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Bonding With Step-Children

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  • Ex-Partners Can make Life Hell
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      13.01.2009 18:31

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      my life with two step children

      These days it seems more and more common that families are split up and step children are te norm. I hae two step children myself. Me and my husband have been together for nearly 7 years, and when we met, his children were aged 3 and 6. It was obviously a very difficult time for the children, as I was thier dads first girlfriend since splitting up with his ex wife. It took them a while to adjust to seeing us together. They are good kids, and we all get along like one big happy family now. I have had a little boy, who is now aged 1 and they love their little brother to bits. We have the kids every weekend, and the rest of the time they live with their mum. It all sounds great, but it hasnt been without its hiccups along the way. Be sensible and think of the children, thats what I say.

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      26.11.2008 19:43
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      closeness does come in time

      I got to know my future step son whilst working with his grandad, I would baby sit him a few times while his dad went out as he stayed with his dad at weekend's, and eventually I started a relationship with his dad. I knew my step son had a lot of hard times as a child as his parents had a messy split and there were rumours that he wasn't treated as he should of been, his clothes were dirty and he was always hungry when he came from his mum's. Before I was in a relationship I got on really well with him and became really close to him, he was 2 years old at the time and I would take him to the park and play football in the garden with him and he would come to me to read him stories. He would love me cooking him dinner especially when there was a pudding after. I eventually moved in with my partner and continued to see my step son who was now nearly 4 regularly but thing's seemed to change, he wasn't keen to go home to his mum's whilst I was there and I think the reason was because he wanted his dad to himself and not shared. He then had problem's at home with his mum and she could not cope with his behaviour so my partner and I decided to have him live with us. That's when I started to have a few more problems. He would test me by being naughty and on one occasion he actually stood on the stairs and wee'd in my shoes!!! The worst thing for me was that it was so hard to discipline a child that wasn't mine, so I would try and talk to him rather than shout, sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn't. If it was something I struggled with then I would wait for his dad to sort it. We seemed to have an understanding as time went on and the closeness started to come again, there were still a few hurdles along the way but it got easier. When he was 8 my partner and I got married and he was a best man and he loved it. I think he then felt part of a proper family, something he hadn't really had before. On my wedding day I remember him smiling and saying to me "you are my step mum now", I felt so happy that he had finally accepted me and from then on the closeness came back. A year later we moved house, and I involved him along the way, we would pack the things in his bedroom together and he then became exited at having a new bedroom with a new bunkbed. When he was 11 years old I became pregnant and he was really looking forward to it, he would love to feel the baby kick and when my daughter was born I tried so hard not to make him feel left out, so he helped me with her first bath and would often check to see if she was ok, he loved her loads. Sadly my husband and I split when my daughter was 8 weeks old, after I found out he had been having an affair, my step son knew about it, and the day it all came out he was left feeling very guilty, his grandad talked to him and eased thing's for him. He does struggle in my company a little bit now, I hope he knows I will never blame him for anything. My husband moved in with the woman he had the affair with and a little while after my step son moved back to his real mum's, as the woman didn't treat him properly, I really feel for the lad. To me he will allways be my step son, I grew to love him and care for him as my own and he will remain special to me. I think the best advice for me to give someone with step children is to try and be there for them and let them know that they have a friend in you. No doubt there will be hard times but things do get easier and in time they become like your own child, and care for them just as much. Hope that helps Thankyou for reading.

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        07.10.2008 16:42
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        How do we accept another adult into the fold

        My story is spread over 16 years. In 1992 I was separated when I met my current husband. At the time my 2 children were nearly 7 and 4. My new partner had 2 children from a previous marriage aged 6 and 5 who lived with their parents. After dating for about 3 months my new partner moved in with me and my children. At that stage the children's father who had set up home with another woman, was having regular contact with them. We have my partner's 2 children every weekend and they came to stay regularly. Every year we all went on holiday together and we got on really well. We married in 1996. There were difficulties with my first husband over contact when he would not turn up to collect them when he had promised etc. and we had to comfort the children. There were also issues at school when the teachers would say that they knew when they had seen their father as their school work and attention span dropped dramatically. I made the decision to suggest cutting staying contact to school holidays only to avoid the children the lengthy journey to and from their father's home. Unfortunately he took exception to this and cut off contact all together, no birthday or christmas cards or anything else. By this time he had 2 further children with his new partner. My husband has therefore brought the children up for the last 16 years and they have a lovely relationship with both him and their stepbrother and sister which I also love dearly. We now have another issue which has arisen. Shortly after I met my current husband he told me that he had been married for a very short time after his first marriage failed and his 2nd wife had had a baby girl, although he was not sure whether the baby was his or not. That baby is now 19, the same age as my daughter and has got in contact with my husband. She wrote a very strong and bitter letter and posted it through his parents' door. She had moved away from our town but has moved back and is living with family friends about 1/2 a mile from us. My husband immediately made contact and it has been a whirlwind ever since. I have found it very uncomfortable to say the least that this girl can come into our lives and expect everything to just fall into place. The children are not sure about her at all and my husband's natural daughter wants a dna test done. Our life is in turmoil. In my husband's eyes he doesn't see the problem and thinks everyone should get on but its not quite as easy as that. Does anyone have any suggestions how we handle this?

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          21.04.2008 13:27

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          I met a man a few years ago and we got together. He came with a son who we welcomed into our home, he also has two other sons who live with their mother. The son who came to live with us destroyed any trust any of us had in him, he simulated oral sex on my two youngest boys, stole from us and treated us like absolute crap. He eventually went to live with his mother to everyones relief and due to the thing she had done i will not have him in my home near my kids. My partners other two kids only seem to want money, this means that my kids have to give up what little they do have, i just don' think this is fair and i'm really resenting the situation, we never see the other 2 boys either and they have no interest.

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          23.02.2007 13:54
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          Take the good with the bad!

