Ashamed, Frightened – No Way Out!

I have been a stepmother now for nearly 7 years and I have to say it has never been an easy path.  First I was accused of being the “other woman” – I wasn’t!  Then I was accused of trying to do “too much” for my stepson because I wanted to attend parents’ evening at school.

I’m the one who has to pick him up from school and care for him when he’s sick, not his mother – she’s “too busy” at work.  I’m the one who has to speak to the teachers when he gets bullied and now that I’m at stay at home mum to my own babies I have to look after him during the school holidays because Mum is too busy with work/going away etc etc.  Notice a pattern yet?

Unfortunately, as my stepson has grown up (nearly 10 now) our relationship has become more and more strained as he seems to turn into his mother more and more each day.  He is the laziest peson I know and always has been, the only person he ever thinks about is himself.  He gives me the dirtiest of looks if I speak to him, he shows no interest in his younger siblings other than to tell them what they can and can’t do and I have to say that I resent having to spend time with him.  I feel totally ashamed to say it, that’s why I’m placing this post on an anonymous site because I don’t feel I can talk to anyone about it who knows me. 

I have always prided myself on being really good with children and being a good mum.  I consider myself to be a caring person but sometimes there are people that you just don’t gel with and I hate to say it but my stepson is one of those people.  We just seem to clash on just about everything.  Sometimes I think it’s just because of his age and he’s probably being no different with me than he is with his own Mum but then I feel guilty for feeling the way that I do about him.  Would I feel differently about his behaviour if he were my own?  I sometimes find myself telling my daughter off for something really petty just because I’m mad at him but don’t want to be accused of picking on him and I know that’s not fair on her.  When he isn’t with us our house is a very happy place, we all get on well and have lots of fun but the minute he sets foot in the house, arguments break out, the house becomes a mess and the air can be cut with a knife.  I can’t talk to my husband about it because he is his son and I would expect him to back him up even though he has said himself that he finds him hard work, then I take the opposite foot and feel cross with my husband that he isn’t supporting his son more.

I am due to give birth in a couple of months’ time to my first baby boy.  If he is more than a couple of days late he will be the same birth sign as my stepson and I’m scared to death that I will have the same relationship with him.  Of all the star sign, my stepson is the one that I clash with and I’m so frightened that my own little boy will be the same.  What if I can’t get on with my own son, I feel like a complete failure and there is nothing that I can do about it.  I love my husband dearly and our family life, his son isn’t going anywhere so I just have to live with it but its tearing me up inside.

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21 Responses to “Ashamed, Frightened – No Way Out!”


  1. 1 Anonymous August 31, 2010 at 8:21 am

    I’m so sorry you’re feeling like this. It must be very hard. A few things struck me about your post – your obvious love for your children and your husband and your mixed feelings about your stepson. I can see you’re trying to do your best by him and everyone. If you could imagine you’re him for a moment – a 10 year old boy who has seen his parents split up – even though it was a long time ago he’s probably still affected by it. He has to come to a different house, which me might not always want to, he knows he’s the cause of arguments, he must feel it. He knows there’s a new baby on the way so he’ll feel even more displaced. He is just being a child. Of course if you have brought up yours to pick up after themselves you will see him as being lazy but that’s what he’s been taught at his home. Could you gently explain you have different rules when he’s at yours?

    Lastly, please don’t set any store by the stars thing. Even if you believe in it, a certain star sign does not mean a situation will he repeated or played out. We are all very different. Please don’t let this blight your relationship with him or your new baby. Wishing you lots of luck in a difficult situation.

    • 2 The Masked Mummy September 9, 2010 at 9:16 pm

      Thank you for your support, I’m pleased to say that things have improved “slightly” since my post. That was a particularly bad day when I wrote that and it hasn’t been anywhere near that bad since.

      We have always had a “see-saw” relationship, good one minute, bad the next. I used to take him out on my own to do things which helped our relationship lots but since I have been pregnant this time I have found it difficult to find things to do that keep him entertained and that I can do in my current state. hopefully post pregnancy I will be able to do this again as I fear it is what we really need – a bit of bonding time.

