This is a Premium feature
To use this feature subscribe to Mumsnet Premium - get first access to new features see fewer ads, and support Mumsnet.Start using Mumsnet Premium
Feeling invisible in step-parent role(9 Posts)
BF and I have lived together 1 yr. He has 2 boys, 6 and 9. The boys have known me for over 2 years and for the most part, we get along fine. But I'm struggling with feeling left out. I grew up with divorced parents, so I understand some of what the kids are going through. I fully support them spending alone time with their dad and I make sure that they do. Our work schedules are different, so it ends up working out that the boys have 3-4 hours every week day alone with him and then on Sundays they have time together from 9 am until 7 pm. None of this bothers me, I enjoy my job and I enjoy having some alone time on Sundays, or time to get together with my friends. The problem is all of the time that we are all together. At dinner, when the 4 of us sit at the table, the boys will ask their dad questions like for him to tell them about their mother's pregnancy with them and how it differed between the two of them, and about their birth. Sometimes it's more normal questions, like, "dad, have you ever been on a cruise? Dad, what's your favorite movie?" The problem is that dinner time turns into strictly a Q and A session bt dad and the boys. I cannot count the amount of times I have gone the entire meal without saying a single word while they talk non-stop. It's like I'm invisible. I've tried politely interjecting myself into these conversations like when their dad said no he hasn't been on a cruise, I just said, I haven't been on one either, but my sister's have and they got to swim with stingrays once. The older kid gives me a dirty look when I do this and the younger kid and my bf just completely ignore me. We have a pool table in the house, after dinner the boys will ask their dad to play pool with them and they do, which is fine, but they never ask me to play, so it's all 3 of them playing and I'm sitting by myself in the living room (where the pool table is)or am cleaning up the dinner mess. I tried to play with them once and the boys refused to play. I let my bf know I was feeling left out, so the next time all 4 of us played and it was just like dinner. Q and a with Dad, but this time there was the added delight of being talked about right in front of me, as if I weren't even there. Dad, does she like playing pool? Dad, tomorrow will she make chicken for dinner? If I answer any of the questions about myself - silence. Nobody acknowledges that I spoke. Recently I have started just spending time alone in my bedroom when the boys are here. I would rather be alone in a room doing my own thing than feeling invisible in a room full of people. Anybody else ever feel invisible in this role? Any tips?
It’s a bit of a cliche on here, but it sounds like you have a DP problem rather than a step child problem.
You need to talk to DP about how this is making you feel & he needs to listen & support you. Obviously the boys are focused on their DF but that is no reason to be rude or ignore you at dinner table or talk about you like you’re not there!
Your DP needs to address this, if he won't/doesn't/can't then end it.
I think your DPs behaviour speaks volumes about his priorities.
The three of them are treating you badly, but one of them is an adult and they will take their cue from their father.
Time for a serious chat. Does he is it? Is he prepared to make changes? If not it's over to you- are you prepared to live like this?
Sounds like some rudeness from all three, but I guess the DCs bombard your dp with questions as they don’t see him all the time so are excited to speak with him. I know you may feel your input is equally interesting, but it won’t be to them. You’re their Dfs dp and, to them at the moment, that’s all you are and they’re not interested in whether you’ve been on a cruise or not. Having said that they shouldn’t be ignoring you when you speak, but it’s their father who should be calling them out on it, and he isn’t.
DP problem OP.
1) Why are you clearing up? He should be teaching his boys chores, showing them that it's good to pitch in and clear up and telling you to put your feet up and relax.
2) His DC are taking his cue from him. They ignore you, he doesn't pull them up on their behaviour, it reinforces it in their mind and then he joins in. The only person who can break this is your DP. And it will take time and consistency.
I will say this in his defence, he may genuinely be blind to what is happening. His world appears to gravitate towards his DC so in his mind, he's having a conversation with them and if you wanted to join in, you could. He most likely is also not picking up on the dirty looks being thrown in your direction.
My advice is to talk to him, explain what is happening and how you feel (without making him feel that you are attacking his children which will put him on auto defence mode)...he needs to intervene and change this.
I echo the others. It's a BF problem.
When they ask is she going to cook xyz... he should tell them to ask you.
He should talk to you at dinner and they can follow or not...but their behavior is rude.
Think carefully if you want to stay in the relationship and potentially have DC with a man who allows his DC to be so rude to you. It's pretty much bullying by exclusion.
Thanks for all the input. I spoke with BF and he was supportive and attempted to bring me into the conversations during dinner. This resulted in DS constantly interrupting me and when BF tried to stop the interruptions, DS declared that he will only speak to his dad and threw a massive temper tantrum. It didn't go smoothly, but BF is trying, we will see how it plays out.
Glad your DP listened and tried to address things. I’m a way it’s positive that DSS reacted like that as at least now DP can see there is an issue that needs addressing!
Hopefully your DP can talk to DSS about what is making them feel like this & why they only want to talk to their Dad and maybe from there things can improve