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Main Forums => Second Families => Topic started by: gemini3 on Nov 30, 2007, 02:00:01 PM

Title: Question about Mom's
Post by: gemini3 on Nov 30, 2007, 02:00:01 PM
My husband and I have been ordered to attend co-parenting counseling with his ex-wife and her husband.  In our first counseling session BM stated that she wished I would stop trying to be her kids mom.  She couldn't articulate exactly what it was that I was doing that was "trying to be their mom", and has been asked to bring a list to our next session.

This started me thinking about how I care for my step-daughter's when they are with us, and what exactly I might be doing that would be considered "trying to be their mom".  The kids are 7 and 10, both girls.  I feel that I have always respected their relationship with their mother, and done everything I can to enhance it.  I've even framed photos of them with their mother to hang in their bedrooms.  When they're mom doesn't call them for days and they get upset, I affirm that their mom still loves them.  

When they're with us I (with their dad's help, of course) cook for them, do crafts and things with them, help them remember to brush their teeth and wash their faces, help them with their homework, take them to dance class, talk to them, give them hugs... all of the things that parents would normally do.  Maybe this feels threatening to her?

My question, though, is what alternative there is to that?  Am I supposed to withold the care that they need just because I'm not their "real" mom?   If my step-daughter has a question about puberty, or where babies come from, do I decline from discussing it and tell her to ask her mom?  Where, and what, is the line when it comes to this stuff?  I definitely don't want to interfere with her relationship with her kids, but I don't want to neglect their needs when they're with us either.  I've always just kind of taken the same role as my aunt's took with me when I was growing up.  They weren't my mother, but they were the next best thing when she wasn't around.

I'm just curious to hear other people's opinions and experiences with this.
Title: RE: Question about Mom's
Post by: lucky on Nov 30, 2007, 05:34:06 PM
My opinion?

You can't win.  If you DON'T do this stuff, she'll accuse you of disliking, neglecting, etc. her kids.  If you DO do this stuff, she'll accuse you of trying to be her kids' mom.

I treated the skids as if they were my own, our household was disruptive enough without having the playing favorites accusation tossed in.  Their mother HATED it, but when I tried stopping it briefly (a therapist told me & dh that we should each parent our own kids and NOT our stepkids) the kids complained about how BAD I treated them to their mom and I got ripped on for that.  Dh had the same problem with my dd's dad.

We finally said the hell with it and did our best to parent together and let the ex's complain that we were trying to take over their role.

We honestly couldn't win no matter what we did in that situation.


Lead your life so you wouldn't be ashamed to sell the family parrot to the town gossip.
- Will Rogers[em]
Title: RE: Question about Mom's
Post by: dipper on Nov 30, 2007, 10:24:00 PM
I agree with Lucky, its a no win situation.   She will never be happy with whatever you do because she is jealous of your presence.   What if your dh turned it on her and said he wants her husband to stop being a dad to his daughters?

this happened with us as well.  BM has hated me from the beginning - even before I started dating dh.  YSS would hang out with my family when he was visiting dh and we ran into bm one time and yss tried to introduce us - she ignored me and I was five feet from her saying hello....

After we got custody of yss and had him in counseling, counselor wanted to talk to parents.  Well, i didnt even go in, I stayed in waiting room.  When they came out, yss was telling me his mom had flipped out - all this while she was standing in the next room still....It appears that she thought I needed to butt out..

Counselor asked if it would help for she and I to sit down and talk - she said, "NO!"  he asked specifically what I did that was the problem, she couldnt state one thing......

She was dating a married man at the time and when asked about him, she said yes, if she married him he would definitely have a say-so in situations involving ss.  Counselor told her she was contradicting herself then......DH informed him that she could not marry bf, he was already married.

She now goes with a cousin and ignores ss for the most part....

Title: RE: Question about Mom's
Post by: babyfat on Dec 01, 2007, 01:09:19 PM
Both the other posters are right. You can't win. If you distance yourself you'll be accused of being cold or neglectful if you don't your acting like thier mother too much. There is no middle ground your behaiving as you should and if she feels threatend by you that is her problem not your's or the kids. This is what started off our problems mom was upset by the fact her daughter liked me at all and that I paid any attention to her what-so-ever so the games began. Let us know what exactly she has on this "list" that you are doing that is steping on her toes. I'm wondering how the other side views these things. I'm also wondering what the therapist is going to say about these things.
Title: RE: Question about Mom's
Post by: knoot7 on Dec 05, 2007, 06:12:55 AM
I say you are doing the right thing!  You are in a no win situation. The win will be how your Skids treat you. You need to provide education, roof over their heads, food, clothing.... and emotional support. If you don't provide those items you are being neglectful. Bring in the definition of child neglect to your next counseling session.

