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
Just feel like a massive failure(28 Posts)
Need to talk to people that know. Feel absolutely heartbroken today. I have been a sm for nearly 6 years now and its still not working and I feel like such a massive failure and am so upset I can't draw this kids in, the upset takes over you. I was very happy to be a step mum, I wanted to care for these new little people and really mean something to them and 6 years later I have tried as much as I can and now I am so not in a good place which is really unhealthy, I need to find some peace with it all. They basically don't want what I want, never shared my dream, no surprise right, why would they. But it hurts. And it hurts watching my husband suffer.....i just don't know how he copes with the rejection. It used to be pure anger, irrational, unreasonable behaviour and luckily we have moved away from that a bit but now we just don't seem to factor, they don't want to know us. It doesn't help that there has been a lack of emphasise from their mums side such as manners, empathy, flexibility and they are very entitled and if its not exactly how they wanted it well then shutters up and fuck everyone. We've been so so patient, taken it all and come back for more. I have made sure they know I personally think their relationship with their dad is so important and pushed for time with just them and dad, I even suggested they set up a whatsapp group with them and both their parents so that they can talk to them at the same time ffs. I have accepted all the bad behaviour, the ignoring my son when he was born, the punishing of my daughter for just existing. I have had my say but part of me wishes I had been firmer from the beginning and said not having this behaviour in my house. My husband tries to be there for them everyday but he never knows if he will get cut off, refusal to talk, door shut in face, blamed for not seeing them when its them that won't come over. They can be good if they want, we have had some good times, they just don't care enough but they are just cold now rather than punishing, we don't exist/matter. SS was younger when we met and has given us more back (that we absolutely cherished) but that's just seemed to switch off. The things we have done for them and we just seem to fall off the face of the earth for months after, I am floored. SD is very angry/sad and won't truly accept the divorce (although it seems to be ok for mum to move on) and SS who is obvs on the spectrum and is hard to deal with in general and prob unable to feel empathy for his dad. I am aware this is a long depressing rant so apologies I just don't know where to go with this but right now I am angry and that's not good. Besides feeling rejected myself (which I know they don't owe me) I feel like 6 years is a good amount of time to be understanding and the pain they are putting my husband through is just not ok.
It goes deeper than putting a list on a fridge. The issues are deep rooted. Plus my DP, his DD, her DM are locked firmly in the unhealthy dynamic together. Each playing a part.
I have suggested ways forward for DP (because his DD is lovely and I see the potential in her and it’s in my nature to want to help). That’s more than enough. Now all that’s needed is to detach.
I’m getting better at it. DP was talking about his DD last night and I said nothing and felt neutral and just listened.
It’s kinda liberating, not investing yourself in an outcome that you can’t control. But for some of us it needs practice!
@LatentPhase ah that's horrible for you. I feel sorry for DD as well how can parents not want so little for their child? Must be very very frustrating. It's terrible it's keeping you apart. Could you maybe set like one goal for DD every month or two? That would not be a lot to ask of her potentially and u will feel happy seeing her develop without investing too much. Or put a list of ideas of things she can do on the fridge and leave it to her. Or would you get annoyed if she wasn't doing them? Maybe that's how you get to live together? Maybe you have tried all this. Just a shame it's stopping you live together. I will say this when I was doing things for my SK like they were mine and setting extra curricular things up it pissed BM off big time as she hated I thought of doing it, she started being a more attentive mum just to shut me up I think. Saying that every time we see her son he has black finger nails and I have never seen so many nits on a child as I have seen on her son week after week and he has short.hair. Would NOT have been been hard to get rid at all. On a girl yes but that was a joke. Plus! He's had an eating disorder since her Was In pre school, he's 11 and it's only marginally improving, what.parent.leaves that?? He's under developed and it's caused him other physical problems. Grrrr. And the woman's got the ducking cheek to give me advice!
@Here4help I hear you, re being women being the ‘doers’ that’s my issue.
DP and I don’t even live together. Me and the kids and in fact all of us get on well. No problems there. It’s just a dysfunctional relationship - him and his dd and her mum.
To me she’s like a caged bird (18 and no GCSE’s, bobbing about the house, shopping online, never going out, periodically saying ‘my life is ruined’). DP feels no need to address it and neither does his ex. He’a happy with the way thing are (with his dd out of sight/out of mind, her shutting down all discussions about making her life better).
