What do you think are the obligations or the right thing to do for step relatives?

If a family member marries a man with three children from another relationship, who live with their mother (never married to the man), what are the roles of the new wife's parents, sisters, brothers and their spouses and in laws, etc? Would the children (aged between 3 and 10) likely be content with their relationship with their parents or would they want to be included in dad's in-laws' families? How scarring would it be if some family members do not accept the children and the relationship? Would the kids even know if they are living at a distance from that family? Are there certain rules or etiquette for a situation like this or particular expectations on the step relatives or is it basically the new wife's problem alone as stepmother? What are peoples' experiences who have gone through it?
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I think children should be accepted and included as part of the new family, even if they live with their mother. To not do so is just slimy and petty, and hurtful to those children.

When I met my husband, I wasn't sure how my 2 sons would be accepted by his family, because I have seen families who separate step-children from the "real" children when it comes to gifts and attention and just talking about them. To my relief, my husband's family accepted my sons totally and completely, well before we were actually married. My sons were asked to refer to various members as aunt/uncle/grandma/grandpa, just like the "real" children. They got equal gifts and attention. They were "counted"...my MIL was delighted that she could now say she had 10 grandchildren instead of 8. The family referred to my sons as "John and Susie's sons", not just "Susie's sons". My kids noticed that stuff, and it made them feel wanted and loved.

Honestly, I don't understand why people would differentiate step-kids, maybe just to hurt them and make them feel apart. Kids always want to be included.
I think children should be accepted and included as part of the new family, even if they live with their mother. To not do so is just slimy and petty, and hurtful to those children.

When I met my husband, I wasn't sure how my 2 sons would be accepted by his family, because I have seen families who separate step-children from the "real" children when it comes to gifts and attention and just talking about them. To my relief, my husband's family accepted my sons totally and completely, well before we were actually married. My sons were asked to refer to various members as aunt/uncle/grandma/grandpa, just like the "real" children. They got equal gifts and attention. They were "counted"...my MIL was delighted that she could now say she had 10 grandchildren instead of 8. The family referred to my sons as "John and Susie's sons", not just "Susie's sons". My kids noticed that stuff, and it made them feel wanted and loved.

Honestly, I don't understand why people would differentiate step-kids, maybe just to hurt them and make them feel apart. Kids always want to be included.
Originally Posted by RedCatWaves
I agree... but if parents are older and set in their ways and have (some legitimate) issues with the situation, how to get them to realize this? Should they feel "forced" to cultivate a relationship and affection they don't feel with a family who doesn't necessarily make it easy for them either?

Also, what if the mother is not a good mother and mistreats the kids? Can the step relatives step in or should they stay out of the mother-child relationship?
Get used to me. Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me. -Muhammad Ali











I don't buy the "set in their ways" crap. That's just an excuse to be rude and hurtful. Being kind to children is not a generational thing. Even if they don't see the kids often, they should send cards to them as they would to the "real" children in the family, and they should be civil and accepting when they do see them. The biggest thing, I think, is the way they speak about kids. Things like referring to the child in a way that marks them as steps, rather than as "reals". Kids notice every mention, and so does everyone else.

I'm not sure what you mean by "step in", but, no, extended step-family members probably should not contact the mother or try to get between the mother and her kids.
I don't buy the "set in their ways" crap. That's just an excuse to be rude and hurtful. Being kind to children is not a generational thing. Even if they don't see the kids often, they should send cards to them as they would to the "real" children in the family, and they should be civil and accepting when they do see them. The biggest thing, I think, is the way they speak about kids. Things like referring to the child in a way that marks them as steps, rather than as "reals". Kids notice every mention, and so does everyone else.

