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so I read "Stepmonster" and totally get it, but now what?

(26 Posts)
humptydidit Fri 26-Oct-12 17:46:47

After a horrendous few months with (d)sd, age 15, I came on mn and found recommendation for Stepmonster book. I got it and have read it and was shocked by how true and accurate it was, even to the point that Dsd re-enacted one of the scenarios in it within days!!!

But my question is, now what? Dp is a total model disney dad, and after reading the book I can see why he does what he does but I feel so down about the whole thing.

Many of my friends with no step children cannot understand why I haven't told dp to man up or fuck off, but I can't. Because I love him, and I am clinging to the hope that slowly but surely he is changing and that in the end we can be one family.

But it 's so frustrating. For example, Dsd currently refuses to speak to me or see me or anything else. So dp says fine, he will still see me without her - we live in separate houses on same street. But in reality it's fine because he's off work at the moment and she's at school, but out of school hours, she is trying her best to stop it. She told him she is scared of the dark so can't be left home with dss after dark. If he does manage to get away, after hours of procrastinating on her part, she will then bombard him with calls and texts to make him feel guilty and go home. He has been very good at standing his ground, well much better than he was, but she is so manipulative and I can see that he feels totally torn.

I would appreciate some support, from others in the same boat, but if you honestly think there is no future, please tell me, but be gentle <watery smile>

Apologies for being so pathetic, but it's the way I feel today!

NotaDisneyMum Fri 26-Oct-12 18:17:06

I found that encouraging DP to read the book too was a bit of a watershed moment - he didn't like seeing the manipulation techniques that his DCs were using written down as such and became more determined to resist!

sudaname Fri 26-Oct-12 18:23:58

Ahh you poor thing - been there. It is so hard to love someone and yet feel such negative feelings towards their loved one(s) because of their behaviour. My SS has moved out now thank the Lord and all the saints but l still feel a sometimes all consuming resentment towards him. I hate it still when my DH even says anything nice about him , l feel like screaming at him 'BUT HE MADE MY LIFE HELL FOR YEARS AND SPOILED OUR RELATIONSHIP AND TRIED HIS BEST TO SPLIT US UP ,SO I'M NOT INTERESTED' angry.
But no - l have to smile sweetly and answer with mock enthusiasm about his latest successful job interview or whatever.
I know this probably isnt much help though. All l can say is you can either sit it out till she gets a boyfriend to distract her or moves out or wants to go to uni or whatever which could be anything from 2 to 5 plus years or do as l did and thwart her behaviour at every given opportunity as l did. Outwit her iows. Probably wont be a popular solution among some as my SS was in his 20s when l started using 'Play him at his own game' tactics and this girl is technically still a child. But meanwhile back in the real world , a girl of 15 today probably knows exactly what she is doing.
My 22yr old SS decided to sit between us on Valentines night to watch the film with us !! despite me having checked and his dad having checked with him that he had planned to go out and despite there being a candle and meal for two set etc etc earlier in the day.
But no - completely unannounced he decides he's staying in and asked his dad to 'shove up' and sat between us angry. This is an intelligent lad btw in case any are thinking he might not have realised or whatever - he knew exactly what he was doing and was always served with extreme PA behaviour - snidey smiles behind DHs back etc.
My revenge ? He was going to a game with his dad and he was really really looking forward to it - it was all l bloody heard about from him for weeks.
The night before l made sure l had a crisis and was suitably upset enough for DH to insist on staying with me the next day despite my fake protests.

He created the step monster after all. l just lived up to it. <shrugs>

sudaname Fri 26-Oct-12 18:29:22

Notadisneymum that's a good idea because they never see it themselves do they. My DH often makes glaringly ironic remarks about other peoples children taking the mickey out of their parents etc whatever and l'm sat there like this > shock confused

humptydidit Fri 26-Oct-12 19:22:27

thanks ladies... I actually read the book during a blissful weekend when dsd fucked off visited her mum, for the first time in months.

I read it and then we discussed lots of the ideas inside the book. And I read out parts of the chapter about "him", aka disney dad. We had a long discussion about it and he confessed that he is terrified that dsd will leave and go to live with her mum. We had a really long heart to heart about the whole thing. His ex-w is a right bitch and has really stuck the knife in. Even to the extent that she told dsd that dp is not actually her father and named another bloke. Deep down dp is frightened this is true but doesn't want to do DNA test because if he isn't her dad, dsd will be left with nothing as ex-w refuses to allow dsd to go and live with her. He is also insecure because he doesn't have parental resposibility for dsd, as they were not married when she was born. So we have researched getting parental responsibiltiy and have decided that as soon as he can afford it, he will go to solicitor, which made him feel better I think.

