The Disengaged Stepmom: Is Disengagement Right for You?

Updated on February 19, 2019
Alice Marlowe profile image

Alice Marlowe PhD, PMHNP, RN, holds a BA in Psychology and is a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner.

How Did You Get Here?

If you are reading this article, you are likely a stepmom on the brink of a blended-family-fueled mental breakdown. For most stepmoms who are contemplating disengagement, when you met and married your husband you probably wholeheartedly embraced your new role as a stepmom. You were likely eager and enthusiastic to be another loving adult in the lives of your stepchildren. In the beginning, you were undoubtedly thrilled about your new family and the future you would all share together as a blended unit.

Over the years, the visions of blended bliss you had on your wedding day have given way to resentment, annoyance, irritation, and maybe even rage. Your life feels chaotic. You feel others are taking advantage of you. You probably feel your stepkids are rude and disrespectful towards you and do not appreciate any efforts you have made over the years.

If you find yourself nodding in agreement you have come to the right place. This article will examine the meaning of disengagement in a blended family, help you decide if disengagement is the right choice for you, and discuss new ways to think about your responsibilities towards your stepchildren.

Definition of disengage
Definition of disengage | Source

What Does Disengagement Mean?

dis·en·gageˌ

disənˈɡāj

verb

  1. separate or release (someone or something) from something to which they are attached or connected

synonyms: remove, detach, disentangle, extricate, separate, release, free, loosen, loose, disconnect, unfasten, unclasp, uncouple, undo, unhook, unhitch, untie, unyoke

What Does Disengagement Mean in a Blended Family?

No one singular disengagement solution is right for every blended family. There exists a continuum of disengagement and it’s up to you to decide exactly what will bring back your happiness and sanity. For some stepmoms, disengagement will mean having absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the stepchildren. For other stepmoms, it may mean only disengaging from a few tasks, such as cleaning rooms or washing dishes. For every stepmom though, disengagement means no longer accepting the responsibility of raising stepchildren.

Have you thought about disengaging?

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Why Do Stepmoms Disengage?

Many stepmoms disengage because they think they have a problem with their stepchildren. More often than not, the problem is actually with their partner or husband. This is especially true in high-conflict custody situations where children are caught in the middle of a loyalty bind between their mom and stepmom. (This is often known as parental alienation, and I recommend this article on alienation in high-conflict custody cases.) In high conflict situations, stepchildren may be actively coached to hate or disrespect their stepmom or the ex-wife may place enormous unspoken pressure on the children to not like their stepmom. If this is the case, the children will likely never feel comfortable thanking their stepmom for all she does for them.

In many first marriages, when children are born, mothers take over certain roles in raising the children and fathers take on different roles. In a blended family, the father of the children often expects the stepmom to take over the roles traditionally held by a mother in an intact family. These tasks include many traditional household chores such as cooking and cleaning and many tasks related to childcare such as purchasing clothing, keeping track of the activity calendar, and being the main caregiver in the home.

In many situations, stepmoms find themselves doing all of these tasks but receiving little or no thanks from their husbands or stepchildren. After a while, the stepmother begins to feel resentment and no longer wants to take on any of the additional duties that she was once happy to do. This is especially true if no one in the household seems to care or even notice all the work the stepmom does to keep the blended family running smoothly. The unseen work and emotional burden placed on the stepmom becomes too much and can begin to affect both the physical and mental health of the stepmom.

Quote from a non-custodial stepmom who chose to disengage.
Quote from a non-custodial stepmom who chose to disengage. | Source

Is Disengaging the Right Choice for You?

If you have made it this far you are likely wondering if now is the right time for you to disengage and what might happen to your marriage and stepkids if you do choose to disengage.

First, both custodial and non-custodial moms can and do disengage from the day-to-day care of their stepchildren. Although it is easier for a stepmom to disengage from stepchildren who are only there every other weekend, full-time stepmoms have also successfully disengaged and taken back their sanity.

Emily*, a non-custodial stepmom had constant anxiety about her stepdaughter's grades. For years she worked closely with the school and teachers to ensure assignments were completed and turned in on time. Eventually, though Emily felt like she was putting more effort in than either her husband or her stepdaughter's mother. Emily decided to disengage from anything related to her stepdaughter's school.

Emily said, "It had gotten to the point that I was the only one checking the parent portal for missing assignments. My stepdaughter had gone from a straight A student to making C's in her important classes. I spent several hours a week trying to keep up with it all and trying to make her keep up with the work in the limited time she was at our house. My relationship with my own children was suffering because of it. I disengaged from everything related to school because I realized I was putting more work in than her mom or my husband and that wasn't right."

Emily also described what happened once she disengaged.

She said, "At first I felt an all-consuming guilt, like I had let my stepdaughter down. I hoped her parents would notice her grades were worse than when I was spending all my time trying to stay on top of it but they didn't. It was like they didn't even notice or care. Eventually I worked through the guilt once I realized it wasn't up to me to make up for her parent's lack of involvement. My job was to make sure my own children were successful in school and her parents were responsible for making sure she was successful in school."

Do you now think disengaging is the right option for you?

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Accepting Realities of Disengagement

For many years stepmoms have turned to the virtual support site StepTogther for advice on disengaging. The online resource provides an essay on the realities of disengaging and lists ten realities that stepmoms must accept to successfully disengage. These ten realities serve to set excellent mental boundaries for stepmoms who do decide that disengagement is the right choice in their situation. Here are the realities as found on StepTogether:

  1. Your stepkids are not your children.
  2. You are not responsible for overcoming their previous 'raising.'
  3. You are not responsible for what kind of people they are.
  4. You are not responsible for what kind of people they become.
  5. You are not obligated to become an abused member of the household just because you married their dad.
  6. You are not responsible for raising your stepkids.
  7. All the responsibility belongs to your husband.
  8. Your husband is not a mother.
  9. Your husband is not going to raise his children the way you want him to.
  10. Your stepkids are not going to turn out the way they would if husband supported you.

Disengaged stepmom mantra
Disengaged stepmom mantra | Source

Tell Others About Your Choice

Stepmoms often find themselves without a "tribe" and it can be very difficult to discuss disengaging from stepchildren. If you feel comfortable, please leave a comment about your experience with disengaging or choosing to remain engaged so that others who read this article can hear more real-life examples from experienced stepmoms.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

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      • profile image

        Closetoquits 

        6 hours ago

        Been with my partner for a year and a bit now . Have had a surprise miracle child with him (I wasn’t very fertile and misscarried and he had a vasectomy).

        He has 2 daughters that live with us week about 11 (12 this year) and 14 ( 15 this year). Both big girls who refuse to eat anything they don’t want to. My partner was cooking 3 separate meals at one stage. Both very ungrateful, beyond spoilt - what they demand they get. They do absolutely nothing. They don’t even flush the toilet after themselves. I’m left during the day looking after my 4 month old plus my partners 2 dogs and now my stepdaughters puppy she got before christmas because she demanded one and doesn’t even look after it now. I spend my day chasing my tail between caring for the dogs as they are inside and caring for my daughter and cleaning up after these 2. Ontop I’m trying to study and now have to go back to work early because money is not coming in.

        They gossip about me and tell crazy fibs to their mother who is not a fan of me. Constantly bad mouthing me in front of them and who has been verbally abusive to me in the past including throwing things at me through the car the day I left the hospital with my new Bub. The girls show her my social media as I have blocked her to try and minimise her harassment and stalking. And they continue to tell me things she says about me about not working, things I cook and so much more. I try to talk to my partner as I’m very depressed now . He brushes it under the rug or tries to put me at the front of the issues as if it’s my problem. I love him dearly as we get on so well but when it comes to his ex wife and his children. I’m the second woman. I’m a maid. A nanny. And I know nothing as I’m a first time mother . For the fist time I’m seriously considering walking away from it all. My daughter deserves better role models than these 2 brats

      • profile image

        TypinTootsie612 

        10 hours ago

        Married 5 years, together 7, stepmom to 10-yr-old twins. At first, it was bliss. They "live" with us every other week, jostled between their mother's house and ours every seven days. They do absolutely nothing, and haven't for years. Neither their mother or father crack the whip on schooling, there are zero sports, zero motivation; they lie to my face and their father chronically, hit each other, do not help out or do any of their chores in our home. Their room is a pig sty, and they are flunking the 5th grade. The ignore me, most often not speaking to me at all unless their father is around. Essentially they do as they please.

        I absolutely cannot stand it anymore. My husband is really to blame. He is very permissive and easy going. He also is out working very hard and many days of the week gets home late.

        I feel like I have two ungrateful little prince roomates, and I am so resentful, I am losing my mind.

        I don't think I can take another day of the lies and misbehavior. I basically have houseguests that stay a week at a time, every other week!

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        TiredofFighting 

        21 hours ago

        I have become a disengaged stepmom from the beginning. They arrived to our house at 13 and 9. Both have extremely bad habits because the mother herself wasnt raised a particular way. My Husband cant stand it and makes threats to them about certain things but never goes through with it and lets them continue with their habits. His son is addicted to electronics and so is his daughter. The first thing his son does is sit with his tablet. His mom allows him to eat dinner with it as well. So he comes to our house and does the same. My husband complains to his son that his future wife is going to throw him out for being addicted to electronics. The kid didnt even react to his comments and neither does he take it away from him because the mom allows it and they mostly live with the mom. The mom and his daughter blocked me on facebook. His daughter wont talk to me or even recognize me on mothers day. I gave them a brother thats 2 years old and I cant even catch a break. I am glad I came across this article and to see other womens comments going through the same. For my own sanity I am done.

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        Becca 

        29 hours ago

        I am a mom to three kids with my hubby, and one step daughter. She is almost 13 and I have been in here life since she was 3. I was the highly highly involved parent, but it has become apparent that by doing so I made myself the only parent (only one scheduling appointments, going to appointments, giving a damn about school...) Both dad and her mother took advantage of this and were not very involved. She has ADHD and anger issues, and despite therapy and treatment they are getting worse and affecting family dynamics. I have fallen out of love with her almost completely and feel guilty for saying that and wanting to just focus on my own kids. Her dad works second shift and is not around most evenings, so it is mostly just her, me and my kids.

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        Jade 

        38 hours ago

        My ex husband uses his wife as his personal nanny, maid, chauffeur. He is physically gone for days and weeks and is never home to care for our children he just dumps them off on her. Stepmothers need to realize there are being used as the hired help for men who can’t care for their own children.

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        Patrice Webber 

        6 days ago

        I’m the step mom to 3 boys. Spring break just ended and I am physically and emotionally drained. I hate admitting that. My husband and I have been together 5 years. I didn’t even think twice about blending our families. I assumed it would be easy. I assumed loving them as my own would be easy since I had two of my own children at the time. It wasn’t. I don’t love them as my own and I feel horrible about that. I do care about them and love them but I can not say as my own. As the years have gone by it has gotten harder and harder and the thought of having my step sons for an extended period during the summer gives me serious anxiety. I feel like I sacrifice my own children’s happiness and time to take care of these boys. I feel horrible for saying this but I don’t enjoy my time with them at all. There is nothing enjoyable about them. There is constant fighting over toys, lying about things, lack of simple manners and common courtesy at home. It takes weeks in the summer just to get them use to common things like washing your hands after you go to the restroom, cleaning up after yourself, sharing toys with their toddler brother who is mine and my husbands. Recently their mother went off on us about an issue and in doing so told me the boys say I’m horrible to them and lots of lies such as they never get to play. They play ALL day long and I do so much for them that those comments hurt so bad. I don’t feel they would say those things without some encouragement from their mother. I may not hug and kiss on the boys but I’m definitely not horrible to them. I put so much time into making sure they are taken care of and happy while they’re with us. My husband doesn’t understand. He tells me the boys need me more than ever to be a guiding light for them. How do I do that when I’m so unhappy?

      • profile image

        nanmary 

        7 days ago

        I never wanted my 14 yr old step daughter to move in with us 8 months ago. My husband decided otherwise. I never have engaged and refuse to engage. It is his child, he needs to parent her. When I talk to him and am completely frustrated, which is about every 30 days, because he does not change, and after a few days, even forgets about it all. He doesn't make her keep her room clean, except when it looks like a bomb hit it, then threatens to take away her phone, which he never does. He doesn't require her to set the table or do the dishes. Once a week she dusts the furniture. He still wants to be the good guy, the friend, and is trying to make up for not having custody of her until now. I am completely frustrated with him. I live here too.

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        Karen Hurd 

        8 days ago

        I have a disrespectful wine manipulative stepchild living in our house went to a psychologist because the father not doing what he needs to do to take care of this I disengaged that was the best thing I ever did she wound up calling CPS on us I'm lying now she's out of our house thank God disengagement has been the best thing I ever did. He is still funding her bad BEHAVIOR an I have very little respect for his stupidity. She does have a Mother

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        Claire71 

        13 days ago

        I’ve disengaged from my step son almost from the beginning when I realized that although I love my husband and step son, only my husband loved me and it wasn’t my step sons choice so he has a right to not like or accept me and I have a right not to let that stress me out.

        Don’t get me wrong, I tried to engage with my step son, talk to him, ask him questions tried to get acquainted with him and rarely he would respond. Literally I would ask him a question and he would look at me and shrug his shoulders. But there was a reason why.

        Not only is He is a shy, moody child, I am of another race and not a deeply religious like his mom so I knew right away that he would never fully accept me. Plus he’s the only child and his interactions with his own family are similar to his reaction to me.

