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Adult Stepchildren

Posted by cmcgaha2012 (My Page) on
Wed, Jan 2, 13 at 13:45

I am new to this forum, but have found the post interesting and since I have no one else I can ask or vent too here goes my first posting!
I have been married to my DH for almost 6 years. He has 5 biological children and I have two - all adults (mine are in college, he has one that just graduated college, one 18 living with us but paying rent, and 3 that are married and have children of their own. So, combined we have 7 children and 8 grandchildren. When I met him, one of the most favorable traits I saw in him was his love for his family. I always wanted more children and loved his excitement about his family. His oldest 3 children's mom deserted them when they were still in diapers so knowing my DH raised these children alone really said something about him as well.
Well, now into our 6th year of marriage, I find that being step mom is not fun at all! Even with adult children:( I love being a grandmother - those 8 kids are my world. One of my SD (24 with 3 kids of her own) seems to always cause us huge headaches. We have dogs - he knew I had inside dogs when we dated that I was not willing to part with. The SD cant stand that fact and has used it as a reason to not come to our house. Her children have all had asthma attacks, some after being around the dogs, but many many others from other triggers - no dogs around. She has used that to say that we have chosen our dogs over the safety of their children because I refuse to part ways with my dogs. We put them outside if anyone comes over - but that is not good enough - they have insisted we get them new homes! for someone that may have come to visit 3 times a year, it was not a reasonable request. If they lived with me and my dogs were causing health concerns, it would be totally different. This battle has gone on for 1 1/2 year and now we dont do any holiday or family get togethers at our house at all - so imagine me hauling food and presents for 20+ people over to someone elses house to accomdate Christmas.

Over Thanksgiving, the SD emailed my brother in law - She was mad that I had her blocked to read my post on FB - because she always assumes anything and everything is a stab at her. She emailed him stating she knew I was not the right person for her father and she couldnt wait until he found his true companion....
I just cant let that go. I am upset at her and upset that my husband, while he is hurt by her actions, refuses to talk to her. He would rather just me stop talking to them and pretent that they dont exist in my eyes - but let him continue on as if nothing has been said or done. I keep trying to talk myself into not letting her hurt me and to stay by the man I love..but I am hurt that he refuses to even talk to her about the things she said to another family member. I dont want a screaming match - I just want him to stand up to his ASD and tell her that I am here to stay, deal with it, accept it, and quit being so petty over stuff. It is causing huge amounts of friction with the entire family and I feel like I am always on guard now...I dont feel like i can be a grandmother or anything else to these children and that hurts. I have bent over backward to include them in our lives and to show them I care. How do you just stand by and watch the person you love not defend you and at least try to mend the damage?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Adult Stepchildren

We have dogs - he knew I had inside dogs when we dated that I was not willing to part with. The SD cant stand that fact and has used it as a reason to not come to our house. Her children have all had asthma attacks, some after being around the dogs, but many many others from other triggers - no dogs around. She has used that to say that we have chosen our dogs over the safety of their children because I refuse to part ways with my dogs. We put them outside if anyone comes over - but that is not good enough - they have insisted we get them new homes! for someone that may have come to visit 3 times a year, it was not a reasonable request. If they lived with me and my dogs were causing health concerns, it would be totally different. This battle has gone on for 1 1/2 year and now we dont do any holiday or family get togethers at our house at all - so imagine me hauling food and presents for 20+ people over to someone elses house to accomdate Christmas.

I don't have any thoughts or advice about the rest of the post, but I do have thoughts/advice about this part. I have asthma myself and I know many people with asthma. It's very possible you may be underestimating the seriousness of this issue for your husband's grandchildren.

Your stepdaughter is not handling this the way I would, if I were in her shoes (at least that's what I think). If I were your stepdaughter, I would not insist or even ask that you get rid of the dogs. But I would not be visiting your home, probably ever, if it caused my children to have asthma attacks. Even if the attacks were just sometimes. I would kindly and pleasantly let you know that was the issue, then it would be up to you and your husband to decide whether to keep the dogs or not. I would not be attending family/holiday get-togethers at your home, and I would very much expect that you and your husband would be not only willing but also understanding enough to haul your presents and food to someone else's home without complaint in order to prevent my children from having an asthma attack.

Her children have all had asthma attacks, some after being around the dogs, but many many others from other triggers - no dogs around.

