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Step children - always blameless? Is it always Step Parents fault?

(52 Posts)
Electionfatigue2 Sat 10-Jun-17 12:05:57

I've read these boards - lurking - for a few weeks. I have two DSCs - a boy and girl aged 12 and 14. I married my DH 4 years ago. Whilst my DSS is fine, he accepts us and was excited when me and DH had a child, DSD has always resented me.

She's 14 now and I want to just have a good talk with her. I want to let her know that her resentment of me is affecting the whole household and that she needs to change her attitude.

I've noticed on these boards that the general advice is that the step children are not to blame and the step parent either did something wrong or is not trying hard enough, or is 'over stepping the line'.

I think I am a fairly OK step parent to both my DSCs. I've never had a go at them. I have always tried to be mindful of how they are feeling. I get it, it's tough having your parents divorce. It's tough seeing a new baby. It's tough sharing your Dad. I get it!

I've been through it myself with my own parents. But surely, at some point, you've got to get over yourself. My DSD is given so much attention, pandered to etc by me and DH but it's getting too much. A future with a glaring teenager is just not going to work.

MumOfTwoMasterOfNone Sat 10-Jun-17 12:22:39

The thing is, her resentment is probably caused by her own mother not 'allowing' her to have a good relationship with you. This is why it's not deemed the child's fault, BUT it's so hard being a SM and having to experience the resentment etc. I have found being a mum an amazing experience, but equally because of our personal circumstance, extremely challenging. It's lowered my threshold for bullshit from DPs ex and the kids, it's just been so stressful and I want to focus on my own children. I would have loved a nice harmonious family with them, but it wasn't to be and now I don't see DPs children at all.

uneffingbelievable Sat 10-Jun-17 12:37:23

I do not believe anyone on here says it is never the stepchildrens fault.

We all accept that the children did not create the situation, their parents did.
There is no doubt on here that children - be they own or step are expected at a very young unrealistic age to understand the situation and have a very adult view on what is going on.

Bad behaviour for a youngster is the way they communicate this and why shouldn't they. It is the responsibility of the adults ( all of them) to help them understand, reassure and not blame them - that secure little world has gone and finding your way when you are an adult through it is hard enough.

As they get older they develop their own minds and their reactions are copied from the adults around them- influenced by all the adults around them. On here, if a SC does not like the new DP - it is 90% of the time blamed on the EX- evidence minimal, sometimes true but ptobably not as much as some SMs would like to believe.

OP - why does she need to change her attitude? ( you sound very aggressive by the way) She has met you, lived with you and is now able to understand who she does and does not like and for her own reasons . She does need to learn how to deal with the situation of not liking someone - but she is a teenager and there is a huge world of emotional development going on in her brain. This is normal.

Again - you have to get over yourself - a very adult response - which a teenager has not learnt yet - in fact her world is going to get more insular over the next few years, then her brothers and then your childs - welcome to the world of bringing up teenagers.

to be honest you could take the divorce out of this and you have failry normal 10-14yr old behaviour.

One thing does strike me - your resentment of her is palpable from your e mail - children reflect the behaviour of those around them and copy - you may well be seeing a reflection of how you come across to her.

Magda72 Sat 10-Jun-17 13:29:49

OP you are dead right & I'm speaking as a mum & a SM. We have created a world where ALL teenagers are given too much agency. I work with kids & I have noticed that kids of divorced parents are treated with kid gloves by many adults - this leads to a sense of victimisation & entitlement & will not serve them well as adults.
My eldest was 13 when my ex left for the OW. Was he angry? Yes. Was he allowed to let this anger spill over onto everything? No. Did he have to like his dads Dp? No. Did he have to be polite to her & respect the family space? Yes.
He is now a remarkable young man with great emotional intelligence. His anger & sadness were respected but were not allowed dominate.
For the record he went to counselling & it did him a world of good.
Mums are certainly not always to blame for bad step relations but speaking from experience me allowing my kids to develop a relationship with exes Dp (no matter how hard it was sometimes) made their lives infinitely easier.
In the reverse my Dps ex hates me (I'm not an OW btw) & as a result his kids are uptight when with us & it's quite stressful.
No one has more sympathy for kids than me but there is a difference between teaching them self responsibility/self ownership & allowing them to blame the world for its unfairness.

BeyondThePage Sat 10-Jun-17 13:37:13

Teenagers glare - even mine - DD16s and 14 here, and me and their dad are married.

She does not want to be your friend. That's life I'm afraid.

Why does she resent you? What has happened in the relationship between you two that has caused her to feel so badly about you, to feel resentment instead of feeling protected and loved?

crazykitten20 Sat 10-Jun-17 15:28:08

Difficult but you are the adult and blaming the child won't get you anywhere imo.

