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klmshe

Relationship with Adult Stepchildren

klmshe
15 years ago

I feel like I'm writing Dear Abby, but I really need objective advice. My husband and I have been together for 10 years and married for 6. He has 2 adult daughters, ages 22 and 20, and a 15 yr old son, with whom we still have visitation. We had sole custody of the oldest daughter and visitation with younger daughter and son. When we married, SD22 did have some issues in determining her new role in the family, but things got easier. There have never been problems with the younger ones, and ex-wife is not an issue.

The problem began a couple of years ago when SD20 moved out of her mother's house and on her own. It seems the older daughter tried to make the younger one jealous of her relationship with her dad by telling her fibs of hanging out with and "having a couple of beers with dad" and of dad calling her often just to check in. SD20 began complaining that I don't give my husband her messages, as he never returns her call. Truth told, he doesn't call any of his children ... ever. Now when SD20 comes to visit, she plops down almost in my husband's lap, offers to massage his shoulders, and constantly asks when they can go out together. I know part of the problem is she's jealous of the relationship she thinks her sister has with dad, but I'm not sure if that is all of it.

A couple of weeks ago, SD20 came to visit wearing a necklace and earrings we'd given her for her birthday. She said she loved it and told everyone her father had given it to her. When he informed her that I'd picked it out and bought it, she immediately stated that she didn't want any gift from me, that she didn't want me to buy her anything. I was surprised at her outburst and replied, "That's fine. I won't buy you anything else."

Of course, I feel unappreciated, insulted, and confused. I didn't feel this way before the girls grew up. They used to remember me on Mother's Day and my birthday. Now, they never do. I am the one who phones them and asks about them, not my husband. I'm the one who plans their birthday dinners and buys their gifts. Now when the girls come, they act as if I'm not even present, ignoring me completely or interrupting me as if I'm not even speaking. They've never thanked me for dinners or gifts, only their father. I don't want to be petty, but I'm tired of this. I do love the girls dearly, but I don't understand their behavior, and I'm beginning to resent the way they're now treating me.

If it were left to my husband, he'd never call, never invite them over, and never buy gifts -- not because he doesn't love them, he truly does -- but because he would never think of it.

They called the other night and asked my husband to dinner without me. I do understand that they want to spend time alone with their father, but without consulting me, he told them he'd get back with them about a time we could both come. I'm sure this will be my fault as well.

Could anyone please share any insight into what's going on with SD20? She's never seemed jealous of me before the last couple of years, and I'm not even sure that's it. Should I just let my husband handle any future contact with the girls? I've read a lot about stepdaughters being jealous of new stepmoms, but nothing about jealousy developing after 10 years!

Comments (43)

  • imamommy
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    It sounds like both girls are disappointed by dad's lack of involvement. If I were you, I'd probably tell dad that he is letting them down but ultimately, it's up to him if he is going to put forth any effort.

    As far as buying gifts or planning birthday celebrations, I would plan NOTHING. If dad forgets to buy a gift, oh well. It's not your job, it's his. If they want to plan something without you, then let them. If your husband allows his daughter's to treat you this way, this is your husband's fault. He is to blame, not the girls. They are playing an immature game of rivalry and he is the adult.

    My younger sister did this to my stepmom. She planned a surprise birthday luncheon for my dad at a time she knew my stepmom couldn't make it and didn't even call my stepmom. When my dad realized what she did, he made it clear to my sister (and the rest of us) that if we EVER treated his wife that way again, we might as well not plan anything for him ever again. He stood up for his wife and that is what your husband has to do for you.

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  • serenity_now_2007
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I agree. Based on what you've said, klmshe, it sounds like their issue is more with their father not contacting them. In this situation, yes, it would make sense that it's easier to blame you. Think about it like this: SD telling you she doesn't want any gifts *from you* means it's b/c she wants them (or any sort of attention) *from her father*. The SK's are probably all too aware that you are the one behind the various gifts, cards, calls, etc. and resent THAT FACT, not necessarily YOU. And, sadly, it's not likely to be a comfort to them to know so, even if you are doing it out of what sounds like genuine love towards them. It is such an excruciatingly painful psychological truth to be aware that one's own parent doesn't give all that much of a hoot about them, that in some cases (when a step-parent is truly well-meaning) it is easier to project onto the step-parent. And, sadly, because there do exist plenty of step-parents who actually do try to cause rifts between parents & children, the SK's may be under the mistaken impression that you are somehow behind their dad's lack of contact with them. A couple of things to consider:

    -Ask yourself if there is anything you may have said or done EVER that may have been interpreted by any of the SK's as you being unhappy with your husband contacting or otherwise reaching out to them. At this point in time or before. And I mean 'reaching out' within reasonable healthy limits (not talking about about extremes of behavior such as 10x/daily phone calls, sleeping in same bed or anything generally considered out of bounds.)

    -Then ask yourself if there is any part of you that *is* or *would be* unhappy with your husband & his kids developing a closer relationship at this time, even if you feel like you've never let it show (feelings have a way of showing regardless). For example, have you ever said (or thought to yourself) something to the effect of "his kids will no longer be a factor in our lives once they turn 18 and leave the house".

    Of course, an occasional thought like this would be normal, but I guess it's a matter of to what extent it dominates the atmosphere. If you actually on some level have been living by an assumption that once they left the nest they would kinda disappear, then it would tend to generate an implicit expectation that they & hubs would not be close after that point. They & hubs would pick this up and tend to live it out. And, of course, it would cause tension. But this may not be your situation at all, only you know what you feel about it.

