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Don't have any interest in (almost adult) step child.

(38 Posts)
BullByTheHorns Thu 29-Jun-17 13:35:26

I have NCd for this in case I get absolutely slated (yes I know I am a coward).

My partner has a 17yo child, "M", from a previous relationship. He keeps in regular email and phone contact with M, but due to distance doesn't see them that often (1-2 times a year). I have met M a few times at family get-togethers, and they are nice enough for a few hours social chit chat, but outside of that I have zero in common with them, and no interest in being any form of step-mother figure (which my chap knows and fully understands). In any case, (a) M has parents already and (b) is practically an adult anyway!

I guess my question is - is that wrong? Normal? Abnormal?

Not in a nasty way, but I usually don't even think about M from one month to the next unless my partner mentions them. I think he sometimes unthinkingly assumes that because he has a natural interest in M, I will too, but I don't. It isn't deliberate, I just...don't.

confused

justtiredofcoping Thu 29-Jun-17 13:42:47

I think you are entitled to feel like that and am not sure anyone can be a "step mother" to a 17 yr old

Something on your post just seems a little off, you have obviously been in this childs life for a reasonable length of time and the complete disinterest and lack of emotion from you is a little off putting - not having a go at you.

More sad for the child that only gets to see their father 1-2 per year, than anything else.

Butterymuffin Thu 29-Jun-17 13:47:49

I'm more bothered that your partner is content to only see his son 1-2 times a year. I imagine he would be uncomfortable if you did take more interest as he'd have to step up himself. Or maybe he is 'mentioning' his child in the hope that you will take over showing an interest from him, in a stereotypically womanly way?

BullByTheHorns Thu 29-Jun-17 13:52:54

@justtiredofcoping Something on your post just seems a little off, you have obviously been in this childs life for a reasonable length of time and the complete disinterest and lack of emotion from you is a little off putting - not having a go at you.

- Sorry, probably more my wording. It's not "active" negativity, it's the same level of thought I give to my own distant family and friends I don't see from regularly. Life carries on day to day and then one day I think "I wonder how cousin Martha in Oz is getting on?" or "oh, that guy reminds me of Craig from ex-job, hope he's doing ok, maybe I should drop him a note".

Although hopefully you can see why it's hard to feel emotion for someone I've only met for a total about 24hours across multiple events. Nice enough person, of course, but I expect they feel the same about me - just not a big enough part of their life to get invested in.

More sad for the child that only gets to see their father 1-2 per year, than anything else.

- They both seems fine with it tbh. It's been that way for years I think and they have plenty of other contact. It's not for me to judge how their relationship works.

BullByTheHorns Thu 29-Jun-17 13:56:56

@Butterymuffin I'm more bothered that your partner is content to only see his son 1-2 times a year. I imagine he would be uncomfortable if you did take more interest as he'd have to step up himself.

As I said to justtired, their relationship seems fine, they get on very well and when they see each other I sense no difficulty at all. It works for them. It may seem unusual to those of you who have more regular/live in stepkids, but there you go, everyone's different.

Or maybe he is 'mentioning' his child in the hope that you will take over showing an interest from him, in a stereotypically womanly way?

Nope, I know categorically that isn't the case.

SleightOfHand Thu 29-Jun-17 13:59:19

I think it's cold. If I had a partner I loved I would want to take an interest in what he loves. Doesn't seem he's that bothered himself though, so quite understandable why you don't either.

fukkigucci Thu 29-Jun-17 14:02:10

My fathers new wife has taken very little interest in my 19 year old brother. Different situation as he was supposed to be living with them. It's very sad. Why not just make a little bit of an effort?

cakesandphotos Thu 29-Jun-17 14:04:09

I highly doubt my step mother thinks about me from one meeting to the next. In fact, I doubt my dad thinks much about me from one meeting to the next. He left when I was a baby, remarried when I was 5 and has had no other children. They're just not children people. It hasn't effected me. Maybe if I saw my dad regularly and my SM showed 0 interest then it would bother me but I see my dad at most twice a year and I can't get wound up about it.

