weekends special.

As we have gotten older, she would make sure to volunteer to bring things to different showers we had (wedding/graduation). She always volunteered to help if we needed something. Of course Mom was always there and she never tried to take that spot, but she was always there. We might not had given her the hugs she deserved as kids - thinking we might cross the hurting Mom imaginary line - but now she gets them and the thanks and "I love you". She is my stepsons Grandma and now does the special things for him. She is always there to listen and give advice, but we know she will never lecture or judge.

I can only use her as an example with my own stepson. I try to do the special gift buying with him. I make sure he has his allowance money and I will take him to use his money to buy his mom and family gifts so on Christmas day, he brings them something special that he knows is from him.

So, to all the stepmoms, hang in there... do the special things.. and the children will appreciate you more once they are adults and have children.

 

 
Comments ( 55 )
 
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#55: by StrugglingSM on 05.08.2017 @ 12:40pm CDT

Reading this post made me feel so much better. I'm a relatively new stepmom (married less than a year, but in their lives for almost three years) to 10 year old twin boys. I try to do the same things that the poster's stepmother did - have snacks on hand, give the kids time with dad, etc - but I honestly feel like I'm not appreciated. The boys' mother is difficult to say the least and has lobbed many accusations at me (I'm not a mother, so I don't know anything. Because I avoid dealing with her, I'm probably a child abuser. And on and on and on). She has full custody - we have EOWE - and she uses the children as a bargaining chip for everything (constantly asking for more money, more clothes, more shoes, more time to "give her a break" but not more actual parenting time). The kids both struggle in school and everyone (my husband, their mother, my mother-in-law) expect me to help them with their school work because I did well in school. I do help them, because I don't want to leave them alone with no help, but it would be so much nicer if either parent would make an effort or at least tell the kids to work hard when I'm helping them. I feel like I go above and beyond and everyone in my life is still looking at me as if I'm not doing enough for them. I wish more mothers would realize that using your children to continue to maintain conflict with your ex husband or to stir up trouble when he moves on is just wrong. In my case, I met my husband three years after his divorce was final and his ex wife was already remarried. One of my stepsons is constantly feeling the pull of wanting to please mom and that means pulling away from dad. I also wish more remarried dads would realize that expecting their wives to drop everything for their children is exhausting and they need to make sure she is appreciated and protected from any drama and conflict that live on from the divorce. I hope that some day my stepsons (and maybe my mother-in-law) will appreciate what I've done for them. I know their mother won't, so I'm not even worried about her, but it would be nice to know that someone is noticing the effort I've been putting in to helping these boys thrive.
#54: by Shelley on 08.21.2011 @ 01:50pm CDT

I, too, have learned from a great stepmother. There are a couple of things I would add, based on my own experience. My stepmom has always demonstrated her respect for my mother's role as mom in my life. She does this most visibly in the following way: whenever we are out together and meet someone who knew my father when he was married to my mother, she introduces me as "Wayne's daughter." When we are meeting personal friends of hers or someone she and my father have known since their marriage, she introduces me as "my daughter" or "our daughter." Doing this let's me know she loves me, is proud of me, and claims me, while still respecting my mother's place as my mother. Added to this, my parents had a very rough divorce, and I know my father does not respect my mother as a person - yet both my father and stepmother have supported my mother's rules and wishes and have been careful not to voice their personal feelings toward her in front of me and my brother. I'm now a stepmother and have thanked God over and over again for both my stepparents and their examples!

One last thing for the post voicing concern about her father kind of "laying down the law" with her mother (his ex-wife) about being with his family - unfortunately this is one of the challenges of divorce. While I know it is painful for you, your father does have a right to be concerned about his own family's relationship with his wife. Some people click well, others don't - the fact that your mother clicks well with his family makes this even more challenging. It's hard. When my parents divorced, they thought they would be rid of the other forever - but that hasn't happened. I had a similar situation with my dad's family - his aunt invited me, my brother, my sister-in-law, and my mother to lunch. When dad found out, he hit the roof and chewed on me a bit. I listened, I didn't try to defend even though the lunch was not at our instigation, but his aunt's. Once dad got it off his chest, I let him cool down and let the matter drop. I could understand how he felt (even though I thought he way overreacted.) If he had brought it up again, I was prepared to remind him his aunt was free to choose whom she invited to her home, and nothing was intended against him, nor was he even mentioned in any way other than with the respect due to him as our father (that is a REALLY important boundary.) I know this is hard, but you'll have to let your dad's issues be his issues - don't take them on. That has been THE most important thing I have learned as a child of divorced parents.
#53: by Rachel on 04.11.2011 @ 09:23am CDT

Where to begin? Well I am 35, no children of my own and my boyfriend is 40. We have been together for two yrs. He has 4 children from three different women (I know, YIKES). He has an 11 yr old son that the biomom snatched and moved to Florida so we never see or hear from them. His 15 yr old daughter lives a few hrs from here with her biomom (who is very ill). That biomom can not stand the dad so they never speak which is easier for all of us actually. We get to see the daughter once or twice a yr. We bonded instantly and loves that I refer to her as my daughter. Now as for his latest biomom, she is 27 and very immature. He has two boys by her, almost 8 and 2. I have a wonderful relationship with them and with his daughter too. I even volunteer to watch them when he is at work and the biomom calls for help out of nowhere to babysit. However, my boyfriend is no help when it comes to me parenting. He lets me pretty much play the mom role and do everything for his kids when they are with us but then when he doesnt like something I do he says things in front of the kids. This past weekend was the worst. He too has the guilt of not being around so he is way too easy with them on the rules. He lets them stay up till 10pm which is way too late to begin with. They were "kind of" watching a movie that ended at 10:30 ( I say "kind of" watching because he was channel flipping to sports). Anyways, I turned the tv off at 10 and tucked them in giving them hugs and kisses and telling them I love them (and hearing it back AHHH heart melting) when my boyfriend decides that he is going to argue with me in front of them because its a family friendly show and they should be able to stay up and watch it. When I left the room he turned the tv back on. When I came back in the room I turned it back off and expressed my concern that he couldnt just undermine me in front of them. He uttered words I never thought even he would say... "they aren't your kids". OH MY!!! I was terribly hurt. I do love them as my own and it helps them being here because I have no kids yet and have odds stacked against me (plus 2 miscarriages). He does not see what he said as being wrong and says that he only meant that I'm not their mom, they have a mom. Thats just plain BS, he was mad that I wouldn't let him be the fun dad, the cool dad while I, the "stepmom" (not yet) am the bad guy. He constantly tells me I'm too strict with them and that I need to lighten up. I tell him he needs to be more involved and responsible and quit worrying about them hating him if he's "mean". We just can not seem to agree with anything when it comes to his kids. I now feel like I shouldn't even be around when they are here because those words are still very fresh and I am still very hurt. I do not know what to do. I love them dearly and they always ask where I am if I'm not around for whatever reason. They love having me around because as someone else posted before "in this house, I am mom". My boyfriend is completely stubborn and thinks he is right and rarely admits to being wrong or even apologizing. Please pray for all of us and please feel free with any advice or questions or just encouraging words.
#52: by Momma B on 01.17.2011 @ 04:52pm CST

I have been caring for and providing for my stepsons for years while their mother does NOTHING for them other then text and an occasional phone call. Even though I have been the one providing for, monitarily and otherwise, these boys I am the enemy...it seems. They live with me 100 percent of the time and I am just exhausted by it all. Her craziness, the combative behavior of them. Feeling like I'm always an outsider in the home I purchased alone that they each have their own room in. If I didn't have a bio son with my husband, I would be so gone. Being a stepmom is for the birds!
#51: by Mrs. C on 01.02.2011 @ 10:45am CST

I married when I was 24 my husbands dauhter was 4 today I am 50 and she is 30 and I believe we have an amazing relationship. I never had children of my own and have done just as any parent would made sacrafices for my child. I have never asked her to call me mom as she has a beautiful mom and I am forever grateful to her mom for if it were not for she, I also would not be a mom. I however have told my daughter by marriage that I love her as though she were my own,honestly I could not be more proud of her and I could not love her more. I always did my best to ensure that her relationship with her father, my husband was a good solid relationship and it is.
#50: by Liz on 12.28.2010 @ 01:00pm CST

I haven't read all of the post for lack of time. However, I did read a few.

I am a new stepmom. My youngest stepson has gotten into the habit of calling me "stepmom" sometime. (He is 7 years old.)I think it is the most precious compliment he could give me. I love those little boys very much and although I know I will never and do not want to take their mother's place, I do feel good that they love me as a mother figure in their lives.

I've never had a stepmom, but I have had several mother figures in my life. I call a few of them "mom" when I see them. One of them is my best friend's mother and another is my mother-in-law. These ladies will never be my real mom, but they are a mother figure to me. So, when I am with them, I call them mom. When I am with them and my mom, I call them by their name. That way not to confuse anyone or hurt feelings.

I do not think any stepmom should feel bad if their stepchildren choose to call them mom, because you are a mother figure to them and they love you! If you choose not to let them call you mom, that is okay to. But it is a personal choice.

