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My step daughters despise me

(35 Posts)
CountryGal13 Thu 18-Jul-13 08:25:19

Hi all, I have two step daughters 16 + 12 who atm can't even bare to look at me and I don't know what to do. We also have a young baby together.

We have them a couple of times a week and although I wouldn't say we've ever been close we'll always make polite conversation with each other when they visit.

Out of the blue last week there mum said that they won't be coming to stay anymore and my husband would have to see them alone. We were really shocked but the children wouldn't speak to him, instead the eldest text to say that 'we have the perfect family and they're just in the way' ect. Lots of what she said was directed at me so I replied so I could clarify some of the things I'd been accused of and to reassure them that I really did want them here. I said that I also feel pushed out at times and that I thought we could all make more of an effort and may be do more things as a family.

They came to stay for the first time since the messages last night and it was awful. I said hello and was ignored and the eldest walked staight to her room. I tried to make conversation with the youngest but she would only answer my questions and no more. I went out for an hour and when I returned they were both chatting away with their dad, and then shortly after I got back the eldest asked him to take her home.

I can't understand I they have gone from chatting to me one week to hating me and not wanting to see me the next. I understand that they're jealous of the new baby ect but this feels so personal and I don't know what to do. I honestly do think that there mum has been fueling the fire as the wording in the messages didn't sound like they were coming from a teenage girl. I feel like they've been brainwashed and there's nothing I can do about it.

Anyway, this morning I'm in bits. I feel angry with my husband (no sure why) and I'm worried for my marriage and my babies future. I feel like there going to drive a wedge through my 'perfect family'. I actually feel physically sick at the thought of their next visit.

Please can anyone offer any advice or is anyone in a similar situation? Please don't have a go at me though, I've come here because I'm desperate.

Helpforthehopeless Tue 30-Jul-13 21:54:52

Countrygal, I sympathise with you too. My dsd lives with my dp full time (we live separately, neither of us has a big enough property for us to live together as I have 3 ds's). She thinks nothing of telling us to be quiet if we talk while she is watching tv! He immediately stops talking, I sit and fume! Reading these posts, I think the next time she does it I should tell her myself not to be so rude. I've not done this before as I know he will make me wrong for telling her off. She's 17, and a complete diva!

Eliza22 Mon 22-Jul-13 13:01:13

I too let far too much "go". When, 2 years in, I spoke up for myself, the ensuing boycott of our home, my son, me and to some extent DH, seemed so unjust. It was like I was expected to just swallow this crap being thrown at me. I wanted to keep the peace/not rock the boat/cause estrangement so did as much as I could to keep getting back to normality or certainly, civility. It didn't work. I was hung for a sheep....then strung up again, as a lamb!

I'd say, try subtle and then get firm in a subtle way. They do need to be aware that just because you're married to their dad doesn't mean they can treat you badly. I would say that I was often singled out for treatment which, had SD given it to a stranger, she'd have been told to go away and come back when she could display some basic manners and human kindness.

I did change my reconciliation tactics, however. I ceased to send messages via her elder sister (lovely young woman) that we can all rub along/play nice. I didn't send any more cards saying "lets just wipe the slate clean and be ok with it..... Because I'm sure we've just got off to a poor start". No. No more of that. SD is a spoilt young woman who has been mollycoddled to the point where she cannot comprehend anyone else's needs, other than her own and I do not want her within 50 yards of me.

Sorry, not much help, am I?

NanaNina Mon 22-Jul-13 11:43:15

I think this would be "playing into their hands" - they would know you were upset by them and give them more power (so to speak) Yes it's a pity that it has got to this stage, and the trouble is dynamics tend to get stuck in concrete, but you can develop new ways of behaving (in most things in life) if you need to. My DP has a saying (not in r/ship to SPing) but if someone doesn't respond (usually one of the grandchildren) he says "no answer was the stern reply" so you could try that and say it as if you are talking to yourself. I honestly think the more these girls know they are "getting to you" then worse things will be.

Change the script........(life is like a play sometimes) and we play out our roles (even though we don't know we are doing it) Rows between me and DP definitely have a script - Act 1 (scene 1) is shouting at each other (Scene 2) I depart to my bedroom (scene 3 - DP comes up to say sorry, but he's not ready to say sorry really and I am not ready to accept) so (Scene 4) can be further uproar. Act 2 is usually when we make things up.

