5 Ways Undermining Bio Moms Haunts Stepmoms

How Sabotaging Bio Moms Haunts Step Moms
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Joining a family is a tricky thing. You worry that you’ll be forever stuck on the outside, looking in. So, you want to please your husband and his children as best possible, solidify your role in the family, and bring stability into your life. If you’re particularly ambitious, you may even be out to heal your new family’s past wounds inflicted by the divorce or ex-wife.

You’re compelled to win everyone over. You won’t settle for “Step-Mom.” “No, call me ‘Super-Mom!’”

There are just a few teensy things in the way.

You’re uncomfortable knowing your husband loved and had a life with another woman, and fear his emotional divorce with his ex-wife is incomplete. After all, if it is, she has power over him. Even worse, she has power over you. Your privacy feels compromised because of the possibility that Big Mother Is Watching You through her junior spies.

It’s all very disconcerting. So disconcerting, in fact, that you may imperil your marriage by making these dire mistakes.

Micromanaging your husband’s communication with his ex.

Woman micromanaging her husband's communication with his ex.

You take control, to be sure your husband’s ex doesn’t manipulate him into doing things that make life easier for her at the expense of your marriage and well-being.

Backlash

Micromanaging his communication with her damages your marriage. He’ll be angry and resent your lack of faith and feel suffocated by your insecurities. He’ll also feel you’re questioning his competence and adequacy at co-parenting. His resultant frustration with you also sends a negative message to children in your family: they see a troubled couple instead of a unified team.

Solution

Trust him and communicate early, transparently, and empathetically. Iron out issues that are important to you with your husband early on, so that he’ll know where you stand on parenting decisions before they come up with his ex. If he’s uncertain about arrangements and time allows, ask him to run it by you before finalizing a decision with his ex wife. Mutual decision may feel a little cumbersome at times, but it’s essential for meaningful, happy relationships.

Forcing the children to follow your rules and dismiss their mother’s.

Woman disciplining her step-child.

You issue these orders, because you know what’s best for the kids better than their mother.

Backlash

You often get the opposite of what you asked for.

Additionally, your step-children become miserable and impact your marriage. Out of the blue, some woman their dad fancies shows up and condescendingly says she knows better than the mother that’s been working out just fine for them thus far. Having followed their biological mother’s rules, they feel attacked too, and grow distant and upset. As they lash out and resist visitation, your husband will be irritated at you for having provoked them, and may withdraw physically and emotionally.

Solution

Don’t share your frustrations over the biological mother with her or the kids. Work things out amongst the adults. Let your husband bear news of issues or changes that need to be made, especially during the first years of the marriage, before bonds of trust are established between you and your step-children.

Downplaying the significance of the biological mother.

Downplaying the Biological Mom's Significance

You refer to your home the “real home,” because you and your husband are “better” parents.

Backlash

You put yourself in direct competition with the BM by saying that their bio mom doesn’t spend enough time with them, is unstable, or doesn’t perform motherly activities. Expecting your step-children to equate your role with hers puts you in a frustrating, no-win situation. Your step-children will be angry and they’ll resent you and possibly your husband for introducing you into their lives.

Solution

Apologize, stop putting the bio mom down, and accept that both homes are important to the children.

Embrace the differences between you and your step-children’s biological mother. They have a bond and a history that you will never share. It’s up to you to create your own with your step-children that will be different from what they share with their mother, not better or worse.

Openly disapproving of the biological mother’s parenting.

Expressing Disapproval of Your Step-Children's Mother in Front of Them? Don't

You call your step-kids’ biological mom out directly or complain about her parenting decisions in front of your step-kids.

Backlash

Your step-children’s cooperation, their bond with you, and their well-being are put at stake when you do this. Life will be difficult. Why?

Your step-kids’ BM will be pissed. She’ll tell them to stop accepting your authority. She may try to alienate you from her kids. It might work.

The children are very protective of their mother and feel it’s their duty to defend her. They’ll be rude and uncooperative because you hurt their bio mom. They’ll also be withdrawn, shying away from family activities, possibly staying in their rooms. Their loyalty to her will also tug opposite their loyalty to you, making it take longer to bond.

Solution

Disengage. Let your husband co-parent with his ex. Apologize to the bio-mom for overstepping your boundaries and giving unsolicited feedback. In a perfect world, you have a good relationship with her, but it can be hard. Try, if you can, to at least be on neutral, cordial terms. Even that much is a big benefit to you and your step-kids.

Making the biological mother a household taboo.

Demanding silence, making the bio-mom a taboo topic.

You forbid your kids from ever talking about their biological mother or keeping a picture of her on display.

Backlash

Your step-children and their bond with you are under fire again. Children, especially before they’re in their teens, see themselves as extensions of their parents. Your rejection of their mother will be seen as a rejection of themselves, leaving them upset, guarded, and withdrawn.

Forbidding your step-children from talking about their biological mother also endangers them. If they have problems they need help with, they’ll be reluctant to approach you or their father, because it’ll validate your position that their bio mom is a bad, incompetent mother.

It also makes it harder for them to transition between households. Kids like sharing what goes on in their lives with their parents. Having to stifle themselves and hide a significant part of their lives burdens them with anxiety. Feeling that something is wrong with their lives and selves also creates a sense of shame, which damages their self-confidence and stunts their emotional development.

Solution

Let your husband set the boundaries for what’s allowed in the home. Allowing the children some transitional items provides them with continuity that makes it easier to move between homes. Something like a picture in their bedroom or an old article of their mother’s clothing can function like a security blanket.

Closing Thoughts

Your main motivation for undermining your step-children’s biological mother stems from insecurity about the relationship he had with her. Focusing on your marriage with sensitivity and kindness will help dispel that insecurity, whereas focusing on his ex-wife just sidetracks you and introduces new problems.

You bond with your step-children much faster by not getting between them and their mother. You’ll also be saving them, your husband, and yourself a lot of pain and frustration. Collaborating with your husband and letting him mediate, helps the whole family live happier lives.


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63 Responses to “5 Ways Undermining Bio Moms Haunts Stepmoms”

  1. Shanny

    You have compiled a very nice list but it is very saintly to be honest. I think I could fallow these steps but I am not sure I could ever apologize to the bio-mom who treats her son more like a part of a collection than a little boy. I don't complain that much in front of my stepson but he knows I am sure about how I feel when 10 people and 4 animals are living in a single wide 3 bedroom trailer. That is where he is 9 months out of the year. I can be kind without placing her on a pedestal. She isn't mother of the year or even a very nice mother but I have learned to accept that he will always see her as the mom even if she doesn't act like one. He will always see me as not the mom, but that he can still love me in his own way. I am still learning not to drive my husband crazy with negative comments about her~slowly I am getting better~slowly.

    Reply
    • Well, since you're not saying anything in front of your step-son or directly to the mother, there's no need to apologize.

