Being a custodial step-mom

KatrinaNovember 11, 2001

Hi! I'm new to this site and found everyone's posts very inspiring so I thought I would write about my life with my step children.

I have two step children: ss 7yr. and sd 9yr. My dh had gotten temporary custody of them two years ago after the bm disappeared with them for 20 months. Recently we went to mediation and it became permanent; the children would live with us.

My dh and I have a 20month daughter, who is my pride and joy. She's still young and loves her brother and sister very much. My dh seems very happy that his family is finally together. (He actually wants one more!)

My problem is that I'm not happy. I find it very difficult to love my stepchildren like my own. I understand that it takes time, but I have been in their lives since they were 2 and 3yrs old. I feel that I am being mom to them (they call me mom), but without the rewards of the title. Their bm lives in another state, hasn't seen them in over 2 years, calls about once every two weeks, never has paid child support; in all words, a lousy mom. She said she was coming down for Halloween, then backed out. She should see them for Christmas, but who knows?

I feel very sorry for them, even though they can't even comprehend what their bm has put them through. My ss and sd have been in counseling for over two years; some times it doesn't seem to be working!

I have the most problems with my sd (9). She is very stubborn, lazy, and disrespectful to adults. I discipline her (because I am the one raising her), and she hates my guts. There hsa been a few nights when I'm happy that they (ss & sd) have gone to bed! I try to have some one-on- one time with each of them, but some times I don't even have the energy for that. I love the time I have with my d (20 months) and can't imagine being separated.

My dh works nights, so most of the child rearing falls on me. And because of his guilt about how the children have been treated, he tends to not discipline. He says I'm too hard on them, but I feel that if I don't teach them; how will they learn? No one else is doing it?

I feel that every step of the way, every thing I do is being watched and critized by bm and dh. Who knows? It could be used against me in court later.

I didn't feel this strongly when the custody issue was up in the air, but now that it's permanent...I almost feel like I'm suffocating. My dh had been wonderful when I say that I need some "me time". He will watch the kids and I spend time with my girlfriends and go shopping by myself.

Has anyone else experienced this? Am I going crazy? My close friend says that it's okay to feel this way, but I don't think it should be going on this long. Any suggestion on how to feel better?!

Thanks, feel free to email me

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First, I have 2 comments:

1) you said you feel like a mom to them but without the rewards of the title. Aren't they calling you "mom"???

2) You feel like everything you do is being watched and criticized by bm and dh. First of all, forget bm!!! She's not even in their lives. How can she be watching and critcizing? As far as dh, I'm sure he's so darn happy to have you there (especially since he works nights) - I'm sure he's not criticizing you at all. If he is (verbally), then you didn't say so.

Stop feeling guilty for how you're raising your steps. I, too am a custodial sm - to an 11 yr. old boy. It's a challenge, to say the least. He "doesn't" call me mom, but he respects me and considers me his "other mother" (even though his bm has very little to do with him).

I used to feel guilty about everything I did, but time took care of that.
I'm expecting my first child "very" soon (a matter of weeks) and I'm sure it's going to be a difficult challenge. I already love my child more than anything in the world (and he's not even born yet). I can't say the same about my ss - but as I've learned over time - IT'S OK!!

Once the guilt can leave you, you'll feel better.

I hope you can find a way to accept your steps into your heart. I'm still trying to pull mine closer to me - and I'm realizing over time that it's ME who has to make that effort.

Although I wish him away sometimes, I know that he's here to stay and only I can change the situation from "not good" to "better" -- then from "better" to "best". I think you get the picture.

Oh, I KNOW it's not easy, but you have a precious child of your own who most likely loves his older brother and sister very much. Can you start loving them, too?????

Good luck!!

    Bookmark   November 11, 2001 at 6:57PM
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We had 4 kids that came to live with us. 9-16 yrs old. And yes we had many problems. But remember, LOVE is an action word. You have to choose to do it. It isn't always easy. Try maybe doing things with the kids. One on one. All of ours are gone now, we have our DD at home yet. You may look at it as Thankless now(being a mother is a thankless job even with your own kids) but later in yrs things will change. And they will see you different. Ours do now that they have families of their own. Just keep trying....

