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Both step children refuse to speak to me unless I speak to them

Modernworld1011's picture

Advice please! I know I am probably more fortunate than most in that my step kids are not outright hostile or rude, but unless I speak to them, they will not speak to me. Some days I do not mind the effort of trying to engage them, but other days I am just tired, not in the mood, whatever. They will only speak to their father at the dinner table. If I ask them something they will answer me. It's exhausting after awhile to continually try to engage them.

For those of you that deal with this type of situation do you have days where you make the effort and days where you cannot be bothered. On the cannot be bothered days, do you sit there in silence or excuse yourself?

Any thoughts would be most appreciated as I am tired of keeping the conversation rolling. They are both teenagers, so I get the quiet and moody bit, but they literally will not speak to me unless spoken to me. It feels very odd.

omgsaveme's picture

Simple….beat them at their own game. Don't talk to them "Modernworld, can you take me to the mall" Nope "Modernworld, can we order pizza tonight" Nope

Your DH can't force them to like you, but they do need to respect you. Don't talk to them unless they talk to you, that game won't last too long.

Modernworld1011's picture

No, they ask me for nothing. If I do not speak to them, they just pretend I am not there.I know I can just ignore them too, but the silence can be so deafening at times. Agree with you totally, you can't make them like you!

Strugglingforalongtime's picture

I tried this approach, and it backfired. I have not had what i would call a conversation with either of my partner's 2 children (16 and 19) in well over a year. They only address him in conversation and other than hello and goodbye we do not speak to each other - and the 19 year old lives with us....

Modernworld1011's picture

Exactly, I don't want to behave like this it is not me, but I get tired of having to make all of the effort. It is frustrating enough that all order and routine are abandoned when they visit, but to now the husband gets hurt if I don't keep "trying" with his kids. My daughter loves him and loves to chat with him, so he has no idea how it feels. There is no way to win it seems.

Modernworld1011's picture

Skeeter, you are so correct. It's just that the silence can get really exhausting. I don't know whether to stick it out or just leave the room. Often, my wish is to leave or not go out with them because it is so uncomfortable.

luchay's picture

Look at the bright side, at least WHEN you speak to them they actually reply!!

My skids (ss10 and sd13) if Dadddyyyyy isn't present will just ignore me even when I speak first!

I called SS out on it the other day in fact. He walked by me, I said something to him and nothing, glassy eyed blank zombie look as he kept walking (within a metre of me)

So I said "SS, I just spoke to you and ignoring people when they talk to you is very rude, I know for a fact that your parents taught you better manners than that and yes, those manners even apply to ME! Do not ignore me when I speak to you ever again!" He just mumbled something "oh, ummm, sorry" and kept going.

When Dadddyyyyy is there they will speak to me in that fake nicey nice voice when spoken to, but will never off there own bat address a comment to me. Even "what's for dinner" gets addressed to dad. So now, OH is responsible for dinner LOL All the time when they speak EVERY comment is started with "Dad... blah blah blah" just so as I know they ARE NOT TALKING TO ME! I just ignore. SS told a joke in the car the other day. Started with "Dad, what do you get or whatever" I knew the answer, said to OH I know this one. But nothing to the skid. OH didn't know, ss told the punchline - OH said to me "why didn't you say it?" I said "because he wasn't talking to ME!"

So, I play their game. When OH is there I talk all fake nicey nice and feign interest in them. when he isn't I just completely blank them as well. If something needs doing I find him and tell him to tell them.

childish sounding perhaps, but I think he is getting the message.

Modernworld1011's picture

Does you husband notice their behavior? Do you comment on it to him? If you have talked to him was he receptive. Yes, I know the whole fakey thing, all too well. You nailed it! If you are all together will you leave when this starts? I often want to leave but it seems to hurt the husband's feelings, and then I get the whole "you need to keep making an effort and give them time." ugh!

Modernworld1011's picture

Is your husband oblivious to the fact that his child(ren) will not speak to you unless you speak to them. I almost want to say listen if they cannot be bothered to speak to me, why should I make the effort, it is how I feel, but I know that I am supposed to be the adult.

Modernworld1011's picture

Oh my gosh. It is comforting and sad at the same time that so many of us deal with the same set of crazy. Mine are in their teens, so they might as well be five. The other night, I caught them quietly trying to stab at each other with serrated table knives. Their father just ignored it... It's so weird all of it. They are all over us with our behavior towards their kids, but don't they ever look in the mirror the tis not of the fun house variety????

