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Delusional mum trying to upset my relationship with my step daughters

(32 Posts)
alexa0304 Sat 18-May-13 14:26:19

I'm new here, but I really need some help and advice. I have 2 children, a son of 11 and a daughter of 8. I am separated from their father but I have a lovely husband and 2 step daughters aged 7 and 4 whom I love dearly and look after for 3 days per week. We have been together for 3 years.

The elder of my 2 step daughters isn't always easy to understand, I think she has problems as her mum obviously can't bear her and she has seen child psychologists. She is, however, very sweet and I try hard to praise her when she is good and support and guide her when she isn't. I am almost as close to her as I am with my daughter, who is 6 months older, the pair are best friends.

So, this is where my mum comes in. She has always been a habitual liar, if you asked her which way she drove home she would tell a lie rather than tell the truth. I was neglected by her as a child and have suffered pretty bad mental problems since childhood, which fortunately I have under control. I ignore the past and her ongoing lies and half-truths so that she can have a relationship with my children and because I don't think she knows the impact she has on other people. Perhaps I should say she is delusional rather than a liar.

Recently, she has told lies about my eldest step daughter. She isn't comfortable with how close I am with both of them, and thinks I am somehow taking love away from my own daughter (her granddaughter). She has told me that my step daughter told my daughter that she is ugly because she wears glasses. I just knew this wasn't true, and when I carefully broached my daughter about the subject she confirmed that Sarah had never tormented her about her glasses and had actually said how much she liked her new purple ones. She keeps saying I am harming my own daughter by showing love to my step daughters, and hints at this to my daughter (who seems to ignore it, thankfully).

I have ignored my mum's lies since I was 5 years old, but I cannot bear that she is now trying to turn me against my step daughter. My partner does not want her in our house (understandably). I have reached a point where I must say something, but it will probably mean I never see my mum again. Anyone with any words of advice, please help me, I am really struggling with this...

Thanks xx

Cailinsalach Sat 18-May-13 14:46:34

Sorry I cant offer any professional advice but I think a child's welfare trumps an adult's weird opinions. Love is love. The more you give the more you have.

I would have a frank and earnest conversation with your mother before she offers any more of her poisoned fruit to you or your children.

thepixiefrog Sat 18-May-13 14:55:31

So sorry you are having to go through this. I don't have much experience of compulsive lying in a family member, so I don't have much advice really. I'm keeping my DM at arms length for other reasons so I can empathise in that respect.

Could you only meet her in cafes/parks at hers etc. so she doesn't have alone time with all your DC? Also, of she does say anything unreasonable you can make your excuses and leave.

Not sure about confronting her as people like this don't hear what they don't want to hear, or your words will get twisted out of context and you will be the 'enemy'. If you do decide to say something don't be surprised if she doesn't 'get it'. It may be cathartic for you nonetheless, so may be worth while just for that.

alexa0304 Sat 18-May-13 16:05:26

Thank you both so much. I have always avoided confrontation with my mother because she appears to believe her lies, and (largely because of this) my 2 other siblings, plus all her family have pretty much disowned her and she lives alone. I am the only person who shows her any love, along with my DC, and this is what makes it so difficult.

I have put up with so much from her, but now it is affecting a troubled little girl and I cannot let that continue. I'm torn between just finding reasons not to see her or telling her the truth about why I don't want to. I don't know if she could cope if I told her the truth, I don't think she even knows what the truth is. My DH says I am patronizing her, that she is an adult and needs to take responsibility for her own actions. I've always been reluctant to agree, and I now feel partially responsible for what has happened. Thankfully my own DC are very loyal to their step sisters and will not entertain these stories at all.

I would say that you had no choice but to endure your mother's awful behaviour. But as a mum and stepmum you have all the power to ensure no other child is exposed to such toxicity. Especially your poor little stepdaughter who is not only disliked by her mum but also subjected to your mother's nastiness. Your dp is right. Tell her straight that until she can prove herself to be fair and kind to all the children in your household she is not welcome in it.

Just remember, you are enabling her bad behaviour by continuing contact. And ensuring your stepdaughter's childhood is full of misery. You can stop that. You want to. Your duty is towards your children, all of them. You might well feel amazingly empowered when you bear in mind why you are doing this as you do it.

BMW6 Sat 18-May-13 17:10:53

Put the children first above all. Confront her on her behaviour and why it is not acceptable. I would tell her that if she does anything like it again she's out of your lives. Good Luck

Mumsyblouse Sat 18-May-13 17:48:30

You sound like a great mum and your s-d as well as your dd is really lucky to have you, my own dd1 is a bit quirky and I know exactly what you mean that you have to look to their good and kind personalities and believe in them- you have done so well to create all this out of your own very horrible childhood, don't let her poison your lovely family- very limited contact is the way forward, I'm not surprised your husband doesn't want her around- she doesn't really love his own child! Protect you and your family, you won't change her now anyway.

tribpot Sat 18-May-13 17:53:38

I think the other posters are right to call this poison. And frankly if I were your DH, I wouldn't be asking you not to invite your mum over, I'd be telling you that my child is not going to be treated that way and your mum could stay out of my house until and unless she was able to behave.

