Is there any way to make this work?

(41 Posts)
Caterpillarmum Wed 09-Jul-14 08:08:59

I'm willing to accept that I'm the problem here I just don't know what to do for the best.

DH and I have been together for nearly ten years, we have a lovely gorgeous son together who is the light of my life. DH has two daughters from a previous relationship (20 & 16).

My problem is I really dislike the youngest daughter. I mean she really bugs the shit out of me and I don't know why. I've felt like this since I met her when she was six FGS! The eldest is a bit strange but I generally get on okay with her.

Now before you jump on me saying that she picks up on my feelings I honestly think she doesn't. The reason I say this is I end up going over board when they visit to mask how I really feel and I must be doing a good job at this because the YSD told DH that she knows that she is my favourite between her and her sister! You could have knocked me down with a feather!! I was going on the philosophy of 'fake it till you make it' hoping that my feelings would change as she got older, if anything they have gotten worse. Since having my son I dislike her even more.

She acts like a baby to get dads attention, she is a constant limpet and does the mini wife thing out in public. You would think she was his girlfriend the way she hangs off him in the pub. It's embarrassing and I know DH is embarrassed by it, so he tries to move away and she then just ends up giving me the daggers.

She is always going on about how well she is doing at school. To be fair she does do well and that's great but she has literally no interest in anything and I mean anything outside of school. She has no opinions or thoughts on anything so conversation is really quite monotonous it's like sitting through a continual parent-teacher evening!

She has no table manners, eats with her mouth open. Is very picky in what she will eat. Never says thank you if we take her out for dinner.

She makes baby like presents for DH that look like they've been made by a five year old! I kid you not, we get these hand drawn cards that look like they've been done with crayon by a primary school kid not a 16 year old!! Saying daddy this and daddy that.

I could go on and on but won't. It's not one thing, its just everything. I just think that our personalities don't click and I just don't get on with her.

I've encouraged DH to go and visit them so they don't pick up on how I really feel.I dread Christmas, I mean dread it. Having them here makes me really tense. Unfortunately our house is too small for me to detach so its hard to withdraw and get away from them.

I've tried to talk to DH about I feel and we end up in the position of him defending her and me pointing out her faults. I ask him to do a bit if parenting to address some of the issues and he feels he doesn't see them often enough to have any kind of impact and doesn't want to spoil the time he has by having a go at them. Because they do well at school he honestly can't see any issues. I feel bad for him and see his point of view but I can't change how I feel. I'm in the wrong and I'm just seeing the worst all the time but I can't change how I feel.

I feel like I have a knot in my stomach whenever he mentions YSD and I'm sure it's not healthy or right. I think I have to leave the relationship but I feel so bad for my son, will I end up creating another unhappy step kid?

I've tried counselling and it didn't work. I just feel so shit about it all, please help me get my feelings straight. I'm sat here I tears

Gettingmeback Wed 09-Jul-14 10:41:27

Caterpillarmum i really feel for you. I don't have any great advice but couldn't read and run. The situation you're in seems so common in the step scenario. And like you say, you keep hoping that your feelings will change and everything will be ok. And when it doesn't, how do you decide it's time to go? Such a hard decision and the answer doesn't seem to present itself clearly. Your DSD does sound as though she is probably regressed in her relationship with her father, so still does the babyish stuff and feels threatened by you. It such a shame when a dad can't see how this might effect all her future relationships and he needs to encourage her into a more adult child relationship by giving her positive attention for this. As part of the regression, she may believe the babyish stuff and mini wife is how she gets his attention and she needs his guidance to learn a new way for both their sakes. I'm assuming the older DSD has a more adult child relationship with her father and doesn't do the clingy stuff so she doesn't trigger the negative feelings in you? What's her relationship like with your DS? How often is she at your home?

Caterpillarmum Wed 09-Jul-14 12:01:42

Thanks GMB. Really appreciate your thoughts. To answer your questions:

They see their dad every few weeks. They used to come here every few months and he would see them every few weeks in between as well. I realise this isn't very much for me to grin and bear it and i know I sound pathetic when I whine and moan about how I feel when others have the EOW arrangement. I'm aware when I write this down I sound horrible and people will say what are you moaning about when you see them so little and this is what I am trying to figure out.