I'm not sure what you mean by "step in", but, no, extended step-family members probably should not contact the mother or try to get between the mother and her kids.
Originally Posted by RedCatWaves
Agreed. It's not a "set in their ways" or cultural issue, it's being petty, and they should be called out on it. Many of my family members have all kinds of issues with certain relationships, but it's understood that it's nobody's business--no matter how much smack we may talk about them behind their backs--and any kids are always, ALWAYS treated as part of the family no matter the circumstances, and the disliked parent is always treated with respect. The only one who gets away with being obnoxious in that way is my grandmother, and that's only because she has some dementia due to her strokes, not because she's old and set in her ways, which she most definitely is.
Eres o te haces?
In my experiences in my own family, stepkids are taken in like it's no big deal, everyone just accepts them. I have a "cousin" who was about 10 or so when her mother married my first cousin (once removed), everyone has always treated her like she is part of our family. They even did the family tradition that is done at all of the weddings that we have. I don't like it when people get hung up on who is a "real" kid/grandkid and who isn't. I think the kids have probably been through enough (especially if they've been through a divorce or not always having both parents around) they don't deserve to feel like outsiders.
I don't buy the "set in their ways" crap. That's just an excuse to be rude and hurtful. Being kind to children is not a generational thing. Even if they don't see the kids often, they should send cards to them as they would to the "real" children in the family, and they should be civil and accepting when they do see them. The biggest thing, I think, is the way they speak about kids. Things like referring to the child in a way that marks them as steps, rather than as "reals". Kids notice every mention, and so does everyone else.

I'm not sure what you mean by "step in", but, no, extended step-family members probably should not contact the mother or try to get between the mother and her kids.
Originally Posted by RedCatWaves
I agree. My uncle remarried and tried to distant himself from my cousins at first. My cousin was hurt that he had no pictures of her or her brother in his new house with his new wife. He didn't even show up for her first childbirth at the hospital. This is paritally because he couldn't stand up to his new wife but he lied to her about his previous family. She had two wedding ceremonies and her mother wasn't even invited to one of them because the new wife couldn't handle it. She ended up coming of course and boy was there drama. Either way it's pretty scummy to take it out on the kids no matter how old they are. I can imagine it being a hundred times worse when they are kids. Maybe it is 'cultural' but some things that are 'cultural' are just wrong.
I agree... but if parents are older and set in their ways and have (some legitimate) issues with the situation, how to get them to realize this? Should they feel "forced" to cultivate a relationship and affection they don't feel with a family who doesn't necessarily make it easy for them either?

Also, what if the mother is not a good mother and mistreats the kids? Can the step relatives step in or should they stay out of the mother-child relationship?
Originally Posted by Amneris
I would bring to the parents attention that they have issues with the "situation" or marriage - their issues are not with the kids themselves. There's no need to take out your disapproval of someone's actions or choices on innocent bystanders. If the parents like their other grandchildren, then they should be able to find some enthusiasm and affection for their new grandchildren, even if they can't for the new daughter/son in-law.

I think that no one can ever win parenting battles. So I'd urge them to stay out of it unless it was a serious enough issue that it made them want to call CPS or the authorities. Then and only then should they step in and discuss their concerns with the family.
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I don't think sending birthday cards, etc. would be an issue at all, but what about this situation? Let's say the grandparents have put some money aside and planned to help educate their grandchildren (in their minds meaning children born or adopted of their children) at private school, college, whatever. Do they now have to do that for the step grandchildren as well in order to treat them all equally, and what if they can't afford that? Should they now not do it for anyone? And what about their wills? If they are leaving something for the grandchildren, does that now have to include the steps? And if they are taking some of the grandchildren on vacation to visit extended family, should they be taking the steps as well and what if that is logistically difficult? Those are more the situations I meant.

ETA: There's also the possibility that the kids' mother doesn't want them to have contact with the new wife or her family - so then how far should they go in trying to foster a relationship?
Get used to me. Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me. -Muhammad Ali












Last edited by Amneris; 02-17-2009 at 08:53 AM.
I agree that stepchildren should be included and not differentiated in the family. My sister's long-term SO has a son from a previous relationship. He is included in all the family gatherings and gets the same presents, Christmas stockings, etc. as the other grandchildren. I think it helps him thrive to have these relationships and stability, especially because his mother (from some accounts) is somewhat flaky and petty.
I don't think sending birthday cards, etc. would be an issue at all, but what about this situation? Let's say the grandparents have put some money aside and planned to help educate their grandchildren (in their minds meaning children born or adopted of their children) at private school, college, whatever. Do they now have to do that for the step grandchildren as well in order to treat them all equally, and what if they can't afford that? Should they now not do it for anyone? And what about their wills? If they are leaving something for the grandchildren, does that now have to include the steps? And if they are taking some of the grandchildren on vacation to visit extended family, should they be taking the steps as well and what if that is logistically difficult? Those are more the situations I meant.

