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ManUp's picture

Can somebody please explain to me why stepdaughters seem to be more likely to have these ridiculous stepmommy issues?

sandby's picture

In my case, my SD (13, almost 14) completely sided with her BM in the divorce. There were no boundaries between BM and SD. Her BM told her at age 11-12 her side of what caused the marriage to fail and SD is more vindictive about it than her BM. I'm the woman who ruined her life according to her. I can't imagine how she'll be in 10-20 years.

The hate and spite continue to grow as she sees her mom's life continue to self-destruct (BM is living her sister's basement and on disability for depression and fibromyalgia.

Meanwhile, DH and I have a very happy family. He runs a successful small business. We have two amazing, beautiful little girls who are full of life, hope and joy. I had to make my Facebook completely private because SD was throwing online tantrums over seeing pictures of DH and our little girls. She is so incredibly jealous and can't face that her BM is an absolutely wreck who ruined her own marriage and her dad was right to want out.

I can see SS16 eventually getting over the divorce and seeing his BM as the nutcase she is. But SD will be a vindictive little jealous bitch for the rest of her life.

toywas's picture

Catmon, do you know my husband??? You described him perfectly!!!!!!! Guilt is not just a word anymore in my world, it's the way my life has been going for 13 years. And yes SDs are very manipulative! Each of my SK brings their dogs for the holidays and my guilty husband lets them roam through the house and of course, they mark their territory because its a new place but MY dogs are only allowed in 1 room. Figure that one out for me please. As for your remark about competitors, can you go in my detail and give examples if you can. I'm curious if maybe that's what I'm going through.

not2sureimsaneanymore's picture

Short answer: Girls are catty, no matter the age.

Long answer: If you want to mix a little Freudian psychology in here, a Dad is often the first man that a girl comes in contact with. Man, not boy. He is also one of the only men who the daughter believes would love her unconditionally, either because society has ingrained the idea that parents love their children no matter what in her mind, or because of some innate, genetic bond, no matter what she does.

In a divorced home with a stepmother, the daughter who may have had her father's undivided attention for a while, sees that this new woman, who is very different from her, receive her father's attention in a whole new way, an affectionate and romantic way that she may have not seen her father give to her mother (obviously, since the last thing she saw between her parents were probably fights or disdain) and which is different from the kind of affection her father gives her. This "new" love is intriguing, and as everyone is prone to do, jealousy arises as to why she isn't also receiving this kind of love, not realizing (or even if she does, warped to not accepting it) that this is a love reserved for a romantic partner.

Now, this daughter may react in one of two ways:
1. She may choose to imitate the new stepmother's form of romantic affection for her father, and direct it towards him--hand-holding, sitting in laps, kissing, cuddling, etc. This serves a few purposes--it gives her affirmation that the stepmother is not the only woman who can receive the same kind of physical affection, thus what her father gives the stepmother is not "special," and it serves to remind everyone that she is a priority in her father's life. This can become so ridiculous that she develops "mini wife" syndrome. If she does not like her stepmother, and hopes for her to be gone, she hopes it can show her father that he doesn't need this other woman in his life, since she can "satisfy" him in the same way, not realizing that romantic love does not just end at hand holding and cuddling, etc. or hoping that it would be enough. Any time her father shows the romantic affection to his wife, she might try to preemptively initiate so that he turns his attention towards her. For example, he sits down on the couch and knowing his wife is about to sit down next to him, the daughter sits down first. Or she can see them sitting together and then interrupt and sit in the middle (or sit on his other side and try to redirect his attention) because she knows her status as a daughter affords her some innocence.
2. Testing him because she has learned, through her own experience and beliefs, that when you have two choices (she sees herself as one choice, and the stepmother as the second) and you choose one, it means that you want the choice you chose more than the other. Therefore she may give ridiculous demands and purposely put her father in a place that he must choose between his wife or her--for example, she wants to go out tonight and have him drive her when she knew his wife and him were supposed to go out. Or she might do things to instigate the wife to see whether the father would protect her or protect the wife.

Now, like a dog, if any of her techniques worked, her motives undetected, she would use them again and again in increasing length, complexity, and confidence because it gives her a feeling (her "reward") which is the affirmation that she is loved (a good feeling under other circumstances.) If anything shakes that belief, like the father no longer giving in, she will up the ante and increase the frequency and desperation. If nothing else works, she will resort to blackmail, her ultimate form of "choice", solely love her or never see or talk to her again.

Any sign of compromise from the father is taken as weakness and opportunity, including attempts to negotiate, because negotiating equals cracking/giving in.

Sorry this is so long, your situation is unique because you're separated even another degree from your daughter due to the adoption, so she is insecure in her belief as to how much you truly love her, and, unfortunately like most people, love is defined as a comparison of actions. You do more for me than her because you love me more than her.

Whew, sorry for the long breakdown.

RedWingsFan's picture

^^^This! Exactly how SD14 was when she was 12 and I 'invaded' her territory with her dadddddyyy. Mini wife completely and she called the shots.

