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Step-mum issues with my 13 year old, what on earth do I do?

(104 Posts)
MaryRose Mon 07-Jul-14 10:53:47

My 13 year old is having real problems when visiting her dad and I don't know what to do!!! We have been divorced for 9 years and I generally get on ok with her Dad, but it just seems her step mum is causing all kinds of problems recently. It started a few months ago when my DD would tell me that her dad and step mum would take my younger DD (10) out shopping etc and leave her home for long periods on her own. To be fair older DD was always invited but she's at that age where she can be stubborn, however I felt they should sometimes ask her what she would like to do etc so she didn't feel left out. About this time she also started saying step mum always favoured my younger DD and was quite horrible to her. I arranged to meet her Dad for a coffee to talk it over, then the step mum told him he couldn't meet me and we would have to talk on the phone about it!!!!! Which we did. Things got better for a while but now they are getting worse again. DD texted me yesterday saying she wanted to come home as she was in trouble for keeping her phone in her room when she went to bed, and step mum had said she was causing trouble and they needed to have 'a long talk' when she got home from work. Fair enough DD had broken the rules but it seemed to be a bot over the top, I didn't see why they couldn't just say to her in the morning she shouldn't have done it and leave it at that rather than it building up to this big conversation about the fact that she had had her phone when she wasn't meant to. I called her dad and we had an amicable chat, he subsequently spoke to her about the phone whilst step mum was out, laid down the rules firmly but fairly and all seemed to be fine, we discussed the issues with her feeling left out and he came up with sensible ideas such as a rota of choosing what the girls do etc.

Then DD comes home from dad's in tears yesterday. It seems step mum was not satisfied with how dad had dealt with the phone issue and when she got home from work really ripped into DD over dinner, telling her she had had six years of her and was sick of her, that her and her dad are on the point of splitting up over her, that she was going to call me and tell me what she thinks of my daughter (I wish she had, I would have welcomed that call) and all kinds of other horrible stuff. Clearly she was cross that my X and I had spoken on the phone and sorted it out amicably. Feel so sorry for DD she is being put in the middle of what are obviously issues in their relationship. I know my D is 13 and by definition not always easy but this seems to border on emotional abuse to me, particularly saying that they will split up because of her, she only goes every other weekend for heaven's sake! The thing is, when there are difficulties, I can talk to her dad, who is generally really reasonable, he then talks to DD in a reasonable manner and all seems fine then step mum comes in and throws her weight around for no apparent reason!!! I know it is difficult being a step parent but I have a step daughter myself and would never dream of saying things like this to her. DD now says she doesn't want to go to her dad's anymore and I don't blame her, but I don't see why this woman should ruin my daughter's relationship with her dad. Help?????

PeterParkerSays Mon 07-Jul-14 11:06:44

" she had had six years of her and was sick of her, that her and her dad are on the point of splitting up over her"

Please keep your DD away from this woman. What a poisonous thing to have said.

Contact your ex, tell him that he can meet your DD in a neutral space, but that she is not going to him house.

alwaystryingtobeafriend Mon 07-Jul-14 11:09:48

I agree what a horrible woman- does he really want her around his kids with an attitude like that? Did DP hear her day this? If I said that I'd be out the door!!

I love my DPs kids and would be gutted if they went home upset because of something I had said or done. I could never say or do anything that would upset them that much and is expect if I did that their mum would tell DP or I.

Hope you can sort it out - what a horrible position to be in.


MaryRose Mon 07-Jul-14 11:11:30

Thank you PeterParkerSays. I have suggested to DD that perhaps her and her Dad could arrange a regular tea out away from the house. Awkward thing is, my girls are meant to be with them for 10 days in summer hols, visiting grandparents down South. If it is just their dad taking them it will be great for DD but if step mum is going am reluctant for her to go, but she will want to see her grandparents and cousins.

Boomeranggirl Mon 07-Jul-14 11:11:42

I think there's probably a lot more to this than you are being told. Your daughter might only be giving you a very edited version of what happened and at 13 could be testing the boundaries to see what she can get away with. So far she has got you involved because she was invited on a shopping trip didn't want to go and therefore was left at home rather than everyone changing their plans to accommodate her, she broke the house rules regarding phones and once again has got you to plough in to speak to her dad about it.why doesn't she speak to her dad about it before you? Sounds like she is playing you off against each other a little bit.

I think I'd be a bit miffed if the exW was constantly on speed dial to undermine decisions made in my house. Your daughter already has a parent there, her dad, who can tackle things as well as you if he feels it is necessary. Maybe he doesn't feel like they are as big an issue and is keeping things in proportion, especially when dealing with a teenager!

