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Relationship with my stepchildren is over and I need some advice, sad situation all 'round really...

(65 Posts)
ScarahScreams Mon 29-Oct-12 13:33:19

Very long back story, of course, but to be as brief as possible and not out anyone involved here - here goes. SC are a Man and Woman now just turned legal "adult age". I suppose this is cathartic for me to write this all out for the first time, but I would also really welcome any advice from anyone who has been through similar or if you are a SC who eventually warmed to your SM after years of difficulty. I feel so utterly low about it all really.

I met DH after his separation and both him and their M made new lives with new partners quite rapidly. I, we, have always had v regular contact and paid above and beyond what any CSA would dictate. DH spent time alone with them, tried over 10 years not to rock any boats, never reproached them for their behavior as we ventured into teenage years (I see the huge mistakes we made now). I have genuinely been only kind to them, tried to be a friend, a listening ear, ignored the really horrible treatment, made all the excuses that they were children of divorce and it must have been hard. Reality is they got everything they wanted, we welcomed them with open arms and just got insulted and hatred. This x100 after I had DD but that's a whole thread in itself...

I have never, ever been given a kind work from them in 10 years. Just realised that today. They blew hot and cold with DD 6 who adores them. The last time SS came to visit (he wanted something we had in the house) he was actually horrible to her. DH and I witnessed this treatment of an innocent child and finally said no more.

I have said to DH that I don't want myself or DD to have any contact anymore, in the present circs. I have had 10 years but can't take the negativity and hatred from them bleeding into my daughter. We don't see them much anyway but it's sort of the last straw for his to be so vile to her in front of us both - he is a grown man now. The first time in 10 years I made a stand and unless I have an apology and change of behavior I am not seeing either of them again. DH is so very broken and we just don't know what on earth we have done, why we have always been the bad guys despite their Mother making a new life in the same way. He feels that whatever he says he is told what a crap father he is and that I am always around hmm but he had been desperate to have a good relationship with them - they reject him for 10 years. I wonder if that is it or if there is hope for the future.

VodkaJelly Mon 29-Oct-12 13:48:09

I dont have any words of advice but I do know how you feel. I have never had a good relationship with my Step Son. DP had been split with him mother for abut 4 years when I met DP so the break up was nothing to do with me.

SS decided that he wanted his parents to get back together and that he didnt like me. 13 years later nothing has changed, he wont speak or acknowledge me, any time i try to talk to him he walks off. It didnt help that DP's parents mollycolled him and made it difficult for DP to have a relationship. SS wont even come to our house.

But the bit that breaks my heart is that DP and I have a 11 year old son and SS is now 19 and has virtually ignored his brother from the start. My son worships SS and is ignored. I asked DS if SS had spoken to him when he saw him the other day, DS just shrugged his shoulders and said "Not really, but he never really does speak to me".

I know how you feel but I dont have any answers. I have tried everything, having heart to hearts, buying presents, taking him on days out but nothing will change his mind. I just feel sorry for DS.

ClippedPhoenix Mon 29-Oct-12 13:48:51

If it's any consolation I hated my stepmother for years for "taking my dad away from me". It did however resolve once I "grew up" for a want of a better phrase. Looking back I was absolutely appauling to her and she wisely just stayed out of it and didn't retaliate at all. But my dad stood firmly yet fairly by her side.

I ended up getting on well with her purely because she made my dad so happy.

DragonMamma Mon 29-Oct-12 14:07:45

That's really sad OP, you sound like a good person and they sound quite selfish and mean. I felt so sad reading how your DD is treated sad

My parents divorced, both parents got with new people fairly soon after - I was happy as long as they were happy as I was in my late teens. My SM however is a cow, she was so insecure as my dad didn't want the break up and feared him running back to my mum if she decided she wanted him back (she really didn't!). She really EA my brother in particular. She moved in to the MH fairly quickly, put it up for sale without even mentioning it to me or my DB and then proceeded to throw all my belongings in a skip, without giving me a chance to take what I wanted to keep sad

Long story short, she's completely ostracised me and my DCs from the family, my DF comes here to see the kids but that's it really. Only now she wants to adopt a baby they've fostered so needs me to be nice to SS...so my day has come and karma is about to bite her in the arse.

