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Stepparents are we parents or not?

Posted by mom1sm2 (My Page) on
Mon, Sep 29, 08 at 11:55

I have had this argument recently and thought I would see what everyone else thought. If you are a SM or SD do you consider yourself a parent? If you do why and if you do not why? I am just curious to see what everyone else thinks. I consider myself to be a parent to both of my kids.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Stepparents are we parents or not?

Parent defined:
"A parent is a father or mother; one who sires or gives birth to and/or nurtures and raises an offspring. The different role of parents varies throughout the tree of life, and is especially complex in human culture."

Parenting defined:
"Parenting is the process of raising and educating a child from birth, or before, until adulthood.

In the case of humans, it is usually done by the biological parents of the child in question [1], although governments and society take a role as well. In many cases, orphaned or abandoned children receive parental care from non-parent blood relations. Others may be adopted, raised by foster care, or be placed in an orphanage.

The goals of human parenting are debated. Usually, parental figures provide for a child's physical needs, protect them from harm, and impart in them skills and cultural values until they reach legal adulthood, usually after adolescence. Among non-human species, parenting is usually less lengthy and complicated, though mammals tend to nurture their young extensively. The degree of attention parents invest in their offspring is largely inversely proportional to the number of offspring the average adult in the species produces."

I nurture my step child. I provide for her physical needs, I protect her from harm, I impart to her skills & cultural values, and of course I love her. I am not her biological parent, but I am a parental figure. I am in the parenting role and apparently so is her mom's BF. Her mom tells her to call BF 'dad' when she's there. I consider her one of my kids and always will.


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RE: Stepparents are we parents or not?

I consider myself the stepmom by title but i am not a parent to my stepkids because i do not have a hand in raising them. I used at the beginning help them with homework and do many family activities but biomom quickly put a stop to this and would punish the kids by throwing their homework away or grounding them if they participated in any arts and crafts in my house. So now they do not speak for advice, not even to their dad, they do not bring any homework or projects over for the last 3 years or so. Biomom does not involve father in any way shape or form and when she does its obvious that the time is off for any activities for him to make it for his kids and then she says 'see, your dad has no interest in you and he doesn't love you'.
I do give credit to the kids that they do see what their mother is doing and now are fightign her back. Sd is 13 and is in her own world so she is not interested in anyone but her peers which is understandable. And SS is started slowly to bring stuff.
BUt i still do not consider myself their parent because the time i spend with them is so little.
If they were to live with me 50% or full i would consider myself a parent.
I lost my mother at a very young age and my definition of parent is as follows:
A human being, whether it be male or female, related or not , ( blood or not) raising and being responsible for the child at hand. Responsible in their character raising, their soul, giving advice. Giving them clothing, shelter and food. Giving to the child financially and emotionally.
I do give to my Skids financially but only equivalent to a cousin or relative. Emotionally it is also limited cause they only come once a month now.
So in my case, i am not a parent to them. but by my definition neither is their father. And he feels that and is very embittered for the fact that he is their biological father. He has visitaton rights and they visit. He parents them for only 48 hours every second weekend if he is lucky.
That is our reality. I have told him that his relationship will vastly improve when they are older. Tellthem continually that you love them and call and write emails, send letters . I've also told him to start pushing to take them longer for holidays. And he's doen that over the christmas holidays. He demands them for a full week instead of 4 days now. He's just so beaten down about them and so discouraged that alot of times i catch him depressed and basically has given up. And its not the kids fault. Its their mother. And its sad. But life continues and we enjoy what little time we have with them. and that is what counts. Enjoying what time you have with one another.


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RE: Stepparents are we parents or not?

Well, let's see. Considering I was up till three in the morning with a sick child when I had to be up at 5:30 to make it to work on time.

Considering i am the one who lays out their school clothes every night because if daddy did it they would look like Punky Brewester (in a BAD way) everyday.

Considering I am the one who helps their father get their plates in front of them and jumps up a ZILLION times during every meal to grab drinks,napkins,more patatoes etc. etc.

Considering I am the one who takes them school shopping when daddy Is working, shoe shopping when they outgrew their tennis shoes and to the park every other day after school.

Considering I am the one they come running to when they are sad, scared, hurt or need help of any kind.

Considering I single handedly taught them to wash their hair WITHOUT getting soap in their eyes. Now we are working on tying shoes....velcro is the devil by the way.

Considering I am the one who sat with daddy through all the teacher/parent/principal conference nightmares and spoke up on their behalf.

Considering when either of the girls draw a picture of the family it ALWAYS consists of a very pregnant me, then their daddy with long crazy hair and then two identical little girly figures.

I would say YES....I very much so am a parent. We are custodial. We have the girls 24 seven seven days a week. I am on the school pick up list and have written/notarized permission to discuss whatever necessary concerning the girls school work or health issues. We are no less a family than anyone else. Just because we are not all blood does not mean we are not capable of loving and supporting each other. If you want to get technical husband and wife shouldn't be considered family if only blood can warrant one.


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RE: Stepparents are we parents or not?

Step is such an American word and it puts a space where there really doesn't need to be one. In Hawaii we call the relationship between a person who cares for a child who is not of their blood "hanai". It means, literally, to feed. I have many hanai sisters and brothers, aunts and uncles, moms and dads. They all have such a special place. They do not replace my parents, but are supplemental.

"Children were raised by, not only their parents, but by grandparents and other relatives. Hanai was the kanaka maoli custom whereby a family adopts a child given by someone else and raises that child as a family member. No written records were necessary. (In old Hawaii there was no writing.) No stigma was attached to being "hanai." This practice extended into the community so that if the biological parents were unable to adequately provide for the needs of the child, someone else would be chosen to be the hanai parents. Children were also passed on to relatives or friends who had no children."

I know that any of my hanai parents would do for me as a parent would, if not more.

I consider myself a parent to my SD even though I've only met her twice and she never visits (due to BM's insanity and money-grubbing nature). I buy her gifts (but have DH put his name only on them, so there are no waves with her mom) and when people ask I say we have two daughters.


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RE: Stepparents are we parents or not?

Ceph had mentioned on another thread about motherloss. I was pretty curious and initially did some googling, then went out and bought the book motherless daughters. It's really enlightening to say the least.

It also addresses the role of a stepmom in the motherless daughters life and the majority did not as adults consider their stepmother as a parent in anyway, shape or form. There were some who reported their stepmother as a mother substitute and were able to establish bonds.

I think by asking the question do you consider yourself as a stepparent, a real parent to the child is kind of backwards. Does the child accept you as a parent? Or is it because they have to? But what are their real feelings?

Doodleboo, in many parts of this book I thought of you and your situation. There was one part of the book that spoke about the need of young kids to call someone Mom and how much a replacement mom helps at such a young age.

I think it is an excellent must read for many of the custodial stepmoms on this board.


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RE: Stepparents are we parents or not?

Of course we are parents.....

Ive had my nephew for almost 4 years, He is my nephew but I parent him daily... I am the only one who has done so for all this time... His mother has not even seen him for 2 years, (her own choice)

I am a step mom to my husbands 6 year old son, We have him 50% of the time so YES I am a parent to him...

I have 2 daughters 19 and 15 and of course I am a parent to them...

Anyone can have a baby, just because you give birth doesnt make you a parent, being there feeding, clothing them being up all night because they are sick, helping with homework, NOW THATS A PARENT..... BIO OR STEP IT REALLY DOESNT MATTER


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RE: Stepparents are we parents or not?

Nivea, that doesnt surprise me -- that as adults, when stepchildren are free to express their feelings, they dont have the same bond with a SM. I think the SMs who dont claim to be a mom (to the stepchildren) will have a happier relationship. Which is what Doodle's article said.


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RE: Stepparents are we parents or not?

