Not a stepmom yet but...

AliraRandelleFebruary 16, 2011

My fiance has two kids, daughter is 7 and son is 5. We're 24 and 21(me). I have no qualms about becoming a stepmom, but I haven't even met his kids yet. They're currently with their mother in another state. But in 2 years my fiance gets out of the Army and we're moving back to where his kids are and are filing for full custody. One of my biggest concerns is how his kids will react to me. He goes off to Afghanistan for a year at the end of this year, and we're going down to visit the kids before he leaves. Because of the distance (and possibly their mother) I won't be in their lives almost at all until we move. I don't want the kids to think that just because I'm not around when daddy's not around means I'm not trying to be there for them too, but I don't know if I can do anything.

Also, when we move there's going to be a lot of stress on me besides just new kids. He's moving back to his home town, but I won't know anyone, and the terrain is so flat when I'm used to mountains, that it'll be hard to balance all that and children and the mother and I don't know if he'll understand enough to be supportive.

And my final fear comes into play when/if we have our own kids. I've wanted kids since I was 9, a full 5 years before his daughter was even born. I don't know if he'll be as excited as I will be, or if he'll be jaded to it. I've suffered from post-pardum depression from a lost pregnancy before, so I'll be prone to it. I'm afraid he'll think I'm over reacting. I'm half expecting something like "It's only a child, I did it when I was 16, don't worry about it." and him just blowing off my concerns and not being supportive.

And I'm afraid to talk to him about it because this is all so far into the future. I know I shouldn't be so concerned now, but it's all so much a part of my dreams for my life that I can't help it. Am I just overthinking everything?

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don't worry about what not yet come. Just take it as it comes. Your mind will go into a circular mode thinking and you will go crazy. Take one day at the time.

You can prepare for the days w the sk by reading books on step parents and its pitfalls. Kids are very recoverable but you are not.

Learn to meditate. Take a yoga class or two per week. These will keep you going

    Bookmark   February 16, 2011 at 9:39PM
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Yes you are over thinking. Worry never robbed tomorrow of it's sorrow but steals today of it's joy.

First what makes you want to file for full custody as soon as you move to his home town? Are there issues with his ex? How long have they been seperated/divorced/apart? Is the mom abusing the children? Not what your opinion of abuse is but legal, provable abuse? If the children are in danger from their mother, why is dad waiting so long to file? Plenty of military personnel gain custody because of reasons like abuse. Especially abuse.
Have you or your fianc� thought about how his return from war will effect him in general not to mention his children? What is his current relationship with the children now? Has their been parental alienation? Does he see them on a regular basis, talk with them? Have family near by that interract with them on a regular basis? Do you know how long and how expensive not to mention stressful a child custody case is? Depending on their biological mother and all other circumstances, it's almost difficult to take custody away from a parent that already has custody.

These are just some things to think about.

Secondly and I think most importantly, since you have never met his children and are not married yet, it is not your place to be there for them. You may even find that they are resistant to you because Dad isn't around because of military obligations. When he is with his children at the end of the yr or whenever you are going, it's important for him to spend one on one time with his children without you. It's important in any situation. Depending on how long it has been since they have seen their dad, they may have all sorts of emotions from excitement to resentment they may be shy at first or angry because they haven't seen him.

Is he up to date on child support? Does he provide for them in other ways since he is away? These are things you need to consider before fighting for custody. He won't get in the door if he owes any back support.

Finally, if the only reason that he is going to ask for custody is because he had been away and now wants his time and now has a fianc� to have his family with, he won't win. First, you aren't married yet. When will you be getting married. Having a fianc� is only the first step to proving commitment and a stable environment. Depending on the state you will be in, liberal or conservative judges tend to sway with their political beliefs. If you live together but are not legally married, you won't be awarded custody over a biomom who is single living with her parents. My ex was told once, I'd rather a child live in a home with a single parent and grandparents, than a child living in an environment where commitment isn't a priority. It's a lot easier to leave when you aren't married ... And break up the 'stable' home you told the judge you were wanting to provide. Again, it depends on the judge. This was just my experience.

