Step parents role

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"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

I suppose it depends on the situation. If my ex had been living with a woman for 4 years, was about to get married to her, and have their second child together, I would consider that pretty committed.

Yep, but if I had a baby daddy living with a different woman while I was home taking care of a 5 month old, I may have a long history of resentments. That is all I'm saying. I hate personal debates, because you only get one side of the story, is all. Smile

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I hear you. Smile

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"ftmom" wrote:

This does make make sense to me, I just dont think the same way as you I guess. I have learned that people change and life changes, and you never really know what is around the corner, so I guess we just see life differently.

Absolutely people change and life changes. However, I think that character does not change all that much (again, barring mental illness or drug addiction, as mentioned). He is too smart a man, and too good of a father to put our children in that position. I know that with conviction. And I know that having two loving, (married) sets of parents (our parents, that is) and 5 siblings, all happily married with children, and friends who all believe in marriage and whatnot, it is simply almost 100% unlikely that this scenario (living with a new woman months later) would happen. It just isn't what we would do.

If you have less faith in character, or a different set of circumstances/support system/positive role models, I can see feeling like you do. It would depress me and I probably would have been too afraid to have gotten married or have children, but I guess I can see it.

I do think that people change. I won't ever say that divorce is a total impossibility, it is, of course. I guess I just know that while things between DH and I could theoretically change, I don't see things between him and his kids changing, if that makes sense. And knowing that he and I feel strongly about how that (cavalier relationships or cohabitating soon after divorce) impacts kids, I feel more confident saying that that would never happen than I do saying divorce would never happen, if that makes sense Smile I know full well that good people do bad things. This would just be way too looked down on from EVERYONE we know, or something, I don't know how else to put it.

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"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

I agree that if DH and I were divorced, I would not want my ex's "flavor of the month" girlfriend to be "parenting" my child, although I would still expect him to mind her and be respectful of her, just as I expect him to mind and be respectful of babysitters, teachers, et cetera. And the reverse is true - if I was dating again after a divorce, I would not want or expect my son to think of my new boyfriend as a parent.

But, I think that once it comes to the point where there is an obvious lasting committment (marriage, having a child together, et cetera) it is in the child's best interest and the best interest of the family as a whole (because frankly, at that point, they are all family in one way or another) for all of the active adults to show a united front if possible, including the ability to discipline the child, and having necessary info about medical conditions, important school issues and events, et cetera.

Honestly, a lot of the objections to this sound like they have more to do with the bio-mom's feelings than what is best for the child.

It would definitely be hard if I just hated my DH's new wife, or if I thought she was a crappy parent to my child, but I like to believe that I would at least try for the sake of my son's well being. Of course, that's easy to say when I'm not in that situation.

To the bolded...really? Cause I think I stated in detail why I felt it was best for the kids. I think a child who has alreadygone through a divorce should be at the forefront of every decision the parents make from then on. And having one's girl/boyfriend act like mom/dad #2 is not IMO the best interest of the child.

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"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

I suppose it depends on the situation. If my ex had been living with a woman for 4 years, was about to get married to her, and have their second child together, I would consider that pretty committed.

Yeah, I guess that sounds pretty committed. But I would ahve had an issue way before they got to that point when they started living together at only 6 months into the relationship.

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"Potter75" wrote:

Absolutely people change and life changes. However, I think that character does not change all that much (again, barring mental illness or drug addiction, as mentioned). He is too smart a man, and too good of a father to put our children in that position. I know that with conviction. And I know that having two loving, (married) sets of parents (our parents, that is) and 5 siblings, all happily married with children, and friends who all believe in marriage and whatnot, it is simply almost 100% unlikely that this scenario (living with a new woman months later) would happen. It just isn't what we would do.

If you have less faith in character, or a different set of circumstances/support system/positive role models, I can see feeling like you do. It would depress me and I probably would have been too afraid to have gotten married or have children, but I guess I can see it.

I do think that people change. I won't ever say that divorce is a total impossibility, it is, of course. I guess I just know that while things between DH and I could theoretically change, I don't see things between him and his kids changing, if that makes sense. And knowing that he and I feel strongly about how that (cavalier relationships or cohabitating soon after divorce) impacts kids, I feel more confident saying that that would never happen than I do saying divorce would never happen, if that makes sense Smile I know full well that good people do bad things. This would just be way too looked down on from EVERYONE we know, or something, I don't know how else to put it.

