Should people be required to get a gift for the stepkid if they are giving something to biokid?
Ok, I’m relatively new here, and I have some questions and hopefully more experienced stepmoms can help me out here. Fixing some of the biggest problem isn’t possible, but this is one that hopefully maybe can be fixed and help improve my situation a little.
One of the sources of conflict with my 15 year old stepdaughter is some inequities with gifts. My daughter (they are half-siblings) is 3.5 years old. When my parents or my sisters visit, they occasionally bring my daughter something. Most of the time it’s some bargain my mom got like clothing she found on clearance at Kohls or some kids books she picked up at the library book sale. My sisters frequently bring over toys their kids have outgrown or aren’t using. So these aren’t large gifts, but my stepdaughter has raged about how much her half-sister gets compared to her.
The holidays are something I know it will come up again.
Part of the problem is there are far more people involved in my daughter’s life who will send gifts. My family is nearby and they like to spoil my daughter. Nothing extravagant, but it’s easy to shop for a her with dolls, toys and clothes.
My husband’s family lives in another state. He’s an only child. His parents are divorced and his father isn’t involved in his life. My stepdaughter’s mother is currently in a halfway house and has a history of drug use, has been in and out of jail and is no longer involved in her daughter’s life. It would be a minor miracle if she sent a Christmas or birthday present. I’m not even aware of her mother’s extended family. They never have any contact with my stepdaughter.
Last year my parents did buy a Christmas gift for my stepdaughter, but it wasn’t well-received (several books). My stepdaughter is developmentally disabled and struggles with mental illnesses and learning disabilities, so she isn’t the typical teen. She doesn’t have a cellphone, doesn’t care about clothing, doesn’t wear make-up. She has great difficulty reading. Shopping for her is next to impossible. My parents didn't get anything for her last birthday and she was in the hospital then so there wasn't a party.
I was thinking of asking my parents and sisters to make sure to bring something for my stepdaughter any time they bring something for my daughter, but then it’s going to be awkward if it’s clothes she doesn’t like or books she can’t read. My sisters' kids are all 2-4 years older than my daughter. They don't have teens. They would have to buy something for her.
Last Christmas it was the first year my daughter understood what was going on with Christmas and was super excited about Santa and she had far more gifts than my stepdaughter - something my stepdaughter had several meltdowns over. Holidays are very rough for her since I think she’s reminded that she can’t see her mom and her behavior escalates due to all the difficult emotions.
My husband is horrible at shopping for gifts for Christmas or birthdays. He usually grabs something at the absolute last minute at whatever store he can find open, so leaving it to him is guaranteed to result in more accusations of unfairness from my stepdaughter.
Asking my stepdaughter what she wants for Christmas or her birthday always results in two answers: 1) a dog (we’ve tried pets, it doesn’t work, so it’s a big fat no since I don't have time to care for a dog) and 2) to visit her mom or her mom to visit (unfortunately, that’s not going to happen).
My stepdaughter is incredibly jealous of my daughter and my daughter is already picking up on all the very negative things my stepdaughter says to her - like my daughter is the favorite, we like my daughter better and my daughter gets everything, and so forth. My daughter is very, very sensitive so she’s very hurt by these comments.
This has been an incredibly difficult year - my stepdaughter has been in and out of in-patient psychiatric centers, has been suspended from school multiple times. My husband is fed up with her behavior problems so doing something awesome for Christmas for her is not going to be in the cards. Plus the copays for all of her psychiatric treatment is adding up so money is very tight.
I really want my daughter to have a good relationship in the future with her half-sister and not hold a grudge always telling her that she was the favorite and got everything.
Is there a nice way I can tell my stepdaughter to suck it up and that’s life because unfortunately she doesn’t have much extended family and her mom is a piece of sh*t who won’t buy her gifts? Or should I try to get my relatives to do something for my stepdaughter - something they might not financially be able to afford and likely will be more things my stepdaughter doesn’t want or need.