I really appreciated this article. It encourages me.
#49: by starzout3 on 07.19.2010 @ 11:26am CDT

Can someone give me some advice--suggestions? My parents have been divorced for over 25 years(after being together for 20 years and having 3 children---my dad is remarried and his wife(who had no previous children) has never been too nice/understanding about our feelings or has she ever tried to get along with my mom. I could go on and on with examples. My mom's 2nd husband passed away and we spend a lot of time trying to keep her busy/ not so lonely! My cousins (my dad's side) have been inviting my mom to family functions(baby showers, birthdays, etc.) My mom was very close with my dad's side of the family since all my cousins were little--they like her a lot and they do not like my dad's wife at all---and now my dad says he is going to let my mom have it-tell her she shouldn't be there at family functions-it's not her family anymore. I think that he should get some courage to stick up to his wife! What do you think? I know if my dad embarrasses or hurts my mom--my sister will not forgive him and deep down inside I won't either---I do understand the uncomfortable feelings that can come from this as I have a step daughter and no children of my own. How to make my stepmom and dad understand and deal with it in a proper Christian way!? Thanks much for your help.
#48: by smomof3 on 07.31.2009 @ 12:29pm CDT

I appreciate all of your comments regarding the 'call me mom' situation that we as stepmoms face-it helps to know how often this happens so you feel you are not alone. What I have come to realize is that as younger children the term Mom means more about feelings than who is first in their eyes. A biological mother stating to her young children 'no you cant call her mom' is really just stating 'no you cant have feelings/love her'. as far as they are concerned. How appropriate is it to try to stunt the amount of love you child is willing to give? What does that teach them in all their other relationships-that love has a finite existence? Im a stepmom that doesnt feel it should.
#47: by Mommy G on 07.28.2009 @ 03:03pm CDT

My story is like a soap opera.At 19 (1998) I got pregnant with my high school sweethearts child.Well he was not wanting to settle down at this point which devastated me, but I decided to keep the baby. I told him he could be in the baby's life if he wished, but if he was going to be in and out I didn't want him around. Well we ended up getting back together. Then he changed his mind and said he didn't want to be with me. So basically every time I would start to move on he would come back to me and of course because I never stopped loving him I would take him back. Then he would cheat on me with this certain girl then go back and forth from me to her. Well a couple years later I got pregnant again with his child and once again he just couldn't stay with me. He then moved down to North Carolina with his mom for a couple months. He said he missed his son so he moved back. Five months into my pregnancy with his second son he got the other girl pregnant. On the day that I gave birth to our son he brought the other pregnant girl( I could say some mean words but I won't) along and she talked to me about the kind of bed her baby girl was going to get. I was heart broken and didn't understand why I continued to have my heart broken by this man. Well to make a long story short in 2003 we got back together for good and got married in 2004. The road has not been easy. Not only has he had to win my trust back but I also am a step mom to his daughter which is equally as hard. I try to love her but I find it very difficult with our history. I know its not her fault, but its just so hard. My husband also is very partial to her. He is a lot harder on the boys and basically she gets away with anything. I am currently in counseling to help me get over my hurts and learn to eventually love this child.I feel that it would help us to both attend counseling but says I'm the one with the problem. We get his daughter about three times a week. I just really try to ignore the way he is with her but its so hard. The boys notice it to and always say stuff to me. But I just tell them there is nothing I can do. My husband knows how I feel and thinks that he should show more love to his daughter and be easier on her. I feel that any favoritism is wrong and brings much bitterness in your life. any advice.
#46: by Trisha Bice on 07.23.2009 @ 07:36am CDT

I have a step-son that is 18 years old and in the tenth grade. My husband and I have been married for two years and a half years. His son lives with us and hardly ever goes to see his mom.(wish he would go live with her) This boy has absolutely no respect, no consideration, and has had no discipline. However, his father is a wonderful loving man that did the best he could to raise his children by himself. Truth is the boy is plain awful!! When the boy was still under age he went to school and told the teachers we hit him which resulted in DEFACS coming out to visit us.He told the worker that he was just kidding.We don't like each other at all and sometimes I would just like to leave and end this misery, but I do love my husband very much. Any kind of advice would be GREATLY appreciated!!
#45: by Always a Mom on 07.20.2009 @ 08:24pm CDT

In all the articles I have read over the years there is not one that is my story. I have wanted so badly to relate to someone out there that had some advice or was going through what I had gone through. I have been married for 22 years, 23 if you count the year we lived together. This is my first marriage and my husbands second. I was only 25 when I met my husband. I have always wanted to have children and be a Mother. My husband is 14 years my senior and had 4 children from a previous marriage. He had 5 children with his ex wife, his first born drowned at 15 months. He also had had two vesectomy, the first didn't take. Before marry him I made it very clear that I wanted children and didn't think we should get married. He promised we would have children and being young and naive I believed him, he also said that he would get a reversal so we could have children, but he figured to satisfy my need to be a mother he presented his 3 beautiful daughters age 6,8,11 and son 12 as my instant family. I fell in love with them instantly. I never asked the children to call me Mom and they didn't although hearing it from them would have helped me immensely. His ex wife who he was good friends with and I became friends with as well had shared custody. My husband who is an alcholic drank throughout most of our marriage and I was the main parent along with his ex who raised the children. We tried fertility treatments 3 times over the early years. I had two misscarriages. The technology back then wasn't what it is today and we never had a baby although we continued or I did to bring it up as the years went by and he just said yeah we would try again but we never and I don't believe he ever really wanted to have any more when we got married it was just a line. Money of course was always an issue with 4 children so there was never any extra to try for the the baby thing again even though I had longed to have a baby and have someone call me Mom. I felt like Mom to my 4 children even though I never heard it and even though I have a friendship with their bio mom I always felt like I was competing for attention or acceptence from kids. Before I go on I have to tell you that my husband is now sober 11 years the children are grown, two are married and my youngest daughters have moved in and out of my home 6 times since the age of 18. The kids are now respectively 29,31,33,34. And I have 3 grandaughters. The only one who uses the term step mom is his ex wife. The children referred to me at least in front of me as their Mom when they introduce me to someone. There is nothing like hearing that to make your insecurities disolve. Mother's Day is especially sentimental to me because of the cards that they pick out and what they write on the inside or should I say what they don't write. Early on they would write my actual name on a Mother's day card and as the years went by when they asked me what I wanted for mother's day or my birthday etc. I said all I need is a Mom's card,"love them" but without my actual name on it. They did it and sometimes they have even writen "Mom" on the card which just melts me to the core. I love my children so much so that I had wanted to adopt them after my youngest turned 18. The reason was that I wanted to let them know that I am so happy to have been blessed with them as my children and even though I didn't give birth to them it doesn't make me any less their Mother/parent with or without the fact that I married their father, I will be their Mother forever til I die. I ran it by their biological mother about the adoption first after I found out that there were no perental rights that would be terminated since they don't exist after the age of 18. It was just a symbolic gester i wanted to do for them as well as me. The girls all thought it was a great idea. My son was undecided until he heard what his bio mom thought and then it was a no. She didn't want me to do it. I respected her wishes and let it go. The reason for this comment and my issue here today is that I am now living back in the same state as the bio mom. I had lived for 12 years in another state. And my two youngest daughters moved there as well. Our son lived only 5 hours. My oldest daughter lived in the same state as her bio mom but did live with me right out of highschool after she had my first granddaughter. Now I live within 5 miles of the ex wife/my friend and 8 miles of my oldest daughter and grandchildren. Here's my issue. Like I said friends with the ex. But now when my two youngest daughters come to visit they stay with her and not me, which I have reconciled with even though I think they should split the time between two places. Right now my youngest daughter has come to visit for a week. She is still living in my house in the other state while I have it up for sale. I haven't seen her in 6 months. Either has her bio Mom. Each of us talk to our daughter about the same amount time. Up until I moved here six months ago She has lived with me and I say me because her father was never around over the past 5 years but a few times. It's been her and I which I have loved having her with me basically for the past 11 years. Back to my question/dilema. She is here for a week. Her bio mom is off work for a week on vacation and wanted her to go camping/roadtrip/horsebacking riding with her for that week which means I won't get to see her. I had wanted to pick her up at the airport and keep her with me for a couple of days and then drive her to where her other bio mom is but that didn't happen since the bio mom made sure she got her from the airport. I have not heard from her since she arrived, not a phone call from either of them. I know this sounds insecure, but I think it is more inconsiderate of who I am in this family after all these years and who I am with respect to my daughter. I'm just wanting to see her and spend time with her no different then he bio mom is. Don't I deserve my time with her as well. Her father could careless and like some of the other comments, does not and has not ever stuck up for me. I do know the kids feel the imaginary line that they won't cross for fear of hurting B.M. feelings. But I guess what I'm getting at with after all the years of raising, guiding, supporting, nurturing, taking care of, unconditionally loving them, when or where has anyone said anything about my feelings as a Mom. One of my girls when they were little said this is "my other mom" when talking to one of their little friends. MOM. That's what the word mom stands for and that's what I have always been and proud to be their Mom. There are no steps in our family. It's just family, with 2 Moms and one Dad. So how did I get here and how do I not drive myself crazy and get more depressed then I already am bearing in mind that I'm going through menopause!
#44: by Rachel Hawkes on 07.02.2009 @ 03:19pm CDT