NIVEA
"Doodleboo, in many parts of this book I thought of you and your situation. There was one part of the book that spoke about the need of young kids to call someone Mom and how much a replacement mom helps at such a young age."

Exactly! No one wants to replace anyone. Obviously it would be far better for their biological mother to someday standup and be involved in her childrens lives. For young children it is beyond hard to have that role so obviously vacant. Teens deal with the loss in other ways. It has been very hard for the girls. That's why we have bonded so closely. They have a natural NEED to be with mother and sadly birth mom isn't anywhere around. Now the heavy burden to fill those shoes has fallen on me. It's a HUGE responsibility. I try to do my best. It's all anyone can do.


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RE: Stepparents are we parents or not?

"Nivea, that doesnt surprise me -- that as adults, when stepchildren are free to express their feelings, they dont have the same bond with a SM. I think the SMs who dont claim to be a mom (to the stepchildren) will have a happier relationship. Which is what Doodle's article said."

I am not sure who you are referring to, but I personally have never said or thought that I have the same bond with my SS as he does with his mom OR that I have with my daughter. There are a few SMs on here that are basically the only mother figure in their SKid's life. I am not one. My SS's mom is the primary care giver and they are very very close. I personally do not see this as threatening to my relationship with him or something that I should try to change. It is so important for children to have a good relationship with their parents. I would never say that we feel the same about each other as he and his mom do. Why would I want to? That would be pathetic and would also indicate that I feel like our bond is inferior. While it is not as strong of a bond it is still a very strong bond and our love for each other runs deep. I do not pretend to be his mom because I am his stepmom, but I am no aunt to him. I have never once cleaned up my niece's or nephew's puke all over the wall or mended clothes for them, went to work so I could feed them, or parented them. It may shock you to know KKNY that many stepparents are happy in their role and do not desire to kick mom out of the picture.

As to the comment about adult skids saying their stepparent is not their parent I am sure there are plenty. As a matter of fact my husband does not count either of his stepparents as parents, however, they came into his life when he was already an adult.


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RE: Stepparents are we parents or not?

Oops, I meant to say substitute mom, that's how the book refers to the woman who steps in the nurturing role after the biomom has abandoned or passed away.

Doodleboo, I think you're doing a good job :) The book really stressed that if the daughters are able to bond with a female during an abandonment that it helps them immensely.

mom1sm2, I know you addressed your last post to kkny but I'm having trouble understanding where you are coming from. In your original post you ask if stepparents consider themselves parents to their stepchild. And state that you consider yourself a parent, but not the mom in your last post. I'm not sure what that means...LOL and I'm asking seriously, not snarkily...so please don't take this that way.

If you are not the mom, and obviously not the father...then how do you consider yourself a parent?

I mean, I really haven't met any grown stepchildren in real life who have said they consider one of their stepparents a parent. I think I have see one or two statements from posters on this website saying that they have had the bonding experience with their stepparents and consider them parents, but that is rare, even for here.

I'm just really curious to understand why so many stepparents consider themselves parents, while so many stepkids do not consider their stepparents parents and how that would help/hinder their relationship growing up. So, please, this isn't an attack just a questioning to understand better.


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RE: Stepparents are we parents or not?

"that as adults, when stepchildren are free to express their feelings"

I don't think it's fair to generalize about what stepchildren would feel when they become adults. I was a stepchild that at first, didn't like my step mom very much, even though I didn't really know her. My mom didn't want me anywhere around her. As a teenager, I was more influenced by my mom's opinion of her and my mom was very vocal and hostile in her opinion on my step mom. If I said anything that appeared to support or defend my step mom against what my mom would say, my mom would get angry at ME.

However, as an adult, I was able to get to know my step mom away from my mom and form my own opinions and feelings about her. Even now, my mom doesn't like the fact that I found things to like about her. She certainly doesn't know that I was much more comfortable talking to my step mom about my life problems than going to my mom. My mom and her nasty attitude have been her own worse enemy. My step mom never said a nasty thing about my mom (to me or around me anyways). and no, my step mom did not raise me, never took care of me, never parented me in the traditional parent/child manner, but she did give me advice and guidance as a parent would do. In that way, she did 'parent' me and I think of her as a 'parental figure', even though I was nearly an adult when she came into my life. If my mom had been more supportive, I might have had an even closer relationship with her and my dad when I was a teenager and possibly could have changed some of the circumstances in my life. But, I don't dwell on the 'what ifs'. Life's too short.


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RE: Stepparents are we parents or not?

"mom1sm2, I know you addressed your last post to kkny but I'm having trouble understanding where you are coming from. In your original post you ask if stepparents consider themselves parents to their stepchild. And state that you consider yourself a parent, but not the mom in your last post. I'm not sure what that means...LOL and I'm asking seriously, not snarkily...so please don't take this that way.

If you are not the mom, and obviously not the father...then how do you consider yourself a parent?"

No offense taken. Let me explain. I consider myself a stepmom and a stepparent and that is why I consider myself a parent. To me their are different types of parents such as bio parent, adopted parent, or stepparent, but IMO we are all parents.

"I mean, I really haven't met any grown stepchildren in real life who have said they consider one of their stepparents a parent. I think I have see one or two statements from posters on this website saying that they have had the bonding experience with their stepparents and consider them parents, but that is rare, even for here."

I think that you are really super generalizing here. I am sure there are many stepkids who do not consider their stepparents their parents or at a certain point in their youth did not or did not want to. I my dh's case, as I stated, he was an adult and so they are not really considered his parents to him at least not his stepmom because he barely knows her. I think if you were to ask my SS he would say without hesitation that his SD and I are his parents. However, his mom nor his dad have ever said anything other than we are all his parents. I am sure that it is different for every family, but in my family stepparents are parents regardless of who has primary custody. I also think that there are a lot of stepkids who would also say that their stepparent is their parent and there is a bond between them. Just my opinion.


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RE: Stepparents are we parents or not?

I parent my SD on a daily bases. Her biomon is deceased. I consider myself her parent. I know that I am not her biomom. She and I talk about her biomom, have planted a butterfly bush in our garden for her biomom. I had already had one before she came to live with me. Now we have two to represent her 2 moms. Her mom's family is afraid that she will forget her biomom. I know that she never will.

I parented my 1st SD on a daily bases. Her biomom was alive and well. I was as nice to her biomom as I could be. We sat together at school productions, she called me and we talked when she had a crisis in her life. I respected her because she was the biomom and I loved her daughter. I wish she had been able to parent her daughter but she couldn't so I did.

I don't see the need to belabor this point. Everyone has there own opinion and their own set of circumstances. You are never going to change some one's mind if it is set in stone and what does it matter any way? You don't need someone else's confirmation as to what your role in life is. You just do your best, you do what needs to be done and thats it. It is wasted energy to continue this argument.

It matters little to me what others think I am. There is a saying I read once..."You wouldn't think so much of what others thought of you if you realized how seldom they did."

I have argued whether or not I am a real mom to my sds or not. Enough. I'm done on this topic.


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RE: Stepparents are we parents or not?

Hey thanks for answering, mom1sm2. I sort of understand more now. Especially with your clarification that it doesn't matter what type of parent (i.e. bio, adopted, step) they are still parents in your opinion.

I guess that is where I differ a lot from. I don't really follow this train of thought and never have, even as a child. So it was really hard for me to be told that someone was my parent, when in fact, I didn't consider them to be at all. It really hurt any sort of relationship my stepmother and I could have possibly had since it denied my very view of reality.

"I think that you are really super generalizing here. I am sure there are many stepkids who do not consider their stepparents their parents or at a certain point in their youth did not or did not want to. I my dh's case, as I stated, he was an adult and so they are not really considered his parents to him at least not his stepmom because he barely knows her. I think if you were to ask my SS he would say without hesitation that his SD and I are his parents. However, his mom nor his dad have ever said anything other than we are all his parents. I am sure that it is different for every family, but in my family stepparents are parents regardless of who has primary custody. I also think that there are a lot of stepkids who would also say that their stepparent is their parent and there is a bond between them. Just my opinion."