    Bookmark   November 12, 2001 at 8:06AM
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There is a post down at the bottom of page 1, titled "If not now, when?". I think you'll discover that while some women vehemently denying having these feelings, and very well may not, you'll find that there are many women who feel exactly the way you do. Read it and know that you are doing what you can for these children, and I am one of those people who believe that you don't necessarily have to "love" these kids to give them a better and whole life. Good luck.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2001 at 11:50AM
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I have no step children because I know that I could never ever love them like my own. I understand your feelings completely and wish you blessings of strength and endurance for the road ahead. As for being happy when they are finally asleep - we bio Moms have those days as well - so don't beat yourself up about that. You seem to be very stable, centered person and I know that you will do right by the children whether you can love them as your own or not. However, what was of concern to me was your comment about DH looking for something to hold against you. Can you explain what you meant ?

    Bookmark   November 12, 2001 at 3:08PM
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Hi again! Thank you for your posts, I like the quick feedback and conversation!

After reading the posts, let me clarify something. When I wrote that my dh critizes my role as mom, I meant that he tend to say, "are you going to be that tough on the baby when she's older?" He feels, and he has said this to me, that because they are not my children, I tend to have less patiences and have stricter rules. While I understand that there is quite an age difference in our child (20months) and our ss (7) and sd (9), so obviously we are disciplining differently. My defense to him is that our daughter hasn't gone through the trauma that our ss and sd have. Also that I will be teaching her as she grows, not when we get them at 5 and 7 yrs old. (Did I mention that these children weren't wearing seat belts in the car or getting dressed on their own when they were with bm?) He also tends to let me handle most discipline issues. I think he doesn't want to be the bad guy.

I just wanted everyone to know that I felt better after I wrote the post. Maybe by writing it, I straighten out some thoughts in my head.


Also, I meant that bm would use this in court, not dh. (He's on my side:) )

    Bookmark   November 12, 2001 at 3:53PM
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I can't give you any advice from a Step-parent's view but I can try to encourage you from a step-child's view.

My stepmother joined our family when I was 8. My mother is about like the one you described. No support, no visits (she moved to Europe - talk about extreme!).

My dad was working all of the time and my stepmother was stuck running the family. Granted, my dad didn't avoid disciplining us, but most of the stuff fell on her.

Yes, we thought she was an ogre at first. After all, who was this woman coming into our lives and telling us what to do? Add in the confusion of your mother leaving, etc. - makes for a less than ideal situation.

But I have to tell you that 24 years later I say without reservation that my stepmother was the best thing that could have happened to us (for the very reasons we thought she was "mean"). She really kept things together for us.

I can't predict what will happen with you and your steps, but my stepmother is my parent. We are very close and I can't imagine what I would do without her.

Hope this helps!