      We do have “house rules” which we have written with him but he generally only sticks to them for a week at a time. I will keep plodding on.

  2. 3 Beckicklesie August 31, 2010 at 8:34 am

    Thankyou for sharing this. I have linked to this post on my facebook and twitter. Hopefully it will help comfort someone else who is in a similar situation to yourself.

    I hope things pick up for you. It must be terribly difficult because there are unspoken rules and regulations you have to adhere to when a child isn’t yours. No matter how close your relationship is or how long you’ve known the child and in whatever capacity.

    I desperately hope it is his age and that he “grows out of it”. Children can be little sods. Especially when they start developing an attitude.

    Big hugs xx

    • 4 The Masked Mummy September 9, 2010 at 9:19 pm

      Thank you for your kind words – it is very difficult being a stepmum but it is also something which I went into with my eyes wide open. I always knew there would be tough times, and it would seem that lately has been a particularly tough time. Probably not helped by my hormones etc.

      As I have said in a previous response, I’m hoping that once baby is here I can resume spending “special time” with just my stepson where we can try bonding again. We used to be good friends and he used to call me “mummy” much to his mother’s dismay but I feel that we have lost our way a little.

      I think I need to be the adult and take the lead – things WILL get better x

  3. 5 Luschka @ Diary of a First Child August 31, 2010 at 8:49 am

    I have absolutely no experience with this kind of thing at all, but the thought I did have is that you are going to HAVE to sit down and talk to your husband about it – with another child on the way, you can’t afford for the stress to get too much. Is there no way his mother can pick up some of the slack? I get that she’s very busy working and all, but he’s her son! Either she has to take some of the responsibility or your husband has to come up with another solution. I see no reason why you should have to bottle everything up. Of course, it’s your situation and your life, but I’d strongly suggest a serious heart to heart with your husband.

    • 6 The Masked Mummy September 9, 2010 at 9:23 pm

      Thank you – I have tried this on a number of occasions but sadly my Husband seems to have a “fear” of his ex-wife. She very much calls the shots when it comes to my stepson – even to the point that we have and my in-laws have come back from holidays 1-2 days early because she has decided that he has been away too long.

      Its not acceptable but she has this ability to make them all crumble and think that she will stop their access to him. She cannot do it as she has nothing over them to say that they are detrimental to him – in fact I would say that as a family we are more supportive and do more for him than she does but still, they have this fear of the legal system that it is always the mothers who get the control.

      I guess only time will tell!

  4. 7 Liz (LivingwithKids) August 31, 2010 at 8:49 am

    It seems to me that you’re being a mother to this boy in all respects except one: you’re not showing him any love. I think your stepson is probably picking up on your attitude towards him and is projecting it back to you. What that boy needs is to know that someone loves him and cares for him, unconditionally, and if that’s not you then his father needs to be much more involved and help prevent any feelings of jealousy or resentment he may have towards the new baby. You say he’s nearly 10 now – that’s really not very big, is it? As far as helping out/picking things up goes – well, I’m afraid that’s just boys. Try to put yourself in his shoes and imagine how he must feel. As far as the horoscope thing goes – I think you must know deep down that the stars have little or no bearing on personality. Environment makes us the human beings we are and that’s why you as a step parent have a responsibility to help creating a loving home for your stepson. Try to let that little boy into your heart and I’m sure you will find he becomes much more loveable. And if you really feel you can’t control your feelings of hostility towards your stepson, I would urge you to consider family therapy.

    • 8 The Masked Mummy September 9, 2010 at 9:28 pm

      Of all the comments on this post, I have to say, yours upset me the most because it hit a nerve and made me sit up and see the light. You are totally right, I have not been showing him love and when I read my post back I could see how you would come to that conclusion. The stupid thing is, I do love him and care for him very much. I have raised him from being a 2 year old cutie to the boy he is now and to some degree I blame myself for the way that he is. The problem is, I have let my resentment for his mother, spill over to him – which isn’t fair.