I have been thinking about this and I think I have figured out where I am differing from you on this (I actually find it very interesting to find where the differences on peoples opinions stem from, so bare with me). I think it is because I dont see a short relationship as synonymous with a temporary relationship. And I agree, it goes back to role models and circumstances. I know a number of people IRL who moved in or got married within a very short time of knowing someone. One of my closest friends moved in with her now husband 2 days after she met him. My parents were married 3 months after meeting. I could go on. On the other hand, I know very few (cant think of any) couples who have moved in together quickly and then broke up.

I also live in a situation where my husband works in an industry where the divorce rate is substantially higher than the rest of the country, so although I dont see us as heading towards divorce or anything, it is a reality that I may need to face one day. I hope I would be happy to have as many caring adults in my childrens life as possible, but honestly I realize I will probably be bitter:)

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Friends,
Just logging in to say I totally, totally agree with Alyssa.

If kids have stepparents, everyone has to be on board, presenting a united front for the kids.

I get that we are all angsty about divorce and it would never happen to us and yadda yadda.

I get that some of us have divorced parents. I do, too. And boy, was I pissed when my stepparents tried to parent me.

Doesn't matter. Stepparents AND kids are in a HORRIBLE position if you set them up with "she's not your moooo-ooom, I am." That kind of splitting is just not good for kids. Kids get caught in a totally effed up loyalty bind, and they refuse to listen to or accept their stepparents on principle, to prove their love for their bio parent. Again, really, truly not good for kids.

Divorce sucks, but it happens. And it could happen to any one of us. The best thing we can do for our kids is to try and make it as easy on them as possible by acting like adults. Loving adults. Which means letting the adults be in charge...whoever is with the kids, and at whatever time they are with them.

I have to say, I have a ****ton of empathy for stepparents, even though I hate mine to this bloody day.

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"ftmom" wrote:

I have been thinking about this and I think I have figured out where I am differing from you on this (I actually find it very interesting to find where the differences on peoples opinions stem from, so bare with me). I think it is because I dont see a short relationship as synonymous with a temporary relationship. And I agree, it goes back to role models and circumstances. I know a number of people IRL who moved in or got married within a very short time of knowing someone. One of my closest friends moved in with her now husband 2 days after she met him. My parents were married 3 months after meeting. I could go on. On the other hand, I know very few (cant think of any) couples who have moved in together quickly and then broke up.

I also live in a situation where my husband works in an industry where the divorce rate is substantially higher than the rest of the country, so although I dont see us as heading towards divorce or anything, it is a reality that I may need to face one day. I hope I would be happy to have as many caring adults in my childrens life as possible, but honestly I realize I will probably be bitter:)

That would make sense. My reality working in the field I do, it's a daily occurrence to hear of the move-in's and split-ups leaving the gf pregnant and broke and older children shuffled around like they're luggage. It's heartbreaking to see new people enter their lives and everyone either be their "uncle" or "stepmom" as it adds so much confusion in the children's lives. In my reality, it's very rare, much rarer than my parents generation, to hear of couples meeting and marrying within months or their first year together. And it's even rarer to find that the relationships happily lasted long term.

My family has a history of marrying young and quick which I also did with my first marriage. While it worked for my grandparents, my parents and my aunts and uncles, it did not for me nor did it work for another close relative. I didn't have to deal with prospect of a stepmother with my kids. But I did have to evaluate what was in my kids' best interest when it came to introducing them and and following their leads and needs when it came to establishing relationships with their (at the time future) stepfather. At the time, they were 8-12 yrs old. Even then, DH had to take a supporting role when it came to decision making and discipline. And I know that if it was done any other way, the bonds created between them and their stepdad would not even be remotely as good as they are today.

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I don't disagree with you Robin.......except in the case of a girlfriend or a new relationship, and especially with co habitating. THat person would not be welcome to "parent" my child. They would not have earned that right.

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"Potter75" wrote:

I don't disagree with you Robin.......except in the case of a girlfriend or a new relationship, and especially with co habitating. THat person would not be welcome to "parent" my child. They would not have earned that right.

