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Friendliness Level of Bioparents

Posted by ulrike1 (My Page) on
Wed, Oct 7, 09 at 19:40

Not to change the topic from dance dresses (ha, sorry) but I have a question I thought I would bring up, since it is something I have been thinking about this week. I am a BM and SM both, and my children have an SM. All the children are in college now. All through their high school years my husband and I have bitten the bullet and spent a fair amount of time with our respective ex-spouses and their new spouses (and even their spouses' kids too...it gets complicated!) at kids' events. Things have been friendly enough and it has been good for all the children to see everyone getting along.

All along there has been something of a disparity in the amount of contact we have with our exes. My ex and I are friendly and businesslike, speak infrequently, have done almost everything separately with our children (with the exception of things that must be done in tandem, e.g., school functions, sports).

My husband's ex-wife has usually made the maximum effort to have things be the four of them--her, the children, my DH. But, she will have me there if I must be. Her husband hardly ever attends things. My husband usually tries (mostly successfully) to wriggle out of "nuclear family" events that don't include me. He doesn't enjoy spending time with his ex.

Sorry for going on and on. I was just wondering if those of you with grown stepchildren find that BM expects this level of contact to continue? (Or if you are a BM, do you want it?) I sure don't with my ex! I had expected her to scroll back some now that the kids are relatively independent, but no.

What do I have to look forward to?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Friendliness Level of Bioparents

BM expects level of contact to continue????Um she s not the boss of ME!!!!!LOL No, I think she d want it to lessen truthfully...Anything to make DH the bad guy continues with adult SKs with the PAS BMs..IMO


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RE: Friendliness Level of Bioparents

Why can't Dad speak to X himself? Maybe he is just manipulating you, telling you he doesnt enjoy this? Maybe he likes the attendion of two women?

Already kinda kidding, but so many of the SMs here would say not to trust what kids say, they are manipulative and must learn to handle people on their own.


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RE: Friendliness Level of Bioparents

There doesn't seem to be any reason for continued regular contact for college age children. My SK's are school age and we've been struggling with how to "make nice" at their events- I can't even imagine what excuses for contact there would be at the college level. My parents are divorced as well, and even though they have a decent relationship, and did when I was growing up (to my knowlege), there's not much reason to communicate any more now that I am 29 and married. They did have some communication during the planning of my wedding, so maybe that's the event that puts the period at the end of the sentence...


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RE: Friendliness Level of Bioparents

Newwife -- do you have children of your own? Cause nothing brings your parents running to you like THE GRANDKIDS !!!

My sister's DH has exwife and kids -- and even though the kids are grown -- the grandkids are the main attraction.


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RE: Friendliness Level of Bioparents

Ex and I had a fair amount of communication in DS's last year of HS getting him ready for college, but virtually none since he left. (Fine by me!) I imagine we'll talk more if/when graduate school looms, then again for wedding and grandkids.

...and just when I'd FINALLY gotten over all of my anger! ;-)

Hubby and his Ex fought occasionally as long as she was due child support. (She'd submit duplicate medical bills and her own medical expenses for Hubby to pay, then explode when he caught the over-charges.) Since the kids are grown, we almost never see her, though the kids worry about Mom (drinking, Bi-Polar? drama) to Dad.


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RE: Friendliness Level of Bioparents

KKNY:

Please please please don't take what I said out of context and attribute it to everyone else. If you disagree with me, please address it to me.

"so many of the SMs here would say not to trust what kids say, they are manipulative and must learn to handle people on their own."

Kids are manipulative. That is not necessarily a bad thing. It's necessary for survival. Kids must learn how to handle people on their own. Again, necessary for survival. What children say must be taken with a grain of salt, especially when in a situation where the kid knows two adults do not see eye to eye and those adults are responsible for getting the child something they want (later curfew, more money, etc.). I think a person would be a liar if they said they never manipulated their parents into getting them what they wanted as a child.


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RE: Friendliness Level of Bioparents

And I think some adults are maniputive and/or liars too.


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RE: manipulation

I agree. People are manipulative and lie, not just children. But usually one cannot do much about other adult's manipulative behavior, while they can make accommodations for the behavior of their children.

You are manipulating my words above, and then attributing them to SM's as a group rather than just the opinion of one person, me. I'd say that's pretty manipulative. If you were in a statistics class it would be called "misrepresenting the data". In other words, lying.


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RE: Friendliness Level of Bioparents

Silversword, I agree 110% :) It is normal for kids, and especially teens, to "push the pencil"!! Any psychologist or therapist will tell you the same thing and the behaviour is necessary for kids to "gain independence" from the parents, and to start maturing and entering the adult world.

OT a bit, but this is a really neat site with a quiz for parents of teens...

http://www.teenpaths.org/teentest.htm


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Silver

SS, you are the one manipulating. I said so many of the SMs, not all. And others besides you have accused stepkids, unknown to them, of manipulation. Go back to the dress thread.


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RE: Friendliness Level of Bioparents

KK "...I said so many of the SMs, not all."