          I first met my step children when they were aged eight and five and we have been together as a family for ten years! Throughout that time, as with all families, there have been both highs and lows, but generally for me, the experience of being a step parent has been very positive. When their Dad and I first started seeing each other they were very excited that Daddy had got a girlfriend and wanted to do everything with me. I think that when they realised that I was becoming a permanent fixture that insecurites started to set in and that was the most testing time! They became quite possessive of their Dad and wanted to do things exclusively with him. However, that was a phase though, and things generally settled down as we adapted to becoming an instant family. So what would my advice be to anyone about to become a step parent... 1. Be prepared to share your partner! I guess it's the same when you have your own children, but even more so with step children. They really need to have time with their dad and not to feel that because there's someone new in their lives that they can't do the things that they have always done. Having said this though, it's also important that you and your partner do have quality time on your own too! As my step children do not live with us all the time, I feel that when they are with us, we have to put their needs first. Sometimes you might even feel a bit excluded but then you remember who is the adult and who is the child and that puts it into proportion! 2. Take time to get to know your step children but don't expect instant love! I think I was quite lucky because my step children did take to me straight away. This is not always the case though, and you cannot force an instant relationship. I never expected anything from my step children. I was always there for them and gave them all the love that I would give my own children but never expected the same from them. This made all the hugs and cuddles I do receive even more precious because I feel that they have come from them and in some ways I have earned them! Also i feel that I can be a good friend to them, and sometimes it is easier for them to confide in me because I am not their parent! 3. Always involve your step children in your plans! I guess there have been two major events my step children have had to deal with - first was our wedding and secondly was the births of their two little sisters. With the wedding, we made sure that the children were the first that we told. They had their say on the sort of things they would like at the wedding and came with us when we booked the hotel. My step daughter was my chief bridesmaid and my step son was his Dad's deputy best man! (He felt, at eight, he was too old to be a page boy!) I do think we successfully involved them in the wedding plans as much as we could, and also ensured that in the run up to the wedding and afterwards, their own lives did not get disrupted. So much so, that on my first day as a married woman where was I? Only attending my step son's school sports day!! Again, when I discovered I was pregnant we told my step children first and they were very excited! We even took them when we went for scans so they could be part of everything was happening. And when both girls were born, my husband picked the children up from school so they could be the first to see and hold the baby! I do sometimes feel now that my husband, with children ranging in age from eighteen to two, is really stretched all ways. He does a wonderful job making sure that he has time for all his children, and a little left over for me too! 4. Be prepared to always have their mum in your life! Obviously with most step children there is a mum (and ex wife) who is obviously a major figure in theirs and your life! The main rule is that you have to accept this presence, and never let it be known that you might disagree with what she says. This can be quite difficult sometimes, especially if your views on parenting are quite different! You have to value the relationship the children have with their mum or dad, and never make them feel that they can't talk about them! Also, you don't want them to play off one set of parents against the other so if you can work together on the big things, the better it will be. 5. Don't be afraid to upset them! It sometimes feels like quite a precarious relationship you have with your step children. You don't automatically have that unconditional love that you have with your own children, and therefore, there might be a temptation to go a bit easy on them. I don't believe this is for the best though as all children need boundaries and accepted standards! I don't hesitate to ask my step children to tidy up after them in the same way as I would my own children, and although they might not always like it, I think they respect it! So I hope some of my thoughts have been useful. Parenting, whether the children are your own or they are your step children, is always going to be a tricky business! There is no manual to follow to make sure you get it right, and unless you are really lucky, you will make mistakes, or wish that you had dealt with something differently! Whatever the case though, having children in your life is definitely a bonus, and you can only hope that most of your family time will be a happy time!

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            21.11.2006 00:31
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            Wicked stepmothers are only in Disney films, we are the 21st century family and proud of it!

            Bonding with step children is not easy. It takes time, patience and a lot of trust on both sides. It can also take up "couple time" but it is very rewarding. With love and a great deal of effort, the benefits are pretty amazing. My partner and I have both been separated for over three years and our divorces were made absolute earlier this year, although we didn't meet until after this had happened. Although I am writing this as step children, my partner and I do not live together at the moment. We live about 10 minutes walk from each other which for now is the perfect compromise. Each of us has two children who live with us pretty much full time, for my partner this is unusual as he is the dad and custody is often awarded to the mum. Our children are quite similar in ages, the youngest is nearly 10 and the oldest is 14. This is how we bonded: 1) Respect the fact that both sets of children really wish that their families had not split up in the first place. Just because you and your partner have fallen in love with each other, you can't expect the children to do the same. 2) Space and time, respecting each others. 3) Don't be afraid to discuss ground rules, you probably have different views on lots of issues. For example, my partner's children were allowed full sugar fizzy drinks whenever they wanted, mine are not allowed them at all. So we came up with a compromise, now everyone has fizzy drinks as occasional treats and he now buys more healthy drinks! Their dentist will thank me, even if the kids don't!! 4) Make sure your own children still feel that they are as important as they always were. Mine and his both felt a little jealous of the attention being paid to the other partner's children. We got around this by lots of hugs and reassurance and by telling them that love is magic, you can always make more to go round without taking it away from anyone else. 5) Try to find common ground and use it. We found we both like water fights, bit cold now, but broke the ice in the summer. Board games are great, we all play together and we've had fun with impromptu karaoke nights too. 6) Share your traditions! For example, we have a birthday party for our dog, so this year we made that a family night with a cake (dog had roast chicken!) and played silly games and had party bags. My partner has different things, we have shared some of those experiences. 7) Use each other to babysit so you can spend 1:1 time with each child in turn. This is so worth it, and not just with our own children, we have done this with each others too. Can be simple things like giving a lift to a party and having time alone to chat in the car. 8) Always try and show respect for the absent parent. Our rule at home is that you can have photos of your other parent in your own rooms, you can ring them at any time and while we will always treat each other's children as a son or daughter, we also respect that we are not replacing their birth parents and do not want to. This way, "extra" parenting by being a step parent is a bonus. 9) Go to a music festival and spend four nights in the confines of a caravan, believe me you will bond! 10) Discuss traditions like Christmas and other celebrations and make sure you incorporate some of each other's ideas so everyone feels relaxed and happy and the children feel secure. One day we hope to share a home with all the children and when the time is right, I'm sure we will. Hope that our experience helps someone else. It's not always as easy as it may sound written down, some nights at the start I would come home and cry in bed because the children had fallen out. And other times, like the first birthday card I was given with kisses drawn on it carefully make it the best thing that has ever happened to us.

