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New Step to Teens

Posted by on Aug. 23, 2013 at 10:53 AM
  • 15 Replies
Hello all. I'm a nearly 50, first time married to a great guy with two teenage sons - we just married in February 2013. My husband and his ex are active parents, and get along well overall. The young men are 18 and 14. The older has just started college, and the younger one has just started high school. The younger of the two is dads favorite - clearly - although dad denies this. While there is nothing overt, I feel like I am living in a house where there are two families, and I'm only allowed into one of them. There's dad, the two sons, the ex, and the "childcare provider" whose been in the picture since the boys were quite little. Then there is my husband and I. The young men and I get along well; the older one and I get along great, and the younger one is friendly and respectful to me, but I often feel like he just tolerates me. I love being fully invested in my family - my nuclear family as well as my new family. In my new family, there are times where I think it is okay to expect to be included, but am not. For instance, school functions -- I am welcome at sports events and concerts, but not at things that are more specific to the child directly - back to school night, large group general parent meetings, etc. There was a parent night at the school to help the parents learn more about the school, and expectations of the students - it was clear I wasn't welcome. I feel it would be valuable to know about the school and the sons classes so that I can support the "rules" and expectations at home. The older child just went off to college, and his mother did all the preparation and purchased all the items the son needed for school. Many of the items she purchased, we had available for the son - new bedding, towels, etc. Dad admits that there was no conversation with mom about who would do what - perhaps that's my husband's fault, but Mom never asked us how we could help. When I complained to my husband he simply replied "she's his mother". Dad will ask for my input on "kid issues" but he always calls mom to discuss issues, even when it is irrelevant to her. Recently, the 18 year old wanted to bring his girlfriend on vacation with us. My husband wouldn't give him an answer without talking with mom first. I thought that was silly since the son is 18, and it was OUR vacation. She wasn't involved at all. The mom is a good person in general, and really loves her kids. I don't want to take over her role, but I'd like to be part of the family. The examples above are school specific, but this is generally how things work over all. So everyone.............. What's fair to expect, and how can I make a place for myself in this "family"? I feel alienated and lonely everytime the young men are with us (every other week). Thanks for your wisdom. Cathy
by on Aug. 23, 2013 at 10:53 AM
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sandeeyo
by Le Bonjour Chat on Aug. 23, 2013 at 11:01 AM

All I have to say is that it's nice that DH called his ex to talk about their son bringing his gf along on a trip.  DH and ex, although not married anymore, might have the same kind of values.  What's the big deal if he discusses it with BM?  Better for him to test the waters and see if she's ok with it than take his son AND gf on vacation and have BM get hissy about it.

You're way ahead of the game if both boys get along and like (tolerate) you.  Start throwing your weight around and insist on having a say in their lives might make them hostile to you.  You're not their mother.  If DH has it handled, then that's less work for you!

CHES1004
by on Aug. 23, 2013 at 11:05 AM
I agree with you, for the most part, but where do I fit in? Your reply is helpful, but my concern is about where I DO fit?
spicy0425
by on Aug. 23, 2013 at 11:17 AM
1 mom liked this

I normally don't say this. But I think you're get into the blended family when the step kids are grown (or growing up), there is already a solid foundation for what has been working well for them. You married to your DH (dear husband), you want to be more involved, you want to help the step kids, and you want your DH to change in the way he deals with his ex and their children, I get that. However, you might just need to settle to be the husband's wife and be cordial to your step kids, if they don't need your involvement since their setup have been working for a long time, then so be it. Look at it this way, it saves you the trouble and the headache that many SMs who married into a blended families with younger step kids have to face, plus dealing with potential difficult BMs.

Birdseed
by Platinum Member on Aug. 23, 2013 at 11:21 AM


Going to break this into paragraphs so its easier to read...then will reply.

