not coping with being a sm - please be understanding..(40 Posts)
I feel so awful even writing this but I need to ge this off my chest as it were. My dh and i have been together for 7 years, the first 2 of these he had no contact with his dd due to his ex being generally obstructive and stopping him from seeing dd. When i had my dd (now 4) contact began again alternate weekends and i was thrust into being a sm and mother all at once which was hard going.
Now here we are 4 years later, with 2 kids of our own. Dsd is 13 and is really no bother at all, except for being extremely clingy and attention seeking towards my Dh. When she is here, she follows him from room to room like his shadow, hardly makes conversation with me (perhaps i should try a little harder too). What i find so irritating is that when she is here we get no time to ourselves as she doesn't seem to be able or willing to entertain herself. She sits up til late with us, meaning that we can't watch grown up tv or movies. Then if she is told she has to go to bed at half 9, she has a strop as if she is entitled to stay up until we go to bed.
To be honest i am wondering if i made a mistake in marrying someone with a child as i am obviously too childish to share my husband. I also feel guilty as i can't feel anything towards her apart from irritation and resentment. Surely by now i should feel love or at least warmth towards her.
I guess by posting this i was hoping i am not the first sp to ever feel like this....
I think that if there is hostility from a step-child's mum you have to just ignore it and get on with forming a good relationship with them, while being aware of not overstepping the boundaries. I never got involved with school, doctors or discipline, but we would do loads of things together and I formed my own relationship with dsd.
Her mum was going to hate me whatever I did, so I disengaged from her drama and did what I felt was best for dsd. We had our ups and downs, but I just made sure she knew I loved her, and that she was treated the same as dd. Its a different love, but love nonetheless.
Teenage years are hard, and it must have been awful for her not to see her Dad for a couple of years and then when she starts to again she has to get used to having to share him, not only with another woman but with a new sibling. I know my own dd has found it really hard that her Dad stopped seeing her (his choice) and, having had him all to herself, she had other children in her home, lost her bedroom and no longer got any one to one time with her Dad. She said it felt like he didn't love her so much any more.
I would be horrified if my DP, the DSC or their mother expected me to love my DSC as my own. I doubt that my DD or her Dad would be very impressed either!
That is not something I could or would choose to do, and it is against all the experience I have gained and professional advice we have been given.
The DSC are not, and never will be, my DCs - and to express my love for them as my own would place them in an impossible situation with so many conflicted loyalties and emotions it would be tough for even an adult to deal with.
DSC do not get a choice about their DSP - and they cannot he expected, coerced or forced to love them. Parents should expect courtesy and respect from their DCs for the person they have chosen to share their life with but any more is unreasonable.
If a close bond develops between DSC and DSP then that is a bonus. It cannot be expected or demanded in either direction.
I agree with what you said about it not Being easy and how u feel and how to emotions and feelings run higher than before. I guess you just have to find that common ground &everyone involved would nearly always find it difficult when one or both parents start seeimeaner people. It's not easy on anyone especially the children and they get worse an harder to win over when they are teenagers trust me my partners 2girls are hard to get on side.. I also went to parenting programs with my man to help us thought the hard times and it paid off. Right now almost 3 years of being in these 2beautiful girls lives I have finally started becoming more like a parent to them in a lot of ways and I won't give up on making the bond and luv between us as strong as it can possibly be. U need to remind them that u luv them as if their your own and always no matter what show them support Luv faith honesty respect and be a role model and eventually u will be and feel like u r part of them kids lives and nothing feels better then knowing that yr hard work, loyalty and Luv has paid off when they accept u and let u in is the best feeling. Best advice is be strong push throu the good bad hard and sad bits and let them kids no that u will always be there.l
I just want to say that your feelings are not unusual - my 2 DSD's now live with me and even though I love them both It drives me mad that I can't even stand in the kitchen chatting to my DP without them hanging on him! but.. as the others have said - you can't change this - it's not wrong just annoying sometimes.. you have to learn to accept it and I suppose try and embrace it to a point.. that's what I try to do.. sometimes it works sometimes it doesn't - i am taking myself off to counselling to help me change my thinking about the situation as I know its not their fault - and its lovely they want to be around me and their dad.
Sounds wonderful, and if/ when you start to feel bad again just pop on here and have a moan with us, we understand. (mostly )
Nadm makes a good point about loyalty to mum, I always made the effort to do nice things one on one with my dsd and thought she enjoyed it but in recent times this has been thrown back in my face as trying to compete with mum and also proof that dad just wanted to palm her off on me. I would be a little careful and try to let your dsd take the lead there. Baking together is lovely as Dad is probably milling about too so nice quality one on one and family time together. Good luck with it all xxxx
Good for you.
