Boundaries and Steps (Mom’s that is)

This is such an interesting topic.  What are the boundaries of the step parent and do they really have any rights?  Mister M over at The Psycho Ex Wife did an article about it and then a follow up was done by In The Blender, Musings of a Step Mom.  I have been a step mother and also my children have a step mother, so I thought I would weigh in on this issue.

I do believe that when your child is with the step you can’t control what happens in that home.  I also believe it is common courtesy for the step to realize they are not the bio and to take that into consideration when deciding to alter the appearance of a child.  For instance, Mikalee Byerman wrote about an instance that happened with feathers regarding her daughter and the step, and frankly, I think the step should have asked Mikalee first.  Mikalee was angry and rightfully so.

If you are a step that has custody, then that is a whole other ballgame.  At that point, you are basically the mom.  You did not give birth to that child, but you may as well have.  When a step is with a child all the time, except for the odd weekend out, it is like you have an adopted child and when you have an adopted child, you don’t treat that child as if they are adopted, you treat them like they are your own.  Your boundaries and rights are that of a mother, so all bets are off.

But, for those steps out there that are non-custodial, of course you can make your own rules when you have the kids in your house because it IS your house.  Discipline them, help them with homework, pick out their clothes, take them where you want and even put them in a class when it is your time but when it comes to things like cutting their hair, piercing their ears, putting feathers in their hair or buying a first bra leave that up to the bio mom or at the very least ask before doing

It could be the bio mom will be more than pleased that you are taking the initiative to bond in that way with the child.  And, this is a win-win because not only does it strengthen your relationship with the child, but also with the bio mom, who respects you for asking and keeping the boundaries.

If the bio mom says no and you really want to be there, ask if you can come along for the ride.  There is no rule that says the bio mom and the step mom can’t be friends, and isn’t it better for the kids to see a happy healthy relationship between all the adults?  And, if the bio mom says no, she doesn’t want to share, then smile graciously and call her a bitch in your head and let it go.

Whether we like it or not, there are boundaries when it comes to the bio mom and the step mom.  Those boundaries are blurred more with the bio dad and the step dad.  Why?  Because men have a different emotional make-up than women.  Men share better and frankly do not have that hormonal malfunction to deal with.

And, even if the bio dad says, go for it, still check first with the bio mom!  A little courtesy goes a long way, and there are so many more important issues to stand up for.  Remember too, you will be living with the bio mom for a long time, and when you married her ex, you didn’t just marry him and his children, you married her as well!

Lee Brochstein About Lee Brochstein

Lee Brochstein is a certified professional divorce coach, blogger, a well-known author and a nationally known expert from her appearances on television and radio talk shows. She enjoys alliteration, Mad Men, Big Bang, mixed breeds, vanilla lattes, red wine and her kids when they aren’t killing each other. Follow her on twitter and Facebook.

  • Mikalee Byerman

    Thank you SO much for weighing in on this weighty topic. It’s such a sticky situation — and trust me when I say I fundamentally respect the majority of step moms out there, because I recognize how difficult that fine line must be to walk. I’m not a step, yet I’ve watched many friends do it with class and dignity. That is the way it occurs more often than not.

    But there is a way NOT to do it, and sadly for me, I see that side far too often. I see the step mom of my kids attempting an insidious campaign to circumvent me whenever possible. The feathers were just one awful example — the first sign I had was when my daughter and I used to paint our nails together the night before she’d return to dad and step mom. It was a comforting routine for my 6-year-old, who was sad and missing me during the weeks without me. So we’d paint our nails, and I’d tell her the second she missed me, just look at her nails and think of me — and I’d do the same.

    Not one day after she returned to the other home, her step mom would tell her to remove the polish. :( No explanation, and daughter would balk — but to no avail.

    A personal thank you to every step mom out there who loves unconditionally and serves as support to a sometimes fragile dynamic. And a mild entreaty: Please do know that most bio moms would appreciate even the smallest gestures to close a wide open gap that many didn’t invite.

    GREAT post, Lee! :)

    • PostDivorceCoach

      Thank you, Mikalee, and yes….the smallest gestures go a long way…on both sides!!

    • jean

      Wonderful posts Mikalee and LeeBlack!!  Youall  have much wisdom and insight! Sometimes people who ignore a bio mom’s wishes and desires, are angry or have past problems and prejudices about bio moms. Often they have giant chips on their shoulders, because why else would a decent step mom ignore a bio mom’s wishes.

      • Yappy_54267

        Sometimes its not about ignoring a wish. Would the biomother call the biofather to see if a haircut was ok? in our situation, NO, Does Biomom Call Biodad about changes to the children, NO. “we have the children 1 day less a week than MOM and in the past it was DAD who took the kids to have things done, who helped them with stuff, mom did step up and do her part as a mom, untill recently and then its not even her doing it. Its her mom.

        I think so many women feel that everything should be passed by them. I know there are certain things that mom and dad both should have a first refusal to. BUT not all MOMS are considerate of the DAD in those Situations. I know that all MOMS DADS AND STEPS are different, but all these articles seem to be the same.

  • Custody Coach

    I find it exceedingly humorous that lost in such articles like these are what the biological father wants. Even biological mother wants anything done involving a son/daughter to be run past her for approval.

    What if dad is okay with the training bra? The mani-pedi? The haircut?

    • PostDivorceCoach

      I agree, but where is the common courtesy? And, I do talk about the bio dad, who most often says “Do what you want” to the step mom and most usually could care less about what the bio mom wants.

      Not everything needs to get run by, as you can see by what I wrote, it’s unreasonable to expect that, but, we are not talking about everything, and I think most adults are smart enough to know what those boundaries are.

      No one needs to pay “deference”, but just because the children are with you during your time, does not mean the bio mom does not exist. Too often the step mom and bio dad ignore the fact that there is a bio mom during their visitation.

      I know that if, for example, I was going to do something like take my son driving, and I knew that his father wanted to take him, I would not let his step father take him. Why can’t the bio dad give that same type of courtesy to the bio mom? Is that seriously asking too much??

      And, a mani/pedi is nothing more than paint that can be removed. It’s not about the paint though. It’s about the shared experiences. What if the mani/pedi is something the bio mom and child share and it is their “thing”, their time to spend together and chat? And, for that matter, why can’t the step mom ASK to be included??

      It goes the other way as well. If the step mom wants to do something special with the child, why can’t they ASK The bio mom to join in? You see, it’s not about deference, but non existence.

      Just because the child is with you does not mean the bio mom does not exist and should not be discounted, just like the bio dad should not be discounted when the child is with the bio mom. The two are parents no matter what, and as parents have certain rights over those that are not parents.

      Let me put it this way…if the bio dad and the step mom get divorced, does the step mom get visitation or custody rights? No. Step parents do not have the same rights as the biological parents. It is just a fact. And, my guess is that those step moms that do what they want when they have their step children would certainly not be open to having the step in their child(ren)’s lives doing the same.

      • Custody Coach

        Write your readership an article where the biological mother has to run everything by dad before doing it.

        You’re missing the bigger point here, Lee.

        Your article and so many that I read like yours do one thing. They demand deference, respect, check-ins, permissions… et. al. from others and the leverage used in demanding all of this is “I’m the biological mother and no one else is.” This includes step-mothers and biological fathers.

        Now, I have no way of ever truly knowing if you or anyone with whom you work, play, communicate are the picture of perfection when it comes to “checking with” the father on all of these issues (especially when you have primary custody and there is a step-father in the picture).

        These articles usually come off as “this is what biological mother expects of others” and they do so without acknowledging the absurdity of it all. Despite your feeble attempts to pretend like you really care about checking in with biological dads, you make these snarky comments about how all of them “couldn’t care less” and they don’t have the “hormones” to care about things quite like biological mothers do, as if the way they carry on about such issues is acceptable.

        It’s the one thing that is so abundantly clear in so many of your articles, Lee. Mother knows best and everyone else must heed what mother wants. As I said in the previous comment – there is this expectation of rights and privileges that existed in a marriage that are gone once you are divorced.

        I say KUDOS to all those blended post-divorce families that work harmoniously with one another on the basis of MUTUAL RESPECT and consideration. This isn’t what your article even attempts to even imply. It’s another biological mother “meme” story disguised as promoting healthy post-divorce relationships between all of the adults.

        • PostDivorceCoach

          And, I believe you are missing the bigger picture, which is common courtesy. As a step mother two times over, I always gave courtesy to the bio mom, no matter what my husband or ex says.

          My children’s step is not involved with them in any way and now lives in another city, but when she did live in the same city, she completely ignored their existence.

          Men are built differently, which is a fact, and although there are men out there that resent the step dad, they are few and far between. You are thinking from the typical dad response. It’s my time and I will do what I want.