Quoting CHES1004:
Hello all. I'm a nearly 50, first time married to a great guy with two teenage sons - we just married in February 2013. My husband and his ex are active parents, and get along well overall.The young men are 18 and 14. The older has just started college, and the younger one has just started high school.
The younger of the two is dads favorite - clearly - although dad denies this. While there is nothing overt, I feel like I am living in a house where there are two families, and I'm only allowed into one of them. There's dad, the two sons, the ex, and the "childcare provider" whose been in the picture since the boys were quite little. Then there is my husband and I.
The young men and I get along well; the older one and I get along great, and the younger one is friendly and respectful to me, but I often feel like he just tolerates me. I love being fully invested in my family - my nuclear family as well as my new family.
In my new family, there are times where I think it is okay to expect to be included, but am not. For instance, school functions -- I am welcome at sports events and concerts, but not at things that are more specific to the child directly - back to school night, large group general parent meetings, etc. There was a parent night at the school to help the parents learn more about the school, and expectations of the students - it was clear I wasn't welcome. I feel it would be valuable to know about the school and the sons classes so that I can support the "rules" and expectations at home.
The older child just went off to college, and his mother did all the preparation and purchased all the items the son needed for school. Many of the items she purchased, we had available for the son - new bedding, towels, etc. Dad admits that there was no conversation with mom about who would do what - perhaps that's my husband's fault, but Mom never asked us how we could help.When I complained to my husband he simply replied "she's his mother".
Dad will ask for my input on "kid issues" but he always calls mom to discuss issues, even when it is irrelevant to her. Recently, the 18 year old wanted to bring his girlfriend on vacation with us. My husband wouldn't give him an answer without talking with mom first. I thought that was silly since the son is 18, and it was OUR vacation. She wasn't involved at all.
The mom is a good person in general, and really loves her kids. I don't want to take over her role, but I'd like to be part of the family. The examples above are school specific, but this is generally how things work over all. So everyone.............. What's fair to expect, and how can I make a place for myself in this "family"? I feel alienated and lonely everytime the young men are with us (every other week). Thanks for your wisdom. Cathy



spicy0425
by on Aug. 23, 2013 at 11:23 AM

May I also add that I don't know what their custody arrangement is, but it is normal and it should be the way that the dad will ask the mom for issues involving your step kids since they both helped making them, they both are responsible for them. Your SS (step son) of 18 yrs wanted to bring the girl friend during your vacation, but if something happened, the mom definitely will have a say in it because he is her bio-son. I know you feel like being invaded, but you married into a blended family situation and there will be those 'invasion', whether you like it or not.

Also, the BM (bio-mom) doesn't need to ask everyone for help, if she choose not to do so. It's her right and she is entitled to it. You are 50 yrs old and matured and all of that, but you can't ask people to do things that they don't want to do, they have it covered and they don;t want to burden others. I think it is a positive thing for the step kids to have an involved mom instead of a mom who abandoned them, don't you think?

soonergirl980
by Gold Member on Aug. 23, 2013 at 11:26 AM

It sounds like the parents have it covered in a well working relationship. I think the functions you have described are appropriate functions for you to attend. You do not need to attend parent nights or conferences or anything like that because their parents have it covered. If you need to know class expectations either your husband can rely the info or you can read the class syllabus which most hs classrooms provide.

DDDaysh
by on Aug. 23, 2013 at 11:31 AM

 Honestly, you sound really level headed and like you want to do the right thing, so I don't want to insult you. 

BUT....

I think your expectations are out of line.  Nothing you've mentioned is something I would see needing to be handled differently. 

You aren't a mother to these boys.  You're coming in too late in life to ever be that.  You're much more like an "in-law", and you may even become a friendly relative in the future, maybe even a grandparent to their children, but never a parent to them because they are simply too old, and have two quite functional parents. 

Because Mom and Dad are both involved, there is no reason for you to be at child specific school functions.  Lots of aunts, babysitters, and grandparents help with school work and provide childcare.  They don't go to these functions, but rather rely on the parent to give the information to them, and that's what you should do too.  Your husband seems quite capable of relaying anything you need to know, and since you're not a parent to the son, it would be inappropriate for you to insist on being included in parent events. 

As far as the "purchases for college" stuff goes - well, most steps would be thrilled that Mom just handled it.  This is sort of one of the things about split families.  Much of the time you just do for the child what you want to do.  She was furnishing his dorm room.  She probably thought she was being nice by taking care of it without bothering you guys.  Of course, nothing stops you guys from giving him what you have for him as well.  A kid CAN have more than one set of sheets! 

As far as the vacation thing goes... 

