what we've learned here

serenity_now_2007November 11, 2008

Maybe we should each take a few minutes to write what we've learned here about the perspective of the "other side" in our step lives. I've been on this forum about year and I've noticed a few positive shifts in the way some of us view the issues, and I'm including myself in that. Not mentioning any names, but it does seem that a few have us have learned to empathize with a few things we may not have thought about before, thanks largely to each other (if not necessarily the "other side" in our own lives). Let's focus not on reiterating our OWN troubles/perspectives but let's sincerely try to view it from the other point of view. Okay, I'll start, with what I've come to understand about SP's:

-It can be extremely intimidating to a new step-parent to come into a blended family situation, easy to feel like "the outsider"

-If a new SP is already feeling like an outsider, it can be very difficult and powerless-feeling to be told they have no say in anything that happens

-It can feel like a real thankless gyp to be stuck in the role of primary caregiver for a stepchild if spouse is away at work all the time...

-...especially if you have no say in discipline

-Custodial SPs have a much bigger load

-Deadbeat bio-parents can really, really suck and if SP is told they still can't co-parent, I can understand the feeling of "all the responsibility and none of the say-so, or even any of the 'glory' of parenthood"

-Noncustodial SPs don't have near the same "workload" as custodial SP's but it can be harder for them to rise above feeling "invaded" by visiting SKs and there is often not the compensatory bond that can make custodial SP-hood eventually rewarding emotionally

-I don't think "parental alienation syndrome" is as widespread as many SP's would think it is, but no doubt it probably exists for some, and if so that really, really stinks for everyone involved

-If you have a partner who simply cannot accept ANY negative feeling on an SP's part & who thinks of such as completely taboo, that could be very invalidating and breed resentment. It's not to condone an SP treating an SK badly, but SP's hould at least be able to be honest about their feelings in private with their partner so they can be dealt with in a healthy way.

-If *you yourself* are the sort of person who would harshly judge and condemn yourself for not being Mr./Mrs. Perfect Ever-loving Insta-parent to your SK's, it's not a good situation either. SP's should at least allow THEMSELVES to privately acknowledge their own negative feelings. When they don't (b/c they are too condemning of these feelings) then sadly, it is likely to come out in far less healthy ways and the kids are likely to be the targets.

-It is okay for some in the blended family to dislike each other... as long as there is a baseline level of mutual decency/civility and everyone abides by certain house rules and state & federal laws!

-btw, rules can really be your friend. Rules get a bad rap, especially if a new SP is laying them down. But as long as the rules are fair and not gratuitously excessive or power-mongering, rules clarify mutal expectations. Without such guidelines, people 'screw up' and/or hold grudges when other people 'screw up' and nobody understands why there's so much resentment all around. Grudges unfortunately are often not shared with anyone until it's too late and resentment runs too deep.

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1. that some SP (new ones) might feel lost and confused (like serenity said: outsiders) about their role. they also might feel insecure around BMs and around SKs. SPs also need support from bioparents and stepkids. I appreciated that DD's new SM asked my opinion on things and on her role in DD's life. new blended families are tough on everyone including new stepparent.

2. stepparents of kids whose bioparent is not on the pciture at all (not EOW, not once in 2 month, not twice a year-not AT ALL) do all the work but then still they are not the parents. it could be painful. especially if bioparents reappear here and there and mess things up.

3. when people marry in a blended family they are responsible for stepchildren in a sense like respecting their opinions. new stepparents come in a family that is already established and it could be tough.

  1. not every adult stepkid is greedy and evil and wants dad's money and hates stepparents. haha

5. most of all I have learned that DD is lucky to have two involved parents and decent SM who does not do anything too obnoxious. hahah It is almost boring. nothing to complain about. haha

    Bookmark   November 11, 2008 at 1:20PM
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1. That a lot of the problems that stepparents think they have with the stepkids, are really about their spouse, or the kids biomom or dad, and not about the kid at all. Its just easier to blame the kid.

2. That most steparents truly love their stepchildren, and their frustration is often because they see pain on the part of the kids.

3. That many stepmoms secretly crave the approval of the biomom, and find it painful when they get no positive feedback for what they do.

4. That many stepmoms can see nothing good about the biomom, and that many biomoms can see nothing good about the stepmom.

5, and Finally, Every step family is different. THe perspective of someone like KKNY, whose husband is with a play girl who wants nothing to do with the daughter, is not going to be the same as the perspective of someone like doodle, who is stepping into full time caretaking of her husbands kids, out of love. BUT...its hard for people to see the other kind of situation. They tend to judge everyone through the filter of their own experiences.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2008 at 2:17PM
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Great idea Serenity!