I am a step mom but my situation is very different. I became a step mom to my son when he was just 3 months old. His mom had him and did not want to take care of him so she left him with his father. I met him at work one day, we dated, I fell in love with his son, we married and for the last 9 years I have been the only mom he has ever known. She has not seen him or called him, but unfortunately he has contracted some of her bad traits He is ADHD and ODD, which makes being his mom very difficult at times, but you know what God has a plan for everything. His promises are yes and Amen. He does not give you anything you can't handle. He holds you through hard times. He instructs us not to lean on our own understanding but in all out ways acknowledge him. The joy of the Lord is my strength, he is my rock and my shield and my delivered in times of trouble. I believe he will heal my son. I dread the day when the truth must be discussed because it will hurt so bad. I love him like my own and he calls me mom. I know that day will come and I have left that in the hands of my husband and God. I say to all of you Be Encouraged your # 1 role in life is to be an Example of Jesus Christ in all that you do, especially parenting.
#43: by OC Mom on 06.09.2009 @ 06:45pm CDT

What wonderful comments! I'm also in that stepmom role. Dealing with the child's mother has been the most challenging. The daughter, who is 11 and adorable is a dream! I never badmouth her mom and actually praise her. I prefer to have her call me by a nickname that she chose. We chose that because sheonce told me i was like a mom to her. I just didn't want there to be hard feelings. Yes, I agree, bio moms should be thankful when a stepmom is in their child's life that is caring, loving and is respectful of them, the mom. That's not always easy, but it's the only way to do it. Sometimes biomoms just need to look on the bright and appreciate the fact that we have stepped into a tough situation. Some biomoms haven't let go of the ex. We deal with that. We also tread carefully each time we are around the children, always protecting the biomom and making sure that the child is growing up healthy. Two households can actually be fun and extremely rewarding as long as the adults involved learn to look at it that way...and accept it. Here's to everyone just getting along for the best interest of the child
#42: by Momma J on 05.06.2009 @ 12:01pm CDT

Some of these posts made me cry. There is so much pain and sadness and hurt out there, but there is also a lot of happiness and joy. Over and over I read a lot about self, which brings to mind Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. I think if we focus on the things above and not in our present circumstances it will enable us to endure the hardships with more patience. If we provide a Godly example consistently, the reward will come...

I am a stepmom to a 9 and 7 year old as well as a biological mom to a 14 and 4 year old. If given the proper example (through church, our own behavior, pointing out disrespect on TV, in movies, etc.) children will learn what is right and wrong and eventually choose the right path. Prayer is an invaluable tool. Just remember that God is in control and he will make the best of what we give him.
#41: by Ron Deal on 11.03.2008 @ 09:37am CST

"Conflicted" --

You're predicament highights the loyalty conflicts and jealousy issues of many stepfamilies. I've got a few thoughts: 1) Read this article on "The Name Game" (http://www.successfulstepfamilies.com/view/427);

2) Even though he is asking you to call his mom and tell her it's okay that he call you "mom" I would not advise it. That will likly inflame her jealousy and anger toward you making things worse. Rather, tell him that you can see how stuck he is between you and his mom and that he can call you "mom" when at your house, but that it's okay with you if he doesn't call you that when with his mother. Give him an out so he's not caught in the tug-of-war any more than he has to be.

3) Finally, communicate the “No-threat” message to the mom. The purpose is to reduce the amount of fear she has toward you, and therefore, the amount of animosity she throws at you. Here’s a brief script: “Hi Tom/Betty. I just wanted you to know that I realize that I am not your child’s parent—you are. I will never try to take your place (and couldn’t even if I wanted to). You hold a very special place in your child’s heart and I will always honor that. I am simply an added adult-figure in your child’s life. I will try to bring good things to their life and offer guidance as would one of their teachers or coaches. If you ever have any questions, please let me know. Thank you for your time.”
#40: by conflicted on 11.02.2008 @ 08:55am CST

I am not an "official" stepmom (my boyfriend and I live together and are not married yet). However, he has a 6-year-old son who I have known since he was 4. I love him like he is my own and we have a very close and special relationship. He lives with his mother during the school year, staying with us every weekend, and lives with us in the summertime, with his mom on the weekends. He asks to call me mom all the time, but tells me his mom will be mad at him if he calls me mom. I have tried to explain to him that he has a mom, but he insists that he wants to call me "momma". His mother heard him call me mom once at a function we were at together and she got very angry at him and tried to force him to call his stepfather "daddy". His father and I have no problem with him calling me mom, but we want him to feel comfortable to call me whatever he wants to. I do my best not to overstep my role as step-mom, I speak highly of his mother, as I have a great deal of respect for her as a mom. I just don't know what to tell him when he asks me to call her and tell her it's OK that he call me mom. And on top of everything else he calls us EVERY NIGHT crying that he wants to come to our house, he doesn't want to live at his mommy's house anymore. But his mother only allows us to see him when it is court-ordered. I don't know what to tell him, I don't want him to feel like he is going to get in trouble for calling me mom, but I can't talk to his mother about it because she refuses to recognize me as a part of his life! (she said I'll be her problem when I marry his father). Help!! What do I tell that precious little boy I love so much when he says "I wish you were my mommy"?
#39: by tabaaam on 10.21.2008 @ 12:08am CDT

I have been apart of my step daughters life since she was 3 weeks old you wanna talk about tough. This little girl I love as if she were my own. She does call me mom and I don't think its a bad thing because I do not speak unkindly or wrong about her mother we all have been dealing with each other her whole life and I think as long as she know she is loved and wanted in both homes so what its her heart and she is the one who has to live in two seperate homes not us adults. I do understand as a mother its not comfortable at all to hear your child say mom. But It should at least make you feel good when she goes to her dads house that she is very loved and taken care of and you are not put down but are very encouraged!!
#38: by Cindy on 05.03.2008 @ 06:34pm CDT

Dear tryingtounderstand: please DON'T give up, or even say that you are. Saying it doesn't make THIS stepmother happy. And I'm sure it doesn't make any other stepmothers who have read and responded here happy either.

Please keep this in perspective: just because your kids are excited about trips planned for the summer with his family and her family, does NOT mean that they want HER for their mother.

Your post doesn't say why your kids would come to you with such a request. But whatever the reason, it is ENTIRELY APPROPRIATE for you to deflect this. Gently tell them that if they'd like to get their stepmother a gift for Mother's Day, they need to talk to their FATHER about this, and they need to arrange to do it this with HIM. It's HIS responsibility, not yours. You do not need to feel pressured or guilty about this.

Then gently change the subject - maybe to "Hey, since you mentioned it, would you like to know what *I* would like for Mother's Day?" I'm sure they will say "Yes, what?" Then suggest some fun family-time activities together - in addition to a "Mom-only" gift, like lotion, or candles, or whatever you personally like that's affordable for them. They will eat this up!

I don't know how old your kids are. But, if they're not old enough to transport themselves to the nearest mall... and if you're not currently in a relationship with someone who can take your kids out, to get YOU the nice Mother's Day card and gift that you deserve... talk to a family member or friend who would be willing to take your kids out to do this. If no family member or friend is available, take your kids out yourself.

Please don't be down on yourself. I want to repeat what I said to you in my most recent post:

"Remind yourself every day: you are, and will always be, their first and #1 Mom. That's a priceless honor that she will never have."

Nothing has changed that. Nothing ever will change that. You may not be able to see it from your perspective at the moment, but kids have a fundamental and unshakeable bond to their biological mother that no future "pretender," no matter how well-intentioned (or not), can ever usurp. YOU are MOM to your kids - now and forever.
#37: by tryingtounderstand on 05.02.2008 @ 10:14pm CDT

All the stepmothers should be happy - I am giving up. It isn't bad enough that my children call their stepmother "momma" - but now they want me to help them get her a present for Mother's Day. Their father is also asking to have longer visits in the summer and the kids are all for this - they have "family" vacations planned with his family and her family.
I give up - I have tried. If the kids want her for their mother - I won't fight anymore - I can't compete with their family. If the kids would rather have her as their mother - I will grant their wish. After all - she is probably better than I am anyway.
#36: by LaaLaa on 04.20.2008 @ 05:19am CDT

To all that are struggling with teenaged girl stepchildren - do not fear! I read the posts with interest - I think what you need to remember first and formost is that the behavior is probably due primarily to the fact they are female and teenagers! I have three biological kids - two boys and a girl. I had some issues with the boys, but BY FAR the girl has been the hardest - and all of my friends are having MAJOR problems with their daughters! So don't take it personally - it probably has more to do with teen angst than step issues!
It is daunting, for sure. I am going to get married in June to a man with 2 kids, an almost 12yr old girl and a 10 year old boy. The boy has some developmental issues, and has not presented any opposition to our relationship. The girl, however, has been very manipulative and devisive. Her father and I know that her behavior comes from her pain and loss, and the step parent book from this site really help put things into perspective. But boy, knowing that I am going to have TWO teen girls - Lord, give me strength!
The other challenge I would like to see addressed - the bio mom is really dysfunctional, lives a very wicked life, has totally different standards. How do you hold the line without appearing to be against the other parent personally? For instance I try to keep clothes modest, feminine, and give the girls some since of pride in that - but it is a struggle with the soon to be step daughter, whose mom runs around in VERY provocotive clothing, with her parts hanging out. So when we address the daughter when she is wearing low, low cut blouses, she will say "mom lets me wear this". My thought is that somehow we need to get her to have the self-esteem and self-worth to WANT to stay pure. Thoughts, anyone?
#35: by Renee on 04.16.2008 @ 09:55am CDT

