The Mum fanclub

(14 Posts)
theredhen Tue 08-Jan-13 12:38:11

My eldest and youngest DSD's seem to only be capable of holding a conversation with me or their Dad to include praise for Mum and it's really getting to me at the moment.

I'm not talking about everyday conversation where they mention things that come up at Mums house mixed in with memories of things they do at ours. They never, ever comment anything positive about our lives with them, have no positive memories at all with us or appear to take much enjoyment from being with us. However, DSD1 is 16 and can choose whether to come to us or not and always does and DSD3 is not distressed by being with us, just likes to remind us how much better it is at Mum's confused.

I will give you some examples. Xmas presents; Mum buys socks, calendars, books, chocolate. We buy the same as stocking fillers as well as a main present usually costing around £100 - £200. When we have visitors who ask them what they got for Xmas, they never mention anything we have got them. DSD3 will literally tell me 15 times in a day about her Xmas presents from Mum.

DSD1 does a lot of "reminiscing" with her Dad about things that happened when DP was with her Mum. I have read in Wednesday Martins book that teens do this to deliberately push out the step mum.

For months I heard all about how they were all saving and buying Mum and her boyfriend lots of little xmas presents, all thoughtful surprise presents. DP and I present had to be handed to them in the shop near to Xmas as they had not shown any interest in getting anything for us.

Holidays and days out. Kids can't say anything positive about any that we have had despite us being the first to take them abroad, in a hotel, on a plane, to theme parks. Even when I have sat and done arts and crafts, played boards games, I am constantly told how much better the arts and crafts are at Mums, how Dad doesn't do it right, how the board games are "different" at ours despite being exactly the same, albeit with different packaging on the box perhaps. They claim to love playing board games at Mums, but whinge and moan at ours!

Our relate counsellor thought that the kids probably did this at Mums in reverse but I don't think so at all.

Dp is now great at acknowledging his kids doing this and can see it for what it is, but I'm not sure he can do anything about it. Can you really demand that they enjoy things with us and show it? I know they DO enjoy times with us but I think they feel guilty and feel disloyal to Mum who actually isn't the best Mum in the world. DP could buy them less for Xmas and stop taking them on holiday, for days out, but of course, holidays etc are not just for them, they are for him too.

I want them to love their Mum and enjoy their lives with her (DSD2 didn't and moved in with us, which is not ideal for me!) but i also would like to see some acknowledgement of our contribution too. They have a life with Mum and with Dad, but despite spending a third of their lives with us, they manage to dismiss Dad as a "weekend Dad" (I have heard them say it).

I do a lot of detaching and don't put myself "out" for the DSC if I can help it because I don't want to feel resentful when i get little back, as is the nature of step parenting according to Wednesday Martin. But it is getting to the point where I am deliberately avoiding any conversation with them because of this. the eldest is also contrary and argumentative and I have never seen any of my DSC show any emotion of any kind. They have a superior attitude (as is the case with teens anyway!) but I have never seen them cry or get upset or frustrated, they are quick to boast but not quick to acknowledge any faults in themselves, often lying to cover up any "weaknesses" in themselves. Talking to them is about listening to their boasts, or about how wonderful Mum is, they have no interest in anyone's opinion but their own (or their Mums!).

Sigh, I'm having a bad day. I've been doing so well and been feeling supported by DP but it's almost laughable sometimes the way they carry on and although acknowledgement is great from DP, I'm not sure it's enough?

NigellaLawless Tue 08-Jan-13 12:51:49

Hmmm, I'm not a step parent and only have a young DS but my initial reaction to this is 'welcome to parenting!'

Kids are incredibley good at making you feel like the most insignificant person in the world!

How long have you known the children?

Do you gave children if your own?

I appreciate this is getting you down, but it doesn't around particularly unusual to me, especially for teenagers!

UC Tue 08-Jan-13 13:15:16

Hi Redhen, I've read quite a few of your posts in the past, and know something of the background.

What struck me was that your DP has done a big shift in how he is parenting his children. I wonder if your DSDs are trying a new tack. After all, the old one doesn't work any more does it? Perhaps they are thinking that in praising their mum up, you and DP will up the ante. If their dad has stopped being so disney, perhaps this is a new way to try and make him do disney again.

Remember what Wednesday Martin also says about detaching from the rejection. You may wait years and years for acknowledgement from your DSCs. Please don't forget the HUGE strides you have made with your DP though. This time last year, he didn't acknowledge you either, and you have fought so hard to make that happen - please remember that, and give yourself credit. Your DSCs were never going to like their dad changing from Disney dad to proper, parenting dad were they??!!!

yuleheart Tue 08-Jan-13 13:27:17

Hi, I have been a stepmum since DSD was a year old. She is now 20+ and has no real recollection of her parents actually living together as 'one big happy' family.