      Your stepson's living conditions with his bio-mom sound rather challenging. I'm sure the powerlessness you and your husband are enduring is unnerving. I'm sad to hear that you have to go through that.

      On the up-side, you sound like a very caring and conscientious woman. Your step-son will connect to you that much faster for it. He'll also thank for making he feel loved and safe while growing up, down the line.

      I had a somewhat similar experience with my stepdaughters. Their mother made them feel very anxious. "Mother" wasn't an especially endearing title to them.

      However, they really enjoyed having a stepmom that was caring and advocated for them. Even though you're not necessarily "mother," you can still be a very meaningful anchor in your step-son's life, especially when he feels like you're in his corner, helping fight for him.

      Reply
      • The titles “Stepmom Stepdad” should be abolished. If one of the parents are deceased, then it’s somewhat appropriate. Also, don’t disrespect the biological parent by saying “ex-wife or dad”. So called “experts” think they have all the right answers. This isn’t about whining new wives or husbands thinking they now have children. They are not your kids in any form. I’ve heard kids say they want to go to court to ban the new wife/dad from ever using the titles stepmom/dad. These titles are used much to freely. Generally, the kids don’t have a choice when a parent remarries and then forced, yes, forced to hear step this or that. The mental stress placed on children is horrific. They know who their parents are, certainly not a stranger who seems to think they could just step in and pretend to be an “extra”. All this person is, is dad or mom’s new partner, not a parent to the child who has biological parents. Expect rebellious behavior when you plug in mom or dad because you AREN’T mom or dad. Abolish that thought. Stop causing havoc in children’s lives. It’s cruel confusion to children. Don’t pretend to be what you’re not.

        Reply
  2. I disagree with numbers 2 & 4.
    #2 — In our home it's "our house our rules/her house her rules" We acknowledge that he's maybe allowed to do things at her house that we do not allow. However we feel that a) it's not fair to expect our children to follow our rules & my stepson having a completely different set of rules. b) it's not fair to us to enforce rules we disagree with or not enforce our rules because SHE disagrees with them. And finally c) it's not fair to my stepson to not be taught that different places have different rules of behavior.

    #4 — We explain when we disagree with BM's parenting. We do this not by belittling her, but explaining WHY we disagree with the rules. For example, she allows him (he's 11) to have a cell phone (he has had it since he was 9). When he is here, we explain why we disapprove of a child his age having a cell phone and require him to shut it off and give it to his father to be put up until he returns to BM. We have found this really helps with the whole "our house, our rules" situation.

    Reply
    • yaffabalsam

      It sounds to me that you and your husband are doing an excellent job setting boundaries between the two households.

      Regarding #2
      I agree with you on "our house, our rules; her house, her rules." That is actually what I meant to convey in the article, as opposed to expecting the children to accept your rules as the only rules.

      I emphasize the team work between the couple. It is very important to present a united front to the children and the bio-mom. It's usually helpful if the dad communicates the rules to the children after the couple has decided upon them together.

      Regarding #4
      My emphasis is that the couple needs to jointly make a decision and ideally it needs to be communicated by the bio-dad. Stepmom is part of the team, just not its voice. The children will be more open, and less defensive to hear feelings, opinions, and concerns expressed by their dad rather than from a stepmom, especially during the marriage's first couple of years.

      Reply
  3. Margaret

    #1 doesn't make any sense either. My husband and I make the decisions that concern and affect us, our household, our plans, and ability to make plans. I expect to be consulted EVERY time a decision is to be made and every time there is a change in the plans, not just when he or BM thinks it is convenient or "time allows". I will not tolerate being taken for granted or taken advantage of. Let my husband set the boundaries?!?!?!

    And like Teri K. Dunlap stated, I have my own rules in my own household that are to respected by all the children who cross my threshold, my children, my stepchildren, nieces & nephews, neighbor children, and any other visitors. How do you figure it is supposed to matter to me what the parents of all these children do or do not allow? My house, my rules. Simple as that. Let my husband set the boundaries?!?!?!

    Are you nuts?! You are encouraging second wives to be doormats. There is plenty enough of that going around. Let my husband set the boundaries?!?!?! There freaking won't be any! And I will be disrespected and walked over. You have no idea what you are talking about.

    Reply
    • yaffabalsam

      I’m sorry that you interpreted my writing that way and were upset by it.

      Throughout the article I emphasize the importance of a united couple. I actually see more agreement than disagreement between us.

      I recommended that father delivers the results of joint decision-making to the children. I say this because the children are generally more receptive to taking orders from him given their well-established history and bond, which newer stepmothers may not have yet developed with their step-children. This doesn’t imply excluding the stepmothers from the decision-making process.

      I have not suggested in this article, or in any of my other articles, that anyone be a doormat. This goes double for stepmothers. I advocate for integrity, respect and collaboration. Families are complex, so getting there sometimes takes a little examination.

      Reply
      • I want to be the best step mom ever. How ever i also know that some one has to teach the children to respect the step mom! I will not be the abused step mom! I love my step children with all my heart. I show them every time the walk into this house. They have said and done some very hurtful trhings. I just won't come home fronm work if I'm not going to be treated nice! My mom spent her whole life taking care of 4 step children and loved them as her own. They were disrespectfull untill the day she died and want every thing they can get from her estate. While they treated her like she didn't exsist!

        Reply
    • Yes my step daughter age 5 came to our house with a cell phone and a nice tracking devise! Thats so wrong and her mother made her feel like she had to have it around her neck at the play ground! I told her NO infrount of her mom. Thats dangerous she could hang her self. We played the phone game for 3 years. Mom told daughter the last time she brought it that if I took her phone or took the battery out she was in BIG trouble! I kept the battery. She hasn't sent it back.

      Reply
  4. notmommy

    Margaret, I see your point. What do you do when your husband doesn't know how to set boundaries or frankly doesn't even really care, at least not as much as you, if there are any? I'm curious to see how that one gets handled. My husband is not like that, he does have certain boundaries, some I convince him to set, and some things I have to just let go because I just can't control everything. I compromise. But really, what if hubby doesn't believe in setting any boundaries? Ugh.

    One underlying thread I see here in Balsam's article is that it's the husband's duty to lead in parenting and that as stepparents we need to recognize that the children have a mother, need that mother, and by not recognizing that we make things more difficult on ourselves. I totally get that. I've learned that being a stepparent and a control freak do NOT mix. Flexibility and understanding are the only way to make it work.

    Reply
  5. yaffabalsam

    Thanks for your question, notmommy.

    Remarrying parents, especially fathers, are often lax in boundary-setting. This tends to be because they feel guilty over suffering the divorce caused their children.

    It's important to keep communicating with one's husband on the importance of boundaries and discipline. Children need clear boundaries. It gives them a sense of safety in their environment, as they know what to expect.

    Giving the children free reign results in chaos. That chaos causes more suffering than reasonable boundaries.

    For more help establishing a united team and happy family, one can read parenting articles during the remarriage and show the most relevant ones to his or her spouse. One can also join a support group, or if things are really bad, see a therapist specializing in remarriage and stepfamilies.

