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advice - relationship with stepdaughter is at breaking point

(19 Posts)
Stumpy71 Wed 22-Aug-18 20:39:28

Hello, I'm a dad and entirely new to this, but could do with some independent advice from parents. I'm in a 12-yr relationship and we have a 9yo daughter and also 2 older kids from my partner's past relationship. Stepson, 23, and stepdaughter (SD) , 20. I have lived in the family home since 2008 although the stepson has now left and the stepdaughter is at Uni.
But SD has never liked me or attempted to get on with me and the relationship, although tolerable, has deteriorated over the years. Things have exacerbated significantly this year as her dad fell ill and then died quite suddenly, meaning sd has moved back to be with us pretty much since April.
In that time, we have got on OK and I have performed a role of supporting my partner, while she supports her older kids in this difficult time.
However, things have reached breaking point this week with a huge row with sd where she confronted me with a 15-minute rant of hatred, based largely around me ruining her life and blaming me for everything.
This has now meant that it's extremely difficult for us all to live together and she has made it plain that she can't face being in the house with me. My partner's view is very much caught in the middle as she realises that this will potentially break up the family and says she has some difficult decisions to make. I am accepting that I may have to go, which is not what I want, as the relationship with my partner is good and normal.
While I have irritated and annoyed the sd at times, particualrly when I first joined the home, this has never been malicious or beyond reasonable expectations and our relationship for the past 2 years has been small talk at most.
I told SD during our row that I bare no malice towards her and always want the best for her; she is an extremely talented young person but appears to have used me as a vent for her anger over the years. I am pretty sure she has manufactured situations in the past for a blow-out to occur and for me to leave - but it has never reached this seriousness till now.
I have asked my partner to try to reason with the sd and I know she has tried, but the sd has always been very much set in her ways and I agree with her when she says there will NEVER be any defrosting from her under any circumstances.
I have been at fault in the past, but see that we all need some coping strategies to deal with this tricky situation. Out 9yo daughter is aware of what is happening and although feels quite torn, has expressed privately to me, how she cannot understand how her sister can have such negativity towards me.
Sorry for long post, but needed to express as much as I can about how I read this. Any help kindly accepted x

OP’s posts: |
Snappedandfarted2018 Wed 22-Aug-18 20:59:24

Her dad died suddenly she is grieving.

PotteringAlong Wed 22-Aug-18 21:02:59

she cannot understand how her sister can have such negativity towards me.

Because her dad is dead, and you’re still here.

ReggaetonLente Wed 22-Aug-18 21:15:18

I’m 27 and lost my dad suddenly in April. I still behave irrationally and lash out with anger. I dread to think how I’d have acted as a teen/just out of my teens.

I do understand it must be difficult for you but it is worse for her. She’s angry at a world that let her dad die. To have you in the house - another father figure and her sister’s dad - must be excruciating. She may even feel, in a weird way, that being nice to you is disloyal to her dad’s memory.

Is she accessing counselling, or planning to? Could you raise that with your partner to discuss with her? It might help.

Stumpy71 Wed 22-Aug-18 21:16:52

The negativity has been from the moment she met me, which was in 2008, when she was 10. She has always made that plain to me and has said as much to my face many times. Clearly, her dad's death has exacerbated the situation, but her mum and dad split up 5 years before I met her.

OP’s posts: |
singlemominaus Wed 22-Aug-18 21:22:50

She might have seen any relationship with you as a betrayal to her dad. She was very young when you first met it sounds like she was never thought the emotional coping skills to deal with a new man in her life.
This is now exasperated by the fact her father has just passed away and you're still here. She's going through a really shit time right now. Counselling might be beneficial, have you thought of this?

Stumpy71 Wed 22-Aug-18 21:25:35

Thanks ReggaetonLente, that's reassuring, I had never considered that the father figure role may be difficult for her as her dad was a good bloke but not a proactive parent. She has always had a lot of anger which has cost her most friendships over the years, but perhaps she has not reflected where the anger is coming from.
Myself and my partner are considering counselling and probably will do so once our daughter is back at school. I have suggested the sd be part of that but that is extremely unlikely.

OP’s posts: |
Slimmingsnake Wed 22-Aug-18 21:26:58

She's 20 ..... an adult...she absolutely has to treat you with respect while she lives with you...if only for her half sister who must be very confused by all this..,it's sad she has lost her dad.it does not give her the right to try to end her mothers marriage.she should have her own life ,work,friends ,boyfriend...she's lashing out and blaming you

butterfly990 Wed 22-Aug-18 22:26:50

Have a read of this book.

My partner died, I have 3 children and I was recommended that as a family we started this therapy. My eldest 14 is suffering from social anxiety and largely taking it out on me, there is no one else and she feels "safe" in taking out her anger towards me.

www.amazon.co.uk/Neurobiology-Attachment-Focused-Therapy-Adolescents-Interpersonal/dp/0393711048/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=the+neurobiology+of+attachment+focused+therapy&tag=mumsnetforum-21&ie=UTF8&qid=1534972830&sr=8-1

ReggaetonLente Wed 22-Aug-18 22:35:51

Yes, it might even be BECAUSE you are stable and reliable and have never given up that she’s treating you this way. It is horrible and unfair but that is grief I'm afraid.