Dolphins2's picture

Oh my gosh you totally nailed it!! I say something about his and he knows what he is doing, but my 7 year old is wrong and ugly in everything she does!

Modernworld1011's picture

I am sorry. Yes, my child he has much steeper standards for than his own two. He always harps on me about sheltering my daughter too much and that I should let her be independent, but then there he is walking his 16 year old child down the street half a block to show him where he can run, and then he has to stay there in case the child forgets how to get home, really the kid is both smart and knows his way. Then tonight my daughter has a paper due next day and two tests so she does not want to go out to eat at a restaurant because it will take too long. We never eat out on Sunday, but because his teenage child is here we need to go out, and how hurtful it is to his child that my child needs to do work and study. Of course, whenever his child has a task or project, we all must stop and be very quiet so there is space for him to "focus." Truly they are idiotic, blind, insane, selfish or all of the above!

Iamwoman's picture

This situation, like many others with step children, sounds like a power play. I am often surprised at the number of stepmoms who will blame the stepkids instead of their husband. Kids (especially teens) engage in constant power struggles - they have nothing better to think about!

Your stepkids are definitely getting a kick out of treating you so disrespectfully. The real culprit here is your husband, because it sounds like he is doing nothing to demand they respond to you.
Your husband needs to address any disrespect toward you (whether he is there for it or hears about it from you after the fact), otherwise, he is not doing you or your skids any favors. They are learning that it is ok to disrespect a woman (not to mention, their dad, because they are disrespecting someone their dad loves).

My husband flips out on my stepsons if they ignore me when I speak to them, and in turn, I flip out on my daughter if she does the same to him. To be fair, sometimes our own bio kids will do it to us as well. This is normal power play stuff that kids do, and it sounds like your husband has allowed it to go to far, and the kids have been handed a lot of power over you. Not good.

Modernworld1011's picture

Echo, no arguments! You are correct, and I do realize that it could be worse and they could be rude and such. I just hate the awkward silence of it all. I want to not even go out to dinner with them because frankly after a long day of work the last thing I want to do is try to make conversation without any help. The husband gets hurt if I don't come, and then I get the whole give it time bit. It takes all my self control not to yell back "teach them to make an effort." That would be a waste though because I would be viewed as being harsh, and it would be twisted into them not making an effort because they sense some hostility from me, or some other nonsense. It's the same with my daughter too, speak only when spoken to,and she genuinely tries, and get hurt for the trying.

Modernworld1011's picture

You are so correct, but he will not be tough. He still worries about "hurting" their feelings. So, whenever we set a timeline for things with his kids, the time always get stretched out longer and longer. At this point, I don't think he is going to stand up to this. Lousy way to parent kids, but... So, if you were me would you feel free to leave or not go when these moments of quiet become too much. My daughter does not deal with it too often as she has her own friends, and such. Of course, she and my husband communicate beautifully. He often says "why can't it be like this with you and my kids?" Duh, it can't be like that because my daughter was never allowed to treat people in the manner that his children have been allowed to behave. I love him, but it;s like he only sees what is convenient.

Modernworld1011's picture

Not the way I would choose to live, and that is what keeps me trying.

My daughter and he get along wonderfully. He gets on so well with her that he sometimes feels, don't gag, guilty for cheating on his sons with her. Yes it is that convoluted!!!!

We have spoken to a counselor, and the counselor has pointed out that the main problem is my husband. He does not disagree but cannot seem to consistently apply logical thought where his kids are concerned. So, it's hit or miss with him.

You are correct and quite wise in your advice. I will try it! Many thanks.

Modernworld1011's picture

Thank you for your kind words of support. According to the husband I am the adult so therefore do not need as much understanding. Total nonsense I know.

It's downright amusing with the one as he tries to get a rise out of me which he never does. Latest he took a roll from the breadbasket at dinner took a bite out of it and threw it back into the basket. Husband said nothing. What these lads do not realize is that I couldn't care less. The other son expects my husband to help him on with his jacket because he sees his father doing the same for me, and he is sixteen. The world will be an eyeopener for them!

Modernworld1011's picture

They do not hurt me. Its more my own upbringing to where I was taught to make an effort with everyone and to encourage chatter. So, I feel bad ignoring them, but sometimes the effort is too much.

luchay's picture

Ahhhh see the skids are pretty good with my dd's, they all get along for the most part.

