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Life as a stepmother (theguardian.com)
92 points by ciconia 7 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 12 comments

Some things I went through as a step parent....

- the first time I took my younger now stepson to my house just to hang out with him, I thought the weekend went well and as soon as I took him back home to my now-wife he started crying. I had no idea what I had done wrong. A few minutes later I realized he was crying because he was upset that his father left him and didn't show him that kind of attention. Years later, we are close as can be, but there is still a feeling of abandonment.

- my wife had a hard time adjusting to the three of us (me and my two step sons) sometimes just hanging out and she felt like the third wheel. She was happy that we got along but she was so use to it being just the three of them.

- No matter how much they try to talk bad about thier father, I try to tell them just be better and when they grow up, remember how they felt and do better. I never say anything negative.

I appreciate the last part of your comment as a stepdad (we call it being an Immediate Dad) going on 2 years now.

I remember the first time they spoke to me negatively about their father... deep inside I wanted to agree or comment on it, but I knew that wouldn't be the best thing for them. So I said nothing. And I've continued to say nothing. I like your approach better though; so don't mind if I adopt it. :)

Early on in my stepdadhood, my partner and I called me "Bonus Dad", a phrase we'd heard and liked as an alternative to the phrase that fairy tales have prefixed with "wicked".

One day I was mentioning this "Bonus Dad" and "wicked step parent" thing to the kids after school teacher, and she said "I don't know what you mean, my step dad was awesome!" That comment really warmed my heart.

Fast forward a couple years now and the kids just call me "dad". It probably helps that their other dad is now a girl, so I'm not really taking anyone's place? Don't know.

I've just owned the 'evil step parent' moniker, it's taken all the power out of the negative perspective, and I can be more authoritative when I need to be and when when you get called names... it reminds them how totally not evil you are. :)

"I never say anything negative."

That's smart and so important. Children often do that because, rightly or wrongly, they feel that loyalty to the remaining parent requires it of them. But it intensifies the pain of being caught in the middle of the split. You can't fix that, but at least you're not making it worse, and they may see that more clearly when they're grown up.

Absolutely, as a stepdad, I've always said that that the youngest will make up his own mind about his father. My opinions of him have NOTHING to do with his relationship with his dad. After all your father is all-knowing and godlike before you turn into a teenager, and every kid deserves that.

Being positive at all times is how my stepdad was. Even when my father hid in a bush outside of my house and he had to pull a gun to get him to leave (father was armed as well, brandishing wildly while on meth) he still never said a negative word to me. No matter what I'd say either, he was always passive regarding the topic.

> I never say anything negative.

Funny thing... my ex says unkind things about my partner. Kids pick up on this and it has actually strengthened their relationship with her and has harmed their relationship with their mother. Kids aren't dumb, they know when adults are being unkind and irrational.

I have a friend who stayed married for the kids. Wife treats him like shit. Kids are now rotten because they treat everyone the way mom treats dad. Dad tries to teach them the way mom treats him is not the way they should treat others. Not clear it's effective.

Kids take cues from those around them not just verbally, but emotionally and actively.

If your friend stayed married and responds to being mistreated passively, that isn't enough (for him or the kids).

That was a beautiful article. I have to commend the Guardian here. I'm going through hell with my wife and my daughter. The fact that there are people making it with kids not their own -- out of love. It gives me hope for this world that I often think is awful and wicked.

Best wishes with your difficult situation. Hell is not a picnic.

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