It's good that you are thinking ahead and I think your concerns are valid, just maybe a little re-thinking, sorting of specifics would help you get through the next two yrs. Your fianc� is making a great sacrifice or our country and I applaud him but I am curious what his reasons for wanting full custody only after his deployment is over. Since the kids don't know you I think you are safe to not have contact with them while he is gone. They may not even realize it since you aren't a part of their lives now. If they knew you and you had a strong bond or relationship, then that would be different. I definitly urge you to just sit on the sidelines since 1. You aren't married 2. You don't live near them yet 3. Smothering them and their biomom with your 'support' will only cause animosity and will no doubt surface once he files for custody anyway. Let him be their dad for now and later on you can slowly get to know them and be there for them once you have moved.

I hope that helps. Good Luk. I really think the best situation is to encourage your fianc� to co-parent with his ex and be a part of the kids lives when you move but fighting for custody right off the bat (2 yes from now) seems like there is an underlying reasons that probably won't have much merit in the courts. It's not 'fair' but my marine brother once was told by a judge when he was fighting the biomom for some extra time.. Hey you moved away, as much as I respect you and what you do, you can't come in here and demand to uproot the child because you don't think it's fair that you only get summer vacations... You want more time, move back, establish a relationship, prove she is in danger and then come back.

It's not a bash at your fianc� - it's just how it might turn out. If the kids are in danger from their mom then waiting that long to do something is negligent. If they are in real danger, you should urge him to do something now. Not wait until it's too late. Obviously not enough info was given for me to really understand his reasons for wanting full custody.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2011 at 9:53PM
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Unless there's abuse I don't see why full custody is the plan. And if there is abuse, why wait for another 2 years till it suits you guys to file for it? So assuming there's no immediate danger to the kids, how presumptuous and arrogant of both of you to contemplate full custody. Shame on you. You haven't even met his kids yet, what makes you think you are what they need?

Even if mum is not the best mom, the kids probably love her unconditionally, so who are you to try and disregard their feelings because you think you know better. How arrogant and presumptuous.

You should back off and take things one step at a time. Moving closer so your partner can start seeing his kids is good, but building a bond takes time, patience really is a virtue. I'm guessing you don't want to hear that. You probably think that you are going to 'save' his kids and give them the future they deserve? Didn't stop to think how you will come across to these kids and how this could affect them emotionally? No, I guess not. Your mission is more important then their feelings? Great start!

This stranger lady who is dating their father, whom they haven't seen much lately, but who is now trying to take them away from their mummy. Where would their loyalty be? Hmmm, I wonder.. How would all that go down? Hmmm...I guess you'll find out, the hard way. Good luck to you girl, you've got a lot of growing up to do.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2011 at 2:36AM
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It really bugs me how you two are contemplating full custody, taking the kids away from their mum. It doesn't show empathy, care or compassion for these kids, at all. Bah.

And you will not get it, what makes you think you have a chance? Your big ego perhaps?

    Bookmark   February 17, 2011 at 2:45AM
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Welcome, Alira! I'm wondering if you have the terminology right; "full custody" means that the kids would live with you and your fiance most of the time. Perhaps your fiance only has some sort of visitation right now, and what you mean is partial custody, or shared custody?

If you truly do mean full custody, then I too must ask why? If your fiance feels that it's "his turn" to have them now, it simply does not work that way. If their mother is an extremely inadequate parent and that's why he feels it's best for the kids to live with you two, well, that's another story - but he's going to have a huge fight on his hands.

Could you please clarify? The difference between the situations of your fiance having a somewhat amicable co-parenting relationship where he has partial custody, and a bitterly contested dispute over full custody, is so vast that my advice would be completely different for the two situations.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2011 at 8:51AM
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agree with others, what is up with filling for full custody? kids never lived with dad and you, don't even know you. and why worry about future kids? are you in college? already graduated? have a career? if not, i wouldn't rush into anything.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2011 at 11:47AM
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So many red flags in the OP.

"in 2 years my fiance gets out of the Army and we're moving back to where his kids are and are filing for full custody"

You can't say what will happen in 2 years. If he has 2 more years in the Army & is going to be deployed for a year, that is just too far into the future to plan a custody battle. First, he is not the day to day lives of his kids. Someone else is feeding, clothing, housing them & taking care of education & medical care. I have guardianship of my 2 year old grandson because my son was deployed & his ex was unfit. Unless the mom is unfit, don't count on getting custody... of course, unless she agrees to it. And even if she is unfit, is someone else, like a grandparent has guardianship, he will have to prove it's in his kids' best interest to end that stable situation. Don't hold your breath. My son gets out in a year & when he moves back, he can't just walk into court & get custody of his son. He has to prove it's best for the child to be with him, or detrimental for him to remain with me. You have never even met the kids, they don't know you... why would that thought even enter into your mind? If he has concerns about his kids' welfare that make him think they need to be in his custody, then he should leave the military to take care of his kids NOW. Waiting 2 years indicates that it's not a priority or urgent to him. And depending on how long he's been in the service, has he been gone from his kid's lives for a year or longer already? That is the biggest red flag for me...