Electionfatigue2 Sat 10-Jun-17 15:34:25

What has happened in the relationship between you two that has caused her to feel so badly about you, to feel resentment instead of feeling protected and loved?
OP - why does she need to change her attitude? ( you sound very aggressive by the way) She has met you, lived with you and is now able to understand who she does and does not like and for her own reasons.

This is one of my main points. I cannot talk to anyone except close friends, because the response to a step child being badly behaved or unhappy is to throw the blame and responsibility on the step mum. Automatically. No matter what has actually gone on.

This does not happen with parents. And this type of behaviour is not the same as moody teenager being cross with their own parent. As there is (one would hope) also a well of good feeling, respect, trust too.

My DSD has been given care, respect, trust and even love from me over the years. I have not received any of this back and if it is labelled aggressive to want to at least let the DSD acknowledge that there is a problem and that she can has an opportunity to choose differently, then I am denying her and me and the whole family a possibly differerent future.

My DSD doesn't have to like or love or care for me. However - if she is never asked or made aware that she can live more cooperatively, then surely we are just enabling her?

There is nothing in my post that suggests or points to anything that I have done to caused this. And I haven't done anything to cause this except marry DH.

Justmadeperfectflapjacks Sat 10-Jun-17 15:42:13

Your last 3 words have answered your own question. .
You married her df.
Time to accept the relationship you have with her is what it is for now. . Back off. Leave more to dh and enjoy what you have with the other dc (and dss) if she comes around then all well and good.

Moussemoose Sat 10-Jun-17 15:55:50

I work teenagers, this attitude that all teenagers are rude so it is OK and teenagers are 'just like that' is total and utter nonsense. If you allow teenagers to be rude they will be. If you make it clear they are being rude they should stop. It is NOT normal to be rude.

I would explain to her that her actions and attitude have an impact on you - she might not know. When you do this -example- it makes me feel this -explain-. Ask her what actions of yours impact on her.

If she does not know she is upsetting you (perhaps you hide it, or ignore her behaviour) she has no reason to stop.

Try to have this conversation in a "I'm not blaming you just explaining" way. Give her the opportunity to explain her feelings.

After that when she acts in a way that she knows is upsetting and is doing it deliberately to upset you, your DP needs to have some consequences. Teenagers are not fools, they know how to behave. It is patronising to say 'they can't help it'.

7thInningStretch Sat 10-Jun-17 15:56:23

She has had a profound loss in her nuclear family. Each individual person experiences and reacts to loss in a different way so her brother is irrelevant.

Of course it's not automatically the stepmothers fault. What is automatic is that this child has very little power and you are the adult so the presumption is always to check that the child is ok because they are essentially powerless and have had the entire situation thrust upon them. Try and see it from her presepective. Would you like it if someone you deeply loved went away and someone else decided who you would love with regardless of how you felt? She's not going to "get over herself" or her emotions. You can try and squash them down but it won't end well. Behaviour you can affect and lots to do with but you can't dictate how other people feel nor should you. If she's rude her dad needs to pull her up on it. Really the whole thing has very little to do with you.

I know it's bloody hard work. I have two DSC one of whom is a teenager. If I were you I'd focus on the behaviour. Having a chat with her really won't go well for her or you.

Magda72 Sat 10-Jun-17 16:07:23

Yes OP - you are enabling her, & I don't mean that in a blameful way. To me it seems pretty clear that you are fed up with the lack of respect & that's ok IMO. 14 is really old enough to start behaving in a more mature manner. Yes divorce is horrible for kids but parents actually harm their kids when they don't assist them in accepting change. You have been in her life for a long time now & she should be used to you at this stage.
I think teenage girls do develop daddy issues anyway & they do like to be daddy's no. 1. I see that in my own 11 year old dd who has now started to 'blame' his Dp (whom she has always gotten on with) if daddy doesn't do what she wants as daddy can do no wrong. For the record his Dp is very good to my daughter & I gently point out that her dad is a grown man who makes his own decisions & if she has an issue with HIS behaviour to discuss it with him & not to automatically blame his Dp.
I think SMs truly get a dreadful rap for merely existing. How come no one seems to have any issues with step dads???

Magda72 Sat 10-Jun-17 16:18:32

And like moussemoose I also work with kids & teens & while teens can be trying they are not all rude or badly behaved - most of them are great & really respectful of boundaries & light rules.

Moussemoose Sat 10-Jun-17 16:23:29

Magda72 that's it exactly, teenagers are trying. They 'try' you, you explain how that makes you and others feel, they are then capable of stopping this behaviour.

If they don't stop and they are NT they are just being rude.