When we are all together I can just ignore them in the general melee and noise of life. (me, him, his two 13 and 10 and my two youngest 11 and 8 can get a bit loud lol)

In the past I have pointed out the every comment starting with "dad" - he doubted me, he defended them, he got angry at me blah blah blah.

I have stopped saying anything, now if they are not talking to me I ignore. I talk to my own kids, I talk to him. If the conversation becomes general I take part, but when they address only to him, even if *I* am the only one who knows the answer I will sit back and not reply.

He knows. Through my backing off, not whinging to him about it, just sitting back and letting it happen he is forced to see how they are. Even the fake nicey nice voices. He now sees that they talk only to him, and that they use a "funny voice" when they are forced to talk to me.

I just don't care anymore. Yes, it can feel uncomfortable - I just read a book, play with my phone, watch tv. And only speak to them if I have to. At the end of the day I am not here for them I am here for him.

Modernworld1011's picture

Well, you have this sussed out perfectly! Same, I have learned that to point out any flaw just invites criticism of me. I have to even be careful when he complains about them not to say too much.

Same when my daughter is with us I will chat with her, but often the visits don't overlap, so usually it is me, the two skids and their dad.

Your technique sounds spot on! Curious, has your husband ever said anything to acknowledge that your assessment of his kids behavior towards you was correct, and has he ever attempted to intervene.?

Many thanks!!!!

luchay's picture

Sigh, he varies from day to day.

Some days it's still all defence of them (we've lived together for two F*&*(ng years now!) but I still get told "they just don't know you/feel comfortable talking to you/asking you for stuff (hell no to that last one, sd knows if she asks me chances are I may say NO sometimes but if she asks dadddyyyy it's always a yes - manipulater!) Some days it's "Well, they come here to see me, of course they want to talk to me!" etc etc versions on a theme if you know what I mean.

Other days he is more enlightened and can smell it. Other days he is able to acknowledge that I try hard for them (I still do god-dammit!) and that they reject me at every turn. Some days he even steps in and tells them to talk to me if they want to know something.

He does KNOW I feel, even on the days he wears his rose coloured step kid goggles that they are not behaving well towards me. He acknowledges at times that he wants them to have better manners than they currently display. But he does fall down when it comes to actually stepping up and making it happen.

I totally understand what you are saying - it feels awful to sit in a room with them and just ignore, it feels bad mannered and wrong to ME, because I was not brought up that way either. But for my own sanity and happiness I have learned it is in MY best interest not to try to hard and get hurt and rebuffed again.

Modernworld1011's picture

Feels like we married the same type. They know its wrong, but won't do anything to truly try to modify their kids behaviors.

He says the same thing, "but this is our time." Mine has 50/50 custody by the way. So, 150 plus days a year this is the way it goes.

That's the thing we were brought up better, and it feel horrible to degrade my own behavior, but making all of the effort without even the slightest give on their part hurts too.

luchay's picture

Oh that's priceless!! I love it!!

Yes, ss will sometimes begin AND end every statement with dad, usually though it's just beginning - so that I KNOW he is NOT talking to me LOL

Like I care.

Modernworld1011's picture

Agree with Luchay, that is good! Did they pick up on it, not that they would ever admit it? Too fun, now I might have a new little game!!!! Smiles to you Hollow Points!

howdidigethere's picture

I love it! I'm soooo going to do this! My step kids will totally ignore me when my husband and I both say something to them, but reply to him with "…Dad".

Me: "good night, spawn of satan" (the spawn of satan is in my head. I actually use his name so he knows I'm addressing him)

Husband: "good night, spawn of satan"
Kid: "good night, Dad"

If I didn't say anything in these instances, I'd get a look from my husband, but he doesn't say a word to the brats.

I stopped going out to dinner with them sometime last year. If my husband takes them out to dinner, I revel in having my house to myself. If eating out wasn't so expensive, I'd encourage him to take them out every night!!!

luchay's picture

I have to add, it is hardest for me also when it's just him, me and the skids. You feel like an extra wheel, like you are invisible, like you aren't part of things, he says things like "well MAKE yourself part of things, join in!" But the hostile looks, the animosity that comes from them, no thanks!

Tonight he is bringing them along for our NYE date. So excited I can barely contain myself!!! :O But I will be there front and centre the whole time, regardless of how they behave, because it's MY date! Other days I just stay away.