    Reply
  6. I have a question – What if we, the SM and DH, are the one who those things are happening to?

    I never talk poorly in front of my SD, and always encourage her to express the things taught at her mother's house in our house, then we discuss differences. I think it makes her a more complete person instead of her trying to hide everything because she wants to protect us. That's not her place she should be the CHILD :) . However, i feel constantly that both my MIL and the Bio Mom try to create divisions that then SD (and DH and I) has to deal with! It SUCKS. what can i do to stop this insanity? Im about to have my first baby and I want him to grow in a stable HEALTHY environment.

    Reply
    • yaffabalsam

      I hear your frustration and my heart goes out to you, your husband and your step daughter. Your step daughter is indeed lucky to have you in her life. It is so toxic to have an ex try to sabotage your relationship and your family. I noticed that exes escalate in their hostility level when the stepmom is about to have a baby. It reactivates for some of them a lot of emotions from the divorce.
      You probably know that you can't change anyone. Stay grounded in what you believe, and in who you are. Remind your step daughter that you are adults who are capable of taking care of yourselves. Repeat to her like a broken record that she is the child and that you would like her to enjoy her childhood. Teach her some responses to her mom when she starts putting you down. She can tell her mother that it makes her sad when she doesn't speak kindly of her dad and you. She can ask that she stops, change the subject and ask to be excused to her room.
      I hope that helps.
      I wish you all the best with your family and your new baby.
      I would appreciate hearing how things progress.

      Reply
      • Hi there,
        I am in a similar situation with my partner and his kids from his former marriage. I love them dearly and want what is best for them, and am very conscious of fostering a positive environment for them while in our home. I never speak unkindly about their mother in their presence (in fact quite the opposite – the kids often talk about their mom and I try my best to offer positive reinforcement like “that sounds like fun!” Or “what a great idea mommy had”).

        For the last year things have been a bit rocky for the kids, as their mother has had another baby with her boyfriend and their life is now a lot busier. Both kids have regressed substantially (which I think is fairly normal when a new baby arrives even in a traditional non-blended family, but it does not appear to be getting better as the baby gets older).

        Recently the older child (now 7) has been an emotional wreck, saying she misses her mom because she never gets to spend time with her anymore. She feels rejected and that mommy doesn’t love her as much anymore, and that she can’t be her normal self (one comment was “mommy said I’m not allowed to laugh anymore because it will wake up the baby”). She gets to the point of hysteria – uncontrollable crying. She told me she is upset because they are sent to stay with their grandparents on the weekends they are not with us, and on weeknights mommy is too busy and tired. Because the child has historically confided in me (I think she sees me as a friend), I now often find myself in a position where I need to reassure her that her mommy does love her. When consoling her during the last episode last weekend, I encouraged her to talk to her mother about how she feeling.

        I want to be a responsible caretaker in these children’s lives, and genuinely don’t want to overstep any boundaries. I don’t have children of my own, but do have god children and many close friends who are mothers so I understand how a step or bonus mom figure may be a bit uncomfortable for a bio mom. I also have no expectation of being seen as their parent, because I am not their mother and I respect her role.

        I am however honestly struggling. The kids arrive at our house unclean without having their teeth brushed (they occasionally are dropped off mid afternoon still in pajamas if they have a day off school). The oldest child has had to have significant dental work (several root canals for which she had to be put under). They are severely under weight and malnourished (we have worked quite hard over the last two years to get them eating better, and they are now reasonably good eaters while they are here… they are used to packaged snack type foods at their mother’s house in place of full meals). They are routinely dressed in dirty tattered ill fitting clothing while their mom is always dressed in new name brand clothes. They often say mommy tells them they can’t do things or have new things because “daddy doesn’t give (her) enough money” (he pays significant child support and 80% of all extracurricular activities).

        Their dad is great with them, and while the kids are with us they are generally well behaved and respectful. However when mom arrives to pick them up they are like different children (very whiny, uncooperative, and disrespectful.. at one point during the last pick up on Friday night, the youngest child grabbed a handful of his moms hair and pulled it to keep balance as he got dressed to go outside… we tried to get him to stop while mom did nothing).

        Their father and I are worried that the kids aren’t receiving adequate care and attention while in her care… we are worried she has given up out of frustration. We are also concerned that their behaviour may escalate into more deep seated problems down the road (the youngest child has been getting into trouble a bit at school lately… their dad does discipline them and as I said when they are here they are well behaved).

        What should we do?

        Reply
        • Yaffa Balsam

          Hi Lesley,

          Your stepchildren are really lucky to have you in their lives. I am so glad to hear that you encourage them to have a positive relationship with their bio-mom. However, it is also important to validate the distress, and frustration they experience without blaming anyone. Just say: “I am so sorry that you are so upset”, or “I am sorry that you are sad that you can’t laugh out loud when the baby is sleeping”.

          From your email it sounds like your stepchildren are greatly impacted by the transition that happened in their bio-mom’s home since the baby was born. She may be suffering from postpartum depression.

          If your husband has positive communication with her it may be helpful for him to point out to her (without blaming) that he’s noticing that the children are struggling in adjusting to the changes in her household.

          If their communication is strained, he will probably have a very difficult time to have a constructive conversation with her.

          I believe that as parents we have a responsibility to advocate for our kids. However we need to do so in the most positive way possible. Sometimes we need to be more assertive, and your husband may want to consult an attorney regarding changes in the custody agreement. The two of you need to have an open discussion of how that might impact the children’s lives as well as yours. Many parents like to have the right of first refusal in their agreement. That makes the custodial parent ask the non-custodial parent if s/he is able to take care of the children when they can’t. This way, on her weekends, she would have to offer your husband the option for caring for the children if she can’t. He can accept or refuse, and it will also be the other way around.

          Consulting with a therapist specializing in stepfamilies’ relationships will be very helpful in developing a plan to help the children adjust and heal, and possibly transition into a better custody arrangement for the children.

          I am available for in person and phone consultations.

          Reply
          • Hi there,

            Thank you so much for the advice… it is hard to know what to do or who to talk to sometimes!

            The oldest did get into see a counselor a few times… at first her mother took her without telling her father, and we found out about it after the fact when the child told me she went to see a special person to talk about her feelings. When her father asked her mother about it, he was told that the child wanted to keep it a secret from daddy and that she was respecting her wishes (which I don’t believe). Her father did meet with the counsellor himself (at the counsellors request), and after several months of lots of tears things are getting much better. The kids are way more stable and tears are few and far between. They are now able to have fun now without feeling guilty or getting sad because they are having fun without mommy.

            What I am now concerned with however is when and why the tears do happen. To help soothe and console the kids we started encouraging them to call mommy to say goodnight the nights they sleep at our home. At first this was quite volatile and resulted in lots of crying and pleading to come home before (saying that she hates it here and didnt want to stay overnight) … this happened both leading up to, during and after the call and often lasted for hours with the child in an absolutely hysterical state.

