Dreaded weekend visits(26 Posts)
I have 2 DSDs, older is 16 and younger is 14. The youngest is an absolute delight. She is funny, sweet, thoughtful- a joy to be around. She definitely has teenage moments, but totally normal things.
The eldest is the one I really struggle with. I experience her as super dramatic, negative, manipulative, emotional, moody, depressive or almost manic, always needing to be the centre of attention, puts down her sister, super picky eater, hypersensitive to everything, nothing is every right...the list goes on. I've tried so many times to connect with her, to support her, coach her through her emotions and negativity without reacting to them...but I just can't do it anymore. She drives me nuts. I know that adolescence is difficult and feel for her...but I just don't like her and of course feel guilty that I don't love her. If I had a choice, I would see here a lot less often.
The weekends my DH and I are alone are bliss. We have the best time together. But the weekends they visit are torturous. We often argue and just feel completely disconnected. This weekend has been particularly bad as anything DSD triggers me and am wondering if my DH and I are really meant to be together. As much as my DH would like us to be a happy family, I feel like an alien in this foursome.
Apologies for the long rant, just don't know what to do. Does anyone take off the weekends their SC visit? Anyone have positive stories of step-parenting a difficult teenage SD? Thanks
I have done in the past - bundled up my DC and taken them to visit friends / relatives for the weekend so I can leave DH and DSD to it. I don't think there's anything wrong with that. DSD is here a lot more than EoW though and DH works long hours during the week so when I do it, it's usually when I'm sick to back teeth of him being absent and as a means to force him into taking responsibility for DSD for a couple of days.
Actually though, I think if you don't have DC and struggle with being a SP, it's not a bad long-term arrangement. Especially if they're only with you EoW. Do you have somewhere to go or a hobby that could take up most of your waking hours? If so, just do something for you on those weekends and leave DH to it. I think that's fine.
I think your lucky you do get a full weekend to yourself twice a month some step parents don't even get that. There's no law you have to stay when they visit. How long have you been in their lives op? Is it fairly new? I have no experience of teen girls yet but I can imagine they are somewhat tiresome. The thing you've got to ask yourself is can you continue to be in this relationship feeling this way?
I have no experience so I won't be any help but, if I was you, I'd make plans for the nect time they're visiting. It would be interesting to see how she is with just her dad? Have you been in her life for long? She might be missing her dad or it could be something completely unrelated that is bothering her - it might be worth ruling out the former.
I feel the same way. When DSD visits, I just please myself, go and have massages, go shopping etc. I find it too hard to deal with how her presence affects my nervous system, I can't relax when she's here, commandeering the TV, having strops about having to get dressed, leave the house, eat vegetables, do homework.
I find that DH is too passive in his dealings with her and she is therefore a difficult child and it's a frustrating dynamic to be around.
I have thought at points that I regret getting involved with someone who has a child but I can't change it so I just use his DD weekends as self care weekends its better for everyone.
You've just described my SD (although she is only 8 and already like this!) for you and sympathy too - it's horrible having your home taken over by someone like that.
I would just do my own thing on the wkends she's here. Arrange with DH when he's doing to take them out so you can have down time @ home and otherwise go see friends, exercise, shop, chill out and read.
One point in your post: do you think she has a genuine MH problem? If so can you discuss this with her dad?
Have you discussed her behaviour with DH? Do you have some boundaries/rules for what you expect in your home? It's so hard isn't it!
Thank you for your suggestions and taking the time to reply. I don't really have anyone at home that is a SP and I find it is such an ambiguous role...don't really know how to do it "right". Torn between being too present and interfering with my DH's relationship with his DDs and not present enough that it makes it difficult to relate to my SDs.
My DH and I have been together nearly 3 years and married only 1- so it is all very new.
I really like the idea of having a "me" day when they are here. I've lost touch with friends and put hobbies on hold in trying to be a family and create a welcoming environment for DSDs when they are here. I think I won't feel as trapped. Thank you!!
Step away, step away. It is your right and you shouldn't feel guilty about it. All you owe your OH is to allow him to have a good relationship to his children. You don't have to facilitate it though. So step away mentally and as much as you can physically. Let him look after them. He can cook, deal with the tantrums, organise activities, etc... That doesn't mean that you remove yourself completely, you just don't get involved when you don't want to, end of.
I think many men put pressure on SM to want to be a happy family with their children. There is no guilt to have not to be fully involved.
My OH doesn't get along great with my DS at the moment. He just doesn't get involved and that's with him sharing the house 6 days out of 7. It is possible and for everyone to be ok about it. My children are my responsibility. I don't expect OH to join us in our activity, certainly not to cook, or clean after them. All I expect from him is to respect the fact that as my children, they will always be my priority which he totally understand (and says that being a devoted mother is one of the reason why he loves me).
I would say step out at least some of time and have some "me time". My friends who acquired step parents as teenagers says they relished time alone with "their" parent. But maybe plan to be around them at times when it is most likely everyone will get on? What kind of things do your step daughters like doing?
Also, be patient, it's only a few more years till they will be starting to live their own lives. A lot of my friends who had tempestuous relationships with step parents, or were just totally impossible teenagers, went on to become very lovely adults!
I have step kids and kids of my own, I tend to back off and let DP parent his kids, and he does the same with mine.
Thank you again, this is very reassuring! I feel much better after reading your experiences.