    It actually sounds more like you, too, would like them all to have a better relationship. But again, you being the one to impart to the kids that their Dad is the slack party is not going to have a good effect, even though your intentions would be good (to bring everyone closer).

    The main person to fix this is DH. He simply needs to be more there for his kids and more proactive (or at least not soley REactive, but an equal agent) in sharing a relationship with them. No one can make him do it but him.

    In the meantime, maybe there are ways that you can somehow indicate that you are no threat to anyone w/o it coming off like you'e being too concerned with impression management. Really, the best way to do that is by continuing to be a nice and giving person. Just ease up a bit on the overt displays of generosity until they come around. Avoid doing or anything that feels excessive or phony or over-compensating, which is easy to tell b/c those things would be unnatural anyway. But when you're feeling it, try to throw in the occasional nice word to them, ie,:

    -"It's so much more fun around here when you visit"
    -"You're hilarious!" [after a joke is made]
    -"You look fantastic in that outfit"
    -"I'm so glad you kids are around. You've all given me so much joy through the years."
    -"Mmmmm! That was absolutely delicious" [if they make a meal]

    Okay, yeah, as an adult stepdaughter myself, some of the above comments are exactly what I wish I'd heard from my stepmother and may sound silly or even butt-kissy. But it's amazing the difference just a few of those lines, through the years (or their absence) can make. If the situation isn't too far gone, or if you still have love for them and feel you can say any of those things genuinely & w/o throwing up, I urge you to. They need to be assured of their Dad's love primarily, but they also need to really know that you are "on their side". The situation can improve, and you can do a couple of things, but DH needs to be the one to make the major change.

  • finedreams
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    plenty of fathers are not that good with contacting their grown children. nothing prevents grown children from picking up the phone. when I did not hear from dad for awhile I pick up the phone and call.

    after children are grown relationship is about meeting them half way.

    i do not go out with my dad just me and him. it absolutelly does not bother me.

    when DD's dad does not call her for too long she sometimes complains but she certainly does not blame SM. she in fact does not blame anyone including dad.

    at some point grown children have to learn to accept their parents for who they are, not for who kids wish they were.

    maybe I wish my dad was this or that, but he is who he is. and maybe DD wishes her dad does things differently, but at age 20 she accepts him for who he is and does not wish what is not there.

    the other thing is young people in their 20s are usually extremelly busy and hardly have any time for anything let alone go out to analyze what dad does and who he has beer with. I am surprised SD20 has any time for that. DD is 20 and she has no time to analyze who has beer with who, she has no time to breath. SDs need to get a life and get busy and stop expecting things to be different.

    maybe if DD sits down and starts pitty herself how dad has young children and how he does this or that with them or with SM and not wiht her maybe she would also start acting weird, but what is the point. It just perpetuates missery.

  • athlete2010
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I think that you should continue to do the things you have been doing with the 15 year old. He is still a minor, and you should work on maintaining a good relationship with him.

    You don't want to have all three children alienated from you.

    The 20 and 22 year olds are adults, and you are not obligated to remember them for their dad. I believe that they are making a conscious decision to treat you like you don't exist for whatever reason. This is rude and childish.

    Meet them halfway with effort. If theirs is zero, then you are completely off the hook.

    The 20 year old also seems to be going through a phase right now. Be patient and it will pass.

    Allow your husband to go out with his daughters without you from time to time. Tell them to enjoy themselves and count yourself lucky that you don't have to go along. They probably need quality time with him.

    No matter what, always be polite. If the 20 year old does another outburst, the best thing to do would be just to look at her and say nothing. This way you won't be adding fuel to the fire. In her version of the event, she will use your words against you without putting them into the proper context.

    Always offer them a "hello" and "good-bye' when you see them. Beyond that, you don't have to do anything. Please don't set yourself up to be unappreciated, insulted or confused. Be clear to yourself what you are doing and put your defense shield up. You will feel better soon.

  • klmshe
    Original Author
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Wow, thank you all for your advice. I agree that I should continue to treat SS as I always have. We have a wonderful relationship. With the 20 yr old, I can say (and have) that will not buy or give her anything in the future, but I don't know if I can stick to that. I would feel horribly guilty if I don't remind my DH to buy her a gift for her birthday. I guess my guilt is more about HIS feelings than HERS.

    It's ironic, but she called this afternoon after I posted and demanded that her dad return her call immediately after he comes in or she "will be very angry." I gave DH the message, but he got only her voice mail. We both believe she's calling to bless him out about not going solo to eat with the girls. Should I try to talk him into going? I'm not sure how he'll react if she tries to brow-beat him.

    I'm waiting for the phone to ring now....

  • athlete2010
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    If your husband does not have a cell phone, then he should get one for his daughters' calls. They need to be told to call him directly on his phone only. He should be the one to tell them.

    You should not have to be the "secretary" for the daughters. I would get caller id on your phone and not answer if they still call the home number anyway. Let it go to voicemail, and have him pick up the messages.

    You deserve some peace.

    Encourage him to go out with his daughters for dinner without you. Show him that you are the bigger person.

    He needs to make it clear to them that they are not to issue "demands" or "brow-beat" him anymore. They are to treat you with respect. Period. The dinner would be a great opportunity to do this - without you there.

