Role of Step Father

santos1914June 3, 2009

I married my wife 4 years ago. She had 3 girls(5,9,16). I had boy and girl (8,10). We blended excellently except for 16 year old. This problem was made worse by her bio-dad. He would undermine any relationship that would start. He would keep her on the phone for hours discussing me. Today the 16 year old lives with him and the other 2 live with us. He sees them roughly 5 weeks out of the year. He recently has started the same attack against me with the middle girl. I have an excellent reltionship with all 3 today. But bio-dad insists that I need to be "completely neutral" in their lives so as to not affect his relationship with him. Does anyone think I am overstepping my bounds by developing a close relationship with all 5 of my children?

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What does biodad mean by completely neutral??
And why does he only see his younger two children 5 weeks out of the year?

If he lives far I could see the jealousy he may have about another man being with his kids daily. But he is doing them a great disservice by trying to ruin any relationship you have with them. I think it is good that your trying to be close to the kids.

I know that the biomom of my two stepkids tried to nix our relationship in the past. My stepkids live with me and hubby full-time and their mom would make negative comments about me to them. They would mention these things to me and I would just say things like "I am sorry to hear that she feels that way" or "well I don't dislike her". Their mom even went as far as trying to coax the kids into saying that my child was mean to them or that I was mean to them. They said she kept asking them over and over again if me and my child were mean and unfair to them or if we hit them. They would say no and she would keep asking them if they were sure. She would also ask them how me and their dad got along. Over and over again she would ask if we fought a lot or yelled or hit things. The kids would tell her no and she would ask again. It was like she was trying to get them to just give up and say yes to the ridiculous things!

When they told me about it I just said something like "that is wierd that she kept asking you the same question, I am glad you told the truth each must have been tiring". I don't say anything bad about her but I sympathize with their feelings about what she says and does.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2009 at 11:02AM
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No. A child, particularly a teenager, can never have enough positive, supportive adults that care about them in their life. He feels threatened that his children may one day love you more and so is trying to undermine the relationship. He needs to deal with his insecurities and realize that no one will ever take his place so long as he stays involved in their lives. I hope the situation improves for you.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2009 at 11:03AM
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I don't think it's at all unusual to have a harder time blending stepfamilies when kids are teenagers, for many obvious reasons. That in itself wouldn't surprise or worry me because it's par for the course. At first glance it seems a bit odd that Bio-Dad doesn't mind your role/input with the younger kids but does with the older kids, but even that isn't too strange when you think about it. Below a certain age, the raising of young kids is fairly straightforward. People differ on that somewhat too, but when you REALLY start noticing different parenting styles is when the challenges of raising teenagers comes into play. It sounds as though either you or Bio-Dad or both of you are perceiving a big difference in values or parenting philosophies regarding teenage girls especially and there has been enough disagreement for Bio-Dad to feel that the only way to reconcile the disagreements has been for him to put his "Bio-Dad" hat on and assert his authority. Either that or it's a slightly pervy unconscious possessiveness thing about the girls and most likely harmless, but still... If you think there's something creepy about it, quietly maintain extra awareness and be sure the girls know they have a safe place to go and to talk about it if heaven forbid there is something inappropriate going on.

Most likely it's harmless, though, and a lot of Dads get extra possessive of their daughters and it's just them being overprotective. I'd find a way to ask him (or have your wife ask him) NICELY and not sarcastically why he seems so much more concerned about the teenage girls than his other kids. Try to get at what the root cause of the issue is. Hopefully it is just as simple as him disagreeing with you about certain rules/expectations i.e. you or he being seen as "too lax" or "too strict" regarding skirt lengths, curfews, etc. Those things can be easily compromised on. But something deeper is a bigger issue.

