Considering my fiance and I are getting married next May, the fact that I'm becoming a stepmom for real has begun to sink in. Hard. And because I'm clearly new at this official role, I tried to look online for guidance...but there isn't a whole lot out there. Many of the step parenting sites I've found are very strongly faith based, and since my fiance and I aren't practicing a faith, there is only so much advice I can take from these sites, when every other sentence is about listening to God's will.
Thus, I've decided to walk you all through my journey. It'll help me to write things out, and hopefully some of you will be able to offer advice along the way. Or perhaps you'll stumble across these posts and find some advice you can use, or at least know that what you're feeling is reflected in someone else's heart as well.
It's one thing to be in a more peripheral role as the father's girlfriend, you know, doing a bunch of the fun time stuff. After my fiance and I moved in together, I started taking a bigger role in my (future) step daughter's life...but after a few months I started to pull back a bit...
Since I've known my fiance for about 12 years, including the time he was with his ex and had his daughter at the age of 18, I know more of their past and relationship history than most women in my position might. So when we were first dating, and I got to hear about their times in court and battle over visitation and child support and whatnot, (especially since having a crush on my fiance from wayyy back) I naturally took his side in everything. He only sees his daughter once a week? Evil birth mother. He can't keep her overnight? Evil birth mother. And so on and so forth...until the day I realized that "evil birth mother" might have some points.
Here is where I broke some key rules.
1: No matter how much you agree with whatever badmouthing the birth parent has about your significant other (s/o from here on out), do not agree or add to the badmouthing.
The day I found myself inadvertently adding fuel to the fire was probably the stupidest I've ever felt in my entire life. This particular day was caused when I was feeling particularly peeved with my fiance over something stupid, and was also feeling resentful of the fact that I was having to deal with "evil birth mother" and having to pick up my future step daughter (SD from here on), as well has having to buy groceries or something like that. And as EBM began complaining about needing something from my fiance, I began to chime in on his faults as well.
Why not do this? Well duh. EBM (or EBF depending) is not the one you're in a relationship with. The fact that they are no longer in a relationship with your S/O is proof that they already know your S/O's faults, and have chosen not to deal with them. Furthermore, complaining about those same faults will only lead to your EBM rating even lower on their scale, meaning that all the days your S/O has worked to get to see their kid, might well start to disappear. (**ok, so custody works differently for some people, but as our case has no official visitation schedule worked out, it's at the whim of the EBM...so don't give her cause to not want the child to see it's other parent.)
2: Resentment. It's one thing to be pissed at your S/O for needing you to take care of some parenting duty...it's something entirely different when you realize this anger is starting to lead towards resenting the child. Remember - the child did not choose this. The only thing the child did was to be born to someone who wasn't you. It's okay to be mad at your S/O for not taking care of a parenting task - Do not take this anger out at the child. In my case, my reaction was to begin to draw away from my SD. On days my fiance would get her, I'd go do something else instead of hang out with them. Since my fiance isn't, and has never been, a ten year old girl, I believe I might have done some harm to their relationship as well with my absence, since sometimes girls just really need another girl around, even if they are playing video games.
It's okay to agree with the other birth parent about some some of your S/O's faults...just keep it to yourself.