Stepmom of adult children needs help! Totally frustrated

mom23step23March 20, 2009

I have 3 kids from a first marriage of 25 years. My current husband has 3 children who were adults, out of the home, when we met. His oldest 2 were OK with me in the beginning, and the middle child of his was a witch from the beginning. My kids have been and still are OK with my DH.

Coming up on our third anniversary, all three of his kids are rather indifferent to me, and it really hurts. They treat me like I'm not there. They were OK with their Dad remarrying in the beginning, so long as it didn't interfere with the time and money that he "should" be spending on/with them. They have a very strong sense of entitlement. Overall they are good kids, but disrespectful of me.

Matt, age 29, is working on his Phd in Genetics @ Stanford. He is polite, but clueless about social graces. He is married with 3 children (age 5,3,2. When I married Mark, I instantly became a Grandmother. They are great kids, but I am supposed to buy gifts for them like they are my birth Grandchildren, but then Matt & Amy tell them that I'm not their "real" Grandma. They don't return gifts to me, because afterall, I'm not their "real" Grandma. Yet they provide me with lists of expensive gifts that I can get for them and their kids. About half of the time, Matt gets a gift for special occasions for his Dad, hardly ever for me.

Sarah, age 25, is working on her master's in dietetics @ UW Stout. She was rude and unkind to me from the first time I met her. She openly admitted to her Dad that she was mean to me to drive me away, and break us up. No apology ever came from her for this. My DH has been aggressive in confronting her about her bad behavior, and it has improved some. But she has learned to turn on good behavior when he is in the room, and dish out the insults, and digs when he goes out of the room. Sarah has cut her BM completely out of her life, has not seen her in 4 years. She has deep seated anger and hatred toward her mother. She has a void in her life from lack of a mother, and it is as if she wants her Dad to fill up the "mother-void" as well as be a Dad. Mark is father/stepfather to 6 kids, and doesn't have individual time for each child. Because of this Sarah feels neglected, and makes comments to me like, "He needs to step up to the plate and be a Dad". Yet she travels to the area where we live, and doesn't stop to see him. She does not buy him gifts for Christmas or Birthdays, or if she does, it is just a token gift. Yet she expects gifts in return. She gets me nothing, yet if I don't get her gifts, then I'm a wicked stepmother. I feel like I'm in a lose/lose situation with her. Mark & I want to present a unified front, so we've agreed to not go and visit our children separately. This would also play right into what she wants. She has figured out that if she behaves badly, that I will feel uncomfortable, and not come, so this encourages her bad behavior.

Rachel, age 24, is working on her RN degree @ Edgewood College. Rachel was very kind to me in the beginning, and told her Dad that she liked me. For about the last 18 months though, she is indifferent, and sometimes nasty. She too has cut her BM out of her life completely, and has deep seated anger of her mother. She too wants her Dad to fill the "mother-void" as well as be a Dad to her. She with tears has told my DH that she has been deprived and neglected by him. I went through a period where I was phoning or emailing weekly to Rachel, just to try to build a relationship with her. DH & I would invite her and her DH over for dinner, take them out to dinner, take them out to movies, bowling, always paying for everything. There is very little done for us in return. At least she gets gifts for her Dad. She gave me a birthday gift this year for the first time in 3 years, it was 6 weeks late. You might say that progress is being made, but it was very obvious that the gift was given out of obligation, not a desire to give a gift. She has an outrageous sense of entitlement. She comes to family dinners, never brings anything, and does not offer to help clean up. She doesn't come early to set up because she always manages to work up until the time that dinner is supposed to start. One time I asked her if she could help clean up, and she ignored me. Oh, she will pretend to clean up, she will help for about 5 minutes, then disappear while I'm left in the kitchen for an hour. She wants to be treated like family, but she shows up and acts like a guest. She sits and waits to be served.

DH has paid/is paying for 4 years of college for his 3 kids.

I feel like a door mat to them. I am expected to do and accomodate them, yet there is nothing in return because after all, I'm not their "real" Mom. I stopped trying to make contact with them weekly about 6 months ago, and sure enough they made no contact either. Rachel will barely communicate with her Dad. He has phoned her recently, and she doesn't take his call, but sends a brief text on her cell, with yes and no answers. Yet she complains constantly about being deprived and neglected.

My 3 kids are sick to death of the attitude of their step siblings, and feel that they all have had it pretty good, and that they are spoiled adults brats.

I am so frustrated, I feel like I am losing my mind. Easter is coming up, and to be honest, I cannot stomach another family dinner with them, coming and expecting me to wait on them. If we say that we are going out to a restaraunt for Easter, then again, DH and I will be expected to pick up everyone's tab. If I say that we are having a potluck, and everyone bring something, then they will be mad, and probably not come. Maybe that is what we should do.

DH says that he married me, if he has to make a decision between his kids and his spouse, that the decision is already made. That is outrageous, he shouldn't have to decide!

Please help!!!

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How old are your children?

What was your DH's relationship with his kids like before you came into the picture? Did he have them over for dinner or take them out to eat without expecting them to pay for any of it? Did he send them nice gifts?

I think that might have something to do with their expectations now. They probably don't think they should be expected to have less now than what they had before you came along.