        He has no friends really, doesn’t go to parties and for the most part plays video games and works. He’s a senior in HIgh school now, gets good grades and has acne, he once told us that he hates kids so he’s probably teased so there is a lot of emotion. He doesn’t have a girl friend that I know of and is socially awkward. So I get it and just stand back and let his parents handle that.

        It doesn’t help that I am from a big family who are outgoing and loving and he cringes around them. My nephew is a few years older but very kind and tried to engage him but he just recoiled into his shell so my nephew being a good kid didn’t push it

        When I’m around him I try to talk to him, encourage him, try to at least be present but he rarely reciprocates and I realized that he either would have to come around eventually or not but that I was going to just be a step parent and nothing else

        His mom is a nice enough lady but I’m sure he’s said some nasty things about me by the way she interacts with me but that’s not my problem.

        In the interim I am kind and show him that he always has a home with us but other than that I don’t go out of my way. I’m not mean but I’m not overly loving either. It’s like we tolerate one another for now and that’s fine with me.

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        JL 

        2 weeks ago

        This article speaks volumes of all that I am going through with my younger step daughter. Thank you for the great read and this is what I needed at this moment.

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        GG 

        2 weeks ago

        Disengaged from one of two adult step kids. Love them both, but had to let go of stepson. Continued trouble with the law, dui’s and making poor choices of job, child and housing, I had to let go. No amount of mentoring helped. My husband is now his point of contact and there to listen and give advice. My life is better once disengaged from the non stop caos. My marriage is also much better for it.

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        nutryneaux 

        2 weeks ago

        Since we can’t post images/memes, here is the quote: “Seriously, if it’s sucking the life out of you, stop giving it attention. If it’s a job, quit. If it’s a person, cut them out. If it’s activity, STOP. Stop letting anything but YOU take the wheel. You’re going to be okay. Time will pass. Get out there and make your dreams a reality. You don’t deserve anxiety. You’re not operating at your best when someone or something else is in CONTROL. Take over. Get some good vibes cranking and be happy in your own skin. Love YOUR life.”

      • profile image

        nutryneaux 

        3 weeks ago

        Due to a tragedy, I was not able to have my own kids, yet reached a point in my life where I wanted to do something more. So, I moved to another state, married my best friend--who received full-custody of his two daughters. At the time, one was in 4th grade and the other was in 2nd. I was a successful artist, a teacher who had lived a full and fascinating life up to that point—surely, I have something to offer. In raising the girls, there were some wonderful moments, but mostly, it was a dumpster-fire. The BM had married a pedophile that abused all the kids in the house, is an utter train-wreck, and yet the girls keep “going back to” her in their minds and hearts. I was not able to help them “see” something better for themselves, through I tried to demonstrate another way of leading a successful life that didn’t depend on drama or abuse.

        -

        Long story short -- I lost my SELF along the way and descended into bitterness. When the oldest daughter left our home after college, I separated myself from her, from all of it. I was sick and tired of being a “role” and not a “person” to her. She didn’t really care WHO I was, only what I was supposed to do in the “mother” position.

        -

        So, I disengaged. I am a process-thinker and it takes me a long time to wade through things to reconnect myself. I am not involved and returned to the things that bring me life and joy. After disengaging, I can finally breathe. I have found myself and reconnected to the things I value such as deep connections with people, my students, and friendships.

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        Two set step mum 

        3 weeks ago

        My partner has 4 kids by 2 different BM and I have been a SM for almost 5 years.

        I have done everything I can, be supportive, giving, fair and loving, but recently everything has gone wrong and I am feel like an outcast.

        I have always had a good relationship with the BMof the eldest two, the but 2nd BM has had almost an irrational hatred of me, refuses to acknowledge me, even in the same room. Strangely out of the blue the 2nd BM has suddenly started defending me in the last 6months and my relationship with the younger two girls started to go downhill. Their eldest sister has also moved back in to our house, which has seems to coincide with the then a complete breakdown of the relationship.

        I come home and they ignore me, leave the room and shut any doors between us, whereas they used to tell me all about their day. They twist anything I say at all to other people and lie to their Dad about anything I say - good or bad. They used to ask me to help them with anything, now they just ask for their Dad. They are 12 and 14 so I understand they are going through hormones, but I just don’t understand how it has suddenly gone all wrong when for the first time ever me BF and BM are on the same page.

        My partner has always sided with the kids, even when they have stolen things or lies about me which has been hard, but he now blames me for their attitude with me.

        I reached a turning point after all the kids forgot my birthday and had to be reminded by their Dad to wish me a good day and they have ignored me (in every way possible since).

        This article has helped me realise that disengagement is sometimes the answer. It goes against every principle I was raised to follow, respecting and helping anyone in need, but it needs to happen and I am trying to be tough, but not horrible.

        Thank you for making me realize being a SM doesn’t mean you can be treated poorly and that you have to question yourself as a good person - stepping away can be for the best.

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        A nacho mom 

        4 weeks ago

        I was a single mom before I was a SM. Ex and I coparemt really well together. He had a few failed relationships before his current wife and those SMs really overstepped in a variety of ways that not only I but ultimately he resented. When he met his now wife it was amazing. She took her time easing into daughters life. She never tried to tell him or I we were doing it wrong. She was never jealous or intrusive of our parental communication. And she has never tried to parent our kid. Years later she has an amazing reltionship with my daughter and is a trusted friend, confidant and role model.

        I knew that this is what I would want in a partner and what kind of SM I would want to be. When I began dating my spouse I made it clear to him that I didnt want him to be another dad but more the fun uncle and friend, confidant, role model like her SM. He was ok with that but had different hopes and expectations for me.

        SS is young and BM isnt in the picture so he really wanted me to be mom and I really did try. But ultimately our parenting views are drastically different. He was constantly criticising my parenting of SS and felt I was too harsh or too unrealistic. He wanted me to do it but only his way. I was resentful and angry. He was resentful and angry. I found a fb group based on disengagement but called Nachokids. It changed my life. It is literally everything encompassed here.

        Ive found a happy medium with SS. I help my spouse with the things he and I are both on samw page about. I cook and clean bc Id be doing that anyways. Im loving and kind to SS but I don't discipline him at all and have lowered my expectations of how he should be. Hes not mine and I don't get to make the final decisions for him and thats ok but bc thats what I want as a parent too.

        My spouse still struggles a bit bc he wants me to be the enforcer and the bad guy but I refuse. Its not fair to me or SS that I be used as a scapegoat when its good for dad but dont have the authority to say anything at other times.

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        Struckdumb 

        4 weeks ago

        Hi " Not my problem" mama,

        I really feel for you, I was in the same boat, never another step to talk to, so I joined the second wives forum, LOADS of loving support and helpful advice there, and ALL confidential, give it a go, you may find someone in your own area posting just like you.

        Good luck, and remember there are thousands out there like you, you just have to find them.

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        The "Not my Problem" mama 

        4 weeks ago

        Oh. My. God. I seriously believed for so long that i was the only one. The feeling of isolation and loneliness is so strong. Because Ive worked as a contracted consultant much of my professional life, i don't have friends. I try not to get too personal and familiar with the constituents of my contracts. And I handle my own family with a long- handled spoon as well (they are quite another issue). So i truly do feel alone. However, I confided a few months ago in another fellow consultant i was beginning to be friends with (before her contract ended) that i was officially disengaging. I kid you not. It was something that tormented me for years but as i watched the dysfunction grow with each incident, I knew the defining moment would come sooner or late, whether i felt emotionally and mentally ready for it or not. And it did come. And in that defining moment of disengagement, my emotions and thoughts were in alignment: I give up.

        I could not take anymore. I clearly remember I literally said this very list of realities to myself as the moment enveloped me. It felt so right, and I was consumed with such peace.

        My husband's and step kids noticed and continued their passive... and not so passive micro aggressions and you know what? I just didn't care. I realized a simple truth that I eventually communicated to my husband: "I'm damned if i do and damned if i don't. Since I'm equally damned, I choose the 'don't'. I can redirect the extra effort and energy I saved into being better for my own kids and myself". And that's what I did. I am in top of my kids' development and life fulfillment. For myself, i got a running buddy (Domino my shelter rescue friend the hubs couldn't say anything about because he only cost $18) and am taking classes around town. I truly do wish there was some sort of support group where i could engage with others like me... or even those who survived without having to disengage. It truly is a lonely place for me right now because even the other consultant, while kindhearted, really just pitied me and showed me with stories of her perfect union lol.

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        Immature, Vindictive Adult "Children" 

        4 weeks ago

        Whenever my husband or myself reaches out to his adult children, they cannot be bothered to respond. Ever. They have ghosted us from their lives for no other reason than they are entitled spoiled millennial brats. Their mother is a wealthy slumlord threatened that her ex-husband has done so well for himself since getting away from her. She controls her grown children with a LOT of family money on her side. All the "kids" care about is money.

        We took them on a once-in-lifetime private, luxury guided trip to Peru. My husband and I sat in first class, His two adult children sat in coach. They proceeded to make the trip all about them getting an upgrade to first class for the trip home. They hounded their mother and her mother (their grandmother) every chance they got during the trip to get their way. They failed but they made the trip all about that. Ungrateful entitled selfish jerks.

        Now that my husband's mother is dying, they have accused us of not telling them of her illness when both my husband and my mother in law have complained to me for years how these two "children" never return even a text message! Screw them!

        Not having the unconditional childhood love for them, and not being responsible for their upbringing, I can see things very clearly.

        It's an absolute mess and my only recourse is to disengage myself from their lives. My husband doesn't know what to do but he better make a decision soon before I find myself needing protection from him too. They should be on their knees apologizing to me, the woman who has been taking care of their father after their mother cheated on him and refused to go to a counselor.

        Rather, they are vilifying me for no reason other than I am a convenient scapegoat. I was hoping to avoid all these issues by marrying a man who's children are adults. So much for that hope. Life is a shit show.

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        Won’t say 

        4 weeks ago

        So many people are quick to judge this article but let me tell you. Until u get the ugly and the uglier, u won’t understand. My now husband ( was boyfriend, when we separated he had a fling with some woman and needed up having a baby with her) we got back together and we had two sons before we separated and another after we got together. Long story short, my husband “baby mama” got in trouble with drugs and was arrested and released on bail. He took her to court and gained full custody of my stepson. Now, I supported him in the beginning, thinking that he wants the best I trest for his son and that he was gonna be a dad and raise his son in our home. Well I quickly learned that he just expected me to do everything. His bathing, his school work, his laundry, clean up after him, cook for him and everything else. He has not put forth no effort in his son. I’ve asked him several times why he went for full custody when he literally acts like he can’t do shit for him. He 100% relies on me to take care of him. His son hits his brother, is very manipulative, and conniving. I’ve slowly lost my sanity and his baby mama tells my stepson to basically hate me and the dram I have to deal with almost on a daily basis with her and him is unbearable. I’m so happy I saw this article. And I’m definitely going to disengage myself from this situation. My husband needs to step up to the plate, or I don’t know what I will do

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        CJ Perez 

        4 weeks ago

        This has got to be the worst advice I have ever heard. Let's start with the word "LET". In this manner we are talking about an adult being allowed in a home where they reside to do something. I don't let my girl go the bathroom, like she doesn't let me eat the food we bough. If you are being "let" to do something or allowed to do something in a house with a partner then you do not have a partnership, you have a chain of command. And in a blended family, there will be constant shiftings in this chain of command if there is no established department of Administration.

        Now in a home that the parents are evenly yoked, the children will understand that mom and step dad or dad and step mom are not only married but best of friends. They will back each other, support one another and work to show that they are partners through and through on multiple fronts. The moment one takes a hierarchy position due to paycheck, gender or another circumstance, the adults are teaching the children that power is at play and power must be grabbed at. I have step children and their father hates the sight of me but those boys love me because I treat them like my own sons. The get praised and get consequences in the same order that my own sons do. This in turn builds trust with my girlfriend because she sees no sign of favoritism and therefore POWER is unimportant because harmony is the focus. My step sons were immensely challenging in the beginning but my girl saw that I met that challenge with love and respect and demanded that same respect back with allowing them to love in their own way at their own time but always with a model of respect that I had to put in place before I asked for it. Two year later, my step sons now 4 and 13 rely on me and my love when they hear the most awful things from their father about me. They rely on me to have compassion for their father who can't seem to muster two nice words about much of anything. They rely on my empathy for him because they are twisted and turned by emotions as they feel an obligation of loyalty to their father. Yes I have a say in who they will become. I am the model that they will use when treating women because of how I treat their mother. I am the model they will use to determine their self worth as to how I accept the way their mother treats me. I am the model of selflessness that they will adopt if I love without reservation and work to build myself as a person who worked to love all before I demanded a thing from anyone. We say that this is a hard world and that kids are getting soft. I will teach my kids that it is harder to love someone you know doesn't like you than it is someone you don't know but both are equally important.

        If you feel like you need to disengage from raising your step kids you married the wrong person! Now the work is getting that person to either acknowledge you as an equal in your home and reestablishing the roles in the home. Or disengage yourself period. Because those children who see you being walked all over will learn that they too can walk all over people the love or believe to love. And that my friend will be your fault too. Because you knew they were sponges and you didn't ensure they were absorbing the right messages.