No, I don't think I am over-generalizing. I have really invested a lot of time and energy in reading, researching and interviewing (for lack of a better term) other adult stepkids.

I haven't met one adult stepkid who has said that they consider a stepparent on the same level with their bio parent. Which would indicate to me that all parents in your terms, are not the same.

I have meet some who genuinely care and feel cared/loved by their stepparents, but not in the same way that feel towards their biological. Or they feel coming from the step to them. Even in cases where it is clear that a stepmom was a much better parent on paper than the biological mom was.

But again, I have read a few posts on here where posters have said they consider their stepparent a parent. So who knows? Maybe I'm drawing from an extemely small pool in real life, but reading it time and time again in researched books and papers doesn't really challenge my view.

And I've never really seen anyone question how does my stepchild feel about me and then take it from there. It is mostly I am a parent to them and thats that.


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RE: Stepparents are we parents or not?

Nivea, I sure wish you could meet me.
I'm a child of a step mother who WAS a more supportive mother than my bio mother. She was a woman who at the age of 19 married my father with 3 young children and CHOSE to love us as her own. I'm in total agreement with Silversword in that STEP is an American word that puts a space where none needs to be. I like and use the words my Other Mother. It allows respect to any woman who cares for another's child. It's just a softer word that agrees with my sense of fairness.
Mom eventually gave birth to a daughter with my father, and I consider her my full sister.
There was never a time or instance where as step children we were treated with any less respect than her full blooded daughter. We were hers. Period. AND my bio mother was in the picture.
I love my bio mother very much, but she was young and couldn't handle that we might love our other mother too, and therefore made it difficult for all involved. To call my other mother Mom in front of her was the same as Imamommy's experience. But things were different in "those" days. To be friendly with an ex was almost unheard of, I forgive her her insecurities.
I'm divorced and was fortunate enough that my daughter has an Other mother...a woman who loves and cares for my child even through some really trying times :) And is a lovely grandma to our grandchildren.
I believe we choose our attitude, and no matter what comes down the pike, if the attitude is positive, then most likely the outcome will be. My Other Mother, bless her soul imparted that on my soul.


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RE: Stepparents are we parents or not?

It's redundant to argue the issue period. Every person loves in their own way. One may love their first spouse in a completely different way as their second spouse, but they loved them both. Anyone that has more than one child may love all their children, but have different levels of bonding or closeness with their children. The children may each feel differently toward the same parents. Each relationship is unique and individual. It's ridiculous to make a general statement about how stepkids feel or how step parents feel.

That being said, nobody has said or implied that a child would love a step parents the exact same as their bio parent. That's comparing apples to oranges. My daughter hates her bio dad and thinks of my husband as 'dad' because she wants to have a dad in her life and he's open to being her dad. I'm sure he doesn't love her the same as he loves his daughter that he's raised all her life. I'm sure my daughter doesn't love him as much as she loves me. All my kids have different opinions and views that have more to do with their personalities, personal biases, experiences, etc. on how they feel about me, my husband and their biological fathers. I have three siblings and we all have our own individual relationships with our parents, some closer than others.


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RE: Stepparents are we parents or not?

I've noticed, overall, a trend of a certain inconsistency on this subject. Not saying it's the same people who say both things (and in fact I'm almost positive it isn't), but it seems like the following statements/arguments come up:

-"I can't be expected, having not given birth to these kids myself, to love or even like them; therefore it's acceptable if I don't. I'm only human, after all."

-"The kids, however, must not only respect me but they must like me. If they don't, they are brats who don't deserve certain support or to even set foot in this house. Their 'human' feelings of dislike for me are either attempts at manipulation, pathetic excuses or just plain wrong."

-"I am not obligated to do anything for these kids."

-"But I want to be able to discipline them and sign off on all decisions and expenditures regarding them."

-"But if I don't actually want them around, everybody needs to just understand that."

-"It's not really 'natural' for me to feel anything towards these kids since I didn't give birth to them. Their bio-mother will more 'naturally' see only the good in them, whereas I can be more objective."

-"'Mom' isn't a matter of biology; it's a matter of who actually does the day-in/day-out 'mothering'."

-"I take care of them and do things for them that a mother would, even if it's only when they are in my adult care twice a year for a week. Therefore I should be considered a 'mother' when it comes to things like titles, Mother's Day cards and seats at weddings."

-"I love them like a mother."

-"But I only do things for them because I *choose* to, and if their behavior warrants it. I expect audible gratitude for every little thing I do above and beyond the baseline flatline zilch that should, technically, be expected of me."

-"If they start acting up or requiring anything I personally deem excessive, I will 'disengage' or even see about getting decreased visitation or sending them back to their bio-mom's. That's my prerogative."

-"But I love them like a mother."

In my opinion, maternal or paternal love worthy of the name is unconditional. While I have no doubt that many SM's (custodial, mainly) *DO* more for the kids than the kids' own mothers and even have genuine feelings of affection or even love towards the SK's, I also see that many times this is conditional upon the kid adhering to what in practice becomes a much more strict code of conduct than most bio-parents insist on. If the kid breaks that code in any way (and even, plenty of times, if they don't but the SP is upset about decisions made by the parent), the SP can ---and often does--- choose to 'disengage' out of frustration. Which is an option that a decent bio-parent simply doesn't have. You see alot of "loving the SK's like a mother" until the kid turns 18 and certain issues come up, or even years before that when certain issues come up. It's always explained by something the kid did to piss them off like saying "F--- You" once in a fit of teen ansgt or starting to skip school or keep a sloppy room or throw an unauthorized party in the house, etc. Then everything changes and THE KID, as the account goes, precipitates the loss of the "love them like a mother" idyll. Or there have been just too many fights about DH paying all ---and not half--- of the kids' braces, or not sharing the same parenting philosophy. Not saying that an SP doesn't have a right to disengage (and in fact I believe many more of them should than do), but simply that once you do, you simply cannot call yourself that kid's parent or put yourself on that level. Also not saying that there aren't plenty of deadbeat or otherwise crappy biological parents out there. I guess they don't merit the names "Mom" or "Dad" either. So, in a nutshell: if you want to call yourself and be called "Mom" or "Dad", it requires unconditional love. There's no 'disengaging'. There's no shipping the kids off elsewhere or disowning them. There's no holding them to highly elevated standards of behavior or dangling your every parent-esque favor in front of them with the unspoken statement that it can be snatched away as soon as the kid does something you don't happen to like. In certain very extreme circumstances (i.e. parents of serial killers, rapists, or otherwise violent and psychotic or criminal offspring), a parent has the right to preserve themselves by wishing or sending their kids away and they shouldn't be judged for it. But then, even in those extreme circumstances, they relinquish "Mom" or "Dad" status. They can't have it both ways. And I mean step OR bio.... The less extreme the precipitating 'offense' is causing the rupture or occasionaing the decision to 'disengage', the less a parent can expect to hold onto their title and status as "Mom" or "Dad". I think it's safe to say that the real test of a parent ---step or bio--- is just how much teen angst and other types of crap they can take in raising their kids without thinking those kids TRULY rotten as people and without resorting to simply wanting to send them away, and the less they can take, the less worthy they are of the title. Because it's easy for any of us, even 13-year-old babysitters in our neighborhoods, to play house temporarily with an adorable tike with ringlets, and impeccable manners... especially if they're sitting on the lap of a hot, eligible and financially solvent potential S.O. The challenge is to stay committed to that kid once the new romance wears off and they start wearing ridiculous fashions, failing school, crashing the family car and asking "why should I?" to everything you say. Staying committed to them, loving them anyway and even finding some of their b.s. charming (secretly, of course) is what makes a "Mom" or a "Dad". It's best not to try to be a parent ---or, if you're a BP, to even bring a kid into this world in the first place--- if it's likely that you'll end up wanting to 'disengage' at the first nose-ring or D in Algebra. Not getting 'engaged' in the first place would probably be better for everyone in that case.