If you change the script (just in small ways at first) the other person will be confused because they will be expecting you to do what you've always done. These aren't conscious thoughts of course. Try it out in a small way with DP and see what happens; practice on him (or someone else) and then you can use it with the girls. I'll give you an example my DP hates losing something and gets irrationally agitated and begins to look under cushions and charge about the house. I always used to start looking with him, but then I decided not to, and the next time it happened I just sat reading the paper (well pretending too) and he was totally confused and kept coming in the room and saying "I've lost my car keys" - and I said "Yes I know" - it worked! Now he doesn't make such a fuss about losing something. Maybe think of this one "If you do what you always do, you'll get what you always got."

Hope this makes some kind of sense.

brdgrl Mon 22-Jul-13 09:46:59

Would it be a terrible idea if I spoke up and said 'I just said hello to you so please don't ignore me'??
I don't think this is a terrible idea. I wish I'd been more assertive in the early days of my relationship with DH, when it came to insisting on the DSCs speaking respectfully to me, treating my things with respect, respecting my privacy...I let it slide too often, or spoke too hesitantly. I let them speak and act in ways I would not have let other kids I was related to or responsible for, and that was a mistake.

LJL69 Sun 21-Jul-13 13:32:15

I cannot add much as it all has been said already. I am a step mum (children now 21/19/15)
Try reframing maybe. I used this a lot when I was teaching and it got me through tricky days. in class it would be looking at the kids that were disruptive on bad days and I would reframe them in my mind as "super enthusiastic" - just to get me through the day
In this case you could reframe the not wanting to spend time with you as your idea. So you sit them down with DP and say " I am knackered and could really do with some help. I am going to head upstairs for a bath and a read - can you look after baby for me for an hour?" This sounds really simplistic I know. Try to keep the thought in your head that this is YOU asking them. You will need to be armour plated to start with I suspect. Then another day YOU say " if you wouldnt mind folks I could really do with some quiet time today. I dont want to restrict your choices so will keep baby with me but can you girls and DP take yourselves off for a day out so I can get some chores done etc?" That way your are taking the choice away from them and its now your idea not them using it to cut you out.
I know this will need to be modified to suit you and they may not make it easy for you but worth a try?

daisychain01 Sat 20-Jul-13 16:04:30

I feel sadness and empathy all at the same time about what I am reading with this post. I have been a DSD myself, and I have been a DSM so I have, like many others, got the benefit of seeing it from two perspectives. yes it is a minefield of emotions.

I had a somewhat unsettled childhood and becoming a DSD was confusing and traumatic for me. I did not trust my DSM at the time we were a "family". I thought she only cared about her children. but I was so wrong and my negative vibe was the blocker that prevented us from having a loving relationship. I know I behaved badly and feel lucky to have had a chance to repair and build the relationship with my DSM. If only I could tell these DSCs "PLEASE just give the relationship a chance with your DSM" as I could have so easily never realised what a beautiful person my DSM is. Thats because I "met her half way" so to speak when I was an adult and appreciated her as a human being. Some years ago, when I lost my DH, and she gave me so much support, I realised she was my best friend.

One thing that I do remember thinking was that I was going to be so horrible to her, push her away and hate her (just for being there!) to see what she would do. She was far more tolerant that I EVER deserved!!

I hope you dont mind me sharing my story but I wanted to use it to show that, even when there is nothing, no love, no feelings, all hope is not lost. It is just so hard to see through it when you are in the thick of it, and feeling the negative vibes But my DSM never gave up hope and I think she maybe believed that underneath my obnoxiousness as a young confused person, there was something worth fighting for.

CountryGal - Maybe recast your belief that your DSDs despise you and think of it instead that its not you they despise, its the situation. I remember feeling powerless, out of control and unable to have any choice in the matter. That should NOT excuse their poor behaviour ( as I dont try to excuse my sulkiness and tantrums that I had) but it may explain it.

So sorry for your upset. {{hugs}}

ratbagcatbag Sat 20-Jul-13 15:45:02

How did the meal go last night?

Hope it went ok and the youngest was civil to you. smile

NanaNina Sat 20-Jul-13 15:27:29

Well you know what they say Eliza you have to experienced SPing at first hand to understand the tensions that are so often involved. At least you have a good r/ship with eldest SD and SS, and they are all adults which makes a lot of difference.

