My step daughters despise me

(35 Posts)
CountryGal13 Thu 18-Jul-13 08:25:19

Hi all, I have two step daughters 16 + 12 who atm can't even bare to look at me and I don't know what to do. We also have a young baby together.

We have them a couple of times a week and although I wouldn't say we've ever been close we'll always make polite conversation with each other when they visit.

Out of the blue last week there mum said that they won't be coming to stay anymore and my husband would have to see them alone. We were really shocked but the children wouldn't speak to him, instead the eldest text to say that 'we have the perfect family and they're just in the way' ect. Lots of what she said was directed at me so I replied so I could clarify some of the things I'd been accused of and to reassure them that I really did want them here. I said that I also feel pushed out at times and that I thought we could all make more of an effort and may be do more things as a family.

They came to stay for the first time since the messages last night and it was awful. I said hello and was ignored and the eldest walked staight to her room. I tried to make conversation with the youngest but she would only answer my questions and no more. I went out for an hour and when I returned they were both chatting away with their dad, and then shortly after I got back the eldest asked him to take her home.

I can't understand I they have gone from chatting to me one week to hating me and not wanting to see me the next. I understand that they're jealous of the new baby ect but this feels so personal and I don't know what to do. I honestly do think that there mum has been fueling the fire as the wording in the messages didn't sound like they were coming from a teenage girl. I feel like they've been brainwashed and there's nothing I can do about it.

Anyway, this morning I'm in bits. I feel angry with my husband (no sure why) and I'm worried for my marriage and my babies future. I feel like there going to drive a wedge through my 'perfect family'. I actually feel physically sick at the thought of their next visit.

Please can anyone offer any advice or is anyone in a similar situation? Please don't have a go at me though, I've come here because I'm desperate.

Interestingchanges Thu 18-Jul-13 08:43:56

Oh dear, please try look after yourself and your baby first.
Yes, I've been through this myself and can assure you its not you, it's the ex.
I've been a teacher to teen girls for over 20 years and I've yet to meet a youngster who is mean of their own devices, there is always a parent behind questionable behaviour.
Exw was really a beast when dh and i got together, her actions and demands were utterly reprehensible and of course this rubbed off on the dsc. specially dsd always felt loyal to her mum and treated her dad and me very badly (rude, selfish behaviour, ignoring us, especially me).
Once exw found a boyfriend her mood lifted considerably.
Dsd has spent some time abroad with her grandparents, to gain some perspective she said, and came back a new person, a lovely girl I knew was always there, just not letting it show through her mothers grief and bitterness (was not even close to being ow, btw).
Maybe dsds have a well meaning relative who could intervene, assuring them they are allowed own lives and can enjoy life at dads and baby sister.
Couple counseling for you and dp would also help (been there too!) so that dp learns to back you up and include you in their jolly chats and so they learn to respect you both as a couple that can't be divided.
The book Stepcoupling (amazon) is great, as is Stepmonster by Wednesday Martin, who had dsds as well!
Good luck and take care, xx

PrettyPaperweight Thu 18-Jul-13 08:53:38

Yup - been there; teen stepdaughter refused any contact with DP unless I was out of the picture; when DP refused she cut all contact for over two years. All fuelled by her Mum who openly admitted she didn't want DP to have anything to do with the DSC.

My advice to you is to disengage and my DPs advice to your DP is not to give in to blackmail and to continue to parent his DDs - pull them up on rudeness, model good behaviour by not bribing/manipulating and keep in contact by text, letter, email if face to face contact stops.

DSD is now a valued member of our family and even works for me! - as she grew up she appreciated her Dads consistency and reinitiated contact when she realised she needed him.

CountryGal13 Thu 18-Jul-13 09:16:24

Thank you ladies. It's reassuring to hear that you've been there and managed to come back out the other side.

I honestly don't feel like I'm strong enough to keep making the effort with them for them just to be so rude and throw it back in my face, especially as I don't know what lies they're being fed about me. I'm not sure I even know how to disengage either but I need to learn for my own sanity.

Thanks for the book recommendations Interesting changes - I'm just waiting for The Step Parenting Parachute to arrive but I'll look into the other books too xx

FrauMoose Thu 18-Jul-13 09:23:09

I think you need your husband's support and should be talking this one through together.