  • lynnfrances
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I read your post and the first thing that came to mind was "What a thankless job you have". I saw nowhere that your efforts were appreciated by your husband or his children. That is sad.

    The problem with acting as you are, and taking the responsibility of 'caring' for the daughters (no matter how old) is that it will become expected as time moves on.

    When things start being taken for granted, an even biggeer problem will have begun -- how do you address the problem then?

    It is easy for the stepdaughter to disrespect you if your husband doesn't stand up for you. I've seen it happen with a dear friend of mine that took over 3 adult daughters and 1 adult son.

    Blame was placed on their mother for the children's attitudes, but until my friend saw 'John' would not stand up for her as new wife, the respect she was due would never come about.

    I faced this reluctance on the part of my husband too. I was going through a period of 'hell' from my own daughter. Until my husband was literally threatened to say on the phone "this is my wife and I will not have her talked to like that" nothing changed.

    I'd suggest you have an immediate talk with your husband. Place the responsibility of communication with the girls in his lap. Tell the truth, you've been doing it and received little in return.

    As far as gifts are concerned, shop for them together. The attached card should be signed only by the father for now, but the gift given "from me and [whatever your name is]".

    Hope this helps.

  • klmshe
    Original Author
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    When SD20 called that night, she was indeed VERY pushy. She and her dad have never been close, and it's mostly because she rebuked his efforts when she was growing up.

    And DH did finally stand up for me. He informed her that he would attend nothing from which I, his wife, was excluded. He told her that she was an adult now, and if she wanted to begin a relationship with him at this point (which is what she said she wanted), it would be a relationship with US. It felt really good that he stood up for me, but at the same time I'm feeling guilty that I didn't encourage him to spend time one on one with her. I've expressed to him these guilty feelings, and he told me that the choice was his to make and he will not have anyone running over us. I guess he's hurt at the way she's always treated him as well.

    My MIL (SD's own grandma) says good for us for not continuing to let her manipulate things. My sister (who is a child psychiatrist) says shame on me for not encouraging a relationship.

    My question -- did he do the right thing? Should I have done more? It's so hard to know what's right!

  • sieryn
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Don't beat yourself up over 'what ifs?' !! It is up to him to cultivate a relationship with his daughter if he wants one. It is not your responsibility to ensure he calls her, spends time with her etc.. he's a grown man. From everything you've said I would say you've done more than enough :)

  • athlete2010
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Yes, he did the right thing. You do not need to do anymore than you have already done.

    Tell your husband that it's ok for him to spend quality time with his daughters if he wants. Then, it's up to him to decide. If you are included, then he needs to be the one to stand up for you if they are rude. If they continue to treat you poorly, then you both should limit the amount of get togethers where you all are present.

    Your mission should be to defuse and outwit the two troublemakers, and you need to do this for your own peace of mind.

    You can defuse these situations by not allowing them to ignore you or treat you poorly when they come over. Go to another room and read a book or watch a movie to pass the time. Go out shopping or visit friends.

    You can outwit them by not responding to their outbursts.
    Sometimes giving them a cold hard silent stare is much more powerful. Always be polite with a hello and good-bye, so they don't know what you're really thinking.

  • orange6
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I have to be honest here. Do people post here because they want to hear to the truth, or to be enabled to continue a situation that isn't working? That isn't intended as in insult to OP, but you used words like "brow beat" etc re SD and it really hit me. Aren't you the adult here? you call her the adult but she is 21. she still needs guidance. you've judged her behavior with dh re the backrubs, etc. i can hear the jealousy in your tone. sorry, but it is there. that's ok, but you have to be honest about your feelings if you want to move past this.

    every book on step parenting advises agaisnt not encouraging those relationships. and yes, they need one on one time.

    You seem hurt, and I'm sorry for that. But I'd like you to think about the bigger picture. this is your husband. if he doens't have the relationship with his own kids that will ultimately make him happy, how does that benefit you?

    my SM drove me away-- she is not like you, would never have reminded DH of my birthday or any other such thing -- but, she made my dad feel very guilty about wanting to spend any time with me. she always needed to be included. and then, she talked endlessly about herself and her kids, so dad and i never got to visit. i lived out of state, so these were brief visits anyway.

    long story short, dad and i stopped talking, not out of anger, but sort of defeat to her passive aggressive need to control everything. i hear my dad is miserable at family events and it breaks my heart. it hurts me, as well, and frankly, my dad wan't around when i was growing up because he was an alcoholic -- so yeah, thhere can be issues with "adult" children where they hope to finally get the parenting and attention they dind't get. does that make her a bad person? she's the kid. you're the adult and it is up to you to set the tone with dh. he sounds like he loves you very much and would do whatever you asked of him. maybe you can have a talk about the entire family and see what you, as the leaders of the family, can do.

    do you want your husband to end up broken-hearted? he might not ever say anything, but he will ache eventually for that relationship with his child.

    if you love someone, there's enough love to go around. the more he gives to them, the more he will have for you and anyone else he loves. happy, fulfilled people make better partners.

    you have been a great SP in a lot of ways from what you've said here, and i applaud that. i am just rying to remind you that as much as your feelings are hurt, ask yourself if this was YOUR daughter and she wanted attention, gifts, etc from your husband, would you be hurt by her not wanting it from you or would you try to get your husband to give your daughter what she deserves from him?

