Trying to figure out how to be a good adult stepdaughter...

LindaLou22May 14, 2013

My mother died eight years ago, and my dad remarried six years ago.

I was always very very close to my parents, both of them. When my husband and I finished graduate school we moved to my home town to be close to my parents as my mom was sick and both she and dad needed help.

My husband and I worked full time and had our own friends but always included my parents in quite a bit of our lives. We enjoyed spending time with them, even going on vacations together. We helped as mom's health got worse, and when she died, boy did we grieve. My parents were married over 25 years.

My dad and I have always been very close we are a lot alike and like a lot of the same activities. After mom passed (knowing my dad hates to eat alone) he was welcome in our home every night for dinner. As he started dating and making weekly plans with friends he would usually be at our house about four nights a week.

At this point my dad is a strong presence in mine and my husband's lives. I find out I am expecting my first baby...he is elated and goes with us to find out if it is a boy or girl...he literally dances across the parking lot to his car that it is a boy, a grandson!!! He goes out an buys hundreds of dollars of boy toys to get ready for his arrival...we laughed at his silliness, and joked together.

Our son arrived, and my dad was over after work everyday to hold him at watch the nightly news. Sometimes staying for dinner sometimes not...he would take me and my son (my husband, if work permitted) out to lunch once a week, because now he had an active social life in the evenings. He didn't want our family to lose our closeness.

He met my now step-mom (introduced through friends at church). He turned into a giddy teenager, and it was kinda cute. We met, and she seemed very nice. She has four grown daughters of her own, he has two grown daughters (myself and my sister, who was not close to our parents and fled home at 16, unless she needs money...then she calls or visits, but that is another post).

They dated and decided to get married...I wasn't sure what to expect, but she was very reassuring that having had a step-mother of her own would never take my dad away, etc etc etc...

Once they married it was suddenly different. We weren't allowed to have lunch if she wasn't able to come too. If I asked my dad for any favor, it could be anything that I would never have hesitated to ask him before...could you give me a ride to the car dealership...could you please pick up something for me when you are out...or if I stopped by his office to say hello (he is self-employed), and to be clear I never asked to borrow money or anything like that we are self-sufficient made her very very angry (I had no idea it did until) day she just blew up at me and accused me to trying to be "the other woman" in his life, and that we had an un-natural relationship with no boundaries.. I was flabbergasted...I was just having the same relationship we had always had and was told we would continue to have even after they married. I backed off, way way off...called my dad once, maybe twice a week, no more weekly lunches...I would arrange lunch with them about once every six to eight weeks, plenty of time in advance. Never asked my dad for any favors, except if they were cleared by her and would not intrude on their plans in any way what-so-ever.

Now they have built their own home (in our neighboorhood supposedly to be close to family). But I hardly ever go over there, Christmas Eve or if invited to a party, so about two to three times a year. My two kids (I now have a daughter...and when I went into labor with her and called was too late at night, eleven pm, for them to come out...they would come by the hospital in the morning...her daughters got champagne and strawberries delivered night or day with their babies, with both of them waiting hours/days while they were in labor)...anyways my two kids don't even know them other than the most casual of ways as grandma and grandpa.

I thought all was well, with them/her...until yesterday...

They had been in a car accident, and I had spent the night at the ER with them, one of her daughters was there too. So the next morning she calls me to come over and asks me to make my dad an appointment to see his doctor. I do as she asks and visit with her a while and discover another of her daughters is on her way over to take her to work and to run errands. So I ask my dad when she is in the other room (I didn't wait for her to leave or anything it just happened to be that way) if he wanted to join my husband and I for lunch before I took him to the doctor. His face lit up, and he exclaimed, YES!! He started mumbling about finishing getting dressed so we could go, as my husband's office has a strict hour lunch policy. He leaves the room to go finished getting dressed and comes back a few minutes later and says she doesn't want to be left alone so soon after the accident...I say, I understand and that I will go have lunch with my husband and come pick him up for his appointment later. I wasn't upset, as far as I was concerned it was just a change of plans.