I'm not sure how well you all know each other and get along, but I'd guess that they consider the gifts that you buy for them and their children to actually be from their dad and maybe not really from you. I know you wouldn't agree with that, but I'm just thinking of how it might seem from their perspective.

Also, what is the financial situation? Is your DH pretty well off? Are the kids still working to get established? It could be hard to buy something inexpensive that would be appreciated for somebody you don't know all that well, so maybe that is why they don't buy anything for you. But, if they don't really like you and they feel as if you are coming between them and their Dad, that would also be a reason.

As for the "united front" comment...coming from a Step-kid's perspective, I don't really understand that. They are not small kids who need a united front as far as discipline is concerned. They are adults who have a long standing relationship with their Dad. They sometimes need to have that alone time to reconnect. Personally, I don't really feel that my Dad really acts like himself when my SM is around. I feel like he is always watching what he says around her because she is easily offended. I'm not saying that you are the same as she is, but still, I can understand the need to connect with your Dad without having anybody else around. Even if my parents were still married, I would still enjoy my alone time with each of my parents. I don't think that should be different because your parents are divorced and re-married.

I hope you don't take this message as accusatory, because I'm really not trying to be. I'm just giving you a little perspective from the angle of a step-kid.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2009 at 2:18PM
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Hi mon23step23,

I feel for you. I know exactly how you feel. I have been a step mon to three step children for the last 20 years. The oldest step-daughter was mean to me, i mean really mean, for the first 18 years of my relationship with her father. Not only did she ignore me totally and said bad things about me behind my back on a regular basis, but even on the day of her wedding. She completely ignored me an to this day has never thanked me for the $ gift her father and i gave her. On the day of her wedding, when we got to the reception where the ceremony was being held, everybody closed to her had a corsage but not me. I was really hurt and for the first time, her father admitted this was wrong. When i saw that, i thought enough is enough. I never went to her house for the entire four years she was married. She kept asking me to go, but i wouldn't. Plus it was at least four hours away from our home. There is no way i was going to travel four hours for her. Believe it or not, her meaness towards me even had me go for counselling for awhile because i just couldn't deal with the hatered she was showing towards me. In 18 years, never once did she call me to wish me happy birthday, never once did she give me a XMAS gift. She would call her father to wish him happy birthday however. I always gave her a birthday gift, a Christmas gift. I let her stay at our cottage.I never showed her that i was hurt by what she was doing to me. The only time i did was when i refused to travel four hours to go and visit her at her house and when i did tell her, i wouldn't travel for four hours, i never told her it was because of the way she had treated me on her wedding day and every day before that. I was always nice and cordial to her. Today, she has two small girls and i just love them to death. My relationship with this step-daughter has improved alot in the last couple of years and the reason for that is because one day i decided i would treat her the same way she treated me. She would come to our house and i would not invite her to sit. When we had gatherings, i wouldn't ask her if she wanted to have this or that. I simply ignored her. Well, guess what.Her attitude has definitely changed towards me. She has since called me for Mother's Day, and for my birthday. Last xmas, she did come over without anything for me or her father. What hurt me most is that i know she offered other people gifts but not to us. Not even a card. I could have gotten really mad at her for her ignorance but now when she does things that hurt me, i really really work hard on just forgetting about it and i tell myself one day she will realize what she is doing!

My two other step children, a girl and a boy, i've had a wonderful relationship with them. This step-daughter just gave me a necklace last Mother's Day. It's a heart and on the back of it she had engraved To my mother in my heart. She is 20 years old today and all my life i told her i loved her and that in my heart she was my daughter. At one point, when she was about 16 or 17 years old, her older sister did try really, really hard to have her sister hate me and for awhile i truly believed that this step-daughter with whom i had gotten along since she was one and a half years old, hated me. The thing is i just continued treating her like i had treated her all my life. With love and slowly she came back to me and today we are still really good friends and i love her alot. As far as my relationship with my step-son is, well lets just say that we hardly ever see him. In the last couple of years, he has just distanced himself from us. He came over at christmas with nothing for his father and nothing for me and that hurt me too, but i keep telling myself, one day he too will realize what he is doing to his father and to me.

You know, there is really not much we can do about step children who are mean to their step-mother. The best advice i can give you is don't make a drama about it, especially in front of them. Let them be. Just be nice to them when they talk to you. Nothing more, nothing less. I swear to god they will notice and they will eventually respect you. At least your spouse is agreeing with you that his children are not very nice to you. My spouse never, never said a word to his oldest daughter when she was mean towards me and it created alot of fights between him and I. What a waste of energy. Be good to yourself mom23. Really and thank the lord that you have your three children that love you. Bless the other three. Believe me they will come around if you just let them go.
Sorry for the long post.

Keep posting.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2009 at 2:53PM
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Raek, Well DH was married for 27 years to a woman with Borderline Personality Disorder, she was abusive to her family, that is why DH left her when the youngest graduated from high school. He would have sooner, but he knew that he wouldn't get full custody and didn't want the kids to have alone time with their BM. His ex had a really bad case of it. This is one of the worst mental health issues, because therapy only helps temporarily (usually while you're still in the therapist's office), and medications do no good. One characteristic of this disease to to paint people wither all black, or all white. No middle ground.

Why am I mentioning this? Because DH & I went to counseling over the kids, etc, and the counsellor said that both girls exhibited several BPD traits. This was quite a blow to DH. No, they're not as bad as their BM, but still abusive.

