Dilemma with my stepdaughter

(14 Posts)
Nellymay Thu 26-Dec-13 23:03:35

I wonder if any stepdaughters or older step mums, can help me work this out and find a way to resolve it.
I am a step mother to my dh's grown up married daughters their mum died almost 20 years ago and their dad met me 12 years ago and we subsequently got married. On the surface we get on quite well and I'm a granny other children although they rarely call me granny and use my name instead. My dsd and family lives nearby and my dh and I see them 2-3 times a week. When I'm with her I very often feel cancelled out by her as if I don't exist - she doesn't hear me when I speak or speaks over me - or doesn't show interesting anything about me although she does discuss herself and her problems from work, family, health with me. If I point out that she's not letting me "get a word in edgeways" she will apologise and does try to include me - I know I'm a quietly spoken person.
I also feel like there this implied criticism of me, although my dsd would never say anything like "ooh she doesn't do this or that like my mum, etc"

I have always tried to be very sensitive to her losing her mum and am not. The sort of person who would go in trying to take her place. I often feel awkward and don't know how to be because I am trying so hard not to be a heavy pushy step mum so at times I may come across as a bit restrained - I am actually quite a quiet shy person until people know me.

I also find this cancelling out happens in my role as granny as the grandkids know that they have a granny who died who is mummy's real mum so they have this feeling of loyalty to their "real" granny although I get on very well with them and am close to them

I don't want this to carry on for ever this feeling of being somehow wrong or not right, not accepted for me but for what I'm not, or in a competition that I've never wanted to enter

I talked to dsd's dh about this without trying to blame anyone cause it's not about blame and he thought I was getting it just right with everyone but I still feel that it's not really right yet.

Does anyone have this experience or know how I could find the right words to talk to my dsd without us all getting upset or her taking it the wrong way? We're all in this together and I want it all to work even better than it already does.
Thanks for any help advice support you can give x

elliebellys Thu 26-Dec-13 23:31:56

Hi,id just say carry on as you are,its nice that dsd can talk too you bout things in her life,dont worry too much.i think from sounds of things you have a lovely family set up.you are accepted ndappreciated for who you are.

daisychain01 Fri 27-Dec-13 08:37:01

Hi Nelly, I don't think you can do any more than you do already. You sound so much like me a few years back, trying to do everything well and never feeling it is enough, hoping the other person starts to see you as a human with their own thoughts, opinions and needs.

For your own sanity and happiness, you would probably do well to detach just a little, enough to protect yourself, but still care. You don't need to be aloof, but what it means is that you aren't giving your DSD the opportunity to hurt you.

IME when it is one person doing all the loving, giving and caring, and not reciprocated can put too much pressure on the situation and a sign that it needs to be re-balanced.

Take back some control for yourself, in a nice not negative way, if that makes sense.

daisychain01 Fri 27-Dec-13 08:40:33

I definitely wouldn't talk to your DSD by the way. She may have deep-seated private feelings of conflict about her mum that you might unearth, but not in any helpful way.

You are where you are today, both of you. At least she does talk to you and doesn't completely reject you out of hand

Nellymay Fri 27-Dec-13 10:27:32

Thanks daisy and elle you're right - I think it feels worse at Xmas as it's all about families and it all gets magnified. We're are probably quite lucky in what we have between us.
Dh and I have recently moved house from the home him and his first wife lived in which had lots of memories of her and all her nicknacks and family photos to our own. Dsd has been very positive about this move and it sort of distances us in a way as her mums presence isn't in this new house (although I've made sure to here a few of her mums things around). I think the move has left us all a bit emotionally adrift too as a move is so traumatic and it's a new life for us and it's now OUR house not dsd's mums house.
I think daisy that perhaps dsd has her own issues about her mother as both dsd were at boarding school and their parent were away with the army and during school holidays they stayed with their grandparents, I wonder if there are attachment issues for her and also resentment that I get more of her dad than she does, she says she is a daddy's girl

Ooh step parenting!! It's not easy is it!!! smile

isanyoneelsehotandcold Fri 27-Dec-13 10:36:54

I don't have any advice, but wanted to say that you sound lovely smile

AmberLeaf Fri 27-Dec-13 10:51:22

Reading your last post makes me think that your DSD does as you say have her own issues about her mums death/their parental relationship (inc her dad) in general.

it doesn't sound like its about you or anything you do or don't do.

You sound lovely btw.

Christmas is always hard when someone loved is no longer there too.

your moving out of the home that was once her mothers home may have stirred difficult emotions for her too? (not that moving is a bad thing)

you can sometimes feel a bit torn, I imagine this is worse when one parent has died though. my children are very much my step mums grandchildren and call her Grandma, but my mum is still alive so there isn't the worry of thinking im 'replacing' my mums role iyswim? I remember being a little worried that that might upset my mum but I was able to speak with my mum and say that I thought it was the best thing for my children to have another GP to love/love them and she agreed with that. I imagine I would have felt a bit guilty if I hadn't been able to speak to my mum like that?

just my thoughts.