Your stepdaughters are at an age where they will be wanting to make their own choices. (Of course it may be that their mother is influencing these choices, but teenagers do tend to want to change the routines that were helpful when they were younger.)

Maybe the cleverest thing is to give them (most) of what they (say) they want. For example they come over once a week, and go out with their Dad somewhere. But he says that can only happen if they are pleasant and polite to you before the outing and also spend a bit of time with the baby.

I know it's not fun. But I think sometimes one has to put on a civilised adult exterior with stepchildren, even if inside we are pretty distraught.

Numberlock Thu 18-Jul-13 09:36:42

I can see this from the girls' point of view. My ex will be re-marrying shortly. My eldest two sons will be off to uni in September leaving just my youngest at home. Ex's new wife has two children, ages 17 and 15.

Based on rumblings so far, I imagine that my youngest son will be spending much more time with me once the new set-up comes into place.

I think the best way for you to handle this is not to take it personally, it's the 'job title' not the person, and support the girls and your partner in the new arrangement. Perhaps things will improve in the future.

How young is the baby and have things deteriorated since her/his birth?

CountryGal13 Thu 18-Jul-13 10:48:49

Baby is 4 months. Although they ignored my pregnancy they're really good with baby. It's just me that they don't want. Thinks didn't seem to change much after lo was born but it must have been festering and then has just blown up all of a sudden.

I honestly don't know whether telling their dad to start seeing them on his own is a good idea or not - I don't want them to think that it's that easy for them to separate us and there feelings will never improve towards me if they don't see me. Tbh, I think the youngest would prefer to keep coming here anyway and just carry on ignoring me. May be taking myself out of the equation is the only viable option though because we can't carry on in this horrible atmosphere. I'm so desperate that I've even considered me and lo staying with my mum while they're here.

Interestingchanges Thu 18-Jul-13 11:13:56

Don't leave your home, whatever you do.
FrauMoose has really good advice I think.
Yes, they can go out with dad etc, but only after making a sincere effort to be pleasant to you (no eye rolling, no sarcasm, genuine politeness etc) and in time this will become a habit.
Dh does not lose out btw in supporting you. In disrespecting you they are passively disrepecting dh as well and clearly trying to prise you apart.
Dsd also got on with ds, just ignored me! I let it slide too long. Act now and get dh to man up. Does he want to see dsds being mean to his baby's mum? How is he going to explain his shortcomings when baby is old enough to ask him?

Eliza22 Thu 18-Jul-13 12:50:31

Why is it (most often, it seems) the step daughters?

I have 3 steps. 2 girls (19 and 24) and 1 young man (now 23). The youngest was always rude, ignored me, and hasn't seen her dad properly for 2 years +.

For all her nastiness despite my efforts, I now dislike her, rather a lot. The eldest is lovely and stepson has a healthy attitude to it all. Ex's affair ended dh's and her marriage. I'm NOT the OW.

It's tricky but, you and DH need to sit down, with them and sort some ground rules. Politeness and kindness being a good start.

juneau Thu 18-Jul-13 13:00:34

Whatever you decide, you and your DH need to present a united front. He should be showing loyalty both to you and your child together and to his DDs from his previous relationship.

As a SC myself, my sister and I always wanted some time with our dad on his own and we never flipping got it because our SM was always there, jealously guarding him and not allowing him to spend time with us on the two days out of 14 that we got to see him. We hated her. She hated us back. A little bit of understanding from the SM goes a long way IME. Allowing these girls some time alone with their dad, which I'm sure is what they want, would be a good idea. However, your DH must insist on them being civil and pleasant to you in return. You are his DW now and they need to understand that, whether they like it or not.

juneau Thu 18-Jul-13 13:03:02

P.S. Also try to remember that teenagers are not rational or reasonable - they're selfish and tantrum-prone and they are literally incapable of adult-level rational thought. You need to be the bigger person here, but there is no reason why you should be disrespected or feel unwelcome in your own home.

StepMonster2013 Thu 18-Jul-13 13:53:56

It's not just you - and it's not DSDs, DSS are equally wonderful. I keep reminding myself that teenagers are irrational and selfish, but I also feel that there's a minimum level of respect that they have to show. Really tricky balance :-S

brdgrl Thu 18-Jul-13 13:54:01

Another vote for the Stepcoupling book. It's very good.