      He IS a very difficult child, my husband and all of his family testify to that, but that shouldn’t make me love him any less. We should all be trying to support him. Since reading your response, I have made an active effort to try to get back some of what we once had. I have made time to sit down with him alone and discuss his day, read a bedtime story and just have a cuddle. It’s working slowly, I can feel our relationship softening and yesterday he came to me with his “jack sparrow compass” – he said, you know how this is supposed to take you to where you want to be? well it brought me to you – I cried!

      So thank you for your words, at the time they wasn’t what I wanted to hear, but I think they were what I NEEDED to hear!

  5. 9 Teresa August 31, 2010 at 8:52 am

    I have a stepdaughter who is 10 and her mother is the same. She clears off to Dubai every month for a 10 day holiday and it’s me who has stepdaughter whenever she’s off school poorly or it’s school holidays. I have two sons aged 10 and 9 but we all get on really well.
    I don’t say anything to stepdaughter but she’s worked it out herself that I’m there for her whether it’s watching school sports day, parents evening, etc and her mum is always preoccupied with herself.
    I have had moments where I’m glad she’s not here but I don’t anymore. I can only assume your stepson is having his head filled with all this hatred from the person who’s never there for him – his mother. Don’t worry though it won’t be long before he works it all out. Just don’t blame him, he is only a child albeit a bit confused and hurt.

    • 10 The Masked Mummy September 9, 2010 at 9:32 pm

      A few step-parents who I have spoken to have said similar things, the children will work it out for themselves. When you’re in the situation though its sometimes too close to see what is going on.

      I have such conflicting feelings towards him, I feel sorry for him and the situation he is in (can’t imagine how he must feel), I love him like he’s my own but yet I’m reminded often by others that “he’s not yours” and then I feel resentful. I need to remind myself that he is just a child and I’m supposed to be the adult.

      Thank you x

  6. 11 Michelle Twin Mum August 31, 2010 at 8:55 am

    Gosh, I can not even begin to imagine. ((((hugs)))) I do not mean to sound flip but remember that things may seem worse at the moment as you are heavily PG.

    It seems to me as if you really need to speak to your husband and be very honest. If you don’t it could cuild a barrier between you. If you approach it right and just keep re-iterating how much you love his son and want it to work he will have to see that you bring the conversation about in the hope of good coming out of it.

    As for your own son, every person is different. Some people of one sign I get on with and the others of the same sign I totally do not. My personal view is that star signs should be taken with a pinch of salt. You love your children and will love your new son too.

    I really feel for you at the moment and hope you can find some peace in the final stages of yoru PG.#

    Mich x

    • 12 The Masked Mummy September 9, 2010 at 9:36 pm

      Thank you – I know that you are right, my hormones are NOT helping matters at all. However, things are starting to ease between us – mainly because I’ve sat back and taken a good look at myself and realised I needed to have words with myself.

      I have spoken to my husband, but he’s one of those males that just says “I don’t know what the answer is” – I’m sorry to say he just wants the easy life when it comes to his son, so he’ll go with whoever shouts loudest, usually the ex-wife!

  7. 13 Mummy's Little Monkey (@Jax2000) August 31, 2010 at 8:58 am

    What an awkward situation for you.

    Do you think he senses that his Mum picks and chooses the times she wants to spend with him? Sound like he’s taking it out on the person nearest to him which, unfortunately, happens to be you!

    I think you have every right to feel frustrated, and a little resentful. One day he will realise everything you have done for him, but unfortunately that’s probably still a long way off.

    Is it an option to start disciplining him more strongly, or will that just create even more waves with your hubby and his ex???

    Good luck with your new arrival. xx

    • 14 The Masked Mummy September 9, 2010 at 9:40 pm

      Thank you – I have had a minor breakthrough with regards to the Ex-wife in that finally she has worked out that it is better to go through me when making arrangements has OH is so useless he forgets what he’s arranged with either of us or just gets it totally wrong. This seems to have had a more positive effect on all of us as now we all know where we stand. I still think she is a “pants” mum to her son but as you say, hopefully my SS will work this out for himself in years to come.

