10 thoughts on “Why many stepmoms feel stuck

  1. Thank you Jenna – I am in a relatively new relationship whilst I am not a stepmom – who knows where things may lead….

    Having no experience in this area I took to google for answers and stumbled across your blog.

    My partner has two kids. A guy with kids was never something I thought I would take on, but I am surprised at how OK I have been these two little humans being part of the package. The marriage ended a couple of years ago and their relationship quickly goes from amicable to toxic depending on the topic at hand…. The topic of me has been at both ends of the spectrum.

    What resonated for me so much with this post, was the feeling of being stuck. Already I have had moments of feeling stuck and I am all too well aware that we have not event scratched the surface. There is so much that is out of my control but after watching this post I feel a lot better about a conversation my partner and I recently had about boundaries and involvement.

    To date the kids mom has not let me meet the kids, yet in the time we have been dating she is now onto boyfriend number three and all have been very involved with the kids. My partner has recently put his foot down on the double standard to which she is now throwing up more and more hurdles and delays. It breaks my heart because they have an agreement and she continually ignores it. When he challenges her on that she cuts off his contact with the kids.

    Initially I was reluctant to speak up about how much the disrespectful things she was saying about me were hurting my feelings, in the fear that she would cut off his contact with the kids again. In the same breath she has also made a lot of suggestions about joint holidays, staying at their former marital home (if I am ever allowed to visit…) and her desire to be my friend. After I plucked up the courage to have the conversation, my partner fully supports my position, but I haven’t been able to shake the feeling that I may have overstepped the line. Watching your post, I am now sure that I was fair and well within my rights.

    Thank you again. Your blog is a treasure-trove of advice for this deer in the headlights!

  2. So I understand what you’re saying but my issue is with my 12 year old step daughter who does nothing all day, chores are not done, room is not clean! I know I can’t force her to do it but I am in control over the situation because if she does not complete these chores or what not, she has a consequence! Should I just stop making her do the chores all together? Because then I feel it’s more on me, I also have a nine year old and a one year old and work part time. If I just do not make her do the chores she kind of wins, she gets what she wants which is to not do the chores and have no consequences! I have no clue what to do?

    • Hi Jenna, I highly recommend you check out Love & Logic Parenting. IT’s all about giving children natural consequences for their behaviors and about NOT getting into power struggles with kids. There’s lots of free content on their website, and they have books relevant to school aged kids and teenagers. So in your situation, as you said, you can’t force her to do anything. She has a choice to do her chores. If she doesn’t do her chores, then there is a consequence. It might be she loses her phone for the afternoon. Or it might be that when she wants something from you, you deny her because you don’t have the energy b/c you had to do her chores. If you think about everything you do for her, all the things that she enjoys that are “extras,” which would be anything other than providing her with food, basic clothes and a house. So taking her to a friend’s, cooking her favorite meal, buying her special clothes or makeup, her phone, etc… You can withhold all of those from her, but you do it in a loving way. “No, I’m sorry, I can’t take you/buy you/etc… today because I’m just too tired from doing your chores.” Another example when she asks for something is to say “Sure, I’m happy to do x, y and z for you after you do your chores.” And if you’re getting full resistance from her, think about cutting back on her responsibilities slightly, so she feels they’re doable. For example, I always recommend NOT making kids clean their rooms if it turns in to a full-fledged war. Just close her door. It’s also best if her chores are just part of the house rules, so you’re not a nag or seen as the bad guy. Your partner can state the house rules at a family meeting with everyone there. She should also be given an opportunity to help create the house rules, so she feels like she has a voice. Also, you didn’t mention your partner, I hope he’s around to support you and enforce these rules. Good luck! 🙂

  3. I am feeling stuck!!!! Stuck to the point that I am ready to leave our 7 year marriage. I married my husband 7 years ago ( I have 2 kids – 16 & 13 at the time (they are now grown and out of the house) and his son was 12 at the time) I came from a blended family so I knew what I did not want to have happen – I believed we could work all together and dine together – kids do chores – vacation together … yeah that never happened! My kids did the chores – his son NEVER has done any and he did and does not respectt me in that manner. Fast forward – the step son is 19 … lives upstairs – lives like a hermit/pig – doesn’t bring his dishes downstairs – leaves food on them – there are times we have no plates/bowls/spoons because they are upstairs … urinates in plastic bottles cuz he is too lazy to come downstairs. Just disgusting!!! I have talked to my husband numerous times about this and even though he says he will talk to him – the son doesn’t even respect his dad enough to listen and abide by the rules of the home. The stepson had a parking ticket from the college he went to against our vehicle (10.00 mind you) he had over a year to pay it … still hasn’t and now our registration for our cars are suspended because he won’t pay this parking ticket. I truly am at my witts end .. this boy has never connected with the family, his father always “delivers” his meals to him upstairs (still cooks for him at midnight because that’s when the kid wants to eat). His father enables him and I don’t see anything changing nor do I see him moving out of the house at anytime – he has a part-time job and that’s it.
    I love my husband but I don’t know that I can live this way much longer. Do you have any tips?

    • Hi Marlyn, I’m so sorry. You absolutely should NOT have to live like that. My only suggestion other than leaving would be to consider living in separate houses but staying married. It’s not ideal, obviously, but I do know couples who have done this and it saved their marriages. Imagine yourself in your own wonderful environment, never having to worry about him – when the stepson no longer affects you, you don’t have to even think about him. No more getting stressed, feeling disrespected, arguing with your partner about him, etc… You absolutely could have your own place and remain married. It’s not conventional, but it’s an alternative to divorce. 🙂

      • Jenna: thank you – that is a good idea. I did leave once – but because my husband was way too controlling over me. I moved back and that entire issue resolved itself (not sure how) but happy to say it has never reared its ugly head.

        That could maybe save us …. spending quality time again free of issues would be helpful.

        Its such a tough subject because I don’t like to say “your son this and your son that”. Do you have any tips on how to broach the subject or just flat out say I can’t live this way anymore? I am getting my own place – we will not divorce and can date and be the couple we once were without the stress?
        I am almost 60 years old and I want to live out my life happy .. this is not happy 🙁

        Thanks for listening!


        • Absolutely, Marlyn, just make it about YOU. So something like, “There are certain things that really affect the quality of my life. Our house is supposed to be where I feel safest and for that I need it to be a level of cleanliness, I need it to not cause me extra stress (just tell him what you need “I need x, in order to feel y.”). I love you so much and I know you’re doing your best, but I just can’t live in this house anymore with the way stepson lives. I don’t want to divorce, so the only way I see to save our marriage is for me to move out. With me in my own house I’ll no longer be stressed about x,y and z. I’ll no longer nag you about it, we won’t be fighting about it, etc… We’ll be able to enjoy ourselves and our marriage. If he argues, just tell him this is what you must do. You absolutely cannot stay in that house, the way it is, anymore. Hope that helps! 🙂

  4. Thanks so much for this post! I often feel stuck. I got married a year ago and have 3 teenage stepchildren..I love them, but it’s hard. I need to change my inner-self and what I expect! I never thought about it the way you said it.

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