And that is what I have been saying. Honestly, I don'tthink people have been really reading my response. I have never said that people in my child's life shouldn't be on the same page or that I would ever encourage my children to disrespect any adult. My point is, unless and until that person is a stable figure in my childs life, they do not get to decide what is on that page. That has nothing to do with love or respect or kindness or connection. It has nothing to do with bad mouthing someone. It has to do with making a stable situation out of a very unstable one.

And I do feel for stepparents just as a feel for everyone. But stepparents had a choice to be stepparents. The children had none. So my concern is for the child and not the stepparent, as hard as it must be.

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"Potter75" wrote:

I don't disagree with you Robin.......except in the case of a girlfriend or a new relationship, and especially with co habitating. THat person would not be welcome to "parent" my child. They would not have earned that right.

Eh, I don't know that you can make this kind of blanket statement either. One of my best friends lives in a blended family with a man who has sole custody of his two kids. Her son lives with them as well. His youngest child has pretty severe autism. The mother of the children doesn't want her to make decisions or "parent" them, and yet, she has lived with the kids for the past three years, takes them to school, all of their appointments, etc. She works with kids for a living, and spends a lot of time helping the youngest with her therapy and her homework, etc. She has to be empowered to parent them. She'll probably never marry the father...neither one of them want to get married again. But she is still very much a parent to his kids. If she can't be, the family can't function.

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But Robin, in your example, your friend's husband has sole custody. So it doesn't matter what the mother wants because for some reason (which was probably a biggie if the mother didn;t even get awarded joint custody of her own kids) she no longer has a say. I don't want to talk for melis but I really don't think that was what either of us are talking about or have been from the beginning.

just speaking fro myself, the scenario I have been working off of is two divorced parents who have joint custody (meaning both have say in the raising of ther children). In that case, the child has 2 parents, so why would the ex's SO have that much responsibility over the child anyway? In your exmaple, your friend lives wiht the kids full time.

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I do think that when a child lives with two adults, it is next to impossible to have the second adult not be permitted to take on parental role. Once enough time has passed and the relationship is solid, it is unfair and far too difficult to expect the adult to have no part of parenting.

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"freddieflounder101" wrote:

I do think that when a child lives with two adults, it is next to impossible to have the second adult not be permitted to take on parental role. Once enough time has passed and the relationship is solid, it is unfair and far too difficult to expect the adult to have no part of parenting.

I am a step-mom of 2 and bio-mother of 3. A step-parent should have some right to parent because, especially if there are other children in the house, allowing one group of children one set of rules and the other set of children a different set of rules in the same house is impossible and would be utterly confusing for all the children.

If I allow my step-sons to do some of the things they are allowed to do at their mother's but I do not allow my children to do them (like, for example, watching hour after hour of TV while eating junk food) we would have anarchy and very unhappy children.

We have house rules. They apply to EVERYONE regardless of genetic origination. There are consequences to breaking those rules that are equally applied to each family member. And yes, we are a family - a whole, cohesive family, not just bits and pieces from elsewhere.

I will say theat generally if both DH and I are home if his children break a rule I try very hard to let him deal with them. If my children break a rule I am usually the one who deals with them. So we do try to be sensitive to whose child is the one that needs the parenting and that the bio parent, if possible, is the one who does it. Some days it works well, others it doesn't.

So, if as a step-parent I am not allowed to co-parent my step-children as far as rules and punishments does that also mean I should not parent them when they need comfort or an ear to listen? I am often the one who goes to my DSS#1 and calms him down and listens to him and gets him laughing again when my DH is too pissed to deal with his special needs. Does the no-parent step-parent rule apply to that as well?

Look, living in a blended family is difficult. I think both parents need to try to establish some house rules and house consequences. Yes, in general I think it's best if the bio-parent does the lion's share of the parenting. But I also feel there are times when the step-parent has a duty, and a right, to step in and help parent as well.

My parents are also divorced. My dad is remarried. So I have experience from both sides.

I will say this though. I do not step into health decisions for my step sons. I do not step into school decisions. I do help provide for extra-curricular activities because their mother will not pay for it. Since I pay for it, I help parent it.