            However for the last month or so the oldest child only starts to cry after she starts speaking with mommy, then returns to her happy self once she hands the phone away. I have never witnessed a child turn such extreme emotion on and off like a tap. During one phone call I heard the child ask her mother if she was proud of her for not crying yet that weekend, then asked “have you cried yet?”. Within a minute she was in tears on the phone.

            I don’t want to make assumptions, but this situation seems odd. It appears from my perspective that the child and her mother have a codependency that seems unhealthy (ie the child gets the attention she wants from her mother when she acts hysterical and needy, and this behaviour in turn validates her mothers desire to feel “needed”). I am worried that the child has now been conditioned to get upset because that’s “what we do when we call mommy”, and its heartbreaking to watch. I’d like to give their mother the benefit of the doubt that she isn’t saying things to them to get them riled up, but the evidence certainly seems to suggest that. It feels manipulative and unfair to the kids.

            For example, the children (particular the older child who is a girl) is very lovey and likes to snuggle and hug and show lots of affection. In her mothers presence however she is very standoffish and almost rude (won’t say goodbye etc). Please understand that this doesnt bother me – I am am adult and I understand that kids have loyalties to their mother and I have zero expectation of getting in the middle of that. I am however concerned that she has been put in a position to feel as though she cant suow affection towards me when mommy is around for fear of upsetting her mother.

            Is this just normal behaviour for kids when they transition between houses? Or is there something we can do to help the situation? Ive already suggested to their father that he might be best to meet with his daughters counsellor to see if she has any input.

            Help!

          • Yaffa Balsam

            It seems like you have a case of major GUILT on your hands.Bio-mom dishes it out and your stepdaughter is not strong enough to stand up to her. I hope that in therapy she will learn how to become assertive and talk about her needs. It is common for children during custody transitions to be more guarded and uncomfortable in displaying affection especially to to a stepparent. The crying though that you are describing is more unusual. The guilt is too painful, and the demand for loyalty is so upsetting that your stepdaughter ends up crying from the pressure placed on her by her bio-mom. I believe that it is the parent’s responsibility to contact the child and not the other way around. I would stop encouraging the children to call her because that may be perceived by them as added pressure from you. It’s helpful to have designated times for phone calls. However, if the calls are upsetting the children, they should be monitored, and certain topics should not be allowed. Also, the calls need to be restricted in time.

  7. Shanny

    c) it's not fair to my stepson to not be taught that different places have different rules of behavior.
    ? I do believe that it IS fair for a child to be taught this life lesson early on. Differnt places will have different rules. That is LIFE. A well adjusted person will be able to be okay even if the rules varie from place to place. We need to teach our kids this.

    Reply
  8. chelsea

    The introduction of this article was a bit off-putting. It is written as if the "you" is a jealous, insecure person coming into a marriage with a man who happens to have an ex…
    Which is why I felt most of the article was rather patronizing and had I read this about 13 years ago when I met my husband it may have turned me off to the idea of marrying a guy who was second hand goods, so to speak.
    Have you written any articles addressing how to deal when it's the bio-parent who is the insecure, jealous one who has trouble dealing with the reality that her ex has moved on and is happy? I'd sure be interested in your advice for dealing with that nightmare…

    Reply
  9. Supermom;)

    I am the bio mom, and I am facing all of these issues with my ex's live in girlfriend! They are not even married! She was texting me, what to do or not do with the children, and I told her she needs to mind her own business. I get along super well with my ex. Its funny, because I am in my early 40's, he is 50, and she is in her early 50's, so she is so unbelievably jealous of me and her insecurities of me wanting him back, has created so much havoc in a very amicable divorced situation. She has tried to convince him, that he does not need to pay child support, that she does not want me even coming in the driveway to drop off the children, where he has a key to my house to let the kids in if I'm not there.. we sit down and have coffee, discuss the kids schedules etc..
    She will constantly call me the B word in front of my children, and they will tell me about it. If I am discussing something on the phone with my ex and she is coming home he has to run to get off the phone. It is so horrible to me that he is letting this woman undermine our coparenting…
    Really at a loss of what to do…

    Reply
    • And it sounds like you just love making her uncomfortable they way you speak is condescending n I agree u are the B word. I wouldn’t want you in my driveway either

      Reply
      • Jennifer

        Yes, maybe you need to examine your boundaries. The marriage us over. Cooperation is good but consider your attitude and the extent of your involvment.

        Reply
  10. Psyche

    I appreciate this article very much. However, I think some of the implications within your solutions go completely contrary to our (mostly) successful blended family. I cringe at the statement, "stepmom is part of the team, but not it's voice". My husband and I have gone to lengths to create a home where he is the father and I am the mother of the household. This is especially important considering we have child together. Stepparents often are in positions to have to deal with some of the issues regarding discipline, and imparting the results of joint decision making. In fact, I believe that having the biological parent be "the voice" reinforces the concept of the stepparent as other, instead of as a completely valid parental authority. I understand that a new stepparent might have trouble creating a bond and does not have a well-built history, but this can be built, and has to start somewhere. Frankly, I think it is a slow process of integration, but should include both parents as vocal, which prevents either parent from having to take up the position as the villain. Children are very perceptive, and even if the stepparent is vocalizing decent, the child will recognize where the dissent is coming from and if the stepparent is silent, they can also learn to resent the stepparent.
    In my opinion, and the way we've put into practice, the world does not revolve around the child. Introducing a stepparent is difficult, but so is introducing a stepkid. During the year we dated before we were married my husband delivered most of the decisions, but once we were married, and I became his stepmother officially, we began to have conversations where each of us expressed our opinions (my husband and I generally had a discussion and came to an agreement beforehand) and delivered the decisions together. Each person brings something different to the table, and a policy of honesty with our child has been crucial in maintaining this. I think as a stepmother you have to be willing to include yourself in the parental team which counts father, mother and now you. All discussions about that child involved all parents, prefixes included.

    Reply
  11. mommyminni

    An issue I have with most of the articuls is that its based off of a previous marriage. My SD was born out of wedlock and the biological parents never got together. BM made sure not to put dad on the birthcertificate and refused visits unless he was "with" her. Her exact words are "your daughter only needs you when your with me, or when she needs money and things" later she got on TANIF and it required a paternity test. After that started we were able to gain joint custody. But BM can still run the show. SD has so many issues, fear, loss, acting out, and forced emotions. I have been with my husband since before this child was born, and now shes 6. I have to make the decisions mostly, because my husband works 6 days a week, we have a child together (3) and SD is SUPPOSE to spend copious amounts of times with us. BM and her boyfriend try everything possible to undermine my husband and I. BM even went as far as to accuse me when I was pregnant that the child wasn't my husbands! When times are good (rarely) BM can be reasonable for short periods of times, but as soon as my husband or I try to do anything with SD, its all hell break loose. I expect to always be involved, yes even in Mediation or Court, because I have always been involved and around since before the child. I know the finances, our family schedule, and any extras that come with being the stay at home mom that my husband would not know. I also am responsible for the brunt of my SD's care while in our home. For anyone to tell me to step back, step out, or go away is not only rude but entirely unreasonable.

