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Stepmom vs. Stepdad: The Double Standard

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Stepbomb: As a fairly new stepmom, I can't wrap my brain around the double standard that seems to exist when comparing a stepmom to a stepdad.

man and woman arm wrestling
My husband's ex-wife has been living with her now-husband, the girls' stepfather, since less than a year after the divorce. But why did all hell break loose only after I became the girls' stepmother? Why did my husband's ex-wife sue for custody, claiming she didn't want the girls' environment disrupted with a new person in the house, when she'd already had a stepparent in her daughters' lives for years? And why did she get upset when I wanted to volunteer at the school, when long before I entered the picture, her own husband had been volunteering and coaching the girls' soccer teams? 

Never has my husband accused his daughters' stepfather of trying to be the girls' father. Not when he discovered him coaching the team at a soccer practice; not when the girls told him that their stepfather had attended a field trip; not even when the stepfather and my husband's ex-wife had the affair that ultimately ended the marriage. 

Since day one, my husband has put his own ego aside and has accepted the arrangement, because the girls love their stepfather. He has never thought it wrong for another person to love his children. And he has never felt threatened, because he knows how strong his bond is with his daughters. 

Why is it that when I want to be involved in the girls' academic or social lives, I'm "undermining" their mother's role -- yet when their stepdad volunteers, he's just being "helpful"? Why is there a double standard? Are stepdads considered nonthreatening because the word "dad" appears in their descriptive, not "mom"? Or is this simply the difference between how men and women get along with one another? 

Are men more accepting and understanding of other men than women are of other women?


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41 comments so far | Post a comment now
REALMOM September 10, 2010, 10:54 AM

@momwfaith Being a present and good mother has nothing to do with stepbomb overstepping her boundries. If biomom says no, no matter what the reason is. She should respect her wishes. She’s purely overstepping her boundries.

Childofdivorce September 10, 2010, 10:55 AM

I am a child of divorce and have had both a step mom and a step dad and have never ONCE felt that either one of my step parents were replacing my bio parents. I dont understand where people are getting the notion that step parents are substitutes for real ones or in some way, shape, or form trying to replace the bio parents. I agree with Momwfaith. The only feelings that should matter in the situation should be the child(ren). If your child doesnt have a problem with their step parent, why should you? More often then not, anyone who’s marrying into an established family is trying their best to make the situation as comfortable and stress free as possible for ALL involved, more importantly for the children though. They arent trying to usurp anyone’s role in said family. They just want to be included as well. To all that say “If anyone tries to take my place in my child’s life, it’s on”, maybe it’s high time you re-evaluate the real reasons why you feel so insecure about your place in your child’s life. At the end of the day, children just want to be loved. They want people around them that they can count and depend on. Why wouldnt you want to allow your child the opportunity to have NUMEROUS people around them that love and want to care for them. All in all, I think the adults in the situation should start acting like adults and realize that what you want, what you feel, or whatever, it’s secondary to what’s best for your child. If your child’s step parents want to take an active role in your child, let them. It’s better then having said step parent neglecting them and doing malicious things to them.

REALMOM September 10, 2010, 11:25 AM

@Childofdivorce, It’s some real hand that rocks the cradle type stuff going on when Stepbomb is being that desperate to insist on being in the lives of those children. So please spare me the re-evaluate the real reasons why you feel so insecure about your place in your child’s life mess. It’s not about that, she just needs to fall back and stay in her place.

GymMom September 10, 2010, 11:29 AM

“The only feelings that should matter in the situation should be the child(ren). If your child doesnt have a problem with their step parent, why should you?”

Well, in Stepbomb’s case, she’s Disney Stepparent, whispering little nasty things about mom being meeeean in their ears, giving them super sexxxxy clothes to wear against mom’s wishes and being Fun Older Sister, in general. If only the kids ‘feelings’ count, of course they’re going with Fun Older Sister.