He also feels terribly guilty because when dsd is away with her mum, the whole atmosphere in the house changes, it is so calm, despite the quarrels of 4 other kids and the world feels a brighter place. Dp feels that be acknowledging his feelings of releif when she is away, that it means on some level he doesn't love her.

I feel despareatly sorry for him. In his heart, he is desparate for dsd to be happy and she is desparately unhappy and insecure. And I think he fails to see that by being more strict, he would not push her away, it will probably make her feel more secure.

today he broke my heart, we were talking about parenting styles and he said kids still go off the rails when parents are strict, I said it's true, but the trouble with dsd is that she is so rude to him. I said "nobody deserves to get treated like shit by anyone, even their own children" and he said "i'm used to it now". I thought this was terrible and I told him so and I said that was the part that upset me the most. He will stand up to dsd in lots of ways, puts his foot down about going out late, meeting friends, doing homework etc etc etc and will negotiate about other things, extra money in return for chores etc. But he doesn't pull her up about her attitude and general treatment of others. She thinks nothing of saying things like "I hope you drop dead, you fat c*nt" etc etc whcih I find shocking.

Perhaps that's the heart of it. dp's own sense of self worth is very low. His ex-w was basically abusive towards him and treated him like shit. To the extent, she never took the sanitary towel out of her knickers, he had to... dirty bitch. He loved her so much and couldn't see it.

One day after a hard long day at work, he came home and had a cup of tea and dinner in the oven ready and had run a bubble bath for him. He almost cried, saying nobody had ever done that for him... seriously wtf???/ He would do it for me, but never expected it in return.

Does that make him sound like a doormat to have accepted that treatment??? I don't think so. He is a real gentle giant, who would help anybody. i think maybe my task is to teach him that he does deserve respect from everybody.

Apologies for the major long rant... any ideas???

humptydidit Fri 26-Oct-12 19:24:07

I realise that I sound a bit preachy, but I came out of a 8 year relationship with an abusive man, and vowed never again. And any hint of abuse in particular emotional abuse just makes my blood boil sad

sudaname Fri 26-Oct-12 19:43:04

She sounds lovely. l wouldnt tolerate her speaking like that to him in your house or your presence though. l would pull her on it when it's within your earshot every single time. When you get the 'It's none of your business ' routine l would simply say 'It is my business, l love your dad very much and will not stand by and hear him being spoken to like that' (ilk). I know it's no good trying to be a parent to stepchildren but there is nothing wrong with being an assertive adult whom they might think twice about misbehaving around too much.

It is good that you have spoken and he is starting at least a little bit to 'get it'. That will make it harder for SD to use these manipulative techniques.

Also detach as much as possible, although you needed to have this talk you've just had, in every day life l for example cut my DH short or quickly change the subject or show complete disinterest when SS comes up in conversation. Gradually he has 'got' that l am not interested and rarely brings him up now. My thinking behind this particular coping mechanism is that he spoilt enough of our time when we were all together and arguing etc, so when he isnt here l keep him out of our 'air space' as a couple as much as poss. Or you are basically letting the stepchild spoil things even in their absence. You could do this quite effectively as you live seperately , l could only do it when SS went out when he lived here, but it does help.

sudaname Fri 26-Oct-12 19:45:23

First sentence was sarcasm obviously !!

humptydidit Fri 26-Oct-12 22:16:09

sudaname I agree whole heartedly with what you're saying.

