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Hello Moms * Stepmoms

Posted by exsm (My Page) on
Tue, Nov 3, 09 at 1:44

Hello moms & stepmoms, as you can see, I am happily ex-step-mom. It will be 10 years in April 2010 and I still think - sometimes - about those horific and absolutely terrible & wasted - 7 years of my life.
The same issue as so many of you're having - husband & me were much in love, both of us hardworking, honest, the same values, best friends, etc. However, his son (7 at the time of our marriage) - lived with us, bcs his bio mom has some mental issues - never liked me, never accepted me and surely but slowly destroyed our marriage. I would never believe that a grown up man can be so ABSOLUTELY blind*stupid*clueless*naive when it comes to his child. And that child can HATE so much & for so long and every day.
Btw. I grew up to HATE him too, altough before I would never believe it. And I still HATE him (exSS, although he must be 25 by now, and I am not ashamed of it. He is the only person in the world whom I am almost physically sick just to think about.
I also noticed that there are no men complaining about stepchildren.....How come? Is all the burden again on women? Or do men get more "natural" respect" or they don't care?
Anyhow, take care, good luck with your battles and pl do remember: all step/moms-sons-daughters< all that is against the nature. It is not normal. Almost all of you, smoms, you are just barely tolerated, your each word and action is under observation, you have all kind of responsibilites - but no rights at all. You are just a cheap nanny, who doesn't get paid. I was one of you.
It still hurts to think about my exhusband, our love, friendship, our house, garden. I gave it all up for my sanity.

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Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Hello Moms * Stepmoms

Relationships don't 'just happen'. They take work... lots of work. I was in a crappy relationship, raising someone else's children (without marriage) for 7 years and it was miserable... just as OP describes. But, very little effort went into that relationship on BOTH sides and that's what you get.

I am now in a wonderful marriage because we work at it, both my husband and I. My children were not thrilled I married him, his daughter is not thrilled either. She'd love for us to split and have her daddy all to herself again. It won't happen... he won't allow her to destroy OUR marriage. He is a good father and a good husband. I would not allow my kids to interfere either. As soon as my oldest turned 18, he packed up and moved out because he did not accept my husband and would not live in the same house as him. He is now almost 23 and has been back a couple of times briefly. Just yesterday, he told me how he wish he had a marriage just like mine. He doesn't love my husband or even think of him as anything more than mom's husband, but I have never allowed my children to be disrespectful of my husband and SD is not allowed to be disrespectful of me.

It is the parent's job to teach their children how to treat them and their relationships... and make sure the child still feels loved and secure. It is a lot of WORK. It is a lot of BALANCE. and it can be very rewarding.

Sadly, there are a couple of lines in OP that I do not believe...

1. "husband & me were much in love, both of us hardworking, honest, the same values, best friends, etc"

If that were true, then your husband would not have allowed his 7-14 year old to destroy his marriage. If he allowed that to happen, then you did not share the same values.... he obviously didn't value his marriage as much as you. He allowed his son to hate you, you allowed yourself to hate his son.

2. "I am happily ex-step-mom. It will be 10 years in April 2010 and I still think - sometimes - about those horific and absolutely terrible & wasted - 7 years of my life."

If you are so happy, why are you wasting your time 10 years later, after the 7 wasted years of your life... on a board where people come for support and advice to make their situations better?


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RE: Hello Moms * Stepmoms

Well I think that there are mostly women on here talking about their stepfamily situations because women are more emotionally generally. We like to talk about our feelings.

As for EXSM's thoughts, I feel sorry for her. To carry the hate around for all these years is just sad. I hope that someday she will be able to move on and get her head right.

As for myself, I do not think my situation is like hers at all. I feel loved, liked, and respected by my stepkids. I could never hate any of them! Honestly I don't think I could ever hate ANY child.


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RE: Hello Moms * Stepmoms

I think it's sad that a 7year old is being blamed for the breaking of their marriage. Obviously they weren't on the same page with raising him, and the dad choose the child over the adult. Sounds like a good dad to me.

Actually, step-parents are normal. In many cultures children are raised by people who are not their birth parents and thrive. Children learn from their environment, from their teachers. Children are not born to hate. This is learned.


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RE: Hello Moms * Stepmoms

Wow! What a BEATING you gave me. I would like to apologize to all of you who felt hurt or offended by my post. That was absolutely no intention at all.