ObvsNC Thu 29-Jun-17 14:05:02

I understand you OP.

I have an adult stepdaughter with children of her own, and while she a perfectly pleasant young woman I don't actually have any feelings towards her or her children one way or the other. Like you, I only see them a couple of times a year.

I don't think it's particularly unusual tbh, but I do think it's hard to admit it.

BullByTheHorns Thu 29-Jun-17 14:08:54

@SleightOfHand I think it's cold. If I had a partner I loved I would want to take an interest in what he loves.

Cold? Why? I don't dislike M at all. I just don't have enough involvement with them to have formed any strong bond - I'm sure you are not super-closely entwined with every single member of your extended family either? It's not malicious, you know! (I have actual relatives I probably think of less frequently than M as well)

Doesn't seem he's that bothered himself though, so quite understandable why you don't either.
That's a bit OTT. Partner and M get on perfectly fine, they have a great relationship and are quite close. As I keep saying, it works for them, so who are any of us to judge it insufficient or bad? (I had not dissimilar levels of contact with one of my parents after their divorce and 20 years on, we are just fine too)

BullByTheHorns Thu 29-Jun-17 14:17:46

@fukkigucci My fathers new wife has taken very little interest in my 19 year old brother. Different situation as he was supposed to be living with them. It's very sad. Why not just make a little bit of an effort?

- Yes that is quite different. I DO make an effort. When we meet up at family functions I will sit and chat to them about their hobby (which is dull as ditchwater to me) for ages. I am sure they couldn't care less about my life either, but it's fine for a couple of hours over a meal! Like networking at professional events!

@ObvsNC I have an adult stepdaughter with children of her own, and while she a perfectly pleasant young woman I don't actually have any feelings towards her or her children one way or the other. Like you, I only see them a couple of times a year.

I don't think it's particularly unusual tbh, but I do think it's hard to admit it.

Thanks. I know it must be very difficult for parents and step parents who have younger and/or live-in children to understand, but it honestly isn't a nasty thing. It just is someone who pops up once or twice a year in my life, bit like my dentist! Glad it isn't just me.

lizzyj4 Thu 29-Jun-17 14:19:54

I think it's perfectly natural that as you haven't spent a lot of time with M, you don't have much feeling either way. M probably feels much the same. You're right, you're not really a step-mother, and M doesn't really need such a figure, so the situation seems to suit everyone.

I find this much more natural and honest than someone trying to force the 'step-mother' thing on children. The father of my oldest three boys had no contact with them at all for over 12 years (well, 25 years now) and paid no maintenance. When the eldest started university, I contacted his dad, mostly at dc's behest, to ask if he would like to contribute to uni fees. He said he would, but only if a string of demands were met, one of which was that his third wife was 'officially recognised as dc's step-mother'. confused Not sure how someone who had never met them could be a step-mother, or how you would 'officially recognise' such a position anyway. Needless to say, we didn't get a financial contribution, but the point is, being a step-parent is a position you earn, or not.

In your situation, I don't think it's at all wrong or unusual to feel the way you do.

Popchyck Thu 29-Jun-17 14:27:50

"I just don't have enough involvement with them to have formed any strong bond".

That's exactly it. You have a maximum opportunity to see this child 1 - 2 times per year. Maximum. So of course you are not going to be close. I see my dentist more than that.

You seem a bit defensive of your partner. Not many decent parents would choose to see their children 1 - 2 times per year however much you and he try to convince yourselves that it is normal and fine.

Do you have children? Would you be happy to see them once or twice per year? If not, why not?

Your lack of a relationship with this child is bound up in his lack of a relationship with this child, however much both of you don't want to frame it as such.

ObvsNC Thu 29-Jun-17 14:31:08

being a step-parent is a position you earn

Absolutely this! I've had no maternal role in my stepdaughter's life and tbh it feels a bit insulting to refer to myself as her stepmother. Had I had such a role I'm absolutely sure I would feel differently. But I didn't, so I don't.

Baalam Thu 29-Jun-17 14:32:41

I can't imagine not being interested in my dhs kids. But the fact he sees them so rarely must mean there's something else going on?

