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Thread: Relationship with stepmother ruining one with dad

  1. #11
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    Originally Posted by Andrina
    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.
    Thanks so much for this it's great advice, leaving is exactly what I did at the meal when she started kicking off. I just made my exit and went to stay with my nan who said she did this at every outing - so it's sort of nice to know it's not just me/all in my head.

    The one on one thing sounds great. I'll suggest that next time I see my dad. I just worry she'll try to stick her fingers in while we're spending time together. My dad went on holiday with his brother last year and she had a breakdown at the airport and, according to my uncle, did not stop calling him.

  2. #12
    Platinum Member SherrySher's Avatar
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    he would rather drive me out than tell her to stop or apologise.
    That's the point you need to be focusing on.

    These are your Dads choices. You're focusing on all her bad points and that's not the problem here. The problem is your Dad choosing a woman like her, and choosing to stick by her, no matter how she behaves.

    But that is his choice to make. It's up to you whether you want to be around it or not.

  3. #13
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    Originally Posted by SherrySher
    That's the point you need to be focusing on.

    These are your Dads choices. You're focusing on all her bad points and that's not the problem here. The problem is your Dad choosing a woman like her, and choosing to stick by her, no matter how she behaves.

    But that is his choice to make. It's up to you whether you want to be around it or not.
    Thank you. I agree completely, he won't tell her to calm down he'd just rather tell me I'm being rude when I do it on his behalf.

  4. #14
    Platinum Member SherrySher's Avatar
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    Truth be told, Jay...the only thing you can do, is talk to your Dad, tell him how much things are bothering you. But it truly is up to HIM to change anything.

    If he doesn't want to, or is too weak or whatever the reason/excuse is, then the only choice you have left is to either see him alone or endure it if you want him in your life

    He made a very questionable choice with this woman, but it's out of your hands. If your dad won't stick up for you or won't talk to her, then there's nothing else that can be done.

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  6. #15
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    Originally Posted by SherrySher
    Truth be told, Jay...the only thing you can do, is talk to your Dad, tell him how much things are bothering you. But it truly is up to HIM to change anything.

    If he doesn't want to, or is too weak or whatever the reason/excuse is, then the only choice you have left is to either see him alone or endure it if you want him in your life

    He made a very questionable choice with this woman, but it's out of your hands. If your dad won't stick up for you or won't talk to her, then there's nothing else that can be done.
    Thank you. I've asked to have a chat with him face to face. The ball is in his court if he wants to respond but until then I need to set some boundaries and stick up for myself and my husband regardless - without my dad.

    They're planning to visit us at the end of the month, I'll put all this good advice to use and be a bit more confident in myself. How she talks to me should be a reflection on her not me and in all honesty, like you pointed out, it's not her that bothers me per se. It's wether or not this will affect the time I get to spend with my dad.

  7. #16
    Platinum Member SherrySher's Avatar
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    Honestly? I'd be more upset that my Dad did not care or didn't bother to tell his wife to smarten up if I were you.

    I think you're upset at the wrong person.

  8. #17
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    Originally Posted by Jay98
    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?
    I commend you for being so open-minded, Jay! I really do. I hope you know everything I said was meant as a different perspective for you, as I believe giving others the benefit of the doubt is usually helpful to our own growth.

    I don't doubt that your stepmom is imperfect and you have moments of frustration with her. But in all honesty, people can have that kind of thing with their bio parents, too. My mother and I OFTEN disagreed, also about religion and judgment of others. What I did was try to see the good in it and praise those parts (Giving to charity) without getting in to the "debate" of anything and just avoid when possible. Or when stuff comes up (even if you WILDLY disagree and I DO understand cause I have BEEN there)- just smile and nod and let the subject pass, since you know you will not change each other's minds. Then talk to your husband about it on the car ride home.

    You are absolutely right, Jay. We cannot control others, but we can control our reactions. It's been a hard lesson for me to learn, honestly. I had a difficult upbringing and often disagreed with my parents. We can react in several ways- It's not about changing people (which rarely works anyway)- it's about keeping the peace because the LOVE is more important that the disagreements. I lost my mom a few years ago- and though we disagreed a LOT- I'd still give anything for ONE more day with her.

    The ways we can react:

    1. Just absorb the good, praise the good and try to let the rest roll off your back.

    2. Address it, but in a LOVING and non-judgmental way. If you want to speak to her about it- make sure you do so in a kind way. I used to say " Mom, I love you so much and I really appreciate all that you do for me. But sometimes when you say this, it makes me feel bad, even though I know it's not your intention". And with your Dad, as I mentioned before, " Dad, when you do this, it makes me feel..." Never as a criticism or judgment, always placing emphasis on your feelings and never placing blame.

    3. Take breaks. I've had to do so from time to time. Your health and well-being is important. Just make sure they know it's not intended as a "punishment" to them. Put it on yourself " I need to have some alone time right now".