When I met DH on eHarmony, he had been unemployed for several months. He is court ordered to pay 38% of his income to his ex. His kids know this. He had to sell the house, (so he was homeless and at age 49 moved back in with his Dad). He also had to split down the middle his retirement fund and give ex half. My DH has an engineering degree from MIT, and a master's in business administration from Harvard Business School. He has had trouble holding a job because of the economy. He was manager at Ford, a machining company that makes parts for Harley, etc. When these companies cut their production, they let managers go along with other production staff. DH was NOT in a good spot financially when I met him. Plus he vowed to send them to college, and pay for Rachel's wedding (while he was unemployed off and on over those years). The payments to the ex are about $2000 monthly.

When he met me, my house was almost paid off, I had about 2 years to go on my mortgage. My payments were $252. a month. I refinanced when rates were low, and I'm pretty good with money. I had just bought a new car, but put alot down and my payments were $100 a month. I also had support coming in for 2 teen age children that I had primary placement for and full custody. I also work part-time (as I have done since 1987) as a RN. I make really good money. I also have 2 college degrees.

My DH's family (his sisters & brother in laws) wanted him to get a prenuptual drawn up before we got married. I asked him what they wanted him to protect, he had not much financially except college loans for the kids, half of a retirement account, a car that was worth about $500 tops, and no where to live! Yes, with his degrees he has potential to earn alot, but not in this country, not in this economy.

On the otherhand, there is a nursing shortage, and I am paid well. Currently I make about $7 an hour more than DH. Plus I keep all of my money, I don't have to give 38% of it to anyone.

I wouldn't say at all that DH was extravagant with things for his kids before I came along. He is very thrifty. I don't know what their gift giving patters were. They all are in either college or graduate school when I met them, and still are. We're not expecting expensive gifts, it's more the recognition than a gift we are looking for. Right before I came into the picture, they were all college students. No one visits a college student and expects them to pay, I understand that. Rachel married 4 years ago, and Matt 6 years ago. They aren't young little kids now. One time Matt was at our house, actually at Heidi's high school graduation party, which we provided a generous lunch. Matt asked us if we would like to leave and go out to dinner. I responded by saying that we had just eaten, and I was stuffed. He said he thought we'd like to take his wife and family out for dinner as her birthday was coming up next week. How rude! Ditch my daughter's party to take his wife out to eat. He invited us to take him out to dinner. He had no plans to pay, even though he invited. We do not have a custom of taking our children and their family out to a restaraunt for their birthdays. We do have a custom of giving them a card with money, this is what they said they wanted, rather than a gift. But now that we give the money, they want the money, and the gift too, and by the way throw in a free dinner!

Rachel took DHs debit card when she was getting ready for college and ran up purchases totalling about $800. Alot of the purchases caused the account to bounce. DH had to pay for 28 overdraft fees, and he blamed his ex for not telling Rachel that things were overdrafting. I feel that this was Rachel's fault, and she should have felt some accountability in this. The ex was at fault, but Rachel was too. Her BM told her to take the card and get what she needed for college. Come on, who spends $800 on someone elses card without even telling them.

My children are Jacob 20, Heidi 17 and David 14 when we met. Jacob spent a year at college, then decided to enlist in the USMC, he's in Somolia now. Heidi moved in with her boyfriend after high school, and started a home cleaning business of her own, she loves it. David is a senior in high school, he leaves for the Marines after high school.

Interestingly enough, Matt and Rachel are Marines too, on the Reserve program. Marines are the type to "send them in and get it done" yet at family dinner she sits and waits to be served. It would be different if it was a reciprocal thing, that I was allowed to sit and be served at her house, but she almost never invites. She had us over for dinner 18 months ago, not since. Almost 100% of the contact between DH and the skids is initiated by him. He calls, he invites, etc, etc.

Together, we have 6 kids now, 5 are adults. They are spread out. We physically don't have time to work our jobs, maintain our house, spend time together ourselves, and spend time individually with 6 different kids. We try to see them, but try to group it together by inviting all of them to come and do something with us, so that no one feels left out. On occasion, Rachel & Sarah said they wouldn't come if Heidi was there. They also said they don't like Josh her boyfriend. Mark said to them, well what if I say to you Rachel that I don't like your DH, and won't come if he's there. They didn't see that as the same thing.

DH has been unemployed for about 1/2 of the 3 years that we've been married. His kids would have to be idiots to think that money for gift for them was not being funded by me.

In regards to my house Sarah told me that she and her sister don't like to come to it because there is so much stress there, and it has evil spirits, and needs to be cleansed of evil spirts, "And soon" in her words. Mark told her that there is no stress at the house until she gets here. He said the stress comes in the door with you. She didn't like that. But it is true. Sarah continues to be rude and condescending to me and my kids.

Currently, my house, my car, and all of my bills are paid off. I owe nothing but monthly utilities. I have money to take trips, etc. Even though I only work part-time, I contribute the same money as DH who works full-time, because he has alimony. The skids know full details of DHs financial picture.

Matt flew out for California to Wisconsin for my son's wedding last year, and just made the assumption that since it was a family wedding that we would pay his air flight. This was a HUGE problem. My son lived in California too, so I said well should we pay for Jacob too? DH was unemployed at the time, yet his son didn't see a problem with asking him for cash!