Well, when I come back later to pick him up, he is looking so dejected and her car is gone which is weird because neither of them is suppose to be driving. So I ask what happened and he is very evasive...finally spits out that she was so angry at him for agreeing to lunch with me before checking with her that she dressed and stormed out of the house to drive herself to work (with broken bones and on painkillers), fuming that once again he and I have no boundaries, and she should come first, and I am once again being the other woman....

Hot damn, I just asked him to join me and my husband for lunch...and I promise she never asks him before any of her four daughters or her ten grandchildren are included in any of their plans, they even move in and out of their house for months at a time...her grandkids are dropped off for babysitting at a moments whim...her daughters come first before my dad if they need something...but for some reason I make her furious.

So, here is my I back off even don't ever call at all and just let her have him completely (and I feel like she already does...) or do I stand up to her and try and salvage some relationship with my dad (but that I feel will backfire on my dad because he has to live with her)...and to be clear, I have always been respectful to her, I have always been kind to her and wanted to be her friend, I would do anything to help her if she asked, I want to be a good step-daughter to her...but it seems my very existence just pisses her off, even though she is nice to my face.

I am husband reassured me that my father and I never had an abnormal relationship, he would have been the first to have an issue with it if we did...

So, what do I do??...because I already felt like I lost my dad when he remarried and she told me basically to back off (which I thought I had...) Now I feel like I should let him go completely as though he is dead to me, to make her happy which breaks my heart...


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I would suggest that the three of you, dad, step mom and yourself meet with a therapist. This is the only way you can get to the bottom of why your stepmom feels that you are too much of a miniwife to her husband.

I will say that if I married a man whose daughter was constantly calling for him to do things for her, I'd start to get annoyed and think - doesn't she have a husband to do those things for her?

    Bookmark   May 15, 2013 at 8:21PM
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I have had a few days to ponder and think about it.

I have realized that it really isn't my is their problem.

I don't call my dad or ask him to do anything at all for me, anymore (they called me from the ER and she called me to come over and help out that day)...and I will be clear that he was fine helping me out with things being that he was self-employed and more available than my husband at times due to just starting his first job post college. My dad was the one overly cautious about my husband taking any time from work and always making a great impression on his first employer. My bio-parents were just very very supportive of us in general.

So maybe that was a bad habit, but those can be corrected kindly without accusing people of having un-healthy relationships and no boundaries when you yourself will run on a moments notice to help your own grown children. The pot calling the kettle and all of that...

But husband and I have discussed it and it really is their relationship and their problem (if there even is a problem as long as I am not around).

So if it bothers my Dad he can discuss it with her and try and have some times we can spend together. If it really doesn't bother him and he doesn't care then well...he is missing out on being a part of our lives and his grand kids lives.

So I have decided to just stay out of it. It really isn't my business. I bother her, she then gives him grief, and he suffers. So...I do have a very very busy life of my own without trying to cling on a to a relationship that is long dead (for a better word).

I am just going to live my good life with my husband, kids, other family members and friends. They can live theirs...

    Bookmark   May 16, 2013 at 9:51PM
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It sounds like this woman wants to isolate her husband from his daughter & wants to put him on the defensive, which is what a control freak/abuser does.

Please keep up with your dad's life, take his pulse as it were, for a while before you decide to opt out of all this.