Modernworld1011's picture

OH my goodness, mine are coming to NYE too! It is so silly and pointless. I asked him, given they are 15 and 16, did they really want to go with us to dinner, and guess what "of course they do!" Well, we both know that that is the last thing that any normal teenage kid wants to do. It makes me crazy to have to share a night like this with them. In any non step parent family they would be left home, and no one would care, but heaven forbid they not be included they could be hurt.

Yep, join in in my realm means do all the work, make all the effort and receive and answer and no attempt at continuing any conversation. We are extra wheels, and they wish we were invisible...

Happy New Year! Luchay, I will be thinking of you as I ring in the new year with them. Who do you think will get kissed first, them or us????

Smiles to you!

luchay's picture

Oh honey, you had better believe it will be me! And it will be a damned long kiss at that Wink

See my last blog for the story behind tonight - it's a doozy.

So, I will be going anyway, and I WILL be in his arms at midnight, and I WILL be kissing him in a very romantic way, and if they get uncomfortable?

Welcome to my world.

You have a good night too, or as near to it as you can!!

Modernworld1011's picture

Uh oh! I will go and read...

Good for you! Make it a good long, passionate kiss as it is deserved. I don't know that I will be that lucky, but since he can't kiss both at once, perhaps I will be chosen so he's not choosing between them!

A good night and a better year for us both, I hope!

Disillusioned's picture

I suggest that you stop trying. If they don't want to talk to you, it works two ways

Maybe do a little planning ahead when you know they are coming over and be out busy doing things you enjoy, so you don't have to be stuck in the same room with them with the uncomfortable silence

My H's eldest played this game for years with fact she was way worse because even when I did speak with her she completely ignored me (on a good day) gave me a snarly noise and scowl on most when I was dumb enough to so much as say hello to her. And she did the same thing, everything was address to "dad" would literally start and end every sentence with the word DAD to make sure I understood she was talking to DH and NOT me. Grrrrr........!

I turned it all around and completely disengaged from her. I still see her at DH's family get together's but I pay no attention to her. If she talks to me I politely respond but otherwise, it's all up to her now

If your skids see it's not bothering you one bit, and that you will pay zero attention to them when they act that way, perhaps they will change. If they don't, you will still fall a lot better without the stress of dealing with them, and you can get to the stage of disengagement where you care so little about what they think, that you don't even notice the uncomfortable silence

Also think it might be worth it for your husband to know up front what you're doing. You can tell him you have put a lot of effort into it and it's clear his children don't want a relationship with you. Whenever they do you will welcome them with open arms, but until then you're respecting their decision and will withdraw from trying to force them to like/talk to you

Modernworld1011's picture

Wise advice, Disillusioned, thank you! They do not hurt my feelings because I feel sorry for them. The world is probably going to be none too kind to them, for they have never been taught: manners, gratitude or sharing. I am almost lucky to be ignored as they can both be truly snarky to their parents.

I think, I need to just get used to silence. I will speak only if I feel moved to do so, and i do need to stop trying to cajole conversation from them.

Like many, I cannot really talk to my husband because he refuses to see, or if he does see there's an excuse.

Orange County Ca's picture

I finally figured it out. By not speaking they have power. The power to make you in effect beg because they know full well that you know they don't want to talk to you. Therefore when you speak you're begging them to respond.

The solution is you simply stop speaking to them. No greetings, no reminders to do chores, nothing except "please pass the mashed potatoes" and that's not directed to anyone in particular.

Surprisingly you may, after a few days or weeks, find them starting to speak without being prompted. Always respond in like manner if this happens but continue silence unless spoken to.

I remember one teen girl running up the stairs to go to bed which is when I always said "Good night". She never responded unless her mother told her to. That night I said nothing and she just went in to her room. The second night she paused at the top of the stairs for a heartbeat. The third or forth I don't remember she volunteered a good night and I responded.

She never really came around and I continued my program of silence. There was more respect given afterword's. Nothing remarkable but enough that when she needed someone to teach her how to drive I felt good about volunteering.

In addition I learned that as a non-involved adult I could treat the teens as adults. Because I didn't have to discipline I could stay above the fray and this helped also.

This was the start of disengagement which I learned to do on my own decades before I read about it on the Internet. Here's a link:

Disengagement works - try it you'll like it.

