Stepmom....acceptance from stepchildren

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-30-2006
Stepmom....acceptance from stepchildren
22
Tue, 05-15-2007 - 7:20pm
I was wondering if any of you experienced step moms could tell me how long it takes for your stepchildren to finally fully accept you? For visits to feel comfortable and without tension. It has been two years and we have made tremendous progress. At times though I still feel like I am the outsider…the odd woman out. I often feel that I am basically just their father’s wife. I was unhappy that neither of my stepchildren wished me a happy birthday after their dad told them it was my birthday. Is this what stepmother hood is all about? I guess my problem is that I shouldn’t seek validation of myself as a person by the way my stepchildren treat me. I mean this is what I chose…to marry a man with children. I don’t want to be up there with “mom”- that is reserved for their mother and the fact that they only visit with us part of the time makes the whole getting to know you thing a little difficult since I don’t see her much. Just when I feel that I’ve finally reached the point where I am accepted my sd will make a comment about how horrible divorce is and how she is still devastated and will make comments when we watch movies and there is a step mom in it that step mother’s are all evil. It’s been 8 years since her parents divorced. Her mother moved on right away with a man and married and her dad had a few serious relationships before me. I had nothing to do with the divorce and her parents have clearly moved on so why am I being punished? They are never disrespectful or mean to me and I know from reading some of the posts that it could be MUCH worse. It’s subtle. Like on our one-year anniversary. My ss gave us both a big hug and said happy anniversary. My sd was sullen and said nothing all day. Any suggestions on how I can deal with this without taking it personally?

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iVillage Member
Registered: 12-11-2006
Tue, 05-15-2007 - 8:01pm

Dear Dazed,

I'm sure DW will have much to add in a few days. She is studying for an exam at the moment, which is Thursday, so it will be after that.

She is going through the same thing. Although our children, from my former marriage are both in their mid 30's! How is that. They are not even "kids" any more, but the divorce has that much of an effect on them. DW was not a part of our divorce. She came along well after our divorce. ExW had an affair, married the guy...it gets even more colorful (which I'll add in a bit). I was not the one who sought the divorce. I fought the issue quite hard, but was unsuccessful (THANK HEAVENS!) Now DW has to put up with being the "other woman" in their lives. You'd think DW was the one who caused or was somehow involved in the divorce...she wasn't even around! The divorce was final in 1998. I met DW in 2001.

The kids basically totally ignore her. We've been told more than once "she is NOT my mother" Hey, DW and I NEVER represented DW as their mother. I've tried to state/explain to both my kids that DW is the same to them, as their spouses are to me/us! So get over it! In-laws, are In-laws. DW has a remarkably great attitude, she tries as hard as she can to maintain her belief "one can never have too many people love them" But at times it is just beyond reason.

I try to assure DW that it has nothing to do with DW. DW shouldn't "seek" their acceptance or their love. If they accept her, If they love her, fine. BUT that doesn't change who she is, or what she believes. Is it hard, you bet. Does it work, well...once in a while.

Ok, back to the mud. ExW had an affair. Divorced me. Married the Affair. Ok, so that is about as normal as it gets, right? ExW then decides that she really doesn't like the "affair" life anylonger. Divorces Affair. Comes back to me. (well, actually she came back first, divorced him later). Boy there was just too much water over the dam for us to make it. It didn't work out. So she left. Moved back with/around the kids. Has been there ever since. Not remarried. Not even dating. At every opportunity does all she can to erode DW and I to our kids. It is a mess. But tell me of a divorce that isn't!

So, Dazed, welcome to our world!

Kevski

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-08-2003
Tue, 05-15-2007 - 10:58pm

What kind of acceptance are you looking for exactly? You are dad's wife and they aware of that and accept that, so what are you looking for? I'm not trying to be mean or anything... I just don't understand why they have to accept you as more than that if that is all they can accept you as? As a kid I never really accepted either one of my SF's for a number of reasons (and I didn't even know my father)... you may have to accept that their unwillingness/inability to/or whatever it may be to accept you as more than their dad's wife is how it is going to be for a while.