    Reply
  12. L8R G8R

    I am curious what your insight is on another issue. I have been divorced for 8 years, and with my current partner for 5 years. We have 2 children together, and I have 2 children from my previous marriage. My partner lacks the ability to understand the importance of my attending all of my older childrens events. He feels that the little childen, (his) are the priority. This is causing real trauma, and often leads to fights that end in him telling me it's over if I don't change my ways. I have said that I will not compromise on this, I had children when we met, and this is what it is… Am I acting selfisly by not being willing to negotiate the amount of time I spend supporting my older children with him?

    Reply
    • Shelbi C

      No, you are NOT being unreasonable. All of your children are important and deserve your time. If anything, HE is being unreasonable by suggesting that only "his" kids are important. Incredibly wrong and if he wants to leave, LET HIM! No man has the right to put a mother in that position!!!

      Reply
  13. mommy325

    I am in need of some outside perspective desperately. I am the stop mom, I have a wonderful 7 yr old ss. I have been in his life since he was 3. I have stepping up as “mom” to him many times when the biomom forgets. My thing is most of the time we can be civil, but when she does not get her way, ( when my husband doesn’t do what she wants), she gets irate and threatens to keep my ss from his father and I. I hold my tongue a lot. But grow tired of being the “doormat” by allowing her to throw these TANTRUMS like a child. How do I civilly solve these problems without stooping down to such a negative behavior? I do not want my ss growing up resenting me or anyone else because he matters the most. But as a human my emotions come out when she provokes them. What are your suggestions?

    Reply
    • Michelle

      Well I can see by your comments, you are the one putting her down. Thinking you are perfect, and never drop the ball. Maybe if you actually did true coparenting, instead of your actions trying to prove your a better woman. Change starts with you.

      Reply
  14. Michelle

    Reading all these comments just blow my mind. What a bunch of arrogant selfish step moms on here. Stay humble woman!! Stop thinking you are so damn perfect. Respect goes both ways.

    Reply
    • Your a single babymama that’s why you think the way you do.. So you take a seat n humble or better yet go teach ya kid something

      Reply
  15. Bio mom

    Control freak 2nd, 3rd, and 4 wives need to get a life and focus their laser griping and criticisms on something else besides kids that don’t belong to them.
    I suggest you send those unruly brats straight back to their biological mothers where they belong and stop allowing your worthless, custody payment avoiding husbands to custody dump their biological children onto you. After all, don’t you have a hair or nail appointment to attend to?

    Reply
  16. LoveMyGirl

    Our situation is different than most. My husband and my bonus daughter’s mom were not married or even really dating. They hooked up a month before we started dating. I have literally been in my daughter’s life as long as my husband has. She turned 9 in November and we will be married 9 years in September. I love her very much. Her mom and I are as friendly as possible in our situation. Aparently they are having a difficult time at home. My daughter tries to tell me about it, but just breaks down and cries. I think she needs counseling, but I don’t know how to bring it up. My husband won’t. As peaceful as we have been, I’m sure it’s still hard for her. She says she has 2 mommies and 2 daddies, but our homes are two very different environments

    Reply
  17. Wendy Brunson

    I think a lot of what you said makes sense. My son’s father was a part time dad consistently for 5 years of his life, married and then took me to court gaining almost 50 percent custody of him. My son went from living with me his entire life to having to abruptly move in with his dad and his dad’s new wife. My son barely had a bond with his dad, and never met or knew the stepmom. So, he had to adjust to being taken from the only home he knew, his dad, and a stepmom. He was only five when this occurred. My son is 9 now and he hates his stepmom no matter how much I try to redirect his feelings, but as his mother I have to support my son, because I’m not able know what transpires in their home. My son has heard his dad bad talk me with his stepmom, and he even heard his stepmom tell his dad to run me over with his car. I’ve done nothing to this woman, and his father actually recently admitted to me that he hates to hear me talking about my boyfriend (whatever that means). My son sees his step mom respond to my emails pretending to be his dad, same with texting. His dad directs my calls to her when I want to speak to my son. And my son says he kinda likes his dad, bit he hates her. She even tried to run me and my son off the road after one of his baseball games. I could go on and on. Essentially, I think a lot of what you said could work of the adults were mature enough to implement the strategies. In the case of my son, I continue to support him and pray over the situation. He is only getting older. He will be old enough to express his own feelings to the judge real soon. He told me he can’t wait until he is old enough to speak to the judge, so he’s just buying his time at this point, because I have tried everything, but nothing works if everyone is not on one accord.

    Reply
  18. Wendy Brunson

    @Mommiminni

    You can always give the child back to her mother if your husband is too busy to care for his biological child. Why are you fighting to keep a child from her biological mother? Has the mother been officially diagnosed as mentally unfit? If not, no matter how much you don’t like her that’s still the child’s mother, and her right to be with her child should and always will supercede the right you think you have. It doesn’t matter how much money or time you invested in someone else’s child. I’m a school teacher, I spend my own money on supplies for the students, I invest my time, and I love all my students, but I also know that they have to go home when that last bell rings. And guess what, I’m okay with that. Have you ever considered that your interference might be causing the child mental stress?

    Reply
  19. Kennah

    I’ve been a stepmom for eight years. I have been the woman on this list who sits back and does the right thing, and cares for two kids that aren’t my own because it was the right thing to do, just as my stepmom did for me. I’ve been accused of “playing mom” by BM. I have children of my own, so I didn’t need “hers” to “play mommy” with. Wouldn’t you want your children cared for by their father and his wife? I guess not. I’ve been the SM who never says anything about BM to anyone other than my husband, yet BM calls me a bitch and posts about me on Facebook and how much she “hates” me. I have never contacted her or said anything to her or her kids about anything. It’s not their burden or my place. She’s gone as far as to find not only my mother on Facebook but my husband’s family and have conversations with them about us, and ask questions about us. But…don’t you dare ask the kids what they did at mom’s this week! We are prying into her private life! I’ve been the stepmom who has allowed Dad to deliver the discipline to both kids for the most part, unless he’s not home, then I do the terrible thing of making them go to their room for a bit, and talking to them about their behavior, and making good choices, so that they grow up to be good people. And, then BM tells my husband that I’m a “bully” and “demands that her kids are treated with respect” by “his bitch wife” while in the same sentences reinterating that I’m a “nobody and a nothing” to those kids…Huh?

    BM texts and calls constantly over everything and anything, and although my DH would be perfectly happy to never hear her voice again, he puts up with it out of guilt and duty to his two children. Did I mention that when one of the kids does not get their own way, they text mom and tell her, and she’s blowing up DH’s phone with “they need to be respected” for the next two days?