It did make me laugh tho, because I read out the example in the stepmonster book about a teenager spoiling a birthday party by not turning up and then getting moaned at by the parents and winding up the stepmum etc etc, which made the party focus shift to them instead of the actual birthday girl.
Me and dp discussed this at length and the tips suggested to deal with it and then literally 2 days later it was dp's birthday and I organised a cake and candles etc at my house and dsd refused to come. We totally ignored her and she made a real show of herself, and she felt a prat I think. So it did prove the book was right and I think might have spurred dp into believing some of the rest of it!
He knows how close to breaking point I am over this and he has made a stand, but in my book I just want more. I see people on here saying you need to negotiate house rules etc etc to make a happy family. But I'm just not willing to budge on mine. My rules which I have only had to pin up on the wall since dsd came on the scene are all non-negotiable. Things like, be kind, aka, don't hurt people. Be polite, aka, don'[t swear. I'm simply not willing to back down on any of these. So it feels like dp has such a lot of ground to make up to "get with the programme"!
He is trying to edge his way out of it by saying that in a couple of years she will have moved out etc, but I pulled him up on it saying that she will still be doing the same thing even if she doesn't live with us. And I also said that it's not fair that me and dp put our lives on hold till she fucks off moves out.
For example, if we wanted to have a baby together, which I know he would love. I want to live together first and settle all kids down, and then get pregnant etc etc.. If I have to wait till dsd has left home, I can't even get started on that for another 3 years so I can't have a baby for another 5 years, now that's a long long time to wait and I don't think it's fair on any of us, just because it doesn't suit her.

But I@m glad I didn't get told to ditch him, thanks for that!

humptydidit Fri 26-Oct-12 22:27:15

Also sudaname I agree with you totally, but doesn't it seem sad that we would even consider having to play these kids at their own game, just because they feel so entitled to behave that way in the first place?

Tonight, Dss is staying the night here with me. And probably tomorrow night too. (dss and dsd live with dp full time so this is a rare occurance for dp to be missing a child!).

dp rang me earlier, asking how was my evening etc. I said it's all lovely, been chatting on the phone to a friend, kids all playing happiily etc etc. Asked what he's up to, he's watching a film with dsd. He sounded miserable as sin. I just said, that sounds nice!

I hope that by showing him very clearly what his life coul.d be like done more my way, that he will also see what he has to gain by standing up to dsd. Not that my way is so amazing, but just by working as a team to sort out kids squabbles and by haivng a peaceful atmosphere and also a place where kids have space to play but adults have the right to their own space too, that actually everybody is alot happier than walking round on eggshells cos dsd is in a mood and sitting in the corner of the room making sure everybody feels as miserable as she does!

Eliza22 Fri 26-Oct-12 22:40:29

I have a new tactic that's working we'll for me but then, mine's 18 and just gone to uni. Hadn't seen her for 16 months prior to her leaving home. Despite her living 5 mins away, with her mum.

I flatly refuse to put myself (and my son) in the the firing line of her lies, manipulation and and snotty behavior. I tried. Very hard. It all got thrown back at me. No more.

And I understand when one poster says that having survived an abusive relationship in the past, she's not about to put herself in that position again. Me neither. She can basically piss off.

humptydidit Fri 26-Oct-12 22:44:11

eliza I'm totally with you, I am getting very close to that point.
But does it affect yr relationship with your dh? It would hurt me to think that my husband wanted nothing to do with my child due to their behaviour. I am in NO WAY condoning dsd's behaviour, jsut interested how her dad feels about the whole thing?

Eliza22 Fri 26-Oct-12 23:08:05

You know, he was there over the 5+ years of my meeting her and her being (naturally) unsure of me, through to her ignoring me a couple of years later. We'd literally sit in a room, I'd speak to her and she'd answer, looking at the floor or her dad. She wouldn't give me any eye contact and it made me feel awful. I battled with myself and felt so bad because she was only a teen but now, she's a young adult. Nothing's changed. She then moved on to outright resentment and screeching that she "wouldn't stay HERE, with HER (me)" and he tried to firstly ignore it and then "peacemake" as it were.

Dh knows that we dislike each other. However, he agrees that I couldn't have tried any harder and he is not proud of how his daughter has behaved. I should say, I treated his 3 the same though more allowances were made of his youngest.

He didn't see her for a long time. I worried myself into a frenzy about her coming back and treating me like shit and him, being so desperate to please, he'd support her, come what may. It hasn't happened. He sees her occasionally. I don't have to. And my life is so much easier.

I used the logical argument that, had she been anyone other than his daughter, I would early on, have had nothing to do with her. Walked away. Run.

I will do my utmost to avoid contact because she is a nasty young woman and would be delighted to see me gone. I won't risk being put into a position where, I might tell her exactly what I think of her.

humptydidit Fri 26-Oct-12 23:17:43

* I won't risk being put into a position where, I might tell her exactly what I think of her.*

Eliza, I know it's not funny, but that did make me smile, because it's so true!!