          And, in part, you are right. Do what you want when you have the children. You don’t have to let the bio mom know anything you are doing, but if you plan on changing the child’s appearance with pierced ears or hair coloring, don’t you think it is common courtesy to discuss that with the bio mom before doing so?

          After all, that is not the bio mom wanting or needing control, but perhaps she doesn’t feel it is appropriate for an 8 year old to have feathers put in her hair? Because it happens in your home during your time that makes it okay? She has to look at those feathers during her time.

          And, if the child wants them, then all parents should discuss it and come to a mutually agreeable decision. And, here is the key, Michael…ALL PARENTS SHOULD DISCUSS IT AND COME TO A MUTUALLY AGREEABLE DECISION BEFORE ANYTHING IS DONE. All parents INCLUDES steps. Is that the bio mom being controlling? I think it is just called parenting.

          • Custody Coach

            You would be factually incorrect regarding my views of common courtesy. I’m all for common courtesy. What I’m not for is presuming that every decision is one that requires check-in between parents/steps who are not practicing good coparenting relationships.

            What happens if Dad feels it’s cute and appropriate to have feathers in his daughter’s hair and mom disagrees? What happens if dad is okay with pierced earrings and mom isn’t? Hairstyle? What makes mom’s opinion on those issues more important than dad’s opinion about it?

            Then what do you propose, Lee? The tone of your article presumes that one should acquiesce to what mom decides is a “milestone event” or that her opinion about what is/isn’t appropriate is the greater opinion.

            The issues I have with your post couches the promotion of co-parenting and harmony in rather insulting prejudicial views of what fathers think, do, care about – and go so far as to intimating that their approach is somehow lesser than the approach of a biological mother.

            So, I offer you this challenge in the face of broken family situations where there isn’t a harmonious co-parenting relationship. What are the solutions you would see to those questions I asked above? You and I can “wish” all we want. What’s a solution?

            Sometimes, the better part of such issues is leaving them alone, lest you encourage an escalation of “hair wars” or “what color nails wars” and what-not. Contrary to popular opinion, mother doesn’t always know best. Given that actuality – what happens in a less than harmonious situation when biological dad is okay for any reason with a hair cut, a mani-pedi, feathers, piercings and what not? Something other than more litigation would be nice.

            How would you counsel your client in such a situation?

          • PostDivorceCoach

            First, let me be clear that I do not think that the bio mom has carte blanche to do anything they like without passing it by the bio dad.

            Second, I think there is a time to pick and choose what is worth fighting for. If you are in a high conflict situation, sometimes the best thing to do is to do nothing. Let it be for the sake of the children.

            It never hurts to try to bring it up and if you are shut down, then let it go and revisit another day.

            I do believe that co-parenting counseling in high conflict situations is very helpful. It brings all parties to see the damage they are doing and allow them to work together.

            So, first I would ask if it is worth fighting over, considering the bio mom knows the type of reaction and response she will likely get from the other side, being that it is high conflict. Then ask her why it is important she fight for it if she says yes. I would suggest that sometimes it is best to take the road less traveled in these situations and let it go. Fight for the things that matter, and in the end, hair and nails do not.

            If my client refused to listen then I would suggest co-parenting counseling to resolve these issues, so that all parents would be able to at the very least learn to work together for the sake of the children.

          • Custody Coach

            That is the better message, for sure. While boundaries are important and reciprocal, articles about boundaries and who should respect them and when typically miss the mark.

            They mean nothing to parenting arrangements that are harmonious and for those involved in high-conflict situations tend to promote a “one side is right and the other is wrong” approach when reality is that both sides may be right… both sides may be wrong…

            When there is disagreement over what constitutes whose “milestone event” and what is okay/appropriate – someone will ultimately come out on the short end of the stick.

            We can all blather on about what is best for all parties involved. Unfortunately, the disagreements that led to the divorce reign supreme long after and that’s evident when hair, nails, feathers, and ear piercings take up so much futile and unnecessary mind-time.

            The event is almost always a “milestone” for the children, no matter who is taking them and what is getting done (within reason). That’s the point that is so often lost in these debates.

          • PostDivorceCoach

            Was that a compliment? You see, I can and do see both sides, but when it is high conflict, it is a much more difficult prospect to write about as emotions often rule over reason. I try to help my clients see reason over emotion and no, it doesn’t always work. I also constantly remind them, in the end, it is about the children and what do they think would make them the most at ease and happiest….if you can do what you think would make your children most comfortable in the end, you are generally doing the right thing.

          • Yappy_54267

            IN our situation, we asked MOM if Dad could get sons haircut into a mohawk. “not scalped but somthing that blended in if the need should arise, such as for school or events. even though it was summer”. Son Really wanted this, MOM agreed to it, and She even said how nice he looked and all, her Boyfriend didnt like mohawks, and said it should go. “DID MOM ASK DAD ABOUT GETTING RID OF IT? NO< she hacked his head with a pair of sissors, Didnt shave it, butcut the hawk out with a pair of sissors and WE had to shave his head, Son cried, He said he told MOM he liked it and wanted it just for hte summer at least but "boyfriend" said no??

            This happens all to often in our situtation, our MOM thinks she is intitled. She has never taken our Daughter to the salon for nails,  I waited, even though we did them at home, to take her untill she was 7, because all the other girls were going that she is around and I need some me time, "i never do go to those places, but I took the girls for somone else and let Daughter Join in.  Was I wrong for not asking MOM, No why, because she usually doesnt do things with the kids, not like this. But She does read to them sometimes. LIke maybe when harry potter is brought up? should I not read with them at night because sometimes she does? I do girlscouts with Daughter, I asked mom if it was ok for Daughter to join my troop, I was a leader because I am usally the one to take care of these things and I have other children "neices and friends kids that i help out. IF mom had said no, I still would have been a leader daughter would just have missed out,
            Now MOM says Im overstepping my bounds? NOW WHAT?

          • jean

            LeeBlock, thank you and continue saying what you just said. So many adults out there are lost and confused and somewhat selfish. Bio parents do have more rights than a step parent even when they are not in the home with the bio parent.

          • Stepmom

            I disagree.  I am the custodial step-mother to 3 boys.  They lived with us for YEARS while Biomom was off being a single gal…having more kids and paraking of reckless lifestyle choices.  I had to fill in for her in her selfish absence and, then, 18 months ago she came to town because she was “ready to be a mom” again.  I financially made up for her all those years (she was unemployed, habitually and never paid a dime in support).  I emotionally made up for her (making excuses for her when she missed birhdays and important events because she was too busy being selfish to remember her boys out here and I never wanted those boys to feel like their mom forgot them, which she CONSTANTLY did).  I was the one taking them to the doctor, staying home with them on sick-days, going to the parent-teacher meetings, hosting the sleepovers.  I am a stay-at-home mom/stepmom and those boys may not have grown in my womb but the grew in my heart and the GREW UP in my home.  After all that time I have come to think of those boys as my children same as my biological children.  I would think that she would be GRATEFUL that her boys had someone there to go to the plate because she was too selfish to put her wants behind their needs.  However, after 7 years, she expected me simply step aside and fade to gray.  The boys live in my home.  So do our daughters.  As the custodial parent with years of being the only female there for those boys….I have a right to feel like I have more rights than she does.  You bet I do.

      • Mandi Kang

         ”if the bio dad and the step mom get divorced, does the step mom get visitation or custody rights”

        You could be incorrect; it depends entirely on the state and what is best for the children.  If my husband ever died, you bet your bottom dollar that I’d take biomom for partial custody of my stepkids, because my stepkids have a right to spend time with their sibling.

      • Mandi Kang

         ”if the bio dad and the step mom get divorced, does the step mom get visitation or custody rights”

        You could be incorrect; it depends entirely on the state and what is best for the children.  If my husband ever died, you bet your bottom dollar that I’d take biomom for partial custody of my stepkids, because my stepkids have a right to spend time with their sibling.

        • PostDivorceCoach

           That is a different situation and of course should absolutely happen.  And, yes in some cases the step does get visitation and even custody.  It depends on who has custody to begin with.  If the father has custody, there is a greater chance that the step will gain custody, but the mother will still have first right of refusal…so to speak.

      • Mandi Kang

         ”if the bio dad and the step mom get divorced, does the step mom get visitation or custody rights”

        You could be incorrect; it depends entirely on the state and what is best for the children.  If my husband ever died, you bet your bottom dollar that I’d take biomom for partial custody of my stepkids, because my stepkids have a right to spend time with their sibling.

      • Mandi Kang

         ”if the bio dad and the step mom get divorced, does the step mom get visitation or custody rights”

        You could be incorrect; it depends entirely on the state and what is best for the children.  If my husband ever died, you bet your bottom dollar that I’d take biomom for partial custody of my stepkids, because my stepkids have a right to spend time with their sibling.