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              12.05.2005 11:52
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              I've kown my partner for seventeen years, we met in the T.A we were both medics, we ended up going our seperate ways for a while but for years ago we met up again he had been married and had a son he and had spent alot of time traveling with the army. When we met up again he moved in with me after about six months an we've never looked back. My problem started when his son started to come down and stay for visits he hated me and blamed me for his mum and dads split up although i was no where about when that happened. Then a year ago he cam to live with us, we found out that his mum had not been looking after him properly she was leaving him at home on his own she was giving him bacon sandwiches for his dinner and she did'nt care if he went to school or not' then she tried to top herself'we discovered this was the third time that she had tryed so my partners son was removed from his mother and given to his dad with access aranged so he could still see his mum. He has never fogiven us for bringing him to our home as it is quite a distance from his mother. She lives in the north of England and we live in the south, he blames me and his dad for him being with ushe does not see that his mum has done anything wrong. He actually watched what his mother did which was taking drug with drink which landed her in hospital, he thinks that we are cruel and mean because we won't let him go back to live with his mum, his done everything posible to encourage us to send him back and believe me i've come very close, as i am his main carer because dad works so he directs alot of stuff at me. He has done things like wiping poo on the toilet wall, deliberately weeing on the floor and all over the toilet, to wetting the bed on purpose and alot of other extemly annoying things. Ive had to learn to grit my teeth with him because his behavour is down to his mother, she never set no bounderies and let him do what he wanted to do, he found my house a little hard to settle into as he did'nt get his own way here he had set times and he ate proper and regular meals. His eased off a bit on me with some of the discusting stuff he did that was only because i started to make him clean it up himself he did not like that so he stopped. We still have bad days but until he comes to terms with the fact that he is staying with us and not going back to his mum his not going to totally calm down. he most certainly has turned my world upside down.

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                27.05.2004 18:18
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                • "very controvercial"

                i first met my partner damien in 1998. from the start he told me he was a father of two very young boys. a one year old and the other two. his marriage was over and he was staying with friends. i was just at the end of a twelve year relationship and was not looking for another. damien and i got on so well as friends that we were prepared to wait to see if anything progressed. damien had contact each saturday with his sons, and so we didn't see one another on those days. this was not sucha big deal as i had a nine year old daughter who needed my own time at weekends. however we were invited one saturday to meet the boys. i was uneasy, knowing this to be a bigger step towards a relationship. a sort of meet the parents thing if you like. we did however discuss the children, and we agreed that it might not be such a bad idea. play it by ear and see how it goes. this we did, and it was an enjoyable saturday. damien continued to have his saturday contact, and both myself and my daughter went every fourth week. as for my relationship with damien. that grew. i fell in love with him, and he , me. i got all the warning voices, he wants a mummy for his kids, he wants your house, he needs a cheif cook and bottle washer ect. but to be honest, he did the cooking, he looked after his own kids welfare and expenses, and he did not make a move on me for ages. the wether was getting worse, and i suggested that damien had his contact at my home. he talked this over with the boys mum first, and she infact through this came to see me. i know it was to see the home her sons would spend time too, which is not a bad thing. contact was every saturday and we would stay for the first hour every week from then on. i think this is where i began to bond with both boys. my daughter thought them to be adorable. damien eventually moved in and weekend contact was then in progress. damien loved my daughter and i began to fall for his little boys. a trauma happened and amanda lost her life late sept 1999. the oldest of the boys, now almost four, was recieved into care as he had found his mum. the baby, jamie was given to us and a residency order granted. we still see alot of callum, but he will be in specialist care for many years. jamie, on the other hand calls me mummy. he treats me like i am his mummy. i have always told him about his biological mummy, telling him i am his looky after mummy. i cannot say it has been plain sailing. on dicipline it has been hard. often jamie reminding me that i am not his real mummy. but i have always told him that his mummy would not have let him get away with it so nor will i. on daddy issues, jamie has tried to play us against each other, but all kids go through that. i look at it as jamie being normal. i did in fact get him into cruise councilling when he went through a year of missing his biological mummy. he has grown to be a handsome little nine year old normal child. i don't really know how i would have handled the situation if jamie had come to me older. he has grown and bonded from an early age. hats off to those who have done it with much older children but no matter what, we love them, and thats all they need right now. any comments, please email me for a private chat on this subject.

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                  05.05.2004 01:31
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                  Imagine a child telling you it hates you or you broke there parents up would you sit and take this? Well thats what been a step parent is all about children can be very hurtful but thats all they are children it is normal for them to express anger towards you and resent you after all you split there parents up or so they see it that way. I know I dont like my step mum there are so many boundries you cannot cross as they are not your children and your not there parent. I have three soon to be step children aged 13 11 and 9 they have always treated me with respect never back chatted and been great with my children there siblings. I buy them presents for christmas and there birthdays I try to involve them in our life the only problem I have is there mum who resents me and thinks I want to be there mum. Why would I want to when I have 4 children of my own I just want to be a friend to them. Someone they can talk to I dont know what I would do if they were cheeky towards me I would probably let there father deal with them after all who am I to tell them what they can and cannot do im not there mother. Sometimes step children can be very hard to deal with but you have to remember they have feelings and they are probably hurting what child wants to see its parents split up and fight over them but talk to them tell them you dont want to take anyones place let them know your there if ever they need someone to talk to This can maybe help you build bridges if they live with you try not to be hard on them as they are having to adjust just like you are and its harder for a child and most of all let them know they are still loved and always will be even though mummy and daddy dont love each other any more they will always love the child.

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                    15.08.2002 23:30
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                    • "painful rminders of your wife's past"

