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Mom to Stepmom: 'Don't Dress My Kid'

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Stepbomb: Recently, my older stepdaughter asked if she could borrow my Gap sweatshirt, and I told her yes. She ended up wearing it over to her mom's later that night, and it vanished like a ship into the fog. A few days later, she borrowed my favorite Abercrombie & Fitch button-down. And then it was an old college T-shirt. It seemed that whenever the clothes were worn over to her mom's, they would disappear into some kind of suburban Bermuda Triangle.
Lending clothes
Then one day my stepdaughter came to me and said that her mom thought it was weird that she borrowed my clothes. I asked my stepdaughter if she thought it was weird, and she quickly said no, that she liked being able to wear my "old stuff." Without bringing up her mom, I asked my stepdaughter if she wanted to stop wearing my clothes. She said, "No way!" And then she asked me what I thought. I told her that if borrowing my clothes made her happy, then she could do so for as long as she liked. So we left it at that. I don't know if it was right or wrong, but in that moment, I made the decision to focus on what made my stepdaughter happy, instead of worrying about how I may or may not be upsetting her mom. 

About a week later, a giant bag of clothes showed up on my doorstep. When I opened it, I discovered not only all of the many sweatshirts, T-shirts and button-downs that I had let my stepdaughter borrow, but also all of the clothing that I had purchased for her over the last twelve months (half of which she'd long since outgrown). Before my stepdaughter could see it, I stashed it in the closet. Her mom's message was loud and clear: "Back off putting clothes on my daughter's back."  

So now my dilemma is this: Do I stop letting my stepdaughter borrow my clothes because her mom doesn't like it? Or do I ignore her mother's message and let my stepdaughter borrow away because it makes her happy?

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38 comments so far | Post a comment now
Cobi August 4, 2010, 7:04 AM

No I dnot see the big deal. As long as she’s dressed properly I don’t see what the mom is making a fuss about. Seems like she’s just jealous. What does her father say about this? Maybe you might want to explain to your stepdaughter that her mom doesn’t feel comfortable with her wearing your clothes so it might be best to keep it worn at your house. Just to be spiteful you can do the same to whatever clothing she’s bought for her and return it to her in a bag as well. Lol that mom is being immature. Again, as long as it’s decent and not over the age appropriate clothes, what’s the problem!

CCulver August 4, 2010, 7:10 AM

I would allow her to wear your clothes but just ask that she give them back to you before going back to her mom’s so that they don’t get lost.

I have two teen daughters. When they go to their dad’s they wear the clothes on their back and come home in the same ones. Since I am the one who purchases everything for them, I want to keep it all at my house. But, they live with me also so it is a different side of the story. If they came home in their “father’s house clothes” I would fold them and send them back the next time just out of respect because I would expect the same treatment.

Lisa R. August 4, 2010, 7:16 AM

I expected this article to be about the stepmom loaning or buying the step-daughter age inappropriate clothes & the mom disliking it. But it’s not at all. It’s about the daughter borrowing t-shirts and, for the love of pete, sweatshirts & her mom having a problem just because the clothes belong to the step-mom. For God’s sake, woman, grow up! The mom is being childish & spiteful, and I think the step-mom is handling it just right. Don’t feed into the immature behavior of the mom just to keep her happy. It’s not your job to keep her happy. She can get over it.

Pamala August 4, 2010, 7:47 AM

What’s amazing here is the mother was also sending back clothes that were bought for the daughter. How does she know that the step-mother bought them, verses dad buying them for her.

Sometimes people can be so petty. It’s not like the child chose to get divorced.

Leah August 4, 2010, 7:59 AM

It’s not a great position to be in but, yes, you stop letting your stepdaughter borrow the clothing. Right or wrong, the mother of the child in question has made a decision and a stepparent does not have the right to over-rule.

Additionally I would not tell the stepdaughter that her mother banned the borrowing/buying of clothing. I would just make like it was your decision and then drop it. If you say it was her mother you’re automatically making mom out to be the bad guy and you don’t want to start that.