    Bookmark   March 20, 2009 at 7:00PM
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You know what, these adults sounds so intitled its unreal. I personally would let your dh handle it and some major things should change.
1. no money gifts.
2. if they invite, they pay...make it clear. you are not a bank.
3. you are not a bank.
4. stop buying them presents, even their kids.
Sorry...they may know financially their dad situation...but i'm certain you do not tell them ..unless your dh opens his mouth to them.
Me personally, these are adult kids , two of which has issues...mentally. Thats difficult. But the money issue must stop and i definitely know those adults kids of your husband would take a kanip sh*t to that...but you know what....sounds like you are the one with the cash to spend and he doesn' cares if they dont' like you . The girls are rude ..nothing changes there.
Be polite...but refrane from buying expensive gifts and giving money. ANd i'm sure they will be rude to ask i'm tight with you guys. cant do it.
Your kids come first and let dh handle his. These are adults...married and with kids. THey are spoiled, self centered and i think both bioparents here have enabled them to be like this.
Your husband should not be promising to pay for wedding he has no cash for...its just wrong and the daughter has these expectation with no reality of the situation.
You are very brave to have taken on a situation like this. But financially you are stable...and i think becoming indifferent when they are rude is the best if you continue to be with your dh.
Personally...if your dh's daughter became nasty with me when dh leaves the room...i would dish it back in her face and get dad involved and get him involved in everyway. I would stand my ground and tell them be nice or get the F'k out of my house. Meet your dad outside...dont need a B in my presence.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2009 at 7:24PM
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Thanks for the thoughts! It helps just having someone validate your feelings. Sometimes I think I am crazy!

About 6 months ago I decided to stop trying to contact any of his kids. I decided that I would be friendly when I saw them, and would answer any correspondence from them. Well, there has been zero communication from them, except when they need something from their Dad. They don't even contact him much.

Most recently this has outraged me! I came up with the idea of sending our kids on a extended weekend get away for their 5 year anniversary. We announced it to all, and said that we would do something similar for each child on their 5th anniversary. First up is Matt. He lives in San Fran, so we suggested a 3 night/4 day cruise into Mexico. He wouldn't have any flight expenses, just the cruise. He said they could trade babysitting with another couple. So we discussed the price that we were willing to pay for their trip, cruise tickets were $300 apiece. So, we sent a check for $1000, for extra money for the trip. We told them this was the top amount we would spend. I sent an email to Matt and his wife (to both of their private accounts) telling them that a check was in the mail for $1000, and to be sure to let us know when they received it. That was Feb 3. I also told them in the email that I had bought Easter outfits for their kids and would be sending them.

4 weeks went by and we heard nothing from them. Then I got an email from Amy asking me whether or not I was going to send the Easter outfits? No mention of the check, no thanks, nothing along that line. Just pretty much a message to remind me to send the outfits.

I was hurt by both of their greediness. 2 more weeks have gone by and still nothing from either of them. They went on the cruise and are back home. My daughter told me that they had reviews of the cruise posted all over their Face Book, etc. Still no thank you.

In January Matt sent an email to his Dad thanking him for the trip. The email was addressed to his father not me. You may feel like this is enough, but I don't. The trip was a gift from the two of us, to the two of them. I am sick of their feelings of entitlement.

I haven't sent the Easter outfits, and don't plan to. I asked DH what I should do about the outfits, his answer was that I am working too hard to be nice to them, and they don't appreciate it, and I should back off for a while.

They are the only ones with kids. We feel that we want to treat all of the kids grandkids the same. Yet they don't treat us the same, so do we still have to treat them the same?

Next, Rachel heard about Matt's cruise, and said that she & Chris had their cruise already planned out, they are going to Hawaii, and their anniversary is next year. We never promised a cruise to anyone, we offered an extended weekend getaway. Matt just happens to live on a cruise port, so it happened for him for alot cheaper. Rachel lives in Wisc., and that would mean air flights to San Diego. Also, cruises to Hawaii are only 7 night cruises. The cost of her trip would be about $5000. She told me that that is where they are going. I didn't tell her that the budget is $1000, I figured that is something that DH should talk to her about. I didn't want to burst her bubble.

At dinner I asked DH if he'd promised Rachel a cruise to Hawaii next March, and he turned white! He was outraged! We don't take trips that expensive ourselves. We thought a nice trip for someone living in our area would be to rent a house boat for a week and float down the Mississippi River. It price would be in budget. When I brought this up to Rachel, she said, "No, my mind is made up, I really want to go to Hawaii".

How's that for a sense of entitlement?

    Bookmark   March 20, 2009 at 7:31PM
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Mom23 - I can sympathize w/how you feel. My SD's are not as old as yours (21 & 25) and one still lives at home. I've been w/DH since the youngest was in 1st grade, moved in 5 years ago, but only recently married him. I got along very well w/the girls until I moved in. When I moved in, DH told his DD's that things were changing in the house, he wanted it cleaned and not to look like it was lived in by animals, as it had - and that I was not the maid. We had an incident happen the second night I was there and that was the beginning of the end with my older SD. She treated me like garbage after that when DH wasn't around. Eventually her sister felt pressured into treating me similarly. It was terrible and I nearly moved back to my house. As an example, I would come home from work before DH and both SD's would be watching TV, I'd walk in, say hello and they would just get up and leave the room w/out saying a word to me. They'd leave the TV on and go off together into a bedroom. Stuff like that and more happened with regularity. I mentioned the situation to DH many times and he didn't want to see the situation for what it was and he went as far as accusing me of trying to find fault with his DD's. After 18 months of living like that, I was ready to move back to my home. He was so angry at me and them - he didn't handle that situation well and made it worse.