My own personal philosophy on the question of which parental figures have the final say on rules would say that whoever the kid is living with for the majority of the year has the final say over decisions regarding that kid while that situation lasts. Basically a "my house, my rules" approach except in extreme situations where there is reason to think a given parent's "rules" are abusive. I also tend to heavily weigh in the degree of support a given parental figure provides to the child in question, in terms of providing for the kid's physical, emotional, nutritional and financial needs on a regular basis. Even if you're not the biological father, if you are the one providing for the kid and the kid lives under your roof, Bio-Dad should at the very least be willing to discuss compromises with you where there is any disagreement.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2009 at 11:05AM
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Thanks to all for your responses. Let me just say that I have an excellent, yet behind the scenes, relationship with the now 19 year old. It took her moving 2000 miles away to live with her dad to realize Me and her mom were pretty ok yet not perfect. Who is? But ever willing to apologize when we do make mistakes. The 19 yr old saw extra freedom with bio-dad, so she went there. However, when we went to visit her she insisted that she stay with us in our little hotel room for the durationof our week visit. I told her, "you might have to sleep on the floor". She said, " I don't care. As long as I'm out of here for a week I'm out". The whole week with us she never called her dad once. You may ask then, why does she stay? She does so at my urging. Where I live it was difficult to find her good friends that would have a positive influence on her. Once I got to see her network of friends where she currently lives, I remembered the saying, "tell me who your friends are and I'll tell you who you are". Despite her strained relationship with her dad and especially her step mom, I felt she would do better there. She knows she can always come home though. What he means by "neutral" is that I not be part of their lives. For example, I am not allowed to knowingly communicate with the 19 yr old. If he finds an e-mail from me, no matter how benign, I get a message back with the heading, "CEASE AND DESIST ANY EFFORTS TO CONTACT MY DAUGHTER". She then started texting me on the phone. So far no problems with that. She can communicate with her mom all she wants and she does. But, sometimes she wants to just gab about something and she will call me. And I must admit, I love my step daughters as much as I love my own. All are obediant, respectful, good in school...Many have commented that they are surprised all blended so well recently.Lastly, his overprotectiveness seems to come on when he is current with C.S. When he falls behind for months, the girls might get a call every few weeks. But now that the C.S. collector has him on a short leash he calls and says he wants to be a bigger part of their lives. So he calls constantly. At first the girls answered all the time. Lately, because of his negative comments about me and their mom, they are more reluctant. Hopefully things will get better. At first me and bio-dad had good communication. I was instrumental in encouraging my wife to do what no mom wants to...Give up a child to the ex-mate. It took me weeks to explain my reasons and eventually she appreciated for herself what I was seeing as potential danger. I talked to bio-dad for months on the subject. Then I made the mistake and told him, after 11 months of non-payment, that he needed to care for his financial obligations to the children (I was caring for ALL their needs for 3 months before I married their mother and then for 8 months after). EXPLOSION. I am now and probably forever more PUBLIC ENEMY # 1. I don't see a way around it. AM I THE PROBLEM? AM I MISSING SOMETHING?

    Bookmark   June 3, 2009 at 11:48AM
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I am sorry but I have no answer. I do understand. We both had 2 adopted sons (4 altogether) of nearly the same age. Both of our exes worked hard to keep any harmony from being achieved for the children in our home. It really only harms the children and it is cruel and selfish of the adults. Now our boys are all becoming young men and we hope to re-establish better relations with them all. Kids are not stupid. When young they may try to work the situations to their advantage but eventually see through all the manipulations. The old adage applies: Mean people suck.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2009 at 12:07PM
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I talked to bio-dad for months on the subject....AM I THE PROBLEM? AM I MISSING SOMETHING?

I didn't think you were the problem until I read that line. You need to disengage from bio-dad. He's insecure and threatened by your good relationship with his kids. He's not going to get over that, ever. Take it as a given, and be pleasantly surprised if 10 or 20 years from now he acknowledges that you played a positive role in his children's lives. But give it up for now. Every time you talk to him it reminds him that you're in his kids' lives. Don't talk to him. Your step-daughter is 19. She can talk to and email whoever she pleases. Let your SD and your W handle communications with the Biodad.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2009 at 1:20PM
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To annkathryn..Just to help you see complete picture, the bio-dad initiated all but the first phone call. He was all for his daughter moving there and wanted to keep me on board with the point. He explained he wanted to make the change easy for her and wanted my help...which I gave. Which I would have done anyway. After he blew up months later on the VERY small remark I made about C.S. I have not spoken to him. For the last 2 1/2 years the 19 yr old and my wife have been the only communicators. My problem is that he continues to say negative things to the girls about me. I leave him alone but he continues the attack. That's why I asked AM I MISSING SOMETHING?

    Bookmark   June 3, 2009 at 1:38PM
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I applaud you for wanting to have a good relationship with all the kids, that says a lot about you. You can't be neutral in those children's lives when they are living under your roof! If the oldest girl wants to communicate with you, then she should. As long as you are not being negative about bioDad to any of his children then you are not over stepping your bounds.

Sounds like bioDad has HUGE insecurity issues. I can't know what it's like to not raise your own kids (I raised my own and my husband's) but that choice was made. It's not your fault he's acting that way.

Just hang in there. Be there for all the kids. I can't say it's going to get easier, but you can definitely be the bigger man when it's all said and done. Blessings to you and your family!

    Bookmark   June 3, 2009 at 4:22PM
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With my Ex he only wanted my oldest when he was old enough to take care of himself. He can do his own bath and fix a sandwich on his own. Now that the two younger boys are getting old enough to do those things he wants them more too. Now oldest will not have anything to do with BD. He only wants son for free labor.

I have told my kids that my husband isn't their dad but he is the dad in this house and I expect him to act and be treated no different and I expect his children to look at me the same way. I don't think anyone should be treated like an outsider in their own home.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2009 at 9:52AM
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I agree completely with you nikemama. Wy wifes ex did very little with the kids when they were babies. Which I see firsthand with the 9 yr old. When he calls or leaves messages it was always for the oldest child. He will talk to her for 30 minutes and then before he hangs up he will ask to "quickly" talk to the young one. After a quick "hi" and "remember I'm your only dad and I love you" (really everytime) he will then ask to talk to oldest again for another 30 minutes. However, I do have the solace that my step kids have re-affirmed to me that they like me in their lives. Just today the youngest begged me to go with her on a field trip because she wants everyone to meet her step dad. Grinning ear to ear. I was afraid my own 2 would be alittle jealous. No problem at all. But just to make sure we are going to have some special time rela soon just the 3 of us.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2009 at 3:07PM
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