Seems like there is something every week though that I am suppose to applaud. YSD did this, YSD did that. Some of it sounds like exaggeration to be honest but DH takes everything YSD says a gospel and I'm the wicked woman if I say, what about so and so? I know he's got them on a pedestal which is lovely in one way as their dad should be a big fan but I can't bring myself to think the same and I'm not good at faking it. I think they are being indulged not encouraged to grow into adults. OSD is at uni and doesn't really have any friends, is a real loner. It's sad really as it was hoped that she would come out of her shell more but she hasn't really, she just runs home at the first opportunity and sits at home because all her friends have moved on. They are encouraged to think that school and getting grades are the b all and end all to life, to the point that they have no other interests, nothing to talk about and are not really progressing into adulthood. Don't get me wrong I'm a big fan of education, I have higher level quals myself but there has to be a balance. It's unhealthy to be obsessing over school so much.

OSD used to do the clingy thing but grew out of it very quickly. She wasn't used to being the centre of attention so hasn't held on to the baby like behaviour for very long. DH admits that YSD has always been her mum's blatant favourite and he tried to focus on OSD to balance this out. YSD is also DHs family's favourite as well, to the point that her grandad will always go on about how she is his favourite at the dinner table right in front of OSD! I felt really sorry for her and wanted to give her a hug, I think such blatant favouritism is dead wrong. I challenged DH on it but he said he didn't really realise what was going on until afterwards when he thought about it.

YSD used to say that she was really good with little children, unfortunately DS hasn't really taken to her and cries when she tries to hold him. This hasn't really helped.

I'm such a cow aren't I sad

Caterpillarmum Wed 09-Jul-14 12:07:22

I have to say since I became a SM I have never felt so shit about myself. I used to be a happy go lucky type of person. Now after ten years I feel under confident, I doubt myself, don't like these feelings that I get when I'm around them and I feel worn out. I over analyse everything, I feel guilty, angry, resentful, possessive and territorial.

Kaluki Wed 09-Jul-14 12:09:14

It seems such a shame to be 'throwing in the towel' after 10 years at a point when DSD is only a few years away from being an adult and flying the nest.
I know you say you can't detach but is there any way you can tell your DH that your feel uncomfortable with the mini wife' stuff and explain the damage this will do her in her future relationships if it isn't stopped and until he deals with it you want to back off and avoid her?
My DSD was very much like this when I met DP although she was a lot younger, I found that by backing away and letting her have her dad to herself she stopped 'marking her territory' and naturally went back to being a kid again.
As for the annoying personality and the fact that you don't click, there isn't much you can do about that, other than bite your tongue and put some distance between you.

brdgrl Wed 09-Jul-14 12:16:16

Your 16 year-old DSD shares some characteristics with my own DSD when she was 16. On the other hand, mine lived with us fulltime, so not only were we better able to deal with some of the behaviour (like lessening the mini-wife stuff), but also I could develop a relationship with her based on her good qualities too - And she had time and exposure, maybe, to see mine. I can say now that I love my DSD as part of my family...sometimes I get cross with her and sometimes I am totally and utterly fed up, but it is the way you feel about a family member who makes you roll your eyes, IYSWIM. I imagine that in your situation of only seeing them on occasion, it is a lot harder to develop real feelings of family and affection, and more like an acquaintance who you have a personality clash with, but are forced into close quarters.

We had the same dynamics of favouritism between my two DSC. It is very difficult not to respond by trying to "even things out".

We also have the 'pedestal' thing. It is incredibly annoying. All you can do is not play the game, I'm afraid. I am on guard with it in regards to our shared DD, and have to sometimes gently nudge DH when he starts to do it with her! I think it is terribly unhealthy and I don't want to develop the same problem with her.

Caterpillarmum Wed 09-Jul-14 12:24:35

Thanks Kaluki. I've had very long conversations with DH about how I feel. We had one really bad mini wife weekend once and I was livid and couldn't hold it in, so it all came spilling out. DH agrees with me, then just thinks I'm picking on her and goes back to the 'I don't see them often enough to make a difference, I must be a shit dad, I'm a failure etc (cue kicked puppy dog look!). I do feel for him I really do. DH works, they live a couple of hours away and we have DS to raise so there aren't any more spare hours for him to spend with them. Does this view by DH constitute a Disney dad approach? Heard this term on here.

Can I back off even more if I only see them every so often? I really want to say to DH you get on with it, don't involve me, or ask my opinion or keep me updated and ill get back to you when they are 21!!!!

Gettingmeback Wed 09-Jul-14 12:29:51

No you're not a cow. I think that once those negative feelings have developed, it's then no longer about how often you see them because every contact or mention causes you to react. TBH I think even if you didn't see her, but were still in the relationship with your DH, even the mention of her would still set you off. It has slowly affected your confidence and sense of yourself as a good person because the feelings are toxic and eat away at the good stuff. Others might say to you to 'get over it' but that's way too simplistic a view. I know if you could have found a way to change how you feel, you would have. No one wants to live like you've been living. I know it's easy for me to say, but you can't continue on this way. If you leave your DH, you have to be sure that it's the answer to getting you happiness back. You've been feeling like this for so long, it will have changed you so leaving him won't make you bounce back to happy self. Have you considered getting some counselling? It'd be worth seeing if, with good support and strategies to manage the feelings, you can't stay with DH but gain some much needed contentment.

