My dear step daughter(22 Posts)
I have known her since she was 2. On contact weekends I was the one to get up with her, I was the one she came to when she was sick or had hurt her self. It was me who bathed her and washed and did her hair. I have helped with homework and planned days out for her and her brother.
As she's gotten older and noticed her mums dislike to me (not OW btw) our relationship has suffered.
Now she is 9, and as I sit hear with her I can't help feel sad about the void we now have. Whilst she has been brought up differently to how I might do it (not wrong, just different) I also know her mum is a big part of it. It makes it hard to get past the feelings of frustration I have. And when those feeling come, they go just as fast And I'm left hating myself for feeling tham in the first place.
She's a lovely girl, not without fault but nothing terrible....I just need to get passed these feelings.
How the hell do I get back to how we were, before she had a clue of mums resentments?
Her mum has chosen to expose her DD to her resentment towards you.
Your DSD will always feel loyalty towards her parents and all the while she is dependent on them emotionally or physically, she will make choices that reflect that loyalty. If that means she distances herself from you, then all you can do is accept that.
It's hard and I'm sorry you're going through this.
It's such a shame because I see glimpses of her old self, she still gives me hugs, holds my hand but she will also do things I know are coming from her mum.
I will just try to be understanding and make time to do things I know she likes.
I have a ds now, her half brother. She loves him to bits and for that I'm happy
I've had the same. All my DSDs have distanced from me and their young half brother. Their openly resentful mother isn't the only reason for this, but it's no coincidence that as she's got more antagonistic towards me to her kids in the past couple of years, they have withdrawn to the point they don't have any engagement with me at all. That's despite looking after them while they were I'll and years of shared experiences. So I sympathise.
I'm sorry you are going through this my dsd went through a similar phase at around 7 years old when she became aware of the mothers feelings towards us.
Again I was not OW I met dp when his dd was 2 and his ds 5 and he had been separated for a year. I didn't meet the children util his ds was 6 and dd was 3.
All I can say is keep doing as you are doing, she will come around.
There were really hard times when she would scream at me she hated me and it was horrible but I knew as you do, that she was just angry and confused. Every time she said it I just said 'I'm sorry you feel like that I love you very much'
By the time she was about 12 she started to asked to do things with me again which did coincide with ds being born which she really loved. She is 15 now and a really wonderful level headed girl who I'm really close to.
I think you're doing everything right
How horrible for these children. I remember I was about that age when my mother told me never to speak to one of my best friends again, because she had heard some gossip (heaven knows what). So totally stopped speaking to him. Hated it, but children are not in a position to question their parents. How cruel all this is.
It will get better in the long if not short term (sorry!). As she gets older she'll question things a lot more and make her own judgements based on her own experience of you both. She's still young and quite naturally is taking her Mums 'side'. Very painful for you but honestly, ride it out, keep up all the good things it sounds like you're doing and it will work out in the end!
However much I sympathise with your disappointment, I do believe that you getting so involved emotionally and acting like a second mum from the start wasn't the right thing to do in the first place.
To be totally honest, when ex announced that he was getting serious with someone, this was my biggest fear (kids were 2 and 5 at the time). It was hard enough to let go every week-end, let alone having to face someone acting up my role. Thankfully it wasn't the case at all. She has always showed an interest in them, but never taken on a mother's role.
The reality is that she already has a mum to share all this with. What you can do though is build a different type of relationship with her, something maybe more akin to an aunt/niece one.
My DD was like this with DH. My ex was very aggressive about him, she was not allowed to use his name and would be punished by her father if she did. Her father encouraged her to be rude and unpleasant to DH.
DH played the long game, he did not blame DD and understood that she felt torn. He took it at her pace and was always pleasant to her. Now, 8 years later they have a good relationship. She sees what her father was doing and if anything that has lessened the respect she has for him.
Take it slowly and realise that you can not change it, just be there for her.
swing i'm perfectly aware that she has a mother, and she does share those things with her, a lot more that we do, but obviously mum can't when dsd is with us.
Dsd was happy for me to do those things with her, and I was happy to do them too. Maybe it's an age thing also.
Saying all this I'm sat with her now having a laugh about silly stuff....maybe I'm just looking into it too much.
cali your DH sounds fab. That's exactly what I'm trying to do,
I can sometimes see the things she says, unkind things towards my ds who she loves are not her talking at all, I can see the conflict in her face.
I tend to agree with swing - but for different reasons. From experience, I'd advice all stepmums to remain emotionally detached for their own wellbeing - not to spare the feelings of the DCs mum.
Dsd was happy for me to do those things with her, and I was happy to do them too. Maybe it's an age thing also.
Whether or not a DC wants something, and is happy for you to, is not a good reason to do it.
As you have discovered, your efforts to create a close relationship have had both positive and negative consequences for your DSD and for yourself - but the negatives have only manifested themselves some years later.
I shudder when I see stepmums advised to "treat their DSC as their own", to "love them equally" and to "consider them an equal part of the family".
For that to be the best thing for the DC, both their parents must be supportive - if one parent resists that close step-relationship, then in the long term, the DC is better off without it.
I think part of it may just be an age thing. I have two dsd's one now 12 and one 10, age 8-10 were a tricky period with both. Hang on in there.