Over_that_tude's picture

OK ladies, then what does the step mother do when this SD is testing daddy and when daddy doesn't respond she thens go into full on "depressed because daddy isn't paying me any attention" mode?

I live with this and I am at my wits end. I do not want to end up in a position of competing with his kid as I am the wife yet SD is continuously testing him/us. She will elbow her way to being at his side when we are out and pout when daddy doesn't bite. She will deliberately sit on the loveseat next to daddy after I get up to get (insert beverage or snack). She will sulk when we are out so much so that he will have to stop what we are doing to ask her what her problem is. It goes on and on and I dare not say anything about every discretion lest I am now forced to have to go back and give examples of what validates my stance. He will then get into defensive mode and we get nowhere but get into an argument.

She will make it a point to ask him to "go hang out" when we are all supposed to go out together. While I get he needs to spend time with her, it seems she will ask him to exclude me and DD knowing full well we have plans.

BM doesn't help any when she is yelling in the background after SD complains to her that he shouldn't put his new family before his daughter. Daughter feeds into it and brings that negativity to our home.

I am trying to understand his position and hers but it is hard when this girl comes over and he is so busy trying to appease her until he ends up worn out by the end of the EOW.

sandye21's picture

I think SDs tend to become mini-wives more when they are teens or older. DH and BM divorced when SD was an adolescent so she worked right into the role. We met and marreid a few years later. The funny thing was, I saw this competitive behavior in SD but looked upon it as just wanting a bit of attention from Dad. Instead SD was determined to get her Dad back as she would have if she had been his ex-wife. In fact, from what I can remember at the time, SD did not particularly like BM. I can remember taking a trip to a large city with them shortly after we got married. They would walk side by side on the side walk while I trailed behind, totally unnoticed. As years went by, SDs behavior escalated to sadistic hatred while guilty DH turned a blind eye. This is where putting a stop to it early is key. It probably would have been the end of the new marriage but would have been worth it.

tufaznails07's picture

I have been the third wheel on many sidewalks. She would keep
Him in constant conversation so I would have to trail behind.
She was 22 at that time, is now 26. I expressed my feelings to him
And asked if he could hold my hand every once in awhile.
It worked. I try to not go out with them. 3 is a crowd.

AVR1962's picture

My SS would do this with his dad. We talk about dram queeens but he was a drama king. I told my husband that his son was seeking his attention and pointed out what I saw. I told husband he needed to spend some quality one on one time with his son but time spent with him never seemed enough. SS was clnging towards his dad. At 13 he was still sitting on his lap like a little boy, it was flat out weird. I think he saw mw as someone that was taking "HIS" time awaay from his dad and to tell you the truth I am not sure he is over it even today and the kid is 29 years old!

Most Evil's picture

I see in my SD and in a friend I had that was an SD, an extremely close, 'enmeshed' relationship with their mom. Like they are their mom's best friend, confidante, even for adult subjects ex. sex, dating, their divorce, discussing child support, etc. with a child?

I am wondering how much the parent's needs make the child feel important, and they are rewarded for causing problems in the new marriage, so it becomes even more twisted? That is what happened with us and with my friend from high school.

Then later I believe when you realize how your mom or whoever treated you was inappropriate and you had to be a parent to your parent before your time, I would imagine there is anger there too.

It was really hard for my friend to break away from her mom to have her own life, and then sadly, her mom died and she had a lot of guilt for wanting to be independent. Extra pressure and burden anyone? come on!

I think I am Miss Psychologist, and for Christmas I got myself several books I want to read on various topics and two are about 'emotional incest', like I am describing above.

If it gives any advice on how to deal I am hoping to subtlely feed those ideas to my SD like I have other things, so hopefully she at least can be healthier and happier than her own mom is. Smile

jennaspace's picture

Generally speaking, girls are much more relational and therefore much more territorial about relationships. Trust me, if someone honed in on stepson's car or job he'd take it much more personally.

I just think women gain much identity and pleasure from relationships, so SM intruding in on their dad is taken as a threat. The female factor is demonstrated in in-law relationships where the problem is almost always the MIL, not the FIL.

Most guys are satisfied with a phone call every few months, or so it seems to me. We women desire much more. SM takes away instant access to dad and instead of looking at the situation objectively (any marriage decrease access to either spouse) SD's project their frustration on SM. This generally seems to be in the form of SD (and MIL in my case) seeking out and creating SM character flaws to justify their feelings of anger due to displacement. This is my take anyway.

not2sureimsaneanymore's picture

I don't doubt that SS's can be just as bad and just as cruel, but they seem to lack the... somewhat sexual display SD's tend to give. It's a difference in gender--SS's seem to be more outright aggressive and defiant and often violent. Less games, and I don't see words like "manipulate" used AS often, not that it doesn't get used as well.

ybarra357's picture

I agree hypovic. In my case, SS had a different tactic of hate than my SD's. He is MUCH more passive aggressive and sneaky. I guess the best way to put it would be the wolf in sheep's clothing. I can see that now.