It’s that that I need to detach from. And the idea that I can live with him and basically adopt that situation and the dysfunction that goes with it. Which I can’t. I need to detach and accept my life isn’t going to merge with his and we will never live together.
@LatentPhase sounds like u r ahead of us! Any tips? What have you done so far? I can see how this is difficult if BM is forcing the kids to come over and since ours doesn't (and makes all manners of excuses for them) and the SKs don't want to it's not a huge issue for us. If u had to have them around it's not going to be easy to detaching cos the detaching we need to do is getting away from the bit that is hurting us or winding us up. What it means for my family is changing our expectations so we don't get hurt and more importantly I need us all to detach to pretty much save my marriage. The stress we have endured as a couple over this has nearly broken us and my kids have had to carry that and it's all got to stop, we need to get happy. I have suggested to my husband we try this detachment but I would never stop him seeing them and in fact would encourage he go to them but he has to stop throwing himself at them and he has to stop taking out his upset on the ones at home. Everything has to change now. We made our first step yesterday and on the family chat we said school holidays woohoo we know we won't see much of you but here's some spending money have a wonderful time call us if you need us and call us if you want to visit us. It's going to be easier on the kids and we can just get on with our lives until they call. And i am hopeful they will, last time my husband had enough and stopped calling daily it was about 5 days before SD was on the phone crying why haven't you called, all a big test, they know he's going to call so they can cut him off or be rude then suddenly hes not available for the insults and she shit herself. Have to add once she spoke for a few mins and realised he still loves her she started with the finger pointing and anger. Its hard not to handle stuff as women we are doers and it's v hard to watch dad not doing anything! I read a cool article yesterday from a step mum who just said expect to do things and get nothing in return and probably the piss taken out of you, you should be able to say you tried and you did your beat. Of course that's not for everyone and I would blame any woman for saying not doing that see ya later. I also took on the words of one of the ladies that responded to me and I have to stop fantasising about what a step mum is, I am just some woman that married their dad and I will have to be happy with having an impact on and love from my kids and nieces and other kids in need I know x
they come with a twister board
I love this ^^ I’m stealing it if you don’t mind....
In all seriousness, though, detaching means kinda shutting off such a big aspect of your DP and isn’t necessarily easy.
My DP has his own mess with his dd which he will not sort. I’ve tried to help him and now I just need to detach. Detaching is a work in progress here... any tips gratefully received.
@AFistfulofDolores1 thanks, I wish I had been a hardarse many years ago, I think the kids would respond well to that and it would have saved a lot of heartache and resentment, but I was scared to breathe wrong as they already had my husband by the balls. Kids don't come with a Manual and neither do step kids! They come with a twister board......
The fact that they are obviously over indulged by everyone that came before me has only made it worse. The BM pisses me off as she parades her working blended family in front of us and offers advise when she hasn't got to deal with her own kids as step kids! If she had raised them better we wouldn't have 90% of the issues we have, and BD has a role in that too! She doesn't care that the entitled disrespectful kids she raised have caused a lot of pain to the new people that came into their life and tried to do for them. Oh well, staying angry is like drinking the poison yourself or whatever nelson Mandela said
Sometimes, accommodating children as much as possible, and giving way to their wishes can be disastrous - especially with the added dynamic of them being step-children.
I'd disengage and I'd also establish some boundaries. Be a bit of a hardarse - which doesn't mean you have to be rude or cold; just consistent and firm while stepping back.
Omg @Magda72 every word you said touched me and every emotion I can hear as I read it touched me, we are in exactly the same place and I know how bad you feel. It has pushed me to therapy as well only finances have stopped that. The reason we are annoyed is that it MATTERS to us that it didn't work hence my message title feel like an absolute failure. The giving up in itself is so painful as we never wanted to have to make that decision but we have had to for our own sake. I have said to my husband many a time that he might as well salvage a relationship with them by seeing them away from me and he insists it's not about me but it's about our unit in general as you say, the whole thing just is of no interest to the kids, we are an inconvenience and that is probably not personal but becomes so as they look for ways to justify it, if we are the problem they don't have one right? I am planning to do what you do and I do so knowing I tried but I have to move on in a way that allows me to hold my head up, I don't like the resentment I feel but with a bit of time it should pass. I am in a way also moving on from feelings of failure to feelings of worry that what I am planning to do now for my and my kids happiness is going to score against me in the future. I basically have little autonomy in this part of my life and never had and will come off bad whatever I do when, like u, I have been anything but bad. Gutting. And dw paints a picture of collaboration but inside she's absolutely loving it
@Here4help - firstly you have my full sympathy. I'm in a somewhat similar situation and here are my thoughts for what it's worth.