        #thegreatestcommandIgiveyouistoloveoneanother

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        Clair 

        4 weeks ago

        I have a step mother who decided to get engaged with my dad a couple months after knowing him. She has unrealistic expectations, doesn’t communicate with me, monopolistic and manipulative. She dangles my dads flaws in front of his face and they always fight. Even though she is far from perfect. She has a spoiled 6 year old who never gets off her phone. I do all the chores dishes, vacuum, sweep, mop, kitchen, bathroom, laundry...sometimes cooking or cleaning up after her kid because she never does and my dad is a messy guy. The only thing is they work most of the day but when they get home they just go to the room and close the door. I feel neglected sometimes by my father. My stepmother is young and often acts immature and my dad always seems irritated when she’s not around. I wish my dad spent more time with me. I try to tell him and he does not believe me or thinks I am asking so much from him. She has monopolized so much of his time she stalks him, calls him for 2 hours when he just got home from work, constantly won’t let things go, complains to the kids, secretly yells at her 5 year old in the mornings when my dad is gone. She is late every day for work and yells at her kid for it. She’s has all her priorities mixed up. I find her quite inappropriately as she post pictures on her insta she has about 5 different accounts all about her, my dad, and her daughter. I disengaged with her instagram and blocked her because she was posting naked photos and it was showing up all over my feed. She got upset and indirectly conflicted about it with me through my dad because she has problem communicating. Honestly there’s more to it all but this is how I’m living and she never fully engaged as a stepmom and only uses the title when she wants to look good around her coworkers.

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        Disengaged in Dallas 

        5 weeks ago

        Melissa 45 hours ago.... WE ARE LIVING THE SAME LIFE! How do I contact this person!? I only read about half of her comment because it just knocked me to the GROUND how similar.... I mean... SAME our stories are! I need to talk to her. I can't figure out how to respond to a comment or click on a profile or anything? Can someone help me? Is there a forum?

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        Confused mother of 4 year old 

        5 weeks ago

        Long story short..... I’ve been in my stepsons life since he was a 1 1/2. His mother has never been there. My husband wouldn’t let me watch him on my own till we were married and he was 2 1/2. My stepson always wants his dad. Never wants me. His dad is cool and fun and I have to do the disciplining. He’s very hyperactive and it annoys me because in public he tries to give everyone’s attention with this hyperactivity and he just makes the noises and faces but he repeats him self over and over until the person he’s talking to is like “ok ok that’s nice” and he’s like “oh look ... hey loook.. look at me” I think there’s something wrong with him. He’s not learning anything and trying so hard to raise him and help him learn and his dad literally does nothing except take him to the park and give him ice cream when I’m not looking even though he hasn’t eaten dinner. I’m starting to think that I just can’t raise him anymore. He looks at me like he doesn’t have to tell me what to do. I have to look at my husband and say “hey... did you hear your son just tell me no?” And then I get back up. He’s making me feel insane. I feel bad but sometimes I want to whip his bottom. I haven’t done that because we don’t do that but he does get a time out spot but he challenges me. He will giggle and laugh and move during his time out. I have a 9 month old with my husband and I feel like I don’t spend time with him because I trying to win the respect and love that I want from my stepson but I constantly feel like a joke and that he doesn’t think that I have a say in the house. Anytime I discipline him, he wants daddy to save him and he does. And my husband isn’t like that with our 9 month old. My 9 month old is only cool when he doesn’t cry... anyway... I feel like I should just let them have their relationship because honestly I just don’t feel like I’m part of their family... I feel like it’s just me and my 9 month old. I’m at a loss of what to do.... or maybe I am wrong and something is wrong with me???

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        Melissa 

        5 weeks ago

        I am so ready for disengagement it's a relief to find out it's actually something that exists! I didn't know this was a thing that people do and I'm so encouraged by this discovery - I have real hope for the first time in a LONG time!

        I am full-time/exclusive stepmother to a 12 year old boy who came to live with us for 2 months in 2016 when he was 9 because of some injuries his mother was experiencing as a result of substance & alcohol use. He was shuffled around with other relatives at first & then 'offered' to us for a summer 'visit'. (He is from a different state) I knew of his existence but had never met him nor had any expectation to. His mother absolutely refused to allow visitation (she has a plethora of issues - officially diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder) and being so far away I honestly figured I'd never know him. I married my partner knowing he had this child, so in a way I was accepting that I might be step-mother to him, but in reality it was never going to be. I had two daughters of my own (full-time sole custody - no visitation), and - that summer, a baby boy on the way. Imminently. This boy was basically thrust into my life during a time of great change and stress, brought there by trauma he endured to be taken from his mother and sent hundreds of miles away (who knows what that creates?) and just "here you go! now you're a step-mother for real". Then, he was summoned back and there he stayed for another year; another year of abuse & psychological terrorism by his crazy mother, being shuffled around constantly. He has his 10th birthday and is in the 4th grade. He operates at a 2nd grade level. Finally, after a year of court crap, he is 'dumped' on us again, unexpectedly, by his guardian. Just flown out here and informed he was coming and get him from the airport. Suddenly, we have to scramble to make room for this now 11 year old (his birthday was the day before he got here) boy, and speculate on what kind of dysfunctional behaviors he's developed over this timeframe, and just all kinds of uncertainty. I honestly thought I would never see this person again. My heart breaks for what he's gone through his entire life. No child should have to experience that. He's been essentially ruined. His mother made him so dependent on her for everything, essentially suppressed normal development to keep him a baby. He didn't know how to use utensils, provide his own basic hygiene, only does something when he's told and then not even what you instructed him to do, pathologically lies about anything and everything - there's just a crap-ton of stuff that is wrong with him. Despite he's a kind gentle spirit, very intelligent, and very - VERY - wounded. He's super passive-aggressive and I think developed a learned helplessness. This is very difficult to try to overcome in a child that is entering into adolescence.

        He has now been with us full-time continuously for 18 months. I understand that there is a reasonable adjustment period for household changes, especially of this magnitude. It has been 18 months. And he is NO more acclimated to our family and 'household culture' than when he first arrived. I *understand* why he is the way he is, why he does the things he does, that it's typical of all space-cadet boys entering puberty, he may have be on the spectrum somewhere, he had a horridly abusive mother and that f's a boy up like crazy - I do totally get all that. However - HOWEVER - I can't live like this. The complete and utter devastation that has been wrought on my family from his entrance into it has been catastrophic. My oldest child has since moved out (naturally - she was 19 at the time and joined the military), my second one is 13 and my baby is 2 1/2. This kid is large (heavy & tall) and does the stupidest stuff constantly. Not occasionally, not even just daily - all day every day. No exageration. And, it's like he does it on purpose. I have now realized he is likely very passive-aggressive and that would be natural considering what he had to deal with his mother. I totally get it - when you can't overtly express anger, you covertly do it. I. Get. It. -- but I can't LIVE with it. And I don't know what there is to do. I want to like him - I just don't. He's foreign to me, I don't know him, I don't like what his presence in our life has done to our life, I don't like what this being with us represents, I feel irrationally resentful toward him even though cognitively I know he's the most victim of everyone involved. I know he didn't choose this, I don't he doesn't deserve it, I know it's not his fault. However - now that he's with us permanently he really needs to figure his life out. What has happened in the past is nothing he can do anything about - nor us - but he can decide and do something differently for the future. And I would be encouraged if there had been ANY progress in the last year and half. And I'm not seeing this through jaundiced eyes - I make my observations rather matter-of-factly actually. I'm not set-up to despise him or anything - I just see things how they are. He's intelligent and has learned a LOT of maladapative behaviors from his mother. He's highly manipulative, petulant, passively oppositional, super socially awkward, and does all this crap because it has historically been effective. But never at our house. Never has been. He hasn't gotten away with anything at our house so I don't know why he keeps trying nor when he will stop trying and just get over it and move on. My life is in shambles and I don't have anyone to blame except myself for getting involved in it, even if the possibility was so remote as to be considered impossible. It still was and I should have chosen differently. Since I can't, disengagement is what I need to do. My husband is not on board with it - "he needs two parents" and my response is "I had nothing to do with his existing why is it my responsibilit to be the other parent?" and as cold-hearted as that sounds, it's just true. I have taken care of my children (my 'baggage') and he has been great in being an involved stepfather to them and is a great father to our son. But I had nothing to do with creation or development or raising of his son and refuse to be associated with his outcome. I just can't. Just like I can't adopt all the foster kids that need homes, or feed all the starving children in India, or rehabilitate all dogs in my city - I can't take on the blackhole of need this boy is. I have *my* children to ensure success of, I have *my* interests and needs to pursue, I have *my* emotional and mental health to preserve.

        The other thing is, just like my husband constantly dissuades me from disengaging his family doesn't get it, either. At family gatherings they're like "how SS?" and "oh isn't that so great SS is blah blah blah" and I'm like "why are you asking me about this kid? I don't have anything to do with that situation. Ask his dad/your brother/your son about that" and then *I'm* the bad guy.

        Why is it so bad to be honest about things, be real about this? I want to care about him so much, I want to envelope him into the fold of my other children - the fact is, he's not my child, he doesn't want me as his mom (he doesn't even want his mom, but only because she's not a good one - he wants a mom for sure though), if he could live in the house with everyone in it except me he would love it. We've talked about it openly! I just can't be tied to his karma. I can't stomach the idea of his behavior and problems in school (he's at a 3rd grade level while in 6th grade) and socially reflecting on me. That's not the quality of child I produce. It's not my problem. "not my monkeys, not my circus". If he had come to us when he was a toddler there may have been some real hope of it being totally different. But he didn't, and now it's really too late. I don't know how to rehab a child, and I didn't go looking for one to learn how. I married his father. And now I get to reap the whirlwind.

        anyway - time to destigmatize disengagement because most of the time, honestly, it's really what needs to happen. And it doesn't need to be some punitive thing, some ultimatum.

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        The Full Time Step Parent 

        5 weeks ago

        I was thankful to read this article. I married my husband 16 years ago, and he had a 2 year old with his ex wife. We spent the first year of our marriage fighting for custody of him, and he ended up with full sole custody, the ex wife with weekend visitation. I was ALL in as the ‘full time mom’ I didn’t like the word ‘stepmom’. I was fully engaged for the next 14 years. It was a bumpy ride. We were being sabotaged every time he left for a weekend visit with his bio mom and her family. Our son would come home with hatred in his eyes toward me. I tried to talk to him, to get out of him what was going on. He was a wonderful kid, I loved him dearly. But there was so much mental and emotional abuse taking place when he visited his other family. They were so bitter towards my husband and I both for fighting for custody and winning all those years earlier. I did end up disengaging during his senior year of high school. My husband has been a wonderful father and fully supportive of me. We do also have 2 other children together. The day my stepson graduated he left to move several states away to his mom’s brothers home. This was a plan that his bio mom’s family hatched with him and told him not to tell us about. He has since just been complete brainwashed by this family. The once loving and sweet kid has said the most horrible things about me and his father. It’s always seemed like in his mind, he couldn’t love all of us.....he felt he had to choose who to love at any given time. My husband and I tried so hard to help him understand but this other family had some seriously excellent brainwashing skills. We are now very heartbroken and hoping and praying he comes back to his right mind as he gets older. I was happy to be a stepmom, I loved my step son because he belonged to my husband. I felt like it was my calling in life to step in and make a difference in his life. I hope this story has a happy ending someday! Step-parenting is not for the weak.

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        Anonymous 

        6 weeks ago

        I'd just like to make an addition to my post below regarding the effects of disengaging on stepchildren, I can only speak from my own experience here, as I knew my skids from just 8 & 9, to them being 22 & 23 now.

        My husband did the classic, guilt / permissive / yes dad parenting to the extent of actually grovelling, putting his kids in the driving seat, and running himself ragged appeasing them......and expected me to do the same

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        Annonymous 

        6 weeks ago

        Anna,

        It sounds like you believe that being a step parent is the same as a biological parent, but this is not like biological parenting where you have to deal with the usual challenges children bring and just get on with it, biological children do not usually wholesale reject their parents as they do their step parents, most of us go into these situations wanting to love and support their step children, and even if your only concern is for the welfare of the children without any consideration for the step mother, then consider this, step children often prefer it when the step parent dis engages, they never wanted her there in the first place, disengaging has 2 positive effects as far as I can see, in a functional parent child relationship, you are stepping back and allowing them to be the family they need to be, i'e what they were before S M turned up, and in a dysfunctional parent child relationship, it forces the biological parent to take responsibility for the child, and the child to realise that not everything that is wrong is to do with S M, S M is a friction for them, remove the friction, and calm things down, that doesn't mean the door is permanently closed to them, but as a step mother of 16 years it has been my experience that it's best to let the children come to you in their own way and own time, and if they never want to, then accept that, although in my case I now have love affection in bucket loads from both of them, and I backed off for years on end!

        Anna, it sounds like you have some real anger issues here, I suspect you have made a martyr of yourself and expect everyone else to do the same, I have the love of my step children without ever having done that, in fact I think it's because I did nothing it took the pressure off them, it was a little weird for a while, but real and positive adjustment took place during that time, I guess that makes me an "evil step mom" in your eyes, but peddling that phrase is what makes our job ever more toxic, as it is a 'trope' adopted by children and biological mothers alike to demonise step mothers, if anyone else reads Anna's post, please don't feel guilty for the child about disengaging, in my experience it is a benefit to all concerned.

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        Stepmomdone 

        6 weeks ago

        I thought I was helping teach my new husband how to raise respectful decent humans. Their mother is the worst human being I've ever been so unlucky to meet. Narcissist is putting it mildly she is text book to the "T". One nice thing about that is she is so genaric I always can predict her next move.