You can still see your mum (on your own) if you feel sorry for her, but you and your DH have to duty to protect your children. Particularly a vulnerable girl dealing with esteem issues caused by her own mother. She doesn't need yours as well!

SundaysGirl Sat 18-May-13 17:54:12

Is it possible you have always excused and minimised because the alternative is too painful with your mum? That she lies because she is a compulsive liar, that she has no qualms about it, that it is a way of life to her and far more important to her than seeking help and attempting to build healthy relationships with those around her?

I was around a compulsive liar for a while and it took me a long time to see this as the ultimate truth. That for that person it was easier and more important to them to continue lying, no matter what pain they caused. No excuses, no 'oh had a shitty childhood' or 'its not their fault they dont realise it'....They DO realise the damage they are causing, they choose not to make changes.

Love and not wanting to believe someone can be that was are powerful ways we fool ourselves and avoid truths that are painful. Look at the facts though..she is more than happy to spread lies about an innocent child to further her own agenda.

Those are the facts..everything else is wondow dressing to avoid what that painful truth actually means.

Grinkly Sat 18-May-13 18:13:18

I would stand up to her and say you don't want to hear any more nonsense from her and if she can't speak kindly don't speak at all.

If she is not used to you doing this you might be surprised by how her behaviour changes, she might behave much better, it's amazing how when you change your behaviour others can too, no matter how set in their ways.

If she is still a problem then tell her you don't want to see her.

alexa0304 Sat 18-May-13 18:30:27

Thank you, all good advice. Before you are too hard on me remember I am about to cut ties with my own mother, which I am more than prepared to do, but which is a difficult decision given that she is a genuine suicide risk. I am the main female influence in my SD's life, and my duty to protect her far outweighs any responsibility I have for my deluded, abusive mother.

I have not confronted the truth about my mother before because I didn't want to abandon her after everyone else has, not because I am weak. I did not want to punish her for past mistakes, I've moved on and have a lovely, close, loving family. I'm not cutting her off because she tells lies or because she neglected me, but because I cannot have her causing problems for any of the children. I'm very upset it has come to this, but the deed must be done. I've decided to tell her the reason in the hope that she will finally realise she cannot go through life lying and manipulating with no consequences.

DoubleLifeIsALifeHalved Sat 18-May-13 18:39:51

It sounds like a really difficult situation... No route is an easy one from here, awful situation to be in.

well done you. not easy. But the right thing. xx

ImperialBlether Sat 18-May-13 20:13:45

You have your SD for three days a week but presumably she's with her mum for the other four days - the mum who can't bear her?

Wouldn't your husband ask for full custody? It is incredibly damaging for that poor child to be at her mother's facing that treatment and then suffering again with your mother.

I am sorry you've got to cut contact with your mum, but I do think you have to explain it really carefully to her and cut her off. I'm sure you know there's a high chance she'll make a suicide bid to make you toe the line. Expect it so that it's less shocking.

Corygal Sat 18-May-13 20:21:12

HAs your mum ever tried it before? Loads of serious attempts? Thought not.

Awful for you. But it's not the end of the world - minimise family contact, see her alone if you want to, control contact and communication.

alexa0304 Sat 18-May-13 22:27:43

He wouldn't get custody - she's not neglectful or abusive, and children of that age aren't asked for their views. He's a solicitor so has looked into it. Besides, we try and be as amicable as possible, his ex could make things far more difficult for SD and for us.

Corygal, I realise that for a person looking at this it may seem flippant, but this is my mother and my family and it is very upsetting.

I found it surprisingly easy to cut contact with my mother, who wasn't half as bad as your mother, when I just considered whether I wanted ds to be subjected to her nonsense.

I mean, I knew I didn't want him to grow up thinking mind games and psychodrama were the norm in families. As I couldn't trust my mother to behave, I had no choice, in my mind.

alexa0304 Sun 19-May-13 00:09:58

Madame, I know what you mean. It's not as though my mum spends half her time at my house or anything, but the effect she has on the children is entirely negative, I think. It will be difficult - at 11 and 8 my DC are at an age where an explanation will be in order and at the moment I'm thinking that all I can tell them is the truth. I think they are mature enough to understand, and as I've already said they are very loyal and loving towards their younger step sisters.

In a rather uncomfortable twist, my mother has just today announced that she is moving nearby so that she can see more of us. At first I was horrified but then I realised that at the very least it will force me to take action rather than just putting her off visiting.

