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Selfish Step Children

(31 Posts)
Clariana Sun 09-Oct-16 15:27:50


I suppose I am looking for some opinions and advice please. Some background first. My husband was previously married and has four children with his ex-wife. They are mid twenties to mid thirties, his ex-wife cheated on him and he left, then we got together 2 years after that and seventeen years ago. My husband and I have 2 children, the older one was 15 yesterday and has Aspergers, and the younger one is 12.

So, enough of the background. Yesterday was my older son's birthday and he received nothing from any of them, no cards, no messages, nothing. This was not unusual, neither he nor my other son have ever received much, sometimes they get a card from one older sister, but that is all. But he has virtually no friends, due to the Aspergers, and yesterday I had to listen to him, on his birthday, tell me how lonely he is.

Obviously, this is heart-breaking, and all I can think about is all the presents I have bought them, the family holidays I have organised and paid for that they have been on, and the money that I have given to these step-children. Incidentally, I have never received anything from any of them over the 17 years, but I am not concerned for myself.

So, I have decided I am done and I will no longer have any contact with them, my husband of course can do whatever he choses, but I suspect he will chose to support me, and this is what worries me. Am I being too harsh, or am I justified? Incidentally, there have been gentle conversations when their thoughtlessness has been pointed out, which is why I can only assume they are just plain selfish.

Any thoughts would be appreciated.

herewego1987 Sun 09-Oct-16 16:01:54

Can I ask, are you a close family? Xx

Clariana Sun 09-Oct-16 16:16:24

Well, I would have thought reasonably close, but perhaps not to some people xx

KickAssAngel Sun 09-Oct-16 16:27:58

I don't give any gifts or cards to my DSis, and haven't since we reached about age 20. Our parents still give us gifts.

If in other ways they are selfish, or if you've explained and requested cards due to your son wanting them so much, then yes, it would be nice if they did that. But in my entire extended family, no siblings give each other gifts.

Is it just that to them, a half sibling, at least 10 years younger than them, who they didn't really know as they were growing up just isn't someone they'd buy cards for?

DH and I don't do cards at all, really. Huge waste of money and bad for the environment. Sales of cards are dropping as less people send them now. It could just be that they don't send cards, generally, to anyone.

Starryeyed16 Sun 09-Oct-16 16:31:02

Sometimes the first set children struggle to accept when their DF has a family with someone else. Don't forget those four grew up together so they wouldn't have the same level of relationship with your two DC as they will with each other. I actually think their age is a main reason aswell given that they are in their adult lives and most likely have families of their own.

You can reduce contact but it would be extremely unfair if your DH chooses to go NC.

Clariana Sun 09-Oct-16 17:07:42

Okay, thank you, it is very difficult and the last thing I want is any trouble, but it is really difficult for the disabled child.

Somerville Sun 09-Oct-16 17:13:23

Did you or your husband remind them about his birthday and ask them to send cards?

If so, and they didn't, then that is hurtful. I don't see how cutting off contact with them would help anyone in the long run, though. Maybe a chat with their dad, for him to explain how their half brother feels?

And if they haven't been reminded about his birthday then do so in future! Organise a family event (ideally related to his special interest) to invite them all to, to make sure he gets attention.

Lots of siblings don't buy gifts or cards for each other until they're all independent, even without the blended family thing.

Also, make sure you DV butt them presents and cards this year. Lead by example!

eyebrowsonfleek Sun 09-Oct-16 17:25:33

Do you know if the 4 siblings give each other gifts/cars on their birthdays? If they don't, then I wouldn't expect one tbh.

Is your son friends with them on social media? If so I would expect a message on there as it's free, quick and you're sometime reminded of a birthday.

How often did your step children visit you and your h? Was it often enough that they grew up celebrating your son's birthday? It's sad that your son was hoping for a card.

I think that having no contact may be too drastic and that maybe they should be just a birthday and christmas card sort of people in your life rather than close family?