      • Mandi Kang

         ”if the bio dad and the step mom get divorced, does the step mom get visitation or custody rights”

        You could be incorrect; it depends entirely on the state and what is best for the children.  If my husband ever died, you bet your bottom dollar that I’d take biomom for partial custody of my stepkids, because my stepkids have a right to spend time with their sibling.

    • Biostep

      “What if dad is okay with the training bra? The mani-pedi? The haircut?” Really? Now you’re arguing just to argue. Few dads would take their girls to buy a training bra or get mani-pedi, and you know it. The custodial dads that I know (with no GF or SM in the picture) have given up that privilege to an aunt, grandma or older sister.

      I think both my post and Lee’s post is about the relationship between the BM and the SM, especially each woman’s awareness of the relationship between the other woman and the child/children involved. It’s not about BM “entitlement”. Lee and I are both “biosteps” so perhaps we are more acutely aware of the awkward dance that has to go on between families until everyone falls into a groove that works. I know that as a stepmom, I’ve been sensitive to activities that biomom might want to save for just her and her girls. For instance, I made DH call to ask if it was okay if we took her along with my daughter and their cousin to get their ears pierced even though I haven’t spoken a word to the woman in almost 5 years. She said she’d rather we didn’t take her because it was something that she wanted to do with her daughter because it’s their family tradition to get ears pierced at 8 years old. Does that make her controlling? No. Would DH have been completely within his rights to let her get her ears pierced during his custodial time? Yes. Was it reasonable for me to request that DH check-in with BM? You bet. It meant more to BM than it did to DH or me and SD was excited to have a special moment with her mom, so she was happy to pass on our family piercing excursion. I’ve got years to create my own special moments with my SDs. Do I call every time something comes up? No. But as a mom, I intuitively know which events might necessitate a phone call. It’s about communication, not entitlement. I look at it this way: as an EOW stepmom, I have no rights where my SDs are concerned. When special “girly” things come up that might be considered a milestone, I deal with it as if they were my biodaughter’s BFFs: I ask DH first and then have him ask BM (if it’s a big thing like ear piercing or chopping off 6 inches of hair). It’s just the right thing to do. I realize that I’m “not entitled to the same rights and privileges of marriage”, as you point out. But as a biological parent I am still entitled to common courtesy and clear communication when it comes to my child, as is my ex-husband. Same goes for DH and his ex-wife.

      One last thing, you’ve mentioned that the posts don’t take the BD into account. Let’s face it, “No One’s the Bitch” was written for a reason. BDs and SDs don’t have the relationship issues that SMs and BMs do. If they did , there’d be a companion book called “No One’s the A**hole”. There are father/son and father/daughter moments that are important . No one wants to take those away from BD; not SD, not even BM.

      • PostDivorceCoach


      • Anonymous

        You must live in a little bubble then.

        In our house, my step-daughters go to their dad for anything. In fact, my oldest SD asked her FATHER, not her mother or me, to take her to the Dr. for birth control. My husband also takes the girls bra shopping, clothes shopping, shoe shopping, buys them feminine products or anything else they need.

        I know for a fact he is not the only father that does things like that, I know mine did. And might I add that it is awfully small-minded to think that if a father has full custody or in our case 50/50, the “girly” things are relegated to a female relative.

        • Biostep

          Actually my bubble is pretty big and it pops quite often.

          I think it’s FANTASTIC that your husband does those things for his girls, but in reality most dads don’t. Kudos to your husband! My dad took me shopping when I was a teenager, and I preferred him on shopping trips over my mom because a) he’d spend more money than my mom and b) he was gay and had incredible fashion sense. Small-minded…no, not me.

          Still, I will reiterate, this post is about the relationship between the BM and SM. Not about who’s “entitled” or who has a better relationship with which parent. I made that point because CC seems to be very anti-biomom and also seems somewhat convinced that biomom wants to take rights away from biodad.

          • Biostep

            PS LotusBlossom62, your situation is really isn’t addressed in Lee’s post or my post for that matter. I’m sorry you have to deal with so much conflict.

          • forfathersrights

            I agree with custody coach. Im a step mom myself and have to witness how the biomom uses the ‘power’ of everything going through her against his ability of being a good father. Here, control is being used as a weapon of choice to hurt him and his relationship with his children.

            Our court system and society as a whole are perpetuating this stereotypical view of the ‘deadbeat father’ and the ‘non-involved absent father’ as being typical and what we should expect in each father that is divorced.

            Its time that we start changing the stereotypes which to me amounts to nothing less than a ‘sufferage’ type of situation-isnt it time that we all have the same rights to be a parent?

        • jean

          I don’t where you live but around here in my community, the girls are not comfortable discussing girl stuff with dad. that is normal. Don’t be angry with girls or women who still feel the need to keep dad out of their periods, pads and, bras.

        • ElvisIsKing

          Sadly, that is not the norm. I share 50-50 joint custody, parenting rights, ect with my ex. My ex husband has never once taken his kids for a hair cut, clothing shopping, doesnt show for DR appts, does not participate in extra curricular activities…. shall I go on? His wife, wont even take my kids to the mall when she takes hers. My son is uncircumsized, you’d think his dad would teach him how to keep himself clean wouldn’t you?? Nope. I think it’s awesome when both parents and step parents take an active role in parenting the kids… Sadly, often one side or the other does not.

      • Custody Coach

        Unfortunately for you, nearly every father I know has absolutely zero problem with doing anything for their children, be they boys or girls. This is what “I know.”

        Your POV is predicated on common prejudices that society’s women like to put on men “just because.”

        I don’t argue just to argue. Most divorced men I know would do all of that and more for their children. Perhaps you’re speaking about having the option within a marriage and certainly there are some things where the father will defer to the mother and vice-versa depending upon the gender of the child.

        That’s not always the case after a divorce and based upon my experience – your POV isn’t even applicable to the majority of cases.

    • “step” MOM

      I love it and TOTALLY agree, Custody Coach!!  I am a “step” mom, but my husband’s biological sons are MY kids.  I am there for them no matter what!  And they live with me 90+ % of the time.  I run things past their dad to see if he wants me to wait to do something so he can be there (like a milestone), but we do not run every little thing past their biological mom like she has demanded for years…nothing would ever get done!  She returns e-mails and phone calls from us and school once every six weeks or so, and we never see her.  We drop the boys off with her boyfriend a few hour a week and every other weekend.  Not much of a mom….

      • LeeBlock

        When you are more the mom than the step mom, than the opposite would hold true.  You  are raising your children and the bio mom is more like a step parent with visitation. So, of course, this article would not hold true in your case.  And, your children are lucky to have you!

    • Yappy_54267

      I agree whole heartedly. I believe that there are some cases where MOM or DAD should have First Refusal, “such as certain talks or what ever, or better whom gives those talks. Such as Most MOMS would have the StepDad give the “talk” and wouldnt think twice, but have the Smom take the daugther to get her nails done and weve all declared war.

      And I believe that as long as your not putting a tattoo on the kid, or somthing as crazy as that, leave it alone.

      There need to be more billboards either saying have you been a parent today, or have you been a mother today? instead of have you been a father today. :( its all messed up.

    • annoyedmom

      That’s right. Because she went through the mourning sickness and the pain not him. And if my ex was overly concerned with a mani-pedi, haircut etc? it would be for spite. I had a daughter with this guy, not this woman he hooked up with. It’s nice that she has an interest, but she needs to know her boundaries. My ex has a girlfriend that shows up to all the parent events needlessly. my child has two parents. She is with him that doesn’t mean she gets to play pretend that she’s my child’s mom. I only have one child, and a girl. Those milestones are special and she does not have the right to them.

  • Dr. Eric Frazer

    A lot of the latest research is guiding interventions with co-parenting skills for blended families. If boundaries are the issue, then one presumption is that co-parenting strategies can be modified. It is difficult for the parents and step-parents to be objective as all being part of a larger family system. A suggestion is for the parents and step-parents to find common ground in the agreement that they want as much harmony and as little conflict as possible. Agreeing to a few sessions of joint co-parenting skill-building and interventions with a professional can help people move past perceptions of boundary infringment and feel comfortable in their respective roles.

    • PostDivorceCoach

      I think that is excellent advice. Thank you for participating!

    • JBog

      It could be that the prevailing value is harmony between all of the parental figures. Or, it could be that the prevailing value is the promotion of a strong parent-child relationship between the child and each of its biological parents (and these two values are not necessarily mutually exclusive), or it could be some other prevailing value altogether.

      No matter what the prevailing value is, Dr. Frazer’s interest-based approach has been well-established as a powerful method to reduce conflict. This is far more effective than positional bargaining, the territorial land-grab often being described when we engage in these discussions of “parental rights”.