I am a full-time stepmom of 3 and biological mom of 2 of my own (all living with us). The ages of my stepchildren are 11, 12 and 14. I am really having difficulty with the relationship with my 14 year old stepdaughter. We have been a family for almost 5 years and it seems to be getting worse instead of better with her & my relationship. In my eyes, she is very angry at her mom for leaving the family, then the divorce & her dad's remarriage to me. I feel like quite often her anger is directed at me and I tend to take it personal (even though I know I shouldn't.) She only gets to see her mom about once a month (only from Sat afternoon - til Sunday evening) and that time is with her 2 younger siblings too. The only time she gets with just her & her mom is each year for her birthday her mom takes her for a couple of days. And in my eyes the lack of time with her mom is getting more & more difficult for her as she gets older. She is strong willed (as am I) and also a disrespectful person and we have not developed a good relationship over the past years. My current dilemna is that she plays on a softball team on the same days as her younger sister so their dad cannot be in both places. I don't know if she wants me to be there - last year when I attended her events without her dad,she later commented that it was weird to see me there but not her mom. (her mom lives 2 hours away & seldom makes it to any of her events)...and now she hardly can answer me when I say 'hi' and try to make conversation...so I'm really struggling what to do - do I go to her events when her dad is at her sister's or not? Her dad has talked to her about this and made it clear that I would like to come, but I don't want to make her uncomfortable...she told him it's fine if I come, but when she hardly can talk to me at home (it's like I don't exist to her at home)...it really makes me wonder where I stand with her. These issues also tend to cause issues between her dad & I as he is very protective of his children. Suggestions and comments would be appreciated. Thanks.
#34: by mary on 04.09.2008 @ 11:06am CDT

Thank you all for making me feel like I am not the only person in the world experiencing step children issues. My husband and I have been married 2 years now. My step children ( 17 & 21) are disrespectful and make me feel like an outsider also.
I don't expect my step children to like me but to treat me worse than the checker at the grocery is horrible. I have tried to do the things that their mother should be doing...oh yeah, she is remarried and lives in another town, and am met with anger or resentment. When it comes to volunteering they don't want me to help with activities so I don't but then I am criticized by the bio mom for not caring for her kids. The bio mom is a master of manipulation and passive aggressive behavior. It is a very frustrating situation to live in. Sometimes I think that other people forget that at a certain point children know when they are doing/treating someone poorly. Why do I say this? Well, would they treat a teacher the way they treat me? NO! I have had my husband's family members tell me to be patient and not to let it bother me but these are not treated rudely all of the time.
I love my husband and I value my marriage. I hope for a light at the end of the tunnel. I pray to be able to make a difference for these kids but I must say that I am also relieved that one is off at college and the other will be leaving for school next year.
#33: by Cindy on 04.09.2008 @ 10:32am CDT

Dear tryingtounderstand: thank you for clarifying, and for your openness in sharing this. It's completely understandable that you feel hurt and insulted - anyone would.

I haven't walked in your shoes, so I don't want to "preach" anything to you. But what I can offer is gentle encouragement to try to keep your hurt feelings away from any communications with your kids. Although it causes you pain, if they choose to call this woman "Momma" - and they (the kids) are comfortable with it, and are not being pressured to do so - it's better to not make an issue of it with them. It would just tear them apart further than living through a divorce already has, especially if they're old enough to be aware of the circumstances of your divorce.

Remind yourself every day: you are, and will always be, their first and #1 Mom. That's a priceless honor that she will never have.

Also, be thankful (as I'm sure you are) to be rid of this man who cheated on you! Focus on YOUR health and happiness, and on continuing a wonderful relationship with your kids. Good luck to you.
#32: by tryingtounderstand on 04.08.2008 @ 08:12pm CDT

Perhaps I am jealous and bitter because the woman whom my children now refer to as "Momma" is the woman that my former husband was having an affair with. The fact that they chose to even refer to her as a maternal figure is hurtful and insulting to me.
#31: by Cindy on 04.07.2008 @ 06:47pm CDT

Dear tryingtounderstand: I am wondering if you actually read Gayle's post, or if instead you read INTO her response some things that weren't there at all. NOTHING that she said implied whatsoever that you're a bad mother. The only thing that's bad is harboring such a degree of bitterness and jealousy - it can't be good for you, and thus it can't be good for your kids. May I ask why you feel so bitter and jealous? What causes this insecurity that you seem to feel?

Look at it this way: if you have a good relationship with your kids, you will ALWAYS have the "upper hand" because you are the bio mom. Even women who DON'T have a good relationship with their bio kids still have this primal loyalty advantage. And it's not wrong at all for your kids to also have a good relationship with their stepmom - in fact, I would think any bio mom would be GLAD for this. It's good and healthy for the kids!

Also, please consider a bit of different perspective: imagine what it feels like to raise kids that you love and care about, for whom you do everything (cleaning, cooking, chauffering, homework help, sickness, doctors' appts, shopping, attending their events, etc.). In other words, being a "mom" in every sense - except the giving birth part.

Now to that, add how it would feel to be told "you're NOT the mom" and "they are NOT your kids" by everyone around you - when you're the female head of your house, you do all these "mom" things and you feel real love and pride for your kids. It's not about being "denied" a title, it's about being diminished and marginalized as a person. Oh, don't forget living every day with the knowledge that your kids' bio mom sees you as a threat and would like nothing more than to have you disappear.

Now on top of all this, add how it would feel to desperately want to have a child of your own, but be unable to have any. Imagine having to cope with the hard truth that your stepkids are the only kids you'll ever have - and yet you'll NEVER get to be the "full" mom. I can tell you, this item alone causes unbearable pain.

I don't mean to dismiss your problems and pain, but please, THANK GOD you're not in this stepmother's shoes. I wouldn't wish my situation on anyone. As a bio mom, you already have the most precious thing: your children, and their permanent love and loyalty. Don't begrudge the other woman who's also raising your kids if they happen to call her "mom."
#30: by tryingtounderstand on 04.07.2008 @ 12:06am CDT

Gayle in Florida
I am focusing on my children and am trying to raise them to be productive adults. Yes - I am bitter and jealous of this woman whom I share the title Mom. I guess - according to you - that makes me a bad mother.
#29: by Susan on 04.06.2008 @ 10:29am CDT

Everyone-
I appreciate all your comments. They hit home over and over for me. I married a wonderful Christian man 2 years ago. He has 3 daughters, I have 3 sons. The girls lost their mother to cancer 6 years ago and the oldest 2 dropped out of school and picked an alternative lifestyle much to their father's dismay. Although my oldest 2 were challenges as teens, they finished highschool and are doing well. We have 2- 14 year olds left in the home. Actually we have 1 14 yo daughter. My 14 yo son wanted to spend 8th grade with his father and I felt this was the best for him. He is doing very well. I felt in my heart that I didn't want him to grow up with the behavior that was allowed in the 14yo daughter. She is allowed to control our home with her moods and dishonors me. I arranged braces, glasses, piano lessons, acne treatment, guitar lessons, take her shopping, on and on. I fix healthy meals, try to encourage healthy choices. She will behave in disrespectful ways and then I feel like the 'mean one' because I can't ignore it. Her father believes this is just adolescent behavior and also gives her excuses because she 'misses her mom'. There has never been an apology. I also believe I will be used as the reason she makes bad choices or runs away. If I don't say anything to her dad, I feel bad, and I feel bad if I say something because I can sense the wall going up. I feel I am excluded from their 'family' every day of my life in this home. Or when the daughter is in a bad mood, she is allow to act cranky around everyone at whim. My husband doesn't see it. And, I feel angry a lot. It's hard to have a relationship with my husband when I'm mad or feel his bond with his daughter is stronger than his bond with me. I want him to have a strong bond with me as well as his daughter. Most of the time I want to run away. We have planned to set up times with our marriage pastor and it never gets done. I do love my husband and will do what I can to make things better but feel like I'm in this alone. I know counseling is important but was wondering what else others do to handle this stuff.
#28: by Cindy on 04.05.2008 @ 06:21pm CDT

This is in reply to many who have written since my last post, but especially to "A secure stepmom of 10 years:"

I completely agree with you that the goal in a stepfamily is to bring all the broken pieces to peace, and to not make anyone feel left out or insignificant, regardless if they are step or bio. I believe in this, and it's what I've tried to do as best I can for the last 6 years. Unfortunately, I am the only member of my family who has.

How I wish I had the kind of cooperation and loving, giving attitudes you seem to have in your family. How I wish that the members of my family would follow Christian example. In my case, I face not only the insecurities and over-reach of my stepkids' bio mom, I have an unbelievably immature and insecure husband, who often goes out of his way to make me feel insignificant - often in front of the kids. I have been told multiple times (including just the other night) to "know my place," that "you're not the mom," etc. - directly by my husband and kids, and indirectly by the bio mom.

