You are here

Newcomer needs advice on how to handle adul SD

Sarah0270's picture

I've been a step mom to my husbands daughter for 13 years. She's always been all or nothing with and I've gone with the flow despite the pressure on my relationship with my husband, at his request, to keep the peace.  This includes, over the years, her stealing then losing my dead grandmothers ring, playing me off against her mum, interfering in my relationship with husband. She has a child, after birth became hyper sensitive about her parenting. Lately she's been accusing me of saying she's a bad mom (which I've never ever said - the opposite is true) and that I've been twisting her sons words. He's 3, we've been so close because she works shifts and I've helped out with childcare 5 days a week. After U.K. lock down he struggled he told me, without any prompting he was sad as he'd had no buddies. (I should mention she began to isolate a month before everyone else.) naturally, told his mom I was concerned about he's coping because of what he's said. Since my life has been a living hell - I've been lied about, screamed at, sworn at, and today, banned from seeing her son, saying I'm too toxic and will screw his head up. Husband has tried to smooth things over, but I can't even bring myself to even try to sort things out. Apparently husband can go see grandson, I'm not allowed anywhere near. Heartbroken doesn't come into it as I'd never ever harm her child, and he's my little buddy. I honestly do not understand where this has come from - husband thinks it's her mothers influence, but my view is she's 24 and made a decision that will impact on her son, but one I've no choice but to respect. We've ended up arguing, and I've said enough is enough, I can't deal with this anymore. He's now in spare room.  Not sure I can come back from this and husband tried to say she's stressed out but that doesn't excuse her lashing out at me??? Am I right to step away and leave her to it? Does anyone else have this type of tension impacting on their marriage, and if so, how do I get back on track with husband? 

Kes's picture

For sure a lot of us here have or had issues with disagreements over SKIDs or BMs impacting on our partnerships.  For myself, my DH and I argue only rarely - when we do it's nearly always about this.  Any particular reason why your SD began isolating a month before anyone else? Does she have health issues and/or is not at her job atm?  Everyone is a bit stressed out at the moment.  My advice to you is leave well alone and try and let the situation calm down for a few weeks.  It's not going to help if you push at SD now  - she is obviously not thinking straight.   If you want to repair the relationship so you can have access to the little boy, I'd then make a friendly overture in a few weeks time - just say you're wondering how they're doing or something.  What does your husband make of all this?  Does he have your back? 

Sarah0270's picture

She became very scared about the COV situation - her mom lives in London, so at the time, in the middle of the worse when it first started. She also had a month old baby so her hormones are on overtime. I get that, but what I don't get is why she's accusing me of lying by telling her that her  son got upset and said he's no buddies to me. I get she's probably realised she's gone too far this week, would have to apologise to begin to repair the hurt and feels silly so can only dig her heels in (been here before).  

She did barred me from seeing her child just after his birth for two months, because she asked me if I thought he had a nappy rash then when I said it looked like it, and maybe leave him without a nappy on for a while, she immediately accused me of saying she's a bad mom, which never happened, took him home then texted and said i wasn't allowed to see him. Her dad stepped in and eventually got us back on track, but anytime I've dared to voice a view or opinion I've had her scream and shout at me (for real) and accuse me of saying she's putting her children at risk. Which again never happens because im careful to keep my opinions and advice to myself. Interestingly, because of the lockdown she's been defensive about marks on the baby when her dad asked her about a scratch (a jab site), and said that she's not abusing her children. So I can only assume, somewhere along the line she's convinced herself I'm looking for an excuse to report her. But why or how I don't know. It's completely disproportionate and irrational. It's got to the point where I say nothing, express no opinions and refuse to give her advice even when it's requested - then I'm told I don't care, am selfish and neglectful of her children. So I can't win? Same as now, only this time she's accusing me of lying, priming her son and putting words in his mouth. What actually happened was he visited us after being kept away by her from everyone for 2.5 weeks. Her dad brought him to our house knowing lock down was imminent. While he was here he asked my other grandsons so we faced timed them. After he got sad and said, without prompting, he was sad, had got no buddies. So I told her, I thought rightly, that her son appeared to struggling and her dad said he was concerned about her sons mental well being. Since then my life has been hell.  On Tuesday she asked me about the incident again and I told her what happened and she started shouting and screaming down the phone so I cut the call, texted her and asked her not to shout at me. She doesn't believe her child would confide in me because he's got her. Since that happened, she's repeatedly texted me: told me her dad deserves better than an insane control freak who accuses her of abuse, bad mouths her to her son, that I'm pathetic and childish, rude, arrogant, and a liar. So she's not letting me have contact with him. I don't see what else I can do but respect her wishes.  When she texted and said I was to go F*** myself I told her not to contact me again, and blocked her. For me this is the final incident in 13 years of disrespectful behaviour because I simply can't cope with her tantrums, mood swings and emotional outbursts - plus the pressure on my marriage. I wonder if I've enabled it when I've agreed not to make waves at my husband's request.