It's so hard, especially when you hear some interfering bastards well meaning types going on at you about how you're the adult and she's the child and you should get over yourself and realise she's the priority.... well I'm sorry, but I'm not buying it. I accept it's hard for her, but ultimately the majority of her behaviour is done to manipulate. She was already the master of this before I ever came on the scene. Trouble is, I won't tolerate it, and I have made that clear, and I think she is frightened on some levels, that dp will follow my lead and she will be out of luck.

But I think the time has come for me to accept her the way she is, and stay out of her way, and focus on the rest of the family!!

brdgrl Sat 27-Oct-12 11:01:18

humpty, I have been there. My DH had two kids when I met him, DSD was 13, and we went through all the same kind of thing. (BTW, he was a widower, so had the kids 24/7 like your DP.) DSD was/is a master manipulator. And my DH was/is very like your DP by the sound of it. My DH did everything for the kids (and had done everything for his first wife) and I really think suffered from a sort of low self esteem and low level depression, in that they treated him pretty horribly and he just took it, but his day-to-day life was not very nice as a result. Their household was lacking in any sort of boundaries or rules and the roles were completely topsy-turvy, which actually didn't make for a very nice life for any of them.

I was not willing to accept it, and before DD and I moved in with them (and then DH and I married), I insisted on some changes. DH and I have spent enormous amounts of time and energy working on these has been like another part-time job for me, I think! We are 4 1/2 years along now. Things are much, much better. In particular, things with regard to DSD have changed quite a bit. She has been made to change behaviours, and DH has been made to confront some things he'd been avoiding dealing with, frankly. She is so much happier, it is really apparent to everyone who knows her, and my own relationship with her is loads better than it used to be. That's not to say things are easy, or that we have it all sorted out, it is still a lot of work and we still have issues mainly around DH's lack of parenting and authority and the kids' lack of boundaries. The toll it has all taken on my relationship with DH is huge, but more than that, it has really affected my own state of mind, my relationships with other friends and family, my work, everything, even my physical health I think. I love my family, but it has been so hard even to get to this point.

So...I don't know if I mean this as words of warning or of encouragement. Maybe both. I will say that I think, based on my experience, you are right to approach it as you are. Start now as you mean to go on, and don't lose sight of what you need from your life and your relationships either.

brdgrl Sat 27-Oct-12 11:03:52

and yes yes to the walking on eggshells thing...astonishing the degree to which DSD's mood and sulks control everyone else's mood and behaviour!

humptydidit Sat 27-Oct-12 13:50:05

thanks brdgrl it just helps to hear somebody else who has been there and not demanded you just ditch him.

I see now that this is a long road. I want to support him very much, because like yr dh, he has little self esteem and self worth. But it's very hard to support somebody who never seems to take note of what you're saying and I can imagine that long term it must be quite demoralising and draining to put so much of your time and energy into resolving a situation when you aren't all working together. A bit like swimming with you clothes on. How to get the balance right, when you are the swimmer and yr dh is dragging you down because he won't work with you.

humptydidit Sat 27-Oct-12 23:19:31

lightbulb moment - well not quite

dp came over tonight, and was busy telling about this tv programme he had watched about worlds strictest parents. he got the bbc iplayer fired up and we watched it together.

He could totally see dsd in the girl on the show. And he sat and laughed at the pettiness and immaturity of her behaviour. I looked him in the eye and said "don't know what you're laughing at, you're going to be the dad in that show one day" He looked shocked. i think the reality is sinking in. He especially noticed the girls bad attitude and rudeness and total lack of respect. I said that was the worst part for me about dsd's behaviour because it is so rude. i think the ice is melting and he is starting to see the reality.

But god knows I'm not stupid enough to think this is it... dsd's reign of my relationship is over! But I am hopeful that it is a step in the right direction ... Please slap me if I am totally deluded!!!

UC Sun 28-Oct-12 16:30:55

Humpty, I saw that programme this week. DSS watches it every week. It is very very interesting! The girl this week was totally out of control. No boundaries whatsoever at home, her mum hadn't even made her go to school since she was 14. She thought she had over compensated for her divorce from the father by indulging her daughter, to the extent that she was rude, violent, drank too much very regularly, shouted at and abused her mother.

while it was on, I said to DSS and DS, who was also watching, that if they behaved like that towards me when they are in their teens, I will call the police. It was terrible.

Glad it's made your DH start to see the light!!

