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Opinion re: Step daughter alienation

Anna-Marie's picture

I wasn't sure if I should post this in the Stepchildren or the grandchildren section so I'll start with the Stepchildren.  

One of my adult step daughters has almost nothing to do with us except if she wants something.  If she has a problem or wants something she is right on the phone to my husband.  Otherwise we can't get her to do anything with us.  She is an adult in her late thirties so she can do what she wants but we barely see our grand-daughter.  This had been a long standing problem.  When she needed daycare for our grand-daughter she asked me to do it and I did for 3 years.  Our grand-daughter has medical issues and needs special care so I even took training to be able to care for her.  Once my step daughter didn't need daycare anymore she dropped almost all contact except by phone with my husband (her father) when she needs something.  

Slowly, I realized that we barely see our grand-daughter and she is ten years old now.  Next thing I know she will be grown up.  I asked my husband to be more specific in inviting his daughter to do things so we can see our grand-daughter but she is evasive and she lies,  doesn't respond or makes excuses.  This past year I have seen my grand-daughter twice, once when I dropped off a wedding invitation to my daughter's wedding and again Christmas Eve.  They had accepted an invitation to come here for Christmas Dinner but three days before Christmas when my husband phoned to check our grand-daughter's diet requirements we found out they were having their own Christmas dinner.  My step-daughter said she had told us but she hadn't.  That is why we went over Christmas Eve.  

Does anyone have any insight for me?  My step daughter was twenty when her parents split up so she was already an adult when I started to see him.  My husband was very close to her when she was growing up as he did the horse show circuit with her.  We don't want to be pushy and loose all contact but it seems that we are heading that way regardless.

ESMOD's picture

I guess it's tough sometimes.  Balancing our time with our commitments.. what we want to do.. what we need to do.. what time we have available.

I will fully admit that once I left home and entered into my late 20's.. I really didn't see my parents all that often.  I did usually maintain fairly good contact by phone.. but even though they only lived a few hours away.. it was normally just a quick visit at the holidays.  I was busy.. in grad school.. working.. having a social life etc...  It's not that I didn't care about my parents.. but it is hard to balance things. 

When I met my husband, things got even more difficult because then we had to balance his visitation obligations.. and time with his own family with time with mine. 

Do you think that possibly his daughter is just really busy?  Does she have a full time job.. and also has a child that has time obligations as well? maybe clubs or other appointments.  And.. then she has a husband who also has a family that they probably need to balance time with.. and in the end.. they are probably fighting to have even a little time to enjoy themselves as a couple and a family. 

I know that doesn't "fix" the problem.. but maybe makes you see how it might not be as much personal as she is just triaging her available time.

But... how do you deal with it?  I think you both need to be more proactive and make an effort to "go to her".  Find out about your granddaughter's schedule and see if you can go see her when she is doing some activity she has scheduled. Or.. even offer to take her for an evening so her parents can go out on a date?  I know in a perfect world that the daughter would make more of an effort for her dad and you since you helped in the past.. but it sounds like her daughter may require more work than typical kids do.. and that may mean she just isn't able to spread herself all that thinly.

Anna-Marie's picture

Thank you for your opinion.  I didn't detail it all because my original post was too long but I agree with you that we need to make more effort to "go to her" and we have.  We know they are busy because we were busy too as working parents.  I have been trained at the hospital to look after our grand-daughters medical needs so we could give her Mom a break but she doesn't want it!  We give them a gift certificate for dinner out at a fancy restaurant and say we will babysit but when they use the gift certificate they take our grand-daughter with them so we miss the opportunity to spend time with her.  We have also asked to be informed of horse shows so we can attend but his daughter acts as though she doesn't want us there.  For instance, when he asks her about upcoming horse shows she will tell him about one but she won't give the exact location or the time that our grand-daughter rides.  When hubby tries to get more details she says she says the schedule is always changing.  Then she doesn't update us.  We both feel this isn't even true as we both have had experience in the past with horse shows and they require a lot of planning and a posted schedule well in advance.  We seem to find out always after our grand-daughter has ridden.  I offer to go up to the barn with her but nothing happens.  Yet when the horse get's sick she is right on the phone asking my husband about what to do.  Last year we gave our grand-daughter a gift certificate to a horse equipment store and said when you go to choose your gift, we would like to go with you.  His Step-daughter took her up without us.  This year we gave her some gifts to open right away and also a gift card but my husband kept the gift card and said "I have this for you and we can go together".  His daughter completely ignored the gift card.  Of all his daughters this one is the one that is most like him so I would think they could communicate better but in the end I end up thinking that she doesn't want to see us and she could care less if our grand-daughter has a relationship with us.

ESMOD's picture

So sorry.. it does sound like you have both tried to meet more than half way.  Maybe it might be something your husband needs to try to directly address with her.  Maybe point blank ask her why she is so hard to pin down on time you could share with her daughter?

Or.. you all could get a bit sherlock Holmes like and start stalking the horse show circuit postings  once she gives you a little information.. you might be able to figure out some of it yourself.  It also may be that her daughter has asked that people she knows don't come to her shows.  I know I was more self conscious when I showed when I had guests in attendance.. not so worried about strangers..haha.



