You are here

Do you still have a relationship with your adult stepkids?

stepfaery's picture

Perhaps I was naive or delusional but when I married DH 3 years ago (his kids were 13 and 15 at the time)I thought I'd put in a "few years" then his kids would be adults and on their own. Not being a huge family person and not having much family of my own, I thought I was off the hook.

Do you have relationships with your adult stepkids?

AVR1962's picture

Stepfaery....I think we are all naive when we enter these realtionships. I know I thought that I could be mom to my stepsons, husband had custody and there was definately a need mom was not an active part and husband was wanting to live a bachelor life-style so as it turned out I became the main parent to 5 & 7 year old boys. the struggle immense. Maybe yo9u can identify with me here?

As StepParents we are told that we can do everything for the step kids (be the maids, cooks, drivers, sometimes the only person the kids can count on to be there for them. Heaven forbid there is any decision to make, and recognition or gratitude to be given then we become non-entities.

When I want with my husband, I am dividing our family and isolating husband/and his children. When husband or step kids want visitation by themselves, they just want one on one time together and I am being selfish not to gladly give up my husband for that.

When husband makes decisions about step kids without considering or consulting me, he is just being a good dad who misses his kids. When I make decisions without considering step kids, it is proof I don't care about them.

When I emotionally reach out to step kids, I am being pushy. When I keep my emotional guard up against them, I am uncaring and don't want them around.

When I am hurt by their rejection of me, I am being unrealistic and childish. When I am indifferent to how they act or treat us, I am accused of not liking them. When I tell husband how difficult I find this situation with step kids and bio mom, I am accused of wanting him to never see his children again. When I keep it all to myself, I am accused of not being honest with him.

When I question or express unhappiness with husband's way of dealing with step kids and bio mom, I am "attacking" him. If I don't express unhappiness, then I am deemed to have accepted everything and have no right to complain afterwards as I "didn't say anything" when he told me about it.

If I question husband about what is happening with step kids, bio mom, or his feelings I am being nosy and pressuring him. If I don't, he doesn't tell me anything and I have no right to be upset when things are sprung on me at the last minute because I "didn't ask".

When I treat them like my own children, I am overstepping. When I treat them like someone else's kids, I am not trying hard enough to blend our family. When I focus on my bio kids, I am favoring my children/our child over steps. When he favors step kids, it is justified because he sees them less and I am just being unreasonable and jealous.

When I have expectations for step kids’ behavior in our home, I am being mean and picky. When I leave this to DH, I am not helping or supporting him enough, and no action is taken.

When I try to encourage husband to talk to and meet with bio mom on issues, I am being unrealistic. When I leave him to get trampled on, I have "no right" to complain or second guess all her decisions that affect our home. long as I am completely passive and allow everyone else to dictate the terms of this family-step kids, bio mom, husband--and manage to just love it all no matter how I or my kids get treated in return, as long as I just give and give with no expectations, as long as I honor everyone else's feelings and decisions but make, and have none of my own, then it should all work out just fine, right?

Is it too much to expect of our spouses to show a united front not only to his children and ex-spouse but to his family as well? Shouldn’t it not be a given that their children need to learn to respect us and our home, and realize we need to be supported when step kids try to walk all over us and berate us?

Husband and bio mom need to not be “Disney parents” who let their children walk all over them and other adults for fear that the children won't want to see them, or the child might become displeased. Children need to learn they have limits and they have to respect other adults no matter how unfair they think their situation is.

So comes the adult years when no respect was ever expected and those children who once called me mom tell me that I am not there mom and I have no right to have any input in their lives. What do you do? I have disconnected feelong that I did all I could do for them and trying to move on for my own sanity.

stepfaery's picture

I think preserving our sanity is all that we really can do. It's so tough to feel like we're damned if we do , damned if we don't. Hang in there.

emotionaly beat up's picture

I don't know if I can preserve my sanity much longer. SD rang daddy yesterday and it's on again. I told her last August never to come here again. She phoned daddy yesterday as though nothing had ever happened, and he is on cloud 9 because she rang him, which to him means all is forgiven. How odd, she has forgiven him, what for, I told her never to come back, so why is he so grateful for her forgiveness, and clearly nothing has changed because once again I was not included in that, she never asked my forgivness.

Despite the fact that I have had nothing to do with her since August her evilness came into my home vicariously through daddy last night. At the mere mention of her name I felt such anxiety, I never want to sit in the same room with this woman again, I can feel her hatred towards me oozing out the pores of her skin, and it makes me sick to see the relationship daddy has with her, it is emotional incest.