Clariana Sun 09-Oct-16 17:32:32

Thank you, yes I think that just to send them cards now and leave anything else up to them might be a good idea.
Oh, yes, they all make a huge fuss of each others birthdays, you would almost think it is a royal event! I suppose that is why the silence hurts my son as it does.

We always have sent them things on their birthdays from the younger siblings, so I guess we should stop that now.

But no he doesn't use social media because of bullying, so that isn't an option.

AmberEars Sun 09-Oct-16 17:37:54

I can see that this is hurtful. But I think that if it wasn't for your son's Aspergers, it wouldn't be such a big deal. For example DH's brother never sends any of our DC a card or present. I think it's pretty rubbish of him, but I'd never consider going NC over it.

eyebrowsonfleek Sun 09-Oct-16 17:43:00

I think detaching (sending a card and managing your son's expectations) is the way forward.

I'm sorry to hear that they mark each other's birthdays. I was hoping to hear that they didn't. I often read on here about younger half siblings adoring the older ones and it sounds like another case of that. sad

swingofthings Sun 09-Oct-16 18:29:44

Why decide to have nothing to do with them, which could potentially have a big impact on the whole family rather than calling them individually and say how disappointed you are that they forgot your DS birthday and that it broke your heart to see him so disappointed?

Jinglebellsandv0dka Sun 09-Oct-16 18:34:25

op this isn't just a SC issue I have this issue with my eldest dd (21)

She is one of the most entitled people I have ever met. She was supposed to be visiting us today as she thought we were eating out but we decided to cook a nice roast so she didn't even bother to turn up or even call as we wasn't taking her out.

Don't take it personally and I said the same to Dh tonight about leaving her to it now and not bothering.

It is upsetting though as obviously we bend over backwards for them.

Sorry to hear about your ds feeling lonely on his birthday sad

Ilovenannyplum Sun 09-Oct-16 18:51:09

It takes 5 minutes to send a card via moonpig, they are still young and I would expect your husbands elder children to acknowledge their birthdays

Yoarchie Sun 09-Oct-16 18:57:00

Looking at your situation objectively, it's likely they'll be pretty happy about cutting contact with you. It appears that they want nothing to do with you or your children. Do they want anything to do with your dh, does he get cards etc?

Divorces, remarriages and second families frequently lead to frosty relations. My friend is married to a man who has two grown up dc by his first wife and two littler ones with her. The grown up dc don't want anything to do with my friend.

Don't make a scene re cutting contact. Just do it in your head, detach yourself mentally. It's not something that actually needs physically/verbally doing, most people don't realise this.

Yoarchie Sun 09-Oct-16 18:57:46

Oh, just one thing to add, perhaps your dh made a better job of fatherhood the second time around and the grown up dc are unhappy about it?

Starryeyed16 Sun 09-Oct-16 19:21:24

Op from your update I just think it's because the four have grown up together and are closer. As I and PP they were teenagers/ adults when you had your DC so it's harder to develop a relationship with sibling when there's an large age gap and when you don't grow up with them. It might of just been an oversight that they are overly focuses on their own lives. What are they like for your DF birthday?

herewego1987 Sun 09-Oct-16 21:33:05

Just don't make your DH take sides etc. My dad has done that and doesn't bother with me or my oldest two siblings, he has has two younger daughters with his new wife (she mentally abused me and my older sisters growing up, she's not at all nice in this situation) and its hurt.

Just think your the better person in all of this, I'd probably even send a group message to his kids and arrange a small surprise get together for your boy. It may be belated but I'm sure it will mean the world and it may prompt them to pull their finger out and make the effort x

Clariana Sun 09-Oct-16 21:49:25

Hi, thank you everybody, sometimes it helps a great deal just to have different viewpoints. I wasn't planning on anything overt, just detaching from them in my head as someone said, because I hate any kind of scene, the trouble is if I even do that it will become obvious because I am the one that does everything re Christmas, their birthdays etc! So it will be noticed then.

It is just too hurtful at the moment, because it is raw, so perhaps a couple of weeks pause will help. I have spoken to them all about the hurt to my son before, and had promises to not do it again, but next time it is just the same.