    Bookmark   November 12, 2001 at 4:10PM
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Ok, I am going to try and give some advice. I was raised by a step mother, and also am one now. I don't know how your childhood was or who raised you so I don't know if you have the understanding of what it feels like to be raised by someone other then your mother. My step mother got me when I was 2 yrs old, I had visits with my bio mom. But they were limited and eventually she moved out of state with her new family. Unless you have had a parent leave you, you will never understand the pain it brings. My step mother had 2 other children with my dad. I look back on my childhood and I don't remember ever feeling like I wasn't part of that family. I remember one fight my parents had and my sm was leaving and taking my 2 brothers (her bio kids) and I remember asking her can I go. She said no, thats the only time I ever felt seperate. But other then that she was my mother, I hated her for disciplining me. I ran away when I was 16. I couldn't wait to turn 18 and move in with my "real" mom. That is what I did. My sm supported me in the move. I was a tuff kid to raise, buy my sm stuck by me threw thick and thin, even when I slapped her in the face by moving in with my bio mom. I still knew she loved me. I am now 36 yrs old, I have only one mom. The woman that was there for me thru good times and bad. My bio mom is alive and I speak to her, but in my heart I know who my real mom is. Takes more then giving birth to become a mom. I hear you saying you can't feel for your step children like you do about your bio children. In my opinion then your heart is very small. How can you look at these two gifts that someone "dumped" and not feel the utmost compasion for them. Look at what they are going thru at such a young age. They neither asked to go thru this or wanted this. The problem I see is you. You need to open your heart more and find the best way to deal with each of your children, and make it as happy a childhood as possible.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2002 at 1:31PM
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I agree with you Misty .. I am a stepmom too and reading all of this has just made me cry. I feel for these children. I had a stepmom and she is still married to my father. I can recall how I felt knowing she loved her kids and kicked me and my brother to the curb. She would do for her kids and never do for me the way she did for them. She did not know how to love us. I moved out at 18 and never went back. I have a great friendship with her and my father now but I can not forget how hard it was first to not have my mother as a young teen girl and then to have a woman around who would not love me. A woman who was jealous of my relationship with my father, so jealous it ran me off.
You do need to work on you... there is nothing wrong with the children they are innocent in all of this. They are the ones who were "unwanted" and left behind... not you as the new wife. You are the wanted one. You took on these kids when you entered their home. Dont hurt them more by making them feel the same why their mothers did.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2002 at 1:43PM
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Misty: There is a huge difference between compassion and love. I feel plenty of compassion for my SD, she had a horrible upbringing, only to be corrected in the past five years. I don't think Katrina said she hated her stepkids, I believe she said she felt as though she couldn't love them as her own. That is a very common emotion that many stepparents face; I know that I feel it. Frankly, it doesn't help that often, these children who have had it so rough, continually remind the stepmother of their own biomom, which tends to magnify the feelings of disassociation. To say that Katrina has a very small heart because she feels the way she does is completely unfair and ghastly. I have no doubt that Katrina's life would be much "easier" and "quieter", and far less chaotic without the two stepkids. I don't believe there are many stepparents with small hearts - considering what we do do for our stepkids, a small heart wouldn't even get us out of bed in the morning. I don't doubt for a minute that some of us need practice on becoming "the perfect Stepford Parent", however I am of the mind that stepparents have bigger hearts than most bioparents -- simply because THEY DON'T HAVE TO DO ANYTHING FOR THEIR STEPKIDS, but they do, A LOT!

    Bookmark   February 21, 2002 at 5:01PM
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I am also a custodial stepmon caught in a very ugly situation. At times I struggle with my feelings for my stepchildren ages, 12,10,8. I have many differnt feelings for them. I do understand that they have a terrible time over the past 4 years and have not adjusted well to the divorce. It is very difficult for them to understand that they can't spend time with each parent on a daily basis. We are going back to court in a few weeks, the Biomother sued us for custody when my husband had her wages garnished for lack of payment for her child support. She owes over 12,000.00. She claims she can't affort to pay her mortgage, buy any extras for the kids, or live on what is left over. But she just returned from a 6day vacation in Paris France and brought all kinds of presents home for the kids. She also took her vacation during her custodial period and made no arragnements for child care for the children. She just expected me to be the babysitter.
My stepchildren have very torn loyalities, they make excused for their mother all the time and accept any wrongdoing. But let us ask them to do a couple chores or do their homework and you would think we were running a sweatshop for children. It truly is a no win situation. I have put life on hold for almost 2 years now. That is how long this has been going on. The biomom has no respect for us or our home. My husband can't move on with "our" life until this custody issue is over. I can not imagine that happening anytime soon. I have never been so discouraged in my life. I spent 11years as a single mom raising 2boys and I have never seen anything like I have in the past 2years with this situation. The children are dysfunctional, the exwife is a person who puts her parental responsibilites and child support obligations secondary to her own desires, and my husband has a very hard time dealing with it all. It has been a long and difficult road with not many rewards. I have lost my ability to be positive about this. We have the kids in counseling, although the biomom doesn't agree with this, her thoughts are they will survive. But will I?Good luck and God Bless all stepparents