I'm not saying that I was perfect, but I tried turning the other cheek with them, I was always thoughtful and got them nice gifts. I treated them well and I figured that they would grow out of it. I also always gave them plenty alone time with their dad. I was actually dumb enough to fall prey to the youngest daughter's wish to have her entire family (BM, her BM's folk's & siblings...)over to our house for Thanksgiving one year - it was also her bday. I had 19 guests and none were my family. DH told her that she had to help out, but BM left, she went with her.

It's great that Raek offered her perspective to you because she is always very sensible and it's good to see the SK's side of things. However, to be honest with you (and I know many here will disagree), I think you may actually need to have a little one on one chat with these adults (at least SS, since he doesn't have BPD). Ideally DH should have the talk, but since they are adults, it may carry more weight coming from you.

Things came to head this past December. A family friend informed us that the youngest stated that she and her sister treated me like crap. That she felt if she didn't treat me poorly that her sister would be angry with her. DH was hurt, furious with them and embarrassed by their behavior. I told him not to say anything to his kids because it was between me and them.

I pulled the SD(25) aside one morning and I told her that I knew that she went out of her way to ignore me, that her dad knew it and so did other family and friends. I also said that it wasn't hurting me, but instead hurting her dad and causing other family members not want to do the holiday thing because of the tension she created. I let her know that I treated her well, was generous to her, and that if her mom was in my shoes and she saw someone treating her mom like she treats me, she wouldn't care for it, and her mom wouldn't like it either. I said that it was not ok for her to treat me like she did and I would not tolerate it. I told her that it was sad that her sister felt the need to join in or be ignored by her too, that she was 25 and her behavior was quite immature and she didn't show herself in a good light. I also let her know that I really never wanted to have this conversation with her, as well as telling her that I was sorry that her family was no longer intact and that I tried to put myself in her shoes, but that I didn't share her experience as a child.

This SD said nothing to me the entire time. She sometimes looked me in the eye and sometimes looked at the ground. She look ashamed and embarrassed. When I finished getting everything off of my chest, I asked her if she had anything to say. She said, "no". That talk made all the difference with the way she now treats me. She just didn't expect to get called on it. If DH had the identical talk w/her, I believe the impact would have been less and I certainly felt better doing my own bidding. Should you talk to any of your SK's, be respectful, be honest and let them know that they are no longer children and need not feel entitled to everything because they are adults.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2009 at 2:07AM
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DH has spoken to DD's on several occasions. Sometimes it helps.

For a while they both had a pattern of creating some sort of chaos at family/holiday events. Before the evening would end, DH would feel the need to confront them about their bad behavior. He would approach it head on. He would often take them to a separate room, so as to not embarrass them, or create a huge scene. He figured that there is no need to involve those who have nothing to do with it. But, what happened is that this discussion would create such tensions that other people would leave. And the end result is that DD got Daddy to herself for an hour or two, while I sat in another room afraid to disturb them. I figured my presence would damage things, and this talk should be father to daughter. DH and I both did what we thought was best at the time. We were both trying very hard to creat a better situation. But without knowing it, we were playing right into DD's hands. What she wanted all along was for me to be separated from DH, and for her to have him all to herself, even if it was for a few hours, she was victorious!

DH and I have talked this through, and he said that if this pattern starts in again that she will be asked to leave. If she won't leave, then we will (if we're not at our own house).

Last May after taking both SD's out for dinner and a movie, they raged at DH for neglecting them. They were having one of their famous episodes of chaos, when I lost it with the oldest SD and told her to leave the house, and not come back until she can change her attitude. I told her that she had "worn out her welcome". This was after she was trying to seclude DH off and carry on with another of the episodes where she gets him off to herself. I decided to join in on it, and I was told by her to leave. That was when I blew. My SD is telling me to leave my own livingroom!

She didn't come back until Christmas, and that was brief. There were lots of other around, so things went OK. Not great, just OK. She came back last weekend for 4 hours. Other than that, she hasn't been back since last May. I wish she could come and visit with her Dad, but it's not that easy.

Thank you all for your comments and support!

    Bookmark   March 21, 2009 at 7:28AM
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I don't even think it is a stepfamily issue, i think it is just a family issue, poorly adjusted family. Some people just have bad relationships in the family, don't speak to their own parents or children or whoever else, or constantly argue. I heard from plenty of people that every time there is a family reunion like Thanksgiving or Christmas somebody starts a fight and it always has some drama. And those aren't blended families. I cannot imagine what is there to argue at Thanksgiving table?

I also think that if there was drama and chaos in intact family, kids learned that this behavior is normal, when family fell apart and new blended families formed, adult children continue seeking drama. If that's all they know, they will always want to have some kind of scandal.

Not to blame your DH, maybe this drama seeking behavior only comes form their mom, but usually both parents are at fault. I think these adult children need some therapy to understand their own drama seeking behavior. Unless they understand, they will never stop.

