Unexpectedly just became a step-mum. Advice?

posted 3 years ago in Relationships
Post # 2
Member
9137 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 2013 - St. Augustine Beach, FL

nessdawwg:  Look up info on co-parenting and bonus parents.  It’s a style of parenting that encourages separated households to work together when raising children. Best rule to remember is that you’re not mom but you are a bonus parent, an extra person who cares about your SO’s child.  You definitely need to establish household rules that you both agree on and the punishments you are allowed to enforce.  You don’t want to end up a glorified babysitter (i.e. responsible for caregiving but no ability to discipline.)

Other than that, since your soon-to-be stepchild is 7 and your SO has not yet established a relationship with him, you’ll need to go slower than normal with stepkids.  Your SO has not had the benefit of 7 years to raise this child and know their temperament or what sort of rewards/punishment work.

Family counseling with and without the child is super important based on the unusual circumstances you and your SO are facing due to the child’s mother keeping the child a secret for the entirety of the child’s life up to this point.

Post # 3
Member
1377 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2015

I wanted to share a stepchild’s perspective with you. Granted, my biological mom is horrendous on many levels, but it might still apply.

 

My parents divorced when I was less than one year old. My step mom was there from the time I was about 2 on. I don’t remember ever thinking that she wasn’t equally as in charge as my dad. She never asked me to call her mom, I just started doing so because it felt natural. She has also never made me feel that I am not equally her child, though I am not technically her blood. 

I think that’s some of the most important things. To the child, it is very disruptive and even scary if you don’t know what’s going on, who to trust, and who is the authority that you can go to. At the same time, it’s important to not be too forceful, especially I would say in this case. Like PP said, you haven’t had the luxury of knowing this child for any length of time. I would say to make sure that all rules are constant (I did not have that luxury, and it was downright confusing as a small child), you are still an authority, and also that you can be someone that he can go to, and feels safe with – basically, that the door is always open, but he is not forced to enter, if that makes sense. 

 

I agree with PP that counseling would be beneficial. It’s a neutral environment that concerns can easily be raised in, and discussed. 

Post # 4
Member
246 posts
Helper bee

My mother found out about my half-brother several years into her marriage with my father (he’d disputed paternity). I only found out even more years later how devastated she had been with the news, maybe my brother knows better but growing up I felt she treated us the same, and onlookers didn’t know we were half-siblings unless it was brought to their attention (e.g “Where’s the boy?” “Oh, he went to visit his mother for the holidays”). We siblings definitely feel like full-siblings having lived together all these years.

My advice is to think how you would treat a niece or nephew you’re “adopting” because their parents can’t take of them anymore (death, jail, sickness etc), and treat the boy that way. He’s welcome, going to be loved, going to be disciplined, going to be raised to be a productive member of society.

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