The way I look at it is that the grownups made all the decisions for them and the grownups want the kids to be as accepting of the changes as they are even though to them it isn't as easy to do so.

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-30-2006
Wed, 05-16-2007 - 1:02pm
Kevski, thank you. I feel like I'm not alone now. I appreciate you sharing. I married my husband because I deeply love him and we are very compatable. Our marriage is very solid, we are happy and that is what counts. I hope your situation gets better. Must be very difficult that your children don't accept your wife. I will not seek approval or acceptance anymore. I will continue to be affectionate and friendly to them but not get so hurt when it is not reciprocated. Many people say I shouldn't expect anything...think how they feel, their choices were made for them, etc. I fully understand that. I feel bad for all children of divorce. I equally feel bad for stepmothers who have to pay the price for starting over and finding the courage to love and marry again. I don't think we deserve the bad wrap nor the negativity that we get at times. It comes with the territory I suppose.
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-18-2003
Wed, 05-16-2007 - 1:53pm

In my case, I have two wons ages 15 and 19 very, very soon, and they have known B since they were 4 and 8. So for ten years now, from relatively early ages, he has been a huge part of their lives. The only problems have always turned out to be B's lack of confidence in himself and how he deals with them, and his wall that is his protection to not love them as much as he loves his own DD.

Now his DD has said that she "likes" me. We do get along fine when she visits. She is married and 25. I acknowledge her birthday and she ignores mine. We do exchange gifts at Christmas. We do not speak to each other unless face to face. She lives five hours away, and only visits her father twice a year. They speak on the phone once a week or once every other week. I was NOT invited to her wedding, and it pissed off my DH enough to pledge never to attend anything else, unless we are both included. She came to our wedding in Las Vegas (we paid for her and her then fiance in full), but it was the free vacation that she came for, not the wedding. She ignores our anniversary.

Ok, so you know what? That's fine. Her mom spent five years telling her how evil her father was and that I had placed some "magical, evil spell" on him. Even though the woman was clearly delusional, his daughter felt the need to side with her, in order to care for her. So, I am just thankful that she will visit her father (which makes him happy, and that makes me happy), and she is friendly, polite, civil, whatever towards me. We can't all be one big happy family all the time. Heck, sometimes it takes all I have to be polite, respectful and civil to my own college age son. LOL!!!

Pam

Pam

The choices we make in thought, word and deed inevitably return to us in kind.

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-02-2007
Wed, 05-16-2007 - 3:25pm
I am the custodial birth parent in our family situation. I have to tell you that I think the hardest job in the world is the non-custodial step-parent. I've been together with my dh for 10 years now, since my kids were toddlers. They don't remember a time when their father and I were together, so there hasn't been that overt "I wish my parents would get back together" thing. They accept my dh as a parent and authority figure, and he loves them as if they were his own. Most people don't realize that our oldest two kids (we have five) are not dh's biological kids. All of our children call my dh the same thing, which is "father" in another language. Dad in English is reserved for our older kids' father.
My ex remarried a few months before I did, so his wife has been in the picture for as long as my dh. The kids didn't accept her as well as they did my husband, and I think that's at least in part because they don't spend as much time with her. Plus she would come up with strange rules that were inconsistent with anything we did at my house, or anything that they did when my ex was home, and that had no practical basis. To make matters worse, my ex didn't support her in front of the kids, and still doesn't. They learned early on that he did not value her overly much, and so they didn't either. I once overheard my son (as a 6 year old) telling his friends "I have two dads, but only one mom."
I think step-parents go into relationships thinking that their spouse's adult children will be kind and at least polite, and the younger kids will acknowledge the authority of a step-parent. That depends on your spouse. If your spouse demands that kind of treatment for you from his/her kids, you have a much greater chance of getting it. He/she has to show you that respect as well, and call the kids on their behavior every single time until they stop the objectionable behavior. Don't expect to get cards on special events, even if you acknowledge events in your step-children's lives. Let your spouse do the acknowledging!
Good luck to you. I know you've got the hardest job in a blended family!