        I see the manipulation so clearly. It's like cheesy bad acting but they fall for it everytime. My husband and I went through counseling to overcome his need to fight with her constantly. We went no contact except email over a year ago. I feel so bad for these boys. The oldest I gave up on, he will forever be her golden boy(lap dog if you ask me). I tried to guide, show and prove to my husband what he should do with his kids. He holds all this guilt and is, just to me a lazy parent. Throw money at them and let them eat junk everyday. I cannot be unhappy and frustrated anymore so I quit.

        I know now his kids will never be the way I raised mine or behave like them. We only have the 16 yr old at our house now so I'm going to just pay attention to my marriage not about a kid that my husband won't put any effort into to eating right, behaving, being respectful, get decent grades (C's would be just fine) so why should I?

        My bestfriend from grade school woke me up about this. In my eyes I was such a good mom that I was doing all this good. I made things very clear how my SS will speak to me and he has done pretty good so far. I was thrilled when I saw him be respectful to me and listen to me. HA! I am thinking now he might have just been manipulating me. Not my job and never was. I also I will not be uncomfortable in MY own home. No more free housekeeping, running him around, and favors after yesterday.

        My husband's kids are trust fund kids, so that sucks all around. The are so entitled and think they are better then everybody. The older one still is influenced by his mom calling me a whore for years. She abused them to extremes that you would only see on a Lifetime movie with a warning for unsuitable material for some audience. I didn't find out most of the disgusting stunts she pulled until my husband printed out 4 years of texts between them and we sat down read them all in a row. It was sick and that was all it took to go no contact. So as a mother I just wanted to save them but my friend MMP shook me out of my frustration. I thank this woman and she doesn't even have kids. I knew nothing about kids and raised them from books. So it doesn't take someone who has a bunch of kids to know what's up or a good parent.

        I am a very creative and usually level headed woman. I don't go around screaming and making empty threats... I make promises that I keep. So this is what's going down on Monday while the two men in my home are gone.

        I will apologize to my SS and tell him I read that a step mom shouldn't get involved with any enforcement of rules or disaplining. I will tell him that he will need to go to his dad for everything. That won't be hard these 2 call my husband constantly for everything. I say make them call their mom. He says"they know she won't do anything" I respond "do they? Maybe you should let them be reminded of that". This will be no longer my business if my husband wants to be the hero and let her skate by... Fine. I will not stick my nose in and tell him to talk to his kids about anything. Even though the 16 yr old is so happy lately with his mom is pretending to be a real mom now.... Only to look good for her bf she just moved in with and the court. I give it 3 weeks if not less. I also will not be around for my SSs disappointment and anger.

        What just blew me out of the water was I asked him to pick up all the trash in his bathroom and do HIS cat liter box. So much back and forth because his Uber was here. Oh ya, he has a rich grandma and does very well with his own business. So this means he always has money that I have access to because he is a minor.

        I will leave a list of my fees for cleaning up after him. I'll ask politely once then he has 5 minutes and I will just do it and charge him. I refuse to live in filth, I refuse letting some kid run my house. I have had to put locks on rooms that he tried to just take over(my office for one because his room was to messy he couldn't move around)Lord, I am taking back my mental health and sanity. This won't go over well with either of them but, oh well, not my problem. Thank you MMP as if going crazy from premenopause isn't bad enough I don't need to do anything that goes unappreciated.

        Since my SS can't hit the trash at all. I have been shopping for a huge trash can to put in his bathroom to help him out. I feel awful I bought a defected one that spits out 2 months of trash onto the floor. I also will put a safety feature in it of 100lbs of sand so it can't get knocked over or moved. Wouldn't want the lad to get a complex about not being able to throw trash away properly. I know have to make fun of everything just like his new amazing light bulb I gave him.

        I feel great and I'm not lazy. This will absolutely not be a week long promise, I follow through.

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        Jasmine 

        6 weeks ago

        The reality is parents seperate. The option is to stay single, or to meet another partner. Raising children with someone else is easier, rather than by yourself, for these reasons, and this is in my experience. A partner helps with cooking, housework, pays the mortgage, looks after the kids so the other person can work, provides entertainment, cleans up mess, listens to stories, makes the kids feel better when they are sad. Which is fine, and the way it should be, because as a contributing adult this is what you do. The issue is more about the energy you give out and dont get back. It's not sustainable.

        To expect someone to thrive like that is unreasonable. That's why it's fine to disconnect from them all for a while, in fact this is the only way it works.

        Having kids is a choice mostly, its not like cerebal palsy or schizophrenia. You can't have your cake and eat it too, you make that decision, it's no-one else's reponsibility.

        Of course if you know a person has children and you chose to enter into a relationship with them, you have to manage some stuff, and make some compromises, but I think you'll find with most mature adults, they draw a line in the sand, straight from the get go. This is what I can do/give, and if you are willing to work with me fine, but if not, so be it. There is compromise on both sides. I never wanted to be a mother, the mother chose to be a mother. I contribute as I would in any other household I've lived in, but when the contribution is not even, I get tired - it's science. It's ok to not bend over backwards for other people to the point of emptiness. If someone who made a decision (that you were not in involved in) expects you to live your life based on that decision entirely,

        well that is selfishness. My partner loves me, if I was to leave, he would be devastated and of couse so would I. His children know we care about each other, and I think they would like to see him happy rather than not. So the issue is, we all compromise. I wont be a slave, but I will always contribute. I wont tolerate abuse, as I'd leave, I have too many other things in my life and I'm not vulnerable. Kids need to learn life is not just about them, as they leave the nest eventually, they will come to realise that no one else will treat them like their parents. Sorry, but the person keeping a roof over their head, food on the table, entertainment, gifts etc has the right to do whatever the hell they please, as long as they are not emotionally/physically abusing anyone and if that's disconnecting every so often, that is the best thing you can do. And if you aren't willing to teach your child respect and aren't willing to compromise as a parent, just stay single.

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        Anonymous 

        7 weeks ago

        Anna

        Sounds like you have no idea how difficult this can be. It’s so easy to pass judgement. Not every situation is the same and sometimes terrible situations aren’t truly revealed until after the fact.

        Some people can be truly crazy and make these situations awful (manipulative kids and exes for example) Sometimes stepping back or “disengaging” is healthier than trying to force something that’s unnatural or just a bad situation. “Step” moms are allowed to think of themselves and preserve their sanity.

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        KimberAnne 

        7 weeks ago

        Thank you so much. I am feeling like a horrible person. I recently witnessed my 17 year old stepdaughter trying to convince medical personnel that her mother was abusing her, then within 24 hours she was on the phone with her mother saying i was mistreating her because of following thru on agreed upon action plan to search her backpack. As a result I have told my husband i will not be alone with her and put myself at risk of her lies when she is angry. He does not understand. I am ready to move out.

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        Anna 

        7 weeks ago

        This is so fucking shitty and selfish. People that "disengage" dont deserve to be stepmoms. Step parenting is all or nothing. Instead of constantly thinking about what is your responsibility and how "exhausted" you are of caring for and loving your partners kids, you might want to think from the childs point of view. This child did not choose for you to come into their life. If you dont want to raise and love someone else's kids, dont marry someone with kids. You will have the child believing you dont care and dont love them. Yes, being a step parent is EXTREMELY hard. Much harder than being a regular mother. If you are not upto the challenge, dont even bother. This is exactly why the "evil step mom" trope exists. Women like this believe that they can be in some sort of half way point where they can be in a relationship with a man children and not do any of the raising, loving, caring or work. If you want to be in a relationship with a man with kids, but dont want to help raise his kids, become a motherly figure for someone else's child, be exhausted, or put in hard work, then stay the hell away and find a bachelor, because youll be doing the kids more good if you just dont come in the first place.

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        Fed up 

        8 weeks ago

        What to do when the skids own father doesn’t like the people that they are? The drama, lies and manipulative behavior. Not a good thing to watch the husband “play along” to keep the peace. He gets walked on all the time.

        So over the whole situation...

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        April 

        2 months ago

        I have been married to my husband for 6 years (together a year prior). He currently has a 24 year old daughter and a 20 year old daughter. They were 18 and 15 when I met them for the first time. I have no children of my own, however I was a step mother in my previous marriage and am still in contact with my former step-daughter. So, I had no reason to think that this step-parent/step-child relationship would be any different. What I didn't count on was a manipulative mother/ex-wife. To add to the difficulty, the mother and I graduated high school together and knew each other since Junior High. Under no circumstance did I realize the toxic personality she had. I have tried everything and she has worked against me since the very beginning. The oldest daughter has been diagnosed with bi-polar and the youngest feels it is her duty to make sure her mother isn't upset...so will lie and tell her mother things that are none of her business. After a very difficult, stress and anxiety filled 5 years of dealing with the ex and the two girls, I have disengaged. I still interact with them when they are in the house (oldest is on her own, youngest is "roommate" with her mother since mother can't afford her own apartment), but I don't get involved in the drama anymore. My husband and I have had many conversations about this and our agreement is this: He will come to me with situations he is dealing with when it comes to the ex or the girls, and ask me how I think he should deal with it. We discuss the different options, I give him my opinion and then he chooses what he thinks is best. BUT NEVER do I get involved directly anymore. This has greatly reduced my anxiety when around the girls and luckily we are never around the ex. She stays away for the most part unless it is regarding the girls and something with them. But the oldest daughter has been the most difficult for me to deal with so after having disengaged our relationship has actually gotten better. I don't feed into their drama therefore I don't get wrapped up in it. I don't know the situation that many others are in and I consider myself lucky to not have some to deal with some of the situations here, but since I have disengaged it has been so much better. My suggestion is to make sure you and your husband talk about you disengaging...you can't just do it without his knowledge or without him having a chance to discuss it with you. You need to make sure he understands the damage being done to you and your relationship by you staying engaged. My husband completely understood (he is a great guy) and never really wanted me to try in the first place. He saw the disrespect immediately and was actually confused as to why I kept putting myself in the line of fire, but I was trying to "blend" with his family. Now I realize that it might not ever happen, but if it does, it will have to wait until the girls are much much older and possibly until they have families of their own and understand how these things work. I am okay with that. Because I have the support of my husband. It has been a long road (I know it hasn't even been that long) but we are now on the same page and work together to keep our emotions in check when it comes to the drama of the girls and the ex. Disengaging was the only answer for me.

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        Carla 

        2 months ago

        My Step Daughter has been telling people that she is scared of me and now she refuses to stay at our home.She is very convincing I know this because she lived with us for two years and had me convinced that she needed protecting from her mother.

        The counciller did say she was devisive but it really hurts having this done to me and her Dad is very upset.

        Recently I was in my lounge talking to my visitting Nephew and his girlfriend and needed my glasses from the truck. As I walked out to the truck the workers girlfriend (whom step was staying with) came running toward me gesturing that I stop. I then realised she had step in the car on the faR SIDE OF THE CARPARK AND THAT SHE THOUGHT i WAS HEADING THERE TO UPSET HER . I was so upset . I couldn't eat for most of the day after that.

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        Annoymous again 

        2 months ago

        Someone mentioned holidays and disengaging on here, thought I needed to add my experience to this, as I had some holiday's from hell with the husband and skids, where disengaging is impossible without careful preparation and planning, having suffered many 7-10 day holidays of their exclusive little bubble behavior, being ignored, and not included in the daily decision making, tagging along like a bad smell, I threatened never to go again, OH NO! What kind of message will that send to the kids! You can't do that! So I booked a holiday for us all where everything that I needed, and they needed was within walking distance, that was an extremely safe environment for them, so that they could go off with their dad, and leave me to do whatever I wanted, I didn't join in their activities much, I didn't get up when they did, because nobody was waiting for me to get in a car to go on an excursion where we are all stuck to each other all day, also, it was in this country, so I invited a friend to come and stay for a few night's, how we laughed!The skids didn't like that, I had my own little bubble ; ) touche! So they WERE aware of my existence after all!

        But, they really seemed to enjoy their holiday, it really took the pressure of us all to have a good time together, and blow me down! But I actually enjoyed it too.

        But what I think is worth mentioning, is the idea of what we expect from ourselves, will people think I'm rude / bad for not being more involved? I came to the conclusion that they might, but if they were not prepared to be respectful to me, why should I care!? Being a martyr is destructive for everyone involved, someone once told me to stop trying to push a pea uphill with my nose, it's heartbreaking when you don't get the situation you want, but you have to be pragmatic and recognise the situation for what it is, and ask yourself if you can live with it or not, and look for ways of dealing with that reality or get out altogether, I wasn't prepared to do the latter, so decided to find ways of keeping me sane to the skids left home, which has pad off as they are now long gone and I am now one of the 'tribe' at long last when they do come home for a visit, as I have said before,.....

        disengaging saved my sanity, and gave them the one to one time with dad they obviously needed after the trauma of their parents divorcing.

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        Annonymous 

        2 months ago

        I began living with my step children and their father 16 years ago, in a house we bought together, all was rosy to begin with, all involved, but I completely disengaged with both them and my husband whilst they were around ( most of the time ) because they all excluded me ( inc husband ) ,and my every attempt at being in their bubble, I basically just turned up for meals, said nothing, having been ignored for so long, and left the table without speaking, only returning to do the washing up once they had all left the room, if anyone noticed I was absent in every sense, nothing was said, I actually think they all preferred it this way, grrrrrr ; they couldn't have been happier my husband knew all the issues ad nausium, but refused to tackle them, so I thought why should I bother! This went on for years and years.

