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help me be assertive with step mum and father(9 Posts)
right - bit of background - have a difficult relationship with my father which started mid teens when my parents divorced - 25 odd years on and it generally is uneasy. We have very limited contact with my father and stepmum- they regularly see my stepsister and her children (which I guess is pretty usual as it is generally the wife who initiates contact with their own children) despite us being 5 miles away.
since the dc's were born we have had to endure an annual trip to the pantomime and then back to my fathers and step sisters for a jolly extended family dinner which is painful for me to go to as my father rarely speaks to me or my dh and I feel it's all just for show - i've only ever gone ahead with it as the dc's love seeing their step cousins and I've felt that I'd be denying them the opportunity to celebrate and develop relationships with them (and their grandparents).
last year was also particularly difficult as I've severely allergic to dogs and despite me asking several times if they could put the dog out they still let it roam around whilst we were eating which resulted in me nearly having an asthma attack - and my dad telling me I'd have to just get used to the dog. (I've been allergic to dogs for nearly 40 years so this shouldn't be a surprise to my dad)
to get to the point -my step mum has just left a message about booking tickets for this years pantomime trip and I really just can't face going - I always get upset after being there as I feel that we are second class family compared to my step sister. I also feel that it's all just for show as we really don't see them at any other time of the year. This year I've seen my dad twice - once at a family funeral and once on my sons birthday. We rarely speak on the phone since I stopped initiating contact.
so - how do I say no? Or should I just put up and shut up with it and be grateful that my father/stepmum wants to 'treat' my dc's like this and not bother for the rest of the year?
If you don't want to go - don't. As they have contact with them so rarely, I'm sure your dcs won't miss seeing their step-cousins and if they want to cultivate relationships with their extended family they'll be free to do so when they're older.
Simply tell your stepmother that you won't be able to make it this year and if you feel that you have to qualify this statement use any old excuse - pressure of work, overbooked social diary, going away, busy watching paint dry etc.
We'd love to go to the panto but won't be able to come to dinner as my asthma is too bad.
Why don't you invite them to you at some other time if your dc enjoy seeing them?
"Thank you for inviting us, but we wont be coming this year, I hope you have a nice time with X and her children"
The problem with going to the panto and then sloping off home is that the plan could go badly awry.
Pantos tend to be jolly experiences and, buoyed up wiith false bonhomie and over-excited dcs, you may find yourself pressed into going to your hosts for dinner - especially if you haven't planned an after-panto entertainment that isn't eagerly awaited by the dc.
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
So, deep down do you want to cut contact with your df altogether?
Is the minimal relationship you have with him worth keeping going or is it more emotionally damaging to you to play along with the happy family act once a year and suffer his lack of interest in you?
Just from what you say, your relationship with your df doesn't sound harmful or abusive (even if hurtful and a bit rubbish). So if that is so, then I would say it's worth playing the happy family game once a year to keep the limited lines of communication open.
I would answer to your dsm that you'd love to come but your asthma is getting worse so you wont be able to come to their house for a meal unless the dog is kept out.
What Bogey wrote is perfect. Short, sharp and to the point.
Thank you for your responses everyone
yes - bogeymanface - that is very succinct, but I don't think my sm would be able to accept that - she'd want reasons and to try and re-arrange dates etc.
Slamdang - you've hit the nail on the head - "Is the minimal relationship you have with him worth keeping going or is it more emotionally damaging to you to play along with the happy family act once a year and suffer his lack of interest in you?"
you are correct - the relationship is not abusive - just hurtful and rubbish - I constantly feel not good enough - and each time I see him have unrealistic expectations that things will be different and they never are. I know that if I ever needed him then he'd be there - and I don't doubt that he loves us, it's just that its like pulling teeth to have any meaningful interaction or actual relationship.
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