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Long post about adult steps and disengagement.

Zenmode's picture

I have really changed my interactions with the adult skids over the last year and a half. I now refer to my step life in the prepandemic phase vs post pandemic.  I had made the decision to step back pre pandemic, then March came along  and helped facilitate that and so my disengagement has only become obvious to the skids in the last six months or so. 

 With the OSD and her family moving out of state, things have been in an interesting state of flux. OSS (40 ish) and OSD (45ish) were/are very codependent and enabling of each other so it's been interesting to see where he and his wife are now reaching out to DH more and attempting to engage with me as well. After the drama last summer where I learned that NOTHING I say is between step daughter in law and I and after having her ask me advice on marital issues which were then shared with OSS, I've set up really strong boundaries and am pretty disengaged.


 I've restricted my social media accounts too. Enough things were said over the last 2 years that I feel pretty sure OSS was seeing posts involving my family even though we weren't connected on social media. He has continued to make little veiled references to "zens family" which I find so peculiar since there is so little interaction there, especially after the fiasco of the holiday season 2019. 

Initially the first three-four years that DH and I were together, I put a lot of energy into organizing get togethers and even encouraging DH to invite them over often. It never went as planned. Never. Not one single time in 6 years. Here is a short synopsis of what regularly occurred.


1. a rotation of who would be late. Out of 4 kids it seemed they took turns drawing straws on who would be egregiously late. We are not talking 10-15 minutes folks,we are talking anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour and a half late to EVERY single event for the first three years of our marriage. From ticketed events to casual get togethers. If you are “time sensitive” as I and DH are it gets old always waiting on people who value their time more than yours. 

2. Constant communication issues. Chasing; as I like to call it. Any interaction seems to result in an inordinate amount of back and forth. Then either last minute changes, cancelations or amendment to the plan by them. Hey I get it, family life takes compromises and coordination. They all do it. Commit to something then it’s forever a moving goal post. It’s exhausting because you never know if what you’ve planned with them will actually happen. Anything was likely to happen. I do not have this issue when setting anything up with my own adult children, which probably makes this all the more glaring. 

I saw this early on with YSS who we would make plans with and usually end up changing our own plans to accommodate him to have him switch gears and either bail on us or ask for us to change what we originally were going to do with him to accommodate him. This could be anything, and I mean anything from us now driving 45 minutes one way to pick him up from wherever he was that day, to literally running his errands for him. He was in flux on his living situation and had no car so it was fairly common for him to have prolonged stays with DH or others.  I set a firm boundary around doing this after one weekend when DH and I were still dating and we spent 6 hours essentially doing YSS (34) errands for him. After some back and forth and this going on for hours I finally spoke up and told DH in the future YSS should either run his own errands or DH could do them when it wasn't our time together, I certainly had other things to do such as my OWN errands and odd jobs around my own home. 

3. Never wanting one on one. Yes I get it “family” yada yada. A lot of lip service given, yet very little reciprocated engagement. They are likely to invite themselves or the others to any one on one you do have planned with them, including people you don’t even know. This has happened several times where a “friend” or other vague associate was invited to come to a dinner or a planned get together either along with the spouse or in lieu of the spouse or a plus 1. To me this is weird, without some prior communication. An example of this is we bought tickets to a very popular Xmas event for all the adult children, their spouses and the grandchildren. It wasn’t cheap, one of the children ended up bringing her BFF instead of her spouse without saying a word or mentioning it, we were simply introduced at the event. One grandkid didn’t come and also gifted their ticket to the sibling to bring a guest, all without saying a word to us. Uhmmm hey guess what? I could have invited MY BFF or another couple if I had known your spouse or kid wasn’t coming. 

I’ve now disengaged and take their momentary enthusiasm for future get togethers when we are in the “moment” with a grain of salt and turn it back to them in replying with “yes we should” or “that would be wonderful, YOU plan it and send me and your dad the details” it never happens. Not once in six years. I don’t even discuss the possibility or logistics any more with DH because then being the good guy he is he bends over backwards trying to facilitate making it happen and all of the above then occurs.  I’m just not interested in being their events coordinator, friend or even "step mom" any longer. 






caninelover's picture

She would show up a day late, leave a day late.  The smallest plans took an inordinate amount of effort since she can't make simple decisions or reasonable plans.  And for all her attestations that she 'values family' she never initiated any one on one time with me.

The plans I made she would inevitably ruin with some immature passive aggressive behavior.

My disengagement was more direct since we tried family therapy but the pandemic definitely helped out in that regard.

I don't regret my choice at all; life is much more peaceful without her chaos and drama to deal with.

Zenmode's picture

Show up hours late and be the first to leave. I mean that's not exactly saying "I love spending time with family"  It seems like it's always got to be on their terms. 

CLove's picture

Yep. As FF SD22 does zero to initiate anything, its very easy for me to not engage with anything to do with her at all. Not one iota, after my reaching out, and coordinating a birthday dinner with her and husband.

AND its Backstabber/Munchkins 15th next weekend - Memorial Day weekend. Typically I would be excited to plan something nice for her, especially since things are opening up, and there are places to go. I already gave her a present I bought a few months get rid of it. Nothing additional necessary for me to do. Its all on her mother and father now.

Zenmode's picture

I'm a pretty loving maternal person, I get roped in during the moment. Then I'm like, well here goes nothing, it'll mean more to me than them, so I'm really trying to keep my walls up and establish a new normal. 

JRI's picture

When you mentioned no one-on-one interaction, it made me remember a former work associate.  She was divorced with 2 girls who lived with tbeir dad.  Former work associate, FWA, was busy dating and tryIng to hook a wealthy older man.  She had regularly scheduled visitation with the girls but often left them with a babysitter or whoever she could.  One time, she was telling me about a summer visit by the older girl, a pool day.  FWA had also invited a girlfriend that day, "for company".  I remember thinking it was odd and that the daughter would be miffed she didn't have Mom's full attention and that's what happened.  This is the daughter who soon afterwards tried to kill herself.

Some people just dont get it.

Zenmode's picture

I do think kids need to know they matter. 

Unsureofthis's picture

Can so relate to this as well. I hope your SO is onboard with this as well and he doesn't expect you to be the event coordinator.

In my case it's the adult SD who wants to come for sleepovers at her whim because she needs a break from her real life and then decides not to come at the very last minute when the rest of the residents in the house have prepared and braced for her visit (it's never easy) and dinner has been planned. After many of these situation I put my foot down and now I'm the evil one for making it difficult for SO...and apparently I hate my SD.  

Zenmode's picture

Early on is what has made things fairly smooth. It's weird because the issues, particularly with the two older (40 somethings) have gotten more pronounced. The more I disengage the more demanding they've become to DH, I'm hoping the new normal finally takes root with them. 

Stepmom2020's picture

What took you so long? Honestly, it took me 30 plus years to realize I matter too.

Merry's picture

Once I stopped trying so darn hard to "fit in" with DH and his kids, life got better. They both live out of town so we don't see them often, but they are welcome to visit and we would go to Skidville once or twice a year. It's a 10-12 hours drive though and I dislike that trip with a passion--the saving grace is that I have family near Skidville so I get to see them. 

SS recently bought his first house--a huge accomplishment for him and we're very proud. Didn't ask us for a penny. DH keeps saying he wants to go see it. Fine with me. But then nobody makes plans to do so. I don't know if DH thinks I'll suggest a plan or what. It's honestly hilarious to me. Talk, talk, talk, no action. And DH professes to miss his kids SO MUCH.