                    Let's get real OK? Right now I have been rated 3000 times and of that 54 have been not useful, and I garuntee that is gonna skyrocket with this opinion because I don't write useful opinions but true facts and only tell the truth about my subjects, the real life issues that I write about, and some people can not handle the truth so they downrate me. I just want to say that the title of this category, "Bonding with Stepchildren" is the most ironic and oxymoronic title I have ever heard. It is simply an impossibility under certain circumstances, circumstances that I have had the misfortune to endure my own self. Let me explain right away something, before I really get started, my experience and perspective involves children that still had a living father, I think, I really believe that a situation of the other guy being dead, like a motorcycle crash or something could actually work out, but my views are based on dealing with a couple of little brats whose biological father was still alive. The whole problem with stepchildren is that they inevitabley are impossible to love as much as a child that is your own flesh and blood. I know a few people are going to contest this and tell me about how good their stepfather was to them. The truth is he wasn't good to them, he was good to their mother, and that involved pretending to like the kids in order to get the mother to like him. It is an old trick, and the woman uses phrases like "I know his income (looks, sex, size of his phallus, etc) isn't all that great but he is wonderful with Sammy and Jo" when talking to her mother or sisters" or "He can't really satisfy me like my ex but he tries so much harder with Micheal's retardation than Pete did" Really it is shameful to have to use the kids and pretending to like them to get to a woman. The way I look at it a single mother is like bruised fruit at the hypermart. There may still be som e good parts but there are a lot of damaged areas to deal with. Of course they are going to try to please you, they want a husband and a father a lot more than some single girl, and face it, not too many women get a bigger house and newer car after a divorce, these women have taken a step down in their lifestyle and are looking for a step up (your paycheck). Conversely there are some good sides to dating a single mother, she didn't get to be a mother by keeping her knickers on, and she has been broken in, her inhibitions curbed in a marital bed, what may have taken her husband years to do will take you two dates as long as you pay for the baby sitter. Face it, who was to raise some other blokes brat? Except that son of a bitch Woody Allen? What kind of creep would try to bang his step daughter? Why would you? I mean she will have a lot of friends her own age coming over, ones that don't feel a tie to your wife, I mean think about it, you get involved like that, the 18 year old girl still talks to her mother and will tell her everything eventually whereas your step daughter's friends will be ashamed and embarassed and will quit coming over whereas then your step daughter will get more new friends, alack, new babes for you. But about stepchildren, can we really say they are innocent? Sure the woman is going to say that her ex was abusive, of course she had no clue until after they had three kids? Right? I don't think so. Just maybe the kids were a contributing factor to the marital breakdown. It could be they have issues that ran the father off (misbehaviour, handicaps, don't listen, aren't good at sports, there are any number of reasons a father would leave his family and start a new brood he would like better with a new woman). It's like King Henry or whoever, when the Queen couldn't give a suitable heir (i.e. male child) he would kill her and try again with another woman, of course it was never his fault, and we all know that when a child is conceived when the woman climaxes it is a boy, if she doesn't it is a girl. I am just saying the kids may have been a big factor of the man trying to get away and you walk in there like some idiot thinking they are angels. You are not getting a ready made family, you are taking over payments on somebody elses problems. The ready made family was already dysfunctional with another guy, what makes you think you are so much better, oh I forgot, she's been telling you how bad he was, how he drank, how he didn't come home at night and how he gambled, well did you ever hear his side of the story too? Didn't think so, but since you didn't get your DivorceFAX report you will learn first hand what being married to this woman is like. And having bad stepkids is like this, if you get trapped in a coal mine and have to stay alive by drinking your own urine, that is ok, but stepkids is like having to drink other people's urine when they misbehave. Why am I so mad? Ok, there was this music video with Brad Paisley, a country singer about a guy who dates a skank and takes the kid she had on dates with them and ends up being a great father although he is a stepfather (BTW the mom in the video doesn't look like a low income woman working two jobs to get by, like what happens in these cases). It is so far fetched, its touching. But I hate Brad Paisley because I was getting with some hot babe who worked at the hotel that we stayed at in Portsmouth and then supposedly he came to play at the fair and asked her out and she left me for him. At least if it is a lie I appreciate that she made up such a damn elaborate lie to get rid of me. Anyways she was too hot, she was all like, "I am so hot I just have to lay here and my beauty should make you happy, kinda vibe" But I get mad everytime I see that video. I think it makes me mad. But anyways who can love some otehr man's brat? Do you see this in the animal kingdom? No, a new male kills off the other males offspring, and that is what is programmed into us although civility and all has extracted that instinct from us. But do you want to sit at the table while your wife shrieks at an 8 year old to eat his peas, and you realize that it is a living reminder your wife has been with other men that is not being good at that moment. And you paid for the peas. See that is what I was unable to deal with when I lived with some skank named Shelly for a year. She had two kids from some guy and was poor, so I come in there, 23 years old, making 55k per year and I owned her. She did everything I wanted except she wouldn't send the kids to Texas to live with her mom, thats while our relationship didn't work out, she was selfish like that. Just so you know, you end up taking the kid fishing, you read to them, you do everything a father would do, except you aren't allowed to discipline them , yet you still hear, "You ain't my dad you can't tell me what to do" or "I am going to tell my dad and he is going to beat you up. (I felt sorry for Rodger about this, to get that effed up as bad as I thrashed him over a 7 year old's misjudgent of who would win a fight) after this the freak took to always showing the kid guns on visitation like that was supposed to scare me. Then you are always going back in court so he can try to get custody over dumb shit (like claiming I was a war criminal for going to Bosnia) and trying to get his support payments reduced, usually men will cut a deal with you to give up their righst and vistation if you let them quit paying child support by adopting their brats but then when you see what she is all about and divorce her you get stuck paying support on brats that you didn't even spawn. I guess I need to summarize by saying bonding with stepchildren is futile and impractical, and is unfair to them. Why get them attached to you if their mom has already proven once she doesn't have what it takes to make a marriage last. Still I think every young guy needs to find a 28 year old woman when he is 23, one with a few kids and live with her a few yeasr to learn about life and all. It is a valuable education that no old university could ever offer. Love, Cammij

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                      13.08.2002 20:04
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                      My parents split up when I was 4 or 5 and both re-married. Of the two step parents I would say I preferred the step dad more as because I lived with my mum, I saw him more and he treated me really nicely. We had a bond and I looked up to him. I saw him as a father figure in a way although he could never replace my real dad. Following are the things he did right: He treated me nicely but didn’t spoil me or suck up to me, or try and buy me. This is a definite point not to try and buy stepchildren, as I certainly wouldn’t find it bonding, just fake bonding. He included me in his sports he liked but didn’t turn me into a tomboy. This meant I had an equal supply of boys and girls side of things. He didn’t act different around me when in front of my mum. (Wasn’t nice to me around mum and then when she’s gone being horrible.) He treated me as a friend and never tried to be ‘my dad’. There were a few problems between my step-mum and me – these were: She seemed to pick on me for anything I did wrong. She treated me differently when my dad was there. ( nicer when he was there). She treated one of my older sisters nicer then my other older sister and me. I just didn’t really feel a bond or loved between her. She appeared jealous my dad getting on well with me and her son (my step brother) and me getting on well. In the end my mum and step dad divorced when I was 11 and my dad and step mum divorced when I was 13. It’s weird though because while they were together I didn’t really get on with my step mum, but now they aren’t I get on with her and see her and my stepbrother on a regular basis. My step dad has remarried and moved and even though I’ve tried to make contact with him, he has stopped the contact. This hurts me but shows that just because you got on with someone when he or she was wi th your parents doesn’t mean things won’t change around when a divorce comes. Overall I would say to follow my step dads’ example but if things don’t work out still keep in contact. Another thing I would say is never be jealous of bonds between them and their parent and if you do then try not to let it show in your actions towards them.