  • klmshe
    Original Author
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    First and foremost, I want my husband to be happy. We have a wonderful relationship, and I'd like for him to have great relationships with his three children. I guess that's why I've always done whatever I can for them. When they've thanked their father for things I've done, I've purposefully never taken any credit at all. I'm glad HE's the one who appears thoughtful. It was just lately when she went on and on about her necklace that he told her I was the one who chose it. I would never have said a word, and when he had her outburst, I was truly stunned. I do what I do because I want the girls to feel loved by their father.

    I'm not jealous of her behavior toward my DH, but rather her behavior makes HIM uncomfortable. He's the one who has tried to dicourage the back rubs and such. Because BM was promiscuous, he feels these are behaviors SD has picked up on. It's just been the last year or so that she's displayed such behavior. As I said, during her childhood, she rarely gave him the time of day ... and that's if she wasn't calling to beg off of visitation.

    I used the term brow-beat because that's exactly what she does. She's very pushy. Period. Just recently, her cousin was married, and because SD had recently moved, her invitation was returned undeliverable. Of course, she was still invited, but when she got to the reception, SD found her aunt, blessed her out for not having received an invitation, and demanded to see the returned envelope! When aunt showed it to her, SD turned on her heel and stormed out. I used the term brow-beat because that's how she treated me when she phoned in the first place. "No, Hon, your dad's not here right now." "Well, tell him to call me the minute he walks in the door, or I will be VERY angry!" "Of course, Hon, good-bye." That's just her personality.

    I'm actually extremely secure in my relationship with DH, and "jealous" is certainly not how I would describe myself. It does seem that in the last year or so, she's become jealous of my relationship with her dad. That's why I posted in the first place. She hasn't been jealous of me in ten years, so I don't understand it developing now.

  • finedreams
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    just in a light of recent threads about adult stepchildren demanding their aging parents to live them more money or even their house...How old is your husband? was there a recent discussion about inheritance? is it possible that SD wants to secure her place in dad's life so she gets more stuff...she worries that you will get everything. she might be jealous not of you and your relationship, she might be jealous of your financial security.

    just wonder.

  • fleurs_gardener
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Dear Klmshe,
    I know exactly how you feel about your 20 yrs old SD because I have gone through the same thing with my 20 yrs old step-daughter. She came into my life when she was a little over a year old. For yrs and yrs, everything was fine between us and then Bang, her attitude changed towards me.She begain to make faces when I talked, she would not give me a hug when she saw me, etc. etc. etc. It took me a little while to figure out what was happening.

    It didn't take me long to realize that SD20 was hanging around alot more with her oldest sister (with whom i had never gotten along, altho i always, always did my best to treat this oldest SD the same way i treated my other two step children. The oldest SD did things to me that to this day i feel really hurt about, but you know what, one day, i just realized that it could me any other woman in her father's live, she would dislike her the same way she seemed to hate me.

    I even went to therapy because of this oldest SD. Believe me, i did the same things you did. Bought birthdays gifts, kept the relationship going between the father and his chidlren.This went on for yrs and yrs. Dear husband was the one who always got the thank you's, the i love u, etc. The oldest SD really really made me feel like i didn't exist. The day of her wedding, every body had a corsage, NOT me! That hurt, but i never said a word to her (her father sure heard about it but of course would not confront his daughter about it. I never got a thank you either for the $ we gave her for her wedding!)

    I truly believe she was jealous of my relationship with her father and that she influenced the youngest one to feel the same way about me.

    For once, i really tried not to let these step daughters attitude and behaviour have an effect on.
    I did not show resentment towards them and i really worked hard on ''detaching myself with love '' from them.

    I felt just like you. Not respected, ignored etc. etc. especially towards the oldest one who in 18 years had never called me for my bithday, had never,ever given me a xmas gift, etc. etc.

    It's only when i really detached myself with love from these children did they start showing me some real respect. It took about a year for them to realize that their attitude was not going to work and it took me a while to realize that the important thing in this world was not for me to have a relatioship with them, but for their father to have one!!!

    I stopped worrying about their birthday gifts, their christams gift, i didn't care if their father had seen them during the week or not. DH never called his children and he still doesn't call his son...it used to bother me.No more! Thank you!

    Today, the oldest step-daughter comes over to our place every tuesday night with her children and my other youngest SD. We get along and we actually have fun. The oldest one called for the first time this year to wish me a happy birthday. I almost fell off my chair when on Mother's Day, she called and left a sweet message for me!

    So, please take care of yourself. Detach with love from the step-children!

    Keep posting!

  • mrsmaddog
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I have never expected a card, phone call, or gift for Christmas or my birthday from any SC. I just would like it if the SKs would do even one of these for their FATHER. They are not little kids, and if they can shop for friends, write to friends and cousins, and call everyone they know 50 times a month, they can do this for their DAD.

  • fleurs_gardener
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    mrsmaddog.

    I completely agree with you that these step children are not kids anymore but sometimes they truly do.

    The one thing i have found difficult to accept with step children is the feeling of entitlement they have. Actually makes me sick to my stomach.

    On Father's Day, my husband waited all day for his children, thinking they would drop by and suprise him. In past years, if things like that happened it is because i had organized it. This year, i thought i would invite the step children over for Father's Day. But then i decided not to because really it was not up to me to make sure HIS children would be there for him

    On Father's Day, he got a phone call from both his daughters and nothing from his son. Makes me sick!
    Hubby now says he understands better how i felt when for years his oldest daughter and even his son have ignored me at my birthday. Oh well!