Husband went to see her last night. He says she's been told that she's misjudged me, I haven't lied, never said anything bad about her in front of Arthur, have done nothing to deserve this and she can not return to work because I won't be able to babysit for her because she doesn't want me near her children. He also told her that he was ashamed of her abusing me and she needs to pack it in. She apparently conceded that I do give her support and am kind, but then said she doesn't understand why I'd make up her child saying what he said. Which he said I didn't, it happened and I'm not going to lie just to make her feel justified to abuse me. At which point she burst into tears and all he will say is the tears didn't work. She's agreed to let him see his grandchild at her home. When this happened before, I simply felt she was ensuring that I was given a clear message that I'm not included. And I began to resent him. He says he understands this, but wants to see his grandson. And I understand he's in the middle. So the pressure we are under yet again, because of her lies, is finally breaking us. I feel I'm going crazy - but have said she is too toxic and I can't have her back around me. He's half accepted that but I think he honestly believes I'll back down if she  agrees I can see her son. I've told him I can't see her son, it'll be too confusing for the child, and too painful for me. He doesn't believe that to be true. Previously, I've held out olive branches, like you suggest, only to be treated similarly- although not to the extent where she's been very clear about her feelings toward me in a way that I can evidence.  I honestly feel like I want to walk away from the whole situation. I've gone no contact from her as her abuse has made me feel ill. I get the wider COV situation is causing us all stress but this is unnecessary and completely irrational. And the only loser is her son, who has lost another key adult (she won't let his dad see him after learning his dad was seeing someone else after she decided they weren't working out and told him to leave. Apparently she smashed all of his crockery and then hit him over the head with a full 2l bottle of pop, repeatedly, left, then told her son (who was in the car) he can't see his daddy because his daddy is a bad man. I can only guess that's what's she is saying about me). Husband reckons her mom and sister are fuelling this situation behind the scene (he's always said that because he doesn't want to accept this is his daughter), but this time I showed him the texts she wrote and sent and he had to concede she's making some very irrational decisions. 

this latest round of grief started 7 months ago. Child had been here 5 evenings, As she was working late shifts, I'd been at work (working 12 hour shifts) and came home to battle with him at tea time so played the aeroplane game to get him to eat. She told me I'd no right to do that without her permission and that I was out of order. There was no consideration that I may have been tired and simply wanted to enjoy my time with her son. Husband told her I've every right to spoil her grandson, so since that night she's been as she is over the phone when her dad is at work. I've wondered if this was so she could accuse me of lying because when I've told him what she's said she's never phoned me and we've ended up rowing. So I stopped telling him. This week she put it in texts which I've shown him - he was speechless and genuinely ashamed. So I do feel validated- but very sad for him. 

I'm so sorry for the long jumbled response. I think I'm venting, because I'm finally able to say it as I see it without jusdgement or being told I'm a mad woman! 

please tell me I'm not insane - or tell me I am! So long as it's objective I just need advice on how I get through this without Losing anymore of my sanity... As I've written this I'm thinking if someone was to tell me this was their life I'd be thinking the step parent must have done/said more. But I can honestly say I haven't. This is how it actually is. I'm shell shocked!!! It's finally made me question if my marriage is worth this headache. My own 2 adult children think her behaviour is ungrateful and abusive, are being very supportive and reassuring but think I'll have no choice but to let her back around me to save my marriage. I don't think they're wrong hence my wondering how you can make our marriage work when his daughter is determined to not let it happen. 

