Older step kids struggling

aendyNovember 12, 2010

My husband and I have been married almost a month but have been together for over 3 years. I have a 5 year old daughter and he has a 23 year old son and a 21 year old daughter. I share 50/50 custody of my daughter so we have her every other week. She gets along wonderfully with my husband. My ex and I communicate well. My husband and his ex do not communicate at all. To the point she told him she doesn't have to anymore. She plays the victim role really well. She constantly bad mouths me and my husband. Tells her kids that I am not there mother which I never tried to be only a friend. She tells them that my daughter is nothing to them. We know all of this from my husband's daughter who was kicked out by her mother (because she didn't like her boyfriend) and lived with us for 6 months. We constantly encouraged her to try to mend her relationship with her mother. When she was able to, she dropped us like hot cakes. The last time we saw her was at a family reunion where she acted like nothing was wrong. She refuses to communicate with her father and it breaks his hear. My husband's son sees us on a regular basis but informed us that we will not be seeing him for Thanksgiving at all. The plans with his mother were made first and "that is just the way it is". We tried to get him to just come for desert. It really bothers my husband. In fact neither of them made any attempt to come to our wedding. We didn't think his daughter would but his son said he would try. Their cousin was getting married the same day and they received her invite before ours. The sad parts are that my husband continues to reach out for them and invite them to things and they ignore him. He won't give up and I won't let him. Our hope is that they will come around eventually when they are no longer living with their mother and under her control. The other sad things is that my daughter bonded with his daughter. She misses her and is too young to understand why we don't see her. Will this ever change?

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Hi Aendy,

You will hear a lot on these pages about "disengaging" and it's good advice. Basically, the message is this: your stepchildren were involved in a very dysfunctional situation for many years before you came along. There's nothing you can do to fix it. You will not succeed if you try to change your stepchildren or their relationship with your husband. You can only control yourself, and the rules in your home (which affect the environment that your child lives in).

Focus on yourself, your child and your marriage. Set the rules of your own household and stick to them. Don't tolerate rude behaviour, broken committements or disrespect. Otherwise, if the stepchildren don't want to come around, then simply live your life without them. Build your own memories with your new family and don't let anyone else spoil them.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2010 at 4:57PM
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I agree that disengaging is a great idea. The "stepkids" were adults when you became involved with their father so there truly is no reason for him to have any contact with his ex... I'd have to agree with the ex wife in that regard. Of course, there are going to be graduations, weddings & grandchildren so there is going to be times everyone is in the same room & yes, it would be best if everyone could behave like adults & not make those situations uncomfortable... but you cannot control what someone else does. But, on day to day or even holidays, there is nothing you can do about the kids not coming around and you should probably plan things to make your daughter's holidays special. An invitation was offered & leave it at that. As a child of divorce, when I was in my early 20's I had to choose mom or dad's house. Many times I chose the parent that I felt "needed" me more than where I would have the most fun or enjoyment, which was usually my mom. After all, dad had remarried & had his wife... mom was all alone. I wonder if that's typical for children of divorce? Today I am in my 40's and have a great relationship with my dad, but I might have been resentful if my stepmom had gotten involved in my relationship with my dad... I was an adult when they got together & she had nothing to do with my upbringing. As it turned out, she stayed out of things to do with me & dad, but she did make an effort to have her own relationship with me, she didn't pressure or push but she was there & listened when I needed to talk or ask advice. I didn't really learn to appreciate it completely until I was in my 30's.

I agree with focus on your child & your husband. The kids, as they mature, should come around. If they don't, it's their loss. Let your husband forge his own relationship with his own kids. Sometimes kids (in their 20's) want to cut the apron strings & don't want to have as much involvement with their parents. I believe if the ex bad mouths you or your husband... the kids are old enough to figure out if there's validity to the ex's claims and if not, they will eventually hold that against their mother. My mom talked bad about dad after the divorce. For a while, I stood by mom out of loyalty but as I got older, my relationship with mom is not very close while my relationship with dad has grown much closer. I'd suggest to back off & not give them a reason to believe anything their mom might say is true.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2010 at 9:55AM
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Agree w iamamommy that we cannot forge a relationship w our step children, or our own children for that matter. Relationship and bonding come with history and shared time.

The more we seek happiness from others, the more that happiness will elude us. We cannot please 100% of all the people out there. Happiness should not be our goal but our only way of living, then we don't have to rely on so and so and their approvals for our happiness.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2010 at 8:39PM
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My DD is 22. I talk to ex only on occasion but I really do not have to. So I agree that BM does not have to talk to dad.

DD's relationship with dad is neither mine nor SM's problem. I think you should back off and focus on your own child.

As about why kids prefer one parent over another, it is hard to say. DD does not live at home, and visits us about equal amount of time. Her visits to dad are more frequent but visits to my house are longer simply because I live further away.

SDs prefer to stay with us for number of reasons, BM has awful BF who is drunk 24/7 while i am pretty decent person LOL and BM keeps her house very filthy, SDs can't even take a shower there. BM screamed at SO in the past that he manipulates SDds for staying with him, but this is not true.

So there might be more reasons why SKs stay away from dad, it is not always BM's fault.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2010 at 9:51PM
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