I think the person who said they probably want me to stop contact with them is right. They will only miss the money, I suspect!

So, thank you again, I will give it a few days and see how things seem then

Bananasinpyjamas1 Sun 09-Oct-16 22:44:02

Clariana I totally understand where you are coming from. Sometimes I think we should just get a bit angry with 'family' who are excluding other family members, whether this is steps or not. At least that way there is the chance that they will change.

Unfortunately, like you, I have not got angry, at least outwardly, to my step children. All of which did nothing for my DSs birthday - their step brother - that they have lived with for years - but acknowledged their young half brothers birthday with one card (from one of the four) - they turned up for young half brother but just sat there totally ignoring him. Youngest DS has special needs too.

I too would like to just stop sending them presents, but it's too much to just completely exclude them. They exclude us, but it just isn't going to be great I think to ignore them. Even if they have done that to me. Partly because my DP needs me to be less selfish than they are. But like you, I've taken them on holidays etc only to be rejected. So I am scaling everything back BIG time. I've decided to:
- send a card to each on their birthday / xmas - from their brothers to them.
- keep up social media with the ones that want it - I actually get the odd 'like' or whatever which is a hell of a lot more than I get in real life! I sparingly put nice messages on their pages / comment.
- text and congratulate any important life events.

I don't remind them of anyone's birthdays anymore. Three are adults and it really is up to them.

And that is it from now on. When they visit I do the minimum. My two sons get the holidays, the presents and the attention. DP obviously still does a lot for them, money and taxi service mainly.

As an aside, I have two much younger half siblings that I never lived with - I was never reminded of their birthdays. However I took an active interest, remembered every birthday with card and present for all of their lives until 2 years ago. It was then that I realized that they couldn't care less! So it can work the other way. I wanted to have a relationship and for a while they really liked it, unfortunately they got too used to it being one way, so I stopped.

I don't think it's just an age gap - we as people can make a relationship if we want one. And OP your DSCs are perfectly capable of nurturing and fostering a bond with your children if they wanted. It helps with other adults encourage and expect this, set the standards as it were. But when they get older it is up to them, and really they are being insular and selfish by not reaching out a hand to your kids. But there isn't much you can do if you have tried on your side. It sucks. But as I've been told a few times, often it is the selfish persons loss.

They want to live their lives not being enriched by others - to accept and come to terms with their parents new lives - to extend a little outside of their narrow biological family. If they won't, it really is their loss. Take special care of your own and encourage any willing uncles/cousins instead. I have fantastic cousins/nieces/nephews etc who are all much more part of my DSs lives than their half step siblings.

Clariana Mon 10-Oct-16 06:50:20

Thank you Bananasinpjamas1 for taking the time to reply, it make me feel better at least!

crusoe16 Mon 10-Oct-16 07:08:36

I haven't read all the posts but I'm in my mid-thirties and manage to send birthday cards to a myriad of non-related children every year. I categorically do not think it's a lot to expect your DSC to send a birthday card to their own disabled half-sibling. Of course it's selfish.

Groovee Mon 10-Oct-16 07:28:25

My half siblings haven't given me presents or cards since I was about 6. I was expected to attend their 40th birthdays over 10 years ago now. Yet none of them acknowledged my 21st or 30th!

I think my mum did so much for them yet they are ungrateful and behave badly despite being in their 50's now!

It took me a long time, but I no longer care. Still upsets my mum though.

Wdigin2this Mon 10-Oct-16 11:04:34

Clariana if they know about his condition, the very least the could do is send him a birthday text! I know where you're coming from, I've got a grown DSD like that!

WiltingTulip Mon 10-Oct-16 11:27:57

They clearly do acknowledge birthdays with gifts etc. Just for people they like!

I would be upset if one of my dcs didn't acknowledge another one regardless of circumstances so you have reason to be upset.

Even if I didn't give gifts to my siblings, I would to a sibling under 18- especially one who has been bullied and was feeling low. I'd do that for a stranger if I was made aware of the situation! I'm really surprised people don't think it's normal to do this or at least ring him and wish him well- send a text.

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