Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A Stepmother's Bill of Rights

1. I will be part of the decision-making process in my marriage and family at all times.
2. People outside the immediate family - including ex-wives, in-laws and adult children - cannot make plans that affect my life without my consent.
3. I will not be responsible for the welfare of children for whom I can set no limits.
4. I must be consulted about which children will live with us, when they can visit and how long they will stay.
5. I will not be solely responsible for housework; chores will be distributed fairly.
6. I will be consulted regarding all family financial matters.
7. Others may not violate my private space at home, nor take or use my possessions without my permission.
8. I will never be treated as an "outsider" in my own home.
9. My husband and stepchildren must treat me with respect.
10. Our marriage is our first priority, and we will address all issues together.

(author unknown)


IA Grl89 said...

I wish I would have read this before, or shortly after, becoming a stepmom.

Sonja Ridden said...

Yes, I am sure you are not the only one. Learning to enjoy the stepmum journey is such a process and rarely comes easily. Most of us learn the hard way but I guess we all learn through our own mistakes, through trial and error and usually are only able to pass on our hard-earned wisdom once we are through the worst. So, take heart and put into practice what you've learnt through reading this.

Good luck - Sonja

Anonymous said...

Well anonymous the thing is that whilst I agree that a childs well being and welfare are important, unfortunately some teenagers can be very manipulative and if their is a crack in the marriage then everything will unravel. A united strong marriage gives stability and at the emd of the day, kids grow up and leave the nest. If you choose your kids over your partner for the wrong reasons you can end up being on your own and loose the love of your life.

carynr13 said...

I am the product of a "blended" family and both of my parents divorced and remarried when I was at a young age. Both of my parents learned from their mistakes and put their new marriages first, and though it was hard at first for my brothers and I to understand, it was for the best. They were both in better moods, we adored our stepparents (not saying there weren't trying times), and it made for an all-around good experience. In fact, we all learned from our parents and to this day, I myself being a "stepmom", live by this. My husband agrees. I personally chose not to have children (a decision I made when I was very young),and I find myself having an extremely difficult time dealing with my husband's daughter. I'm just glad that there is such a wonderful site dedicated to helping people like myself and my husband deal. THANK YOU!

Anonymous said...

One thing that bothers me is that however much a step parent does good to step children, every where society believes step children are vulnerable. No one ever thinks a step parent especially step mothers can ever do anything good for a step child. Because of fear to be condemned, I realize how much I have lost or given away. Whilst I have continued to share what I have equally with my step children, I am receiving rejection and stiff rebellion sadly without the intervention of my husband.

Anonymous said...

I have been a step mother for 20 years and during that time I have tried to remain sensible and realistic about the role that I play in my step daughters' lives. However I cannot say that it was ever easy! We step parents remain scapegoats for most of our lives as often "someone" has to be blamed! I have never been able to relax about what I say as even the most harmless joke can be taken the wrong way.

If you are lucky enough to have a partner who is a great communicator and has a lot of respect for you and your contribution to the blended family - you are very lucky. Unfortunately that isn't always the case!

But all I can say is that we step parents need to rise above the manipulation of the "ex", not stoop to their sometimes very low and revengeful methods, and ALWAYS consider the children first. The little ones are often just a product of their bitter parent(s) and feel the need to remain loyal to them.

Don't get me wrong - I have often cried myself to sleep, spent time with counsellors, and had screaming fights with my head-in-the-sand husband. I would LOVE to tell my step daughters that it was their mother who had the affairs and let their father down, not the other way around. But I never will. They probably wouldn't believe me anyway because I'm the wicked step mother!

I can continue in this family knowing that I have done no wrong, and tried my best, and always been a good person. I do still feel guilty at times as I feel that I have failed as a step mother and nothing prepares you for the hate of those children but I can only do my best. And I know that I have done that.

Our cousins had a stepmother for with whom they didn't have a warm relationship. However when she died of cancer, very quickly, they realised everything that she had done for them and they struggled to cope with their guilt and their loss.

I guess that will happen to me!

Maybe I should have something written for my funeral saying "Na Na - told you so!"

Good luck to all you step parents. Take a big breathe.......and pour yourself a drink! It helps in the short term!

Sonja said...

Thanks for that dear stepmum. You've said it well! Can I please have the same message for my gravestone?

Keep on keeping on and along with the drink make sure that you have a good laugh at least once a day. Remember, a laugh a day keeps the doctor away and thus the gravestone might just have to wait........

All the best! Sonja

Anonymous said...

Thanks Sonja!

concerned stepmommy said...

I am married to a man that recently had his first baby with another woman a week before the wedding . the woman is constantly using the child to get my husband over by her or demands his attention. They stay on the phone through texts every day several times a day throughout the day. I understand there is a child between the two but am i wrong to feel that knowing the bms intentions, if i should have to feel like so much of an outsider in my marriage?

