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Dislike stepchild but I know I should love her HELP!!

Stepdad2010's picture

To be as short as possible I'm gonna shorthand a little. Married 2 years, together 4. I have daughter (11) and wife has daughter (13). It's been extremely difficult living with stepdaughter as she has been very difficult her whole life. Her mother is bipolar and has been hospitalized for it at least once while married and is finally on meds and mostly stable. Bipolar is Something I didn't quit understand until being with her for a few years. Never even knew what it was. Father has never been in picture and stepdaughter has been shuffled around to grandparents and great grandmother her whole life mom apparently was a partier early on and then worked a lot to support SD. Boundaries don't appear to have ever been established with stepdaughter. She is 13 now and has always had extreme meltdowns when she doesnt get her way and they are getting worse. She wants to be treated like a 16 year old but is as mature as an 8 year old. On top of it all I believe she has bipolar as well. The entire family especially me, has to walk on eggshells to make sure we don't upset her. This could be anything from, "please do your dishes"' to correcting a dicapline problem. Her most recent meltdown was due to being asked to carry her own stuff from the car to the house like everyone else (By wife) Nuclear meltdown, and CPS called.  Obviously they saw through it and talked her off the ledge.  Next morning wife takes SD phone while asleep (wouldn't give it up day prior) and another meltdown occurs. This time SD refusing to let us leave for work( blocks door) and dumps my wife's drawers and jewelry box all out on floor in a rage. At this point no one feels safe around her and we were certainly not going to physically move her out of the way. SD completely loses it so wife decides only safe thing is call police. They came and saw how she was acting and took her to hospital where she stayed for a few weeks. (Moved to behavioral health facility) Treated for mood disorder possible bipolar. She does not have phone anymore, on meds kind of stable as long as no one upsets her and in counseling. This is a nightmare and I don't know how much longer I can do this. I can't ask her to nicely do anything(pick up her stuff for example) without meltdowns.  She moved in with her grandmother and is with us on weekends and that has helped. Wife and I fight very little and the house has become stress free. She does come to visit and all I can do is stonewall her to just stay out of her space and not upset her. I'll admit I  don't want to deal with her either.  She has mostly been fighting with wife and I occasionally speak up when it's gotten out of hand and she is being disrespectful to her mother or crossed the line.  I don't want my daughter learning any of this behavior and don't think she deserves to live in a terrible environment. I have gotten so resentful towards SD and just waiting for the next meltdown and fight with wife who is in mommy protect mode and has lots of mommy guilt from before we met (worked a lot so not home) dad never in picture. She definitely has discipline issues but wife just blames it on SD behavioral health issues.  I feel terrible saying this but I'd be ok if she moved in with grandmother full time and left for good. My wife obviously loves her unconditionally so it doesn't matter what SD does. I just can't do that and I don't know why. I've never felt this way towards a person and my wife sees it. Our life has been miserable until SD moved out. Not perfect but much much more calm and stress free. I think wife will get resentful towards me for SD moving out. Again I feel like a terrible stepdad for disliking my SD but that's where I am. After last meltdown she is so unpredictable and I wanted her out. 
 

I know I could have  a good effect on her (as steady male figure in life) and I see it when she lets me but these meltdowns are pushing me away.  I cringe when she is around and the whole atmosphere drops in family. She is very selfish, lazy, jealous, immature, entitled, extreme mood swings, disrespectful, lies, yet can be sweet when it benefits her and has her mother wrapped around finger. Knows what to say to invoke mommy guilt. Underneath I feel like she is sweet but has had such a disrupted life and have blamed my wife and her family for SD being like this. This was a terrible idea and should never have been said.  I'm feeling so defeated because it's out of my hands ( per my wife) and have to just sit and watch this terrible and completely consuming disruptive behavior when she comes over. Wife agrees she has always been difficult yet is mommy guilted into catering to SD every time. Wife is also trying to force me to love SD.  I feel bad behavior and mental health issues are to blame but is she too old to teach? She needs to learn the basics you teach a baby unfortunately.  Am I alone here and is there anything else I can do? Hate is a strong word but I'm getting there sad to say. 

SSstepmom's picture

Wow. Sounds a lot like what I went thru when I first moved in with my dh and his twins. Luckily he saw what they were doing and even thru their mental health diagnoses and hospital stays he continued to enforce to them that they could not disrespect me or anyone in the house. My daughters were witnessing their insane behavior. But he knew our relationship would suffer and most likely end if I had to live in a hell house and my daughters had to be subject to it. They're all teens. Have you sat down with your wife yet. Tell her how you feel. Before I did that my husband really didn't get how much his daughters were effecting my mental health. It was when he did he stepped it up. And I feel if you're wife would not do that for you this won't be any different going forward. You're not asking for much. You're asking to live in a semi peaceful household. It's always chaos with teens but this behavior is not ok for anyone to be submersed in and no should have to especially your daughter. She'll end up feeling all this stress too. 