I support my step-sons as much as I possibly can by helping with homework, karate, emotional support, discipline (when I'm needed). If they were to have a surgery I would be there to support them through that.

So I do believe that it depends on the blended family's situation. While I agree that a step-parent has a diminished parental role in a step-child's life I also feel that step-parents, when step-parenting is positive and appropriate, have a lot to offer their step-children. I do not feel that step-parents must take a disengaged role. I think that could be damaging to any child - to feel that someone their parent loves isn't interested in them, ouch.

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"carg0612" wrote:

Look, living in a blended family is difficult. I think both parents need to try to establish some house rules and house consequences. Yes, in general I think it's best if the bio-parent does the lion's share of the parenting. But I also feel there are times when the step-parent has a duty, and a right, to step in and help parent as well.

I think you summarized it very well. My step-children's mother is deceased so there isn't another parent that I have to deal with, but even though my son's Dad is in the picture I expect them to obey and respect their step-dad especially when I am not home. We have 6 living in our home right now, my 2 boys and his 4 kids (including a 20 year old that I think should already be on his own... but thats another debate), and they all have to follow the rules. For my step-children on school or health matters I don't interfere but only give my opinion (other than reminding them to do their homework and things like that), since I feel their Dad knows them better and should make those decisions. For example my step-daughter was just held back for a second year of Kindergarten. I didn't agree with the decision and expressed my opinion, but ultimately it is his decision.

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"LiveFreeOrDie" wrote:

Eh, I don't know that you can make this kind of blanket statement either. One of my best friends lives in a blended family with a man who has sole custody of his two kids. Her son lives with them as well. His youngest child has pretty severe autism. The mother of the children doesn't want her to make decisions or "parent" them, and yet, she has lived with the kids for the past three years, takes them to school, all of their appointments, etc. She works with kids for a living, and spends a lot of time helping the youngest with her therapy and her homework, etc. She has to be empowered to parent them. She'll probably never marry the father...neither one of them want to get married again. But she is still very much a parent to his kids. If she can't be, the family can't function.

Of course there are exceptions to any rule. I'm not saying that in 100% of cases it will negatively impact a child. Heck, if the other parent was abusive or neglectful it could of course be a big improvement. In general, in a situation with two loving parents concerned for their children's welfare (and joint custody, as I have been constantly saying), I think that it is not best to introduce new "parents" into the equation soon after a split. I'm shocked that that viewpoint is controversial, really.

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"culturedmom" wrote:

And that is what I have been saying. Honestly, I don'tthink people have been really reading my response. I have never said that people in my child's life shouldn't be on the same page or that I would ever encourage my children to disrespect any adult. My point is, unless and until that person is a stable figure in my childs life, they do not get to decide what is on that page. That has nothing to do with love or respect or kindness or connection. It has nothing to do with bad mouthing someone. It has to do with making a stable situation out of a very unstable one.

And I do feel for stepparents just as a feel for everyone. But stepparents had a choice to be stepparents. The children had none. So my concern is for the child and not the stepparent, as hard as it must be.

I have not been talking about a new relationship with kids involved I am talking about a relationship that is stable and serious. I'm not asking to make important decisions but be in on the decisions. Since I am a large part in the childs life, I hate to say it but I do take care of him more then his father does only because of his work schedule, I just feel that I should be on the same page as the bio parents.

What is your definition of stable. I have been in his life since he was born and I don't see my self going anywhere as his father and I are getting married. Isn't that stable or a seriously committed relationship?

Like I said I don't want to make important decisions I just think that everyone should be on the same page for THE CHILD.

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"Potter75" wrote:

Of course there are exceptions to any rule. I'm not saying that in 100% of cases it will negatively impact a child. Heck, if the other parent was abusive or neglectful it could of course be a big improvement. In general, in a situation with two loving parents concerned for their children's welfare (and joint custody, as I have been constantly saying), I think that it is not best to introduce new "parents" into the equation soon after a split. I'm shocked that that viewpoint is controversial, really.

With the child being so young (newborn to a year) I never had a say and I was okay with that, he wasn't my child who knows if the relationship would have lasted so I knew that. As someone who had already raised a newborn I simply helped out my SO when he needed the help and didn't exactly know what to do.

Now that we are 4 years into I think the situation is entirely different.

