Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)

Stepmom Central Stepmom Central

New Stepmom and Need Advice

Posted by   + Show Post

I'm new to the stepparent role, and I feel like a fish out of water.  I have two sons of mine from my first marriage, but I don't feel like I can parent my stepson the way I parent my children.  It's hard to feel like I'm being fair all the way around though.  How do I find balance?  How do I ensure that I don't overstep my bounds?  Even when we were just dating, my husband told his son and myself that I had my husband's blessing to discipline his son.  However, I also know that the ex-wife doesn't think to kindly of me at all.  (I'm hoping that will change in time, as it did between myself and my ex's wife.)  I don't want to create any trouble.

At the same time, my stepson is significantly different than my sons.  My sons are quite independent and self-sufficient for their ages - which is how I raised them to be.  They can take their own showers, trim their own nails, can do some cooking on their own, etc.  (My sons are 11 and 10.)  My stepson is 10 and doesn't do anything for himself.  He can't shower without someone getting the shower ready for him, he can't trim his own nails, doesn't get himself anything to eat or drink or pick up after himself - he expects it to be done for him, he can't tie shoes, etc.  He wets the bed every night unless someone gets up to wake him up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom.  (We've had times even during the day where he wets himself too; and the boy had admitted to knowingly doing it.)  I hate to say it, but it drives me crazy!  I keep trying to teach him how to be a "normal" 10 year old, but he sulks and spouts a serious attitude.  Often his father will get so angry that he ends up doing the things for his son, then carries on about how useless his son is.  I really can't stand that.

But I also can't stand the lies this child spins to tell his mother, which gets her angry at us.  He's even done it between his father and I, and to my sons.  My sons have even been witness to things that he's lied about, who have told the truth to my husband.  Sometimes, though, it's been turned around that my sons and I gang up on my stepson because of our telling the truth to his lies.

Unfortunately, it's getting to the point that I'm starting to resent my stepson... to the point where I'm starting to not like him.  What do I do?  How can I help him without crossing the line with his mother?  How do I stop myself from not liking him?  How do I repair the damage to my relationship with my stepson?

by on Feb. 23, 2013 at 1:00 PM
Replies (11-20):
amylynn98
by on Feb. 24, 2013 at 1:24 AM

Okay, you have an objective view.  I do need that in addition to support.  However, I totally disagree with you when you bring my sons into the "gang up" idea.  My sons don't make fun of him or tease him, even though they know he wets himself day and night.  They stick up for him around others and make sure that he's included, even when my nephews are ignoring him.  So it upsets me that you included my sons in that.  They have their issues, they're children, but my sons don't gang up on him.  I honestly don't feel that there is any "ganging up on" happening.  I feel that it is his way of pointing out that he doesn't like getting into trouble.

An example: my husband had to work late one night, so it was myself, my sons, and my stepson.  After dinner and homework, I asked all three boys to take a shower.  My stepson told me that he had a deal with his dad to take a shower in the mornings.  When my husband came home, I told him that all of the homework was done and checked, but that my stepson didn't shower because he told me he had a deal with my husband.  Now, mind you, my stepson said this to me and both of my sons.  My stepson got into trouble with his dad because he hadn't taken a shower that morning, and no they didn't have such a deal.  My stepson called me and my sons liars, saying that he never said he had a deal with his father.  Then, in the midst of arguing with his dad, my stepson told his dad that yes they did have an agreement for morning showers.  My husband insisted my stepson get into the shower immediately and that such an agreement was not made.  And my stepson proceeded to call his own father a liar, saying that he never said they had the agreement either!  Were any of us ganging up on him?  No.  He said something to us, and when it was brought back to him, he called the three of us liars when we were repeating to him what he said to us.

But you do make a home-hitting remark when you ask about anyone in our home really enjoying my stepson being here.  That's part of my problem, which is why I posted.  I'm having a hard time enjoying him anymore because of what goes on.  I don't want to feel this way, which is another reason why I posted.  I'm growing resentful at the tension that's brought into my home when he's here.  His dad is a time-bomb when my stepson is here and gets angry over the stupidest things.  One night it was about no one wanting to admit to eating the last ice cream sandwich.  It's not like that when my stepson is not here.