I could tell you some humdingers where she has tried playing us all off against each other and caused almighty rows.
In the past I have tried disengaging and letting her have time with her dad and have always tried not to be negative about her mum or rise to any of her 'mum says you have to...'

If its any help we get on well now and I even got a christmas card 'to my lovely stepmum'

purpleroses Tue 08-Jan-13 16:04:55

I think I'd be inclined to use sarcasm or tease them when.come out with stuff like that "but of course you never do.anything fun at all in this house do you? And we bought you nothing at all for Christmas..." kind of thing. Could you humour them into showing you notice what they're doing and find it amusing?

hello redhen I've read some of your other posts as well, and could relate to quite a few things you've said, as a stepmum myself. I know exactly what you mean. DSS used to say quite a bit like that himself when he was younger, unsure of himself (well, he still is, really) and DH was in full Disney mode. I ignored it. The whole bloomin lot. But picked him up on all kinds of things. Everything he did that was out of order eg., table manners, dropping clothes, not helping out, I invoked his Mum's name. "I can't believe your Mum has brought you up to eat with your mouth open!! She has lovely manners!" or "I know your Mum insists you help around the house - I can't believe she would let you do nothing here!".

Poor lad had absolutely no response - you could literally see the wheels whizzing around and not clicking into gear. I've not read any books, and being overseas have had bugger all access to any kind of family support. All I can say is that the more I used his Mum's name in conversation, the better it got.

I don't know if you could use that at all in an approach ? "Your Mum has a different Scrabble set to this? You must call your Mum and ask her which one she has! I really want one that's better than this old thing!" "You had a better holiday at Centerparcs (insert holiday destination!) than we did? You must call your Mum/I must call your Mum and find out what she requested!" "Your Mum makes better cakes than me? Call her straightaway and ask her to email the recipe!".

If you're up for it, that is........ It's a bit of work, but it's that, purpleroses approach or higher than usual consumption of alcohol. I should add that DSS is now 17, and we get on just fine and he never boasts about how brilliant it is at home any more. Home is home, and home is here too.

NatashaBee Tue 08-Jan-13 16:30:05

It's bloody annoying, isn't it. I do think it works both ways though. DSD got a trip to Disneyland as her Christmas present - she did say she enjoyed it but was also unimpressed as the buffet at breakfast wasn't that good and there was 'too much food'. We bought her an xbox and some other bits for her birthday - when her mother called up to wish her happy birthday and ask what she got, DSD said 'balloons' grin

It does sound like your DH has made big progress in the way he behaves, I remember some of your previous threads. I think you need to separate out what is due to the step-parent situation (the fact that it does sound like they don't want to be disloyal to their mother) and how much is just generally 'being a child' (the refusal to recognise their own faults). I also do what ChinUpChestOut does and say 'you know the rules here, and i don't believe your mother lets you get away with XYZ either'. Both DSD's parents are very a bit Disney, it feels like I'm the only one thinking about about boring stuff like eating healthily, early nights on school nights, homework, showers and paying for braces. It is tough.

theredhen Tue 08-Jan-13 19:52:47

Thanks for the replies. There are some good points made and some advise I may well start using.

At the moment, I try and be positive about mum but not overly gushing as I'm sure they'd realise that wouldn't be sincere, however, I'm starting to think that maybe if they realise how ridiculous they sound, maybe they might be inclined to do it less.

Something that did come up over Xmas was that I remembered how mum had given them a huge fry up at 9am Xmas morning last year before coming to us at 10 for Xmas day and lunch at 1. If course, they ate virtually nothing and I threw away a lot of food. This year, Xmas is reversed so we had them Xmas morning and of course, they refused to even it a celebration chocolate in case it ruined mums dinner! Dp and I just laughed and pointed out to them what they did last year. The fact that we had got it out in the open, acknowledged it, laughed about it meant that it lost it's power. So I can really see that a new approach could work.

They know mum won't communicate at all with me, dp or dp family so I couldn't say ask mum to email me etc.

But maybe I could pack up the board game and agree that mine isn't very good and it's a shame we don't have one like at mums. Or is that too harsh?

Even my cat isn't as "we'll fed" as mums cat. Sigh. There is so much said. It's going to be hard to think of come backs to all of it, but I do know I need to try something.

When dsd told me she had a lovely "coastal walk" on holiday with mum, I immediately suggested we go for a local coastal walk to which she sniffed that it wouldn't be as nice. This is the girl that whinges if she has to walk three footsteps to the car! I asked her why a local walk wouldn't be as good, she looked uncomfortable and said she didn't really know why.

yuleheart Tue 08-Jan-13 20:19:34

If its any help, DSD once cut herself a huge wonky fringe and told her Mum I did it (I was at work at the time)!!