Electionfatigue2 Sat 10-Jun-17 16:41:24

That's good advice mousse - I have tried many things, she is the only one with her own bedroom which was my suggestion, taking her out to stuff. DH had a word with her, she just cried so we all backed off. I think she doesn't want to see it. I tried to talk to her, she ran straight to DH and cried and said she didn't want to come here any more if I was there so DH is now terrified of doing anything.

daftgeranium Sat 10-Jun-17 17:44:24

OP you need to work with your partner and firmly but positively give this girl some boundaries.
At the moment she is being allowed to walk all over you and behave poorly, the longer it goes on for, the more unhappy everyone will be.
It's a fine line, and you need your partner's support otherwise there could be more divisions. I suspect your partner is a bit of a Disney dad?
Give the girl some clear messages about what behavior is acceptable and what is not - and be sure to back it up with positive support and positive, constructive, fun time spent with all of you as a family.
I've been on the sharp end of this one - despite me trying to do everything positive that I could, the father did nothing about his daughter's nasty behaviour, she got worse and worse and ended up dividing the family. We ended up splitting up, the girl's behavior was poor but her father's behaviour was much worse.
Good luck.

twattymctwatterson Sat 10-Jun-17 19:31:37

Apportioning blame to children isn't helpful. If your DH isn't parenting effectively and working with you then HE'S the problem. I think your "chat" with her whilst he does nothing will make things a lot worse

Electionfatigue2 Sat 10-Jun-17 20:45:37

That is the dilemma isn't it, I've noticed this with others too. My DH is great however he is not going to lay down ground rules for his daughter. It's just not going to happen. She's 14 and he's treated her like a princess all her life, and after the divorce he seems to have gone into soft Dad overdrive.

So what do I do? Tolerate it, she's here 50/50. Or leave. Or try and speak to her myself. I've tried tolerating it, but it's affecting the whole atmosphere of the house. It's not very fair on DSS either as he just gets totally sidelined.

Electionfatigue2 Sat 10-Jun-17 20:47:55

Also - I"m not sure who else can change here, if not DSD. I'm at the end of my tolerance. DH, is a soft Dad sure, I wish he'd 'sort it out' but she's becoming her own person here. She's not 5 and I believe, or hope, that she can see that a little cooperation and less stigmatising of me could go a really long way - she might even get to like me!

Lunar1 Sat 10-Jun-17 20:49:36

Why are you expecting more of a child who has no say in the whole situation than you are of your DH whom presumably chose this?

Calyrical Sat 10-Jun-17 20:50:46

It is tough for everybody, OP, but I fear "a good talk" would not work and would in fact have the opposite effect than the one you want.

Electionfatigue2 Sat 10-Jun-17 20:53:28

P.s. I'm really sorry to hear that 'daft geranium'. So sad you had to break up.

I could see this happening to me in the future. At least I'll have tried and I'm hoping that DH will not be able to hide away himself while I bring it more out into the open.

I'm not sure why this would make it worse. Silent, passive aggressive glaring and ignoring are pretty bad. If she started having a go at me at least I'd start to have this out in the open. And if she is angry with DH or goes to him for help then he will also have to act or do something.

Calyrical Sat 10-Jun-17 20:55:56

Because once you've "had it out in the open" you might think you've subdued her but you won't have.

Better to "out nice" her if you can flowers

Electionfatigue2 Sat 10-Jun-17 20:57:15

Yes Lunar - I am expecting a child to grow up and have some consideration and cooperation. I totally am. She doesn't have to have great conversations with me, she doesn't even have to like me. But yes she does have to say hello, have some manners, not be rude, and not rule the roost.

I'm kind of out of options, but happy to consider about what else might bring this out into the open. I'm not prepared to just let this get worse, even if not for me but for the other kids. Should two siblings suffer in a tense household because of one older child?

Somerville Sat 10-Jun-17 20:58:46

My DH is great however he is not going to lay down ground rules for his daughter. It's just not going to happen. She's 14 and he's treated her like a princess all her life, and after the divorce he seems to have gone into soft Dad overdrive.

That's the problem. Her father's parenting. If you try to give his daughter boundaries when he doesn't then it won't work at all.

The only thing I can think of to suggest is some family therapy.

Electionfatigue2 Sat 10-Jun-17 21:04:07

Thanks 'Calyrical' I did a lot of 'niceing' if that is even a word. I did it until I almost choked on it! For many months. Read stuff about 'love bombing' etc. She actually got worse with me for a while, it raised expectations about what I would do for her. She started to act very much like the other adult in the house. But it was worth a try.

I'm just exasperated. I don't actually dislike her at all, as after all she is growing up and 14 is still young. She's been mollycoddled by her mother and her father. However I have a growing discomfort as I see and watch her grow into a person that is now, in my eyes, being quite mean and cruel to me and dismissive of her fathers happiness and her siblings. I don't think I'll subdue her with a talk I think she'll go mental and run to her Dad, I really am not looking forward to it.

I think most of all I do want to listen to her, but also for her to listen to me when I tell her that I am a human being, I have feelings too and it's really not easy for me with her ignoring me. I'll ask her to consider how friends treat each other in school, and that ignoring and isolating one child in the class is quite mean. And that's what she is doing to me.

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