Another View on the Stepmom’s Bill of Rights

by Carolyn on January 18, 2010

The Bill of Rights

I love the work that Jacque Fletcher does on her blog “Becoming a Stepmom“.  I did an interview with her (which by the way didn’t feel like an interview at all) where she made me so comfortable that I would have told her anything.  And she has written a wonderful book entitled “The Career Girl’s Guide to Becoming a Stepmom”, which I consider a ‘must read’ for any woman considering the role of step mothering.  There hasn’t been a single thing I’ve read from her that I disagreed with.

There are a small handful of stepmom bloggers like her.  Erin, Izzy Rose, Peggy Nolan and Laura are the ones that immediately come to mind.  They are similar in that they all have something in common beyond being stepmothers, for they are also grown children of divorce.  I’ve often wondered why there aren’t more blogs out there like mine.  I am sort of an anomaly.  But the truth is that bloggers write what they live.  It’s really the only way to sustain us post after post.  And most of us ACOD’s have grown into professionals, spouses, parents and step parents; which makes for much more common blog chatter than mine.

But I find the stepmother blogging collective can get a little…..negative, at times.  And although I try to be sensitive and open to understanding the difficulties of that role, I have no first hand experience to really weigh in on any of it.  What I really love about the bloggers I mentioned above and especially Jacque, is that when they weigh in, their views are not just tempered by being children of divorce but also reflect a deeper understanding of the entire step family dynamic.  These women are pioneers, not in step motherhood per se, but in step mothering with the advantage of having lived within the role of step child too.  Their shared experiences and published works are something that all of us members of step families are lucky to have as reference.

Jacque wrote something last week that really made me sit up and take notice.  She wrote a courageous and interesting commentary on the currently circulating ‘Step Mother Bill of Rights’.  I felt her article was so important that I asked her if I could repost it and she was gracious enough to agree.  There are of course, intense conversations going on in the comments section of her post, so click over to check that out as well.

From here, I’ll let her article speak for itself.  Enjoy!

A Stepmom Bill of Rights…..Dangerous to Stepfamilies?

Ladies, I’m afraid that this might not be a popular post but I feel I must write it. Currently there is yet another version of the Stepmom Bill of Rights circulating online among stepmothers.  I’ve seen many of these over the years. Though the contents of these missives are often well-meaning and make stepmothers come together in a rallying cry, I believe portions of them are actually harmful to stepfamily development. Please, hear me out. Yes, stepmothers often have one of the most difficult roles in a stepfamily, but that doesn’t mean that everyone else gets off scott free. In fact, everyone has a difficult role. The children. Dads and Moms, Stepdads and Stepmothers. We all have our crosses to bear. It’s very easy to take the research that says stepmothers have the most difficult role in the family and swing too far to the other side of the pendulum where we become self-righteous or victims–and that does not a happy stepfamily make. In fact, the Stepmother’s Bill of Rights actually highlights the tension and conflict that is a normal part of  stepfamily life. I have reproduced below the latest version of this bill of rights and I’m going to respond to each point.

1. I will be part of the decision-making process in my marriage and family at all times.
Yes, this certainly is a reasonable sentiment in most cases. However, it is the nature of stepfamilies that things happen that stepmothers have no control over. To insist that we do is to set ourselves up for heartache and a troubled marriage. In the best cases, stepmothers are on the decision-making team and their husbands make them feel like their opinion counts. These women are lucky. But even in the best cases there will be times when the decisions of what happens to the children are up to Dad and Mom.

2. People outside the immediate family – including ex-wives, in-laws and adult children – cannot make plans that affect my life without my consent.
Wouldn’t it be lovely if this were the case? Wouldn’t it be great if this were true in our families of origin let alone our stepfamilies? Ex-wives do make plans without our consent. They sign their children up for basketball and baseball and swimming lessons that directly affect our lives. Adult children consult with their Dads instead of us. One of the reasons stepmothering is so difficult is that we parent from the backseat. To tell yourself that it should be any other way is to deny the reality of stepfamily life. Plenty of research talks about the fall of the fantasy when our dreams and reality conflict. Believing that no one will make plans without consulting you in a stepfamily is a fantasy. Your reaction to those frustrating times is what you can control.