I know you say she was negative before, so it must be difficult to reconcile with her grief or cut her any slack as it were. I do really sympathise. But things have changed now and changed forever, you’re in unchartered waters, and you’re probably all feeling a bit lost which won’t be helping.

Give it time re: the counselling. I was against at first too but now I feel more ready. Her uni might recommend or offer it when she goes back.

swingofthings Thu 23-Aug-18 06:27:08

You say you've done some wrong things in the past what were they? Maybe you've moved and turned the page whereas she took things badly and never forgave you?

WhiteCat1704 Thu 23-Aug-18 06:58:18

She's 20 ..... an adult...she absolutely has to treat you with respect while she lives with you...if only for her half sister who must be very confused by all this..,it's sad she has lost her dad.it does not give her the right to try to end her mothers marriage.she should have her own life ,work,friends ,boyfriend...she's lashing out and blaming you

This

Time4Gin Thu 23-Aug-18 15:20:37

Poor you, this sounds awful. You’re not her Dad and now her Dad is dead, that’s unfortunately how she sees it - and blames you for not being her Dad. I’d say let her take it all out on you and absorb this young lady’s pain; it’s not about you, but you can show her strength and that you won’t let her down, by always being there if she needs you, which she might not now, or even ever later, but as hard as it sounds, you’re the one who has to let her go through what she’s going through. Let her grieve. Good luck x

Stumpy71 Thu 23-Aug-18 17:56:53

Thanks to you all for the comments here, they are reassuring and useful, and have justified me posting on here. Above all from reading this, is that I have become the channel for her anger since day one when I moved into her mum's life (ie. replacing her dad) and that has been exacerbated by her dad's death. While I have always been aware of this, I hadn't properly considered this from a child's perspective and to some extent believed her that I was being unreasonable. But now I realise there is a pattern, that if her mum or brother pick her up on behaviour, then they get no abuse or even sympathy from her. It's only me who gets the constant, irrational negativity.
Now that I can rationalise it that way, hopefully I can learn to cope better. It's a while since I have reacted or 'bit' to anything she has said, but you can imagine how wearing it is to have a negative atmosphere every time we're in each other's presence.
I truly hope that as she matures and builds her own life, she can realise that there are other channels for her anger and perhaps use that positively elsewhere. But .... I have waited 9 years for her to change and her anger is now so extreme, that it will be a long wait.
On the up side, me and my partner have had a good talk today about coping etc and the recent threat of breaking up appears to be passing. Its a cliche to say things will go back to normal, but there will be a collective sigh or relief when sd returns to Uni in a few weeks time. Thanks for your comments!

OP’s posts: |
Stumpy71 Thu 23-Aug-18 18:03:25

Swingofthings.
That's absolutely correct. There is definitely a sense of her storing a log of every wrong I have ever done to her, which have spanned the last 9 years. Most are trivial 'accusing her of cheating in a card game' to asking her to take her feet off the front of the car. But she has accused me of much, much worse which thankfully my partner pointed out to her were just spiteful lies! eg. not being welcome at her dad's funeral when the truth is I was asked to attend to support my partner and my stepson as we have many mutual friends
I have moved on, but it's very hard to take on so much negativity every day.

OP’s posts: |
Bananasinpyjamas11 Thu 23-Aug-18 22:47:44

It’s not fair on anyone especially your younger children, to have negativity to this level.

In a lot of respects your DP should have stepped up long ago. By saying she is ‘in the middle’ is saying that she won’t parent or manage this situation at all, and that there is no person causing the conflict.

The first thing is to look at yourself and genuinely ask whether you have been damaging to her in any way. Be honest.

If it is your step daughter who is basically scapegoating you, then see if there is a frank talk you can have with her and your partner.

If this is not possible, then it’s your house, she has the option of leaving at uni? Best bet all round.

Anuta77 Fri 24-Aug-18 02:44:42

I really sympathise with you. I remember feeling negative about my ex stepfather who appeared when I was 16 and I wasn't taking any of his rules and treated him as a stranger. I was just feeling bad inside and didn't even know why. It wasn't even because of my father as my parents were separated few years before and I was fine with it.

Our situation wasn't as bad, as my mom would control me, but his adult kids didn't treat my mom well (ex. ignoring her) and eventually, she left him.

Your partner is lucky that you're still with her and try to have peace and to solve it.

Based on what you say, her mother should step up and convince her to do counseling, it's not just grief, but also victim mentality which will not allow her to solve anything with you (or anybody) and it's unfair not only towards you, but also towards her mother and your daughter.

I also think that she's spoiled, because grief doesn't give you the right to mistreat people, especially if you say that you stay away. I could understand that her anger during a fight would be stronger, but if it's out of nowhere, it's not ok. She's 20, not 10.

AmICrazyorWhat2 Fri 24-Aug-18 03:06:42

My partner's view is very much caught in the middle as she realises that this will potentially break up the family and says she has some difficult decisions to make. I am accepting that I may have to go, which is not what I want, as the relationship with my partner is good and normal.

It's really important that you present a united front and that your DP realises that you leaving wouldn't actually resolve her DD's anger and emotional turmoil - she'll probably direct it at someone else instead.
As PP's have said, focus on getting counselling for her and yourselves.

Oyiboblog Fri 24-Aug-18 03:34:12

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

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