soon-to-be stepmom

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-07-2003
soon-to-be stepmom
Thu, 08-28-2003 - 12:04am
Sometimes I feel I'm at my wits end. My fiance has a 5 year old daughter that I love dearly. Sometimes I get upset when the baby's mother acts irresponsible and I express that to my fiance. For example, when it's below zero it's important the child dresses warm and have a hat, scarf and gloves to wear when she outside. He sends her over with these items and she keeps losing them. He tells her he's tired of buying these things everytime she loses it that she needs to supply the baby with these items when she comes over. She complains and refuses to buy it. When the baby gets sick she would tell my fiance to go bring her to the doctor when she was sick for awhile. One time the baby had pneumonia. Maybe she didn't know she had that but you could see the baby had a fever and wasn't responsive. Seeing her like that wouldn't you bring her to the doctor if she was under your care. He told the mother to bring her to the doctor. She didn't like his comment they argued about that. He had to leave work early and bring her the hospital. There are so many things that she does that I can't believe a mother would do. I thought parents are suppose to make sacrifices for their child so they can have a better life. The baby is not mine but I feel this strong love for her. I have hopes and dreams that she would be a loving, respectable, ambitious, independent woman. I want her to be well-educated and go to college. On and off my fiance and I argue about how the baby is being brought up. I do a lot of things for her and it upsets me when he tells me it's none of my business. I feed her, bathe her, put her to bed, read her stories, teach her ABCs and other things, bring her to school, bought her clothes, etc. that have rights to say how I feel. He always shoots me down that he doesn't want to hear it. Of course, I feel defensive and hurt that I can't have a say but it's okay that I do all these things. If I accidentally sent her w/ a small shirt he yells at me that I'm embarrassing him by making him look bad towards her mother. When she's sent her over a few times with a small shirt he doesn't yell at her about it. He tells me not to send it back. It seems he gives me aggrevation but nothing to her. I feel he's afraid of her yelling and she gets away with it. He's always worried she'd do something spiteful to him. Instead of him lashing on her he bites my head off whenever I throw comments about her. I love him and his daughter very much but our arguments have gotten intense and ugly. Sometimes I question if we should get married. I can't stand the excess baggage (the baby's mother) and ugly arguments regarding her. We get along fine but when it comes to her him and I are at war w/ each other. I don't know how to cope. Any advice?

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-14-2002
Thu, 08-28-2003 - 1:35am
You can't change how this woman is raising her daughter, so stop trying to change her behavior. Kids are very resilient and smarter than we give them credit for; so realize that she will probably be OK, even if she's living in less-than-desirable conditions while with her mom. You can provide her with additional love, concern, education, etc. that will help to compensate for what she's lacking at home.

Meanwhile, your fiance is probably feeling the tug-of-war between you and his ex - but his loyalties will always lie first with his baby girl (as they should). Maybe he's somewhat afraid that his ex will deny him visitation if he makes her angry? I know this is a great fear for many single fathers, and rightly so. Too many custodial parents use their children as pawns or weapons against their exes. I think your fiance may be just trying to do the best he can, while keeping visitation open for his little girl.

Also realize that if you and your fiance stay together, this woman WILL be a major part of your lives until that little girl is grown. Can you live with that? If not, then you may be right about reconsidering marriage to this man. They say when you marry, you don't just marry the person - you get a package deal. If you can't marry the package, then don't marry at all.

Although it's very commendable what you're doing for this child, and how much you truly care for her, the fact is that you are not related to her in any way, so your BF is right: you really do not have any say-so in how this child is raised. The really sad part is, I think that it will not change even after you marry him. If the disagreements cause so much stress now, and "he doesn't want to hear it," that probably won't change.

Can you live with that?

I've heard it said that you can't change another's behavior, but you CAN change how you react to it. That said, I think you should tone down the recriminations of this baby's mother and how her father deals (or doesn't deal) with it. Instead, just make it your mission to be the best step-mother you can be to this child, and most supportive, encouraging wife possible to your future husband.

And learn how to knit, so you can make an endless supply of mittens and scarves.



iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Fri, 08-29-2003 - 10:10am
Yeah, what Misfit said, and when you complain to your fiance, you are probably not telling him anything he doesn't already know and is upset about himself. Your job in this relationship is to support him as he deals with his X. Realise that however strong you feel about his DD he feels the same only twice as strongly. Whenever you vent to him, he may become even that much more frustrated because he really cannot change the situation. Men tend to be doers, they take care of things rather than talk about them. You can imagine how frustrated he feels about how little control he has over how his child is raised. Vent here, vent to your friends and family, but with your fiance, let him vent to you. He has enough on his plate dealing with his own emotions about this. I am not saying that you shouldn't talk about how you feel, just be very careful about how you do so.

What goes on at her house is her business, and what goes on at your house is your business. This is a good mantra to use to keep your cool, however, practically speaking, you should buy a notebook and start documenting everything. The notebook should be the kind that you can't tear a page out without it being obvious (never tear a page out) and document more that just neglect(not taking a child to the Dr when she is running a fever and not responding is neglect). Make it a kind of SD (step-daughter) diary. This will come in VERY handy if there should be a change in custody. Also, keep a file of all documents (any kind of evalutaion whether it be physical, emotional, or educational). This will provide a kind of paper trail of parental involvement/neglect.

You are experiencing the particular kind of hell that only step-parents have the priviledge of inhabiting. You are a major part of the child's life, but you have no control, nor do you have the right to make any major decisions about the child. You can, however, be held responsible for the child's physical, emotional and monetary care or behavior in some States. On Ivillage there are several step-parenting boards that may be very helpful to you. When we went through several difficult years with my SD, the step-mother's board on Parentsplace kept me sane.

Your SD is very lucky to have you in her life.