Yes, I agree, that's what you said. "so many". And that's how I quoted you. I never said that you said "all" I said that you are taking the opinions of some and attributing them to SM's as a group.

I'm not accusing Skids of manipulation, I'm stating the fact that children are manipulative. That's not a bad thing, in itself. But it is something to be considered, especially in s-families where parents may not realize exactly what is going on in another house and may more easily be manipulated, whether by their bio-kid or their stepkid.

" Go back to the dress thread."

There's no need to be rude.


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RE: Friendliness Level of Bioparents

Since DD is in college I talk much less to ex. I see ex very little because we live far away, but I see him when in the area. I certainly don't want any exccessive contact with ex (and most BMs wouldn't unless they are encouraged by their exDHs). LOL

as about how children are manipulative...how come it is always stepchildren who seem manipulative, never our own. LOL ;0) Just a question....


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RE: Friendliness Level of Bioparents

I am the original poster. I don't understand why "manipulativeness" is being discussed. I don't recall saying anything at all about the kids in my post. (I apologize if this is a repeat post...I am having trouble getting the system to accept my post.)


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RE: Friendliness Level of Bioparents

ulrike- things can get a bit off topic on here.

KKNY- Good point. I do not have children of my own. However my parents have really accepted SK's as grandchildren (none of my siblings have children so both "sets" of my parents are thrilled to have some grandkids to spoil!). My parents live 2 hours away from DH and I and usually one set or the other attend B-day parties and the like for SK's. Everyone seems to be most comfortable with this arrangement. HOWEVER when DH and I do have children of our own (someday soon!) I guess we'll see if that arrangement still works. Probably not...ugghhh


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RE: Friendliness Level of Bioparents

too funny, a friend of mine is having the Christaning for her new grandchild. Babys maternal GPs are divorced. Babys fraternal GPs are divorced. Babys maternal GP and her family are staying overnight at my friends house. Fraternal in nearby hotel. I expect a zoo. No one is going to be left out, thats for sure. I do not expect fistfigths.


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RE: Friendliness Level of Bioparents

I am friendly with my daughters father. We don't have a whole lot of problems in general. I do expect we won't have problems with graduations, weddings and grandchildren lol.


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RE: Friendliness Level of Bioparents

Thanks for your comments! It is always such a balance, isn't it. On the one hand, I know all our children have benefited tremendously from having their parents get along. On the other hand, the presence of our exes in our lives can feel very intrusive.

I feel like now is the time that my husband and I are "renegotiating" the role of the exes in our life. With my ex, that has gone well. Ironically, I am definitely the one who has facilitated having BM involved as much as she is. When DH and I first got together, he avoided her like the plague and I helped him see that this was not good for his girls. He still communicates with her as little as possible, but she clearly thinks she will continue to be an important person in his life. If it were me, his obvious avoidance would be a clear signal and I would gracefully bow out! But she doesn't seem to pick up on it.

Bottom line, we certainly don't want to hurt her feelings or cause animosity, but we think she could deal with the girls more on a one-on-one basis now. But...how to convey that? Gosh, I sure wish we could avoid having to actually say that!


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RE: ulrike

Ulrike, what does Mom expect from Dad? Any examples?

I personally think its best if both parents can put their issues aside to come together for the kids. The kids generally know that the parents are divorced and/or remarried, but there is a level of stability there for the children that is needed for cod's. The "success" stories I've read about children of divorce have always been a similar theme, of both parents being involved and able to attend events together peacefully. And when this happens the stepparent role is generally less stressful as well, seems like it would be a win/win but a lot of people have a problem with it.


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RE: Friendliness Level of Bioparents

My parents have been divorced for over 25 years. I was a pre teen when they divorced so there were only a few years that we were minors. As adults, we tried to include both parents at parties & holidays, but my mom wasn't always civil so we (the adult kids) understood when dad stopped including mom. It did put us in a position to choose whose house to go to on Christmas or Thanksgiving or Easter... and there was always a little guilt that the other parent was left out or alone. (even as adults... we felt guilty, I can only imagine how bad it is for a six year old!) ~of course my mom made comments to gain sympathy, dad did not~

Eventually, mom learned to behave herself at gatherings and she comes over for the holidays... but only if she behaves herself. I think if ALL of the parents try, then it's possible to be civil & friendly. I don't think anyone needs to tolerate being treated with rudeness, and that includes excluding the new spouse or being rude to him/her.


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RE: Friendliness Level of Bioparents

Thanks for your thoughts, Nivea. I share your philosophy that a certain amount of joint parental presence is great for the kids. Early on DH and I decided we would try to facilitate that. BUT, we also firmly believed that this should not be harmful for our marriage. And so, the #1 rule was, no roping out the bioparent from the stepparent. It was the very, very rare occasion that I would do something with my ex or DH would do something with BM from which the other of us was excluded.

At first this did not sit well with BM. She thought "parents only" was the way to go with, say, teacher meetings, informational sessions, college visits, etc. At first she didn't like that I came along as well. But it was so obvious that the girls liked it, and I have also been pretty useful (I am a teacher).

