Stepmother desperately needs HELP!!!!!!

krazykayDecember 2, 2008

Hello everyone : )

I am new this page and am VERY grateful that I found it. As my user name implies, I sometimes feel like I'm going crazy with the stepdaughter issues and challenges I have had hurled at me since I met my husband three years ago. My children are grown. My husband's children are age 23 and 10 and have two different mothers. I having been a single mom with a daughter who hated every man I dated, I figured I'd have my work cut out for me, especially with the little one who was seven when we met, but ironically, it was the older one who was (and remains) hell on wheels. I tried desperately to win her over for a year and a half, and all the while, she seldom actually spoke to me but rather, would speak to her father and refer to me in the third person, even when I was in the room. She was terribly spoiled and pampered and therefore was extremely demanding towards her father. It was very routine for her to call him shouting and demanding money for this reason or that. Long story short, ultimately, the stress and conflict became so bad that my new husband and I sought counseling just to "work out" all the drama surrounding his daughters and their mothers. The therapist said he needed to establish healthy boundaries and honor our marriage, and YIKES!!! ... when he did that, it got even worse with the oldest one! It was open warfare with her and her multiple attempts to meddle in our marriage. I am at a total loss and very depressed. I treated her with adult respect and offered her friendship, and even endured a year and a-half of pure meanness and competition with me, until finally I had to tell my husband that it was no longer okay to be treated like that and that her blatant lying to him in order to conjure up trouble for us would no longer be tolerated. This makes me both crazy (Krazy) and sad because my husband and I get along wonderfully and are best friends, but all this madness with his daughters is slowing driving a wedge between us. Anyway advice??? Help!!!!!

PS: I am happy and proud to report that my adult children were welcoming and kind to my husband, in fact, my son who lives in the same city as us is very close friends with my husband now and they do many things together. I just wish his children has been half as open to me and were also willing to allow their father to have a woman in his life other than them.

Krazy Kay

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Does your 23 year old SD live with you? If not, then I would give as much effort as she does to be 'friends'. I would continue with being respectful and cordial, like anyone you meet. It is your husband's responsibility to stand up for you and expect her to treat you respectfully. (That doesn't mean she has to respect you, but he shouldn't allow her to treat you poorly) Your husband needs to set boundaries and stick to them or she will tear your relationship with him apart. I have three grown kids, two that have been difficult with my husband. My daughter gets along great with DH but my sons is another story. They are doing much better because I won't allow them to talk back or be disrespectful. It's not likely that they will ever be 'friends' but relationships cannot be forced. If you accept that she doesn't like her dad being married to you (and it probably wouldn't matter who he marries, so try not to take it personal... even if it seems it is personal) and if you treat her like you'd treat someone you have to work with but don't necessarily like or get along with, that's probably all you can do.

You can bend over backwards to be nice to her and she will treat you like crap. She may find a way to see your acts of kindness as manipulative or with an ulterior motive, even if there is none. She will perceive things the way she wants to and there isn't anything you can do about that. I've had a stepmom that went through that with my sisters and it didn't matter what she did, they found a way to turn it around on her and she was probably frustrated, like you. I am also a stepmom and my SD is 9. She is still young and I think there's a part of her that wants to like me but there's also a strong loyalty to her mom who doesn't like me. So, with younger kids... I have a lot more patience and sympathy because they want to please their parents, but older kids break away from that and usually think more for themselves (but I'm sure they are also influenced by their parent's) so with older kids, especially if you get involved when they are grown, the best you can do is be nice and step back. If your husband can't or won't handle it and create boundaries, then it will create disharmony in your marriage. If I were in that situation, I would probably go shopping when she comes over or find something else to do when she's around. If it happened frequently, I imagine it would have a huge impact on my marriage and that would need to be discussed with DH. If she lives with you, it creates different problems too. That would be much tougher, but the bottom line is that your DH has to support you and do everything he can to handle the situation. (ie. calling you out on it if you are doing anything out of line and calling his daughter out when she gets out of line)

    Bookmark   December 2, 2008 at 10:45AM
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Hi Kay.....Welcome.

I think if I were in your shoes I might try a couple of things with both SDs, altering things a bit to suit the ages of each. I would have a meeting with all of you, (husband and his daughters) and put a few things out on the table. If I had children, grown or not, that would not respect my husband, I believe the conversation would go something like this....

To the 23 yr. old.." I do not understand why you would choose to treat the man that I love with such disrespect. If you love and respect me you will not continue to do this. You are behaving in a mean and spiteful way and it is bound to affect our relationship. Although I love you with all of heart and that will never change I can't continue to put up with this. If you can't work it out on your own I suggest that you get counseling and I would be happy to participate in that with you. If you choose not to do anything about your treatment of my husband then our relationship, as much as it breaks my heart, will have change. You and I can't be close if you are choosing to treat my husband, the man that I love, in this manner. Please consider what I said and remember, from now on I will not tolerate disrespect towards my husband from you."

I would encourage a heart to heart with the oldest to see if she will open up to you. If not if would give you the chance to tell her that you don't understand why she is treating you the way that she is and would she please tell you what she is angry or hurt about. Let her know that it is your desire to have a good relationship with her and she can set the boundaries for that but you won't present yourself as a whipping post for her. That is over.

The 10 year old needs a good talking to and perhaps your husband and her mother should sit down first. The same principals apply to her as the older daughter with the understanding that she is 10. I suggest counseling again.

I would apply some punishment for the 10 year olds behavior. If her mom doesn't have a problem with her or she doesn't behave that way towards her then set up your own system in your home. Husband needs to lay down the law with this one and attach privileges to good behavior. No disrespect towards you should be tolerated, any should be addressed and discipline should follow. You can talk with her also. Be honest about how she makes you feel but don't allow her to have power over you.

I remember telling my SD33, who lived with my ex and me for 13 years, that I didn't marry her dad for her love and if she never loved me I could live with that but she would treat me with respect. It was not a choice, it was not a request it was an order. She and I have a wonderful relationship now.

I wish you the best. I'm sure that you will get great advice here. These women ( and some men) have a lot to offer.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2008 at 12:17AM
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