Kes's picture

Don't worry about venting - we all do that here!  Your SD doesn't sound entirely well, mentally - has she ever had a diagnosis?  Some of the things you say suggest bipolar disorder.  Whether or not this is the case - if it was my situation I would try my best to de-escalate by leaving her be for a good while.  There is nothing to be gained from continuing to battle with her.  If and when you do resume any contact I'd keep it very low key, and certainly much lower key than it has been in the past.  You may have to let go of this relationship altogether though - I think you should prepare yourself to do that, if necessary, including the one with your step grandson. 

2Tired4Drama's picture

.about suggesting someone may not be mentally well.  I was warned about doing so.

Harry's picture

Do nothing for her, If DH is not home SD is not home.  It's up to DH to work that out.  Do not spend upgrading money on her.  Do not take her anyplace, 

tog redux's picture

She does sound Borderline, and I've been in the mental health field for 30 years. Read up on it - it might help. She's likely just projecting her own feelings about being a bad mother onto you.

CLove's picture

Shes crazy. Nothing you can do to fix HER. To keep the marriage, if thats what you want, disengage completely. You are no longer involved in childcare, you no longer provide anything to child or SD. She crossed a boundary, or many, and her treatment of you over the years seems to have gotten worse as her behavior has repeatedly been swept under the rug, and excused repeatedly.

She is like a terrorist, holding the child as ransom. Do NOT negotiate with terrorists.


Rags's picture

Zero tolerance is IMHO the only course for dealing with your DH's toxic pelvic puke of an SD.  Sadly, your GSkid will suffer because of his shallow and polluted gene pool.  

IMHO the only course is to protect yourself from the stench of the whole shit show, grab your DH by the figurative short and curlies and drag him forward into the reality of what his failed parenting has created.

Don't forget to take care of you regardless of how this all unfolds.


Sarah0270's picture

Hello all, thank you for you're very wise words and support. What is reassuring is that I'm quite clearly not losing the plot! And I'm not alone...what is it with step children??? My children have always known their boundaries and the consequences if they go over the line - so never have done. They're very healthy functional adults, and have reminded me it's def not me...

to update: husband has stepped up and agreed to my disengaging from her. He's accepted that she's not welcome in my home and and any further contact with her goes through him as I've blocked her on everything. He accepts that her behaviour has become increasingly abusive to me and I've every right to put boundaries in place to protect myself. I understand he's felt torn over the years, and she's been very skilled at turning things around so I've been perceived as the bad person. This time she was foolish enough to give me abuse by text, so he couldn't have any doubt about what occurred and I think that's why he's finally acted. That and he realised I was a hang nail away from instructing divorce solicitors, so he's had to choose. That his choice is his marriage will also have shocked her. 

Last night he went to see her and gave her some long over due home truths, including that he's ashamed of her ungrateful behaviour and that he's almost ready to disengage from her as well. He's told her she's no right to determine who he is with, interfere in his marriage and he feels she's bent on destroying any bit of happiness he has. He made it clear this has brought us to the brink of separation and if I decide that's what will happen she'll never receive his forgiveness. Whenever she tried to lie about me he's saying he defended me and told her to produce evidence, which she can't as she's lied. She cried at that point (as per) and was told her croc tears no longer work. He also told her he was disgusted that she's used her child against me and how unfair that is on the child. Apparently she was shocked she'd been held to account - remember this has been 13 years in the offing.  she rang him today and gave the first sign ever of remorse for the impact she's had on our relationship and physical health. He's got the impression she'll relent her ban, but he's told her that should her child come here I've been very clear it's on my terms, & that's if I decide to allow him around me, when it's convenient to me - I'll be giving no babysitting, no helping out financially and no more free meals. If he's going to be part of my life all she will be told is that he's had a good time. If he wants more contact he can go to her house (which we set up her up in when she found she was pregnant to a crim). Nothing more or less. That way she can't accuse me of lying or turning him against me unless she goes through husband. He's also said he's got other home truths to deliver in the future but he decided to do it but by bit so she knows this is a long term situation and to make sure she gets that loud and clear. 