Hanging in there is fast becoming a non option for me. If my husband ever says she is coming here again, it will be over on the spot. This is all too hard for me, I grew up with two alchohlics for parents, and thought my life was dyfunctional, well, compared to my husband and his children, I grew up in paradise, my family despite it's problems, of poverty and alchohol were never this dysfunctional.

angelbeth's picture

Have 2 stepson and have a good relationship with one. The other is so nasty he manuplates like his mother. He got married and things got nasty. It was all ove the receiving line. Husband and I did the rehersal dinner and were downstairs with the caterer, and they came down for us to line up. They had her mom his mom, my husband her brother then me. We both gave the pastor a look. He said is there a problem, I said why I am a way down here and then my husband said shouldnt i be next to my wife. That is when his wife said, It is a formal wedding. Blood relatives come first. You are not a blood relative, you are just a stepmom. The ex made a few comments and stepson said I donot see what the big deal is. They were only married for 3 years and have been divorced since 1982.
We went to the wedding but were not real happy with how we were treated.
The next day the aunts were in the church making comments about him making the change to the receiving line. We have been married since 1993. Well I will post more in a seperate post. We set boundries after he came home form his honey moon.
He just does not get it and did not care that his wife disrecpted me in front of the bridal party and everyone else that was at the rehersal. That was a mean and hurtful thing to say. We both have head enough and will not call him. If he wants to grow up and act like a 30 year old, then he can call.

NarcissisticSkids's picture

Wow did an amazing job of spelling this out and expressing yourself...well true...

ldvilen's picture

She nailed it big time.  This should be required reading for all Counseling 101 textbooks.  You wouldn't need to change one word of it, and it pretty much captures the backwards, "there is no way you can win" world that exists for a lot of us SMs (and step-dads).

Stepaside-1987's picture

I agree if I had read this several years ago - it would have helped me tremendously and not feel so alone.  She certainly did nail it!

Exjuliemccoy's picture

with her SSs. I haven't seen her post for a while, but to recap, her H never had her back and things became more toxic. It was discovered that there had been sexual improprieties between her daughters and her SSs when they were teens and it tore her family and marriage apart. I hope she's been able to move forward and heal herself and her relationship with her daughters.

Recipient of marginal civility and polite disdain's picture

Hi Stepfarey,

In my humble opinion it is a no win situation which if one is to stay with one's DH then you just have to prented the skid does not exist for you will never win with them. I am just an cordial as SS is to me which is margianlly civil with a heaping dose of polite disdain.  And I feel no guilt whatsoever for I have tried to no avail, he does not want to be bothered.  So, good for him.

Mimi Emm's picture

You have so eloquently stated everything I have felt and gone through. I don't think anyone knows how it feels to be a stepmother unless you are one.  There seems to be an expectation that we are supposed to love unconditonally, speak softly always, have smiles on our faces even though our hearts are breaking, and we can never, NEVER show any negative emotion towards our skids, no matter how warranted. It's being expected to treat them like your own but not being acknowledged or treated like you are anything but their dad's friend (even though you're married to their dad).  I've been a stepmother for a few years and I love my husband more than I have ever loved anyone before but I don't know if I can take much more of this.

My skids are not yet adults but a good friend of mine (with the best of intentions) advised me to work harder on building a relationsihp with them now while they are still young enough.  I have tried (God knows I have) but I don't know if I can or want to anymore.  

Thank you, AVR1962, for expressing every emotion I have had over these few years. I don't feel so alone anymore.

ldvilen's picture

Absolutely amazing!!  This well-written response was posted approx. 10 years and it is still true to this day, 4/13/20.  Makes me wonder if anything will ever change for SMs.  Here it is 2020 and society's expectation for SMs is still akin to its overall expectations for women in the early 1900s, prior to when women could even vote: Suck it up and take it; also known as take the high road or be the bigger person.  

Having been on this site for about 5 years, been a SM for approx. 20 years, and having my own rude-awakenings regarding all the work that one can put into trying to make a "blended" family work, only to wind up with a penny or two thrown at them as thanks, if even that, I just have to say that unless you are THAT desperate, and some men and women are, don't do it.  You are better off in a small apt. by yourself, but at peace, then you are continually, year after year having your self-worth chipped away at by all the bios. 

A family gets divorced, and the step-parent, the outsider, is always going to be blamed, from the first day they become one, for all of the family problems that come after, and there will be many.  No matter how much you try to stay out of it or how much you try to take the high road or be the bigger person or assist, the odds are way too high that the end result will be a penny or two thrown at you, if even that.  That is in addition to all of the initial family events that are seemingly geared to make sure you know your place as the bios' be.atch rather than as dad's wife.  Not worth it. 

