what's a wrong-pegged wicked stepmother to do on Xmas eve?
For those that might remember my story, I am the high school guidance counselor that has a 13SD that unfairly hates my guts and her Dad's. This is particularly hard for the upcoming holiday because 6 months ago (after living with all of us 50% time (my sons and her brother for 4 years) she went to live with her BM full time. We were totally cool with that, even suggested it, because she seemed so miserable. What we didn't anticipate is her dropping off the grid entirely since that time. No calls to her Dad, no visits to the house, nothing, it is like she dissappeared from our lives. Her brother (17) gets to live with her part time because DH and BM share 50% custody on paper of both kids--- my step son lives with us half time and is with his BM 50%. My DH has spent some time with her over the past 6 months, mostly initiated by him-- he goes to her soccer games, he goes to her soccer banquet, he picks her up and takes her for drives or walks but this has probably amounted to 5 or 6, 30-1 hour visits over 6 months. My DH is a great Dad. He doesn't deserve this from her. Also, it is difficult not to seemingly reward her when he spends those short interactions with her (it usually amounts to her getting something like dinner out or whatever).
So about a week or so ago he hears from her via text asking what the plan is for her to visit for the holidays. Last year she was still living with us. This was a positive sign-- don't get me wrong-- I want him to build back his relationship with his daughter first and foremost. I'll worry about mine later as it is secondary. The thing that is hard is that she wants to go to his family's for Christmas eve to see her Aunts and Uncles and Cousins (and dare I say, maybe to collect gifts), so she is suddenly reaching out after little to no contact in 6 months (my son's and I haven't see her since June). So, I say to my DH, why don't you just take she and her brother to your family's holiday. We typically go to see his family for the 1st half of Christmas Eve Day, then go to mine in the evening. I told him that I don't want to bring her to my side of the family's festivities because it is so incredibly akward. The back story is that obvious parental alienation has occured with her BM in terms of her opinion of me and her Dad, but this also included regular "slander" during the last year she was living with us. Her BM is very much a town crier type and I feel my SD emulates this. My family has been generous with her over the past 4 years and I have tried my hardest to not try to be another mother to her over the last 4 years, but instead, just be friendly and supportive-- I went to her games, I taught her how to ski. She has now basically fallen off the planet and I harbor a lot of guilt that my union with her Dad ended their relationship. I knew her Dad before we were both divorced and because we ultimately came together the BM immediately went with the victim dialogue that we were the reason the marriage ended-- which was and is still not true.
So hear I am sad, because:
1) My step daughter hates me. I work with kids her age everyday and I'm good at it, so this hurts deeply.
2) My first married Xmas with my DH my sons and I are not going to see his family because of his daughter's decision to cut us all off, but his family's insistance on seeing her. I feel like I just want my sons and I to get out of the way so my DH can repair his relationship, but I kind of feel like she is just going for her relatives and the gifts. I don't want to be there for that...
3) I decided he should bring her home rather than bring her by my family's holiday simply because I don't feel like she is genuine and although his family wants to see her, my family kind of feels like she doesn't want to be there anyway, so prob best to not have her join in. We are talking of 4 years of her opening gifts from my family, but I feel like she has been nothing but rude and horribly behaved for the past 6 months, so I don't reward that behavior. If she had so much as spent half of a day at our house again I would feel differently-- but we have seen her ZERO since June. You can't just waltz back in when you want. More repair needs to occur.
I know she is happy because she is back with her BM and her labrodor retriever full time, but still don't feel like I or her Dad deserve to be hated or cut off completely. I could really benefit from talking to someone who also feels like her SD unfairly hates her simply for being married to her Dad. My DH has been trying to get into her counseling appointments, but her counselors tell him she isn't ready...its been months of waiting. I told him he needs to insist that he get some time with she and her counselor come the New Year.
Looking forward to a weird holiday,
Wicked Step Mother
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Sometimes we have to accept
Sometimes we have to accept things as they are instead of how we want them to be. It sounds like both you and DH have done what you can but BM has gotten her venom into SD.
It is not your fault and you're correct - just step aside and let DH handle. And no more going to your family holiday to grab gifts. If she doesn't participate with you then she doesn't get freebies from your family.
thank you for....
helping me to not feel like an a$$hole for not including her in my family's festivities....I still go back and forth with guilt on this because of my perception that adults always need to be the "bigger person" when dealing with children. However, I think boxing out for my own sanity and not letting my family get mistreated is my responsbility even more than my responsibilities as a SM.
My DH now experiences this. With grandkids.
I'm not a fan of transactional relationships. He only hears from them when it's their birthday or Xmas. We've began discussions about disengaging from sending "holiday" money to people we literally rarely see, who can't be bothered to even stop by twice a year. What's the point?