        My youngest step child left home 4 years ago, and we have since moved house, now both step children are grown up and living their own lives, and guess what! No damage done! Not for them anyway, we all have a great relationship, we now are all on equal terms, and instead of dreading their visits, I actively look forward to them!

        A friend of mine, who has no understanding of being a step mother, but is a biological mother, said she thought I did the right thing by stepping back and allowing them to be the family they needed to be, meaning...without me! Well, it seems this is what they needed, but who spares a thought for the lonely step mother? I am somebody's child too, but in an age where children come first, someone has to come second, or they aren't even considered any sort of priority, so disengage away I say! If you're missed, somebody might consider doing something about it, and if not, go off and do your own thing, there's only 1 thing which is more important to me than my marriage, and that's my sanity, I learned that the hard way, but cheer up, there's life after kids : ) unless you lose the plot before they leave home ; )

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        Kim 

        2 months ago

        Thank you for writing this article and supporting the step parents who have tried. I have been in my step daughter’s life for about 11 years. My husband and I have been married and living together since 2015. The first couple of years went great. My husband’s ex-wife does not work and uses the child support check as income and doesn’t always use it to support her child. We carry health insurance, pay for her cell phone, got her in a car, help her with clothes, laptops, car insurance, you name it. My husband does his part, but as my step daughter gets older, things get more expensive and I have helped as well. Recently, her mom promised to pay for a college course (that will be paid for by the state and the federal government after she graduates) that costs $500. Well, surprise, surprise, she didn’t have the money and then we were asked for the money less than a week after Christmas. We got her a Mac book for college for Christmas and I was astonished that she was asking us to pay for something her mom committed to. I have a problem with my husband’s ex-wife thinking she can run our bank account. So the step daughter starts crying to her dad and we’re now the bad guy even though the mom committed to paying for this. My husband falls for this every time. It seems he doesn’t hold his ex-wife accountable to her obligations because it’s just easier to have us pay for it. I feel completely taken advantage of and it’s starting to feel like a game. My husband’s ex-wife is making decisions that I’m supposed to pay for? And she doesn’t even have a job, her car is broken down and doesn’t have a bank account. She lives in another person’s home with my step daughter and pays rent, I guess? No plans after she gets her final “child support” check in 4 months. It seems the more we help my step daughter, somehow it benefits his ex. My step daughter finds her behavior acceptable because she gets everything she wants from us. My favorite is when the ex calls my husband and tells him all her problems about her broken down car. What are we supposed to do? She’s piled all of the financial parenting obligations on us for her daughter and I’m pretty sure she tells my step daughter she doesn’t have to do anything I ask (which are things that are in my step daughters best interest and don’t benefit me at all: get tutoring for the ACT so she can get more scholarship money, fix her car that has body damage on both sides, join clubs, keep money in savings for emergencies, etc.). Now we’re supposed to hear about her financial problems, too? Meanwhile I get all of the pressure to satisfy all of the financial obligations she made to her daughter that she has no intention of fulfilling? I’m planning to financially disengage. Something is really off here. I told my step daughter she doesn’t have to listen to anything I say, but I also don’t have to give her money. Tried to help her, but I’m pretty sure the the mom is working against me, her dad parents out of guilt and I’m expected to give her money for extra things and pay surprise bills her mom committed to. I’ve done enough and it goes unappreciated. It’s time to step back.

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        Felicia 

        2 months ago

        I have started recently disengaging with my step daughter and it is helping me. I am so close to losing my temper with her and she has caused me a mental breakdown.

        Ill be driving down the road and she was using my phone (cracked screen) she knicked her finger and started screaming and yelling at me, claiming that I cut her.

        Or she'll be punching her step brother (my son) and if I walk in and pull her off, she screams abuse.

        Since disengaging, I have had fewer of those incidents. It may be time to take my boy and leave.

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        Charles 

        2 months ago

        As a husband of a wife who has been mostly disengaged from the very beginning, I have mixed feelings about this.

        On one side, I do want everyone to be together, her kids, and my kids, and us as parents, and be one big happy family.

        On the other, I understand how stressful it can be to deal with kids who were raised differently, who have special needs, and have different life views.

        (for example My wife grew up in a very quiet home, and her past marriage was very quiet. I grew up with a large family, and raised my kids in close to family, so we are used to noise, and lots of people. Blending the quiet introverted ways, and loud crowded ways is difficult. I fear I will never have a meaningful relationship with her kids.)

        The hardest part for me is that my wife has disengaged with the kids, but tells me what the kids need (how to dress/behave/feel) , and then complains when my kids do not do as she wishes, and complains how they reflect on her.

        Another hard part, is since she is not engaged, I feel I need to spend what time I can with my kids, then she guilts me with I put my kids before her.

        It seems a double standard to say "I am disengaged", and "I am responsible/judged for how they are".

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        Brinda 

        2 months ago

        I've been having a lot of issues with my stepchildren, age 12 girl, and 8 boy. And because of lies they told their mom CPS is in our lives. I need advice, help, something. I'm scared to be around them, in fear of CPS taking my own children away. I have a big feeling their mother is making them act up on purpose to gain custody because we have them week to week. I take care of them on her week and mine. Because my husband works, and ex-wife works. Now it's a big issue. Me and the stepkids were bonding so we'll, getting close. Intill the past 3 months

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        Taylor 

        2 months ago

        When I first started dating my now husband, his kids were 3 and 4. When they were 4 and 5 he got physical custody, but the “joint” part was still in the court order, however, the kids are now 5 and 6 and we’ve barely received any child support and their mother hasn’t made any contact in 5 months. When we first got the kids, the younger one didn’t know his alphabet or numbers by site, and neither of them could even use a fork or spoon properly because they were used to eating pizza pockets or McDonald’s every night. When we got them I was all about making dinner every night and it was a constant struggle, and still is at times. If it’s a food they’re not used to or think they don’t like they make themselves throw up or they would sit there for hours. Finally I started putting a timer on and if they weren’t done by then, guess what no tv or playing, it’s off to bed. This upset the older one quite a bit because he wasn’t used to rules. Quite frankly this pisses me off because I’m over here spending hard earned money on food and cooking it for their ungrateful asses. The 5 year old is actually doing better about eating now, but the 6 year old drives me nuts. He still makes himself throw up and he’s a crybaby. He runs to daddy when I make him sit there and eat. And they’ve always babied the 6 year old, and he’s still all about cuddling and holding his dad’s hand and being all over him, and sure, for his age this sounds normal, but I catch him doing this to divert his father’s attention from his younger brother. He’s a conniving little shit! I get so upset over the amount of attention they gave the older kid compared to the younger one because it explains a lot of the issues the younger one has. He has an IEP for his speech (same one who didn’t know his numbers or letters), his hearing and eyes have never been checked and guess what we take him to the eye doc and he needs glasses, we take him to the ear doc and they pulled out masses of wax, and I swear his speech started improving after that. To top it off they both were peeing the bed up until maybe 3 months ago? They drive me insane. They’re cry babies, and constantly need praise and I don’t want to give it to them. I feel terrible for saying so, but I can’t help how I feel. They’re not mine and one was favored for most his life, where as the younger one is tough and super intelligent but no one gave him a chance. I taught him his letters and numbers and I made sure he got the issues he had taken care of, and then today their dad asks me to lay off the older one about food when even though the younger one can eat better? WTF! Treat them the same or it’s going to give them complexes!

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        Tessa 

        3 months ago

        My husband originally had 50/50 custody of his son, his mother is a very toxic woman and did everything in her power to make MY life a living hell. My stepson was a reflection of her actions, rude, disrespectful and a bully to my children and family. I fell in to deep depression and anxiety because of all the drama, finally I had a sit down with my husband and asked him to talk to his mother and asked her what she wants so he did. She wanted full custody and for me to have NOTHING to do with her son... He wouldn't agree to full custody but he took every other weekend and I make him stay with his parents on his shared time with his son. This arrangement has been going on for 2 years and I couldn't be happier however I wish things could be different because he miss out tremendously. No holidays or vacations with us and my children aren't apart of their big brothers life. My mother in law asked if I would consider allowing him to visit at our home now that he's older? She said he sometimes ask why he wasn't invited to certain outings that he find out about thru pictures or conversations he over hear. NO...! I won't allow his mother to break the peace in my home again sorry

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        Nicole 

        3 months ago

        Stepmothers are unnatural blended families don’t work because it goes against human biological instinct to care for a child that is not yours related by DNA if you already have your own child. ( minus adoptions) Look at the Wolf pack.

        ALPHA moms care and invest 100% on their young. The thought of wasting time energy and resources on another women’s kid at the expense of your own child is crazy,

        BETA moms are the Stepmothers who would rather waste time energy and resources on another women’s young, at the expense of their own young. All for attention “wow you do so much”...or for self esteem, because they don’t think they are good enough mothers in the first place.

        ALPHA moms know who they are and focused on their own kids.

        This is why Alpha Bio Mom and Beta Stepmother combos don’t work out...beta and beta and alpha and alpha work.

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        Nicole 

        3 months ago

        I find the majority of Stepmothers are hypocrites as they won’t want there own children to be raised by a stepmother but make the step kids endure these dysfunctional blended families. I call it to justify there existence.

        I think every stepmother should do a prenup stating if divorce with joint kids together the kids go to the ex husband to be raised by a stepmother.

        Make their own children endure the same suffering they inflict another women’s children.

        If this was the case I think women would think twice about playing the StepNanny.

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        Toddie 

        3 months ago

        Although it has taught me valuable lessons and has matured me like nothing else could, blending is a decision I would NOT EVER repeat. After 7 years of marriage, I moved out of MY house about four months ago. I needed space to stay sane and to remain married to my husband. I feel better about myself and my marriage since leaving. And I am accepting that I still want nothing to do with my skids.

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        Nicole 

        3 months ago

        All Stepmothers need to disengage and realize the harsh truth men are using them as StepNannies for free childcare, maid, and chauffeur duties. Most men would be unfit to care for their own children day in day out by themselves so instead of hiring a nanny they marry and create stepmothers. These dysfunctional families destroy children childhoods with 70% failure rates.

        Stop doing and wake up to reality Stepmothers are “the help” of the 21st century.

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        Mel 

        3 months ago

        Blended families are challenging without any extra help. After living together for a few years after our marriage I decided to disengage because it was only a matter of time before I was accused of doing something really horrible to my step kids. I bought my own home and my husband stays there with me when he’s not parenting. He has 50/50 custody. I will only be around my step boys, that I deeply care about, when we’re in public or when others are at their dads home.

        I would LOVE to share my experience because even though so many people’s egos wouldn’t let them make this choice it’s been AMAZING. My marriage is flourishing.

        While it’s unfortunate that my step kids can’t benefit from having another loving adult in their lives it’s better for them too.

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        Hippie66 

        3 months ago

        Sums up how I feel.....and puts a name to what had to be done to save myself

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        Lori Sims 

        3 months ago

        I'm so glad to see you discussing this. I HAD to disengage because my parenting the stepkids was destroying my marriage. After successfully disengaging and re-engaging (slowly over time), my husband and I started Nacho Kids and most recently the Nacho Kids Academy to help other blended families who were struggling to blend by sharing our story and walking them through the steps to properly use the Nacho Kids method. We have had great success stories! "Nachoing" as we call it is definitely not for everyone. And unfortunately, most don't learn about it until they are at the point of giving up. I often say I wish I had known to nacho before we got married, but in reality, I probably wouldn't have started off that way because it's not the "norm". I am so thankful I disengaged and learned to nacho. It helped me build great relationships with my stepkids, improved my marriage, and has even helped me in normal life situations that normally would have stressed me out.

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        claudia 

        3 months ago

        When I married moved in with my then boyfriend (now husband), his daughter moved in with us -because she got in a fight with her mother. We have been raising her for almost 4 years. Her Dad lost his restaurant and I am the main provider, working extra shifts to make ends meet and have provided her with the finest clothes, iphone, and pay for her travel soccer team.

        Every time she see's her mother she treats us different and feels her mom is her best friend because she allows her to do whatever she wants when she visits her. However her mother does not do any responsible day to day stuff -only fun stuff. My stepdaughter has become really disrespectful and my husband says he is going to discipline her and then doesn't follow through.