Just some explanation: Yes, we shared THE SAME VALUES - except when it came to his son - my ex was BLIND*CLUELESS*NAIVE*etc.....I read it here ALL the times.
I NEVER said that I am happy - I said that I am HAPPILY EX_STEPMOTHER.
And yes, and of course....., :), I moved ON with my life. Am in a balanced respected relationship. I have a ss, again, although he is an adult. But there are boundaries and he wouldn't dare to show any disrespect towards me. However, after my previous xperience I know that I am just tolerated by him, what is fine with me. Is it a crime or is it so unusual or strange that I look back sometimes and think about ordeal I went through? 7 years is no one month.
I really didn't think that anybody would get so upset about my post.

However, I wish the best of luck to the all of you. Keep your blended families and yourself happy


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Exsm, your post didn't offend me at all

Exsm, I appreciated your thoughts. It sounds to me like you have some PSMTSD (post-traumatic stepmother stress disorder) still going on! (Ha, I invented a syndrome.) With good reason--is there any situation more potentially volatile and heartbreaking than marriage and parenting in general, and stepfamily marriage and stepparenting all the more!

I don't agree with you that stepparenting is "against nature." We evolved in a more complex way than lower animal life forms (such as mouse species in which if the father dies, the new mate kills the babies, etc.). For sure there is a basic biological instinct to protect and favor our own offspring...but because we are so social and interdependent, we have an "adoption" set of genes also, that allow us to deeply bond to others who become family. Our mate, for example!

And your story is an excellent example of how a bioparent can make or break a step-relationship. If your ex-husband had been able to parent his child with eyes wide open and a good understanding of what is due one's child and what is due one's mate, he could have nipped your former SK's brehaviors in the bud. The bioparent can do much to transform the early resentment of the kids into a respectful relationship. And from respect, love can grow. From disrespect, not so much.


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RE: Hello Moms * Stepmoms

Hi exsm, I think you made some fair points. This board is more of an exception in that many of the regulars are custodial stepmoms dealing with biomoms who are largely absent from either medical reasons, jail, alcoholism or just plain selfishness. Most of their husbands aren't blind or naive, they are all just navigating very difficult situations.

However, I do have some thoughts on your original post from studying and just general observation. Stepfamilies have fascinated me since I was thrown in one as a kid. For one, I think you're premise that the men involved are blind and naive is part of the problem. In that the women who marry these men think that of them. If SM thinks her husband is that dumb, of course she feels so much pressure to take over and parent the stepkid which is usually less than ideal.

These are just general observation I've noticed with the DH/SM duo that lead to problems in a normal stepfamily (without BM dysfunction)

-DH marries quickly after divorce.
-DH never learned how to be a single parent, but thrusts SM into that role very quickly.
-DH involves SM in parental decisions and tries to make her the sole communicator with BM. Giving her all the responsibility but he can't give her authority with BM, she has none!
-SM's (in these situations) generally go one or two ways - they either want to be MOM (trampling over BM's boundaries and the stepkids) or become very resentful.

The list above is just general themes I notice. Being a stepmom is the hardest role in the stepfamily to establish. Much of it depends on variables. Oftentimes the best way for a stepfamily to work is to establish how everything runs and whats good for everyone...DH, BM and kids...then tell Stepmom what she can do. Not a very good option for most women, eh?

What I found interesting in your post is that you still blame the child. Did you ever ask your exSS what he would like your role to be in his life? Or did you barge in thinking he needed a Mom? Another misconception that many people have is that when a childs family breaks up, it is better to have people fill mother/father roles. Thats not really true, studies have shown it is far better all around when the parents remain single.


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RE: Hello Moms * Stepmoms

Hello "Nivea",
Although I didn't want to post her ever again, bcs so many people felt offended by my post, here are a few words for you, so you can add it to your research.
DHwas divorced for 7 years. BM kept their son for 1 year, then it was too much for her, so he took over and was a single father for almost 6 years.

DH & BM made all their decions regarding their child together, I had no say at all, however, they told me the results, what typically ended with me babysitting and/or change all our/my plans. It was happening 60-70% of all the times, when she was supposed to take the kid every 2nd weekend and/or Xmas, etc.