Modernworld1011's picture

Hi OrangeCounty, I read your replies often, and you have such wisdom. I thank you for contributing your ideas. I never considered the silence as power, but you have a most valid point. Also, I think, it is a way of not so obviously sticking git to their both parent who they know wants them to be polite and kind.

Thankfully, I do not have to act as parent as I have no interest in doing so. The one child is getting to be better about speaking without prompting, so maybe at least one is giving yp the game. I do think though that your tactic is best with the other child though as he does not wish to try at all.

The hard part is the spouse because I know how much he appreciates the effort that I make towards his children. He comments on the fact that he is grateful. He also though seems to have that double standard guilt thing too, so he is by no means not contributing in his own way to the situation.

It should not be this difficult.i have come to the conclusion that the step kids largely reflect their parents in their behavior. If mom and dad felt not unjust guilt or remorse their would never tolerate their children behaving horribly or permitting their children to do things they otherwise would never allow.

StayingDisengaged's picture

This is weird. It's like reading my own story! Two of my three sd's did this to me. The last straw was when they were in my home for a big family celebration spanning several days and went an ENTIRE WEEK without speaking to me or even looking at me. These girls are 16 years old and I've been married to their father for nine years, so it's not like I'm a new habit they need to get used to. It was deliberate and obvious passive-aggressive manipulation. I spent the first five years reaching out, trying to cultivate a connection, only to fall flat on my face and feel like a failure, always wondering what was wrong with ME that these kids didn't like me.

The next couple of years I gradually stopped trying. I think I did it as an experiment at first. I wanted to see what would happen if I stopped trying, thinking maybe they saw what I considered to be "trying" as some sort of pressure or forcing myself on them. I thought retreating, being my normal friendly and pleasant self might draw them out, but no. The ignoring became even more pronounced. I began to dread their visits, resent their interruption to our otherwise happy and stable lives, and resent my DH for allowing his children to treat me like crap. He wasn't even paying attention! To his credit, neither of us knew what to make of all of it, let alone how to address it.

Then, when I discovered this board about a year ago and discovered the practice of disengaging, I realized that there was NOTHING wrong with me. I was trying to make a family with unwilling participants who have been on an IV drip of their BM's poisoned Kool-Aid for their entire lives. There's no overcoming that. At this stage, there's nothing I or DH can do to even change it. He saw my hurt, we talked, he truly heard me, and thank God he supported me. He was the chief witness to all the effort I'd made over the years. He was the chief sounding board for all my insecurities, my fears, my "Am I doing this wrong? What else should I try? What do you think?" post-visit meltdowns.

He spoke to the girls and told them how much it hurt me that they were cold and distant, and by extension how much it hurt him that his wife was so hurt. He told them that they shouldn't expect anything more from me until and unless they decide to start putting in some effort. They're 16 years old and fully capable of modulating their own behavior and actions if they choose, not little children thrust into a new and scary situation with no resources or coping skills. I haven't heard a word from either of them since and that was March, 2013. It's been the most peaceful nine months I've had since I married DH.

The worst part? I don't yet know if this part is a success or a failure, but I told DH that I refused to allow them into my home (my sanctuary! my place of peace from the world!) until they acknowledge that they hurt me, apologize for it, and vow to try and do better. He is free to visit them anywhere else he chooses, whenever he chooses. Even on holidays. I don't want him to feel pressured to choose me over his children simply because we share a roof. I get him every day and once the girls are adults, visitation won't be an issue anymore. But I wouldn't let a stranger come into my house and treat me like crap. I'm sure as hell not going to allow someone who is supposed to be family do it either. DH has pretty much disengaged from them, as well. They don't seem to care. No reaching out on their part, not even at Christmas, Father's Day, his birthday, etc. It makes me so sad for him, but I'm not surprised.

Hang in there. This is not an easy process. I'm still not sure if my choices were the right ones, but I am happier and I am more at peace without the EOWE intrusions from manipulative little girls. So that's got to be worth something. Only time will tell, I guess.

Modernworld1011's picture

Wow, I am sorry to hear that you went through this for all of these years. They seem to hate you for trying and then hate you for not trying, so in other words, you cannot win no matter what you do, so I guess in the end, doing what is best for your own sanity is the correct thing to do.