I have no concerns about her ability to parent as the children are well looked after. I've seen no evidence of physical abuse or neglect but do have concerns about her mental well being, and how she uses her children as pawns. That said, she's made her bed and as she can't help herself, she'll turn on others as she can't emotionally abuse me. It'll be up to them to support her and get her any help she needs as I will not be putting myself back on that firing line. 

the cheeky mare says she thinks we've had a row that'll blow over in a couple of days. she's going to get a very rude awakening as I've realised that she's an adult and not my child. So I don't have to put up with her treatment of me. Unfortunately when I'm pushed to that point the person may as well not exist as they're cut out completely- it takes a lot to push me that far. 

like many out there, right now, we have also discussed our finances/wills and agreed that her treatment of me means that she's doesn't deserve to inherit anything we've built up...the money we leave will go to her child. He may need it for therapy. 

i agree she's deflecting her fears into me, but that is possibly because I've been consistent over the years (her mum is another long story). But I've also been an easy target.

 is this mental illness? I'm no clinician but feel inclined to agree. It could also be that she's never had boundaries or been held to account for the damage she does. But whatever the issue, it's no longer my concern. 

for the first time I feel husband has realised this can't go on. He's under no illusion if it happens again I'll be disengaging from him too.  Its a different way to deal with a complex situation - one we have not tried before - and I'm prepared to give it a go for little man's sake, and because it's heartbreaking seeing husband so torn. 

husband, over the years, has overcompensated for his ex's appalling mothering. He's a good, hardworking, decent, faithful man. I just hope this allows me the space to rebuild my respect for him so I actually feel like investing in my marriage again. 

my son is raging about how she's treated me - he says I've supported her at the expense of his children. I've had to accept that but have promised him it will not happen again. My daughter has been so calm and mature and held my hand (from a Social distance) through this. I'm so proud of her and grateful to them both. 

my best friend has also told me she's glad I'm back. She's felt for the past 3 years, I've got a little lost. I must admit it's been overwhelming. But a couple of days out of her madness has given me much needed clarity. 

I so wish I'd found this forum years ago. You've all got no idea how helpful it has been to hear your advice - thank you. I hope I can be a support to others on here moving forward...No doubt I'll be back in a few weeks to says it's all gone wrong and I'm going through another divorce but until then stay safe. 


ldvilen's picture

Fantastic!!, and amen to this: “She's an adult and not my child. So I don't have to put up with her treatment of me.”  P.S.  I hope you and your DH can make it through this.  It shoulds like he, as some of us say here, finally grew a pair. 

Kes's picture

Very good news!  Your last reply sounds so much more assertive and finally your DH has properly stepped up and fought your corner with SD.   A very good outcome indeed. 

Sarah0270's picture

Hey guys! Thank you for your kind words of support. I'm positive husband will continue on this path and over the past 36 hours have communicated more effectively than we have for a longtime about her. 

it's a little scary though - I'm worried that as she's so skilled at bringing to her point of view she'll succeed. She sent a text saying she'll apologise if I do and he replied saying I've got nothing to apologise for and she needs to start listening befor erupting and then creating unnecessary heartache. Since then nothing from her - which is very unusual as she'll usually power ring him until her answers the phone...I'm wondering if she is plotting her next move or just sitting in shock because she's never had this response before. 

she even did her own shopping this week instead of hounding him to take her to store. He said he'd told her he's not going to so she can see just how easy we've made her'll only last a week because he's worried that the children could pick up the virus as they have to go with her. 

He maintains she's not a the brightest bulb in the box, but I've told him that she's more intelligent than he realises- who else, the middle of a pandemic, can make herself the centre of attention? 

he also apologised for not putting her in her place when she comes into my home and begins to shout at me. He was genuinely sorry. He says he tells her on the QT but I pointed out all she gets that way is the message that she can treat me as she likes and there's little comeback. He understands that should this happen in the future he needs to tell her there and then in front of everyone not to talk to his wife in that way. He's agreed - but understands that's a way off in the future as she's not welcome anywhere near me. He did ask how she can make amends if I've blocked her. He was told she goes through him on his phone and can put it on speaker and hear the conversation. It will be very clear to her that he's present as well. He did question if I was going ott but respects that my trust in her is nonexistent and I'm not prepared to be accused of lying at all. He's also going to tell her to prove I'm lying now when she starts with it again. He doesn't know how she'll respond but I'm hoping that she'll realise that if she's going to accuse me of something she needs to back it up with evidence. It's interesting how the story has developed from my telling her her son told me no one loves him to my telling he feels unloved. A small but big distortion that she's developed in just 3 days. He's recognised that so fingers crossed the coffee has hit his nostrils! 