Stepdad2010's picture

Yeah I've had those conversations with her. Unfortunately I'm finding out my wife was exactly the same as a kid. Meltdowns and all. If I could change something I'd came at her different. I really put myself out there to be a father to my SD and show her a man can and does love her. She has had it rough. Everytime she has these massive meltdowns it takes me longer and longer to open back up to her and forgive. I hate that but that's my reality. This has been a living hell for the last 4 years. It's even got me going to behavioral health to deal with this all. I'm totally empty and really have nothing left to give her. Feels helpless not knowing what else to do. I don't want to drive a wedge between her and her daughter. This would be going on with or without me she's just really difficult. Having me in the picture only makes it worse because  she feels like I took her mom. My wife treated my SD more like a sister than a daughter. That's not how I brought up my daughter. Anyway hope to find some relief one day. Glad things worked out well with your family. 

Rumplestiltskin's picture

This child is not your daughter. You don't have that unconditional love that a parent would. Her behavior is abusive and disruptive to you and your child. How could you possibly be expected to "like" her? Please don't pile guilt onto yourself for not being happy to see her. 

Other than that, i just want to say i'm sorry you are going through this and i wish you luck. Therapy of your own may help you to deal with what looks like a combination of mental illness (of both your wife and SD?) and poor parenting (you mentioned mommy guilt.) 

ExcellenceToolkit's picture

Your wife can't just expect you to love her daughter. Love is something that grows between two people who have taken the time to nurture it. Biological bonds don't even guarantee love but can set the stage for a higher sense of obligation to love someone but you guys don't even have that. It's normal to not feel a bond or connection to stepkids. They aren't your kid. I feel no special bond to my stepkids. I don't love them. I don't hate them but I don't adore them. DH knows I don't love them. I just tolerate them however briefly for DHs sake.

also I know where you're coming from. My skids have severe mental health problems too. Depression anxiety panic attacks social awkwardness and on the spectrum lacking understanding of social cues extreme social isolation and loneliness, suicidal thoughts  anger and violence. I limit myself to two hours of contact with them every other week at the max. They are heavily medicated and receive therapy twice a month.

futurobrillante99's picture

If you're feeling this way, imagine how stressed your own daughter is. 
 

Your wife needs to do visitation at grandmas house so that you abd your daughter are insulated from this insane behavior.

just because your wife relates to her daughter because SHE was the same way, doesn't make it acceptable. Boundaries and consistent consequences are important for people with bipolar.

Some of these behaviors are the result of permissive and indulgent parenting.

The girl isn't just bipolar. She's also a brat.

Evil3's picture

I was going to say what futurobrillante said. This girl does not present as Bipolar. Bipolar gets thrown around way too often. Your SD presents as Borderline. My mother was BPD, so I know a borderline when I see one. Same melt downs over nothing. trashing the place, etc.

Having to live in such a chaotic environment is abuse and you need to get your DD out of there pronto. If your SD is so impulsive with her meltdowns, how do you know she won't physically lash out at your DD?

If you don't want to lose your marriage, you can always tell your DW that you're simply wanting to have your girls live apart and it's your duty as a dad to provide your child with a safe and peaceful environment. You and your DW can visit and date one another, but your DW needs to get her brat under control. If your SD gets intensive therapy now, she can turn out OK. People tip-toing around her is what's motivating her to continue her meltdowns. They're working for her because she's got everyone dancing to her tune and afraid to require anything of her, even basics. The best thing people can do for the borderlines in their lives is to have consistent, strong boundaries.

Your DW should also go to counselling to get support to learn how to parent her budding borderline.

Exjuliemccoy's picture

Your first priority should be to protect your daughter from this awful mess. How much custody time do you have with her?

She deserves to have a stable, peaceful childhood and the reassurance of knowing that you will protect her from this poo.

Have you considered living apart for a while? 

Stepdad2010's picture

I have my daughter during the week and she goes to her moms on weekends. My wife and I have discussed separation but I really don't want to do that because I love her. I'm feeling backed into a corner though. 

GrabitAndGo's picture

It's not just about you and your wife, though.  You need to take your own child's welfare and emotions into consideration.  Your DD isn't living in a healthy environment when she's with you, which is the majority of the time.  Are you going to wait until her own mental health is impacted or she starts tanking in school before you DO something?

Cinderella87's picture

My Husband's Ex Wife has Bipolar and I think their son, my SS16, has it. He is a nightmare to live with. Ex Wife lost custody and I had to help raise this kid since he was 2. He's 16 now, and if we get onto him he gets mad and goes mute purposely, until i have a long talk with him and "apologize" to him for yelling at him. He is very spoiled and lazy and entitled, like his mother. I'm at the point now where I don't give a crap how he "feels"..if he is going to lie and physically hurt my daughter..then he deserves to be yelled at and punished. He has "Highly Functioning autism" ..but recently since his Bio Mom tried to sue us for custody (she lost) ..she made it to where we all..including her, had to see a therapist to make sure her son, which she never cared about, was being taken care of in our house. Well the therapist told us that he might not even have Highly Functining Autism..that he might have a lot of other mental issues! I'm guessing Bipolar and ADHD like his Mother, and ADHD like my Husband. He purposely tripped my daughter and she hit her head, and he also purposely pushed her into a weight machine, and she had to get stiches on her lip. Then he had the audacity to LIE to my face about it, and deny that he did it! I told this idiot that he's not allowed around my 2 children EVER again. My daughter is 6 and SS is 16! My son is 5 and SS doesn't hurt him bc he weirdly admires him. He also told the therapist that. This kid is so strange ..he looks at me out of the corner of his eyes..and his mother also used to do this to me. It makes me so mad and uncomfortable. His mom is completely out of the picture now..she lost custody and doesn't even care..i wish SS liked her, he hates her, and wish he would choose to live with her and go away. ..but I know that she wouldn't allow that bc she only wanted the kid for money, and to look like a good mother for special holidays. After she would pick him up..she would dump him off at her parents or her random friends houses. One time, that we know about, she left him alone in a hotel room for 12 hours at night ALONE. I could seriously write a novel. I feel anyone's pain that has to deal with step kids and an ex wife!