My point in, our relationship (if you could call it that) is toxic so it's best left well alone to save others being poisoned by it. You need to do the same.

Alittlestranger Mon 29-Oct-12 14:20:58

Of course there is hope for the future, they are only 18 FFS. Legally they may be adults, but he is not a "grown man". They are adolescents and still developing emotionally.

Do you have much/any experience of teenagers? A lot of what you've written could have been posted by any parent dealing with their own 18 year old. I won't deny there are issues resulting from the divorce and re-marriage, but that should be separated from the normal hormonal fallout of late adolescence.

You are the adult in this situation, so don't flounce. You say the relationship is "over" but this seems to be a decision you have made.

CogitoEerilySpooky Mon 29-Oct-12 14:50:42

"we just don't know what on earth we have done, "

Your non-boat-rocking efforts just mean you've raised a couple of spoilt brats that regard you with contempt... that's all. They'll have to grow up a lot before realising they've behaved badly but they may never come to respect you. What to do in the meantime is stand up for yourself, not cut contact.

HappyHalloweenMotherFucker Mon 29-Oct-12 14:53:39

I totally agree with cogito

Stop letting them walk over you

If what that takes is to cut contact, that is really very sad

You and your H have been the adults so far (and I don't think 18 can be classed as "adult" in this specific scenario, tbh, nor even 21)....how the hell did both of you let it get to this stage ?

lunar1 Mon 29-Oct-12 15:00:59

Of I am honest as a step child myself you have said we far to many times in your post.

Had your dh spent much time with his children? Or was it 'we' the whole time? No matter how kind you were to them and whatever the circumstances you (or any step parent) are an intruder into the family in the eyes of children.

Maybe your dh needs to spend some time alone with them. Even if they are adults now if they have beef horribly spoils they probably won't be dealing with the situation as an adult.

I am a very different person now at 32 than I was at 22. Hopefully your relationship will improve. Children wether they are. Biological or step children tend to pull away from family when they are young adults finding their feet. I think over the next few years they will come backto the family with a more mature attitude.

Ooooooiamaghost Mon 29-Oct-12 15:07:30

I didn't like my sm because my dad left for her and I couldn't work out why she was better than being at home with me, ds and dm. I never treated her badly because my dm told me not to. I was 10, over the years I have warmed to her because my df is still with her and loves her. I will never love her though, but that's more a personality thing. I have always treated her well and will do even if she long outlives my df.
I am now a sm and a dm. My dcs like me but I expect a rocky road. I think if there was conflict I would leave the relationship as I know it would literally kill my dp.
There's no easy answer. I encourage my dcs to be kind and nice to my xh girlfriend and expect them to be.
I wonder how much is coming from their dm, regardless of whether why they split up, it's hard for a mum to let the relationship develop with another woman.....their xh's new partner.

Ooooooiamaghost Mon 29-Oct-12 15:08:54

Sorry .... *my step dc's like me!!! Obviously my dc's do!!!
grin

eatssleepsfeeds Mon 29-Oct-12 15:11:36

I'd walk away. Don't let your own child be hurt anymore.

ScarahScreams Mon 29-Oct-12 15:14:13

Thank you everyone I am reading and thinking hard. I appreciate all of your comments.
I can't believe how wrong I got this sad

ScarahScreams Mon 29-Oct-12 15:16:23

He spent loads of alone time without me. Almost always without me lunar. It seems to have made no difference.

Mayisout Mon 29-Oct-12 15:36:30

The difference in my DCs from when they were 18 to now when they are mid 20s -30 is huge. They are really considerate and kind and I feel appreciated.

They were too busy with their own lives previously. So I think there is hope. Possibly the SCs have set this mode of behaviour and find it impossible to say 'god, I'm so sorry, we were spoilt brats', especially if they can't lose face in front of each other having maintained the 'she's a bitch' act for 10 years.

What is the next scenario - are they leaving for university? finding jobs? lounging at home for the forseeable future?

If they visited you with their friends in tow I would be surprised if they were rude and nasty as their friends would probably be shocked. You are possibly seeing them in an artificial environment ie always just one of them and you, when usually teens have friends calling round, hanging around their bedrooms etc so you can see them in a different light. Do you give them lifts to things, picking up friends along the way, and other parently chores?