Don't tolerate disrespect of your home or your person. They don't have to like you. They do have to treat you with respect and yes, they do have to speak to you in your own home. Your DH needs to make it clear - if they can't manage to feel respect, then they need to learn to fake it.

lunar1 Thu 18-Jul-13 16:45:31

How much time do they get with their dad without you?

CountryGal13 Thu 18-Jul-13 17:49:17

Thanks everyone for all your advice. I used to go out doing my own thing when they were here. When I was pregnant I'd spend a lot of time in my room reading so they did get to spend more time alone with him. Since baby's been here I've been in the front room with them much more as I'm breast feeding and don't like to leave lo.

Yeh, I think I'll tell DH to take them out on their own, at least I don't have to feel uncomfortable then. It's not practical for him to do this all the time though so sure they'll still be coming here as well x

Eliza22 Thu 18-Jul-13 19:02:05

Unless you've done something heinous (which I doubt) then really it's for them to sort out. There is no way you should be trying to stay out of the way! It's you're home too. You have a young baby. They sound as though they object to you, your child, their dad being with you and basically, your drawing breath.

Don't make a rod for your own back. They should be able to spend time with dad alone. That's fine but ignoring you? In your home? Dreadful.

Interestingchanges Fri 19-Jul-13 08:00:16

Ps, I needed 4 years to get where I am today, my role in dsc lives is still a bit vague but the amount of pleasantness, trust, respect and fun have increased slowly and now definitely outweigh any resentment at not being able to bring parents back together (wasn't ow, but am married to their dad).
Every book and every counselor will tell you unequivocally that you and your partner need to be a team, so strong that dsc can "lean" on you, learn what a good relationship is about etc.
One on one time is good, of course, but ideally should be dad taking an interest in a hobby, say, and taking one dd there or helping the other dd with a school subject, whatever. Just that it really is special "dad cares for me personally" stuff for each, and not time spent reminiscing how wonderful life used to be (I.e. before HER!). Nothing good comes of that.
Learn to create new memories, we started a kiddie calendar with a photo a month of our kids in always different combinations doing stuff at our place/ birthdays/ holidays together, and after 4 years there is a lot to look back on!

Eliza22 Fri 19-Jul-13 09:09:24

Interestingchanges that's such a lovely idea.

I always encouraged steps to spend time, with their dad, alone. It's importent. It still all back-fired on me. I believe it was mostly dh's ex wife who was the problem. Her affair didn't work out (the man never left his wife and kids) and she was a long time on her own and apparently, full of regret. She was very disturbed when she found out her ex (my DH) had remarried.

CountryGal13 Fri 19-Jul-13 10:17:01

I felt so upset yesterday and spoke to my husband about it when he got home - he seems to think I'm taking it all too personally and that they were really 'off' with him too. He thinks it's his fault because he's not spending quality time with them even when they're here. I've tried to make him understand that they'll always forgive him if he just talks to them about it and change things but it doesn't work like that for me, they'll blame me for everything they feel he's done wrong, they won't forgive and forget easily and they'll hate me for it.

So glad I've found this group! I've had some amazing advice from you all. I really feel like I've got no one to talk to as I don't really know any other step mums with step teens. Btw, I wasn't the ow either.

Interestingchanges - I really do appreciate your advice as you've been there and got the t-shirt. You talk about all the fun memories you have - we have none. I suppose because I feel rejected I feel like it's better for everyone if I go off and do my own thing. At the moment, awful as it sounds, don't feel like a could stand to spend a day out with them because I feel so uncomfortable and I know they'll hate me being there. It's such an awful situation atm. We're off out for a meal with the youngest tonight and I'm dreading the awkwardness. She'll just be friendly with her dad and really cold with me but I'll try and make conversation and see how we go...

FrauMoose Fri 19-Jul-13 10:30:41

A book that I found helpful was one by the young people's writer Anne Fine called 'Step by Wicked Step'. It's a series of stories about parental break-up and remarriage told from the child's perspective. (This was written after some children said that her earlier book 'Goggle Eyes' in which problems were happily resolved didn't fit their own experiences.)

Eliza22 Fri 19-Jul-13 11:20:32

Oh dear, you sound so like me. Walking on eggshells, trying so hard. Staying out of the way to avoid discomfort all round. In my personal experience, I too found that I became the scapegoat and that when SD was cross with dad for something, over time, she ceased to be and it was all down to the malign influence I had on him. Her rationale being "dad wouldn't mind that, it's because of her/she's perfect/she can't do anything wrong/her and her son are sooo precious". It's like school yard bullying, only I'm 50 and she's 19.