It's very hard, if not impossible, for a stepparent to create and live a healthy family environment if you don't have the understanding and cooperation of your spouse. The kids will ALWAYS side with (and sometimes imitate) the bio parent, no matter how horrible he/she is being to the stepparent. I can't even count the number of times my husband has gotten furious about something and actively encouraged the kids to act in a "us vs. you" mode toward me.

I've had to work so hard just to be heard in my own home. I have done so much for my stepkids, yet my actions and sacrifices have been blatantly discounted or dismissed. I constantly have to stand up for myself when I'm disrespected by my husband or the kids. Because I show emotions much more than either my husband or his ex-wife (I won't just keep quiet when enduring emotional abuse), I've been labeled THE problem, unstable, you name it. I stand up for myself because it's simply wrong to be treated and spoken to the way I am, and because just laying down and taking it is a horrible example for the kids. I don't want them growing up thinking it's acceptable to treat ANY human being that way - much less a spouse/parent - nor do I want them thinking it's OK if someone else treats them that way.

I wish to God my husband would accept the "family pyramid" that's been mentioned here: God first, husband & wife second, and everything else trailing behind. But he has made a point of telling me I'm NOT the priority, that the kids are.

"Plugging away... STILL" says that "if your husbands aren't taking a stand with you and standing by you through all of this I have only one thing to say -- you can't be mad solely at the child. They are children. Your spouse is grown and if he doesn't know better yet, it is your job to teach him. You MUST insist that he correct and/or support your corrections every time they happen." I have TRIED for 6 years to teach him, and not only is he unwilling (or unable) to learn, he flat-out refuses, resists, and fights with me about this. He refuses to see a counselor to help him work out his inner demons and gain some control over his anger and vindictive impulses.

I just share all this to let others know that it's sometimes not as simple as praying and forgiveness. There are sometimes monstrous obstacles to creating and living a happy life in a stepfamily, and the stepparent can't necessarily manage, control or otherwise do anything about them.
#27: by A secure stepmom of 10 years on 04.04.2008 @ 05:12pm CDT

I have been in a blended, mutual family for 10 years. My comments are not meant to "step" on anybody's views. In many cases where children call their stepparents "mom" or "dad," there seems to be issues that deal with selfishness, jealousy, or insecurity. I have a 13 year old who calls his dad's wife mom. She has been a very intricate part of his life since he was two years old. I am secure by the fact that I gave birth to this child and I am not running a competition with his stepmother. I have told him that he has a mother biologically and one by marriage. He also refers to my husband as "dad." His biological dad does not have a probem with it either. As biological parents we perfer our child to respect our spouses as much as he would respect us. In times past, there have been problems but we have never involved the our son in our matters. We have all built and establised a working relationship to co-parent as a team. This is hard at first but gets easier with time. On the other hand my step-daughter started off calling me mom. Her mother was never comfortable with it. I have always understood why but I chose not to complain or make a big deal out of it. It does not in any way prevent me from being good to her and treating her as if she was my own daughter. I honor her on her birthdays, give gifts for the holidays, stay involved in her schooling and spiritual life, and I am sure to give her the things that I give my sons. Sometimes we have good times and some times we have bad times. The ups and downs are in every family in some fashion. The best thing to do if you are on any side-bio or step, is to not think of what you get but to focus on what needs to be given im any circumstance. This takes much prayer and a willing, giving,loving, kind and forgiving heart. This is essentially the formula that helps a step or blended family surivive the frustration that comes along with a second chance family while on the rollercoaster. The goal in a step-family is to bring all the broken pieces to peace and to not make anyone feel insignificant irregardless if they are step or bio. They are simply to be included. Since I have chosen not to allow the challenges to interfere with me doing good to those whose lives God placed in my hands, I see progress and I see my stepdaughter's mother accepting me as an important person in her child's life. My stepdaughter was four years old when her dad and I got married. She immediately called me mommy. When she turned nine she and her mother decided that it was best for to not call be mom. I respect her as my stepdaughter's mother and she respects me as my husband's wife. Today my step daughter is 14. She does not refer to me by any name. I chose not to let this bother me. After all it could be far worse. However, she does refer to me as stepmom when indtroducing, commenting or writing to her friends, teachers or relatives, etc.If all else fails, we can simply turn to respect. We have love in our hearts for each other and respect in our character. I alway reinforce my self with the fact that I am not in competition with my daughter's mother nor am I in a struggle for power over my stepdaughter. I keep my focus on the needs as opposed to the competition or power struggles. I don't have time to play, win, lose or draw. If something happened to my family I believe we would all lose. So to anyone step or bio, please focus on the needs and set aside any feelings or actions that tend to make anyone feel left out or insignificant. This would be my advice to anyone involved in a stepfamily or blended family.Look at this way, Jesus, our savior had a stepfather. I don't recall there being any confusion about the roles or the names. So, let's use Jesus and Joseph's relationship as our examples of how a step or blended family is to function.
#26: by Gayle in Florida on 04.04.2008 @ 08:42am CDT

I've read all the comments and certainly can identify with most of them! I 'inherited' my stepdaughter at age 14, so I was thrust into the teen years + stepparent arena right away. We had established a decent, often laughter-filled, relationship prior to the marriage, and life post-wedding started out okay, if not without the usual daily glitches (waking her for school, homework, too much time spent on the internet, not doing household chores, etc.). She lived with us even though her mother has full custody because her mother didn't want the responsibility
and there was friction between my stepdaughter and her stepfather.
There was still plenty of interference from the bio mom, who exhibited her extreme jealousy of me by making snide, rude comments to her daughter, who she knew would pass them back to me. She complained that our honeymoon was using the daughter's "inheritance" (my father & I paid for it), she sniped about my hair (?), just about everything I did or said became the subject of ridicule and derision. The part that rankled me the most was my husband's lack of response. I expected him to be my defense team, but he was so passive! When I accused him of "throwing me under the bus" he said his silence was to show her that nothing she said bothered him, when in fact, it did. I paraphrased Elie Wiesel, saying to be silent is to encourage, not discourage. To her, his doing nothing meant he was weak and a push-over, and the attacks escalated. I also begged him to read Ron's book; I threatened to leave my husband if he didn't get some backbone. Well, he FINALLY conceded; I said, "You're afraid you'll see yourself in this book, because you ARE in there." And here is Ron's article this month about parents who wimp out-that was my husband! He didn't know what to do, didn't know where to seek help, so he did nothing. He looked at me as his "saving grace" and the responsibility (without authority) for his daughter became mine. There's nothing like a great book and some Christian counseling to correct this notion :) He learned about the "family pyramid" of God first, husband & wife second, and everything else trailing behind. He had allowed his child to take over, so much that other people referred to her as his 'wife.' Naturally, here I come, stepping (no pun intended)right smack into this dysfunctional scene. I gave serious thought to having the marriage annulled and leaving; so much disrespect all around.

Fast forward 2 years....my stepdaughter got herself a one-way ticket to her mother's for calling me foul names and trying to make her father "choose" between the two of us (when he 'chose' me, she rose to the occasion by calling me a f****** whore, whereupon he grabbed her by the shirt and threw her out the door).
I fell apart emotionally. I ranted at God, I begged Him for help, I cried all the time. And, I prayed for her to have a change of heart. We had zero contact for 6 months when.....she wrote me a note saying she missed me, missed our talks, missed how I never judged her, never lied to her, etc. She said she would understand if I never wanted to have anything to do with her....it was as close to an apology as I was going to get. That was 3-1/2 mos. ago (she's now 16-1/2). We now spend time together whenever she's free. I've taken her shopping, we've eaten out a few times, we've cried together about these unspoken circumstances. Our relationship will never be the same, but it is comfortable. There is more respect, I think. Living with her mother has been a sobering experience, plus I think just growing up and gaining a little maturity has helped. Her mother has even loosened up; we are by no means friends (ha ha!), but the attacks stopped and I can be polite :) I even pray for her, too, which is a BIG step for me!

Just one comment for Tryingtounderstand: I sensed a great deal of bitterness and jealousy in your paragraph. While I can understand a little of it (Mom vs. MOM), I think you're making too much of it. My sister-in-law's children referred to her as "Old Mommy" while the stepmother became "New Mommy." They are in their 20s now and still refer to them that way. My stepdaughter calls me Gayle; we decided early on that she could call me whatever she wanted (other than an epithet); personally, I'm not comfortable with 'Mom' and she has never called me that. Don't place so much importance and value on this. Focus on what's really important - the kids! Worry less about who gets what title, and worry about their upbringing. I've told my stepdaughter that I'm just trying to prepare her for the outside world. I want to give her the skills to survive out in the jungle. I want her to be a productive citizen. I want her to have morals, and good judgement, make sound decisions, keep her word. It's unimportant to me what she calls me while I'm trying to get her to that place.

God bless all of you (should I say, all of us?)and keep writing. I learn so much from this forum. I especially like to know that there really is a light at the end of the stepparent tunnel, and it isn't from an oncoming train!
#25: by Toni on 04.02.2008 @ 01:34pm CDT

After 7 years and alot of Grace and Mercy given to me and granted by me on this Step Family Rollercoaster ride... I understand that often it's just doing what God instructs because HE SAID SO!

These days I stop myself when my feelings are being hurt by my 3 step children or my husband and challenge myself... bibilical principles are not based upon feelings... therefore I shouldn't base my reactions on my emotions either. It is terribly challenging but it's the right thing to do. I hope that came out alright...

