The Step-Parent Role

I had my first real rejection moment today, and it came at the hands of Curtis’ ex-wife. Nolan got in trouble at school today and when Curtis called to talk to their mom about it, she told him about all the things Nolan complains about when he’s at her house – most of them being me (how I yell at him, how I’m a terrible cook…) . The kids don’t say boo about what goes on at their mom’s place, but according to her, he comes in and right away tells her all about how horrible I am. I’m trying to take some of it with a grain of salt, she’s that kind of person and not known for her honesty – like according to her he said that we’re never home and that’s not true at all. At the same time, I know some of those things happened, and what he said has broken me a little bit today.

I find it hard to know what the step-parent role is. I’ve read all the articles about the 10 Things Never to do as a Stepmom and I try to take the advice that makes sense. For example, I try to let Curtis be the bearer of the punishment. And that’s all well and good, but what do you do when your 10-year-old stepson is screaming at you for reasons you don’t understand and he doesn’t listen to you? Last time I checked, making a joke about him helping with laundry if he’s bored wasn’t abusive. Well, I sent him to his room. Another time, he said he was bored and kept turning off the video game on his brothers and taking the controllers and trying to upset them. So I sent them outside to play and I told him he had to wait 5 minutes before he went outside. Then, I added a minute for every time he yelled at me after that. I could learn to keep my cool with him a little better and try to find out what’s wrong instead of reacting… and I think I NEED to do that… but where’s the line? So, in a perfect world, you are supposed to let their bio parent, well, parent… but what about when it’s just you and them? Are you supposed to be a doormat and just let it be until the “parent” returns? I am not a doormat. And today I am a hot mess at work and I wonder if I’m cut out to be a stepmom at all. What the eff did I get myself into and why did I think this was a good idea?

I think this is supposed to be some step-parenting, or even parenting, rite-of-passage and the way we deal with this will define our relationship going forward. I feel… betrayed. And all I can do right now is wonder how I’ll ever have a relationship with him again? How can I relax and have fun with him when I’m so worried about all of this? How will I ever make him respect me or listen to me? I have a few more days to stew about it while he is at his mom’s and he can tell his mom about how mean I was this morning, enforcing the “no iPad until you eat breakfast and are ready for school” rule we have. I also worry about what his mom is telling other people. I. Try. So. Hard…. I try so hard. I never wanted to be the Wicked Stepmom.

To quote Dear Evan Hanson… Does anybody have a map? Does anybody happen to know how the hell to do this?




3 thoughts on “The Step-Parent Role”

  1. Ooooo, that’s a tough one. Those tween years can be rough. However, his 10 yr old behavior is mean and pretty typical for a 10 yr old. I would personally set my boundaries with him. I would speak to him in a very real way and say. “I don’t appreciate they way you are speaking to me. I understand you are bored or upset but I am not going to allow you to yell at me/treat me with disrespect.” Say this with FULL eye contact. Then simply say, ” until you are ready to be respectful to me and your siblings, you can sit at the table (or in your room, etc… ). If there is something you want to talk to me about that is bothering you, I will listen. It’s your choice.” and leave his behavior up to him. That way you are not engaging in a power struggle, you are being honest about your feelings, and also setting a boundary. When I have done this, it has caught my step-daughter off guard and I could see her demeanor change quickly. It also de-escalated my emotions because I used my honesty and respect to help her manage her feelings by being an example – showing her how to share feelings and set boundaries (without yelling or blame). Good luck!!!!


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