My dp has a great relationship with my kids - I have only ever had an ok one with his (they are 13, 16 & 19 - all boys). We've been together 5 years & while my initial hope was that we would blend ok given time, it just has not worked and will not.
Dp's kids live in a different town & have spent very little time here with us - this is down to geographics of course, but is also a result of their dm's appalling attitude to me & my kids (told awful lies amongst other stuff) & dp's kids basically not wanting their dad to move on. Fwit o was not ow & met dp after we had both divorced. They are not outwardly rude to me or my kids & we have spent time together on day trips/birthdays/short holidays which up until now has been ok - they are just totally ambivalent about everything to do with their dad's life & every encounter is tense & awkward & exclusionary but I kept making the effort for dp's sake. We never forced everyone being together regularly/at weekends & dp has maintained a house in their town (at great expense) & sees them there for the most part - there they have his full attention & one on one time (which imo probably didn't help matters).
We are just back from a holiday together & it was a disaster - worse than anything previous. It became completely obvious that the older they get the more resentful of me & my kids they have become. Even though they are all teens/young adults they basically just want their dad to themselves & unless they get that they subtly 'punish' him (moods, sulking etc.) for me being around.
I've had two therapy sessions (alone) since coming back from holidays & have reached the point where I am now going to detach from that side of dp totally as it's proving very bad for me & very bad for my kids who are also on the receiving end of all this negativity & tension.
I would never expect dp not to see them but I will make no more efforts or suggestions to see them myself or see if they want to visit us as, I have put myself through years of agony trying to support dp in this & for the sake of my mental health I can do so no more.
This may be very bad advice on my part (as each situation is different) but if I were you I'd be inclined to stop seeing you & dp as a unit in this. They're his kids & if they don't want to visit so be it. Let him (& support him in this but do it for him) work out a different way of seeing them that doesn't involve you & detach physically & mentally - not your monkeys, not your circus so to speak.
I wouldn't even bother with family therapy as if their dm is in a negative space re this it won't work & tbh it probably won't work anyway as it sounds like at the moment they don't want to know & why put yourself through it? All you can hope for is that when they become adults & hopefully a little less self centered they'll be a bit nicer.
I know my posts may come across to many as being hard hearted - but in reality I'm anything but. However life (& therapy) has taught me you can change no one (only yourself) & that sometimes admitting defeat is the bravest thing you can do.
I feel like I am a good person & I have a great relationship with my kids & I get on with teens in general so in my case I know I'm not the main problem & I'm sick of feeling like it's my fault these kids don't like me & are giving their dad a hard time, because it's not. Their attitude to me has everything to do with their dm & their df & that divorce, the kids own personalities which often aren't very kind & the way they are choosing to absorb the negative influences in their lives.
All of this is having a very negative impact on my dp who swings between frustration & guilt. He is however going to his own therapy as they are HIS kids & he needs to get to grips with HIS parenting, the fallout from HIS divorce & how HE is going to parent them going forward. I'm not prepared to do anything more bar support him in HIS choices.
I hope some of the above makes some sort of sense.
I think being a step parent can be absolutely soul destroying as you can end up on the receiving end of so much dislike & negativity merely because you exist & someone fell in love with you. The more I see of life the more I think how woefully parented (in terms of emotional development) many children of divorce/separation are & it's the parents (both of them) who fail them by not teaching them to claim responsibility for their feelings & behaviours, - rather they indulge their every mood, emotion & want, & then wonder why they're acting so entitled & why their own partners might be struggling so much with them.
I'm honestly not sure anymore, why any of us bother.
Taking a step back in this scenario is just managing our expectations, we do need to let the kids know that we are there for them and we will be but would rather let them
Come to us than calling coming up to our weekend for a knock back, I am sure everyone dreads that call. detachment love can't be exactly applied in the way it would with alanon. I am going to struggle with family therapy there are so many layers of emotion and so many angles people are coming from, although i would love to fix this. I am the person that pushes therapy and I think people just roll their eyes, I arranged it for my step daughter and I provided practitioners for spectrum and eating disorders for my ss (via my work healthcare) to his mum but she would probably claw her own eyes out before she calls them as I provided them lol. They are more people that would tough it out but I don't see why we wait for the kids to grow up to find peace and therefore us. I would absolutely be so nervous of family therapy too, if it doesn't work (like nothing else has!) I am the one who made everyone do something painful.