I do know that she will turn on someone else - just 3 weeks ago she told her mom that she'd never speak to her again. Now her mom's not my fav person in the world (too much water) but the woman was very ill, having a bad time with her partner, lives a 3 hours drive away. Her crime? She refused to come spend lock down with Madame. Madame was told by husband that she shouldn't say things like that to anyone, but most def at this time. Gives you a flavour of how everything has to be about her! 

Re her ex, she made out he was abusing her and that's why he had to go. I've said for a while i felt she wouldn't give her mouth a rest - all I heard was how he didn't do anything round the house, pay her money, didn't work, blah blah blah! I think he began to let her son down because he couldn't handle this behaviour and her constant nagging. (Did I say she has a voice that can go through you like chalk on a blackboard?) I agree she should v been arrested but he was probably glad she was out of his life. But that's another adult she allowed her son to have a relationship with, then took it away when the man didn't dance to her tune. I'm not saying he was perfect, but i can say she was at fault on here. It's  difficult when your the only person to think that her accounts are prob full of half truths and lies...

I do hope she does get some support - I can see her turning on the wrong person and living to regret it. Believe me she's pushed me to the point where i could have quite easily been violent toward her. But I do know that wouldn't solve anything and she'd take great pleasure in playing victim for ever. When she was 15, she'd been caught shop lifting and her dad was giving her the riot act and she sassed him. I lost my cool, tapped her on the back of the head and told her not to disrespect my husband and to remember she was in the wrong. For FIVE years she kept threatening to tell the police I beat her up! It only stopped when husband told her she sounded like a crazy woman and to give it a rest as he was sick of hearing it, I did what he should have and then she stopped! It was the one time I lost it and that's the extent of my inappropriate behaviour toward her. I think an angel would have done the same that day. 

I do know the easiest thing would be to cut her son out my life. But I don't think I'm strong enough to do that. I know that's weak, and I'm setting myself up to be attacked by her in the future (I'm confident she'll think of something or make something up). But I love that little boy like he's my own grandchild. Even husband says he loves me more than anything. When he's here he's so happy to be with me and we do everything together - cook, garden, paint, read, the list goes on. Even when she's been here I'm the one he runs to when he hurts himself and I've been so careful to give a quick cuddle and pass him on to him mom so I'm not accused of usurping her. He confides in me - about any and everything. Right now, I can't say I can cut him out. That's the thing about this, not seeing that little one is so hard. But I'm not going to beg her to let me have/see him. If he doesn't see me then that's down to her. Not me. I know, or hope, he knows I'm not the bad or naughty person she'll be telling him I am when he asks for me. Because I do know children do process things in their own way at some daughter says she'll relent because he'll play up and she'll not cope/need a break, so to sit tight, but it's so hard. I've gone to seeing him 5 days a week (even if that's been by FaceTime) to nothing. With no idea if I'll get to see him again. I am shocked at how painful this is. 

im sorry for the ramble, this is the only place I dare say how I truly feel. I don't want her to know the extent of the hurt she's caused me because she'll use it. I don't even write it in my diary. Husband now knows I cry buckets on the QT, and I think he's relieved to find I'm not some super strong woman.  
But isn't sure how to respond as it's something he's never seen. 

anyways - I need to divert my pain somewhere so off to my garden today. Little man planted pumpkins and I'm determined come halloween one can be sent to him even if his fruit loop mom won't let him pick it... 



Swim_Mom's picture

Good for you for standing up for yourself including with your husband. People treat us how we teach them to treat us. Sounds like there is a lot of re-learning going on here. Stick to it and do not let it backslide!

I have to agree with the others though about her kid being your Archilles heel. Do you have grandchildren of your own (sorry if you've answered that question and I've missed it)? It seems like no good can come of being attached to her kid. She will always be able to not only control your relationship with him, but as he gets older he is likely to turn on you at the direction of his mother. Please do not put yourself in that position. 

My takeaway is to never get attached to my DH's grandkids, when they exist some day. The only grandchildren I will have, will be the kids of my own beautiful children someday. Though I cannot image feeling much for some kid who is the offspring of my skids...l have no feelings for them at all so I don't expect to feel anything for their kids...