Lunar1 Thu 29-Jun-17 14:34:45

There is nothing wrong with your level of interest, it sounds natural for the amount of contact you've had. I'd hold off on the judgment that your partners daughter is happy with her relationship with her dad though. He sounds disinterested and not a great dad to be honest.

Baalam Thu 29-Jun-17 14:36:58

Yes that is quite different. I DO make an effort. When we meet up at family functions I will sit and chat to them about their hobby (which is dull as ditchwater to me) for ages.

I am more interested in randomers I sit next to at dinner parties than you seem to be in your dh kids! Yes, I do think it's odd and rather cold.

Scrumpernickel Thu 29-Jun-17 14:44:49

Is your 'chap' on a on different continent to his son, Is that why he only sees him once or twice a year?

Scrumpernickel Thu 29-Jun-17 14:46:47

Or daughter.

BullByTheHorns Thu 29-Jun-17 14:50:40

Regarding the comments on partner's and M's relationship: All I can say is how I see it from my POV/what Partner says, and then how he and M interact when they are together. I don't see any awkwardness or difficulty, they just seem to pick up where they left off, quite comfortably.

I'm not trying to convince myself of anything, nor am I being defensive about it, it is just that is what was focused on by some pp so I was trying to explain that their relationship looks fine to me/based on my own experience of long-distance parent/child relationships - as both a child and now as an adult (but even if it isn't ok, it isn't my place to step in).

It's also a bit unfair to judge him on this thread when it is all based on my [possibly biased] opinions and he isn't here to speak directly. Again, as far as I can tell, he seems to be a good father, certainly a lot better than I see many dads written about on MN - I think we can at least agree that being physically present is no guarantee of quality.

Anyway, I appreciate the thoughtful responses to a subject that is (as @ObvsNC says) difficult to admit to.

Popchyck Thu 29-Jun-17 14:54:53

Do you have children, OP?

Branleuse Thu 29-Jun-17 15:03:14

I think if you hardly ever see the child, and never really have had, then its not surprising you dont have any kind of bond. Sounds like you wish her all the best, but dont really have a relationship. I dont see the problem

Bananasinpyjamas4 Thu 29-Jun-17 15:28:09

It's not surprising and very normal to have those feelings. I have adult step children that I don't feel anything for.

However, I think it goes a long, long way if you can be a bit proactive - not a huge amount - reminding your DP of his sons birthday - being quite clear that his son is welcome - including him in Christmas plans. When he talks about his son feign interest - it doesn't matter if it feels fake. Because your DP only has you to talk to. Even if you don't feel like doing it. You have a bit of power in that regard - you can help your DP become just a little bit closer to his son.

Bananasinpyjamas4 Thu 29-Jun-17 15:29:54

Sorry I presumed it was your DPs son, but if it's daughter apologies.

BullByTheHorns Thu 29-Jun-17 16:37:59

@Branleuse I think if you hardly ever see the child, and never really have had, then its not surprising you dont have any kind of bond. Sounds like you wish her all the best, but dont really have a relationship. I dont see the problem

Thanks. That's pretty much my wordy OP summed up in a couple of sentences!

@Bananasinpyjamas4 However, I think it goes a long, long way if you can be a bit proactive - not a huge amount - reminding your DP of his sons birthday - being quite clear that his son is welcome - including him in Christmas plans. When he talks about his son feign interest - it doesn't matter if it feels fake. Because your DP only has you to talk to. Even if you don't feel like doing it. You have a bit of power in that regard - you can help your DP become just a little bit closer to his son.
I am more than happy to chat about M and what they are up to, and I do whenever partner mentions them, I just don't have a personal and primary focus on it (and in any case, comms are to him, not me, so he is the one who brings it up). Sorry if I gave the impression I don't care at all!

But he needs no reminding from me on birthdays, important dates etc. As I keep saying, from everything I have seen they are perfectly close and happy with each other.

@Popchyck Do you have children, OP?
Not of my own, but was (am still) significantly/heavily involved in helping raise my brother's children as he had some unfortunate personal/life events when they were babies.

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