Yes, the son is an "adult" now, but he's still young.  If they were still married, this would still be a discussion between them because they would be needing to agree on the types of things they were going to encourage.  While he certainly wasn't obligated to discuss it with her, this is still a child they are raising together.  Therefor, it was appropriate for him to get her opinion on it, and would have been appropriate for him to say "no" to the girlfriend if Mom disagreed.  He wouldn't have been obligated to do so, it isn't unreasonable for him to want both parents showing the same "front" even when the child is technically an adult.  If they can get along well enough to do so, that's a great thing. 

I am sorry you are feeling alienated.  I truly am.  However, I think part of this is because your expectations aren't in line with reality.  When the boys are with you, you're never going to feel like Mom and Dad with their kids for a very simple reason - you aren't Mom and Dad and their kids.  You're Dad and his wife and his kids.  And that is A-OK.  That can still be a family.  You just have to realign your expectations. 

Try to not feel left out when you're not treated like Mom or even a mom.  Try to think of your Stepsons more like nephews or the kids of your best friend.  Enjoy being with them and let your relationship with them develop naturally into whatever it is destined to be.  Right now, even though you're not trying to replace their mom, you're still trying to force yourself into the role of "Mom in this family", and that role is never going to fit you because your new family doesn't need a "Mom".  Acknoweldge that.  Embrace it.  Fill your role as "Dad's wife" and whatever it grows into with the boys, and I think you'll start feeling less left out. 

Birdseed
by Platinum Member on Aug. 23, 2013 at 11:41 AM
2 moms liked this

Honestly? While I totally understand your frustration, I think you've hit a GOLD MINE and should becounting your lucky stars!

DH and BM have it under control. Kids are nice to you if not just a bit tolerating(that's something to be happy with when it comes to teens!)

You're not being expected to take time off to deal with school stuff that BM and DH can't/won't.  You're not expected to go buy stuff or reimburse BM for stuff that the kids need.

Think of it this way...you are basically walking into a turn key family.  It's all under control!  I'd say CONGRATULATIONS!

All that said, I do catch the vibe that you feel left out. And in that case, I'd start inventing some new family things to do that come from you.  Like fondue night.  Or a fun gift exchange "un Christmas" or "happy summer solstice"  Whatever.  Something that doesn't compete with the family traditions already in place.

You CAN be part of the kids' lives but they're so much older at this point and have two active parents. They don't need you. So make 'em want you. Take this opportunity to be fun and have a total abscence of responsibility!  You're 50.  You've raised your own kids, right?  Do you REALLY want to go back to PTA meetings and such?  Really?

Hang in there.

Leigh84
by Gold Member on Aug. 23, 2013 at 11:46 AM
I think your heart is in the right place. It sounds like mom and dad co parent pretty well together. I'm sure they don't intend to make you feel excluded when it comes to certain things like back to school night. I think as long as your DH is communicating w/you about these things there really shouldn't be a problem. You sound like you have a really good sitch. You're welcome to attend things like school concerts etc. we read a lot of posts where BM doesn't want sm at the soccer game, graduation etc so consider yourself lucky in that aspect. As far as where do you fit in. You're there to support your DH and a adult who is a positive influence in your step-sons lives. Good luck w/everything
spicy0425
by on Aug. 23, 2013 at 11:52 AM

Ad found in newspaper: "looking for a 'turn key' situation to sign up for SM position".  Your words are so true and hilarious, Birdseed..LOL I like your suggestions too for activities. I didn't think of it..


Quoting Birdseed:

Honestly? While I totally understand your frustration, I think you've hit a GOLD MINE and should becounting your lucky stars!

DH and BM have it under control. Kids are nice to you if not just a bit tolerating(that's something to be happy with when it comes to teens!)

You're not being expected to take time off to deal with school stuff that BM and DH can't/won't.  You're not expected to go buy stuff or reimburse BM for stuff that the kids need.

Think of it this way...you are basically walking into a turn key family.  It's all under control!  I'd say CONGRATULATIONS!

All that said, I do catch the vibe that you feel left out. And in that case, I'd start inventing some new family things to do that come from you.  Like fondue night.  Or a fun gift exchange "un Christmas" or "happy summer solstice"  Whatever.  Something that doesn't compete with the family traditions already in place.

You CAN be part of the kids' lives but they're so much older at this point and have two active parents. They don't need you. So make 'em want you. Take this opportunity to be fun and have a total abscence of responsibility!  You're 50.  You've raised your own kids, right?  Do you REALLY want to go back to PTA meetings and such?  Really?

Hang in there.



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