I think that by staying wiht chaotic partners we make a huge mistake subjecting our children to inappropriate examples. people think it is OK to stay in chaotic dramatic or abusive marriage for the sake of their children. It is a huge mistake in my opinion. It is like telling your chidlren: it is OK to have a chaos. If your stepkids grew up surrounded by drama, why would you even expect for them to behave differently? They don't know how.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2009 at 10:34AM
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My favorite mantra: "No one can take advantage of you without your permission."

Why WOULD you put up with this behavior? You have your DH on your side where so many others don't so there is just no reason that I can think of to let them act like that. First reason is it isn't fair to your bio children. Second reason, it's teaching them to be greedy and ultimately that's a disservice to them. IF they don't want to be respectful to you then don't invite them to visit. If they come anyway let them know you won't tolerate rudeness. If they don't come, what have you lost except a lot of tension.

I would continue with the anniversary gifts since you've started it but only the amount you gave the first one. If they aren't happy with that then keep it. After you finish with all their anniversaries I would stop the gifts since they obviously don't appreciate them anyway. You aren't making them happy since they only want more and it's not making you happy. Do something for yourself and DH and enjoy it. Put your money away for your retirement years. Since they are takers I doubt they will worry about you when you're older.

I have 3 children, my DH has 3. They were all grown when we married except for my youngest. His had kept him drained up until then. I told him if we were going to give to one we would have to give to six and therefore we would never have what WE needed, he agreed and stopped handing out to his. Mine had never expected it because I didn't raise them to expect it. His were not happy with me for a while but they got over it and are good, responsible kids now. Not one of them would think of being disrespectable to me because their dad wouldn't tolerate it. Any of the 6 would do anything we needed them to.

Good luck with changing their attitudes. It will take a while and consistency. They are probably smart enough to know it's to their advantage to be part of your lives. If they aren't it's their loss.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2009 at 11:22AM
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Ok, a lot of that behavior, especially wrt gifts and money, sound pretty entitled and obnoxious, but a couple things you said don't sound so great from your end either.

Mark & I want to present a unified front, so we've agreed to not go and visit our children separately.


We physically don't have time to work our jobs, maintain our house, spend time together ourselves, and spend time individually with 6 different kids.

I have to say this doesn't sound very good to me. No, his kids should not be allowed to ban you from their homes, but that is not the same thing as saying he should never visit without you... and why wouldn't you each want more time with your own kids? And why wouldn't you each want some one-on-one time with each of your kids? My mom and her SO have 9 grown children between them and both work full time, and I would be stunned beyond belief if my mother told me that she didn't have time to spend individually with me because of all those kids/stepkids, and could only spend time with me in groups with other family. Absolutely stunned. Completely mind-boggled. I can not even begin to think how I'd respond. (and I'm quite a bit older than your SKs) And if this is something that started when you and he got together, it's no wonder they resent you. No, that doesn't justify their bad behavior, but I'd bet good money it's a good part of the reason.

If there's not enough time for you both to go around visiting all 6 kids, then why don't you take some extra time with yours while he takes some extra time with his? It is not a horrible thing for a daughter to want to spend some time alone with her dad, and it must be a pretty hurtful thing for your dad to tell you he can't be bothered to make time for you. (and while I'm sure he didn't use that language, i'm also quite sure that's what they hear)

    Bookmark   March 21, 2009 at 11:51AM
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You want to be thanked for a gift you both gave to your SS and his wife ... but when your SD mentions hawaii you don't say well we only gave your brother a $1000? ... thats the first thing that you should have said ...

and with your hubby out of work where do they think the money for the trip came from?? they don't care ... your hubby is right you are putting too much effort into people who could care less.

Send her a check for $1000 and say have fun in hawaii.

And since no one else has said it stop using names ... and specific places :)

Use the acronyms ... SD(age) SS(age) DH etc. your SC could be googling around and find your complaints.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2009 at 12:28PM
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I honestly think you did wrong in annoucning that you would do these vacations for all the adults kids considering you feelings about the stepadults involved. You know they are self centered, selfish and money hungry and yet you dangle a juicy piece of meat in front of them. WHY do you do this? Why couldn't you give this present to your kids and not his? They dont respect you, they never will. and yet you offer them money and gifts and think one day they will turn around and be kind to you.
STOP with the money and gifts.
I'm sorry i just do not agree with you giving these adults any cash or gifts when they have stepped on you they way you have described and then you come here ot post about your frustrations.
I'm sorry mom23step23. You did you own hole with these people and yet expect so much from them. Either stop giving into them or basically stop complaining about it and yes, you give way too much names here.
You are the one showering people with money for love in return to people who do not give two sh*ts about you. I'm sorry i have put it this way but YOU better wake up and stop creating your own problems.
THese adults are the way they are due to their pasts. You cannot change that with all the money inthe world! and the money you give will not make them change their minds about you.
1. you didnt raise them.
2 your are not are technically their fathers WIFE.
3. Stop giving money and if you continue to do so...then dont complain when one gets obnoxious about it.
You are the one stirring the pot everytime and then turn around to complain now.?
Granted your dh's daughter does sound like she has issues and there will be conflicts with her...but i say leave her alone and let your dh handle her.
And as for personal time...we all need one on one time and there is nothing wrong with that. I leave my dh with his kids to have one on one time all the time. As much as possible actually and i do not feel left out. That is important for them to have it. It doesn'tmean they like me more or less.
How would you feel having someone attached to yoru hip at every moment? You dont have to be with your DH at every moment, at every invitation either. Spend some time alone and let your dh go to their houses if you have been 'banned' . You dont have to deal with someone like this.
I apologize if i come across brassly. I truly am. i do believe youare a good woman with good intention. You love your DH, and you want to be accepted by all in his family. But his kids and your are adults. With their own lives, objectives, and desires and iwth personalities of their own. With their own problems. If they do not accept you, then accept the fact for yourself that they do not. And dont give so much of yourself to people who do not care about you. Your dh has told you. You are only hurting yourself.
We all come here to vent and blow out our feelings and our anger ...but yes...stop using names. In this day and age...ifsomeone googles and figures it out. All hell will break loose for you. Do you honestly want that?