You are fortunate that your husband is more enlightened. I am lad that he saw the reality of things, and did not try to make it all somehow your fault. You were wise not to try to alienate him from his kids, but i do think that it is wise to have him conduct his relationship with his kids elsewhere. My husband was wildly resentful of that suggestion. He did not want to have to leave his own home to have a relationship with his kids. Heck I was willing to give up all of our vacations to free up the funds for him to use to spend time with the kids.

Maybe one day they will mature a bit and see that life and the world do not allow for such behavior, and they will change their ways a bit.

Thank you for replying and reminding me that I am in good company!

Best wishes!!!!

Modernworld1011's picture

Your last paragraph, I want to embroider it on a pillow. It is so accurate and exactly what happens. His one child especially has no respect for him at all, and he is the one he will go to hell and back to try to please. His other child who is much more together and less manipulative often gets the shorter end of the stick because of his brother. That is my greatest fear that the manipulative one will just cut him out of his life one day, and the husband's heart will be utterly broken.

He would never call his kids on their behavior in front of me, so he will not stop eating with them. It all be me eating alone, and then that will be viewed as me being hostile. There is no winning!

We had no idea, so many of us what we had gotten into with these marriages.

Jocasta's picture

This could also be my story.

To begin with the skids were OK with me, especially ESD. The past year ESD has become more and more distant and indifferent towards me and more and more clingy with DP (she is nearly 19). Goodness knows why.

I have always been friendly and accommodating with the skids - not overbearing but just enough I think. I have tried over the years, bought their favourite things to eat, made prom dresses, helped with homework - sometimes spending an entire precious weekend when exams were looming, ensured DP spent as much time with them as possible. Latterly I have disengaged. I am still friendly and available if they are here but I no longer make any effort with them.

I also used to question what was wrong with me - I now realise there is nothing wrong with me. It's just they way they are and maybe their situation. Also they are not particularly pleasant individuals, self-centred and bitchy about other people (I am sure this is directed at me when I'm not around). I guess this could just be a teenage thing or they may just simply be too much like their mother.

DP knows how I feel and he has also witnessed how I have tried and they have not responded. That is all I need to feel I have done the best I can. I can do no more.

It seems from the other replies this is quite a common skid manipulation tool.

Modernworld1011's picture

I am sorry for your pain! I am glad that your husband has the love and understanding of things to know how hard you have tried and that you have done nothing wrong. So many spouses, mine included, feel that you should never stop trying ,and that you have to be the bigger person or the adult. Easy for them to say when no one is putting them through the same stuff.

Enjoy your life.You deserve it!

sandy777's picture

My step kids do the same thing!!! It's like I'm invisible. We have been married for 7 years. The are no SS13, SD13 and SD 15. I just ignore them. The hard part is if I say ANYTHING about them, my DH flips out! My kids are not perfect, and neither are his. At least mine communicate with both him and his kids. They were all premature and seem to have social issues. 2 of them are in therapy and on meds. I really want to heal my relationship with my spouse as this is quite the sticking point. Any advice?

Modernworld1011's picture

Your situation is mine. My child loves my husband and genuinely likes his kids and tries always to include them. Both of his kids but particularly one struggles with maturity and insecurity. My husband is always more formal and distant with my daughter when they are around lest they think she is too important. It's all so ridiculous and sad.

If you find a solution please share. Good luck with your situation!!!!

Strugglingforalongtime's picture

Hi, i have read through 2 whole pages of posts and am so amazed at how many people are living the same difficult situation i am.
i am wondering if people are experiencing things actually getting worse, not better as time goes on with their partner's teenage children?
i now have a 16 and 19 year old contacting their side of the family to take notes on how horrible i am to them when at family functions, then catching up for coffee to discuss. i am at moving out point - but i don't want them to win.
my partner refuses to discuss his children as i pick on them - although they are usually the ones watching, commenting, bagging everything i do, they watch me like a hawk and relay to each other.
it's really tough just right now - we are 3 years in and i am not sure how much longer i can suffer this out in silence.

Modernworld1011's picture

Oh I am so sorry! I know all too well how you feel. I wish there were easier answers. The truth seems to be that children will only act as poorly as their parents will tolerate, and sadly we both seem to have husbands who are afraid to set standards and rules lest feelings be hurt. They do not see that they are making their children ill equipped for the world. It's as though they need to punish themselves for the marriage with the other parent working and they make us the enemy because we were kind to them when they did not deserve it so they now have to punish us as well.

