Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

I don't like my step-daughter. Am I evil?

(88 Posts)
missmaryp Sun 20-Jan-13 11:22:17

I feel pretty horrible.

To put this in perspective - I don't particularly like some of my friends children, because we are all individuals at the end of the day - and some people grate on others.

The stepdaughter in question is 7, I've known her since she was 3, nearly 4, and my dislike for her has stayed pretty much the same throughout. I suppose it's the way she has been bought up, which is quite different to my own daughter, and she just irritates me.

I've tried, really tried, to act like a bloody adult and get over it. Just recently, I decorated and carpeted our spare room for her for when she stays over as a way of trying to give us a fresh start in my own mind. It hasn't worked. Whenever she stays over for the weekend, I can feel that I'm not my usual self, because I'm basically forced to spend time with somebody I don't want to - and who irritates my own daughter as well.

I'm well aware this is embarrassing, childish behaviour. But I don't know how to stop the way I feel.

Me and her dad aren't getting on so well at the moment either, of course I've never vocalised my feelings but he's not stupid, he can see that I chance when she's around.

Has anyone been in a similar position who can offer advice on how I can sort myself out? Or is walking away and letting him find someone who truly cares for his daughter the kind/best thing to do?

P.S I really am aware that my feelings are awful, and I would appreciate constructive advice rather than confirmation that I'm a bitch.

Retroformica Thu 17-Oct-13 19:27:45

I think you need to sit down and make a bloody huge long list of things you do like about her. And then tell her! Doing this helped me learn to love my SD.. You need to be objective and think of her as she is and not in terms of ex relationships. You need counselling if you can't move forward.

Maybe you need to spend some 1 to 1 time building a bond? Do something special together. Find a link.

SwishYouToASwazzle Thu 17-Oct-13 19:20:04

Your DSD- does she pick up on your feelings towards her? The last thing you want, is this little girl to grow up with feelings of insecurity and inferiority. Would you want your own DD to feel this way? I often find it difficult with my Dnieces and Dnephews because they are raised differently to my own DC (different culture and language) and it can be very tough, but I try to treat them the same as my own DC. My view is that they have the same love and discipline that I give to my own, and they have to learn this is what Aunty does. I always thought the eldest nephew didn't like me very much, but he's just got his first phone (12 yo) and he messages me daily to ask how I am! All I'm saying is that you need to put your DSD first.

GatoradeMeBitch Thu 17-Oct-13 18:56:53

Oops, didn't notice!

itsmeisntit Thu 17-Oct-13 18:46:06

Zombie thread alert

GatoradeMeBitch Thu 17-Oct-13 18:23:13

You sound like you don't particularly like your partner or his child. So yes, leave. You only get one life and it sounds as if you are all miserable with this set up.

Jan45 Thu 17-Oct-13 10:19:50

Do you know what, if that's how you feel then it's going to be very hard to change those feelings, and you're right, some folk will just grate on us, whoever they are. You're not a bad person, you're human and you also have the comparison with your daughter and how you've brought her up.

Tbh, I would be as pleasant as you can possible muster towards her, which I guess you probably already are, other than that, this girl has two parents so you don't need to do anything you don't want to, ie, looking after her etc or taking on parental duties.

As she grows, the dislike you feel may subside, but be prepared, it may not. My sister had her partner's son move in with them and she couldn't stand it, not because she disliked him or he was badly behaved, just simply because she didn't want him there, doesn't make her bad or evil, just honest.

You will have to make compromises in a step family no doubt about it but you don't have to pretend anything, be nice to her, bite your tongue.

I know it sounds simple but with regards to her rearing, honestly, I would stay as uninvolved as possible.

Mynabrid Wed 16-Oct-13 23:48:03

Hi, katiesdad not sure if you are still here but thought I'd put in my view, just in case! It sounds like a horrible situation for you. I, like your wife was very positive and supportive of my husbands situation in the first few years but over time have struggled. Mainly because the pregnancy of my first son was spent with us being dragged through court to reduce contact and now she thinks we are her personal childminders so tries to dump their daughter on us when it suits her, regardless of what plans we might have. I thought I might feel differently when I had my own children but in fact, it has increased my resentment as now I feel wholly committed to my own children and resent anything that affects the kind of parent I can be to them due to the additional stress caused by the presence of a child that I have little emotional attachment to. Even small things like bickering over contact arrangements makes my blood boil. I am sick of how much time and energy I expend not being able to focus on my own children because of it. I don't know if your situation is similar, but it is so wearing for me. At the same time I feel awful for my husband who is stuck in the middle but has to take a the crap from his ex and accepts it as he has an emotional investment in it. Although I would hate for his ex to break up our marriage (which is what she wants) I have considered leaving him because I just any take any more stress. We are about to start couples counselling and I think this would be useful in trying to help you and your wife appreciate how the other feels... Just a suggestion