      As a custodial step-Mom, and as a huge proponent of supporting strong parent-child relationships, I personally would never take one of my step-kids to get ears pierced, hairstyle changed, mani-pedi, etc., without first giving my step-child the opportunity to experience it first with his/her mother. NOT because I’m “running it by her for permission”; but because I strongly support her relationship with her children, and I don’t want to pass up any opportunities for her kids to strengthen that relationship.

      I also provide and facilitate as many of those parenting opportunities as I can between the kids and their father.

      The framework for this forum needs to stop being about what the Mom wants, or the Dad, or the Step-parent; or whose “rights” are being encroached, or whose “time” it is, or who gets to be “the gatekeeper”; and it needs to start being about what children need, and what values we bring and uphold.

      • PostDivorceCoach


    • Anonymous

      “A suggestion is for the parents and step-parents to find common ground in the agreement that they want as much harmony and as little conflict as possible. Agreeing to a few sessions of joint co-parenting skill-building and interventions with a professional can help people move past perceptions of boundary infringment and feel comfortable in their respective roles.”

      This statement works if you are dealing with ex-spouses that are “normal.” This is not possible with a high-conflict ex-spouse. We tried the joint counseling sessions with my husband’s ex. She turned it into another forum for her to spew vile and hate and lies about my husband in front of the children. She accused him of awful things like child pornography and leaving the children vomiting on a sidewalk, obviously these things aren’t true.

      Some times co-parenting doesn’t work. It was these counseling sessions that led us to going No Contact with the ex-wife and we now Parallel Parent the children. We have since found a new counselor for the children who specializes in Borderline Personality Disorder and has encouraged my husband and I to parent the children as if the ex-wife does not exist. Ex-wife has not and will not ever be capable of co-parenting, nor will she ever actually parent the kids in a responsible manner.

      If anyone wonders, we tried to get full custody. We live in a non-progressive area where the “Golden Uterus” makes the rules. Even though we had black and white proof of the ex-wife’s inability to provide for the children properly and be a stable parent, we would have had a very expensive legal fight with a poor chance of winning ahead of us. With the kids being teenagers, DH chose to settle for 50/50 custody and hope for the best. Our attorney told us that DH’s ex was by far the worst ex she has ever dealt with in her 15+ years and if we had lived in the next county over, ex-wife would have been lucky to get every other weekend visitation.

      The legal system is broken and abused by mostly women and the judges that allow the “Golden Uterus” crap to go on even when it is NOT in the best interests of the children.

      • PostDivorceCoach

        Your situation sucks and when you are in that type of high conflict post divorce situation and you parallel parent, then obviously this article does not cover your type of experience.

        Your step kids are teenagers, and as teenagers, they can petition the court as to who they want to live with. Perhaps that is an avenue you should consider, if you haven’t already.

      • jean

        You have such vile comments about a bio mom. If it was not for he,r there would be no co parenting in the first place. Why must we paint bio moms with such an evil brush??

  • Anonymous

    I’m going to say it very plainly.

    Just because you are the bio-mom does not entitle you to every “special” moment. The demand for the BM’s approval is ridiculous. Get off your high horse already.

    I did not come from a divorced family, but there are plenty of things that I did that were “milestones” that were done without my mother present. I caught my first fish with my grandfather, taught to swim by my grandmother, taught to cook by my father, I might have even taken my first step with out my mother being there. *gasp* The horror!

    • PostDivorceCoach

      No one has said that every special moment needs to be the bio moms. We are talking courtesy here. There are things that are not worth fighting for or over. For instance, if my ex wants to take my daughter fishing or her step does go for it! Swimming go for it! Teach her to cook, go for it! Take her driving for the first time, go for it! Take her bra shopping go for it!

      But, before he puts her on Birth Control, I would expect that would be a conversation.

      Your parents were not divorced, completely different dynamic. Imagine if your daughter was put on birth control by her bio dad and you were not even told about it?? You can HONESTLY say you would be okay with that? I doubt it very much. In fact, if you are married and your husband put your child on birth control I doubt you would be okay with it if he didn’t discuss it with you first!

      Because you are a step mother, how do you handle things that would be considered milestones with your step daughter? Would you take her to get her ears pierced without asking the bio dad or letting the bio mother know? And, what is the custody situation you are in with your step children, as that has a lot to do with how things are handled.

      Instead of telling people to get off their high horse, telling us how it is handled in your situation is a far better comment and value add to this discussion.

      • Anonymous

        My husband did exactly that. SD asked for birth control, he took her to the Doctor to get it. Bio-mom was not informed, and actually she didn’t flip out about it when she was told by SD. If it were me as the BM in this situation I’d be upset with myself that my daughter didn’t feel comfortable enough to talk to me about it. It’s not the father’s (or step mother’s for that matter) fault the kid was more comfortable not asking her mother.

        I take the girls to do things all the time with out their father or mother being present. My husband took the girls to get their ears pierced when they were younger, no permission/ prior heads up.

        I guess maybe that’s where our PsychoExWife is different. She doesn’t actually give a shit about the kids. She lives to make DH’s life miserable by doing whatever she can to get as much money out him that she can. After CS hearings she will disappear for the next 2.5 years and leave the kids with us or their friends. Then a few months before the next hearing, she magically shows up trying to play Mother of the Year again.

        This is a direct quote from you Lee:

        “And, a mani/pedi is nothing more than paint that can be removed. It’s not about the paint though. It’s about the shared experiences. What if the mani/pedi is something the bio mom and child share and it is their “thing”, their time to spend together and chat? And, for that matter, why can’t the step mom ASK to be included?? ”

        Why does it have to be about the other parent? Why can’t it just be about the children? I’m sure the children aren’t going to sit there and go “Well I just can’t believe my Step-mom had the nerve to take me for a mani/pedi.” The kid is probably just excited to have done something with someone that cares about them. And I can tell you what, there are very few step-moms that would want to do something with the bio-mom. Why should the SM ask to be included on an activity? Do you call your step-kids mother and ask her to be included in her activities with the kids? Doubtful.

        Now, to answer your question. With things that are “milestones” for the kids I typically let the kids bring it up. My DH is trusting enough of me to make a good decision on things. I don’t need his permission to do something, for example get one of the kids a piercing, but I discuss it with him because we happen to be people who communicate well. I can guarantee you if I took the kids to get their navel pierced tomorrow, DH wouldn’t care one bit.

        • Biostep

          Perhaps the rules are different in your state, but unless your stepchild is over the age of 18, you (as a stepmother) cannot take them to get pierced. They need parental consent and unfortunately, most states do not recognize a stepparent as a parent. If your state is different, you’re lucky.

          • Anonymous

            Yes, that is the law in our state too, I was just making an example :)

            But I also have Power of Attorney to act on behalf of DH in any matter regarding the kids. We did that mostly so I could access school and medical records and things like.

          • Biostep

            POA is a good thing! Your BM sounds like she’s a handful. I don’t envy you.

          • ConfusedMom

            So you are a step-parent?
            So when you and your partner went for custody what kind did you get? My partner and I want to go for custody soon and I know wince I’m more of a mother than the BM I want to file for custody and rights for our daughter as well.

            What advice could you please share?

          • JBog

            I suppose technically that’s true, but in fact, I’ve taken both my bio kids as well as my step kids to do things that require parental consent, and frankly, nobody ever questioned or challenged me. I just showed up, signed the paper, and onward.

            Now I suppose if there had ever been a time that the bio-Mom had raised a fuss about it and wanted to come back and state that I had “illegally” signed the paper, then we would have dealt with that as it unfolded.

            But it’s been my experience that nobody has ever made a great big deal about consent. Not when I was “legitimately” the Mom, not when I was “getting away with something” as the Step-Mom.

            I realize this is way off-topic, just wanted to point out that sometimes things that seem like limits or rules really are not, in effect.

          • Stephanie Vaughan

            Again: YOUR NOT THEIR STEP-MOTHER! Your NOT married.You have to be MARRIED to be a “step-mom” get a ring on that finger or either stop lying by saying “I am a step-mom!” :)

          • nenedawn

            a ring doesnt make a parent a parent. the time energy and love i put into raising my kids is what makes me a parent. there are reasons two of my boys are not with bm. but do not tell me they arent my kids simply because me and their dad arent married. that is SHIT!! i take them to every doctors appt, practice, game, school event. bm knows about all of these things and chooses not to be present. they are MY KIDS with or without a damn ring

          • Lala

            You sure have a lot of hostility against JBog.

            I don’t give two sh!ts that I didn’t birth MY TWO DAUGHTERS, I put in the work, love, and attention JUST LIKE ANY OTHER PARENT. You tell me I’m not a “parent” because I didn’t birth them, or because I’m not married to their father, I will proceed to categorize you as a neantherthal.

