Protocol or Proper Etiquette

may72June 16, 2014

Hello everyone and thanks for the replies ahead of time. Quick back ground my SO has two daughters a 16 & 11 yrs old. The oldest lives with us for a few months but then moved back with bio mom.
Recently the oldest daughter was taken to the ER, it ended up not being anything major. My question is what's the proper protocol for this type of situation, especially when bio mom doesn't like you? Do you go to emotionally support you SO or stay away so as to not cause problem? In my case I stayed away to avoid any conflict. Just thought I'd get some input incase this situation where to arise again?
Another question I had was is it wrong for me to ask my SO to ask his ex to stop showing up to yungest SD's soccer practice? On the days my SO has custody she still shows up to her practices because she says that she needs to practice with her daughter??? I can understand going to games but does she really need to be at practice when dad is already there? I don't go to SD's practice but I don't like the idea of her mom being there because I feel it's an invasion of his time, I mean my SO doesn't go to her practices when SD is with mom? SO has complained about this to me before but hasn't mentioned it to ex. I get that she's mom and can go where ever she wants but just thought I would ask.


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I have been a stepmother for 15 years, and stepkids are now adults.

Please trust me when I tell you that the best thing you can do is to let your SO handle all of the interactions with his ex and as many interactions with his kids as possible. Your job is to be a good partner to him. If he doesn't object to ex's presence at the practice, then that's his business. Your involvement will only create conflict between you and SO.

Step families are difficult, but the best thing is to focus on your relationship with him. If the others want healthy friendships with you, and not simply as a way to manipulate your SO, then they can initiate it.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 4:36AM
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I would also recommend staying out of the soccer practice issue. It is likely that the biomom is showing up just to see if you do. She might lose interest if you don't show up and never say anything about it. Besides, most kids give up the recreational soccer leagues as they head into the teen years, so the problem will likely disappear on its own in another year or two.

There are bigger problems that can occur (like biomom showing up at your house, calling at all hours etc). If and when that happens, you need to put your foot down.


    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 11:44AM
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I agree, stay out of the soccer issue. That can only go one way -badly. Whether she's doing it out of spite or just because she's a good mom and wants to always be there for her daughter, it's her call. The ER situation is completely different IMO. When a child is taken to the ER, serious or not (because you usually don't know at first), everyone should pull together and put their differences aside, period. Next time I think you should go to show your support to that child, no one else matters in that scenario.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 12:34PM
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Both parents have equal rights to attend any event involving their child. Besides, most kids enjoy having both parents attend their events as much as possible. It really doesn't matter whether it's a game or a practice. All they care about is who showed up! And when it comes to events, there is no "My Time vs. Your Time". Parents do not stop being parents just because they are not exercising their designated parenting time with the child! I also would ask your SO if he would like you to attend the practices and games when you are free to do so. That may make him feel more comfortable during the times both parents are there.

As for the ER visit, there really is no "protocol". Every family is different. Personally, I simply expect everyone to act like adults and play nice for the sake of the kids. Again, I would ask your SO if he would prefer having you come along to support him, and follow his lead. Don't try to second guess what he wants; just ask.

When my husband and I married in 2006, I had two daughters (now 26 & 29) and he had one daughter (now 32). My oldest lives 2,000 miles away, so we rarely get to see her. When she does return to NH, we all get together. My youngest daughter lives in town, and absolutely adores her SD. We share some holiday gatherings with my ex and his SO, so our daughter doesn't have to pick and choose with whom she will celebrate the holidays. Everyone behaves like adults.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about my husband's ex wife and his adult daughter. In December 2012, my SD asked her father to celebrate Christmas Eve with just her and Dad.

My husband and I talked about it, and we concluded that we did not get married to have one person sit at home alone because somebody else (namely, his ex wife and his daughter) got their panties in a bunch over my presence. So, my husband told his daughter that WE would love to celebrate Christmas Eve with her. We have not heard from her since. It's a shame, because we have a lot to offer her. But, we refuse to let an adult child and his ex wife dictate what we can and cannot do in our lives.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 3:33PM
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" In December 2012, my SD asked her father to celebrate Christmas Eve with just her and Dad. "

I see nothing wrong with a child wanting some "alone time" with her parent. Constantly having the new spouse present would inhibit the experience that the child wants to have. Certain conversations would be stilted, certain issues may not be fully resolved, the child may not be able to fully relax and enjoy, etc. Of course, the girl should have realized that "alone time" on Christmas Eve isn't going to fly since her Dad is re-married.

Would you have objected if the daughter wanted alone time with just her Dad some other day?

    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 5:40PM
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I would not get all upset about the soccer practice. I would certainly hope that when one of the children has an emergency that everyone can behave. If the bio mom has a fit that you are there then NO matter what do not ask your husband to leave with you. He would never forgive himself if something horrible happened to his daughter and he was not there.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 6:56PM
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You are correct, Jewel654. There is nothing wrong with a child - minor or adult - having alone time with the bio parent. My SD has been given alone time with her Dad whenever she requested it, with the exception of a holiday.

When we were dating, her Dad said he was taking her to Boston (her favorite city) for her birthday, and invited me to come along. I told him to go alone with his daughter and have a blast, which is what he did.