And, please don't accuse me of not having empathy for the child.  I do, and I do feel horrible about the way I feel.  If I didn't, I wouldn't have cared enough to post about this.  I am frustrated with the situation.  I am frustrated that I can't do more to help because I'm not a biological parent.  I am frustrated because I keep trying to talk to my husband to get some help for him and my stepson, but it hasn't been done yet.  I am frustrated with the behaviors my stepson exhibits and the lack (albeit my opinion) of parenting that needs to be done to help him. 

Quoting kristinbugg:

Let the child's BPs parent him and act in a supporting role rather than a parenting one. Same goes for discipline.

Stop comparing this child to your children. The children have different parents and are being raised according to their parents' standards....and that's okay.

The way you portray the situation, I can honestly see where SS could believe that you and your sons gang up against him. Even Dad gets frustrated with his son. Does this child have anyone in his father's home who really enjoys him being there? You point out all of this child's faults but don't mention one good thing about him. It seems you could develop some empathy for this child.



amylynn98
by on Feb. 24, 2013 at 1:49 AM

We have my stepson every other week for the entire week.  Sometimes more if his mother needs help.  I do want my stepson to want to come, and I don't want to take his mother's place.  My husband and I have tried our best to merge our routines, and we make adjustments when we see an issue.  Bedtime is one of them.  My sons, because of my work schedule, have always been allowed to stay up until 9am (way too late for a child, I know, but that was what worked for my ex and myself at the time).  My stepson was always put to bed between 8 and 8:30 (more respectable for children).  Visitation has changed between my ex and myself, our sons see their father only on weekends, but I still don't get them until 8:30 on Sunday nights.  My husband and I have realized that an 8pm bedtime just won't work, even though it is preferred for his son - we also want to be fair.  So we decided that 8pm will begin our getting ready for bed routine, with lights out  no later than 8:30.  My kids love to push the buttons, so we know that starting a bedtime routine any later than 30 minutes before bed, and my kids will still be up.  (Another problem completely.)

I like what you said about picking battles and looking at it from his perspective as an "outsider."  My big thing is disrespect.  I can't stand it and won't tolerate it.  My kids have been made well aware of this.  And my relationship with their father and his wife prevents them from even trying to tell lies to pit us against each other.  They know we check with each other.  And my father never remarried, so I never got the chance to know what it was like to be a child going into someone else's home that was shared with my father.  While I do try to make things equal and fair, maybe I'm not doing enough?  My stepson went grocery shopping with me the other day and was thrilled that I let him pick some things out, and glowed under my praise for making healthy choices.  Honestly, it was one of the best times he and I have ever had together.

And you're right about my husband wimping out.  He is a serious helicopter parent and I won't let him do it anymore.  He's not helping his son.  Instead of working with my stepson on things, my husband will just swoop in and do it for him because it's easier that way.  I have been working with my stepson to teach him things to help him develop a sense of self-worth.  But, it frustrates me that he has this self-defeated, I-can't-do-it-someone-else-do-it-for-me attitude.  Asking him to do anything for himself is like asking someone to donate you a gold-encrusted kidney!  He lacks the desire to even try.

My parents and stepfather did not get along while I was growing up.  (My mom and my stepdad have been married since I was 5.)  It was a horrible way to grow up.  So I don't let my stepson know when their is an issue between his parents and myself - especially between his mother and myself.  I don't want him to feel the way I did.  But I also don't want him to think I hate him either.  I want to love him.  I want to have a good relationship with him.  My frustration over everything has begun getting in the way.  I don't want it to.  I don't want to feel the way I do now. 

One thing I thought of tonight is to ask my stepson's mother if she would be willing to get some coffee together so that I can understand her perspective and what she expects from me.  I'm hoping that this would help as far as discipline goes.  I'd like to explain to her my routines with my children as far as rules and consequences go, and see what hers are... maybe then we would be able to work out a way for me to discipline my stepson when it is necessary that won't overstep her preferences.  But, regardless, I will not tolerate disrespect in my home.  Would it be overstepping my bounds to seek her out in getting help for my stepson?