            Am I the person with ultimate authority? no.

            Does BioMom/BioDad deserve common courtesy of running SOME THINGS by them? Of course!

            Will I undermine, or in ANY WAY usurp the role of BioMom? Negative, grasshopper.

            Will I stop being a parent because it makes you uneasy? HELL-TO-THE-NO.

            “Forget the hours of labor giving birth. You’re putting in YEARS of labor to raise your stepkids.”
            Please put that in your holier-than-thou pipe and smoke it.

          • Stephanie Vaughan

            I am a mother of TWO daughters and I RAISE MY BABIES! NO ONE OTHER “WOMAN” CAN TAKE THE PLACE OF A “REAL!!!!!!!!” MOTHER WHO CARRIED THAT BABY FOR NINE MONTHS.. if they have them “part time” THEY ARE NOT RAISING THEM.. their being “helpers”… THERE’S A LINE TO BE DRAWN.. AND I DREW MINE YEARS AGO! WITH MY EX WITH MY FIRST DAUGHTER! And that goes for MY husband as well! If your not a parent A REAL PARENT AS IN YOU GAVE BIRTH/SPERM HIT THE EGG TYPE ya know? LOL your NOT THE PARENT. UK sucks btw LOL.. get over it.. we won the war :P “CHEERS” TO YOU! PAL! lol

          • Stephanie Vaughan


        • PostDivorceCoach

          When I was in my previous marriage, I invited and asked the bio mom ALWAYS. It was her choice then to not be a part of celebrations for the children or life moments. Do I ask my kids step? No. She lives in another city, and has rebuffed all my efforts to become friends with her. I have no issue with her at all and don’t know her well enough to judge her, and neither do my kids for that matter.

          If your DH doesn’t care if you go and get his kids navel pierced, then kudos to you and him for being so open minded and easy going. Like I said in another response to you….

          Your situation is different in that you are dealing with an unstable bio mom who does not care about the children. Is that the norm? I don’t believe so, but have been known to be wrong!

          Here is my feeling….before doing anything drastic to a child, whether they want it or not, communication should be open and a discussion should be had. Should it go the bio moms way every time? No. But, these children belong to EVERYONE and because of that, before doing anything, let the other parent know. Is that so hard to do??

          • ConfusedMom

            Since I personally am dealing with a fake woman that doesn’t care about the child as much as herself I would have to say communication is a curtousy that needs to be earned. 
            All situations are different, of course. 
            If the bio-mother or father aren’t really apart of the child’s life except when they feel like it a couple times a year. Than no. I don’t think they should be included in anything. If they don’t have the time all year around to call in, visit or have anything to do with the child/children except to give them expensive gifts on holidays to suck up for missing out on their kids lives. Than they haven’t earned the right to be included in any decision.

            So communication is hard sometimes, because without respect earned no respect will be shown.

            I personally have no respect for the BM of my child. She doesn’t care about my child’s health and even after 7 years of my boyfriend, my daughters grandmother, myself and other family members asking even demanding she not smoke indoors while our daughter is around her SHE STILL DOES. WTF? She also did drugs and smoked while pregnant with all of her kids. My daughter has health problems because of that woman.
            She also doesn’t care about how her actions towards me affect our daughter. So nope. I will never feel I need to include that woman in anything.

            If my daughter wants birth control and she comes to me than that’s between me and her father because her father and I talk about everything. If for some reason she doesn’t talk to me about it than I do expect to be informed myself by whomever she does go to.
            If she wants a tattoo. Not til she’s 18!
            If she wants her face pierced do it while you’re in high school because the real world doesn’t like it.
            If she wants a car, that’s between me and her father and herself because I believe she should learn to earn things of that magnitude. 
            None of those things would I have or ever will feel the need to talk to the BM about since she doesn’t have enough time in her crappy life to be part of our daughters.

            She wasn’t there for over 4 years and she still is almost never in our daughters life. Some people just don’t deserve to be included if they can’t take the time to make themselves included.

          • Stephanie Vaughan

            You wrote this two years ago,however…. How do you know this woman “did drugs and smoked while she was pregnant”? WERE YOU THERE? Your not MARRIED to your “boyfriend” (as of this posting anyways… so your NOT the child’s parent nor do you have the RIGHT to call her your “daughter”.No matter what you say or do? HER MOTHER IS HER MOTHER.PERIOD.I have been in the situation where my ex-HUSBAND (I WAS MARRIED!) had a “girlfriend” that had another kid with him and ATTEMPTED to be my child’s “mommie” believe me… THAT NEVER SET WELL WITH ME! EVER! I was pulled out of my daughters life because of liars (mainly my ex and his parents) and we believe he paid off the judge.You can judge this woman all you want but YOUR NO BETTER THAN HER.We are ALL sinners and without the Blood of The Lord Jesus Christ? WE ARE ALL DOOMED..PERIOD.Grow up and try to “include” the MOTHER of this child in her life,or she will grow up and hate you for not doing so!

      • jean

        Amen to that!

      • Stacey

        I disagree about the birth control thing. Step mom here, with a 4.5 year old step daughter whom I love dearly. If she came to me, at 15, and asked if she could go on Birth Control, I would definatly say yes. Her mother knows nothing about birth control, seeing as she had her first child at 16, her second (my stepdaughter) at 18-19 and two more at 21. My husband had her at 19-20.. forget that, neither of them know anything about being safe during sex and it’s not going to stop my SD from being sexually active just because we don’t allow her to go onto the pill. I would rather give her all the information about safe sex and show her the proper ways to be safe about it (because someone needs to clearly, and her mother can’t) rather than saying no and she goes out and does it anyways and winds up pregnant.. no way am I going to allow that, with her or with my own. And if she were to get mad at me for doing this, I would explain exactly as I did.

    • jean

      Why such negative comments about bio moms ?

      • Stephanie Vaughan

        Because they are JEALOUS that they don’t have a child with the person and the child’s mother may still be on the dad’s minds.. that’s my personal opinion.I am not trying to be a troll on here I simply think it’s a sick world we live in when “step-moms” think they have a right over ANOTHER WOMAN’S CHILD,sorry “step-moms” but your NOT their mother nor will you truly ever be! Makes me sick.

        • Stacey

          Step mom here (actually too, MARRIED even though nothing changed once I got married.. I still do all the same things I did as just the gf)

          I am in NO WAY shape or form jealous of the baby mama (ftr thats what she is – my husband and her were never married) I find she is more jealous of me and the relationship I share with my SD. Just this weekend, she asked if she could call me mommy, and call her mom Stacey (my name)… don’t you think that’s sad and says a lot?? I find this to be true about a lot of BM’s too… no one is actually concerned about the innocent children (theres 4 in my situation – but my husband is only the father to 1 of them thankfully. Yes that’s right, she is 24 and has 4 kids by 3 different guys and lives off of welfare.) I had a really close relationship with her oldest child (7 now) and she won’t allow us to spend time with her anymore because she talks to me and confides in me about things that are going on at her place. She would cry when we would bring her back to her mothers house and ask why she couldn’t just stay with us. She laughs and thinks it’s funny (BM) when my SD doesn’t want to talk to her father because doesn’t want them to have a relationship.. doesn’t think it’s important. The other 3 kids’ fathers aren’t even involved at all in any of the childrens lives (I can see why – because she’s a crazy person) I AM SORRY BIO MOTHERS – BUT THE MOST IMPORTANT RELATIONSHIP IN A YOUNG GIRLS LIFE IS THE ONE SHE HAS WITH HER FATHER – THAT RELATIONSHIP WILL BE THE MARKER FOR EVERY SINGLE RELATIONSHIP SHE HAS WHEN SHE IS OLDER. Bio mom here didn’t have a father growing up, and it shows in every single thing she does. You would think she would want more for her children.

          Also, just you know, just because you gave birth to a child does not make you the mother. It’s so much more than that – and the sooner people realize that the better. It would make life so much better (for me at least) if she could be a mother so I didn’t have to be for her child. My SD is attached when she comes to us, I can’t even have a shower she is so starved for attention and it breaks my heart.

  • Olivia

    I know this post is from March, but I’m hoping maybe someone can link me to a blog that deal with being a step parent and the biological child basically doesn’t want anything to do with you.  When I married my husband I really thought that we could become a wonderfully blended family.  I met his ex wife we talked about that I didn’t want to be the child’s mom, because the mom already is here alive and well.  I really just wanted to be a friend, but it’s just a dysfunctional situation!  Are there any blogs out there where someone else may be in my same situation.  Or should I just say ok, that’s the way it is, and let it go? 

    • PostDivorceCoach

       There are actually lots of places that I can point you to!  Watch out for an email from me with some suggestions!