My personal opinion.... she should be very happy that her kids do not deal with a stepmonster. No Cinderella here. She should be happy that her children are well taken care of and are happy in BOTH homes. I would bring those items up.

My SS has for the last 5 years told me he loves me over the phone while at BM's house. It HAS to be a hard thing to swallow. So do not forget that she does have the right to her feelings and most bio-moms have a feeling in their heart for their kids which is irreplacable and  VERY STRONG. BM's feelings should not disappear however, be set aside for the sake of the kids happiness.

I would somehow suggest that she work though her feelings to come to an understanding that this will not be changing and she should be very happy the children have good food and good experiences with their father and in their father's home. Just because you are involved does not negate the blood relation or the kids love with BM. Just because they like SM doesn't mean that you are "trying to take BM's spot". What you are trying to do is provide for the kids as a responsible adult and parent while in your home. Additionally - the more people who love the children - the better it is for them! No child can have too many people loving them too much! No child should have limits to who they have a right to love and care for. Family is family - step or not. You do not have to be blood to be family. Despite the lack of blood relation you are a part of their family on their fathers side. Are your parents involved as grandparents? Are your parents trying to take the spot of BM's or DH's parents? NO! - (hopefully) they are welcoming in the children to the family and providing another set of gransparents who will love, adore and support them.

When we went in to counseling with BM... I said those items and she actually came to a better understanding. She still has some gripes...but who won't? She started to see it in the light of what is best for her kid and to put her feelings aside. It has actually made it better between us. She understanding I am only being a responsible adult who happens to be taking responsibility of a child who is not mine during my husbands time with his son.  After counseling has been over, BM has actually thanked me for being there, for taking care of him, and for the fact that we spend time together and we have a good relationship. She has thanked me for providing him a good home.

It worked out for us by bringing those items to light. Yet DH and I's relationship with BM is for the most part pretty decent and amicable.

I hope this helps!
Title: I think you can get it right...
Post by: MixedBag on Dec 05, 2007, 06:28:15 AM
I too faced a "woman" -- and my biggest complaint with her actions was that she was trying to replace me, and rub it in my face.  She lied to the folks in town and said "I abandoned" my son -- when that wasn't true.

EX deferred doctor's appointments and let her take them -- when that was/is his responsibility.  Their reason?  He works, she don't, she has the time....

All this was or needs to be backtracked to his statement "I can and will take care of our son."  He didn't -- SHE did.

Then I'll take it one step further -- SHE expected or expects me to say "THANK YOU" for all you do.  When she should be getting her thanks from Dad.  I didn't choose the situation -- dad, well.....let me stop there considering they are still printing off posts to share down the road.

Don't try to replace her.

Don't bad mouth her.

And remind the kids that they do have a mom.

Refer to yourself as their bonus adult, and since you are a woman, that makes you their bonus mom.

And then keep doing what you're doing and be careful that dad stays involved and doesn't back off being a parent himself.

This is the approach I took -- and funny, 11 years later, and I may be divorced from EX#3, BUT the step-kids still call me "mom" and talk to me.  And this is particularly noteworthy since SS moved back across country to his mother's (after dad got custody), and his MOM lets him call me whenever he wants to.  And his MOM talks to me about stuff we need to talk about -- yes, there is still one subject open for discussion and she's civil to me about it.

And this is the same woman who got together with EX#2's partner for years figuring out how to "gang up on me" since EX#3 and I were both NCPs to our sons.
Title: RE: BIG difference between 'being maternal" and "trying to be Mom"...
Post by: junglechicken on Dec 05, 2007, 11:38:35 AM
I am a mom and a sm.  I've been a sm for 6 years now (officially, that is, we were together for two years prior).