I think your step children are unlikely to interpret you 'taking a step back' in a positive way.
Have you tried attending family therapy together? When it works for a family it is borderline miraculous.
In the card am I allowed to let them know they way things are set up now and working now is not working for any of us and none of us are happy? Or anything to that effect. I know they are kids but i am tired of our side of the family not having a voice or the right to be upset
Hi @FredaNerkk thank you. Yes that's a nice idea. I am just starting to form what detachment looks like and talked with my husband last night about possibly forgetting the your weekend our weekend thing as they never come and it leads to heartache. But maybe saying come when u like, door is open. And then also adding in that my husband goes to them a night in the weekend to help with homework or just have a cup of tea, not a fixed night just when his rota allows and maybe I can join him once a month? I have suggested he and the kids stay at my in-laws if they don't want to deal with me and my kids. For me this feels like air in my lungs and my husband looked relieved too although he's so conflicted about pulling away as he is clinging onto his relationship with them and has been for years but it's making him ill. I wouldn't dream of telling him what to do but this is worth a try surely. I like the idea of a card. I was thinking of starting another thread on here saying someone in the community had given me the idea and had anyone else put it into play. Think I need to try that.
Your feelings make a lot of sense.
Before you detach, perhaps you could tell your step children (in a card?) that they mean alot to you and because you care about them and their growing independence, you're going to take step back to let them grow. But any time they would like to talk or interact more, just ask - you'll be there for them as quick as you can.
I don't know if that would be useful, but at least they can't tell themselves that increasing detachment is proof that you never cared
Thank you @IrisMarch for this tip!! Xxxx
Good luck OP, focus on yourself and take it one day at a time as a wise person once said.
Looked up detachment on train this morning and think this is really going to help. I don't like it buts going to have to be how it is. I said to my husband we need to stop expecting what we haven't been getting for years cos it's eating us up. We need to change tack and take what's ok offer now and also set our expectations and contribution so we don't get hurt:
Thanks eve so great to hear from someone who has been there. The teenage years are playing a part but we have always been just too much to deal with. It's hard to see them accept their mums new family way better than they do us but they came along first and I just think we were a step too far. Plus they had their dad all to the self before I messed it up! He was the last thing they had to them self after mum got a new fella. I get it all just think we have suffered enough and done enough and be nice to be fully accepted. I dont agree completely with the way they have been brought up but I do believe that when they mature they will be nice people so I am hanging out for that and it's perhaps damage limitation from here on so that we can have this in the future? One of the other ladies mentioned detaching and think it's the way forward for me but hurts as we so want to be involved in their life in school, in boyfriends and we don't get a look in. You love your mum as she did all the graft for u but we want to do that and don't get the chance so so hard to think we may be judged for that in the future. We don't get told what's happening, about results, the chance to help with homework. We pay for a counsellor for my sd and that is helping her and I think we should pay for it through her gcse and perhaps that's the only impact we are gonna be allowed to have. It's interesting what u say about her being just dads wife and I am prob just going to have to learn to deal with that. I always told her she's got a perfectly good mum and I am not trying to take over but if I am honest I would like to have been someone more than their dads wife, I think I need to just get over it though xx
It sounds like you are both good people and have tried hard to maintain a relationship with the children.
They are teenagers. They are pulling away from their parents and building their own lives now. They will come back round. My dad left when I was 5. As a child I He was my dad and we enjoyed his visits. As a teen not so much. But as an adult our relationship has equalled out and I have more time and respect for him now.
I am sorry to say he is not and will not be my dominant parent. My mother worked hard. Went without and did all the hard work for me. His my dad and I am loyal to him. But he reaps what he sows. He had relationships with several different women. Then ultimately married the ow he left my mum for. She is a loving. Kind and genuine lady. But she has had no role in my up bringing. And although I would not say a bad word against her she is not my mum or step mum. She is my dads wife.
Again as an adult the relationship I have with them has grown they are family. I hope in time the children will feel able to be more involved with you.
I think that’s a really good link which we could all use
for you OP
This one? https://al-anon.org/pdf/S19.pdf
I should take a look at this detachment technique thank you. Bloody hard not to be affected when u see a loved one suffering, it's gonna be hard to stay detached but this is worth a look thank you x
Have you come across the (Alanon Family Groups) idea of detatchment with love?
Sounds really hard. How old are they, here4help ?
Please login first.