Exactly. They have asthma attacks from dogs (sometimes) but also from other things. Asthma is probably a constant battle for them. There are so many places their children have to go that cause problems for them, why would you insist that they come to your home when you could visit them instead?

We put them outside if anyone comes over - but that is not good enough

No, putting the dogs outside is not good enough. Please, please for the sake of your relationship with your husband and his family, educate yourself about asthma. Here is some information about pet dander and asthma from the web site about.com:

In fact, it is dander or the proteins in skin flakes, urine, feces, saliva and hair that trigger your asthma symptoms.

Removing your pet from the home and avoiding contact with the pet is the most effective way to decrease exposure to animal dander. A "trial removal" is not recommended as it may take as many as 20 weeks following removal for allergen levels to fall to levels similar to those of homes without pets. If you do remove the pet from the home, make sure you thoroughly clean all bedding products, floors, carpets and other surfaces where dander may collect.

If pet removal is going to produce depression, crying and gnashing of teeth for you or your child, making the pet an "outside only" animal is a partial solution, but will not fully decrease your exposure to animal dander

If you and your husband insist on keeping the dogs and that your grandchildren visit you, then you probably ARE choosing the dogs over your husband's grandchildren's safety.

. We have dogs - he knew I had inside dogs when we dated that I was not willing to part with

It's very possible your husband didn't know himself what a huge issue this would be. Many, many people, like yourself, think simply putting the dogs outside is good enough. However, now you both know that it is a problem, and it's up to the two of you to decide how to deal with this problem. I don't think your stepdaughter should insist that you give up the dogs. However, if you were my stepmother I would be very, very, very, very, very angry if I had told you what a problem this causes and you continued to dismiss it. Very angry. Really, really, really angry. I'd be angry and I certainly, absolutely would think you were not the life's companion for my father I hoped he'd have.

I just want him to stand up to his ASD and tell her that I am here to stay, deal with it, accept it, and quit being so petty over stuff.

Your husband's grandchildren have asthma that is sometimes triggered by pet dander. They are his grandchildren, they SHOULD be there to stay, you should deal with it and accept it and do what you can to minimize the impact of your pets on your grandchildren's health.

I can certainly understand why you'd rather have your beloved pets with you every day rather than get rid of them over someone who only visits 3 times a year. However, you are minimizing and dismissing valid health concerns your step daughter has. As her children's mother, it's her responsibility to advocate for their health in a situation like yours. She is not being petty, she is being a responsible mother.

I hope this helps you to see the other side of the issue. I hope you and your husband can find some resolution to this issue.

The only other thing I would add is that sometimes certain things will cause problems for me and other times those same things won't. It's not like cat dander (one of the things I'm allergic to) will always cause problems for me. Sometimes it will, sometimes it won't. But if my threshold is low (and I don't always know when that will be), then cat dander causes a problem for me, ranging in severity. So please don't be dismissive of the issue if your husband's grandchildren don't always have asthma attacks due to the dogs. Even if the problem is intermittent, it's still an issue. That's not your stepdaughter being petty, it's the reality of her children's life. She MUST deal with that on behalf of her children, she has no choice. But YOU do have a choice.

Good luck whatever you decide.


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RE: Adult Stepchildren

I think Daisy gave a pretty decent of 'the other hand'.

Where is the compromise? I'm going to assume you've voiced the distaste for traveling to a different home with food and presents. Otherwise I don't see why there is a recent struggle over the holiday. You have dogs. SD has children with asthma. You're obviously still welcome to join in on the family holiday activities as long as they are not held at your home. So why not go and enjoy? You 'got' your way in keeping your dogs but you'd have also attempted to 'see the other hand' and 'given' (compromised) to accomodate the needs of the other family members.

But that seems not 'right' in your view. You'd like the dogs and wished the SD and kids would just take chances on health concerns. Pretty unrealistic when considering families should be willing to give and take a bit to make things work for all concerned.

They aren't telling you you can't see the young ones, they're just saying the events have to be somewhere else aka dog free. Did SD actually say you must still get rid of your dogs even if the grandkids never come to your home?