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        Anonymous 

        4 months ago

        leave....if you cant leave...disengage...you are not a martyr...and if your spouse constantly relies on you for things but never cares about what you want...or how much pressure is on you...just run

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        Doris 

        4 months ago

        My husband blames me for his kids behavior cause I'm a stay at home mom.No matter what I do or how hard I try he says I'm to stiff as a mom. Their mom even though she sees them 1 a year is a dirty slob so 1 week undoes all that Ive taught them but his family blames me for their mannerism. My kids chose not to live with me cause they were raised in a more strict environment and cannot stand the way he is with me around his kids. Ive told him many times his kids will be the course of our divorce. To him well they will do better with mom cause she doesn't care what they do. My patience is slowly but surely running out.He just doesn't give a damne what they do but I get all the negative comments if something dare happen to them

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        Anonymous 

        4 months ago

        My boyfriend is the best ever, been waiting to find someone so great my whole life. His 14 1/2 year old daughter isnt great. She's fat, lazy, dumb, rude, selfish, imcompetent, nasty and she stinks. Things were great until she moved back here to live with him. The dummy couldnt cut it at her moms house, flunked 8th grade and sumner school, couldnt get along with stepdad, didnt want to help with her 2 younger sisters. Said she thought moving here "would be easier" meaning she wouldnt have to do anything. My boyfriend took her to dinner at burger king, got 2 sandwiches and 2 large french fries, she thought all the food was for her, he didnt get any. She actually ate every bit of my 8 year olds halloween candy. Who steals candy from a baby? A horrible person, thats who. We have resorted to hiding food or not eating certain things when she comes over, she ALWAYS asks if she can have some, asks to clean other peoples plates at dinner after shes eaten all of her own, always needs something more, extra or different. She would eat the walls off the house if she could. She thinks everything is for her. It took her a million times of being told not to use my bath towel, hairbrush or razor and to hang up the wet towel when she was done. There is no getting through to her either she wears headphones and or stays on her fn phone 24 hours a day. Complains or acts irritated anytime my boyfriend asks her to do anything. I saw her eating the dirt from under her toenails. She thinks she always needs to drink starbucks and go to the salon to get her nails done and eyebrows waxed. Her mom is nasty too, has too many animals and cant do anything for her, didnt buy her anything for her birthday even. Its to the point i asked my boyfriend not to bring her over to my house everyday, i think 3 days a week is more than enough. When she does come over she cant even sit up, she thinks she needs to lay on the whole couch with a blanket leaving no place for anyone else to sit, she actually asked me to move out of MY spot on the couch, or tried to push me out by trying to edge me off to see if i would move. I just go in my room now anytime she is there, really cant stand the sight of her big dumb drooly mouthed idiot face. Its like oil and vinegar, she doesnt fit. Whenever we are doing something she doesnt want to participate, has to do something else no matter what it is. If i go right you can bet she will go left. Ok im going left and now she wants to go right. I dont know if its on purpose or if its really possible for anyone to be that oblivious or out of sync with everything. She is the difference between us having everything and not. Nobody likes her or wants to be around her, not her stepdad, not me, not my boyfriends roomate, found out her best friend isnt talking to her either probably because shes a shitty friend/people see what shes really like. We are keeping 2 seperate houses now waiting for her to turn 18, but I really dont see how this dumbass is going to be an adult in 3 1/2 years. We all know she knows how to use the phone but was too stupid to even schedule her own hair appointment. Shes too dumb to go to college, if she does ever get a job her only motive for working is probably going to be to get money so she can buy cheeseburgers and/or she would probably get fired for eating the whole restaurant. If she has her own money she will become so overweight no boy will ever want her. Dont know how we are ever going to be rid of her. Its really disheartening because i know things could be great if she wasnt in the picture and him and i both deserve to finally have something good.

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        Sam 

        4 months ago

        Feels bad to have to deal with extraordinary crap like this but good to know I’m not alone in the world.

        It’s hard to disengage because that’s not who I am. But it’s ever so necessary for my sanity. I think the hubs realizes what I’m doing. Sometimes actions speak louder than words.

        I dread the holidays because of this stress and I love the holidays. God help us all

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        LisaD1971 

        4 months ago

        I'm glad I find this post. I decided to disengage recently after my 15 year old stepson called me a dumbass without any punishment, and my 11 year old stepdaughter left a note on her bed for me claiming that she would rather kill herself than to accept me because I yell at her father and at them. Neither myself nor my husband understand why she said this because there is no yelling going on in my home. For seven years I have dealt with two children who are diagnosed ADHD (and more than likely the wrong diagnosis or they have a comorbidity) who have destroyed my house, hurt my animals, manipulated their parents, and had the run of the house at liberty.

        I'm no longer going to stress over all the red flags, and antisocial behavior. I've literally developed all kinds of health issues due to the level of stress I've endured for so long. I am also not going to give in to my husband asking me to stand my ground with them. He does not defend me to them, nor does he correct them for their bad behavior toward me.

        To remain engaged with them would be like staying in an abusive marriage and waiting for it to get better.

        God Bless those in my situation... YOU TRIED, LET GO.

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        Lllly 

        4 months ago

        Ive been doing this or 4 years now. Tue kids have moves back and forth often. Lies have been told. Child services have been called. It just keeps on going. Im at my breaking point mentally and physically. Ive decided ro remove myself from any decision making. I am also considering removing my self from

        All family activities. Im not sure how this is going to affect my spouse and I however for my health and sanity ive given all im prepared to give.

        I HOPE everyone finds their peace. God bless.

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        Beverley Heidenreich 

        4 months ago

        I have been a step mum for 13 years, to two teenage daughters. My husband left his first wife because she was gay. His girls were too young to tell and when he tried they walked him out. I helped with study uniforms formals and weddings and I still get the aloof treatment. I’m done. The ex wife says appalling things about me in the Christian community, I know because I hear them. I don’t say anything to our girls because that would hurt them. I have told my husband ‘ I quit’. It’s not lack of love for them I’m just tired of not being loved back and for them it’s too hard because of loyalty. So I have reached the impasse and decided to care for myself which has precipitated my gusband writing a letter to his daughters to explain his life with their mum etc

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        Kristen 

        4 months ago

        I should add that when he does finally say something to kids He is often in a rage and the kids know that he is an out rage at me not them so this does to things

        1. It lets them know that we are not a united front

        2. It shows them that she doesn’t really care about them doing it for the sake of them doing it

        I have read a lot of parent teen literature and watched YouTube videos about how to parent just using natural consequences like I have talked to the 13-year-old about if you don’t wash your hands after you go poop how that can really cause a lot of problems.. but the problem with this is that they know what things bother me or let things I worry about and so they don’t do them just to get to me . My husbands oldest daughter who is 27 said that the 17-year-old has told her multiple things that they have done because they know it would get to me like Leaving poop in the toilet and not flushing it. The house would stink for hours before I could figure out where it was coming from. Anyway husband refuses to go to therapy hey says that his first wife was in therapy and head child protective services called on her for just venting. That he had to vouch for her that she would never hurt the kids but they still took custody of the kids for a while . I suggested accountability partner since I am a Christian so that would sort of be like having someone to talk to and he refuses to do this too. Biological mother is not in the picture at all she lost custody of the kids when she gave birth to youngest because of all the drugs in her system :(

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        Kristen 

        4 months ago

        OK I can totally get with this but what if there are things that the step kids do that hurt us as a family and as a couple and that hurt me?

        Four example :

        13 Year old wants to wear the same thing every day to school. DCS (Or child protective services) Has already been Involved with us because 17-year-old daughter accused my husband of abuse. We have had a total of five open cases resulting in him being charged with child abuse because he didn’t call the police one time when the 17 yr old ran away. So if he’s not making her change is this a situation where I just need to leave him because I have my teaching license and I don’t want to have any charges against me I’m child neglect.

        Also they do other things to cause harm not just trying to get us to argue but also they spit in my food I have found shards of glass in my water bottles and Around this time and one of them was hiding urine in her room so I don’t know what she was going to do it that whether she was going to try to put it in my water or my food or if she was keeping it in there because DCS was checking our house once a week or so.

        Anyway whenever I try to intervene (which is not on major things) just on things like this my husband says that I’m overreacting and he does it in front of them.

        Originally I was trying to do it all cooked dinner and be involved with the school stuff but I have learned to step back my question is should I walk away from the relationship and what would be motivating him to make me be the bad guy ? Because these are clearly things that apparently make a child do , brushing their teeth and changing clothes and taking a shower and washing hands after you go poop Etc

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        BagginsBilbo 

        4 months ago

        Thanks Sam. Perhaps there is light at the end of the tunnel. Theyre all pretty much 12-16 yrs old.

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        Janet 

        4 months ago

        Anne your not alone. Sorry to say of your husband doesn't change it will get worse

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        Sam 

        4 months ago

        Aww, to BagginsBilbo. I hope and pray you find a solution to your problem. How old are the children? I have older teenage children and mine are always on the go now that they can drive. I’m just saying this because my kids aren’t home as much as they used to be and are becoming more and more independent. Maybe there’s light at the end of the tunnel for your situation?

        Now, My husbands children are the same. They never say hello or goodbye. I always have to speak first. I just find it rude and irritating. So I just stopped engaging. Luckily they aren’t around much. I feel you, I don’t think I could handle it everyday. Makes me uncomfortable in my own home.

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        BagginsBilbo 

        4 months ago

        Hi, I'm not a stepdad, but I have been living with my girlfriend and her 3 teenage children for 5+ years. When I met them they were not teens yet. We decided to get a bigger place so they could have all their own space. Here is the problem..

        They rarely say Hi and never say bye to me. They will say it to their mother, and ignore me totally, even we drop them off somewhere together. This has been happening since we first met. I always feel so empty and invisible. The times i do engage them first and say bye to try to avoid the empty feeling, they will just get out of the car not even saying bye to their mother.

        They don't say thank you to me for gifts, etc. Unless their mother tells them to.

        They come into our room and rummage through stuff when we are not home even though she tells them the parents room is off limits. And they generally dont care about any house rules such as no laundry past 9.

        Theres other stuff that is too much to list..

        I am super stressed and get depressed sometimes thinking about it.

        We don't have any kids of our own.

        I was wondering if i should disengage and get my own place again after the lease is up since they don't realize how they live in such a nice house because of my contributions. If they at least showed me a drop of respect or acknowledgment i wouldnt care to disengage.

        Ive talked to my girlfriend about this and she didnt have a good response for me. Only that if i do then i should move close to them. She has also had talks with them and they will change for a few days but it goes right back to square one. I also do not want to force them to do anything they don't want.

        By disengaging and moving out, they will be forced into small apartment living again and that kind of saddens me too.

        What do I do?

        P.s. their Dad is not around and doesn't hold jobs for long because he doesnt like to pay child support. He picks them up occassionaly but often times just drops them off at his parents home and goes to do whatever he does.

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        Meowmix 

        5 months ago

        Step mom for a year now to SS12. Expecting my first baby in a couple of months.

        My SS isn’t a mean kid. He has a good heart, introverted. However...

        He is extremely immature for his age, has been far too coddled by both parents and never has to lift a finger.

        When I say never, I mean he literally carries 0 responsibilities or structure. This is definitely not how i expected it to be. I have tried to enforce more duties and structure but it always ends in a fight between SO and I. They share SS 50/50 and it makes me sad that their lack of parenting is slowly destroying him.

        I have tried getting him to be more in tune with the real world but I have learned to just disengage and focus on my health and my own baby. Hopefully he will grow up

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        Leslie Callder 

        5 months ago

        After 5 years of being with my now husband I am still ignored and ostracized, never included in group texts or special times. He and his ex wife went through a divorce that lasted five years. During which time she had a significant other ( which my adult step children accepted and actually spent Christmas with them and other times) I was always the outsider. I still am. I am tired of reaching out to them constantly. I am tired of being the door mat in the family. Seriously considering disengagement. My husband will not stand up to their rudeness and disrespect.

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        Katie 

        5 months ago

        Finally words to make me feel sane and not alone. My 7 year old SS I met when he was 5. He’s always been very dramatic, rude and talks back to his parents and then me once he got comfortable enough. He’s always been a stressful handful. His mom abandoned him for a time when he was 3 1/2. It was the same time my husband and her split up. They were ready to break up until she got pregnant and then they stayed together for my SS’s first 3 years. Long story short my husband talked about getting the 7 year old counseling since I met them. Finally my SS goes to counseling for the first time today and all he did was complain about me. I’m the most annoying person to him apparently. The counselor told my husband to apologize to me for putting me in a position of being an authority figure so soon in his son's life. Because his mom is a mess and emotionally unstable, it's been my husband's dream of having the boy during the week for school. We just had our first baby together, a sweet little boy and he saw that as an opportunity to have me take the 7 year old to school twice a week. I was very hesitant since I just had this new baby and he's my first, but my husband made me feel guilty like it's all up to me to give the 7 year old a better, more stable life. That way he wouldn't have to go back and forth everyday between here and his mom's. Because she's in school he swayed the mom to let us have him all week and I felt like I had to say yes to taking the boy to school. My husband would bug me every week when I'd be ready because the boy and his mom have a lot of issues since she's very childish and inconsistent in her mothering. He wants to limit their time together as much as possible, yet wants him to have a relationship with her for fear of him not having good relationships with women in the future. I feel like this poor beginning example of a woman in his life set me up for failure. My husband just lacks awareness for telling the 7 year old things that I'm just too aware of. The counselor told him to tell me that I just need to focus on being like the cool aunt with the 7 year old instead of taking on a role of authority. Reading this article has been the most relieving thing I've read in 2 years. I'm not responsible for this child and I'm constantly made to feel like I have to be or else I don't love him. There have been so many times if I was hesitant to take on that role for the 7 year old my husband would accuse me of not loving him. It's been a roller coaster and I finally feel some weight lifting from me. It took a counselor to show him that putting all of that pressure on me is just hurting the relationship between the 7 year old and me. I'm so ready to step back and get my sanity back. I think I'm even going to suggest that the mom take him to school on Wednesdays like she was. Why should I feel guilty when I've done everything that has been asked of me and I'm still the bad guy? Thank you for this!!!!

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        5 months ago

        I have disengaged after reading articles about emotional abuse, realized it was occurring to me, and noted that the perpetrators were my stepchildren and their biological mother. I have emotionally disengaged from them though they remain in the home. It has saved my sanity and my marriage. I now live my own life, focus on my marriage, and have stopped pretending that the situation is something that it will never be.