SM wanting or not wanting to be a SM. If I wouldn't want to be a SM, I wouldn't go there in the 1st place. Was 33 when I got married, so I thought I knew what I am getting into.
Mistake.
Kid lived with us. DH worked afternoons. (3pm-11pm or 3pm-3am).He spent with his kid about 1/2 in the am before kid went to school. I worked 9am-2pm, so I could be there for ss when he came from school and had basically all afternoon, evening with him. including driving to games, having his friends over, going to school, etc.
BM was out of the picture totally, except every 2nd weekend-if that.


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RE: exsm

Eh, dont leave. Everyone offends everyone here. We can be really sensitive at times lol. Someone spiked the SM's koolaid yesterday, it was really amusing. Actually this is the best board Ive found dealing with stepfamilies, thats saying alot cause there are a ton out there.

Anyway, thats interesting about your sitch. Did you feel you were parenting more than the father?


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Some interesting thoughts, Nivea

Thanks for sharing your analysis, Nivea. Sounds like you are a fellow overthinker like me, ha! From what you say I am in the minority, with a functional, present and very competent BM in the picture. I imagine that makes a difference in the whole dynamic.

Your thoughts also remind me of how much of a gender issue this whole subject is! I too have noticed how few men post on stepfamily boards (though some do). I think that's partly because women tend to focus more on family, but also because many women are afraid to take the power that is rightly theirs.

From what I've read, you are totally right about the pitfall of having the stepparent try to "step" right in and assume the role of the bioparent. And why do SMs tend to do that? Because we think we should! We think it is our obligation, that it is required of us. Regardless of whether we are naturally nurturing people or not, if we have no Y chromosome, it is often just assumed that we are maternal by nature!

And so, we relinquish our power by allowing our new husband to parent in a lazy fashion. Which is so bad for the SKs, AND for us.

When people IRL ask my advice about getting in a relationship with someone with kids, I tell them that from day one, they should only do what they WANT to do as regards parenty-type behavior. Don't feel obligated. I absolutely love the stepmother role in my house. DH does all the hard stuff and I help. It is kind of like being a dad, ha. And I have a great relationship with my SDs, I think because DH was very much the nurturing parent with them.


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RE: Hello Moms * Stepmoms

Hey Ulrike, yes I think here on GW you are in a minority. But majority in Stepfamilies across the board. And yeah, I'm very guilty of overthinking nearly everything. I have so many books and studies on stepfamilies stacked all around my house, you'd really think I was writing a book on it or something lmao.

I think your advice is spot on about getting into a stepfamily *except* (haha, you knew that was coming) I think more talks with children have to happen. Its not giving children power over the stepparent, but it creates a more natural environment when children are allowed to have their own boundaries. There was a thread here about a year ago on how many stepparents felt like parents and I was kinda shocked at how many steps said they felt like they were one, when I think most of the studies I've read have come up with 20% rate of how many adult stepkids thought of their childhood stepparent as a parent. And I've asked a lot of friends etc what they thought about stepparents and it was really very rare for a stepchild at any age to feel like the step was a parent.


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Very good point

Ha, Nivea, you and I probably have some of the same books! And frankly, I would like to write one myself, because so much of the information is totally outdated, and many family researchers still try to cram stepfamilies into the "nuclear" family model. I totally agree with you that for the stepparent to try to occupy the same space as their cohort bioparent is a landmine-filled and futile effort. (UNLESS the stepparent is in the position of truly filling the role, for example if the bioparent has died when the SKs are very young.)

Here's one thing I would love to see, and you guys have probably already discussed it so forgive me if this is a lame afterthought. I would love to see a new term of address for stepparents! Why don't we have that?? With 50% plus kids living in stepfamilies, how utterly inappropriate for them to address stepparents by their first name! There should be a term that goes along with "mom," "dad," "aunt," "uncle," etc. Something that reflects the realities of stepfamilies.

I read an article that said in many stepfamilies, the children often do have a nickname for their stepparent--something they devise themselves. My SDs have a name for me, that only they call me. Well, and my own kids have kind of adopted it, too, and now that they are older, they will use that instead of "Mom" for me. I can't tell you how sweet that feels to me.


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RE: Hello Moms * Stepmoms

I think the nickname thing is a no-no generally lol. I mean, if the kids come up with it on their own -- sure. But generally, no. Its more for the adult than anything.