    Bookmark   March 21, 2009 at 1:37PM
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mom23step23, Yes adult stepchildren can be very self centered and inconsiderate. I have two of them and they continuely think DH is their personal Bank. Although they feel thay have been on their own for years. But DH pays for all kinds of things for them. They often never give DH anything and never give me anything in return. They manipulate things so that DH gets their bills and pays for items for them. They are the best manipulators I have seen and I've been told their mother is the same way. The kicker is that one of them has a better yearly income then DH or myself.

For some reason they don't consider Dh paying their car repairs or car tabs as DH helping them or that it shows they are not on their own.

SD once said to me I have a Dad and mom when I was giving her some advise as she had been to rude to me and expecting us to pay for something of hers again. I almost said then why don't you have your mom pay your way on things. I did not. But their mother never gives them money. It is so frustrating.

I pay my way all the time but why doesn't DH pay for my car repairs or car tabs since SD has more of a yearly income then me.

It is so crazy why divorced men feel they have to continue paying their adult children's way. And then for DH to say or SK to say we don't give them any money and that they are on their own.

I can totally understand where your coming from. I have found that ignoring them is best. They are really not worth my time. I truely believe that what goes around comes around and they will get theirs some day. I often think someday the SK will have sk of their own and those sk's will treat my SK the same way they have treated me.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2009 at 8:26PM
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I mentioned last May that both SD25 and SD24 raged at us, mainly their Dad, for neglecting them, and leaving them out and not spending time with them. DH and I both are very sensitive people, and took this very hard coming from them. It caused to to reflect and examine our behavior to them, and did we really do what we are being accused of?

We felt that we were unjustly accused. So, to be objective, and look at facts, I made a journal starting the month in September 2005 when I met their Dad. I logged into the journal every time that we had contact with them. I included times that we actually visited them, where the visit was, what we did, and who picked up the tab. I also included all of the times that we invited them, but they turned us down. Mind you that we wouldn't just say, can you come Friday night at 6pm. We'd say something more like, "We have off of work for the next 3 days, would you like to get together sometime in the next three days?" We tried to be extremely accomodating with our schedule, because we placed a high importance on spending time with them. DH never said, as one of the posts said that he told his girls that, "Sorry I don't have time for you". He bent over backwards to try to do things with them, and make them feel comfortable with the new marriage.

My journal showed an average of every 2 weeks or twice a month that we actually spent time with SD24. With SD25 it was about 1 time a month, but she was attending college out of our area, so it is natural to see her less. When my son went to college his freshman year, I said Good Bye in August, and didn't see him til Christmas. He never accused me of neglecting him. He knew I was sacrificing in order to help pay his tuition, and he was pretty glad to get home at Christmas. After Christmas break, we saw him at Easter, then not til college dismissed in June. I have no regrets, and DS23 doesn't feel neglected. Also it was a HUGE change for DS23 because I filed for divorce from his father, after 25 years, right before Christmas. He went to school in the fall with a whole family, and came home to a mess on Christmas break. Never accused me of neglecting him! And a huge stress on his shoulders. With SS29 we see him about 5 times a year since he lives 1200 miles away, they come home quite often. But SS29 never complains about being neglected. SS29 is always polite and respectful, just clueless about social graces.

SD24 would sometimes say to us that her DH didn't want to always have to do the driving to come over and spend time with us. They live an hour away from us. So, my DH said to her, "What do you want us to do? Do you want us to just invite ourselves to your house? You're newly weds, should we just pop in without an invitation? We've never been invited to your place." Her answer was that we were welcome any time. So again, DH said, "should we just show up on your doorstep at mealtime?" An hour is a long way to drive when you don't know if anyone is going to be home or not. We clearly don't feel comfortable barging in on our young adult children without an invitation. Yet an invitation almost never came. SD24 invited her Dad over and made him a delicious birthday dinner 18 months ago. That was the last invitation from her to do anything with her. Like I said, my journal showed either we visited or made invitations that were turned down on average of every 2 weeks for the past 3 years! The invites were sometime as a couple, and sometimes just Dad. It depended on our schedules. Sometime I'd be working, and he'd make plans with his kids while I was at work, etc. Same thing with phone calls, they hardly ever call just to visit with him to see how he's doing, or to see if he would like to get together with them. He does almost 100% of the contacting. They usually contact him when they need something from him, or when there is some benefit in it for them, or obligatory times like his birthday, etc.