Holidays are family time, and the fact is that I am now a member of the family. Holidays will be spent together. Period.

In case anyone thinks I cannot understand what it's like to be a step, let me say that I have been an adult step. My Mom died suddenly when I was 25. Three months after she passed, my Dad moved in with his new girlfriend. She was the best thing that ever happened to him, and I welcomed her. I never in a million years would have asked my Dad to leave his SO alone on a holiday. Why? Because I loved my Dad, and was mature and confident enough in myself and my relationship with him to include his SO in everything. I also welcomed her grandchildren, because my Dad's heart was big enough to love them, too. When he died, we listed all the grandchildren in alphabetical order, including his SO's. The word step was never mentioned.

My husband's daughter has bluntly stated she has no interest in being part of a step family. That is her choice, albeit a sad one. She is an adult and has the right to make her own choices, no matter how misguided those choices might be. We have told her our door remains open should she change her mind in the future. In the meantime, we are enjoying one another and our lives.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 6:12AM
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I can't help but think that the request for alone time on a holiday was a deliberate attempt to manipulate your husband.

My birthday is six days earlier than my SD's birthday. The first year we were married, my birthday fell on a Saturday. My SD insisted that she and her father had ALWAYS spent the weekend before her birthday together alone. That was only the beginning. I let that one go and spent my birthday with my sister on a weekend trip to a Savannah, GA. It was fun, but the power play to exclude me on my own birthday still stings nearly 16 years later. It was my husband's fault, and my fault... Both of us were doormats in those days, but no more.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2014 at 12:24AM
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You are absolutely correct - it was a shameful attempt at manipulation on my SD's part; one of her many attempts at manipulation over the years! We have met each of her attempts with a united front, and nipped each attempt at manipulation in the bud.

So glad to hear that you and your husband are no longer your SD's doormat.

Having said that, there can be consequences to standing together and protecting your marriage.

My SD made the choice to remove herself completely from our lives when she realized that we were not going to allow her to drive a wedge between us. She no longer acknowledges her Dad on his birthday or even Father's Day. She has not called since December 2012. Since 2010, she has completely shunned both of us at family gatherings - would not talk with us, sit with us, or even acknowledge our presence! She also used these gatherings as opportunities to spread lies about us to other family members. When she graduated from college in May 2012, her mother threw a graduation party for her. The ex invited virtually every member of my husband's family. However, neither of us was invited! (Obviously, the rotten apple didn't fall far from the rotten apple tree!)

Here's the bottom line: We know my husband is an awesome Dad, and I am a terrific stepmom. We know we both welcomed all three of our kids into our lives with open arms. Our only "crime" was to fall in love, get married, and stand together against the SD's numerous onslaughts. We know we have done nothing wrong, and refuse to be "punished" by the SD and ex for finding happiness with each other.

Although we wish the SD would have acted more maturely, and embraced the idea of welcoming additional people in her Dad's life, it actually has been very nice to get a respite from her negativity, immaturity, and emotional instability and neediness.

Just remember: Even though standing up for your relationship/marriage can be hard, it is far better than the alternative. United we stand; divided - we end up in divorce!

    Bookmark   July 30, 2014 at 7:46AM
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Your story is a carbon copy of our story. Your step daughter's terrible behavior is not because you presented a united front... It is the behavior of a manipulator. It would have happened anyway, so don't think that her behavior was a result of your refusal to be manipulated.

You were good to include your step daughter in your family, but what you don't understand is that she never wanted a relationship with you. That's the very sad reality. She is just dysfunctional.

It's a testimony to the dysfunctional manipulative nature of she and her mother.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 3:32AM
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Oh, I absolutely agree with you - her terrible behavior was present from the time we started dating. Actually, I have been told that she acted the same way with every woman my husband dated after the divorce. Our united front certainly did not create her lousy behavior; it is what kept us together, and helped us preserve our sanity in the midst of her nastiness!

By consistently presenting a united front, she finally realized that there was absolutely nothing she (or her mother) could do to break us apart. So, she has retreated to go lick her wounds because she could not "win".

And, in the end, my husband came to the sad realization that the only time she ever spent time with him - before or after we met - was when she needed something, or expected to receive a present. She hardly ever just stopped by to say hello to him. But, you can best believe that he was first on her list when she needed an oil change, her car fixed, help moving, fixing something at her apartment, etc. etc. etc.! He now sees her for what she truly is... a manipulator who tries to take and take but is not willing to give anything back.

Guys have a name for this type of woman: HMU: High Maintenance Unit. Sounds like both my SD and yours qualify as HMU poster children! It's no wonder my SD is almost 32 years old, and has never had a long-term personal relationship with anyone.

I hope that your relationship has been able to withstand the viciousness of your manipulative SD. If your story is a CC of mine, my heart truly goes out to you!

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 9:03AM
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Yes! I could give you a long list, but the good news is that if there are no goodies available, then she is unavailable. My stepson is very similar, but is constantly demanding things, that are never ever good enough for him. He is another master manipulator. I have been reading about Adult Children of Alcoholics, and they are both classic cases... Their mother is an alcoholic and I feel certain that is where their behavior came from.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 4:06AM
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