You are here

What to do with a stepchild that still hates me 7 years later

Chris.2432's picture


Forgive the length but I wonder if it's better to set the story first. Seven years ago I married a woman with a 12yo daughter. The father has never been in the picture and the daughter does not even know who he is. My wife had a lot of help raising the daughter from her two brothers and her parents.

i perceive one of the brothers as the 'father figure''. The SD seems to care most about his approval and if he likes something she will probably like it. As an example even a few days ago my wife and I were making sandwiches and mentioned to me that SD wouldn't want mustard. SD overhears and said she wanted it on there.

"when do you like mustard?" My wife asked, surprised.

"(Brothers name) introduced me to it" the SD replied.

This has been a common theme since the beginning. If he discovers a soda or something he likes then the SD will want us to get it.

I'd like to think that normally I wouldn't have a problem with her worship of the uncle expect for one thing: she has hated me from the beginning. There's nothing good about me. Now if she 'hated' or had an attitude towards other people in general I could just count myself in that crowd but it seems to only be directed at me. She has a wonderful relationship and loves to see both of her uncles and her grandparents.....just not me.

And so I've developed a chip/resentment over even hearing about the uncles out of her mouth. It seems sometimes I can't go a day without hearing her mention them....and it's always positive. A bunch of us were helping put away things at a wedding and someone complimented her on grabbing the right screwdriver. "My uncle taught me all about tools and....". 

i'd like to think that if I was considered at least a 'friend' or on a friendly level I would be content. I'd like to think that i'm realistic and it's not that I want or need to be 'Dad' I just don't want to be the only piece of sh*t in her entire life.

So now I am at the point that she is 19yo and I still deal with it. She avoids me all day every day unless she is required to speak to me. She has learned to go along with communicating with me to not get in trouble but it's obvious she just wants to get past me and in to her room. Then I hear her laughing and having a great time 2 minutes later on the phone with an uncle.

I am at the point that I am considering suggesting she move to a family members house (maybe with an uncle). My wife and I have discussed this before. I admit I am not completely comfortable with this bc I don't want my SD to feel like her mom 'chose me' and I will feel like a failure. I guess I am at the point that I feel I have little to lose.

Loxy's picture

If your wife is onboard then I think it's a good idea, however I think the way you discuss it with SD is very important.

Your wife needs to sit SD down and tell her how dissapointed she is that SD has never made an effort to get to know you and treat you like a member of her family. And now she's an adult, there is no excuses for this ongoing disrespect and your wife won't tolerate it any longer. So either SD stops acting so childish and starts to treat you with respect and make an effort to have a relationship with you or she can move out. SD is an adult now so she needs to act like one or suffer the consequences if she doesn't. 

This way you clearly communicate the problem and what she needs to do to fix it and then it's up to her. 

ybarra357's picture

I don't know, for me, my SK's cannot stand me (the feeling is quite mutual) and it's been over 15 years.  I really don't care whether they like me or not.  I'm not here to please them.  They don't live with me (thank god) and they are all in their 30's or close to it.  No sweat off my back.  I think your SD should be on her way to launch - yes maybe she should live with the wonderful uncle.  At 19 - is she in school? Working?  I wouldn't bend over backwards to try and befriend her anymore.  Ignore her.

CajunMom's picture

As a BM myself with two adult kids, I would never tolerate my children disprespecting my DH in OUR home. They know it and because of my stand over the years, they have developed great relationships with my DH. Your wife is wrong for letting her daughter treat you in such a disrespectful way. 

Your wife needs to have a discussion with her daughter (then bring you in if and when appropriate). But the daughter needs clarity as to what is and what isn't acceptable in the marital home. If she can't be civil and respectful, then go live with Uncle. Your wife needs to spearhead this though and make it "her" issue. "I've seen how you treat DH over the years and it needs to stop. You are an adult now. Time to act like one." Of course, there are nicer ways to say it but I've always been very direct with my kids especially in the "step" issues. Good luck.

OKtoStep's picture

What exactly is your SD doing to be disrespectful? You mentioned a couple of times that she hates you but also said that she's able to communicate with you in a civil manner. 

In her defense you walked into a family situation that had been fulfilling and functional for 12 years already. While your wife needed a romantic partner, your SD didn't need a daddy figure or even an adult male friend figure.