Caterpillarmum Wed 09-Jul-14 12:56:49

Thanks GMB for not judging me.

think that once those negative feelings have developed, it's then no longer about how often you see them because every contact or mention causes you to react.

This feels spot onto be honest. There are loads of threads about family members or inlaws that people don't like or can't stand seeing, and they can get those feelings out without being judged or just go no contact. When its a child you feel terrible about how you feel and that there must be something wrong with you. I'm told by people I RL that I'm very maternal and I love being a mum, so why do these feelings not extend to the DSDs that I've known for longer than I've been a mum?

I have tried counselling, went through a very traumatic time a few years ago and this issue came up and was discussed during the sessions. It didn't really help to be honest.

I am worried that these feelings have now gripped me, particularly the self confidence issue and that even parting with DH wouldn't make them go. Add to that the fact that I'd be losing my best friend and breaking up an otherwise happy home. It's a mess.

doziedoozie Wed 09-Jul-14 15:15:13

I used to think that the things I disliked in others were actually traits in myself which I didn't like/ was in denial about.

Could that have any influence? Or does she remind you of someone from your past. Horrible class mate or something so it's something deeper. Did you feel your own DM had negative feelings about you?

Do you envy the easy childhood she has had? Feel that she doesn't deserve it?

Clutching at straws but there might be something deeper to make you feel this way.

Caterpillarmum Wed 09-Jul-14 15:57:01

Good questions dozie.

I used to think that the things I disliked in others were actually traits in myself which I didn't like/ was in denial about. Could that have any influence?

She is kind of the polar opposite of me really so I'm not sure it's a trait thing. Good point though.

Or does she remind you of someone from your past. Horrible class mate or something so it's something deeper. Did you feel your own DM had negative feelings about you?

She's not really like the people I disliked at school because she isn't that strong a personality. My relationship with my mum is complicated but its more about over possessiveness and emotional blackmail than negative feelings.

Do you envy the easy childhood she has had? Feel that she doesn't deserve it?

I feel that she has missed out on so much during her childhood that has now passed her by. Whilst mine was turbulent it was a lot more interesting! Sorry that sounds big headed but its true (had crushes, boyfriends, social life, jobs, experimented with clothing and hair, all the normal stuff). She doesn't do any of this. She just seems to be in this perpetual little girl bubble that seems to be actively encouraged by those around her. By joining in I would feel like an enabler.

Clutching at straws but there might be something deeper to make you feel this way.

It's the take,take,take attitude that gets to me as well. Even DH has acknowledged that if its not about her she's not interested. He said that phone conversations are a bit limited in that she would talk about herself for ages and then when she had finished she'd end the call. She never asks DP how he is or what he's doing. I know she's a teenager but surely they are capable of some teeny tiny thought outside their own sphere. I know I wasn't like this, I know other people's teenagers who are not like this. She asks about our DS but DH has admitted it's more picking to find out his faults than actual interest. He's a baby FGS! I know it's possible that our having kids has unsettled her but tbh she was like this before DS came along. She used to make animal noises down the phone instead of conversation, I knew when it was happening because DH would seem uncomfortable and try to laugh it off and change the subject.

Caterpillarmum Wed 09-Jul-14 16:15:46

Brdgirl, sorry didn't acknowledge your post earlier was deep in naval gazing!

Totally agree about the pedestal issue, it is incredibly unhealthy to my mind because one day you will get knocked off it and that's going to be a crashing reality. I think it's coming for YSD and its probably going to be a train wreck when it does!

I think the full time thing is a good point. Whilst I think you full time SMs deserve a medal, I do think having a central parenting role enables you to address behaviour issues. That is obviously if your DH is fully supportive if this and doesn't have his head up his arse!

I know for a fact that DH would not want to live with YSD full time. That's an awful thing to admit but he did say it once. Although he misses them, once he's been with them for a short period he comes away quite happy again. I think there would be a god almighty row between them within a week tbh! Not very likely to happen either tbh.

The more I write the more my dislike seems irrational blush but I know I do feel this way sad.