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Serenity

Where did you get these "quotes" from? If they aren't taken directly from somewhere, please don't put stuff in "quotes". I've never seen anyone on this site post those things. I know life's not fair, but lets be fair to the people that post on THIS board.


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RE: Stepparents are we parents or not?

that's where you are wrong Serenity. 'disengaging' can be done to salvage a relationship.. I have disengaged from my kids when they did things to intentionally push my buttons. They would do that to redirect the focus away from the true problem and by disengaging, I could refocus on dealing with the issue at hand. I didn't stay disengaged from my kids for days or weeks, but sometimes I had to distance myself from some of their behavior. I have great relationships with my kids, some better than others but they are each different.

I have also disengaged from my mom from time to time, for the same reason. If I don't disengage, it would probably destroy my relationship with her completely. I could stay engaged in issues with my mom to the point that she says or does something so horrible that I might now want anything to do with her... at least for a long time. I have a fairly pleasant relationship with her but it's not very close.

Not getting engaged? What does that mean? Does that mean I should not have had my kids? Or my mom should not have had me? Or that I should not have married my husband or met his daughter and allowed myself to care for her? With loving someone comes the risk of being hurt. People tend to lash out when they are hurt. It's more harmful to the relationship if you lash out... Once you say something nasty and hurtful, it's much harder to take it back than to disengage before it gets that far. To me, that's an act of love.

There might be some that disengage because they just want the other person to go away and leave them alone. They don't want the relationship to work ever and maybe want nothing to do with that person. That's not the same. In that case, it's gotten too far to use disengaging as part of the solution and in the case of step parent & child, it puts the child's parent/step parent's spouse, smack in the middle in a position to choose sides because either the step parent or child (or both) have given up and don't want anything to do with the other.


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RE: Stepparents are we parents or not?

Nivea - I'm glad you picked up a copy of Motherless Daughters.
My copy is currently on loan to a friend who is now 23, and struggling with that her mom walked out on them on her 10th birthday, ignored them for 8 years, then tried to waltz back in like she didn't miss their teens. She doesn't like her SM because her SM doesn't respect their relationship with their dad or that they had a mom as kids.

Believer, Doodle and Newstepmommy - have any of you had a chance to read it yet? It does place a lot of focus on girls whose mothers have died, but it certainly would be helpful in understanding any person who has lost their mother to death, abandonment or illness.

Serenity - your last post baffles me. I think it makes about as much sense as if I pointed out that there were incongruities in views on SMs on this board because I say (I'm paraphrasing all three of us here) "I love my SM! She totally rocks!"... whereas Ima says "I wish I could have known my SM better, but she was a nice lady"... And you say "My SM is a conniving beeyatch"


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RE: Stepparents are we parents or not?

Ashley,

I should have qualified the quotes by saying that one often hears "things like" or "along the lines of" those statements... mainly because I don't feel like going back and searching for verbatim examples right now. But I think you actually will find that virtually all of what I put in quotes gets said, and yes, even by people on here. If not down to every last letter, pretty close to it. Truly, the wording of the phrases I used is hardly different from things that have been posted. But where I can see that it is a little "slanted" is that the statements are cited without their original context and they are listed all together. I feel confident that the only real "exaggeration" of commonly held views was basically that I lumped them all together. And perhaps also stated something in more frank terms than is typical (for example: "I expect audible gratitude" as opposed to "SS never says thank you for picking him up from school" or "I feel so unappreciated"), with the underlying viewpoint/feeling/expectation being basically the same. I started out by making sure to say that I am quite sure that the different types of statements are said by different people ---that is, it's not ONE person who necessarily holds all of the above inconsistent views simultaneously. What I did was rhetorically link them with "But..." as though they were said by one person, only to show that the question itself of "are we parents or not?" has many potentially conflicting answers to it. And yes, in some cases, it seems there are some of these inconsistent views within a given individual. Honestly I cannot, at this moment, think of which individuals, if any, on this board have shown that inconsistency in & of themselves. Which is why I should have been more clear that my statements in quotes were not to be taken exactly literally. So I apologize for that confusion and I'll try to be more clear in the future. But I encourage you to think of the quotes more in a general sense and think about whether the inconsistency ---overall, in general--- rings true with things you yourself may have read or heard and not get too worried about exactly who has said what on this forum.


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RE: Stepparents are we parents or not?

Ceph--

Okay, fair enough. I guess the "quote" thing I did was confusing and a mistake and at times came off sarcastic.

I think the central point I was *trying* to get at, at the end of the day, is that a parent (step OR bio) can't have it both ways. At times it's acceptable to 'disengage' (more so for step than bio, actually), but one can't disengage AND expect to hold "Mom" or "Dad" status. And just that in my book "loving a kid like a mother", by it's very nature, means that won't stop on a dime and it requires a level of commitment and unconditional love which seems to me quite in contrast to 'disengagement' based on some of the more relatively innocuous grievances that sometimes get cited as reasons to disengage. Again, not that a step-parent doesn't have the right to disengage. Just that when you do, you cannot really say you have unconditional love, which I see as the more die-hard criteria of being, TRULY, "Mom" or "Dad". That's the main point I was trying to make with all of that.


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RE: Stepparents are we parents or not?

I think you mean our system with this "But I only do things for them because I *choose* to, and if their behavior warrants it. I expect audible gratitude for every little thing I do above and beyond the baseline flatline zilch that should, technically, be expected of me."

And if you do, then it's wildly misunderstood and out of context. I will remind you of how A__ and I deal with our relationship:

All FDH expects from A__ and I is that we are nice to each other and each respect that he has a relationship with the other. This was established right from the start.

But we (A__ and I) have chosen to have a relationship of our own. We have had proper conversations and discussions about that this is what we are choosing, and we both know that our relationship has give and take on both ends.
I choose to spend "quality time" with him, take him on outings that he will enjoy, buy him things he wants but doesn't need, prepare his favourite foods as a specialty for him, and "go out of my way" for him in many other ways.
He chooses to spend "quality time" with me, invite me to his school outings, listen to what I tell him to do, give me the sorts of little gifts a 9yo boy gives his loved ones, offer to help me with things he hasn't been asked to, and "go out of his way" for me in many other ways.

We both choose to put the effort into a strong relationship and we both benefit from it. We both know this is a two-way street and that our relationship takes a lot of work, so it is important to say thank you when you notice the other is really trying!
I say thank you, high-five, hug, compliment or give A__ little rewards when he goes that extra mile for me (if he listens very well that day, draws a picture for me, volunteers help with a chore he wasn't asked to do) and he does the same (if I take him somewhere he likes, make a favourite food, read with him at night) - well, he doesn't give me little rewards, but he gives hugs, compliments, high-fives and says thank you.
Stepfamily-ing isn't easy, and it helps to know that the other party notices and appreciates you.

A__ knows that I love him no matter what, and I will always make sure that his basic needs are provided for. I really think there isn't even a single shred of doubt in his mind on that.
But he also knows that we both have "jobs" in our relationship and that we choose to wake up every morning and do more than the bare bones of "be nice to each other and each respect that FDH has a relationship with the other."
If one of us is choosing to no longer participate in our good relationship, it hardly seems reasonable to expect the other to participate. If I decided I didn't want to do all the things I do with A__, I wouldn't expect him to continue what he does, and vice versa.


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Serenity

"one can't disengage AND expect to hold "Mom" or "Dad" status."

