"Where do you draw the line on step parents making decisions in their step-children's [lives]?" asks Circle of Moms member Lindsay H. Should a step-mom weigh in on the school her step-child attends, or whether he can get a tattoo?
Many moms whose ex husbands are remarried feel strongly that there are certain situations where step-moms need to mind their own business. As Allison S. explains, "Obviously, when my daughter is in their home it's their rules, but I don't feel this woman should have any say in the 'big decisions' in my daughter's life."
So what are those "big decisions?" When is it okay for a step mom to set rules and enforce them (covered in a recent article), and when will she be perceived as crossing a line? To help answer that thorny question, I've rounded up three parenting situations moms generally flag as areas of caution for step-moms, plus one general piece of advice on how to tread when these issues come up.
1. What Kids Wear
According to Dawn A., step-moms shouldn't assume final say on how a child looks or what she wears, as her choices might not mesh with the wishes of the biological mom. Her daughters' step-mom, who buys a lot of clothing for the family, selects items that Dawn deems "a bit old," for her girls, including a string bikini for her 13-year-old.
2. Parent Teacher Conferences
Responsibility for a child's education belongs to the biological parents, says Circle of Moms member Donna L.: "I don't think the step-mom should go [to a parent teacher conference]. I think the child's parents should go."
But can step and bio parents attend together? Gina M., who used to teach, explains that this is often a recipe for its own kind of trouble, because mixing parents and step-parents in the same room can be "like jump-roping on land mines. You had to watch your step or things could quickly explode."
3. Major Life Decisions
Finally, many moms feels step moms should step back when it comes to high impact life decisions like which high school to attend, says Amber Q. "That should be my ex's and my responsibility," she says.
Many parents include medical decisions in this category, including Dawn M. She shares the story of a friend whose child has a medical condition: "The stepmother, an educated woman but not a medical professional, decided [my friend's son] didn't need to go to the doctor appointment that she had agreed to take him to. She has also decided he only needs to take half the dose of medicine prescribed by the doctor."
Natasha W. underscores the point that step-parents should exercise caution in situations like these, adding that unless the child's biological parents are out of the picture, "it's just simply not legal" for a step-parent to assume this kind of responsibility.
A Word to the Wise
Many Circle of Moms members say they wouldn't object to the step-mom in their children's lives having an opinion in decisions, as long as she consults and respects her opinion, too. "The step-parent needs to talk to the biological parent first before making serious decisions for the children," says Candace S. "My ex-husband's wife tries to take over my role as a mother. Yes it was hurtful when I found out that both of them were teaching my daughter to call her 'mom.' I feel they both don't give me respect as a mother."
In the end, a little courtesy on both sides seems to go a long way, says Amy T. "Step-moms need to remember they will be living with the biological mom for a long time. When you married her ex, you didn’t just marry him and his children, you married her as well."
For another point of view, see Should Stepparents Step Up as Disciplinarians?
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.