The general theme I've noticed amongst stepkids and adult stepkids is that it wasn't so much what happened, but how it happened. Many are forced to acknowledge or recognize people in their new "family" in ways they don't really feel like towards them. Not out of hostility or dislike, but because they didn't have a chance to establish a relationship with the step on their own terms. The terms were dictated to them, largely from the steps own subjective view. For as many steps feel like parents right away, there are many who don't etc. The kids are largely left to mold into what is expected of them -- that is not a relationship. I think making a rule that an affectionate nickname for the stepparent must be used is stepping right into poo.

Sure Dad and SM fell in love, but are people really that naive to assume (even a 5 year old) loves someone automatically cause Daddy chose them? Why do people impose this outrageous boundary on kids?

Actually, I don't really understand the people that have a problem with the term stepparent either. It is what it is. The negative connotation speaks more about their mindframe than anyone elses. But thats jmo. You are Dads wife, my stepmom etc....there is nothing wrong with that! lol

I missed the part about gender above, sorry. I think a little has to do with gender, but also personality and value systems. I have dated men with children and not once did I ever feel compelled to get involved personally with their children. I dont think that makes me not maternal, but I do only have a drive to mother my own children. I think a lot of that has to do with my personality rather than my gender to be honest.


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To 'iamamommy'

Ok,
just additional explanation to all who did not accept my 1st apology and cannot get over my initial post, :).

1. Reason why I registered in the "wee" hours was: I cannot sleep bcs I am sick (bad cough). I am off work for 2nd week, so I got bored....
Pl beat me! with a stick that I dared to browse the internet and came across this site and I did dare to open it!

2. Pl beat me for posting some "really negative post with intention of STIRRING THINGS UP".....while "watching the response with a big bowl of popcorn"......?

3. I don't really understand what is meant by "to stir things up". What things? What is it here to "stir up"?
I can honestly say that I never played with anybody mind - at least not on purpose.

It's probably bcs I consider myself to be an open honest person and probably bcs I always worked better with men - you say what you think and that is it & it's so much less of drama, sorry, :).

4. I posted it just to show some of you, who are clearly not happy and battling big battles with your step-whatever, that it doesn't always have a happy happy ending. That sometimes it simply doesn't work and it can be very difficult to realize that is time to "close it".

I don't think that I am the only exsm who opted to get out from the whole mess. They are some who make it and live happily ever after, and they are others who sacrifice a big portion of their lives, just to find out too late that all their efforts were just not worth it.

5. You cannot erase 7 years of your life like nothing. It wasn't one nice vacation or one vacation from the hell. It was SEVEN long years and seven years of mostly unhappiness and walking on the eggshells in my own house. Memories never go away, we have to live with them for the rest of our lives. We cannot just protend that the past did not exists. It did, it formed us and it brought us to where we are right now.
So, yes, I sometimes STILL go back and think about some good times, bcs my EXH WAS the love of my life and I still do love him, in some way. And then I think about those bad ones.
Pl AGAIN before somebody will rip me to the pcs, it happens SOMETIMES, ok?, :). I do NOT live in the past every single hour of my life.

6. Reason I posted my post was - perhaps some SM (which are strugelling right now and don't know what to do and are not happy, are afraid of their s-children, get no respect from them, etc.) will re-think their arrangement before their invest too much of their time, energy and time. It is just not worth it.

7. And with lucky "7" I say good bye to all of you. I still might come once a while and read some here and there, but will refrain from any posting.

Best of luck, many good days, and a lot of happiness, always.

PS: My bronchitis is getting better, so I should go to work soon - 2-3 days perhaps, so there will be no more tempting, lurking and stirring on "your"site. :)
M.


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RE: Hello Moms * Stepmoms

I am a happy SM, I do not feel "tolerated" in the least bit. I wouldn't change being my SD's step mom for the world.
sorry you had a bad experience, IMO the destruction of your marriage is all on you and your Ex husband.....kids can thow as many tantrums and act out as much as they want..IT IS UP TO THE ADULTS TO HANDLE IT
Sounds like you definately have some unresolved issues with this. Perhaps couseling might be a good idea? not saying this to be mean, but ten years is a long time to hold on to such anger especially towards a child (i get he's grown now)
good luck!