And if he hasn't discussed wanting custody with you, but you just think that is what should happen... I would warn you to back off & stay out of that situation. That will be instant battle with everyone that has been caring for those kids & not a way to show the ex that you are good for her kids to be around.

"I don't want the kids to think that just because I'm not around when daddy's not around means I'm not trying to be there for them too"

You have not even MET the kids. Why would they think you are or are not there for them? They probably miss having a daddy and you are more likely going to be seen as someone that took daddy away from them (or take daddy's time now). It's hard enough when a parent is gone because of work/military service, but introducing a new partner found during the absence tells the kids that dad had time to find a new GF instead of visiting them more. You are more likely to be seen as a rival, not someone they want as another parental figure. That is delusional thinking. (& I'm not saying that a relationship can't be built, but it takes time & work, it's not instant because dad marries or is with you)

"it'll be hard to balance all that and children and the mother and I don't know if he'll understand enough to be supportive."

It's not your job to balance the children and their mother into your life. That is for your fiance to deal with. All you really need to worry about at this point, is adjusting to living away from the mountains. Let him worry about his ex & their kids. Eventually, you will be able to build a relationship with his kids when they are around you, but it is still HIS job to deal with his ex, not yours.

"him just blowing off my concerns and not being supportive."

That is the second time you mention that you don't think he will be supportive. That is a relationship issue that needs to be ironed out before you even THINK about marriage & having kids. There should be no doubt in your mind that he will support you, because being a stepparent is not usually easy and if it's difficult, you will need a lot of support.

"I'm afraid to talk to him about it"

That line alone tells me you are not ready for the level of relationship that you are mentioning... as a wife, stepmom, etc. Before any of your other concerns are addressed, you have to be comfortable discussing your concerns with your partner.

Sorry, but if I'm being honest here (& I think that is what everyone wants), I see a lot of immaturity in the line of thinking in the OP. Maybe you can't talk to your fiance because all these "plans" are only in your mind & not something he has considered. If that's the case, then you may want to take a step back & rethink the situation... and try to think more realistically. One of the biggest problems in step-families is having unrealistic expectations. (and sometimes, even in a first marriage)

    Bookmark   February 19, 2011 at 12:17PM
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I am not being presumptuous. The children are not with their mother, who has been found by her state to be guilty of physical neglect. They are safe with a grandparent. She and my fiance have joint/shared custody. The only reason he hasn't sued for full custody while he's here (and that was his choice and plan before I was even in the picture, so how dare you insult me) is because it would be irresponsible of him. He's going overseas in a little over six months (and he couldn't have custody during said year overseas anyway) so why uproot them now? Why not just wait until he gets back, and we move 4 months later? Considering they live in his hometown where we're going anyway, the chidlren wouldn't have to change schools or go through any massive moves. Much less stressful on the children. He doesn't see them now because they're 2000 miles away, snd they can't leave the state because of the CPS case. He's thought about all of this, and he has his reasons, and I agree with them. I don't think I'm "going to save the children." I know they have a mother they love, though she was deemed unfit by the state. I have no intention of trying to take her place. But if he's going to get full custody (which is likely at this point) and I'm going to be his wife and their stepmother, I have to think about my part in all of it. So don't accuse me of being presumptuous, egotistical, selfish, or whatever insult comes to your mind. All the thinking I'm doing has given me the opportunity to see this from every angle, mine, his, her, and the kids'. And all the different possibilities is driving me crazy. Thank you all for the advice, I'll take it to heart, but know that we both have our reasons for everything I've stated, the details of which weren't necessary. Oh, and by the way, I wouldn't assume any of this if we haven't already talked about my place in this family. And I will openly admit that my worries of him "not understanding" have stemmed from a hormonal mood-swing and a streak of the man's version of PMS. I know he'll understand, but I don't want to bring up the subject because it IS so far in the future and anything can happen in that time.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2011 at 5:24PM
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Not to burst your bubble, Alira, but he best also consider what removing the kids from their 'safe grandparent' once he finally makes his arrival might do to these kids. Depending on how long they have been there, how well they have adjusted and are stable and happy...starting a custody battle to yank them out to play family with their long lost dad and his new wife may not be in their best interest. Kids are not toys, not little people to yank and pull as or if one finally gets around to having time and suddenly appears demanding to be the caretaker now.