  • kkny
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Fleur, maybe if you hadnt encouraged your DH (and EOW and two weeks in the summer dad) to cut down summer visits to one week, the kids might have been closer to him.

  • sunnygardenerme
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    klmshe, Have been with DH for about the same amount of time you have been with your DH. DH has two adult children. One SD and one SS. Both are in their twenties now.
    I went through the same thing you are going through. For some reason the SKs feel they need to be number one with their dad. The two compete with each other to out do each other of what dad does for them. They also give dad the guilt trip. Things like if DH and myself go on a trip they feel entitled to a trip from dad because we went on a trip.
    When we first got married we went on our honeymoom to a tropical place and SS felt he should go too. DH ended up senting him on a trip to see a relative. They feel entitled to whatever we do they should also get from dad. I just don't get it. They are adults, should they not pay for their own trips? The Sks also keep track of what we purchase as a married couple and then use it against DH to purchase something for them since we can afford to purchase things for ourselves. I just don't get it. Why do they feel entitled?

    I see the jelousy thing all the time. What is that about? Don't they have a life of their own? Anyone have any idea why they feel entitled to various items and what makes them think they don't have to work for things themselves?

    kkny I don't believe that fleur did anything wrong. Just because her DH cut out one week in the summer has nothing to do with SKs being inconsiderate and not calling dad on fathers day.

    They should be encouraged by all persons that have contact with them to give dad a call on fathers day and treat him with respect. This builds good character in young adults and teaches them how to be well liked individuals.

  • kkny
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Really, if all children see is dad EOW and one week in summer, dont you think that will cut down relatinship. When the children were growing up, dad wasnt really around much. And SM, fleur, encouraged it.

  • klmshe
    Original Author
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Neither of the girls has called since late June, and I don't think DH has even noticed. Ususally I'm the one who calls the girls and then gives the phone to DH. Because of the many posts advising me to back off, I have not called them, and I feel really bad about this. I want DH to have a relationship with them, and I myself want a relationship with them. When I suggest he call them, he says he will when he gets a chance. At times I do feel unappreciated and overlooked, but at the same time, I miss them! Despite being advised against it, should I call them or just let it go?

  • catlettuce
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I think you need to leave it up to your DH to call. They are behaving resentfully towards you and will not appreciate your interference. Your DH will call when he wants to, and maybe because of their behavior he doesn't want to.

    Perhaps he is still angry with them for behaving as they have? Either way-it is not up to you and why should you feel guilty? You've encouraged him to call, you can't make him do it, now let it go. (I know this is very hard to do when you care so much)

  • kkny
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    If you miss someone, you should call them. My experience is even young adults may be too busy to call. Life is too short worrying about who made the last call.

  • catlettuce
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I agree with KKNY's above statement totally.

    However, in your case before you make that call, ask yourself just what is it you miss about them? Feeling unappreciated and overlooked or being ignored or the verbal outbursts and demands?

    Normally I would agree, "Who care's whom called whom last?", but in your case you have had no recent positive interactions with these girls. I see no reason to put yourself out there for more mistreatment. They have made it clear it's your DH they want, not you. I'd leave him to it. Why not focus on the good relationship you have with SS and take him to a movie or go do something fun together, enjoy the good stuff that you do have.

    Hopefully the girls will mature and change their behaviors but in the meantime I see no reason to put yourself out there just to get hurt. They are young adults and they need to make an effort to treat you respectfully. You have taken enough emotional abuse from those girls.

  • klmshe
    Original Author
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I guess I didn't realize just how much I was the glue that held together the communication between DH and the girls, and now that I've backed off, there IS no communication. The last time we talked to them, DH thanked them for the invitation to go out with them, but he turned them down because they excluded me. After years of their not-so-angelic behavior, I guess he'd had enough of the way they treat me. I think now they're hurt. Like any mother -- step or bio --, I'm upset when the kids are hurting. DH thinks nothing of it -- "Oh, they must be really busy." Several years ago, SD20 quit talking to DH. She said that because he never called her, he must not care. I explained to her that he doesn't talk to ANYONE on the phone. She came for a visit (at my invitation), and they patched things up. Now I'm caught in the middle. Should I call and invite them over, or are they blaming me because they feel rejected by dad?

  • serenity_now_2007
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    They are feeling shut out by Dad, not you. I think ****as long as Dad makes contact with them****, it wouldn't be bad if you called and it wouldn't be bad if you didn't call. But he needs to call. If you call and he doesn't, it may not hurt anything, but it probably won't help anything. The point is any contact they have with you is a separate issue from that with their Dad. You calling them is nice but it doesn't fill the void left by their Dad not calling them. Conversely, if they want to have lunch with their Dad without you, it is not necessarily a diss on you, nor something they should be "punished" for by Dad witholding contact. While they are certainly obligated to behave with civility towards you when you are present, they are not obligated to include you in everything. (Just like I'm sure you wouldn't feel obligated to include them in everything.) This is where potentially it *might* be damaging, or drive them furtehr away, if you call them as a "substitute" or an "emissary" for their Dad. They are probably feeling like they are not being permitted an independent relationship with their Dad and that perhaps your presence is too much in the picture already. Not anything in particular about you personally that's wrong, just that there's not enough alone time with Dad.