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        Felicity 

        5 months ago

        I’ve been together with my husband for over 8 years. I met his son when he was 2 years old, however because of my stepson’s unstable mother and grandmother we were unable to have consistsnt time with him. This made me unable to bond with my SS. I then had my own daughter with my husband and life was great. SS’s mother would make remarks to SS that I am not his mother, and my daughter is not his sister. At this point my husband would have every other weekend with his son, and it always ruined our weekend. At the time I didn’t realize how much SS had become brainwashed by mother and grandmother. A few years later when SS was in 2nd grade my husband gained full custody due to his mother abandoning her children to live in another state. When this happened I realized just how terribly they have ruined my SS’s life. He had to repeat the 2nd grade because when his mother left his grandmother hardly took him to school, and when she did his appearance and school items were so terrible the teacher alerted the principle to neglect. My SS acted like a young toddler, helpless, unable to do anything. My husband has always left everything to me as the “mother”. I felt an unexplainable guilt to try and fix this child’s life. I felt like it was my responsibility, and if I failed then I failed as a mother. My husband has always turned a blind eye to my troubles. Fast forwarding time to now, my SS is in 5th grade, and we have full custody. We send him to spend time with his mother during the summer break because my SS is highly obsessed with his grandmother. They have a very unhealthy relationship. The grandmother makes my SS feel guilty for living with his father, and makes him feel like he left his grandmother. My SS continues to have trouble with school, telling lies, and manipulating my husband. My husband works as a chef in a busy restaurant so he is gone 13+ hours of the day. His involvement with his son is very minimal. Because of this I have spiraled into a depression of anger and sadness. I now have 2 daughters with my husband (8,4) and I feel my time is taken away from them. My SS does not change his bad habits despite all of my efforts. I am a behavior therapist who works with children with autism, yet still my SS does not respond to my parenting. I have disengaged before, but was drawn back in due to guilt. Now I feel mixed about my choices. My husband is constantly saying my disengagement is neglect, I am a bad mother for doing that. If anyone can give any advice I would greatly appreciate it.

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        Jennifer 

        5 months ago

        Wow! This article is so good! Took the words straight out of my mouth. Also gives me a clearer understanding of my burn out.

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        Leslie 

        5 months ago

        Wow, finally my feelings validated! What I’m coming to realize that it’s not so much the kid but my husband lack of parenting, anyone else notice this?

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        Nancy 

        5 months ago

        I never even had the opportunity to engage with my step children in the first place because right after I married my husband, Ex wife made it crystal clear to me and her children that she did not want me mothering her children, even though she lives across the country and we have full custody during the school year. She turned the kids against me and my husband and made up a bunch of lies to try and get full custody of them, but the court did not believe her, so she lost badly (at times I wish she had won). I have two children of my own and it feels like two families living in the same house sometimes. I'm luck my husband and I both work from home, so we can tend to our own children, as my step children have completely rejected my cooking, cleaning and decorating ideas, and don't even answer me when I greet them. So I've given up trying. Ex wife has won, I don't want her rude children anyway, but guess what? She did them a disservice by turning them against me because they now have to live with me until they're 18 and I'm treating them the same way they treat me.

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        Jennamomma 

        6 months ago

        Anne-

        i feel your pain and your situation is the exact nightmare im trying to avoid as my step kids turn teenagers. My best advice is if you know it will need to be discussed wait till your alone with your husband. Mine does try bring up issues or challenges me in front of the kids and although its still tense i firmly say "im not going to discuss this now" and dont say anything reguardless of what is said after. At first i let him be in control but now that we share a kid in addition to his first two i no longer allow him to have the final say on all our partenting. Its still very new and i didnt know how to handle any better. His kids knew how to play their parents very well or better put they taught their kids how to. Being the step parent makes an easy target for "she scares me" "she said this" i dont think she likes me" it hard to hear a sad they think that but it infruastes me the way my husband handles the situation. Today both stayed home due to being sick before im even out of bed my husband says my son thinks youll be mad if he stays home...yeah because he wasnt that sick but heard his sister wasnt and was giving the option. All i said was im not taking them to a doctor. Their mom thinks they should, she made an appt, shes taking them. Thats how i disengaged. This is coming from a month ago my step duaghter complaining about her ankle comes home from her moms saying "she said you guys have to take me to see the doctor" (it was said to be growing pains. I wasnt born yesterday i know the difference between not feel good, not well engough to go to school, and needing to going to the doctor) parenting is full of guilt and second guessing being a step parent well i wish it could be called saint parenting the stigmas are so deflating. We have to be 10x better to seem only half as good as whatever their parents do.

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        Jennamomma 

        6 months ago

        Im riddled with guilt but willing to share. Proof reading will not allow me to post this in a timely manner so excuss grammitcal and spelling errors due to the emotional nature. Im 33 and have been married for 3 years almost with a step son 13 step duaghter 11 and made a half sibling 2 yrs. Where do i begin to paint the picture clearly without omitting major factors? 1 I have a mental illeness that i was competely open with howover when having our son i... Well i stayed in a mental hospital twice for a month each within 2 years. Its not anyones fualt but mine however i also knew i had to disengage in order to be the mom i wanted to be for our baby and am so glad to find this artilce now a month into the guilt of disengagment. I love my whole family but theyre all so deprived of love that i began resenting how selfishly they took from me. I knew what i was up agnianst when i said I Do but i could have never anticapated the amount of needy jealousy from my 2 step children and my husband displayed although i vainly thought i did before i even left the materinity ward. It was obvious each had deep emotional scaring surfacing And i have been doing damage control ever since. 2 My husbands parenting style is to be their servent! Whatever thought that gives you... Thats it "your royal highness" and all. They are well tempered kids and will do what you ask them no problem which i know is a blessing comparitably but my counter arguement is that !theyre not asked to do much! I came from a Very discaplined upbringing but in a mild manner do agree with chores, responsiblity, and consequences, oh and horrible forcing of quality family time which quoting from husband in a heated debate "and look how well you turned out" so...3 the living arrangment is: i moved in to a situation where their mom was living many states away. A month after i had moved in she made plans and moved back that summer splitting the weeks and weekends. An agonizing transition that no one handled well. 4 well thats it over the summer we spent a week with my family and my divorced step moms family and in her wisdom she said "you dont have a problem with your kids, you have a major problem with your husband And unless you work on that the children will only continue to be a bigger wedge". A month ago i made it a point to my husband that i love my family and im not giving up but stepping back and not engaging. I will stop here before getting totatly defensive ... Im not a bad scary step mom bossing everyone around nor am I a wet blanket being dragged through their past issues theyre not willing to resolve.

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        LISA 

        6 months ago

        HI iammrswright. I JUST SEEN YOUR POST AND REALIZED THAT YOU WERE PROBABLY STILL ON HERE. I CAN SHARE MY EXPERIENCE WITH YOU IF YOU HAVE A FEW MINUTES.

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        Iammrswright 

        6 months ago

        I took on the roll of wife and step mother on March 3rd of this year. I'm 23 and my husband is 30. My step son is 7 and my step daughter is 9 and they do not have the same mother. My husband has full custody of his daughter, but not of his son. Anyway, my husband and I decided shortly after we got married that I should stay home with the kids. I tried working and juggling the kids but I found myself in bed most of the time and not enjoying them whatsoever. Being home seemed to resolve this for a while. However, I feel a bit lost as to what my role is with them. And as far as disengaging, there are things I feel that I should be actively trying to fix or help with, especially since I'm home with them, but it doesn't seem to be going anywhere. For example, my step son is 7 and doesn't know how to tie his shoes. I've been working on this with him for months and it does take a lot of patience because he has such a short attention span, but I just kept working on it. And then when I picked him up from school after him being with his mom he was wearing velcro shoes. I was so frustrated. My step daughter has a bad habit of talking like a baby and acting like a toddler. It starts to go away after being with me for a while but when she comes back from her moms or is around other people it starts back up again. Those are just a couple of the many things that I'm trying to parent and do my job in, but it's really hard when theres so many other influences involved.

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        Smokymountainsoul 

        6 months ago

        I have an appointment to discuss this with my husband at a counseling session today and this is one of the articles I've brought with me to reference. Pray all goes well. Here goes!

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        Melissa 

        6 months ago

        I’ve been married, for six years, to a man with five daughters, four of which he had with the ex wife, and he ended up with custody of. The ex wife has always been, and continues to be, a thorn in our side. I won’t go into details about everything that’s gone on, because it sounds like complaining. I will say thi, tho; the collective attitude, about what my role, as his wife, and as a stepmom, seems to be “well, you married him. It’s YOUR responsibility.” And, the collective includes my husband, his ex wife, my mother in law, and even his ex mother in law! I’ve even had friends tell me this. I used to keep quiet, when that collective attitude would surface, and I would just remind myself that the girls had NO fault in this—don’t take it out on them. After several times of being told “you married into this”, while my husband sat around on his butt and left me to cook, clean up, do laundry for husband, myself, my kids, AND his kids, I finally responded with “you know, you’re right. I did marry into this. And, I can divorce out of it.” As much as that sounds like a threat, I had to remind them of where that responsibility really belongs. I do what I do to help my husband, because he’s a good man. But, I didn’t give birth to those kids, and I won’t tolerate being bullied into picking up slack for their parents—especially when both parents are able bodied, and perfectly capable of taking care their own kids. I’m his wife, and their stepmother, I’m not the Nanny, the maid, or the cook. I strongly believe in boundaries, and will reinforce them when I need to.

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        Sam 

        6 months ago

        Deelightful-1....I couldn’t agree more. You said that perfectly. The people I deal with (BM & skids) have major disfunction!That’s not how I’m programmed. My spouse just shuts up to their disfunction and drama because he’s tried healthy ways of dealing and is always the bad guy. The kids are always right in BM’s eyes...even with blatant lies. I feel My spouses silence to their drama sends the wrong message. Disengagement is a way to keep sanity. I’m going also going to say for safety so no lies are conjured up because there is little interaction.

        I hate feeling this way in my own home!!!

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        Patricia 

        6 months ago

        I am at wits end with the mother of my stepson. I met my now husband when we both were going through divorce in the same situation both of us being cheated ok and with a 3 year old son each we found a lot in common. His ex wanted to share their son’s time between them equally so they agreed 7 days with her and then 7 days with dad, it was working, my husband at the time struggled as he runs his own business and had to have a full time nanny to take care of his son during the day but he made it work, at the end of each day he would come home cook, feed, bathe and tucking his son to sleep. As we mums know it is a hard job to do with very thing for a child after 12/13hours work but he done it no complains. We met and I moved in with him after 6 months, I started to help out when I could. Then a couple of months later we bought a house together, we wanted a fresh start new house new life. When we moved to our new bigger house the problems started. His ex kept telling him that we weren’t her sons family so neither I or my mother shouldn’t be looking after their son. I done everything for the boy, he and my son gone on well and now they see each other as brothers. She went to a solicitor after over a year of the arrangement saying she wanted full custody, my husband and I were divastated but he fought, went to mediation to try and reach an agreement, sh came up with one week he would pick his son from school on Thursday and drop him Friday, then the following week he would have him Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday then Monday he drop him in school. My husband didn’t want to go to court because this would cause his son to be in the middle of a parental war, so he agreed pained but his son always put first. In the mediation it was specified he wouldn’t need to pay child support because all expenses were shared, then just before I gave birth to our little girl she demand d child support, my husband gave in again so it wouldn’t go to another argument(because of the stress I had high blood problems and had to be induced to give birth luckily i was full term) yesterday 4 years later she again demands that my husband has to be the one to pick and drop his son from school and he be the one to do homework with him not me, even though I tutor a few children and help with homework, also I go to school every day to pick and drop my son from the same year and same school. We are a close nit family I love his son, yes I am tough with him at times but I am tougher to my own children, I have routine and there are rules in our household which I need to make sure they follow otherwise with 3 children at home I would be able to keep up. She is constantly arrasing us , even thought in 4 years she had at least 4 men leaving with her and she says the boy is not stable with us. we had enough we are getting legal advice but please tell me I’m not wrong to say she is not doing this for the best of her child, she is bitter and doesn’t except he moved on.

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        Anne 

        6 months ago

        Hopefully someone has good advice for me. I have been stepmom for 15 years and only had to deal with his son who played us against each other 1 month each year. He is now 17 and his mother gave him to us because she cannot handle him anymore, he smokes marijuana and was selling it and ran away and is just unruly so she washed her hands of him. Now he has been here 2 weeks and he does nothing but sit in his room and play games and goes out every night. I bought him new sheets for his bed and told him to clean up his room and put sheets on bed before he goes out so he hid top sheet and put bottom one on and threw top blanket on and left. My husband said he would deal with it when he gets home to not worry about it. Maybe petty but I was mad he didn’t call him and make him come back and do it right. That’s just small things but if I say no he say yes in front of him . I tried to speak with my husband about not fighting and letting him come between us and was told it’s none of my business and leave it alone so his way or the highway I guess. I don’t want to deal with him at all now, is that wrong? The room story is just a piece of a lot of things and just the beginning of hell to come I feel. My husband constantly uses my kids and grandchildren as ‘well your kids and your grandkids do this or that’. My kids are adults and grandkids are young and since we have been together for 15 years I thought by now they were ours. So you see he has already started splitting our family apart. I love my husband but I cannot deal with this kid coming between us on a full time basis. He says that he’s 17 he can smoke pot if he wants and there is nothing I can do about it and he’s to old to change. I probably sound confused right now because I am, I’m at a loss to what to do. Do I smile and let him do what he wants and let him walk all over me or what ? I just don’t know cuz my husband obviously cares more about trying to be his sons friend than his father and obviously doesn’t care what I have to say. Feels like I’m going to loose this battle and maybe my husband of 15 years. We have been through a lot to get here and it’s going to take 1 kid to destroy it all. I was trying to give him chores to earn money and learn responsibility and my husband tells him he doesn’t have to do it and hands him money. Yes that made me mad also. So does anyone have anything that could help me?