I wish you the best.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2013 at 8:37PM
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Your second thought is a good one. Your father is an adult who makes his own choices. There's no point in blaming his wife, or pretending that he is a child with no will of his own. He owns his choices, and he has accepted the consequences. You can't change him, or his choices. You are wise to build a good life with your family and friends. You also need to give yourself permission to grieve the loss of such an important person in your world. It must be very painful, especially since your mother is gone, and your sister isn't a part of your life.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 6:24PM
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I have gone through the same things in a way for over 20 years with my dad & his wife. I don't agree with people who tell you to back off & pretend he doesn't exist. I constantly did things to appease my stepmother & make my dads life easier so she didn't give him grief. But now that my dad is older & sick I feel as though if I completely back off & he passes away I will not have those special memories for myself or my children. Do you really want your kids to have no memories with their grandpa? I feel that she is being selfish & while its good that you have decided to go on & live your life, he is a part of it as well. I'm not saying to harp on it all the time but you seem to have had a strong bond with him in the past & although you may not feel comfortable confronting him, maybe you need to say to him listen, I want my kids to have time with you & maybe we can make a day once or twice a month that is convenient for you & your wife to have lunch or dinner or even just go for a walk! Don't give up on your dad.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 10:58AM
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I'm on the other side of this situation and recently I had to just tell myself, that I have a wonderful man in my life and while our family dynamics are different, nothing was worth causing in chasms.

This is not a vent, my partner and I work together very well. I think I have discovered my best plan is to change my attitude.

His family did not come from a nurturing environment, though they love each other very much. What happens is they plan things and edict dates,without ever including either of us in the organization. Since that is the way it has always been, my partner is fine with this for him. We're just to show up, bring food (and they never have food cooked) and baby sit. Either that or they descend on our home after an edict that they are coming and not one person ever says, "is this good with you" And I have to say, unless there was something compelling I would love to act as a gracious hostess (who could actually extend an invitation once in a while). Instead, I feel like the maid and babysitter.

I think working on my reaction (which is currently to silenty seethe and make harsh remarks when they are gone - shame on me ) is dumb. I can say, "that's not good for me", and then go right on. , which might include leaving MY home rather than sitting there feeling upset. I hardly ever get to see my family and this might be a perfect time to do that, except that I always liked for us to do this together.

They are not unkind, just different, just not used to communicating. I was hoping we would sail through doing things together. But, my focus is to keep our beautiful relationship alive and truly be happy for my partner when he gets to see his family.

Thanks for listening.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2013 at 1:07PM
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Oh my goodness, I am taking the complete opposite opinion of most others here! This does not pass the smell test!
Your Dad is active in your life on a regular basis, giddy and so excited about his grandson. Then, all this changes when the new wife enters and your Dad's behavior changes dramatically?
He was obviously very excited to have lunch with you after his accident. What hold does this woman have over him?
Can the 3 of you go to your church and have an adult discussion about these changes and your feelings? Something is not right with this woman, is she a gold digger? We already know she is a proven liar, pre-marriage conversation is far different than post-marriage conversation and actions. Watch out for your Dad, I smell trouble and danger here!
He is YOUR FATHER for Pete's Sake, call him 20 times a day and see him often, he won't be here forever and your children deserve to know such a wonderful man! Who does she think SHE is?

    Bookmark   July 18, 2013 at 4:34PM
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I have to agree with Dawn for the most part. I've seen this situation before and these women (the new wife) are obviously very insecure and see you and anyone else who's getting their husband's attention as a threat. It's so sad, because she could have a wonderful 5th daughter in this situation, but she chooses differently and it's her loss. More importantly though is what she's done to her own husband. First of all, of course you and your father would be extremely close. You lost your mom and for the most part your sister too. All you have is each other! Shame on her! My suggestion, ask her to lunch and come right out and ask her what can be done to make the relationship better. Her response to that will tell you a lot. If all she does is complain about everything and offers up no solution, then I'd write her off as much as you're able to. And then I would also have a private chat with your dad about this. This sounds like a very abuse situation for him. Find out just how happy or unhappy he is. He might be too proud to say anything and ashamed to do anything, he could be waiting for someone like you to approach him about it. I was very close to a situation like this and the man did not want to be a burden to his children so he put up with a lot of abuse from his 2nd wife and stepchildren. As soon as his children offered him a way out, he left her and moved in with them and is now very happy. Not saying this is the situation with your dad, but you owe it to him to find out. Like you said, he was there for you when you needed him, be there for him now, no matter what or who tries to get in your way.