Cat 

Mom to 5: DS-17, DD-16, DD-11, DD-9, DS-7

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-18-2003
Thu, 05-17-2007 - 8:54am

{I think step-parents go into relationships thinking that their spouse's adult children will be kind and at least polite, and the younger kids will acknowledge the authority of a step-parent. That depends on your spouse. If your spouse demands that kind of treatment for you from his/her kids, you have a much greater chance of getting it. He/she has to show you that respect as well, and call the kids on their behavior every single time until they stop the objectionable behavior. Don't expect to get cards on special events, even if you acknowledge events in your step-children's lives. Let your spouse do the acknowledging! }

I think this is great, and is right on the money. In my case, I was smart enough to know that B's DD was never going to fully accept me as her stepparent. Her mother had already done a good job on that, telling her that he cared about my sons more than her, that he would cut her out of his will, etc., etc. So, it was B who expected her to "love" me, on the grounds the he "loved" me. He really had to work through those expectations with his therapist and learn how to compartmentalize my relationship with her, from his. He, fortunately, did what you said. He told her that he expected me to be treated with respect, and calls her on it if she doesn't (she always has). When I was not invited to her wedding, instead of rolling over and attending four days worth of celebrations, he attended the wedding, walked her down the aisle, went to the reception for the dance, and then came home. His DD was very upset, but he was quite firm that if I was not allowed to attend at all, he was only going to be there the one day. She is his only child, and that made a huge impact on her in realizing that my feelings were worth more to him than hers.

B and I just recently had a discussion about his exMIL, because she is extremely old, and will probably pass away very soon. She lived with B and his ex for ten years, and so I asked him, if his DD calls and says she would like him to attend any services held for her, what is he going to do? He said "I have told my DD that I will not attend anything again, where you are not included."

Pam

Pam

The choices we make in thought, word and deed inevitably return to us in kind.

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-11-2006
Thu, 05-17-2007 - 8:09pm

Dear Dazedandconfusedmom,

This is Mrs. Kevski (or dw as I am known on this website)!

Yes, I too am a step-mother. And I do commiserate with you! But, alas, that is all that I will probably be able to do -- is commiserate -- as my situation with my step-children and step-grandchildren is just as bleak -- or bleaker!

My relationship with Kevski is wonderful! We are in our 50's and both enjoying each other and life. Each of us was seeking a "partner" when we met each other -- and we are fulfilling that dream!

And, there is one really good thing that has come with my relationship (or lack thereof) with his children and grandchildren -- I always wondered if I had made a mistake by consciously deciding not to have children of my own. With the way his treat us, for the first time in my life -- at almost 54 years of age, I am GRATEFUL that I do not have children of my own -- if this is the way they treat you when you have loved, reared and supported them, then who needs that!

I, like you, did not cause Kevski's divorce. And he was divorced for awhile and had extensively dated before we fell madly in love. His former wife had remarried, divorced and then got back together with Kevski before I was ever in the picture. His two children are adults (in their 30's) and there are four grandchildren. There is no respect, no acceptance, no "Happy Mother's Day" (she's not my mother!), no "Happy Birthday". I am just someone that they put up with so that they can have a relationship with Kevski. To be fair, they have also grown closer to their mother and distanced themselves from Kevski. So, as Kevski would say, "I lost my children in the divorce!".

Your story sounds so close to mine that it is scary! Quite frankly, I have given up. But it still hurts -- big time. The pie, called love and family, should just get bigger! But, alas, it has not. And, Kevski, could not be more loving and supportive of the whole situation. I know it is devastating to him too as he is their father.

So what is a step-mom step-grandmother to do? I guess just be grateful and enjoy what we have and let the kids be the kids -- it is their issue (much easier to say than to do!) My heart goes out to you!