      • jean

        Great blog LeeBlock. I am a newcomer. I enjoyed the entire page! Wonderful!

  • Anonymous

    i want to know why the biological mom is GOD.  even when she abandons them.  and stepmom “adopts” them and raises them with love.  and then bio mom comes home after all the work is done and says “step aside, i’m back”.  that hurts.  and then proceeds to trash talk to the children about step so they will love bio mom again.  and she gets the glory and the spotlight after step mom did all the work.  and step mom gets brushed off like a used papertowel.  and now step mom is all alone with no children of her own.  and dad says nothing because bio mom is the “Mother of my Children”. 

    • PostDivorceCoach

      I don’t think the bio mom is God when she abandons the kids the step adopts them.  If by adopt you mean legally, and even if not, when a bio mom abandons the kids and the step has been raising them, then no amount of bad mouthing should be an issue when mom does come back.  Especially since mom should not have custody.

      As far as dad not saying anything, then that would be the step’s responsibility to talk to dad and tell dad what she is feeling.  Dad should be on her side.  Always.

    • ConfusedMom

      yeah WTF? that’s what I’m dealing with RIGHT NOW!
      The bio mother of my child got knocked up by another man, told my boyfriend it was his, cheated on him, than left the child with him and the grandmother to raise. The BM only saw our daughter because she herself was too immature to have a place of her own and lived with her parents that wanted to see their grandchild. So out of respect since my boyfriend is a nice guy, he took our daughter to her other grandparents house where the BM JUST SO HAPPENED TO BE.
      She was never a mother to our daughter and never came to visit even though she passed her house all the time going to and from work for years. She never took the time to visit her EVER.

      Than I come into the picture and she’s like “OH NO” and decides she’s the mom and the only mom and tries to tell me off. Now she’s like implanting it into our daughters brain that I’m not her mother only she is when the bitch doesn’t even have anything to do with her.

      My boyfriend and his whole family do nothing about it. They used to talk about how much of an awful person she is and crap, now they’re all nice and shit to her.

      I don’t get in fights or anything while around my daughter, but I don’t suck up to her like they do. Like FAKE FOR REAL? WTF? Don’t pretend she’s this great person just because after freaking 4 1/2 years she’s finally ready to be in our  child’s life. SHE STILL FREAKING ISN’T. She just now makes our daughter call her mom when she does rarely call or visit on holiday’s.

      Oh AND NOW after 7 years she’s demanding she get to take her 6 hours away from her father and me to her new house for spring and summer break. Sorry biotch, that’s our already planned time and has been for years. We’re also moving our daughter up here this summer, so she kinda can’t go 6 hours away from us.

      I do not trust that woman at all to let our daughter go stay with her ALONE for days or weeks. She already has an older kid that’s a total brat, that’s mean to our daughter and teaches her bad habbits. She also just had her third kid outside of a stable relationship AGAIN. So she has two kids living with her and her parents. This woman is unstable and has a sex/drug/drinking problem.

      Yet I know my boyfriend wont fight her about it. I know I will. There is NO way I’m letting her go to that womans house by herself.

      When we do have custody and there will be a visitation agreement of course. I want it so she has to be supervised or come visit her at our house. I just don’t trust her. She doesn’t have respect any way and smokes in the house in front of the kids and who knows what else… Even that womans parents smoke in the house… WTF people…?

  • Pingback: The Second Wife Syndrome

  • Lucky

    “If you are a step that has custody, then that is a whole other ballgame.  At that point, you are basically the mom.  You did not give birth to that child, but you may as well have.  When a step is with a child all the time, except for the odd weekend out, it is like you have an adopted child”     I find this statement deeply troubling. I think I understand that you were trying to make the point that custodial parents by necessity make more of the day to day decisions, but a custodial stepparent of either gender is by no means an adoptive parent or even their equivelant unless the biological parent’s rights have been terminated and there is no contact. That clearly would not be the case for “the odd weekend out.” 

    • Lucky

       This article seems to give the assumtion that if dad has custody that mom must be a royal screw up, and I think that does a disservice to NCPs everywhere. Someone has to have physical custody of the kids, and often times 50-50 is not reasonable. Therefore one parent having physical custody does not render the other inept, and implying otherwise is bad for everyone. I also feel that perpetuating the idea that “dad’s just don’t care” lets them off the hook far to easily, which is another one of the things moms (both married and divorced) have issues with. How can we simultaniously complain that dad doesn’t “step up to the plate” enough, and assume he doesn’t care or can’t make the right decision?

      • LeeBlock

        Tank you for your comment.  It does  not assume that, and in fact, I am very much in favor of the NCP and have had several articles written about them.  When dad doesn’t step up to the plate, by nature he doesn’t care and AVOIDS making any decision or just in general makes one that will appease his child, even though it might not be the right one.  There are some dads that are thoughtful enough to really put time and effort into what their children do, but not all.  This is about them.

    • LeeBlock

      Actually, you are wrong…he who raises the children more than 50% of the time has more say and influence than those that don’t.  That is just a fact and has nothing at all do with anything more than that.  It works both ways, ie if natural mom and a step dad, but this was about step mom’s, and there are many out there who get credit for being the ones that raise their step kids as if they are their own.

  • Tmg21

    I need help.  I dont know what to do or say anymore.  I am the mother of a 17 yr, old 18, dec. 1st.  Her dad took her over 3000 miles away from me,  without my permission,, for 5 years.  He also, remarried.  The stepmom took over as thier mother, not step mother.  Through all the brainwashing that went on, to make a story short, my kids repect her and not me. I am the step mother, in so many words..   I my sons 15 and 20, wont even talk to me anymore.  My daughter is here with me and my husband, because her stepmom had her bio father kick her out of house.  Three months later, my daughter, talks and treats me with so much direspect, but talks to her stepmom like she could do know wrong.  Oh by the way, step mom has a baby on the way.  A miracle child, thats when my daughter got kicked out of house.  I dont get it.     Please, anyone, help help help………………………..

    • LeeBlock

      Hi Tmg21.  Thanks for writing.   It is terrible to be alienated by your children.  It is also terrible that they have lived so far apart from you for the past 5 years.  It sounds like your daughter…the one living with you now…needs some therapy.  I would think about putting her in therapy to deal with the changes and the alienation.  It is important that you don’t get angry at your daughter for her feelings, but try to understand them and listen.  Don’t speak poorly about the step mother or the bio father.  But, do get her some help.

    • Daburuato

      I know how you feel.  My ex-husband and I share three sons and I have two other sons younger.  Their step-mother has always tried to interfer and when they were younger she didn’t what to acknowledge me as their mother.  She always refered to me by my first name when talking about me to them.  My older son had a baby three years ago and she always says my granddaughter.  I have tried over the years to be nice but now I am done with it.  She even will make comments on facebook when I write something on the boys’s wall, and we are not friends on facebook.  I don’t let it get to me anymore, we all refer to her as the snake.  I think there comes a time when you just have to let things go and not stress over it.  The boys are grown now and they see through her, but they still respect her.  I will say that she was good to them but has always and still to this day tries to put a wedge between me and my sons.  I only thing I can say is that I feel sorry for her and that she is only lack confidence, so she tries to put me down.  I only feel sorry for her now, no long anger. 

  • Supernana405

    what do i do when i have a 17 year old stepson who has always had everything done for him. He listens to nothing that is ask of him unless he wants something. I am married to his dad that tells him he cant do something or to do something but never sticks with what he has ask of him. His son cusses at him and wont pick up after hisself wont even flush a towlet. His dad isnt around much he is eathier at work, hunting or running around town or asleep on the couch. i am the stepmom here and feel like its wrong for me to be the only parent.

    • LeeBlock

      You are in a tough spot.  He is old enough to know better and the fact is some tough love is needed here.  You need to tough love with your husband and he needs to with your step son.  If he can’t, then you do.  If nothing else, respect should take place in your home, that is a common courtesy, and no matter how angry your SS is, respect should be given.

      • ConfusedMom

        I totally agree. Tell your husband things need to change and WILL. Than set rules together and make sure they are fallowed. If your husband can’t handle your son than it’s time you show some tough motherly love and put that teen in his place. Yes he will be pissed at first but once you show him who’s boss, respect will come once he matures a little. :)

  • ConfusedMom

    Hello, I just happened to come across this page. I have some questions that I would like peoples opinions on. I am having a difficult time right now and would love some feedback from people that might have more experience than my friends and family.

    So I’ve been with my soon to be husband for over 4 years now, and I’ve helped raise his daughter. She lives with her grandmother and has her whole life. She’s 7 now. Myself and my partner help raise her along side of his mother (the grandmother). Well since I am the other mother that cares for her I feel as though she’s mine. My Partner and I just bought a house 2 years ago because we’re trying to make a stable environment so we can move our daughter in with us FINALLY!

