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Thread: Relationship with stepmother ruining one with dad

  1. #1
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    Relationship with stepmother ruining one with dad

    Hi all,

    Just wanted somewhere to talk as I don't know what to think anymore.

    My dad left an abusive relationship with my mum over a decade ago when I was a child. My mother didn't bother with us, didn't show much affection then cheated on my dad and is now married to that man (my stepdad).

    Since then, my dad re-married a woman he'd known for just a year and who seems a lot different to him; highly strung, incredibly religious (more on this later) and obsessive - almost OCD about things. I was surprised as he is none of these things.

    For the most part my stepmum and I are fine but there seems to be an undertone with her when I spend too much time with her and my dad. She can be overly nice (almost sickeningly so) or distant, rude and slips in snide comments now and then which totally throws me off. There is no consistency at all. I live with my husband but refers to her and my dads house as my 'home' which is there whenever I need it but she made me feel really on edge and unwelcome when I lived there...mostly through policing my every move, causing arguments with my dad over petty things (like where cutlery goes and in what order), and made it near impossible to have a life of my own with boyfriends/friends coming over rarely because the atmosphere when they did was so tense you could cut it with a knife.

    Now that I live away from them this behaviour can appear randomly. It seems whatever mood she's in sets the tone for the whole visit; if she's pissed off or upset about something YOUR life has to be hell too. My dad is always caught up in it.

    With the religion bit, she'll say god speaks to her and that she's had visions in front of me and my husband (we are aetheists) which makes me a bit uncomfortable. She made my dad get baptised before they married and had a fit when I refused to go because???
    The latest incident is her kicking off in a restaurant with the waitress because she wouldn't accept a tip in cash. She went off the rails, saying repeatedly "I don't understand!" then when I try to explain what the waitress is saying, she throws her purse on the floor and my dad later tells me I was being rude?! He will never stick up for me or up to her.

    I don't know what to do because she helped us buy our home and has a really lovely streak but this inconsistency with her behaviour is driving a wedge between me and my dad. I could bring up other examples but there are too many to count. I go to therapy after living with her ruined my self esteem but I don't really feel like I get answers or advice there so thought to ask here.

    Thank you x

  2. #2
    Platinum Member j.man's Avatar
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    So how's this ruining your relationship with you father? Yeah, she sounds annoying in many respects, but you admit "for the most part, you and her are fine." You haven't written anything about your dad trying to force you to sing Kumbaya with her. Nor did you seem to complain when she was chipping in money to help you guys buy a home.

    You live an hour away. Your dad lives with her. If there indeed are unbearable qualities about her, it's really his problem, not yours. Are you otherwise unhappy with your own life that you're deflecting to artificially inflated issues?

  3. #3
    Gold Member SarahLancaster's Avatar
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    I think the best thing you can do is just accept the fact that she's the way she is and don't let it interfere with your relationship with your dad. What else can you do? If you make a scene and snap back at her, you're just going to be making the situation worse.

    If she wants to make an ass of herself in public, that's her problem. If she is rude to you, either ignore it or kill her with kindness. She won't change, and clearly your father isn't going to stand up to her.

    Don't let her ruin your self-esteem and don't let her manipulate your emotions. You can stand up for yourself without being rude or confrontational.

  4. #4
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    I'm not unhappy with my own life, ta very much. Very much the opposite. Though I would like to visit my father at home without an atmosphere, or without her riling us both so much that I have to leave, or her making a sly remark against me for absolutely no reason. That's not my dad's problem, it's personal against me, and since my dad hasn't much of a backbone against her he would rather drive me out than tell her to stop or apologise.

    My nan and uncle have said the same things and don't go out with them anymore because of this behaviour.

    EDIT: sorry this is a reply to j.man.

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  6. #5
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    Originally Posted by SarahLancaster
    I think the best thing you can do is just accept the fact that she's the way she is and don't let it interfere with your relationship with your dad. What else can you do? If you make a scene and snap back at her, you're just going to be making the situation worse.

    If she wants to make an ass of herself in public, that's her problem. If she is rude to you, either ignore it or kill her with kindness. She won't change, and clearly your father isn't going to stand up to her.

