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Step Moms or members of a blended family...

My step daughter is 4 and she is starting preschool (just for a few months to acclimate her socially to the environment she can expect in kindergarten). Because a lot of research supports healthy interactions of all parental figures in a child's life, we have decided to invite her other family (her bio mom and step dad) out to dinner with us to celebrate. I am a huge part of my (s)daughter's life in all aspects (doctor's visits, education, monetarily, and time wise) I am more present than her biological mother. At any rate, I have no interest in competing with the position she holds in my daughter's life... but the prospect of this whole thing is making me anxious. How do I politely defend my own position in her life? If you are one of those people that thinks that step parents play the baby sitter role, I have no interest in hearing your opinion. I want to do what's best for my daughter and yet I don't want there to be a power struggle for the "alpha" mom. For my daughter's sake, for my sake, and for my other children's sake. How do I approach the situation with tact and respect and still stay firm? How would you prepare yourself to avoid conflict without ultimately submitting to bio mom?

Like I said, it's a long story but I have no desire to hear from people who simply believe I am not a real mom to her, or who believe I should submit to natural mom. It IS a complex situation and she IS my daughter whether or not half of her genetic material is mine. What I am looking for is conflict diffusion advice. Thank you!!!


Asked by ashleyaction at 2:36 PM on Jan. 10, 2011 in General Parenting

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Answers (16)
  • Dont do anything....I too am Step mom actually ended up have all three of my husbands daughters come live with us. Just continue to be you...Not sure how the Bio Mom acts when she is around you, but if she is anything like the one I have to deal with, I just let her go through her nonsense and dont respond...Your (s)daughter knows the roles of the adults in her life, she knows who has her best interest at heart...She knows the difference between someone being mommy verse to someone just living the title.....My youngest (s)daughter was having issues when she first came here so we were back in forth to the school..One day while in a meeting with the counsler the counsler stated to me "you know that she considers you her mother". So just continue to love her, she is aware believe me..

    Answer by sam223 at 4:12 PM on Jan. 10, 2011

  • I used t o prepare for the worse, take a few deep breathes and pray it all went well and it did face to face, it was more the behind the back thing going on, I didnt bother with defending myself except to say something like "well that's too bad we all cant be more positive,..." Kids figure out themselves whats really going on and either ignore it and/or make a stand when they feel need to do so.

    In our case of dinner out, it should be made clear its a dinner for daughter and I dont know why there would be any issues with that. Daughter lives with you , so its your rules that apply most generally except maybe when sh evisits bio. mom at her place.

    Answer by kingkongsmom at 2:44 PM on Jan. 10, 2011

  • It really depends on how ALL the adults see their roles in the child's life. If there is going to be any negativity, posturing, or anything that will otherwise make the situation uncomfortable I wouldn't do it. If you feel you are going to be in a position of "defending" your role in your SD's life, why would you put the child through that? "The research" is only as good as all the participants involved.

    I stopped going to my stepsons school functions because their mother made such a scene. It was best for them that I supported them quietly in the background. I have no interaction with their mother, and I don't intend to. If there are issues to be discussed between the households, my DH handles it. It's not me submitting to anyone, it's me adjusting to a role as a stepparent.

    Answer by Scuba at 2:46 PM on Jan. 10, 2011

  • Thank you guys! Maybe I am paranoid. She does a lot of things behind my back to try and under cut or discredit me. I am desperately hoping this goes smoothly because I feel that it's important to show my daughter we are willing to play nice for her. I guess that I am the only person I can decide will play nice... I just don't want her to be conflicted as she grows... I don't want her to have to decide which mother to invite to major life events, I don't want her to be afraid that she has to take sides or to chose. I often feel like I am at terrible odds with her natural mother but for the most part I swallow it, especially if it's an issue that doesn't relate to our daughter (she crosses the line with my husband sometimes but that's a different story) and I NEVER speak ill of her mother in front of her. The fact is, she is still a part of her life and they have love and a bond and I never want her to have to feel guilty about

    Comment by ashleyaction (original poster) at 3:04 PM on Jan. 10, 2011

  • Well, unless you expect the mom to allow you the "alpha mom" role, you can either chose to take your place as step mom, not mom or prepare for a fight, the choice is yours

    Answer by JLS2388 at 3:04 PM on Jan. 10, 2011

  • ... any of that. Our problems are OUR problems. She should not be burdened with them. She should know we both love her and we both do our best to care for her in our own ways. I am afraid of her natural mom wanting to take more of a stand than that and how it might affect my family. I don't know, like I said I am worried about perceived territorial lines. I think bio mom is threatened by the fact that I am a lot more involved in my daughter's life than she is. I just want what's best for my baby girl.

    Comment by ashleyaction (original poster) at 3:07 PM on Jan. 10, 2011

  • JLS - I am prepared for a fight. I am just trying to turn that fight into more of a polite boundary display, something tactful and compromising instead of a pissing match that makes a scene in front of the baby. If she would have been a full time mom in the first place there would have been no room for me to do so. But she left a gaping hole and I have filled it lovingly and completely. She made the choices that made it necessary for another parental figure to enter my daughters life.I am both grateful and angry about it but in the end it is what it is. I am a loving full time, fully involved caregiver and parental figure to my daughter. In many ways more so than her natural mother. I have no desire to back down and allow her to do selfish things to my daughter that negatively impact my whole family.

    Comment by ashleyaction (original poster) at 3:13 PM on Jan. 10, 2011

  • ashley, I hope you didn't get me wrong. I think it is great that you are providing this child a mother figure. Being a mother who is not with the father of her child, I do get a little offensive at a step mom who tries to play mommy when the father only has the child 2 times a month. In cases like yours though, I think it is wonderful that there are women prepared to be a mother to children that aren't theirs. Does the mother ever have the child?

    Answer by JLS2388 at 3:51 PM on Jan. 10, 2011

  • She has her. She's supposed to have her 50 percent of the time but she takes her to her home something closer to thirty percent of the time and she is rarely there (Step dad stays with her) and she insists on picking her up right before bed time and bringing her back the next day early afternoon. She gets to be the fun one but she never takes her to her doctors, provides for her clothes or education, she never helps her with her letters or numbers... I don't know, I try not to think about all of her shortcomings so I'll stop there. She's entitled to a lot more than she takes advantage of. Half the time she's supposed to have her she calls ME up to say she's dropping her of. My daughter calls ME mom and her other mother by her first name. I don't know, I don't actually feel like I need to be the top mom in my daughters eyes, I just don't feel like being any less respected just because I didn't give birth to her. I also have...

    Comment by ashleyaction (original poster) at 3:57 PM on Jan. 10, 2011

  • ...two biological children from a previous marriage. I don't treat them any differently. I don't do any more or less for them. They are all my babies. My ex husband is engaged and I can relate with the view point of the other side too. I know all of this is highly emotionally charged which is why I am trying to do something uncomfortable and potentially risky with caution. I think it's worth it for my daughter but I want to go into it with my eyes wide open and my intentions and boundaries clear as day. I feel like I am respectful towards natural mom most of the time, but I was looking for suggestions on how to maintain that respectful decorum in the face of someone who might not be willing to extend the same branch. It's all for the kids and I don't see it being any good for my daughter to see a spightful selfish display from one important woman in her life working to her advantage. I need to show my daughter effective tools.

    Comment by ashleyaction (original poster) at 4:02 PM on Jan. 10, 2011