    Well about the same time him and I were looking for a home, the biomother decided after 4 1/2 years she thinks she can just pop into the picture and take all motherly rights and force her way into our lives and our daughters. I was not against her being in our daughters life just against how she was doing it. She forced our daughter to call her mom when our daughter really didn’t even know her. I was pissed if you couldn’t imagine. Here I had been this child’s mother for almost 2 1/2 years over half her life time and this woman gets all jealous cuz she hears about me and thinks she can tell me off and tell me I’m not the child’s mother and never will be and that she isn’t aloud to call me mom. When at that time we were kind of messing with that term. I love my daughter and I know she isn’t my birth-child, but besides legally not being my adopted child or birth child she feels like mine.

    Well over the last 1 1/2 years the BM calls sometimes and visits sometimes (and has tried to start crap with me a couple of times) and she still forces our daughter to call her mom (which now she’s used to). Well she was getting used to the idea of me being her mom than this woman comes into her life and confuses her (The BM and I had a fight on fathers day one year and after that she decided to come into the picture. I know it’s just to try and piss me off because every time she’s around me and my boyfriend she tries to bring up memories of them being together. B!#CH PLEASE! She’s the cheating wh0R3 that lost out when she cheated on him with some ugly dude probably for drugs. Like I could be jealous of her ugly nasty life… GROSS lol) She also neglects to think how her actions effect our daughter. During our first fight I told her to get over herself because we have to get along for our daughters sake and she told me “NO I DON’T” Now our daughter thinks I’m mean to the BM because the BM is a liar and talks shit about me behind my back to our daughter and my daughters grandmother. So I had to straighten that out and explain to my daughter what I said here without cursing. That I tried to befriend the BM but she was rude, disrespectful and refused to get along with me. 

    My poor baby girl… Now she doesn’t know why she has two mom’s and doesn’t feel comfortable calling me mom anymore. I know or at least have a strong feeling that the BM b!#ch has told her NOT to call me mom. The BM told me she wouldn’t let our daughter call me that because I’m not her mom. Well I’m the only other mom in her life all year around besides her grandmother and I was for years before she deiceded she was jealous of me and heard about me and wanted to stick her face back in our business. So yeah I am the mom! Birth mom or not, I am the mother and I’m frankly pissed anyone would say other wise.

    I believe since besides her grandmother, I am the other woman that raises her and I should be entitled to the mother title. Is it wrong for me to want that or tell my daughter I want her to call me that? I wont force it on her, but she’s going to be living with us soon and I would like that.
    I also feel my partner should at least help introduce that into our lives espesh after our daughter lives with us. Like instead of calling me by my first name calling me mom-(my name). Just to get her used to hearing me be called her mom again. We started doing that, but that fizzled off since for the past 8 months we haven’t had as many chances to make it in to visit our daughter as much. She lives 3 1/2 hours away in another state. My boyfriend his going for his CPA, working two jobs and I’m in school and working. So it’s been hecktic trying to make more money to get things ready for our daughters big move in with us. We used to go visit 2-3 weekends a month, but it’s more like once a month now or once every two months. It really sucks and since my boyfriend and I are the only two that called me  her mom she doesn’t hear it often and everyone else just calls me by my first name and tells her I’m not her real mom. It pisses me off, when she asks if I’m her mom everyone tells her I’m not (like her grandmother and aunt). WTF? They have no right and that question should be answered by telling our daughter to ask me or her father about that. Gosh I hate other people sometimes…

    What should I do, because I feel like his mom since she’s raised her all these years is against me being called her mom too. I’ve been in her life as much as I can and I’ve done everything I can as a part time mother. I’ve been there way more than the BM. She only comes into our daughters life one some holiday’s. She I confront my partners mom and demand her to tell me what her problem is? I feel like she wants to keep our daughter and not let us parent her or at least keep me away from her because she feels like her mom too. Which I can understand, but she can’t keep her, she’s our daughter and her grandchild. She needs to be a grandmother.

    I’m so confused I don’t even know if what I just wrote makes complete since… Can anyone give me advice?

    • ConfusedMom

      Also my boyfriend and the BM were never married. He also isn’t even the bio-father. The BM got knocked up right after having her first kid by another man. So she had a baby, messed around and got knocked up again, than met my boyfriend and told him it was his. So it’s a very confusing situation. So no divorce or anything. The BM just had the baby (our daughter) told my boyfriend it was his, cheated on him and left the baby with him. Than had almost nothing to do with our daughter until I came into the picture and still now she almost has nothing to do with her. She also never visits and just recently moved even further away from our daughter.

      So no divorce just a messed up situation, because of a cheating ho that can’t use condoms or BC… Some people need fixed. She also just had her third child by a third man that she isn’t even with any more… Gosh when will she learn to quit having kids and brining them into her effed up life. She almost went to jail  twice last year (lucky her, her dad bailed her out). AHHH! Frustration… Now I’m just ranting… Gotta stop now.

      Any way… My boyfriend and I are talking about getting married sooo…. we may get engaged soon! ^_^ I’m hoping he asks this year… On a happier note just because I like talking about it, I had to say that.

      We are planning on moving our daughter in with us this year, than filling for custody by the end of the year or early next year. We want her to live with us a while before we file so we have the upper hand because I’m afraid my boyfriends mom will try and not let us have custody since she’s raised her all these years. If I could have sooner I would have moved our daughter in with us years ago, but unfortunetly it’s a two way descision… My boyfriend has to be ready too and he wasn’t. He was young when he was TOLD she was his. He needed to grow up and get a good career going for himself. Now I think he’s almost ready. I am so he better hurry up LOL I already told him our daughter WILL be moving in with us this year because is freaking time she’s in a stable enviroment with her two parents instead of having like 6 people raise her… Poor kid… she’s so confused and bored living with old people lol. She loves her grammie and grandpa, but come on… 60+ year olds that are disabled and have no social life aren’t the most fun people to be around, let a lone LIVE WITH.

      I’m so excited I can’t wait. I love with she stays with us during school vacations. We get to do so much mother daughter stuff.

      She always has fun with me and her dad.

      • LeeBlock

         You need an attorney, because legally neither you nor your BF have any rights over this child. The truth is, that although you have been raising her, her bio mom is her only legitimate relative out of all of you and all she needs is DNA to prove it if she wants to take this child away at any time.  And, that means from the Grandmother as well.  If she isn’t interested in the child then get her to sign custody over to you legally with visitation for herself.  But, be sure you get it done LEGALLY.  Consult an attorney.

  • Kmjs9196

    I take offense to calling the bio Mom a “bitch”.  I also take offense to saying that if the Step-Mom has the child full-time then the bio-Mom doesn’t matter.  I have had physical custody of my son for 15 1/2 years.  My X started dating the person he is married to only because she was a para-legal and he new I had issues with her.  Early on when they were dating, she took my sons (I have a son from a previous marriage) swimming without my X and allowed them to get sun burnt so badly that they developed water blisters.  Not to mention purposely showing up to games in order to taunt me and create hostility.  They knew I do not handle confrontation very well and how to press my buttons.  They together have played a game in order to “WIN”.  Yes, it is my fault that I fell into their trap but felt that I had to fight for my children.  They are the ones that deserve a happy life.  They did not cause the divorce.  Due to faulty representation, I lost custody Jan. 27th, 2012.  I had documentation to prove they were playing games and lying but the Judge never got to hear it because my attorney was not organized and had not done his homework.  I honestly do NOT understand why our society has given step-parents rights.  My son is so afraid of my X that he doesn’t rock the boat.  Ultimately what EVERYONE is forgetting is that the CHILD is the one that is scarred for LIFE!

    • jean

      In my opinion, men change for the worst when they remarry. I have seen cases where the step mom  dominated and controlled the bio dad and filled his head with vile and contempt for the child’s mom. I have to wonder about a man like that and I wonder about a man who would want to get full custody of a child from his or her mom in the first place, after all she conceived, carried, birth, suckled and raised that child when dad was holding the remote. True, in most cases.What kind of man would do something so mean? Makes you wonder what our world is coming to.

  • hea

    This article is ridiculous! There is no mention of the dad. Why should everyone get permission from  the bio mom?

    • LeeBlock

       Did you notice the title of the article…it is about the MOTHER and STEP MOTHER. Not the dad.  That is why there is no mention of the dad. 

  • sharirose

    I think step moms that ignore their own children and want to claim a male step son that is very successful as “her son” has an issue.  I am not sure what it is but it is an issue. 

  • Holcombsfamily

    Can I ban my child’s step-mom from school functions?