As I said earlier up thread, she is only with you alternate weekends isn't she. It should be quality time for all of you together, not a time to be resentful of her presence.
I'm sure your DSD enjoyed you giving her some quality interaction, enjoy her now before the teenage rebellion begins.
Thanks everyone for the honest (and some brutal ) responses. But in all seriousness i really think i needed to hear that i am being rather selfish and childish. After a good think, and trying to put myself in my Dsd's shoes i have realised that i need to make more effort with her. So yesterday I made the effort to make conversation, walked with her to take my little one to school and even did a bit of baking. None of it felt too forced or like i was trying too hard, it just felt nice to be a bit more involved. My Dh was able to get on with other bits without his shadow and the atmosphere was just more fun and relaxed. Its just a choice that i think Step parents have to make, either suck it up and make the best of it, or seeth with resentment and jealousy. For my sanity and my marriage i have chosen the former.
Little chance of fudging bedtimes once DC's can tell the time. It's why I almost regret teaching them to tell the time...
To say about reasonable bedtimes for a 13yo - my DD has gone to bed at 10pm on a school night and 11pm weekends and holidays since 13yo.
It does take some adjustment to losing your childfree nights, especially if you have the more unusual teenager that doesn't like to be alone in their room, like mine, and obviously your DSD.
She obviously enjoys spending time with her dad, and wants to maximise every minute she is allowed to spend with him. Probably stems from insecurities caused by her mother stopping contact when she was little - so it's not her fault, it's her mothers fault! In a short year or two, her social life will curb this.
Then you'll have different worries...
The risk of a SM spending one-to-one time with a DSC is that the DC will begin to experience conflicts of loyalty as they begin to enjoy and appreciate time with a woman who, in many cases, they know that their mum tolerates, and in a few cases, their mum openly criticised and bad mouths.
A SM can only safely bond with their DSC if the relationship is supported by both parents. A lot of mums, and some posters on this thread, are of the opinion that a DCs time with their NRP is just that and a SM is stealing time from the child. In that situation, any effort on the part of the SM to improve the relationship between themselves and their DSC by spending one-2-one time will cause the DC additional anxiety
Thing is though, although teen bedtimes are often disagreed on in "together" couples, parents who have equal status in the house as they are both the parent can openly argue, disagree, negotiate and compromise without fear of being judged as cruel and unkind because the other parent will always know that no matter what is said, they don't mean anything by it and are just feeling a bit suffocated and in need of some adult time. How many of us have said "Arghhh I can't wait until bedtime, they've been soooo high maintenance today! Let's move the clocks forward!" about our own children!?
But when you are a step parent, you live in fear of voicing these feelings to your partner and feel sidelined and undervalued in your home. I think that it is particularly hard for a women, who usually has a certain status in a household when she is the mother to the children that she doesn't have as a step mother.
I can relate to some of what you are saying. My DSS is 7, and I have no children of my own so I am discovering a lot about children and parenting via being a stepmother. I harbour some resentment -not towards DSS but towards the situation - that DP and I have never been able to have the "young and carefree" stage in our relationship of romantic holidays, deciding where we want to live, dreaming of taking off and travelling the world etc...So I have struggled, and continue to, with being a step-parent even though I know I have it easy compared to many.
Some things that have helped me:
- Acknowledging to myself that sometimes I am (internally) judging DSS's bouts of misbehaviour or annoyingness by criteria that are just too harsh. Rationally I can justify to myself why he shouldn't be behaving like that and it's not fair to the rest of us etc etc...but ultimately when I take a few deep breaths I force myself to admit that he is a child, not a perfect being, and its par for the course that sometimes he is annoying etc. DO NOT DWELL on how annoyed you feel (unless you have a really good reason), try to move on and distract yourself. If the only real problems you have with DSD are that she goes to bed too late and follows your DH around...maybe you should count yourself lucky!
- Making more of an effort. It's easy for me to avoid one-on-one time with DSS because essentially he comes here for his relationship with his dad, not me. But I find that I actually feel much better in myself and feel much more affection for him when I make an effort to do something with him on a one-on-one basis every weekend, even just playing a board game or baking something together. And to talk with him and find reasons to give him praise, because he can be really sweet and funny. You don't get anything out if you don't put anything in, even if putting in doesn't feel like what you want to do sometimes...