I agree in not including her in your family side. For nearly 8 years I've dealt with one of my sons ungrateful step daughters coming to holiday events and casting a pall over it. The snide comments, the disdain for anything given her including cash. She's now 13 and it was just 2 years ago I finally had enough and let him know that I wouldn't tolerate that behavior nor reward it from my own grandchildren and would prefer he not bring her. Your family deserves better than to have that treatment.
yes! that's it exactly!
thank you for reminding me of the term "transactional relationship" because that is exactly what it is....we have an entire bedroom of her stuff upstairs that has not been touched or seen in 6 months and she suddenly reaches out for the holiday season....what about any random day that we don't hear from her, which is EVERY DAY for the last 6 months....
I feel this same way about texting and social media. When she texted me about a month after she left she said "Hi how are you?" and I wrote, "I'm really good and hope you are well too." and I did not ask a single question or try to perpetuate a conversation with her via text because it is NOT REAL. I am not going to "like" her social media posts, or send her f*cking emojis to further our relationship. It is odd and not real. It is immature as she is. If she wants to give her Dad a call then maybe that's something, but I'm not going to take anything lightly when there are major issues that need to be discussed.
If someone hates me and doesn’t
Want anything to do with me. It's there lost. It's there problem. Not yours. Disengage, don't ask about her,
Dont think about her. Don't do anything for her.
I do think she hates me
I have dropped off her planet finally too. I used to keep trying and engaging and being the "bigger person" as the adult, but I have officially given up. My DH actually got a phone call from her BM when I deleted my 13SD off my Life360 account after she had been gone a few months with no contact. Her BM said I was traumatizing her and was awful and accused me of unfriending my 13SD on Instagram....I did unfollow her, but it was during the time when I was traumatized leading up to our wedding and she was refusing to participate in the weekend plans we had as a family because she was overly focused on her trip to FL with her softball team which was happening post wedding. As an adult, I think sometimes it is okay to cut off a toxic relationship with a child.
I'm tired of folks telling me "she's just a child"--- I know she's a child, but technically she's not my child and I didn't raise her and I don't have to let her poison my life or my Bio kids lives. Even if she is being manipulated by her BM, that is not my fault and not my problem -- I just need to box out and disengage on toxic entirely!
It's The Dynamics of StepHell
One cannot fight this toxic mess too long. Those who practice Parental Alienation and other toxic behaviors are looking for the absolute destruction of relationships and the SM/SDs that come into play in this mess are just as much a target as the bio parent. After allowing myself to be beat up on for 12 years, I finally learned my lesson. I am open and share my life in the hopes of helping others avoid some of the pitfalls of StepHell.
Simply put? Accept the situation and set boundaries to protect your heart and your kids. Do it now before you become damaged. It took me right at 3 years of work (reading, praying, counseling, group therapy) to get myself back to good mental health and thinking. Almost cost me my marriage. Don't let yourself go that far.
I have not seen DHs kids in 4 years, nor his grandkids that have arrived. I don't ask about his kids and he rarely shares info about them with me. Weird? Yes. Works for me? Yes. I don't need to explain myself to anyone but bottom line - DH has his life with his kids/grands and he has his life with me. We rarely let the two cross. He sees his kids away from our marital home, at this point.
Best to you.
protect your heart and your kids...
I like that thank you...I just may end up having him see his daughter and engage with her entirely separate from me and my kids from now on and have that be the forever plan. If it means I won't see his family on the Xmas holidays, so be it. It is just so crazy to me that we have actually regressed as a couple from when we first got together-- now that we're married I can't even go to his holiday family gathering with my kids because she is such a nut case. It is awful that I term her that, when just a child, but her instability has become the biggest problem of our lives. I think I can opt out, right?
Parental Alienation and Boundaries with a hefty dollop of ...
Disengagement. This is the Holiday Meal that you are being served. Stop feeling guilty. Consider spending time with the people on Dh's side that you care for. Keep the half day traditions that you've had for these years. Your relationship with her is soured, but maybe she will come around. Do not let her actions sour the time you have with your family and your bios.
13 is an important time to learn about Boundaries and Limits. She still needs her relationship with her father - let him be responsible for that. But put that guilt to rest. Your union with her father did not end their relationship. The Parental Alienation did that. Did your husband fight for her to maintain custody and some kind of visitation? Or was the child allowed to choose their own visitation schedule? At 13 they should not be allowed to choose. So you really had nothing to do with their relationship "ending" (btw it will never end...) that is squarely on Dh , BM, and SD.
I have Sd22 Feral Forger who is currently lamenting the "end of her relatinship" with her dad. After she turned 18 she ghosted us. Left it to us to clean up all her trash, after she had been gone 7 MONTHS. And got mad at me over it. (because I should have left her stuff there, getting smellier and funkier and just made her trash into a shrine or something) Oh well. Over the years Husband TRIED. He called and texted. His bdays and her bdays. Fathers day. Always too busy. Always other plans. And she hasnt been working during some of this time. This past year shes been living at Toxic Troll Bm, and they constantly argue, and every time they argue (always about cleaning), she calls or texts dad and complains about her mother. Then asks if she can have her old room back. Shes not interested in following any household rules. Has no drivers license, no college classes, and hasnt worked this entire year 2021. Although she supposedly has a job right now for the past week.