    If you really miss the girls, why don't you meet them for lunch privately to talk, (if they don't live too far)? If you want to continue developing a good relationship with them, try to do this privately with them and not always in front of their father. When you're alone with their father, remind him that it's okay with you if they want to get together alone with him to talk things out, or just hang out, and in fact you encourage it. If he feels like he's doing something wrong by spending alone time with them, and if they feel like they're doing something wrong by spending alone time with him, they will both avoid each other. So unless this is the result you want, everyone shoudl feel free to develop their independent relationships without guilt or fear.

    But yeah, for now, Dad should pick up the phone and make plans to see them privately.

  • colleen777
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I wish it were that simple serenity. My husband can spend as much alone time with his children as he wants to. In no way do I stand in the way of that, but I know they say I do. Fact is, he doesn't want to spend that much alone time with them because they usually start pressuring him about something or other.

    Much easier to say stepmom is standing in the way than to accept the fact that adult children need to connect with father in a new and adult way now.

    You will often find it is father who doesn't want to be pressured by his adult children and has no idea how to deal with it.

  • serenity_now_2007
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Well that's pretty sad, Colleen, all around. For the Dad who has no idea how to deal, for the SM who may get blamed and for the kids who have to feel like their presence is a tiresome source of pressure on their parent. Yeah, I guess I could see why nobody would feel like calling...

  • colleen777
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Oh no, they still call and visit all the time! They just have to deal with my ugly ass too:D

  • finedreams
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    on one hand i believe that grown children should be able to spend time with their parents alone without stepparent...

    at the same time I cannot imagine DD telling her dad: let's go out but make sure SM does not go with us. kind of rude. I just don't see her saying it. and what would be the point? I am not sure how to arrange it but simply saying "I don't want stepparent to join us" is not a nice way of putting things and is offensive. there probably are better ways.

    i agree with coleen it is very easy to blame SM instead of focusing on the real problem: so many dads do not have meaningful relationships wiht their grown children. as grown children often do not have deep relationship with their parents (or have unhealthy one). it is certainly not SM's fault. assigning blame is always easier.

    klmshe, there is nothing wrong if you call them but on your own behalf, not their dad's. he is a grown man and needs to build his own healthy relationship with grown kids.

  • ashley1979
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Two things:

    1) I come from an intact family. My sister went through the exact same thing with my father. He worked so much while we were growing up. We barely got to see him. And he was always the "favorite parent" because he was never home to do the punishing. A couple of years ago, my sister played this victim role. She said "Dad never calls me and he never wants to spend time with me". I told her that he didn't call me or our brother, either, and that we were always the ones to initiate contact. So I told him of her sadness and he called and set up a time for them to spend together. She decided to go to the zoo (weird place for an adult to choose, but whatever, this isn't about me). A couple days later, he found out he had to work that weekend because he had just started a new job and they were backed up. She calls me crying (grown woman; 23 maybe?). "He always does this to me!" I tried to calm her down, but it didn't work; she still holds it over his head. So her family moved to CA and then to FL. When she was on her way to FL, she made another "date" with our father. This time, she called and broke the plans. I told her it wasn't fiar of her to do that when just a few months before she was an hysterical mess over what he did. To me, this whole situation is irrational. I never witnessed anyone leaving her out of anything, especially our father. I guess my point is to say that I think it's more of a general daddy-daughter thing than a stepfamily thing.

    2). I hate to say this, but some dads are just absent. I have a lot of friends and family that rely on the SPs to keep relationships going. One of my good friends' parents divorced when she was 15. Her father married another woman, took over raising her kids and stopped contacting his own kids. Every once-in-a-while he would send a card or something, but it was very sporadically throughout the 10+ years since the divorce. A couple of years ago, she was contacted by her step-sister because she wanted to begin a relationship with her. So that put her back in contact with her father. She went to visit a couple of times. Found out that the SMs kids called him "dad" even though they were even older when they got married. Her father even helped her move away from here to where he lives (6 hours away). She gets out there and the tables turn. She's left out of family events and such. Things finally came to blows with her step-sisters and SM about 4 ths after she moved out there. Her father took their side and consequently quit speaking to her. She hasn't spoken to him since. She's gotten nasty e-mails from step-sisters and SM, but not a single word of contact from dear ole dad. She didn't even tell him she was pregnant or that she's had the baby. Obviously he doesn't care. The only reason contact was made before was because SM was pushing the relationship. Now that SM doesn't like her, no contact. Period.

    My point is that you should continue to encourage the relationship with his daughters, but be behind-the-scenes about it. Don't call them, but encourage him to call. Don't buy gifts, but encourage him to buy them. You have done all you can. If he doesn't do these things after you've reminded him, that's his own problem. It seems like the one who's not acting like an adult here is your DH. I'd say it's about time. SD20 is at least making the moves of her own free will(albeit the wrong ones). And DH needs reminding. SD20 is strong-arming you. Once she can't see your part in his relationship with her, she'll back off. Chances are she knows that you are the reason they have any relationship at all in the first place.

    All that being said, it is definitely a divisive maneuver to request a meeting specifically without you and I applaude your DH for standing up for you in that respect. If they want to spend time without you there, they can arrange it when you have other plans or aren't available. Or you, yourself, could make plans on a night when they have something planned and make it look like you CHOSE not to be there.

    I wish people would stop giving deep-seeded problems to people who may be just plain-and-simple manipulative. Not just on this thread or this site. In my own life. I just want to scream "SHE DOESN'T HAVE A PROBLEM! SHE JUST WANTS HER WAY".