- Talk to your DH in a non-confrontational way. Don't accuse your DSD of anything, just focus on explaining how you feel sometimes while she is here. In your case, maybe you need to suggest safeguarding just a little bit of time each weekend for you and your DH, like could you say how much better you'd feel if she went to bed earlier on one night out of the two you have her, and you made a point of setting up some proper quality time with your DH like a film, cuddles, nice wine and chocolates, or a late dinner with candles etc. It's less "petty" to say you need time like that to do something properly adult and romantic than just say "I don't want her around while I'm watching TV"
I hope things get a bit better for you, good luck!
Do things alone with her-making a friend of her, for her own sake will make life much easier.
There's a thread on teenagers about bedtimes and lots of disagreement between natural parents, so it's not just a step issue and there is no right or wrong.
Your SD is only with you alternate weekends, not every night, not even every weekend! Let her have that time with her Dad. Your DH could set it that he goes to bed at ten or half ten regardless, and that that is when she goes to bed too.
I was a SM for 9 years and genuinely enjoyed having the 2 boys round, I liked to see them bonding with their dad. Are you really so jealous and insecure you can't let her spend those alternate weekend evenings with him?
You admit you could make more effort with her. Why not think about making sure you have asked her an open question once a day when she is with you, paid her a compliment once a day when she is with you, that kind of thing.
On the bedtime thing I have no idea there as my Step daughter stays up as late as she pleases, often way past 12/1 o'clock
I take myself off up to bed at about 10pm and DH joins me after not too long. I can understand her wanting to stay up and spend time with him and him her if it's only alternate weekends, particularly if he missed out on a few years. Is more contact out of the question? It's probably the last thing you want but if they had more time together then it might be more natural rather than the following around...
I have felt the way that you do often. But now DSD never comes here (long story) and I really miss the little girl that I grew to love.
Do you have anything in common with her at all?
I don't have TVs in the bedroom. The useful part is that they start going out and you get the evening back-you just have to lie awake waiting for them to get in.
There are ways though - I send both mine up at 9pm to chill in their room, that way they're not being sent to bed early but we still get a bit of an evening. I think it's imperative to get some time alone with your partner - and I know for definite that I wasn't allowed to sit downstairs until really late with my mum and dad for exactly that reason. That's what a tv in the bedroom is for.
To my mind, children have too much control. They think they run the house and make the rules - they do not
I wouldn't feel awful, having some adult time is an important part of a relationship, however unless your DP is willing to change this it seems you are stuck between a rock and a hard place. You can do as much as you can with her but when evening comes and it's her time for bed why shouldn't you have your time with your husband. All parents are entitled to some time alone.
Can you maybe talk to your husband about how you're feeling before the resentment builds up?
As your DCs get older you don't have an evening- the downside is that you have an older child and are experiencing it earlier - the upside is that it isn't every night.
Another one who doesn't like kids hanging around all evening. When dsd's tv broke in her room, we offered to buy them another one. they were both adamant they didn't want one, they never watched tv and preferred to read apparently. Made it quite clear that tv is for losers etc. Were very adamant about it.
So what happens now? They sit in the front room criticising whatever we are watching, talking loudly so no one can hear the tv and generally being a pain in the arse.
It is true they don't watch tv until its time to for them to go to bed, then they come in and interrupt "our" time.
Dp thinks they're being sociable and as we haven't seem them all evening, we should encourage them to sit with us. Sigh!
OP after reading your post, im wondering if this is the cause for your resentment...
When you met your partner, it was like he was basically childless. You had children of your own, you then had your own little close knit family.
Then his daughter came back on the scene and reminded you that he had a previous life before you and his daughter being a regular visitor ar yours has made you feel like she has invaded your life.
You find it irriating that she wants to be around your DP, you feel resentful that she wants to be near you partner when she isnt one of your own children.
If this is true, im just guessing here, then i think its normal to feel like this.
You cant help the way you feel, But i think its how you deal with your feelings that count.
i don't like my steps staying up til 11.30pm, after I have gone to bed. Nor do i like my DD doing it.
To keep the peace DH/ Disney Dad put in a second sky subscription so now I can sit up in my bedroom and watch adult themed programmes. I don't feel the need to spend quality time with DH I just want to watch Dexter for example which is not ok for under 16yr olds.
I have a 14 year old dd, and an 11 year old dsd - luckily I have been through a lot of it with my own, but my dsd is just starting the teenager thing... it is hard - and much harder with a step because you're not sure of the boundaries that the bm puts in place
Join the discussion
Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Register now
Already registered with Mumsnet? Log in to leave your comment or alternatively, sign in with Facebook or Google.
Please login first.