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Nivea, Sorry

I was unclear about the term of address thing. I did not mean a "nickname," I meant a standard term of address--what we as a culture CALL a person, their title. I have no problem with the term "stepmother," but it doesn't work as a term of address. Like, few of us call our father "Father" (that reminds me of Pinocchio, ha). They call him "Dad" or "Pop" or something. And we might say "Aunt Sally," or "Auntie," but "Stepmother Katie" sounds weird. English is such a creative language, I am sure we can come up with something. (French has "Belle Mere," for example.)

Congrats that you were able to avoid the "she is female therefore she must be the nurturer in the family even if she only met the kids ten minutes ago" trap. Unfortunately, a lot of SMs fall right into that. Probably because in their own family growing up, that's how it was--or, in their new husband's family.

You sure need to "test drive" a family before you walk down the aisle with someone who has kids, that's for sure!


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RE: Hello Moms * Stepmoms

I love my DS's relationship with DH! It's so awesome! And I contribute it to a few different things, because it didn't start off so great. The first year was HELL with X accusing DH of abusing DS and calling him names.

1. DH did not jump into a relationship with DS. Sure we did things together, but he wasn't super-nice or a disciplinarian. He kind of just hung back for a few years and was peripheral in DS's life.

2. DH never spoke a negative word or gave a negative impression regarding X. Even when DS relayed some of the things X would say. If DH didn't think he could handle being at a game or whatever, he just didn't go.

3. I never asked DH to be more involved with DS until I knew they had a stable relationship. I knew that asking for more could have disrupted the delicate peace between them.

4. I allowed them to form a relationship that didn't involve me. They have common interests I don't share so they talk about those things while I stay out of it. I don't demand to be a part of everything just because he's "my kid".

Now, they get along great and even X and DH get along. DS isn't afraid to love DH. DH is still a little apprehensive, but that's because he doesn't want to be perceived as stepping on X's toes.

It's funny because they both kind of live their lives in barely-overlapping circles. Some days they may not say more than 2 words to eachother. Some days they'll sit on the sofa all day watching football and talking about it.

The cutest thing happened this past Father's Day. DS spends every Father's Day with X, but he asked what "we" were giving DH for Father's Day. I told him that he normally doesn't give DH anything so i hadn't planned on anything, but that if he wanted to give DH something then I would arrange it. He said he did and that he wanted to give him something they could do together. So he picked going to a local minor-league baseball game the weekend after Father's Day. All his choice; nothing from me but putting the money up for tickets.

They had a great time and DS has decided that since he spends every Father's Day with X, that he would call the next weekend "DH's Day" and would do something with him every year.

I was nearly in tears! I couldn't believe what I perceived was a goofy little relationship was really something so much deeper.


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RE: Hello Moms * Stepmoms

I did not think badly of your post, you made some good points. When someone posts that they are in this kind of situation or going to marry into it, I advise them to leave and not waste precious years of their life hoping something will change. It never changes. I thought I had a rough time in my second marriage until I started reading on this site. My marriage was a piece of cake compared to the problems women have posted about here. I had one thing going for me that most don't have, I was first with my husband. Of his 3 kids only one showed disrespect for me and he called her on it. Even though I did not have problems like these, I was still in turmoil. It's very hard to be active with people who don't like you. I had to quit reading and posting here for awhile. It kept the anxiety going, it never stopped until I stayed away.


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But on the other hand......

I wish I could say the same about my relationship with SD. We did not have any of the situations Nivea described above, although I do see those situations happen more often than not.

Nivea's 3rd point was "-DH involves SM in parental decisions and tries to make her the sole communicator with BM. Giving her all the responsibility but he can't give her authority with BM, she has none!"

Most of the problems in the first part of our relationship were the extreme opposite of that. DH didn't make me at all important in his life for the first 4 years. Sure he had us around, but because he wouldn't commit more than having us over on weekends, SD never felt like she had to listen to anything I said or respect me or even acknowledge my presence in his life. If she was with BM and we had plans, if she decided at the last minute she wanted to come over, he would break/change whatever plans we had. If he had 2 tickets to anything it was understood he would take her. He had her every weekend so I had to know that I wasn't going to go on any dates with him or spend any time alone. I got to where I wouldn't come over even on weekends anymore and then we broke up.

When we decided to give it another go and DH made it clear that we were going to be together, everything was drastically different. SD wanted me to be involved in all kinds of things. I thought things were great!