What is it that you are/were hoping to get out of a more personal relationship with your SD? This issue seems to be deeply aggravating to you to the point where you feel real resentment of your brothers-in-law and SD. I do suggest maybe seeing a therapist to work out these issues before that resentment effects your relationship with your DW. 

shamds's picture

About 6 months into meeting sd's miniwives after them ending contact with their dad for 5 yrs plus.

frankly, when you willingly ended contact with your dad over lies you knew your mum made about your dad, you knew your mum was having an affair behind your dad's back who was working his arse off, then your mum marries her affair guy days after divorce was finalised whilst you were in school, then 5.5yrs post divorce your dad remarries and you reinitiate contact 3.5 yrs after his marriage claiming you didn't wanna cause issues with his new family but then proceed to guilt him for marrying me and having 2 kids with me and so called abandoning you, disengaging is the least i should have done.

life is too short and precious to deal with shit everyday..

lieutenant_dad's picture

I can understand why you're frustrated, but I also don't see how she is showing hatred toward you. Indifference, yes. Cold civility, yes. From what you've written, I see a young adult who has no interest in a relationship with you but keeps things civil for her mother/own character, which ultimately is the most you can ask for.

What is her relationship like with her mom? You said the uncles and grandparents helped raise her, and it sounds like she is very close to her uncles - perhaps more so than her own mother. Could she be resentful of her mom (or feel some other way about her mom) and just biding her time before she pulls away from her as well? If she has issues with her mom, even if it's not to the level of hatred, then she might just not want to complicate things by getting in buddy-buddy with her mom's husband.

SKs aren't required to have relationships with us, just like we aren't required to have relationships with them. While you say you'd be okay with not being seen as "Dad", you resent the men whom SD looks up to because she looks up to them. You don't seem to resent her mother or the grandparents; just the men who act as father-figures. And your resentment is so entrenched that you'd ask your wife to kick out her own daughter because she's closer to her uncles (and you think she should just live there since they are so close).

As much as you say it's okay to not have a fatherly relationship, your feelings don't reflect that. The actions you want your wife to take don't reflect that. It's okay to want to be a father-figure and then be upset when that doesn't happen. It's not okay to hold that over someone else's head because you're jealous or upset.

Perhaps there is more to the story that hasn't been shared, and I'm willing to change my opinion if that's the case. But your SD is behaving exactly how an SD who doesn't want a relationship with her SP should behave.

Merry's picture

What are the expectations for her having her own place? Is she in school full-time, working full-time, or some combination? That should be the goal, with an expectation that she at some point lives on her own.

What you describe doesn't scream "hate." More indifference. You are her mother's husband, and that's all. I think you might have fallen into the cultural trap that stepparents are to "love their stepkids as their own" and have an unrealistic view of what a "blended family" should look like. Some stepparents do develop a good relationship, and some are completely disengaged and never see their partner's kids. As long as she is not rude, stealing from you, doing drugs in your house, or otherwise causing major disruptions, this might be as good as it gets.

Many wish we had a better relationship with our steps. We've tried, but it just doesn't happen for lots of reasons. And that's ok. I hope the Uncles are good people and your wife's daughter benefits from their active presence in her life.

Focus on your wife and the life you have with her.


2Tired4Drama's picture

I think it's possible you may be down-playing the actual attitude you have been getting from SD and I can understand your frustration. 

"...she has hated me from the beginning. There's nothing good about me. Now if she 'hated' or had an attitude towards other people in general I could just count myself in that crowd but it seems to only be directed at me."

...  i'm realistic and it's not that I want or need to be 'Dad' I just don't want to be the only piece of sh*t in her entire life.

...She avoids me all day every day unless she is required to speak to me. "

When an adult skid is living in the home then there are some reasonable expectations. If you are being regularly and typically treated with disdain and are dismissed as irrelevant in your own home, then I think you have a beef. You mentioned that SD does not speak unless necessary because she might get in trouble if she doesn't.  I assume that comes from her mother? That makes me think there is some substance to your complaints about SD's treatment of you, otherwise her mother would not confront her on it.

I do think you need to sit down with your DW and seriously discuss the future and what SD's role in your home will be. I do not think it is unreasonable to have an adult pay board and follow rules of the house. If that means being cordial with EVERYONE in the house, then so be it. Who knows - maybe if she dropped her attitude she might actually develop a relationship with you.