I wish you well, but don't think at 21 these kids who have had to seek shelter with a 'safe grandparent' for years will welcome you (or Daddy) with blinders on and open arms. Missing the mountains will be the least of your troubles.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2011 at 7:04PM
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I think that making such far fetched plans in regards to someone else's children, you have never even met, is not very mature.

In first post you said they are with their mother in another state then all of a sudden she is unfit and kids are raised by grandparents.

1."They're currently with their mother in another state", 2. "The children are not with their mother, who has been found by her state to be guilty of physical neglect. They are safe with a grandparent"

You provided contradicting stories here possibly because you don't really know the details because you do not even know them, never met, yet have all these plans.

Also being engaged to someone whose children you never met is more than strange. Who would even propose before you meet his kids and if he even proposed or you jut think you get married in the future? Do you have a ring? Wedding date?

Honestly at 21 you need to be in college or vocational training and work on life skills. Forget about unrealistic dreams.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2011 at 7:38PM
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Alira, At the moment, my 24 year old son just returned from his deployment & is stationed out of state 2000 miles away. I have had his son since the baby was 8 months old, he's 2 next month. The mother was also unfit. The court has given me guardianship & even if my son came back, which he plans to next year, I would not be so quick to hand over the baby to him just because NOW he wants to be daddy. Don't get me wrong, he IS daddy & I want him to be a daddy to his son, but my son has NO IDEA what it involves to raise a child, even if it is his child. Nothing I said was intended to insult you, but since I am in a very similar situation, sitting on the other side of the table as that "safe grandparent", my first concern is the welfare of my grandson & before I would hand over my grandson to his father (my own son that I love very much), I would need to be 100% certain that it's the best thing for him. And even if I agreed, the court would have the final determination... it would have to be proved to the court that it's in the child's best interest. It is NOT as simple as you may think. I doubt a grandparent that has been caring for those children through thick & thin, problems with a neglectful mother, absent father, illnesses, etc. is going to be anxious to hand over custody without a fight, or at least having it proven that he's going to be a stable place for those kids. If he showed up with a fiancee or wife, that would make me twice as cautious, not less. The person that has been parenting the child is going to have a natural instinct to protect the children.

Don't take this the wrong way, but you don't count in the eyes of the law. You are not their mother & you have no idea what raising kids involves.. especially someone elses kids. I raised 3 of my own kids, along with my ex's 3 kids & I thought I had it figured out but now that I have a stepdaughter, it's not the same. Lots of mom's will tell you, being a stepmom is very different & depending on the involvement of their mother, given the already proven neglect, etc. The children may have problems emotionally and/or behaviorally that can affect everyone in the house, which also makes it more difficult. Kids in those types of situations tend to need counseling & special attention. My grandson is 2 & displays behavioral fits after visits with his mother. Try adding your own children to a family of children that have been neglected, abandoned & had to live with a safe grandparent for years. Your future children will also be affected.

I'm glad your fiance has talked about your place in his family, however he doesn't seem very mature to me or he has his own problems with hormonal mood swings & ideas that he will go off for another year or two of service & swoop back into the kids' lives and think they will be eager to leave the life they've been building there for years to enter into the unknown.

And the safe grandparent, if it's HER mother, don't count on her handing custody over to him without a fight, especially if he hasn't been financially supporting them.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2011 at 7:51PM
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Good question: is he financially supporting them at the moment? And I don't mean trying to save his money so he can set himself up in future to be a great dad or anything like that, is he paying Child Support to the grandparent NOW?

Ditto what ParentofOne said. You give us information that we go with, then you change the story, yeah right! If you would have written: "The kids are not in the day-to-day care of either parent at present however their dad is planning on asking for full custody upon return", it sounds different. Although even then I'd still agree with Justmetoo about putting needs of the kids first.

