Step Parenting

Expectations

I’ve been considering writing this post for a while, but after the umpteenth time that the kids’ biological mom cancelled on them, I finally felt compelled to write it.

Today, it’s all about EXPECTATIONS!

 

Our kids love us and they love their mom, but they have different expectations of us as parents. Their biological mom is the “fun mom,” where they go and there are no responsibilities, no bed times, and they get to play games all weekend long. Donuts and fast food for meals? No problem!

Our house is different. We do homework, gymnastics, bedtimes, early school mornings, chores, etc. We of course mix in a lot of fun in there too – whether it is going to the local drive-in, swimming at the lake, or our frequent themed movie nights. Our kids have responded well to the structure of our house, but of course I’m sure they often wished they didn’t have to do their chores.

We have always been well aware that we run our households differently and that the kids might be a little “off” when they come back from mom’s house. But, what we have observed more recently than ever is the difference in expectations they hold for their biological mom.
 

Falling short on promises

We talked to my stepdaughter about this and it seems that while she appreciates doing things with us, they are somehow more special with her mom because they are so rare. And I get this – I totally get this! I’m glad that she can create good memories with her mom. But I have to say, it is confusing how there is so much love and loyalty to someone who constantly falls short of their promises.

Their mom can go a week without talking to them or often says she is going to show up to school plays, only to come up with some reason/excuse the day before. When our kids ask if they are going to see her on her weekend, she will often reply with “maybe”. I understand that she doesn’t like to tell the kids “no”, but it gets our kids’ hopes up only to be let down the day they think they are going to see her.

The kids are well aware of this and they are hurt by it constantly, which makes it ever more mind boggling of their unwavering loyalty. If we were to ignore our kids in our house for a week or say we were going to show up to a play and then didn’t, our kids would be deeply, deeply hurt. We would lose that trust with them in an instant because they know they can always count on us.

 

“We want to be the good parents that they deserve”

There is a different expectation for us because we show up when we say we will. Our kids have unknowingly set higher expectations for us as parents than their own mother. They don’t expect much of her; they simply want her to show up on her weekends. So, when she finally comes through after months of not seeing them, it is the best thing in the world.

There isn’t much we can do about the difference in expectations. Frankly, I’m glad the kids hold us to such a high standard. We want to be the good parents that they deserve. So, while the difference is frequently annoying, it has forced me to adjust how I interact with the kids. I make a point to never, ever say I’ll do something and then not do it. I never make a promise I can’t keep. They have been let down so many times that I refuse to do that to them.
 

I guess as a stepparent, it is hard to understand the bond with their biological mom, especially as an adult, where you can see how damaging that constant let down can be. Perhaps it is something I will never understand. I stay focused though and always keep an open dialogue with my stepdaughter. I am there for her when her mother is not. I hold her and dry her tears. My stepdaughter’s expectation is that I will always be there for her – to comfort her, to support her, and to cheer her on – and I promise to never let her down.

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1 thought on “Expectations

  1. Thank you for this. I think I found your blog through reddit. I understand your frustration, as our household is the one with rules, with structure, bedtimes, extra care, and always doing our best to let them grow up in a Christian household. Their mom wants to be fun mom, no rules or anything. She coddles them to get them to favor her but when they get here (toddlers) they are unruly, rude, demanding, emotionally unhealthy (clingy) and although we understand they will always love their mommy unconditionally, it can be exhausting. We have to undo so many things. They are constantly sick when they get dropped off, have diarrhea, one was starting to bite the other sibling, just so many things that add up. Our nanny has even noted their behavior is worse the day they come back to us, especially after her weekend. They are drained (from sleeping late at mom’s) and moody. They are different after the day they get dropped off, once we’ve “fixed” them. They become sweet, caring, happy, well rested and also when we drop them back off, they are not clingy or emotionally dependent. They are happy and well adjusted, which, of course, ends up making her believe that they must just love her more (she thrives off their separation anxiety), which is unhealthy to say the least. It doesn’t matter to her, as long as they “need” her. No matter how amazing of a step-mom I am, I don’t bother pointing out all her flaws since I know they will always have an unwavering amount of loyalty for her, no matter how much she poisons them with bad habits. I don’t expect that to ever change, but believe me, it does hurt. I am glad I’m not the only one. Thank you for your post!

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