    Bookmark   February 21, 2002 at 5:26PM
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i I have been a custodial step mom for almost two years I however was not the first step mom i am the second stepmom. the first step mom stuck it out for only a few short months and asked them to leave.My step son loved her very much this destroyed him since his bm said here you two raise him when they were first married, she too has nothing much to do with him . Both parents failed to discipline correctly and he was pretty much left to raise hisself, in a botched effort considering he was only 5 when this happened,now 9 he doesnt think he needs me setting rules,punishing him, or making do his share in the family.He calls me mom, and I too feel like theres a lack of love because theres no bond. he also thinks because him and his dad have been more like brothers,equal, he thinks i should do for and treat him like i do his father, and that he tries to treat me like his father does.I have been left to "fix" him at a very low progress rate over a two year period. Peeople encourage me that I am the best thing to ever happen to him, I by day have my doubts, he acts like hes a 16 yr old who acts like a 3 year old but who is only actually 9. I have seen some noticable progress, i do know what hes been through, my husband also tends to comment im harder on him than my son or our 1 yr old daughter, but he's older, my sons only 6, and our 1 year old, there still in the molding part, he should be already molded but hes only set in bad ways. I do love him as my own, but i find it hard to be as tolerent as i do my own. noone really knows what his problems are he wont tell anyone or even get mad and blurt out anything just stays depressed and vents.I would like to make things easier on him but in doing so its not fair to my other kids who have to act in acertain way or do chores, why should he not have to when they do, and they will think that his behavior is ok for them to, so wahts a sm to do? Pray and keep battling with love, no love and all discipline you will fail, no discipline and all love you will fail, love with discipline you will prevail.Let them know you are not trying to replace thier mother, you are thier friend but also in charge, then you will be thier mother. Friend first, leader second, then you will be mom. dont try to be mom before you you are thier friend.My real son I am his boss, I am his mother, but most of all he is my best friend.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2002 at 1:17AM
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custodial step-mom here, the only thing that helped me was God. can't go wrong there. Prayer works wonders :)

    Bookmark   May 14, 2002 at 4:36PM
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AMEN to that othermother2....

    Bookmark   May 15, 2002 at 7:37AM
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I am a custodial stepmom of 1 child. His birthday is next week, the very day we must go to court and fight to keep him, since his bm has all of the sudden become interested and is suing my husband for joint custody. I have been in his life since he was 2 1/2, and I have a son that is 5 now. My husband and I have no children together, we want them but chose to raise our unusual family.

Let me start by saying, my sons father is no longer around, he felt the urge to "get on with his life" and joined the Navy and left 1 year ago. So, dealing with my own sons' problems was hard enough.

My husband and I have been married for just over 4 years. He gained custody of his son in the divorce. She, the bm has done nothing but terrorize our family. She sees my ss every other weekend and 2 two week periods in the summer. On occasion she would ask to keep him an extra day or two. She has always paid her support, but never shown interest. He went to school, and she never even went to a concert. Then early october 2001, something changed and she wanted to be mom. My husband had gotten laid off from his job, and we were going through rough financial times. Her support helped us get through. The time comes when she wants to see more of him, couple days a week and overnights during the schoolweek. I disagreed with it from the start, but since I have no say, my husband did it. Of course, she lives in a different school district and has no way to get my ss to school. SO, she relies on me. she dropped him off at home, sometimes, if it suited her. Sometimes, he would ride the bus to a babysitter(my husband got another job). It got to the point that the school was calling ME to find out where my ss was supposed to go after school. I started screaming at my huband when I got home. Told him this was TOOOOO MUCH FOR A 6 YEAR OLD TO HANDLE. It is not his responsibility to worry about how to get home. So, my huband put a stop to it. It was draining on his schoolwork and emotions. Soon after that, a sherriff knocked on our door serving us with papers. It has been 6 months and $2000 later, and we finally go to trial next week, I do not think it is over though.

My ss fell out of his bed (top bunk) a week or so ago. Nothing serious, I took him to the emergency room at Midnight (my husband works nights) nothing broken, no harm done, right? Well, it was still bothering him, took him to the doctor, possible crack, put it in a sling for 3 weeks. So, my husband tells his ex. She sends her husband to pick up my ss, don't ask me why, for her weekend. She proceeded to take my ss to an amusement park, took off his sling, lost it and let him ride rides (including a rollercoaster) with out it. I am disgusted.