Sonja said...

Hi concerned stepmommy,
It sounds like your intuition tells you that your partner is being lured back to his ex and the baby is being used as the lure.

I, of course, have no way of knowing whether this is so, or not but I do know that men often don't read situations the way we as women do and that this can cause all sorts of trouble.

I believe that a sensible reaction to what seems to be going on would be that you sit your husband down at a time when he is relaxed and ready to listen and then let him know how you feel. Be sure, though, to do this in a matter of fact way and without anger or tears. When he has heard what you have to say it’s really important that you talk about what would be a realistic level of communication between him and his ex and don’t stop talking about it until you come to a mutual agreement. At this time you should also discuss (if you haven’t done this in the past) how he sees his parenting role and what this might entail. It is critical that you know what his intentions are so that you don’t feel completely pushed out of the picture once his child starts spending time in your home. Often women are afraid to ‘take the bull by the horns’ because it feels confrontational. It is, however, totally essential for any stepmom to have a realistic understanding of the challenges and complexities of where they ‘sit’ within their particular circumstance. If you don’t talk it through you may find that you lumber from year to year hoping for one thing and getting quite another…and that, my dear, does not make for a happy marriage.

I hope this helps a little,
With kind regards,

Anonymous said...

For people who read this and think its bad that you place your marriage first, here is my response. 1) one day all your kids will be adults and on their own and and it will just be you and your spouse. Nurture your marriage. 2) if you don't keep your marriage healthy and it falls apart, what message is that sending to the children? Kids, ESPECIALLY stepkids who have already seen one marriage fall apart don't need to be subjected to seeing another fall apart.

On that note, I'm printing this off. My husband is great but sometimes loses sight of these things. Great advice. Being a stepmom is the hardest, most unappreciated job in the world a lot of the times. Glad to have found this site.

Sonja said...

Well said and surely no-one can't argue with that! Thanks stepmum!

Anonymous said...

I never expected the things that I've been asking for for 7 years all itemised in a bill of rights. I too wish I had found this years ago.
I am step-mother (although not married) to 4 children - between the ages of 15 and 19. I am really struggling. I've always had a good relationship with each child, I've never tried to be their mother but have more of a friendship with them. Recently we had an "explosion" of sorts with the oldest which I suppose was a long time coming. His behaviour is unacceptable and has been for some time. Some of it typical, does nothing to contribute to chores, lives outside his means financially and always expects money to enable his social life, trouble at work, speeding tickets, etc. the list goes on. For the first time I lost my temper and yelled at him when he left a huge mess and I happened to be in the other room and overheard him trying to actually blame it on me! He walked out and we haven't spoken in 2 months. He has spoken to his father but is absent from the house. His father has always coddled him because he is the oldest and was more aware of his mothers affair and took their divorce hardest which I believe has contributed to his selfish behaviour. I'm so frustrated. I just don't know how to make the adult step to resolve this while also communicating that his current behaviour is not acceptable as I've stayed out of discipline regarding him since the beginning, which might have been a mistake. To top it off issues are starting to emerge with the others as they are in their difficult years. His daughter borrowing things without asking, which I address with her but am fed up with, the mess which is never cleaned up, the constant asking for money when chores aren't done, the ATTITUDES! Its so overwhelming and really feels like its just too hard.

Anonymous said...

I thought it was only me in this whole wide lonely world fighting with the issue of step children! Thank you dear lovely step Moms to describe all your struggles. I tried to be a good step mom, but doing this I found myself degraded, more alone, more diverted from my intellectual works. so, I have finally decided to get divorced from this hell. I hope not to see any more face of step children with a jealous father. Good Luck dear lovely successful Step moms.

Anonymous said...

I'm at the other end of the spectrum. I am the biological mom of four kids who are now adults. They were all adults or teens when their step-mother joined the family. She really didn't raise any of them. The ones who lived with their dad only tolerated her. Nothing against her personally, just their anger over the situation.
While I don't particularly like her, my problem is more with my ex. He constantly says and does things to give the impression to other people that she is the mother of his children, just another form of emotional abuse--toward me and toward the children.
When they were younger, he forbade them to refer to me as "Mom" at his home, even though his lawyer and the judge told him that it was very damaging to the kids to demean their mother that way.
Now he continues the abuse in many ways, including manipulating (regardless of what the kids and their fiancees have decided) how things are done at their weddings, insisting that his wife be given a position of prominence equivalent to that of the mother of the bride/mother of the groom.
He is such a control freak and abuser that the kids would rather hurt their mom than upset their dad.
Any suggestions for someone on this side of the equation?