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Is it fair to have stepmother watching kids all the time? Need advice please!

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Hi everyone!  SO glad to have you all to tune into.  It makes me feel less alone in thiscrazy world of stepmothering. 

I have two SS, ages 8 and 9 1/2.  My husband has full custody, the BM is a real treat and not really around much and basically does much more harm than good with the boys.  My husband and I have been married going on 2 years.  I do not have children of my own so coming into being a mom was pretty much overnight.  It hasn't been easy.  My SS's, although they like me, want their BM as would be expected for children their age.  I cannot take her place nor do I try.  I see myself as a second mom and show respect towards their real mom (even though she doesn't deserve that respect).  They do have behavior problems due to the pain and feelings of rejection from their mother and we have them in counseling.  The behavior issues really become apparent when I am watching them and their dad isn't around.  My question for you all is this.  Do you feel it's fair to have me be expected to watch the boys frequently or do you feel it's more his responsibility?  I'm always good about putting myself in the other person's shoes and if it were my kids, I personally would feel they were my primary responsibility but I could ask him to help out once in a while.  I know this doesn't compare what so ever, but I came into the marriage with 2 cats which are the closest thing I have to my own children and I don't ever ask him to take care of feeding them, changing litter boxes, vet visits, etc.   The cats love him but I still feel like they are my responsibility.  Some background information, I work although not as many hours as my husband but I definitely make up for it by my domestic responsibilites in which I do 85% of it all. 

Any comments, words of wisdom, advice, etc is much appreciated.  Thank you in advance!






by on Mar. 3, 2013 at 10:04 PM
Replies (11-20):
by Gold Member on Mar. 4, 2013 at 11:14 AM
How do you feel about it? Do you feel you could use some time to yourself? I don't know your situation w/the BM but maybe the kids could stay w/her a bit more if you're feeling over whelmed.
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by on Mar. 4, 2013 at 11:30 AM

 Hello.  There is no right answer here.  Every situation is different and it depends on lot of factors.  Sounds like, from your post, you have the following issue(s):

1. DH expects you to take on the responsibility for the skids and he is not acknowledging all the work, time and effort that you put into their care.

2.  You need more help/more breaks from watching kids and DH is not aware of this.

Or maybe a combination of the two.  A potential solution is to talk to DH about acknowledging all the work you do, appreciating all the work you do, and to get a sitter a few nights a week to give you a break.

This is a VERY common situation that many stepmoms face.  My DH works late almost every night and I'm off work and here with my kids and skids alone.   

by ChiefBottleWasher on Mar. 4, 2013 at 11:35 AM
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I don't think there is a right or a wrong way, but I think you're dealing with 2 separate issues. 1) is it wrong that you're the primary care giver and Dad should be taking on more? 2) the lack of respect youre getting for the role youre taking on.

in the beginning I am the one who quit school and my career to be a sahsm, as dad had full custody and bm dropped out of the picture completely for about 6 months.We both agreed that DH should be the bread winner. I didn't mind doing the child rearing during the day and preferred them home with me over any other surrogate care. Dad was able and willing to take over at any time and also let me be involved as much as I wanted to be with no pressure. I also had his full backing regarding discipline, I did not find that the "wait until your father gets home" was effective to correct the unwanted behavior, but positive discipline is another post for another day. 

Today, even though I've returned back to work, I still arrange my schedule to be here for the kids during off track and after school, dad is here too, but I've always done the after school thing and my point is it is my thing... Doesn't have to be yours. 

If you are not wanting to be involved in the parenting, or the step mothering of the children, you are not obligated to and it would be appropiate to seek surrogate care for the times you would be with the children. Have you looked into alternatives? Dhs family? Day care? After school programs?

by on Mar. 4, 2013 at 12:25 PM

Well, my thoughts on this... you can't really compare watching/tending to your cats in the same manner as watching/tending to his children.  You talk about "watching them all the time"... are you talking about when he is at work, or when he is off doing other stuff?  If it is when he is at work, well, that is part of being a family.  If he is off and about all hours while you work, keep house AND care for the children, well, maybe you need to talk about it.  If you were not watching his kids, what would you be doing?