Mynabrid Wed 16-Oct-13 23:29:38

Hi, I just came across this and I know it was some time ago but I felt the need to post. You are not an evil person. Step parenting is extremely difficult for so many reasons. Ignore the sanctimonious idiots who want to make you feel bad, who probably have no idea what having to try to care for someone's else's child, in the face of a great deal of abuse/stress and acrimony from an ex wife/partner, is like. I am in a similar situation. There is nothing wrong with my stepdaughter but after six years of crap from her mother and having our lives ruled by this situation, on every level, through the birth of our two young sons, I hate her. I am not ashamed to say so as her existence has ruined so many memories and experiences for me, which should have been happy. I have been told several times that I should be the grown up, etc... Etc... But this is so hard to do when, in the face of everyday difficulties that life throws at you, you have to try to deal with constant additional pressure from an external situation that, most likely, when you entered the relationship, you thought would calm down over time but never did. Be gentle with yourself and get some counselling. I've just started some and I think it will be helpful. It is so hard being positive about the presence of a child in your life that you have little emotional attachment to, or investment in, who is going to be fiercely loyal to someone who makes your life regularly miserable, who is rude, vindictive and abusive to you. When this child takes away a huge amount of attention from you/your children and whose presence dictates so much of your life/time, not just practically but emotionally too, it is so hard to have a positive attitude towards them. Yes, she is a child and requires love/attention/positive relationship with her father, but when that takes so much away from you/ your children, it's so hard to be positive and care about them and to resist blaming your husband for the stress caused. He has an emotional investment and has to take the crap, but you don't and the resentment just builds. There are so many of us out there battling with these complex feelings. You are not alone or a bad person. I hope things have got better for you!

KatiesDad that sounds like a really difficult situation and it's interesting to hear it from a father's perspective. It would be worth starting your own thread for advice.

katiesdad Thu 24-Jan-13 23:08:48

I am on the receiving end of what you are talking about and it cripples me. I am a dad who was a single dad for 2 years from2005 (mum buggered off to find herself for 2 years). Met wonderful wife in 2007, who was wonderful to my 3-year old and then we got married when my daughter was 5. Since then my wife has been tricky towards my dauhgter and in the last year has become down-right horrible. my wife says she does not like my daughter. Daughter is now 8. I have 50/50 custody with daughter's mother (who came back in 2008). My wife wants me to change custody so that I am a weekend-dad every fortnight. I don't want this and I really don't think it is best for my daughter who is used to 50/50.
My wife's attitiude, behaviour, language towards my daughter is really tough and harsh.
We also have a 16-month old boy who is centre of everyones' attention.
How do I resolve this? I love my wife. I love my daughter. But, in my opinion the children always come first. Adults should adapt.
Any advice /strategy gratefully received.

HungryHippo89 Tue 22-Jan-13 22:44:09

First of all ... Ignore the tosser above. You are not a horrible person!!
I have no advice really but I wanted to know you are not alone with the feelings towards your DSD... I too feel the same towards mine. They are also the same age. However I've just started to treat her as a person as opposed to labelling it a step relationship ... Detach where possible. I could of written your post myself ... DC is rude and talks down to people, cannot eat properly with a knife and fork is unable to put toys away .. I also do not find any endearing about DC ... But it might make it better to just view her as a person instead of a step child ...

Ra88 Tue 22-Jan-13 21:55:41

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

KitchenandJumble Tue 22-Jan-13 19:25:49

What a difficult situation. It is good that you recognise that you, as the adult, are responsible for your behaviour. I know it is fashionable to say that all feelings are valid, but I don't think that means we must sit back in helpless thrall to our negative feelings. It is entirely possible to make conscious decisions to change our responses to other people and of course to change how we behave.

I know someone who often says, "Love is a verb." And she's right. She is an adoptive mother to several children who came to live with her at older ages, from some pretty traumatic backgrounds. She didn't love those children right away, but she nevertheless behaved in a loving way toward them. Her acts of love led to feelings of love, not the other way around.

It really isn't fair to take your negative feelings about other people out on your DSD. But of course you know that. If you choose to stay in this relationship, it is imperative that you begin to connect with your DSD as a person in her own right. She isn't her mother, she isn't your daughter, she is who she is. And she has every right to have her own likes and dislikes, her own personality quirks, her own way of speaking.

Anyone who has spent a childhood with an unloving, disapproving stepparent knows how damaging and soul-destroying it can be. And I would be willing to bet anything you like that your DSD knows exactly how you feel about her. So I applaud you for admitting this problem and being open to changing your behaviour and attitude.

One other thing I would say would be to make very sure you don't set up an "us and them" dynamic, with you and your DD on one side and your DSD on the other side. Although I'm sure it is tempting to do so, it is really unfair and could damage not only your relationship with your DD but also the relationship between the stepsisters.

ZZZenAgain Tue 22-Jan-13 18:04:46

I don't think it is true that every adult can feel great affection for every dc if the good intentions are there. I can well believe that you simply don't get along with this little girl and that your dd doesn't either and that it is not entirely down to the relationship issues. If she were another pupil in dd's class you might well feel the same about her as you do now, you just wouldn't be brought together so much.