I think it is not unreasonable that he speaks to you on the phone rather than having coffee with you. As long as there is communication why are you judging them on this? You sound a bit precious on that point to be honest.

As for their relationship being under pressure this is what makes me think there is more to this than your daughter is letting on. If your eldest daughter is constantly getting you to have a word with their dad every time they try to put into place some boundaries (phone rules, sticking to shopping plans etc) then I can see why there would be tension. Maybe the SM feels like there are three of you in her relationship!

Your younger daughter seems happy in the situation, so I'm not sure about the emotional abuse claim, very easy to jump to this conclusion without looking at the situation objectively.

minniemagoo Mon 07-Jul-14 11:14:44

" she had had six years of her and was sick of her, that her and her dad are on the point of splitting up over her"

Horrendous for any child to hear regardless of the circumstances.

My reaction would depend on whether your ex was present when this happened. If he was and did not intervene I would withdraw contact explaining that her Dad should have stood up for her.
If he wasn't I would so as PeterParker says and request contact in a neutral location without SM.
I would also be hyper vigilant with my other children, If your 13 yr old is withdrawn from the line of SMs anger will her vile attitude transfer to them?

Boomeranggirl Mon 07-Jul-14 11:14:47

Btw the six years comment was out of order. She shouldn't have said it and it was hurtful. But in fairness you have only got one side of the story. A lot of threads on this board could represent the other half of what's going on in their house so I'm not going to jump on the band wagon of condemning the SM based on one post.

MaryRose Mon 07-Jul-14 11:15:56

Boomeranggirl I see your point but yesterday is only the second time I have intervened when she has been unhappy, usually I tell her she has to talk to her dad directly. Also, whilst younger DD is usually ok she said yesterday that she thought step mum had been really horrible to older DD and was quite upset too which is not like her.

MaryRose Mon 07-Jul-14 11:18:32

Also, whilst you say perhaps there are three of them in the relationship, well I'm sorry, when I married my husband I accepted his daughter as part of the package and would never dream of saying these kinds of things. I expect the same from the girls step mum. - and yes my DSD can be challenging, she's 15 with all the usual strops etc!

Boomeranggirl Mon 07-Jul-14 11:21:40

So if,as the YDD has said, things are usually ok then maybe yesterday was a blip and the SM was having a really bad day. I think threatening to immediately withdraw contact is over the top IMHO. Maybe this might be a good catalyst for change if they can sit down and talk about it as a family. Some good might come out of it. She needs to speak to her dad and tell him how she feels and give him a chance to sort it out. Unless he is an utter ogre, he is her parent as well and should be given the chance to sort things out himself. If you immediately cut contact you could make the whole situation ten times worse and effect the father-daughter relationship.

MaryRose Mon 07-Jul-14 11:23:34

The shopping trip...yes I agree a 13 yo should not always be pandered to if she doesn't want to do something, but this what not a one off. Last time it happened DD was at home for four hours on her own whilst they went shopping in a city 30 miles away, younger DD came home having had lunch out, been bought an expensive pair of trainers and other stuff. 13 year old was brought nothing, not even a chocolate bar, said she was hungry and was then told there was food in the freezer and she should have cooked for herself whilst she they were out!!! That sounds like emotional abuse to me!!!! cannot envisage EVER doing this to my DSD!!!!!

MaryRose Mon 07-Jul-14 11:25:15

I feel my daughter is being made a scapegoat for problems in their relationship. Totally out of order.

Boomeranggirl Mon 07-Jul-14 11:26:40

Coming as part of a package and three being in a relationship are two very different things. Husband and wife relationships are different to parent child relationships.

I'm a mum and a step mum too and whilst I would never ever say anything like this to my own step daughters (my own step mum used to make digs about me being the prodigal daughter which were hurtful) I can understand now that we are all human and make mistakes when under pressure.

I'm not trying to completely blame your daughter btw. Just sounds to me like there is more to this and therefore would suggest you tread lightly. Good luck.

OwlCapone Mon 07-Jul-14 11:28:43

First, I would find out exactly what happened from your XH. Then I think it might be a good idea to meet your XH with your eldest DD to discuss how she feels. With both of you there, there will be no chance to play you off against each other.

BigPigLittlePig Mon 07-Jul-14 11:29:32

But on the previous shopping trip, presumably dh had gone with them too? Why is that all the sms fault? If the eldest dd has declared she's old enough to stay at home alone, and refused to go with them, then she should be capable of making some toast or a sandwich, surely? I am not condoning what the sm allegedly said, but agree there is likely to be another side to the story, and it would be well worth working out what that is before making any decisions.