IMO, it's good to hear bm's view of things.  You may not agree, but it's better that she voices it, or writes it down for you, than to hear secondhand from the kids or thirdhand from dh or someone else.  You may decide you can tone down some things, or she may realize she's being irrational in saying you're "trying to be Mom" when you cook their dinner.

Are you custodial?  IF so, it may be just bm lashing out at the resentment she feels because of that, and it's nothing at all to do with you.  You may be just an easy target.  Us sm's are, y'know.  :P

I am a maternal person.  I do what needs to be done to ensure their care and protection while they're under my roof.  I do, however, have boundaries.  I often get/got the awkward questions.  My first response is, have you asked your mom (or your dad, if appropriate) about that?  Sometimes they havent', to which I'll tell them to do so first, then ask me again if they need to.  I just try to figure out how I would react if I were bm, and my kids' sm did x or said y.

If I were "trying to be Mom", I'd have them call me Mom.  I'd probably PAS them against their mom.  I'd make sure I was listed in the Mother spot under their contact info at school, etc.  I wouldn't inform her of parent/teacher conferences, dr's appts, soccer games, dance recitals, etc.  I may not do all these things, but even doing only a couple of them is intrusive on the Mom role that this other woman has a right to (assuming she hasn't forfeited it legally or otherwise).  If our bm came to a meeting with a list of infractions I'd committed that read like this, I'd deserve what I got.  If the list reads like a to-do list for the day - buy groceries, check homework, prepare bath, do laundry - then perhaps bm needs to give her head a shake and decide if she'd rather her kids live with a woman like that or a woman who doesn't give a rat's arse about the kids.
Title: I hear ya!
Post by: Ref on Dec 05, 2007, 02:38:07 PM
BM pulled the same crap with me. When i tried to keep my distance (the first couple of years I know SD), BM accused me of being too distant. Over the past 13 years SD grew to be close to me. I took her to the store, helped her look for a job, even told her about periods when she started asking questions. I never felt like her mom. We are long distance and I am only 16 years older than she is anyway. I always saw myself as stepmom. Hybrid of a friend and a parent. Up until a year ago we were often mistaken as sisters. It is weird to think of her as my kid.

Last Thanksgiving BM called our home just to tell me that I was trying to be SD's mom. HUH? I told her she is way off base. I have gotten to the point where I don't care one tiny itty bit what that POS thinks of me or my husband.

This summer 16 yo SD echoed her mom's sentiment. I asked her to reconsider coming to see us over the summer and told her of some of our plans. She replied that "there is a difference between being involved and being informed" and that I needed to back off.

Guess what I'm going to tell her when she doesn't get anything from me this Christmas? I was INFORMED that you wanted a present, but I would have been INVOVLED if I bought it for you. (I will probaly by her something and never say that but I am sooo tempted).

To sum it all up.... stop givign a crap what BM accuses you of. Be a good example for your stepkid and let yourself sleep well at night.

Best wishes and Happy Holidays
Title: RE: I hear ya!
Post by: Crockpot on Dec 05, 2007, 05:22:20 PM
 I'm a SM too.  And I get the same load from SK's BM.  You sound like a good SM.  Keep it up.  

In my case, and maybe yours, BM has a low self-esteem.  She's completely threatened by me.  I'm sure SK's talk about DH and me at her house and it probably bothers her.  But she needs to get over it.  I'm not trying to replace her.  The kids love her, she's the MOM!  But they can also love others too.  BM doesn't get that.

DH and I share parenting responsibilities at our house.  It works for us and it seems to work for SK's.  We are a family and we act like one.  We make our decisions based on what's good for our family, not BM.

There is a good SM support board on iVillage.

Take care.  
Title: RE: I hear ya!
Post by: gemini3 on Dec 06, 2007, 06:33:51 AM
Thanks for all of the responses to this question.  It's helpful to me to hear this stuff.  Our counseling session is this weekend, so I'll let you know if she actually has a list.

I feel like the kids BM is threatened by me.  She has a lot of emotional problems, and had a very abusive childhood.  She's morbidly obsese, is unable to hold a job, and spends the majority of her time playing online video games.  I'm pretty much the exact opposite of her.  I think she's jealous of the things I have, and am able to do, because I have a successful career.  I think she's jealous of the relationship I have with her kids because she doesn't feel confident in her relationship with them.  Pretty much anything I do pisses her off.  She even told the kids once that I was "creepy" because I smiled all the time, and that's "not normal".  

