Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Unwanted Involvement

Tomorrow, we have Parent-Teacher conferences at my 15-year-old step-son's school.  It isn't a "scheduled" event, so we don't have a specific time to arrive and talk with his teachers; instead, it's a free-for-all in the gym.  We're planning on going at 4:30 - the earliest possible time - to avoid crowds and - hopefully (fingers crossed!!!) - the Momster.

It would be an understatement to say she's not too keen on my participation in the children's school activities, and has made that perfectly clear in recent months.  I'm not sure what her problem exactly is - perhaps I'm too caring, or maybe I help too much with homework.  It could be that I take too much time away from my job to help out with school or attend daytime concerts and programs.  Of course, I can be a bit too "on the ball" when it comes the children's homework assignments and grades, and sometimes I do cross the line by checking the school lunch account balances to see if we need to replenish the funds.

Now that I think about it, if I were a biological mother and I wanted the best for my kids, I would certainly have an issue with someone giving their time and energy to my children and assisting them on a daily basis... or maybe I wouldn't 'cause it's just COMPLETELY SELFISH to think that any of these things would be a problem!

Can you sense my dripping, heavy sarcasm?  I sure hope so!

So as it stands right now, I've been told that it is very inappropriate for me to have any involvement in the children's school-related activities; conferences, website access, lunch accounts, speaking to the teachers, etc...  Not once has the BM (bio-mom) stated her reasoning for this sentiment; she just feels entitled to it.  For the record, I have several reasons for wanting to attend.  Not only does it show the kids that their dad and I are a team and that we both care about them equally, it is incredibly helpful to have two sets of eyes and ears to gather information.  Also, there are many instances when Jesse will ask questions that I wouldn't think of asking, and vice versa.  

I should point out that when she and Jesse first separated  -before she was even remarried - "Mr. Personality" (a.k.a. step-dad) attended all parent-teacher conferences and school functions.  It was obviously done as an attempt to undermine Jesse as the children's father, and she felt 100% valid in her new guy's presence at these events.  Goodness, do I have stories to post on this subject some day!

Since Jesse and I have been together, "Mr. Personality" has been present at maybe two or three school events at the most.  Apparently, he lost interest.  That alone speaks volumes to me about the children's lives when they are with their mom.  Their step-dad really wants nothing to do with them, and clearly is not supportive of them.

Ok, so now back to the issue at hand - tomorrow's conferences.  It's frustrating that the BM just can't accept my involvement kids' lives as a healthy, natural occurrence.  It would be horrible if I refused to go to conferences or discuss things with teachers or volunteer to help out at the schools when parent assistance was needed.  I will never have a "they're not my kids" attitude about it!

I've asked several teachers for their feelings on step-parents attending conferences and being involved in school activities, and not one of them has ever said it's a negative thing.  Teachers think it's a great sign of stability and support when step-parents care enough to spend time discussing the kids' progress.  This is reassuring to me, but it certainly doesn't take an expert to conclude that my attendance at events isn't done out of contempt or maliciousness.

Anyone who is a biological parent dealing with a step-parent situation, I urge you to take a moment and consider life in the step-parent's shoes.  I understand it's not ideal to have someone else influencing, helping raise, and sometimes even disciplining your child(ren). However, how easy do you think it is to assume a position in a ready-made family?  I don't believe any step-parent enters into the situation lightly, and I'm certain no step-parent does it for selfish reasons.  Please offer a bit of room and space and - maybe I'm asking too much here - some appreciation for the time and energy they give your kid(s).

Tomorrow, I will show up with Jesse, talk to the teachers, gather information and take it from there.  If the Momster shows up and has a problem with my presence, then she might just have to leave and come back at a more appropriate time.

So there you have it.  I wonder if I can petition to have "step-parenting" added to that show about the most undesirable jobs...


  1. I totally agree that you should be a participant in their lives! I will try to remember you and all you do for those kids when Bill decides to re-marry.

  2. You SHOULD go! And you should support the kids - be a team - and just let her stew in her insecurities. WHAT A BM!