Lastly... early on I read a nice book about StepMother/StepDaughter relationships... it really buoyed my spirts... Stepmothers and Stepdaughters: Relationships of Chance, Friendships for a Lifetime
by Karen L. Annarino, Jean M. Bloomquist

I do things for all our children without any expectation of kindness or gratitude these days because it's the Right thing to do... I may never receive any appreciation but what I'm doing is service to God... he'll discuss it with me when I get to Heaven.

I hope that helps... once I gave it all over to God things have gone much better for me and my family. Things still hurt... now I take time out to "deal with my emotions"... sometimes it takes days before I'm ready to listen to the Lord... once I do he takes it and "His will is done" not mine to resolve the situation.

God Bless and be patient... good things come to those who wait!
#24: by Lynn C. on 04.02.2008 @ 10:58am CDT

I have read all the comments and can identify with most of them. I have been married to my husband for 15 years. Six children between the two of us that we have had full custody of the entire time. I struggled in the beginning mostly because of the sheer work involved in raising 6 kids. They were 3,4,5,6,8, and 10 when we married. The bio-mom walked out on her 4 sons. My ex was an alcoholic and what started out as joint custody ended when their safety came into question during their visits with him. We lived as one family; the other 2 parents had basically abandoned them. The problems were still there. "you're not my mom" or "you're not my dad" came up several times. My reply was always, "I am the mom in this house." My stepsons didn't call me mom at first, and I never asked them to. After we had been married a little over a year, one by one they started calling me mom on their own. Which infuriated their mother on the rare occasions that she would call. She didn't see them more than a couple of times when they were young, but when they were in high school, she allowed the 2 middle sons to live with her for a semester (at different times of course). When each of them returned is when the problems got so bad I thought my marriage was over. She told them that I was not their mother and that they didn't have to listen to me. At 16 or 17, you'd think they wouldn't fall for that, but they did. All of a sudden, the rules in our house went out the window as far as they were concerned, and my husband didn't seem willing to discipline them at all. The disrespect was rampant. The second oldest, Adam, and I had 2 years of constant arguing, because I wouldn't treat him any different than I would my own children. He was misbehaving and I wasn't going to let it go without addressing it. It was rough for a couple of years...so bad I wanted to leave. But I realized that the hardest times were going to be over soon, the children would be grown and gone, and I still wanted to grow old with my husband. Adam was angry with me for anything and everything. He graduated and left for boot camp right after. In 2005, the night before he had to leave for Iraq, he was allowed 2 hours phone time. He didn't call his mom or his dad. He called me. He talked to me for 2 hours, telling me how sorry he was for his behavior and thanking me for at least trying to keep him in line and for taking him to church where he accepted the Lord. He said he knew that whatever happened in Iraq, he knew he was loved and that God would be with him. After that call, I knew that every minute of being a stepmom was worth it. I still had 4 more teenagers to struggle through, and next month, our youngest will graduate high school and head off to college, and I can say that we survived. We've made it through 5 highschool graduations, one college graduation, 3 USMC boot camp graduations, 2 weddings, and now have 2 granddaughters. So, to all stepmoms out there: hang in there, you'll survive too. I know this has been long, thank you for your patience and allowing me to share my story.
#23: by Plugging away . . . STILL!! on 04.02.2008 @ 10:53am CDT

To all of those frustrated, disrespected and feeling unloved step-mom's out there . . . if your husband's aren't taking a stand with you and standing by you through all of this I have only one thing to say -- you can't be mad solely at the child. They are children. Your spouse is grown and if he doesn't know better yet, it is your job to teach him. You MUST insist that he correct and/or support your corrections every time they happen. I have been married for 10 years now and we have a his/mine/ours situation at our house. I have let my step-children tear my relationship with my husband to shreds. About three months ago it got to such a poor state that I went as far as to see an attorney before my husband realized how serious I was. We have had and continue to have a lot of discussion about this very thing. He let guilt over take him and let way too many behaviors go unpunished because of that guilt yet punished our children regularly for the same behaviors. He wasn't only hurting me but he was hurting our kids by doing this and creating monsters in my step-children. We have spent the past three months in intense Christian therapy and our counselor said one of our biggests faults was putting our children's happiness before our own. Our second fault was not supporting one another IN FRONT of the kids. He has told my husband to stop turning a deaf ear to the disrespect in our home. ITS NOT ACCEPTABLE from any of our kids. He must begin to correct it himself and/or stand physically by my side (when possible) when I am correcting his children. Only when we put up a united front in front of our children -- all of the children -- will things begin to get better and the games will stop. I was tired of putting my happiness behind the happiness of my step-children. I can't build a love relationship when my husband puts them at the top of his priority list. The pyramid should have God at the top, my husband and I second and the kids at the bottom. We have heard it more than once but never did it that way. I'm happy to say that my husband is coming around. It took both of us a while to realize that if we didn't fix this we were heading down a road of distruction and then everyone was going to suffer. Stop wishing away the lives of your step-children (as I have done plenty of) waiting for your happiness to arrive. Do something about it. Pray, communicate with your spouse and FIX THIS! Good luck and God Bless!
#22: by Pat on 04.02.2008 @ 10:47am CDT

WOW! Thank you all for sharing your stories. I am so grateful for this resource.
I was divorced with no kids when I married a wonderful man, also divorced with two boys, at the time 6 and 11. Talk about a life change. The mom uses the boys to achieve her goals; she esp. loves hurting my husband with them. God gave both boys beautiful hearts and despite all the ongoing disturbances the ex tries to stir up, we've basically got a very good relationship.
Not to say that it isn't the hardest thing I've ever faced, and I definitely need God's strength, love and mercy, because my own is way to little.
My oldest stepson - very very preteen that he is - absolutely made my day when he told his Dad that he would miss both of us while away with their mom. I'm learning what an amazing treasure that is!
One thing I lose sight of sometimes is that these kids face unbelievable challenges with the people that they should be loved by, accepted by, and be able to trust the most. When I get hurt or frustrated, I try very hard to remember that and pray.
Thank you for helping me to feel "normal" in this bizarre world or at least not alone!
#21: by Tracy on 04.02.2008 @ 10:32am CDT

I'm new to being a step mom and never realized what a challenging job it was going to be. I have a 14 year old and 12 year old step son who barely speak to me yet live with us full time. I have 2 children of my own so we live in a house very divided right now. How do you show love for children who want nothing to do with you? How do you deal with the heartache and disappointment of a divided household instead of a united family?
#20: by Lisa on 04.02.2008 @ 10:31am CDT

I liked what #15 (Dianna) had to say about feeling that all the years being put into being a stepmom have been for nothing. Five years ago I brought 2 children into our marriage and my husband brought 2 children (daughters) the same age as mine. My kids see their Dad on a regular basis (every other weekend, some weeknight evenings), but we have his 2 all the time because their Mom decided she couldn't be bothered with them anymore. They may see her once a year if they're lucky. This is very stressful for me (they are now 15 and 18) as I'm the only female parent they have, but yet they would never consider me as their "Mom". I do everything for them that a real Mom would and make sure that I treat all 4 kids the same across the board, but I often get the attitude that they're only putting up with me because I'm married to their Dad. It is hard not to feel resentful and used, especially when I'm in the trenches and their bio-Mom gets to act like one of their teen friends when they do get together (which just makes her look all the better in their eyes--I'm the "mean" one). She doesn't have to make the hard parenting decisions or be involved in any way. I just hope, as some of the others have said, that years from now they may realize that I stuck by them through sicknesses, concerts, games, haircuts, sleepovers, driving lessons, meals, chauffering, etc. Right now I feel like I'm expected to act as their Mom, but I'm not allowed to actually be their Mom (does that make sense?). I don't want to take their Mom's place (as uninvolved as she is), but I would like some appreciation and sharing of their private lives. At the beginning I was accused of "trying too hard" so now I just do what I'm supposed to and wait until they decide to throw me a morsel. It's as though I'm not allowed to talk to them the way I can talk to my own kids, but I'm expected to DO everything for them. Being a stepmom is the most difficult thing I've ever done and I often feel like I'm not doing it well, but my husband and I are committed to each other and to our family and I know that God will see us through this.
#19: by Lisa H. on 04.02.2008 @ 09:57am CDT

My response is to Cindy (Message #14)

I know oh too well what you are talking about with all your emotions. The insecurities of biomom. I am stepmom to 14 and 6 year old girls. I have a pretty strong relationship with the 6 year old because I have been in her life since about she was about a year old but she makes is clear to people when they say something about me being her mom that I am not her mom I am her STEPMOM. As you mentioned this is coming from the insecurities of her biomom, otherwise this distinction would not have been made. When brought to the attention of my husband, he simply remarks that I am her stepmom, which hurts me because I am the one that does everything for the girls, for example cooks, cleans up after them, take them shopping for school clothes, etc... I do not want to replace their mother and do not expect to replace biomom, but when the 6 year old questioned me as to calling me mom I told her that was her choice, now with biomom intervention I am Lisa to her.
The 14 year old is another story totally. She is so loyal to biomom that it seems like whatever I try I can not break the barrier to have a real relationship. I am just there to hand out money so biomom can take her shopping for clothes and cook for her when she is at our house. I am deeply hurt over this as I try to do the special things for her as well as the younger one, but feel like I get nothing in return because biomom is "cool and her best friend" I just wish I could find a happy medium somewhere.
Biomom has insecurity issues with thinking people perceive her as a bad mother, which she brings a lot of that on herself because of the way she acts and treats the 6 year old verse the 14 year old, who is cool to hang around with and biomom can relive her teenhood through the 14 year old.
Again just want Cindy to know she is not alone in her feeling of doing all the work but not getting full reward, I am in the same position, but I know one day whether it be the girls who acknowledge or God I will eventually be rewarded for my efforts. And Cindy if you were blessed with your own children, you would go through some of the same emotions as with stepchildren as far as appreciation for what you do.
#18: by Debbie on 04.02.2008 @ 07:33am CDT