I have always felt that I respected her relationship with her children, and have always tried to be supportive.  I know that she has a lot of issues, so I try not to take the things she says to heart, but it's hard sometimes when you hear it from the mouths of the kids.  Plus, I think it's always good to reflect on things and give yourself a reality check every once and a while.  I don't have any children of my own (which I think is part of the problem), so I don't know what it's like to have to share them.

I agree that it's a catch 22 though.  If you take care of them well you're trying to be their mom, if you don't you're the evil stepmother.  
Title: I agree............
Post by: Kitty C. on Dec 07, 2007, 03:30:51 PM
DH and I got married when SS was 4 (he's now 13).  BM got remarried EXACTLY 2 weeks later.  It was a confusing time for SS as it was and BM didn't help by being a true PBFH........she hated my guts.  So the best way I could describe it to SS was 'This doesn't mean that Mommy and Daddy don't love you, it means you have 2 more people to love and who love you as well!'  He bought it and never had a problem with it, tho BM tried often to confuse the heck out of him about it.

Then when BM went thru her 2nd divorce, she suddenly developed some compassion.  No increase in the smarts dept., but at least I'm not the wicked stepmom anymore and she willingly talks to me.  And she absolutely has to now!  SS needs braces and I work for a university dental college, where the fees are half of private, plus I can get half that, since I'm an employee there.  Without me, there's no way DH or she could afford braces for SS.

I believe part of the problem may be what is going on in the BM's world, past and present.  There may be issues from her past that make dealing with this issue extremely difficult.  Regardless of what makes her feel that way, I agree with all the other's a no-win situation, you're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't.  Follow your heart and do what you feel is right for your SK' the end, their feelings are the only ones who matter anyway, right?
Title: I am both, as well...
Post by: olanna on Dec 07, 2007, 07:08:00 PM
And I am really happy that my ex husband married someone that loves my son so much.  He is turning 13, so it's not alway easy to bond with this age. She does a lot of sweet things for him and I see her as a positive in m son's life.

OTOH, the PB in my life is quite jealous of my interaction with her kids.  I am who I am...not their mother but more than just another female adult in their life.  They always seem to be glad to see me, as I am them.

I think it is strange that someone wouldn't be happy that their kids are in good care of a person that loves matter who that person might be.
Title: RE: I hear ya!
Post by: gemini3 on Dec 08, 2007, 02:29:38 PM
It turns out that there was no "list".  The only thing she said was that she felt I was trying to supplant her because I didn't tell the kids not to call me "mom" when they did.  Of course, I never told them they had to call me mom, or asked them to.  They did it of their own accord.  Their mom told them they weren't allowed to, so they don't anymore.  I think it was wrong of their mom to do that, but I don't care if they call me mom or not.

She also said that she thought I wanted her kids because I couldn't have any of my own.  I found that amusing since I'm not infertile - I just chose to wait until I was married to have children.  When I told her that we are planning to have a baby next year, that seemed to upset her even more.
Title: RE: I hear ya!
Post by: mistoffolees on Dec 11, 2007, 04:57:53 AM
Why would you tell your husband's ex that you're planning to have a baby - particularly since she's showing a tendency to want to get involved in your parenting?

IMHO, the less involvement there is with an ex's personal life, the better. Discussing the kids is important. Discussing the rest of my life is off limits.
Title: RE: I hear ya!
Post by: gemini3 on Dec 11, 2007, 02:33:53 PM
I normally wouldn't - I said that in response to her saying that I was infertile and trying to steal her children.  We were in a counseling session, and I was trying to explain logically that what she was saying wasn't the case.  Of course, in retrospect, I realize that nothing I could say would help someone that came up with something so ridiculous on speculation alone.  You can't reason with someone who is unreasonable.  Hindsight is always 20/20, right?

I agree with what you're saying, and until now have had hardly any interaction with her at all because the more information she has the more she meddles.  Since we've all been ordered to go to counseling together, we have to talk about her "feelings".  Which, in my opinion, is ridiculous.  If she's having problems dealing with the divorce, she should go to individual counseling.

She'll probably run out and get pregnant now.  When she found out we were getting married she ran out and married her boyfriend without even telling her kids.