BM HATED that and started her war on DH. So far, she is winning. He is almost completely alienated from SD. See, as long as DH wasn't commiting to me and SD kept her distance, I was great. But as soon as DH committed to me and SD opened up her heart, she got jealous and hateful and it continues to this day.

DH's relationship with her is the worse it's ever been. SD and I are in the same place we have always been....arms length.


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nivea

how smart nivea!

"-DH marries quickly after divorce.
-DH never learned how to be a single parent, but thrusts SM into that role very quickly.
-DH involves SM in parental decisions and tries to make her the sole communicator with BM. Giving her all the responsibility but he can't give her authority with BM, she has none!
-SM's (in these situations) generally go one or two ways - they either want to be MOM (trampling over BM's boundaries and the stepkids) or become very resentful."

I so totally agree that these seem to be main sources of all kind of problems in stepfamilies. I also dare to say that it seems that too many men start new relationships before they are fully over their exwives, they are either still very angry or are hung up on them, it causes all kind of problems in new realtionships, SMs sense it etc etc

And i trully believe that lack of boundaries is a main sources of all problems in any relationship. My wise grandmother used to say "everybody needs to know their role, as soon as they forget their role and forget where the boundaries are, disasters start". moms act like spouses (interfer in private matters), spouses act as moms (overprotectice), SMs act like moms, moms act like friends etc etc. Source of every problem.


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Connections with Exes

Interesting point about the bioparent not being "over" their ex. That's got to be one of the most challenging issues in stepfamilies--because what constitutes "over"? Even if the ex-couple is past the differences that led up to the divorce, they still have to be in touch, and might have disagreements about the kids...or, the opposite, might share mutual happiness and pleasure in the kids. I think the key is that the two of them no longer be in the "couple" role. The stepparent doesn't "usurp" the parent role, and the bioparent doesn't "usurp" the mate role.

I know there are two schools of thought about that. One is that only the ex-spouses communicate, go places together, discuss the kids, make arrangements, etc. The other is that by having the ex-spouse interact with the new couple, that this brings the former spouses back more into the "friends" category.

I attended a funeral this year where the children, former husband and stepmother all sat together in the front, and the stepmom spoke about the mom, in tears. People who knew them well were offering SM condolences for the loss of BM. It was very touching!


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RE: Hello Moms * Stepmoms

"I also dare to say that it seems that too many men start new relationships before they are fully over their exwives, they are either still very angry or are hung up on them, it causes all kind of problems in new realtionships, SMs sense it etc etc"

When I was dating, I found this to be true... too many men that were still licking their wounds and for me, that was a HUGE turnoff. Any guy that talked poorly of his ex or complaining about his divorce was off limits... and those that complained about paying child support.... "I think I left my stove on... gotta go!"


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RE: Hello Moms * Stepmoms

Hmmm...exsm is still mad about how the SS contributed to the break up of her marriage. It didn't sound like she was blaming a 7 year old, he was seven when they got married but 13 or 14 when they divorced. Right in the heydey of adolescence. Maybe I missed something but I think that's important.

On the comment that step parenting is not natural, well, it's not the natural state of things. Kids think the natural state of things should be mom, dad, sis, and me all together in our old house. The step parent is the walking, talking symbol of that lifestyle having ended permanently. This is so common as I've read on this board that's it's helped me not to take my skids resentments so personally. It's not me, or at least not ALL me, it's what I symbolize to them.

My skids haven't broken up my marriage but they haven't helped it either. They have created lots of problems, SS in particular. Boycotted the wedding, reception and many family events for a long time. Denying our son, their 1/2 brother. I can see how an ornery kid between the ages of 7 and 14 can play a big role in the break up of a marriage. Bio kids do that too if the parents don't agree on how they should be raised.


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RE: Bio's Cause problems too

"Bio kids do that too if the parents don't agree on how they should be raised."

lamom - Great observation! Bio kids can cause problems, especially when parents don't stand united. My sons were 19 & 21 when they had to deal with divorce and became very angry. Accusations of having a "fake family" riddled every conversation. Accepting new partners was a huge stretch for them, however; now (27 & 29) they have spouses and children of their own and see things very differently.

This forum provides a lot of support for many people to vent the frustrations of step-parenting. No matter what the situations, it's important to remember ... this too shall pass.


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