    BTW, I have a SUPERB relationship with my dad that most people covet. Especially the above-mentioned friend. She actually wanted to adopt my dad as her own. LOL! We rarely spend one-on-one time together, but it does happen. It just happens to work that way. But I don't push my dad. I don't give him guilt-trips. And never in a million years would I divide my father against his wife (whether she is my mother or not). If she's not drugging him, I have to assume he's making his decisions on his on volition.

  • klmshe
    Original Author
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I've often asked DH why he doesn't call or get together with his siblings (other than Mother's Day and Christmas), most of whom live nearby. His relationship with them is so strange! I'm super-close to my sister, who lives 1000 miles away, and we talk a few times a day. I've told him that I was jealous his brothers were so close in proximity. I guess I'm trying to say that it just isn't the girls he's aloof with. It's everyone -- except me. He sold the family business to farm full time, and he couldn't be happier. He says he's had enough of "people." I think he's clueless that people (the girls, his brothers) want to spend time with him.

    As for how the invitation came: They girls called and said, "Dad, we want to take you out tomorrow night, but we don't want SM to come. We want it just to be 'blood'. We'll come pick you up, but SM is NOT invited." Not too subtle, huh?

  • ceph
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I'm with FD on this: Adult SKs should be able to spend some time with their BP without the SP, but they should be nice about it.

    I love spending time with my dad without my SM, and I also love spending time with my SM without my dad.
    I hadn't spent time with JUST my dad for years (literally) and then he came through town without my SM and stayed at my place. I even asked my BF at the time to go out for the evening so I could be with JUST my dad. I told my dad "It was really nice to spend the evening just the two of us. I love SM, but sometimes it's good to be just us." He picked up on the hint and has made an effort to occasionally see each of his four kids without our SM since then.

    My SM is great, and she and I like to shop together or go for lunch if she is in town without my dad, or he is at the dentist or something. I have also told her how much fun I have with just her, without my dad, because I want her to always feel welcome with me.

  • kkny
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Ceph, I agree with you, with one caveat. I think some SMs hold things against adult SDs that teens did. Well let me say this, anyone who can figure out a foolproof way to deal with teens doesnt have to work for a living. Flash -- teens arent easy. Not easy to bio parents or step parents at times.

    The other thin, not to be a broken record, but dad has to step up to the plate. One thing I will say about my X is he doesnt delegate to his SO dealing with his DD. I think that is the cause of some conflict.

  • ceph
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I'll agree with that, KK, and I'll add that sometimes adult SKs hold things that happened when they were teens against their SPs.
    If everyone was able to forgive and forget once the terrible teens were over, I think many people would have better relationships with their young adult BKs or SKs.

  • imamommy
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    "sometimes adult SKs hold things that happened when they were teens against their SPs.
    If everyone was able to forgive and forget once the terrible teens were over, I think many people would have better relationships with their young adult BKs or SKs."

    I'd go a bit further. I met my SD when she was 5. She'd tell me how horrible her dad's ex was. She referred to her as 'horrible Elizabeth' and kept bringing up an incident where she said that horrible Elizabeth slammed her finger in the door on purpose and she would repeat this incident each time it ended differently with 'she didn't even care' or 'then she laughed at me' and she changed the ending a few different times. I asked DH what he did about it and if it was something he thought she did on purpose. He said his recollection of what was told to him that day (he was at work) was that SD's finger got caught in the door on accident and Elizabeth felt terrible. SD was about 3 and a half when it happened and she is 9 now and still believes it was done on purpose. I might believe her more if she hadn't started making up stories about me too. She first told her mom that I am mean to her. Then that I yell at her. Finally, she started saying I hit her. The truth, I've raised my voice a few times but in her mind, she might be creating the memories that I am a mean, yelling and abusive SM to her, when I feel that I am patient, understanding and try to be helpful toward her.

    There is a lot to be said for perception of things from each side. My younger sister claims she was beaten by my parents regularly. My memory is that I was spanked maybe twice or three times that i can remember, and all for reasons I still can remember and deserved to get in trouble. My sister would start crying the second she even 'thought' she deserved a punishment. I can remember her getting spanked maybe once or twice and she'd run and hide from my parents.

    My dad says I was stubborn and difficult, but I think I was fairly easygoing. I don't recall being difficult, but maybe to him, I was.

  • end-of-rope
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I feel like klmshe is living my life. I used to get along great with the SK's - until DH and I got married and BIO mom decided to get involved. I believe in our situation if BIO did not get involved we would still be okay today. I was not/will not try to be their mother; all I wanted was to be a loving, caring family.