I think you would manage the whole situation much easier if dh was spending a lot of time with his dd during her visits and was even out and about with her, just the two of them together. He doesn't seem to have much interest in his dd tbh. I suppose since he does not sound particularly involved, you feel it is all down to you as the mother figure in the household to care for all the dc there and this is making you grumpy, it is being thrust on you. Maybe he is a nice enough man but not someone who is generally that comfortable 1-1 with dc

It is not the major issue here but I wondered if anyone had considered having dsd's hearing checked out and thought about speech therapy. At 7, she is coming to an age where the speech problems could do with being tackled. I wonder how she is emotionally and whether this speech delay is related. Do you think the sdd is happy in your home when she comes to visit, happy with the situation and close to her father? It must be hard for her if your home is generally a happy one to come for a day or so and see your dd ensconsced there. Maybe she wishes she was?

Pollykitten Sun 20-Jan-13 20:17:51

a day and a half once a fortnight - that doesn't seem like much. I know every situation is different but I had my step children for 50% of the time which is obviously quite intense. Maybe you all need to see more, not less of her and then the whole situation would seem more natural?

Varya Sun 20-Jan-13 19:32:28

I am an adult step-daughter and my step mum has always been affectionate with me and I love her. However her daughter has clear reservations about me and is very possessive of her husband around me. I would never be invited to sleep over at their house and they said they 'did not know' of any hotels near them for me to stay and go to see them. Total B-zit. By this I take it that they don't want me in their lives, but like me to drive my step mum to theirs for a visit.

JamieandtheMagicTorch Sun 20-Jan-13 19:25:49

I agree with JaquelineHyde's earlier post.

I' not a step parent, but I have experinced dislike of children of even close friends. But I think my love for my friends makes me make that effort ( as you are trying to do) to see the best in them and respect that, and it has always worked.

But if I was irritated by and disn't respect their parent, I think I might find it harder. In your situation, I think this is a lot about you relationship with your DP. I think you need to address that urgently, for everyone ( not least her ) sake.

Don't give up on your relationship until you are 100% sure you have done everything you possibly can to make things better, including encouraging your DH to review his parenting style. I can imagine you are really tired of this situation and you sound miserable but if you have no idea of what the solution (other than leaving) may be then you will be miserable.

Sometimes looking at things from a differently can give you a more positive perspective. Being in a stepfamily is a really challenging life to live and every hurdle you can get through will make you stronger for the next one.

You can have therapy, you can ask your DH to step up more as a parent but neither of these mean you have to give up your relationship.

Good luck.

alicetrefusis Sun 20-Jan-13 18:18:12

I grew up in an unhappy step-family scenario. The tensions were awful. I too find I form immediate and irrational dislike of certain children so it's as well I'm child-free, and especially step-child free.

I absolutely feel for all of you. It can't be easy. Please also think about the effect on your DD - she too will be picking up on the bad vibes and unhappiness. It may be as well to call it quits. I agree that therapy would help. Good luck. I think you have been very brave and honest.

KeepCoolCalmAndCollected Sun 20-Jan-13 18:13:39

Firstly, I admire your honesty and that you are trying to do something about the situation.

"I just find her irritating. It puts me on edge her being around - and it's nothing specific, apart from her immaturity I suppose. I don't find her 'innocence', her inability to put together a coherent thought or sentence, her inability to pronounce words correctly endearing, I find it annoying".

Out of interest, does anybody give their time to help her with these problems? She probably feels very inadequate compared to your daughter.

AmberLeaf Sun 20-Jan-13 17:58:06


Stop blaming your DPs EX, you really don't know what she does and it is your DP that doesn't take an interest in her schooling not the EX!

Id walk if I were you.

missmaryp Sun 20-Jan-13 17:47:49

I think he made more of an effort all round at the start, because that's what people often do at the start of relationships?

He does take her to the library, but he also only sees her for a day and a half once a fortnight... That said, there is plenty of research about the very positive effect that a dad being involved in school has on a child, so of course he could do a lot more. I'm probably being unfair on the ex and definitely being judgemental, but from what SD reports back there is a strong emphasis on shopping and appearance above all else.

LineRunner Sun 20-Jan-13 17:45:54

OP, I think your DP is trying to have the best of both worlds whilst making minimum real actual effort; and using a supposed animosity with an Ex to avoid parents' evenings and other parental responsibilities is pretty poor. And I may be wrong but I imagine he blames you a bit when you challenge him on this.

I suppose I can't really see it improving, sadly.

AmberLeaf Sun 20-Jan-13 17:43:06

No, she has no developmental delay, just a mum who is more concerned with taking her shopping than to the library

Why doesn't her dad take her to the library?

As with many many scenarios like this, it appears to be about your DH being a bit of a shit parent.

Was he always so uninvolved? Maybe you have projected your feelings about that onto his daughter from the start.

ReindeerBollocks Sun 20-Jan-13 17:42:32


Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now