This post was edited by Karen10125 on Fri, Jul 19, 13 at 7:08

    Bookmark   July 19, 2013 at 7:05AM
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I think you should find out if your dad is happy with this woman and if not, you should help him get out.

If he is happy, you don't have much of a choice. If he isn't, then support him in either getting out, or in telling his wife that he is having a relationship with you. And by supporting him, I don't mean having anything to do with his wife, but by being morally supportive and there for him to gather love and strength.

Best of Luck to you.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2013 at 5:57PM
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i know its a tad late but as a stepmom to an adult stepchild I thought I might be able to help and give advice from the step moms eyes.

first of all , you sound lovely. I would love it if my adult SD was even a quarter as sweet as you sound.

Now in my opinion it sounds like your step mom just might feel a bit smothered. I agree that her behaviour is outrageous and she needs to act like an adult, however it seems you are treating her as an outcast.

i understand you and your dad were very close and did everything together before she was in his life. But you must realize that although your dad loves you more than anything, he now has an addition to the family that he needs to attend to as well. Is there any reason she could not just join you and your father for outings? I don't see why not. She is after all now your family and it sounds like this would resolve a lot of issues.

My stepdaughter does not invite me out either, and I have been in her life for 14 years, since she was a small girl.It was very hurtful that I was not invited out, however , my husband nipped that in the bud quick and basically said to her that if she wanted to be part of his life she would have to be respectful of all of her family. That included me. She chose not to have anything to do with us and it is heartbreaking because we never see her. But I will admit my husband and myself are much happier without the stress. This was not meant to make you feel bad, but rather to make you see that loving (or even just respecting) your family will make life much more enjoyable for you.

Respectful is as good as you need to be. You don't have to love this women or even like her, but if you have some respect (and she treats you the same) trust me life will be a lot easier and your dad will be a lot happier.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2014 at 9:03PM
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Any update, OP?

    Bookmark   December 18, 2014 at 11:09AM
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Linda, I am sorry for your situation.

Does your husband and his mother go to lunch and other leisure activities without including you? Would it be okay if they did?

My stepdaughter, now 28, lived with her mother growing up. She and my husband were close before we married sixteen years ago-- she was 12 and I was 38. Our birthdays are six days apart.The first year we were married, she insisted that she always spent the weekend before her birthday (my birthday) traveling with her father, so I spent my birthday with my sister. Everything has been like that... I am never included in anything with them.

We have four children total, but she has a special relationship with her father. She nees them to be alone together---without me. We took all four kids skiing once, and she made the trip miserable. My husband had custody of her brother, now 32. I tried to include all four kids in everything, but she never wanted anything but alone time with her dad and raised holy hell if I were included. Until last spring, I would go sit on the back porch if she came over. She wanted it that way. Since her wedding in May, I have avoided her completely in every way.

This is how you seem to me. Maybe you don't see it that way, but it is very hurtful. He is your father, but they are a married couple.

I know how hurtful it feels to be treated like an unwanted intruder. I suspect you are doing that. You ARE the other woman, just as my stepdaughter has always been the other woman in our marriage. i know, just like your father's wife knows, that she can never compete with you, because you don't respect their marriage, and you don't consider her to be part of the family. That hurts. Why is she not due the same status as your husband?

    Bookmark   December 21, 2014 at 10:19PM
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Even in an "intact" family, kids get the opportunity to spend one-on-one time with their parents occasionally. A daughter occasionally gets to have mom-and-me time at the salon. A son gets to have Dad all to himself on a fishing week-end every now and again. Or, a daughter gets to talk with her Dad privately about whatever and a son gets to go with Mom while she runs errands. So, why shouldn't that still be the case when the parent has remarried? Why must the step-parent always be included?

southernsummer -- in your situation, I blame your husband for the status quo more than your stepdaughter. She behaved badly for sure, but your husband put up with it and encouraged it if the behavior is still on-going after all these years. I'm sorry that this is your situation. I would have a very hard time staying with a man who allowed his kid to treat me like your stepdaughter has treated you.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2014 at 10:37AM
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I don't see/smell any trace that OP is the other woman in her relationship with her father. I feel sorry for the father who lost so much joy with the family due to his insecure, control freak new wife.