If you think the division of responsibility is unfair, talk to him... if he is off goofing off, help him find a way to incorporate his sons into whatever he is doing.

by Ruby Member on Mar. 4, 2013 at 12:37 PM
Def should have discussed this prior.

When SO and I moved in together it was with the understanding that while I'm available for short periods (hr or two) I also work FT and am not the nanny. My kids are teens so therefore pretty self sufficient while he has young ones.
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by on Mar. 4, 2013 at 12:42 PM
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Were any of you step children?  If you weren't, that will color your frame of reference.  If you were, how you were treated as a step child will definitely affect how you see this situation.

I was a step.  I also had full and step brothers and sisters.

When my BF remarried, his wife claimed to love us, but we were quite the inconvenience most of the time.  My BF had minimal contact with us, except when he would decide it was time for one of us to come live with him.  That would last until SM got tired of, in her words, "mothering someone else's kid".  HER kids got the best of everything from both of them.  he parented her kids with her, she chose not to parent us.

My step father's kids came to live with us at different times.  My step sister came to stay with us until she got pregnant- then she wanted to go home to her mother.  My step brother came to us when he was 10 and stayed until adulthood.  even though his dad is dead now, he still considers my mom to be HIS mom as well.  my mom mothered his just like she did his sister and just like she did us.  My step father worked long and sometimes irregular hours, and my mom took care of home.  she worked outside the home as well, but she did not play the "this is your child, you need to be their primary caregiver" game. 

My advice is to treat these children the way YOU would want to be treated by your step mother in an ideal world.  If their BM is such a piece of work that she is largely absent from their lives, YOU are the mother-model for them.  through YOU, they will see what a mother can be.  They may act out or have issues because of BM drama, but that really is normal.  What they will remember down the line is that you CHOSE to mother them... or not.


by Member on Mar. 4, 2013 at 1:14 PM

 My dh and I don't feel it is anyones responsibility to care for our children but ours. We can ask the other for help, but only when that help is actually needed. But what it really comes down to is how much do you want to be involved. How much do you want to watch them. If you are doing more then you want or you don't feel appreciated you will become resentful and that is the worse thing for you, your marriage, and your ss's.

by Gold Member on Mar. 4, 2013 at 1:24 PM
I think that if the kids are going to be in your care the majority of the time then dad needs to lay down some rules for them. He needs to make them understand that you are to be respected and listened to, just as they listen to him. He also needs to back you up in your authority over the children
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by on Mar. 4, 2013 at 2:46 PM

You need time for yourself as well. It's that work/life balance.

by on Mar. 4, 2013 at 7:14 PM

Love the responses from you all and the different points made.  Yes, I was a stepchild myself and I guess it does affect how I view stepparenting.  My own parents were always the primary caregivers and the steps, although around and kind to me, weren't all that involoved.  I liked it that way as a child because I never wanted a stepparent trying to be my parent.  i already had parents.

My husband and I did discuss childcare prior to getting married and he had a nanny that came and helped out and he planned to continue to have one after we got married.  Not long after, he had to fire her for questionable behavior and we decided to try to do without one for a bit.  I think that was where I went wrong.  I should have insisted we hire another person right away.  My SS's are difficult and high maintenance and although I love them, they stress me out.  I often feel as if they are an anchor tied to my waist and always dragging me down.  I have to rush to get home, run them here and there, make know all the kid stuff.  I went from being single and living alone to not having any time for myself.  I feel I'm being taken advantage of by my husband by always being his "go to" girl for childcare.  When I try to talk with him about my feelings, he gets upset.  He says that's what husbands and wives do, help each other out.  I agree but then think about it and what is he helping me with?  I don't have my own kids to ask him to watch and I'm doing all the housework so overall, I'm getting no help, just extra work in this marriage.  Tell me how that is fair. 

To answer the questions about where he is when I'm stuck watching the kids, a lot of time he is going to dinner meetings for work.  I have a feeling many of these get scheduled in the evenings on purpose so that he has an excuse to be away.  Again, the boys are not easy to be around and a lot of work (behavioral issues).  He doesn't seem to want to deal with it either. 


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