BINGO!!!
IMO, all good relationships are two-way streets, give and take, win-some lose-some. IMO, you have to choose if you want that or not.
If you choose to not do the "give" then you also lose your right to expect the "take"... If the other chooses not to "give" then it's your right to choose to also not "give".

I don't think that love factors into that choice... I think it remains out of that give and take, in a place all its own...
But that if you want your Sfamily to treat you like family, you have to treat them like family too.


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RE: Stepparents are we parents or not?

Hey deborah ps, I'd really like to meet you too!!! LOL, I don't want to hijack, but would you mind sharing? Maybe start another thread of your experiences?

Ceph, I wanted to thank you for recommending that book. Just couldn't find the thread you recommended it in :) It really is a must read for custodial parents that have a child who lost their mother, either due to death or abandonment.


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RE: Stepparents are we parents or not?

"one can't disengage AND expect to hold "Mom" or "Dad" status."

Agreed -- there is inconsistency at time. Different types of involvment.


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RE: Stepparents are we parents or not?

to answer the original question yes, I am a parent to all of my kids (step and bio)

Here is the thing... every single relationship is different which is exactly why you have varying degrees from

"-"The kids, however, must not only respect me but they must like me. If they don't, they are brats who don't deserve certain support or to even set foot in this house. Their 'human' feelings of dislike for me are either attempts at manipulation, pathetic excuses or just plain wrong."

to
-"I can't be expected, having not given birth to these kids myself, to love or even like them; therefore it's acceptable if I don't. I'm only human, after all."

but I certainly wouldnt apply both qoutes for one single person and situation (not that I would expect my kids to be blindly obediant or whatever or agree with those sentiments) but I think you get my meaning.
For some relationships (and these are ones that I consider toxic to both the child and the adult) disengaging may be the best thing...

However, I do agree there is absolutely no way to consider yourself a parent or say that you love your skids like a mother or father and then pick apart your children and disengage from them... especially to the extent of which I have heard from some on this board on occasion 'I leave the house when they come over' 'The four year old is trying to manipulate everyone around' But, then I dont think I have ever heard these people claim to love their skids as if they were there own or if they have I immediately glossed pass it thinking that they had no clue.

I have never understood the disengage thing... at least from your skids. I can completely understand disengaging from bm's nonsense (Dh and I practice that daily to not let ourselves get tangled in her nonsense) But from children living in your home (even if eow) I can not imagine that. Infact, I thought hmm about two years ago that that is what I should do with skids education. I was frustrated. I was exhausted. I was tired of feeling like I was the only one doing anything. And, I was more than tired of feeling like the bad guy all of the time. So, I tried to take a step back stay out of let ... let them deal with it. Couldnt do it. Not by a long shot. There was no way I could let a little boy that bopped into the room saying I love you L, fail school and not do everything I possibly could to help him succeed. (just one example) I guess the biggest difference for me and the reason why I know without a doubt that I love my skids like a mother is because I realize that at some point in their life they will probably get angry and tell me I am not their mother I cant tell them what to do. I realize that there is always a possibility that they could resent everything I have done and do. I also realize that there is always a chance that they could be one of those stepchildren that say my step mother is not my parent. But, I accept that and continue to love my skids regardless. I will continue to parent them teach them and guide them to hopefully become responsible happy adults no matter what their opinion of me becomes...especially in those tumultuous teenage years. I do all of this because that is what a parent does. I do this because that is what loving your child is... unconditional.


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RE: Stepparents are we parents or not?

how can you call yourself a parent of a child you saw twice in your life. it negates the whole meaning of the word "parent".

as about disengagement it could probably work with adult stepchildren. i don't know how to disengage from young children. it must be hurtful for the kids.


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RE: Stepparents are we parents or not?

I consider myself a parent for a very simple reason - my SD considers me one. In her world she had two mothers - it's been that way for as long as she can really remember, and to her it's just the way it is. I think she appreciates different things in each of us and takes different things from each of us. She is the one to explain to her mom, over and over, that just like BM can love her two daughters without having a 'best daughter', SD can love her moms without having a 'best mom'.

I believe SD knows, through my actions and my consistancy, that I am more than just words. She had told me so many, many times. She has realized I could be like her step father - aloof, detached, with obvious favoritism - or I could be me - loving, involved, treating SD as I treat my bio kids - and gets that I don't HAVE to treat her like I do. But because I do, because she can tell every day and in every way that I love her as my own, she has given me the gift of calling me MOM.


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RE: Stepparents are we parents or not?

serenity,

Thank you so much - you really hit the nail on the head. As I read your post, I kept shaking my head in agreement. That was absolutely the clearest post I have ever read on the topic, and you identified precisely those areas that have bothered me most about the posts I have read on this board.

Do you write for a living? - if not, I think you should.


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RE: Stepparents are we parents or not?

I agree that Serenity's post was well said, and I agree with the vast majority of it.

I believe Ima's response about disengaging is on a different relm than the 'disengage' we generally hear about in a step scenario. In Ima's case I believe it's meant as walking away from, or chosing not to engage in, a battle. When my SD does or says something that I know is just begging for a reaction I do my best to disengage - even if it's got me steaming - and come back to her later to see if I can help with whatever was setting her off. Does this mean I 'disengage' and decide I no longer love her? Of course not - it means I'm chosing not to continue a negative moment and return when it can be constructive.

There are some relationships I hear about where I don't see any other solution than for the step to disengage and seperate themselves - whether they want to or not.

TOS, I'm curious to know if you were nodding in agreement to this statement - "Also not saying that there aren't plenty of deadbeat or otherwise crappy biological parents out there. I guess they don't merit the names "Mom" or "Dad" either."


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RE: Stepparents are we parents or not?

Of course there are too many poor biological parents - the fathers of Ima's children for instance. In case you are about to ask - I think my exH does merit the name "Dad" in spite of the many things I could criticize him for.


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RE: Stepparents are we parents or not?

No, I wasn't going there. Your ex may be a turd now, but I believe he once was an involved father.

I ask because the titles of mom and dad are a sticking point with you. I wondered if you felt the poor ones still deserved the priviledge of the title.


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RE: Stepparents are we parents or not?

To answer the original question I do consider myself a parent to my stepchildren. There is no difference in the way I treat them to the way I treat my ds. I do all the mom stuff with them. They live with us full time. I do the cooking for them, take them shopping for school clothes and supplies, help them with homework and projects, take them to school functions, take care of them when they are sick(and many times missed work because of it, comfort them when they are sad, and the list goes on. DH of course does these things as well....just saying that it is both of us doing these things together. BM is not doing any of these things.

I agree with others say there is more to being a mother than giving birth. Just like there is more to being a father than getting a girl pregnant.

When my skids are adults I think they will consider me a parent as well. And I really see them coming to me for advice and to talk since that is what they have done for years now while their bm was unavailable.


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RE: Stepparents are we parents or not?

Hi mom1sm2,

I don't think it should matter if an outsider thinks you are a parent or not. What matters most is what you do to support your stepchild.

At the end of the day, if you have given your best for him or her, you have already answered the question without having to ask it.

Athlete


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RE: Stepparents are we parents or not?

Athlete,

I totally agree. In fact, the reason I posted was because I had read a remark on another post about stepparents not being parents. It had never occured to me that as a stepparent I was not a parent. I just had to ask and see what others thought. Thanks for the comments.


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RE: Stepparents are we parents or not?

First of all I HAVE to go get a copy of Motherless Daughters. Even though it's geared towards the death of a paretn I am sure alot of the insight could transfer over to abandonment issues. As soon as I get paid I need to go get it.

On the "disengaging" topic I will say there is a huge difference between stepping back from a situation and totally cutting off a child. I think ALOT of BIO parents have to step back at times at let the other parent handle certain situations. Step parent have to do that sometimes as well. As far as "writing a child off" and refusing to have anything to do with them...well, you can't be a real parent and do that.