Quoting IloveElephants:

My step kids were 3 & 4 when I met my husband.  They are now 32 & 33.  My approach was different.  I wanted the kids to WANT to come out and see their dad.  I didn't want to be called "mom" by them.  I wanted to be their friend.  Yes, their daily routine was different than ours, but okay, I can work with that.  I don't know how long your visits are, but we just had them friday night through sunday afternoon.  Can't really train or change too much in that short period.  So...

1) you have to pick your battles

pick one thing that you want to be firm on and forget the rest.  The kid isn't going to make a bunch of changes FOR YOU in a couple of days.  He's still angry about the divorce and YOU are the reason.  Doesn't matter if you are or aren't.  That's how he see's it.

Look at it from his point of view:  when he comes over he's an outsider.  That's tough.  Plan something that he will like.  What are his favorite foods?  What does he like to do?  I made sure that my step kids had their favorite ice cream sandwiches, sodas, I made them their favorite dinners.  We would go on late night ice cream runs to the store, we'd go camping, to the snow, swimming, whatever they wanted to do we did it.

And remember this:  the ex-wife has ALL the power.  It is your responsibility to work with her not the other way around.  Your husband will wimp out..they all do.  You will be nice.  You will maintain a friendly relationship with her so that when you are all together your kids and the step kid will see that everything is fine and moving forward.  

If I had to do it all over again, I would've run the other way from a divorced man with 2 kids.  It will always be there.  No matter what you do or don't do, you can't escape his other life.  Granted I have a beautiful daughter with him and I would never change that because she is the light of my world.  As for his kids, well we're left out of a lot.  We're not included in a lot.  And that had nothing to do with me.  Your husband needs to get on board.  Sounds like he's passive.  He needs to communicate with his ex on what's going on and together with her find a solution to the bedwetting and other behaviors.  Have the 3 of them talk to find a solution.  They're still his mom and dad.  If they do it together, maybe the son will  act out less.  Your husband needs to talk to her about the lies the son tells.  address each one.  You all need to be united on this or you are in for lots of pain, hurt, and trouble.



DarlaHood
by on Feb. 24, 2013 at 3:36 AM
1 mom liked this

You need to sit down as a new family and negotiate rules that everyone can live by and consequences that are used consistently.  However, he must parent his child, and you must parent yours primarily.  That's why it's easier to agree on consequences ahead of time because if one of you is not home, and a kid violates a house rule, the consequence is already set and can be handled temporarily by the parent that is there - with all children knowing it's been agreed upon.

Honestly, bed-wetting at age 10 is most likely tied to emotional problems.  Especially with day incidents and intent.  Along with the immature behavior, tantrums, manipulation, and lies, the situation is concerning from a mental health standpoint.  Most 10-yr-olds would defnitely want to learn to tie their shoes even if the parents didn't teach that, simply based on peer pressure.  He may need to be evaluated by a psychologist/therapist/psychiatrist depending on the issues.  I would start with his doctor, and go from there.  The only way to repair damage is to build relationship, and that means you have to spend time with him 1-on-1 doing things that you can enjoy together. Good luck.  Both of you should be doing this with all 3 kids.  I would really try to get your dh and his mom to seek help for their son together.  Any good mental health professional will explain that they have to help resolve his issues, present a united front, and be consistent.  With a kid who is manipulative and lies, it can be a serious problem if the parents can be played against each other. 


DarlaHood
by on Feb. 24, 2013 at 3:45 AM

I noted your situation with the shower and the lies.  It might help if the first rule were to know that there are no agreements beyond what is posted when it comes to responsibilities and rules.  So if it says every night he has to shower, brush teeth, brush hair, and put on clean pajamas by 8:00 in order to get time being read to, reading, playing with a favorite toy, night time snack - whatever is meaninful to him, then he really can't argue if it hasn't been changed on the chart.