3. I will not be responsible for the welfare of children for whom I can set no limits.
As a stepmother, role ambiguity is one of the issues that makes stepmothering challenging. It’s hard to know what role to play with our stepdaughters and stepsons. You often won’t be able to set limits for the children. That’s up to Dad and Mom. If the children are older when you get into their lives, it is highly likely you’ll have no say whatsoever in discipline not because Dad won’t let you but because the children will not accept it from you. And yet, you are responsible. You have no legal rights. But you are responsible for the children’s welfare when they are under their roof. This again speaks to a few fantasies of stepmotherhood: 1.) That you will have control. 2.) That you will be able to totally disengage if you don’t have control. Big mistake. If you totally disengage it will affect your marriage. If you try to get too involved, it will affect your marriage. Stepmotherhood is a balancing act, one that take a great deal of maturity and is not for the weak of heart.

4. I must be consulted about which children will live with us, when they can visit and how long they will stay.
Once again, this is a statement right out of fantasy land. Often it is a judge that decides or a divorce agreement that dictates which children will live with you, when they can visit, and how long they will stay. It’s not up to us stepmoms. A biological parent has a legal responsibility to care for his children. To allow this friction into your heart and into your marriage is dangerous. The fact is the rate of divorce for stepfamilies is higher than first marriages in the early years. If you can make it past the chaotic early years, the divorce rate actually falls below first marriages, but only if you decide to move out of Oz and be fully present with the realities, both wonderful and challenging in your family life.

5. I will not be solely responsible for housework; chores will be distributed fairly.
This one I can agree with!

6. I will be consulted regarding all family financial matters.
Consulted, sure. But at the end of the day, a biological father has a legal (if not moral) responsibility to care for his children financially. Once again, the agreements he made before you came along must be honored. This is a hard pill to swallow for stepmothers because it has an impact on her new family, but it is something you must accept if you’re going to be a happy stepmom.

7. Others may not violate my private space at home, nor take or use my possessions without my permission.
This is a great one. Make it a household rule. But remember that kids are kids and sometimes they don’t follow rules.

8. I will never be treated as an “outsider” in my own home.
I want to pull my hair out on this one. Being an outsider is one of the definitions of stepparent. This is what makes it so difficult! We don’t share blood with the children who live with us part- or full-time. You will be treated as an outsider. So what will you do about it? How will you react to it so you don’t blow up your family life? How will you develop bonds with your stepchildren to reduce this feeling? Stepfamilies can feel like family but usually only after a lot of years have gone by and our actions toward the children and our husbands and ourselves have made us feel like family. This is an incredibly harmful stepfamily myth, that we’ll all love each other and feel like family instantly. You will not. You will
feel like an outsider. And you might always feel that way occasionally. (At graduations and weddings, for instance.) But you’ll find a role that fits you and your family. Researcher Patricia Papernow calls stepparents ”Intimate Outsiders.” We will never be blood, but we can develop very strong, positive relationships that ultimately feel like family.

9. My husband and stepchildren must treat me with respect.
Yes! I’m on board with this one. In fact, this is one of the rules of a house that can help a stepparent feel better as she works through the challenges of finding her place in the family.

10. Our marriage is our first priority, and we will address all issues together.
YES!!! This is hugely important. And the stepfamilies who make it to the finish line are the ones in which the marriage is a priority. But children are a priority, too. Sometimes a child’s needs come first. It’s not either marriage  or children, it’s marriage AND children.  Still, a stepmother needs to feel secure in her marriage. A woman who feels confident in her relationship with her partner is better able to handle the normal stepfamily challenges.

So. Does this mean I think that stepmothers don’t need a rally cry? Absolutely not! Stepmothers need to band together. We are often unappreciated and left out. But please remember that some of these rally cries come at the expense of your relationships with your family. Be careful. Be gentle. I wish for all of you to always feel at home in your own home. I hope that you all feel empowered and among a sisterhood of like-minded women who support you. I also hope that your families are growing organically into something really wonderful and special that enhances each member’s experience of life.

Love,
Jacque

Now go read the comments!

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Angelia Sims January 19, 2010 at 3:19 pm

Carolyn,

Wonderful that you reposted this. I am a big fan of her and her book. I hope everyone checks her out and subscribes to her blog. :-)
.-= Angelia Sims´s last blog ..The Truth- Why your New Year’s Resolution failed. =-.

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2 Carolyn January 23, 2010 at 12:51 pm

She is a wonderful resource for stepmoms and stepfamilies.