Sarah0270's picture

Thanks for you very kind support. I do have 3 beautiful grandchildren of my own...they are a blessing. I don't see them as often as I'd like, but I'm the grandparent they want to come visit when they need a break from the siblings or just a chill out & spoiling ☺️  
as for SD - she told her dad her son could come up then an hour later backed tracked saying she felt like he was pressuring her. I overheard him say that  he's fed up of her and he's more important things to do like eat his lunch than pander to her whims and he put the phone down. An hour later she phoned back to say her mom is giving her grief about us seeing her son. My response when he told me was that she is either lying or picked a fight with me to keep the peace with her mom. Either way nothing changes my position. She can struggle on. They've had further conversations and he's finally told her to get in with her life. Arthur knows where we are, and he's needing a break from her rubbish too. She asked him to bell her tomorrow and he's told her she's in the wrong so she makes the effort and cut the call. 

so we've been gardening and he's finally admitted he's also had enough and needs a break. He'll help her with shopping by taking her and children to the supermarket once a week and he'll watch them in the car while gets her shopping (here only one person per household is allowed in the house). but nothing more. He just wants to use his break from her madness to rebuild us. 

fingers crossed we can invest in each other once we are not as raw from the constant arguing over the past 36 hours. 

im still undecided about cutting the little man off. I do know what you're all saying is likely to happen will likely happen. It's not his fault his mom is deranged. But in the meantime, I'm mulling over the precious advice from you all. ☺️

I can't believe I've struggled for so long and not found this site before now. It's so comforting to know others get it and I can benefit from your support and strength. 

thankyou xx



Rags's picture

Why would either of you do anything to make life easier for such a toxic individual? Regardless of who she may be.

Kids deserve decent parents but facilitating toxic bullshit does not fix a thing and sadly sets the kids up to repeat the same crap themselves.

IMHO of course.

Abitextra's picture

I can feel your hurt regarding the little guy. I too have been accused of not having the step grandchildren's best interests at heart and I know how much this hurts when all you have ever done is care, nurture and protect them. SS doesn't know how his mother has been interfering in my and my partners relationship (hence the cancellation of our marriage last December) and the awkwardness at family functions has been blamed on me and my apparent insecurities. SS doesnt know about the things his mother has been up to and I've too much integrity to tell him so I'm shouldering the blame. Just makes you want to call it quits huh?

Sarah0270's picture

I can understand your angst as I've experienced similar from SD and her BM over the years. It's really hard, isn't it? Sometimes I've felt I've had to compromise on my values so that I can build a life with a good man that I love. 

her BM has interfered from day 1, and anyone would think that she's the person who cheated given the venom I've had thrown my way from her. It's like they don't want your other half but don't want him to be with anyone else either??? 

im saddened to hear your marriage was delayed because of their drama. It certainly does make you want to walk away. In fact I did do once in the past. 

That's how I know SD can't help her behaviour and will turn on others now the easy target has removed herself (me). 

a good friend told yesterday that the current COV situation has resulted in trauma and that may be causing her regression into past behaviours. Make sense, but it also tells me that just under the surface the venom is there and any positive relation I have with her will always be tainted by the fear she'll turn nasty again. 

how do you manage to keep your relationship strong with the toxicity around you? Does your partner support you? 

Abitextra's picture

Sadly at the moment our relationship is faltering. He says he will talk to them.

Sarah0270's picture

I'm so sorry to hear that 

The pressure these people place on our relationships is absolutely unforgivable. As adults they should know better. I know everything emotional is getting over inflated right now, so I sincerely hope you and your partner can find a way forward.

my SD has taken to sending my husband pictures of her children. This created another row because I tried to explain this is how she repeatedly puts herself between us - we now have a situation, yet again, where there is something (I.e. his daughter) we just cannot discuss openly, and to me, that isn't what a marriage is about. I think he gets it because, for once he didn't defend her. Every time he tried to minimise or deflect her responsibility for the dynamic she has caused he's actually accepted my refusal to accept any blame. he honestly wants our marriage to work - and I've managed to work our that I do too but don't want the grief/pressure she puts on it. 

im just awaiting karma - and with her toxicity it will not take long... 


hang on there