So no, as a mature adult, I don’t think the kids’ feelings should be the determining factor in a relationship.

interesteddad September 10, 2010, 11:33 AM

I guess I shouldn’t be amazed at how off-topic these comments have gotten, but somehow I am.
The question at hand is, why is it OK for a stepdad to have free reign, but stepmom gets pilloried? These comments about how the mom does more, or has a more special bond than the dad, are overgeneralized anachronisms from the 1950s.
In my own situation, my son is as bonded to me as a child could be. I am secure in my relationship with him. Did I welcome my divorce when it happened? No. Did I have fears that the man my ex had an affair with and ended my marriage over would replace me? Yes. But I’ve worked through it over time (and much therapy) and have come to realize that if I give my love to my son, I have nothing to worry about.
Years have past, I have remarried, and my wife and stepson have a great relationship. This really seems to rankle my ex, to the point where she tries to micromanage where my wife can and cannot be. My ex’s affair didn’t work out, and she has been in and out of a couple relationships, each time introducing the guy into my son’s life with nary a care to how I might react.
I have come to realize it is more about my ex’s insecurities - not necessarily about her relationship with our son, but in her sense of self - that creates this “double-standard.” Her current boyfriend is a terrific guy who I welcome into my son’s life, as long as he treats him well. My wife is an amazing woman, who after more than three years with me still has to deal with a biomom who wants to know whether she’s going to attend a soccer game or not.
Blended families are now the majority of families in this country. It’s time we all wake up and realize and embrace that truism. Otherwise, we’re going to have an awful lot of children of divorce who continue to suffer from divorce because of their parents’ immaturity.
Stepbomb, I feel your pain and empathize with you 100 percent. Dads have rights, despite what many posters here want to think. And dads’ rights mean their wives have as much right to be involved in their kids’ lives as moms’ rights allow stepdads to be involved.

Anonymous September 10, 2010, 11:58 AM

whateve interested dad, Dads only have the right to pay child support, lol lol, just kidding.Yes there is a double standard and sorry you don’t like it. Because of the relationship mothers have to their children they are over protective and it’s just that way. Blended familes are a fact of life, a very sad one but one in deed and if everyone plays there part they would be fine.

UnderFeet September 10, 2010, 12:12 PM

I see a strong thread here of dads whose wives cheated on them, and then claim to be ‘over’ the pain, but use their new wives as battering rams to force extra people into the parenting relationship between biological mom, biological dad and kid(s).

I don’t know if those kinds of dads are the best to take relationship advice from, IMHO.

Better advice is, if mom or dad (I don’t care which) wants to parent with their former partner without interference, and vocalizes that, as Stepbomb’s husbands former wife has clearly done, then butt out.

MartiniMama September 11, 2010, 8:02 AM

@realmom and anonymous (2:35pm)…wow, just wow. Not sure where that venom and hatred come from.

I love my child more than anything, and in no way wish to get rid of my responsibilities - go ahead and assume what you want, but think about this. You are defending a mom here who didn’t care enough about her family to work on the bond with her then husband to keep the family together. She went out and had an affair that ruined her marriage. SHE obviously didn’t care about her kids too much when she was running around behind their father’s back, did she?

What does she teach her kids? Who cares about your responsibilites to others or the vows you made in your wedding? All that matters is you - go ahead and be selfish and dishonorable and sneaky.

I respect the vows I took before God enough NOT to do something like that. If my marriage was beyond repair, yes I would get a divorce, but I would never cheat on my husband OR live with a man without the bonds of marriage now that I have my son. It sends all the wrong messages and teaches all the wrong lessons.

With a mom like that, I say these kids desperately need a positive, caring female role model in their lives, and I applaud the step-mom in this case for being that person.

MartiniMama September 11, 2010, 8:10 AM

@interesteddad - great, on-topic comment. I am glad that you have been able to be mature about the situation and do what is in the best interests of your son, rather than being caught up in petty insecurities. That is how it should be, blended families are a fact of life now and people need to find ways to make them work.

REALMOM September 13, 2010, 6:21 AM

@MARTINIMOM chillax, have another Martini why don’t ya! no one is defending loose legs mama. Just telling Stepbomb to fall back. You really don’t know if she cheated or what you just know what stepbomb is saying and what weak hubby told her.