      In the meantime, I need to work on my relationship with him. In the past when we went through troubled times, I would make the effort to spend a Saturday morning just with him doing something he enjoyed but as he is older and I’m pregnant we have found it increasingly difficult to find a task which suits us both so they have been forgotten. I have promised him that when baby is here we will go back to having our “special time” together so hopefully this will improve matters a bit.

      Thank you xx

  8. 15 Susie August 31, 2010 at 9:03 am

    That’s loaded and you have so much going on emotionally and physically.

    First, while I believe our souls plan our birth date, the actual sign is not the end all. There are different days, minutes and ever person born is a different person with different influences. I think that is just another thing that you are “using” because of all your tough emotions.

    What I see is this:

    -You are resentful because you are being dumped on by your husband’s ex. She has life as normal and you need to pick up her slack. (and hubby’s because he is his child)

    -Not only are you being dumped on, it is not appreciated and you are even antagonized by hubby’s ex.

    -You are worried about this child’s affect on your family
    life. He is negative and it seems a bit toxic right now. (Will address that later)

    -Because he is not your birth child you feel you need to treat him differently.

    -You are pregnant and hormonal-that also plays into all of this.

    -Raising a child like this is stressful.

    There is probably more but those are the main points.

    A few things. First realize that children that behave like this are hurting. Imagine being shuttled between two houses. Living with a mother who is obviously resentful of the father’s new life and you can bet your bottom dollar that the son hears and knows this.

    He also sees his father having had new children and moving on without him. He does know his place. This is a child looking for a promise of love and looking for limits to be set on his behaviour. Children at this age need limits as much as they protest they don’t want them.

    You need to let your husband know all the turmoil going inside of you. Maybe even be brave enough to let him read this post and comments. He is the one that needs to be there to support you and to provide his son the love and stability his son yearns for. The two of you need to be on the same page and need to back each other up. You need to work together not worried about what the other thinks. In the end you both want what is best for this boy.

    You need professional help. This child needs to be evaluated-maybe he has other issues going on. Maybe there are learning disabilities. Even if there aren’t you need someone professional to tell you what you need to do. There are also great parents’ groups for teaching parents how to cope and do the best parenting they can. I don’t know where you are but look into this:

    http://www.thekidscoach.org.uk/

    I think you might really enjoy the book Infinite Possibilities by Mike Dooley.

    Lots of hugs and please contact me if you want to chat more.

  9. 16 Susie August 31, 2010 at 9:10 am

    I meant to say ” He DOESN’T know his place. This is a child looking for a promise of love and looking for limits to be set on his behaviour.

    I also agree with Liz that this child is probably not feeling that much love from you-not once did you mention anything good about him.

    You need to get over your feelings of anger and resentment and clear way for some love to show through. until you deal with your feeling sin the most honest of ways and work hard on them, the love won’t be able to shine through.

    And since you believe in stars and all i will leave you with this thought.

    I believe kids souls choose their parents. This child chose his biological parents and you. Our souls make pre birth pacts with each other to help us learn the things our souls want to learn. Your soul and this boy’s soul have a pre-birth contract. He is here to teach you something your soul asked to learn and you are there to teach him something he asked to learn. Maybe he came to teach you to find love despite struggle, maybe he asked you to teach him about unconditional love. Just a thought.

  10. 17 jfb57 August 31, 2010 at 9:19 am

    Susie’s comment has it all. I do hope you will be able to work something out. Perhaps the new baby will give you all something new to build a new relationship on. I was a step-mother & it is one of the most difficult jobs in the world so it is not just you!

  11. 18 Wendy August 31, 2010 at 10:03 am

    I think you’re very brave to not only write this, but actually evaluate your own feelings. I agree with a lot of the comments here. I don’t know your situation except for what you’ve written here, but I can offer insight from the other point of view.