This is my story....I pray for good results in the court battle soon....I am not sure how much more I can handle.

I do everything I can for my ss. I do love my stepson, even though he does not return it. He doesn't like to share with his stepbrother (we say brothers, they have been together from the ages of 2 1/2 and 1), and resents that he is there. Our home is very loving and very difficult, especially for the first couple days after coming home from bm's house. My husband tries, but will not stand up to his ex. I have quit arguing as it is not worth it. I am just the orge and hated, but I still do it. Because I know that one day, he will appreciate all I have done. I also still take care of all the childcare arrangements and daily activities, not for the sheer satisfaction of it, but because if I do not do it, no one will. And that is sad in my eyes...
My only advice to you is hang in there. There are days when I want to do nothing but scream (sometimes I do) and other days are okay. We have never had a GREAT day. Without some bickering for 4 years. But even though sometimes, the last thing I want to do is hug my step, I give a hug at least 1 time a day. He knows, I know, we all know. But we have not figured out a way to express it yet, without hurting the bm. I know I am rambling, but I have had a ROUGH couple of days with this whole situation, and am so nervous about court, because I have to testify.

The one thing is I have no one to talk to about all of this, I tried to see a counsler and it will take a month or so to get in and to me the wait is not worth it. If anyone wants to talk, just email me.

Everybody take care, one day it will be better, cry quietly in your room, and ALWAYS take time to get away by yourself.

--Stressed OUT in MO

    Bookmark   June 3, 2002 at 12:12PM
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I, too, am a custodial stepmother of two children. They call me mom. I've been raising them since they were 4 & 6 (boy & girl). Their BM left them when they were 2 & 4 and has minimal involvement in their life.
I now have a 1 year-old, also. My husband and I have been married for 7 years next week and didn't plan on having more children for several reasons. But then decided to.
I always said that I loved my stepchildren as my own, because I had chosen to when I was married. I just love them! For so long people told me that I just needed to wait until I "had my own". That it was different with your "own". I never could say anything because I hadn't had my own. But most of those people weren't stepmothers, either.
Now I have my "own". And I can honestly say that I do not love her anymore than my stepchildren. What I realized is that mothering doesn't come from the womb. It comes from the heart...look at how our stepchildren's "real" moms have treated them. Evidently there is a choice to be made no matter how you came about being a mom. And I have long maintained that "real" moms love and sacrifice for their children, putting them first and showing them their inherent importance, regardless of the blood relationship.
It is also important to recognize that you may feel differently about your DD when she is 9. It's easy to love to be around her now when she isn't talking back or being disobedient. But you may very well feel differently when she is the same age as your SD. The only difference may be that you will have learned from your stepchildren how to be more patient and loving, but not necessarily that you love them less or your DD more.
A lot of the problems that steps have with our stepchildren are problems that bioparents have. We just have a tendency to see them as "step" problems when they really aren't.
Did you read the rest of the posted responses to your post? They were very encouraging. You are doing a wonderful thing, Katrina. Keep your chin up and take heart!

    Bookmark   June 9, 2002 at 7:33PM
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I've been a custodial step-mom for the last 5 years since my SD's were 3 and 4. Their BM doesn't have anything to do with them and doesn't pay child support. I really love my SD's however, I just had a child of my own 7 months ago and no matter what anyone says it is a different feeling. The bond you have with your biological child is amazing. I have a bond with my SD's but it is a different bond. I feel guilty sometimes that I cannot give them what they may feel is missing but I try my hardest to make sure they are loved and that all the children are treated equally. I think that the posting from MistyLee was very unfair. I do not believe someone has a small heart for feeling differently towards their BC and the SC. It is perfectly normal to feel this way and as hopdrop5 says, step-parents have the biggest hearts since they give when they really do not have to. I know the SC didn't ask to be put in the position they are in but it's not the step-parent's fault either, we are the ones that try to make it better and sacrafice a lot of our time and energy to make these children grow up in a happier environment than what they would have grown up in. I think we step-moms have to stop blaming ourselves for feelings we cannot control and realize that we did not put the SC in this position in the first place - the BM's did. I have no respect for any BM's who have left their children and I cannot understand how they could ever do this. I love my SD's and know that they are happy with me even though at times things get difficult. My situation will never be easy but with a little hard work and patience (which is not always possible) I think our family will be just fine. I wish you all the best and hope you all keep the faith.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2002 at 9:45AM
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I thank god everyday my guy does not have children and neither do I.... I am not missing a thing

