Step-Parenting

When the Kids Won’t Stop Talking About Their Other House

Let me start by letting you know how completely and whole-heartedly I absolutely love my two little stepbabes. They mean the world to me, and I would literally do anything for them. I would go through hellfire and back for those precious babes.

With that in mind, I’m going to get on with my point here.

Sometimes it feels like my littles talk nonstop.

I mean they can be little energizer bunnies running around just talking, talking, talking.

Most of the time it’s fine. Most of the time it’s funny. Most of the time it’s something I want to engage in with them.

But sometimes…

Sometimes it’s all “my mom” this, “my stepdad” that, or “in Texas,” “in Texas,” “in Texas.”

And when that happens I feel like if I hear one more thing about their life in Texas with their mom and their stepdad then my head is going to explode!

I try to be understanding. I know that it’s a GOOD thing that they are sharing these memories with us. I know that it is GREAT that they feel comfortable enough to talk to me about things. I know that it is AMAZING that they want me to be involved in these moments I missed out on.

But sometimes it feels like a comparing game. And it is so hard to let go of those feelings. I feel like it is a constant “who done it better” and I can’t compete with the woman who birthed them.

Be Understanding

I try to be really understanding. I try to engage and ask questions. I act interested, and most of the time I really am interested! I let them know that I care. I genuinely do care about the life they have outside of us, because there is so much that we miss out on. There is so much that I wish I knew. So I try to take it with a grain of salt when they start comparing our life here with their life at their other house, or comparing my taste in music with their moms, or god-forbid they compare my cooking… (don’t even get me started on that one. It’s a bit of a sore spot.) Be understanding when they go on and on about their other family, because that is what they know. They are only speaking about their experiences and what they know.

Be Interested

At first Dan and I both try to be very understand and engaging about it. We ask questions. We act interested. Actually, scratch that. We ARE interested. We enjoy these stories because they are a glimpse into the part of their life that you don’t get to see. We genuinely want to know how they live when they are apart from us. What activities they are involved in. What their friends are like. What toys they enjoy playing with.  But it is harder to handle when every comment is a direct mention of the ex-wife. And on the 200th “in Texas” or “my mom” Dan asks them to be here in the moment with us and please stop bringing up Texas for now. He is gentle in his approach but it still stops the kids in their tracks. Ouch. Not the right thing to say apparently. Try to learn from our mistakes. Take it easy on them and be interested in their stories as much as possible. They are trying to connect with you about their other family. They aren’t trying to be annoying.

Don’t Take it Personally

Fast forward to the next morning. I make the kids my famous sausage casserole for breakfast. (yeah, famous… lol) It’s a family tradition. I always make one when they get here and it’s one of Noah’s favorites! The entire time I’m making it Farrah is talking about how her mother makes sausage casserole for them all the time in Texas. I brush it off thinking it must be a different one. Then as they are eating she states that her mother’s is better. My sweet little Farrah wasn’t trying to hurt me, but dang it, she did. I took a deep breath and tried not to be offended. But man that stung. I mean this is one of my recipes that they both used to love! I know kids do that. I know they like something one day and then act like they hate it the next, but it doesn’t make it easier to deal with. It feels like she said that on purpose. Like she meant to tell me that her mother is better than me. I wasn’t trying to compete with anyone. I was just trying to make something I knew they both liked. And I know that she wasn’t being vindictive, but in that moment is felt like she was wanting to let me know I can’t measure up to her mom. Poor Noah tries to be sweet and assure me that it’s delicious. I just promptly change the subject and hope no-one brings it up anymore. Once again, take it easy on them. They don’t mean to hurt your feelings by comparing you. They are just speaking from what they know.

So stepmama, I hate to say it, but we still haven’t found a solid way to tackle this issue. You can kindly ask them to refrain from talking about her, but it may just shut them up about everything. Which is not what we want at all! Or you can just change the subject, but that only works for a little bit. Gently redirect the conversation. Just remember to try to handle it as long as you can because it is a good thing that they are talking about their time with their mom. It’s good that they feel comfortable enough to share those moments with you that you weren’t able to be a part of. So try and listen with a kind heart. Even when it’s the 37th time that morning they’ve brought it up. Be understanding when they keep bringing up their other family. Be interested when they tell you their stories. Don’t take it personally when they compare you. Just love them and do your best to support them.

Love your family, love yourself, and live your happiest life.

2 Comments

  • Melissa

    Sounds like you genuinely try to do everything you can and it seems like you don’t overstep and you genuinely are just there for them and that’s perfect that’s exactly what they need. I am a mom not a stepmom and a few years ago I want above and beyond to try to be friends with my ex-husband’s girlfriend and then turn it backfired on me and made her feel like she was able to do something that was totally across the line and I don’t mean she spent more time with my kids and my ex-husband or she has a memory with them that I don’t or whatever I mean she threatened to break my daughter’s knack for getting out of time out to go pee when she was 4 years old me cuz her my ex-husband was fighting all day. If she was more like you another stepmoms like you it would actually be a lot easier and I hope you reach out and you’re able to help as many people as possible and give them different point of views and perspectives and help them because it is an amazing thing to do. I wish that her and I were still friends and we were able to work through things together but this is a line that I just can’t erase. But I’m 100% behind what you are trying to do. What I told my kids whenever they go see their father is to always try to have fun with him and make memories with him they’re always welcome to share whatever they want with him about here with me about him but to remember they need to enjoy what’s happening right in front of them they are 6 and 8 years old and it helps whenever both parents are saying it to them not just one because then it doesn’t really seem like you’re pushing them away cuz you’re still open to hearing about their memories but you also are encouraging them to enjoy the memory they are making with you in the moment it’s something that kind of got to happen in both houses for it to fully grasp

    • jessicanicole

      I am so sorry to hear about that experience! That sounds pretty traumatic and out of line… It is definitely tough to co-parent in any space, but especially one where trust is pushed. I do appreciate you reaching out and sharing! It may help some stepmoms to hear this perspective too! But you’re definitely right about being in sync in both households. It is so important for the kids to know that no matter the parents relationship with each other that everyone is here to support them!

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