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3 WhiteSockGirl January 20, 2010 at 10:18 am

Very interesting. I can’t say on the topic. I don’t have children. And I have never dated a man who has children. Not because I don’t like children, it just worked out like that. Fyi, I do love children. I am a child rights advocate… hard to believe ain’t it?
.-= WhiteSockGirl´s last blog ..A Story for Every Picture: Not Enough =-.

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4 Carolyn January 23, 2010 at 12:52 pm

A child rights advocate? Acutally, I’m not surprised by that at all!

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5 debbie January 21, 2010 at 11:59 am

Very interesting. Seems like they are all very reasonable to me. I would want the same.
.-= debbie´s last blog ..The Latest and Weirdest =-.

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6 Peggy January 22, 2010 at 2:27 pm

Hi Carolyn,

Awesome that you reposted Jacque’s view on The Stepmom Bill of Rights. I thought she was right on target!

And thanks for the mention…glad to see you back!

xo
Peggy
.-= Peggy´s last blog ..Ireland =-.

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7 Carolyn January 23, 2010 at 1:03 pm

Me too. She’s awesome! And so are you!

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8 Stepmom in Training January 27, 2010 at 1:29 am

I’m sorry, but I just have to disagree here. I just came across this posting and as a child of divorce with step-parents and now becoming a step-parent it really rubs me the wrong way.

I have read A LOT of Jacque’s work, and usually I find her “fairly” on target, but this time I disagree so much that I needed to post.

My parents divorced when I was a teenager, and both eventually remarried. Now that I am becoming a stepmom myself, I relate to my step-parents in different ways now. The biggest mistake they made was not demanding more respect and not being as involved as they could have been. This has left my step-parents wishing they had a closer relationship with both my brother and myself. My own stepmom has told me on many occassions as an adult how she should have done more things related to the Stepmom Bill of Rights.

The fact that anyone is still talking about how step-parents need to basically just “suck it up and deal with it” just keeps step-families from progressing. To say that step-parents should ALWAYS get their way is obviously never going to happen, and I don’t think we demand control. What we should be demanding is a discussion and respect that we live in the same household and should have a say in how things run.

#1. It says “MY marriage and family”. MY is the key word. In MY house why should I not expect that my husband will come to me to discuss things that will change MY marriage and family? Things like moving, custody changes, financial changes should be discussed…if not, why are you even getting married??

#2. These times WILL happen. Anyone living in a step situation (and frankly any “regular” family feels this as well) knows that it is impossile to control all members of a family. However, she is really caught up that stepmoms live in a “fantasy” world by believing it might be too much to ask to be consulted/notified. We have my fiance’s kids 50% of the time…for me to expect that 50% of my life is going to be run by everyone else is unacceptable.

#3. I have always read this as “hey listen, if you aren’t going to let me discipline or put my foot down with the kids…don’t expect me to bend over backwards for them either.” I think that’s plenty fair. I am not going to be driving them to/from their activities, buying their clothes and lunches, doing laundry for them, etc. if I have no say in setting the limits in the house. Ie: cell phone use, talking back, chores, etc. Yes Jacque…let’s be doormats instead.

#4. You write this as if we are talking about terms previously set up before we came into the picture. I’m pretty sure this is about changes made. I accepted that we would have his kids every other weekend when we started dating and living together. Then he talked about 50/50 and WE discussed it and how it would affect me also before fully moving forward. This should not be unreasonable to have a say. Will you get your way all the time no…but you never do in life in general. Do you think that so many of the marriages that end from a second marriage might have something to do with the fact that the step-parent might be treated as less than a partner and gets sick of it and bails? Hmmm…maybe the focus here should be on how to better discuss these situations with the hubby that you feel like a doormat instead of telling women to just keep taking it and eventually you’ll be so worn down that you’ll be numb to the fact that your husband doesn’t think your feelings matter. Great advice…

#5. Oh, ok…she agrees about this one.

#6. You’ve GOT to be kidding me with this one! Child support is understandably a legal agreement that was in place or can change from time to time. HOWEVER…things like clothing, phones, cars, extra curricular expenses, etc. should be discussed with your spouse. Considering that many stepmom’s paychecks go into the family you can not expect her to not want to have a say if unusual/unanticipated expenses come up. Oh, you’re right…”honey, I know that you already pay money in child support to help with those things and can barely help pay all the household bills…but go right ahead and buy whatever your kids need.” You are out of your mind if you think we shouldn’t have a say in how money goes out of the house.

#7. Ok, again…she agrees.