Kaluki Mon 29-Oct-12 11:11:56

Hi Humpty.
Even a small breakthrough is a breakthrough nonetheless.
If your DP is anything like mine, he knows deep down that his DD is a brat but he feels powerless to change things. Its fine for him to put up with her nasty manipulative ways but you don't (and shouldn't) have to!
I think a good way is to get them to see the dc through others eyes. My DP was horrified when I told him that our friends wanted to meet up when he didn't have his dc as their behaviour is so awful, or when I took my dc alone to a family BBQ as I am too ashamed of my DSC's behaviour to introduce them to my family.
Give him a harsh reality check. Make him watch programmes like Strictest Parents and Supernanny and point out that this is what HIS children are like.
Make him see that if his DD succeeds in splitting you up he will still have to put up with her behaviour on his own. I took my dc away and left him with his brats in the summer and he has admitted that it was the longest week of his life grin as he had to cope with their bad behaviour alone and it gave him a taste of what his life could become.
I feel for you - I hope it works out for you, but your DP is the only one who can change things.

brdgrl Wed 31-Oct-12 11:32:23

Agree with Kaluki. It was a real eye-opener to my DH when I started pointing out to him the ways in which other people were bothered by his kids' behaviours. There was one couple we were good friends with - this was before we were all living together BTW - after the DSCs made a typical scene at their house on one occasion, and DH failed to rein it in, the hostess told me privately that she didn't want them around any more, and wanted me to understand that it wasn't anything personal, but she wouldn't be inviting us over anymore. I told DH (which she was too embarrassed to do and didn't want me to do either) and once he actually grasped it (which was tough for him, honestly), he was mortified. But the thing is, that had happened a thousand times...he'd tell me about friends who had dropped him seemingly for no reason, and I'd know it was because he'd let the kids act up.
There were also all the comments by family - things he took as jokes, or 'no big deal', but which in my opinion were his family members trying to nicely call his attention to things that bothered them. Unfortunately, none of them would sit him down and give it to him straight. Eventually, I've gotten to the point where I point those out to him - because he really is oblivious sometimes.

humptydidit Wed 31-Oct-12 15:53:52

kaluki and brdgrl you are so right. There are several of my friends who realy dislike dsd and dss. In face one of my friends now makes a point of asking if dss will be there if she visits as she can't stand him and he is vile to her kids.
Dp and I also have a mutual friend who told me there are plenty of people who do'nt invite dp round to their houses or allow their kids to play with dss or dsd due to their behaviour. I don't think dp sees it at all.

Dp's parents tell him all the time to reign in dsd in particular. Dss is younger and more eager to please. He will respond if I tell him off. Well, he goes into a sulk which I can ignore, but he will listen and stop whatever he is doing.

Also my mum and sister have agreed to babysit for me so me and dp can go out, but they both refuse to be left alone with dss and dsd. Not because they can't handle them, but my mum says she will not be treated the way that they do by a bunch of kids!!

I think dp is slowly starting to get the message. It's just so frustrating to watch hiim in disney dad mode.
Not that I claim to know all the answers, but I do know, that laying down a few basic rules and enforcing them, will work wonders with dss and dsd.

Even more stupid is that dsd has gone to stay with her mum for a few days and dp is upset because he is actualy relieved that she isn't at home. It's almost like respite for him. He is torn between loving her and missing her, and being happy her attitude is out of the picture for a few days. When will he make the connection that it is him who has to sort it?
I told him yesterday that one day he will snap and lose his temper and then she will start to learn, he says he is very close to his limit, but I won't hold my breath!

Kaluki Wed 31-Oct-12 18:59:43

He needs to deal with it before he reaches his limit though. The last thing he wants to do is lose it with her as that wit improve things, it could make her worse.
Doesn't he see the adult she will turn into if things don't change? She will be a most unlikeable person and who on earth would want that for their child?

humptydidit Thu 01-Nov-12 00:50:33

kaluki you are so right.

Nobody Will like dsd unless she winds it in. She already has no.true friends which is actually very sad.

I actually think there Will be no change in her until he.does snap because she is so wrapped up in herself that she.Will only respond to a short sharp shock. God help her when he does blow cos its been a long time coming and it ain't gonna be pretty LOL.

theredhen Wed 05-Dec-12 15:16:40

Well I finally got round to ordering this book and am loving it! Wednesday Martin speaks so many truths. How enlightening to read that "20 percent of adult step children consider themselves to have a living relationship with their step mothers" so what about the other 80 percent?!shock

I am fascinated to learn how step mothers differ from step fathers and why our feelings of rejection are so much stronger.

It's so open and honest and enlightening. smile

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