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                        08.07.2002 19:51
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                        My partner of 6 years has 2 children who live with their mother 250 miles away. The disadvantage of this is that it makes bonding with the children a lot more difficult. The advantages are obvious!!!! To make it easier for both my self and the kids here are some ideas that worked for me. 1) Discuss with your partner how he/she would like your role to be.. will you able to discipline if necessary etc. 2) Do not try and be their parent. In most cases they already have 2 they don't want another one...Would you??!!! 3) In the beginning, play with them with their toys and learn about their likes and dislikes. 4) Never undermine their parents. If the parents say no...the answer is no. 5) Try and find some common ground. 6) Listen to their opinions. 7) Talk to them about yourself (but don't bore them to death...just as the situation aries) 8) Try and spend time on your own with them and no matter how much they may irritate you, grin and bear it. Once the hard work is done and the children know their limits with you, life becomes positively easy with them. I have no tantrums because they know I will ignore them. My partner allows me to discipline them when necessary and backs me up. They are now at an age where the are young adults and get treated as such. We have the rows over school work when they are with me but it doesn't last long. Most importantly, like the children. It's not their fault they are in this position. At the end of the day if you have never had kids, it can be really scary and irritating when they first storm into your life but making an effort to get along in thebeginning, usually means no effort later on. Good Louck!!!

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                          03.07.2002 18:43
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                          • "Ex-Partners Can make Life Hell"