I will say that every step parent that has said they have washed their hands of a child on this site has never tried to claim to be that child's parent. Most who have the "it ain't my kid" attitude wouldn't even WANT the responsibility no less thrive on getting recognition for a parent role.


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RE: Stepparents are we parents or not?

mom1sm2, I know you addressed your last post to kkny but I'm having trouble understanding where you are coming from. In your original post you ask if stepparents consider themselves parents to their stepchild. And state that you consider yourself a parent, but not the mom in your last post. I'm not sure what that means...LOL and I'm asking seriously, not snarkily...so please don't take this that way.

If you are not the mom, and obviously not the father...then how do you consider yourself a parent?

I mean, I really haven't met any grown stepchildren in real life who have said they consider one of their stepparents a parent. I think I have see one or two statements from posters on this website saying that they have had the bonding experience with their stepparents and consider them parents, but that is rare, even for here.

I consider my stepmom to be a parent, although I don't consider her to be the "same" as my mom or dad. I'm not sure how to explain that to someone who has difficulty with the concept though. I guess if you think of "adult role model/authority figure ===>>> parent" as a continuum, (say, teacher or close family friend near one end, grandparent in the middle somewhere, parents down at the other end) she's much closer to the parent side than an aunt or grandmother, but not quite as far as my mom and dad.

Different families/kids have aunts/uncles/grandparents/etc at different places along my hypothetical continuum, depending on the level of involvement-- for example from grandmothers totally raising their grandchildren to ones who just visit occasionally and send birthday cards. So it stands to reason that different families will have stepparents at different places. At least to me it does.


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RE: Stepparents are we parents or not?

Doodle, that is true. It would seem wierd that a step-parent who would basically write off the kid would actually want to be thought of as "Mom" or "Dad". One would hope that this type of step-parent wouldn't insist on being called "Mom" or "Dad".

I guess where it would get iffy is in certain situations like the various wedding dilemmas where they might want the *status* of Mom or Dad even without the official title. Or if they want to be included in absolutely every conversation or outing even after writing off the kid, or if they expect the unconditional love that a Mom or Dad gives/gets without themselves giving it. So I guess it's more in the vague or abstract everyday situations that it gets problematic, as opposed to the formal, straightforward "Mom" or "Dad" things like the names themselves, or who gives the bride away or who gets taken out for dinner by the kid on Mother's Day.


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RE: Stepparents are we parents or not?

I can unerstand SM's with full time parenting duties absolutely claiming the parent title! I am not my SS's parent. He has a mom and a dad. I am his Dad's wife. In his parents absence I fix his meals, wash his clothes, ask him to pick up after himself, get the band aids and otherwise treat him as if he were mine. Often I am boldly ignored and disrespected. No, I am not HIS parent.

My exhusbands wife is not my daughters parent. Although they forced her to call her Mommy, she is not. She is her SM.

I guess what i'm trying to say is in the absence of a BM, due to death, abandonment, drug abuse whatever, when a SM has the daily responsibility of a BM yes, she's a parent. When the child visits e/o weekend and has active, involved bio parents (As is in my case) No, I'm not a parent to my SS. I am a trusted adult who will look after him, love him, who he can trust and we can have great times together but I'm not his parent.


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RE: Stepparents are we parents or not?

Yes, Mom or 2.5, I think "full-time" or "daily" or "custodial" are all operative words here and make a big difference. Not that it's *impossible* for an EOW [or less frequent] SP to have the sort of relationship with an SK that merits "Mom" or "Dad" status on a practical and emotional level, but it would seem pretty rare and difficult for all involved to acheive. First of all, it could only be "co-" at best, or "secondary", simply because of the lower proportion of time spent with the child. Secondly, that unconditional love factor doesn't tend to develop, owing to many factors, some of which are within the SP's control and some of which aren't. My point is that yes, I think we all have to consider regular, daily or almost-daily care of a child by a step-parent as a whole other situation than occasional visitation with a step-parent. The former is much more 'parental' than the latter.

And maybe another way to define which individual(s) are a kid's "parents" is: that person or those people who have the most vested interest in the kid's welfare and well-being, those for whom the kid's welfare and well-being is in line with their own as opposed to being seen as at odds with or in competition with their own or other kids. Because it stands to reason that those people will more diligently and consistently work towards that end instead of against it.

Or another way of defining who the kid's parents are is how much or how little distinction there is between the SK and everyone else in the unit they define as 'family'. A true parent doesn't make any distinction, which means they behave, day-in day-out, FOR REAL, like a parent toward that SK. They may even forget the "step" prefix. They don't think about what the SK is TAKING AWAY from the family unit as they define it, because the SK is automatically inherently seen as in that family unit. They don't think any more about what they have to sacrifice because an SK is in their life, amy more than they would think about what they have to sacrifice because a BK is in their life. Finally, and most importantly, a parent does not think of their children as "guests", "the past", "past mistakes", or "1,021.7 days away from turning 18". They don't think about what's the bare minimum they or their spouse can get away with paying for CS or having in the way of visitation. Any more than they would think about what's the bare minimum they can get away with caring for and attending to their own biological children, or for their spouse. A parent wants their child to be a part of their lives forever; many step-parents do not want their step-kids to be a part of their lives (or their spouse's) after a certain age.

So at the end of the day, if an SP is not viewing/treating the SK's as truly FAMILY (as described above), then they can't be said to be truly PARENTS.


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RE: Stepparents are we parents or not?

"I consider my stepmom to be a parent, although I don't consider her to be the "same" as my mom or dad. I'm not sure how to explain that to someone who has difficulty with the concept though. I guess if you think of "adult role model/authority figure ===>>> parent" as a continuum, (say, teacher or close family friend near one end, grandparent in the middle somewhere, parents down at the other end) she's much closer to the parent side than an aunt or grandmother, but not quite as far as my mom and dad.

Different families/kids have aunts/uncles/grandparents/etc at different places along my hypothetical continuum, depending on the level of involvement-- for example from grandmothers totally raising their grandchildren to ones who just visit occasionally and send birthday cards. So it stands to reason that different families will have stepparents at different places. At least to me it does."

I think I'm just using different terms and step anything seems to be a "bad" word.

I can see how some stepparents would feel like a parent, Doodle comes to mind. But stepparent is not inherently a bad word and in most cases, I'm not sure why it is resisted. And I'm also of the notion that the situation and the stepchilds wishes and needs are to be taken into consideration when stating I'm your parent and all that comes with it.

I have a very special Aunt that took a mother role with me growing up, but she is still my Aunt. And she has never taken offense to being called my Aunt, even when I have other Aunts that are less special to me than her. LOLOL. Very simplistic way to view it, I guess, but that's how I do.

My 1st stepmom is not of my parents, but my stepmom. But she has always resisted being called a stepmom and I never could understand why. That's what she was to me. I guess what I'm saying is that I feel that the child needs more of a say than just coming in and having someone state I'm your parent, lets rock n roll now. And I'm not saying anyone here does that, just that they list off what they do for the child to feel like a parent, but don't really say what the child thinks or naturally feels towards them.

Oh well, different perspectives I suppose.


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RE: Stepparents are we parents or not?

Different perspective indeed Nivea I totally agree.

I do wonder though that under the whole idea that if you are not a CSP than you are not really a parent, but where does that leave the bio parent who is noncustodial?

Really in the end it is how you view yourself and how your child and family views you that matters. I really just wanted to get some other opinions.

By some others definitions of parents I am not a parent at all because SS does not live here full time. I can understand that thinking for sure. It is not my families' way of thinking, but to each their own. However, I do want to say that it is not always in our control where these kiddos live. If my SS was allowed to come live here full time (which we very much hope will happen some day) than I would more than welcome the chance to be a CSP.