    He does check with me every time BM wants to change plans, especially since it does impact my life. It impacts our schedules and the rest of the household.

    But she belittles my husband for saying that he just wants to check with his wife to make sure that the change works for both of us. We usually do accommodate the changes that are not only for the kids, but for BM personally. And you know…the rare occasion where we say that we can’t do that turns into days of nasty belittling and bullying texts from BM. At this point, DH just gives in to “keep the peace”.

    Did I mention that BM said that the only two kids that count are hers, as they “came first” and they “should always come first” in our household?

    So please, I respectfully ask you to explain to me why I am the “jealous and insecure second wife” that you spoke of in your article? I was the doormat that you wrote about, almost to a T and look at my life. I take care of those kids like I do my own, and never say a negative thing about anyone. And they are both disrespectful to me anyway.

    After being with my husband for ten years total, we are still dealing with this nonsense…and I did everything you spelled out into your article.

    Reply
    • 3 words that sum up a majority of the issues described in this site relating to children disproportionately rejecting parents:
      PARENTAL ALIENATION SYNDROME

      Reply
  20. Roribel

    I’d like some input on where the step mom falls in place when it comes to the step child’s first day of kindergarten. While both parents attended her first day of school, I was not invited…However when the child is with us on the weekends I do everything for her, comb her hair, bathe her, dress her, cook for her, etc. Makes me feel like a “step maid”. And at what point do they explain that I am her step mom, not just her ‘friend’, or dad’s wife? She’s 5 and asked me one day how come my son is her brother but I’m not her mommy…I told her that she had to ask daddy that question and he would answer. I honestly didn’t know what to say and I didn’t want to cross my boundary. Please provide some guidance….Thank you.

    Reply
    • Yo tell her because she has a mummy. The simple truth always works.

      Reply
  21. I have read both of your articles – stepmothers undermining bio mums and vice versa. What fantastically objective and accurate articles. I am a stepmother with a very acrimonious relationship with bio mum. I would dearly love bio mum to read that article and change her behavior for the good of my beautiful young step daughter, who at 5 carries way too much of her mothers baggage. Consequently, I had a good look at our behavior as well and whilst we don’t actively denigrate, I am sure that some of our actions or words would make SD uncomfortable. This is a good reminder to monitor what wean impact and make sure it gives the little kids the best possible joint upbringing possible

    Reply
  22. Please I need to talk to someone that’s in the same shoes as I am I need help desperately

    Reply
  23. please help I need people I can talk to the understand where I’m coming from from an overstepping step parent that takes focus in her step children rather than her own children

    Reply
  24. Rachel

    This seems to be written by a biological mother who would like to think that her children’s stepmother is insecure. Guess what – not all SMs are insecure….most adults have had past relationships that we now understand were mistakes. No judgement there, and no insecurity. I do think your point about not contributing to any loyalty issues children may feel is valid…and, frankly, that applies to both step and bio parents. I do not necessarily agree with all of the advice you gave….it is ok for a SM to set rules in her house and hold all children living there accountable. Also, SM does not need to apologize to the BM, nor have a relationship with her on any level if it isn’t going to be healthy and productive. Third, no parent should be badmouthing any other parent to the kids – step or bio. Finally, while forbidding mention of another parent’s name is not healthy for the kids, it is absolutely ok for Dad & SM’s house to be a BM-neutral place. That means not responding, gently changing the subject, focusing on something other than the BM, etc….there is certainly no putting BM on a pedastal at my house, and neither my husband nor I ever bring her up or ask about her.

    Reply
    • You took her sticker and twisted the words. She never said to NOT set your own rules, but not to tell your step child that moms rules are not to be followed or “dumb@.

      Reply
  25. Hi
    I am a new Step-mom and I love my step-daughter dearly. The bio-mom has seen her daughter once in the past 4 months due to alcohol and spending addictions and currently isn’t living in an ideal situation. She use to see her 3 times a week. My step-daughter calls her every night.(depending whether the bio-mom answers determines the child’s attitude the rest of the evening). Is there anyway to not have my step-daughter call her so much? I know I am being selfish here but it would just be nice not to have her mom be included in our family everyday. Since the bio-mom isn’t really around, I do all the mom duties (dr. appt, hair cuts, class parties, sports games, and running her everywhere she needs to be or picked up)-my husband obviously helps out too but it’s mainly me. I guess I just feel like with her calling her mom every night just pushes me further from taking on a parenting roll or feeling like a parent. It also makes me feel like I’m living in her moms shadow when her mom is a terrible excuse for a mom. So is there anyway to bring up to the step-daughter only calling a couple times a week or is there no getting around it? I do want them to have a good relationship-when healthy.
    Thank you
    * great article* :)

    Reply
    • Hi, I’m an older stepchild and obviously not the writer of this article but I’ll give my two cents.

      The child must miss her bio mother to call her everyday, and it seems to mean a lot to her to hear her mom’s voice even if its just a probability that she’ll pick up. What would you want to accomplish by asking her to stop calling? She might take it as you showing her distaste for her mom, someone she obviously loves enough to call everyday and hurt her. I’d recommend asking your stepdaughter why she calls everyday and ask her whether thats a good idea for her emotional health, to wait up on a person that doesn’t always pick up. By finding out the reason she calls everyday, you can try to bring her to a happy place and that I believe should make you in turn happy as well :)

      But trying to stop her from calling her mom because you dislike her, even if valid, would be putting your prejudice onto your stepdaughter and might harm her emotionally, which is the worst possible thing for a child already suffering from the problems from a bio mother to go through.

      Reply
  26. I’ve only read some of the comments at the top, but many of these take the article way too meta or are trying to find a solution to complex life problems within a 1 page article, which plainly isn’t possible.

    As an older step child, I very much deeply identified with the entirety of this article. Becoming a step mom is very challenging and not something everyone should or can do it even if they love a man, because it often redefines what a marriage should be. I am a firm believer that oftentimes once a man or women have a child or have been married, even with a divorce or death of the child they are forever connected in some form or another. My stepmother cannot seem to understand this. She and my mother have their issues, and I have no idea who is right or wrong (since I am away at college), but returning to my dad’s home and hearing my mom called a bitch in front of me is very painful. When I politely asked her to stop, she spoke along the lines of “her house, her rules.”

    When it comes to parenting, I believe the pros and cons of offering the child a dialogue and upholding the values this article discusses is better than the pros and cons of making sure the stepmother feels in control by “my house, my rules,” which can be so easily abused by some.

    And I don’t mean to be rude, but I hope the user Psyche never actually says this line in front of her stepchildren, “In my opinion, and the way we’ve put into practice, the world does not revolve around the child. Introducing a stepparent is difficult, but so is introducing a stepkid.”
    If I heard that, which is probably what my stepmother thinks of me deep down, it would seriously break my heart.