    Bookmark   July 12, 2002 at 2:16PM
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I just want to say thank you. For reassuring me in my belief that my stepmother doesn't see me as a burden but as one of her children.

I agree that for some people the biological bond is of huge importance. For others, like all the bad biological parents out there (including my own mother) the "bond" means nothing. If it was all that mattered, then there wouldn't be much hope for adopted children either.

I agree that to a large extent, you make the choice to love and accept the stepchildren. I'm not saying you are bad if you choose not to, but it is a choice.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2002 at 6:13PM
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Hi Katrina. This is the first time I have ever been on this website. I only found it because I am having some of the same feelings and had to find a place where I was not alone. I have been married for 3 1/2 years to my husband who has 3 children-11, 13 . We are the custodial parents. Let me say that this has been the largest challenge of my life. I do not have any of my own children (we are still trying ). Well to make a long story short. I have been in their lives long before we were married and have naturally grown attached to them and care about them a great deal. However, I often feel very guilty because as much as I love them and care about them, sometimes I just dont like them. They were not raised, the way I would want my children to be raised. At times I find them discrepectful, disruptive and well for lack of better terminology, spoiled and rude.
I try to instill organization, and discipline along with my husband... but there are things that he simply overlooks that I cannot... For instance the youngest child (a boy) is probably the most attached to me ... I am the person that he comes to for help, for food, for just about everything. Yet he at times treats me very disrespectfully almost like I am a sibling or a friend and says things and does things that he knows I do not approve of--He also gets hysterical laughing at me, when things happen like if I drop or spill something-- He forces out the laughter so hard just to try to humiliate me. I would never dream at laughing at my mother or talking back to her.. and my father would not allow it. I have tried talking I ve sent him to his room, given time outs, threatened to punish-I have punished ... tried to reason with ...gone to counseling. sent him to counseling.. Its really getting on my nerves. Then I have to deal with a 13 year old girl.. going through puberty and boys, and bad grades, and drinking issues--One of her friends was kicked out of my house for being drunk to our knowledge she is not drinking-thats the one good thing I can say-- but the fact remains that for some reason her friend thought it was ok to come to my house drunk--that is a very serious message. and My husband makes me feel like I am crazy for reacting like a mad woman.-- The bottom line is this- I feel very responsible for what happens to these kids they are living under a roof that I along with my husband, am in charge of .. I cant sleep at night if I think that we are not raising them properly. I am at my wits end and my hubby isnt always the easiest to talk to about these things-- I try - but it always seems like I am complaining or picking on them... So you are not alone-- Being a step mom is the hardest job in the world --especially a custodial one.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2003 at 11:59AM
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"I often feel very guilty because as much as I love them and care about them, sometimes I just dont like them."

That's human nature. If you had biological children, you would have those feelings on occasion.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2003 at 7:13AM
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Thanks for that response. I was really beginning to not like myself. Though I can remember times when I drove my own mother crazy. She loved me but she definitely did not like my behavior. My only saving grace is my oldest step child, she is 20 now and finally understands what its like for me. Weve been through a lot over the years- but she knows now how much I really genuinely love her and her sister and brother, even if I get mad at them sometimes. She knows that I want same things for them that I would want for my own children(If I can ever have my own-that is) -Anyway thanks for the validation. Sounds like you have some experience with this.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2003 at 3:03PM
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Just found this site and was pleased to see how many people can relate. My story is too long to write. But my basic question is this: My 15 sd whom I have raised for over 10 yrs has been rebellious, defiant and many more things for at least three yrs steady now. We've always had behavior problems from both her and my 18ss. He has since moved out and she has taken over where he left off.

