Wednesday, September 14, 2011

On Being A Step-Parent

The thing about being a step-parent is... well, it's pretty much bullshit. 

A step-parent holds all of the shared responsibilities as the other parent--financial, moral, as well as putting up with eye rolls and backtalk--but does not have any real parental decision-making powers.  At the end of the day, if I think Ace needs to attend Preschool A over Preschool B, my opinion is only a small part of Ant's decision-making process.  Being the biological parent and legal custodian, these are his decisions to make.  I'm not saying this is wrong... it's just how it is.

So, although a step-parent has played an active role in potty training, spent beaucoup dollars on birthday parties and rushed a fevered toddler to the ER... there are many cases in which it is evident that you are not actually the parent, regardless of what parental roles you have taken on. 

So in the midst of various situations in which you are constantly reminded that "your children" aren't really yours, you are expected to love and treat them as your own.  (And you absolutely should.) Especially if you have your own biological child in the household.  Because if you treat any of them differently or unfairly or in a way that could be misconstrued as unfair in any way, shape or form, not only will the children feel it and probably feel sad or awkward, but your spouse is likely to fly off the handle in defense of his/her children.

Even if your family is significantly less dysfunctional than the rest of us and you've managed to create a completely equal atmosphere for all children in the household, you still aren't their "real parent" and the kids know that.  It doesn't matter that their biological mother (or egg donor) has never paid a dime to support them, supplied with with food or clothing, picked them up for visitation on a regular basis or even attended their last birthday party... she is still Mommy when she does get around to giving a shit about them and she is going to be held in a very special place in their hearts.  (And she absolutely should be.)

As a very involved step-mom, I know that I too will have a special place in the boys' hearts.  And when they're 22 and 23, they will likely have a better grasp of the situation and love me in the same way they would love a biological mother.  But for now, at the ages of 2 and 3, Mommy is the superhero who shows up once a month to whisk them away for a weekend at her house, and Amie is their evil step-mother who makes them follow the rules again when they come home.  And it would be an evil thing of me to point out otherwise.  So I won't.


  1. A mom is more than just giving them what they want, its being there like you are, in the middle of things and sticking it out when things get tough. Sometimes a "step mom" is more of a mom than the woman who holds the "Original title" keep it up, your doing good.

  2. Preach on sister!! I swear, If I hadn't had a daughter of my own I think I would have thrown in the towel. I'm so tired of feeling like a horrid person because I enforce structure and rules and expect responsibility instead of letting them do nothing but play video games and watch TV all day long. At least they get their once a week fix I guess. I'm in it with you though! I'm so glad I found your new blog. I've been so MIA due to weddings and stuff.

  3. We have a big blended family. When my husband and I started dating he had a 6 yr old daughter and baby boy. I had an 8 yr old daughter and 18m d son. We got married and things were still "his kids" & "my kids", until we had OUR daughter. She is the knot that ties us all together. We went from his and mine to ours, overnight! My stepdaughter moved in last year, we got custody through a GAL. She is now 13 and calls me mom bc im more of a mom to her tHan her mother ever was. Her mother pulled some Bs in May and got a dvp, then got it extended, we filed an appeal and got the old GAL back on the case. We go back to court to get her back on Sept 29th unless he can pull off some magic and get it moved sooner bc her psychological well being is at risk and her emotional state is deteriorating quickly. We have only been allowed by her mother to see her once since may, that was on father's day. She won't allow us to talk to her, even though the dvp doesn't say "no communication", and visitation is upon mothers discretion. How she got this granted on baseless lies with no evidence to back it up, bc it is a bunch of lies...I'll never know. I'll also never understand why she would intentionally harm her own daughter just to hurt my husband. We've been in contact with the GAL already and hopefully the judge sees through the lies of the mother and sends our daughter back home. (And restrict visitation from her for the same period of time...that would be nice for us but I wouldn't do that to our daughter, however, if she chooses not to see her, we won't force her like we used to do on her court ordered weekends!)