    Reply
  27. Jo I love your comment! I am also an older stepchild. I was 13 when my dad left my mom and married her best friend. I refuse to call this woman stepmother because she is undeserving of any title with the word mother.. she is my dad’s current wife and that’s it for me. This woman would spend entire weekends stalking my mother’s FB and posting those stupid stepmom Ecards to her own Pinterest page. She demanded my dad put their “marriage” before everything else. She put all her focus on going to stepmom support pages and stalking my mother online posting things she prayed my mother would see and be upset over. I don’t like my dads current wife because I see from her actions that she isn’t a good person.. not because my “biomom” tells me not to like her. I suspect many of the stepmoms that frequent these boards may be more like my dad’s current wife than they would ever admit. Notice that the “biomom” is ALWAYS in the wrong and their Husband is always a great perfect father and they are just so overworked and under appreciated and misunderstood.. notice too that there are almost No biomom support pages and tons of stepmom pages, ecards, groups.. etc… my theory is because the step moms spend more time complaining and looking for others to sympathize. Drama queens.. that’s been my personal experience. Kids are human beings with minds of their own. They are very capable of forming their own opinion of a person with no outside influence. I know I did.

    Reply
    • Omg yes. I think my exsoninlaws gf and your stepmother are clones!!
      I also see that regarding the facebook groups. One would think these children dont have a thought of their own in their heads , its all bio mum tells them what to think !!

      Reply
  28. Bonus Mom

    I can see validity in the advice in much of the article written so as not to agitate the BM. However, as a newly married stepmom, (I have known the kids since they were 5 & 7, now 9 & 11) we have bent over backwords trying to avoid drama with BM, making proper adjustments with the kids, and still have had to continually go to court to protect them from absent BM, who has had many men in and out of their lives despite being married, many broken promises, dangerous situations, many moves/households, many different jobs and the kids in many different schools. BM flips us off and cusses us and puts us down in front of the kids at exchange but we are the ones who “badmouth” her and say she is a “bad mom”. Although I agree she is not what I would want for a mother, I try my best not to say anything to that affect in front of the kids, however I do correct the lies she has told them that they tell us she has said. For instance, BM tried to get me fired over a blatant lie and told the kids I was fired and in fact i was not. We are now waiting for court to deal with an assault, disorderly and resisting arrest against their mother and she is lying about the police being rough with her so she can try to get out of it. The nastiness and drama is overwhelming. With that being said, there is a fine line and balance to being stepmom and being doormat. You and your husband have to stand up for respect in your home for you as SM. Especially with this kind of BM who doesn’t put the kids’ first and triumphs whenever there is any disrespect shown to you as SM. It’s so sad and elementary when she oinks at you and lies about anything.

    Reply
  29. I am not even a stepmom but I am having issues adjusting into a relationship with my boyfriend and his 9 year old son from a previous relationship. I’ve read the article and it does provide some helpful tips. My issue is that the bm consistently tells her son to not listen to me. I like telling him stories about mythology and fables but when he goes home to biomom she gets angry. Just last month we planned a trip to the Grand Canyon and since then the bm has been terrible to me though my boyfriend. She tells him I’m controlling because I’m taking them out to places I want to visit. Just last week my boyfriend mentioned to me that his ex sent him selfies at 3 in the morning and the caption read: I hope she gets mad. Does it seem like she still loves him or is she getting jealous in the role I am starting to take in my boyfriends household?

    Reply
    • Yaffa Balsam

      I am glad you are seeking information about stepfamilies early on. That can help you avoid some of the pitfalls many stepmoms encounter.

      It sounds like bm feels threatened by you. It will be up to him to set boundaries with her and to not debate her about you. He just needs to remind her that you are not interested in taking her place, and that you respect and accept that she is the bio mom. He needs to make his contact with her as brief as possible, and ignore as much of her negative comments as possible.

      Reply
  30. Jump Street

    A blended family is a no-win situation for the step parents. If they act too much like they are the biological parent, then they are overstepping. However, if they just sit back, then they will be accused of doing nothing. It is difficult at best to find that right balance, so to speak. I’m seeing a situation right now with my brother and his new wife and his ex-wife. It is crazy, to say the least. Long story short, my now ex-sister-in-law met another man. So, she filed for divorce and left my brother. The kids complicated things. She agreed, for the foreseeable future, to keep this guy (that she left my brother for) away from the kids. So, she only saw her man when she didn’t have the kids. Eventually, the guy met someone else. Imagine that. The guy you had an affair with leaving you! I mean, who would have thought that a guy who sleeps with married women would meet someone else? Crazy, right? Well now, my ex-sister-in-law is all alone. My brother, however, has remarried. TWICE! He is now on his THIRD wife. The kids are now on their THIRD stepmother. And this has all happened in the course of less than a year! In under a year, my ex-sister-in-law had a torrid affair, left my brother for the guy, the guy has since left her, my brother remarried as SOON as his first divorce was final, and he has since been divorced a second time, has met yet another girl, and has married her! Again, getting remarried just as soon as his second divorce went final. Who does all this crap, and in under a YEAR no less??! So, now, bio mom (my ex-sister-in-law) and the kids’s newest stepmother are BFFs! No joke! My ex-sister-in-law calls it “the new normal”. She pronounces it tha newww nor-MAL. Really now? The new normal? I mean, don’t get me wrong. It is good for the bio mom and step mom to get along. However, they need to do so from a business arrangement standpoint. Not a friendship standpoint. Neither one of them should think of the other as their close, personal, friend. That is juvenile and naive to say the least. They can get along just fine without being hanging out and braiding each other’s hair. Yes. That is correct, they actually braid each other’s hair. And what neither of them realize is, that is going to come back to bite somebody on the rear end. It’s only a matter of time! But, to hear my ditzy ex-sister-in-law tell it, it’s the best thing since sliced bread. In her goofy, baby talk voice, she says “uh, it’s like the new nor-MAL. Like bio mom and step mom are like besties and all, like okay??”. Yeah, like, okay, just wait until one of you uses this against the other one day.

    Reply
  31. Mrs. Peters

    Hello Yaffa!

    Our Step family is a little different than some other blended families.

    For one, my husband and I have been raising his bio son, since his son was 2 months old, and the bio mother was not in the picture, until years later. When he was 6 years old, his bio mother decided to get her life in order, remarry, conceive and then asked my husband for visitation.

    For 6 years, we were the only “parents” he ever knew. Although, we would talk to him about his bio mother, and she would call from time to time, we are unsure if he fully understood what we were communicating or who he was speaking to when she did call.

    Fast forward, 2017, the child is now 11 years old. His bio mother has been consistent for 5 years with her visitation schedule, every other weekend and written school breaks/holidays agreed upon. The bio mother has been doing amazing. She and her husband are now Jehovah witness, have a 5 year old son (her third child, the oldest is in another state with his father, her first marriage. She and my husband have never been married) working on her relationship with her son. He does call her Mommy and the stepdad Daddy. He has a good working relationship with his bio mom…yet tells me things like “she can never replace you” “your my real mommy” or “I love you more” “you understand me better” or more so “I wish you and my bio mom could get alone, I don’t know why she won’t get to know you” etc.