#8. Again, MY home. MY HOME is the key. I had this same issue, and it never really goes away, BUT I have discussed with my fiance and his kids that “hey, this is MY home too, and I deserve to be comfortable here. I can watch TV in my living room too, even if you are here, I don’t have to go in the other room and be treated like I don’t belong. You wouldn’t like it and neither do I.” We all know we aren’t blood, but my home is where I relax and escape work and all sorts of things…I am not going to feel like I don’t want to be in my own home.

#9. She agrees! Great…she wants respect, but contridicts that in most of these points.

#10. YAY..she agrees…OH WAIT…she just contridicted herself again. This is like a summary to everything above which is basically saying, “hey…we are married and we vowed to be there for each other for better or worse and that means we should put the marriage first to make sure it’s healthy enough to deal with all the good and bad that will roll our way.” If you agree with this, then you should be agreeing with 1-9 of all other things that are basics about being part of this marriage.

To sum this up, these are points that should be discussed BEFORE getting married to someone with kids. My fiance and I discussed this when I first came across it many months ago. It helped us to see if we were both on the same page for these issues. Although you can’t just follow this so called bill of rights to a tee, it is great for opening up communication about these points. Especially for those women struggling with the decision of marrying a man with kids or not.

Sorry for my rant, but this really turned my stomach!
.-= Stepmom in Training´s last blog ..Hello 2010! =-.

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9 Carolyn January 29, 2010 at 11:55 am

Hello Stepmom in Training. Thank you for reading and for taking the time to comment. Your rebuttal to Jacque’s post demonstrates one of things I love most about the blogosphere – the free exchange of ideas. I’m not going to debate any of your points because they are your opinions and you are completely entitled to them, just as Jacque is to hers. Jacque is a wonderful resource. Like all of us bloggers who write about stepfamily issues, we write what we feel and sometimes offer differing views. Readers such as you get to take in the information offered and then you get to decide what you will do with it. You may discard it completely, keep it in the back of your mind, implement bits and pieces of it or take it as gospel. You and you alone will decide your course.

It reminds me of when I was a new and severely sleep deprived mom. I thought I could go crazy from waking up every couple of hours to a wailing baby. I read everything I could on how to get a baby to sleep. Everything from Dr. Ferber who founded the ‘cry it out’ method where you simply let the baby cry to Dr. Sears who believes you should go and comfort your baby any time they cry. It doesn’t mean that one of them is right and one of them is wrong or that only one of them can lead to a desired outcome. Different things work for different families and I had to decide based on both the environment I wanted to create in my home and the relationship I wanted to foster with my child, which approach I would take.

You will end up parenting based on a myriad of references. How you were parented, how you were step parented, how you felt growing up, the conversations you have with your stepmother and the information you read will all come together to act as your parenting compass in the years ahead. But if I were you (speaking parent to parent), I would caution you from parenting mainly from the standpoint of your stepmom thinking that your relationship would be better if she had done things differently. Because she can’t know that. Maybe it would be, but maybe another approach would have caused more problems in another area. She can’t know. Maybe if I had taken Dr. Ferber’s advice, I would have gotten more sleep. But maybe my son would have instead screamed until he threw up and I would have been up even longer. I can’t know because it’s not the approach I took. And although as a parent we can always choose to change our behavior and our strategies, we can never get the time spent, not one single minute back to do over. You will make mistakes. You will try things that don’t work. And your only option will be to change and hope you get it right next time. It’s kind of daunting, isn’t it? In the words of my mother, parenting is not for wimps.

I’m not sure if you happened to see Jacque’s revised bill of rights on her site. If not, it can be found here. It is beautiful. Full of love and positivity. Which is of course, what all of us parents want for our families. You will get to decide how you react to your new role and all the situations you will face as a parent. You will along with your husband, will set the tone in your household.

Good luck to you on your journey,

Carolyn

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10 re-new stepmom February 13, 2012 at 1:59 am

thanks for this Stepmom in Training. at first i was finding myself nodding to the commentary of the “Stepmom Bill of Rights” in the original post… thinking to myself, ‘gosh, i’ve been asking too much!’

then i read your comment post, and realized i have duped myself again! yes, i should be trying to make things work. but not by denying my needs as the other half of this thing called a marriage (in a blended family).

my husband of happy ten years and i just had a big fight — about my stepkids, again. this time, it wasn’t about ‘how i treat them horribly (uhm, like asking SD17 to help set the dinner table)’ it was about ‘how i make him feel when stepkids are around.’ when i asked for specific instances, trying to understand, he couldn’t tell me. just that ‘he’s tired of it all.’ and that ‘i’ve changed.’