Anonymous September 16, 2010, 8:19 AM

still everyone is pointing out the things stepmom did that apparently dad shouldve done. what about stepdad doing stuff mom couldve been doing? sounds like dad works to provide for them and probably pays child support and mom works also so needs help. big deal. im sure you all have perfect lives and perfect families so you have every right to sit at your computer and judge.

Sammie  September 16, 2010, 8:51 AM

If Stepbomb is sitting at her computer asking us to judge how “horrible” and “unreasonable” her stepchildren’s mother is being, then yes, I get to judge, too. My judgment is that Stepbomb is giving us one side if the story, and that story reveals a father and stepmother desperate to be the kids’ buddies and demonize and belittle mom. That’s not a healthy relationship, period.

Anonymous September 16, 2010, 3:12 PM

@childofdivorce: “The only feelings that should matter in the situation should be the child(ren).” I disagree. Children should be put first, but parents have feelings, too. That’s why they don’t stay in unhappy marriages. Happy parents do tend to make happy children.
The thing that really surprises me in this discussion is how perfect we expect parents to be. Real life moms and dads will feel jealous of step-parents. Step-parents should respect that (for the sake of the children) and parents should work to behave better than they feel.

Anonymous September 16, 2010, 3:15 PM

@stepbomb - “why did all hell break loose only after I became the girls’ stepmother? Why did my husband’s ex-wife sue for custody, claiming she didn’t want the girls’ environment disrupted with a new person in the house, when she’d already had a stepparent in her daughters’ lives for years?”
When and how did you end up babysitting the girls after school?

Sarah September 17, 2010, 9:08 PM

@REALMOM- back off from martinimama. It’s not your business to condone her lifestyle or not. Please be courteous on this website so everyone can enjoy reading these posts and interacting via comments.

Cuestion September 18, 2010, 11:40 PM

Yeah, how did Stepmom end up babysitting after school?

biostep September 21, 2010, 12:52 PM

This has gone seriously off topic. Let’s get back to the main question: why IS there double standard for stepfathers and stepmothers? Regardless of the crticisms you have of Stepbomb, there are countless families that experience the same thing: mom encourages stepdad’s involvement in her children’s life, but draws the line at stepmom having the same level of involvement. Anyone have any non-emotional insight?

Anonymous September 21, 2010, 8:47 PM

Yes. Moms generally have primary custody, so anyone married to her is like an extra appendage. Sometimes in the way, probably not necessary, just kind of there in addition.

Dads generally don’t do as much primary parenting, so anyone married to him who steps in to pick up his slack is like a fake leg. Overcompensating for something that’s not there.

Anonymous January 6, 2011, 9:29 PM

To those of you who have, the opinion “they only have one mother”, are you the same people who find it acceptable to push a father aside and let a new man raise someone elses children? There is a total double standard. It often times goes as far as a mother telling a father that the step-dad is more of a father than they are. When in fact that very mother is the one who insisted upon the custody agreement(often through the legal system) that pushes a biological father out of the way in favor of their new man. These same women who get bent out of shape over a new woman in their childrens lives frequently are the first ones to bring a new parent into their childrens lives. So shame on you women who shun step- moms, yet have no problem with a man who is not the father raise your children. By the way, i deal with thos situation every day of my life, im a man, and i have the utmost respect for my daughters’ step-dad for loving my daughters just as he loves his own. It is however a shame that some mothers set this double standard.

Anonymous January 6, 2011, 9:46 PM

To those of you who have, the opinion “they only have one mother”, are you the same people who find it acceptable to push a father aside and let a new man raise someone elses children? There is a total double standard. It often times goes as far as a mother telling a father that the step-dad is more of a father than they are. When in fact that very mother is the one who insisted upon the custody agreement(often through the legal system) that pushes a biological father out of the way in favor of their new man. These same women who get bent out of shape over a new woman in their childrens lives frequently are the first ones to bring a new parent into their childrens lives. So shame on you women who shun step- moms, yet have no problem with a man who is not the father raise your children. By the way, i deal with thos situation every day of my life, im a man, and i have the utmost respect for my daughters’ step-dad for loving my daughters just as he loves his own. It is however a shame that some mothers set this double standard.


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