I just noticed in one of your posts CG that you mention that you are scared to speak to your SD. Are you quite a reserved person, or is it just this SD that makes you feel like this. The thing is kids are like dogs, they can tell who is scared of them, and this gives them more power over you. Somehow you have to learn to act and cover up that fear.........just say Hi Cattymadam (or whatever her name is!) and just carry on with what you're doing. I don't think you should make any attempt to try to make conversation with her (or her sister) and if you feel the atmosphere is too tense how about something like "Hmmm I don't like the atmosphere in here so my and baby are going upstairs to play/nap" or "I don't like the atmosphere here so I am going to my mums" but I think the first option is the best because SD will probably like the fact that you have been "driven away" - might be interesting though as if you do this and obviously take baby with you she might be less interested in chatting to her dad for a few hours.

I know these kids are confused and angry and all the rest of it but I also know how bloody difficult it is to like them. I think it's called being human!

Eliza22 Sat 20-Jul-13 15:00:02

Hello NanaNina, good to see you back. Your posts are always so "on the money", as you have clearly been there.

Nothing has changed for me, two years on. I am still the social pariah I ever was. It must have been awful, years ago with little support and no forums to vent in.


NanaNina Sat 20-Jul-13 13:21:34

Oh gawd me too - been there, done that, many years of upset and misery, rows between me and DP and a step-daughter. Thank god she is now grown and making a big mess of her life. That's a long story but I won't go into it here.

I have 2 sons, 1 from first marriage (who is the same age as SD) and 1 with DP who is 6 years younger than them. I exactly what you mean about the atmosphere, and I tiptoed around her because DP said things like "It's all right for you, you have X with you all the time but I only see S at weekends" - I think they're called Disney Dads these days which makes me smile as it is such an apt description. Incidentally I am going back over 40 years and there were no books about step parenting then but I had a friend who I could confide in. SD ruined so many family holidays and I couldn't stand her, and I suppose she realised this and it was awful.

Yes Countrygirl your DP should take this issue more seriously but the chances of him doing that are remote, and of course he won't want to upset his daughters. To be honest I think it is unusual for a 16 year old to still be having regular contact as at that age they usually are more interested in their own friends and activities. You might find that when the younger one is on her own she is better behaved. I think the trouble is that girls tend to see the new partner as the other woman who has stolen their dad from them, and if it wasn't for her he would still be at home with them.

I really can see your dilemma. I don't really know what to say but tiptoeing around my SD was not the right thing to do. Yes you could say "I just said hello..." maybe you could feign humour and say " there anyone there" looking at her in a "light-hearted way" and I appreciate you will have to be a good actress to do this. I know people are saying don't leave your home but I don't think you should be subjected to this tension on a regular basis. I think maybe going to your mum's with the baby isn't a bad idea. If there are no younger children, I usually advise SMs with this problem to just take themselves out (see a friend/shopping) or reading/watching TV in their bedroom. Does your mum live near enough to you to make this possible?

You shouldn't feel "awful" or "guilty" about any of this. It is the nature of the beast I'm afraid. Step parenting is not natural - animals don't do it, and the male lion will kill the lion cubs of a lioness with whom he wants to mate to ensure the continuation of his gene pool.

Not advocating this for step parents of course!!

Huge empathy to you and remember these girls will grow up, one is already well on the way and once they become independent teenagers I think you will find that they will not want to spend so much time with their dad.

FrauMoose Fri 19-Jul-13 16:02:31

I think there are difficulties for remarried fathers in balancing their love for their children from an earlier relationship, their insecurity about losing these children - and their love for a new wife and child.

If fathers are by nature quiet and dislike overt conflict that can add to the difficulties. Perhaps one of the things that the OP and her partner might want to think about is that although it is lovely if the children we look after love us, that is not ultimately what we are there for. We are there to communicate values and set secure boundaries in a postive way to enable children to grow up into healthy, fully functioning members of society. It's a long term game. Sometimes it is necessary - however painful it feels - to tell children things that they do not wish to hear, to say no to them, even if the short-term consequences of this might be difficult. (And loving one's stepchildren is optional not compulsory. Again it's about modelling good caring behavious.)