Modernworld1011's picture

It makes me crazy at age 16 they are yours and mine, and they are treated like they are babies... The world is going to knock them flat as it does to all who think that they are owed something for merely existing. Our husbands will not see it that way though. They will see it as my poor child...

It saddens me that you cannot die with your spouse. IK am glad it feels more comfortable to you, but it should not be that way... What is with these men.

I don't try to have any say in what happens unless it affects me directly. I offer an opinion if asked by the husband, but tell him he should do what he thinks is best. I find the more I advocate for something, the more likely he is to to do the opposite. I have learned that my disinterest seems to bring him to a slightly more normal space.

When will they get that we are not the enemy. We love our spouses, want to love/like our step-kids as much as they will let us, but somehow our intentions are always suspect.

luchay's picture

She too does the "Daddyy..." every time she starts a sentence. Like I'm not even there. Doesn't say hello or goodbye to me. She doesn't speak to DH all that much either now, truth be told, if I'm in the same space. But if I go do laundry or leave DH to go get something else done, I hear her start immediately talking as soon as I leave. So now it's not only that she won't speak to me, she won't speak if I'm there. I suppose I could flip the power game and simply not leave his side and effectively silence her all weekend haha

OMG - THAT is what it has escalated too here as well lately!! They will sit in uncomfortable silence if I am present and as soon as I get up and leave the room they start chatting away to OH like you wouldn't believe. If he leaves the room they will both get up and follow him out. If he goes to the loo they get up and walk behind him, and hover in the kitchen til he comes out LOL I too have thought about never leaving his side and hence not ever having to hear the whiney voices again....

Modernworld1011's picture

I think that you are on to something. Just put it all on the parent. The one child will try with me, but the other no dice. Who knows if they are just being teenagers or what, but it is uncomfortable. It would be fun to stick by your husband's side all day just to see the result.

I hope that 2014 can be the year of not letting the crazy people bother you. I will adopt the same resolution. Here's to hoping that it works!

Bojangles's picture

I would do what you're doing. Make an effort to chat when you feel like making the effort, and take yourself off somewhere where you can relax when you don't feel like it. I would avoid making a decision to withdraw all effort, it will probably just make it worse and more uncomfortable for you as well as your husband. They're not actively rude, they're just not motivated to make an effort with you and probably have the poor social skills typical of that age and are clueless how to make small talk. Over the years I have mostly had to make a lot of the running in terms of conversation with my stepchildren so I know how tiresome it can get. The 4 girls who are now young adults aren't actively rude, in fact we mostly get on well, but they are quite happy to play with my children, and talk about themselves when prompted, without feeling any urge to delve into my activities or thoughts. But then I think generally the art of conversation seems to be dying, in the playground at school there are so many parents who will just stand in silence, seemingly unable to come up with a question or comment to break the silence.

Modernworld1011's picture

I know, being unkind is not my way. I know my husband realizes that I am the only one making much of an effort and he is appreciative. I think the best thing to do is just find a book or something when I am not up to carrying three fourths of the conversation. I do not want to b come someone I don't like. Thank you for sharing your experience.

Generic's picture

So what's a skid to do? They cannot show their true feelings, or they'll be rude. They stifle them, and they're still rude. You can completely disengage but they cannot? Speak only when spoken to? Smile back if you were in the mood to smile? Respond with civil niceties after you've deigned to make an overture? Most of these skids are very little-perhaps you are more knowledgeable in the intricacies of etiquette? No need to get offended because a 7 year old forgot to nod as say," gooday maam" in the hallways. Perhaps he's struggling with his feelings for you and hasn't mastered the art of "fake it till you make it".

You cannot force someone to like you. Be grateful they are not actively showing how they truly feel.

Modernworld1011's picture

My step kids are not 7 they are 16 and 17 years old. I am not the reason their parents divorced. No, I do not expect them to fake liking me or to seethe with rage that is held inside. I only ask that some minimal level of polite effort be made. The same type of effort I see made to people in general. Say hello,say goodbye,and if at a meal have the basic manners not to try to freeze anyone out of a conversation. I don't expect to be like or loved, but if they did like or love me that would be lovely, I would just like minimal basic courtesy. There has been no attempt on my part to discipline or comment on or about their mother. I get that they love their mom and do not need another parent. I have never expected to be their good buddy or friend. I certainly do not expect to be called "ma'am." A simple "hi" or "bye" when arriving or departing, and some basic throwaway general nicety at dinner.