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"SamanthaX3" wrote:

Now that we are 4 years into I think the situation is entirely different.

Yes, I agree.

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"SamanthaX3" wrote:

I have not been talking about a new relationship with kids involved I am talking about a relationship that is stable and serious. I'm not asking to make important decisions but be in on the decisions. Since I am a large part in the childs life, I hate to say it but I do take care of him more then his father does only because of his work schedule, I just feel that I should be on the same page as the bio parents.

What is your definition of stable. I have been in his life since he was born and I don't see my self going anywhere as his father and I are getting married. Isn't that stable or a seriously committed relationship?

Like I said I don't want to make important decisions I just think that everyone should be on the same page for THE CHILD.

What does your SO say about your situation? I would think that by the time you are married, it should show his ex that the relationship is a full commitment. If he's on the same page as you, why is he not already telling you important information so everyone is already on the same page? I know during my engagement with my now DH, I was telling DH everything he needed to know about the kids so he knew what he was walking into before the marriage and so he was also able to provide emotional support for the kids. Was he able to make decisions? No. Was he informed? Yes.

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"Beertje" wrote:

What does your SO say about your situation? I would think that by the time you are married, it should show his ex that the relationship is a full commitment. If he's on the same page as you, why is he not already telling you important information so everyone is already on the same page? I know during my engagement with my now DH, I was telling DH everything he needed to know about the kids so he knew what he was walking into before the marriage and so he was also able to provide emotional support for the kids. Was he able to make decisions? No. Was he informed? Yes.

When he knows about things he lets me know, but the issue comes from her end where she neglects to tell him about things. Like doctors appointments and school stuff and the like. If she doesn't bring it up then how is he supposed to know to ask about it. I mean if nothing is wrong with the child why would he be asking about if he has gone to the doctors or not. But when we have to hear from the child that he went to see the doctor and has been taking medicine for his ears for awhile and yet we don't have any medication it gets a little frustrating.

I don't know her thought process when she with holds things from the father but I strongly believe that everyone should be on the same page.

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"SamanthaX3" wrote:

When he knows about things he lets me know, but the issue comes from her end where she neglects to tell him about things. Like doctors appointments and school stuff and the like. If she doesn't bring it up then how is he supposed to know to ask about it. I mean if nothing is wrong with the child why would he be asking about if he has gone to the doctors or not. But when we have to hear from the child that he went to see the doctor and has been taking medicine for his ears for awhile and yet we don't have any medication it gets a little frustrating.

I don't know her thought process when she with holds things from the father but I strongly believe that everyone should be on the same page.

Hmmm, do they have shared parenting (aka joint custody)? Because if they do and their divorce agreement does not explicitly state that one or the other parent has sole decision making authority then she is in contempt of court. In other words your SO can file a motion to "make" her tell him these things. When she doesn't she can be fined or worse, lose decision making authority altogether.

For example we had a similar issue with DH's ex where she was with-holding school info. We had to file a motion but as soon as the notice hit her door step she caughed up the info (we then dropped the motion). She has held onto info in the future but every time we call her out on it she gives it up because she is legally bound to do so.

It is up to each of the divorced parents to stay on top of school and medical happenings. It is our responsibility to be in constant contact with the schools and, in my DH's case, periodically request all explanations of benefits so he can track when the kids went to the ped's and how much is was and what meds they recieved, if any. It's a lot of work but if you really want to be that involved that's what it takes. This is why so many parents, usually fathers, bow out of the process - it's hard.

In other words this actually sounds like a legal matter, not a philisophical step-parent vs bio-parent matter.

I do wish you luck though. It's very hard feeling like you're expected to care for someone so precious but you're not allowed to know anything about them. I hope you and your SO are able to get the information you need to successfully care for his child.

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"SamanthaX3" wrote:

When he knows about things he lets me know, but the issue comes from her end where she neglects to tell him about things. Like doctors appointments and school stuff and the like. If she doesn't bring it up then how is he supposed to know to ask about it. I mean if nothing is wrong with the child why would he be asking about if he has gone to the doctors or not. But when we have to hear from the child that he went to see the doctor and has been taking medicine for his ears for awhile and yet we don't have any medication it gets a little frustrating.

I don't know her thought process when she with holds things from the father but I strongly believe that everyone should be on the same page.