Obviously that doesn't take care of all the possible things he could lie about, but it does make it easier to get through the routine things.   

whatIknownow
by Ruby Member on Feb. 24, 2013 at 7:48 AM
1 mom liked this

About the bedwetting - please seperate that from the other things you listed as examples of "not doing anything for himself." This is a medical thing and he has absolutely no control over this.

Now, to start with, you're a new SM to a 10yo who already has a mom, so there is no need for you to "parent him the way you parent your children." You are your kids' mom so of course you're going to parent them, and you  have been, all along. But you are new to your SS's life, so he may not accept you as a parent just because you married his father. That bond takes time to build. And with the way you seem to feel about him, it is not going to build any time soon.

My suggestion is, accept your husband's parenting style, let him do what he wants for his son. Let him be the parent to his son, and you be the parent to your kids. Be "the nice lady married to dad." Try this for a while and see if it improves your relationship with him.

newstepmom61811
by on Feb. 24, 2013 at 9:25 AM

I face some of this behavior with SS9, part of it is the age too I think with boys, challenging authority. I just don't engage. With my SS on the rare times he is alone with me and I know or have a feeling he is making up something his dad has said or not listening or following the rules, in your case the deal about the shower, I would call dad immediately and tell him in front of SS on the phone "I asked SS to get his shower, he is right here, he said no, this is his reason why, I wanted to make sure I was completely in the loop." Kids like this thrive on how stories change over time, they will accuse others of lying if you rely on others to confirm what you heard, my SS accuses his siblings of lying about him all the time. You just have to handle it directly with the source in the immediate before the story can be spun and more people get taken down. Oh my SS has gotten so very angry with me and frustrated but I have just calmly and repeatedly told him he is a bad liar, his father and I don't deal well with liars and he will be busted and in trouble every time. It has been a very hard 6 months but I will say it is paying off, the last two he has been truly working hard in our home at staying out of trouble and much more a part of the family and lovable, it's better for all, he's not in trouble all the time and feels the love of being a well behaved child and we enjoy his company. One key to the approach is serious teamwork with DH. I made it clear that he had to be available to me if I was going to watch the kids alone for times like that when the pulled the "I don't have to listen to you". It also helps against the "ogre" reaction you describe when DH comes home to a house of problems. He ended up parenting with a cooler head. Another key is the kid knowing the rules are dad's  you are merely and extension expecting the kid to follow dad's rules. As for working with BM, sometimes this is a lost cause, she doesn't really have to get on board with anything you want her to do, she realistically can parent any way she sees fit...does this suck? Yes, confuse the kid? Yes make it harder on the kid? Yes. I go through this too. BMs house is total chaos, lord of the flies. She calls all the time screaming at DH that he needs the help her and get his kids in line and can't understand how we don't have the issues she does at our house. He cuts her off and just tells her to parent her kids instead of being their friends and they'd respect her. I stay totally away from this fight. Understand, for a SM to try to tell a BM how to parent the SK is absolute quicksand, on of the fastest ways to terminally skink the relationship. 

Quoting amylynn98:

Okay, you have an objective view.  I do need that in addition to support.  However, I totally disagree with you when you bring my sons into the "gang up" idea.  My sons don't make fun of him or tease him, even though they know he wets himself day and night.  They stick up for him around others and make sure that he's included, even when my nephews are ignoring him.  So it upsets me that you included my sons in that.  They have their issues, they're children, but my sons don't gang up on him.  I honestly don't feel that there is any "ganging up on" happening.  I feel that it is his way of pointing out that he doesn't like getting into trouble.

An example: my husband had to work late one night, so it was myself, my sons, and my stepson.  After dinner and homework, I asked all three boys to take a shower.  My stepson told me that he had a deal with his dad to take a shower in the mornings.  When my husband came home, I told him that all of the homework was done and checked, but that my stepson didn't shower because he told me he had a deal with my husband.  Now, mind you, my stepson said this to me and both of my sons.  My stepson got into trouble with his dad because he hadn't taken a shower that morning, and no they didn't have such a deal.  My stepson called me and my sons liars, saying that he never said he had a deal with his father.  Then, in the midst of arguing with his dad, my stepson told his dad that yes they did have an agreement for morning showers.  My husband insisted my stepson get into the shower immediately and that such an agreement was not made.  And my stepson proceeded to call his own father a liar, saying that he never said they had the agreement either!  Were any of us ganging up on him?  No.  He said something to us, and when it was brought back to him, he called the three of us liars when we were repeating to him what he said to us.