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RE: Stepparents are we parents or not?

nivea, I do think there's a difference in how we are using language, but I don't think it has anything to do with "step", I think it's "parent". I consider a parent to be a person who parents. Therefore, my parents are the people who parented me. My SM, who I call my stepmom and it carries no stigma in my family, counts. A completely different example; my BFs XW has full-time custody of their oldest son's two children. I would expect (although obviously this is speculation) that if she continues to raise them through adulthood that they will consider her to be more of a parent than their actual mother and father, even though she is "grandmama" not "mom". I don't consider "parent" to be a title, it is a description of the role and relationship. So if the role has been filled, and the relationship exists, the description is valid.

Of course you can't (or, well, shouldn't) walk into a child's life and declare yourself their new parent. That is unlikely to go over well, I would think. My SM certainly did no such thing. And I also think it's entirely possible for either the stepparent or child to feel that the parent description fits, and the other doesn't, and they can both be "right" from their own perspective. You can't force another person to view a relationship the same way you do.


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RE: Stepparents are we parents or not?

"So if the role has been filled, and the relationship exists, the description is valid."

I agree with this, basically. But I do think it is up to both parties to agree to it.

My 1st SM will STILL say to people, this is my daughter...and I want to scream and yank my hair out and say NO, I'm not. You are my stepmom, nothing wrong with saying that IMO. It was worse for me as a child because it was considered talking back if I would've said no, or please don't say that or even voiced any discomfort at the thought of it. We weren't supposed to note any differences and act like a nuclear family.

So of course, I can see why someone would feel another way, maybe a stepparent feels like a parent. But you can't call a friends with benefits your boyfriend or make any relationship more than what it actually is, unless everyone agrees to it. Just my 2 cents :)


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RE: Stepparents are we parents or not?

Nivea,

Of course I agree with you, and more, I guestion whether a minor can really consent to this. It is telling that many stepchildren when they become adults put some distance into relationship.

In most cases, I dont think people need to go around identifying themselves. When a SM picks up little Johney or Suzy at practice, she can just say I am here for Johnny.

I think the question has come up for things like weddings and graduations where there may be a reason for a limited number of parents, or hierachry, etc. A SM certainly shouldnt call herself mom to the school or doctor.


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RE: Stepparents are we parents or not?

"So if the role has been filled, and the relationship exists, the description is valid."

I agree with this as well. I also agree with the both parties agreeing comment. If I were to tell my SS that I was not his parent it would really hurt his feelings. He always refers to all of his parents as his parents. However, he is a very excepting and loving person and was very young when his parents split so there is no issues with that.

I also agree that walking into someones life and saying "hey I am your new parent" is not such a good idea. My ss was young when I came into his life and has more memories of me in his life than not and and this, to me, makes a huge difference. If I was just coming into his life now, at the age of 10, I think things would be very different.


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RE: Stepparents are we parents or not?

I call my dad and SM "my parents" if I refer to them as a pair. If I refer to just my SM on her own, I call her "my SM"
She is "my parent" but she is not "my mom." My SM has her own role and her own spot in my heart. No one else could fill that spot.

KK said "...When a SM picks up little Johney or Suzy at practice, she can just say I am here for Johnny.... A SM certainly shouldnt call herself mom to the school or doctor. "

I agree with you on this.
When I needed a form from the soccer coach, I just said "Can I get a form for A__, please?"
But when I needed to talk to A__'s teacher about a problem he had with another student over the summer, I made sure to identify myself as A__'s SM (it's <2 months to the wedding, so I didn't bother specifying A__'s Dad's fiancee)... Especially since the teacher hadn't met A__'s BM yet!


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RE: Stepparents are we parents or not?

Once again, it's a personal choice that can vary from family to family. No, children should not be forced to call a step parent 'mom' or 'dad' and step parents should not identify themselves as the 'parent', but I parent my step daughter. I am not her biological/legal parent, but I do parent her. Whether she THINKS of me as her parent in her mind or whether I THINK of myself as her parent in mine, is up to each of us. But, stepparents that parent the child ARE parents in the sense that we are 'parenting' the children.

I would disagree that if a child introduces a stepparent as a parent, even to the teacher, that it should be corrected as it could hurt the child's feelings or embarrass him/her. I would never introduce myself as the parent, but if SD does (and she once told her friend's mom "my mom's here to pick me up"), I did not correct her. For whatever reason, she chose to refer to me as mom and if I stepped in and said, "I'm not your mom" and corrected her, then she might have felt like I didn't love her enough to want her to call me mom. She calls her mom's BF 'daddy', she calls my parents and her mom's BF's parents 'grandma & grandpa', she calls my siblings 'aunt/uncle'. My daughter refers to my husband as dad and he has never 'parented' her. He is a father figure and she refers to us as her parents.

I think sometimes kids just want the appearance of a 'normal' life. I don't think my SD was trying to diminish her mom by calling me mom, I think she might have been wishing she just had a normal life where she didn't have to explain why her mom isn't the one picking her up or going to her conferences. There's no doubt she loves her mom and dad. Calling me mom or calling her mom's BF dad, doesn't change that. We all participate in parenting her so we are all her parents.


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RE: Stepparents are we parents or not?

I think when a child says to a friend "my mom is here to pick me up", there is no need to say anything. I dont think it means anything, and is not necessarily how a child regards a step, but can just shorthand, and there is no need to provide a child with more information. There is no need to correct statement to teacher in front of teacher, but if there is any doubt, it should be mentioned in private -- certainly if teacher starts providing confidential info.


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RE: Stepparents are we parents or not?

I know kids (espcially little girls) who refer to everyone that their moms date as "daddy". It always seemed weird to me. unless of course there is no biodad in the picture at all, still why calling a BF dad? he is not even stepdad. I cannot see DD calling anyone else but her dad: "dad". or someone else "mom". i just don't get why would she do it?


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RE: Stepparents are we parents or not?

My SD has actually asked me not to correct her when she refers to me as mom to others. With her friends she generally refers to DH and I as mom and dad and her mom/SF as Mother and (SF name). Her friends refer to me as her mom and biomom and her mother. Some times she calls me by name to close friends because they all call me by the same name - many of them I coach. With people who don't know our situation and question it she will clarify. It may be odd, but it works for her.


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RE: Stepparents are we parents or not?

Maybe it's a matter of understanding "parent" to be the broader term, and then qualifying it with the more specific prefix: 'bio-','step-', 'adoptive-', 'foster-'... So that we can fairly say all of the above are TYPES of parents, that way everyone who participates in a child's upbringing can get their fair acknowledgement but while maintaining that there are some differences between the different TYPES of parents.


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RE: Stepparents are we parents or not?

can you add 'deadbeat' to the TYPES?


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RE: Stepparents are we parents or not?

I consider myself to be a parental figure to my stepchildren but at first it wasn't by choice. As I've said in another thread, BM suddenly called from another state and told DH "come and get the kids by 5:00...I'm getting kicked out of my house today." She had one request...actually it was a demand. She demanded to my husband that her kids never refer to me as "Mom." The night the kids got to our house my SD (then almost 10) said "Mom made me promise to not call you mom because she is my only mom." I told her that I was perfectly fine with that. She could call me by my name, she could call auntie just "don't call me late for dinner." LOL!

After the kids came to live with us, BM had stated that she was going to "get back on her feet and come back for the kids." She called 3 times over the next 6 months. One time being only 2 minutes on Christmas Day a month after they arrived...(her phone card was almost out of minutes, she said.) Her car was impounded while she was leaving a bar one night...under the influence with no insurance and expired tags. She rarely called for a year with breaks as long as 3 months at a time without a single call...in fact she didn't lay eyes on them for a little over 2 years...and my DH worked (and continues to work) 5-6 days a week, sometimes until 8:00 at night...