If all the food is a hassle, I suggest a potluck type holiday dinner where you'd only be responsible for a dish or two (surely you've been invited to other places and parties where the host as requested guest bring a dish...it's pretty common and not that 'big' of deal). Presents? Solution to hauling gifts for 20 around might be to downsize the gift giving. Gifts only for children, name drawing for adults? Prearrangements for the hauling of gifts early before event day? There's got to be some solution if you all think about it that makes event day less stressful. You do realize, right, that it is also a lot of work/hassle for all the adult children to make the troop to your home what with any food they may be bringing, presents, and a car full of kids.

I think husband is correct on the facebook/email thing. Let it go. You've banned her from your page. You don't have to be friends with SD on FB. Or you could set up your FB for certain 'friends' to access more of your page than others. I personally think FB can sometimes cause more drama and problems than actually being a fun useful place to share yourself on. Your BIL really had no business sharing whatever his niece (your SD) said in a private email to him. Tattling tends to just stir the pot. If BIL didn't tell you but instead told his brother (husband) who then told you, that was wrong too. SD did not say anything to you, nor directly even to her father. She privately emailed her frustrations to her uncle. And that is where the statements should have stayed.

It would be one thing if SD stomped up to you and said such a thing or directly to her father behind your back. In that scenario I would expect my husband to defend any offensive rudeness addressed to his wife ...but that is not what happened with you. She didn't disrespect you/your relationship to you or your husband directly. You just happen to somehow been privy to a private email. You can't make her 'like' you and you can't control what she says to others in a private situation such as an email which was not directly to you/husband.

I suggest you all work out a compromise that is a true compromise taking in all considerations (the children's health ect) and that you all stop tattle taling on each other. It was as much of a breech of respect towards SD with Uncle sharing the email as you seem to think it is that husband is not racing to 'spank' her and defend your honor. Time for everybody to grow up, think before they act and learn to work together. Or just forget holidays all together.


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RE: Adult Stepchildren

Thanks for the input. I do understand about allergies and asthma, I have had asthma all my life. I understand about triggers and it being various things. The issue I have is not changing our family functions, I do it with a smile. I dont want the babies to be sick and anything I can do to prevent it I will.
The issue is that she doesnt appreciate anything. I have been at the ER with her everything one of the babies has to go - I have suggested that she take the girls to a specialist for hopefully something to help make the attacks less severe. She wont follow up with care even with her primary doctor. The girls come over outside - and I purposely put my dogs up so they are not in contact that the SD will say - they can play with the dogs as long as they are outside, it wont hurt them - so she proceeds to let them carry them around whereever - in their faces. But I am still the bad person.
They just moved into new house (been living 3 years with her mother) and I have offered to help move, help watch girls while she unpacks, and even offered to throw housewarming party - she pretends in public but then with her father and others talks behind my back. I would much rather her just sit down and talk to me and my husband personally - rather than the backstabbing attacks. With Christmas, she offered to have get together in their new home, great idea. But she would never confirm and we were running out of dates that would work. So, I had to get the SS to host at his house - which made her mad because she thought we agreed to do at her house - even though I asked her at least 5 times when she wanted to host it - we set our date the week before Christmas and with 7 children and the various in laws, dates for functions fill out quickly.

I would never do anything to jeoparize anyones health. They own a dog as well - forgot to mention that. They banished me over not getting rid of my dogs stating they were getting rid of theirs, they would not own a dog their children couldnt play with...but they never did. They send their dad pictures often of the girls carrying their puppy around the house/yard.
It is at this point, not an option for her to like me, I get that. But she doesnt have to be disrespectful to me and her father - she completely ignores me at functions or even dinners with just her family that she invites dad too. I always go - I want to show her that I support her adn her family - I am at every kid function - no matter how small. I take my relationship with my husband and my "Step" grandparent role very seriously. Her talking about her issues with me to uncles and other siblings doesnt help the family tension that it has created. It needs to be discussed, in my opinion, personally - but my husband refuses to do that.


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RE: Adult Stepchildren

I'm sorry you're going through this, cmcgaha2012. I guess I don't have much if any advice at all, then.

Your stepdaughter has a very different viewpoint than I do, and I don't understand that point of view. If the doctor told me dogs were an asthma/allergy trigger for my kid(s) and my babies were going to the hospital with asthma attacks, we would find new homes for our dog(s) and I would minimize their exposure to dogs. I guess it's possible that she thinks that if their dog is an outdoor dog only and your dogs live inside that your house has a lot more pet dander.