Having lasted this long you might as well stick it out to the end. Then you might reap rewards when they fully mature.

Can you speak to some expert (child psychologist?) or read up on the step-relationship to see how you can change to help things improve?

Alittlestranger Mon 29-Oct-12 15:43:17

To posters saying walk away, why do you think a relationship with step children is optional? If an older sibling was unkind (rather than abusive) to a full sibling with a large age gap that wouldn't be seen as some kind of deal breaker. The OP married a man with children, presumably they were not kept hidden until the ink was dry on the wedding certificate.

ScarahScreams Mon 29-Oct-12 16:11:23

Mayisout I think your 2 nd paragraph is spot on actually. It's like they have no capacity to just start being nice to me after all this time.
The last straw is what they are doing to DD. I don't care so much for me, but it hurts for DD and obviously DH for which I am heartbroken.

HappyHalloweenMotherFucker Mon 29-Oct-12 16:39:50

I think you should withdraw slightly (for now) if they are being mean, but stick up for yourself. Tell them to leave your house if they cannot be nice.

They have much capacity to mature yet though, so don't close the door completely

ScarahScreams Mon 29-Oct-12 16:46:54

It is great that so many people are saying it may change when they mature even more. I really thought after 10 yrs and at 18 and 22 they will never come around. But yes I intend to stick up for myself now. They have never seen this from me before .

Thisisaeuphemism Mon 29-Oct-12 16:48:59

Op, I was sorry to read your story and your despair is very evident. I would say this situation sound kind of inevitable - if their behaviour was getting worse you guys had to put your foot down somewhere. It's v difficult as the Nrp in a conflicted situation to do this tho - as the step child can easily do what yours has done and just reject you.
My DH had the same with his DS when he was 18. Dss behaved appallingly - I mean really bad- but when pulled up on it he just told dh to get lost. For 2 years Dss didn't contact him. DH tried at Xmas and birthdays but nothing. Then when we had dd we got in touch and things are better now. Dss at 22 is nothing like he was at 18 and it's a nearly normal relationship...
Op you might want to talk on the step parenting board, many people have gone through similar with teen dsc.

HappyHalloweenMotherFucker Mon 29-Oct-12 16:51:01

my neice is 21

she has a fuckload of growing up to do yet

at that age they are still so idealistic and everything is soooo black and white

she irritates me immensely with her pontificating about how things "should" be (although I love her dearly)

give them another few years, and possibly until they have children themselves

DemureNewName Mon 29-Oct-12 16:53:52

I think the only way with SC is to always assume they are part of your family, but never assume you are part of theirs.

It's served me well for the last 15 years. Not to say we haven't had some low points, but overall, it works well.

I care for them, sort stuff for them etc., but I DO NOT make decisions. THey have a mother and a father for that.

I wonder, OP, when you say 'adult', you actually mean 'late teens'... in which case, I would say, space and time is what's required.

ScarahScreams Mon 29-Oct-12 16:54:29

Thank you both. I feel marginally better now and more focussed. They don't respect me because I let them get away with treating me like crap. I was v young at first (21) and had never had any experience of children ever.

FiercePanda Mon 29-Oct-12 16:57:08

Whether they like it or not, your DD is their sister. They're 18, they should know that their behaviour is ridiculous but if they've been allowed to run riot given a long leash they may think that being mean to her is just an extension of being mean to you. I think the time has come for you, and, particularly DH to read them the riot act. They're projecting their anger over their parent's divorce onto you and from now on it stops.

As an aside, what's their behaviour like with their stepfather? How is DP's relationship with their mother? If it's all amicable, I'd maybe think about getting the whole family together, parents, "new" partners an' all, and thrash out just what your SC's problem is, and what is going to happen next. You cannot allow them to continue to be spoilt brats.

ScarahScreams Mon 29-Oct-12 16:58:26

Demure I was not allowed to make any decisions! Ever not even DH was allowed his ex wife said he had no say in parenting after he left. So we just had to keep quiet about everything.
It was all fucked up in hindsight but what's done is done.

Mayisout Mon 29-Oct-12 17:07:29

Yes, get some advice on the step parenting board. If DH had no say in their parenting then perhaps they read that as him having no interest. Maybe this could be explained to them but I am not a step parent so don't know if that would help.

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