ETA: There's also the possibility that the kids' mother doesn't want them to have contact with the new wife or her family - so then how far should they go in trying to foster a relationship?
Originally Posted by Amneris
I don't see any reason in those instances for it to be different just because they're steps. They would have the exact same problems if they were bio or adopted.

As far as the kids' mom situation, unless there are allegations of abuse, then she legally has no say on that matter. But if does do something to prevent contact. Then I would still send cards and presents, letters, phone calls. They don't have to be frequent, just enough to let the kids know they are welcome. They will someday would find out and be old enough to make their own choices.
I don't think sending birthday cards, etc. would be an issue at all, but what about this situation? Let's say the grandparents have put some money aside and planned to help educate their grandchildren (in their minds meaning children born or adopted of their children) at private school, college, whatever. Do they now have to do that for the step grandchildren as well in order to treat them all equally, and what if they can't afford that? Should they now not do it for anyone? And what about their wills? If they are leaving something for the grandchildren, does that now have to include the steps? And if they are taking some of the grandchildren on vacation to visit extended family, should they be taking the steps as well and what if that is logistically difficult? Those are more the situations I meant.
Originally Posted by Amneris
Anmeris, what if your uncle or another relative had more biological children? Would this argument still apply?

I don't have an answer to you on any of this. My gut feeling would say that all children in the family, step or adopted or biological need to be treated equally.


I don't think sending birthday cards, etc. would be an issue at all, but what about this situation? Let's say the grandparents have put some money aside and planned to help educate their grandchildren (in their minds meaning children born or adopted of their children) at private school, college, whatever. Do they now have to do that for the step grandchildren as well in order to treat them all equally, and what if they can't afford that? Should they now not do it for anyone? And what about their wills? If they are leaving something for the grandchildren, does that now have to include the steps? And if they are taking some of the grandchildren on vacation to visit extended family, should they be taking the steps as well and what if that is logistically difficult? Those are more the situations I meant.
Originally Posted by Amneris
Anmeris, what if your uncle or another relative had more biological children? Would this argument still apply?

I don't have an answer to you on any of this. My gut feeling would say that all children in the family, step or adopted or biological need to be treated equally.
Originally Posted by mad scientist
That's a good question, and I don't know, but I think they are planning on the assumption that each family will only have a certain number of kids that they can afford and not that there would be an extra 3 that were not foreseen. I think also they feel that they would be essentially supporting another woman's kids who isn't making much of an effort to support them herself, (nor is the father) since the kids would be living with their mother and under her control, and not with anyone in the family which would then be paying for everything - so they would be paying out the money and not getting back what they'd like to get back.

Clearly, the kids need that stability and concern frim where I sit....
Get used to me. Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me. -Muhammad Ali











As a step-child (on both sides) I have been blessed to be welcomed with wide open arms into the extended families of both my step-parents. I don't expect those grandparents to leave me anything unless they want to. I have a very good relationship with my step-mothers mom and have known her for 20 years now. I don't really expect to be included on the will and that is something that should come from them and at an appropriate time. She has a lot of grandchildren and some that spend much more time with her than I do.
I don't feel any less loved or included even though I know that they are her natural grandchildren. She's been a huge support while my dad has been sick. There are those I am closer to than others, just like in any family situation.