I have 2 other daughters and their life is constant chaos. My husband who received sole custody when they divorced wants to force their mom to take her and finish raising her. She of course, said it doesn't work for her right now. We offered child support and even to pay the difference in her rent if she has to move. We cannot afford it, we're willing to tap into our retirement if it means being able to unload some of this onto her mom. My husband works long hrs and I have been raising her since she was 4.

I love her very much and have done counseling, talks, private time with just us etc...every avenue to explore in helping her we have gone down. She does poorly in school, smokes, steals and simply does what she wants when she wants , lies until she is absolutely caught red handed. And I am over it keeping our family in utter turmoil. I quit working when I married her dad to provide a stable loving home for her and her brother. She loves me and I know that one day these issues will pass. But is it wrong for me to want her bm to have to be responsible here? Her poor influence on her sisters is really beginning to show. And I just want to be done.

So finally the real question is can her father legally require her mom to take her? She has no other dependents or partner.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2008 at 4:52AM
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tiredmom, this is a really old thread. You should start a new one to get more responses.

But as to your question can Dad legally make Mom take their daughter? NO.

I saw plenty of red flags in your post and I have to say that children need to feel safe, secured and loved to act that way. When a child is forced into a blended family situation that is not comfortable, i.e. SM staying home so Dad can work late hours...does not produce great results for the most part. In my experience it felt like another abandonment, lost my Mom and then lost my Dad and had pretty much a stranger ruling the roost now.

IMO, your SD is dealing with some pretty burdening abandonment issues and needs to work it out with intensive counseling. I think you and your husband would benefit to read up on child abandonment. Often times the child cannot voice these feelings and will act out extremely as a teenager. It will help you to see where she is coming from.

Also, I would not expect perfect behavior from a teenager that knows and can sense she is not wanted from either her Mother or Father. Pretty rough stuff there.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2008 at 9:31AM
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One parent cannot MAKE the other parent do anything.... not even take care of their own offspring. It really is sad. My SD9 lives with us and her mom wants to be her best friend but doesn't want her. I can totally relate because my SD's mom also has the "it doesn't work for me" attitude and she takes her kids with her when it's convenient for her or she needs to see them (they listen to HER problems, they give HER moral support, etc.) and when she wants the attention of being a mom, her kids are the props so people see her as a mom. It's never about what the kids want or need. But, that's another issue.

In your case, you've been raising her since she was 4 and there's a reason her mom didn't. Her mom doesn't want her now and that's terribly sad for this child/teen, because it's hard enough to be a teenager and what every kid wants is to be loved... unconditionally. It's really unfair to say "now that you're a teenager & acting up, we want to get rid of you.... let your mom deal with you!" when you know her mom doesn't want her. Some of the things you describe are normal teen behavior.. testing the boundaries & ascertaining if they truly are loved unconditionally. Many of us were rebellious teenagers and not all rebellious teens come from a divorced family or step family situation. I believe it can be more complicated with steps involved but it also has to do with how it's perceived and how everyone reacts to it. I'd agree that it's more likely to be taken personally in a step situation where the step parent's children are not yet teens & the step parent has no idea how to deal with teens. In my situation, my kids are grown & I've dealt with three teens and I have concerns about what it will be like with my SD in a few years. Her mom allows her to do all sorts of things that we feel are shaping her to be a nightmare teenager. (ie. lets her dress 'sexy', puts fake tattoos on her belly, teaching her 'sexy' dance moves, puts nasty rap songs on her ipod, lets her watch R rated movies, etc.) and not a day goes by that I don't wish her mom would take more of an interest in raising her and being there for her. At this point, I'd be happy if she'd answer her phone or **gasp** pick up her own phone & call her daughter and if she would stop canceling her weekends... but we can't 'make' her. **sigh**

However, it would be the wrong thing to decide to 'throw her back' because she's being difficult. Trust me, I've thought it & I've pondered it on here... 'should I throw in the towel?' but as hard as it is and as frustrating as it can be, giving up on a child is only going to make things worse. I also understand how hard it is when you are raising your kids & you don't want them to pick up on a bad influence but I have three kids and my oldest one did things that I worried would be a bad influence on my two younger ones... but he's my son. It was a good lesson for my two younger ones to learn.. that we don't turn our back on family. Your SD is family.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2008 at 12:21PM
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Hi Katrina,
I agree with some of the posts here and don't with others. So, I will just say that what you feel is perfectly normal! Don't let anyone tell you different.