Exjuliemccoy's picture

Sadly, you cannot force your husband's daughter to care more or be more present in your life. She is a mature adult, has all the leverage, and if she doesn't want a closer relationship with her father or you, that's that

Perhaps she doesn't have a deep emotional bond with her father or lacked the coping skills to deal with him choosing a new partner, which is all too common in divorced families. Often, fathers allow themselves to be marginalized or choose to absent themselves as their marriage deteriorates. If the BM is bitter or hateful or an alienator, the skid will often adopt their mother's attitudes towards their father.  He is reduced to a walking ATM, a resource to be tapped but not much more.

If dysfunction is present before the arrival of grandkids, it usually ramps up afterwards, as seems to be the case with your H's daughter. No doubt she recognizes the power she holds over you both, and has made the decision to hurt you by excluding you. She is toying with your emotions, and probably enjoying it. And unfortunately, she will teach her child to dislike you, too.

The harsh truth is, these are not your people. They aren't family, and they never will care about you the way you have cared for them. So stop chasing them. Stop offering yourself up to be hurt. Accept that you have no control over this, let go, and focus on the positives in your life.

2Tired4Drama's picture

Exjulie hit it right on the head.  In a nutshell, this is the most valuable insight I've seen in a long time related to both skid and gskid situations.  While there is no gskid yet in our world, it is a matter of time before there will be one and this is the kind of advice I will remember and take to heart.


sammigirl's picture


It takes training of the thinking process to move forward.  Do not chase it one moment longer.  Let her Dad handle any further communication, don't be available.

This is nothing uncommon in step world.

Sorry you have to experience the ignorance of another SD situation.


Anna-Marie's picture

Thank you for your opinion and insight.  This is exactly how I have been feeling.  I was hoping that we could at least have a relationship with our grand-daughter but I am thinking that it may not be possible.  

SayNoSkidsChitChat's picture

She isn’t YOUR grandchild and never will be. Your critical mistake was allowing his user of a daughter use you as her child minding slave. She is unscrupulous, I bet. Where is the father of the kid?

Disengage and focus on your real kids and forever say NO to SD.

disrestep's picture

I have adult skids who only call my DH when they want something. It is typical selfish, adult step behavior. Unfortunately, you and your DH have been hurt because of it. 

For my DH's adult brood, lately their game is to not call DH on his birthday, XMas, Thanksgiving. What they are doing is alienating themselves and the gskids from him. They do this because they are not happy with DH that he isn't revolving his life around them and the gskids. They used him for so long.

I'd recommend doing things you and your DH enjoyed before the gskids came along. Come up with your own traditions. Take trips together. Don't let selfish SD ruin your fun.

Good luck.

shamds's picture

Weddings), but my sd(22), ss(20) & sd(13) only contact their dad when they need favours or to guilt him into continue child support payments when they’re adults or ask for money. He works in a bank and is their ATM!!

hubby knew it but just didn’t want to accept the fact his 3 kids with ex do not love, care or resprct him. He worked hard building up his career so they wouldn’t struggle hard and could easily go to college but his fault was in marrying their mum and having 3 kids with her. She neglected them, never nurtured themand abused him, verbally, mentally, emotionally And financially. He was her get rich quick scheme where she thought yeah i’d not have to do anything and just be shopping all day.

hubby never had a partner or support from her ever. That is all his kids see and know. They accuse hubby of things he has never done that bm accuses and then guilt hubby that say eldes sd and bm are financially handling expenses for the younger sd13 so dad needs to not forget about paying eldest. Bm gets money every month and more than what courts dictated as basic minimum purely because he earns alot, what hubby pays covers the bare necessities and more but they make it like they’re financially struggling yet next thing we hear they’re going on holidays here and there overseas and that their stepuncle paid for everything... hmmmm very rare to have that generous of a stepuncle covering airfares for 3 adults and extra costs.

this is the only behaviours sk know as normal, guilting and manipulating hubby and for good measure go over the top buying pressies for my kids with their dad yet never ask about them or come to visit. Its just a show they put on.

over time I questioned hubby, sd even got to slight mini wife syndrome actually believing she could feed my 2 yr old chocolates, untie her hair beautifully styled at a cousins engagement just so she could mess up her hair then decide she could do whatever

i got to critical nasty wife mode with hubby and told him why go the extra mile for these self centred selfish brats, they do not care about you, i asked him if he didn’t message them for a week, do you think they would bother to check on you? Answer was of course not. Hubby admitted if i divorced him that his 3 kids with ex would never take care of him in old age, they’d abandon him 100% and come for their inheritance cheque once he dies and put on fake cries at his funeral.

i had to put things in perspective for him this way so he could see that him alienating me and tossing me to the side and allowing his kids to treat us and our kids the way they do and make excuses and to justify their unacceptable behaviour was pushing me away when i want to be there for him but he needs to support us and not allow this behaviour and his kids withex or the exwife interfere with our home life and marriage. 

The way his kids are now in comparisons to our 2 kids aged 3 & 1.5 is actually pushing hubby to not wanna be present at either of their weddings for show. I think hubby would rather play golf than go to one of his kids weddings, thats how much anger and hatred and disappointment hubby has for his kids. 

Stepkids actions and behaviors alone alienate people from happily and genuinely wanting to spend time with them and their kids but they somehow find ways to spin it another way around. Its often a lose-lose situation