  • Hart

    So, I have a question. My husband has joint legal and physical custody (50/50), in other words my step daughter is with us as much as she is with her bio mom. Before I came into the picture my husband took her to the dentist, doctor, dealt with the school etc. Now that we are married and I am a stay at home mome (I have two children as well), if it is our day then I take her instead of him taking off of work. Of course, it was fine with bio mom for him to do it but, now that I am she said I am over stepping my boundaries. That I should not be taking her to the doctor, participating in any extra curricular activities, volunteering at school etc. She has on multiple times emailed my husband saying “(daughter) is coughing you may want to take her to dr)” so we make an appt and I take her and bio mom gets pissed. Pretty much anything I do, I offend her in someway. My husband has tried talking to her, I have tried telling her look “I know I am not her real mom and (daughter) knows that – I just love her”  I have a daughter of my own so am I not supposed to paint my step daughters nails when I paint my daughters?? For example, today is her revue (she is with us) bio mom hasnt asked to have her so I will be the one to do her hair & makeup for the revue. But, when my stepdaughter asked if I could go back there to get her dressed for her revue – I told her I can see about going back there with your mom but I cant take her place – Stepdaughter responds well she did it last year and she brought me on stage late and didnt know how to fix my hair. What am I supposed to say or do?? Bio mom threw a hissy of course when she found out but, at rehearsal she asks my opionon on things and acts like my BFF. She told my husband that she is “talking to someone about this b.c it bothers her so much”. Bio mom has issues with drinking and depression, which is why my husband took on the “mommy role ” before. When biomom found out that we got engaged she told my husband “I thought everyone deserved a second chance, I guess we dont” They had been broken up (never married) for over 2years.  I feel like I am damned if I do damned if I dont. I would want my childrens step mom to love and care for my kids like they were hers. Even when I think everything is going smooth – she out of no where decides to have a hissy or even cries to my step daughter (7) about how she doesnt like that she loves me. Please help – I am at my witts end!!

  • concerned mother

    Ok to start my son’s father was probaly in his life a totle of 6 months out of about 4.5 years. My fiance had helped me rais my son from the age of 2. There was a change in the school district, and things changed in the fathers life, so I thought it would be a good idea for my boy to go to school from his fathers house since the school was closer even to us then where he got changed to. There were stipulations and verble agreements made between him and I about the school situation. Well in the meantime he had gotten married, and there have been nothing but problems, she makes all the decisions in their houshold, and she does all my sons fathers speaking for him. So there has been lying, sneaking, and she went as far as telling my son’s teacher not to e-mail me about his behavior and things that are going on in school. My son likes his stepmom so when he tells me things not realizing that they are wrong on her part I take his word. He has told me that she don’t give him breakfast, and that they don’t allow him to buy from school, (even though I give his father money to help with expences) there is no custody we never needed it. My son has come home and told me that she drills him with questions about our home, and then had drilled him about wanting to come back to my home full time, it has made him so upset that he would start balling about the situation even if is just brought up. I just recently found out that she has volenteered for one of his classed a couple days a week. Is she allowed to do that? I am going to go in to get leagal full custody because I feel my son is being mistreated in the home not physically, but definately mentally and deprived of full care he should be getting. Do I have the right to feel the way I do about things, and what should I do in the mean time?

  • Lynn

    @twitter-40929950:disqus – if the bio dad wants to handle one of those milestone moments, then the bio dad is more than welcome to do so, so long as HE is the one doing it. If the step mom is the one that’s going to take her shopping for the training bra then she should ask the mom first.

  • Rach

    Courtesy doesn’t do shit with our BM….only gives her more fuel. Screw that. She blew her chances a long time ago.

  • El

    Is it illegal for a step mother (whom is not married to the father) to take money from her step son (17yrs) to pay for food and to stay in the house? Even when she has no custody and is not the owner of the house? I don’t understand. She is making him pay £12.50 for food and to stay in a home that is not hers, and not the other 3 children, which are her own.

  • Sad to have wasted my time…

    I find it tragic that you would blow off the biological mother is she does not have full or primary custody and allow a step mother to consider herself as the mother. She is a step parent, PERIOD! There is no replacement of the biological mother – unless the BIO has chosen to step out. As for court cases gone ary, tell my children who live with thier father and a recovering meth head that this new step is thier mother and they would probably hit you. Absolute disrespect for the bio parent – regardless if mom or dad! There is no replacement!

  • smh

    i have one on the way and i fear that the women he left me for is trying to make it to where he has nothing to do with his child what do i do?

  • the good ju lie

    so what do you do when the bio mom is purposefully creating drama? when she sets up a conflict and claims ignorance. When her children are afraid to stand up for what they want because they dont’ want to risk her ire? When the bio mom is so self centered you are the one spending thousands of dollars to help the kids acheive what they want, hopes, dreams goals in your allotted amount of time – because every second you take off of work to drive your stepchild to a practice, a meet, a school event – she wants back because its her ” time”

  • anaranaz

    I think sometimes the courtesy comes down to a biomom respecting that her child is part of a family that does not include her, which means she is not a decision maker in day to day things. She is absolutely a decision maker in what happens during her parenting time, and she is a co-decision maker in matters relating to religion, medical care, and education (the things included in ‘joint legal custody’). However, as a courtesy (and more), it is helpful when she lets the other parent parent during his parenting time – w/o interference. And, the SM is an extension of him as the other parent. If the child needs a haircut and dad agrees, then it is ok to get the hair cut. If anyone is contacting anyone, it should be dad contacting BM but I don’t think a haircut warrants that, esp if BM doesn’t ask dad before getting the child’s hair cut. Some men do not parent and they leave this stuff up to their wives, the kids stepmom and she’s probably just doing the best she can. It would be courteous to allow her to do that when she is not breaking laws or putting the kids in danger. Sometimes courtesy means not sticking your nose where it doesn’t belong and, in divorced families, just b/c it involves your kid doesn’t mean it involves you.

  • kat

    Thankyou!!! Im a bio mum and a former step mum. My ex is a serial step mother picker upperer! (3 kids different mums.) The last step mother holds no respect for boundries and undermines me during access weekends. They are perfect for each other which is great and Im glad he has someone. But I flatly dislike what has occurred and I know he is NOT a leader but a follower. What she says he somehow invents and he writes as his own words.

    They are trying to convince my child about how unfair I am for not letting him live down with them 1 week on and with me 1 week. When in actual fact they agreed to every other weekend from friday to monday and every wednesday after school at court.

    Ive just be told that she insists that my child calls her Mum….

    Seems like they have plans. He would have adult cats if I insisted that our child called a boyfriend ‘dad.’ ugh!!!

  • Mari

    I have a daughter with my ex husband who is now remarried now I have set the bar of limitations to them both which are simple don’t cut her hair, dress her like a child not older then what she is step mom may put her in time out she is not to touch my child she may teach her things of use, but not try to teach her something I would not teach my daughter my self and most of all when my daughter goes with her dad he should be spending time with his daughter if he can’t then he should arrange to reschedule because she only goes over there for her dad not his wife.
    This is my issue I’ve tried to be understanding and even talked to the new wife thought we were on the same page well when my daughter is always saying that (step mom name ) is the one always putting her in time out never is it her dad and to top it off she took a shower with my child who is four yrs old this is where i draw the line why would she think it would be okay to do or even her dad knowing how I am when it comes to things like that?
    If I will not allow you to lay in the same bed as my child what makes her thing taking a shower with my child would be kosher?

  • diana

    What about when the biomom who has zero semblance of custody whatsoever…and who was just barely granted unsupervised visitation….takes her 6-year old daughter to get her ears pierced knowing full-well that the biodad’s rule is 8 years old? True story. We had to take the earrings out when she came back from her last visit. Why would a mom set her daughter up for disappointment.?

  • Kayleigh

    I can’t say I completely agree with this article. Not everyone fits in the box which you have described. I am a stepmom. For example, my SK’s mother not only cut my 10 year old stepson’s hair into an extreme mohawk, but she died it blue and black! She also colored my stepdaughter’s hair bright red. Like, flaming red. Did she ask my husband if it was ok? Not at all. He went to pick them up for our normally scheduled visitation and their hair was all crazy. IMO, that’s NOT OK. My 6 year old stepdaughter has wanted her hair cut for quite some time now, but her mom prefers her to have long hair – down to her butt – and will only trim it. At that point, I think it ok for my husband (not me) to take her for a cut. I took my 12 year old stepdaughter to get her first bra because she kept asking. She had asked her mom to take her several times and her mom always made up some excuse for why she couldn’t take her. I got sick of my stepdaughter asking and complaining, so I took her. We sent her mom pictures of the bras asking if she thought they were ok. Was she mad? You bet! But at that point I didn’t care.

    In a perfect world, divorced parents would ask the other parent, regardless of them being the mom or dad, if certain things were ok. Unfortunately I don’t live in such a world.