It upsets me terribly. I have reached the stage where even the thought of spending time with her gives me palpitations. Literally. I will do pretty much anything to avoid bumping I to her.

I think you need to get the point across that you are NOT imagining it. It IS directed at you and as you say, your DH and his daughter will always have the unconditional bond and that's a thing you don't have.

Interestingchanges Fri 19-Jul-13 11:30:22

Country gal, sorry to give wrong impression: I cried bitterly, alone, and smiled through gritted teeth for years so dsc couldn't see they were hurting me. That's kind of important, they should not feel they have any power over you, eg to make you feel bad.

My dh also loved the excuse to not take it personally. You're a person aren't you, of course you'll take it personally. Your dh, like mine, needs to man up and protect you from their nastiness. Would he allow them to treat his mother like this?

Probably, like my dh, its a combination of cowardice and laziness not pulling them up on rudeness. I just had enough one day and insisted on my needs being met too, as an equal member of the family. Dh has to support me as part of the parent team and may I say it works!

All kids profit tremendously from a strong parental front. The differences it caused in dsc behaviour were practically optically measurable.
And yes, the photos were perhaps somewhat awkward at first but I convinced them that it was a good idea and now they love putting forward ideas for the next months...

CountryGal13 Fri 19-Jul-13 13:06:46

FrauMoose - I'm literally not strong enough to read a book like that! I've just read a post on here from a lady who was a step child who was unwanted by her step mother and how it damaged her massively and it's made me feel awful. But I can't make myself want them, especially when the house is such a miserable place when they're here. I wish i had a stronger character where I could show unconditional love even when it's not reciprocated. I really feel like the only way I could make these kids happy would be to take our baby and leave my husband but that is NOT going to happen! However, I don't take fun in causing irreparable emotional damage to them either.

Interestingchanges - I know you've been through hell with it all but it's just so reassuring to hear that things have improved. I'm kinda regreting admitting to them that they make me feel pushed out too. I thought it might help for us to empathise with each other a bit but may be I shouldn't show them my weaknesses. Humm...

I feel pretty sorry for my husband - No he shouldn't let them walk in without even acknowledging me and ignore me when I say hi but if I speak to them directly and they reply, then I can't see what more he can do. I know they only answer because they have to but we can't really force them to like me or want to make conversation with me. It's a horrible situation for him too and hé won't want to push them away further or cement their belief that he only care about me and not them. He's also a very quiet and laidback person so this is all very unnatural for him and he just wants everyone to get along with no drama.

Would it be a terrible idea if I spoke up and said 'I just said hello to you so please don't ignore me'?? This is a problem that needs to be addressed and I've told him that because, not only is it incredibly rude, but it starts the visit on such a bad note and I immediately feel defensive.

Eliza22 - I sympathise with you so much! She's obviously very jealous of you and your lovely relationship. At her age, without knowing all the facts, she needs to stop being so selfish and be pleased that her dad has found someone he can be happy with. I know exactly how you feel about dreading seeing her - I feel like the angel of death has entered my house, she's completely unapproachable and I'm scared to even attempt to speak to her.

Sorry for the essay! I did warn you that I have no one to talk to ;) x

Interestingchanges Fri 19-Jul-13 15:40:46

Don't feel sorry for your dh, after all, he raised them.
You've got a baby to look after, surely he can manage to straighten out his own 2 girls?

FrauMoose Fri 19-Jul-13 16:02:31

I think there are difficulties for remarried fathers in balancing their love for their children from an earlier relationship, their insecurity about losing these children - and their love for a new wife and child.

If fathers are by nature quiet and dislike overt conflict that can add to the difficulties. Perhaps one of the things that the OP and her partner might want to think about is that although it is lovely if the children we look after love us, that is not ultimately what we are there for. We are there to communicate values and set secure boundaries in a postive way to enable children to grow up into healthy, fully functioning members of society. It's a long term game. Sometimes it is necessary - however painful it feels - to tell children things that they do not wish to hear, to say no to them, even if the short-term consequences of this might be difficult. (And loving one's stepchildren is optional not compulsory. Again it's about modelling good caring behavious.)

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