i am so frustrated of this blended family thing right now! what he means by that is that i no longer spend 100% of my time engaging with his kids. when we first got married, we lived close to the kids who were young then. i (gladly) spent 101% time and attention with them and we had great times. then four years later husband and BM got into a legal fight and SD pulled back from us and clammed down. then we moved — as far away as husband can. another four years later, we’re back. SD and SS now older, nice kids. but now i (and i know they, too) have to re-navigate our blended family, rendering it a new one as we’re in new roles now.

look, i take responsibility for my actions and correct it when pointed out. my husband says i should let go trying to control (be involved) in planning the weekends stepkids are with us (merits another post), so i do; all good. then, immediately it was ‘my body language was negative towards his kids’ (merits another post too), so i reach out, now bonding and getting better. then it’s now ‘how i make him feel when they’re around.’ wtf!

has anyone here experienced BD aka husband being hypersensitive towards how you interact with his kids? as i correct my behaviour according to his complaints, i think more and more that at least one of the root problems is his hypersensitivity to how i interact with his kids, like for example asking SD17 to help set the table (she rarely voluntarily helps out) — this, after we’ve all agreed that i verbalize my needs as simple as ‘please help do this,’ and then after reprimanding me BD goes on to tease her lightly and with a big smile what a lazy bone she is. SD is ok with me asking, BD is not.

i have always supported his relationship with his kids, encouraging him or even giving him the idea to set solo-time for his kids away from me and our kids. he knows i’ve always supported him going to teacher meetings and whatever else his kids need him to be in. even when we just got back and I was still re-navigating this new blended family dynamics when spending time with my stepkids wasn’t high on my priority list, i’ve always encouraged and supported him in spending time with them.

now i think he just expects me to have this wonderful relationship with my stepkids who are older now and pick up where we left off — when so much has changed. and that, without giving any thought on how he could support ME to have opportunities to bond with them. my relationship with them isn’t where it could be (and we’re working on it), but it’s not bad either. he expects these things perhaps — like serve them hand and feet like i used to? never mind that they can help out too and i’m sleep deprived with two younger kids and doing most of the housework myself on top of working full-time?

i want to make this work, and it would really really suck if our otherwise happy marriage goes in the dump because of my stepkids who don’t even live with us.

sorry for the rant, too, but

help.

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11 Deesha February 11, 2010 at 2:50 pm

Thanks, Carolyn, for this post. I’ve been immersing myself in stepmom stuff lately, but totally missed this. I love that you present multiple perspectives.

Best,
~Deesha
.-= Deesha´s last blog ..Co-Parenting Dad to Girlfriend: “My Kids Will Always Come Before You” =-.

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12 Carolyn February 15, 2010 at 1:18 pm

Thanks Deesha, it’s always nice to have you stop by.

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13 Crazy Family November 12, 2010 at 1:12 pm

I am actually a bio mom, and I had to agree with your post Jacque. Sometimes there are step mom’s that over step their bounds, in others there are step mom’s too scared to approach the surface and in many other situations, the step mom becomes the bio mom’s close friend. In the end, when you are marrying into a family who already has kids, you have to realize you are entering a family unit that already exists. This does not mean by marriage, as I was never married to my child’s father, but a unit- mother, father, and child- that has already been dealing with things as they have in the past. I know step-mom’s want their own individual families without the bio-mom (sometimes) but with their own rules and their own say, but it just doesn’t always happen if things are already in place. Sadly, there are many sacrifices step-mom’s have to take, because by marrying someone who already has children, you are not necessarily starting a new family, but transforming into a stronger one. The most important thing is that the two families have a good relationship and that the child comes first amongst all the bickering. Any step-mom who says, my house my rules- they do what I say, (I personally feel) is jealous, or insecure of what is occurring, and it is understandable, but whether anyone likes it or not there are several families reoccurring into one- husband and wife, mother and child, father and child- and to connect, the step mom will make step-mom and child- but to do that she needs to still respect the way the father and mother are bringing up their children.

I currently have a step mom involved in my child’s life- as much as she hates all he sacrifices she had to made, she now realizes it came with the territory- it doesn’t always have to be a bad thing.. anyways myself and my child’s step mom are now on the same wave length with parenting. It wasn’t always like this- there was a lot of tension and jealousy in the beginning on both ends, and a lot of control taking on her end to control every situation- but we became friends.