Lucida August 4, 2010, 8:10 AM

It’s time for the bioMom to sleep with the fishes. You must really love that guy!!!

MartiniMama August 4, 2010, 8:18 AM

I think you should talk to your husband about this, so that he knows what is going on. Then talk to your step-daughter. You need to set some ground rules for wearing your clothes with her. Let her know that it is upsetting to her mother if she wears your clothes to her house, and that, as her mother, her feelings need to be respected. So she can borrow your clothes, but cannot wear them or take them over to her mother’s house.

Anon August 4, 2010, 10:25 AM

The mom should get a life!

aj August 4, 2010, 10:31 AM

I totally disagree with Leah, especially about acting like it was your decision not to let sd borrow your clothes. Why should you take the blame (and seem totally selfish too,when your not) just because the bio. mom can’t grow up and put her own daughters feelings above her childish pettiness doesn’t mean you should take the blame. You should worry about your sd happiness more than the bio. moms, the adult is not your responsibility.

Kelly August 4, 2010, 10:52 AM

Teenagers can also be a little manipulative, playing both sides against the other for attention. I would caution you because that could be some of this too. The clothes you mentioned are name brand and pricey, another issue might be that now that mom’s single, trying to support her daughters, she cannot afford those types of clothes for them and takes offense. I would let her wear whatever is appropriate and just let her know she changes back into her clothes before she leaves so your clothes stay at your house. There is no need to take the bait and discuss it further with the teen or have a war with mom.

Anonymous August 4, 2010, 11:35 AM

Stop letting her borrow your clothing, but don’t stop buying clothing.

Hubby needs to have a convo with ex-wife

Anonymous August 4, 2010, 1:56 PM

Does dad do ANY actual parenting at all?

You can say, “I’m buying my stepdaughter clothes because I lovvvve her,” or, “He’s working all the time and I have free time so I buy her things,” or, “My husband just doesn’t have the time or interest,” and it all boils down to—

Dad just doesn’t have the time or interest in parenting his kid.

If dad stepped up and started actively parenting, and buying clothes for his own daughter instead of foisting it on you, I can’t picture mom sending bags of clothing back home.

CueNancy August 4, 2010, 1:56 PM

Does dad do ANY actual parenting at all?

You can say, “I’m buying my stepdaughter clothes because I lovvvve her,” or, “He’s working all the time and I have free time so I buy her things,” or, “My husband just doesn’t have the time or interest,” and it all boils down to—

Dad just doesn’t have the time or interest in parenting his kid.

If dad stepped up and started actively parenting, and buying clothes for his own daughter instead of foisting it on you, I can’t picture mom sending bags of clothing back home.

Janus August 4, 2010, 2:13 PM

“Or do I ignore her mother’s message and let my stepdaughter borrow away because it makes her happy?”

Well, giving kids a diet of nothing but chocolate makes them “happy,” but our job as adults is to raise children, not give them their every hearts’ desire.

It’s a stretch to assume a mom would be cool with their precious child traipsing around their home, their sanctuary, with clothes from The Other Woman on their back. I’d actually go so far as to say it’s childishly naive.

You know mom doesn’t like it, so you can either continue to buy and lend the kid inappropriate clothes (Abercrombie and Fitch for a pre-teen? What’s next, playing wounded because mom mean old mom doesn’t approve of you dressing her in Frederick’s of Hollywood?) or you can grow up and let the kids’ mother parent them the way she sees fit.

But by all means, if you care more about proving a point than raising kids, and parenting them, continue buying and lending them clothes and letting them know how unreasonable and mean their mom is.

Anonymous August 4, 2010, 5:38 PM

Why are you buying clothes for your stepdaughter? The more you write, the more I understand why the mom feels like you are trying to replace her. Mom and dad need to work out who pays for the kid’s clothing and who buys it. It has NOTHING to do with you. You are not one of the parents. The mom is still alive and active in her kid’s lives. (What is this “bio mom” stuff in the comments? The kids is not adopted.)