When she got to her early teenage years and carried on with the comments and lies her dad used to ring his ex up to confirm whether certain statements/actions were true and in the end DSD got herself into such a muddle she stopped doing it.

theredhen Tue 08-Jan-13 20:50:39

Uc, you made a very good point. Dp has started telling eldest dd that she can if course see her boyfriend (who lives a long way away) for days at a time over the holidays and he will drop her back at mums to see him whi will happily hAve him live at her home for days in end whilst we wont. What this has done is taken away the power from dsd to dictate when her boyfriend came and stayed in our house. No more nasty daddy stopping her seeing her boyfriend but daddy who is allowing her to make her own decisions but not allowing her to dictate our lives. Dsd is very confused, all of a sudden her and her mum can't have a good old bitch about dad anymore! grin

He's asked her about holidays too and she's been as negative as ever so he's simply said if she doesn't want to come, she doesn't have to. Again, a very confused young lady who isn't going to dictate our schedule, cost us a fortune and have us with false grins all holiday trying to jolly her along. She can stay behind with her mum, which is surely what she wants... Or is it?

Can I add one little story from when we went on a skiing holiday (not as good as the one he went on with Mum when they were skiing black runs, of course)? Firstly, he only skiied black runs, not blue or green runs. "Fine," I said, "I'm happy to put you in an advanced class so that you can ski them." A swift comeback by DSS was "a class? I'm not doing a class, I want lessons just with the instructor." (oh the very fucking nerve of it). To which I (surprisingly calmly) replied "make your mind up - class lessons or ski by yourself on the black runs. We can't afford private lessons so there won't be any." Amazingly (this was one of the first times) he backed down and went in a class. That only did blue and a couple of red runs - his choice......

redhen you do need to kick back a bit. Yes it does make what they say sound ridiculous, but don't laugh. Take it seriously, and tie them up in knots with it. That pie isn't as good as your Mum's "oh please don't eat it, I don't want you to have to eat something so sweet and full of calories if you don't even like it". "And no, so sorry, there isn't any ice cream".

He came skiing with us twice more. He hated where we stayed. He didn't like the class. He didn't like the food apart from steak and chips. He didn't like that there wasn't English TV. So I told DH he was never coming with us again as he was so unhappy. And he hasn't.

UC Wed 09-Jan-13 13:57:53

I think you dealt with the fry up breakfast on Xmas morning brilliantly, both you and DP. It sounds as though you really have made major breakthroughs with him!

Like that you challenged DSD about the coastal walk too - of course she can't justify her statement, as it was made to wind you up!

I don't think packing away the game would be so harsh. If the remarks are really nasty about the games, then it wouldn't be so harsh to take them at face value - "oh well, DSD, I guess you won't want to play then". Pack up and walk away. Then she'll be bored and eventually I bet those little criticisms will stop. We had an incident not so long ago when I played a game with my DSSs. They ended up winding eachother up something cruel, and it resulted in a fight (hitting eachother etc). I said I wasn't playing the game any more in that case, and walked away. The next day they asked me to play again, I said no, I didn't want to play games because of that behaviour. So they were bored. Now we play and it is ok - because if they fight like that, I will walk and they know it. Your DSD will learn too. I use the same tactic on my own DCs too.

As for holidays, I think I remember you posting about holidays before, and your DP has exactly the right answer. She's old enough now that if she doesn't want to come, she doesn't have to. Your DP has removed the power over the holidays from his daughter - by giving her the power to make her own decision about it. When she behaves sullenly on holiday, she's also old enough to leave behind if you go out sightseeing and she can't muster any enthusiasm.

theredhen Wed 09-Jan-13 20:17:01

I've made it quite clear to dp that eldest dsd is welcome to come on holiday with us but if she refuses to join in and sits in a darkened room the whole day after we have talked to her and she has agreed to join in, I will not be going on holiday with dp and his kids again if he allows her to behave like that. All it will do is encourage the other children to do the same. He is agreeing with me completely, but of course, only time will tell. He has said he is more than happy for her not to come. What a change from his previous clinginess!

It's rare for the kids to stamp their feet and say "it's better at mums than here". For a start, that would show emotion, which is something they don't do. hmm But it's those seemingly little comments about things at mums, the board game is a different colour (a colour I know she prefers). The cats at mums really love being stroked when they're feeding after I told her that you should never touch an animal when they're eating. The car door handles on mums cars don't dig into her like the ones in our car. It's not "nasty" comments but it is a constant dialogue of comments like above all day every day. In fact I don't think I can bring up any subject at all without youngest dsd having a "mums take on it".

I do wonder what going on in her little head?

Eldest does it as well but it's more obviously a dig at us, but much less often.

Hesterton Sat 19-Jan-13 08:07:53

Following on from Chinupchestout 's great ideas, next time, and every time after that when you get the 'mum's one is best' line, could you look the DC right in the eye and say someting like, 'It's ok, DSC, I know your mum is a pretty special lady'.

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