Good luck in your new home and I hope you find a way to move forward and feel happier, you deserve to be happy. flowers

daisychain01 Fri 27-Dec-13 11:30:06

I agree with amber and i*isanyone*, you sound a lovely DSM, your feelings are so well placed and I hope that as things move forward, it will become a new era for you and your DSD to build some precious memories of your own together in a natural way that takes time to do.

Yes being a DSM is really hard, sometimes painful, but there are times of joy that can make it all worthwhile!

babyboomersrock Fri 27-Dec-13 11:39:59

I wonder if there are attachment issues for her and also resentment that I get more of her dad than she does, she says she is a daddy's girl

Is it possible, OP, that she would like to spend time alone with her father? Do you always see her together?

I think you sound very sensitive (in a good way) and I wish you well - most families involve some "step" issues these days, and it can be hard work.

Nellymay Fri 27-Dec-13 12:09:34

Ooh thanks everyone for your nice comments smile smile blush smile
Babyboom I do try to let her and her dad spend time together as I realised this need after an incident that was quite farcical in hindsight in that my dh cut his finger and dsd came rushing in from work all guns a-blazing and virtually pushed me and my attempts at first aid out of the way so that she could patch up his finger herself, then afterwards she jokingly dismissed my efforts and said how she fixed it and everyone else had been useless! I realised afterwards that it was all about her and her need to be needed and special to her dad so I started encouraging her dad to walk the dogs together with her and spend some time together.

It's funny but I sometimes think I get on better with dsd's friends rather than her and I think she gets on better with her aunts etc than me- I suppose there's not so many big issues involved so it's easier

babyboomersrock Fri 27-Dec-13 18:49:04

It does sound as though she needs her father to acknowledge their special relationship - the uniqueness of it, if you see what I mean?

It also sounds as though you do most of the enabling of their relationship - perhaps she needs to feel that her father really does want to spend time with her, and not just because you've suggested it. Can you tell him you're backing off and that it's up to him to deal with his daughter's need for more closeness?

It must be exhausting! You have my sympathy.

stepmooster Fri 27-Dec-13 22:42:48

Hi OP, I am a mother, a stepmother and I also have a stepmother. My mother died before my DC were born but we were NC for many years. she was a horrible woman, abusive and nasty. My stepmother is lovely, wants to be Grandma etc. I just don't know why but it doesn't feel right to me. Maybe I come across as a horrible person, but mainly I am just sad that my mother was abusive, that she is dead, that somehow its like she will never have existed to my DC as there is a new Grandma. Even though my stepmum will always have been a better Grandma than my mum ever would have.

My children are young, and when you have children and your mumis not there, and its Xmas, and family togetherness is rammed down your throats in films etc it does make you feel a bit sad. I feel sad at what never would be, like the night my sister and I cried that we would never have our mother in our lives anymore for weddings, births etc.

Don't get me wrong, I'm extremely grateful for my stepmother she is doing a great job in being there for my children. Its just me who needs to get over it. I'm probably not making much sense, but maybe I never will get over it and sometimes I feel we are close and sometimes I don't want to be very close.

I'm never rude, but maybe I come across as very distant to my stepmum. Perhaps I need to work on my feelings more, but its very hard.

I would try not to take it personally.

WaitingForPeterWimsey Fri 27-Dec-13 23:05:18

I think you sound like a lovely, sensitive and caring sm and should carry on just as you are.

It sounds like your dsd is understandably still really missing her dm and that is affecting her responses to you. She would probably be the first to say that with her head she knows how lucky they are to have you in the family.

Cabrinha Sat 28-Dec-13 09:22:25

I think you're thinking about it all too much.
You mention implied criticism - is that real, or coming just from you? You clearly want to be called granny not your name, but that's her choice, and just how it is. And isn't a criticism. Feeling that the kids knowing about their "real" grandmother means you're pushed out - that's maybe coming from you, I expect the kids don't feel that way at all.

My daughter's paternal grandfather died when her father was a child. I've mentioned him, she doesn't feel her Grandpa (step) is not a Grandpa. We do use that name, but I suggested it as I thought he'd like it, I wasn't bothered.

This sounds like you want to be closer than she does. That doesn't mean she doesn't like you - but you can't force relationships. I think XMIL would have liked to have been best buddies with me - but from my side, we just don't click.

It honestly sounds to me like you just need to be, and stop over thinking this, and trying to understand her and label her with attachment disorder!

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