Personally, if there is a division in my family sometimes I'd much rather hear that I'm the problem. I can fix me - I can't fix anybody else. It would probably be a lot easier for you if the problem really was the asthma/dog connection - you could do something about that. If that's just her excuse to mask the true reason, then you may not be able to resolve the situation.

The only suggestion I have under the circumstances is to think about whether or not you may need to give her some space. If you are at every kid event and at the hospital emergency room every time, maybe that's too much? Are you trying too hard?

Speaking only for myself and nobody else, I know that when I've taken a kid to the emergency room, I'd really rather people I didn't particularly care for not come up there with us. I'm under enough stress as it is. If she asked you to come along, then you were a sweetheart who went above and beyond the call of duty and she should be grateful to you. If you showed up uninvited, then maybe you should give her space during stressful times of her life. I have a family member who is a wonderful, kind, very helpful person, but I sometimes prefer that she stays away when I'm under a lot of stress.

Maybe the same situation with the kid events? My kids had a lot of kid events. It would have been very wearing on me to have had someone I didn't care for at every..single..event, particularly if her own mom was there and it was tense.

It sounds like you have a lot of love to give and she doesn't want it. I'm so sorry you're in that position. I hope someone else can give you better advice.


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RE: Adult Stepchildren

Thanks;( sad thing is I go thru periods where I back off and then SD critizes me for that. I am to a point I feel like she is just looking for a reason to not like me. She is the type to expect people to read her kinda and gets off task or subject very easy. She took over our church nursery dept( paid position) and asked me to help because she knew her mom didn't like kids but knew I was good with them. I stepped in and now teach 2-3 year old Sunday school. Every week she drops more and more if her responsibilty on my shoulders yet she takes credit and pay. I don't mind cause I love bring involved with the kids. That's my biggest issue, I just can't win either way, I could get rid of my dogs- replace floor etc and she would find another reason to be upset- we are ripping all carpet out and putting tile throughout house to eliminate dander - but we've never refused to do stuff outside of house- just kind of double standard when she owns a dog that is allowed in they're home and let's the kids carry them around. Gets old trying and nothing working.


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Resoonse Stepchildren

Thanks;( sad thing is I go thru periods where I back off and then SD critizes me for that. I am to a point I feel like she is just looking for a reason to not like me. She is the type to expect people to read her kinda and gets off task or subject very easy. She took over our church nursery dept( paid position) and asked me to help because she knew her mom didn't like kids but knew I was good with them. I stepped in and now teach 2-3 year old Sunday school. Every week she drops more and more if her responsibilty on my shoulders yet she takes credit and pay. I don't mind cause I love bring involved with the kids. That's my biggest issue, I just can't win either way, I could get rid of my dogs- replace floor etc and she would find another reason to be upset- we are ripping all carpet out and putting tile throughout house to eliminate dander - but we've never refused to do stuff outside of house- just kind of double standard when she owns a dog that is allowed in they're home and let's the kids carry them around. Gets old trying and nothing working.


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RE: Adult Stepchildren

It sounds like there is a whole lot more going on with your SD than dislike of your owning your dogs. Sounds as if she really just has a pretty huge personally clash with you and uses the dogs as a method to try and force you out...seems to think it's her role to choose her father's partners and she's deemed you unacceptable, then acceptable, then turns around again. She uses you when it's at her advantage and pushes you away at a drop of a hat. Yeah, it's hard to even try and please someone that behaves that way.

Getting rid of your dogs isn't going to change SD's hot and cold behavor towards you. Staying away from grandchild events/happenings isn't going to change anything either. If you avoid the times the grandkids expect you and/or when SD calls you to their side, the next bee in her bonnet will be 'SM does not care'.

Perhaps it's time you stop letting everything she does and says bother you. Rather like your husband suggested. Ignore her little outbursts...she is who she is and nothing you, he or anyone else says to her is going to change that. What you can do is stop letting her control how you react and feel about it. Take her power away from her. Her ill behavior can't 'get' to you if you don't allow it to.

Example: the Sunday school thing. Do what you're comfortable with, enjoy the children and the time you spend with them and simply say 'no can do' when she tries to push more responsibilty onto you. 'No, sorry, I don't think I can take that on'.