Interestingchanges Fri 19-Jul-13 15:40:46

Don't feel sorry for your dh, after all, he raised them.
You've got a baby to look after, surely he can manage to straighten out his own 2 girls?

CountryGal13 Fri 19-Jul-13 13:06:46

FrauMoose - I'm literally not strong enough to read a book like that! I've just read a post on here from a lady who was a step child who was unwanted by her step mother and how it damaged her massively and it's made me feel awful. But I can't make myself want them, especially when the house is such a miserable place when they're here. I wish i had a stronger character where I could show unconditional love even when it's not reciprocated. I really feel like the only way I could make these kids happy would be to take our baby and leave my husband but that is NOT going to happen! However, I don't take fun in causing irreparable emotional damage to them either.

Interestingchanges - I know you've been through hell with it all but it's just so reassuring to hear that things have improved. I'm kinda regreting admitting to them that they make me feel pushed out too. I thought it might help for us to empathise with each other a bit but may be I shouldn't show them my weaknesses. Humm...

I feel pretty sorry for my husband - No he shouldn't let them walk in without even acknowledging me and ignore me when I say hi but if I speak to them directly and they reply, then I can't see what more he can do. I know they only answer because they have to but we can't really force them to like me or want to make conversation with me. It's a horrible situation for him too and hé won't want to push them away further or cement their belief that he only care about me and not them. He's also a very quiet and laidback person so this is all very unnatural for him and he just wants everyone to get along with no drama.

Would it be a terrible idea if I spoke up and said 'I just said hello to you so please don't ignore me'?? This is a problem that needs to be addressed and I've told him that because, not only is it incredibly rude, but it starts the visit on such a bad note and I immediately feel defensive.

Eliza22 - I sympathise with you so much! She's obviously very jealous of you and your lovely relationship. At her age, without knowing all the facts, she needs to stop being so selfish and be pleased that her dad has found someone he can be happy with. I know exactly how you feel about dreading seeing her - I feel like the angel of death has entered my house, she's completely unapproachable and I'm scared to even attempt to speak to her.

Sorry for the essay! I did warn you that I have no one to talk to ;) x

Interestingchanges Fri 19-Jul-13 11:30:22

Country gal, sorry to give wrong impression: I cried bitterly, alone, and smiled through gritted teeth for years so dsc couldn't see they were hurting me. That's kind of important, they should not feel they have any power over you, eg to make you feel bad.

My dh also loved the excuse to not take it personally. You're a person aren't you, of course you'll take it personally. Your dh, like mine, needs to man up and protect you from their nastiness. Would he allow them to treat his mother like this?

Probably, like my dh, its a combination of cowardice and laziness not pulling them up on rudeness. I just had enough one day and insisted on my needs being met too, as an equal member of the family. Dh has to support me as part of the parent team and may I say it works!

All kids profit tremendously from a strong parental front. The differences it caused in dsc behaviour were practically optically measurable.
And yes, the photos were perhaps somewhat awkward at first but I convinced them that it was a good idea and now they love putting forward ideas for the next months...

Eliza22 Fri 19-Jul-13 11:20:32

Oh dear, you sound so like me. Walking on eggshells, trying so hard. Staying out of the way to avoid discomfort all round. In my personal experience, I too found that I became the scapegoat and that when SD was cross with dad for something, over time, she ceased to be and it was all down to the malign influence I had on him. Her rationale being "dad wouldn't mind that, it's because of her/she's perfect/she can't do anything wrong/her and her son are sooo precious". It's like school yard bullying, only I'm 50 and she's 19.

It upsets me terribly. I have reached the stage where even the thought of spending time with her gives me palpitations. Literally. I will do pretty much anything to avoid bumping I to her.

I think you need to get the point across that you are NOT imagining it. It IS directed at you and as you say, your DH and his daughter will always have the unconditional bond and that's a thing you don't have.

FrauMoose Fri 19-Jul-13 10:30:41

A book that I found helpful was one by the young people's writer Anne Fine called 'Step by Wicked Step'. It's a series of stories about parental break-up and remarriage told from the child's perspective. (This was written after some children said that her earlier book 'Goggle Eyes' in which problems were happily resolved didn't fit their own experiences.)