    Here is the thing, my husband and I have two small businesses we run together. My husband is very busy as am I, although, since our son has been young, I have taken on the role of “Mommy” and spent more time with him. He is sort of a “Mommy’s boy” with me. His bio mother does not like our relationship or the idea of me in the picture at all. Yet, I want to bond with her and let her know, it was and still is not my goal to “take” her son away from her or to “take” her place as his mother. Every time I try to reach out, I get ignored.

    However, I do plan, schedule, organize our family affairs…I am a planner. I try to let my husband do the communicating with his ex and let them find their own way of co-parenting their son.

    How can I better bond with his bio mom?

    Reply
    • Yaffa Balsam

      Hello Mrs. Peters,

      You have done a fabulous job as a mother to your 11 year old son.It sounds like he feels loved, safe, and bonded with you. Your son’s biological mother must be feeling threatened by your bond with your son. I hope that one day she will be able to be humble enough to thank you for mothering the son she abandoned. I admire your desire to bond with her, however at this point she is not ready. You can tell her that your door will stay open for her to connect if she is ever ready. You did not take her son away from her. I believe she knows that. Focus on your relationship with your husband and your son. It is best that your husband continues to be the one communicating with bio-mom.

      Reply
  32. Darian

    I really wish a lot more stepmoms got this. I am a stepmom and do not feel in competition with her mother. We all get along very well now because of it. However I deal with a stepmom from hell over my daughter. I try so hard to be nice and do things the same way I do them with my step daughter mother. She absolutely will not have it and is completely self righteous ignorant irrational downright mean. Even withholds my daughter from talking to me on phone when she is over there. Has withheld cards I sent her in the mail to let her know I am thinking of her. My ex was easy to coparent with until this woman came into the picture. My daughter is now displaying behavior problems and really resents her. I am not perfect by any means but I love my children and step children and do the best I can. She nitpick me just to do it. It drives me and my daughter both up the wall. She does everything on this list plus some. I wish there was some way to get through to her.

    Reply
    • Yaffa Balsam

      It is really frustrating to deal with an irrational person, especially when that person is given so much power over your children. It sounds like your children’a stepmother feels threatened by both you and your daughter. Your ex is the key to facilitating a change. He is the one who needs to find the courage to establish boundaries with his wife, work on their relationship and become more proactively engaged in parenting your daughter.

      Reply
  33. Jan caller

    Question – as a step mom who loves and does everything for step daughters, they live with us full time, we pay for everything have never had financial help- go to every recital school or sport activity. We do everything for them together and I do a lot as a step mom which I love. The bio ended the marriage years ago for someone else and didn’t see the girls for the next several years. She finally got help remarried and is stable and now likes to get them from school once a month or just go get ice cream once a month. How can I handle feeling upset that I take care of them and actually do the mother role every day as hard as it is and bio gets a once a month or every 6 weeks quick visit with no responsibility yet enjoys all the mom perks? I.E Mother’s Day, kids birthdays, parent day at school has her make an appearance as if she is an actual mom? It’s very upsetting to act as a mom but miss out on things because of the title she has all with no action. Advice?

    Reply
    • Yaffa Balsam

      Focus on what is in the best interest of your step daughters. They must have been traumatized by their bio-mom’s abandonment. Children are developmentally self centered. Whatever happens in their lives they perceive as their fault.I hear your frustration that BM didn’t earn the right to these privileges of spending special days with your step daughters. We live in a society that encourages biological relationships almost above all. I am sure that your step daughters know and hopefully appreciate you as their mother. I hope you have your husband’s support and gratitude for taking on mothering his daughters.
      Support them in exploring a connection with their bio mom. Continue to solidify your relationship with them. Your husband needs to encourage them to show you appreciation and respect. They need your emotional permission to explore a relationship with their BM. If you show them that you are resentful and feeling threatened by their relationship with their BM, they may end up resenting you, and feel that they have power over you.

      Reply
  34. I was a step child and my bio dad was crap. I understood when my mom and step dad had to vent, hell I needed to vent. My dad did stupid shit trying to hurt everyone with lies, manipulation and the list goes on and on. I wasn’t in some fantasy like most kids with the why can’t my mom and dad get along for me. My step dad is my dad. Mind you my real dad was in my life til I was a adult but my step dad paid for me, was a true dad to me. To deny him the same rights as a self centered bio parent is wrong. I would never dishonor my step father that way and anyone who shames a step parent for calling a shity bio parent out should get over your insecurities as a bio parent. Sometimes step parents are just better than the bio parent and I hope courts one day change how custody works.

    Reply
  35. Kristyn Smith

    I am a 17 year old girl. My bio parents divorced when I was eight. My dad was incarcerated for the past two years until he got out last January. My step mom is a horrible person. She not only cheated on my dad, but did many other things I can not say. I came across this article because I was looking up advice on how to handle if your step mom hates you. My dad and her are getting a divorce this week. I want nothing to do with her. I read this list, and she does many, many of these things. My bio mom is not a bad person at all. She is loving, caring, and constantly tells me she loves me. My step mom tried to “buy” me and my brother at the beginning of our relationship with her in 2008. From the start, she has acted like my bio mom was worthless and tries to convince everyone that she raised us. My step mom gets INFURIATED if I even say anything to my mom, such as a “Goodmorning” text. She wants me to praise her and she wants me and my brother to literally hate our bio mom. It is so disgusting. I agree with this list a lot. I think some people had just taken it out of context. If any step mom is reading this, I am not saying that the kids shouldn’t respect you, thats not what I am trying to say at all. But no matter what the relationship is/ has been like with the kid and with the bio mom, try to support them as much as you can. A child will most likely always want a good relationship with their mother. It is very healthy for them.

    Reply
    • Yaffa Balsam

      You are mature, perceptive, and your honesty is refreshing. I am sorry to hear that your step mother was mean to you and your brother. It is really sad. You sound strong and that will help you heal from the hurt and transition into a happier life.

      Reply
  36. Andrea

    What do you do when your stepchild is confiding in you and not their bio mom? I have good open communication with both my step-kids. Their mom wants to be a part of “important conversations” but to me I’m not sure what she’s expecting, or what her idea is of that. How do I respect their mothers wishes and still have the kids (14, 18) trust me? Side note, I encourage the kids to talk to their mom about our conversations and give suggestions on how to approach the situation, but they don’t always feel comfortable doing so. And she gets angry if she hears info from their father. She’s a good mom and very involved and caring, and they love her and don’t want her to feel sad, I just think she tries to force them to open up, guilts them out when they don’t, and snoops through their things, due to fear and insecurities I’m assuming. I think if she was more voulnerable and honest with them about her life experiences, they would be more vulnerable and open with her. No one wants to be told how to parent, that’s just my philosophy and it works with them. Suggestions on how I can keep their mom from feeling jealous of our relationship?

    Reply

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