So to answer what is a step kid to do, just be as polite as one would be to a non hostile person they know. And no, I have never frozen them out, or tried to change their relationship with their father. In fact, I have never interfered with the relationship. So, I guess, I would would like a basic courtesy,something I think that all upstanding humans are entitled to from others.

I don't want to force anyone to like me, just basic generic politeness will do. They had never addressed me by name, and I don't need that, just hello, goodbye, the occasional how was work type thing. Not too much to expect.

38smofteens's picture

My damn step kids do this shit too. Annoys me cause they sure want to talk when they want something!

luchay's picture

And that, my love, is when you get your petty silent revenge.... }:)

Just give them the same blank faced look they give you when you have spoken to them, if need be - direct them to their father, or just say "no"


Modernworld1011's picture

Yes, the one does that. He never asks me only his father. The inute the father says "no" the father is "hated." It is sad. I don't blame the kids.It's the parents who have permitted and emboldened their offspring to behave in this manner.

Modernworld1011's picture

Why their parents allow them to behave this way to anyone is beyond me. What a skill set to imprint on a kid, use people as needed and then drop them when not... Sad!

sushine's picture

that is exactly how it started at my house with the two Skids. it got worse and worse and worse. They no longer look at me and or engage in any way and go out of their way to avoid it... like hurry out of kitchen if I come down for tea. I swear what you describe is how it used to be and now after several years the awkwardness has grown to psychosis with their behaviors. In example I exited my bedroom to go into hall then to bathroom to find my step son wide eyed shocked that he found himself in the hall at the same time as me.. he could not interact and scurried away as though I am medusa and he will be turned to stone... odd is how it started now it is too late to go back to the many attempts I have made through the years to engage in healthy ways.. it is something they insisted on perpetuating and they suffer for it.. as do I but it is something that clearly I could not change nor could their dad as he explained many many times how unhealthy and messed up it was. so NO it won't get better and you will see that they will ask for favors $$ etc etc ..try saying no if they cant interact in other ways when they aren't after something then too bad. I used to sit at table and hope for interaction... I make social plans when they are here or retire to a more peaceful welcoming environ at home. Trust me when I will not improve.. sorry. It has hurt their dad too as they have defied his wishes to be polite at the very least. They are unwilling to say hello or anything.. so good luck and develop that thick skin is my advise. you will not find rewarding relationships with them only the drain of trying again and againg to connect. I been there.. got hopes up got them dashed over and over.. I finally accepted that they prefer the awkward uncomfortable life over a cordial supportive one. well they got it.. I try not to let it slow me down and it has freed up my spare time for doing things I love.. exempt yourself from feeling badly if you can and stop trying..they like knowing it bothers you..I may sound extreme but I had this situation to a T and I know..they resent knowing I dont care anymore and they lost power over me emotionally. they cannot manipulate me anymore they have themselves to blame..

Modernworld1011's picture

Thanks for replying Sunshine. They ask for nothing, so there is not the dynamic of only speaking to me when they want something. The one son tries sometimes, minimally, but those moments are fleeting, and I have learned not to get my hopes up as there will be one spontaneous smile and then the door slams shut for the next several interactions. The other child never attempts at all, and he will goad his other brother into being unkind towards me. I do not feel hurt by it. It just makes me feel uncomfortable as I was raised that you always make a minimal effort just as a matter of course. I know it hurts my husband. He tells them such, and in a way I think that knowing it hurts him sometimes encourages their behavior. I wish that he could learn to just accept it, so that we all could come to terms instead of having all of this unspoken nonsense floating around. Don't you wish that you could just say "listen I get that the only thing that we share is a love for dad, and so be it." It does sound like your spouse's kids have gone to a really sick space if they have to run and flee. They are probably embarrassed, and cannot face the situation and don't know what else to do. My main fear is that somehow on some level my husband may blame me for their silence. I have tried, and I have wanted nothing but a cordial relationship, but I cannot make his kids want that same thing.

Thanks again for your word soy wisdom, and for reminding me that I am not the only one living with this Twilight Zone type strangeness.

Did your husband's ex have a hand in poisoning the waters as mine did. She wanted them to dislike me, and was straight up dishonest. My husband tried to correct the lies, but it then becomes he said she said, and it is always easier to dislike the new person than to admit your own parents might just be more than a little messed up.