The family has an obligation to the new children to make them feel welcomed and to get to know them for themselves. That's all. Whatever sort of relationship they have should be to the comfort level of them and the children. I also feel that it's up to the parents to lead this. My step-mother has 3 children of her own but my sisters and I were never treated as anything less than her own children. Same with my step-dad and their families responded to that. I have an amazing family now because of it.
All the steps in my famillies are treated equally. If they hav money saved up for college, they should split it into equal parts and give everyone the same amount. And, the "issues" they have with the situation...what issues could they possibly have with CHILDREN? They haven't done anything wrong- so why punish the kids? Also, the woman in your family that is now their step-mom: does she have other children? Does she treat them as they are hers? I don't understand why the grandparents won't accept them as grandkids b/c they don't "get" what they want in return?? I don't get it...
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All the steps in my famillies are treated equally. If they hav money saved up for college, they should split it into equal parts and give everyone the same amount. And, the "issues" they have with the situation...what issues could they possibly have with CHILDREN? They haven't done anything wrong- so why punish the kids? Also, the woman in your family that is now their step-mom: does she have other children? Does she treat them as they are hers? I don't understand why the grandparents won't accept them as grandkids b/c they don't "get" what they want in return?? I don't get it...
Originally Posted by shellibean

No there are no other children as of yet, but a hope that there will be..however with the guy having 3 kids he can't support that may limit how many more he has.

There are no issues with the kids and no desire to punish the kids... but the kids do have their own family and grandparents through their mother already and this is new territory that has never happened before in the family so no one is really sure how to deal with it.

The issues are with the daughter's poor choice of man, his poor choices as a father (getting involved with another woman when he has a newborn? not getting a job to support 3 kids and letting them live on welfare?) and the mother's poor choices as a mother, not with the kids. I think everyone recognizes that it is going to be hard for those poor kids.
Get used to me. Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me. -Muhammad Ali











I'm going to assume Ameris that no one in your family knows the mother of these children personally or has spoken to her as to the circumstances of her ending up on welfare and the like. I'm also curious about what "poor choices" the mother has made in her life or with her children that quite frankly are any business of your families...espically since you have established that the father is not exactly in the running for world's greatest dad.

Thier daughter has already married the dude. So for better or for worse those are now HER children as well. If she had biological children for this guy, would these even be issues? I doubt it. The grandparents would do whatever they needed to do to for thier grandchildren.

I think that the grandparents might be sabatoging any potential relationship that thier daughter might be able to foster with her new step children. I mean they are not going to want to be around her if when they are around her family they pick up on the vibe that they are not welcome and that someone takes issue with thier mother...be it just or not.
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I'm going to assume Ameris that no one in your family knows the mother of these children personally or has spoken to her as to the circumstances of her ending up on welfare and the like. I'm also curious about what "poor choices" the mother has made in her life or with her children that quite frankly are any business of your families...espically since you have established that the father is not exactly in the running for world's greatest dad.

Thier daughter has already married the dude. So for better or for worse those are now HER children as well. If she had biological children for this guy, would these even be issues? I doubt it. The grandparents would do whatever they needed to do to for thier grandchildren.

I think that the grandparents might be sabatoging any potential relationship that thier daughter might be able to foster with her new step children. I mean they are not going to want to be around her if when they are around her family they pick up on the vibe that they are not welcome and that someone takes issue with thier mother...be it just or not.
Originally Posted by Nappy_curly_crown
Nope... people have met her.

Poor choices of the mother... using the kids as weapons physically (throwing/swinging them) - going out drinking and doing drugs all night on a regular basis dumping the kids off on other people... threatening people with knives in front of the kids...using profanity in front of the kids....

She's on welfare because she had children young and didn't finish her education. We understand that and that's not the issue, though we would hope she'll do something about that as the kids get older.

They're not married yet and there's still a chance that it won't happen. These are "what if" questions.

Her being with the guy is an issue no matter what, whether or not they have biological children together.
Get used to me. Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me. -Muhammad Ali











I didn't read your first post closely enough.

I think that if the kids live with their Mom and only occasionally visit with their father (and your cousin/sister), then I would just wait and see.

Certainly treat them the same when they are with the family but follow their father's lead with regards to going beyond that. And your cousin/sister's lead. If she feels like these are her own children, then her parents/family should back her up in that.


Since the issue isn't so much how the kids are treated but of the grandparents saving money for them for school...I don't know. My first instinct is to say that there's no obligation on the step-grandparents, but if the kids grow up with and are close to them then I'd think it wrong for them to make that distinction.

Like ms said I think it'd be better to wait and see. It seems too early yet for the grandparents to make that kind of investment.
Eres o te haces?

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