                          I have been a stepparent for the last 13 years and although I can't say unlucky 13, I've had more up's and downs than a championship yoyo! My story is quite a long one and it has caused me many a year of heartache, desperation, excitement and happiness. The array of emotions that you go through when being a stepparent is countless, the number of sleepless nights you may have are countless, the amount of love you may receive is immeasurable but the amount of hard work you have to put in is enormous. This is no disrespect to the children and I will tell you about them shortly and not everyone will have the same difficulties that I have experienced. I think that one of the most important factors is how easy or how difficult the ex-partner and parent of the stepchildren makes it. In my case it has been a living nightmare, not just for me but also for my husband and the children themselves. This is my story....... I met my husband at work on 1987, we were both married to different people at the time but we both had difficulties in our current relationships. My marriage was violent and his marriage was already on the verge of breakdown. To cut a long story short his wife used to spend all his money, not pay the rent, get in debt etc and he found this difficult to cope with. I had no children and this turned out to be a blessing as the marriage was to end after he went to far head butting me one night. My current husband (Peter) had already separated from his wife after trying again and having another child. He now had 2 children, a boy of six months and a girl of three. We used to talk through our problems at work and we grew very close, this was difficult as my ex husband also worked with us (that's another story) but one new years eve I phoned Pete to say happy new year and he invited my down to the pub as I was on my own. This was the start of our relationship and the beginning of my nightmare....... I never really co nsidered the impact that him having children would have on our relationship, I knew that I loved him, that he was a kind and gentle man and that I would do anything for him. I remember the first time I met his daughter Natalie and feeling extremely jealous of their relationship. I know I am not alone in this and it is quite common but you can't help feeling ashamed that you are jealous of a helpless child. I didn't see his son Luke for a while as he was only a baby and his mother would not let him go and stay with Pete. Everything was going fine until she found out a bout me. Suddenly she wanted her husband back and nothing was going to get in her way....... She tried many things like taking an overdose and refusing to go home to look after the children unless Pete moved back home. It was very difficult for him but we knew he couldn't give in to blackmail. When she did go back home she saw a solicitor and tried to stop me from seeing the children, coming out with all sorts of lies about my husband and me. I decided to lay low for a while, as it was important that he continued to see the children as much as possible. Many a time he would turn up to see them and she would refuse, the police were called but they could do nothing. She didn't want him but she didn't want anyone else to have him and she was determined to make our life hell and use the children to hurt Pete in any way she could. We attended countless court appearances and I was with him every step of the way. I am telling you all this and the background as when you get in a to a relationship with someone who has children it is important to understand how this can affect you. The children come first and they should do. Every time you see your partner cry because they can't see their children, every time they are hurting because they know that they aren't being looked after, it hurts you to. You hurt for the children and you hurt for your partner, you have to be strong f or everyone and you have to be very supportive. Even when you may be receiving abusive telephone calls and letters form their ex, as I was, you still have to be strong for them. What do you do though when you are told that the children are being ill treated and not being looked after and that a new man has taken over the role of daddy? How do you support your partner knowing what they must be going through? This is what in did....... I knew that we had to go for custody of the children. His ex wives own mother came to us and told us to get the children, she told us some horrible things. Now when you first start a relationship with someone who you know has children but they don't live with them, I don't think you ever fully consider that things might change. That one day they might want to come and live with you or indeed have to for their own safety. I knew they weren't my children and that it would be hard but I loved them just the same. I loved them not only because they were my husbands children but because of the people that they were. We applied for custody but we lost. We were told that although they would more than likely have a better life with us they couldn't prove that their mother was mistreating them and therefore they should stay with her. Of course we were both devastated but not as devastated as when we went to see them for the access visit to find the house empty, they had gone, and we didn't know where....... It turns out they had moved to Scotland and as we live in Greater Manchester it was quite far away. My husband new that she had relatives up there but only knew their name and the area they lived in. Being the determined kind of person that I am I spent hours in the library looking through Scottish phone books. Searching endlessly in the hope that I would eventually track them down. I made a list of all the people in the area with the same name as her family and started to phone them one by one, 'yes, who's calling' was the reply and then an argument and the phone going dead. I had found them, I can't tell you how difficult this was but I had to do it, they were my husband's children and not even their selfish mother was going to take them away from him. We contacted the police who could only go round and check that they were safe. Under the court order she shouldn't have taken them out of the country and in Scotland they have different laws to us. This was the start of many legal proceedings that have gone on for years. She has moved all over the country to escape the debt that she gets herself in to. Each time we have more often than not had to track them down or as the children got older wait for a secret phone call from them to tell us where they are living. Eventually they came to live back in Manchester and by this time we had a child of our own We were hopeful, we could see them more often and I could now build a stronger relationship with my stepchildren....... They used to come and stay with us every weekend. I so wanted them to be happy and I treated them like my own. We would buy the majority of their clothes and take them places that they otherwise would never go. We made sure they kept in regular contact with all the family and my own parents and brothers treated them the same as my own daughter. It was hard work; they were constantly fighting for the attention and claiming that we loved our daughter Elizabeth more than them. Of course this wasn't true and we did everything we could to treat them equally but they were very insecure. We discovered that they would play us off against their mother and her partner and this caused a lot of friction. They would tell us that they get hit at home, locked in their bedroom and allsorts of horrible things. They would also go back to their mum and tell her things about us that weren't true. We never knew what to believe. If I told them off for being naughty they would run and tell their mum and it was hard for me then not to keep blaming my daughter for the arguments, as it was easier to shout at her. I realised I was doing this sometimes, I found myself shouting at Elizabeth if they were all arguing or fighting as I was scared of them running to their mum and not coming back to visit us. It was blackmail in a sense and it took us a long while to stand up and say that we can't let them get away with murder. I thought things were hard enough but they got even harder one year when we took them on holiday with us. This is what happened on our return....... The children, Natalie and Luke said they didn't want to go home to their mum. We thought this was because they had a good time on holiday and wanted the fun to continue. We asked them why and we were nearly sick at the things they told us. They told us about their mum constantly being beaten up by their stepfather and how they had to watch. How they were kept in their bedrooms after school and not fed properly. How their stepfather used drugs and would send them to buy it, at this time Luke was only 10. They wrote a letter detailing this and said if they were taken home they would run away. We contacted the police who initially wanted us to return them home; they said they would do it forcefully if necessary. We told them the situation and they were to get back to us. I don't know what they found out but they were placed under a police protection order and allowed to stay with us. We explained to the children how upset their mum would be and that we would have to go to court. That it would cost us hundreds if not thousands of pounds and that they had to be sure this was what they wanted. They said it was. We applied to the courts for interim residency and it was granted. We thought that this was now going to be the start of a stable life for them and we could get the family together. I would suddenly gain another two children and our daughter Elizabeth was to gain a full time brother and sister. Getting custody of Natalie and Luke meant a lot of changes had to be made, here's what we had to do....... As my husband was working full time and I was only working part time it fell on me to do a lot of the sorting out. Firstly I had to find them both a school. Luke was at primary and Natalie was at secondary. Luke went to the same school as our daughter Elizabeth but he is 4 years older. You may know that school uniforms aren't cheep and we had to buy him everything new. His first day was a nightmare. I couldn't control his tears; he was trembling and could hardly breathe. He had been to so many different schools and he was very insecure. I couldn't leave him as it was heartbreaking to see him so upset. They decided to let his older sister stay with him for the day as she wasn't yet in school. He came home that day full of the joys and had made friends and was happy. I was so pleased. Natalie had to have an interview at the secondary school and again it was me who went with her. She was accepted and that meant more money had to be spent on uniforms etc. We had no savings and had to go in to debt for this. All our money was spent on the court costs in getting custody, a couple of thousand pounds. Natalie was doing ok at school but never really wanted to go, she was used to not attending school as her mother used to keep her at home to look after the two younger children she had from her current relationship. We were still confident that things would work out. It was a little strained at home as we were all getting used to a different way of life. I had to arrange a new doctor and dentist for them. I had to contact the child benefit agency and the child support agency to make the necessary changes. The bedrooms had to be changed around and decorated as Luke was moving in to Elizabeth's old room and he wanted a Manchester United theme. Lots of things had to be done but we did them. The most d ifficult thing was arranging contact with their mother as at first she said she didn't want to see them. Eventually after a week or so she changed her mind and off they went. They came back a bit subdued and didn't want to go again. We explained that they had to go as she had a court order granting access. They said their mother was trying to bribe them to go back home and as we only had an interim order it concerned us. We had yet to go back to court for full residency to be granted. A few weeks later when my husband went to collect them from their mums they wouldn't come to the door. She said they didn't want to come home and wanted to stay with her. He could see them crying at the window but he couldn't get access. We called the police and they confirmed that the children missed their mum and wanted to stay with her. There was nothing we could do. All that hard work, all that money and it had been wasted. How was I going to tell my daughter Elizabeth that her brother and sister weren't coming home, she was only five....... I am going to skip forward now in the hope that I still have your attention! We didn't see them for a while as she moved away again and it was around 18 months ago that we had a call from Natalie saying they wanted to see us and that no one was going to stop them. They were getting older and braver. We have been seeing them on and off ever since and as they live 200 miles away it was mainly in the holidays. This year we decided that we would take them on holiday to Butlins with us (they have been coming on holiday many times before and she always stopped them from coming at the last minute) and we went to pick them on the Wednesday night before we were to travel on the Friday. Some of you may know that my brother in law died and it was his funeral on the Thursday. It should also have been my husbands 40th the Friday before but we were unable to celebrate due to the death of his brother. In am telling you th is so that you can understand how my husband was feeling as his brother committed suicide. We hope the holiday would help him to get over what had happened, at least for a while anyway. We arrived on the Friday and on the Sunday we had a phone call from his ex wife, the poor children's mother! She claimed that her partner had beaten her up again and that she would have to move away. They currently lived in Redcar, Teeside that is about 2 hours drive away from where we live in Manchester. She said she was moving to a hostel in Preston. Although this is closer to where we live she kindly informed us that she was doing it that day. Natalie had to return to Redcar as she was sitting her GCSE exams. Her mother didn't care. Natalie had to go and stay with a friend as the house she knew as home had been bolted up and she was not allowed access. All their possessions are in that house. Everything they own and all we had ever bought them. Natalie didn't want to move as she has friends and a boyfriend in Redcar, she is 16 on 20th July 2002, in 2 weeks time. Luke is only 13 but did not want to live with his mum in a hostel. They literally only have the clothes that was packed away in the suitcase for the holiday. You can guess was about to happen? It was staring all over again. All we had been through before only to loose them, how are we going to get through this for a second time? How was my husband going to cope with this after loosing his brother? How was Luke going to cope with starting yet another new school? He had no choice if he stayed with his mother or came with us; he still had to start all over again. I am now in the process of arranging a school for Luke (I've just had a phone call as I'm typing to say he has been found a place, phew!), buying him new clothes and a uniform, changing doctors and dentists. He has gone to see his mum for a few days and is coming back tonight, to live with us permanently. His mum is moving to a nother hostel at the other end of the country and it has been agreed that he needs his education. The only way he will get that is by living in a stable home with us. Natalie hasn't decided if she is to get a flat on her own when she is 16 or to come and stay with us. She will have to make her mind up soon as we will have to get her in to college and sort out the bedrooms etc. all over again. I will go to the ends of the earth for my husband, my daughter and my husband's children too, they deserve so much more than they have had so far. Those of you that have read my op on marriage may now understand why there have been problems. We have been though so much, much more than I could ever tell you here. I hope I haven't put anyone off or made them think thet being a stepparent isn't rewarding, it is, but you should go in to it with your eyes open and be prepared for the unexpected. We are about to embark on another new journey and who knows what heartache or joy it will bring, wish us luck.