I made a pact with myself in September 2008 that I was going to stop trying so hard to gain their approval, stop contacting them altogether. I have been and will continue to be polite to them, try as hard as I know how to make them feel comfortable and welcome in our home, and I will answer any communication that they direct my way. I will NOT initiate any communication from me to them. The ball is in their court now. None of my 3 SK have contacted me since September, except my SS29'sW who emailed to see when I was sending out the Easter outfits for the SGKs.

They have been told by their father, that they are welcome here anytime, they don't even need to call ahead. He said it would be better if they'd phone ahead, but they are always welcome. We think that kids should always have a standing invitation at their parents house.

My DH actually cries sometimes. He is very sensitive. He feels that his daughters have neglected him! He has confronted them about this, and they say that things will change. And they do for about 2 weeks. Then they drop out of circulation until he hunts them down again. DH feels that he should do his part as a responsible parent, and try to build the relationship. If they don't do their part that is their decision, but he has the confidence of knowing that he has tried to spend time with them.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2009 at 11:57AM
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Would like to hear from others who may have adult children/step children and see how they handle things in their families.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2009 at 5:17PM
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Not really wanting to extend myself to see SD24 & SD25 for Easter. I know that I shouldn't feel this way, but I do.

When you reach your hand out to feed a dog, and the dog bites your hand, you can excuse it as an accident the first time. Then when it happens the second time you lose trust for the dog. The third time you are downright afraid of the dog. This is how I feel with them. My "hand has been bitten" so many times, that I cannot remember. If it was a dog, I could take it to the pound.


    Bookmark   March 27, 2009 at 6:52AM
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mom23step23, With holidays I no longer plan anything that revolve around the stepkids. They were uncomfortable being with Dh and myself during Christmas times and other holidays. So I no longer plan any celebration that revolves around them. They can come to anything we have, but I do not plan any celebration because of them any more.
They have always been ungreatful for anything I have worked so hard to have for them.

If I were you I would plan a nice Easter and invite them. If they want to come fine but if not that is fine too. Just do things that you would normally do for yourself and family members who care. Try not to focus on them. Make your DH, yourself and caring family members happy.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2009 at 7:31AM
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Arent you the one whose DH had EOW and two weeks in the summer and you insisted on cutting it down to one?

    Bookmark   March 27, 2009 at 9:08AM
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Mom23, As far as holidays go, DH and I usually leave town and avoid the whole mess..If I asked the Skids to come they d say we have to ask mom and she always said, no thats the day I picked to celebrate the holiday with you,regardless if it was the day , the week, the eve, didnt matter...She wanted to control and say no to whatever plans I had made..Then I stopped inviting, when it got close to the holiday, they would start asking what are your plans for the holiday, I d say, I m not sure , what are your plans?If they could tell me, moms having the eve, lets say, I could say great, come the day....But mom wouldnt tell them, wanted to continue to play games, so we just started going out of town and celebrating when we came back.Your Skids are adults(one of mine is too, but the games continue)but a simple we have plans should suffice, or as another poster suggested, drop by , we will be doing this....

    Bookmark   March 27, 2009 at 11:03AM
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"When you reach your hand out to feed a dog, and the dog bites your hand, you can excuse it as an accident the first time. Then when it happens the second time you lose trust for the dog. The third time you are downright afraid of the dog."

So when do you learn not to stick your hand in the dog's face?
Because that results in a bite.
You can invite the doge in and offer it a bowl of food and water, provided it behaves nicely,
but don't persist in trying to hand-feed a dog that bites.

Now I'm done being rude and nasty again...

    Bookmark   March 27, 2009 at 10:40PM
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My DHs mother was a prim and proper woman. I never met her, but from everything I've heard about her, I like her. She always had big celebration/family dinners on holidays. It as time to polish the silver, get out the good china, the linen tableclothes, etc. Dinner at a restaraunt was unheard of, almost an insult.

This is the tradition that SD24 and SD25 expect, and have always known. Their places aren't big enough to invite everyone over and let them make Easter dinner, so that's not an option. I have no problem with family traditions, that's the stuff memories are made of. I've always hosted a big Easter dinner too. It's just that I'm tired of the drama and the expectations. I'm weary. I'm tired of even talking about this.

I told DH when I met him that I am the sort of person who would give a stranger the shirt off my back, and I think I still am. But, I said, when that stranger turns on me, and then expects that I keep giving him my shirt, then something happens in me. I bristle. Suddenly, I don't want to give anything to the stranger anymore, and want to get away. This is how I feel now.

Last year we had a total circus at Easter. It started with over a dozen phone calls/emails about trying to find a place centrally located to accomodate SD25s long drive. She wasn't happy with our choice, so she invited us to dinner at her sister's house (but forgot to tell the sister). At the same time her sister told us that she had to work that day. In the end, neither of the SDs came. My DD and her boyfriend, and my DS who lives here, DH & I all went out to a Mexican restaraunt, then came back to our house and soaked it out in the hot tub with a marguirita. SDs felt excluded.

Currently we're looking into airflights to Florida that weekend!

Done trying to hand feed the dog!

    Bookmark   March 28, 2009 at 9:19AM
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Mom23, Good, done deal...See you in Florida on Easter LOL

    Bookmark   March 28, 2009 at 11:17AM
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Good for You! Have a wonderful time in Florida!

    Bookmark   March 31, 2009 at 8:28AM
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