    Don't let her ruin your self-esteem and don't let her manipulate your emotions. You can stand up for yourself without being rude or confrontational.
    Thank you, that's what I've been trying to do. I guess next time she demeans me and my husband while out for a meal the best I can say is "sorry you feel like that...I'm gonna order some apple pie if you want it?". Honestly at this point there's nothing else I can do and like you said, she won't change.

  7. #6
    Platinum Member Wiseman2's Avatar
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    Unfortunately she's who your father picked and married and lives with. When you are there you are a guest. Don't bother getting in Holy Wars with her covertly or overtly, you're just creating even more stress for your father.

    She is not going to change, you need to pick your battles. It's unfair to expect your father to take side and put him in that position. Let things roll off your back more. Keep in mind you don't have to like her but if you insist a on spending time with them at least respect your father's feelings and choices. Give her money back and quit the Holy Wars and the disrespect for your father.
    Originally Posted by Jay98
    She made my dad get baptised before they married and had a fit when I refused to go because???
    The latest incident is her kicking off in a restaurant with the waitress because she wouldn't accept a tip in cash. She went off the rails, saying repeatedly "I don't understand!" then when I try to explain what the waitress is saying, she throws her purse on the floor and my dad later tells me I was being rude?! He will never stick up for me or up to her. I don't know what to do because she helped us buy our home a

  8. #7
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    Originally Posted by Jay98
    Hi all,

    Since then, my dad re-married a woman he'd known for just a year and who seems a lot different to him; highly strung, incredibly religious (more on this later) and obsessive - almost OCD about things. I was surprised as he is none of these things.

    For the most part my stepmum and I are fine but there seems to be an undertone with her when I spend too much time with her and my dad. She can be overly nice (almost sickeningly so) or distant, rude and slips in snide comments now and then which totally throws me off. There is no consistency at all. I live with my husband but refers to her and my dads house as my 'home' which is there whenever I need it but she made me feel really on edge and unwelcome when I lived there...mostly through policing my every move, causing arguments with my dad over petty things (like where cutlery goes and in what order), and made it near impossible to have a life of my own with boyfriends/friends coming over rarely because the atmosphere when they did was so tense you could cut it with a knife.

    Now that I live away from them this behaviour can appear randomly. It seems whatever mood she's in sets the tone for the whole visit; if she's pissed off or upset about something YOUR life has to be hell too. My dad is always caught up in it.

    With the religion bit, she'll say god speaks to her and that she's had visions in front of me and my husband (we are aetheists) which makes me a bit uncomfortable. She made my dad get baptised before they married and had a fit when I refused to go because???
    The latest incident is her kicking off in a restaurant with the waitress because she wouldn't accept a tip in cash. She went off the rails, saying repeatedly "I don't understand!" then when I try to explain what the waitress is saying, she throws her purse on the floor and my dad later tells me I was being rude?! He will never stick up for me or up to her.

    I don't know what to do because she helped us buy our home and has a really lovely streak but this inconsistency with her behaviour is driving a wedge between me and my dad. I could bring up other examples but there are too many to count. I go to therapy after living with her ruined my self esteem

    Thank you x
    First of all, I have to ask- how old are you?

    You need to stop blaming your stepmom for yours and your Dad's issues. She is not responsible for either. She is not responsible for YOUR self-esteem. You say for the most part she's nice. If she has moments of anger or frustration, you can't accept that she tries hard but just maybe isn't perfect??? I am a stepparent and I can tell you that it isn't easy. Just because she's not exactly who you might have chosen for your father, doesn't mean that she isn't good for your Dad or trying her best for you- even if imperfectly. And just because she might not have loved you or cared for you in the EXACT way you wanted, doesn't mean she wasn't trying her hardest. If you think it is so easy, try parenting someone else's child for a while and see how it goes. It is NOT for the feint of heart and I commend anyone who does it.

    Your Dad has free will of his own. Re-read that sentence. She cannot FORCE your Dad to do or behave in any way that he does not want to. It sounds to me like he is the type of man who likes having his wife in charge. She couldn't "make" your Dad get baptized. Even if he CHOSE to do it to please her, it was STILL his choice. You need to understand that. You are acting like she is just a "puppet-master" and your Dad is totally incapable of making his own decisions. Guess what? Even if that WERE true, that would still be HIS fault.