And then you proceed to assure us that you're not worried about him not understanding you, after all he has male PMS syndrome? Even though in your first post you said you were worried, so what is it then? Do you need any advise, and what on exactly?

    Bookmark   February 21, 2011 at 9:33PM
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I have to say from my own experience expect nothing. Dont try to imagine what it will be like. It not the same as bonding with a neice or nephew or even a frinds child. Very different. They can walk into you home and not even look at you let alone speak to you. If you were my sister or friend I would say: You are very young, live your life. Date this man but dont marry him just yet. Not before you are around the kids enough to know exactly what your life will be once you become the stepmom. It is a whole different experience. In my opinion, I think he needs to spend time with h is kids, getting to know them again. Sounds like he has been gone along time and just because they call him Dad does not mean he has that closeness with them. Before he tries to uproot them from their stable home with people they are comfortable with they need to feel safe and comfortable with him. I am not saying they have any ill feelings towards him but he has not been the caregiver. Sound like these kids have been through a great deal of heartache already I would not think that he/you would want to add to that. I wish you the best, and to think hard and put yourself in the kids position. How would you feel?
I was givin some great advise that I did not listen to. I wish I had. I love my husband but we go through cycles with the kids that are tough on all of us. Please have an open mind and try to listen to all the advise these ladies are giving you. I know some of it may be harsh or you feel attacked but they have alot of knowledge and have been through alot with the stepfamily issues.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 12:30PM
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Ditto Jess. 21 seems very old until you hit 31 and then it's amazing how young 21 really is.

Enjoy your 20's. I was not given advice regarding my early years as an adult. I could have, would have, should have done so much more. This is your time. Don't worry about men and children and that drama just yet.

I'm sure you're very mature and could handle what life gives you. But don't settle for this.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 12:40PM
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it happens often, people provide info and ask questions. if they don't like the answers, then they completely change the story. especially very young people.

I find this hormonal mood swings and man's PMS weird, does he simply have bad temper?

Now more contradicting info: they have joint custody yet she is unfit and kids are raised by grandparent but he lives elsewhere and does not see them. yet they share custody? I think he either tells you stories or you are confused, which is understandable at your age.

and again same question: are you in college or any other training and do you have a career? If not, focus on that and forget all this nonsense.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 4:29PM
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At your age I would not marry a man with two kids. Marriage is difficult enough without getting a ready made family. If I were you I would get some training and learn to be independent. I lucked out in my marriage, when my steps failed to respect me my husband stood up for me and put a stop to it or I would never have stayed. I would never marry anyone with children again, you have no idea how it feels to open your home to steps, smiling, being warm and welcoming when you know in your heart they don't care for you. They didn't even care for their Dad all that much. Good luck to you what ever you decide.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 8:28PM
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I should have added, read in this forum for a few weeks that should help you decide.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 8:31PM
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When I divorced, I specifically said, I don't think I can love someone else's children and I don't think I want to find out. I didn't set out to NOT meet a man with kids but I did meet a man with two kids on the opposite side of the country... We dated for a few months and I was appauled at his lack of involvement with his kids. He was in the military and his ex moved back 'home' when they divorced... It wasn't his fault but I always found myself defending his ex when he complained about her parenting. He would say things like ' my parents said the kids are always dirty' or 'she is always calling my parents to help pick up the kids bc she has to work late' or 'she has a new boyfriend that's a jacka$$' and I would always would say 'she's a single mom, DUH she needs help. Or they are kids, I'm sure they get dirty after all day of playing. Then I just decided, I can't handle this mess. He isn't there but he can sure complain about how she is doing it ALONE. And he would always say, I'm fighting for custody and I would think... After you just re-enlisted and spent all of your bonus being a new motorcycle instead of a plane ticket to see your kids. Argh!

So then I met my now hubby-- no ex wife(I wouldn't want to deal with someone like me, the exwife and mom to the kids) and he had no kids. Absolutely perfect! Except now what I get to deal with is teaching him how to parent lol! It's never easy but 21 is so young, there are so many never been married with no kids out in that sea... Your feelings may change over 2 yrs. When I was 25... I became this totally different person and realized all the decisions I made at 20/21 sculpted me but surely weren't decisions I would make again..

    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 8:53PM
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well said Jess

    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 10:13PM
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