    4. This may sound odd- but laughter. We all die someday. Most things in life just aren't as big as we make them in the moment. Now, I laugh at some of the arguments me and my mom had and what a waste of time they were. I wish now that I had tried to focus on the love even MORE than I did.

    I understand the frustration of Dad not stepping up, but it's his choice to make and you can't control when or how he does it- if ever. And just try to remember in those moments in frustration with your stepmom, he is helping to create whatever tension is going on, too. One thing I can tell you about being a stepparent that is not so pretty. It is ALWAYS easier for the bio kids to blame YOU rather than their parent for unpleasant things. I think it's something that is totally subconsciously done, but it is something my own stepchildren have learned that sometimes their perspectives can be skewed. Just something to be aware of, I don't think most kids even realize they do it to a degree. And maybe she really IS trying her best. Maybe she has an un-diagnosed illness (Bi polar)? You never know.

    Anyway, hope this has been helpful. Focus on the love. When push comes to shove, that's what you'll be left with.

  9. #18
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    Final thought- Others have suggested some one on one time with your Dad. I think this is a good thing to do occasionally.

    However, I want to caution you from own experience as a stepmom. It can be VERY hurtful if you feel like the kids are trying to avoid you. That happened with me towards the beginning of my relationship with my husband. And while I DID understand and tried to be as open-minded about it as possible, it did still sometimes hurt my feelings. Because I felt like " I am being REALLY nice to them and giving all that I have and they still don't want to see me?" I never made my husband feel guilty about it, but anytime I felt that it was happening "regularly"- I'd ask him " Do they hate me or something that they never want to see me?"

    My husband still has one on ones with them and it doesn't bother me. But that's also because the majority of our gatherings are still together. It's totally fine to do stuff independently. Just make sure the approach isn't to "give her a taste of her own medicine" or "make a point"- because, maybe she really is trying her best. Even in her imperfection, she is still a person with feelings. And if ALL of what you do with Dad is alone, it really WILL create a problem, if you aren't careful.

  10. #19
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    Originally Posted by redswim30
    I commend you for being so open-minded, Jay! I really do. I hope you know everything I said was meant as a different perspective for you, as I believe giving others the benefit of the doubt is usually helpful to our own growth.

    I don't doubt that your stepmom is imperfect and you have moments of frustration with her. But in all honesty, people can have that kind of thing with their bio parents, too. My mother and I OFTEN disagreed, also about religion and judgment of others. What I did was try to see the good in it and praise those parts (Giving to charity) without getting in to the "debate" of anything and just avoid when possible. Or when stuff comes up (even if you WILDLY disagree and I DO understand cause I have BEEN there)- just smile and nod and let the subject pass, since you know you will not change each other's minds. Then talk to your husband about it on the car ride home.

    You are absolutely right, Jay. We cannot control others, but we can control our reactions. It's been a hard lesson for me to learn, honestly. I had a difficult upbringing and often disagreed with my parents. We can react in several ways- It's not about changing people (which rarely works anyway)- it's about keeping the peace because the LOVE is more important that the disagreements. I lost my mom a few years ago- and though we disagreed a LOT- I'd still give anything for ONE more day with her.

    The ways we can react:

    1. Just absorb the good, praise the good and try to let the rest roll off your back.

    2. Address it, but in a LOVING and non-judgmental way. If you want to speak to her about it- make sure you do so in a kind way. I used to say " Mom, I love you so much and I really appreciate all that you do for me. But sometimes when you say this, it makes me feel bad, even though I know it's not your intention". And with your Dad, as I mentioned before, " Dad, when you do this, it makes me feel..." Never as a criticism or judgment, always placing emphasis on your feelings and never placing blame.

    3. Take breaks. I've had to do so from time to time. Your health and well-being is important. Just make sure they know it's not intended as a "punishment" to them. Put it on yourself " I need to have some alone time right now".

    4. This may sound odd- but laughter. We all die someday. Most things in life just aren't as big as we make them in the moment. Now, I laugh at some of the arguments me and my mom had and what a waste of time they were. I wish now that I had tried to focus on the love even MORE than I did.

    I understand the frustration of Dad not stepping up, but it's his choice to make and you can't control when or how he does it- if ever. And just try to remember in those moments in frustration with your stepmom, he is helping to create whatever tension is going on, too. One thing I can tell you about being a stepparent that is not so pretty. It is ALWAYS easier for the bio kids to blame YOU rather than their parent for unpleasant things. I think it's something that is totally subconsciously done, but it is something my own stepchildren have learned that sometimes their perspectives can be skewed. Just something to be aware of, I don't think most kids even realize they do it to a degree. And maybe she really IS trying her best. Maybe she has an un-diagnosed illness (Bi polar)? You never know.

    Anyway, hope this has been helpful. Focus on the love. When push comes to shove, that's what you'll be left with.
    First of all I'm so sorry to hear you lost your mum :( I don't see my bio mum much anymore but I'd feel the same if I lost her. Sending hugs.