I'm going to second something you said, but put it in my own words:

- Whatever your feelings towards your SFamily are, they are valid. The important thing is to be honest about how you feel and try to get to the root of it.

And I will add, along those same lines:

- Making changes in your SFamily begins with yourself. You can't expect other people to change unless you acknowledge your own roles in problematic situations.

And lastly:

- There are three sides to every story: Party 1's, Party 2's, and the Truth (which is usually somewhere in the middle). So even if you are frustrated, try to consider the other party's perception.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2008 at 3:01PM
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I do agree with what has already been posted here, but bottom line this is what I see. IMO point one is the main cause and everything just trickles down.

1. No matter how dysfunctional and chaotic the family of origin was, for the majority of the children/teens/adult children of these divorces, THEY WOULD RATHER HAVE THEIR FAMILY OF ORIGIN LEFT INTACT. Some may never get over the breakup of their family.

2. It's easier for a SK to project the anger he/she feels toward one or both Bio's at the SP; conversely it's easier for the SP to hold resentments toward the SK(s) instead of the spouse.

3. The BioP often parents out of guilt and doesn't set good boundaries. Also, they may be subconsciously competing with their former spouse, i.e., who's the better parent, more fun one...

4. The BioP often feels in caught in between problems that arise between BioK(s) and new spouse and, not wanting to alienate anyone, does nothing, thus leaving the SK and SP to battle it out. This unfortunately only leads to more resentment for everyone involved.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2008 at 2:13PM
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"stepparents of kids whose bioparent is not on the pciture at all (not EOW, not once in 2 month, not twice a year-not AT ALL) do all the work but then still they are not the parents. it could be painful. especially if bioparents reappear here and there and mess things up."

This is so true.

I guess the main thing I have learned here is blended families arn't easy. My situation (as drama ridden as it can be sometimes) is really a cake walk compared to some. There are many struggling families out there. By reading the threads here I have learned when times ARE tuff that I am not the only person in the world dealing with this types of issues. That in itself can make the difficult times easier to handel.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2008 at 10:40AM
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I think a lot of the reason SD's mom and I have reached the point we are at (which has stepped back from the sharing a hide-a-bed days, but is still okay) is because of this forum. I learned to see things more from her point of view. I was able to see all that she has missed out on (caused by her own choices and actions, but I digress) and how that could turn her into the person she is now. I think of how hard I fought to gain custody of SD and then imagine what it would be like to loose it. . . then I multiply that by 100 and imagine if I were her bio-mom. I learned that as bad a mom I may think her, there are others who make her look like Mom of the Year.
I realized that I wasn't alone and not a Horrible Person for the thoughts I had about her. I was able to let go of a lot of my hatred and re-direct it as sympathy and understanding, for it is usually the miserable that aim to make others miserable. You don't see a lot of truly happy people trying to make life difficult for everyone around them. I learned that considering myself a failure because I couldn't make this woman like me was about the dumbest thing I'd ever done - if I dislike her on so many levels and for so many reasons, why in God's name would I want her as a friend?!?

Truly, I owe this board credit for a bit of my newly found sanity.
Now we'll see how long it lasts.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2008 at 2:22AM
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I've learned how to laugh at some of the things that used to piss me off. I've accepted that my SD's mom is who she is and if she isn't going to change for her daughter, she sure isn't going to change because of anything my husband or I say or do.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2008 at 12:19AM
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1) that I am not alone in my situation.-before this forum I didnt know ANYONE who was a full time Step Mom with an absent Bio.
2) that "the way things happened" depends on who is relaying the story.
3) that I do what I do for SD because I love her and she needs a mom not because I have to
4) I am also a step, and have come to realize here recently that my step mother has chosen to distance herself from myself and my children and not be very involved. before I just thought she was maybe busy..but after reading a lot of SM posts I think she may just not like me/resent me-for whatever reason.This is hard to digest because my relationship with my own step daughter is just so very different, there will never be a day that goes by that I dont speak, hug and help my step daughter through whatever situation she needs....
5) That anger between adults is what truley hurts these children of divorce and most are too blind to see it.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2008 at 9:09AM
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ima..That's perfect. It also took me so many years to just accept who my SD's mom is. and it took years to accept that my SD would always seek her mothers approval first, no matter how emotionally abusive she was to her. I got into this thing being so naive. I expected that we would all love one another and blend with a white picket fence and everything!!! Talk about living in a bubble. I learned that my bio kids and I came into this relationship with a whole different value system that my SK's just could not understand because they had their own. I also learned that all the children from both sides had their own coping mechanisms that worked for their survival in thier Bio families. Time and determination was what it took for me.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2008 at 9:10AM
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