In the end, once a step mom becomes a mom for the first time (whether before or after she becomes the step mom) she should realize how the bio-mom feels about sharing her child- and as much as it has to be, it’s tough to get used to. The bio-mom (if stable and responsible) is still the mom (with control, etc…) just as the dad is. Not all of us bio-mom’s are crazy- i promise! It’s just the matter of sharing your child with another woman as well as being over protective of your child…maybe that’s what makes us bio-mom’s crazy.

OK! I’m done rambling on,

Good luck ladies- I really hope everyone takes the chance to look at each of the situations from the others point of view- there will be a lot more peace in the end!

All my love
SJayne

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14 Mary September 25, 2013 at 12:15 pm

Sorry, I disagree. I am a step mom and a mom-all kids in their teen years. I do not discipline my step kids, but my husband knows the rules for my own son and makes it clear to his own, that these are the rules of the house. He realized how his ex allowed the kids no discipline and thwarted all efforts he made toward rules when he was married to her. She equated teaching respect, and reasonable rules as “damaging to their self esteem.” I call it neglect of parental duties. Her children are not well mannered (belching at the table during formal family gatherings) but getting better. They had to be taught manners, like their father was taught. He just had a cussing coming before, so he quit trying until he saw what a difference it made in my own child and realized he had done a disservice to his own by not insisting they act accordingly.

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15 sam September 28, 2012 at 12:46 pm

you see i have been married for 19 years. me and my husband have one child, but he has 3 from his first marriage. the kids were in a children’s home. we tried to get them and could not. he paid his child support but still could not see them or any thing. now that they are in their late 20′s they want to come in to our lives and take over. My daughter will soon be 18 and the oldest sister is trying to come in to her life and run it. and tell me i am nothing to this family and i just need to leave.
she has not tried to be a part of us and i do not see where she has the right and come in and tell me what to do.
so what is my rights? me, my husband, and daughter have been family. now the oldest wants to come in and be the boss.
what can i do and how to handle it right?
sam

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16 Jennifer July 8, 2013 at 2:49 pm

Very interesting. Perhaps we can reword them (NEW TEXT IN ALL CAPS):

1. I will be part of the decision-making process in my marriage and HOUSEHOLD at all times.

2. People outside the immediate family – including ex-wives, in-laws and adult children – cannot BIND ME TO A SCHEDULE OR SPEND MY MONEY without my consent.

3. I will not be responsible for the BEHAVIOR OR OUTCOME OF BEHAVOR of children for whom I can set no limits.

4. I WILL OBEY ALL COURT ORDERS REGARDING DEPENDENT CHILDREN AS WRITTEN. FOR LEGALLY NON-DEPENDENT CHILDREN OR FOR CHILDREN WHERE THERE IS NO BINDING COURT ORDER, I must be consulted about which children will live with us, when they can visit and how long they will stay.

5. I will not be solely responsible for housework; chores will be distributed fairly.

6. I will be consulted regarding all family financial matters, AND MONEY I EARN WILL NOT BE SPENT WITHOUT MY CONSENT.

7. Others may not violate my private space at home, nor take or use my possessions without my permission.

8. I will never be REQUIRED TO VACATE MY HOUSE OR TO BE TREATED RUDELY in my own home. IF MY HUSBAND AND CHILDREN WANT TO SPEND TIME ALONE, I WILL MAKE REASONABLE EFFORTS TO GIVE THEM MUTUALLY AGREEABLE WAYS AND TIME TO DO SO.

9. My husband and stepchildren must treat me with respect, AND I MUST BE ACKNOWLEDGED AS AN ADULT MEMBER OF THE FAMILY ~ EVEN IF I’M NOT A “PARENT”.

10. Our marriage is our first priority, and we will address all issues together.

*****

My fiancé has a great expression: “I cannot enforce boundaries with your people; I can only enforce boundaries with you.” Stepmoms need to appreciate that they cannot enforce boundaries with their husband’s *people* (not right off the bat, anyway) ~ *he* has to do that. We have to be brave enough to set firm boundaries with our MATE about what we will and won’t do, and then stick to it. Usually, I find that my fiancé is much more open minded about his kids when he is dealing with them 1:1. If you make plans as a couple to go somewhere on one of your weekends “off” and he changes the schedule without asking you, then go away without him and let him deal with the consequences himself. He may appreciate the alone time with his kids; and if not, he won’t make plans for you without asking again.

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