AVR1962's picture

It's not more so SD in my opinion. In our case, I have 2 daughters from a previous marriage and my ex remarried and did fine with his new wife. He is now divorced again and serious with somoen else and again they get along with her just fine. The boys are a whole different story. I married a man who had custody of his small sons and they could never accept me. Husband and I have been married over 20 years and it has gotten worse with time.

Shannon61's picture

Yes this! ^^^^^^^^^^^ My MIL told me it didn't matter who DH would have married, SD wouldn't have liked her because he and SD had been alone for so long. MIL had to call BM and encourage her to spend time w/SD (27 at the time) because she had such a difficult time after we got married. SD still needs counseling.

Shannon61's picture

My SD pulled the same coming out of the shower wearing only a towel trick . . at 25. I was mortified. What happened to robes? I got on DH and told him it was inappropriate. I think he's also fearful of setting SD straight out of fear she'll leave him forever as well. I think she's finally getting a life!

bi's picture

i had to do the same thing. i also blocked her from my phone. she decided that fb and texting was for saying demanding, rude, shitty things that she will NEVER say to my face. it's been 9 months now and to my face she has said jack shit. point proven.

bi's picture

that is awesome! fdh wouldn't do that. his problem is that he doesn't see the behavior and get mad at the right person and say something about it, he sees the general drama, wants to hold me as responsible as her, and i live with him so i get to hear about it while she hears nothing.

mannin's picture


I seriously cried through half your post. Thank you for sharing...You are a strong soul. I am so sorry this story is your childhood.

I hope your life is better now.


sandye21's picture

There are narcissists out there, and they come in all sorts of packages - including SMs. You recognize your Father failed you by marrying and staying married to a woman who was physically abusive to you. There is no exuse for it - period. I think your story is not what is considered the norm. It was sad and emotionally unhealthy. Was your SM a step child herself?

When you wrote, "--- the kids are there first ---", it should not be the "bottom line" in any marriage, in most cases the marriage should be. There should be special considerations for small children of divorce. They are truly the victims. But they should never think they come first before a man's wife, because when they are adults they STILL think they, and all their needs and desires should come before the SM. Do you as an adult believe this?

sandye21's picture

"I disagree, when there are children involved, the woman who is Marring a man with children cannot demand the attention be placed only on her, and pretend like her relationship with the man is more important than the child's relationship with their father, they are equally important and totally different relationships."

I didn't say this. I said your situation was not the norm. I said in a normal 'marriage'(or partnership)it should be the prime focus. I still believe this. We'll have to agree to disagree.

I hope you try counselling. It sounds as if you have been wounded deep into your soul.

mannin's picture

Females are known to try to destroy each other, rather than bond together.

I had issues with my SM when she made it clear that I was her enemy and she was hellbent on destroying what relationship I had with my father.

oldone's picture

I do not have SDs for which I am grateful after reading all of the crap on here.

But I know I would treat a SD differently than a SS. My SS is an alcoholic who is sometimes homeless and jobless. I really don't care. He can fend for himself.

But I have to admit it is different to send a female out on the streets. I would worry about how she was supporting herself - was she having to prostitute herself? etc.

blending2012's picture

Well, of the 7 deadly sins I would most definitely die from PRIDE. My oldest SD - age 11 - is like the ones you describe (tries to sit next to daddy so that I can't do it, hand holding, etc.) and you know what I do? I leave them alone. I got better things to do then fight over a stupid man. You want him, SD? Have at it!

The result of my doing this is really a win-win. Win for me because I show both of them and myself that I value myself too much to waste any time trying to get someone to pay attention to me. Win for SD because she sees that I am NOT competition and she quickly loses interest in playing her game. And the bonus is, once DH sees that I am the one with no time for him, I quickly become the one that he wants to be with. Men are weird like that. Shrug. The more you show 'em you don't need 'em the harder they try to prove otherwise.

Give it a try, ladies! Feel free to steal from my playbook. When SD starts playing tug of war for your man, just drop the rope and walk away. Don't you have better things to do anyway?

Hanny's picture

I was at a friend's wedding a few years ago, where his daughter (probably in late 20's) stood up in a toast to her dad and talked about how she was her Dad's best friend...blah blah blah... "Sure he dated a lot of women, but I never thought my DADDYEE would ever get married'.

I felt so sorry for the poor bride, (never married, 20 years his junior). I will never forget the look on her face...finally some nice relative started clapping and put an end to her toast. I worked with this man, he was quite a looker and yes over the years had dated a lot of women, and yes we were ALL surprised that he finally proposed to someone and he was committing, but it was actually hillarious for the daughter to actually stand up and say this in her toast. Anyway, they are still married and I think doing okay. Daughter finally moved a few states away to be closer to her mom. But I'm sure it hasn't been easy for the 'step mom'.