So, now, since the last arguement in September, shes sent me nasty texts "you took away my dad, he hasnt been my dad since you popped into our lives, you traumatised me yelling at me through my bedroom door!". Sends him nasty texts "your not my father since Clove came into our lives, your just the sperm donor, good for a hug and money once a year."
And Ive tried also. Last Christmas I invited her over, and she got mad at me and started yelling at me. This is after I gave her $100, as did her father. And this is also after she ruined Christmas day yelling at her sister. A few months later, I tried again, and for her birthday I mailed a few gifts, took her out for lunch, and orchestrated a dinner with her and her father. So, you live and learn and move forward.
Ive blocked her since September. She hates me because she doesnt have an open invitation to live in my home, I dont care who her sperm donor is. Even her friends cant live with her filth. Plus she wont pay anything or clean up after herself. She has re-written the truth to be her own narrative. She was never kicked out at 118, she left and I cleaned out her room after 7 months. She has access to her father whenever she wants, just not access to living in our home. Hes tried and she hasnt done anything to build a relationship with him, so thats on her. Even Sd115 tells her this. After hearing her whine about "losing her relationship with her daaaaad". Call the whaaaaaaaambulance.
So -you are not alone!
thank you...for the support and knowing I am not alone...
Your union with her father did not end their relationship. The Parental Alienation did that.--- thank you for reiterating this to me, I need to write it on a post-it note and put it up on my desk. Because I knew him before when he was married and I was married-- we live in the same town, folks immediately think that we were in love before when we were married to other people. I think her BM has told her this too, so even though it is not true, she thinks I ruined her life and her mother's. They live in a small home and they don't have him to boss around anymore so I'm the bad guy because they have to work harder to take care of themselves. The fact that her BM was working at Footlocker when he met her 15 years ago and he had to pay off all of her unpaid months of rent and the fact that she was and still is a secretary and never went to school to do anything more might be the reason they live in small house now...not that she is no longer married to my husband. But I'm the bad guy, because I'm the new wife. I didn't even kick her out-- I would always have welcomed her here-- despite the fact that she was horrible to live with and sulked 24-7.
Did your husband fight for her to maintain custody and some kind of visitation? Or was the child allowed to choose their own visitation schedule? At 13 they should not be allowed to choose. So you really had nothing to do with their relationship "ending" (btw it will never end...)
I wish your DH had responded
I wish your DH had responded with gift suggestions for himself, you, and the boys. Wouldn't that be grand, letting SD13 know that not only has she NOT been missed but that she'll actually have to pony up in order to participate in your festivities? Dare to dream ...
It isn't a positive sign that SD13 has reached out, but rather textbook greedy behavior. All over the world, CODs are sucking up to parents and extended family, hoping to get lots of prezzies before once again ghosting them. Why is your DH letting SD13 dicate the custody schedule? Why is a child being given so much power?? You're doing the right thing in protecting your people from the nastyness that is SD13, but I do think you need to press your DH harder to get her into counselling. Lots of it, eventually including you and the boys as well.
One big problem I've observed in steplife is often no one speaks truth to these skids, so they become unchecked emotional terrorists. SD13 might actually benefit from being told that she's behaved badly and neglected relationships, so Christmas will be different this year. She needs to know that she's hurt others and guided in ways to mend fences, not rewarded for it.
I absolutely adore this post on all kinds of levels.
You have the same philosophy as I do when it comes to kids. Because of their "social-emotional" challenges these days, folks handle them with kid gloves.
"One big problem I've observed in steplife is often no one speaks truth to these skids, so they become unchecked emotional terrorists. SD13 might actually benefit from being told that she's behaved badly and neglected relationships, so Christmas will be different this year. She needs to know that she's hurt others and guided in ways to mend fences, not rewarded for it."
I 100% agree with your above statement and I think I am kind of pissed at my DH and his family that they do not see things as I do. She has made self-depricating, depressional and suicidal comments in the past and is on all kinds of meds (that aren't really working), so because of this they all walk on egg shells to do whatever they can to just keep her happy and on an even keel, so I think it is WAY out of control.
I am on the fence between totally disengaging and letting him live his life with her without me or my sons involved at all OR actually going to counseling with she and DH and trying to make my relationship even a little bit better with her. I think I may just bail entirely from the effort and just live my life and give up the part of engaging with his family when she's a part of things. My DH said this first xmas that she has been gone is the last one he is going to let her come along without also working on their relationship in counseling and/or making an effort to reach out to him at least once or twice a month beyond just texts. We'll see.