MaryRose Mon 07-Jul-14 11:30:47

I understand that boomeranggirl, and I also don't believe my daughter to be an angel and am sure she is far from entirely blameless. But at the end of the day she is still a child, they are the adults, THEY need to take control of the situation without using my DD as an excuse for whatevr is going wrong with them. For example, yesterday, her dad had already spoken to her about the phone - quite rightly, she broke the rule, she should be told. But why did step mum need to drag it up again later??

MaryRose Mon 07-Jul-14 11:35:15

BigPigLittlePig, I understand your point and I'm not just blaming step mum over the shopping trip thing. But would you treat one child to lots of things and not do anything for the other? Seems pretty unfair to me. Older DD also wants to go to France with school next year, DH agreed to pay half with me, now step mum is throwing this back to DD saying it is costing them an extra £20 a month to send her to France and she doesn't want her dad to pay it etc. Got so sick of hearing that my husband has says he's tell them he'll pay the other half just to shut her up!!!!

BigPigLittlePig Mon 07-Jul-14 11:36:55

That could as much be down to parenting styles - I will sometimes tell dsd off, them dh wants to know the ins and outs and would bring it up again, until I told him that's not helpful as we had already dealt with it.

Would you be able to sit down with dd and xp, as a pp has suggested?

Boomeranggirl Mon 07-Jul-14 11:37:10

Re: the phone,I don't know the answer to that question and to be fair neither do you. Which is why I would be thinking that there's more to it if the SM got very annoyed with her DH for tackling it the way he did. Maybe she has broken the rules before, DH spoke to her and nothing changed so they agreed to tackle it another way i.e. sit down as a family and talk about it and he jumped the gun? I honestly don't know and I'm only speculating, but on the whole people don't go off on one out of the blue without an underlying reason.

I completely agree with Owl, I think it's a really good idea for the three of you to sit down and talk about it together to get the whole picture. That would be a really healthy way of tackling this situation.

BigPigLittlePig Mon 07-Jul-14 11:37:50

Well if one child has declined to come on a family trip, then no, I wouldn't shower them with gifts. But maybe I'm tight wink

Boomeranggirl Mon 07-Jul-14 11:51:31

Sounds like you've got more of a downer on the SM than you first let on, wanting to shut her up over the French trip? I'm actually starting to feel a bit sorry for her, every time she seems to express an opinion or tries to maintain some consistency in their house she is being pulled up on it!

What's wrong with DD making herself something to eat if she was on her own? Part of staying at home alone is being able to look after yourself and that's what she chose to do. I wouldn't buy presents for a girl who refused to come on a shopping trip either Pig, we can be tight together wink I'm not sure either of these constitutes emotional abuse tb!

PajamaQueen Mon 07-Jul-14 11:52:06

There probably is a lot more to this story. However, the way she's spoken to your DD is disgusting and she needs to be called on it. If your ex had sorted the issue with the phone - there was no need for her to bring it up all again. At the end of the day, she is his daughter and he has dealt with it as he sees fit. If she didn't agree with how it was dealt with, by all means have a word with her husband.

I think she (step mum) needs to detach from the situation a little. It sounds like she's too involved in things and has to let your ex take centre stage when it comes to dealing with his daughters.

Being a step mum is hard work and honestly sometimes you really do reach the end of your tether. Sometimes things come out in temper that really shouldn't. Yes, she should be called on how she's spoken but if this is a one-off where she's spoken like this - I wouldn't bring out the wicked stepmum medal yet.

They could be under a lot of pressure with problems with their own relationship and sometimes these issues spill over in to other aspects of their lives. This isn't fair I know, but it does happen.

ChiefBillyNacho Mon 07-Jul-14 12:00:12

" she had had six years of her and was sick of her, that her and her dad are on the point of splitting up over her". That is a dreadful thing to say to a 13 year old.

I think meeting with your ex and your dd to talk everything through is a really good idea. Definitely worth a try.

MaryRose Mon 07-Jul-14 12:05:31

Boomerranggirl yes I want to shut her up over the French trip! You can't happily agree to pay for a trip for a child one moment then throw it back in their faces how wonderful you are to do it and how you don't want to really!!! Either don't pay for it, or pay for it with good grace!!!

MaryRose Mon 07-Jul-14 12:06:53

PajamaQueen thank you your whole post seems very sensible.

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