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                            21.02.2002 03:23
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                            I had to think long and hard about writing this op. I am not usually so outward at airing my dirty laundry in public but I am hoping that by seeing it up here in print might help me to exorcise a few demons. If it helps you to do the same, should you find yourself in a similar position, then it will have been worth the pain and heartache that I have had whilst confronting this all again. Please read ‘till the end, even if you have seen this story on the ‘other side’: There is an alternative ending. Finally, I make no apologies for writing this in the third person; it seemed slightly less traumatic to see it written thus, as though it were someone else experiencing it. The beginning This time last year she was the mother of three teenage sons. This year she still has three sons but one of them will hit the grand old age of 21 in the summer. She would like to say that they are all a year wiser but she has serious doubts about that. She however, is. Go back 14 and half years ago. She had just become the single parent of two sons, one a 6-month-old baby. We won’t go into all the whys and wherefores of how that happened but despite their Dad not being on the scene on a daily routine they were well loved by both their parents. She was quite happy in her own little world with her two lads and she genuinely believed that it was going to stay that way for the foreseeable future, she had no more room for another man in my life. Fate however had other ideas, but that is another story for another time. She was looking forward to bringing up these two in the best way she could and looking forward, with those rose coloured specs that she is far too keen on wearing, to a cosy life as the mother of two teenage sons. As we mentioned a little while ago fate intervened in an enormous way and not only did she get another man in her life but with him came a gorgeous little boy a couple of years younger than her eldest. What a fantastic life they were all going to have. Fast forward to today. If your Maths is ok you might have worked out that this little boy is now a few months off his 19th birthday, she has been his Mum for the past 15 years. Now this is where we might struggle a bit to put it into words, please bear with us. She loves that kid so much. She automatically loved her own two ‘biological’ sons; she grew to love this one. She worked bloody hard at it, and if the truth is known, so did he. She won’t pretend it was easy along the way, it wasn’t. They had their fair share of disagreements. You ‘know’ your own child; you have to learn to ‘know’ someone else’s. It is hard when that child is very headstrong. It is hard for that child when his life is suddenly turned upside down, and a new lady comes into Daddy’s life who seems to love Daddy as much as he does but Daddy now spends time with her that was exclusively his before. Oh don’t worry; she was more than aware of that in those early days. Up until he left school as far as she was concerned all was pretty well with her life and naively enough she was beginning to congratulate herself at having got through the terrible teens relatively unscathed. It was when the middle one left school and went out into the big wide world that all ‘her’ problems’ started. We won’t go into all the details here if you don’t mind. They went through all the usual things of filthy bedrooms, habits, clothes etc, seemingly not having a care in the world. But they learned to turn a blind eye to that. It was only when things and habits started to spill out of the bedroom into the rest of the house when she had to put her foot down. Of course then she was the big bad Mother and never picked on either of the other two, a nd why did the youngest one get away with so much? That wasn’t the case at all but that is how it was perceived through the eyes of an adolescent hormone ridden teenager. She showed him the same amount of care, consideration, and level of strictness that she did the other two but always was made to believe that that she was victimising just him. She took it all with a pinch of salt at the time she knew she wasn’t and so did his Dad. And at the end of the day if the truth were known, he knew/knows too that he was never ever singled out. She unwavering encouraged him to pursue a talent that he discovered he had of cooking, reaching regional finals of Junior Masterchef at one point. All the time he was praised for his newly discovered skills but at the same time she encouraged him to seek out new experiences too, not to stick to the same path if he came up to a crossroads in his life and felt like exploring it. She and he could talk about all sorts of things, he was never afraid to ask her about anything and was more than happy spending time with just her telling her all about the things he had been doing. Some of which she would have preferred not to know but….. She will always treasure those moments. Unfortunately it all went from bad to very much worse at the end of 2000 when he lost yet another excellent job. They helped him out of a huge hole that he had dug himself into. They picked him up, dusted him down and encouraged him to go out and find another job. He did for a little while and then the same thing happened again, and again, and again:o( Last summer it all went the ‘pearest’ of pear shapes that anything ever could and with a very heavy heart she asked him to leave. It was more than the loss of job after job that pushed her to this, that in itself was the minor thing. It was the hardest thing that she had ever done i n her life, and was ever likely to. She is an ‘earth mother’. She likes nothing better than to be surrounded by all of her children, their friends and half the village’s children and the majority of the hassle that comes with that. Part of the reason for doing this was because she genuinely felt that she was at the end of her tether, She doesn’t like to think of what would have happened had they all stayed under the same roof She does however believe that it would have been the end of the family unit. The other reason she had to do it was because the youngest son was seeing the hurt and heartache that the middle one was causing her and the Father, as well as the fact that he was seeing some of the things that the middle one was appearing to ‘get away’ with. But they didn’t abandon him wholly, oh no. They settled him into a house-share, one which they all agreed on and made him more than aware that he was always welcome to visit, come for meals etc and that even though they weren’t agreeing all the time that they still loved him and that nothing would ever take that away. All went well for some time until they heard via his friends that he had lost another job, for yet again failing to turn up on time..sigh. As agreed they continued to help him with the rent where he was living. They weren’t saints, it wasn’t their money but they were giving him a hand to manage his own budget by taking away the worry of rent from him, hoping that little by little he would turn things around with the more minor things of his life whilst still maintaining a roof over his head. They continued to support and encourage him to get another job, advising him that the inheritance wasn’t going to last forever and that he really needed another income. He chose to take very little notice of this advice. Fast forward to a few weeks ago. He is now longer no living in the house share. They don’t know what has happened there, but she has a good idea. He however chose not to take her into his confidence, not surprisingly enough. He asked if he could come and stay back in the family home for a couple of weeks until he sorted himself out somewhere else to live, well of course he could. What else could she have done? They knew that it wasn’t going to be easy, all of them were going to have to compromise with him being back home, he chose not to. The other evening with a very heavy heart she told him that he was going to have to find somewhere else to live. The rest of the evening was spent in a soggy heap with a heart of lead, akin to the one her ex-husband left her with. The reasons why she had to do that will not be revealed but trust me, they were very justified. So why does she feel like a complete bitch? Like she has failed miserably at being his Mum? Like she has abandoned him for good? Like she just doesn’t care? It doesn’t matter how many times she tells herself that she did the very best she could, that she is not a prize bitch, that she hasn’t abandoned him, that she does care, it still doesn’t sink into her psyche far enough to make a difference. She knows that she is going to have a few very heavy weeks ahead of her. She is going to fall apart from time to time. She is going to have to be strong to hold his Dad together when he is struggling with what has happened to their neat little family unit. She has to hold it altogether for the other 2 boys, all this whilst still coming to terms with this enormous decision she has made. He told her that he would cut himself off from the rest of the family if he left, She quietly told him that was his decision, it was not one that she would choose and that they did still love him, but they could not do any more for him. It was up to him to make an effort now, one that had been sadly lacking the last few years. She doesn’t think that he is on drugs, as it might seem to some who will read this story, but she can’t be sure. He assured her from time to time that he had not taken drugs, but then he assured her of a lot of other things, which have subsequently been found to be all lies. She can only reiterate in saying that she still loves this ‘child’ with everything she possesses; she can only hope that in time he will come to realise this, learn to love himself again and hopefully bring some of that love back into the family. This story will be left with a plea not to judge her, which is not why this story is being written. Neither is it a plea for help, advice, or guidance. It is merely a story told in the hope that anyone else reading it who might happen to find themselves in a similar situation will take some comfort from knowing that they aren’t the first to go through anything like this. She knows she isn’t, and she knows that she will not be the last. There will be others She would like to finish this story by repeating something that she heard somewhere, a long time ago: “If you love something set it free. If it comes back to you, it is yours. If it doesn’t. It never was”. The ‘new’ beginning He is still staying at the family home. Yesterday evening he was offered his old job back, the one he lost so soon after he first moved out. The parents had known that this employer thought highly of him, when he bothered to turn up. She knows that he knows that he very fortunate to have been offered another chance, again, So far so good, all is well and contentment rules over the household. She is however, under no illusions that it could all go dreadfully wrong again, she hopes it won’t but nevertheless she is prepared for it. It is not an easy situation, not by any stretch of the imagination. It is not easy living on such fragile egg shells, but what option was there? This ‘child’ is part of this family unit, warts and all. He is very much loved, he knows that. She hopes that he knows that enough not to rock the family ship again. She will give him another chance. She knows that some people do need more than the cursory one offered to them. She will ‘hang on in’ there, for as long as she can, for as long as he makes an effort (as he seems to be doing at the moment) then so will she, and the rest of the family. That is what Mothers do, step or otherwise. Thank you. Kazz x