To the bio Moms out there, I just want to say, that yes it does hurt to hear your child call someone else mom. My son, who lives with his father, calls the woman in his dad's life mom. It wasn't his choice, they told him to call her that. They are not even married, just living together. Yes, it hurts. But, I thank God that if my son is going to call another woman "mom", it's her. I have known her for about 13 years and I know she treats him as one of her own children. I know her heart and it's in the right place.
I also had a stepmom growing up. My parents divorced when I was two years old and my dad remarried. I lived with my mother, but when I did go see my dad, my stepmom always treated me as one of her own...she gained my respect by doing that. To the stepmoms out there...keep up the good work!
#17: by Joanne on 04.02.2008 @ 05:47am CDT

Thank you for the inspiring stories. Step parenting is one of the hardest jobs I will ever do but so rewarding at the same time. Those little things really do mean a lot to these kids whose lives are so complicated. Making a point of bonding with your stepchildren on whatever level works for both of you is so important. There are always lines that cannot be crossed but mostly love works out all the kinks.
#16: by Mere on 04.01.2008 @ 08:01pm CDT

I guess I've always accepted family to be defined very losely and yet still very strong and sacred. My adoptive parents rarely spent time with me when I was young and I felt "adopted" by other families that would bring me on their family trips.

I am quite new to this step family and parenting thing. But my goal is to make us parents out to be a united force- "step" or biological. When I gently discipline the children, I say "how would your mother (and father) handle this?". The oldest said that she loves me as a stepmother. I'm not looking for them to call me "Mom", but more for their shows of affection.. like a hug or peck on the cheek.

I have a daughter, and I know I'll be hurt if she calls someone else "Mom". But, I've evolved my thinking to have the attitude that if another woman loves my daughter as much as I do, my daughter will be blessed with that much more love. And how can more love be bad? As long as her stepmom doesn't badmouth me, I envision being a friendly person to that other lady, once she becomes a significant part of my daughter's life.
#15: by Dianna on 04.01.2008 @ 04:43pm CDT

This is for the lady who wrote about still feeling like an outsider even after all these years. I, too, feel that all the years I have put into being a stepmom have been for nothing. However, don't give up on your marriage. It is not your cross to bear as a stepmom. You just have to find the strength to accept what you cannot change. That is what has freed me from much of my anger. I had to come to realize that each day, there will be issues and problems that I can not change. Yes, they effect me and my life but I can't change them. It is not much different than any other thing in our life. Problems at work, etc will affect us but we are sometimes powerless to change them. What we can change and what we must change is our way of thinking. We must begin to realize that we can only change ourselves and the way we handle issues. This is tough for me and I struggle each day. But, I know that God and only God can give me the strength to endure this battle. I hope you find the strength to go on. You are a valuable person but you must believe that even if you aren't valued by others, you are valued from yourself...
#14: by Cindy on 03.31.2008 @ 08:01pm CDT

I have read Jeannie's post and all the comments with great interest. As a stepmom for 6 years with (sadly) no bio-kids of my own, I know every bit of heartache that comes with this territory. At least in my experience and observation, insecurity seems to be the common denominator in a stepfamily... the stepparent constantly tries to define his/her role, the biological parent worries about "losing" the kids' love or loyalty, the kids struggle with loss, loyalty and uncertainty.

I've lived the whole "calling the stepmom 'Mom'" issue and heard all the heated opinions about it - all of which is rooted in insecurity. When my husband and I decided to marry, I already had a good (if rather superficial) relationship with my stepkids, ages 8 and 6. They had actually started to call me "mom" occasionally - THEIR choice. As we planned our wedding, my husband gently and lovingly talked with the kids about our changing family and having 2 moms - his father is remarried, so the kids already knew this example and seemed open and comfortable with the concept.

That is, of course, until they spoke with their biological mother. The next time we had the kids, they said to us, "Mom said that as far as she's concerned, SHE's the mom." Well, that was that. They never called me mom again - they've only called me by my first name for the last 5+ years. Even when they "slip" and say "mom" to me, they go out of their way to correct themselves, because what their biological mother said to them makes them now and forever afraid of being "disloyal" to her if they call me "mom" or even think of me that way. Talk about manipulation!

No one ever told or even encouraged my stepkids to call me "mom." They did so by their own choice, until an adult imposed her insecurities on them and "guilted" them into changing their behavior. What is the hang-up with the title? And beyond that, why do so many biological mothers feel the need to meddle and control what's going on their kids' lives when they're with their father? I'm so tired of hearing my husband's ex-wife talk about how she's "looking out for the best interests of the kids," because in so many instances, the only interests she's looking out for are her own insecurities.

The name thing is just one among many lousy issues. How many of you stepmoms also deal with the anguish and heartbreak of infertility... your husband's unresolved guilt and anger from his first marriage, which bleed into your marriage and make things very difficult, very often... the fact that in practice, you do everything a biological mother does, and love and care for your stepkids, yet get reminded daily that you're "not the mom"... increasing disrespect from the stepkids, which mostly goes unchecked by your husband, as they get older and learn how to play one parent/household against the other.

For me, life as a stepmom has meant constant, steep sacrifice, and swallowing my pride and dignity. I get blamed as cause or catalyst of everyone else's troubles and insecurities. I do the full work of parenting but never experience the full rewards of it. And I try to reconcile all this with a deep longing and emptiness inside, because I've wanted to be a biological mother my entire life, and I grew up seeing this as my destiny. Not only has this been denied me, by God and my husband (who won't agree to the medical intervention that offer my last hope of conceiving) - but the thankless, stress-filled role of stepmom too often makes me feel a permanently second-class citizen in the family I do have.

There is just so much to deal with, and so little support. I appreciate being able to vent. Thank you for your patience.
#13: by Frustrated on 03.25.2008 @ 10:36pm CDT

I love my stepchildren and they love me, but their bio Mom refuses to except me as part of their life. I came into their lives 8 years ago and the kids were 7(stepson) and 5(twin girls). I have a great relationship with the kids and my husband, BUT CONSTANT PROBLEMS WITH THEIR MOM. She says that I am not part of the kids family. They already have a mom! I agree and I am not trying to be their mom, but I am their step mom and I love them and they love me, but she can't stand it and the kids are teens now and are getting as frustrated as their father and I. In her eyes they have a mom, a dad, a step dad and their dad has a wife! A couple years ago we learned that the girls had been sexually molested at their moms house by their step dads son. Their mom was home and didnt realize what was happening right under her nose. When this all came out things with her got worse!!! Counselors have told us it is because she feels so guilty for not knowing it was happening that it has filled her with even more insecurities and that she fears the kids will love me more and that I will in some way replace her. I have assured her over and over again that I am not nor could I ever replace her, but she refuses to believe that. I do alot of special little events(tea parties, pizza night etc) with the kids and these are the things that bother her. I have tried everything to please her and help her to feel secure, but I now am trying to just focus on my husband and the kids or she will tear us all apart.
#12: by Jeannie on 03.14.2008 @ 04:15pm CDT

Dear Tryingtounderstand, I hope that I did not come across wrong in my journal that I entered. I wanted to give Stepmoms insight on my life. When I typed Mom, I meant my MOM (not stepmom). My MOM was a great mother and has always been there for me. She has always been thankful that God gave me a good stepmother. Now if I go into my Mom's battles, she has been there with some of you where my MOM was a stepmom to 3 boys and raised them through their childhood. Now they have nothing to do with her since the marriage disolved. I have seen her struggles and battles.
I am so blessed that in my life that my mom and my stepmom have been able to communicate and go the same functions and help in things and functions.

As for the calling a stepmom - Mom. I have never asked my stepson to call me that. I am Mrs. Jeannie to him, the same as my stepmom is Mrs.... to me. I do sign cards to SMom and direct her as Mom at times when in front of my half-brother.

New Stepmom - Hang in there! Try your best and your mothering skills will come. I know when the day comes and I become a true mother, that I will try make the extra effort not to make my stepson feel left out. I know there are times I have failed as the stepmom, just keep going. God will bless us for our efforts!