But. I am also a realist and I do understand that you can't make people like you, particularly adult skids. I've been in the game too long hoping for changes and know that disengagement is often the only option. Yet disengagement is very difficult to do when you are living under the same roof, so you and DW need to develop guidelines on how to do so.

As for her relationship with her uncles, that is entirely her prerogative and she can love them and enjoy them all she wants. I can understand you are jealous of these relationships because it just rubs salt in the open wound of her dismissiveness towards you. 


paul_in_utah's picture

"Cold civility" is a good way to describe my interactions w/ my SO's kids.  That is actually an improvement from last year, when her daughter was openly hostile and trying to get SO to date other people.  Once SOD (Significant Other Daughter) got pregnant, I think she realized that she and her mom were going to need my help.  So she has stopped with the hate campaign and will now respond when I say hello, etc.  No deeper than that, but then again I don't have much in common with a 22 year-old pot-head, so I'm not sure what we could talk about anyway.

Disillusioned's picture

I think your DW needs to have a good talk with your SD about her disrespect towards you and lay down some rules. Other than that, stop trying to have a relationship with this girl who is clearly making it a point that she doesn't want one. Disengage (but don't accept disrespect) you will feel so much less stress

OKtoStep's picture

All of OP's proof that SD hates him are subjective. "I'm trash in her life" "she hates me". That's your feeling.  The only concrete statement is that SD only speaks to him when she has to. Even that can be a matter of perception. If it is reality, it's not a sign of disrespect. Again, OP's DW needed a romantic partner, SD clearly has no need for OP, which isn't her fault. 
SD having love and affection for her mother, uncles and grandparents is not a sign of disrespect to OP. OP having his feelings hurt because he has mildly unreasonable expectations for a relationship with an unrelated 12 year older girl is his own issue. Adult SD should not be punished for being a part of a close and loving family. 
We say the same thing to countless SM's on here who jump into a relationship and want to be "the best bonus mom ever". Don't take it personally, disengage, as long as they are civil and remotely polite count it as a win. I don't understand why everyone is jumping on the bandwagon to blame SD for not wanting a close, lovey dovey relationship with her mother's husband just because that's what he wanted. 

2Tired4Drama's picture

In all of your previous posts/blogs, you only mention skids one time simply by saying you had been disengaged from them for years. The rest of the posts have been about your ex husband/divorce situation.  We really have no insights into your exact step situation. Were you in a position where your skid(s) were ignoring and dismissive of you on a daily basis, in your own home?

Can you please help us understand why you are adamant in taking the SD's position in this situation? Perhaps you can fill us in on exactly what issues you have had with your skids and how/why you decided to disengage. How many do/did you have and what are their ages? Did you live with them - for how long? 

There is certainly nothing wrong with have opposing views on an issue but I think we all might learn if you enlighten us with how and why you hold such a strong supportive opinion of SD.  Thanks!

OKtoStep's picture

What I've experienced or not isn't relevant to the logic that a 12 year old girl isn't responsible for the emotional needs of a grown man. 

By his own admission she is distantly polite to him. His main complaints are based on perceived slights and guessing how the SD feels about him. There is nothing in his post that illustrates disrespect or disdain.

OP is angry because SD has a good time talking to her uncle, wants mustard on her sandwich and knows something about tools. OP's offense at those innocuous events points more towards his own disfunction and low self-esteem. 

I am curious about OP's relationship with the rest of his DW's family. Do they all treat him with polite disinterest? While he has no grounds for complaining about how the adults have interacted with him, he clearly feels that he has the right to demand a closer relationship with his wife's minor daughter. I wonder if he has overstepped accepted family behaviors in other ways. 

2Tired4Drama's picture

Your experiences are very relevant if you have a stepchild. Do you? Still haven't answered that.  That's an easy yes or no and is pertinent to a discussion about an adult stepkid. 

SD is 19 and an adult, she is not 12.  I did not see OP state in any way that SD is "polite" to him. Per definition, polite is: "having or showing behavior that is respectful and considerate of other people." Being ignored is not respectful nor considerate, and can actually be deeply hurtful to people as psychologists have noted:

"Interpersonal conflict could manifest in the “hot” form, such as through heated arguments, or the “cold” form, such as ignoring someone. While both are unpleasant experiences, people’s everyday intuition, theory, and empirical evidence (Williams, 2009) suggest that being ignored hurts more than being argued with."

