Stepparent Alienation

Have you discovered that the steps in your family are alienated at times?

I’m proud of my family, and despite some nervousness to “come out” as a mom who peacefully co-parents with my ex and his new wife, I began revealing my co-parenting status by including Molly, my children’s co-parents, in school stuff and family stuff.

Wouldn’t you know it, my stance has been met with resistance from those who feel threatened by steps. People have expressed shock and dismay at my openness, or they at least radiate general discomfort. Apparently, I should be jealous, annoyed or infuriated. But I’m not. I refuse to be. That’s not right for my life or anyone in our blended family.

As a parenting team of four (me and my husband, my ex and his wife), we show up for the girls as much as possible. If there is a school function or something else important for the girls, we all try to be there. I have noticed that when the stepparent and biological parent are side by side, others in the vicinity act strange. Easy, relaxed conversation shuts down. The questions running through people’s minds must be drowning out all social sensibility.

How can the dad and stepdad be standing there acting like this is normal?

Is the mom annoyed that the stepmom is here?

Which one should I talk to? Or should I avoid them both?

Lest you think I’m making something of nothing, once they’ve gotten to know us better, people we know have admitted thinking these things.

We had an event for one of the girls at my home this past weekend. My ex-husband was invited, and when he walked into my front yard and joined the crowd, everyone suddenly treated my husband differently. They spoke more to my ex-husband, because he is dad. My husband felt alienated and insignificant, like he was just the stepdad.

This really bothers me. My husband is not my daughters’ biological father, but he is one of the dads in their lives. He helps with homework, he holds them when they cry, he talks them through issues that worry them, he plays games with them, picks them up from school and shows up for them all around.

Had the girls’ stepmom Molly attended the get-together, I think the same sort of dynamic would have unfolded. This is the societal alienation that stepparents encounter, and then there’s the intentional alienation that can be waged like a war when there’s an ex whose angry about feeling replaced, or feeling their role is somehow being threatened. Interestingly, society is MUCH more comfortable with that than they are supporting of exes who get along. It’s sort of like this:

If the mom isn’t going to alienate the stepmom, I’m going to do it for her.

Have you discovered that the steps in your family are alienated at times? What do you think is the solution? How can we teach society to treat us as equals?

Author Info: Trish Eklund has lived in Nebraska for almost fifteen years, raising her two daughters of ten and thirteen with her husband, ex-husband and his wife. Taking a nontraditional approach to raising children after divorce and remarriage, all four adults co-parent their daughters. Trish is a feature writer for Big Blended Family, and also for Her View From Home in the family category, touching on divorce, remarriage, and co-parenting issues. Visit her personal blog by clicking HERE.

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Seamul
Seamul

Great site. Stepparenting can be challenging and rewarding at the same time. Children aren't always wiling to open up to new stepparents. And stepparents may have difficulty connecting with their new stepchildren. The following strategies can make your transition to stepparenting a bit smoother!

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