I will admit another horrible thing given that once you start you can't stop. If anything were to happen to DH then I wouldn't encourage contact between the DSDs and DS, isn't that awful given he's their half brother. Clearly when he is older he can see who he likes but I don't think I'd feel inclined to chase a relationship between them. I'll go back to the naughty step now ...

NatashaBee Wed 09-Jul-14 16:21:13

once those negative feelings have developed, it's then no longer about how often you see them because every contact or mention causes you to react.

This is very true, and I do feel for you, I'm fighting the same thing at the moment. It's really hard. To be honest at 20 and 16 the DSDs could (hypothetically) make their own arrangements to see your DS anyway if they wanted to, if they looked to you to do it for them then maybe it would just show they weren't that bothered. I've started to notice the 'mini-wife' traits with DSD too, and it sets my teeth right on edge.

doziedoozie Wed 09-Jul-14 16:56:56

Can you 'up' the rest of your life, maybe do more hobbies, me time, fun times with DS, then the gritted teeth times are less important.

Sounds like you've done a great job so far regardless!!

Elizabeth120914 Wed 09-Jul-14 21:25:01

Echo what the others have said. We have eow and it's much tougher then the all weekend every week we used to have in a sense:.

Every weekend was really tough for many reasons but she did have to settle into a routine and was easier to deal with. I don't feel now like I can say anything about much.. There's much more guilt I think for the father in this situation and that's probably the route of the not correcting behaviour.

I've gone through stages of feeling like I really didn't like dsd mostly due to the Same I want, what's next then going home when she had everything on offer. Your not alone at all.

Has it got worse since having bur own child? I sometimes don't like the idea of dsd being related to my child when she's being horrible, her manners aren't ours and her upbringing at her mothers and lack of values are sometimes quite horrifying ..

Don't know the answer but it sounds to me like ur near the end of a long war and it seems a shame to chuck it in now. Your still going to be connected to them all and your child but ul have much less control over the situation.. In moments when its made me mad I've thought how would I feel about my child being with them and me not there obviously still hearing about it etc it's helped me put things in perspective I'm stuck with them all now in some capacity!!

Eliza22 Fri 11-Jul-14 11:20:13

I am marking a space here and will come back later. What I will say is, after ten years of this, I'm not surprised your self esteem/confidence/belief is massively eroded. And you are not alone.

thebluehen Fri 11-Jul-14 13:32:34

You have my sympathies. I have similar feelings towards my dsd1 now aged 18.

I have never "taken" to her. I've known her 6 years and always found her difficult. Sometimes I feel it's like an unspoken battleground in my home when she's there, I'm constantly defending my territory.

I've accepted I probably will never like her, hopefully she will stop being so insecure and needy as she gets older and therefore, become more likeable in my eyes.

I wouldn't walk out. You're not a bad person. Have you read step monster? It explains a lot about teenage step daughters and their behaviour.

Eelseelseels Fri 11-Jul-14 19:39:26

I don't know if this will help, but I can absolutely understand how you feel. I'm not a step parent but a foster carer and when we started out fostering we had a brilliant social worker who was very frank about how we may feel towards other people's children. He said that there may be children we didn't take to, and that no matter how hard we tried we would not be able to find them loveable. However, he advised us to treat them as a set piece of work, and to feel that the time we spent with looking after them was a job to do to the best of our ability. There have been a number of really difficult 'button pushing' children that have come into our lives, and it has really helped us to take the pressure off ourselves to have this level of detachment, but still do our very best for them.

Alita7 Fri 11-Jul-14 23:10:54

Dya know what?

I think most of your issues with dsd are because she is treated as the favourite by everyone else and it's not fair and it grates at you. over time it's progressed to how it is now, blown up massively in your head because it's been so long! I think her behaviours probably are annoying but that you would be able to live with them if you didn't feel she was competing all the time with not only her sister but to an extent with you as well.

If you love your dp then don't leave. But try and arrange things for when they're coming so you're not there all day. And maybe see if there's something you can do with the older dsd?

Eliza22 Sat 12-Jul-14 09:02:54

If you love your DP and otherwise you are happy with him, I advise to not leave. In a sense, do you think this is was YSD wants to happen? Leaving her in the well established "lead" role? I quite simply detest my YSD. DH and I have been together for 9 years, married for 5. He had 3 kids aged 11, 15 and 16 and I had a son aged 5 when we met. The youngest child in any family is often "babied" by everyone and his youngest was no exception. I treated them all the same, was genuinely delighted for me and my son to be marrying into a family situation. I SO WANTED IT TO WORK. From the start, YSD wasn't happy and lots of allowances were made. Now, she won't see us. She's 20. I give up. I think when at 17, she threw down a "her or me" challenge to DH, she fully expected to be put first again. It hasn't worked out for her.