Your conversation with your stepdaughter was just setting her up to have a conflict with her mother. Now you’ve made it clear to your stepdaughter that you are willing to go against her mother’s wishes. You have put the kid right smack in the middle - what kid wouldn’t want lots of cool clothes? I think a better thing to say would have been something along the lines of “I didn’t know that, I’ll talk to your parents.” Then let them work out what they want to do. Follow their wishes just as you would do if it your neighbor’s kid.

And yes, I do wonder why you are lending clothes to your stepdaughters. It could look to other people like you are trying to win them over and make them like you, especially if the clothes are expensive or cool. I can easily imagine feeling jealous of a stepmom who did something like that and wondering about her motives. (I like to think I’d be too smart to say anything though. Not because I’m a nicer person who only wants the best for her kids, I just think mom’s strategy is going to backfire.) Given a mom who is already suspicious of you, I think you might have forseen this.

Anyhow, I think you really do need to sit down and think about two things:

1. Are you trying to be a second mother? The kids have a mother who is alive and taking care of them. They don’t need another one. Their dad is their other parent. You’re his wife, but not their mother. When they are your house, he should take care of them. Sometimes you should go away and leave them alone. If there are problems, he should deal with them, especially anything involving his ex-wife. I don’t think you are doing this to steal her kids, I think you are trying to be a good stepmother, but you seem to be stepping over the line into trying to be a good mother sometimes.

2. Are you getting to the point where you are so mad at the kids’ mom that you are giving out negative messages about her to the kids? It sounds to me like you are doing some of what you accuse her of and letting your feelings (insulted that she gives back your clothes) affect your actions.

Jenny August 4, 2010, 5:45 PM

It is CLOTHES people, grow up, get over it and have a parenting meeting. All 3 parents need to step up and have a conversation.

Remember best interest of the child, keep your pettiness to yourself and don’t put the child in the middle. She deserves the right to bond with her stepmom (she lives with her part of the time) and if that is through borrowing clothes so be it. Mom wake up to the fact that you are creating a problem where there shouldn’t be.

Unhousewived August 4, 2010, 10:37 PM

I agree that someone’s creating a problem where there shouldn’t be one. But it’s the stepmother, not the mom.

Let the dad parent his kid.

Let the mom parent her kid.

Stop trying to be the cool best friend who lends inappropriate, too-old clothing to the kid and talks smack about mom.

sam August 13, 2010, 7:56 AM

Why are you buying clothes for your stepdaughter? Why doesn’t dad buy her clothes?


Did anyone miss that this is a teenage girl? I don’t know of a single teenage girl growing up who went shopping with their dad. We either went shopping with our mom our shopping together. If I got clothes, my mom was the one who bought them even if it had my dad’s name on the tag.

She should be able to shop with her stepmom or get clothing from her stepmom. She shouldn’t be forced not to have the relationship she wants with her stepmom just because the bio mom is jealous.

Anonymous August 13, 2010, 10:04 AM

If Stepbomb wasn’t there, don’t you think dad would have to spend time with his pre- teenage daughter, no matter how uncool or unhip the girl might think that is?

And from her other posts, it seems to be a pre-teen, not a teen. And other way, totally inappropriate of a grown woman to dress another woman’s little girls in Abercrombie and Fitch, a hypersexualized brand.

step mom for 4 years August 20, 2010, 8:54 PM

When you married your SD father she became your step DAUGHTER and when she is with you you and her father take care of her (a marriage is a partnership) If she is your spouses responsibility it makes her your responsibility to. You have every right to have a close relationship with her despite what other people say or the bio-mom you are her step MOM which makes you a motherly figure in her life, if the bio mom has a problem with that it just means she’s insecure in her own relationship with her child she should be close enough with her daughter to know no one can replace her. And as for the clothes there is Absolutely nothing wrong with you buying your SD clothes thats just immature for anyone to say you are overstepping your boundries by buying your SD clothes, just continue to be a good SMOM, and don’t let the BM get to you, your SD is old enough to decide for her self what type of relationship she wants to have with you and if your both are happy and your not disrespecting her mom to hell with everything else. Buying or lending clothes is not disrespectful or wrong . Good Luck

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