So what does she expect now? Well, mainly, chitchat about how the girls are doing in college, etc. (And with BM, the topic usually morphs to things unrelated to the girls.) So often one of the girls calls and says, "Dad, Ulrike, my dance class went to a great performance" or the like and not too long after, BM calls and says "I heard from DD and they went to a great dance performance...." Her clear preference is to talk to my husband, but if he's not home, I will do.


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Protecting Ex's wife too

That's really true, Imamommy. It has to go both ways. You can include a bioparent, but if he/she is not civil, then it backfires and is worse than ever.

This is kind of funny: I am sure my ex's wife isn't fully aware of how much effort I have put out to be sure that she doesn't feel excluded, and doesn't feel threatened by my place in her husband's life. My ex was kind of dimwitted about that type of thing when they were first dating and married. He would call me "just to talk" when she was right there. And I could tell when we were all together that she didn't feel good when he would talk about old times, etc. My technique was to always immediately turn to her, rope her in, bring her into the conversation. Eventually my ex seemed to learn, ha.


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RE: Friendliness Level of Bioparents

I agree Imamommy, it has to go both ways. Its so very true that just one parent behaving badly can affect the child, parent includes step too.

I have some thoughts on your sitch Ulrike, but I have to run out of for a bit. I think to make it quick, that much of that is not unusual. Many parents don't want extra's at teachers meetings and stuff. And many studies show that children don't necessarily need more parents than they already have, even with one remaining they are usually more stable emotionally/behaviorally with just being parented by the one remaining rather than adding more on. (This also depends on variables, in Mom2emall's sitch she is a major stabilizing factor so taking her presence away would be detrimental to the children.) So many parents don't see the "need" for stepparents to be more involved than they are (right or wrong is up in the air) and don't feel that they were deficit as parents before the stepparent came along. The one marrying the stepparent may find parenting life easier and schedules easier to juggle but the other parent doesn't see a payoff. With that information, I go with the train of thought if the stepparents presence adds tension it's best for the child for the stepparent to back off. It may not be the best situationally or marriage (although I'm not really seeing how it could be detrimental to marriage either) but will require more work out of the bio-parent....as it should be.

But all in all, your sitch doesnt sound so bad (we have had some doozies here lmao) and sounds rather amicable.


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Stepparent Role

It really does vary from family to family, doesn't it. The question always is, to separate out what's best for the children from what's best for the parents, and a lot of parents find that distinction very hard to make, especially if upon first glance it seems there is conflict between those two goals. But one thing to consider is that children benefit by a happy home and by seeing a happy marriage...and if that didn't work out for their bioparents, having a happy stepfamily is doubly important. So the pair-bond in the new household(s) should be just as respected as the parent-child bond is...with the bioparent bond taking a back seat to the first two.

My theory is that a new sort of family forms that includes ALL the parents/parent figures and ALL the children, and that is better for the kids than a completely bisected life. But my question these days is, with the kids out of the nest more, can we ease BM out of our lives a bit more? And how to do that without hurting her feelings.


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RE: Friendliness Level of Bioparents

Ulkirel,

You've gone on college visits with your stepkids, etc and NOW you want to ease the mom out. I really enjoyed college visits with my D and I while I offered to her Dad to alternate with him, I could not imagine him bringing his SO along with me there. As to being helpful, I am not certain what you could not have contributed by talking to them before or after visit. But after she has accomodated you and you've been this involved, I think it somewhat hard to ease off.

I dont think my D has issues with as you say a bisected life.


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RE: Friendliness Level of Bioparents

I think it is up to grown children how much of either parent/stepparent they want to be at their events. Are you saying you want BM out of "YOUR" lives? I don't really understand which lives? You don't want BM to attend children's events if you and DH are present? Or she wants events wiht adult children and your DH involved? Who organizes these events?


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kkny

All four of the parents went on the college visits (well, most--there were about twenty trillion of those, with four kids, ha!). And don't get me wrong, it was reasonably fun and I do enjoy BM's company to an extent. Actually, if I met her somewhere else, we would probably be friends. It's just that she is a bit territorial when it comes to my husband, which was something I could live with when the girls were little. But now, it seems like a good time to separate things out a bit more.

One interesting thing: I do get the sense that her husband is kinda of weirded out about how often she calls my husband, especially when it's not about the kids. I feel like I am responsible for this situation...sometimes I would grit my teeth at some of the "down memory lane" stuff, but overwrite it with "it's for the kids, it's for the kids, it's for the kids." Main thing is, I don't want to hurt her feelings--and I don't want DH to say anything to her that would hurt her feelings, either. We'd just like to gently not reinforce all the calls, etc.


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Findreams

Good questions! The girls are pretty much in the habit of--and have the expection of--having all four of us at events where parents go, and I wouldn't expect that to stop at all. But, what events do college kids out of town have that parents go to? Drop 'em off at the dorm, pick them up at the airport, etc. BM wants to have dinners together, etc., when they're home on vacation, and she calls a lot to chat about them (and other things).

What do the girls want? I bet like most college students, they mostly want the folks to stay in the background while they test their flying wings. DH and BM tend to be a bit helicopterish, bless their hearts.


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