"Does your husband and his mother go to lunch and other leisure activities without including you? Would it be okay if they did?" - Why is it not OK? This question is beyond silly.

In our family, we always have alone time with our parents and children. I still remember the wonderful time and conversation with my own father even it has been 40-50 years. HD was his mother's favorite, they always had private time together when we were on vacation visiting her.

We also have great memory spending alone time with our own children in various countries and cities.

southernsummer, do your own biological children spend alone time with you or your husband? If they do, does it make them the "other woman or man"?

May be because I am the type of person who does not always remember my own birthday, I fail to see the big deal of spending time with your husband exact on your birthday, especially the daughter does not live with the father, and you live with him every single day of the year. Why cannot you find another day to celebrate?

In your other posts it seems you have problem over Christmas gifts from your husband to his children.

Again, I fail to understand the issues. In our own family we don't see children until Christmas break due to all of us have busy careers. We are so appreciative that they spend vacation and airfares, expenses coming home to see us ( they could well afford traveling to anywhere in the world if they want to). As always, we give high dollar gifts to indirectly compensate the expense they incur.

If the once a year gifts impact your financial future, you need to have a serious discussion with your husband, otherwise, why interfere?

Relationship between each parent and child is unique, it does not need to be according to others wishes/rules.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2014 at 12:53PM
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Thanks for your messages.

My point is that very early, a new in-law or step is either made to feel welcome or unwelcome in a family, and it sets the tone for everything. She thought and I thought that our new household was our new family. It was clear to both of us that the old family was the valid one, and the new family was crap to everyone else in the family. As a result, we both pulled harder to solidify our new family. That means excluding anyone who threatens, for instance. You are never going to be welcome in the new family.

Yes I blame my husband, too. He is a doormat when it comes to his "kids". I have set my own boundaries, and accepted the things I can't change.i don't include his kids in anything, and they don't include me. He handles his relationships with them. His cards and gifts are signed by him only, which I'm sure they appreciate. I expect to never see them again, since there is no reason for it.

I'm merely giving you insight into why you are now being excluded and always will be. You set the tone, and she was threatened by it. You can take it or leave it, and it makes no difference to me. They have a new family, and you have a family. You will never be part of the new family, and she will never be part of the old family, which is how you want it

    Bookmark   December 25, 2014 at 6:31AM
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One last comment... All of you may think that her "other woman" comment is totally groundless, but something made her feel that way. If it's a problem for her, then it's a problem for both of you, and right now you are the one on the outside.

    Bookmark   December 25, 2014 at 7:05AM
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"something made her feel that way"

maybe some chemical imbalance in her brain...

OP, I re-read the incident about the blow-up at the hospital, & your father's responses sound like he been browbeaten into submission.

This woman sounds like my mother, who was a control freak;
she kept everyone in the family isolated from each other, & she went in big for rage, punishment, & dramatics.

If something, anything, didn't go her way, *somebody* got punished, & she didn't stop until her rage was spent.

I'll guarantee you, if your father's wife had had an accident in that car, it would have been your & his fault, & her rage & her vindictiveness would have been immense.

Somehow, you must sit down with your father away from his wife & have a heart-to-heart.

If he's too beaten down to do that, he's been emotionally & mentally abused;
call the authorities & report possible spousal or elder abuse.

I wish you the best.

    Bookmark   December 25, 2014 at 9:27AM
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I am one of the very few that feels this just isn't right. I would NOT recommend distancing yourself, he is your Dad, he needs you. Something is definitely going on, I would suspect spousal abuse by the sounds of things...hang in there, you wouldn't want him to give up on you....

    Bookmark   January 6, 2015 at 1:06PM
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