Written by Doctor G

A Step Mother Struggles – “Here” Rules and “There” Rules

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I am dating a man who has a 10 yr old and a 2 yr old.  We already broke your 2 year rule and have combined children. I feel there is no turning back now, however I am not sure how to deal with the 10 yr old who is now in the middle of the situation.  Mom will txt the 10 yr old while she is at our house and the 10 yr old is always giving her reports about discipline and such.  Mom is scorned, angry, and went so far as to file false child abuse charges against me.  These children are dirty and unkempt every time we get them. The 2 year old has been allowed to ingest so many harmful substances while in moms care that she had to be tested for lead poisoning …she is allowed to run naked around the public daycare that mom runs…etc. The 10 year old had 30 absences from school last year because mom doesn’t take her to school.  Mom has stated that she was going to kill herself before and has made threats to destroy our lives.  We have made every attempt to keep things as healthy as possible but I am literally at my wits end when dealing with this situation.  I have two boys so it is hard for me to read a 10 year old girl and know how to approach this situation in a healthy manner.  I know that whatever I do has to be with great caution so I am looking for any advice that can help before it spirals any further out of control! 

“Wits end” in (state not provided)


This sounds like a really frustrating situation.

First of all, I’m hoping that Children and Youth Services is involved in these girls’ case and that they have a professional advocate. If not, you have an moral obligation to report any situation you feel may be harmful to a child as you’ve described for the 2 year old.

This preteen girl is clearly bonded to her mom. While you may not respect this woman, you need to respect her daughter’s need for the relationship. My best advice to you is to stop thinking about her interactions with her mom.

That relationship is not in your control, and focusing on it will add drama to your life, but make nobody healthier.

You can be an influence for good in this girl’s life.

Establish clear rules in your home. Design rules that are the same for your kids and his kids. Make the results of following those rules desirable and clear. Make the results of ignoring those rules somewhat unpleasant and just as clear. Write it down for everyone to read, if that will help.

Don’t comment when she texts her mom. Her mom will do whatever she will do, and you will not make that girl any more resilient or respectful by focusing on it.

Treat the situation with her mother like you would bad weather – you can’t control it, you just manage what comes.

I wish you much strength in your journey as a step-mama. It is challenging and frustrating, sometimes beyond measure. But the opportunity to make a positive impact on a child – especially one in such a rough situation – is one of the most worthwhile goals in the world.


Who else has advice for step-ing?

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2 thoughts on “A Step Mother Struggles – “Here” Rules and “There” Rules”

  1. Phyllis Richardson

    I totally understand what you are experiencing. My present husband and I have 6 children, 3 his and 3 mine. So many of the things you speak of I have experienced. Very good advice to not interfere with there relationship between the mother and children, it would only cause you pain in the future. Show the step children as much love , support and understanding as you possibly can. Once they adjust to a stable and loving environment you will find that they become less interested in keeping their mother informed of your home. You can do a lot for a childs feelings of loyalty by just being kind. At this time they are feeling like they are obligated to tell their mom what she wants to hear, but if you remain strong and don’t give in to the pressure you will eventually be accepted by these kids and the control and bad influences of the moter will start to be less and less with time. More than likely there will be a day when they want to spend more and more time with you and there dad. Ours are all grown up now and we survived with much love and respect between all Of us. Good luck.

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