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        Deelightful-1 

        6 months ago

        Disengagement is the only way to maintain your sanity as a parent and spouse in some instances. Your spouse and step children may have developed an unhealthy and toxic dynamic of manipulation, disrespect and ineffective boundaries that will not be addressed. Such is the case with my spouse. He and the ex have spent over 15 years in a high conflict, dysfuncyional conundrum. No effective parenting has been occuring and my spouse gave up years ago. No. I did not realize this before we got married and no I cannot accept ownership for their choices as parents. Disengagement is not cruel. It is often the ONLY healthy adult boundary your step kids may experience.

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        Sam 

        6 months ago

        Disengagement is the way to go!

        Let the bio parents deal with the bad behaviors and manipulation. After all, they learned it from them.

        Brats are what they are. Lies and manipulation. I distanced myself for my own sanity and safety. I care to welcome CPS at my door like the bio mom. SD lied to the school about “cutting” SS didn’t come with his Dad for 4 months because he didn’t like his Dad parenting him. SD didn’t come one weekend because she felt like her Dad “ didn’t love her” (clear manipulation) It goes on and on.

        They only call their Dad when they need something.

        I hate when they come around. Wished they would move away

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        ??????? 

        6 months ago

        Disengaging? Sounds like neglect to me! But they have time for their bio children, wow! Poor little mites who are stuck in such a hellish existence.

        If you marry a man with children you are taking everything that comes with that.

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        Angie 

        6 months ago

        My stepkids are young. Like twins 3 and an 5,8 year old. It’s virtually impossible to disengage them being so young. I have stepped in and done it all that a momwould do. I’m falling down a rabbit hole of anxiety to depression. I’ve lost myself in this house but I love them so much. I need help badly!!!

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        Brandi 

        6 months ago

        I am a full time step mom of three. I feel I hdve no choice but to disengage. I don’t want to be divorced so I’m order for me to survive I must disengage from them. I still help with some cooking but only when my partner also helps. I help out when asked. But I do not offer anything. I do not do their laundry lunches or anything else. They are not my children. I am trying to co-exist in the same house.

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        I Said F it 

        6 months ago

        So disengagement means F it!

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        Julie 

        6 months ago

        I have been with my husband for nearly 8 years now. It was great in the beginning, my daughter and his two daughters got along splendedly. But now, for the last three years, his oldest, who will be nineteen in November, has become disrespectful, more spoiled, and just lazy. I am tired of being the maid, the cook, the planner, the banker, and the one to take all the criticism from the spoiled teens and their mother. My daughter sees this and also dreads tbe step kids visits. I have learned to avoid my step kids and their mom. I now only talk to them minimally when they visit. I use to reach out to them daily, only to be ignored... I no longer try to be apart of their lives because they don't seem to care if I am involved anyways. my husband and I argue less and I am a much less stressed person and I focus on my marriage and my daughter now.

        After I accepted disengagment was right for me, I was a lot happier! Good Luck Ladies!

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        Breathing again 

        6 months ago

        11 years ago my 5 stepchildren came to live with us FT. I am just now disengaging!

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        Overconfident 

        7 months ago

        I never had children of my own and thought I could take on a stepson (9) and stepdaughter (7) because of my love for my husband and have them immigrate to our country to live. There is no way you can ever foresee how difficult your life would become.

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        Lu 

        7 months ago

        I am a step mom to 3 kids (2 in puberty) with a high conflict ex wife. I have slowly started to step away from being responsible for them, I go through the motions of making sure their daily needs are met and safety but I Beginning to refuse dealing with any legal documentation or paperwork during custody battles, I am not concerned so much about their grades going down, or behavior problems with teachers. I no longer care about what their mom does with them do at home and how spoiled they are. I’m feeling like a maid too often, my husband works 12 hours a day and I try and empathize and help but I have learned to put my own boundaries to keep my sanity. I’m 4 years in and still struggling to find a system that works, my privacy is invaded when they are here because mom asks them plenty of questions on what was done or said and uses it in court, but from my husband I get no empathy or help. But I try to focus more on my bio kids especially since we have every other weekends only. He’s paying more child support but I have more peace of mind?

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        Tracie 

        7 months ago

        I think step mothers can be shelfish and one sided...never considering that you take away or prevent the bio dad from being the bio dad and you extort your new husband to get your way...especially if you have your own kids..you want everything for your own kids and want your husband to treat your kids like there own but kick out and create a double standard for his kids or kid adults. I read these posts and see the one sided views...you are NOT victims and have a responsibility to be see others points of view!!!

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        Chris 

        7 months ago

        As a stepdad I relate to much of what is written above, because I am the one who tracks grades, coordinates chores, deals with the schoolwork and parent-teacher conferences and my partner (the stepkids' mom) is the one who rarely gets involved in academic or household stuff and who rarely expresses appreciation for pushing and nudging the kids. I have had to accept that my teenage stepkids don't want to act towards academic success; they are craving some kind of substantive attention from their mom, and they are acting out with bad grades, as that substantive attention from her is unlikely to occur and their bio dad walked out completely 15 years ago. As I accept this and partially disengage, I have more time to focus on my biological sons (7th and 11th grades). I try to find something to celebrate everyday.

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        Julie G8580 

        7 months ago

        Im lost in it all as a stepmom all i ever wanted to do was be there for her. But its began to be so much more. I have been w my husband for over 15 yrs and in 2010 we gained custody of his daughter due to the mom being an addict for yrs i have been the one to do it all for her not anyone but me but for some reason her grandmother and aunt state that i aint anything to her and havent liked me for yrs. Just recently in the past yr we have allowed her mom to come into her life slowly letting her do for her and stuff but this is when things take a turn my stepdaughter went and said some awful things about me that we dont understand why she would go and say things like that. Is it cause her mom is telling her she wants this and that and telling her that she wants her to live w her and so forth. Like what is it? We dk. But heres the thing she hasnt been able to get her life together still til this day but yet her family does everything and anyhting for her she is not allowed to be around her till she does what is said on the court order papers. But yet when she goes over there shes w her mom. We all get that she wants to be in her life and were all for it but just take the drug test and get ur own rights like its not hard. Mind u she has 4 other kids one lives w the sister and 2 live w her and one lives w grandma and she still going thru cps. And both know that she not to be around the kids but still allow it all to happen. We want whats best for her but ahe just dont get it cause shes so brainwashed and thinking that lying is ok. I think at this point in my life im ready to disengage. But where do i start? And how does it work? Im just so stressed over all this bs!

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        recovering step monster 

        8 months ago

        I can not tell you how much of a weight was lifted off of my shoulders after reading some of the other experiences stepmoms have had. I have been married to my DH for 14 years. When we met, he had two daughters ages 7 and 9 and I had 1 daughter age 3. We got married pretty quickly and became an instant family. He adopted my daughter as her bio-dad had passed away. His ex-wife remarried just 2 months after their divorce and the main reason for their divorce was were multiple incidences of adultery with several men, including some who were also married and now divorced because of her. My DH had his girls most of the time but they slept at their moms house so she could still get full child support. She also refused to report her private business income to the courts and so he was paying more than he probably should have all along. She was negligent of the girls with things such as hygiene, packing enough clothes, and would show up late, change plans last minute, and also call our house or have the girls call our house sometimes up to 5-6 times a night when they were not with us. We sought counseling, tried email communication in a calm manor, and would get nasty and hateful responses. So, we took her to court and had to set up set visitation times. We spent a lot of time with girls when they were with us and it was all about family time when they were at our house. At their moms there was a lot of adult parties and they were encouraged to yell, argue and fight it out if they weren't getting along. Any discipline or beliefs we had were met with rebellion and hostility from girls, their mom, and stepdad. Visitations lessened as girls got older, their mom became their "friend" as they reached high school, and their attitudes towards my DH and I was awful until 2 years ago when I had enough and had my DH to tell them I was not wanting to have a relationship anymore with me or my younger daughters. He did not confront them over the teen years much because they would get so explosive so we just tolerated it and put up with it. Since I have chosen disengagement, stepdaughters ages 21 and 23 have stalked my daughter and left gifts at her school, reached out to my family and other people in community to try and get to my daughters, refuse to stop sending gifts in the mail, and I have recently been stalked and harassed and tagged on Facebook from stepdaughter and their mom and my sister in law telling people I am abusive, playing the victim and evil and that karma will have it's way. My husband has tried to reconcile and communicate our side of things to them off and on for 2 years with no success. We believe this is a form of emotional parental alienation and tried hard to work on our behaviors and responses all along over the years. We went to counseling, read books, and did whatever we could to try and make our blended family work. I attempted to bond with them in many ways for years until I began a slow fade of disengagement. I was damned if I did and damned if I didn't. I was harassed, interrogated, bullied, misunderstood, and made to be the villain for a total of 12 years and now 2 more years after trying to disengage. My DH only has brief contact with the older daughter but we learned that she has been going back to his family and mom to give information about us. My children have suffered because I felt guilty for being their mom in front of my stepdaughters. I finally decided that I wasn't going to waste another moment on not being the best mom I could be. I am thankful to have my DH's full support. I know that is not always the case. I support his decision to try to mend things with him and will always be supportive of that even if they continue to hate me, they still deserve to have their father. Others are saying that I made him do this, that he is controlled by me, and that I ripped their father away, and that he doesn't want to see them. This is all a warped and twisted view of the situation. But, I have to keep moving towards healing and pray the girls and their mom get the help and healing they need as well. Fellow stepmonsters, you are not alone, you are not evil, and you do have rights. Validation is key to surviving this complicated role. God bless you all.

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        StepMom3 

        8 months ago

        Terrible advice below from dashingscorpio. Disengaging isn't about being someone else, walking on eggshells, and keeping your mouth shut. It's the freedom to STOP doing that because it didn't work at keeping the peace--all it did was encourage the crazy ex wife and brainwashed kids to use you and your husband and kids as a doormat and scapegoat for everything wrong in their lives (because you've taught them being the bigger person means you won't call them out on how nasty they behave, you'll try to reason with crazy). Disengagement is accepting that it will never change because crazy ex wife won't let it so all you can do is stop letting her and the kids control you by sucking you in to lies, namecalling, and abuse. They can continue, AND WILL, but you no longer care and refuse to acknowledge it or play the game. (Ex wife)You can't ignore me at school events and games or tell me to back off because I'm in the way of father/child time and don't belong there, have your kids do the same, AND get mad at me for not being at every event so you can continue the abuse game, because I no longer ALLOW any of you to treat me and my kids that way. You wanted a wicked stepmom to further your victim narrative? You got one. You created one. Disengaging after 7 years...

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        Struckdumb 

        9 months ago

        Just a comment on dashingscorpio, I very much agree that disengaging is a horrible compromise of who we are, and a desperate last option when talking things though has failed, but I wasn't ready to give up on my marriage even when my dh was displaying the emotional intelligence of an amoeba, and guilt trip parenting at the expense of his marriage, he was, and still is otherwise my loving soulmate and I'm personally glad I played the long game and stuck it out, as we are all of us very happy and settled, moreover, my dh is now if anything over vigilant when it comes to any hint that I might appear to be not included, although disengagement has become a habit, and I take myself off because I want my own company, feel no obligation to cook, fuss, bother about a thing, my step kids come and visit and cook for me

      • profile image

        Struckdumb 

        9 months ago

        I am a veteran at disengagement, as I went there when my full time stepchildren were small, now they are adults and things couldn't be rosier

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        Emily Barth 

        9 months ago

        I disengaged myself about 6 months ago. I've been a part of my step kids lives for almost 3 years and was still trying harder than ever to be accepted and appreciated. They are disrespectful, stubborn, hard headed and very hard to take care of. They don't listen and they treat everything like it's disposable. I was feeling needed but unwanted in my own home. Like I was the maid and should be getting paid. Bio mom left most responsibilities to dad and dad left them to me. I was handling things like school matters, dr. appts, dentist appts, hygiene, shopping for clothing and school supplies and at the end of the day I got no credit for busting my ass. I was cooking and cleaning and on top of all of this I have 2 bio kids of my own who were not getting none of my attention and starting to get upset about it, to the point where my oldest broke down and asked me if I still wanted her. I lost it and bawled for hours, literally before I finally let go of my expected responsibilities and told dad it was his job not mine. I didn't know there was such thing a "disengaging" until a few hours ago when I stumbled across it and I'm happy to see I'm not the only step mom who feels like this isn't my job! I didn't combine this family to give up on my own kids and life my life trying to raise and entertain someone else's. And for the comment below about how you shouldn't join a family if you don't get along with your SO's children... I did get along with them, until recently when the oldest (only 7) realized she can push her dad around enough to give her anything and now I've become the evil step mom and none of this is fair to me or my girls.

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        9 months ago

        I am disengaging to the point of leaving. My son and I need this as we are tired of living in a house where the other "adult children" have no repercussions for their behaviours whatsoever. Bleh!!

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