    No offense intended, but you are being kinda judgmental about her being religious. So what if she mentions stuff in front of you and your husband that you disagree with? This happens ALL the time in families on different subjects. It's not necessarily meant as an insult to you personally. You can just smile and nod and not take offense. If you're Atheists, I honestly don't see why this offends you at all, to be honest.

    I do agree that her behavior in the restaurant was over the top and uncalled for. She was definitely wrong there. But again, you say that your DAD won't "stick up for you or stand up to her"- that is DAD's fault, not your stepmom's. You mention that she is "driving a wedge" between you and your Dad, but I honestly don't really see how? Your Dad is driving a wedge between you and your disagreements with your Stepmom by NOT doing anything. But he is grown man and could change how he responds if he really wants to.

    IMVHO, you don't live with them anymore. If I were you, I wouldn't get involved in their marriage. You never know what goes on behind closed doors. Maybe they are really in love and you just don't see it? Try and be less harsh about your stepmom. She makes mistakes and isn't perfect, but maybe she really is trying her best? Cut her a little slack. I mean, she helped you and your husband buy your home, so she clearly isn't ALL bad.

    But if you REALLY want to say something, the person you ought to speak to is your Dad. And if you do, it's HIS behavior that you need to address with him and not your stepmom's. "When you don't stand up for me, it makes me feel XYZ" People can only "control you" to the degree that you allow. I'm sorry if being in their home was difficult for you and you are certainly entitled to however you felt. However, you are (I assume) an adult now. No one is responsible for your happiness and self-esteem but YOU! In my experience, people who continue to live in the past and play the blame game for their own feelings, rarely move forward in a healthy way. I really hope for your sake that you are able to work thru this, learn to forgive imperfection in others, and come to accept that just because people don't love you exactly as you WANT doesn't mean that aren't giving you all the love that they are capable of giving.

    All the best to you. Truly.

  9. #8
    Platinum Member smackie9's Avatar
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    Sounds bi-polar to me. It's called walking on eggshells....you never know what you are going to get. There is nothing you can do but steer clear as much as you can.

  10. #9
    Platinum Member Andrina's Avatar
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    My husband and I are both in our second marriages, and each have grown daughters. I often do one-on-one things with my daughters, as I believe it's great to focus all my attention on our special time together without my husband or extended family. When I married my husband, his daughter was a teen and it seemed he always wanted to make me a part of outings that included his daughter. I told him that his daughter would probably like some one-on-one time with him now and then, and so he should be doing that.

    That's what I would suggest for you and your dad. I'd phrase it in a positive way, avoiding the fact you don't want to be around your stepmom. Something like, "Dad. I want to treat you to breakfast, just you and me. I'm feeling I just want some one-on-one time with you now and then."

    When you do have your get togethers with everyone and the stepmom makes things comfortable, cut the visit short. It's up to you to teach people how to treat you. If they become unpleasant, they will lose the pleasure of your company.

  11. #10
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    Thank you all for your replies, I'll be sure to take them all on board!

    Redswim30, I appreciate what you're saying. No, she is not all bad at all. I do wish I was in the position to buy a house myself but as we were renting for so long I couldn't build up the deposit and both her and my dad knew it was the only chance we had. She and my father gave us the money to help when my nan passed away, from the inheritence, as they are very secure financially.

    I know I can't change her or her beliefs and don't wish to. But I've been repeatedly given the silent treatment, had remarks said to me while visiting, and what's more upsetting, my dad's been dragged into things that I choose or refuse to subscribe to and he's got the brunt of it. The Baptism thing is one example. Another would be her completley cutting off a friend of hers because he didn't agree with her faith. He didn't say anything nasty or personal about it but she removed him from her life for not liking religion. None of my business no, but she makes a point to tell me when I see her.

    I don't doubt for a moment step-parenting is difficult and I commend you for it. I came here to see replies like these because I don't agree with everyone throwing in sympathy and if there's something I don't recognise or could change I'll happily take it on board. You're right about my father too in that these decisions are his to make. Since leaving them last time I saw them I've text to say I love them and am thinking of them - perhaps it's up to me to change how I react to her behaviour. No she won't change, and neither will I, and I want things to work for my dad's sake but how do I walk the line between doing that and letting her talk to me any way she wants?

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