I am going to tell her the reasons, I've arranged to meet after work next week, then that will be it. I will confront her about the SD issue, and if she denies everything and is defensive then I will cut contact. If (unlikely) she apologies and accepts that she has behaved badly then I will look for her to have some limited contact with my family. I will never love, look after or pity her in the same way now I have seen her vitriol taken out on a small girl who is an easy target because of her mild autism, and who just seeks approval and affection (which I love giving her). I'm sickened to be honest, and so ashamed that my mum would do such a cruel and pointless thing.

Thanks to all of you that left supportive messages - I knew what I needed to do I just needed a bit of moral support to do it. My family and I will be much happier for the time you took to reply and offer any thoughts.

x

bbqsummer Sun 19-May-13 00:33:36

The elder of my 2 step daughters isn't always easy to understand, I think she has problems as her mum obviously can't bear her and she has seen child psychologists. She is, however, very sweet and I try hard to praise her when she is good and support and guide her when she isn't

Where is their mother? Do you and your husband have full residency of the girls? have you tried discussing this issue with their mother? You seem to have no involvement with your step-children's real mother at all. Do the children see their grandparents on their real mother's side? They may have something to say to help you as your step-children may have discussed this with them.

alexa0304 Sun 19-May-13 00:41:31

Their grandparents are both deceased on that side. Her mum isn't actually horrible to her, just clearly finds her very irritating and makes it obvious that the younger is her favorite. I do have a lot to do with their mother, this is a very delicate situation and if I do not handle it carefully we may find ourselves having to go to court just to see them at all. At the moment she can stay pretty much when she wants. I was a bit vague about this as I don't want advice about it - it's clear what we need to do, and we do just that.

imaginethat Sun 19-May-13 00:47:06

I think you need to do for your dc and step dc what no one did for you, protect them from your mother. And you have to do whatever it takes even it if means no contact. I know this is huge, really I do. But you don't have a lot of options. Your mum gave you mental health problems and it is very likely she will inflict those same problems on her grandchildren and step grandchildren unless she is prevented from doing so.

bbqsummer Sun 19-May-13 01:07:51

If your delusional and bad mother is having a serious impact on your step-children i think you should re-consider whether you should be having them when your mother is around at all.

Maybe also tell the girls' real mother that you simply cannot have them when your mother is around. Advise their real mother of the bad impact their step-grandmother is having on them? ie so that she can take steps of her own to protect her children from your mother?

Don't think of cutting off your mother as "Punishing her for past mistakes" think of it as protecting all your children from harm from what she will eventually do to them if you keep her in their lives. They are the ones who need the protection, your mother is an adult, if she can't keep it civil then she is choosing to not be a part of all your lives.
I feel awful for your SD I can't imagine how hard it must be to have to live with her mother 4 days a week, knowing she doesn't really care about her.

alexa0304 Sun 19-May-13 10:14:00

Squinkies - I know, it is very hard for her, and this is why it's even more important that she gets as much attention and affection as she likes when she is here. We've looked into it, when she is a little older she will be able to vote with her feet and she knows that we would love her to live here with us.

Imagine & BBQ, I have decided to cut contact with her unless she admits everything, apologises and changes her behaviour, and even then the contact will only be with my children and will be limited to having them for tea etc - no sleepovers. As she will never admit any wrongdoing this position is academic, really.

imaginethat Sun 19-May-13 11:14:47

Sorry i posted before I saw your update. It sounds as though you have moved a long way in a short time and are resigned to what has to follow. You can be sure you are doing the right thing for your dc.

Corygal Sun 19-May-13 14:25:56

I had no intention of sounding flippant. Good luck next week.

alexa0304 Tue 21-May-13 19:50:00

^Sorry, I've been a bit touchy about this, as you can probably gather. I've arranged to see her tomorrow, shitting it but will do it WITH explanation.

Hissy Tue 21-May-13 20:01:55

Alexa, you really ARE doing the right thing. Please confide in your H, trust his judgement.

Please trust us too. We know what you're contemplating, and we know how hard a decision it is to make.

You are the only hope your Daughters (both own AND step) have of living as normal a life as possible.

You have to help them. Don't negotiate on your conditions, don't back down.

bbqsummer Tue 21-May-13 20:58:13

She won't apologise or admit anything though, so not sure why you're meeting her tbh. She has a big pull on you doesn't she.

Even if she did 'admit, apologise and agree to change,' well, do you really think she will stick to that?

Why bother meeting her? Just cut her out if she is so damaging. You have cut their real mother out as far as possible, as she is, you say, damaging, so why will you not do the same to your mother?

butterflymeadow Tue 21-May-13 21:08:31

Do you know you have got your stepdaughters name in your OP? On phone, so can't report, but I think you want to get that removed, it makes you and more importantly her potentially identifiable.

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