But you do make a home-hitting remark when you ask about anyone in our home really enjoying my stepson being here.  That's part of my problem, which is why I posted.  I'm having a hard time enjoying him anymore because of what goes on.  I don't want to feel this way, which is another reason why I posted.  I'm growing resentful at the tension that's brought into my home when he's here.  His dad is a time-bomb when my stepson is here and gets angry over the stupidest things.  One night it was about no one wanting to admit to eating the last ice cream sandwich.  It's not like that when my stepson is not here.

And, please don't accuse me of not having empathy for the child.  I do, and I do feel horrible about the way I feel.  If I didn't, I wouldn't have cared enough to post about this.  I am frustrated with the situation.  I am frustrated that I can't do more to help because I'm not a biological parent.  I am frustrated because I keep trying to talk to my husband to get some help for him and my stepson, but it hasn't been done yet.  I am frustrated with the behaviors my stepson exhibits and the lack (albeit my opinion) of parenting that needs to be done to help him. 

Quoting kristinbugg:

Let the child's BPs parent him and act in a supporting role rather than a parenting one. Same goes for discipline.

Stop comparing this child to your children. The children have different parents and are being raised according to their parents' standards....and that's okay.

The way you portray the situation, I can honestly see where SS could believe that you and your sons gang up against him. Even Dad gets frustrated with his son. Does this child have anyone in his father's home who really enjoys him being there? You point out all of this child's faults but don't mention one good thing about him. It seems you could develop some empathy for this child.





bclay1
by on Feb. 24, 2013 at 11:30 AM
First of all if you are the one on charge when he is there Then you can't wait for dad to get home. If he is being disrespectful he can wait in his room for the father to get home. But you can't sit by and let him disrespect himself. With the other things. Like shower show him how to and then have him do it in front of you a couple of time and then cut the cord. Refuse to do it for him. If he refused to turn on shower then he can fill the Sink and give himself a spoung bath. Don't belittle the child by saying he is useless. Tell him he can do it and then go about what you have to do. As for having accident if he does them he can clean the clothes in the sink. Clean the carpets and mattresses and put his bedding in laundry. And I would tell his father he needs to get him into a dr
Posted on the NEW CafeMom Mobile
amylynn98
by on Feb. 24, 2013 at 3:14 PM

I have been trying to get my husband to take my stepson for help.  My husband took him to a pediatric urologist who did several tests, and determined that the wetting was not related to any physical problem.  As for therapy, if I could do it myself I would.  I'm frustrated and tired of banging my head on the wall asking my husband to do this for his son.  If I had the rights to do this for my stepson, it would already be done.

Please know that, I want to have a good relationship with my stepson.  I'm struggling with my feelings because of the problems created.  I know I can't blame it on him, some of that goes to my husband as well for talking down to his son.  I also try to be fair between my sons and my stepson.  I don't want there to be any jealousy or resentment.  However, the occurrences have resulted in my beginning to feel resentful of the child.  I know this isn't good, and I don't want to feel that way either.  I feel like something is wrong with me.

I have tried talking to my husband about parenting and discipline when it comes to his son.  He tells me that he wants me to parent as if I am the biological mother.  But I'm not.  I'm not her, and I don't want to take her place.  I would hate any woman who tried to take my place with my children.  But I also expect certain things in my home - such as respect.  And this includes my husband.  I don't call my children names, I will not allow my children being called names.  My husband calls his son names, and I can't stand that.  I think it's wrong in so many ways.  I expect my husband to shape up and stop name-calling his son.