I started by being "all in". Organizing and cooking meals, organizing outings that DSDs would enjoy, helping with homework, listening to concerns, going to parent-teacher meetings, but have slowly backed off. Especially the cooking...I never knew I was so sensitive about having someone turn their nose or say.."ugh, I don't know if I'm going to like this...." haha. I think it is different when they are your own. My DH does most of the cooking now, with me helping out. Has worked much better.
Yes, to doing things that we all enjoy. We are all going to a movie this afternoon and coming home and making pizza. Still very much open to creating some family time...just letting go of the guilt and the pressure to be around all the time.
Exactly, no need to feel guilt. I think if everything is more balanced then everyone will feel less pressure!
A number of friends feel quite bad how they treated their step parents as teenagers - they get on well with them now! I was v rude to my parents at times, doesn't mean I don't love them, just that I was an awful teenager hang on in there, if you have a good relationship with your DH then it is worth being patient with his teenagery teenagers!
'It's horrible having your home taken over by someone like that'
You do realise that this is your stepchilds home as well? The place where her father lives? It's no wonder you have issues if this is your attitude towards an EIGHT year old child.
Yes - I do realise this is her home too.
It is still horrible having it taken over by someone rude, moody and manipulative.
OP - I completely understand the "journey" you're on. I am on a similar timeline to you and have tried so so so hard. Basically I did everything for them from getting a really nice room done for them (with their input obviously) to arranging nice activities, to always making sure we have meals they like, etc etc and it is just exhausting! I am choosing to step back now and focus more on my own DC and spend less time with stepkids and its bloody liberating!!
My SD's behaviour has improved a lot since being given boundaries and consequences but I think she's always going to be a more challenging person to have around so I choose just to be around her less. Of course when I step back and go and do my own thing, especially with my DC she's gets pissed off that "they're doing something better than us" but that's regardless of what we are doing and just her being... Well her.
My advice, be kind, be warm, take care of them, treat them as you would your own but don't feel you have to bend over backwards for them just because they're stepkids and you're trying to make everything perfect.
howtodowills couldn't agree more with everything you've said. It is so liberating knowing your own limits and better for everyone including SCs.
Trying so so hard seems to be the common problem and the reason why I think SM find it much harder than SF overall, because somehow, it seems women feel much more obliged to try hard when actually, the best relationships between children and SP are those that develop naturally.
It takes a long time to know what is right or wrong because each child/parent/SP will be different, so what is right with one child won't be with another and what a SP will need to be happy will also be different.
SP often try to buy their SC respect by getting them material things when what they need more than anything is reassurance of their place in the recomposed family and that their relationship with their parent is not going to be significantly affected.
It is so so hard to find the right balance but again, the harder one tries, the more likely it is going to go wrong.
Dozed has asked what I was about to ask. Both girls need time just with their Dad and also 1:1 with him - he should carve this out and perhaps do something with each regularly. It doesn't have to be anything big but maybe swimming with younger one and taking older out for coffee/milkshake or similar.
I also agree it's a good time to step back and reassess. Have a few weekends catching up with friends and see if DSD 1 calms down a bit.
OP - don't feel you have to be the one to look after the "other" SD so he can have his 1-1 time with each of his kids. You can offer (and I've done this and enjoyed 1-1 with each of my SDs) but don't facilitate and arrange everything for him. Send him ideas and be supportive but let him step up and be their parent. I did way too much for my DP and it just made him a bit lazy!
Disengage, as much as possible, but remain pleasant, and (apparently) happy to see them! Encourage your DH to take both girls out for maybe a Saturday (long) lunch on his own, make it the norm that you don't accompany them. Then do your own thing on Sunday, not coming home until they're just about to leave.....it does work, and makes your life so much easier!
If your SD is anything like mine she'll be begging to see you the minute you're not there!
Also, considering their age, do they have to both come on very specific date/time. My two are 13 and 16 and for the past year, contact has become quite flexible. It works both ways. Sometimes one will go but not the other. Sometimes both will go but one stay overnight the other one not. Sometimes they skip a week-end. On the other hand, they will go during the holiday week and look after their sibling, so that is convenient for them.
I don't think it is an issue with their SM because she does her own things and her life doesn't depend on the kids being there or not. It does help that she likes them any way so I don't think she feels she needs to prepare herself psychologically for their visit.
It certainly works best for everyone.
howtodowills, Thanks for your words of encouragement! 8 going on 16 is definitely challenging...hard to imagine that a little person can have so much attitude, but I have seen it!
All you say is so true! When DH and the girls have a special night just the 3 of them or play a boardgame on their own, DSD is the one who asks why I'm not coming or playing.
What's their mum's attitude to you like?
I also read somewhere that the more the SD likes the SM the worse she'll be to her as she will feel so conflicted and guilty
I absolutely tortured my dad's DP when I was a teenager. I adored my dad and didn't see him often so sharing hom made me crazy. I knew that when I left he'd still be there with her and that I wouldn't see him. I lived in terror that they'd start a family of their own and he'd stop loving me.
Being a teenager, I didn't discuss this rationally because I didn't really acknowledge any of it to myself. Instead I was a right little shit, making my dad fed up with me and myself miserable.
His DP finally confronted me when being lovely didn't work. She told me I was being a little sod and the effect it was having on my dad and their relationship. Most importantly though she told me that my dad would never love anyone more than he loved me and that I was hurting him by acting so horribly. I raged at her but it worked. From then on it was all smooth sailing.
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