You are not these kids mom and you are being pushed into that role. You are also not their dad, and you seem to have all the responsiblity of both parents.

You may have to sit down with your dh and have a good long talk. You won't be able to keep going like this. You have already said you have not been happy for awhile. Believe me it won't get any better. You need to make the kids parents be the parents. You should not be doing their job for them. If dad has to be at work then he better figure something out for his kids. They are his responsibility. Not yours. If you don't think so, then find out what kind of rights you have. None.
Even if the solution is something simple to start, like a realtive takes the kids for a few nights a week so you can have time away from them.
If you don't do something now, you will end up bitter and resentful like me. You don't want to be at that point. Trust me.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2008 at 6:39PM
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wild thing, katrina post is from november 2001.
Tired mom, if you want more advice, like Nivea said, repost on your own thread...but here is some advice...
you cannot force a parent to take over. Trust me, i have a coworker who this happen to. She wanted to go live with her father and when it came timein court, the father flatly refused and there was nothing the judge could do. But let me tell ya, she was crushed, heartbroken rejected! you name it. Completely cruel , absolutely cruel to any human being.
You have to sit down with your husband, set ground rules for all the kids in the house. Be very clear with your Sd about it, if she doesn't follow them, start taking things away. privelages. all kids have to do chores etc..etc..
there was another person on the post here who had some good lists of chores and delegation in the house for kids and the repremands that followed if they didn't do them.
she's 16 she must get a part time job to start teaching her more responsibility. Make it clear. And you have to be onthe same page as your hubby here.
1. no smoking in the house.
2. grades must increase , put her in a after school program or put her in an extra course on weekends..
3. lying...repremand ,= grounding. no tv, no internet, heavy chores.
Sit her down both of you or at least her father has to do this first. SIt her down and talk to her. Find out what she is feeling...maybe she lost a boyfriend, peer pressure. Its hard at this age but one thing is for sure the house has to be structured and all the kids must follwo the rules..iknow its easier said than done but inthe long run the kids will appreciate it evne though they'll say they hate your guts.
Throwing her away on mom is not hte answer..and mom doesn't want her which says alot and will only harm this girl.
I wish you luck and patience.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2008 at 10:16AM
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I too am a custodial stepmom. My SK's are 8,10,12 I have a bd that is also 12. My husband has had full custody for almost 2 years. I helped him fight for custody while we were still dating/engaged because I knew it was best for his children to be with him. I have been raising them now for over a year. It is not easy. He works 12 hour shifts so I am their main caregiver. I do their laundry, I cook, I clean, I help with homework and school stuff. When they are at their BM's she often forgets to sign their school stuff or complete any HW. It is so aggravating. I love them and would do anything for them just as if they came out of my womb. It helps to know that there are others that deal with this and to read the things that the SK's are saying about their SM's. My biggest problem that I struggle with is that I raise them I care for them I do everything their mom does not work and does not help out financially at all. Before my husband got custody I did not work but now I do so that they have a better life and do not go without. I gave up a sports car for a SUV. I have made sacrifices so that they have a better life, live in a nicer house, dress nicer, etc and they are ungrateful to me. They do not call me mom and I am ok with that. I do not like being called by my first name because I do not want my BD and any future children calling me that so I asked them to find a nickname to call me. The 10 year old asked could they just call me mom and she did for a while but her BM complained about it to her and cried to her about it so she no longer calls me that. It really upsets me that they do not appreciate me and I don't know how to handle that.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2011 at 4:51PM
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