Nagons.sm
by on Feb. 25, 2013 at 9:17 AM
1 mom liked this

 I think you are doing great so far. I think your idea of talking to BM is a great one, but I wouldn't get my hopes up too high. You know us mothers can be very defensive about our kids (even when we know there is a problem). Just try to remain very open and friendly with her if she does agree to having a talk. Let her know you are doing it strictly to help her son feel more comfortable at your home.

If neither of his BPs are doing anything about counseling, could you see about having him talk to the counselor at his school? I don't have the legal rights to get my sd into counseling, so she is seeing her school counselor right now. He let me know that if he thinks she (or any student for that matter) needs more in-depth counseling, that he will call the parents and inform them of how important it is to get the child into counseling as soon as possible.

Maybe try showing him how to tie his shoes. Ask him if there's anything special he would like to do that day, then if he at least tries to tie his shoes, give him small but significant rewards and lots of praise. Then once he learns how, give him a big reward.

I really wish you luck, mama. You sound like you truly care and that alone will mean the most because it will mean SOMEONE in his life is actually trying to help him :)


Quoting amylynn98:

I have been trying to get my husband to take my stepson for help.  My husband took him to a pediatric urologist who did several tests, and determined that the wetting was not related to any physical problem.  As for therapy, if I could do it myself I would.  I'm frustrated and tired of banging my head on the wall asking my husband to do this for his son.  If I had the rights to do this for my stepson, it would already be done.

Please know that, I want to have a good relationship with my stepson.  I'm struggling with my feelings because of the problems created.  I know I can't blame it on him, some of that goes to my husband as well for talking down to his son.  I also try to be fair between my sons and my stepson.  I don't want there to be any jealousy or resentment.  However, the occurrences have resulted in my beginning to feel resentful of the child.  I know this isn't good, and I don't want to feel that way either.  I feel like something is wrong with me.

I have tried talking to my husband about parenting and discipline when it comes to his son.  He tells me that he wants me to parent as if I am the biological mother.  But I'm not.  I'm not her, and I don't want to take her place.  I would hate any woman who tried to take my place with my children.  But I also expect certain things in my home - such as respect.  And this includes my husband.  I don't call my children names, I will not allow my children being called names.  My husband calls his son names, and I can't stand that.  I think it's wrong in so many ways.  I expect my husband to shape up and stop name-calling his son.


 

EvilStepmom428
by on Feb. 25, 2013 at 12:34 PM
1 mom liked this

Okay, I'm an old hand at this.  My children are grown and I've been at it for over 20 years.  So, let's take it one step at a time.

1.  Your feelings are normal.  Every emotion you are feeling is normal.  Welcome to the club.  Don't feel bad.  It's okay.  Here's what I did.  The fact is that there are a couple of parental teams at work.  You and your ex are the team with your kids.  Your husband and his ex are the parental team on your stepson.  As far as the basic rules, we (stepmom) executes what the other team does.

2.  Children's development and skill sets are what they are.  Your stepson's responsibilities, etc. are a result of his own development and his parental team.  Don't get caught up in believing that your kids are better or that your parental skills are better.  This is a deadly trap.  Here is the truth.  Your stepson will grow up.  He will get his own drinks (believe me!) and, someday, he will pick up after himself.  Right now, in your home, close the door to his bedroom, if you have that option.  Pick one thing that gets on your nerves the most and focus on that one thing.  Eg. Don't leave clothes in the den. Get on the same page as your husband and execute the one thing.  I don't know how long you have been married, but "blending" and "bonding" is a long term process. (Statistically, 5-7 years or so)

3.  Your stepson is living a chaotic life.  He is probably furious that his dad is now living with other boys.  Think about that!  Be sure your husband spends some one on one time with him.  You don't need to do everything in a group.  As far as the lying goes, you can't control what he is telling his Mom.  Children tend to say what they think a parent wants to hear.  Let it go.  The rest of the lying....I need an example. 

It's frustrating when you feel as if you are out of control in your own home.  Truth is...you are, somewhat, out of control in your own home.  It's okay.  These situations teach us patience, humility and a lesser need for control.

Want to talk more?  I'm at www.TheEvilStepmotherSpeaks.com



Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)