Example: Christmas dinner. Seriously, who really let 90% of the guest list hanging waiting for a set date/time? And then has the nerve (or immaturity) to get angry other plans were made? You went around her by asking SS to host and she's angry. She shot off an email to her uncle blowing off steam. Ssssshh...let her, ignore her. Christmas still happened, husband still loves you and everyone BUT SD likely had a good time.

I still do recommend that the tattling cease. You and/or husband really don't need to hear all of SD's little tirades. You're correct in that if SD has an issue with something Dad or you say/did that SD should be taking it up with Dad/you and leave Uncle out of it. But she's obviously no brave enough to confront Dad/you or thinks she'll get more attention from the ordeal if she plays 'victim' to the family by involving others. Quite frankly, husband should simply tell his brother to not play into the drama. Ask BIL not to share the email hissy fit and that husband would appreciate it if BIL would inform his niece if she has an issue with someone to take the issue up with that actual person and leave uncle out of it.


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RE: Adult Stepchildren

I read your original post and suspected what was to follow when you responded to the posts that you received. And here is why. You wrote in your original post," because she always assumes anything and everything is a stab at her. She emailed him stating she knew I was not the right person for her father and she couldn't wait until he found his true companion." Putting aside the dogs, asthma and allergic reactions to it, this is what I see in a nutshell with some step children. I am in the same situation and I have learned that unless you have been in this situation, you won't believe how gross it is and how overt and covert the SD and SS's acting out can be. Although I saw it happen to other women up close and personal (an aunt, etc.), I still didn't think it would happen to me. In the end I learned that it does not matter what I do right (SC don't remember or don't care), but only what I do wrong (and if you scrutinize someone's behavior there will always be a "wrong"). I have read tons of research on this topic and posts by many women in this situation and so far, there seems to be two things that are most helpful to me: 1) do not talk to the father about the situation if after your initial attempts he does not respond positively, and 2) have a full life. RE: #1) by positively, I mean if your DH does not strategize with you about how to bring as much harmony to the situation as you and he can (including letting some stuff go ok? and picking your battles), then forget ever mentioning it again and know you are on your own. I realized that my DH love for his children is not in conflict with his love for me and I overlook the fact that he can not support me in this area. I know men who do support their wives, but I have one that doesn't so I am learning to let it go. Pray the little rats fall in love with someone who has kids and that they too turn out to be disrespectful SC! Not all are. I was the SM to a child for 10 yrs before my current marriage and we get along fabulously. At her wedding,she included me in the family party! My SS from that same marriage brought his new GF over to meet me. My ex's wife likes me! It seems that how a SC relates to his/her SP has a LOT to do with how the children are raised by the BM and BF and whether or not the family unit you marry into is dysfunctional. I mean, we all have our problems, but some have a generational history of drinking, drugs, mental illness, incest, etc. I am wishing you the best of luck. I read where one wife was on her very very best behavior when the kids are there just to make them squirm. I have no interest. I find it easier to make myself scarce when they are around. I am polite but I am truly busy (I work, jog, belong to a reading group and horseback ride) so never better to be busy than when they are around. I think it is the most loving thing I can do...for me, for them, and for my DH. God save the Queen.


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RE: Adult Stepchildren

Thank you contemplating - helps a lot. Hard when it is one out of 7 kids that causes the issues to make yourself scarce - when we have family get togethers etc. I try to just concentrate on spending my time with the grandkids and let the adults figure themselves out. I do have to figure out how to not be so upset that my husband wont take a stand...I know he is a soft mellow person which is one of the things I love about him and I know that my talking to him about things that are said and done that hurt my feelings wears on him and is wearing on our marriage - so I need to learn to let it go and find ways to work around it. My parents divorced when I was in 2nd grade, and I had a SM for 13 years now going on 30. I never fully appreciated all she did for us and how accepting she was to us - until I became a SM. It is a hard balance, and I think it is harder with older SC. And yes, you hit the nail - this family has its own dysfunctional areas, her mom deserted her when she was in diapers to come back 15 years later married to a rich man who can do all for the kids he wants to do - (even thought they are adults and should take care of themselves). She has doted $$ on this SD for years and she wont see any good past that - we dont do that so another reason to fault us. There are many other issues within that particular dysfunction that devastate my husband since he raised those kids alone...but that if for a different forum.
The love my H shows for all the children his and mine, is one of the reasons I love him so much. I need to work within myself to get over it and find a way for me to be at peace with the dynamics of the relationships and accept them for what they are. Thanks all!


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