DH misses her but stands by me as he says it's not my fault and YSD has these traits and would have disliked any female brought into his life. I wasn't the OW. His ex's affair ended their marriage and I met him 2 years after they split.

Read "STEPMONSTER", it explains a lot and I'd go with what others have said. Step away mentally from her, do other things when she's around. Develop a good relationship with OSD. Your son doesn't deserve this. I feel for you, I really do.

Caterpillarmum Sat 12-Jul-14 16:52:06

Thanks to everyone for your posts, I really appreciate it, makes me feel less horrible about the way I feel.

Natasha thanks, you're right about setting your teeth on edge

Dozieand Elizabeth- thanks smile

Blue hen - unspoken battleground that's exactly what it feels like!

Eelseelseels - I think if they were foster kids I'd be able to rationalise it more, in that they've had a really tough start in life and I could work on them as a project. The DsDs have had everything handed to them in a plate with nothing expected of them so its hard to be sympathetic. I think foster carers are fantastic btw smile

Alita7- I think you are right, it just seems like she's been put on this pedestal and I cannot understand why and also see this as incredibly unfair to the rest.

Eliza22 - what a breath of fresh air to hear you say the same thing!

What really winds me up has happened again this weekend. I've said to DH recently that I'm not getting involved anymore, he doesn't like my opinion so don't ask me. We have a big row then everything goes back to normal for a bit. He'll then go and see them and start trying to tell me all about what YSD has said or what she thinks etc like I'm suppose to to go 'oooo, aaaah' isn't that wonderful, when inwardly I'm thinking well she said that to you but I bet that's not how she really feels. I've fallen for this before, when I was pregnant with DS DH told me how excited she was, etc. I believed him and so tried to get her involved in looking at baby stuff I'd bought, she wouldn't even acknowledge anything to do with the baby and sat either staring at the tv completely ignoring me or glaring at me. She was definitely NOT happy. She was 14 at the time. Ever since then I just don't believe anything DH tells me about how she feels, not because I think he is lying but because I think he is be lied to.

Today DH has tried the whole YsD this and YSD that and I'll be honest I've just gone 'uh huh, yeah, really' and then changed the subject. I can tell he is miffed because I haven't joined in with the Disney view but tbh I just don't want to peddle bullshit anymore. I'm sure he's going to try to do this again later and then get pissed off when I don't join in, why does he do this when I've made it clear how I feel?

Eliza22 Sat 12-Jul-14 18:22:27

He does it because he loves his daughter and he hopes that one day, magically, it will all be ok and you'll all get on. It might. It might not. It seems like a battle of wills and YSD HAS to be top banana.

I made the mistake of holding out the olive branch, many times. I wrote on a number of occasions to my SD basically saying let's wipe the slate clean, start over, there's no reason why we cannot get on since we have one thing in common at least..... We both love DH/Dad and he us, albeit differently. I was shunned. Over and over again. I have no interest in her or what she's doing now and DH knows this. He also knows I couldn't have tried any harder.

doziedoozie Sat 12-Jul-14 18:31:40

My DH does the isn't it lovley/ great etc about where we live because he knows I'd much rather be somewhere else.
Maybe try Oooohing and Aaaahning in fake swooning admiration for DSD's 'achievements'. At least he might stop doing it.

Orrr, maybe pretend you are really keen/ admiring and you can both swoon together, perhaps that will, over time, stop him being so silly.

wishingonastar123 Sat 12-Jul-14 18:34:32

I really do feel for you, I'm not a huge fan of my DSC either and although I really do love DSD she can annoy me with some of her clingy behaviour and well...I've just never clicked with DSS, I just don't feel much for him. But they are young and I am also hoping that things change over the years.

How are you in the rest of your life? I know that I struggle more with DSC when I am unhappy with other things in my life, stressed or depressed. Once those other things are fixed then I feel much more able to handle them and much more tolerant.

I really wouldn't want to break up such a long relationship over your DSC, afterall would being on your own actually be any better?

Is there anywhere you can go when your DSC visit? Maybe visit family or a friend? I managed to avoid my DSC for months whilst I was very depressed by going for spa days, meeting friends for lunch, going shopping with my Mum. Plus it gave me a bit of a break from my own kids which is what I needed.

Caterpillarmum Sat 12-Jul-14 21:05:50

I have no interest in her or what she's doing now and DH knows this. He also knows I couldn't have tried any harder.

Eliza its great that your DH supports you, do you see the other DSC? How do they feel about YSDs behaviour? Does your DHs family put pressure on him to reconnect with YSD?

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