Snowflake's picture

My mother has two adult step children who she is very much involved with. One who she loves like a son, but the other who has deeply dissappointed her - (much like her real kids LOL )

My stepmother is very much involved with all of her step-kids. She is just great. She always throws great parties at the holidays, and celebrates all of her step-kids acheivements. She is a great woman!!!

Wow- So I guess some step-families can work. I ADORE my step mother. I have told her that as well.

stepfaery's picture

Snowflake, so glad that it IS possible! Not sure if it will be in my situation but to know it could work gives me hope.

quippers01's picture

SD is still young, 5, but I have a stepdad that I am pretty close to. He and my mom are no longer married and there were a few years where I had to disengage from my mom to save my own sanity but I still stayed in touch with my stepdad. As far as I'm concerned he IS my dad.

Wether or not you are off the hook after the skids are grown depends on a lot of factors I suppose. In my case, I don't know what I would have done without my stepdad when my mom went off her rocker.

stepfaery's picture

Sounds like your stepdad is a special guy--and you're a special skid too. Thanks for appreciating him (on behalf of all of us step folks!)

quippers01's picture

He is a very special guy but I didn't have enough sense to appreciate him until I was grown with kids of my own. And now the I'm a step myself, I have a whole new appreciation for him Biggrin

Orange County Ca's picture

I don't have much of a relationship. I feel politely tolerated and thats about it. My experience is that the older they get the less troublesome they seem to need to be.

stepfaery's picture

We're bordering on tolerated right now so perhaps by the time they are older it will be ignored and avoided Smile

purpledaisies's picture

My husband has a relationship with his step mom/adoptive mom. We just saw her sunday. She takes the kids all time and she is planing another next month. Although she is the only mother dh knows. His other step mom doesn;t have much to do with him but she is ok she isn;t mean or anything she is just more in it for herself. I should explain, when dh was about 5 his parents divorced and his dad remarried at the same time dh's bio mom lost custody and his dad and step mom raised them and bio mom was really never around. When dh was 12 his step mom and dad divorced and his step mom raised him from then to 18 and his dad remarried. Dh's "step mom" has treated him and his sister like her own from the beginning and there was never a place for the word "step" in her house. Smile

angelbeth's picture

Have relationship with one ss. The other one has issues and is just like his mom. The women has bad mouth husband since their divorce in 1982. News flash let it go it will be 29 years in march.
Ss are 29 and 30. Have a bd she is 27. The 30 year old is just like his mom. Toomuch drama. we have disengaged from his. He is not acting like and adult and is still trying to put dh in the middle. So dh told him that enough is enough. If he wants a relationship, then it needs to be an adult one no more back and forth or drama. That was over 3 weeks ago and we have not heard from him. Feels good to stand up to him thought. ss has been a trouble maker and causes too much Drama

iloveit's picture

I think I have also been unrealistic in my views of what I "saw" and expected out of my situation as well. I don't know if it's being nieve, I think it's hopeful. It would be wonderful if we could just blend families and everything turned out perfectly and I am with you there...I'm sure that I imagined it being that way someday. My bf's kids are 20 and 23 and just to give you an idea that it has nothing to do with age, they have REFUSED to meet me or have anything at all to do with me and they are not teenagers anymore. We have been together over a year and in that time they have adamantly put their foot down and decided they won't even come to our apartment because they don't want to see my stuff and deal with the fact that their father is living with another woman. Their way of getting through their parents' divorce is to pretend that A. I don't exist, and B. if they don't hear about me I must not be real. Their dad has an awful lot to do with that also. By respecting their wishes not to talk about me, he has enabled them from actually having to deal with the reality that I am there and that we are in a serious relationship. He gets so worried about how they think/feel that at times he has failed to protect me. When this comes up he feels terrible and says he will change it, that he will bring me up more and encourage his kids to talk about their feelings regarding me because IT IS real. Baby steps...that's the ONLY way to get through this and over to the other side. As I was about to give up hope, his youngest daughter finally came around and told my bf she wanted to come to our apartment. She is there right now for the first time in a year and while I am excited that she is finally coming around, I am nervous about a relapse once she gets to my house. I don't know what she is thinking/feeling/saying and it kills me.