It is also worth mentioning that 95% of human communication is non-verbal.

Scenario 1 - "Did you let the dogs out today?" asks OP. Pausing on the way to her room, SD stops briefly, looks at OP and says calmly, "Yes, I did. It seems like Fluffy was digging at the hole again so I called her back in." She heads to her room and closes the door. That is distantly polite.

Scenario 2 - "Did you let the dogs out today?" asks OP. SD ignores him. OP asks again, Finally, with a loud, disgusted sigh and eye-roll, SD stomps to her room as she flings back over her shoulder sarcastically, "YES." And then slams her door. 

See how that works?  While OP may not be communicating well either, OP has said SD's mother has spoken to her about her treatment of him so it is plausible that SD has an attitude.

Those of us who have been in the trenches for years and have lived this stuff know the difference and can understand that OP may have a legit complaint although he may not have provided a lot of detail.

While I do agree that he needs to address his jealousy of the uncles, that does not discount that he may have a valid compaint about SD's treatment of him. As others have noted, it is especially troubling if he has been financially supporting her for the last 7 years since her father is NOT in the picture and never has been. Therein may lie the root of the problem - OP is being the whipping boy for SD's absent father. 

OKtoStep's picture

The SD was 12 when this started. I gave OP the benefit of the doubt and assumed his wanting to have a close relationship with the kid has been ongoing. Again, just because he married her mother doesn't entitle him to a close, warm relationship with SD. If she's 12, 19 or 38 that is her mother's husband, not hers.

At no point does OP discuss finances of the household. You are assuming he is providing half, which would cover SD. Perhaps they split in thirds. Or he only pays part of the utilities and they all live in a home that the family owns and finances. 

In all honesty it doesn't matter how the money flows in the house. As a minor SD had no say in who supports her or how but even if OP was contributing 50%, that was his choice and it still doesn't mean that SD is obligated to stroke his ego and make him feel good. She walks in, communicates with him in a polite manner (OP complained about SD liking mustard. I assumed he would add rude speech if it was an issue.) and walks away. There is no disrespect in her loving her uncles, having fun with someone other than OP or not caring what OP's emotional needs are. 

I cannot stress enough how disturbing I find it that there is a feeling in this thread that un-asked for money obligates affection. "I paid half the mortgage this month, now you have to hang out and joke with me."


2Tired4Drama's picture

Is you refuse to answer whether you are a stepparent ...or not.

If not, just own up to it and give us some insights as to why you wanted to join a website for stepparents. Is it just to make opposing comments to those of us who are?  At least be honest and say that's your intent...

2Tired4Drama's picture

OP was a new member; I'm betting he won't be back. 

lieutenant_dad's picture

What does this have to do with the OP or his situation? I agree with OKtoStep's assessment of the situation based on the information provided. OP hasn't described SD doing anything concretely wrong. Anything she has done "wrong" is his subjective view of her behavior. His reaction to his subjective view, though, seems over-the-top and punitive, not because SD is acting evil, but because she is acting loving to someone else that isn't him. 

CLove's picture

this is a divisive issue. Because I feel like SD19 hasnt really done anything wrong - shes being respectful. But really, she should be a bit warmer towards the person who is paying and helping and supporting her.

SD19 is your wife's daughter, but at this point shes more like a housesmate that you support who doesnt help out. Ive lived with a lot of different housemates and we were at the minimum friendly. Smile and converse sometimes. Laugh.

so, even though youve been around her for 7 years, with these feelings that she hates you, have you ever sat her down and talked things out with her, directly?

There have been times Ive had some heart to hearts with SD15.5. We have a decent relationship even though shes backstabbed me a few times, given attitude a few times and we are disengaged. Im the fun auntie. We joke and converse. She spends hours on the phone to her friend and I hear her laughing it up with them. I know when shes silent and "freezing me out" because shes shirking chores, I hear the laughter and it fires me up. Other times, when we are on more friendly terms it doesnt phase me a bit.

So, I can relate to how you are feeling. Cold civility is hard to deal with when you know they have capacity beyond that and you have been the one paying and helping and supporting.