If you read Karen Woodall's blog, she writes about this phase happening between the ages of 8-14. Best bet is to follow your step daughter's lead while encouraging her to think independently (on all subjects, not just this one). Aligning with her mother is a developmental stage, it will pass.
The only thing I'd add is be careful of your own feelings. It's impossible to just give and give, and as SM, like other posters have said, you'll always be last in their affections after their parents, even if there is a bond there. I gave too freely, for too long, and didn't express some of my frustrations. And now I don't really want any relationship with my eldest DSC, despite the fact she is becoming nicer to me again. I didn't realise I'd stored up resentment myself, as I'd had to take her coldness and resentment for a while. If I'd expressed myself there might have been a chance, now it feels too sullied. If that makes sense?!
In essence, don't be too much of a martyr to your DSC or you'll find yourself disliking her!
Ok, I take some on board. But it's hard when you have a four year old who's fallen over and comes to you to not comfort her. Or when she wants you to do her hair cos dad can't to step back.
I think if I had done those things I would have been told o wasn't making an effort or being cold.
I'll plod on
Jesus, step mums can't win, treat the step kids like your own - that's wrong and think of the poor birth mothers feelings, treat the step kids with a slightly detached approached - a monster who is emotionally damaging the poor things.
Yes, you would have been, crystal - it's the joy of being a stepparent, your place is "in the wrong".
In the situations you describe (I know it's in the past for you but other posters may be reading) , rather than do her hair yourself instead of her dad doing it, your time could be spent teaching him how to do it for her - it keeps her relationship focused on her parent rather than you. And while no one is advocating you ignore a crying 4 year old, taking her to her dad to kiss it better, rather than comforting her yourself, ensures she views him as her primary comfort in your home.
It takes effort! It's all to easy to fall for these little people who are the DCs of the man you love. But, to protect yourself, and prevent loyalty conflicts, it's best to remain at arms length.
Absolutely agree with pretty and banana. DSD lives with us but sees her mum every weekday. Therefore it's a normal and close mum DD relationship. There's no parental toxicity and DSD's mum and I also get on. Perhaps for those reasons DSD and I have often gotten close. We've had many 'firsts' related to clothing, grooming, make-up, boy talk, food, travel etc., therefore I understand that inner excitement as you share and treasure certain moments.
But right now she's distant with me, her mum and her dad (probably in that order and perhaps understandably, especially as Year 11 teen). I trust that everything will be OK, we're all appropriately active and involved. It's not DSD's job make me happy or my right to make her a parenting project of mine. My role is to help (in agreement with her dad) guide and teach her in as loving a way as possible. Paradoxically, healthy disengagement enables that as you protect your own heart and pick your emotional battles. Whilst this is important now, it would probably be even more vital if we had parental fall out in our case.
I remember reading that blended families is an unhelpful term - assuming enforced harmony - because of the inequality of bonds, affection and authority, which can make for an unpleasant taste. But thinking of step families as slow cookers suggests that in a delicious stew, for example, each ingredient softens at its own pace, over time, with its own special contribution to the meal. But... although it's still a delicious stew, the ingredients (being individual and unblended) can harden again too! Silly little analogy, but I've found it helpful and true. Perhaps true for most families actually (certainly friends of mine in intact families also attest that they face similar incidents and emotional challenges, whether because of the other parent, siblings, grandparents etc).
I reckon if we focus on what influence and authority we have in our adult relationships, and play the long game, we'll have done our best for the children we (step) parent as you and cali have said.
Sorry - I do get a bit long winded and philosophical . A direct question: apart from saying some conflicted things to your son, what else has happened that makes you think it's about her mum disliking you? You mentioned it's hard when you comfort her or do her hair. Have you been asked not to do this then? Children are influenced by school / internet too, not just their parents. Not underestimating what's going on for you, I just didn't see from what you said what the mum's actually done. Is anything going on in the other home?
I'm a mother rather than step mother but in my experience how much a kid needs you is variable. Sometimes they are annoyingly clingy, other times they get what they need from friends, other parent or themselves.
It sounds like she needs some space for a while and she'll be back when she needs you again. You sound like a great stepmother.
Thank you ender, that means a lot when sometime I don't know what the hell im doing.
cappy thanks for your post. I may have made it seem like I totally take over when the children are here, I can honestly say I don't. I always let my husband take the lead but sometimes he's busy with his son or it's something he feels i'd be better at.
He does all the above things too but he had been happy for me to do my step daughters hair when she's asked (as he's rubbish at it).
As for examples regarding mum, well I don't want to go into too much but once when I was feeding our son my dsd asked if I like her mum, (she was abou 7 at the time). I said yes of corse I do. Dsd then said well mum doesn't like you. I said well that's a shame. She then said that mum also didn't like my son, I said I'm sure that's not true as he's only a baby.
Another time when we were going out dsd asked me to put her hair up in the new band her dad had got her. When she got dropped home mum pulled them out befor dsd even got in the house and mad her give them back to dad thinking I had hit them.
I'm not sure why she's like that, it was a mutual split after lost of short term splits where she asked him to leave. But that's thier business and I can't speculate to much as I only have one side.
But still, this weekend has been better, we've played games and I've waited for her to come to me. And she has a few times.
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