CountryGal13 Fri 19-Jul-13 10:17:01

I felt so upset yesterday and spoke to my husband about it when he got home - he seems to think I'm taking it all too personally and that they were really 'off' with him too. He thinks it's his fault because he's not spending quality time with them even when they're here. I've tried to make him understand that they'll always forgive him if he just talks to them about it and change things but it doesn't work like that for me, they'll blame me for everything they feel he's done wrong, they won't forgive and forget easily and they'll hate me for it.

So glad I've found this group! I've had some amazing advice from you all. I really feel like I've got no one to talk to as I don't really know any other step mums with step teens. Btw, I wasn't the ow either.

Interestingchanges - I really do appreciate your advice as you've been there and got the t-shirt. You talk about all the fun memories you have - we have none. I suppose because I feel rejected I feel like it's better for everyone if I go off and do my own thing. At the moment, awful as it sounds, don't feel like a could stand to spend a day out with them because I feel so uncomfortable and I know they'll hate me being there. It's such an awful situation atm. We're off out for a meal with the youngest tonight and I'm dreading the awkwardness. She'll just be friendly with her dad and really cold with me but I'll try and make conversation and see how we go...

Eliza22 Fri 19-Jul-13 09:09:24

Interestingchanges that's such a lovely idea.

I always encouraged steps to spend time, with their dad, alone. It's importent. It still all back-fired on me. I believe it was mostly dh's ex wife who was the problem. Her affair didn't work out (the man never left his wife and kids) and she was a long time on her own and apparently, full of regret. She was very disturbed when she found out her ex (my DH) had remarried.

Interestingchanges Fri 19-Jul-13 08:00:16

Ps, I needed 4 years to get where I am today, my role in dsc lives is still a bit vague but the amount of pleasantness, trust, respect and fun have increased slowly and now definitely outweigh any resentment at not being able to bring parents back together (wasn't ow, but am married to their dad).
Every book and every counselor will tell you unequivocally that you and your partner need to be a team, so strong that dsc can "lean" on you, learn what a good relationship is about etc.
One on one time is good, of course, but ideally should be dad taking an interest in a hobby, say, and taking one dd there or helping the other dd with a school subject, whatever. Just that it really is special "dad cares for me personally" stuff for each, and not time spent reminiscing how wonderful life used to be (I.e. before HER!). Nothing good comes of that.
Learn to create new memories, we started a kiddie calendar with a photo a month of our kids in always different combinations doing stuff at our place/ birthdays/ holidays together, and after 4 years there is a lot to look back on!

Eliza22 Thu 18-Jul-13 19:02:05

Unless you've done something heinous (which I doubt) then really it's for them to sort out. There is no way you should be trying to stay out of the way! It's you're home too. You have a young baby. They sound as though they object to you, your child, their dad being with you and basically, your drawing breath.

Don't make a rod for your own back. They should be able to spend time with dad alone. That's fine but ignoring you? In your home? Dreadful.

CountryGal13 Thu 18-Jul-13 17:49:17

Thanks everyone for all your advice. I used to go out doing my own thing when they were here. When I was pregnant I'd spend a lot of time in my room reading so they did get to spend more time alone with him. Since baby's been here I've been in the front room with them much more as I'm breast feeding and don't like to leave lo.

Yeh, I think I'll tell DH to take them out on their own, at least I don't have to feel uncomfortable then. It's not practical for him to do this all the time though so sure they'll still be coming here as well x

lunar1 Thu 18-Jul-13 16:45:31

How much time do they get with their dad without you?

brdgrl Thu 18-Jul-13 13:54:01

Another vote for the Stepcoupling book. It's very good.

Don't tolerate disrespect of your home or your person. They don't have to like you. They do have to treat you with respect and yes, they do have to speak to you in your own home. Your DH needs to make it clear - if they can't manage to feel respect, then they need to learn to fake it.

StepMonster2013 Thu 18-Jul-13 13:53:56

It's not just you - and it's not DSDs, DSS are equally wonderful. I keep reminding myself that teenagers are irrational and selfish, but I also feel that there's a minimum level of respect that they have to show. Really tricky balance :-S

juneau Thu 18-Jul-13 13:03:02

P.S. Also try to remember that teenagers are not rational or reasonable - they're selfish and tantrum-prone and they are literally incapable of adult-level rational thought. You need to be the bigger person here, but there is no reason why you should be disrespected or feel unwelcome in your own home.

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