    I'm more than happy to hear constructive criticism. At therapy, I'm mostly listened to and told "ah that's sad" with little input so it helps me see things from another perspective and I really respect every opinion I get here - especially as you're all answering a person you've never met with advice.

    I don't debate with my stepmum but we have very strong views on things. Politics, religion...those are two of the big ones. We're polar opposites. I think as my bio mum is a scientist and I grew up with a strong interest in biology I found it really hard & had to grit my teeth when my stepmum made claims that supernatural things happened to her. The point where it got a bit unbareable was when I lived with her and felt like I had to hide my Richard Dawkins and Brian Cox books! Yet she has religious quotes on the walls etc. She sees it as a rebuttal and not just me having my own mind and being as entitled to that as she is to her faith.

    I love my dad to bits and honestly would be broken if anything happened to him and I think that's why I get to angry with all this because it affects him as much as it does me. I can take crap and throw it back just as hard but my dad's a bit...I dunno, hate to use the word 'doormat' but he just lets things happen. It happened with my bio mother and he got chewed up and spat out. I don't want to see another woman hurt him or control him, so perhaps that's me being a bit sensitive. I realise he's a grown man and can make up his own mind about how to deal with things just...augh part of me wishes he'd toughen up a bit.

    My stepmum has been diagnosed as bipolar so this may explain the massive fluctuations between hot and cold. She even told my dad she wanted to die a few times but is totally fine the next day and I know that affects him. He's been through enough with one woman I wish she'd get help to sort through this than dump it on my dad.

    Anyway, like others have said that's not my problem. Taking a step back is hard though.

    EDIT: Just saw your reply on alone time and I see where you're coming from! Me and my dad rarely if ever have time together especially since I moved. I don't think it'll happen often to be honest. :(

  11. #20
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    Originally Posted by Jay98
    First of all I'm so sorry to hear you lost your mum :( I don't see my bio mum much anymore but I'd feel the same if I lost her. Sending hugs.
    She sees it as a rebuttal and not just me having my own mind and being as entitled to that as she is to her faith.

    ...I dunno, hate to use the word 'doormat' but he just lets things happen. It happened with my bio mother and he got chewed up and spat out. I don't want to see another woman hurt him or control him, so perhaps that's me being a bit sensitive. I realise he's a grown man and can make up his own mind about how to deal with things just...augh part of me wishes he'd toughen up a bit.

    My stepmum has been diagnosed as bipolar so this may explain the massive fluctuations between hot and cold.
    Taking a step back is hard though.

    EDIT: Just saw your reply on alone time and I see where you're coming from! Me and my dad rarely if ever have time together especially since I moved. I don't think it'll happen often to be honest. :(
    Thanks for your condolences, I appreciate that.

    We are actually VERY similar, Jay! Yes, I totally understand. My mom and I "got into it" about religion a lot. I truly understand how difficult that can be. The good news is you don't have to live with her anymore.

    Your Dad definitely does seem to have issues with his own self-esteem. I understand the urge to want to "help" or "open his eyes" as someone who loves him dearly. However, it's kind of like someone who is an alcoholic. It's painful to watch, but they will only change when THEY want to. You cannot do it for them, as much as you want to. I know it's hard, but it really is up to him to change.

    Oh, perspective. You are going to think I'm pulling your leg here, but it's the honest truth. My father is bi-polar (along with a couple other things that don't need mentioning here). Your stepmom makes SO much more sense to me now. A lot of people with mental illness (my father included) cling to religion as a way to cope with something that is out of their control. Mental illness is JUST that, an illness. She cannot control it. Example- the restaurant incident. She probably knows what she did was wrong, but could not control what came out in the moment. My father has described it as dominos falling - You know you shouldn't let them fall, but it's already been set in motion and you can't stop it. She likely regrets it, even if she doesn't express that to you.

    I've been thru SO much with my father. My siblings always just wanted to brush him off as a jerk, due to some of his behavior. And I fully understand that sometimes that behavior is outlandish, rude, and not easily understood. I was the only one who took the time to understand his illness.
    It is all too easy to brush aside mental illness and just wonder " Why can't they just control themselves?" That's the point- they can't. They may want to desperately, but just can't. Like telling someone with depression to just "smile more" or someone with anxiety to just "calm down"- if it was THAT easy, it wouldn't be an illness. We can be so harsh with mental illness in a way we aren't with physical. After all, would we tell someone with cancer to just "not let their hair fall out".

    You'll really need to exercise as much patience with your stepmom as you can. I can tell you from personal experience that she is fighting a difficult fight. And how it sounds to me, trying as hard as she can to try and be a good person (even if she sometimes fails). I really hope for her sake she gets some professional help. Even if she doesn't now, don't give up hope, it took my father YEARS to admit he had an illness.

    The best thing you can do is to give them both as much love and support as you possibly can and let them know you are there for them.

    All the Love! Message me ANYTIME!

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