I do it all. I work full time from home but also have 90% of the responsibility for my stepchildren.

I:
Feed them
Wash their clothes
Take them school shopping
Meet with their teachers
Take them to doctor/dentist appointments
Help with homework and class projects
Spend time with them
Plan their birthday parties
Take them to other birthday parties and sleepovers
Take them to their weekly activities (guitar lessons, gymnastics, boy scouts etc...I was even the den mother of SS9's troop.)
I even drive 8 hours total EOW to take them to meet BM for her visits. (We meet half way which is 2 hours away...2 hours there and back on every other Friday to drop them off and every other Sunday to pick them up.)

Come to think of it, I do more for them in a week than either of their biological parents do for them in a month...

There isn't one thing that I don't do...so do I qualify as a parent? I don't know...but I am definitely playing the role of one.


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RE: Stepparents are we parents or not?

I would not consider myself a "parent" of FSD. But when she's here, I am a parental figure. I don't have any say-so in anything regarding her, but when she's here, I make sure all of her necessities are taken care of. I make sure her clothes are clean, she has all toiletries she may need, she gets to see her friends and gets to any activites she has planned. I love doing those things for her when she's here because when she's not here, DS and I aren't even a fleeting thought in her mind. Heck, she barely even thinks of her own father.

I know she doesn't consider me one of her parents. I don't expect her to.

I am a parent to DS. There are fundamentals about children that are the same across the board no matter who teh child is. Something BM does that drives me nuts is that she treats FDH and I as if we are stupid and that SHE is the only one who knows anything about FSD. She's always ordering us around OR, even worse, ordering (or threatening) FSD to do things at our home. That may be more true now than before because they live far away and we see her less often. But she's always done this. She treats FDH like he's stupid and does things that almost sets me up for failure (like telling me to buy pantiliners to keep at our house just in case FSD started her period [ummmm...I'm a woman....I know pantiliners are not going to be enough]). When kids see parents acting this way, they either rebel against it or adopt the same mentality. Although teens generally treat their parents like they're stupid, it's more pronounced in FSD as she has seen and heard her mother treat her father as though he's stupid.

I would be honored if FSD thought of me as one of her parents, although unlikely.

Ever since I read that article Doodle posted, I have taken the "favorite Aunt" perspective and have started treating her as though I would treat my nieces. I have disengaged from FDH as far as issues with FSD (whether she calls or not, her weight, her style of clothes, when are we going to visit, getting her for Thanksgiving, etc.). Instead, I'm conversing directly with FSD about superficial things basically just to keep up contact and keep us in her thoughts. It's going really well and we've had some great conversations.

The key was disengaging from FDH. I didn't disengage from FSD. Here's the thing about the kind of disengaging I did: I realized that I was arguing with FDH, but none of it was getting to FSD. Even while she was living here and we were seeing her all the time. My concerns weren't his concerns and even if he was concerned he wasn't dealing it. So basically I was spitting in the wind. So I am disengaging from him in regards to his daughter and I'm going to let the chips fall how they will. I am focusing on MY relationship with FSD and what I want it to be. BTW, she told me, before him, that she had her first kiss.

FDH doesn't think DS considers him as a parent, but he considers himself a "pseudo-parent". FDH provides a home for us and has taken up the slack since X has been job-hopping this year. I'm sure (and this is from my "mom" point-of-view) that when DS is older he will know the sacrifices FDH has made for him and will appreciate that. FDH went through a rather lengthy period of disengagement. But it was extreme and basically unfounded. He all but ignored DS for like 4 years. It was like they ran in two different circles that rarely overlapped. After a "break" FDH re-engaged on DS's life and now they have a great relationship that has very little to do with me. It's really great to see them interact.


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Some insight

"There is no need to correct statement to teacher in front of teacher, but if there is any doubt, it should be mentioned in private -- certainly if teacher starts providing confidential info."

I just wanted to add to this. It is a really sad and tragic state of affairs when a child's teacher doesn't even know who the bio parent is. That parent would have to be pretty un-involved for the teacher to not know the difference between step and bio without being told and reminded. If the parent was involved this wouldn't even be an issue.

I have corrected the satff at the girls school at LEAST 15 times that I am not their blood parent but they always forget. Everytime I correct them it's "You are just who we are used to seeing and the girls call you mom so we forget." That is really sad isn't it? They couldn't pick the girls mom out of a crowd because she has had ZERO involvement with their school life.

My sewing class teacher is a teachers aid at the school and I am forever reminding her that this is my FIRST pregnancy because she forgets that the girl's are my step children. She'll ask questions like "Did you breast feed the girls?" and I will have to correct her. She finanlly got frustrated after I corrected her for the 50th time and said "Well mom is as mom does." The other nine women in the class agreed and this sparked an entire conversation about what it means to be a parent. The general consesus was you shouldn't expect the title if you arn't doing the job or you should at least not get pissy when the kids (and subsequently other involved adults) start refering to the more involved parent as mom or dad because it is bound to happen.

If the thought of this bothers a parent they should make an effort to be INVOLVED. Then this wouldn't happen.


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RE: Stepparents are we parents or not?

I think that clear communication goes hand in hand with a young child's security.

My bio daughter is in grade school and they require that whoever picks up a child has to be on an approved list.

Unfortunately, we live in the age of AMBER alerts. So, I want my daughter's teachers and after school coaches to know that I am her dad. If my wife was the stepmom (she's actually the bio mom), I would want the teacher or coach to know that she was a parent. The teachers or coaches would only have to be told once, but at least they would know. I would want her to say, "Hi, I'm ___, her stepmom."

The teachers or coaches wouldn't necessarily know she was a parent if she only said her first name or said nothing at all.

There is more security in certainty when it comes to young children. I wouldn't want the teacher or coach to wonder afterwards if she released my child to the right person.

Athlete


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Athlete

Do you want to know something sad?

Jonathan put the girls mom on the do not alow to pick up list. He was worried that she would pull a fast one and pick them up and take off with them. Even if she had no plans of bolting we have to SEE her before she gets them so we can determine whether or not she is sober. We don't trust the school to relaize whether or not she looks high or like she's coming down off of something. It is exhausting to have to supervise an adult like this.

Even though she is on the do not pick up list we have tried to invite her to school functions, meetings and the such. She lives so far away (with her BF)that she always says she can't make it. She doesn't even know what the girls classroom looks like.

Last time we saw her we gave her a big stack of the girls school work so she could bring it home and look at it and hang some of it up on the fridge or whatever. That's the closest to school involvement she's had.


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RE: Stepparents are we parents or not?

I think it is very simple. If you marry someone who has dependent children, you had best be prepared to parent them also. If those children are not living with your spouse and you only see them occasionally, you won't be doing very much parenting.

By parenting I mean caring for as in cooking and cleaning, listening to and encouraging, helping with homework, any of the things you would do for your own children.

They may not accept you as a parent. They may have different ways of doing things, and this is important to respect. It is not easy. But it is what you signed up for when you married the child's parent. You had a choice, the child did not. If the child has issues with you because of the unhappiness surrounding the divorce, because they are jealous or missing your spouse, or because you do things differently then the birth parent, those are things to deal with by treading carefully. It's a work in progress, sometimes lasting as long as the child is a child. You must have the support of your spouse, of course.

If the child is already grown when you marry his or her parent, I still believe you have a responsibility to that person, in encouraging and allowing a relationship between your spouse and him or her, at the very least. Being as considerate of them as you would be of any relative of your spouse's....such as buying them gifts on birthdays, being open to a relationship with them, etc. It's simply suicidal to bad mouth the birth parent in anyway in either case, unless there comes a point where your opinion on the issue matters very much to the child and then it is still important to be careful what you say and how you say it.

Marrying a person with children and expecting not to have any relationship at all with those children is selfish and unrealistic.


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