I don't see how it has anything to do with you being a step-parent if she is not telling the father the information either. Maybe she just thinks it wasn't a big deal or something. There are times when my son is sick that I don't bother to call his Dad and let him know because its just a minor thing.

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On thing that I want to add is that I see my commitment to my DSD as being a commitment to her – not to DH. If DH and I split I would still be DSD’s step-mom/friend. I promised her that no matter what happened with me and her dad that I would always be there for her.

I do have a problem with situations that involve temporary step parents. I don’t see that as being fair to a child to make a connection with someone only to have them leave. I think that if one connects with a child and makes a commitment to be there for them that needs to continue even if the parental relationships don’t. (If the child wants that of course.) My step mom has always been there for us even when she and my dad split. I am grateful for that.

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"carg0612" wrote:

It is up to each of the divorced parents to stay on top of school and medical happenings. It is our responsibility to be in constant contact with the schools and, in my DH's case, periodically request all explanations of benefits so he can track when the kids went to the ped's and how much is was and what meds they recieved, if any. It's a lot of work but if you really want to be that involved that's what it takes. This is why so many parents, usually fathers, bow out of the process - it's hard.

In other words this actually sounds like a legal matter, not a philisophical step-parent vs bio-parent matter.

I agree. It sounds more like an issue with her not communicating with the father. If there is no legal custody agreement since they were never married, I would refer him to go to court and get it in writing for both shared legal and physical custody to include her disclosing information on his medical records. Until then, she has no obligation to disclose any information to anyone if she has 100% legal custody.

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Fuchsia - yes, I agree. The bond is between the step-parent and child and should remain that way if possible. The child is the person to whom the commitment is made.

Tracey - I agree. A legal agreement must be made.

So sorry that it's so hard though, that stinks for everyone.

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"SamanthaX3" wrote:

When he knows about things he lets me know, but the issue comes from her end where she neglects to tell him about things. Like doctors appointments and school stuff and the like. If she doesn't bring it up then how is he supposed to know to ask about it. I mean if nothing is wrong with the child why would he be asking about if he has gone to the doctors or not. But when we have to hear from the child that he went to see the doctor and has been taking medicine for his ears for awhile and yet we don't have any medication it gets a little frustrating.

I don't know her thought process when she with holds things from the father but I strongly believe that everyone should be on the same page.

It sounds to me that they need a legal co-parenting agreement. That would solve a lot of issues. If she isn't informing your DH about medical information (like medication that he should be on) then she is putting her child's health at risk and that is something that your DH can use to legally force her to give the info if needed. He does have rights to his child and it sounds like he needs to take a stand on that. And you can support him in that which in turn can support your DSS.

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"freddieflounder101" wrote:

I do think that when a child lives with two adults, it is next to impossible to have the second adult not be permitted to take on parental role. Once enough time has passed and the relationship is solid, it is unfair and far too difficult to expect the adult to have no part of parenting.

This is all I'm saying.

Don't tell my father's wife.

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"carg0612" wrote:

Hmmm, do they have shared parenting (aka joint custody)? Because if they do and their divorce agreement does not explicitly state that one or the other parent has sole decision making authority then she is in contempt of court. In other words your SO can file a motion to "make" her tell him these things. When she doesn't she can be fined or worse, lose decision making authority altogether.

In other words this actually sounds like a legal matter, not a philisophical step-parent vs bio-parent matter.

ITA with this. If they don't yet have a legal co-parenting agreement, they need to make one now. That will solve a lot of issues & give you a framework to figure out others.

"GloriaInTX" wrote:

I don't see how it has anything to do with you being a step-parent if she is not telling the father the information either. Maybe she just thinks it wasn't a big deal or something. There are times when my son is sick that I don't bother to call his Dad and let him know because its just a minor thing.

When I was a kid, my parents' agreement was that prescription medication or referral to any specialist required my dad be told. He was also supposed to be called immediately if I was taken to the hospital. As it turned out, I was taken to the ER for broken bones so many times, he told my mom she should just call hiim if I was actually admitted for something. This was in the days before cell phones & answering machines, so she'd be running between the pay phone & me trying to reach him while comforting me, it just didn't work for anyone after a while, LOL! Blum 3

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