  • organic_maria
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I encourage my DH to spend times alone with his kids. I've been brought up to realize that not everyone should be included. Like my own son. I love him but i dont want him stuck to my hip! I like my alone time and i like time with my husband. Other times i just want time with the gals.
    So i think on that end i would agree with some posters that your Dh should spend time with his girls.
    What i do also understand is why your Dh wont cause it makes him uncomfortable with her physically touching him like that. This is not normal and rubbing and flopping in her daddy's lap at her age is cause for concern. So your DH refuses the ' date' because he sees it as an encouragement for thsi odd behaviour and i agree with him to refuse. But he should refuse explaining exactly why because of his discomfort not because you are excluded.
    ANd i do not like the way your SD blunted said you are exclude. Because she obviously has issues with you and she could have used different words such as ' Dad ,i'ld like some time alone just the two of us ifyou dont mind. And maybe another time we can all go out but i need some one on one advice and time from you as my father. '
    And yes, my husband is exactly like yours most of the time. He is aloof with his own brothers and sisters. Which i'm not used because i'm close with my family and do not mind if they drop by. He does. He likes his alone time with me only.WHich drives me nuts cause i do not like anyone stuck to my hip.
    I think balance in everything is healthy. Too much of anything is not. Whether it be a person, a computer, a drink, food tect..etc...
    In the end. If your husband is not comfortable in going out with his daughters whether you have been invited or not, its his perogative to say no. Its just too bad that you are the scapegoat when he does decline.
    Or words it in such a way the way he did.
    Your DH defines himself with you. and there is nothing wrong with that. Just like my husband. If i'mnot invited, he tells people to take a hike. I'm proud of him for it but sad at the same time because he should define himself alone not just with me. I guess its to each their own. And how they want to live. You cannot force anyone to phone people whetther its their own family or friends.
    I used to remind my husband, phone your kids, but now i dont....i should not be his mother. I'm his wife and itshis responsibility to phone his kids. If he doesn't , then its not my fault. Its his and his kids know it.
    ANyways..we're on vacation! And we're off to the mall to putts around on a rainy icky day!
    Chin up, dont worry about yoru SD. Let your husband handle it. Even if he doesn't handle it perfectly, its stillhis call in the end.

  • catlettuce
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Kids will always remember things most dramatically, the more Ima's SD recounts her tale I am sure the more dramatic it becomes. Yea it does make you wonder how they remember incidents with you, but I think it applies to all kids (and some adults unfortunately).

    Klmshe you posted:

    "The last time we talked to them, DH thanked them for the invitation to go out with them, but he turned them down because they excluded me. After years of their not-so-angelic behavior, I guess he'd had enough of the way they treat me. I think now they're hurt. Like any mother -- step or bio --, I'm upset when the kids are hurting."

    Your DH turned down the invitation, he was insulted and perhaps hurt that you were excluded, you are worried that they are hurt. Well that is OK. It is OK for any adult child to be hurting it is a human emotion and they must learn how to properly address these emotions. They should apologize to their father and you for their behavior and you can all leave it in the past and have a good adult family relationship.

    You have nothing to apologize for, you can't make them call your DH and you can't make your DH call them. It is a sad situation but they are grown ups now making grown up choices, if they get bailed out from ever having to apologize or face the consequences of their poor choices what good does that do?

    If your DH does call them I hope he insists that they apolgize to you in front of him for their behaviors. I might sounds harsh but if my DS ever talked to any adult the way your SD's speak to you I would slap his face-and that's the truth. Flame away! Don't care. He's my kid and he speaks respectfully to everyone because he knows it is the RIGHT thing to do. (I am certainly not suggesting anyone slap anyone here just to clarify)

    You know my DH has 3 siblings left and though they hardly ever keep in touch they all would drop everything for each other. They remain close though they speak maybe yearly except for his youngest sis who is near us, but they speak only occasionally also. Some families are like that. They don't talk much at all but then when they get together it's like they were never apart. DH's whole family is like that. Mine is the opposite, my mom calls me twice a day, step sisters & I speak weekly at least plus email..my extended family emails at least twice weekly.

    Sorry so long, I really hope things get better for your family Klmshe but in the mean time enjoy what you have & try not to dwell on the girls it is really up to them & your DH to deal with it.

    ~Cat

  • finedreams
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    DD-20 "remembers" that i threw a shoe at her when she was like 7 or so. i was cleaning her messed up room and was throwing things in a pile by the door. In my process of throwing things she ran to save some of the stuff she supposedly needed and flying shoe slightly hit her. since then the story is like this: "mom and dad never touched me but mom lost her temper once and threw her shoe at me because I didn't clean my room". nope. absolutelly not what happened.

  • nsncytyball
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I have remarried after 41 years lost my only son I have remarried thinking I would be happy, however anytime his daughter in law comes over or we have to attend his grandchildrens events, I am treated so rudely; she only looks at my husband in conversation,!condecends should she says something to me, calls my husband constantly an when I try to TEX or call she never never sanders me, Please advise what suggestions you may have signed on the lumb

  • Kim Aves
    6 years ago

    According to The Ups and Downs of Becoming an Insta-Parent, “Detachment is often the best decision when a woman realizes her input is neither recognized nor welcome . . . Detachment can range from detaching from issues dealing with the ex-wife to not enforcing rules with stepkids to complete non-involvement."

  • Sara Tilmont
    5 years ago

    I think it's so bizarre when daughter-in-law's treat their husband's stepmother with aggression. I'm guessing it's a female nature to want to protect their loved ones. I know they've heard horror stories about the husband's stepmothers, but some of these young females need to take a step back before they get nailed by the karma bus.

    These young aggressive females who get used to marginalizing others, can wind up being marginalized themselves. For instance, wait until their mother-in-laws get a taste of their aggressive nature. Game's on honey!

    Whenever my SD has a new guy, she tries immediately to foster a triangle relationship between herself, her new guy and my husband. Just blows my mind that she can intentionally exclude me for over two decades and then whomever she is with is supposed to be instant family. Usually they are a little distant to me at first, an obvious sign that they've heard her stories. Then they are friendly. And then they break up with her. Has been the pattern for quite a while.

    I can't imagine having aggressive daughter-in-law's, particularly at my age. Curb meet DIL, bounce out honey, no time for haters in my life, particularly new ones.

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