As I keep remembering - Jesus himself had a step-parent!
May God Bless us all trying daily to be the best parent/stepparent we can be.
#11: by Tricia on 03.12.2008 @ 03:54pm CDT

very encouraging. New to this and was wondering how far giving could go.
#10: by Cristina on 03.10.2008 @ 05:23pm CDT

Hi! I read all of the comments. I think what Jeannie wrote about is awesome about being a step mom and the little things she does. I grew up being very close to my mom, yet I had a step mom and still do since I was 5 yrs old. I never called my step mom "Mom" because of my closeness to my mom and she isn't my mom technically. But I would address cards to her as Mom. She knows I love her like a mom and NEVER disrespected her growing up. I have told my step mom is a second mom to me. My sister who is 2 yrs older than I, did call her mom because she lived with my dad and step mom for a few years. At one point, my dad tried to get me to call her Mom.

I'm single mom of 2 children now and I'm not sure how I'd feel if my children called another woman "mom", but I think at first, I would be hurt, but on the other side, if the lady treats my children well and loves them, I would be happy to have someone to love my children in addition to myself. I know the sting of hearing them call someone else Mom other than me would hurt at first. I do feel the more love a child receives, the better.

Keep doing the great job you do, Moms and Step moms!
#9: by Sue on 03.10.2008 @ 07:47am CDT

My messages is in reply to #5 Frustrated StepMom on 3/6/08 and Tryingtounderstand on 3/8/08.

Message #1:
It sure hurts, doesn't it? I'm going through something similar. I have no children of my own. I bonded with my step-children rather quickly as they were very young 3 and 6. We have been married 9 years. Just this past school year, my step-daughter moved in with us. Her attitude towards me has changed considerable, to my great surprise and shock!!! What once was loving relationship is now strained. This is a new course I'm charting and I'm trying to figure out how best God would have me handle it for my sake and the sake of my step-daughter. I don't appreciate the disrespect and I don't believe in 'enabling' a child to live in this type of sin. I'm told by the experts that the Father is supposed to require his children to respect his wife. This is not the case in my situation. However, I will not allow ANY child I LOVE to treat me disrespectfully. So, I gently correct her when she displays disrespectful attitudes toward me. She will soften at that moment, but I can bank on another opportunity when she will behave unruly. I don't expect her to be sweet as pie to me anymore. It is nice when it happens but I no longer hang my hat on it. I love her deeply, but the relationship is changing. I can no longer put my step-daughter ABOVE my Lord Jesus. I suppose she had become an 'Idol' to me as I worked overtime to build a happy relationship with her. I love peace and I am a peace maker. When it gets 'really' bad, I just walk away until she chooses to calm down and speak to me respectfully.

Message # 2:
I would feel very hurt too if I were you, the bio Mom, and my kids wanted to call their step-Mom "Mom". From the get-go I told my step children, "I'm not your Dad and I'm not your Mom." In the early days, I 'bought' them with my time and attention - that is how I built my relationship with them. My step-daughter wanted to call me "Mom" too. I hope I don't offend anyone with what I'm about to say. In all honesty, I don't believe it is wise to encourage my step-children to call me "Mom" as I am not their "Mom". They have a Mom and a Dad and I need to honor that relationship regardless of how close I am to my step-children. At one time, my step-daughter wanted to call me Mom. I reminded her that she has a MOM and a DAD and I could never take the place of her Mom or her DAD. I told her that being a 'step-Mom' was a great enough honor. :-) However, we are from the south, so I told her most kids call me, "Miss Sara". She is now 12 years old and still calls me "Miss Sara". My step-son wouldn't think of calling me "Mom". When he was in 4th grade, I would go to his class once a week and read to the students. One day, out of nowhere, he got out of his seat and came to the front and sat on my lap while I was reading. He whispered to me that he was happy I came to his class. His kindness that day will always be remembered. So, to both step-Moms and Moms. Moms: Your children will always honor and love you more because you are their MOM! :-) Celebrate that beautiful honor. If you get wind that they are calling their step-Mom "MOM" don't let that get you down as it will change as they mature and grow. Step-Moms: Cultivate respect while showing gentleness and kindness. When they are kind back to you - enjoy it because they will change as they get closer to their teen years and may not feel the same way about you as they did when they were younger.
#8: by tryingtounderstand on 03.08.2008 @ 09:05pm CST

As a biomom I don't understand how not to be offended when my children call their stepmother "Mom" - and then to be told that she isn't trying to upsurp me in my children's lives.
I guess Jeannie's mother should be happy she was at least remembered in the article by her daughter or that she was given credit for "being there".
How insulting to Jeannie's mother.
#7: by New Stepmom on 03.08.2008 @ 03:06pm CST

I need to correct one of my sentences:
It should say: I sometimes feel like my "mothering skills" are NOT very developed.
#6: by New Stepmom on 03.08.2008 @ 03:03pm CST

As a new stepmom without children of my own, it has been difficult because I don't have that "bonded" feeling you get as a mom who has raised a child since birth. I met my stepchildren when they were 7 and 9. I am encouraged to know that it's the little things that children remember. I think I do those things Jeannie mentioned in her article. I just don't always have the feelings I'd like to have. Since I've never been a mother myself, I sometimes feel like my "mothering skills" are very developed. Sometimes I feel like I have to do the "big things" but am glad I really don't. I work with children as a teacher but that, I have found, is different than being a mother.
To the frustrated stepmom, I say hang in there. God sees your efforts and He will reward you. The hard part is...you can't change other people but God can. I feel your pain and pray that God will give you small victories and allow you to see the difference you are making in the lives of your stepchildren.
God says, "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we WILL reap a harvest if we do not give up." (Gal. 6:9)
#5: by frustrated stepmom on 03.06.2008 @ 05:09pm CST

My stepchildren have lived with us during the week and with their mother on weekends as she relinquished custody to my husband. While I have done everything I can think of to make them feel loved, including special days, special treats, special meals, counting the number of pictures in our home that include my biolgical children and the ones that include my stepchildren so they don't feel any favoritism, sending meals, etc. to their biological mother to honor her as their mother, inviting THEIR biological family to our home for special occasions, taking time off from work to be there for their special occasions (graduations, games, etc.), after 10 years, I continue to be an outsider in their eyes, I am frequently disrespected in my own home, and my husband does not address the issues in order to "keep peace" as he carries guilt over his divorce (that he did not ask for in the first place). I am literally hanging by a thread and although we have scheduled visits to our third Christian counselor, I cannot truly say that I am feeling hopeful at this point in time. I LOVE MY HUSBAND DEARLY AND I LOVE MY STEPCHILDREN DEARLY but I don't feel that love is being returned and I don't know what else I can possibly do to change the situation other than to pray, which I have done continually for the past 10 years. Does anyone have any advice on how to lift this cloud of despair or is this just my "cross to bear" as a stepmom for the rest of my life?
#4: by Dori Pulse on 03.06.2008 @ 09:33am CST

I met Ron at an Iowa conference last year. It was the first time I felt total freedom and understanding in a group of people! Simply great to meet him! My two sons were grown when I met and married my husband who had a 12 yr old daughter. I am currently writing a book entitled, "Everything Changed When I Said "I Do"". I am a graduate of Concordia University St. Paul with a Theology major and Psychology minor. Currently in addition to prayerful struggling with writing my book, I am seeking ministry at our church here in Wisconsin to not only help couples with stepfamily marriages, but to also start an indepth program for couples contemplating a stepfamily marriage. If anyone reads this who has felt the pain of "being left out" and unsupported by the biological parent....please feel free to email me. God's peace and blessings, dori:) Email: [email protected]
#3: by Tarita on 03.04.2008 @ 09:52am CST

Thank you for sharing this article. I am a stepmom to a 16 year old boy (who lives solely with his mom) and two girls (ages 12 and 9) including having a 8 year old son of my own. This article is comforting and ever so often I do try to do these special things but often wonder if the girls realize it. The girls asked if they could call me "mom" and I simply told them they could call me what they wanted to - what was in their heart. They now call me mom or mommy. Their real mom got jealous for a while and we discussed it. I think she is ok with it now because I told her I'm not trying to take her place and have talked to the kids about that. Both girls have mentioned to me that they wish I were their real mom and this was their original family. That just melts my heart.

This step-parent ministry offers so much and I look forward to reading it each month. I have Ron Deal's book "The Smart Step Family" and I find it very helpful. My husband wants to read it when I'm done. We are not alone and it helps reading other stories. God bless each of you and the best of luck in your blended families.
#2: by Karen Keith on 03.03.2008 @ 05:32pm CST

I am a stepmom to my husband's 14 year old daughter. I am so grateful for the information offered in this ministry. As the biological mom of three grown children, stepparenting has indeed been so different from raising my own children, and at times very confusing and frustrating. It is comforting to know that the suggestions that Jeannie offered in her article are in fact what I try to do for my stepdaughter. One of the hardest facets of stepparenting is trying not to overstep the "mom" boundary, to be in competition with her biological mom. She is very close to her mother and her mother holds onto her very tightly. It has taken almost 6 years for her and I to form a bond. What helped establish our relationship is that I tried to make holidays and events special for her and we established our own traditions for her to remember. Reading articles like Jeannie's are invaluable to those of us who find ourselves in this strange and different world of stepparenting, not knowing if we are doing this right or not. It's reassuring to know we are not alone and there are others going through exactly the same things.
#1: by Lynda Simpson on 03.03.2008 @ 04:24pm CST

I think that is great!! I am a stepmom and my stepson and I have a great relationship. I feel bad for my stepson though because his mother gets mad at him for having a relationship with me.

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