Sincerely and with a Step-Mother's Love (hey the store clerks wished me a "Happy Mother's Day!"),

Mrs. Kevski

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-18-2003
Fri, 05-18-2007 - 9:25am

HI, and welcome to the board!!!!

This jumped out in your post:

I, like you, did not cause Kevski's divorce. And he was divorced for awhile and had extensively dated before we fell madly in love. His former wife had remarried, divorced and then got back together with Kevski before I was ever in the picture.

I wonder how that emotional roller coaster affected the kids. When I got divorced, I had no intentions, whatsoever to reconcile. Never. The kids were quite aware of that. I never wanted them to build up this false hope that "MOM and DAD will get back together", because what if we tried and it didn't work out? I wasn't about to do that to the children. There are already too many surprises (good and bad) in life, I wasn't going to add that one, and I had control over it.

It's not great with Bob's DD and myself, but it's OK. In fact, I am seeing the good points, and when we do get together, we are having more and more fun and are more relaxed. One backwards step, is that her mother, who hates both B and I and is verbal about it, has moved from FLA to NY, and so the negativity is back. I just try to keep my head down and avoid the shrapnel. If the woman wants to live with that kind of hatred and bitterness (it's been ten years), and project it onto her only child, then all I can do is feel sorry for both of them.

Pam

Pam

The choices we make in thought, word and deed inevitably return to us in kind.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Fri, 05-18-2007 - 10:52am

I think that the expectations of my relationship w/ my 17 yo DSD are pretty minimal, so I am not upset w/ things like the fact that she doesn't talk to me unless spoken to first and I know she would never buy me a card for any occasion unless her dad actually takes her and buys the card or present himself. But then again, she has to be told by me that she should buy her own father a gift for his birthday or father's day. So if she can't do that, I'm not expecting much from her. We get along in a civil manner and right now, that's ok.

I do look at her background and i understand where she is coming from, I think. First of all her mother died when she was 3. Then after that, her dad remarried. I never found out exactly how long they were together but I don't think it was very long. Then when she was 10, he & I met. They moved in w/ my kids & me 2 yrs later and we got married 1 yr. after that. So by now, I have known her 7 yrs. and we have lived in the same house 5 yrs. and we still have no relationship! Meanwhile, when she had driver's ed and her dad couldn't get out of work on time to drive her there, it was ok for me to drive her to 15 classes. It's ok for me to pick her up from work. There is never any thank you. I could get all worked up about it, but it's not worth it. I understand why she couldn't give me a card on Mother's Day or even wish me a happy Mother's Day. So probably forever, I will just be "father's wife."

I believe that my DH had more expectations that my kids would really like him and then when my DD more or less ignored him, he was very upset. I know he would complain to me that when he was out of work a couple of years ago and my DD had to go to physical therapy and he drove her, he said she never talked to him in the car. I said "do you think your DD ever talks to me?" So I think that all you can really do is insist that you are treated politely but as my son said once "you can't make me like someone."

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-02-2007
Thu, 08-02-2007 - 10:53am
I don't really have an answer for you, but I am currently in the same type of situation.
I am divorced with my own children (19 and 22) living away (at college) for the most part. I have been dating a wonderful guy for 2 years and just a few weeks ago we got engaged. The problem is that his two children (ages 12 and 14) do not like our situation and the fact that their father is no longer with their mother. They either ignore me when I speak with them or give me one word answers, and sometimes are just really rude. My fiance has tied speaking with them, explaining that I had nothing to do with his leaving their mother (4 years ago), and that if they are upset with him, that they should not take their feelings out on me, but so far nothing is working. When they come to our house (that we bought and own together this past March), I often feel like a stranger in my own home because of them, and it is a very uncomfortable feeling for me. I am hoping somebody out there has some answers or solutions. My thought is that maybe he and his two children should see a therapist (together).....that perhaps an outside person may have some solution.

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