classyNJ's picture

Does she have melt downs when she is with the grandmother?  If not is she simply not asking her to pick up after herself, etc

Stepdad2010's picture

The meltdowns happen mostly at our house. I really do feel like my SD is trapped in an unfortunate upbringing of no boundaries, 5 different styles of parenting (all her family), and the ability to call upon granny or great granny for help. They pack up and come pick her up. It drives me nuts that this is how they handle my SD. She called her great granny 80 yrs old one night late when she was admitted to the hospitol one time. Great granny drove almost 2 hours through horrible traffic to satisfy my SD. 

Rags's picture

Nothing that a COD goes through is justification for crappy behavior.  Quit trying to recover trust with the Skid after her melt downs and just focus on her behaviors.

Do not tolerate any behavior that violates the standards of behavior you have established in your home and apply consequences.

The why does not matter. How she acts does matter.

Stepdad2010's picture

I agree but when I do enforce basic boundaries I get meltdowns and her entire family comes to the rescue. It's such a stressful and toxic way to live. I can't just sit there and watch SD act like this especially in front of my daughter. 

Stepdad2010's picture

All around this is a very toxic environment. I used to be so patient until I met SD. Her and my wife have shown jealous tendencies when I've talked about an event or something that my daughter did before we met. SD is so jealous it makes me sick. Over the years her behavior has gotten so bad that I almost feel like I've given up. I hold my tongue until I finally have had enough and I tend to come across very short and not very nice. It comes from a deep resentment in my heart that I never asked for. The way she was brought up has a lot to do with how she acts and I have told my wife in arguments that SD is this way because of you and your family. Obviously that didn't go over well and I'm ashamed I'm even capable of telling her that. She doesn't buy it at least won't tell me she admits it and stays in mommy protection mode all the time. Bottom line I've turned very disgruntled and my daughter has never seen that from me. Mentally I'm cooked and I think about ending this often to get my life with my daughter back to where she should be. I've spent the majority of my effort dealing with my SD that I've lost focus of my daughter.  Not cool. 

Stepdad2010's picture

Wife is caught in the middle and feels like she is having to choose between SD and I. I don't want this to be the case. She expects me to shower SD with unconditional love and forgiveness. SD will have a major meltdown like the last one and the next day her and my wife will be cuddling and acting like SD never called CDC and the police the night befor. It blows my mind. I pay for her new iPhone so I took it back. Mom wanted to give it back as soon as she got back from the hospitol for several weeks. This phone is not a right it's a privilege and she abused it. The is a 12 yr old child and isn't ready for one. Wife and SD counselor feel she should be able to work towards getting it back. Problem is once she has a prize in site and has to be good to get it she's an angel then Flips once she gets it. I said just tell her she's lost her privilege and leave it at that. We don't have to explain it or justify it anymore. If she shows progress out of the kindness of her own heart we could give it back down the road but it wouldn't be fake because she was never told she would get the phone back. Great granny went out and bought her a flip phone with a plan against our will. It's ridiculous. Anyway I'm just venting thanks  

Stepdad2010's picture

I am all about constructive criticism so if something I'm saying or doing sounds totally crazy please let me know. I've started doubting my parenting skills over all this. This isn't normal kid stuff like the kids fighting or whatever it's on a whole other level. Maybe a few levels but wife tries very hard to convince me that this is perfectly normal behavior and has said grow up your the adult. I was at a loss of words. 

SCDad01's picture

Your SD obviously has serious mental issues.  13 year olds don't have meltdowns like you described unless something is wrong mentally (unless they are spoiled brats, which doesn't sound like the case).  I would fear for my safety and the safety of my BD, especially as the SD gets older.  Not to be cold, but I think the best solution is removing her from the house like you have, with occasional visits (at most).  Your BD doesn't need to be around this and you need to act to protect her.  Sorry to say, but might be time to cut your losses and move on.  You shouldn't have to walk on eggshells in your house because of a kid.  It may not seem like it now, but there are plenty of other women out there without all the baggage.  Best of luck!

annaminna's picture

You done have to love anyone. Your strep kids are just kids - you dont have to love them.  You have to be polite and if needed, distance yourself but ... no one can say you have to love someone. Love isnt something that can happen by order.

Some bio parents dont love their children too. It just happens. Be nice and that all you should expect from yourself.