I don't think that it is unreasonable to want to have a relationship with your step kids no matter how old they are. If you love your husband which I am sure you do, it's very natural to want to be a part of that life with him. It might not be rainbows and butterflies but at the very least they know you are there, that you are not going anywhere and that you would like to work on the relationship. It could be a lost cause and it could not be. I understand your desire for that relationship. I wish everyday that my bf's girls would just give me a chance but...I cannot force them and they will only come around when they are ready. The good news is...they can't stay away forever and I try to tell myself it's only temporary. They MUST acknowledge you at some point, don't forget that. Besides, they are the ones missing out and I am sure they stress out way more about pushing you away than you do of wanting to be in their lives. Hang in there...things always work out somehow.

sandye21's picture

I read an interesting article (can't remember the author) equating a man's life as a 'house'. This house contains different rooms associated with his life: a job room, a marriage room, a child room, a hobby room, travel room, etc. All of these rooms are connected or they are not part of the house. In a marriage, a spouse must be made to be a small part of each room. If a door to a room is closed to a spouse, there is no way to be able to share in the care or maintenance. In the 20 years I've been married to HD he has shared certain aspects of his life with me. He shares stories of what occurs at his work, how his garden is doing, where he would like to travel to. But I have not been able to open the door of his daughter's room. He guards this room like Fort Knox!

Like most SM's I have been damned if I do, damned if I don't. SD and her husband have been allowed to make me uncomfortable in my home but I've been the one accused of making them uncomfortable - even though they can't come up with specifics and I can. They are are entitled to free everything when they visit but we pay for everything when we visit them. We must remember SD on her birthday and Christmas but DH says she is too 'busy' to remember us. They can yell at me in my house but if I try to defend myself I am not being understanding enough.

In the last few years I have worked hard to address self-esteem / inferiority issues and have made giant steps in personal and emotional growth. I finally came to the conclusion that I will no longer endure the double standard that I have been expected to submit to. This has not been accepted well by either SD or DH. So, do I have a good relationship with SD? At present there is no contact at all. Maybe in the future, when they realize I am truly a good, kind person, that could change but I'm not holding my breath. It is DH's responsiblity to straighten things out and he is too much of a coward.

frustratedstepdad's picture

You're doing the right thing. Never stand for them yelling at you in your own house. One of my SD's actually tried cursing at me in my own house and she quickly found herself packing up her belongings and moving out. I have put up with a lot of stuff from them but I will NEVER tolerate one of them trying to yell at me ever again.

Who cares if it is accepted by your SD or DH. That's THEIR problem. You are doing what is best your sanity and well-being, and that's all that matters.

notsobad's picture

I am one of the lucky SMs who has a good relationship with my adult skids.

I feel like a love and trusted aunt to them. DH includes me in most decisions, be it financial or traveling to see them or inviting them to visit us. He spends time with them alone, he has frequent phone calls and dinner dates with his kids. I feel included at family gatherings and we frequently have SD over for dinner or take her out. SD lives close, SS lives 3 hours away. 

I am a big family person and wouldn’t be in this relationship if I didn’t feel included. No matter how much I loved DH I couldn’t live my life feeling like an outsider in my own home or in any part of my relationship. 

I like the house analogy and I know that personally I need to have access to all the room or I’d have to move. 

sandye21's picture

Notsobad, I am very glad that something written in 2011 could have meaning for someone today.  And it still does for me.

When I wrote the post in 2011 the hurt and anger from SD's meltdown and DH's lack of support were still fresh and raw.   I had been disengaged from SD for about 6 months, and had no idea whether we would resolve our issues or not.  I felt betrayed by DH, wondering if my marriage would survive the boundaries that I had recently placed on him.  A very uncertain time to be sure.

Looking back to 2011 I am SO glad I took the risk and started believing like you, "No matter how much I loved DH I couldn't live my life feeling like an outsider in my own home or in any part of my relationship."  It is wonderful to know that after all of that turmoil, after standing up for myself, the end result was an equal, mutually respectful partnership!

I still believe that the 'rooms' in the marriage must be shared because as I have learned since 2011, there are consequences if the door continues to remain closed to a partner.  SD's 'door' was never opened to  me and eventually the novelty wore off.  Now, if DH were to open the door, I am not so sure I would enter.  SD's 'room' is now like an old useless shed which holds long-forgotten memories, bad feelings and anger.  If DH wants the situation to change it is his responsibility to fix it.  Until then, it does not touch me. 

notsobad's picture

I totally did not see that this was such an old post! I’m not a big fan of the new related topics on the new forums, they are usually old, old posts.

Thank you for your response. I’m happy that life has moved on and gotten better for you!