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                              30.08.2001 23:12
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                              I met the man who was to become my husband 13 years ago. I was 20, he was 25. We hit it of instantly, infact, we got married a few months after our first meeting. On our first date, Michael (my hubby) told me that he had a 3 year old daughter back home in Ireland. He had been living with a girl there, and the result of their union was a little girl called Jennifer. He made it clear from day one that he had no intention of allowing her to slip out of his life. He showed me photos of her and I thought 'What a sweet looking little girl'. As we were living in Scotland, I didn't meet Jennifer until after we were married. We went to Ireland for our honeymoon, as Michael wanted me to meet members of his family who hadn't travelled over to Scotland for our wedding. On day 2 of our honeymoon, he went and collected Jennifer to take her out with us for the day. I have to admit that I baulked at this. It wasn't exactly the romantic holiday that I had planned. We ended up spending the day shopping for clothes and shoes for her. As good as my intentions had been, I found myself resenting this defenceless little girl. I was quite ashamed of my feelings, but justified them by telling myself that at 20, I wasn't quite ready to spend a lot of time looking after a child. Jennifer was wary of me to say the least. Her mother was downright rude about me. She told people that I was an evil bitch who had stolen her partner from her. This upset me, especially as they had been separated for over a year when I first met Michael. A year after our marriage, I had a daughter of my own. We moved to Michael's home town in Ireland, and Jennifer became a regular feature in our lives. The first couple of visits were strained, but I noticed how much she looked like my own daughter and that she obviously adored her. Michael was in his element when we were all together. I made a consious decision that fro m then on, Jennifer would be treated as much a part of my family as my own child. We had 3 more children. Jennifer came to the hospital with her Dad to see every one of them. I realised that I viewed her no longer as my step-child, but as just another one of my own. I think that where some step parents go wrong is that the treat their step-child in a different way to their own kids. Sometimes the differences can be quite subtle, but the child in question can pick up on it just the same. I made it my business to take an active part in her life, dispite reservations from her natural mother. I went to school sports days, watched her in school plays and took her with me whenever I went somewhere with the rest of the kids. Even going without my husband on trips to Scotland to visit my family, Jennifer comes too. My parents regard her as one of their grand-children, sending her birthday cards & christmas presents addressed 'to a dear grand-daughter'. She calls my parents granny & papa. Jennifer is now nearly 16. I have a tremendous bond with her. It's me, and not her mum or dad that she talks to about her problems. I'm the first person to hear about exam results and sporting triumphs. If someone asks me how may kids I have, Jennifer is always counted in the number provided. My kids say that she is their big sister, not their step-sister. After that first few weeks, I've never had to struggle with being a step-parent. I am as proud of her as I would be of my own children. On occassion, I am even told that she looks like me!! I wonder of that's a case of pets beginning to look like their masters! Some peole comment to me that Jennifer is very lucky that I am so good to her. When this is said to me, I always reply that that's not the case, I am lucky to have Jennifer as part of my life. I can only foresee one problem. If and when she gets married, there may w ell be a cat fight over who get to play the part of mother of the bride!

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