    Is it possible the boy’s mother wants to spend more time with him, but has to work so much in order to provide for him? Or even that she needs to work because of her own personal need to keep her career going? Of course, we all need and want to put our children first, but I’m sure she’s also thinking of her own future. Retirement maybe? Or sending him to college? Are his times with you all scheduled and regular? If she’s going away when he’s already scheduled to be with you, that’s not only acceptable, but necessary! I have one son from a previous relationship (Noah’s 8) and 2 from my recently divorced ex (Tess is 5 and Tripp is 2). The father of my 2 youngest refuses to get them on the same weekend as the other. It really hurts my feelings that I’m expected to be on call 24/7 with absolutely NO break at all, while the dad’s only have to BE the dad 8 days a month. And when I talked to them about it? I was accused of not wanting to be there for my kids. It’s not that at all! It’s hard to be a mom! It’s even harder when you’re a single mom. You know what they say. In order to take care of other people, you first have to take care of yourself.

    As far as your stepson goes… I agree that he seems to feel hurt and is surely picking up on your feelings toward him. I agree that you should talk to your husband, but do not go to him complaining about how terrible his kid is. I would recommend you spending individual time with your stepson. Take him out somewhere. The park, the movies, whatever. But he needs to know that YOU love him. I’m willing to bet my life savings (oh. Yeah. I’m a single mom. I have no life savings. What am I thinking) that after a few times, you learn he’s actually a great and interesting kid when he’s not in such a tense situation. Have your husband do the same with him. Of course, this also means you’ll need to spend individual time with your own children, but they also need it.

    Think how your stepson feels. Is he an only child at his mother’s home? Imagine being home and things are quiet and peaceful and NORMAL. Then you get “shuttled off” to this other home with other kids, other rules, other peoples ideas of how things are. Being a kid is kind of like having a job. Imagine one job where you’re one on one and even if you aren’t the boss, you have a pretty strong influence over what happens. Your other job, though, the one you don’t even like in the first place, you’re in a cubicle with dozens of other people and have zero influence. He’s acting out, getting negative attention, because he wants positive attention.

    You’re going to be just fine. It’s great that you recognize your feelings, and realize they aren’t the best things. But instead of saying you’re ashamed and frightened and have no way out, find a solution to the problem! You can TOTALLY do this.

  12. 19 Wendy August 31, 2010 at 10:09 am

    Ugh. It turned my 8 into a smiley. lol. Noah is 8. He is also a very cool kid, so it’s fitting.

  13. 20 Him Up North August 31, 2010 at 10:11 am

    The part about your post which jumped out at me was the bit about not being able to talk to your husband, the boy’s father, about it. Yes, it is his son. But he is also your husband, and the father of your baby. I think your reticence to talk to him needs to be overcome. Make your feelings clear.

    As for the boy, I’m finding 10 years old to be an interesting age. My 10YO is very different from the boy of only a year or so ago. He constantly questions every decision, could sulk for Britain and everything is unfair. I call it early onset teens. Your stepson is old enough to realise the difficult family dynamic and is using it to create friction points. Because he can.

    In such circumstances, it is vital that parents present a united front. Best of luck with your new baby and for the future.

  14. 21 Naomi August 31, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    First of all do not believe in star signs. Secondly every child as you know is different. The one you are expecting may be totally different from your step-son mainly because you will be raising him. You did not have any influence over the way your step-son was raised in the early years.
    I am sure it is hard for all of you. Can I suggest like him up north that you chat to your husband about the issue you are having so it is a problem shared. He may have some ideas about how you can break down a few barriers. I know it is very hard with step-children and I also know 10 year old are starting to go through ‘that’ change. You have addressed so many issues here – his mum. your relationship with him etc. I think you need to find out what is going on in his head and help him through it if thats at all possible. I bet his head is whirring with questions, confusion, frustration and anger. Don’t second guess him. Finally if I can help I will and you are not a failure. I am sure you are doing the best job possible – there is only so much you can do.


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